Monthly Archives: JANUARY 2018


ZERO TOLERANCE TOWARDS CORRUPTION
Navjot Sidhu suspends Mohali Mayor for misuse of power
04.01.18 - TEAM PT
Navjot Sidhu suspends Mohali Mayor for misuse of power



CHANDIGARH: "The corrupt practices would not be tolerated at any cost and as part of this commitment the Mayor of Municipal Corporation, Mohali Kulwant Singh has been suspended along with 3 other officers after taking strong note of the misdemeanors of these people regarding causing loss to the state exchequer. The case recommending suspension of the then Commissioner has been sent to the Government. Apart from this 2 other officials have been chargesheeted too."

Disclosing this here today in a statement, the Local Government Minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu said that it is an article of faith with him to have zero tolerance towards corruption and nobody would be permitted to misuse the hard earned money of the taxpayers. The minister further said that it had come to the notice of the department the then Mayor of Municipal Corporation, Mohali Kulwant Singh in connivance with the then Commissioner Rajesh Dhiman and other officials indulged in blatant misuse of his position and caused a loss of grave nature to the state exchequer while making a purchase of the Tree Pruning Machine. The machine was priced at Rs. 28 lakh in the country while for making its purchase from abroad the price was Rs. 80 lakh. But a resolution was passed for purchasing it at exorbitant price of Rs. 1.79 crore and orders were placed for its purchase. The minister further elaborated that the department got the probe conducted by the vigilance cell and the orders initiating action have been issued against the Mayor and officials found guilty in the report of the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO).

Acting on the report of CVO, orders have been issued for suspension of Mayor Kulwant Singh from Mayorship and from councillorship as well for causing misuse of power and causing financial loss to Municipal Corporation, Mohali. Similarly, the then Commissioner Rajesh Dhiman  has been chargesheeted in accordance with the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment & Appeal) Rules 1970 Section 8 and case recommending his suspension has been sent to the concerned department. In the same vein, XEN Naresh Batta and DCFA Vinayak have been suspended according to the Punjab Civil Services (Punishment & Appeal) Rules 1970 Section 8. Apart from this, ACE Mohinderpal and Surinder Goyal have both been chargesheeted and recommendation has been made for chargesheeting Internal Local Fund Auditor of the Municipal Corporation, Mohali. The orders placed for purchasing the machine have been cancelled promptly and the recovery of amount paid in advance to the contractor has also been ordered.




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MESS UP IN CMO ON VAISAKHI HOLIDAY
SELF-GOAL: Vaisakhi holiday was never scrapped, Amarinder govt simply refused to call it holiday for Vaisakhi
03.01.18 - kanwar manjit singh
SELF-GOAL: Vaisakhi holiday was never scrapped, Amarinder govt simply refused to call it holiday for Vaisakhi



SOMEONE IN THE PUNJAB GOVERNMENT messed it up big time, and lazy journalism was never expected to catch on to the simplest of facts. Result: the Amarinder Singh government was forced to make a somersault after first scrapping the holiday on Vaisakhi, which falls on April 14, and then restoring it after scathing public criticism as well as some ritual fulmination from the Akali Dal.

While most political pundits agreed that the Punjab Government's move to reduce the number of public holidays from 37 to 18 would have received wider public acceptance, it was the scrapping of the Vaisakhi holiday that triggered a backlash and riled not just the Sikhs but most Punjabis since Vaisakhi is a very syncretic festival.

Someone in the Punjab Government seemed to have worked overtime to bring a bad name to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his CMO, since scrapping of the holiday on Vaisakhi would not have resulted in an extra working day.
 

The fact is that April 14, the day of Vaisakhi, was in any case declared a gazetted holiday. The same notification dated December 27, 2017 that dropped Vaisakhi as a public holiday from the list of holidays also listed the birthday of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar on April 14 as a full-fledged public holiday across Punjab.

All that the Punjab Government had to do was to include Vaisakhi in the same column. The day was declared a holiday in any case.
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Someone in the Punjab Government seemed to have worked overtime to bring a bad name to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his CMO, since scrapping of the holiday on Vaisakhi would not have resulted in an extra working day.
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"It is clear that at some level, some senior official either deliberately created this problem or was sleeping on the job. People fending off criticism from political opponents and the media should have seen this coming even before the notification was issued and should have warned Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh about the faux pas. Instead, they chose to allow the situation to go out of hand," said a very senior official who works in close coordination with the CMO.

More than two officials of the Public Relations Department claimed they had brought the fact to the notice of a responsible person in the CMO even before the first notification was issued but he ignored the warning and allowed the Amarinder government to land in this mess.

"I find this strange that effectively, the Punjab Government announced a holiday on April 14, 2018, and then said it was not for Vaisakhi but only for Dr. Ambedkar's birthday! It seemed like an attempt to annoy and irritate the Sikh community. When we were declaring a holiday on that day, why not also call it a holiday for Vaisakhi?" said a top official.
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Coming close on the heels of criticism the government had to face when it used a morphed depiction of tenth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, showing him cloaked in Napoleon’s clothes and riding astride Napoleon’s horse, the Vaisakhi holiday controversy has severely damaged Captain Amarinder Singh’s reputation as someone well connected with the Sikh psyche. 
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After getting much egg on the face, the Amarinder Government was forced to declare April 14, February 14 and December 12, 2018, as gazetted public holidays for Vaisakhi, Maha Shivrarti and martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, respectively.
 

When Punjab Today spoke to a senior Akali Dal leader about the April 14 mess up, he said they had immediately noticed it. "But why should we tell the government about it if they were too keen to gift us an issue on the platter?" he chuckled.

No wonder that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, capitalised on the faux pas, saying only a Congress government could scrap the holy day to mark the creation of the Khalsa from the official list of holidays in Punjab.

Coming close on the heels of criticism the government had to face when it used a morphed depiction of tenth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, showing him cloaked in Napoleon’s clothes and riding astride Napoleon’s horse, the Vaisakhi holiday controversy has severely damaged Captain Amarinder Singh’s reputation as someone well connected with the Sikh psyche. 

For a politician who resigned from Parliament and Congress in protest against Operation Bluestar, his advisors have done a remarkable job to paint him as a CM who is least bothered about depiction of a Sikh Guru astride Napoleon’s horse Marengo and as someone who cares two hoots about scrapping a holiday for the Khalsa Sajna Divas of Vaisakhi.

It was natural for Sukhbir Singh Badal to milk the issue by recalling that "the same Congress party was responsible for attacking Sri Harmandar Sahib with tanks besides perpetrating the worst genocide against the Sikh community in 1984. Only such a party could scrap the holy day of Baisakhi from the list of government holidays.”

Akali Dal's spokesperson Dr Daljit Singh Cheema had called the scrapping of Vaisakhi holiday as "totally dictatorial, irrational and insensitive step, taken without taking the stakeholders into confidence.”

"I seriously propose that the day the impugned notification was issued on December 27 should be declared as a Fools' Day holiday in at least our department so that it serves as a reminder to officials who rush to defend the government in the media instead of looking at the notification and closing stupid gaps," said a mid-level functionary in the CMO.

In fact, the Amarinder Singh government could have actually declared an additional gazetted public holiday on March 2 for Hola Mohalla, without having to shut down offices for any additional day. Hola Mohalla invariably falls on the same day as Holi which is already included in the gazetted public holiday.

While Hola Mohalla in 2018 will fall on March 2, and has been listed among Restricted Public Holidays, Holi is also on the same day and will be a gazetted public holiday. The situation was the same for both festivals in 2017 (March 13) and 2016 (March 24).
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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FULLY COMMITTED TO THE RADICAL TRANSFORMATION OF URBAN AREAS
Navjot Sidhu releases vision document of Local Govt & Tourism departments
03.01.18 - TEAM PT
Navjot Sidhu releases vision document of Local Govt & Tourism departments



Chandigarh: The Cabinet Minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu today outlined his vision regarding the futuristic measures contemplated as well as the achievements of his both departments namely-Local Government and Tourism & Cultural Affairs. In his interaction with the mediapersons here today, the minister also released the 'Vision Document' with regard to both the departments and coined the slogan 'CAPTAIN SARKAR, LOKAN DE DWAR' regarding Local Government department while the slogan 'SABHYACHAR TON ROZGAR' for the Tourism and Cultural Affairs department. On the occasion, the specialized emphasis was laid on providing clean drinking water, and solid waste management facilities to urban population.
 
The minister said that the Local Government department is fully committed to the radical transformation of the urban areas and strengthening them economically besides providing services in a transparent, efficient and fast track manner. Concerning the Tourism and Cultural Affairs department, the minister said that the main motive is to connect the youth of Punjab to the glorious cultural and historical heritage of the state by forming a cultural movement. He said that Punjab has immense potential waiting to be tapped as it has significant historical, cultural and heritage related places which could result in tremendous footfall. The minister also detailed that the priority of the department would be to herald a cultural renaissance in the state and generate sources of employment which in turn would lead to the boosting of economic infrastructure. 

Sidhu further elaborated regarding other novel futuristic initiatives and said that the e-Governance project aimed at providing better facilities to the people living the urban centres would be kickstarted in April, 2018 and would come to fruition in December, 2018. The work related to the passing of online maps would be started in this month itself and would be completed by September, 2018. Spelling out another landmark initiative, the minister said that the department has decided to go in for the forensic audit in order to unearth the corrupt practices during the previous eras besides instilling a sense of accountability in the urban local bodies. In the 1st phase, the audit would be carried out in the big corporation cities of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ludhiana and their Improvement Trusts besides 3 Municipalities of Kharar, Zirakpur and Rajpura and completed by September, 2018. Detailing other achievements, the minister said that as a firm step towards women empowerment 50 percent reservation was granted to women in all the Municipal Corporations, Municipal Councils and the Panchayats. This reservation was implemented in the recently concluded elections to the 3 Corporations and 29 Municipalities.

Regarding the BRTS project the minister said that Rs. 495 crore have been released for the project in Amritsar and 3 corridors with in the radius of 31 KM would come up this year. A new advertisement policy is in the offing for the self-sufficiency of the local bodies and all round development of the cities. This policy would be implemented by the April, 2018. He also added that the previous policy of 2012 had many lacunas which are being removed. Furthermore, the master plans of the cities are being notified with the help of G.I.S. based on which the master plan work would get going in the 16 AMRUT cities by 31st January. The Unified Building Byelaws are in the process of being put in place by May, 2018. A comprehensive policy is also in the offing for robust parking system in the cities which would be in place by April, 2018. Among other measures, the menace of stray animals in urban centres would be tackled by framing a policy. As many as 46 urban local bodies have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) till 31st December, 2017 and 100 more cities would be Open Defecation Free by 31st March, 2018 and all the cities would be ridden of the menace by 30th June.

Disclosing more, Sidhu said that Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar are covered under smart city concerning which he met the Union Minister of State for Urban Development Mr. Hardeep Puri who immediately sanctioned Rs. 350 crore for the cities in which the Punjab component would be Rs. 50 crore. Long term planning is being done for addressing the problem of clogged sewerages in the cities apart from providing clean drinking water to the urban population. As of now, 87 percent of the urban populace is getting clean drinking water whereas the facility of clean sewerages is availed by 73 percent of the population. He also said that a detailed programme has been chalked out to provide clean drinking water to the urban population and providing canal water which would be given to the corporation cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar & Patiala with Rs. 1708 crore, Rs. 2874 crore, Rs. 2000 crore and Rs. 7171 crore earmarked respectively. Also, the super suction machines are being used to open the clogged sewerages. As regarding the Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) in Punjab, 64 of the kind were closed in the State of which 40 would be operationalised soon and the farming community would be provided water for the irrigational purposes.

Concerning the Tourism and Cultural Affairs Department, he said that a detailed and all encompassing cultural policy was framed, making Punjab the 2nd State after Manipur to do so, for helping the youth to re-connect with the immensely glorious cultural heritage of the state and generating sources of employment. He added that Tourism and Medical Tourism policies are also being given finishing touches which would soon be getting approval from the cabinet. He said that on an average, Amritsar sees daily visitors to the tune of 1.25 lakh and Sri Darbar Sahib is numero uno in the world in terms of tourists' footfall. The holy city has other important religious, historical and tourist spots and if adequate arrangements are made for the tourists regarding their stay then the city of Amritsar alone can make Punjab No. 1 in the globe from tourism point of view.
Touching another significant aspect, Navjot Sidhu said that circuits are being formed to connect the historically and culturally important spots of Punjab in terms of tourism and Rs. 100 crore have been got sanctioned from the Union Government for religious circuit which comprises Sri Anandpur Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib and Chamkaur Sahib. Apart from this, places associated with the freedom struggle namely- Jallianwala Bagh, Khatkar Kalan and Hussainiwala are also included in the circuit. A sum of additional Rs. 15 crore has been released  for the Jang-E-Azadi memorial at Kartarpur. In the coming time, Maharaja and Mughal circuits would be given shape and proposals would be sent to the Union Government for getting more funds. The Maharaja Circuit includes Patiala, Nabha, Kapurthala and Faridkot which would be developed and made attractable for tourists. Similarly, Mughal Circuit comprises of serais inside Punjab such as- Shambhu, Doraha, Noormahal and Tarntaran which would be developed as wedding destinations thus paving the way for strengthened economic infrastructure of the State. The town of Kalanaur where the coronation of Mughal Emperor Akbar took place, and Aam Khas Bagh in Sirhind would be developed too. The policy of Medical Tourism would be framed and the  patients from foreign countries visiting India would be accorded specialized amenities.  

Batting for making Punjab a favourable destination for shooting movies, the minister said that a Film City would come up in Punjab which would go a long way in ensuring increased avenues of employment. It would also revive the otherwise neglected and dilapidated spots, which are crying over their fate owing to the callous attitude of the previous dispensation. The hotels, resorts and tourist spots connected with the department would be revamped and renewed efforts would be made to make Virsat-E-Khalsa the most visited museum in the country. Programmes would be chalked out to promote diminishing handicrafts, art forms besides creating job avenues for the people connected with these arts under 'Hunar Naal Rozgar'. A food street would also come up at Amritsar.

The minister also divulged that the 550th Gurpurb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 2019 would be observed on a large scale and in the same year the centenary of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy would be observed as per a specially chalked out programme and homage paid to the martyrs. Apart from this, Sufi Mela, Heritage Melas at Patiala, Kapurthala, Amritsar and Bathinda and Military Literature Festival would be held too. The other traditional and sports melas such as-Harvallabh Sangeet Sammelan, Hola Mohalla, Qila Raipur, Baba Sheikh farid aagman purb and Shiv Batalvi festival and Babe Da Viah purb would be held on a grand scale and given all assistance.

Addressing on the occasion, the Chairman of the Punjab Kala Parishad Padamshri Surjit Patar said that the Kala parishad would take the cultural renaissance to the village level and hold art festivals in every village which would be witness to the Prabhat Pheri, Traditional Music, Folk Music and Cultural programmes. Apart from this, the parishad has set a target to have included atleast 1 period a week in every school-college in which the students would be brought in tune with the art, literary, cultural forms. Special songs for children would be composed and contests would be held of short films focusing on art. An Asian Poetry Festival would be held dedicated to the 550th Gurpurb of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in 2019. The minister also elaborated that a book would also be prepared to conserve the meaningful literature which would include creations of Baba Bulle Shah and famous poets/writers until now.

On the occasion, MLA Fatehgarh Sahib Kuljit Singh Nagra, Principal Secretary Local Government A. Venu Prasad, Secretary Tourism and Cultural Affairs Vikas Partap, Director Shivdular Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Punjab Kala Parishad Padamshri Surjit Patar, CEO of PMIDC Ajoy Sharma, Director Local Government Department Karnesh Sharma and Rupinder Singh Sandhu were also present.




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SEEKS INTERVENTION TO BRING PUNJABI YOUTH BACK FROM UAE
Jakhar led Congress delegation meets Swaraj demands policy on NRI grooms
02.01.18 - TEAM PT
Jakhar led Congress delegation meets Swaraj demands policy on NRI grooms



Chandigarh: A delegation of Congress MPs led by Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president and Member Parliament from Gurdaspar Sunil Jakhar met with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj at her office in Sansad Bhawan, New Delhi to raise the problems faced by passport and study visa seekers of state. He also discussed the issue of NRI grooms with her during this meeting to safeguard the interest of brides.
         
The delegation led by the Jakhar included Ravneet Singh Bittu, MP Ludhiana and Gurjit Singh Aujla, MP Amritsar. While raising the problems faced by people at Passport Kendras Jakhar said that though there are about a half dozen passport kendras/centres in various parts of Punjab, but applicants continue to suffer major hardships in securing their passports, with some of them forced to travel as much as 200 kms for verification of their documents.

He said that while facility of online submission of application is available at the Passport Centers, established in state, the applicants are asked to personally visit Passport Seva Kendras for physical verification of documents on the appointed time and date. "What aggravates their woes is that they are often sent back for failing to enclose all the requisite documents or are asked to furnish more proofs in support of their claim for change of name etc”, he added.
         
He asked Swaraj to issue directions to these Centers to ensure that all uploaded data or other requisite information furnished by the applicant online is checked carefully, and the applicants are apprised about any shortcoming/deficiency in their application through e-mail, prior to giving them an appointment. "This will save them from undue harassment, besides wastage of time and energy”, he added.
         
PPCC President also said that Ministry recently established Passport Kendra at Bathinda in Malwa belt, but people residing in the nearby districts of Fazilka, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Faridkot still have to travel 200 kilometers for the verification of documents at Passport Seva Kendra, Amritsar. He said that it is extremely imperative that these districts be attached to the Passport Seva Kendra of Bathinda. He also demanded to open more Passport Seva Kendras in Punjab to cope with the increasing rush of applicants desirous of getting their passports.

While sharing another issue of concern about the problems faced by youth migrating to Australia, New Zealand and Canada on Study Visa, Jakhar said that they are solely dependent on the services rendered by private agents. He said that these students are neither even aware of the recognition status of the educational institution, in which they are seeking admission on the recommendation of the agent nor are they aware of the hardships they are likely to face in getting Permanent Residency after completion of their studies.
         
Suggesting a way of addressing this problem Sunil said that at least in these three countries where a large number of Indian students migrate every year, information about recognized colleges, courses and fee structure, besides technical details, be provided on the official website of the Ministry of Overseas so as to properly guide these students before they leave for foreign lands. He asked MoEA to issue the necessary directions in this regard so that such facility is made available to student visa seekers at the earliest, and so they do not fall prey to unscrupulous agents.
         
Further raising another issue with Minister, Member Paliament Sunil Jakhar said that many NRI men come to India to marry Indian girls, and quickly return to the foreign lands after taking hefty dowry and leaving their wives here in the lurch. "Many of these men are found to be already married abroad, rendering their marriage in India null and void”, he added.

He suggested the MoEA that the Ministry of External Affairs put in place a foolproof mechanism to ascertain their marital status. He said that this step would enable the parents of the girls to verify the antecedents of the prospective grooms. He demanded that a concrete policy should be formulated in this regard as a deterrent for erring NRI grooms so that innocent girls are not victimized.

During the meeting he also raised an issue related to Dilawar Singh of Pathankot who was stuck in Saudi Arabia. Dilawar is currently residing at Rashal Khar (Jubail) in UAE. Jakhar said that as per information provided by Dilawar’s wife Nisha, his passport is in illegal custody of his employer in UAE, who is not returning it to him despite repeated requests while his parents and wife all are seriously ill and there is nobody in the family to look after the children, his wife and parents. He asked MoEA to to direct the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to take necessary action to help Dilawar Singh get his passport back in order to enable him to travel to India immediately, as per his family’s request.

After meeting while speaking to media Jakhar said that MoEA Sushma Swaraj told that Ministry will do all the best to address these issues. She said that ministry will start a website to upload the summons to NRI Grooms and if they will not respond to these summons their property in India could be attached.




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SAND MINING AUCTION ROW
Bir Devinder demands judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge
02.01.18 - TEAM PT
Bir Devinder demands judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge



Chandigarh: Former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Bir Devinder Singh today demanded a fresh judicial probe by a sitting High Court judge into the sand mining auction case.
 
In a statement released today Bir Devinder also demanded that Rana Gurjit steps down as minister, "In view of the surfacing of the new obtrusive facts, the Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh should order a fresh Judicial probe in to the matter by a sitting High Court Judge, monitored by the Honorable Punjab & Haryana High Court. In the meantime Rana Gurjit Singh must step down as a Minister to pave the way for a transparently independent judicial probe in the Sand mines scandal of Punjab."
 
Devinder alleged that, "Rs.5 crore were transferred by Gurinder Singh a fountain head of the alleged Rs. 1000 crore irrigation scam in to the account of Jatin Garg which is believed to be the cousin of Sahil Singla. Jatin Garg then transferred it in to the account of Rajbir Enterprises. Ironically all these transactions were carried out on May 23, the last day of depositing the security amount after successful bidding for the sand mines."
 
He further went on to question the intent of Justice JS Narang, who is currently heading the enquiry commission, probing the matter, "I wonder how and why Justice (Retd) JS Narang escaped to follow the trail and the source of this huge amount which was directly linked to the sordid auctions of the Sand mines. This grave lapse in the probe does not seem to be inadvertent. How could an enquiry commission headed by a Retired High Court Judge, chose to ignore such a vital lead in the matter that was being inquired in to. The irrefutable revelation of Rs. 5 crore being linked to Sand mines auctions in Punjab has thoroughly exposed the astounding cavity and mala fide intent of Justice JS Narang Commission conducting the probe into the Sand mines auction scam with special reference to conflict of the interest of Rana Gurjit Singh Minister of Irrigation, Punjab."
 
The former speaker then went on to make his case by saying, "The transfer of Rs. 5 Crore by Gurinder Singh a Contractor of the Irrigation department of which Gurjit Singh Rana is Minister, clearly establishes his direct link to the mining auction and connect all the missing dots; which the Justice JS Narang intentionally refuse to follow and contemptibly ignored the irrefutable documentary evidence in the matter."




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