Monthly Archives: FEBRUARY 2016

Now pay your water, sewerage charges with power bills
25.02.16 -
Now pay your water, sewerage charges with power bills

PATIALA : The municipal corporation's general House meeting last week passed a resolution to adopt the state government’s scheme to include water supply and sewerage charges in electricity bills of the city consumers.
During the meeting, Congress councillors, led by leader of Opposition Sanjeev Bittu, opposed the move describing it as anti-poor and said the scheme would end up putting unnecessary financial burden on poor families.
Bittu pointed out that currently, the residential houses up to 5-marla category were exempted from water and sewerage charges. However, the new scheme did not extend any such benefit and directly linked the user charges with electricity consumption.
However, the ruling SAD councillors, including mayor Amarinder Singh Bazaz, defended the move, saying the new arrangement was temporary in nature and would be replaced with water-meter scheme after a year, wherein there would be no charges on consumption of initial 20,000 litres per month.
Bazaz said the scheme was implemented to plug wastage of water and recover revenue losses.
"Currently, our annual budget for water and sewerage wing is close to Rs 35 crore, but the revenue collection is not more than Rs 12 to Rs 13 crore. The government is sensitive to poor families and that’s why it has decided to implement the water meter scheme after a year. There will be no charges on consumption of up to 20,000 litres per month,” he added.
However, the Congress councillors demanded a similar exemption even during the intervening period when user charges were to be merged in power bills. The Congress has seven councillors in the 50-member MC House.
Despite protests by the Congress, the House passed the resolution and sent its consent to the state government in this regard. The scheme will be effective from April 1.
The announcement of the mayor on a day earlier that the state government approved a Rs60-crore fund for the development of city did not go well with the Congress councillors as they alleged that the budget estimates submitted to the state government were finalised after consultations with Shiromani Akali Dal’s halqa in-charge, who had no constitutional authority to participate in official meetings being held to decide policy matters.
Talking to the media, Bittu said it was the misuse of official machinery as SAD leaders had included only those projects that suited them politically. He said the mayor should have consulted the budget estimates in a general House meeting and these should have been sent to the state government after proper consultations.
With a view to mopping up more funds for making cow shelters, the MC House also approved the proposal to impose cow cess on new areas. The cess will now be levied at a rate of Rs 1,000 per function at A/C marriage places, Rs 500 per function at non A/C marriage palaces, Rs 1,000 for sale of every new four-wheeler vehicle and Rs 200 for sale of every two-wheeler vehicle.
The liquor price in the city may increase marginally as cow cess of Rs 10 per bottle was also approved on sale of Indian-made foreign liquor and Rs 5 per bottle on sale of country liquor. Other proposals before the House were regarding appointments and transfers of lower staff in the civic body, which were all cleared.
Meanwhile, none of the councillors opposed the proposal seeking approval in the amendment of the town planning (TP) scheme for the purpose of converting 4-acre commercial property at Jagdish Enclave into residential property. It was unanimously passed.

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Capt Amarinder condemns selective targeting of Punjabis, women in Haryana
25.02.16 - PT Team
Capt Amarinder condemns selective targeting of Punjabis, women in Haryana

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh today expressed shock over the reports of rape of women commuters on GT Road in Haryana and the selective targeting of Punjabis in which their properties were ransacked and set on fire.
"It is shocking and shameful that the protesters targeted women by molesting and raping them while the government went into hibernation leaving the field open for the goons and lumpen elements”, he said in a statement issued here today.
Condemning the incidents, Capt Amarinder sought an explanation from the BJP governments at the centre and Haryana for their failure to protect the life, honour and property of the people there.
"It is shocking to know that the same people who fled the violence in Pakistan at the time to partition and settled down here were again made targets of sectarian violence by the same people whom they thought to be their own”, he said, while seeking strict action against the culprits.
The former Punjab Chief Minister also condemned the criminal silence of the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who did not bother to raise any concern with his Haryana counterpart or the central government.
"While the Punjabis were being selectively targeted in Haryana our Chief Minister was indulging in his favourite pastime by holding Sangat Darshan somewhere in Punjab”, he said, while seeking security and protection for the Punjabis in the neighbouring state.

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Many Seasonal Birds Would Visit Punjab In Ensuing Poll Season - CM
25.02.16 - PT Team
Many Seasonal Birds Would Visit Punjab In Ensuing Poll Season - CM

Terming that in the ensuing poll season many ‘seasonal birds’ would visit the state, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that it would hardly have any effect as the SAD-BJP alliance was all set to register third consecutive win and form the government again in 2017.

Interacting with the media persons after inaugurating the newly constructed Municipal Bhawan in sector 35 here today, the Chief Minister, while reiterating that in democracy every leader was free to visit any state, said that he welcomes Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on his upcoming visit to the state. However, Badal said that it would hardly have any effect on state’s polity as SAD-BJP alliance was serving the people with utmost dedication and commitment. "They will come and go back but due to its pro-people and development oriented policies, the SAD-BJP alliance will again form government in 2017” he added.

The Chief Minister said that during almost nine years of the SAD-BJP rule the state has witnessed unprecedented development in all the sectors. He said that due to the concerted efforts of the alliance government Punjab has today emerged a frontrunner state in the country. Mr. Badal said that the alliance would again seek the mandate of people solely on the plank of communal harmony, peace and development.

Replying to another query, the Chief Minister advocated the need of having a national debate on the ongoing agrarian crisis in the country. He said that problems of the food growers of the country need to be given immediate attention, so as to bail them out from the crisis. Badal said that due to low income and high agricultural inputs coupled with decrease in land holdings agriculture was no longer a remunerative profession, so efforts must be made to make this profession financially viable and economically sustainable.  

The Chief Minister also said that in a major step aimed at providing world class civic amenities to residents of the cities across the state, the Punjab government has embarked a major scheme providing the facility of water supply, sewerage, Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs), Streetlights, Roads and parks in all towns at a cost of Rs 6500 crore. He said that a major thrust would be given to the development of all these towns by ensuring world class civic amenities in them adding that the focus would be to refurbish the cities with the state-of-the art facilities so that the residents could be benefitted from it on one hand and giving impetus to the overall development of the state on the other.

The Chief Minister said that the inauguration of Municipal Bhawan, would facilitate the people from across the state to get their works done under a single roof. Badal said that this building which houses the offices of senior functionaries of Local Government Department would enhance the efficiency of the department to serve the people. On the occasion congratulating the Local Government Minister Mr. Anil Joshi, he said that people would be immensely benefitted with the inauguration of this Bhawan as they would be able to get their works done in a prompt and hassle free manner.

Pertinently, this Bhawan constructed in Sector 35 at a cost of Rs. 38 crore would house all the offices of Minister, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Secretary, Director, branches of Directorate, PMIDC and Officers and Officials of Town Planning

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Ludhiana to have two road projects costing Rs.1238 crore-Sukhbir
25.02.16 - PT Team
Ludhiana to have two road projects costing Rs.1238 crore-Sukhbir

Ludhiana will witness two road projects costing Rs. 1238 crore which will ease traffic congestion in industrial city. Disclosing this here today Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal informed that NHAI will undertake both projects which included 4 laning elevated road in Ludhiana city from Samrala chowk to MC limits Ludhiana on NH-95 and 4-lane partial access controlled Laddowal bypass linking NH-95 with NH-1 via Laddowal seed farm.

Giving details he said 12.951 km elevated road would be augmented at a cost of Rs. 867.72 crore and Laddowal bypass having length of 17.041 km costing Rs 370.17 crore would be constructed on design, build, operate and transfer (DBOT annuity or hybrid annuity) basis.

With a view to provide relief to the inhabitants of this metropolitan city as well as developing this industrial hub as a smart city, Deputy CM said that he had impressed upon union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari in the recent meeting to sanction both the projects on priority and he has done thr same.

He said the 4/6-laning of Chandigarh-Kharar-Ludhiana section of NH-95 had already been approved and work has been started.

Deputy CM informed that union ministry has approved the draft request for proposal (RFP) and asked the NAHI to carry out the bidding process on e-tendering mode for selection of a private entity as the bidder to whom these projects could be awarded.

Elaborating further Badal said the scope of work broadly includes rehabilitation, upgradation and widening of the existing carriageway to four-lane standards with construction of new pavements, rehabilitation of existing pavements, construction and or rehabilitation of major and minor bridges, culverts, road intersections, interchanges, drains etc. including those prescribed in the concession agreement and its schedules besides its operation and maintenance thereof.

He emphasized that Punjab is the only state where every village, town and city is connected through road network and state has the maximum density of roads in the country, adding he said Punjab government is very keen to provide best connectivity in the state in terms of road, air and rail.
Badal said that state government is paying special attention to the inclusive development of state and very soon the roads across the state would be transformed into 4-6 lane expressways. He also said the main road from SAS Nagar to Kharar would be given the elevated shape besides work on major expressways connecting with corporation towns with an investment of about Rs 20, 000 crores would be launched soon.

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This isn't ACCIDENT, We Are Killing Our Own
25.02.16 - Kanwar manjit Singh
This isn't ACCIDENT, We Are Killing Our Own

Imagine a Boeing 747, full to capacity, crashing everyday, every single day all through the year, in India! That is happening on our roads since more than 350 people are dying every day in road accidents. 
Out of 100 road accidents in India, people die in 28. Out of 100 road accidents in Punjab, people die in 76. Punjab is now on top of the fatality rate in road accidents. This, when fatality rate is recorded very poorly. In Europe or the United States, a person succumbing to his injuries within 30 days of the accident is counted among road accident fatalities. In India, unless someone dies on the spot or in the next one or two days, the fatality data does not reflect that statistic. 
Anyone with a reasonable conscience and a minimal level of sanity should find these figures shocking. Alternatively, every morning's newspapers should be shocking enough. A mobike rider being crushed under the wheels of a passing bus in front of hundreds of people on a busy road is such a common small-time staple news item that even junior reporters do not go out into the field to investigate.
Any trainee on late night duty in a newspaper office is expected to take down the details from the police chowki. A bus raming into a car and killing five people is a three-column story only if the victims are part of a marriage party or all belong to one family. Small time accidents are never news, big accidents make news if they happen on a non-newsy day in a metro, that too when a camera team can be spared.
To attract our eyeballs with a reasonable degree of certainty, a bus has to fall from a flyover. When one did recently during the morning rush hour, senior editors in most TV news rooms pulled off the story by afternoon since people had not died, or at least enough number had not died.
But then, we have often heard this question being posed by people to one another, or to the experts about why so many accidents happen. There are many answers that you would hear, and many suggestions. To quickly list them here, there would be talk of separate pathways for pedestrians, stress on public transport to reduce car density on roads, proper signals, zebra crossings, speed limits, police presence, highway patrolling, post-accident emergency response system etc.
Each one of these suggestions is valid, but does it answer the question of why do accidents happen? 
As long as we think of accidents as something merely connected to an event happening on the road at that particular moment, we will not get to the right answer. ‘How do accidents happen’ should be a separate question from ‘Why do accidents happen’. It is easy to blame a tempo driver for being asleep behind the wheel, and mark it as a cause of accident, but it is more difficult to connect it to the larger political and economic forces. When a distant state, say Orissa or Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, implements social welfare programmes in a poor way, the expenses of a family on health care go up astronomically because government hospitals run out of medicines or do not have doctors, it brings new pressures on the one son working as a driver in Punjab. When he drives the tempo, does not bother about getting proper rest or sleep, plumps for some extra overtime, it leads to him falling asleep behind the wheel.
When his poor old mother is forced to go to a private hospital and the family's expenditure on her treatment increases, he is under pressure to send more money home. When the labour laws are not implemented, and he is prone to exploitation, he cannot say no to his employer even if he didn't get proper sleep.
Yet, if he runs over a pedestrian, the cause of accident will not be marked out as poor planning and implementation of social welfare policies in Bihar or Orissa or UP, but because the driver was found dozing off behind the wheel.
That is not a true cause of accident, but then we don't have the kind of media or the government that is interested in actually investigating the ‘actual’ killer.
Well meaning activists working to reduce the number of accidents need to connect their fight to larger issues facing the country. In a paradigm of society where the stature of a man is measured by the length of your sedan, accidents cannot be reduced by issuing advisories.
In a system where road policies are made only to facilitate the movement of cars, policy planners will never take into account the interests of the pedestrians, the cyclists, the labourers, the poor roadside dwellers.
We need to challenge false generalisations: Accidents do not affect everyone equally. "A speeding car being driven by a poorly trained driver makes no distinction between poor and rich,” we are told.
That is patently false. It does make a distinction.
There is enough empirical data to show that an extraordinarily large number of people dying on our roads are pedestrians, and out of them, an extraordinarily large number are poor people. The first-ever Global Status Report On Road Safety, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and covering information from 178 countries accounting for over 98% of the world’s population, said that almost half of the estimated 1.27 million people who die in road traffic crashes every year are pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
The needs of these vulnerable groups of road users are not being met, it said, even in rich countries.
In India, the debate is simply not moving beyond homilies about limiting speed, reducing drink-driving, and increasing the use of seatbelts, child restraints and motorcycle helmets.
The truth is that while the laws necessary to protect people are either not in place or are not comprehensive, our governments at the Centre and in states are actually creating legislation and conditions designed to increase road accident deaths.
When did you last see the initiative on giving sufficient attention to the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists who end up in clinics and hospitals?
Does the Punjab government have any consistent policy of compensation for road accident victims? Have we seen any criminal proceedings ever being undertaken against any public authority after any accident?
We have become so immune to the "Bus rams into car” or "Truck runs over three pedestrians” kind of news stories that accidents now jolt us only if there is a deadbody after a hit and run outside our house. Not if it is a few hundred feet away. It is time to understand that while the "Bus rams into car” story appears only once in the newspaper for the readers, for the family concerned, it is a stor that appears in its life every moment, every day, every week when you make one cup less of tea, make a couple of chapattis less, need one chair less on the terrace, don't know what to do with the music collection of the deceased, and cry everytime you listen to a song that was the dead man's caller tune on his cell.
What do our politicians have to say to this family, and to the hundreds of thousands of such families who are today incomplete because someone was not doing his job on road safety, on putting up signals, on marking zebra crossings, on regulating driving license procedures, on highway patrolling, on administering first aid lessons?
Punjab will soon have a great majority of voters who as children grew up without a father lost in the accident, old men who remember a wife who had only gone to fetch milk for the kids but couldn’t cross the road fast enough.
We lost a minister in a road accident exactly where we later lost not just a journalist but several more lives in different accidents. But why is the reality of killer roads not jolting our collective public conscience?
Why are our politicians not immediately under a great public pressure just as they had come after Anna Hazare’s fast? Not long ago, Punjab Vidhan Sabha was being solemnly told in response to a question that nine people die every single day in the state in road accidents. It reflects on the state of the media that even a fact as shocking as this did not make for much of a headline.
Around 350 people die on India's roads every day. That makes it over 13 deaths every hour. 20 children under the age of 14 die everyday due to road crashes in the country. Annual accident figures are crossing one lakh in India. Around 1,41,526 people were killed in road accidents in 2014 alone, that is more than the number of people killed in all our wars put together. Compare the media coverage and public outcry over road accidents with coverage of terrorism in Kashmir or the Mumbai or Pathankot attacks!
Since Indian highways are expanding and getting ever wider, experts are warning of a further four fold increase in road fatalities.
As for the sociology of accidents, it also works against the poor. Roads and accidents happen to poor and rich, both, but somehow the ground rules of accidents are not very democratic. The number of urban and rural poor dying in road accidents is surprisingly high.
Empirical data suggests that most deaths involve vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists and motorised two wheeler riders. True, everyone walks and even the rich get run over by a car, but data from Institute for Road Traffic Education (IRTE), Union Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways, and Transportation Research and Injury Prevention Programme (TRIPP) at IIT-Delhi suggests that death comes easily to the poor, the vulnerable.
Some of life’s realities do not change even in a road accident.  
And the more money goes into roads, the better the traffic flow becomes, the better the impact on economic progress, and yes, the higher the road accident deaths. In Punjab, maximum road deaths are reported from patches that cut through villages.
Our politicians are so keen to turn Punjab into another California but it will help if they simply paid more attention to what they consider mundane.
You know how little it takes at times to save lives? Simply telling people to keep their two-wheelers' headlights on during the day can bring down death rates by 15 per cent! Many countries have this law on their statute books; what's stopping us? Chandigarh police has done a remarkable job in enforcing many traffic rules; what have we learnt from that experience?
The toori-laden ubiquitous tractor-trolley cannot be allowed to continue as a road trundling deathly monster, and private bus operators cannot keep running riot trying to outdo each other to pick up passengers. But can you tell this to rulers whose own economic interests are closely linked with how well the driver of buses owned by them race down their rivals?
Do we want all our children to reach their school and then also return home every single day, to reach the other side of the road, alive, or to run an errand on a bicycle without meeting death on the way?
And if road accidents are a matter of life and death for each of us, surely those who claim to administer our affairs for us in our name and with our money must be doing a tough job. But when was the last time you heard any political party making high road deaths an election issue?
You read about deaths in road accidents everyday in your morning newspaper, every single day of the five years. Yet, when you see the manifesto of a ruling party, any ruling party, you don't see a mention of road accidents as a problem.
Imagine a Boeing 747, full to capacity, crashing everyday, every single day all through the year, in India! That is happening on our roads since more than 350 people are dying every day in road accidents.
Mumbai 26/11 killed 195 people. Imagine a 26/11 happening on our roads, twice every day. Are you sure your son or daughter will reach home alive today? What are you doing about it, dear reader?


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