P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Yes, Sukhbir is Deputy CM, says Badal
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 15
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today confirmed the appointment of his son and SAD president Sukhbir Badal as Deputy Chief Minister.

This adds a new chapter to history in the country and with it the Badals join those who had it all in the family.

Parkash Singh Badal, who was here to lay the foundation stone of the Northern India Institute of Fashion and Technology, said the decision to make Sukhbir Deputy CM had been conveyed to the central leadership of their alliance partner the BJP.

On the induction of Sukhbir in the Cabinet, one minister will have to be dropped or asked to resign. There can only be 18 ministers, which is the existing number in the cabinet, including the Chief Minister. Whether Sukhbir’s brother-in-law Bikramjit Singh Majithia will step down to make way for his close relation or some other minister will be asked to step down, it is not known.

“The appointment is a family affair and I do not want to disclose much at this point of time. As far as the BJP is concerned, national leaders, including L K Advani and Rajnath Singh have been informed about it.. I have also asked them to convey the same to the Punjab leadership.” However, on how the holding of public office such as of Deputy Chief Minister can be a family affair, Badal evaded reply.

On whether the seniormost BJP leader and Cabinet Minister Manoranjan Kalia would also be elevated as Deputy Chief Minister, Badal did not answer .

A meeting of the ore committee of the SAD was held last evening at Chandigarh, where it was decided Sukhbir would be Deputy Chief Minister.

Kalia said he was unaware of the development and would comment only after being informed by the party high command.


Paving way for Sukhbir, BJP miffed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
The decks are being cleared for Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s ascendancy as Deputy Chief Minister with the Vidhan Sabha informing the Election Commission to hold elections for the Nurmahal Assembly seat which fell vacant after the death of Gurdeep Singh Bhullar.

In simultaneous development senior BJP leaders have went to Delhi to protest against the move, as its state president Rajinder Bhandari said the SAD had not talked with coalition partner on Sukhbir’s appointment.

Vidhan Sabha sources said the Nurmahal seat has been declared vacant and the Election Commission informed to hold elections to the seat.

Meanwhile the BJP today first held a meeting to review the situation following a demand by former minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan to make Sukhbir Deputy Chief Minsiter at a meeting of the party’s core committee last night. Other leaders seconded the proposal. The BJP meeting today was first held at the party’s office here and then shifted to the residence of Local Bodies Minister Manoranjan Singh Kalia, also being tipped to be Deputy CM. The meeting ended with leaders claiming there was no need or either one or two Deputy CMs.

Bhandari said no discussion had been held with the Punjab BJP on making Sukhbir Deputy CM. He said the party had left its demand for the post of Deputy CM long time back and now there was no demand from the BJP to make any of its ministers Deputy CM. Senior leader Balramji Das Tandon called the move to make Sukhbir Deputy CM without the consent of the party as “unfortunate”.

Sources said, the BJP central leadership had given the go- ahead for Sukhbir’s elevation and o Bhandari and Kalia and a few other leaders had rushed to Delhi to talk with the central leadership.

Meanwhile, Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon said he supported the proposal. “The way young men are rising to the occasion as in Kashmir is before you”, he said referring to Omar Abdullah as Chief Minster.


‘Organic farming not good for wheat, rice’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 15
Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, noted rice breeder and recipient of the World Food Prize and professor, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, has said the state, which was providing food security to the country, would be in trouble in 10-15 years due to excessive pumping of water sub-soil water. For enough foodgrains, nation needs to change agricultural pattern.

Dr Khush was at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) today to deliver convocation address to students of College of Agriculture.

Dr Khush said for vegetable and fruits there was no better option than organic farming but for crops like rice and wheat, organic farming could not become be viable. “Due to non-use of pesticides/insecticides, there will be much lower yield resulting in less production of major crops. There will be no choice but to increase the cost of foodgrains, which will be disastrous,” said Dr Khush adding organic farming was recommended for small-scale production but not for crops like wheat and rice, on which the nation was dependent.

He lauded PAU’s role in bringing about green revolution but for further progress, it neededc new techniques/courses and research-based programmes.

He said when he had graduated from PAU 53 years back the country was lived from hand to mouth. The country was getting 10 million tonnes of foodgrains a year and hunger and poverty were rampant. “Our image was very poor and it was hurting to hear India referred to as land of beggars or snake charmers. We have come a long way since then. It is India shining, India moving and India developing. The whole world is marvelling at India’s progress nd we have to maintain it ,” said Dr Khush.


Meltdown hits sports goods units too
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 15
Known the world over , especially in Europe, the UK and Australia for export of footballs, hockey sticks, cricket bats and other sports material, sports industry here is hit by global meltdown. Fluctuations in the exchange rate of currencies, especially, of Australia and the UK, have given hard blow to the sports units .“Owing to fluctuations in Australian dollar and UK’s pound, we have suffered loss of 20 per cent to 30 per cent across the board”, said RS Rana, regional director, Sports Goods Export Council, a body sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Certain items to be exported to meet commitments made to importers, the industry is not able to recover even cost, asserts Rana. “While American dollar firmed against Indian rupee in a few months, Australian dollar and the UK’s pound were in reverse gear”, adds Rana, who manufactures especially cricket bats etc. for export.

Even the domestic market has been hit by recession. Demand for sports goods has gone down by 20 per cent to 30 per cent winning of Olympic medals by Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Kumar, Jitender Kumar and others notwithstanding. “After the Olympics, there was boom in demand for boxing gloves and other stuff in the country, but not so now”, said Rana.

Importers in Europe, the UK and other countries have asked sports manufacturers to delay the supply of material by three to six months. “They have suspended import orders and obviously it is not a happy situation for all of us”, says Vikas Gupta, who exports footballs. China is posing big challenge to Indian sports goods manufacturers.

Ramesh Kohli, exporting hockey sticks says more demand for wooden sticks in the international market has fallen , due to high demand for composite sticks.

Sports manufacturers met Union Commerce Minister Kamal Nath urging him to lift ban on the supply of raw material; such as willow from Jammu and Kashmir and cane from Andamans to other states. The duty drawback on sports goods needs to be increased at least by three per cent, 10-year tax holiday for investment in this sector and 10 per cent subsidy on investment and Income Tax deduction on 50 per cent of export profits.


Now, a price on science trip
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 15
There is some good news that students can after all visit Pushpa Gujral Science City at Kapurthala. But, the roadways has other ideas. It has demanded payment in advance for hiring buses. The students have to wait till the issue is sorted out. The Tribune had highlighted the issue in today’s edition.

The Punjab Roadways as well as the PRTC authorities today gave a curt reply to the Education Department authorities that they would provide buses only when they receive payment in advance to transport students from schools across the state to the science city at Kapurthala.

A senior officer of the Education Department told The Tribune today that both the Punjab Roadways and the PRTC authorities were approached to engage their buses to transport students for educational trips to the science city. However, the roadways authorities asked for money in advance.

The officer said, however, there was no provision for depositing the money in advance. In government departments the bill is generated after the work is done and then it is submitted to the treasury for encashment and further payment to the party concerned, which is engaged to do any specific work. Likewise, the science city authorities have also refused to allow the entry of students in the city on a credit basis. “The Science City authorities say the charges for entry tickets will have to be deposited in advance or on the spot on the day when students visit the city,” said the officer.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had sanctioned Rs 1.25 crore to the Education Department to arrange visit of students from various districts to the science city. The money is to be spent by March 31. The file with regard to the problems faced by the Education Department in arranging the buses, etc, has been sent to the government authorities, it was learnt.

However, as annual examination of students is about to start in a few weeks, it will be a difficult task for the education department to arrange trips of students to the science city till March 31. Otherwise, the Education Department has prepared a schedule to start taking students there from January 19.



SAD fields Cheema from Anandpur Sahib
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal today announced the candidature of party secretary Daljeet Singh Cheema from Anandpur Sahib.

Dr Cheema is adviser to the Chief Minister. He has been entrusted with the responsibility of interacting with the grass root party worker and solving their grievances if any ever since the SAD-BJP government came into being.

He said by nominating him for Anandpur Sahib, the party had given recognition to a “humble party worker”.

The appointment also clears the air with regard to seat sharing between the two alliance partners. Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna was also angling for the seat as Hoshiarpur has become reserved following the new delimitation exercise. Khanna had been contending that the BJP should opt for Anandpur Sahib as more than four assembly segments of his eartwhile constituency were now part of Anandpur Sahib.


Plea against Punjab govt with power panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
A petition has been filed under various sections of the Electricity Act against the Punjab government with the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) for failing to pay the full agricultural subsidy to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The petition, filed by former PSEB chief engineer Padamjit Singh yesterday, has made the state Chief Secretary, Secretary, Power and chairman of the PSEB respondents in the case.

The petition claimed that levy of full tariff in case of default in subsidy payment was mandatory under Section 65 of the Electricity Act 2003. It said subsidy was not paid to the PSEB as per the time frame prescribed by the Regulatory Commission. This, it said, was clear from the annual receipt report (ARR) filed by the board on December 29 last year which said the PSEB received a subsidy amount of only Rs 1,640 crore from the government.

The petition claimed this happened despite the fact that the Regulatory Commission had directed the Board to pay a subsidy amount of Rs 2,601 crore in four advance quarterly instalments with the last one due on January 1 this year.

Padamjit Singh, in his petition, stated that the government made a budget provision of only Rs 2,000 crore for subsidy to be given to the PSEB against a requirement of Rs 2,601 crore. It said to pre-empt a repeat of last year, the Regulatory Commission must advise the government to make the required estimated provision in the budget for 2009-10.


Youth Fest
A day of folk songs, dance
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 15
At the 14th National Youth Festival here today, folk singers from Madhya Pradesh (MP) performed a ballad in their native dialect portraying psychology of a girl who was reluctant to accompany her husband to his house .

Scampering from one room to another, the minor girl in the song urges her mother to at least avoid sending this time. However, eventually the panchayat prevailed upon her and her family to send her along with her husband.

Ten-member group from MP playing tambura, harmonium, dholki lyrically presented the fate many more girls like her.

27 teams showcased varied colours of folk songs at Sarup Rani Government College for Women. There is no denying the truth that several languages are incomprehensible but themes of lyrics, feelings and vocal instruments fill the gap of diversity.

Clad in their regional dresses, the participants were a treat to watch. Hymns of Vithoba were presented by a team of Maharashtra while Chhattisgarh offered “Karma Dadarihya”, a song full of gaiety which is sung on every happy occasion there.

Besides, kathak and folk dance teams from eight states showcased their talent in Guru Nanak Dev University. The dance forms present included Rajasthan’s kalbaliya, Himachal Pradesh’s natti dhilli, Punjab’s jinduan and others.

A team of DAV Shatbdi Mahavidyalaya, Faridabad, staged an one-act play “Dev Sena” at the BBK Dev College for Women. The story line is of a prince and an ordinary girl which ended in a tragedy.


Food fest a big draw
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 15
Punjabis, especially residents of Amritsar, where about 50 per cent of population savours desi ghee delicacies while the others like cooking, today had a real taste of India at the food festival pavilions put up by 28 states and union territories of the country during the 14th National Youth Festival here.

The festival is being organised by the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan in collaboration with the state government supported by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

Thousands of local foodies and artistes enjoyed every bit of the food street set up at Khalsa College. The dishes prepared by the trained chefs from across the country provided wide varieties of cuisine, including ethnic Kashmiri kava with a touch of saffron and almonds.

Several stalls offered traditional food items that were enjoyed by people of respective states. A food lover, Dr AS Mahal, said similar food festivals should be held across the country, especially in Punjab, where people are fond of good food and were keen on trying out new dishes.

Dr Shakeel Ahmad Khan, secretary-general of the sangathan, said the festival represented unity in diversity.


Secy, Dir of Public Relations shifted
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Punjab government on yesterday shifted the secretary and director, Public Relations, apparently with Lok Sabha elections in mind. DS Guru, principal secretary to the Chief Minister, will have an additional charge of the secretary, Public Relations. He replaces DS Jaspal. Gagadeep Singh Brar has been given the charge of the director, Public Relations, in place of Tejveer Singh. He too will hold an additional charge retaining his position as additional principal secretary to the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister’s office will look after the department till media strategy for the LS elections is drawn up.

Jaspal will continue to be principal secretary, Transport, a charge he already has, while Tejveer will remain special secretary, Planning, in addition to commissioner, NRIs Affairs.

The working of the department had suffered due to shortage of staff and greater shortage of people who could have liaison with the media for positive reportage.

.The SAD, in its manifesto, had talked about the formulation of a media policy, which is yet to be announced. Majithia held several meetings with journalists to get inputs on the issue which has not moved beyond discussions.


Salary of computer teachers hiked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 15
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today ordered to hike the salary of computer teachers from Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000 with immediate effect.

Badaltook the decision at a meeting with a deputation of the Punjab State Computer Teacher Union led by president Gurvinder Singh. The decision will benefit 7172 computer teachers in the state.

Computer education was introduced from class VI to XII in 4965 government schools. The state Education Department has decided to conduct the examination of computer subject of class class VIII, X and XII by the Punjab School Education Board from the 2009-10 session. The computer teachers in the state have been demanding regulariusation of services.


Civil hospital to have dialysis unit from Jan 20
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 15
The Civil Hospital will be the first hospital in the district to have a dialysis unit from January 20 . It will take care of poor patients, and dialysis fee has been fixed Rs 750.

Civil surgeon Dalip Kumar said on Tuesday the civil hospital would be the fourth government hospital in the state to have a dialysis unit. Only Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Dasyua hospitals had dialysis units, he added.

He said the unit would cost Rs 15 lakh and Rs 12.22 lakh had been spent on two dialysis machines, while Rs 2.73 lakh on reverse osmosis (RO) system. To buy dialysis machines SAD MP Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had given money from his MP Local Area Development funds whil the remaining sum was spent by the health authorities from user- charges.


7 PSEB employees reinstated
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 15
The Punjab State Electricity Board today reinstated seven employees sacked for misbehaving with a senior engineer.

Many unions had been demanding reinstatement of these employees. This development came with H.S Brar taking over as PSEB chief in place of Y.S Ratra.

Eleven more employees were suspended for allegedly assaulting the senior engineer.

On July 19, 2007, these employees were dismissed for assaulting executive engineer Gurpal Singh in his office here Out of these two had retired and the PSEB will give all benefits to these. The reinstated employees are Vijay Dev, Rameshwar Pasiana, Banarsi Das, Ram Singh,Amar Dev, Tirath Bahadur and Rajinder singh.


January 17 holiday in Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur , January 15
In memory of 66 Kuka martyrs Sangrur deputy commissioner V.K. Ohri today announced a holiday under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act 1881 for January 17 (Kuka martyrdom day) in the district. Government offices, boards, corporations and educational institutions in the district will observe the Kuka martyrdom day.


ETT teachers get bail
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, January 15
All 75 ETT teachers, who had been arrested during Chief Minister’s Vikas Rally here on January 11, were released on bail today.

According to Sukhvir Singh, district president of the ETT Teachers Union 28 teachers kept in the local jail were released yesterday while the remaining 47 teachers were released today from the Patiala jail. The process for the cancellation of the case against the teachers had been started.


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