P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


We‘ll take on the corrupt, says Sukhbir
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has said he will continue to remain president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) only as long as the party wants him to do so. “As of now, I seek full cooperation from the bureaucracy as well as the Opposition parties to help me fulfil the responsibility that has been given to me,” he said soon after formally assuming office here today.

Sukhbir said, “I know people have a lot of expectations from me, but they should not expect miracles. Wait till the end of this year and you will see things falling in place”. Parrying critical questions about the performance of the SAD-BJP alliance so far, he said, “Don’t ask me these questions as if I am the Chief Minister; I am only the Deputy Chief Minister and my role so far has only been of advisory nature”.

In reply to a specific question on whether he will look after the overall governance in the state, Sukhbir said he was primarily responsible for the five departments that had been entrusted to him, but “wherever his advice is sought, I will be more than happy to help”.

Spelling out his immediate agenda, he said he would like to strengthen the economy and infrastructure of the state, while checking corruption. “Corruption”, he said, “starts from the bottom, when the system adds delays to routine work. Exasperated people shell out money to get work done quickly. During the past two years, the SAD-BJP government has identified 70 areas with serious bottlenecks and now our effort would be to clear these”.

He said within 22 months, the SAD-BJP government had been able to put two mega thermal plants at Talwandi Sabo and Goindwal Sahib with an installed capacity of 1980 MW and 540 MW, respectively, on the ground”.

He further added that the development and welfare of youth was his government’s priority as 70 per cent of Punjab’s population was below the age of 35. He also announced that the Youth Development Board would be constituted soon.

SP Singh his OSD

The Punjab government has now posted Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Chief Minister SP Singh in CMO as Additional Principal Secretary and OSD to Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal with immediate effect.


Only NDA can help Punjab, says Badal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Batala, January 23
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said today that his party would get state’s demands of transfer of Chandigarh and left-out Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab and due share in the river water distribution as per the riparian principles accepted and implemented if the NDA came to power at the Centre.

Though Badal was here in connection with his ongoing Vikas Yatra, an impressive rally organised by local MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Jagdish Sahni turned into an election rally.

Later, addressing a press conference, Badal said the decision on the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) could be taken by the cabinet only, hence he could not comment on the issue.

To another question whether Batala would be accorded the status of district, he said a reorganisation committee to reorganise the tehsils, blocks and subdivision in the state had been formed and the state government would consider the its recommendations.

Earlier, Badal laid the foundation stone of an ITI here. He distributed funds for the Qadian municipal council and various models schools of the area.

Langah’s advice to Vinod Khanna

Actor-turned-politician and three times MP from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency Vinod Khanna faced an unusual situation when Punjab Agriculture Minister and president of the district SAD Sucha Singh Langah pointed out in his address the perpetual absence of Khanna from his constituency after winning the elections.

Khanna attended such a big rally for the first time after the last Lok Sabha elections.

Langah, while addressing the rally organised by Jagdish Sahni, local BJP MLA, here, said he had asked Khanna to attend ceremonies performed at the death and birth of people of this constituency.

When he asked Khanna to attend the rally, the MP told him that he would not be able to attend the rally as he (Khanna) was busy shooting for a film. He told Khanna to defer his all shooting assignments, at least till the Lok Sabha elections were over, the minister said.

Though all those comments were made by Langah in the presence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and senior BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia in a lighter vein, BJP’s rank and file, including senior leaders, were agitated over the remarks.

On the other hand, Badal showered praise on Khanna and dubbed him as the most able and intelligent MP of the BJP. He appealed to people that they should ensure the victory of Khanna so that he (Khanna) could usher an era of development in this town too, which has became the part of the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency after delimitation of seats.

Khanna demanded a special package from the Chief Minister for three border districts of Punjab.


Tribune Impact
Experts to renovate Darshani Deori
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Finally, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has agreed to get the renovation of Darshani Deori, which leads to sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, done by experts with the support of the district administration.

Earlier, the SGPC had stopped the renovation of the deori being done through kar seva when The Tribune highlighted the use of gaudy colours, crude workmanship and sub-standard material in March last year.

Talking to The Tribune, Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu said more than Rs 56 lakh would be spent on the conservation of the deori as per the tradition.

The experts have recommended that the cement plaster on the deori be removed with wooden hammer. The restoration work would include waterproofing of the terrace. Wooden boarding, wooden panels in niches above the entrance to a private TV channel office would be removed.

Conservation of wall paintings on the cornice and bracket area of the deori by cleaning of painted surface has been recommended.

A team comprising Maninder Gill, Ajaydeep Jamwal and Tushar Chakarvarty has been entrusted with the restoration of Baba Atal and other heritage buildings. Meanwhile, in another major decision, the priceless frescoes that adorn the inner walls of the gurdwara would be recreated in its original designs and pattern. The entire cost of the project is estimated at Rs 1.20 crore and would be met through donations and contributions from other sources.


Use of Gurbani in SAD ads draws flak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
The Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) today urged the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, to take action against the SAD leaders, who allegedly used hymns of Guru Granth Sahib in comparing Badal’s family with the spiritual thoughts of the Gurus.

A delegation of the KAC, led by Mohkam Singh, convener, and Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman, citing advertisements published in newspapers, pointed out that it was height of sycophancy as the leaders of the SAD used hymns from Guru Granth Sahib in praising Sukhbir Badal.

The KAC also requested the Jathedar to devise a mechanism or policy to stop the misuse of Gurbani in advertisements.

Joining the issue, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, and president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee Paramjit Singh Sarna condemned such advertisements.


Usurping govt land won’t be easy now
Observation cells to come up in seven Punjab districts
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Usurping of government lands or their encroachment would turn out to be a difficult job for unscrupulous elements, at least in seven districts of Patiala division, as the administration is in the process of setting up “observation cells” within “Suvidha centres” at district headquarters.

Meanwhile, Patiala divisonal commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir has directed the deputy commissioners of Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Barnala, Sangrur, Ludhiana, SAS Nagar and Ropar to prepare a list of encroached-upon properties in their respective districts so that action could be taken against encroachers.

A large number of government lands, mostly belonging to the Forest Department, Mandi Board, local government, village development and Revenue Department, were encroached upon by unscrupulous elements in these districts. Ironically, hardly any effort was made at the level of authorities to reclaim these lands so far, as violators in most of cases were politically well connected persons. It was perhaps for the first time that the administration had not only been told to prepare lists, but also to take concrete steps for reclamation of usurped government lands, at least, in these seven districts.

Bir not only told the DCs, SSPs and SPs in clear terms that the responsibility of officials would be fixed in case of encroachments in their respective areas of operation, he also asked the police officials to contribute in the ongoing drive against.

“The police looks after law and order situation. They should also take steps to curb the menace of encroachments,” said Bir.

“The observation cells would be monitoring if any government land was being encroached upon. Action would be taken if we come across any information regarding encroachment,” asserted Bir in a division-level meeting attended by Rahul Bhandari, DC, Mohali, B Purshartha, DC, Ropar, Surjit Singh Dhillon, DC, Fathegarh Sahib, VK Ohri, DC, Sangrur, Vikas Garg, DC, Patiala, RL Mehta, DC, Barnala, Kaustabh Sharma, SSP, Fatehgarh, NS Sekhon, SP, Patiala, and GS Ghumman, MC commissioner, Ludhiana.

The administration is also planning to digitalise government land records with the help of Google earth satellite imagery.



CPI opposes dynastic rule in state
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
In the light of handing over of Deputy Chief Minister’s post to his son Sukhbir Singh Badal by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Communist Party of India (CPI) yesterday opposed the dynastic rule in the state saying it was an unfortunate event for democracy and that dynastic rule was taking an upper hand as Badal and former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were busy promoting their families in place of giving a chance to old, loyal and dedicated workers and leaders of their parties.

Talking to The Tribune, member of the national executive of the CPI Joginder Dayal said in the present Badal government there were five close relatives of Badal in the cabinet which showed that the state was still passing through a feudal era where only feudal families ruled the state and did not allow democracy to reach at the grass-root level.


BJP Yuva Morcha to honour new voters
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
In an effort to attract new voters, who will exercise their right to franchise for the first time in the ensuing Lok Sabha (LS) elections, the Yuva Morcha of the state unit of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has planned to honour all new voters from the age of 18 years to 25 years by organising district-level functions throughout the state. The morcha will honour all new voters, irrespective of their party affiliation.

State president of the Punjab BJP Yuva Morcha, Vivek Maudgil said the BJP was the first political party which had decided to give due respect and honour to the new voters as they had become a part of the Indian democratic system and would participate in the ensuing LS elections.

A function to honour new voters would be held at Amritsar on February 8. More such functions would be held in Ludhiana, Sangrur and Tarn Taran.


Warrants against 3 Delhi students
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Special Investigating Team (SIT), which is probing the Pre-medical Entrance Test (PMET) scam of 2008, has issued warrants against three Delhi-based medical students for allegedly acting as sub-agents of the perpetrators of the scam, who used them to impersonate undeserving candidates.

The warrants have been issued against students of Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, for serving as middlemen between undeserving students and the culprits.

In another development today, the sessions court in Faridkot rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by sisters Anamika and Priyanka, who are accused of impersonating the candidates in the test. SIT has asked the Patna police to serve warrants on the two sisters who are students of the Patna Medical College. The girls have gone in hiding after their names figured in the scam.

Commandant of Ist IRB Battalion LK Yadav, who is heading SIT, formed on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said investigations had revealed that a number of girl students had also taken the help of impersonators. He said traditionally examiners did not suspect girls of resorting to impersonation and that probably helped the impersonators.

Meanwhile, notices were issued to around 40 staff members of Punjabi University as well as its affiliated colleges. A Faridkot court has extended police remand of Jai Prakash, kingpin of theracket, till January 24.


Surinder Kaur pitches in
SP Sharma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today arrived here for “personal rapport” with residents of the town as the Lok Sabha (LS) elections are approaching.

She has launched a ward-to-ward mass contact programme on the lines of her son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur.

She said she would cover all assembly segments of the Bathinda LS constituency. After meeting people in eight wards by tomorrow, she would move on to Goniana.

Surinder said this was for the first time that people had adopted a positive approach towards the state government and the credit for this went to her husband. In most areas here the people had no demand to make as those had been fulfilled without their asking, she claimed. She said Sukhbir for the past two years was giving personal attention towards the development of the Bathinda and other cities and villages of Punjab.

She said the aim of her visit was to give “personalised attention” towards problems of people and solve these on the spot.

Mayor Baljeet Singh Birbehman, deputy commissioner Rahul Tiwari, commissioner of municipal corporation KK Yadav and SSP Ashish Chaudhary accompanied her. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders Chiranji Lal Garg and Sarup Chand Singla were also present.


Kiln workers hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
Hundreds of brick kiln workers, under the banner of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, today took out a march through the town and held a dharna in front of the office of the deputy commissioner here demanding the implementation of minimum wages at brick kilns. They also staged a dharna in front of the assistant labour commissioner’s office here in support of their demands, including attendance of workers at brick kilns, deduction of provident fund and implementation of minimum wages.

General secretary, Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, Tarsem Jodhan said a majority of the brick kiln owners were not even paying old minimum wages (Rs 216) to their workers, whereas the new rate of minimum wages was Rs 250. He said the union was also fighting for the implementation of Labour Laws. If the brick kiln owners implemented the Labour Laws in letter and spirit, a majority of the problems of the workers would be solved, he added.


Stop playing of vulgar songs in buses: DC
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
Sangrur deputy commissioner VK Ohri has asked district transport officer (DTO) Gurpreet Singh Thind and all SDMs of the district to initiate harsh steps immediately to get the playing of vulgar songs stopped in buses as these songs made the travelling of passengers, especially women, difficult.

This was stated by the deputy commissioner at a meeting of the District Grievances Redressal Committee, held under his presidentship here yesterday. A member of the grievances committee Bhagwant Singh Janal had made a complaint in this regard at the meeting.

Acting upon another complaint, regarding shifting of meat shops outside the town in Bhawanigarh, the deputy commissioner asked the executive officers (EOs) of all municipal councils of the district to initiate action as per rules and submit their reports within 15 days.


Auction fetches mandi board Rs 7.21 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Punjab Mandi Board has earned Rs 7.21 crore during the auction of a vacant piece of land and building owned by the board. Chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said in a press note that the old office building of the market committee, Sirhind, was auctioned and it fetched Rs 7.21 crore. He added that this building was lying vacant for the past 40 years.

Another 21 sites owned by the Mandi Board across the state would also be auctioned in the coming days. Lakhowal added that till March 31 the board intended to earn about Rs 200 crore from the auction of these sites.


HC refuses to examine village land Act
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has refused to examine the constitutional validity of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulations) Act, 1961, while taking up petition purported to have been filed in public interest litigation.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta, has ruled: “We have heard counsel for the parties at some length and perused the record.

“In so far as the constitutional validity of the provisions of Sections 5 and 15(2) (f) of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulations) Act, 1961, and Rule 12 of the Punjab Village Common lands (Regulations) Rules, 1964, are concerned, we see no reason to entertain the challenge in a public interest petition.

“In our opinion, challenge to the constitutional validity of the provisions of the statute can be maintained only on the ground of lack of legislative competence or violation of any fundamental right vested in the petitioner. “None of these two grounds are available to the petitioner in the present writ petition…. The challenge to the validity of the provisions of Sections 5 and 15(2) (f) of the Act is, therefore, rejected.

The observations follow a petition by Pala Ram against the State of Haryana and other respondents, In his petition, Pala Ram had also “assailed the correctness of an order” dated November 6, 2007, passed by a collector.

He had dismissed an application filed by the gram panchayat, Alawanla, for releasing a chunk of land from alleged unauthorised occupation of two respondents.

Refusing to entertain the challenge to the statute, the Bench asserted: “That bring us to the question whether the order passed by the assistant collector, first grade, Assandh, under Section 7 of the Act suffers from any illegality to warrant interference.


Sukhbir Badal Case
Journalist says he has been threatened again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Journalist Naresh Kumar Sehgal, who has all along been expressing apprehensions of an unfair trial in a case registered on his complaint against now Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and others, has claimed fresh threats to him.

In an application against the State of Punjab, the director-general of police, Faridkot Senior Superintendent of Police and other respondents, he has alleged during the pendency of his petition, he has not only received threatening calls, but “has also been caused injuries”.

Sehgal asserted he had already undergone medico-legal examination. In this regard, he had sent telegrams to the authorities on November 27 last year and the next day.

The application was placed before Justice Ranjit Singh, as he was hearing Sehgal’s case before the change in the roster, which came into effect earlier this month.

As the matter came up for hearing, Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: Let the application in this case be fixed as per the roster after obtaining orders from the Chief Justice.

Sehgal is involved in litigation against Sukhbir Singh Badal and others. He was allegedly assaulted at Sukhbir Singh Badal’s behest when he was covering the Lok Sabha elections in 1999. After high court intervention, a case of assault and other offences under Sections 307, 392, 327, 323, 201 and 120-B of the IPC was filed at a police station in Kotkapura on June 30, 2006.


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