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Punjab News: 2011




Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today called for direct and immediate intervention of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh for putting in place an effective institutional mechanism for smooth procurement of food grains by Government of India.

Mr. Badal brought these issues up when he called upon the Prime Minister here this morning. He was accompanied by Food Supplies Minister Mr. Adesh Partap Singh Kairon and his Principal Secretary Mr. DS Guru.

Mr. Badal apprised the Prime Minister of the serious problems being faced by the state government on the procurement and storage of food grains front. He told him that Punjab procures 110 lakh MT of wheat and 140 lakh MT of paddy in the state every year and there is an acute shortage of storage space for these essential commodities. He pointed out that the state government was executing a pilot project for construction of silos for storage of wheat and the same has been sent to the Ministry of Food, GoI for approval. He demanded that the GoI must reimburse silo storage charges of Rs.1365/- per tone per anumn to state government. He further stressed that adequate storage space needs to be created for storage of rice and also pointed out the urgency of rapid movement of rice from Punjab to other states.
Mr. Badal also told the Prime Minister that incidental charges amounting to Rs.4000 crore are to be reimbursed to the state since 2003-04 and the case is pending with the Central government. Similarly transport charges and losses due to storage damages are also pending for the last 10 years. He impressed upon the Prime Minister to intervene and get these issues settled.

The Prime Minister sharing his concern on these vital issues of national interest, agreed that he will speak to the Union Food Minister to find practical solution after discussion and the state Food Supplies Minister may meet him for follow up of the matter.

Mr. Badal also impressed upon the Prime Minister for expediting the proposal of Amritsar-Tarn Taran railway line for which the Punjab government had already approached the Railway Ministry.
Dr. Singh responded favourably to these issues and assured for speedy action.

Seminar on the Preparedness of Agricultural & Rural Development

Chandigarh February 2:

A two days Zonal Seminar on the Preparedness of Agricultural & Rural Development Banks for their Revival was organized by National Cooperative Agriculture & Rural Development Banks’ Federation Ltd., Mumbai opn 1st and 2nd February, 2011 at Hotel Parkview, Chandigarh. The participants included Delegates from the ARDBs of the Northern States i.e. Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh as well as senior dignitaries from NABARD and NCUI. The Seminar was inaugurated on 1st February, 2011 by Shri Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Hon’ble Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Cooperation, Punjab by lighting of the lamp and Dr. Bijender Singh, MLA, Chairman NAFED and National Federation of State Cooperative Banks presided over the function.

On the 2nd day of the Seminar, Shri Y.C. Nanda, Ex-Chairman, NABARD presided over the function. After brief introduction by Shri K.K. Ravindran, M.D., National Cooperative ARDBs Federation, Dr. N. Pasricha, Regional Director, RICM, Chandigarh made his presentation on the H.R.D. requirements of the ARDBs and stressed that the quality training of the staff of ARDBs and the elected representatives was the need of the hour and they need to be made aware and well educated about their responsibilities so as to fully prepare them for the challenges ahead. Thereafter, Managing Directors of the ARDBs from J&K, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh made their respective presentations highlighting their respective achievements and their views and suggestions for Revival of these Institutions. Capt. Tejinder Singh Virdi, Managing Director, PSCADB, while highlighting the performance of the Bank, raised the issues that NABARD should not insist on Government guarantee for release of refinance and stressed that refinance should be released on the financial strength of the Bank and NABARD should also reduce the rate of interest on refinance so as to enable the Bank to provide loans to the farmers at lower rates of interests and compete with the Commercial Banks. He also said that NABARD should provide 100% refinance for all lending activities and NABARD should also reintroduce the concessional refinance for the small farmers. He also stressed the need for sharing of experience and knowledge by exposure visits of the Bank staff to the other ARDBs to see for themselves on the spot success stories. He also requested NABARD that whenever the rate of interest on refinance is increased, the same should be applicable only on the fresh loans disbursed by the PADBs and the loans already disbursed should be refinanced at the old rate of interest and NABARD should also provide interest rebate for regular repayment to NABARD in view of the interest rebate by the Bank to its regular repay masters. Shri C.L. Singal, M.D., Haryana ARDBs highlighted the reasons for deterioration in the working of these institutions in the State due to the adverse effects of the loan waiver schemes on the recoveries and the Good Pay Masters felt left out and punished for timely repayment of loans. He also attributed the worsening position of these Institutions to the high cost of management, acute shortage of staff and practically absence of any deterrent action against the defaulters. However, he said that the Bank was making all out efforts for improving the performance of these institutions. Shri S.S. Marar, Chairman, Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank in his remarks, requested NABARD for immediate release of the pending claims under ADWDR Scheme, 2008 and also release of subsidy for Rural Godowns which has been pending since long. Shri Y.C. Nanda stressed on the need of qualitative lending, improvement in the HRD policies and also requested NABARD to seriously consider the suggestions put forth by the various speakers for their early solution.

Shri K.K. Ravindran, M.D. National Federation in his concluding remarks, stressed that for revival of the ARDBs , they need to substantially improve their recoveries and for this purpose they may resort to monthly installments for repayment by the borrowers instead of six monthly or yearly installments. He also stressed the need for business expansion and said that ARDBs need to improve their appraisal systems of loan applications while ensuring timely and quick disbursement of loans and also have to augment their income by introducing non fund based activities such as Insurance etc. In the end, Capt. Tejinder Singh Virdi, Managing Director of the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank thanked Shri Y.C. Nanda, Ex-Chairman, NABARD and other dignitaries especially the Officers of NABARD and the delegates of various ARDBs from the participating States.



Chandigarh February 02:

Rs. 1280.30 crore World Bank Assisted Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project has picked up pace with more and more Panchyats becoming active partners in its execution
Disclosing this here today Mr. P.S.Aujla, Secretary Water Supply and Sanitation said that as per World Bank Stipulation each house hold in beneficiary village was required to contribute for the project. As per project concepts, the beneficiaries contribute partial capital cost of the scheme and take full responsibility for its O&M after completion through Gram Panchayat Sanitation Committee (GPWSCs). In normal areas of the state, General Category household is required to contribute only Rs. 800 whereas Scheduled Caste category household gets 50% rebate and contributes only Rs. 400. The household contribution amount further reduces to 50% in case villages are located in kandi belt, bet area, border area or in water logged belt of the State.

He said that thought the project was approved in March 2007 but the implementation picked up in April 2008. He said that till 31-12-2010 the department has been able to make significant progress. He said that they have received demand from 3319 panchyats and 90-100 % beneficiary share has been received from 2698 panchyats and water supply has been commissioned in 1843 villages whereas work was under progress in 526 villages.

He said that department of Water Supply now acts as a facilitator for inducing social change, providing technical inputs for the scheme. The Department has set a target of providing safe and portable water to 4185 habitations which include 739 non covered, 2422 partially covered and 1024 other habitations and target is to complete the project by 31-12-2013. The Project would also provide sewerage scheme to 100 villages. He said that to motivate the people already 86 example role model villages have been established where water supply scheme have been successfully commissioned and was being run, operated and maintained by the village panchyats. These villages are show cased to the new villages who seek to adopt this scheme. Mr. Aujla said that state was aiming to provide 24x7 water supply to the villages.

When asked about the traces of Uranium in the water supply Mr. Aujla said that on receiving complaints, State had sent 400 samples to the BARC, Mumbai for testing and report of 100 have been received by the department out of which 18 samples from Moga and Kotakpura region show higher than acceptable quantity of Uranium. He said that Central Government has been told about these results and they have been requested to conduct detailed scientific study to identify the source of Uranium. When asked about the installation of ROs in the Malwa region Mr. Aujla informed that ROs have been installed in 375 villages and work was in progress in 238 villages and total 1000 villages would be covered by RO scheme.

Mr. Aujla said that keeping advantage of the assured source of funding available under the World Bank Project, the State Government has taken concrete steps to develop a perfect synergy in the Rural Water Sector by adopting the same principles of participation and contribution of stake holders in the capital cost of the schemes, their execution and subsequent operation & maintenance by GPWSCs even in the case of schemes which are not funded under World Bank Project. The professional approach adopted by the social wing of the SPMC provided the much needed impetus to the programme; through Capacity Building Workshops and IEC Campaign. The Community Mobilization team’s remarkable performance resulted in 4536 meetings with the various stake holders at the ground level, whereby a direct one-to-one connect with more than one lakh villagers was made. This has contributed a big way in getting 3319 Gram Panchayat (GP) to come on board. Out of these 2698 GP have already deposited full contribution. Until 31.12.2010, Water supply schemes have been commissioned in 1843 villages and are in progress in 526 villages.

Under Community Sanitation, project’s target is to cover 100 villages by construction of small bore sewerage schemes on pilot basis. 33 habitations have registered their demand with DWSS and raised part of the beneficiary contribution. Sewerage schemes of village Chawa (Gurdaspur) and village Baba Bakala (Amritsar) have been completed and four more schemes are under process of allotment.

For assured availability of water from the water supply schemes WSS Department has set up a Shikayat Nivaran Kendra (SNK) at Mohali in November 2009 with a toll free number 1800-180-2468 wherein all the Rural Water Supply consumers can lodge their complaints as well as retrieve the latest information about the status of the complaints lodged by them through unique complaint number provided to them. A total of 6372 complaints relating to the supply of drinking water from Rural Water Supply Schemes were received by SNK during the last one year out of which 6297 have been attended to the satisfaction of complainantsEarlier Mr. S.R.Aggarwal, Prorgamme Director gave a detailed presentation titled Moving Towards Water Sufficient Rural Punjab in which he explained the improved, sustainable water supply and Sanitation System for Rural Punjab. Mr. Amarjit Singh, Sarpanch Village Naushehra (Amritsar) explained the success of Water Supply Scheme in his village.

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Mr. R.L.Kauldhar, Chief Engineer North, Mr. M.S.Kler, Chief Engineer Central and Ms. Priya Ojha Senior Community Mobilization Specialist.


Chandigarh February 2:

Master Mohan Lal Transport Minister Punjab today emphasized the need of introducing Road Safety as a subject from primary levels in all the government schools from the next academic session. The minister was presiding over Road Safety Council meeting held today. Officials of the departments of Home, Health, Police, Transport, Education and Local bodies were present in the meeting. The minister said that the drivers of the PRTC and PUNBUS who have not met with any accident due to their safe driving on the roads would be awarded at a state level functions. The Minister also disclosed that PUNBUS and Punjab Roadways stood first and second respectively to have committed minimum accidents on roads this year.

Master Mohan Lal has also urged the NGOs and other Voluntary organizers to help the government in making road safety, a movement of the people through generating mass awareness campaigns ensuring fewer accidents on the roads especially on the highways. The Minister has also asked the officers at the district levels to ensure forceful implementations of the government directives in matter of road safety. He has also asked the Traffic Police together with the department of health to immediately handle the emergency in road accidents so that the minimum time be taken in shifting the accident victim to the nearest hospitals after administering him on the spot first aid treatment. Directing the STC, the Minister said that the unregistered vehicles are checked and action be taken on the owners for not getting their vehicles registered. He has asked the officers of the Transport Department to do all out efforts in reducing the percentage of road accidents to 10 percent.
Comedy king and prominent artist Mr. Jaspal Bhati, who was present in the meeting, said that he would make a few short duration films on this subject which would have a lasting impact on the public. Appreciating the Minister's suggestion of introducing Road Safety as a subject in the schools, Mr. Bhati said that the Matric Certificate should only be given if the student has passed the compulsory Road Safety subject.

punjab honours 50 PROMINENT Sports persons

Chandigarh, February 02:

Punjab Chief Minister, S. Parkash Singh Badal will honour the 50 sports persons of National & International repute with cash prizes about 7.50 crore at a function being held at Auditorium of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, SAS Nagar, Mohali on February 4, 2011 at 6.00 pm. Deputy Chief Minister S. Sukhbir Singh Badal will preside over the function.
Disclosing this here today a spokesman of the Sports Department said that Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab S. Sukhbir Singh Badal would preside over the function.



New Delhi/Chandigarh February 1 :

Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal Deputy Chief Minister Punjab, today called upon Union Government to take immediate steps to resolve religious, political, economic and geographical issues of Punjab as Center’s failure to resolve conflicts through well established traditional democratic representatives of people was giving rise to a feeling in the minds of people that the main stream democratic political leadership is failing to secure justice for them. He also stressed the need for federalizing the national polity to give more economic powers to states. He also demanded a special package especially for agriculture and industrial sector.

Addressing the Conference of Chief Ministers on Internal Security here today Mr. Badal said that thought the state has successfully maintained peace and communal harmony and kept law & order and kept crime under control, and handled the conflicts arising out of socio-religious factors but perceived sense of injustice in the minds of people should not be allowed to made emotional feeding ground for elements opposed to peace.

Mr. Badal said that there it has been in the minds of the people of the state a strong perception of injustice at the hands of the Centre in religious, political, economic and geographical matters. He said that our Capital has been denied to us despite firm and concrete assurances from the Government of India, it has still not been transferred to us. Similar injustice has been meted out to the state on the issue of river waters in which Punjab is the only state where the Riparian principle has been violated. He said that ignoring Punjab for Agriculture package despite Punjabi farmers contributing 70% to National Pool, sustained neglect of Punjab in matter of allocation of large scale industrial projects and giving industrial concession to neighboring, may aggravate this perceived sense of injustice.

Mr. Badal also said that Government of India by not showing requisite seriousness while addressing issues of extreme religious sensitivity like Turban issue may provide emotional impetuous to elements out to disturb peace. He also asked Union Government to address with utmost urgency the issue of giving Visas to those who for some reason lost their passports abroad. The Deputy Chief Minister made an impassioned plea that the issue of black lists be conclusively taken out of its present haze. He said the Government of India should periodically review all such cases and put the names of those wanted on its websites so that others were spared harassment.

Mr. Badal said that Punjab’s strategic geographical location exposed it to major international narco-terrorist threats. He said that being a border state adjacent to a hostile neighbour, Punjab becomes a major transit point for high quality dangerous drugs like heroin from the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt. He said that during 2010 the state police recovered 187 kgs of heroin. He expressed concern that despite the high vigil and successes of the security forces, this remains an area of concern. He said that the use of Pak SIM cards by smugglers and militants has come to notice about which Government of India has been sensitized by Punjab Police. Mr. Badal said that effective technological solution needs to be required to tackle this issue.

Mr. Badal said that recoveries of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) were a record Rs.2.5 crore in 2010. While the recovery of FICN has shown an upward trend, the large quantities of high-quality mint-manufactured counterfeit currency points towards cross-border support.

Cautioning the Centre Government on hostile elements having roots outside the country and being supported by foreign agencies, Mr. Badal said that the new dimension in the recent year had been the participation of foreign based youth in terrorist crimes in India and abroad. He said that killing Rulda Singh in Patiala (July 2009 ) was executed by to UK Nationals under guidance and financial support from UK. A Dera Chief was killed and conspiracy to attack another was neutralized in Vienna ( Austria ).

Giving the details of steps taken by the State Government to strengthen the Internal Security apparatus, Mr. Badal said that besides strengthening intelligence, massive recruitment in Police and Intelligence, a Special Security Group (SSG) has been formed. Giving the details of police reforms Mr. Badal said that Punjab Police has enacted Punjab Police Act 2007 and Rs. 10.35 crore has been released for establishment of 86 sub divisional level and 35 police station level CPRCs. He also gave the details of modernizing Urban Policing, SWAT, Crime and Criminal Tracking system.

Seeking a special package from Union Government Mr. Badal said that special financial assistance must be sanctioned for the state. He also raised the demand of compensation for farmers having land beyond the fence on Indo Pak border. He also demanded early sanction of Rs. 40 crore Training centre in the State. Mr. Badal demanded raising of plan size of modernization of Police Force Scheme from proposed Rs. 61 crore to Rs. 100 crore per annum for the year 2010-2011.

Mr. Badal said that Union Government should address reasons at the root of perceived grievance of the people immediately. He said that Punjab being a border state, the Central Government should immediately announce economic package especially for development of border areas and enhancing the capacity building of police and intelligence agencies.