Monthly Archives: SEPTEMBER 2016


Sidhu’s reverse sweep:Awaaz-E-Punjab Not A Party; don’t want to benefit Badal-Amarinder nexus
21.09.16 - TEAM PT
Sidhu’s reverse sweep:Awaaz-E-Punjab Not A Party; don’t want to benefit Badal-Amarinder nexus



Navjot Singh Sidhu, who recently launched a forum called the Awaaz-e-Punjab, has abandoned the idea of following through with a new political party to contest the Punjab elections, leading to speculation about a renewal of negotiations with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party.

Mr Sidhu said in a press release today that he is inviting parties to ally with his forum, which he emphasised is not political, "for the betterment of Punjab".
 
While this rules out any alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Congress led by its state unit chief Capt Amarinder Singh, Sidhu’s wife and namesake, sitting BJP MLA Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu also ruled out any truck with the BJP.

The former cricketer, who recently resigned from the BJP, issued a statement that read, "We will not play spoilsport.... We shall not confuse the people of Punjab but give them clarity to vote in Punjab’s interest. We will not divide the anti-incumbency vote bank which could benefit the corroborative and collusive Badal-Amarinder nexus which has plundered Punjab in the last 15 years. This will defeat our purpose of bringing a change for the betterment of Punjab.”
 
He offered a practical reason for his decision too. "The minimum time taken by a new party to win a state is almost two years, ample testimony to the fact that three months is too short a time for this Herculean task," he said, signing off with his slogan, "May Punjab, Punjabiat and every Punjabi win."
 
About his allies, he said, "The launch of the ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ forum had a rousing response in Punjab. Some speculative, some putting two and two together, but the majority towards fighting elections [in] Punjab. The Bains brothers (independent MLAs Balwinder and Simarjeet) have roared like lions and wanted to fight 117 seats in Punjab. Hockey legend (and SAD MLA) Pargat Singh the ‘Eternal Optimist’ was in the affirmative. I have pondered over the fluid political situation in Punjab, weighed the pros and cons and come to (a) conclusive decision.” The Bains brothers later told HT that they "fully support” Sidhu’s decision, while Pargat too said, "Sidhu is our leader and whatever decision he has taken is backed by me and the others. At this stage, formation of a new party will benefit the Akali-BJP combine. We will support the party that has the vision for a better Punjab.” 

"Sidhu has done this keeping in mind the voters who were getting confused, our detractors were labelling us as BJP agent who want to divide the anti-incumbency votes, our front will extend its support to those people who will work for betterment of Punjab," Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur told media.

Sidhu, resigned as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha in July this year and formally quit the BJP earlier this month after launching Awaaz-e-Punjab. For weeks, he was in talks to join AAP but Mr Sidhu said they had fallen through because Mr Kejriwal wants "only yes men."
 
Reacting to the news Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said "He has come to know his worth now... a party is like a mother, to ditch her is like ditching a mother."
 
"He ran away from the contest by deciding against floating any political party. Sidhu is changing his stands frequently in hope of better bargaining with one or the other party," he alleged.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said, "Let them do whatever they feel like. They may float a party or decide against it, how does it affect us. We know their worth."

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh asked, "What did he come here for, just to see our faces. Does he not have the guts to even fight election."

"They (Sidhu's outfit) came to know that they will have to bite the dust, which is why they ran away from the contest," he claimed.




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Seven children killed as school bus falls in canal in Amritsar
20.09.16 - Sameer Arora
Seven children killed as school bus falls in canal in Amritsar



Seven children were killed and 17 others injured when a school bus fell into a canal at Mahawa border out post near Attari border today. 

The incident occurred while the school bus, carrying 37 students, was crossing a narrow bridge on its way to drop the children home after school, Superintendent of Police (SSP) Harkamalpreet Singh said.


"The bus got stuck on the bridge and the driver tried to manoeuvre his way out following which the vehicle overturned in the canal," he said. 

"Out of 37 students, seven were killed and 17 others received minor injuries," the SSP said, adding, the injured have been hospitalised. 

The bus belongs to DAV Public School and the deceased students were in the age group of 10 and 15 years, police said.

A probe has been ordered into the incident though it seems to be due to the fault of the school bus driver, the official said. 
 

Eyewitnesses told the police that the bus got stuck on the bridge over the drain.

As the driver tried to manoeuver it, the bus skidded off the road and hung precariously for a few minutes before falling into the drain, said an eyewitness.

Locals said the administration had a tough time in extracting the victims from the bus, though villagers started the rescue operations before the authorities could reach the spot.

More than 150,000 people were killed in road accidents in India every year, according to official figures, and most of the incidents are due to over speeding or drunk driving.




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Shoe Thrown At Majithia Inside Assembly
14.09.16 - TEAM PT
Shoe Thrown At  Majithia Inside Assembly



A shoe was hurled at Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia on Wednesday while protesting Congress MLAs, who wanted a no-confidence motion to be taken up, threw papers at the Assembly Speaker as the House saw uproarious scenes on the concluding day of monsoon session.

The shoe flung from the opposition benches fell just short of where Majithia was seated. Protesting Congress MLAs also threw documents including pages from some CAG reports at the Speaker, who had to be protected by House staff.
 
Congress lawmaker Tarlochan Singh Soondh threw his shoe at the minister during protests by his party in the house.

Mr Soondh and other Congress members had crowded around the Speaker's chair demanding a debate on their no-confidence motion against the state's Akali Dal-BJP government.
 
A number of Punjab Congress MLAs had refused to vacate the Assembly, spending two nights in the House to press for a debate on the no-confidence motion moved by the party against the state government.

As the House reassembled today to meet after a holiday on account of Eid on Tuesday, the opposition Congress members immediately raised their demand before the Zero Hour could be resumed.

Heated exchanges were witnessed between ruling Akali-BJP benches and the Congress members.

Both chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy, Sukhbir Singh Badal were present inside the House when the chaos unfolded.
 
Even as chaos continued in the state assembly today, the Punjab government passed 12 bills in 10 minutes.

Early today, Speaker Charanjit Atwal suspended the Question Hour and started with the legislative business for the day.

The Opposition Congress MLAs continued to protest inside the assembly for the third day today. They gathered in the Well of the House half-an-hour ahead of the session was to begin and began throwing papers and books at the Speaker.

Two security persons were deployed so that the books thrown at him does not hit Speaker Atwal.

The Congress MLAs have been protesting against Speaker Atwal’s decision to not allow a debate on the no-confidence motion that was defeated by a voice vote on Monday.
 
Reactions 

Later reacting to the incident Majiyhia said,"Whatever happened today, it shows Congress’ desperation. The party is fast losing ground, and we might see such desperate steps from them in near future also.”
 
On the other hand, Tarlochan Singh said, "I didn’t hurl shoe at Majitihia, I threw it towards Virsa Singh Valtoha as he abused me and my caste.”
 
Congress stood by Tirlochan Soondh, who hurled the shoe at Virsa Valtoha that hit Bikram Majithia . "He was provoked,” leader of Opposition says.
 
SAD MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha denied  abusing Congress MLA Tirlochan Soondh. Soondh had claimed that he hurled a shoe at Valtoha, which eventually hit Bikram Singh Majithia, for abusing him.

"I will leave politics if Assembly video recording shows me abusing Soondh,” Valtoha said.




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Cabinet includes Saini and Sunar communities in BCs
10.09.16 - team p t
Cabinet includes Saini and Sunar communities in BCs



The Punjab Cabinet today gave approval to include Saini and Swarnkar/Sunar Communities in the list of Backward Classes of Punjab on the recommendations of Backward Classes Commission. 
 
Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office said that a decision to this effect was taken by the Cabinet in its meeting held under the chairmanship of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here at the Punjab Bhawan, this morning. 
 
This decision would also help the Saini and Swarnkar/Sunar Communities to avail various benefits of government welfare schemes.
 
The Cabinet also gave nod for introducing the memorandum for passing a resolution to ratify the amendments to the Constitution of India (122nd Amendment Bill, 2014) by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during its ongoing session for the implementation of General Sales Tax (GST). It may be recalled that the 122nd Amendment Bill, 2014 has already been passed by both the Houses of Parliament. 
 
The Cabinet also gave approval to the draft of Punjab Anand Marriage Rules, 2016 in conformity with the registration of Marriages in the state by exercising the powers conferred under Section-6 of the Anand Marriage, Act 1909 as amended by Anand Marriages (Amendment) Act 2012. Pertinently, to mention here that those marriages which were being registered under the Anand Marriages Act 1909 and Anand Marriages (Amendment) Act, 2012 shall not be required to be registered under the Punjab Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act 2012. 
 
The Cabinet also decided to introduce the Punjab Laws (Special Provision) Bill, 2016 replacing the already issued ordinance in the current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for its enactment to regularize the unauthorized colonies thereby bringing them within the ambit of planning framework and to provide the basic civic amenities to the residents of these colonies for a period of another one year. It may be recalled that the state government had been inviting applications from these residents from time to time and subsequently the term of these extensions given twice for one year each had expired on April 16, 2014 and February 5, 2016. Under this scheme 4,39,902 applications were received from the residents across the state but still several NRIs and people working outside the state could not avail benefit of this scheme so now the Cabinet has taken a conscientious decision to make The Punjab Laws (Special Provision) Bill, 2016 to provide another opportunity for one more year. 
 
In another significant decision aimed at providing land to weaker sections of the society, the Cabinet also gave nod to amend section 2 (bb) of The East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act 1948 to allot five marla plots each from village common land ( Jumla Mustarka Maalkaan) to homeless people.  
 
The Punjab Cabinet today gave approval to replace the Ordinance into a bill to grant power to first and second appellate authority for issuing suo-moto notice to ensure implementation of provisions of Right to Service Act in a far more effective manner. Henceforth, Section 7-A would be added as an amendment in the RTS Act 2011. With the implementation of this amendment, first and second appellate authority would also have power to take suo-moto notice of failure to deliver services in accordance with the provision of this Act. These amendments would go a long way in ensuring justice to the general public at grass roots level without approaching Commission. 
 
In order to further improve the functioning of the Right to Service Commission (RTS), the Cabinet also gave nod for converting Punjab RTS (Amendment) Ordinance 2016 into Act in the ongoing session of the state assembly. Pertinently, this Ordinance was promulgated by amending section 13 (1) of the Right to Service Act- 2011 thereby increasing the members of Right to Service Commission from existing four to 10.  
 
Taking cognizance of the representation submitted by Handicrafts Inlay Work Industry Association, Hoshiarpur, the Cabinet decided to abolish VAT on Wooden Goods with Inlay Work (Pachikari) Craft in the state to ensure a level playing field to the local handicrafts industry, which was finding it extremely difficult to compete with its peers in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh which had already exempted wooden handicrafts from VAT. This step would provide much needed relief to the industry and promote this craft. Besides, craftsmen in this particular sector would get more employment.
 
The Cabinet decided to amend the Punjab Minor Minerals Rules-2013 by introducing rule 74-A empowering the state government to issue guidelines under the rules.  
 
The Cabinet also approved ‘The Punjab Health & Family Welfare Technical (Group-C) Service Rules, 2016’ to fill the vacant posts in different technical categories of the Health & Family Welfare Department and ensure timely promotions to the staff. Similarly, the Cabinet also gave nod for formulating service rules 2016 for group A, B, C (Technical) and Non Technical services in Punjab Bhawan, New Delhi for filling the posts on regular basis. 
 
In order to enhance the functioning of Jail Department, the Cabinet also gave approval for revival of 377 posts of different cadres and creation of 53 new posts in Jail department. It was also decided that recruitment process for 210 posts of Wardens and 57 posts of Matrons would be undertaken by the Police Recruitment Board by taking them out of the purview of SSS Board.
 
The Cabinet also gave approval to set up the ‘Advance Autism Care and Research Centre’ at Mohali for the awareness and medical care of autism affected children and their families. The Cabinet also gave necessary permission for the creation of posts of well qualified and trained specialists to provide the best medical care facilities to the children suffering from autism. Likewise, the Council of Ministers also decided to create six posts of Clinical Psychologist, Speech Therapist and Paediatric Occupational Therapist at Government Medical College, Patiala and Amritsar in the Department of Medical Education and Research. This decision would provide medical care to the children suffering from autism and also be instrumental in bringing them into the mainstream. 
 
The Cabinet also gave green signal to the proposal to amend in form No.III and IV mentioned in sub-rule (2) of rule 10 of "The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Rules”, 1984. Likewise, the Cabinet also gave nod to amend the provision 3 (1) of "The Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act, 1977” to increase the pension of Ex-MLAs of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Both the draft Bills in this regard would be introduced in the current session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha for the passing of necessary amendments. 
 
The Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion would henceforth be a statutory authority and the Cabinet approved the draft bill to this effect. As a statutory authority, the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion would be now felicitating the prospective investors far more efficaciously.  
 
The Cabinet also gave approval for amending Punjab State Commission for Scheduled Castes Act, 2004 thereby increasing the strength of non-officials members of the Punjab State Scheduled Caste Commission from existing three to 10. This would help in safeguarding the interests of SC populace in the state besides enhancing the administrative structure of the Commission. The Senior Vice Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission would also be appointed from the members of the Commission. 
 
The Cabinet also gave nod to omit provision 3 (1-A) of the Punjab State Legislature Members (Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation) Act 1977 and to amend the provision 3 (5) of the Act, which envisages that "No person shall be entitled to pension under this Act for or in respect of the term and during the period for which he shall be disqualified by the Court of competent jurisdiction under the provisions of Representation of People Act, 1951”.
 
The Cabinet also gave approval to amend the Punjab Rural Development Act, 1987 by inserting a provision regarding the utilisation of fund as the Government might deem fit in the interest of producers and for the benefit of the persons paying the fee including the dealer. In addition to the development works done in the state with the Rural Development fund, this fund could now be aptly used for welfare of people. 
 
In order to impart quality higher education to students of the state, the Cabinet also gave nod to present the bills for converting Sri Guru Ram Dass University of Health Sciences, Sri Amritsar, Ordinance 2016 and Khalsa University, Sri Amritsar, Ordinance 2016 into Acts in the ongoing session of the state assembly.  
 
In order to promote tourism in the holy city of Amritsar by facilitating the people and ensuring proper upkeep and cleanliness of important places, the Cabinet also gave approval for presenting the bill to enact Amritsar Culture and Tourism Development Authority Act 2016 in the ongoing session of state assembly. This Act would facilitate the setting up Amritsar Culture and Tourism Development Authority under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister with Deputy Chief Minister as its Co-Chairman and Minister Tourism and Local Government as its members besides nine other official members. This authority would take care of all the newly created tourist facilities in the vicinity of Golden Temple, Gobindgarh Fort, Durgiana Mandir and Ram Tirath Complex. The authority would be authorised to undertake the works regarding maintenance, cleanliness, power supply, monuments lighting, sanitation, roads, solid waste management and other related works. 
 
In another significant decision, the Cabinet also gave nod to create a corpus fund of Rs 50 crore for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of Jang-e-Azaadi Memorial Kartarpur, Bhagwan Valmiki Tirath Sthal Amritsar, Sri Guru Ravidass Memorial Khuralgarh and War Memorial Amritsar, after their completion. The provision of Corpus fund would be made under the state plan budget and would remain with the Foundation/ Boards constituted for the projects, which would use the interest incurred on corpus for O&M. 
 
The Cabinet also gave approval to extend the period for shifting industrial units from non designated zones of the master plan from 10 years to 15 years. This would enable the industry to plan their shifting to designated zones more systematically. 




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Sidhu formally launches Awaaz-e-Punjab; lambast Kejriwal's 'intent'
08.09.16 - TEAM PT
Sidhu formally launches Awaaz-e-Punjab; lambast Kejriwal's 'intent'



 Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu formally announced his new political front 'Awaaz-e-Punjab' in Chandigarh on Thursday.

"At this stage 'Awaaz e Punjab' is not a party, it's a forum. The redemption, resurrection and revival of this state is the aim of our Awaaz-e-Punjab," Sidhu said at a media briefing in Chandigarh.

Sidhu had resigned from the Rajya Sabha on July 18, fuelling speculation that he may join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). On Thursday, he attacked both AAP chief Arvind Kejrwal and the BJP.

"Resigning from the Rajya Sabha had nothing to do with Arvind Kejriwal. Two years ago, I had reduced a Rajya Sabha seat when I was called in by Arun Jaitely, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah. They told me that Jaitely would be spearheading the Amritsar campaign, but I would have a seat in the Rajya Sabha," he noted. Pointing to the fact that he has won four elections, Sidhu added that when he went to tender his resignation, Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari told him he had never seen anyone doing this and asked him if he was being pressured to do so. He wasn't, the four-time Lok Sabha MP told him.

"Kejriwal tweeted that I had laid down no conditions ahead of a potential move to the AAP, but that was a half-truth," said Sidhu dramatically, "I asked him to define my role. You see, I wanted to know their motive and intent. After all the party is only around two years old. Leaving a 60-year-old party for a two-year-old party, I told him I was coming for the sake of Punjab."

Eventually, Sidhu said that he was told not to contest the election.

"I said, 'Sat sri akal' and left. I was told to campaign and be a decoration piece. They offered to make my wife a minister," he said, adding, "People asked why Kejriwal was opting for an MLA as chief ministerial candidate over a four-time MP. Is he really so insecure, they asked." "Honest leaders were made mute spectators. We will shake the system that has ruined Punjab and it cannot be shaken by those who have vested interest," added Sidhu.

"Kejriwal thinks he's the only honourable person in this world. What about us?" he proceeded to ask rhetorically, before wondering if he was expected to be a 'Yes man'.

Criticising both the Congress and SAD, he said people had seen five years of Captain’s rule and 10 years of the "danda tantar” (rule of the stick).

Sidhu said their aim is that Punjab, Punjabiyat and Punjabis should win. He said it was time the clouds (Badals) over Punjab dispersed and the sun rose in the state.

Taking on the Akalis, he claimed that Master Tara Singh’s party had been reduced to a private enterprise. He said the Akalis wanted him to leave Amritsar and Punjab, which he was averse to. He accused the SAD and Congress of playing a friendly match.

Other members of the new front include former Indian hockey team captain Pargat Singh, a legislator of Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, and two independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains. Pargat Singh was last month suspended from the Akali Dal for "anti-party" activities. The Bains brothers, who had fallen out with the Akali Dal top leadership three years ago, have significant influence in Ludhiana district.

Highlighting the blueprint of his front for the upcoming Punjab elections, Sidhu said that their aim is to make the state prosperous again by fighting people who have 'ruined Punjab'. In his media briefing, he also talked about Punjab's drug menace. "Where is the Punjab that used to produce so many sportsmen? Today, the streets are filled with drug addicts," Sidhu said.

Elections to 117 assembly seats are likely to be held in January or early February next year.




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