P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BJP MLA stages dharna against non-construction of road
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 11
Ruling party MLA Anil Joshi embarrassed the administration again when he staged dharna in protest against the apathy of the state government and the PWD for delaying 5 km stretch of Batala road which leads to Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal , for more than a decade.

The dharna was staged when Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was in Amritsar district.

Addressing those on dharna outside the PWD office, Joshi said he was ready to confront the state government and the administration if they failed to accept the genuine demands of his voters. He said being a representative of the residents of his constituency, he would ensure the administration delivered.

The dharna forced senior PWD official Anil Gupta to come out and apologise before the public for delay in the construction of the road. He said he had joined last month and did not know the problem being faced by the residents of the Batala road. However, he assured construction of the stretch of the road would be completed in 10 days .

However, Joshi said he would gherao the PWD office if administration failed to keep the deadline of 10 days. The BJP MLA said next dharna would be bigger and they would block entry and exit gates of the PWD office. He claimed the CM had also directed the PWD officials but they failed to construct the road for the reasons best known to them.

The residents of the Batala road have been up in arms for one decade against the non-construction of road which is full of potholes.

Joshi pointed out all funds allocated by the central government had been with the department for several months now. He said the issue was taken up with Parminder Singh Dhindsa, PWD minister who had assured to complete the work on priority in July last year.

However, till now nothing has been done. He said even the Municipal Corporation had completed its work of cementing both sides of the road while the PWD was still looking the other way.

Dealer fires at raiding IT team
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 11
Sleuths of the Income Tax Department had a close shave when a property dealer of the city fired at them at his house located in Model Town this morning. The IT sleuths had gone to the house to conduct a raid at about 10 am.

Armed with search warrants against the property dealer, a team of the raiding party, lead by Rajinder Kaur, deputy director, IT Department, Bathinda, reached the house of Yesh Pal Khanna, and asked him to cooperate. The sleuths had also taken along two constables, including a woman constable, from the local police for assistance during the raid.

Deputy director of department from Amritsar Rohit Sharma was also accompanying the raiding party.

Khanna made an excuse to use washroom as the sleuths started questioning him and his son Rohit Khanna. Khanna was allowed Khanna to use a washroom on the first floor.

SP (city-II) Sarabjit Singh said Khanna got furious and tried to misbehave with the raiding party. The father-and-son duo managed to give the slip to the sleuths from a backdoor. One of them even fired three shots at the raiding party, but all missed the target.

The property dealer took documents relating to the property deals and other sale-purchase deals with him, the SP claimed.

A police party, including the area DSP and SP, reached the spot after receiving information and searched the house for any arms and ammunition under illegal possession of the Khanna family.

Sources revealed that Khanna had been in property dealing for quite a long time and had been evading various taxes.

The police has detained Khanna’s wife Sweta Khanna and daughter Nikita Khanna. Cases of attempt to murder have been registered against Yesh Pal Khanna and Rohit Khanna on a complaint of Rajinder Kaur.

The police has sealed the house and a hunt has been launched to catch the dealer and his son.

Direct Current 2
PSEB yet to enforce decision of 2006
Cutting transmission losses

Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Despite being on the verge of financial collapse, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is yet to implement its policy decision of 2006 to bring operational efficiency by cutting down transmission and distribution losses.

The board, which had identified domestic consumption as the thrust area and decided to install meters outside consumer’s premises, is yet to cover any substantial area in any part of the state under this drive. In fact the drive, which has resulted in coverage of four feeders in the Patiala Circle and witnessing work in three others, is suffering because due to unavailability of PVC cables and simple things like iron angles.

Sources said board engineers were finding it difficult to take measures to reduce losses as more stress was being laid on populist issues like creating new grids. Chief engineer (operations), Patiala Amrik Singh admitted there was ‘temporary shortage’ of PVC cables but said his circle was the first in the board to tackle transmission and distribution losses in a focused manner at the feeder level.

Member, distribution H. S. Brar said there was no shortage of PVC cables. He said the drive to reduce T and D losses was ongoing and efforts in this regard had already reduced T and D losses by 3.5 per cent in six months compared to the same period last year.

Former board engineers contest this claim, saying metered sale has gone down since 2006. They claim too little is being done and too slowly and assert reducing losses is the only way the board can meet the present demand- supply gap. Former chief engineer Padamjit Singh, adds, “No other magic can work, as an increase in generation through the Talwandi Sabo thermal plant will take at least five years”.

Former chief engineer Virinder Singh, who had moved this as well as earlier proposals to bring in operational efficiency, says he is surprised the board is yet to take up this scheme while other states, including Andhra Pradesh, had already started implementing it after studying the results of the PSEB pilot project.

According to a study by the Patiala West Division under XEN Bhupinder Singh, who has initiated loss reduction measures at feeder levels, said the PSEB could make saving of around Rs 1500 crore per annum if it implements this scheme in the state. He said this would also result in cutting down T and D losses from the present 23 per cent to around 15 per cent.

The study, which has also been presented to the top board management, says the board will need Rs 120 crore for around 30 lakh urban consumers to install meter cupboards on poles outside their houses. This money is recoverable in two months.

In rural areas the study says it will cost more to reduce T and D losses, as meters have to be installed in pillar-boxes and more transformers have to be installed. Cost of Rs 500 crore has been worked out for doing this with a projected payback in six months.


‘Rein in agents defrauding youth, brides’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 11
Apprehending some of embassies in Delhi may stop entertaining cases of Punjabis for immigration to their countries Lok Bhalai Party president Balwant Singh Ramoowalia said steps were needed to check greedy agents resorting to fraud, including forging of documents, for seeking immigration and visa etc.

Illegal human trafficking by agents from Punjab on forged documents had become a menace. “ About 1,800 Punjabi youths had been killed in Malta boat -like tragedies, in foreign jails and while crossing borders of various countries illegally”, said Ramoowalia. There were about 20,000 youths cheated by agents in Punjab. And this cheating involves Rs 200 crore, he said. Several hundred youths deceived by agents were cooling heels in jails abroad, he said.

Ramoowalia said a few years ago embassies of some important countries used to give respect to Punjabis seeking visa or immigration but now same embassies treat most of the Punjabis with contempt. For this change in attitude of embassies the agents who submitted fake and forged documents to secure immigration status or visa etc were to blame. Ramoowalia said large number of agents operating in Punjab had hit credibility of Punjabis in embassies.

Ramoowalia, who has been fighting on this front for some years, said presenting forged property and bank account documents, fake passports besides numerous cases of human trafficking, had shaken trust of embassies in Punjabis. “ Now they look at us with suspicion and earlier they used to look at us as most creditable people”, said Ramoowalia. “ This is due to greedy agents operating in Punjab and their counterparts in Delhi”, he said.

Unfortunately no political party had tried to take the agents, playing with the future of Punjabis, to task, he said. “ I have been urging politicians in the state to address this issue but they had not shown any concern”, he said. Agents had tarnished the image of whole community and not to act against them would be more harmful in future, he said

He said he had reports many Punjabi women, cheated by agents, were made to do odd jobs in Cyprus, Malaysia, Singapore and some other countries.

‘NRI conferences of no use’

On NRI conference to be held here tomorrow, Ramoowalia said there was no use of such conferences when real issues related to NRIs were not addressed. The most important one was of 20,000 women cheated by their in-laws abroad. And issues of fake bank accounts, fake documents related to property and preparing of visa papers etc. “ As all these issues affect the Punjabi community, the NRI sabha, should address these”, he said.” Without addressing these issues, there was no use of holding such conferences”, he said.


Duped by agent, 12 Punjabi youths stuck in Dubai
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 11
Twelve Punjabi youths have been stuck in a hotel in Dubai for the past two months after they were allegedly fleeced by their travel agent, who promised to send them to France on work visa.

The youths, in a message faxed to Lok Bhalai Party’s (LBP) office here today, alleged they had paid Rs 2.20 lakh to Rajan, a travel agent based in Gurdaspur district, three months ago. He had promised to get them a job in France.

The youths identified themselves as Gurdev Singh, Hari Singh, Sarabjeet Singh, jagdish Singh, Balbir Singh, Ramesh Kumar and Rakesh Kumar. The rest are not ready to identify themselves.

As the travel agents could not arrange for their immigration, he took them to Dubai on visitor visa. There they are being kept in rooms of Tahib Hotel, near Radisson Hotel at Sharjah, and are not even allowed to go out as the visa of several of them has expired.

According to Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, office-bearer of the LBP, the youth said the agent had handed them over to yet another agent, who wanted to send them to Iraq and Afghanistan. These youths were, however, not willing to go there.

Following the fax message, Mullanpuri talked to the youths on the phone.


Providing family-like atmosphere to NRIs’ kids
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, December 11
Gone are the days when NRIs would not like to come to their native land here for fear of terrorists, what to talk about sending their wards to India for education.

Now, there seems to be a major transformation in the mindset of the NRIs as they are now sending their wards to day-boarding schools in this district, once considered to be the hotbed of militancy.

Around 70 children of the NRI diaspora settled in Malaysia, Hong Kong, Canada, Austria, the USA, the UK, and Australia have got admission to a CBSE-affiliated day-boarding Mamta Niketan Convent School situated near Tarn Taran and being run by the Sardarni Dalbir Kaur Memorial Educational Charitable Trust.

The school has engaged well-qualified teachers not only from the area, but even from far-off places like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Bangalore in Karnataka. Students do not have to carry books or other stationery items as it was being provided to them by the school management.

Chairman of the trust Maninder Singh told The Tribune that now NRIs of the area, who earlier would not dare to visit their native land, were contacting their school as they want their wards to grow physically and mentally in rich Punjabi culture. He claimed NRIs, after searching on the Internet for a school which could provide a family-like atmosphere and good food besides quality education up to the plus II level, contacted them as theirs was the only day-boarding school providing air-conditioned hostel facilities.

He said their main endeavour was to provide mentally stimulating, physically challenging, spiritually invigorating environment for an all-round development of students.

The school was providing education in the commerce and science steams (both medical and non-medical) at the plus-two level.

He said the NRI students, who had to remain away from their parents throughout the year, could only visit their homes during two months of summer vacations.


Punjab to get Guru Gobind Singh’s relics
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Relics of 10th Guru Gobind Singh, presently with Hanumant Singh — the scion of erstwhile ruling family of Nabha state —will soon be handed over to Punjab for preservation and proper display. The relics include Guru’s sword, a comb, a turban and hand-written manuscripts.

Disposing of a petition filed by Uttam Singh of Nabha for directing Hanumant Singh to return the relics to the people of Nabha, Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh of Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the handing over of the same within two months to Punjab state.

The Bench also directed Punjab to depute a four-member team of officers to go over to Delhi and receive the relics and bring them back for display at some suitable place.



Majha leaders repose trust in Amarinder
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 11
Congress leaders belonging to the factions of Congress legislature party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and PPCC president Mohinder Singh Kaypee joined hands with Capt Amarinder Singh and declared him an “undisputed” leader of the party.

Amarinder was here today in connection with a meeting of party workers as part of his mass contact programme. The meeting, organised by Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, former chief parliamentary secretary, turned into a big rally at a local marriage palace.

Amarinder was given rousing reception at various places from Batala to Gurdaspur. He was presented with swords by workers. While Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, former minister, hosted a dinner for Amarinder last night, Ashwani Shekri, former minister, hosted breakfast today.

Those attended the huge rally included Shekri, convener, State Election Campaign Committee, Vijay Inder Singla, president, Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), Partap Singh Bajwa, Raman Bhalla, Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Fathe Jung Singh Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhary, Ashok Sharma, Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Rumal Chand, Chander Paul Singh, Ajay Verma, Sukhdeep Singh Teja and Anu Gandotra (all senior leaders).

Almost all leaders, who addressed the rally, feel only Amarinder could fight against atrocities being committed on Congress workers by the ruling alliance.

Almost all Majha leaders authorised Amarinder to nominate party candidate for the Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency. Not a single leader mentioned the names of Bhattal and Kaypee during their speeches though their a few banners displayed here carried their photographs.

The leaders admitted that Congress candidates had lost 10 Assembly segments out of total 11 segments of this district in the last elections as they opposed each other.

Meanwhile, Salamat Masih, leader of the minority cell of the party, accused Raman Behl, son of former Congress minister Khushal Behl, for opposing the party candidate from the Gurdaspur Assembly segment in the last elections. Behl, who was sitting in the crowd, objected to the same. However, Sukhjinder Randhawa pacified both of them. Amarinder visited Behl’s house before attending the rally.


Capt taking law in his hands, says Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
SAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra today claimed that Congress Campaign Committee chairman Amarinder Singh was taking the law in his own hands by threatening SAD workers as well as state government officers during his ongoing campaign tour in the state.

Chandumajra alleged that Amarinder was deliberately trying to inflame passions and spoil the current peaceful atmosphere in the state. Amarinder should realise that the statements being made by him against government officials was against the spirit of the constitution and that he could be liable for punishment.

The Akali leader also accused Amarinder of playing “casual politics”. “He is treating the entire campaign tour as a picnic”, he said.


Sexual Exploitation
Blood samples of former sarpanch, girl taken
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 11
A panel of doctors on the request of the police has taken blood samples of Congress leader Harnek Singh a former sarpanch of nearby Ramuwala Kalan village and five-year- old girl for DNA tests to find out if he had any relation with the child.

The alleged accused is facing allegations of sexual exploitation. He was arrested on November 12, this year. He is at present in judicial custody. His anticipatory bail plea was cancelled by Punjab and Haryana High Court after he refused to cooperate in giving samples of his blood sample.

SHO of city police station Ram Singh claimed the police had taken production warrants of Harnek and then took him to the district hospital for taking his blood samples. He said a two-member panel of the doctors had collected the blood samples of the alleged accused and the girl, which were sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFL) Chandigarh for DNA tests.

Later, Harnek was produced in the court of Karunesh Kumar, chief judicial magistrate of Moga. Additional public prosecutor Lakhvir Singh revealed the court had extended the judicial custody of the accused till December 24.

Counsel for the accused Ranbir Singh Sandhu challenged in written the police had not sought prior permission of the court to collect his blood samples and said this act of the police was illegal. However, the judge declined to pass any orders on this application on the pretext it was out of his jurisdiction because after putting up of the challan the trial of this case would begin in the sessions’ court.


7 pc DA raise for staff, pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Punjab government today increased dearness allowance of employees, pensioners and employees of private- aided institutions from 47 per cent to 54 per cent of basic pay plus dearness pay from July 1, 2008.

Manpreet Singh Badal, finance minister said today in case of employees, the amount of enhanced dearness allowance due from July 1 to December 31 would be credited to the General Provident Fund accounts of the employees. From January 1, 2009 enhanced dearness allowance would be paid in cash.

In case of pensioners amount on account of enhanced dearness allowance would be paid in cash from July 1, 2008. The finance minister said payment of DA would lead to annual burden of Rs 315.09 crore on the exchequer.. The burden of Rs 225.06 crore would on account of payment to employees, Rs 33.76 crore on account of employees of private- aided institutions and Rs 56.27 crore due to pensioners.

The minister added in the case of the employees appointed on or after January 1, 2004 under the news restructured defined Contributory Pension Scheme and have not yet opened their accounts under Tier-II of the scheme, the department would purchase National Saving Certificate/ Kissan Vikas Patras from Post Offices in the state of Punjab with the amount of arrears on account of enhanced DA in the names of such employees.


Commissioner visits Maqboolpura school
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 11
It’s nearly after a decade since the inception of Citizen Forum Vidhya Mandir, a charitable school running in Maqboolpura, infamous as the locality of widows, that the administration today announced to extend various government schemes to the school.

The school, which is being run with the help of various NGOs, provides education to children of drug victims and living a life of penury.

The decades of efforts put in by Master Ajit Singh, a government teacher, and his family, along with Brij Bedi, a social activist, have borne fruit with the administration announcing to work for the welfare of school students and widows.

S.R. Laddhar, commissioner, Jalandhar division, who visited the school, was impressed with the selfless service of Bedi, master Ajit, his family and the whole team of the school. He interacted with children and took their test. He even awarded children from his pocket.

Ladhar deputed the DSSO and officers concerned to take the details of the children and their families. He said he would try to set up an anganwari centre besides one-time meal for the children. Under a scheme for orphan children, they could get a monthly pension of Rs 250, he added. 


Nursing students hold rally, seek stipend
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 11
Nearly 200 nursing students of the College of Nursing affiliated with Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, today held a rally in support of their demands.

Students of the College of Nursing first protested against the government at the OPD Department of Government Rajindra Hospital here and later took to the streets near the Leela Bhavan area of the town.

The students asked the people to pay their stipends as without it they would have to stop their courses. A spokesperson of the protesting students claimed they had got positive response from the city residents.

Navkiran Kaur, president of the Nursing Students Association claimed nearly 150 students on December 10, visited the office of the DRME at Chandigarh where they sat on dharna. Students from the Faridkot Nursing College also arrived at Chandigarh to express solidarity with the striking students.

At Chandigarh, the students met DRME Jagdeesh Gargi who in turn forwarded their demand of stipend to the higher authorities. The students also demanded their college at Patiala should be issued proper notification so that it had proper sanctity.

Navkiran Kaur with other leaders of the association claimed they were made to work for at least 48 hours a week but without any stipend.


Cong MLA condemns construction cess
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Sukhpal Singh Khaira, MLA from Bholath, has criticised the imposition of 1 per cent cess on new or old construction activities involving expenditure of above Rs 10 lakh. He termed the cess as further dampener in the growth of Punjab that was already facing a slow down in economy.

Khaira said the rates of real estate had taken a severe beating ever since the formation of the SAD-BJP government. “In the beginning, the government had imposed heavy charges on the colonisation business in Punjab, due to which only corporate houses or big builders like DLF and Omaxe could benefit. Now, with this new 1 per cent cess, real estate business would further dip in the state”. The imposition of 10 per cent luxury tax on hotels and banquet halls would also lead to decline in business in this industry.


Polluting Industries
HC questions preparation of draft policies
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The Punjab Pollution Control Board’s attempt to pacify the court by coming out with a draft policy for ensuring optimum use of effluent treatment plants and other related issues today backfired.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh not only questioned the Board’s jurisdiction to formulate such policies, but verbally observed in the open courtroom that it was inclined to direct the registration of a case on the issues like granting clearance to polluting industries.

As the public interest litigation on polluting industries came up for hearing, the Bench orally questioned, “What do you mean by these policies. Where in the relevant Act is it stated that you can come up with such policies?”

The Bench was also of the view that the policies were officer-centric and changed with the change of the chairman. Speaking for the Bench, Chief Justice Thakur observed the units were functioning without ensuring the setting up of the effluent treatment plants.

It was apparent that the corruption in the system was breeding. The provisions of law had been thrown to the winds, making lives of the people miserable and doing great damage to the communities.

Chief Justice Thakur added the treatment plants have to be in place before the consent is given to operate. The board, as of now, was allowing the units to operate and then tell what was lacking. In the process, time was lapsing and units functioning.

The judges were also of the opinion that the Board was trying to sidetrack the real issue by complaining about staff shortage. The Board, on the previous date of hearing, had informed the court that the sanctioned number of posts for environment engineers was 36.

They were working with just 19. Similarly, 81 posts were sanctioned for assistant environment engineers. Only 32 posts were occupied.

The counsel said the matter was time and again brought to the notice of the authorities concerned, but the vacancies continued.

Counsel for the State of Punjab, on the other hand, today said several posts had been sanctioned since 2006.

The petition filed by the Dera Bassi Welfare and Environment Bachao Committee will now come up for further hearing on December 22.


Badal accused of ‘contempt of court’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Congress MLA from form Qila Raipur Jassi Khangura has accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of “willful and deliberate contempt of court and letting loose fresh political vendetta”. He alleged the Chief Minister was directing the local authorities in Ludhiana to “blatantly violate court orders with the motive of pursuing vendetta”.

Khangura has alleged, “recent actions by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation against the Park Plaza hotel (owned by him) are in breach of a stay order from the local court.. He has reminded Badal, “There are current contempt proceedings arising from an earlier breach”.

The Congress leader alleged victimisation out of political vendetta even though he had paid three years’ advance Road Usage Charges for the parking area in front of the hotel. “Yet the corporation has denied free and unrestricted use of this area under instructions from the Badal family”.

He said the hotel had parking for 80 cars on its premises, where in case of an Akali MLA who owns property opposite the hotel, the corporation has been silent on parking issues. Khangura has alleged the Badal family has investments in “Surya Kiran” on The Mall, Ludhiana and “Perhaps you’d like to check the level of car-parking provision there”.


Arrest warrants against secy
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, December 11
Taking note of non-compliance of State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission’s order, the local forum has issued non-bailable warrants against principal secretary, Local Bodies Department, D.S. Bains. The warrants were forwarded to the SSP, Chandigarh police, today with the direction to arrest Bains.

On the same accusations, non-bailable warrants have also been issued against the deputy director, Local Bodies-cum-Administrator, Ludhiana Improvement Trust, Ashok Kumar Sikka. The SSP, Ludhiana, has been directed to arrest Sikka.

Issuing the arrest warrants, president of Consumer Forum, Ludhiana, T.N. Vaidya has instructed the police officials to arrest both officers and produce them before the forum on December 19.

The orders were passed by the forum on an application moved by Shakuntla Devi of Ludhiana. She has alleged that the officials were deliberately not complying with the orders passed by State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in her favour.

The commission had ordered the Ludhiana Improvement Trust to allot a suitable residential plot of 500 square yards to the complainant vide its order dated April 6, 2005, as her land was acquired by the trust in 1973.

The commission had stated that plot be allotted under the Model Town Extension Part-II scheme. In case of unavailability of plot in that scheme, she be provided one in any another scheme of the trust. The orders were challenged by the trust before the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi. But, it had lost the case there.

In September, 2008, the local consumer forum had issued show-cause notices to these officers to the effect that why they be not sentenced to imprisonment, if they fail in giving Shakuntla the possession of plot till November 26, 2008.

On the date fixed, a lawyer representing the trust appeared before the forum and sought more time. But, even that period lapsed without any concrete action in the case.


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