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Implement Anandpur pact: Sukhbir
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
Immediately after his swearing-in, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal would continue to fight for the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, including the transfer of Chandigarh and other left-out Punjabi speaking areas into Punjab, apart from a fair adjudication of inter-state river waters.

To a question, Badal Junior confirmed that demands enshrined in the resolution would be part of their manifesto. He said if voted to power at the Centre, the NDA would accept the just demands of Punjab and Punjabis.

Listing out his priorities, he said the Punjab government would make relentless efforts to weed out corruption in the administration. “A war against drugs would be launched.”

The Deputy Chief Minister, while outlining his vision to make Punjab a role model with emphasis on good governance, administrative reforms, agricultural and industrial growth and making the governing system more accountable and transparent. He said bureaucrats would have to be accountable by bringing transparency in their working.

In a firm voice, Sukhbir said those who did not fulfil people’s aspirations or were found to be less than honest should be ready to face the consequences. However, he did not entertain any query regarding former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

He emphasised there was no place for vendetta in a democracy. “The SAD culture is one of forgiveness. But, if anyone has broken the law, then law itself is strong enough to take care of him.”

“I start with the divine blessings of the great Gurus and I pray that Almighty may give me strength to prove myself equal to the honour given to me,” he said.

Education will be made the central component of government policies. “Already, a lot is being done. We would redouble our efforts in that direction. This, along with freeing our youth from the menace of drugs and similar other evils, would receive my personal attention.”

“Infrastructure development is seeing an unparallelled transformation. My effort will be to ensure that the pace of work on these projects is stepped up further,” the Deputy Chief Minister added.

Initiatives have been taken for making Punjab a power surplus state and ensuring 24-hour power supply to the industry, domestic consumers and the farm sector and “I will devote all my energies to help the government achieve this goal”.

On the dismal industrial growth, Sukhbir said the trade and industry in Punjab needed a bailout. “Unfortunately, both have suffered because of the flawed and discriminatory policies of the UPA government. Once the NDA is powered at the Centre, we would make sure that Punjab gets the same trade and industrial concessions, which are given to our its neighbouring states,” he said.

 

Gets Home, Public Health
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Highly placed sources in the SAD said Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal would look after the following departments: Home, Public Health, Information and Public Relations, Sports and Youth Services, NRI Affairs, Science and Technology, Environment and non-Conventional Energy, Water Supply and Sanitation.

A majority of the departments were previously with Bikram Singh Majithia, MLA from Majitha, who recently submitted his resignation to pave way for Sukhbir.

Sports and Youth Services has been taken from Gulzar Singh Ranike, while the Home Department was earlier being looked after by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

 

SIDELIGHTS

  • The three-minute oath-taking ceremony, according to rough estimates, cost the state exchequer more than Rs 3 crore.
  • Organisers distributed free food packets to thousands of participants, besides 2,000 buses were requisitioned from all over the state to ferry people for the function.
  • The entire top state administration, including the chief secretary and the DGP, along with hundreds of bureaucrats and police officers to were camping in the city.
  • Sukhbir Badal took the blessings of religious leaders of Sant Samaj after the oath ceremony. He also greeted his relatives, who had specially come to witness the ceremony.
  • The huge pandal made for thousands of people lacked proper public utility services, including toilets for men and women.
  • In spite of tight security cordon with the installation of a large number of metal detectors, the policemen posted to check people, failed to check each and every person arriving the site.
  • Sukhbir also faced brief power cut during his press conference.
  • The judiciary and opposition MLAs, who normally attend such ceremony, were absent since it was held outside Raj Bhawan.
  • The drum beating by a large number of Dhilis started even before the national anthem that marked the swearing-in ceremony.

 

Hans sings paeans to Sukhbir
PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
Candidate of the SAD from the Jalandhar parliamentary seat Hans Raj Hans today entertained the huge gathering at the swearing-in of Sukhbir Singh Badal as Deputy Chief Minister at the Ranjit Avenue grounds here today.

Sycophancy was at its peak when the SAD nominee rendered songs in the praise of Sukhbir and his family ahead of the swearing-in.

Supporting a blue turban, he sang a song seeking Sukhbir’s long life from the Almighty by coining new phrases in the popular Punjabi number, “Nit khair manga soniya main teri”. He added the phrases “Hove Kaka ji di umar lameri” and “Hove Sukh ji di umar lameri” in the original song, which drew anger among the audience. An onlooker at the public gathering said he was shocked that the eminent Sufi singer had reduced himself to a “Darbari” singer singing paeans for the master politicians.

Changing the tone and tenor of the creation of Prof Mohan Singh, he sang, “Ni aj koi aya sade vehre” on Sukhbir’s arrival in the huge pandal.

Speaking from the dais, he claimed that he had sung the song only twice earlier. First during the arrival of former Prime Minister IK Gujral in the state after he became Prime Minister and second while welcoming Prince Charles during his visit to the state.

He repeatedly used the words “Kaka ji”, “Dulha (groom) of the event”, “Mehboob (darling) of the people” and “Sukh ji” for Sukhbir during the performance. He described Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as Nelson Mandela of farmers, who remained in jails for their cause.

Distorting the Sikh way of greeting, he said: “Kaka ji sara Punjab khara hai tuhade naal, (Kaka ji, the whole Punjab is standing with you), Bole So Nihal”, which again raised many eyebrows.

 

Ties with SAD excellent, says Rajnath
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, January 21
BJP supremo Rajnath Singh congratulated SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal for his elevation as Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab.

Rajnath, who came here along with a battery of senior BJP leaders to participate in the ceremony today, told the media that the BJP was having an excellent relationship with the SAD, which had stood with them for years.

About BJP’s list for the coming general elections, Rajnath said the party was in the process of completing it and in all likelihood would be released by February 20. He said the NDA partners were confident of forming the next government at the Centre. He said the UPA had been a complete failure on all fronts and LK Advani would become the next Prime Minister.

A day of no power cuts

Residents of the city were saved from power cut blues even as the power staff ensured uninterrupted power supply to the city in view of the swearing-in of Junior Badal here. Otherwise, the city reeled under severe power shedding extending up to several hours daily.

An industrialist said the Badal family must set up its residence and make Amritsar the second capital of the state to save them from unscheduled power cuts.

A senior resident said since the agriculture power needs are minimal during winter months, at least the government should spare the people from inhuman power cuts these days.

Traffic plans go haywire

Public had to face inconvenience as several approach roads leading to Ranjit Avenue (venue for the swearing-in of Sukhbir), Golden Temple and the court complex road remained inaccessible for the general public in view of the visits of VVIPs.

The traffic from the Ajnala bypass to the district courts was put on hold to facilitate a free movement of the VIP cavalcade.

Vehicles were diverted to lanes and bylanes, resulting in traffic jams. The police had a tough time to divert the traffic to alternative routes. The traffic diversion plans of the police went awry as it failed to check the flow of traffic.

Meanwhile, carrying yellow flags with SAD symbol “takri”, Akali supporters raised slogans in favour of Sukhbir. Activists of the BJP joined them. Jalebis, laddoos were served in langar. Packaged food was also distributed among participants.

 

Free pass through toll barriers
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Behram (Nawanshahr), January 21
The toll tax companies today joined the celebrations marking the oath-taking ceremony of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, although in a forcible manner.

The buses, taxis and cars bearing SAD flags, stickers of the Students Organisation of India (SOI) and posters of Sukhbir and the tour-sponsor Akali leaders from various constituencies during their to and fro journey to Amritsar didn’t have to pay at toll points falling on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar and Chandigarh-Phagwara highways.

Even as hundreds of such vehicles had shuttled on the route since last evening, the managers of the toll companies had clear-cut instructions of not to charge tax from vehicles going to the rally.

“We had received innumerable calls from various government officials, DTOs and politicians since last evening for allowing tax-free mobility to the vehicles going to the rally. We had no option but to simply follow their word,” said an employee of the Rohan and Rajdeep Tollways, near the Behram barricade.

“Normally, we allow free passage to the commuters only during religious congregations or functions at Khatkar Kalan in the memory of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. It is for the first time that we are doing it for a political rally. We just hope that it does not become a routine affair, especially with the Lok Sabha polls drawing nearer,” said another employee.

Satinder Singh, a resident of Ludhiana who was part of the cavalcade sponsored by MLA Harish Rai Dhanda, said all vehicles bearing the MLA’s name were allowed to pass without paying toll tax at the barricade near the Sutlej. Taxi drivers from Malout said: “Aj tan bai takdi wali jhandi lagi honi chaheedi hai ya phir chhote Badal sahib di photo, tuhade sare toll muaff (You only need to have a flag bearing party symbol of the SAD or a poster of Sukhbir today, you need not pay up at any toll barricade).”

 

Row over three siropas
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 21
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) which has been in the news for denying siropa (robe of honour) to certain opposition leaders, especially of the Congress, today honoured Sukhbir Singh Badal three times in a day evoking criticism in Panthic circles.

The first siropa was bestowed on the SAD chief by the head granthi of the Golden Temple when he (Badal Junior) paid his obeisance at the Golden Temple early morning before his swearing-in ceremony. Head granthi Giani Jaswinder Singh stood up to honour the SAD president and SGPC president Avtar Singh who was listening to the Gurbani also joined him to present the siropa.

However, after taking oath as Deputy CM, Sukhbir again visited the Golden Temple in the evening when Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh and Giani Jaswinder Singh honoured him and his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal. They were already standing in the sanctum sanctorum, holding siropas in their hands when the Deputy CM paid obeisance.

Later, the Deputy CM was honoured again with a siropa by the SGPC president outside the Golden Temple’s Information Office. The SGPC president said it was a great day when the youngest SAD president took oath as Deputy Chief Minister.

Former Jathedar, Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged the head granthi of the Golden Temple who was sitting beside Guru Granth Sahib stood up to honour Sukhbir, hence violated age-old Maryada (Sikh code).

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee president Parmjit Singh Sarna said the SGPC should frame rules for presenting siropas from the sanctum sanctorum.

Later, the Deputy CM also paid obeisance at the Durgiana Temple where he was honoured by the management committee.

 

News Analysis
Sukhbir’s appointment probation for top job
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
In a progress that has taken Sukhbir Singh Badal from public perception of his being a “Super Chief Minister” to real “Deputy Chief Minister”, Badal junior has gone through roller coaster ride emerging stronger and more powerful at the end . His “coronation” was no less than the formation of new government, but in terms of responsibility, he has carefully chosen to stay away from all portfolios dealing with money or revenue generation.

Objective is clear - his vision of “New Punjab” limiting his role to administrative reforms, infrastructure development, youth welfare and sports. But the motive differs, he avoids departments which can lead to “tagging of charges of financial impropriety” to his name, essential imperative for him to step into his father’s shoes as soon as possible.

It will be naive to believe that today’s event was organised and managed without the knowledge of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Again, it is not without conscious effort attempt has been made to stay away from departments like finance, revenue, transport, housing, power, excise and taxation, etc. The father-son duo has agreed the son will handle Home, Public Health, Public Relations, Sports, NRI affairs, youth welfare, non-conventional energy, science and technology, remaining focused on governance and administration.

As per the “Vision Document” for “A New Punjab” released soon after he took oath as Deputy Chief Minister, the junior Badal deliberately avoided claims on achievements, a marked shift from his style of functioning.. On the other hand he emphasised continuity of government’s s programmes and polices, but indicated these would now take place at much faster speed. Without wanting to contradict or run down the government under his father Sukhbir has hinted at enhancing the delivery mechanism.

To quote the vision document, Sukhbir would like to “see a new Punjab , a role model for futuristic development, with emphasis on good governance, administrative reforms to simply procedures, speed up agricultural and industrial growth and make the system more accountable and transparent”. The message reads clear saying , “don’t blame me for the two years Punjab has lost, but now I am in the saddle, you will see things moving in this direction”.

There is direct message to the state’s bureaucracy - perform or be ready to face action. This line is in concurrence with the one followed by the senior Badal, who has been harsh on officials and virtually frustrated all moves by the powerful bureaucratic lobby to rehabilitate their colleagues on important posts after superannuation . A the same time from “boisterous claims of teaching political rivals a lesson”, there is visible climb down in his proclamation saying, “there is no place for vendetta in democracy”. This is being read by some as, “We will go easy on political rivals because we don’t want to be harassed if we don’t make it in the next elections”.

For Sukhbir, youth is a priority area as he feels he can bank upon youth that forms majority of Punjab’s population. So, he will also focus on education, sports, drug abuse and youth welfare. With Sukhbir’s targets in focus, there could be elevation sooner than expected, perhaps after Lok Sabha elections.

 

Bains: Whose media adviser?

Chandigarh, January 21
Though Harcharan Singh Bains is the media adviser to the CM, he has not missed a single opportunity to project the positive side of Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal. At every public appearance, Bains has been seen with Badal Jr. — TNS

 





 
POLITICS
 

Capt’s tour from Feb 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Chairman of the Campaign Committee of the state, Captain Amarinder Singh, has announced the second phase of his mass contact programme from February 2, starting at Kapurthala.

Amarinder will start the second leg of his whirlwind statewide tour on February 2. He will attend a sports function being organised there by MP Rana Gurjit Singh. This will be followed by a workers’ meeting at Jalandhar on February 3. On February 4, he will address the workers at Amritsar, followed by Ludhiana on February 5. He will finally round off the second phase on February 6 at Fatehgarh Sahib. He will be accompanied by PPCC chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee. 

 
COMMUNITY

Empowering rural youth his passion
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
A former Colonel of the Indian Army has taken upon himself training rural youth for recruitment in defence forces, the police and security agencies. He is also keen on training rural youth to protect farms from wild animals.

Women empowerment is another area this retired defence officer wants to take to rural and remote areas with his training methods and ideas.

Assisted and helped by members of the Young Farmers Club of Bhadson, near Patiala, Col Rupinder S Grewal, got 42 youths of the area selected by the Centre for Training and Employment of Punjab Youth (C-PYTE) after physical test a few days ago.

The club made the selection at a rally that formed part of a pioneering effort. It was the first effort of its type to select youths for recruitment to the Army, Indian Air Force and paramilitary forces. The rally also aimed at honing technical skills of the youth enabling them to secure employment in industry and undertake self-employment ventures.

The governments with limited resources have hardly any funds for human resource development in general and for the youth and women in particular.

“This is a welcome initiative by the Young Farmers’ Club to enable the youth of Punjab find worthwhile occupation and lead a dignified and happy life. Awareness of such recruitment processes initiated by the C-PYTE will increase initiatives from the NGOs, which act as a bridge between people and the government,” said Brig GJ Singh (retd), Director-General, Youth Employment Services, Punjab.

Colonel Grewal feels rural youths need proper advice and training. They have physique, skills and capacity to work extra long hours and adjust to new technology.

The club, that was started in 1971 as part of an initiative to aid farmers of Nabha block in different aspects of rural life, had also set up a public school in 1979. For two consecutive academic years, the school has been producing the district topper in matriculation examination of the Punjab School Education Board.

Colonel Grewal served the country for 35 years, hung up his boots and decided to serve people. “We formed two wings of the club this year, one for the youth and the other for women’s welfare. The club will continue with its tradition of social services such as blood donation, ensuring hygiene and honest medical practices in rural areas, and undertaking collective public works”.

He recently met DFO, Patiala, KS Jattana and sought to extend a helping hand to check wild animals and stray cattle from Bir Bhadson destroying crops. Forest officials say they have no funds. The club is going to approach the Punjab government for funds to fence the Bir,” says Colonel Grewal.

 

Panel to certify quality of greenhouses
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab government has decided to form a committee to verify the quality of green houses in the state set up under the National Horticulture Mission following farmers’ complaints of poor quality green houses which resulted in the destruction of vegetable crop.

Financial Commissioner (Development) NS Kang has ordered the Horticulture Department not to release payments to the blacklisted company, Complete Solutions Greenhouses, for works done after October 15 when action was taken against it.

According to sources, three farmers have claimed having bought equipment from the company under a subsidy scheme to establish green houses after October 15. A committee will certify these claims before money is released to the blacklisted firm. Earlier, a few farmers had complained against the firm, which led to its being blacklisted.

The government has decided to form a committee including a representative from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, to certify the quality and construction of green houses coming up in the state. There is a move to empanel firms to assure quality green houses.

As many as 35 green houses have come up in the state at 50 per cent subsidy of Rs 3.25 lakh for small farmers with the department having fixed a target of 100 houses this year. Fifty big farmers are slated to get subsidy of 33 per cent to set up green houses till March this year. Each green house is set up in 1,000 sq m.

Horticulture director Baldev Singh said he received a complaint against Complete Solutions Greenhouses two months back and also recently when Amarpal Singh of Sidhwan Khurd in Ludhiana district alleged that the company was not compensating him for the loss due to faulty construction of the green house.

 

Contempt of court costs Punjab, IAS officer dear
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Failure to implement an order on admissions has cost the State of Punjab, an IAS officer and another respondent dear.

Taking up a contempt of court petition against then medical education secretary Jagjit Puri and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences registrar Dr S.S. Walia, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has awarded Rs 5,000 each as compensatory costs to the petitioners. Available information suggests the amount has to be paid to13 petitioners.

Pronouncing the order, Justice Permod Kohli made it clear “The amount shall be deposited by the respondents-state before this court for disbursement to the petitioners in the writ petition within four weeks of receiving the order’s copy, failing which the contempt proceedings shall stand revived”.

In the petition, Binish Kathuria had claimed a petition was filed challenging Clauses 13 and 14 of a notification dated March 21, 2007, as these were violative of a Supreme Court judgment in the case of Saurabh Chaudri and another versus the Union of India. Directions were also sought to consider the candidature of graduates for admission to postgraduate degree/diploma courses during the session 2007 on the basis of institutional preference only.

In the judgment on the petition, it was observed: Needless to observe the State of Punjab is bound by the law laid by the Supreme Court in the case of Saurabh Chaudhri that reservation for post graduate courses has to be based on institutional preference and not on place of residence, apart from other permissible constitutional reservations...”

As the judgment was not implemented, the petitioner filed the contempt petition. After notice was issued, respondents sought time to implement the judgment and issued a notification dated June 27, 2007.

However, it was found the notification was not in consonance with the judgment of this court. Accordingly, counsel for the respondents-state sought further time to comply with the judgment and consequently a corrigendum was issued

After hearing the counsel Ashok Sharma Nabhewala, the Judge observed: It has definitely adversely affected the career of the petitioner.

However, since the respondents have now complied with the judgment and have also tendered unconditional apology, I decline to impose any punishment.

“However, keeping in view the fact that it has adversely affected the career of the petitioners, I award compensatory costs to all the petitioners in at the rate of Rs.5,000 each”.

 

Malpractices in PDS
Monitor progress of pending cases, HC to Punjab director
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants Punjab Director, food and supplies, to periodically monitor the progress of cases pending against depot holders indulging in malpractices in the public distribution system (PDS).

The directions by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta follow a petition seeking directions to Punjab and other respondents to “check embezzlements in the distribution of essential commodities, including rice, wheat, sugar, flour, edible oil and kerosene, meant for public distribution among poorer sections of the society and others eligible for the same”.

The Bench also asked the director to “take necessary action or have such action taken by the competent authority wherever the same is called for”.

In the detailed order, the Bench asked the authorities concerned to “take immediate and effective action against the defaulters, who are found to have committed any malpractice or violation of any rules or instructions on the subject no sooner the malpractice is discovered”. The Bench added: “Apart from the two aspects, we see no reason to examine the larger issue regarding improvements required to be made in the PDS. “We say so because the matter squarely falls within the jurisdiction of the Central Vigilance Committee (CVC) set up by the Supreme Court. All that we need to say is that the petitioner shall be free to approach the CVC and make what ever suggestions are considered necessary, in which event we hope and trust that the CVC would examine the same”.

The Judges also observed: “We find from the counter affidavit a number of raids were conducted between January and July last year to check the working of such depots.

“Based on the reports, a large number of show-cause notices have been issued to different depot holders. The licences of some depot holders have also been suspended,” they said.

“There is, however, nothing to indicate whether any action is still pending against the defaulter-depot holders on the basis of the raids and the show-cause notices issued by the authorities concerned,” the Bench said.

“There is no gain saying that if a raid has revealed any malpractice, the authorities must take immediate action against the defaulter to ensure that the beneficiaries do not suffer on account of greed or apathy of the depot holders”, they said.

The petition was filed by Ishwar Dass Singla. He had claimed that rations meant for distribution through the PDS were generally sold in the black market. He also alleged depots were being allotted to members of the same family.

 

Notice of motion issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Issuing notice of motion on a petition challenging the grant of extension to retired administrative officer of Punjab Wakf Board S.H. Naqvi, Justice Permod Kohli has restrained him from officiating as an employee, in case there was no extension given to him by the board.

A petition in the matter was filed by Fardeen Iqbal of Malerkotla. He had challenged the resolution dated November 29, 2007, of the Wakf Board, whereby, extension to the retire employee was granted beyond a year.

The counsel contended as per regulation 30 of the Wakf regulations, extension could not be granted beyond one year at a time.

 

Rape Case
MLA Harish Dhanda submits reply
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 21
Sitting MLA of SAD Harish Rai Dhanda on Monday submitted reply to the application moved pertaining to the rape case against Narinder Singh, director of Frontier Cycles in Ludhiana, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The application had sought for making the sitting MLA party in the case. In his reply, the politician said it was wrongly stated that the inquiry was conducted on his behest as mentioned in the application and his name was unnecessarily dragged in.

It was mentioned in the application that an illegal inquiry was initiated by the SSP, Fatehgarh Sahib at the behest of this MLA to hush-up this case. It was mentioned that the accused and the politician were good friends.

This could be established through letters written by Narinder to the MLA to lure the victim for a government job. Earlier, the high court had raised doubts on the inquiry conducted by the then SSP Fatehgarh Sahib, Silabh Kishore. Seeking an explanation, the high court had issued notices to MK Tiwari, IG Zonal, Patiala now posted as I.G. MD, Punjab Housing Corporation, Chandigarh, and Silabh Kishore, SSP Fatehgarh Sahib, to explain as to how and under what circumstances they had conducted the inquiry. The inquiry report concluded: “It seems from my inquiry that it was a well thought plan”.

 





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