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SAD names Ghubaiya for Ferozepur
Badal rules out contesting LS polls
Kulwinder Sandhu and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune Reporters

Ghubaiya (Ferozepur), January 22
Banking on the caste factor to woo the Rai Sikh community, as expected, Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has declared the name of chief parliamentary secretary Sher Singh Ghubaiya as the SAD-BJP candidate for the Ferozepur Lok Sabha constituency. Badal announced Ghubaiya candidature in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal at a rally of the community here today.

Sitting MP Zora Singh Mann, who has won from this constituency for the past three consecutive terms, did not turn up at the rally. However, all other local leaders of the SAD were present.

School closed for rally

Ignoring the Supreme Court directions, the government school of Ghubaiya village was shut to utilise services of students, mostly girls, at the SAD rally. The boys were put on langar duty to distribute plates and glasses among the visitors. Rooms of the school were occupied by security personnel.

Although sources close to the Chief Minister claimed that they had taken the sitting MP in confidence regarding the candidature of Ghubaiya, political observers were of the view that ignoring Mann could cost a bit to the party.

The turnout at the rally was impressive. The Chief Minister asked the District Magistrate to give proprietary rights to the left-out tillers in the border belt who had been cultivating the land alongside the Sutlej for the past several years.

He also announced to open government women colleges in all districts and to begin classes exclusively for girls in one of every 10 government schools in the morning session and for boys in the afternoon session.

He accepted few long demands of the local people including clean potable water supply and proper sewage system for Jalalabad town, a bypass to ease out traffic in Jalalabad, initiate construction work on Government College in Guru Har Sashay within three months and construction of a road between Jalalabad and Guru Har Sashay.

Sukhbir promised the gathering of a clean, transparent and fully accountable administration. “I will focus my attention on strengthening infrastructure of roads, increasing the generation of power, besides all socio-economic issues concerning the common people,” he said.

Sher Singh Ghaghara highlighted the problems of the area.

Earlier, the both father and son, along with chief parliamentary secretary Sukhpal Singh Nannu, visited villages across the Sutlej along the border and announced to transfer vacant land lying across the fencing at a rate of Rs 25,000 per acre in six instalments and inside the fencing at the rate of Rs 75,000 per and near the cantonment area at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh per acre in the names of the tillers.

Meanwhile, Badal rubbished the rumours that he was likely to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections in order to pave way for his son to become the Chief Minister of Punjab. “I will fight the assembly elections only”, he said.

IT raids 18 premises of Malhotra Book Depot
Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 22
Income Tax officials raided Malhotra Book Depot publishing house (MBD), premises at 18 places in Jalandhar and Delhi, including Noida and Ghaziabad.

Sources said the raid was made after the department found the publishing house was evading tax in crores by not showing actual income.

Raids were made at 10 establishments of the group in Jalandhar and eight in Delhi. The MBD group has its own publishing house and offset printing wing. The group has also diversified into hotel industry and owns malls and multiplexes.

Besides Jalandhar, the groups has branches in Srinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ernakulam, Patna, Lucknow, Cuttack, Raipur, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Guwahati, Goa, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Pune, Dehradun, Agra, Bhopal, Delhi and certain other cities.

IT officials virtually sealed the establishments of the group in the morning restricting entry and exit from the premises.

Important documents relating to the income of the MBD group were seized at these places.

Officials of the IT Department collected documents relating to the business of the group till late in the evening.

Additional Director of Income Tax, Jalandhar, Abha Rani Singh, said tax evasion would be clear only after final assessment and evaluation of the income of the MBD group.

 

State increases plan outlay to Rs 8,400 cr
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Encouraged by the Rs 10,000-crore annual plan proposal made by Haryana, the Punjab government has put forth an enhanced plan outlay of almost Rs 8,400 crore for 2009-2010 before the Planning Commission of India, a 25 per cent increase in the annual outlay from last year.

The first set of meetings of officers from the state and members of the commission was held in New Delhi yesterday. Led by Punjab Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and Secretary (Planning) Satish Chandra, over 20 administrative secretaries of the state representing various departments are in Delhi to meet the commission’s working groups.

Punjab’s plan size has increased from last year’s Rs 6,224 crore to over Rs 8,000 crore. “The final figure is likely to be between Rs 8,000 and 8,400 crore,” said Satish Chandra. He added that the state would have to borrow almost Rs 5,000 crore to justify its plan size.

Since last year, the plan size swell is the highest in infrastructure with the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) increasing the plan size from the Rs 350 crore to a whopping Rs 1,500 crore this year.

Similarly in the power sector, the state has planned to spend 25 per cent more than what it spent last year. Another 10 per cent increase has been planned for education and health each. The other thrust areas of the state where the plan size has increased from last year is agriculture, irrigation and social security.

The state is registering an increase in its plan outlay each year. In 2007-08, Punjab’s plan outlay was of Rs 5,111 crore. In 2005-2006, the annual outlay approved was Rs 3,000 crore and Rs 4,000 crore in 2006-2007.

Earlier, the state had put forth an annual plan size of Rs 7,500 crore for this year.

 

Transfer of lecturers
Quash HC order, Punjab plea to SC
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 22
Punjab government challenged in the Supreme Court the high court’s verdict, in September 2008, seeking review of the transfer of 85 college lecturers earlier last year.

Punjab and Haryana High Court, on September 30 last year, ruled lecturers working on regular basis be not discriminated against vis- a vis ad hoc or part-time appointees in the matter of transfers.

The state government has, however, maintained in the appeal in the apex court that the HC had failed to appreciate the fact that part-time lecturers were recruited by the principal of the college concerned and their appointment was not governed by Punjab Educational Service Rules, 1976.

They could not be transferred from one college to another and this had been made clear by the apex court in the Civil Appeal No. 8745 of 2003, it has been contended in the petition, mentioned by counsel Mahavir Singh before a Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and G.S. Singhvi. The petition would be heard on February 2.

Twenty -seven regular lecturers, who had partly won their case in the HC, have been named respondents in the appeal by the government. The HC, while asking the government to review the transfers ordered on July 2, 2008, had, however, upheld its powers to effect transfers.

The petitioner also contended the HC had also did not appreciate the fact the Department of Higher Education had restructured the teaching posts as per norms recommended by the University Grants Commission and on the basis information provided by principals about the actual teaching workload.

Further, the workload, especially for science subjects, was considerably reduced because of shifting of plus one and two science classes from colleges to schools in 2005.

 

SSP in dock over land case
To explain violation of stay order
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Ferozepur’s senior superintendent of police (SSP) is in the dock. The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants to know from him under which provision of law the police delivered the possession of land to a party, despite stay orders. The officer has been asked to either file an affidavit, or remain present in the court on the next date of hearing.

Taking up a petition filed in the matter through counsel Sameer Sachdeva, Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia of the high court observed: “Despite stay order in favour of the petitioner under the orders of the district magistrate to make demarcation of land, police officials had gone to the spot and had dispossessed the petitioner and handed over the possession to a respondent, Balkar Singh”.

Justice Ahluwalia asserted: “To controvert this, PS Hundal, counsel for the respondent, has stated that Balkar Singh had sale deed in his favour. Therefore, as per the demarcation, the possession has been given to him by the police”.

After going through the rival contentions and the documents placed before the court, Justice Ahluwalia took a serious view of the matter before ruling: “In which capacity and under which provision of law, the police has exercised jurisdiction to dispossess the petitioner and deliver possession to the respondent needs to be explained by the SSP.”

Before parting with the order, Justice Ahluwalia directed: “Ferozepur SSP shall file his affidavit to explain this”. Fixing January 31 as the next date for taking up the matter, Justice Ahluwalia directed the handing over of the order’s copy to Punjab AAG Mehardeep Singh “for onward transmission to the quarters concerned for compliance”.

 





POLITICS
 

Ranike pays homage to slain militant
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
A day after Sukhbir Singh Badal was inducted Deputy Chief Minister, the district has again emerged as hub of political activity of the state and Gulzar Singh Ranike, a minister in the Akali-BJP government today paid homage to slain militant Gursahib Singh at a function organised by the Khalsa Action Committee at Mandiala village, 6 km from here.

To mark Gursahib’s 18th death anniversary, a political conference was held. It was attended by leaders of radical groups like the Khalsa Action Committee, the Dal Khalsa and the Akal Federation. The leaders “eulogised” the “contribution” of the slain militant to the Sikh “struggle”. Gursahib was an active member of the Sikh Students Federation during militancy. He was shot by ‘police cats’ on January 22 , 18 years ago.

Addressing the gathering, the Minister for Animal Husbandry praised the militant for “contributing” to the cause of the Sikh Panth. " Infiltration of anti-social elements led to derailment of the struggle and the Sikhs failed to achieve their goals,” he said.

It is believed with an eye on Lok Sabha elections, Akalis have reverted to playing the Sikh card again.

COMMUNITY
 

PSEB in deeper crisis
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Figures prepared by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for discussion with the State Planning Commission give a first hand account from the horse’s mouth that the board will incur a loss of Rs 2,652 crore in 2008-09 and that this could shoot up to Rs 3,991 crore in 2009-10.

The latest revised estimates for 2008-09 and the plan document for 2009-10 also indicate that the PSEB is falling further into a debt trap with loans from financial institutions increasing over the years as also power purchases.

The estimate, prepared by the PSEB’s finance wing, also makes it clear that operating income is negative now and that the position would worsen unless there is a tariff increase mainly because the board is paying a huge amount on account of interest on loans.

The latest estimates for 2008-09 estimate the board’s income at Rs 11,646 crore and the expenditure at Rs 13,076 crore. With an operating income of minus Rs 1,390 crore, the board also has to reckon with an interest liability of Rs 1,262 crore, taking the board’s net total for 2008-09 to minus Rs 2,652 crore. For 2009-10 the board has calculated a revenue income of Rs 12,591 crore and an expenditure of Rs 14,892 crore. The gap of Rs 2,301 becomes bigger when an interest quotient of Rs 1,690 crore is added to it taking the overall loss to Rs 3,991 crore.

Loans from financial institutions increased from Rs 5,165 crore (2005-06) to Rs 7,514 crore (2006-07), Rs 14,190 crore (2008-09) and Rs 17,820 crore (2009-10). Net revenue , which is a gauge of the financial health of the board, is also in the negative. 

 

Inside Babudom
Kaushik on Centre’s panel for ADGPs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
After the appointment of RV Raju as the first chief of the National Investigating Agency and SC Sinha as Special Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), their batch mate Anil Kaushik of Punjab has been empanelled for appointment as Additional Director-General of Police.

While Raju belongs to the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, Sinha is from Haryana. They all belong to the 1975 batch.

Kaushik’s name figures in the latest list of four IPS officers of the 1975 batch who have been put on the offer list for any further vacancies in the Central Police Organisations or equivalent posts in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Incidentally, Kaushik is the only 1975 batch officer in Punjab.

Others whose names have been cleared along with Kaushik are VN Rai, VC Goel and BC Nayak, all from Uttar Pradesh.

As of now, none of Punjab officers is heading any central police organisation though AP Pandey of the 1974 batch is already on the offer list. Senior-most Punjab officer KK Attri is the 1971 batch and is holding the rank of Director-General. He is due for superannuation in June this year.

Pandey is on deputation with the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Going by the present position, Punjab has five officers of the rank of the DGP. The first among them to retire will be Mohd Izhar Alam who will be superannuating in April, followed by KK Attri.

Besides, Punjab has nine ADGPs. The 1982 batch is awaiting its promotion as ADGPs.

Meanwhile, the Central Industrial Security Force, looking after security of all international airports as well as the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat, may witness a spate of appointments at the middle level.

The force has 12 vacancies of Deputy Inspectors-General of Police.

 

Vaghela urges Badal to slash cotton tax
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
Shankersinh Vaghela, Union Minister of Textiles, has requested Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to reduce 2 per cent sales tax on cotton to bring Punjab farmers on a par with other states and also to end role of commission agents in cotton procurement.

He was here today to attend the meetings for the Hindi Salahkar Samiti and the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of the Ministry of Textiles.

He said the commission agents gobbled Rs 30-crore share of farmers. In no other state mediators played role in procurement, he added.

He said the Ministry of Finance would soon announce Rs 2,600-crore relief package for handloom, weaving and handicraft industries.

The minister said the textiles sector has witnessed a spurt in investment during the last four and a half years. It was Rs 1,08,531 crore in 2004-2008 and was expected to touch Rs 1,50,600 crore by 2012. This enhanced investment will generate 17.37 million jobs by 2012.

In Punjab, the government under the TUFS had sanctioned Rs 10,655 crore against 1,904 applications for modernisation and technology upgrade, which constituted about 17.4 per cent and 9 per cent of all-India share.

Vaghela said global recession had caused 24 per cent loss to the Indian textile export in the third quarter this fiscal since 80 per cent of the export were ordered by the USA. Two stimulus packages announced to help the textile industry, especially export-oriented sector, could lead to at least 15 per cent growth in textiles and clothing export at the end of this fiscal.

The minister said three parks, out of total 40 textile parks being set up across the country under the Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP), would come up in Punjab at Barnala, Nawanshahr and Ludhiana.

According to him, cotton production had increased from 31.15 million bales in the previous financial year to 32.20 million bales in the present financial year with Punjab’s contribution 2.2 million bales.

 

Govt offices to open for 180 days in 2009
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 22
Government staff in 2009 will work for about 180 days in 2009. Government offices will remained closed for 126 days, including Saturdays and Sundays, in Punjab. There will be two restricted holidays, to choose from the list of list 19 restricted holidays declared by the government. Apart from it there is casual leave of 10 days to 20 days depending to the length of service.

Employees exhaust casual leave. Employees are entitled to 40 days of privilege and medical leaves in a year. “ An employee deciding to avail medical and privilege leave in the year will have to attend office for 180 days,” says an officer. Besides, these the government orders half-day holidays four or five times for “shoba yatras” and religious processions etc.

Most of the holidays either fall on Fridays and Mondays. Owing to this government offices will remain closed for three days continuously for a number of times in 2009 . In January offices earlier remained closed from January 3 to 5 and will remain closed from January 24 to 26. In February the offices will remain closed from February 7 to 9 and from February 21 to 23. In March for three days from March 21 to March 23.

In April, the offices will remain closed for 13 days because of government holidays, making employees work for 17 days. In June, July and December, there will be nine holidays whereas in other months, the number of holidays will be either 10 or 11.

Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal talks of administrative reforms. The biggest reform to be made is to enhance the number of working days in government offices for progress . He will have to reduce the number of holidays for efficiency in government offices.

Amarinder Singh’s government had cut the number of holidays. But, Badal government not only restored all those holidays but was liberal in declaring holidays at the time of death of former ministers and other important persons.

 

Missing Ludhiana Businessman
Ashish Kumar rebuffs counsel’s charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 22
Ashish Kumar, a Delhi-based businessman, has denied that his brother Vinod Kumar owed money to banks. “ We were troubled because we refused to break off our business relations with Saini Motors,” he said in a written statement. He was referring to the allegations made by the defence counsel Ajit Singh Virk, AA-G, Punjab, in the missing Ludhiana businessman case.

“Moreover, if Vinod Kumar owed money to others then why would our sister’s husband Ashok or driver Mukhtiar Singh go into hiding for 15 years? This story has been fabricated,” he said.

“My brother had filed a writ in the high court where his arrest was stayed and he was permitted to perform last rites of our father under the security cover of the Chandigarh police. My brother and driver were leaving the high court when Sukh Mohinder Singh, SP, Ludhiana, now an accused, asked for lift up to Ludhiana. Later, the SP reached Ludhiana but the others did not reach home. The case was obstructed by the accused at every step. It was with great difficulty that a special Judge of CBI Delhi Court framed charges. But 15 years have passed and the case has not properly started,” Ashish added.

 

Gurdwara flooring to be restored
P K Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 22
Heritage conservation experts will dig up marble layers around Baba Atal gurdwaral in the vicinity of the Golden Temple complex and restore its original brick flooring.

The small portion of the marble flooring excavated during restoration work found Nanakshahi brick- laden flooring underneath. The flooring has unique pattern depicting it was laid during rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Many historical buildings constructed during that period had similar type of flooring pattern.

Deputy Commissioner, Kahan Singh Pannu along with Dalmegh Singh and Kiranjot Kaur, secretary and member Shiromani Committee, respectively, along with team of conservationists heritage buildings today visited the gurdwara to oversee the restoration.

Pannu said taking the opinions of the restoration team including Maninder Gill, Ajaydeep Jamwal and Tushar Chakarvarty, it was decided to the whole area in the periphery around the six-storeyed structure be given original flooring.

 

Rural docs examine patients on mats
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Mallewal (Patiala), January 22
Displaying a good deal of “Gandhigiri” to register their discontentment against the state government, rural doctors have abandoned their chairs and examining patients on durris (mats) at dispensaries in Patiala villages.

The rural doctors, recruited on a contract basis, are agitated over non-extension of benefits like medical leave, earned leave, dearness allowance, contributory pension, rural allowance, increments, promotions and postgraduate courses admission quota to them. Pre-poll assurances of the SAD-BJP leaders. The doctors would continue to shun chair till January 27.

While rural doctors of Patiala sat on ground to treat their patients, their counterparts in other parts of the state wore black badges as part of the agitation. “We have never seen such a scene,” said Preet, a resident.

Dr Aslam Parvez and Dr Rajesh Sharma, president and spokesperson for doctors’ association, said the protest would culminate in a rally at Anandpur Sahib on January 27. They said services of the rural doctors should be regularised.

 

Teachers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 22
On the call of the Government College Teachers Association (GCTA), Punjab, demanding implementation of the UGC pay panel ‘s report and other demands of teachers, two-hour strike was observed in Government Ripudaman College here today.

GCTA secretary Harvinder Singh said to press acceptance of their demands, under the aegis of the Punjab Federation of University and Colleges Teachers Association (PFUCTO), a state-level rally would be organised in Sector 25, Chandigarh, on January 28.

 





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