P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Irregularities in TA, DA Claim
Ex-Dean’s case sent to govt
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 25
Guru Nanak Dev (GND) University has sent the case of Dr AS Dua, a former Dean, College Development Council, to the state government for appropriate action for allegedly claiming excess TA/DA.

Dr RS Bawa, Registrar, today confirmed that the case was sent following the recommendation of the Syndicate. For the first time such proceedings have been initiated against a former official of the university.

Earlier, a five-member committee, constituted by Vice-Chancellor Jai Rup Singh, had recommended the matter be referred to an independent investigating agency like the CBI/Vigilance.

Inquiry by a former judge revealed that Dr Dua as Dean had claimed TA/DA from different colleges of the state and New Delhi on the basis of wrong bills. One of the inquiries showed he claimed Rs 1,800 from Khalsa College for Women as TA/DA which is less than 2 km from the university.

After examining the case, the committee met in the office of the Dean, Academic Affairs, on December 1 last year and recommended that no further action be taken against Dr Dua as he was not an employee of the university. However, the committee stated the “illegal claims” of TA/DA by Dr Dua constituted an independent offence under the law.

Before sending the case to the Punjab government, the university had appointed a retired district and sessions judge to probe acts of omission and commission. Dr Dua was appointed Dean in August 2003 for one year. However, his term was extended from time to time. His last extension was terminated on September 8, 2006.

Legal opinion pointed out Dr Dua had allegedly committed several illegalities, including allotting certain courses without approval and irregularities at the time of inspections of colleges and institutions.


Bickerings in Congress refuse to end
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
For the Punjab Congress where does the ultimate chain of command rest? While most senior Congress leaders are unanimous that it flows from the party’s central leadership, the ongoing developments in the state Congress suggest otherwise. In a recent meeting of the coordination committee held in Delhi, the central high command spelt out the role in the coming parliamentary polls for each leader, yet the internecine conflicts are far from over.

At the meeting, chaired by Congress general secretary and in charge of Punjab affairs Mohsina Kidwai, three points were stressed. One, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) was supreme in all matters. Second, discipline within the party had to be maintained at all costs and, lastly, all party programmes and policies were to be announced only by the state party president.

Following a directive from Kidwai, a coordination committee meeting was held in Chandigarh on Tuesday. But significantly while party president Mohinder Singh Kaypee was chalking out the strategy for the coming parliamentary polls, four senior leaders of the party were absent. Capt Amarinder Singh, chairperson for the Campaign Committee, on health grounds, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, leader of the Congress Legislature Party, due to a function in her constituency, Ambika Soni, party general secretary and an aspirant for the Anandpur Sahib seat, along with Ashwani Kumar, another probable for the Gurdaspur seat, without any intimation.

As the party president deliberated with those present and gave out a programme for the Lok Sabha poll campaign, former presidents of the PPCC reminded that the high command had asked for assigning one member of this committee to monitor one parliamentary constituency each. This was accepted.

It was also decided that all public meetings would be addressed jointly Kaypee, Bhattal and Amarinder. The tour started from Malout today and would culminate in Jalandhar on February 9. Apparently taking this to be a setback for Amarinder, the very next day Talwandi Sabo legislator Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu issued another programme on behalf 
of Amarinder.

The release read: “Buoyed by the overwhelming response he received in the first phase of his mass-contact programme, plus the unequivocal support from the party high command, Amarinder has decided to embark on the second phase beginning February 2 from Kapurthala”. He has further said Kay Pee would accompany Amarinder. Even some dates were kept common to the programme announced by Kaypee, causing confusion and resentment among many.

While the SAD has already announced names of eight candidates on the 10 seats it would contest and the BJP has declared two seats out of the three allotted to it, one round of campaigning has been completed.

Meanwhile, in the inaugural function at Malout today, only Kaypee and Jagmeet Brar were present. The gathering comprised mainly of about a thousand people from Backward Classes, who were given blankets, etc.


Cong readies to counter Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab Congress has launched an attack on the SAD-BJP alliance following the induction of Sukhbir Badal as Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab, accusing the alliance of elevating a person against whom “charges of corruption” are pending in court. A detailed strategy has been worked out by the party leadership in consultation with the high command to check what it calls “impact of Sukhbir on the coming parliamentary polls”.

Leader of the Opposition as well as leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in the Vidhan Sabha Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has spent two days in Delhi updating the high command about the “possible fallout of Sukhbir’s elevation”.

Party sources said the high command had asked the state’s leadership to hold a review of this new development and keep a close watch on the emerging situation. “The Congress will especially watch the transfers and postings being planned and implemented by the new Deputy Chief Minister with a eye on rigging the polls,” a senior party functionary said.

Bhattal said she had met Sonia Gandhi in Delhi, but added that it was a routine meeting about party affairs. Though Bhattal denied having lodged a complaint against any party colleague, it is learnt that she pointed out to Sonia that all was not well within the party. She reportedly pointed out how supporters of the chairman of the Campaign Committee Amarinder Singh were trying to undermine the election rallies of party president Mohinder Singh Kaypee by announcing their own rallies.

The party has decided to take on the Akali Dal on the issue of corruption to counter the allegations against its leaders in the Ludhiana Improvement Trust scam.

In its first salvo against Sukhbir, Congress legislator from Bholath Sukhpal Singh Khaira has criticised Sukhbir’s stand on corruption saying: “Is there a need to remind him that he, along with his family, stands chargesheeted in a very serious Prevention of Corruption Act in a Mohali court?”

He has said there is need for public explanation about “how from being ordinary farming family with a holding of 80 acres, the Badals now command properties and business running into thousands of crores with jet planes at their command. The entire transport, mining and cable network business is controlled by the Badal family, not to mention acquiring lands around all prominent upcoming projects such as upgrade of Chandigarh International Airport and six-lane express highways in the state”. 


Deputy CM’s theory on corruption disputed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
In his own sarcastic manner, Qila Raipur legislator Jassi Khangura, while congratulating Sukhbir Badal on his elevation as Deputy Chief Minister, has questioned his theory of corruption. Reacting to Sukhbir’s “corruption starts from the bottom” theory, he has written a letter to Sukhbir that says: “Every socio-economic expert will tell you: corruption starts from the top and with the passage of time it becomes institutionalised primarily by the acts and failings of our political leaders to the extent that soon a well-entrenched system emerges which funnels the gains of corruption across all strata of the administration from bottom to top”.

Khangura has written that if Sukhbir is truly serious about reducing corruption, he needs to start at the top by “controlling the actions of your Council of Ministers and senior officers by reducing their discretionary powers, creating greater transparency in their working, making your administration satisfy all RTI requests within the stipulated timeframe, ensuring that all government procurement is made through an e-enabled tender process, setting up a Punjab Public Servant Transfer Commission, which will be responsible for the postings and transfers of all gazetted officers.

“Most importantly, as the Deputy Chief Minister you can lead by example by not only being honest, but also being universally perceived as being honest, rejecting an ostentatious lifestyle that mirrors all trappings of royalty, ensuring that no tainted officer is accommodated in your support team nor has access to you, rejecting all approaches from drug peddlers, land grabbers and looters of the public purse, publish weekly source and application statements of your party of which you continue to be the president,” the letter reads.


Panel to probe Rs 18-cr loss to Agro Food Grain Corpn
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab Finance Department has directed the Punjab Agro Food Grain Corporation to probe Rs 18 crore loss by the corporation by exporting wheat through private parties four years ago.

A four-member committee headed by the corporation’s executive director will fix responsibility in the case.

Sources said the corporation has also filed cases following the bouncing of cheques of associates, who had exported wheat on behalf of the corporation. It will also consider filing insurance claims.

The Punjab Agro had exported wheat through private players when Kirpa Shankar Saroj was it managing director and state had glut of wheat.Some consignments were not lifted by the associates responsible for doing so, but by third parties, who failed to make the due payments to the corporation. Saroj is under suspension and chargesheeted for the import of iron ore, also by Punjab Agro, which too caused loss to the corporation.

Sources added the department had rejected the explanation of the Punjab Agro, which tried to explain why the payment was not made to the corporation. The corporation claimed the defaulting Rs 18 crore formed only 3 or 4 per cent of the total exported by it. Moreover, it was claimed the corporation had adopted the procedure of Markfed and the Warehousing Corporation, which had too exported wheat during this period.

However, the department rejected this explanation saying sufficient safeguards had not been put in the agreements with private associates.

Sources said the Warehousing Corporation, which had also exported wheat during this period, would also be asked to explain its process and fix responsibility for lapses if any as this corporation has also failed to get part of the payments for wheat exported by it. Markfed has a clean record in exporting wheat with payments of only Rs 6 to Rs 7 lakh due to the corporation.



SAD, BJP differences in district resolved
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
Year-long differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on certain issues have been resolved. The BJP had boycotted or did not attend some programmes of the SAD and of the government due to differences.

A meeting of the SAD and the BJP was held under the presidentship of secretary-general of the SAD Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa at his residence here on Tuesday to resolve differences. Besides Dhindsa, PWD Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Gobind Singh Longowal, Parkash Chand Garg and BJP leaders, district president Jatinder Kalra and general secretary Shankar Bansal, attended the meeting for more than an hour.

BJP leaders of this district had been feeling neglected by the SAD leadership and the administration as they were not being invited properly to the government functions so they had boycotted some programmes. Poor representation to the BJP on official committees, like subdivision grievances redressal committees and lack of say of BJP leaders and workers in the government offices were other reasons.

District president of the BJP Jatinder Kalra said issues of differences were discussed at the meeting. Both sides presented points of view. It was decided every area in charge of the SAD would send information on programmes to the BJP’s block president of the area concerned, leaders and workers of the BJP to join the government programmes, proper representation to the BJP in the grievances redressal committees and the BJP leaders and workers to get due respect at all platforms.

Kalra said he was happy the differences were resolved cordially. This would help SAD candidate from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s win in the Lok Sabha elections. 


Badal’s pact demand anti-national: Raninder
SP Sharma/Tribune News Service

Balianwali (Bathinda), January 25
Criticising Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for harping on the implementation of the Anandpur Sahib resolution, Congress general secretary Raninder Singh today said he was raising such “anti-national” slogans before the Lok Sabha elections to divert people’s attention from criticism of induction of his son Sukhbir Badal as Deputy Chief Minister.

Raninder, son of former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, was addressing a party workers’ meeting here. He said the BJP owed an explanation to people why was it supporting the Badal government when its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani had termed the Anandpur Sahib resolution a separatist activity in his book, “My Country, My Life”. The BJP should clarify its stand on the contentious issue.

On his candidature for the Bathinda LS seat, Raninder said although local activists of the party were in his favour, a decision lay in the hands of party high command Sonia Gandhi.

Earlier, Raninder said although the UPA government was providing liberal funds to Punjab, Badal was always cribbing about shortage of grants. MLAs Ajaib Singh Bhatti and Makhan Singh said Badal was claiming credit for development and beautification grants of Rs 100 crore each for Takht Damdama Sahib and Anandpur Sahib complex received from the Centre. 


Permanent contraception may hamper family planning: Study
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
A study on the trends in family planning acceptance in Punjab has shown that temporary methods of contraception can prove to be far more effective in population control than permanent methods of contraception.

The study conducted by Monica Munjal and Poonam Kaushik under the aegis of the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here has pointed out that couples who used various temporary methods of contraception to space children have shown better acceptance of the family planning policy of the government.

This trend throws light on one of the aspects of failure of the family planning programme. An excessive dependence on sterilisation (and in recent years, of female sterilisation), which, in practice, led to the sterilisation of older couples who already have had four or more children rather than proving effective in controlling the birth rate.

The study reveals that Punjab, compared to other states in India, has shown a higher acceptance of contraceptive use. The use of permanent methods (sterilisation) in Punjab for controlling the size of the family too has been highest in the country.

“Socio-economic factors such as female literacy, age at marriage of girls, status of women, strong son preference and position of employment of women had a crucial bearing on the fertility behaviour of people,” said Monica.

The study states that rural couples opted more for permanent methods while urban couples preferred temporary methods. Rural couples opted more for one-time irreversible methods after completing their family size.

“Slowly, however, the trend is shifting in favour of spacing methods. This was a positive sign since there is a limit to which sterilisation could control population explosion. In order to reduce the birth rate, the government efforts should be directed more towards encouraging spacing methods,” suggests the study.

The study also pointed out that higher number of couples opted for permanent methods in their later ages. Sterilisation was adopted by women over 30 years who have already achieved their desired family size. On the other hand acceptance of spacing methods was mainly in early ages of the wife.

While acceptance of sterilisation after achieving the desired family size had meager impact on birth rates, family planning adoption in young ages than in later years of life would have larger effect on the fertility pattern.

Also landless couples preferred one-time terminal methods and landowners went more for spacing methods. The study found a link between education of wife and the family planning method practiced by the couple. Maximum acceptance of permanent methods was found among couples with illiterate or less educated wife. The results also revealed that Scheduled Caste population preferred one time sterilisation method than spacing methods.

The study suggests that efforts should be to motivate couples to opt for spacing methods, than to opt for terminal methods after achieving the desired family size. Education and efforts to reduce preference of sons would help further to control the population problem.


Staff crunch haunts Ayurvedic College
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, is facing an acute shortage of teaching faculty and some teachers had already opted for greener pastures.

Sources in the college told The Tribune here today that four faculty members had already put in their papers while many others were planning to quit shortly. These teachers are being offered lucrative pay packages by privately managed Ayurvedic Colleges.

Recognition of the Government Ayurvedic College was cancelled by Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) in August, 2008, because of shortage of teaching faculty. In a damage-control exercise, the Ayurvedic College recruited 25 teachers on contractual basis. It offered the lecturers a package of Rs 20,000, readers Rs 22,000 and professors Rs 25,000 per month. Most of these teachers had left their jobs in private colleges. However, most of these teachers have not been paid any salary till date.

Dr Ashwani Kumar, director of Ayush and principal of Government Ayurvedic College, Patiala, confirmed The Tribune that these teachers had not been paid their salaries. He, however, added that the salary was likely to be released in coming few days.

With regard to reports of these teachers looking for jobs in private colleges, Dr Ashwani said it was a routine matter for teachers looking for better opportunities.

Sources in the college said several private Ayurvedic Colleges were offering lucrative pay packages because these colleges were also facing staff shortage. Incidentally, the number of patients in the OPD has shot up ever since these teachers joined. Sources said this was so because new teachers were highly qualified with most of them holding postgraduate degrees.


‘Climatic changes may dry Punjab rivers’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Soon inhabitants of Asian countries would become environment refugees as large percentage of land would submerge in water due to increase in water level by climatic changes. Bajinder Pal Singh, a senior journalist, revealed these facts while addressing members of Kadam — a forum for social justice — on the issue of “Garam hawa, climate change

and its impact in Punjab” here yesterday.

He shared a distressing report which revealed that by 2100 not even a single glacier would be left in China which would result in dry rivers in Punjab known as land of five rivers.


SAD (A) seeks money from Rajasthan for water
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
Strongly opposing the flowing of water from the state to Rajasthan free of cost for the past about 40 years, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) yesterday said it would highlight the issue in its Lok Sabha (LS) election campaign by demanding money from Rajasthan for using the state’s water for a long time.

General secretary, SAD (A), Jeet Singh Alloarkh said with the flowing of water to Rajasthan from the state free of cost, Punjabis had been suffering a heavy loss every year. He said Rajasthan should give money so that the state could make “pucca khaalas” (small drains) along the fields for providing water to every field for irrigation purposes.

Alloarkh said the SAD (A) would also raise slogan, “Har khet nu pani, har hath nu kamm” (water to every field, employment to every one). He said neither any Akali nor Congress government had made any effort to claim money from Rajasthan till now.

He also said the SAD (A) would announce its LS candidate for Fatehgarh Sahib seat on February 12 at a conference to be organised at Fatehgarh Sahib to observe the birthday of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala. The candidate for Anandpur Sahib seat would be announced on the Holla Mohalla conference on March 10. However, the candidate for Bathinda seat would be announced before February 12, he added.


Policy envisages 15% area under forests
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
The Punjab government has drawn up a forest policy for the state for approval by the Centre. This was stated by Forest Minister Tikshan Sood at PWD Rest House here today.

Talking to mediapersons, Sood said the new forest policy could achieve a target of more forest cover in the state. He said at present only 3.5 per cent area was under forests and the target was 15 per cent by 2017. But achieving this target was difficult as 84 per cent area of the state was under farming, he added.

The minister said to achieve the target it was being planned to plant saplings on vacant lands in towns and cities, besides vacant lands in villages and on the banks of canals and drains. For this, services of the NGOs, religious and social organisations, municipal councils and panchayats would be obtained, he said. Sood added Punjab had set up two environment parks spending Rs 1 crore each at Ballanpur (Mohali ) and Hoshiarpur and four more environment parks were planned. 


Freedom fighters for more memorial halls
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
Freedom fighters have asked the Punjab government to declare a gazetted holiday every year on the birthday of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23. They also asked the government to construct freedom fighters’ memorial halls at all district headquarters of the state.

These demands were made by them at a function while celebrating the birthday of Subhas Chandra Bose here on Friday. The function was jointly organised by the local Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Foundation and the Sangrur and Barnala district units of the Punjab State Freedom Fighters Organisation. Deputy commissioner VK Ohri was the chief guest on the occasion. District general secretary, Punjab State Freedom Fighters Organisation, Harinder Pal Singh, read the charter of their demands.

The deputy commissioner assured that he would fulfill those demands, which were related to the district administration. Among others who were present on the occasion included district president, BJP, Jatinder Kalra, district president, SAD (A), Harjit Singh Sajuma, district president, freedom fighters organisation, Bhagwant Singh Janal, municipal councillor Parminder Bajaj and Prof Uday Partap Singh.


Ex-servicemen to gherao Parliament
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 25
In support of their demands, including one-rank one-pension, ex-servicemen from Punjab will gherao Parliament on February 8.

A decision to this effect was taken at a state-level meeting of the ex-servicemen wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), held under the presidentship of national president of the wing Col Partap Inder Singh Phulka (retd) at Lehragaga, 40 km from here, today. The meeting was attended by district-level office-bearers of the wing from all parts of the state.

Colonel Phulka said the demand of one-rank one-pension of ex-servicemen had been outrightly rejected by the UPA government. He said due to this, lakhs of ex-servicemen would reach Delhi on February 8. The protest would start from Jantar Mantar to reach Parliament. They would gherao Parliament in a peaceful manner to raise their demands.

Colonel Phulka also said the Central government had failed to fulfill their demands so far, despite this they had cancelled their programme to burn their medals in front of the India Gate in New Delhi in the light of the ill health of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 


Inside Babudom
Punjab officer tipped to succeed Saji Mohan
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The arrest of the 1995 batch officer of the Jammu and Kashmir police, Saji Mohan, by the ATS of the Mumbai police today on the charges of carrying huge quantity of heroin has come as a shock to the agencies engaged in anti-drug operations.

Saji, who heads the Chandigarh regional office of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), was about to complete his tenure here and a Punjab officer, Amit Prasad, also of the 1995 batch, was tipped to succeed him.

Once Amit’s name is formally cleared, he will become the 12th Punjab IPS officer to go on central deputation.

While RV Raju, an IPS officer of the J-K cadre, 1975 batch, brought honours to his parent organisation by becoming the first chief of the National Investigation Agency last week, the arrest of Saji is a major setback to the image of the J-K police engaged in battle against terrorists from across the border.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, which controls the NCB, has been in the process of finalising new regional heads of the Bureau, including the Chandigarh office. Before Saji, Haryana’s Shrikant Jadhav, 1994 batch, headed the Chandigarh Bureau of the NCRB.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has appointed Viswajeet Khanna, 1987 batch, Secretary to Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.

Viswajeet is holding the charge of controversial Civil Aviation Department as well as Registrar, Cooperation.

Only yesterday, Sukhbir asked Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh to relieve RPS Pawar of the charge of Youth Affairs and Sports. Instead, additional charge of youth affairs and sports has gone to Paramjit Singh Aujla.


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