Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two get 7 yrs’ jail for raping sisters

Sangrur, September 30 (DNS)- Additional Sessions Judge Fast-Track Court here Sarbjit Singh Dhaliwal today sentenced Ravinder Pal and Mandeep Kumar, both residents of Kanakwal Bhanguan village, to seven years' and fined them Rs 3,000 each under Section 376 (rape) of the IPC. Ravinder Pal was also sentenced to seven years' RI under Section 363 (kidnapping) of the IPC and fined Rs 2,000. All these sentences shall run concurrently. The Sunam police had booked Ravinder Pal and Mandeep Kumar on January 30, 2009 under Sections 363, 366-A and 376 of the IPC.

Two daughters (18, and 16) of a mechanic of Kanakwal Bhanguan village went to school on January 29, 2009, but they did not return in the evening. On January 30, 2009 the police was informed about the girls. On a tip off, the police on February 5, 2009 arrested Ravinder Pal and Mandeep Kumar, and also recovered both girls. All the four were medically examined.

Both girls stated Ravinder and Mandeep enticed them and took them to Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi temple.

During this, Mandeep committed sexual intercourse with elder girl while Ravinder with younger without their consent. In the medical examination report of both girls, rape was found to have been committed on them.
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Health Minister has gastroenteritis

Amritsar, September 30 (DNS)- Suffering with gastroenteritis, Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla was hospitalised last night.

Confirming this, Mala, sister of the minister, said following advice from her attending doctors, she was hospitalised at the Jalianwala Bagh Civil Hospital.

She said although the minister was suffering from gastroenteritis for the past some days, she complained of acute pain after returning from Dasehra celebrations, where she was the chief guest.

She said a team of doctors from the health department was looking after the minister. The doctors said the minister was improving well and she may be discharged by tomorrow evening.
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Sikh bodies urge Takht chief to ensure implementation

Amritsar, September 30 (Doaba News Service)- Sikh religious, political and social organisations have requested Jathedar Akal Takht Gurbachan Singh to ensure that The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) implement edict against Sirsa- based Dera Sacha Sauda ,in Punjab.

The Akali Dal (Panj Pradhani), the Khalsa Action Committee, the Sikh Students Federation, the Dal Khalsa, Khalra Mission Organisation and the Sikhs for Human Rights made this request in a memorandum to the Jathedar here today.

General secretary, Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani) Harpal Singh Cheema said apart from Sikh sangat, the sikh political and religious organisations must be held accountable for implementing Akal Takht edict issued on May 20, 2007 directing all sikhs not to have relations with the Dera Sacha Sauda followers and all Naam Charcha Ghars be removed from Punjab.

He informed the Jathedar assured to take up the demand at the meeting of the Sikh high priests scheduled to be held here on October 1. He claimed the Jathedar also said the present dispensation in the state was not a panthic government but a coalition with the BJP and added a panthic government would only be formed when all Sikh political organisations joined hands.

He said unresolved Dera Sacha Sauda-Sikh issue was causing fissures in the families and rift in society in Malwa in general and Bathinda in particular.

Cheema added they also sought the Sikh families which bore the brunt during the anti-Dera Sacha Sauda campaign must be felicitated.

Convener of the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC), Bhai Mohkam Singh demanded a case under the Illegal Activity Prevention Act against Sanjiv Bhardwaj, Hindu Suraksha Samiti leader for 'irresponsible' statement .Bhardwaj had asked from the government to make it clear whether Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was a terrorist or a sant and announced cash award of Rs 7 lakh to catch Jagtar Singh Hawara, who escaped had from prison.
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Cotton farmers demand Rs 4,500 as MSP

Bathinda, September 30 (Doaba News Service)- Following the protest call given earlier, hundreds of cotton farmers assembled under the joint banner of six farmers' unions and gheraoed the state headquarters of the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) here today. The joint forum comprises Bharati Kisan Union (Ekta) Sidhupur, Punjab Kisan Union, Bharti Kisan Union (Krantikari), Kirti Kisan Union, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and Khetibari Kisan Vikas Front.

Lodging their protest over the absence of the CCI in cotton mandis, farmers alleged that under the present circumstances, they had been selling their 'white gold' to private buyers at a very low price for the past fortnight.

Raising the issue of fresh minimum support price (MSP) for cotton not having been announced as yet, the farmers said last year, the MSP was fixed at Rs 2,800 per quintal, while this season, when the prices of all commodities had shot up, farmers were still forced to surrender their crop at just Rs 2,400-2,500 per quintal to ginners.

Farmers demanded that the Centre should announce the fresh MSP at the earliest and the fresh notification should declare the MSP at about Rs 4,500 per quintal, keeping in view the inflationary tendencies in the economy.

In their speeches, the agitators blamed the policies of the Union Government but did not spare Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and accused him of not solving their problem sincerely.

They termed the "Raj Nahi Seva" slogan of the ruling government as a sham and accused the Chief Minister of suppressing the resentment of their organisations, using brute police force.

The representatives of the farmers' unions submitted a memorandum to the state manager of the CCI, RC Sarkar, who forwarded their demands to the national headquarters of the CCI in Mumbai.

Talking to Doaba Headlines, Sarkar expressed his inability to sort out the matter, saying, "The declaration of the revised MSP is in the hands of the Centre. Moreover, farmers are demanding the lifting of ban on the import-export of cotton, which again is related to the Union Ministry concerned."

Giving reason for the delay in cotton procurement, he added, "At present, the moisture content in cotton is above the required specifications. It is because of this that we will wait for some more days before entering the markets."
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SSPs of 7 districts reshuffled

Chandigarh, September 30 (Doaba News Service)- Days after the Union Home Minister asked the state police chiefs to stand up to protect their officers "being kicked around like footballs", another round of SSP transfers was undertaken by the Punjab government today that effected changes in seven districts.

While five of the seven SSPs transferred have completed one year in service at their place of posting as recommended by the new police Act, two of the SSPs have been shifted before they have completed even one year in service. Only one SSP, Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, has been shifted from one prime posting to another. Gurpreet, who was SSP, Ludhiana Rural, is the new Mohali SSP.

The transfers also show that the government is playing a merry go round by continuously testing new officers at districts. Few of them were changed earlier before the completion of one year at their place of posting.

Sources said the government had found a unique method of side stepping the one-year stipulation by informally asking the officers under consideration for transfer before the end of this period to put in a request for transfer. This, however, could not be confirmed.

The new dispensation under Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has also rehabilitated officers who have been in the news following controversies. These include Ranbir Singh Khatra who has been posted as SSP, Patiala, and Harinder Singh Chahal who becomes SSP Ludhiana Rural. Khatra is a PPS officer.

Sukhbir Badal also seems to trust PPS officers more. PPS officers Harcharan Singh Bhullar, Hardial Singh Mann and Gurpreet Singh Bhullar are the new SSPs of Barnala, Mansa and Mohali respectively. Other new SSPs include Arun Kumar Mittal who becomes SSP, Faridkot.

Those shunted out from SSP postings include Arpit Shukla who had been appointed SSP, Patiala, replacing S K Asthana who had been shifted out on the orders of the Election Commission. Others shifted include Jatinder Aulakh (SSP Mohali) who has steered the district without any controversy since his appointment, Surinder Singh (SSP Faridkot), Naresh Kumar (SSP Batala), Shiv Kumar Verma (SSP Barnala) and Manminder Singh (SSP Mansa).

Two Inspector Generals of Police --- Gurdev Singh Sahota, IG Zonal, Patiala, and Paramjit Singh Gill, IG Punjab Armed Police, Jalandhar --- have swapped places. Sahota had also taken charge as IG Patiala Zone less than one-year back.
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Matter taken up with Oz govt: Preneet

Patiala, September 30 (Doaba News Service)- Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur today said Australia had conveyed its seriousness on the issue of safety of Indian students. On attacks on Indian students over the past few months, Preneet said the Indian Government had taken up the matter with Australia. "The Australian authorities have assured us of stepping up security and providing more security to Indian students", she said.

Preneet Kaur was here to attend a function organised by Congress workers to honour her. On reports that the Australian High Commission was not keen on giving visas to Indian students, she said it was their prerogative. On the Balco incident, she said, "I was out of country and whatever action is required is being taken by the Indian Government'.

On the power crisis in Punjab, she said many states of India were facing a power problem and it was the responsibility of the state government to prepare a comprehensive plan to deal with the situation.

On the issue of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Preneet said it was the prerogative of All- India Congress Committee (AICC) chief Sonia Gandhi. She added she was concerned about every state and it seemed the time had come to decide how the party should go about it in Punjab. "The issue of the party leadership in seven or eight states is to be taken up but whatever decision has to be made will be the sole prerogative of Sonia Gandhi,'' Preneet asserted.
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Speaker tells MLAs to comply with IT notice

Chandigarh, September 30 (Doaba News Service)- The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Nirmal Singh Kahlon, has asked all Punjab legislators, who have benefited financially from the sale of their share in the Punjab MLA Society --- Tata Housing Development Company (THDC) project at Kansal --- to pay income tax on the capital gains.

At a meeting summoned to discuss the issue, the Speaker told all 96 legislators that they should individually respond to the notice of the income tax department about the alleged "tax evasion".

Confirming this to Doaba Headlines, Kahlon said, "The meeting had been called to apprise the legislators about the implication of the notice from the income tax department. They have all been told that they must respond to the notice individually and they have assured me that they will comply with the same."

The income tax department had served notices to the Punjab legislators as they have failed to pay income tax or capital gains tax on the sale of 22 acres of land in Kansal belonging to a society floated by the legislators to THDC for Rs 106 crore. The THDC agreed to pay each legislator Rs 82.5 lakh in cash and a four-bedroom flat after it developed the land.

The IT department claimed that each Punjab MLA would have made at least Rs 30-40 lakh profit on their investments. But not many bothered to clear their tax liability. At today's meeting, however, nearly 30 to 35 legislators revealed that they had already re-invested the Rs 33 lakh each they had received, negating their tax liability. Those who did not re-invest in real estate said they would soon clear the Rs 5 to 7 lakhs due as tax.

Kahlon said today's meeting was summoned mainly to take stock of the situation and to share the legal opinion that had been taken on the matter. "It was my duty to appraise the MLAs of their duty and liability and that is exactly what we did."

According to reports, nearly Rs 40 core has already been paid to the legislators as part payment of the agreement. Many legislators said they were under the impression that the tax was to be paid after the deal had been completed and not at this stage.

Conveying the legal opinion, the Speaker reportedly told the legislators that the tax liability in any financial year had to be fulfilled in that financial year and they could not wait for the deal to be completed. The legislators have been advised to pay their liability to avoid inviting any punitive action.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

SMART first to deliver Nokia Messaging in the Philippines

SMART first to deliver Nokia Messaging in the Philippines

Makati City, Philippines - Leading wireless services provider Smart Communications, Inc (SMART) has recently signed a deal with Nokia to offer Nokia Messaging on selected Nokia Nseries and Eseries devices. Nokia Messaging is an easy-to-use messaging service that will be available on a special data plan to SMART subscribers beginning September 26, 2009. The Nokia Messaging plan will initially be offered with the Nokia E75 and will also be offered to other Nokia Messaging capable devices in the near future.
"SMART is pleased to be the first operator to bring Nokia Messaging in the Philippines. More and more customers - even non-business users - are looking for a reliable service that allows them to have email pushed automatically to their handsets while on the move," said Danilo Mojica, Head of Wireless Consumer Division, SMART.
"The Nokia Messaging service offers all consumers a chance to enjoy push email service on their Nokia phone. With just a single application on a mobile device, our customers can manage multiple email accounts anytime, anywhere. Nokia Messaging makes it effortless to set up a push email account, providing an unprecedented ease of use and convenience to our customers. Coupled with SMART's unrivalled 3G/HSPA network, they will enjoy a superior mobile email experience and remain connected easily," added Mr. Mojica.
"We want to make mobile messaging as ubiquitous as voice or SMS. Nokia Messaging gives people simple and affordable mobile access to the world's most popular email accounts.  We believe mobile messaging is a critical, must-have feature, and we deliver mobile messaging solutions to a broad range of Nokia devices, all easily activated with a few clicks," said Benoit Nalin, General Manager, Nokia Philippines.
Nokia Messaging mobilizes email from thousands of internet and email service providers globally.  Customers can have their personal email accounts pushed directly to their Nokia device from email service providers such as Ovi, Yahoo!®Mail, Gmail(TM), and Windows Live (TM) Hotmail®. Customers simply need to enter their email address and password to get emails pushed directly to the homescreen of their device. They can then read, send, forward and reply to emails as well as download, read, forward and attach files on the go. Small medium enterprises (SMEs) with their own POP/IMAP compliant email servers can also enjoy push email service with Nokia Messaging.
The Nokia E75 is the first Nokia device to ship with a horizontal slide-out QWERTY keymat and offers a unified messaging interface that combines email, MMS and SMS into one application.
SMART Gold subscribers will be able to enjoy unlimited Nokia Messaging push email service at an affordable price of P299 per month on the Nokia E75.
For more information about Nokia Messaging, visit

Sunday, September 27, 2009

IOC, Reliance I enter semis

Reliance I and Indian Oil Corporation today entered into the semifinals of the 16th All India JP Atray Memorial Cricket Tournament for Pearls Trophy. In the first match of the day between Air India and Reliance-I Air India ended at 210 all out in 41.5 overs.

In reply Relianc I sailed past the target scoring 211 for 5 in 38.5 overs to clinch a place in the semifinals. Ravinder Jadeja was declared as man of the match.

In the second match played at Tau Devi Lal stadium, Sector 3, Panchkula, Indian Oil Corporation defeated MPCA-XI by 2 wickets and moved into the semifinals. MPCA won the toss and elected to bat and were restricted to 213 all out in 49.5 overs. Replying, IOC reached 216 for 8 in 49.4 overs to clinch a place in the semifinals

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‘Docs hinting my career might be over’

Ace Indian hockey goalkeeper, Baljit Singh is a dejected man. After the fourth operation of his right eye at Birmingham (USA) today the doctors have given him ample indications that his playing career might be over.

Talking to this correspondent over phone from the Eye Foundation, Birmingham, Baljit said, �Though not clearly, but the doctors have started telling me that I would not be able to pursue the game due to the severity of my eye injury,� said, Baljit, with his voice choking in emotion.

The reportedly reckless attitude of Sports Authority of India (SAI), as well as Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) further adds insult to Baljit�s injury.

�In my crisis, no one is here with me. What to talk of a visit by any officials or authorities concerned , I haven�t even received a single phone call from them,� lamented Baljit.

�In such a scenario, how they (Sports Authorities) still talk about the welfare of the game and players, is hard to understand. Is this the way we wish to treat our national game? When a cricketer gets injured, everyone makes such hue and cry over it and the player can rest assured that his future will be well taken care off. I have also represented India, but can�t understand the strange and indifferent behaviour of the sports department,� said Baljit.

�Even though the Sports Ministry sanctioned the money for my treatment, no one bothered to think about my future, what have they planned for me and my family if things actually go wrong?� asked Baljit, who even delayed his marriage for the sport.

Baljit, the lone Punjabi goalkeeper to have played for India, will come back to his hometown Chandigarh within two weeks. Earlier, he was accompanied by teammate Inderjit Chadha, who has now returned, and only his father is looking after him.

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AI cancels 11 flights as pilots strike work

At least 11 flights of beleaguered national carrier Air India were cancelled on Saturday after some of its executive pilots did not report to work, protesting against reduction in their productivity-linked incentives.

The flights cancelled today included a Kabul-bound international flight from Delhi, seven domestic flights to Mumbai, Lucknow, Aurangabad, Pune, Chennai, Srinagar and Indore-Bhopal. Agency reports say that in Chennai, two international flights to Colombo and Sharjah and one domestic flight to Madurai were cancelled and in Kolkata, a flight to Aizwal was cancelled after the pilots reported sick.

However, playing down the episode, the Air India management claimed that its operations were unaffected. �Every effort is being made to maintain normalcy even as a handful of pilots have reported sick, mostly at Delhi,� said Jitendra Bhargava, spokesperson of the carrier.

He said only 11 domestic flights had been cancelled. �All Air India flights have operated as per normal schedule, including all the 58 international flights, he said. All the passengers of the disrupted flights were accommodated in alternate Air India flights, he added.

However, the pilots claimed that a large number of flights throughout the country were affected due to the strike. Executive pilots� representative Captain VK Bhalla while blaming the Air India Management for triggering the crisis, claimed the support of all 400 executive pilots and also the junior pilots. He said the situation had been thrust on them. �With a stroke of a pen, the CMD Arvind Jadhav has cut 70 per cent salary of all the executive pilots. He is trying to hire foreign pilots and wants us to work us for peanuts,� Bhalla said.

Using the same technique as employed by their Jet Airways colleagues, AI pilots also decided to report sick to press in favour of their demands. However, amidst claims and counter-claims, it was still not clear by the evening as to how many pilots had not reported for duty. AI sources say even within the executive pilots there are many factions. So while Bhalla said all 400 executive pilots were with him, AI said only eight pilots had reported sick. A senior Civil Aviation Ministry official refused to comment on the issue saying, � I am not running the NACIL, CMD Arvind Jadhav is.�

On Friday, executive pilots of the cash-strapped national carrier had threatened to go on sick leave if the airline did not revoke a decision to cut their productivity-linked incentives (PLI) by 50 per cent.

The Air India management will meet the executive pilots on Sunday. �Air India management can address the concerns of the employees, Bhargava said, adding that employees should realise the difficulties the airline is going through.

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CM expresses helplessness

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed helplessness over tackling the worsening power situation in the state owing to scanty rainfall and inadequate power banking in the neighbouring states.

Giving up, the Chief Minister said, \"The power-banking system on which we had been relying all these years has failed. Even our neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh are witnessing low water levels and are not selling power.�

He blamed the Congress for the present situation and said, \"Punjab will be able to give surplus power in the next 20 years.\" He was in the city today to address a function of Dalits. He said power was something that had to be created and the Congress had never tried for it. \"I have already urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to sanction coal for our state so that thermal plants could be run,\" he said.

Addressing the gathering, Badal said, \"I would be a successful Chief Minister if the ambitious project of building Valmiki Bhawan at Amritsar is completed in the stipulated time. The Rs 3.5 crore project is being looked after by the area deputy commissioner and I am handing over the first instalment of Rs 1 crore for the project to the organisation, Adi Dharam Samaj.\" He added that when this money was finished, the state government would release the rest of the amount.

The SAD government is committed to the development of Dalits and to ensure that we have already started regularisation of employees of the Mohalla Sanitation Committee all over Punjab. \"Local Bodies Minister Manoranjan Kalia had called me up yesterday and said that we would start the regularisation project from Jalandhar and take it subsequently to other cities,\" said the Chief Minister, blaming the Congress for the present condition of the Dalits.

Listing the achievements of his government, he said the government was also proposing a memorial for two Ghallu Gharas, one at Sangrur and the other at Gurdaspur. Besides, a world-class university was also coming up at Amritsar for which a team comprising a secretary from the Central government and the UGC were in the holy city today.

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Power situation worsens

The power supply position in the state has worsened during the past three days and the domestic feeders are being subjected to eight-hour power cuts and the industry is facing two to three days� compulsory weekly off.

The power supply situation has aggravated due to the failure of two units of thermal plants - one each at Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat. The boilers of the two plants have developed some snag that is taking time to come on the stream again.

PSEB sources said there was no let-up in the demand for power because of the rise in temperature and humidity level. The daily consumption had touched 1,900 lakh units and the shortfall was more than 550 lakh units. During the peak paddy-sowing season, the daily consumption of power had touched 2,100 lakh units, when the tube wells were supplied eight hours� power daily. Now this has been reduced to five hours.

The induction and arc furnaces in the state have been asked to keep their units shut for three days and the general industries to observe two days� compulsory off.

Enquiries made by The Tribune today show that the water level in the Bhakra reservoir is also depleting and is a cause of worry for the BBMB authorities. The BBMB authorities have cut the generation from the Bhakra complex by about 70 lakh units daily to conserve water. The water level in both Bhakra and Pong reservoirs is alarmingly low --- the water level in Bhakra was lower by 42 ft as compared with last year�s level and Pong has a lower level by 50 ft.

K D Chaudhry, member (distribution), PSEB, said that some relief was possible only after October 5 when paddy load would fall. Meanwhile, there is no hope of filling up of Bhakra and Pong reservoirs now as the monsoon period is over.

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No economic crisis in India: Manmohan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said there was no economic crisis in the country.

�There is no economic crisis in India. It is certainly true that as a sequel to the global economic crisis our exports have suffered that has affected the rate of growth, but even then our economy is growing at a rate of 6.5 per cent. Therefore, there is no crisis, as such in India,\" Singh said.

However, the Prime Minister acknowledged that in a highly interdependent world, India has a stake in the stability and growth of the world economy.

�If the world economy collapses, there is obviously some effect on our country. Already the rate of our growth of our economy particularly our exports have suffered,� he said, adding that this has led to decline in exports of important labour-intensive products like gems and jewellery, leather goods textiles.

�So in an increasingly interdependent world, I think, no country by itself can ensure that all its goals of economic life can be achieved working to the exclusion of other participants in an increasingly interdependent world,\" Singh said.

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Favours’ from RIL , Probe sought against DG

A senior Left party leader has asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to �immediately� launch a probe against Director General (Hydrocarbons) VK Sibal, who allegedly took favours from the Mukesh Ambani-led RIL.

�The CBI should be directed to immediately launch an inquiry into the approvals of capital expenditure accorded by Sibal during his five-year tenure to all operations, including Reliance (Industries),� Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy, deputy general secretary of the CPI, said in a letter to the Prime Minister.

Reddy, who is a former Lok Sabha member, also said: �The government should ensure that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry\'s request to give a two-year extension to Sibal is immediately withdrawn.�

Referring to articles appeared in the media, Reddy said the ministry and Sibal had played a vital role in the hasty approval of the hike in capital expenditure of RIL for the Krishna-Godavari basin from $2.4 billion to $8.8 billion.

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Houses built in Mud Fort area razed

Raj Sadosh

Abohar, September 26

Most of the houses in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, which were constructed after dismantling a part of the Mud Fort in the past six decades, were demolished by the administration here today. The operation was on till the filing of the report.

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has repeatedly faced criticism in Parliament for not getting the monument vacated, the only monument that figured in the list for Punjab. Many senior officials, including survey officer Jasmer Singh and CJ Kaul, conservation assistant of the ASI, were also present there.

Women showed them copies of a stay order, which was given in their favour by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Some families also claimed that they also had a stay order, but its copy was yet to be received. Officials asked them to get it downloaded from the website of the court.

Families, in at least seven houses located on the periphery of the colony, claimed that the ASI had never served an eviction notice on them and they were now being targeted under a conspiracy after wrong demarcation on the behest of a medicine seller. They shouted slogans against the Revenue Department and demanded a probe into the demarcation. Women of the Rai Sikh community rued that political leaders and the Sangharsh Samiti had betrayed them as no one turned up to save them.

Manjeet Kaur said: �We had migrated from Montgomery district, now in Pakistan, and bribed the ASI staff to build houses here. However, this condition now has left us disappointed.�

The Mud Fort is said to be part of old town named Abha Nagri and Abu Nagri in the history dating back to 14th century and was ruled by Rajput Kings of Jodhpur and Bikaner states.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Advance tax mop-up rises 13.1% in Q2

New Delhi, September 22

Economic recovery is clearly visible as advance tax collections were up 13.10 per cent at Rs 49,502 crore in the second quarter against negative growth of nearly six per cent in the previous qurter.

However, 12 of the top 50 biggest tax payers among corporations paid less advance tax in the second qurter ended September 15, 2009, indicating that the upturn will take some time to spread to all sectors.

A Finance Ministry official exuded confidence that the third qurater advance collections will improve further as companies are supposed to do better in the coming festival season, even though drought would impact some of them.

According to Finance Ministry sources, advance mop up of corporate tax registered a 14.7 per cent growth at Rs 44,010 crore in the September quarter against a negative growth of 3.7 per cent at Rs 20,728 crore in the first quarter.

Similarly, personal income tax advance collections recorded a 1.7 per cent growth in the second quarter at Rs 5,492 crore against a drastic negative growth of 44 per cent in the first quarter, the sources said.

While country\'s largest lender SBI was the biggest tax payer at Rs 1,832 crore in the second quarter, up by 17.44 per cent, ONGC and RIL were on the second and third slots.

However, ONGC, SAIL, ICICI Bank, Citi Bank, Ambuja Cements paid less advance tax in the second quarter on yearly basis as their profits came under pressure.

Indian industry has been on an upswing as it grew by 8.2 per cent in June and 6.8 per cent in July this year, after coming under the impact of a deepening global financial crisis since the middle of September last year.

The tax figures showed that consumer durables, led by automobiles, have shown a strong recovery as also the software sector. Maruti paid 97.76 per cent higher tax at Rs 265 crore in the second quarter against a year ago, while Bajaj Auto paid around 90 per cent more tax at Rs 170 crore. Auto industry posted a robust over 24 per cent jump in August sales at 10,08,702.

While Infosys tax outgo was 100 per cent higher at Rs 300 crore, TCS paid 171.60 per cent higher tax at Rs 220 crore.

The cement sector has also surged to leave its sluggish growth behind, while PSU banks continue to perform strongly. ACC paid 257 per cent higher tax at Rs 150 crore.

While SBI was ranked as the highest corporate tax payer, PNB paid Rs 475 crore, up 35.71 per cent. Bank of India paid 199 per cent higher tax at Rs 269 crore.The energy sector has rebounded, led by oil marketing companies as well as the power sector. BPCL paid Rs 312 crore.

The FMCG sector has also made significant strides, while healthcare and pharma continue to be strong. Hindustan Lever paid around 35 per cent higher tax at Rs 175 crore. However, the realty sector continues to be badly hit. Metals led by steel remained down. SAIL paid Rs 13.48 per cent less tax at Rs 918 crore. � PTI

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Is Air India heading towards hara-kiri?

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22

Looking at the way Air India (AI) is going about its aircraft and spare parts insurance, it seems the airlines deliberately wants to risk its financial health in spite of all its cost-cutting measures.

Certain inconsistencies have been observed in case of underwriters proposed by the approved insurers to lead the airlines� fleet of aircraft and spares parts.

AI had invited two consortiums of four private and four public sector (PSU) insurers in April this year for the insurance. However, the proposal was abruptly called off without any reason.

In June, again, AI called for new bids that were slated to be opened in August. The opening of the bids was held in abeyance for unknown reasons.

Finally, it was decided that New India was to lead the PSU consortium, and the private sector insurer consortium comprised of Iffco Tokio, Bajaj Allianz, HDFC Ergo led by Reliance General, and ICICI Lombard.

However, when the certificates of lead underwriters were opened, as per the rules of NACIL, which runs AI, certain inconsistencies were observed.

The certificate submitted by Reliance General had not specified its securities. Instead, the company verbally confirmed to the airlines committee that their lead underwriters were Mitsui Sumitomo for HSL policy, Liberty Syndicate for Hull and Spares policy, Axis for Xs 52 E policy and Aspen and Talibot for Hull Deductible policy.

It was soon pointed out that neither Mitsui Sumitomo nor Liberty satisfied the criteria as laid down in the tender. As per the tender specifications, the selected insurer should approach an international reinsurance company that has a record of handling an airline account of a group similar to that of NACIL.

Reliance General, then, produced an ambiguous faxed letter purportedly issued by Mitsui Sumitimo. On its claim that Mitsui Sumitomo has led All Nippon Airways, the PSU consortium produced a letter from group CEO of Global Aerospace, Nick Brown, attesting the fact that Global Aerospace has been leading All Nippon Airways for almost 40 years.

The PSU informed the authorities that Mitsui Sumitomo underwriters comprise of stakeholders who are mere capital providers like Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Munich Re Group, National Indemnity Group, Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance.

Meanwhile, a letter written by aviation war underwriter MT Hart on behalf of Liberty Syndicates, to New India stated that it had not led accounts of a similar size in the past. Liberty Syndicates is supposed to act as underwriters for hull and spare parts.

Given the lack of experience of these underwriters in the business, it seems AI is hell-bent on inviting its own doomsday by undertaking such a �risk�.

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Nestle’s godown sealed

Moga, September 22

The Food and Civil Supplies Department has sealed a hired storehouse of Nestle India Limited for �illegally� storing overstocked sugar that was more than the permitted limit of consumption. Trucks have also been stopped from taking away the sugar bags.

Raids were still continuing on the premises of Nestle factory and other storehouses situated at various locations in the town when the report was filed.

Deputy director of the department, Ferozepur division, Jaswinder Singh said they had a tip-off on basis of which the raids were made on the storehouse. Huge stocks of overstocked sugar were being sold to private firms, he added.

�We have sealed the storehouse and stock checking will be conducted tomorrow�, he said. Meanwhile, it is learnt Nestle has sold 14,000 quintals of sugar to more than 50 firms in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

When the storehouse was sealed, there were 10,000 bags of sugar still there and rest of the stock out of 14,000 quintals (28,000 bags) was transported out from there by the purchasers to their storehouses in various cities in the past two days.

Praveen Kumar, a sugar dealer of Muzaffarnagar (UP), while talking to The Tribune over the phone revealed that he had also purchased 15,000 quintals of sugar from Nestle and had sold to retailers in Punjab and Haryana.

District Magistrate, Moga, Satwant Singh Johal said senior officials of the Food And Civil Supplies Department would take action as per the law.

�I have reported the matter to the Principal Secretary of the department�, he added. SP Singh, Principal Secretary of the department, confirmed that the raids were on on storehouses and other premises of Nestle. �I have demanded a report by tomorrow�, he said.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Baljinder Singh, District and Food Supplies Controller, was not present when the storehouse was sealed by his subordinates.

A spokesman for Nestle while claiming that it has the state government�s permission to sell overstocked sugar said, �Sugar stocks owned by the Moga factory of Nestle are within the prescribed limits�. Officials said they had permission to dispose of or sell overstocked sugar till September 19, but they were still selling it.

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Subsoil water dips despite early paddy sowing

Chandigarh, September 22

It was an experiment that was supposed to let farmers have it both ways. Unable to wean them away from paddy, the Punjab government banned early transplantation of the crop last year to arrest the dwindling groundwater level. The move, which coincided with a good monsoon, succeeded in this purpose and even resulted in a rise in the level in some districts.

Only into its second year, the bubble has burst despite paddy transplantation again taking place only after June 10. Faced with a deficit monsoon, the groundwater table has steadily fallen in just three months this year. Readings of select wells by Agriculture Department officials show there has been a decline of one to two-and-a-half metres in most districts between June and September, the period when the wells are usually recharged.

According to estimates by experts, the watertable may go down by over four metres in some districts by June next year. State water resources & environment directorate head KS Takshi said overexploited blocks in the state have increased from 53 in 1984 to 115 out of a total of 140 presently. �Surveys had revealed groundwater was high only in areas where it was saline or otherwise of poor quality�, he added.

The latest readings for June-September reveal the watertable has gone down by 2.54 metres in Patiala district followed by Barnala, Moga, Jalandhar and Sangrur, all of which have witnessed a fall of 1.50 meters, and Fatehgarh Sahib and Amritsar where there has been a decline of one meter. Kapurthala is the only district that where a rise of 70 cm has been recorded during the period with all other districts in the state registered a fall.

Experts feel only a normal rainfall of 648 mm can save the water table from depletion. Punjab has not had normal rainfall since a decade and in such a situation may have no option but to reduce the area under paddy cultivation, which has been steadily rising and is about 2.7 million hectares at present. According to PAU scientists, the state can sustain only 1.6 million hectares of paddy.

Any reduction in paddy cultivation is, however, unlikely. Punjab Farmers Commission consultant RS Rangi says: �There is no viable alternative to paddy. In a situation where the area under this crop is not declining emphasis could be laid on transplanting later varieties, more use of laser levellers and even direct seeding to conserve water�.

Eminent economist Ranjit Singh Ghuman says the state government will have to give the minimum assured price for crops other than paddy to ensure diversification. �Besides facilitating lifting of vegetables and flowers it�s also necessary to set up a commodity fund if the state is to take advantage of airports to transport such goods to the Central Asian market,�he said

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Don’t expect extraordinary result in hockey WC: Brasa

New Delhi, September 22

With little over five months left for next year\'s FIH hockey World Cup, India chief coach Jose Brasa said it would be unrealistic to expect anything extraordinary from the eight-time Olympic champions in the mega event to be held here from February 28 to March 13.

Although the Spaniard is optimistic about the hosts\' good showing in next year\'s three major tournaments -- the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, Brasa said his goal is to come out victorious in at least two out of the three events. �We will try to win all three or atleast two tournaments. But the World Cup is too close and there is hardly any time left to assure you something extraordinary,� Brasa told PTI.

�We are doing everything that is in our hand. We are utilising every single minute of training. The swine flu has hampered our camp in Pune for two weeks but now we are training well in all the aspects,� he said.

Incidentally, it was Brasa who roped in Jesus Garcia Pallares as the physical trainer of Indian team but barely three months after his appointment, Pallares quit the job citing lack of professionalism in the working of the Sports Authority of India.

An annoyed Brasa, however, termed his decision as a wrong one and said by doing so Pallares broke his own promise. �He took the wrong decision. Nobody take such a severe decision without notice. He broke the 30-day notice clause of his contract. He left me here alone without the support of any physical trainer and broke the word given to me,� Brasa said.

Interestingly, Brasa himself is unhappy with the slow functioning of the SAI, but said he is trying hard to adapt to the system and hoped that his association with India would be longstanding. �Things are very slow in India in general but adapting to them will be beneficial to us rather than just getting desperate,� the veteran coach said.

�The equipments are coming. The Sports Minister, MS Gill has promised me face to face that all the equipments will be here in our hands when we will comeback from Canada in the beginning of November,� he added. The Indian team, which is presently undergoing a camp in Pune, will be flying to Canada next month for seven Tests starting October 9. � PTI

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Dilshan powers Lanka

Centurion, September 22

South Africa�s decision to field in the Champions Trophy opener backfired and the world was again witness to why their ability in major tournaments has long been questioned. A promising start by Dale Steyn swiftly turned into a run-fest in Centurion as Tillakaratne Dilshan set the tone with an exceptional century, which was followed by some more fine batting as Mahela Jayawardene ensured Sri Lanka didn�t lose steam after a double blow.

Lanka have lost only once after posting a 300-plus total in ODIs and, with Muttiah Muralitharan back, the masters of asphyxiation will take the field extremely confident.

Smith had a smile on his face when the toss went his way and Steyn nipped out Sanath Jayasuriya, but it was soon replaced by a frown. While Steyn bowled four tidy overs, the rest of the pace attack sprayed the ball around. The first to feel Dilshan\'s force was Wayne Parnell, whose opening spell suggested he was a tad awed by sharing the new ball with Steyn in the tournament opener.

Parnell, preferred to Makhaya Ntini, struggled to hit a consistent length and went for 39 in five overs. When he dropped fractionally short Dilshan hammered him through midwicket and slashed past backward point; when he tried a slower ball Dilshan scooped him from off stump over Mark Boucher for four. It was a recurring leitmotif in those early overs, Parnell dragging the ball down and Dilshan pinging the deep point and midwicket boundaries.

The first ten overs yielded 70 yet Smith opted for the second Powerplay and introduced Albie Morkel. Dilshan welcomed him with a four, raised his half-century with another thrash, and finished off the 14th over by smashing a free hit for six over midwicket.

South Africa went in with two spinners and, while they stemmed the flow of boundaries, Sri Lanka ticked along at more than six an over. Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe bowled decently but lacked bite; Sangakkara eschewed the risks and was the ideal second fiddle to Dilshan. � Agencies


Sri Lanka:

Dilshan c Morkel b Steyn 106 (92)

Jayasuriya lbw b Steyn 10 (9)

Sangakkara c & b Duminy 54 (74)

Jayawardene c Duminy b Parnell 77 (61)

Samaraweera c van der Merwe b Parnell 37 (47)

Mathews b Steyn 15 (14)

Kandamby c Duminy b Parnell 6 (5)

Kulasekara run out 1 (1)

Muralitharan not out 0 (0)

Extras (lb 5, w 5, nb 3) 13

Total (8 wickets; 50 overs) 319

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-174, 3-181, 4-297, 5-297, 6-314, 7-317, 8-319.

Bowling: Steyn 9-2-47-3, Parnell 10-0-79-3, Kallis 7-0-43-0, A Morkel 4-0-39-0, Botha 9-0-53-0, van der Merwe 10-0-42-0, Duminy 1-0-11-1.

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Act fast against Saeed, Krishna tells Pak

New York, September 22

India expects Pakistan to act swiftly against Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the chief of the banned JuD and alleged Mumbai attack mastermind, said External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, as he prepared for a key meeting with his Pakistani counterpart here.

�India would be interested to see how Pakistan proceeds with reference to the Mumbai terror attacks. Saeed was the brain behind that attack on India. So, I think we expect Pakistan to act swiftly,� Krishna said, ahead of his meeting with Shah Mehmood Qureshi on September 27.

He said India�s position had always been consistent that those responsible for the Mumbai attack be brought to justice. �They will have to be dealt with and then brought to justice. I think simply that is the position India has taken and I reiterate that position,� he added.

Krishna and Qureshi are expected to meet on the sidelines of the New York General Assembly on September 27 in the latest high-level contact between the two countries.

Foreign Secretaries of the two countries would meet on September 26 to prepare the ground for the key engagement.

India had pressed Pakistan to take action against Saeed and has handed over several dossiers of evidence to Pakistan to enable his prosecution.

Qureshi underlined that he had the mandate from President Asif Ali Zardari to normalise relations with India.

�I am here with a constructive mind. I have the instruction from the president to move on. We want to normalise relations with India,� he stressed.

Saeed was yesterday placed �under house arrest� in Lahore for inciting people to wage �jehad�. � PTI

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tim Paine scores maiden ODI ton as Aussies go up 6-0

Nottingham, September 18

Tim Paine scored his maiden international century as Australia inflicted fresh one-day misery upon England with a crushing 111-run win here at Trent Bridge. Victory in this day-night fixture yesterday left world champions Australia 6-0 up and on course to complete the first ever 7-0 clean sweep in a bilateral series in Sunday�s finale at Durham�s Riverside ground.

Paine�s 111 was the cornerstone of Australia�s 296 for eight as the holders continued to warm-up in style for next week�s start of the Champions Trophy tournament in South Africa. England, chasing 299 to win, collapsed to 60 for four inside 15 overs. They were eventually dismissed for 185, with nine overs to spare as they suffered their 11th heaviest defeat, in terms of runs, in 517 one-day internationals (ODIs).

No England batsman made more than number eight Tim Bresnan�s 31 not out. Wicketkeeper Paine, an opener in the one-day format, reached three figures in only his seventh match at this level. Together with Michael Hussey, Paine - who only made his one-day international debut against Scotland in Edinburgh last month - put on 163 for the third wicket after the duo came together with Australia 40 for two. � AFP



Watson b Anderson 4 (9)

Paine c Prior b Mascarenhas 111 (148)

Ponting c Sidebottom b Anderson 6 (14)

Hussey c Denly b Swann 65 (69)

Ferguson b Anderson 6 (9)

White c Denly b Anderson 35 (23)

Hopes c Strauss b Sidebottom 38 (22)

Lee run out 0 (1)

Hauritz not out 1 (2)

Siddle not out 8 (3)

Extras: (b 1, lb 7, w 14) 22

Total (8 wickets; 50 overs) 296

Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-40, 3-203, 4-206, 5-220, 6-273, 7-281, 8-288.

Bowling: Anderson 10-0-55-4, Sidebottom 9-0-65-1, Mascarenhas 10-0-49-1, Bresnan 9-0-60-0, Swann 10-0-48-1, Bopara 2-0-11-0


Strauss c Paine b Lee 0 (2)

Denly c Lee b Hopes 25 (43)

Bopara run out 24 (33)

Prior run out 6 (8)

Shah c Watson b Hopes 23 (39)

Morgan c Hussey b Bracken 23 (28)

Mascarenhas b Hopes 11 (20)

Bresnan not out 31 (38)

Swann b Bracken 12 (15)

Sidebottom b Siddle 15 (16)

Anderson b Lee 1 (7)

Extras: (lb 3, w 8, nb 3) 14

Total (all out; 41 overs) 185

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-45, 3-59, 4-60, 5-100, 6-114, 7-125, 8-159, 9-182.

Bowling: Lee 8-0-48-2, Bracken 10-0-42-2 , Siddle 8-1-22-1, Hopes 9-0-32-3, Hauritz 6-0-38-0.

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Somdev puts India ahead

Johannesburg, September 18

Rohan Bopanna gave India a 2-0 lead against South Africa after beating their No.1 player Rik De Voest 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in the second singles rubber on day one of the Davis Cup World Group tennis play-off tie at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena here Friday.

Earlier, India\'s No.1 Somdev Devvarman beat Izak van der Merwe 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-4 in the first singles match. Coming into the tie after his breakthrough performance at the US Open, Somdev took two hours and 10 minutes to dispatch his opponent at the Ellis park indoor arena.

Somdev faced just one breakpoint and mostly played from the baseline. Merwe displayed an excellent serve and volley game but unforced errors dented his chances.

Somdev took little time to settle as he struggled with his first serve and sprayed a lot of forehands long. Merwe, ranked 289 in the ATP chart, on the other hand was confident in the start, played some big strokes and won brilliant points at net.

No player got the break opportunity until eighth game of the opening set. Merwe set up the breakpoint with an overhead volley but Somdev came back well with strong serve to save. India got a break point in the next game but Somdev was unlucky as he fired a backhand, eyeing a cross court winner, but the ball landed on the net and jumped out of the court.

Without seeing a break, the first set stretched to the tie- breaker, which the Indian won to go 1-0 up. Merwe, who looked better player initially because of his exploits at the net, backed by a solid serve, succumbed to unforced errors in the tie-breaker. The South Afircan hit a forehand to net to give Somdev a 3-1 lead, which he later reduced to 4-6 and saved a set point too but his double fault at 5-6 sealed the set for India.

Getting back his rhythm, Somdev curbed his unforced errors in the second set and broke Merwe in the sixth game to be in advantageous position. A furious backhand earned Somdev his second breakpoint and with equally forceful double handed backhand he got that break for a 4-2 lead.

Merwe started to wilt under pressure and handed two set points in the eighth game, thanks to some unforced errors. He saved both but could not stop Somdev from serving out the set. Already shaken in confidence, Merwe was facing two breakpoints in the very first game of the third set but managed to save both.

However, pressure got to Merwe and he was broken at love in the fifth game. From there it was just a cakewalk for Somdev. � Agencies

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Global FDI to fall 30 pc: UNCTAD

New Delhi, September 18

Painting a grim picture on cross-border investments, UNCTAD has said global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows will shrink by 30 per cent this year and recover only marginally during the next year.

\"FDI inflows will fall from about $1.7 trillion in 2008 to below $1.2 trillion in 2009. Recovery is expected to be slow in 2010, reaching no more than $1.4 trillion, but gathering momentum in 2011 to approach $1.8 trillion,\" the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development said in a report.

The UNCTAD said a major contributing factor to the decline in global FDI flows has been growing divestments by transnationals worldwide.

Since mid-2008, these divestments, which can take the form of repatriated investments, reverse intra-company loans, or repayments of debt to parent firms, have exceeded gross FDI flows in a number of countries, it said.

The report said FDI inflows declined in the developed countries, where the financial crisis originated, while in developing countries and the transition economies of South-East Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) continued to rise last year.

\"The crisis has changed the FDI landscape, with a surge in the developing and transition economies\' share in global FDI flows to 43 per cent in 2008,\" it said.

Citing the reasons for the changing pattern, it said there is a large decline in FDI inflows to developed countries, which in 2008 shrank by 29 per cent to $962 billion as against last year.

Despite this, the US remained the world\'s largest recipient country followed by France, China, UK, and Russia.

FDI inflows to developing economies rose by 17 per cent in 2008 to $621 billion compared to the previous year. However, the report said that in 2009, FDI flows to all the regions would \"suffer a decline\".

The report also said that cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M&As) - a major source of growth of FDI in previous years - declined significantly as financial markets seized up in the second half of 2008.

\"Taking that year (2008) as a whole, the value of such transactions fell by 35 per cent to $673 billion and so far in 2009 rate of M&As continued to fall,\" it added.

Private equity firms, which had earlier fuelled the rise in M&As, saw the value of their cross-border transactions drop 38 per cent in 2008, with a sharper decline registered in the first half of 2009, it said.

\"Once the global economy is on its way to recovery, the exit of government funds from ailing industries could provide the catalyst for a new wave of cross-border M&As,\" the report said.

The report further said that last year, 110 new FDI-related measures were introduced globally, of which 85 were more favourable to FDI. � PTI

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FCI paddy procurement likely from October 1

Chandigarh, September 18

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) intends to procure 20 per cent of the paddy produce in Punjab this year.

Out of the total anticipated paddy procurement of 127 lakh metric tonnes by government agencies in the state, FCI would procure approximately 26 lakh MT. FCI had procured only 1.45 and 2.13 lakh MT paddy during 2007-08 and 2008-09, respectively, which was about two per cent of the total produce in those years.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the regional manager FCI and president of the FCI Officers Association (FCIOA) Harish Chander said the corporation would use its 123 depots across the state as procurement centres.

�One of the reasons why the FCI is not able to achieve its procurement targets is that the state agencies do not allot us proper �mandis�. We intend to bypass that process and use our own infrastructure,� he said.

�We intend to procure the produce from the farmers through the �arthiyas�,� he said adding that the FCI would ask the state agencies to waive off various fees that are collected at the �mandis� during procurement.

Chander added that Punjab alone could rescue the entire nation from the food crisis caused by the slack monsoons this year.

While admitting that the movement of wheat and rice stocks from last season had been delayed by the FCI, he pointed out that in many cases the wheat procured by the state agencies did not prescribe to the quality specifications laid down by the corporation.

�The discolouration of wheat stored at many places is not due to a delay in their movement but due to the fact that quality standards of FCI were not adhered to when it was procured,� he said.He added that the FCI would also have more storage space available with it. �The state agencies have planned to have an additional covered storage capacity of 71.25 lakh MT.

�This is being done by Pungrain in the public private-partnership mode,� added MS Sarang, working president of the FCI officers association.

He informed that the FCI Officers Association would hold a regional conference in Jalandhar on September 20, where apart from local members of the association, delegates from all over India would deliberate on issues relating to FCI policies and functioning, and their impact.

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Soon, digital system to scan trains at Attari

Attari, September 18

The Customs and Central Excise Department has mooted a proposal to introduce a specially designed searching pit at the Attari railway station to comb the incoming trains from Pakistan, especially the goods trains.

If everything goes according to plans, the state-of-the-art pit would soon be built at a cost of Rs 8 crore. The move would enable safe, efficient and foolproof search of incoming trains and check the import of prohibited items.

The Central Custom�s office has communicated to the DRM, Northern Railways, Ferozepore Cantt, to take up the matter with the Ministry of Railways at the earliest. �The pit would be equipped with electronic searching gadgets and light systems. Though the expenditure is a bit on the higher side, safety at Attari, which is a very sensitive station, should always be the prime focus,� said VK Mahajan, Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Central Excise Department, Attari.

Elaborating the significance of �under the train search�, Mahajan said most prohibited items are concealed in �cavities� in the floor of train compartments.

�Sometimes it becomes difficult for our men to scan these �cavities�, which would be possible after the new system is put in place,� he said.

Notably, a digital search system would be later installed in the pit. Equipped with an LCD screen, this system, which costs nearly Rs 30,000, would scan the trains and anything suspicious would be displayed on the screen.

�This system would work through sensors and help in making search operations more efficient,� said Manish Berry, inspector, Customs.The department�s search staff has recently been provided jungle shoes, helmets, dragon lights et al, which would help increase their efficiency.

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Memorials case can’t be dropped, says apex court

New Delhi, September 18

Terming as �unsatisfactory� the Uttar Pradesh government�s response to the show-cause notice, the Supreme Court today made it clear that it would not �drop� the issue of construction of memorials in Lucknow spending �so much of� public money.

The state government�s apology-cum-unintended transgression reply to the notice �is not satisfactory� and �it is not such a matter that can be dropped� by the court, a Bench comprising Justices BN Agarwal and Aftab Alam observed. The court would have to go into the issue whether �you can incur so much of expenditure on memorials,� the Bench said, clarifying that it was �immaterial� whether it was Budget allocation approved by the state Assembly and the Cabinet.

The Bench made the remark in response to an argument by senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, who appeared for the state, that the legislature and the Cabinet had duly approved all the expenditure.

�Suppose 80 per cent of the funds is diverted for this, is it justifiable,� the Bench questioned the state.

Pointing out that the petition questioning the wisdom in incurring huge expenses on the memorials and statues had raised �very serious issues,� the Bench asserted that it would treat �on the same footing� utilisation of funds with approval or without approval. The issue was the large percentage of money going for such constructions.

Posting the next hearing for October 5, the Bench directed the applicant and the media to file their response to the state�s affidavit filed by Chief Secretary Atul Kumar Gupta by September 29. The state has been asked to file its counter-affidavit by October 3.

A related petition, which had earlier been slated for September 29, would also be heard on October 5, along with the application that had come up today.

The SC had issued the show-cause notice on September 11 after taking suo motu note of media reports that said the state government was going ahead with the construction of the memorials flouting its own undertaking given to the court on September 8 for stopping work.

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Cong in no mood to forgive Tharoor

New Delhi, September 18

Even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today played down the Shashi Tharoor episode, an angry Congress appears to be in no mood to forgive the Minister of Sate for External Affairs for his �cattle class� and �holy cows� remarks.

Chorus within the party for easing out Tharoor, fuelled further by efforts of his aide Jacob Joseph to defend him, is building up. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot�s demand that Tharoor be made to resign followed by Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari openly backing Gehlot from party�s podium indicates that an action against Tharoor was likely soon.

While the Prime Minister appeared to be accommodative towards Tharoor at an iftaar hosted by him, party leaders were not so charitable. Openly criticising Tharoor for his �complete lack of political understanding�, they say the former UN diplomat could even be shown the door in the next Cabinet reshuffle. �Not immediately, but maybe in the next reshuffle,� a senior party leader said in response to the future of the twitter-happy former UN diplomat in the Congress.

Tewari was clear the party would take appropriate action against Tharoor for his �cattle class� comments at an appropriate time.

At the party�s official briefing, he said: �We condemn what Tharoor said. We will take appropriate action (against Tharoor) at appropriate time�. Openly backing Gehlot, Congress spokesman said: �Obviously, when you have statements like this (from Tharoor), there are bound to be (such) reactions.�

Gehlot had called for the resignation of Tharoor during an iftar at his home in Jaipur on Thursday. He said the minister�s remarks were unfortunate and derogatory. �It is unfortunate and unbecoming on his part to make such comments. In my view he should tender his resignation,� Gehlot said.

�To make such irreverent comments is all the more despicable when one is holding a responsible position as that of the Minister of State for External Affairs,� Gehlot added.

However, it is not just this incident but a series of episodes highlighting Tharoor�s �lack of political understanding�, which are leading to the �proposed action�

�It is not this incident (Twitter) only�it is the pattern. First Sharm-el-Sheikh, then his sitting in Prime Minister�s chair and now the Twitter incident,� sources say.

Even in the case of joint statement between India and Pakistan at Sharm-el-Sheikh, Tharoor committed a faux pas by saying it was not a legal document that was binding on India. This statement was strongly disapproved, even by the ruling establishment

Even though Tharoor apologised for his comments and sought time from Congress president Sonia Gandhi to explain his side of the story, Joseph pitching in on his behalf has complicated the situation for him.

On Wednesday, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan openly rebuked Tharoor, advising the former UN diplomat to learn the party�s culture and ethics. While situation appeared to be somewhat under control, especially after Tharoor�s apology, the controversy was rekindled after Joseph pitched in to defend his boss. Apart from posting the minister�s photo, he made public some comments made by other Twitter users that referred to union ministers as �humourless twits� and Natarajan as an �outdated Indian political spokesperson�.

Asked about Tharoor�s aide, who posted the minister�s photo in an aircraft on Twitter with a caption �Shashi Tharoor in cattle class�, Tewari said: �I don�t want to give importance to people who have no role in public life.�

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Sugar worth Rs 34 crore seized

Ludhiana, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- In a joint raid, the police and District Food and Civil Supplies Controller today seized nearly 1 lakh quintals of sugar worth Rs 34 crore, hoarded by a Moga-based sugar dealer in Seera village, near here. The accused has been identified as Bharat Bhushan, owner of Khoobi Ram Johri Mal of Moga.

Giving details, SHO, Jodhewal, Gurpreet Singh said the police received a tip-off that the accused had hoarded 97,500 quintals of essential commodity at a godown in Seera village. He said the police informed the DFSC about the illegal stock being stored in view of high prices of sugar.

A police official said the raid was conducted after a thorough probe and the accused was nabbed from the spot.
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Needed, an update for Punjab govt portal

Chandigarh/Nakodar, September 19 (Doaba News Service)

Giving press statements is one thing and performing is another. The grand announcements made by Punjab Minister for Industries and Commerce Manoranjan Kalia about the state becoming a major information technology (IT) destination sounds more of a joke, when one goes through the official website of the Punjab government.

The website has a lot of information on the state, but most of it dates back to 2004! Some parts of the website talk about the state's achievements in 2002.

For an investor interested in Punjab, this site is the first point of contact but it is a shame that the "consultant heavy" Punjab Infotech Limited has failed to maintain the state's portal website.

Starting with Punjab's education facilities, technical colleges, the number of industries or the agriculture produce, the entire information pertains to more than five years back. Information about the power generation plants is outdated. Several of the projects listed as "pipeline" projects have already been implemented. Even the map of the state does not have most of the new districts carved out in the past few years.

MD Punjab Infotech Rakesh Verma said they had not been responsible for the content on the website and had only been there to provide technical support. "It is for the departments to send us updates about the information on the Punjab website. Moreover, every department and district has its own website and these are regularly updated," he said.

But then who is responsible for the centralised portal of the Punjab government website. "With each department having its own website, the state portal is not that important," he added.

Some department heads, however, pointed out that the updated information has already been sent to the Punjab Infotech, but it is for them to integrate that information on the portal. "The portal is updated in terms of press notes and tenders, but all else is ages old," pointed out an officer.
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NRIs in Italy get month’s amnesty

Patiala, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- The Italian government has declared the Amnesty Scheme for the immigrants living in Italy. The sizeable population from Punjab falls under this category of immigrants. The amnesty would be available only for a month and is open to all the immigrants in Italy, who are not having proper authorisation.

Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur took up the issue with the Government of India and now these people have started getting their duplicate passports issued on priority basis.
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PAU gets additional grant of Rs 10 cr

Ludhiana, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- In recognition of the contributions of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, to agriculture, Cabinet Minister, Finance and Planning, Manpreet Singh Badal, today announced an additional grant of Rs 10 crore to the university for dedicated research in the next fiscal. Manpreet made the announcement after inaugurating the two-day Kisan Mela that kick started at the PAU here yesterday.

He said for the past many years, the PAU had been receiving a grant of Rs 100 crore, which seemed insufficient to sustain the ongoing research and other programmes.

He added that despite the financial constraints, the university had continued to address the farmers\' needs in the state.

Addressing a huge gathering of farmers, hailing from different parts of Punjab and adjoining states, Manpreet said the present- day agriculture was knowledge-intensive and biotechnology held the future of agriculture.

The Finance Minister added that the PAU had contributed tremendously to the welfare of the nation. He said it was PAU scientists' hard work that led to the fulfilment of the requirements of national food security. He said water conservation would be the challenge for the next 15 years.

Dr M S Kang, PAU vice-chancellor, said the depleting water table was a serious issue linked with the rampant rice-wheat cropping sequence, especially in the central districts of Punjab. He said the PAU had evolved some water-saving technologies such as use of laser leveller, tensiometer-based irrigation in paddy and growing less water-consuming crops.
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Insurance Co. asked to pay Rs 8.78 lakh

Sangrur, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- The local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the New India Assurance Company Limited to pay Rs 8,78,750, along with interest at the rate of nine per cent per annum from the date of repudiation of the claim (July 16, 2009) till realisation, to Jagtar Singh of Sunam. The forum, headed by MD Sharma, also directed the company to pay Rs 3,000 in lieu of consolidated amount of compensation to the complainant. It also directed the company to comply with its order within 60 days.

Jagtar had his combine harvester insured from the New India Assurance Company Limited for the period from March 11, 2008 to March 10, 2009. However, on May 6, 2008, the machine was stolen. He got an FIR registered on May 7, 2008, and the company was also intimated about the theft. When the company did not pay up the claim, Jagtar filed a complaint before the forum.
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CM assures border area residents of safety

Khadoor Sahib, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has assured residents of border areas that the state government has taken up their problems, particularly the matter of their security, in the wake of rocket attacks, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Meanwhile, SAD chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal said his party was making efforts to bring the youth in the forefront and to strengthen the party's frontal organisations.

The Badals were addressing a political conference in connection with the annual Guru Angad Dev "Gurta Gaddi Diwas" celebrations.

Badal said, "I have written a letter to the Prime Minister and requested him that the Central government should focus on problems of residents of borders areas."

Referring to ongoing efforts for a separate SGPC for Haryana, Badal said certain forces were trying to usurp control of Haryana gurdwaras to set up a new body for the Sikhs.
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Kaypee demands financial emergency in state

Khadoor Sahib, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- Holding the state government responsible for the ongoing "financial mess" in the state, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee has demanded imposition of "financial emergency" in Punjab to make it a prosperous state once again

"In fact, it is an anarchy-like situation prevailing across the state. The fiscal situation is so bad that people of the state are reeling under a huge debt of Rs 64,000 crore. The state government has mishandled the situation so badly that it has not been left with even a single penny to spare for the state development. All projects that are in progress are the ones that were sponsored by the Centre, " Kaypee said. Kaypee alleged that the objective of the SAD-BJP combine was to harass Congress workers at the grass-root level. "Congress workers are being implicated falsely. Corruption is spread to such an extent that it is impossible to approach government officials," Kaypee added.

Other Congress leaders who addressed the party's political conference included former MP Rana Gurjit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh and Harminder Singh Gill.

On the other hand, the CPI conference was addressed by a number of leaders, CPI's national secretary Amarjit kaur, Bhupinder Singh Sambar and Jagroop Singh. The leaders accused the Central government of giving shelter to hoarders and traders. Meanwhile, the Bharti Sangharsh Dal and the "Pachhrian Shreniyan Sangharash Committee" also held their conferences.
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Soon, digital system to scan trains at Attari

Attari, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- The Customs and Central Excise Department has mooted a proposal to introduce a specially designed searching pit at the Attari railway station to comb the incoming trains from Pakistan, especially the goods trains. If everything goes according to plans, the state-of-the-art pit would soon be built at a cost of Rs 8 crore. The move would enable safe, efficient and foolproof search of incoming trains and check the import of prohibited items.

The Central Custom's office has communicated to the DRM, Northern Railways, Ferozepore Cantt, to take up the matter with the Ministry of Railways at the earliest. "The pit would be equipped with electronic searching gadgets and light systems. Though the expenditure is a bit on the higher side, safety at Attari, which is a very sensitive station, should always be the prime focus," said VK Mahajan, Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Central Excise Department, Attari.

Elaborating the significance of "under the train search", Mahajan said most prohibited items are concealed in "cavities" in the floor of train compartments.

"Sometimes it becomes difficult for our men to scan these "cavities", which would be possible after the new system is put in place," he said.

Notably, a digital search system would be later installed in the pit. Equipped with an LCD screen, this system, which costs nearly Rs 30,000, would scan the trains and anything suspicious would be displayed on the screen.

"This system would work through sensors and help in making search operations more efficient," said Manish Berry, inspector, Customs.The department's search staff has recently been provided jungle shoes, helmets, dragon lights et al, which would help increase their efficiency.
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No violation of ‘maryada’, claim Hry Sikh leaders

Amritsar, September 19 (Doaba News Service)- The six Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC-Ad hoc) leaders, summoned to the Akal Takht on September 19, have alleged that Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh was working "under pressure" of the SGPC. They also said there was no violation of the Sikh "maryada" at the gurdwara on September 13. The HSGPC leaders have also accused the SGPC chief Avtaar Singh of issuing threats to them during his September 13 visit to Kurukshetra, against which they are set to lodge a police complaint.

"There are glaring discrepancies in the allegations. Out of the six leaders, Bibi Ravinder Kaur was not present at the gurdwara on September 13, still she has been asked to appear before the Akal Takht," alleged Kanwaljit Singh Ajrana, president of the HSGPC youth wing and one of the six leaders who have been directed to appear before the Akal Takht on September 19. "The Akal Takht Jathedar should have verified facts before issuing any diktats. It seems he is working under pressure of SGPC chief Avtaar Singh," he added.

Earlier, HSGPC (Adhoc) president Jagdish Singh Jhinda and his associates - Kanwaljit Singh Ajrana, Bibi Ravinder Kaur, Avtaar Singh Cheeka, Hazoor Singh Nambardar and Joginder Singh - were summoned to the Akal Takht on September 19.

The Jathedar, Giani Gurbachan Singh, who had asked the six leaders to explain "their act that violated the Sikh 'maryada", had also alleged that these leaders and their followers had prevented entry of Sikh devotees into the gurdwara premises and had even forced the "Granthi Singh" to leave from "Hazoori" of Guru Granth Sahib.

On the otherhand, the leaders claimed that they had done not indulged in any violent act.

"We were there to undertake the "Sewa Sambhal" of the gurdwara till 8 p.m. It was a symbolic act to express our resentment against the SGPC leaders' attitude towards Sikh "sangat" of Haryana, which has been demanding the right to perform the "Sewa Sambhal" of Haryana-based gurdwaras. No one indulged in hooliganism," the leaders claimed.

"The allegations against us are a bundle of lies. If anyone proves that I was there, I would be quitting my membership," said Bibi Ravinder Kaur.

Asked whether HSGPC leaders would approach Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda for withdrawal of cases against them, Nambardar said they had no such plans.
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Oz Govt. not taking action on call for banning raunchy videos Melbourne,Fri, 21 Aug 2009 ANI

Melbourne, Aug 21 (ANI): The Aussie Government is said to have decided not to take any action on banning raunchy music videos and sexual images that have been described as being too sexually explicit for children.

A Senate committee wanted stricter advertising controls and tighter classification laws on videos and ads.

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According to the Herald Sun, the Government\'s response to the committee was described by child development experts, and family and women\'s groups last night as

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Punjabi Newspaper \'Doaba Headlines\' now in English & Punjabi

Nakodar (Doaba News Service) : Punjab\'s No. 1 Punjabi Newspaper \'Doaba Headlines\' which print weekly from here and provide Daily news online to their readers, going to provide English News as well online Punjabi News. Chief Editor Ram Singh Aulakh said that we want to reach every Punjabi person. Some our NRI readers could not able to read Punjabi. They suggested us to provide Punjab\'s news also in English.

They also wish to link with their Hometown, Punjab\'s Culture, Politics, Mela\'s, Functions and other activities.

Sh. Ram Singh Aulakh added, we need readers suggestions, what they wish. He told about his own experience that they are serving of Punjabi language. That is why they begin this Newspaper.
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dera Chief – Gurmit Ram Rahim Accused By Indian Authorities

Mr Dal Singh Dhesy from Birmingham UK, Director of Sikh Community & Youth Service UK, Labour Party Member, Member of the West Midlands Police Consultative Forum and member of the Punjabis in Britain All Party Parliamentary Group, urged the Indian Police and Government, to arrest Dera Chief – Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh, who has been accused of several counts of rape and murder in India.

Mr Dal Singh Dhesy stated that, Mr Beant Singh, Ex Treasurer for the Dera Chief and Mr Khatta Singh, Ex Driver of the Dera Chief who were both in daily contact with the Dera Chief and closely associated through there respective employment had reported these serious crimes to the Indian Authorities via the Indian Media on several occasions. Many of these crimes, including the murder of Fakir Chand and others, several rapes and other serious crimes were being committed by the Dera Chief and on many occasions the crimes actually took place inside the Dera.

The Indian Police and Government are aware that the Dera Chief has been responsible for raping both, teenage girls and women, he has also ordered his followers to murder several people, which they have carried out and yet he has still not been arrested and questioned for these crimes.

The Dera Chief has also been accused of raping a minor girl Gurjot and several other minor girls, including his Sadhvies and students at his School and Collage. Dal Singh Dhesy asked, "Why is this evil man being allowed to continue carrying out these viscous attacks and not being apprehended by the Indian Authorities. Is it the Authorities who have granted him the freedom to commit these crimes?".

Mr Dhesy further stated, "that the authorities should immediately arrest and question the Dera Chief, regarding these very serious allegations, as they would if it was any other person who was accused of such crimes.

Although the Police have registered cases against the Dera Chief, under section 302, 307, 376, 120B of the Indian Penal code, the Dera Chief has never been arrested or questioned by the Police.

Futhermore, these alleged crimes carry a life imprisonment sentence however the Dera Chief remains a free man, whilst innocent people are serving life sentences in prisons across India.

Under section 302, 376 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code a person cannot submit an application for bail, until at least 6 months, if they have been arrested for any of these offences.

The Dera Chief has never been in Police custody or to Jail for any of the crimes he has committed in the past because he has alot of money with which he can buy his freedom from corrupt officials, the Dera chief earns in excess of 10 million rupees per day. Furthermore the Dera Chief has vast property in his name and under the names of his family members. He has evaded paying tax for many years, yet the authorities have never even apprehended him for this crime.

Mr Dhesy further stated that "Dera Chief, Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh continues to threaten Mr Beant Singh (Ex Treasurer of the Dera) and his family, these threats have been ongoing for the last two years and Beant Singh and his family members are in fear of their lives. Although the Indian Authorities are aware of this, they have failed to provide any protection to Beant Singh or his family members.

Beant Singh and his family members have had to remain in hiding from the Dera Chief and his followers because they have threatened to kill him. Beant Singh's mother has been kidnapped by the Dera since June and they have not released her yet. The Indian Authorities are aware of the kidnapping of Beant Singh's mother but again, have failed to do anything about it. The Indian Police have also failed to provide any form of protection to Beant Singh.

Dal Singh Dhesy said, "The Dera chief is planning to make his own political party, but the Congress party are not aware of his plans. The Dera Chief hopes to create the Sacha Sauda party very soon. The Dera Chief has been moving very swiftly and has brainwashed many people to believe in his views and become his followers and support his party.

Some of the Dera Chiefs vast earnings are going into the bank accounts of his son Jasmit Singh and his daughter Charanjeet Kaur, the family have many Bank accounts across India and abroad.

Dhesy further stated, "That no matter what the Dera Chief and followers do, the Indian Authorities turn a blind eye to it, however they continue to arrest innocent Sikhs. I appeal to the Indian Government and Indian Police to stop arresting innocent people and to arrest the Dera Chief, who has committed so many serious crimes."
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Encroachment removed to pave way for wider roads

Ludhiana : A demolition drive was conducted by the Building Branch of the Municipal Corporation at E block BRS Nagar on Tuesday. The team demolished several green belts as well as ramps constructed by the residents which had narrowed the roads.

A gate, installed by the residents for security purposes, was demolished too.

Area Councillor Hari Singh Brar was also present at the spot. "Green patches are a must on both sides of the roads, but for this, the roads should not be encroached upon. I have asked the MC to develop green belts on either side of the roads according to the norms."
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Medical college Principal sacked

Amritsar, August 31

The state government has removed Dr Jagdish Gargi from the post of Principal of Government Medical College, Amritsar, on administrative grounds.

Gurdeep Kalsey, Head, Department of Anatomy, has been ordered to hold the additional charge of principal replacing Dr Gargi till further orders. However, Dr Gargi will continue to work as professor and head of the Department of Forensic Sciences, said orders issued by Minister of Medical Education and Research.

Sources said Dr Gargi was removed in the case of demolition of a wall on June 29. The wall was being constructed to merge rooms of the Surgery Department into the blood bank as per the requirement of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) for establishing the state�s first model blood bank by upgrading the existing one at GNDH. The orthopedic and surgery departments were at loggerheads over the merger of rooms.

Meanwhile, the Junior Doctors Association (JDA) today reiterated its demand for action against Dr Boparai, MS. In a statement to press, Dr Vishal Garg, president, JDA, said the removal of Dr Gargi as Principal was merely an eyewash as the real culprit for the police action, as admitted by the SSP, should be brought to book and action should be initiated against him.

Dr Boparai said when the minister had given assurances to implement the revised pay scales within a few months, they should have patience. Meanwhile, the strike by junior doctors entered the 11th day today. The junior doctors distributed free medicines to around 1,000 patients, besides conducting free tests.

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Malwa woes: MP writes to Rly Minister

Bathinda, August 31

Coming to the rescue of train passengers of Malwa, hitherto largely marginalised by the Railways in terms of fast and better connectivity, MP from Bathinda Harsimrat Kaur Badal has written to Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for making residents� train travel a convenient and pleasant experience.

Giving voice to the long-pending demand of commuters, the MP sought introduction of a Shatabdi/Jan Shatabdi train between Ferozepur and Delhi via Bathinda, Mansa, Jakhal, Rohtak.

Harsimrat has written that over the years, the Railways had not paid sufficient attention to developing this route. There are a few trains connecting Delhi. Bathinda and Ferozepur are very important destinations. Apart from having one of the biggest Air Force Station and cantonment, it is a major city and has large number of commuters. But, in the absence of trains, most of them are forced to commute on private vehicles. Introduction of a up/down Shatabdi/Jan Shatabdi train had been a long-standing demand of Bathinda residents, she adds.

There is no superfast train between Bathinda and New Delhi during the day time.

The Bathinda MP has also drawn the attention of the minister towards another demand of the passengers for additional AC chair car in the Sriganganagar-Delhi Inter City (2482/2481).

She writes at present there is one AC chair car coach that is insufficient to accommodate passengers, hence long wait list. She also demanded allocation of VIP quota for Bathinda AC chair car and HQ quota on the train.

The Railways had withdrawn one of the two AC coaches from the Inter City Express citing economic unviability and lack of passengers as the reasons.

Meanwhile, Harsimrat has also urged the minister for the restoration of service of the 2BD/3BD train between Bathinda and Dhuri.

Harsimrat writes that on the demands of local passengers of Bathinda, the train was introduced and it was the most convenient train but it was abruptly withdrawn in November, 2008.

Even railway officials are of view that the area needs a train between Bathinda and Dhuri. �A diesel multiple unit (DMU) between Bathinda-Dhuri is the need of the hour,� a railway official said.

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Separate SGPC to Haryana’s disadvantage: Bitta

Ludhiana, August 31

President of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta said today that by having a separate gurdwara management committee, Haryana was digging its own grave. He said Haryana was on the path of a fast development and interfering in the matters of Sikhs would cast doom for the state.

Bitta said Punjab had suffered for 15 years due to militancy after the Congress hurt sentiments of Sikhs. The development in the state was put on the back burner all those years.

�Now Haryana is flourishing. They should not take any such chances,� he added. Coming down heavily on intelligence agencies, Bitta said they were not taking threats of terrorism seriously. They were not able to detect what was in the offing.

He alleged former militant DS Bittu, Jathedar Jasbir Singh Rode, DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna and SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann were potent threats to a peaceful environment in Punjab. He demanded an inquiry into the credentials of Sarna as most of the former militants were using the DSGMC Bhawan for stay. He suspected a connection of former militants with Sarna.

Stating that he held the DSGMC in high esteem but was against the terrorists, Bitta said, �We have to watch out for if militancy returns to Punjab, it would be difficult to curb it again,� he said.

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PM’s Scholarship Scheme

Amritsar, August 31

Prime Minister�s Scholarship Scheme for minority community students has proved a harrowing experience for hundreds of Christian students and their teachers who had a tough time in depositing scholarship forms on the last day for submission of these forms today. They have alleged bureaucratic indifference towards them.

The principals and teachers of over 12 Christian schools, offering education to students in border areas of Punjab, were made to shuttle between offices of the District Welfare Officer, District Education Officer and that of the Deputy Commissioner. All this mammoth exercise failed to yield any result for Christian teachers till late this evening as the office of the District Welfare Officer allegedly refused to accept forms without putting forth any explanation to the teachers and principals. The District Welfare Officer was, however, not available for comment.

DEO (Secondary) Neelam Bhagat said she was sitting in her office and anybody could come to her and deposit the forms. On the contrary, teachers rued that their forms were not even accepted at the offices of the DEO or the District Welfare Officer despite repeated assurances given by DC KS Pannu. �Nobody listened to us. The officials at the DEO asked us to go to the Welfare Officer�s office where nobody accepted our forms. We met the DC, who directed the officials at the District Welfare Office to accept our forms. Still nobody took forms from us,� said Father Jose, Principal, Sacred Heart School, Chuchakwal.

Father Roby, Principal, St Francis School, Amritsar cantonment, and chairman, United Christian Forum for Human Rights, said the officials defied the very objective of the scheme. �We will be holding a protest tomorrow. The officials at the District Welfare Office did not give any reason for not accepting the forms and simply turned us away. It is nothing but humiliation of the minority communities,� he said, adding that over 300 students would be deprived of the benefits of the scheme if their forms were not accepted.

Amritsar unit president of the Pendu Mazdoor Unions Paramjit Singh Bachoa and other teachers, including Rajina and John from two schools based at Kadial and Ajnala, also criticised the administration for today�s episode. The affected Christian schools of border areas included Sacred Heart School, Chuchakwal, Convent School, Kadial, St Agne�s School, Pakharpura, St Mary School, Othian, near Ajnala, All Saints� Convent School, Ajnala, Sacred Heart School, Chaugavan, St Thomas Convent School, Rajasansi, St Mary Convent School, Chamiari, and the Sacred Heart School, Majitha.

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Corporate Cricket Tournament

Chandigarh, August 31

Air India Blue, one of the two teams that Air India is fielding in the limited overs BCCI Corporate Cricket tournament, will kick off the tournament tomorrow at the PCA Stadium, when they take on ITC tomorrow.

With Indian skipper MS Dhoni, ace off spinner Harbhajan Singh and paceman Rudra Pratap Singh in their ranks, the Blue should be able to make light work of the opening tie against a relatively unkonwn ITC. Dhoni, Harbhajan and RP Singh along with some other players arrived here today after their strenuous training camp in Bangalore and this tournament, which is in it�s inaugural stage, should prove to be an ideal opportunity for them to get back into the groove ahead of the Sri Lankan tour.

Apart from the big three stars, the Blues have former India player Mohammad Kaif, Test veteran VVS Laxman and former ICL stalwart Reetinder Sodhi, who is making a comeback to the mainfold after almost two years, in their ranks. However, weather might be the biggest cause for concern as the MET department has given a bleak forecast with heavy showers predicted in the next 24 hours.

Even the scheduled evening practice was cancelled due to the ongoing weather turmoil. The teams were supposed to have an evening session but it had to be ultimately called off by the PCA authorities.

Teams: Air India Blue: M S Dhoni, Mohd. Kaif, Dheeraj Jadhav, Vijay Dahia, Manvinder Bisla, Rajat Bhatia, Harbhajan Singh, Sachin Rana, J Arun Kumar, R P Singh, Pankaj Singh, Shafiq Khan, Chandan Madan, Reetinder Sodhi, Sonu Sharma, Vinit Jain, Monish Sharma, Kuldeep Singh, VVS Laxman and Deepak Joon.

ITC: Bablu Kumar, Pankaj Joshi, Pradeep Chawla, Bipul Sharma, Parvinder Singh, Amardeep Sonkar, Abid Khan, Tushar Pant, Micheal Vishal, Vipan Kumar, Vishal Tyagi, Gokul Kaushik, Mohit Sharma, Ashok Menaria, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

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Gill, Mallya’s verbal war

New Delhi: Barely a day after Force India\'s historic podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix, a war of words broke out between Sports Minister M S Gill and Vijay Mallya on the government\'s refusal to acknowledge Formula One as a sport.

While Mallya questioned the Sports Ministry\'s stand against Formula One, an adamant Gill virtually snubbed the liquor baron by calling it \"expensive entertainment\" and said the government would not change its stand just because of Force India\'s performance.

Gill insisted that it was technology and not any sporting skill that determines the outcome of Formula One races. � PTI

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