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Badal approaches PM on Hansi-Butana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh May 15
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has sought the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the Haryana government from “undertaking unlawful access of water from the Bhakra Main Line through forced Hansi-Butana tributaries”.

Badal said Punjab would never allow such a flagrant violation of norms, laws and principles. He said the Haryana government's proposed action amounted to plain robbery and "this will not be tolerated under any circumstances." He asked the Prime Minister to act immediately not only in the interests of his home state, but in the overall national interest to ensure that the issue did not snowball into a major political and economic crisis between Punjab and Haryana.

The Chief Minister was reacting to reports in a section of the Press today, which said that Haryana was preparing the ground for puncturing the BML to draw water from the canal illegally. The reports also spoke of massive digging machinery being moved to the BML banks for the purpose.

He also came down heavily on the Central Water Commission (CWC) for “duplicity of standards” with regard to the Hansi-Butana issue. Lashing out at the Centre’s role on the issue, he said, “Haryana had been allowed to get away with gross violations of the settled law”.

Badal reiterated that it was paradoxical that while the Dashmesh Canal project was stalled by the CWC, it (the commission) had chosen to wink at the Haryana government's stealthy manoeuvres to play havoc with the law of the land. "On the one hand, the CWC is not clearing irrigation projects of Punjab, ostensibly because of inter-state implications even when the state had assured it that it would draw water from its own quota, on the other, it had cleared the various projects of Haryana. The response of the CWC and the government of India to the demands of Punjab to start irrigation projects by using the state's own share of water in the Sutlej-Beas system had always been negative," said the Chief Minister.

He said the Hansi-Butana project was started by Haryana in haste without a proper project report, without technical appraisal by the CWC and without concurrence of the states of Punjab and Haryana, which was mandatory under Article 13, Bhakra Nangal Agreement, 1959. The Haryana government had even dispensed with the mandatory requirement of environmental and forest clearances.

The inter-state meeting was held under the aegis of the CWC on March 17, 2006. It had decided that since the project had inter-state implications, it would be appraised by the CWC and Haryana would obtain concurrence of Punjab and the BBMB to puncture the canal. However, without caring for the decisions taken in the said meeting, Haryana started the construction of the project illegally in April 2007.



Verka authorities accused of milk adulteration
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
As the Verka scandal turned out to be a tug-of-war between chairman Ajmer Singh Bhagpur and general manager Balwinder Singh, more skeletons are tumbling out of the closet.

A day after the GM and his two subordinates BK Madan and AS Mishra were named in a milk pilferage case, chairman of the Milk Union, Faridkot, BS Mann levelled a serious allegation of milk adulteration on the Verka authorities. He said the adulteration takes place while the milk is transported to Delhi.

Mann further alleged that the practice was going on for the past six months due to which Verka suffered losses amounting from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.50 lakh each day.

Mann alleged that the milk was pilfered from the tanker and truck drivers were mixing tap water in it while it was being transported to Delhi for supply to companies like Mother Dairy and Delhi Milk Corporation.

Bhagpur said, “Leakage of milk packet is commonplace inside the plant.” He also alleged that numerous employees were often found to be drunk while on duty.

He said, “The quality control of the Verka authorities is ineffective. Written notices have been given to the GM and other employees in this regard, but nothing has been done so far.”

Bhagpur said he would bring the matter to the CM’s notice at the earliest. Mann said the officials of the Verka milk plant were harassing milkmen of Ferozepur and Faridkot. On the other hand, the dairy owner, who greased the palms of the officials, was given preferential treatment, he alleged.

However, general manager Balwinder Singh rubbished the allegations as baseless and said Bhagpur and his men were trying to blackmail him and extract money.

He said he would file a defamation case on Bhagpur on behalf of Verka.

He remarked, “I was out of town when the incident took place. My name is intentionally named in the FIR to tarnish my clean image.”



PTU to declare pending results today
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
The Punjab Technical University (PTU) authorities today said the result of the previous semester examination, that had been kept pending, would be out by tomorrow evening.

Vice-Chancellor Rajneesh Arora gave an assurance in this regard to college directors during a Punjab Unaided Technical Institutions Association (PUTIA) meeting at Shaheed Ajit Singh Institute of Information and Technology, Mohali, today.

The college owners said they were told that PTU staff would be working on Saturday and Sunday as well this weekend to wind up all pending work.

President JS Dhaliwal said the college owners were especially worried as the examination was scheduled to begin on May 18 and the students were still not clear on whether they had cleared all subjects of the previous semester.

“They will not even be left with a single day to fill up the re-appear form in case they get it,” was the grudge of the colleges to which the VC is said to have said the students’ forms would also be accepted on Sunday and they could write their paper on Monday.

Dhaliwal said even as he did not have an exact data, there were hundreds of students awaiting their results, who might have just one day to prepare for the examination.

It is learnt that there are scores of students from fifth semester from local colleges, including the Lovely Institute of Technology and the CT Institute of Technology, who have been awaiting result.



SGPC can create trust for educational purposes: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today held the establishment of a hospital and a medical college is a “charitable and educational purpose” and expenditure incurred on it by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) was legitimate.

The ruling came while dismissing with Rs 5,000 costs a petition filed by Kurukshetra-based Miri Piri College Bachao Sangharsh Samiti. The Bench of Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Hemant Gupta also ruled the properties and income of a notified Sikh gurdwara have to be used for purposes indicated in the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, including religion, charitable or educational purposes considered necessary by the committee.

In fact, the board may spend the surplus amount on any religious or charitable purpose or any other purpose that promotes social welfare.

Section 108-A, B and C provides for establishment of the research fund and religious fund of the board and the resources from which the said fund shall receive the contributions.

The Bench added it was difficult to “accept the argument that the SGPC could have itself established a medical college or that the creation of a trust for that purpose was either a devise to abdicate its function in favour of another entity or digression that was impermissible under the Act.

In the petition filed in public interest, the samiti had earlier sought directions to restrain the committee from transferring any property in the name of the Miri Piri Trust. They alleged the creation of the trust by the SGPC was contrary to the provisions of the Act. It did not empower the committee, a statutory body, to create “any such trust, even if the same was meant to achieve and promote an object, the pursuit whereof was otherwise permissible under the Act”.

Appearing on the committee’s behalf, Senior Advocate-cum-Punjab Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal argued there was no specific or implied bar in the Act, forbidding the creation of a trust by the SGPC for the achievement of the objectives.

After hearing Mattewal and taking on record the rival contentions, the Bench held: “There is no basis for holding that the respondents or anyone of them misutilised the funds placed at their disposal warranting the interference by this court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction in the public interest”.



Channel didn’t violate code: PTC chief
Chief Electoral Officer thinks otherwise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
PTC news channel president Rabindra Narayan today said the channel had been showing uninterrupted and unbiased election coverage in Punjab and at no time has it “deviated from journalistic principles” to influence voters of the state.

Narayan, while referring to reports about the channel “indulging in activity violating the model code of conduct” by running a programme on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, said at no time did the state chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu get in touch with the channel.

He claimed that the channel did not commit any violation of the model code.

Meanwhile, CEO Kusumjit Sidhu, when questioned on the issue today, said there were complaints on polling day (May 13) that the PTC was broadcasting something “which I think violated the model code of conduct”.

Kusumjit said she immediately told all returning officers to take notice of the programme being run by the channel and to record it. She said, however, the programme was pulled off the air immediately. “If it was not violative of the model code, they would not have switched it off,” she added.

The PTC president, however, maintained that the channel never went off the air even for a minute, as there was nothing violative of the model code in what was being broadcast. Narayan further said that the PTC had been relaying “unbiased coverage” of the elections till date.



SAD MLAs to cross over to Cong: Brar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Congress Working Committee (CWC) member and Ferozepur candidate Jagmeet Singh Brar today claimed that SAD legislators were in touch with the Congress and that the SAD-BJP government would fall post May 16.

Brar, while talking to The Tribune, claimed that “sufficient” SAD legislators were in contact with him and that others had given indications of moving away from the SAD. He claimed that there was resentment amongst Akali legislators, who were now waiting for an opportune time to topple the government.

According to him, legislators are most annoyed with SAD president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for leading them to such a rout. “Sukhbir’s arrogance and dictatorial attitude are costing the party dear and want to ensure he does not ascend to the Chief Minister’s post. To prevent this, they are ready to topple the government even,” he added.

Meanwhile, Congress Pradesh Acting president Lal Singh and general secretary Parminder Singh claimed that people of the state had rejected the SAD-BJP alliance and given a “resounding verdict” in favour of the policies and programmes of the UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh.

The Congress leaders said the people had voted for Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi and the results would reflect this trend. The PPCC President said this had been made possible due to complete cohesion in the party.

Jagmeet’s statement today is in continuation to a claim made by Capt Amarinder Singh in this regard. Amarinder has claimed that the SAD has lost its Malwa base and that a sizable chunk of the Akali legislators were blaming Sukhbir for this debacle and wanted out.



Bhattal for end to vendetta politics
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Punjab Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has called upon the SAD-BJP government in the state to put an end to the politics of vendetta and withdraw false cases against the Congress MLAs and worker/leaders registered during the Parliamentary elections.

Bhattal said during the Lok Sabha elections, general public had got a chance to show its resentment against mis-governance of the SAD-BJP. Sensing their defeat, the SAD workers in over zeal and frustration vent their ire on the Congress workers.

She said rather cases should be registered against the SAD-BJP activists, who committed atrocities on the Congress workers. She said if the cases were not withdrawn after the declaration of the Lok Sabha results, a meeting of the executive of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) would be called to chalk out the strategy regarding such false and frivolous cases.

She urged the government to withdraw cases against MLAs, otherwise they would approach the Governor and judiciary as well.

Bhattal claimed that the Congress workers, leaders and state leadership, as a united force had taken up the challenge posed by the SAD-BJP’s high-handedness and gave befitting reply with commitment, for which she was highly thankful to rank and file of the Congress.

She said sustained campaigning by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, especially Rahul Gandhi, who covered eight districts, turned the tide in favour of the Congress.



Cong seeks Nitish’s support in Bihar
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
Even as Rahul Gandhi indirectly made overtures to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to join the Congress-led UPA, Congress in charge for Bihar affairs Iqbal Singh has also acknowledged that the Congress needed Nitish for an all-round development of Bihar.

Talking to The Tribune on phone from Hyderabad, Iqbal Singh said Bihar in the past 18 years had lagged behind in providing education, health services and other basic amenities and infrastructure, including roads. He said even though Nitish had done a commendable job, the state still needed more funds for overall development to reach at the grassroots level.

Iqbal said Sonia Gandhi, UPA chairperson, and Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, were concerned about the situation in Bihar especially after the Kosi floods, which had marooned various parts of the state. He said the Centre had released special funds for reviving the sick and closed industries in the state to create more job opportunities.

The CWC member said the Congress was serious about the development of Bihar.



All set for counting today
EC pulls out MC staff
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
To check interference by municipal councillors in the counting process through municipal employees on poll counting duty, the Chief Election Commissioner of India has directed pulling out Municipal Corporation (MC) employees from counting centres across the country, where votes will be counted tomorrow.

The orders were received by the district administration here today and the administration had to pull out employees at the last minute.

General assistant to Deputy Commissioner JK Jain confirmed to The Tribune that the orders were received and complied with promptly.

"The action was taken to avoid any interference by elected councillors in MCs across the country," said Jain. He said there were fears that the smooth conduct of counting procedure could be disturbed.

It was felt that the councillors could pressurise the MC employees and affect the counting operations, informed sources said. Ironically, it remains to be seen how counting via EVM machines can be affected by the employees.



10 BSF companies to be deployed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
To further strengthen security during the counting process tomorrow, the Election Commission has provided 10 companies of BSF jawans, which will be deployed in the inner cordons at counting centres of sensitive parliamentary constituencies where high political stakes have created a politically volatile atmosphere.

According to state DGP KK Attri this was in addition to 70 companies of the Punjab Armed Police, which were already deployed at counting centres. He said besides this, a gazetted officer had been deputed to remain present round the clock at each counting centre. Other arrangements include the installation of closed-circuit TV cameras at various vantage points, which will maintain a record of every activity, taking place on the premises of a counting centre.

Generator sets for power back-up and firefighting equipment have also been provided at each location to meet exigencies. Each counting centre has been sealed effectively, although candidates have been permitted to retain their representatives within the premises for the sake of transparency and satisfaction of the contesting candidates.

Attri said after the counting of votes and the declaration of results, close vigil would be maintained by the security forces in view of the highly surcharged atmosphere that followed the outcome of an election. He said police forces would be kept in a state of readiness.

Meanwhile, state Chief Electoral Officer Kusumjit Sidhu said 43 counting observers had already been appointed by the EC to watch the counting process. She said EVM engineers had also been put in service to repair any mechanical fault in the EVMs. The commission had also directed that there should be one government of India official on every counting table as a counting observer besides one micro observer for each counting hall to randomly check two EVMs per round. Assistant returning officers would also do randomisation of staff.

Sidhu said entry into counting centres would be regulated strictly and even the Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police would not be allowed to bring their vehicles inside the counting zone. She said proper security arrangements had also been made for victory processions.



Admn fully geared up
Rajay Deep
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
With counting of votes slated to take place tomorrow, the election process has entered its last lap with candidates keeping their fingers crossed.

The administration, too, has geared up for the smooth conduct of the counting process for the total of 10,49,366 votes polled for 22 candidates in the fray for the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency.

The counting centres for the nine assembly constituencies of Bathinda have been divided into four locations. For Mansa district, which includes three assembly segments, Mansa, Budhlada and Sardulgarh, Nehru Memorial College, has been selected, where three different counting centres will be located.

For the remaining six assembly segments, namely, Lambi, Bathinda (Urban), Bathinda (Rural), Bhucho, Maur and Talwandi Sabo, three locations having two centres each have been marked in Bathinda. The locations are identified as SSD Girls’ College, MSD School and one Polytechnic College on the Bibiwala road.

The counting will start at 8 am and will be over by 3 pm.



EC moved over dummy ads
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
The Human Empowerment League of Punjab (Help), a non-governmental organisation, has urged the Election Commission (EC) to order an inquiry by an independent agency into party advertisements carried by the media during the parliamentary elections.

Parminder Singh Kitna, general secretary, Help, said the commission had given instructions to the authorities concerned in Punjab to stop dummy advertisements given by some of the candidates or their supporters in news form in various newspapers and electronic media. However, the authorities had failed to stop such advertisements during the elections, he added.

Kitna alleged that certain local TV channels, which were not registered with the government, had been working to promote the electoral interests of certain candidates. But, the amount spent by candidates on their promotion through such TV channels had not been added to their election expenditure.

He said these channels had worked to influence voters in favour of particular candidates. Such promotional programmes telecast by the channels should have been taken as advertisements by the authorities and should be accounted in the poll expenditures of the respective candidates.

He said the Punjab government paid about Rs 79 lakh to a particular private channel to propagate its achievements in 10 months before the enforcing of the election code of conduct. On the other hand, Doordarshan was given Rs 2.62 lakh. Besides, Rs 53 lakh were given to some other channels to propagate its achievements, he alleged.



BSF jawans stranded at railway station
PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
Hundreds of BSF jawans and other paramilitary forces were stranded for hours at the Amritsar railway station waiting for special trains to take them to their next destination.

The jawans, who had arrived at the railway station from various parts of the Amritsar constituency and neighbouring Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur district after the culmination of the poll process on May 13, were anxiously waiting for the train.

The plight of our great soldiers could be gauged from the fact they were seen lying on platform during their long wait while service rifles without magazines were placed on folding beds. However, some of the jawans could be seen guarding the weapons of fellow companions.

An official, on condition of anonymity, said they did not even know the arrival timing of the train, which was waiting for clearance due to heavy traffic on the Amritsar-Jalandhar track. He said even after boarding the train they did not know when they would reach the next destination, as the scheduled trains running on the track were given preference over their “special” train.

He said this had become a routine affair for them with no one taking an initiative to reduce their problems. Besides, delay in their reaching the destinations would also cause extra strain on the other jawans posted on the border, he added. 



Equestrian’s death condoled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Punjab Equestrian Association today condoled the untimely death of Inspector Jagdish Singh and his wife in a road accident yesterday.

In a statement here, association president and DGP-cum-director of PPA, Phillaur, RS Gill, while presiding over a special meeting held to condole the death of the distinguished equestrian, said Jagdish Singh’s contribution to the state as well as the Punjab police would never be forgotten.

Gill said Jagdish had distinguished himself at the international level by winning five gold, three silver and two bronze medals in the international tent-pegging championship, besides two gold medals in the world police equestrian championship in Hyderabad in 1993.



High Court
HC for action against pressure-horn users
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Acting on a petition for action against commercial vehicles using pressure or musical horns in Punjab, Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur has asked the Deputy Commissioner concerned to take “necessary action”. In the event of non-compliance of the directions, petitioner Dinesh Goel has been granted liberty to even initiate contempt proceedings.

The petitioner had sought “strict compliance of Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000, for action against violators. Direction against use of loudspeakers and music systems in silence zones was also sought.

Disposing of the petition, the Bench directed the Deputy Commissioner to decide a representation by the petitioner and “to take necessary action as is contemplated in law. In the event, the directions mentioned are not complied with, the petitioner shall have liberty to take recourse to the remedy, including that of the contempt of the directions in an appropriate forum in accordance with law,” the Bench concluded.

Kanwaljit’s death: CBI probe sought

Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann today sought CBI probe into the death of Punjab minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh in a road accident. Taking up the petition, Justice Harbans Lal issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and others for filing their reply.

Appearing on his behalf, Ranjan Lakhanpal submitted that the former minister might have been done to death by those to whom he was a threat in political life. The manner in which the accident took place also raised doubts as his car was sandwiched between two vehicles.



DGP Virk’s arrest sought
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 15
The Vigilance Bureau of Punjab today moved an application before the special judge, Mohali, seeking issuance of arrest warrants against Maharashtra DGP SS Virk. The special judge has fixed May 18 to decide upon the application moved by the vigilance.

In an FIR lodged by the vigilance under charges of allegedly doing business while in service, the Maharshtra cadre IPS officer is accused of harbouring a person wanted by law and the Prevention of Corruption Act in September 2007.

In the application, the public prosecutor while seeking cancellation of SS Virk’s bail stated that the latter was delaying the proceedings in the case by staying away from the court and it was being apprehended that he would not present on May 29, the next date of the case. The challan in the case was presented in the court on May 31, 2008.



Man thrown into river after tiff, missing
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 15
A wood contractor paid heavily for trying to intervene in an alleged illegal felling of tree. Incident took place on Thursday night at around 9:30 pm near Nanakpura village. Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Bairampur Laadal village, who works as a wood contractor was on his way from Ropar to the village.

As per police records, he came across six people who were cutting trees and he assumed that the procedure was going on illegally. He had a tiff with these people. The argument got heated up and six of the accused allegedly pushed Bhupinder into the Sutlej along with his motorcycle.

Acting on complaint of deceased’s brother Balvir Singh, the police has booked six people, including Jaspal Singh Kala, Gurdeep Singh Pappi, Balbir Singh Monu, Gurinder Singh Vicky, Gurmail Singh Gegu and Gurpreet Singh Guru all residents of Bairampur Laadal.

Divers were pressed into action today. Neither the body nor motorcycle could be found till evening. Also no arrest had been made so far.

Meanwhile, sources in the village said altercation was not over tree felling. Instead both groups had been on war of words against each other for past many days. There was an old enmity between the two groups.



Six held for carrying bulls illegally

Sangrur, May 15
Six persons were arrested by the police on Tuesday when they were allegedly carrying 17 bulls in two canters from Dhanaula Mandi. Devinder Singh, SHO, Sadar, said on Wednesday that on getting the information that some persons had been carrying bulls from Dhanaula Mandi to Uttar Pradesh, the police nabbed them near Ghabdan village, along with 17 bulls.

He said the bulls had been sent to Gaushala, situated on the Sangrur-Barnala road. A case has been registered. — TNS



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