Monthly Archives: APRIL 2017
SAD castigates Manpreet Badal for giving green signal to mafia raj
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today castigated finance minister Manpreet Badal for giving a clean signal for political mafia raj in Punjab by stating that one needed to be in politics to do business in the State.
In a statement here, former finance minister and SAD leader Parminder Singh Dhindsa said it was strange that the finance minister was justifying running of the sand mining business by Congress leaders. He said Manpreet had also clearly stated that Congress legislators need not worry about conflict of interest issues while doing business in the State.
Dhindsa said by making such a statement Manpreet Badal had made it clear that he was helpless and could not provide clean and transparent governance in the State. "Not only this, we have a finance minister who is telling the people that the State will have to live with mafia raj in sand mining business for one year. Is it because the finance minister has realised that Congress politicians have a major hold on sand mining operations?", he asked.
Dhindsa said Manpreet should make it clear whether he was signalling Congressmen who were engaged in the mining sand that they could continue with their nefarious activities and that no action would be taken against them. He said Manpreet Badal had made a statement today that the mining policy would be reworked after one year to eliminate the political mafia. "What is stopping them from reworking any policy ? They are in power. They had promised to end so called mafias within one month. Far from identifying and taking action against any perceived mafia, the Congress party is making out a case for encouraging mafia rule in the State", he added.
The SAD leader said it was also strange that Manpreet Badal, who always espoused socialism earlier, had become a spokesman for a capitalist model. He said the finance minister had decided to go in for progressive bidding to increase State income from sand mining. "Has he given any thought to the plight of the common man. The rates of sand have gone up by five times since the change of government in Punjab. A truck of sand is now selling for Rs 28,000. This steep rate may witness a two time increase once the progressive bid method, which will auction blocks to the highest bidder, comes into force. Sand is likely to become costlier than cement in Punjab soon"
Gender based discrimination, violence an ugly blot on society; needs to be removed: Sandhu
"It is a stark reality of our so called modern society that despite all the efforts, the gender based discrimination and violence has ceased to abate. Though our all religious scriptures preach equality for man and woman at every level but the truth is that the gender based discrimination and violence against women is on the rise.”
This was said by S.K. Sandhu, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab, while delivering the key note address at ‘State Level Consultation on Gender-Based Discrimination and Violence’ held at CII here today. This consultation was organized by the Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (PSCPCR) and the Punjab State Commission for Women (PSCW) in collaboration with international NGO "Save the Children.”
Sandhu, the Chief Guest at the function, further said that gender based discrimination is actually not a problem but a symptom of manly-arrogance, which emanates from our attitude towards womanhood. He said that this feudal mindset of male-dominant society needs to be changed. Sandhu said that the government can play a role of facilitator in this direction, whereas the collective efforts of every individual, family and society is required to create an ideal society, wherein our daughters can breathe fresh air and prosper in every sphere keeping equal pace with boys.
Later on, he also flagged off six-mobile caravans having the message: "Identity is different, Rights are one”, which will reach out to 550 villages of Sri Muktsar Sahib, Bathinda, Mansa and Fazilka districts of Punjab. The innovatively designed vans will use a mix of infotainment techniques to educate the community about the sensitive issue of gender-based discrimination. Each van is equipped to show a feature film highlighting methods to report female feticide incidences and also has a nukkad-natak team, which will initiate discussions about giving equal treatment to boys and girls.
Admiring the joint efforts led by government and civil society, Sandhu said, "The campaign initiated by "Save the Children” will bolster government’s efforts on dealing with the issues of gender-based discrimination.”
Representatives from Save the Children, Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Punjab State Commission for Women and District Child Protection Officers from all districts of Punjab were present at the occasion.
Underlining the objective of the event, Michelle Bowman, Director of Programs, Save the Children said, "We are confident that the campaign will provide a platform to children and adolescents from Punjab to raise their concerns and suggestions about gender equality. It is a key sustainable development goal for India and through our programs we not only ensure that community is sensitized on gender-based discrimination but also initiates action towards reducing it.”
The caravan launch program was followed by a consultation on gender-based violence supported by the US Embassy.
Jonathan Kessler, Director-North India Office, Embassy of the United States of America was a guest of honor, who said that Children’s rights cannot be ensured unless we stop discriminating between different genders. At the panel discussion, government representatives shared their vision to further reduce indicators of the gender-based discrimination and violence in the state.
Sukesh Kalia, Chairperson, Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said that while the government is making efforts to ensure well-being of all the children, we need support from parents, teachers and community and leaders to ensure that we root out the practices of gender based discrimination. Sumer Singh Gurjar Secretary, Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights threw light on the various initiatives of the Punjab government in the direction of ensuring child rights protection. Paramjit Kaur Landran, Chairperson, PSCW said that the commission is proactively reaching out to women in the state to ensure support to women to deal with the issues of discrimination and violence. Awareness on laws and legislations protecting women will play a key role in ensuring their rights. Rajwinder Singh Gill Deputy Director, Punjab State Commission for Protection of Child Rights also addressed the gathering.
Ensure level playing field for new, existing industries: Amarinder
In a bid to offer a level playing field in the industry sector in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed authorities to give same concessions to existing industry as well as new one.
He directed the department of industries to provide the same concessions to existing industries as are being proposed for the new ones setting up business under the state’s new industrial policy.
The directive came during a meeting with a CII delegation led by Sumant Sinha, Chairman Northern Region, which called on the Chief Minister here to discuss ways and means of promoting ease of doing business in the Northern States, particularly Punjab, which currently ranks number 12 on this count.
The Chief Minister stressed that his government was striving to bring Punjab to number 1 in terms of doing business and invited suggestions from CII to make the state more attractive as an investment destination.
The two sides agreed to set up a joint task for more and continuing dialogue between the industry and the state government, which is currently working on a new industrial policy to promote an industry-favorable environment in Punjab, according to an official spokesperson.
The Chief Minister accepted the CII delegation’s suggestion to ensure a level playing field for industrial groups that had chosen not to flee the state due to the adverse policies of the previous government. He issued immediate instructions to the concerned officials to incorporate this in the new industrial policy, which the department of industries is working on, and to which the CII is contributing through certain important suggestions in the interest of industrial promotion in the state, the spokesperson disclosed after the meeting.
The CII suggested to the CM steps to promote agro-based food processing industry and small-scale industry in the state. The delegation also suggested improving the power supply, as well as infrastructure development and air connectivity to boost industry in Punjab. The delegation underlined the need for air connectivity with Ludhiana – the industrial hub of the state, while also suggesting increase in the number of flights to the city with the installation of ILS to ensure smooth landings.
While expressing concern over frequent load shedding due to poor distribution of electricity, the CII delegation appreciated the state government’s move to provide power to the industry at a lower tariff of Rs. 5 per unit. The Chief Minister told the delegation that the Prime Minister had responded positively to his proposal to sell power to neighbouring Pakistan. In fact, the Chief Minister revealed that the Prime Minister had indicated that Punjab should look for other trade options also with Pakistan.
The CII delegation expressed concern over the central government’s proposed zero liquid discharge policy, saying it would have an adverse impact on industry. The Chief Minister suggested promotion of rain water harvesting in residential areas since, as pointed out by CII, it the industry was not allowed to harvest rain water for fear of dumping of liquid discharge. He also asked the industry department to see how rain water harvesting could be introduced for industries.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Minister's Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and Principal Secretary Tejveer Singh besides Additional Chief Secretary, Industries & Commerce D.P. Reddy and CEO Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion D.K. Tewari.
The CII delegation comprised of Chairman, CII Northern Region Sumant Sinha, Deputy Chairman, CII Northern region Sachit Jain, Chairman, CII Punjab State Council Gurmeet Bhatia, Vice Chairman, CII Punjab State Council Sarvjit Samra, Immediate Past Chairman, CII Punjab State Council Sandeep Jain, Regional Director, CII Northern Region Babu Khan, Head – CII Punjab State Bhupinder Pal Kaur and Executive officer – CII Jagmeet Singh Bedi.
The Punjab government is grappling with a huge financial debt of over Rs 2 lakh crore.
Punjab heading towards worst ever farming crisis since independence: BJP
Weather is playing havoc with the farmers of Punjab, so is the Congress led Govt in Punjab, together both are bent upon ruining the farmers, if not corrected Punjab will face worst ever farming/ agricultural crisis since independence, said State Vice President Bharatiya Janata Party Punjab Harjit Singh Grewal, State Secretary Vineet Joshi flanked by State Secy Vijay Puri and senior leader Dr Parminder Sharma, here today at a press conference in Rupnagar.
First, due to untimely rains and hail-storm combined with gusty winds, thousands of acres of wheat crop got damaged. Standing fodder, vegetables and other cash crops too got damaged. As if this was not enough, additional thousands of acres of wheat crop got burnt due to extreme hot weather coupled by external factors like short circuit, burning of crop remains, etc, said Grewal and Joshi.
Second, believing his promise - "Karja Kurki Khatam, Fasal Ki Puri Rakam" - farmers voted him to power and they now have stopped repaying the loans. If farmers don't repay the loan availed for Rabi crops by 30th of April, Banks will start charging 12 % interest instead of 4%. Further banks will not grant them loans for Kharif crops, added Grewal and Joshi.
According to Punjab State Level Bankers Committee, a loan of Rs. 77,684 Crores was availed by farmers via 30.23 lakh accounts till 31st of December 2016, and only Rs 5150 Crores is the NPA i.e. 6.63 %. Expecting agricultural debt/farmers’ loan waiver, farmers have stopped repaying their loans and NPA figure will rise from 6.63 % to 100 %.
Since the formation of Captain Amarinder's government more than thirty farmers have committed suicide and the latest developments, if not controlled, will lead to a spate of farmer suicides. BJP Punjab requests Chief Minister Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh to consider it as an emergency and announce agricultural loan waiver immediately.
Captain Amarinder should order time bound girdawari and announce Rupees Twenty Thousand per acre compensation as announced by him in his pre poll promise, so that effected farmers have a ray of hope, concluded Grewal and Joshi.
To break Militant-Gangster nexus, Amarinder okays Anti-terror squad
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has given the go-ahead for setting up an Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), as part of the Intelligence Wing, to break the nexus flourishing between militants and gangsters in the state’s prisons.
His government, which has already cracked down on terrorists and gangsters in a big way, is also mulling an effective law, such as the Punjab Control of Organised Criminals Act (PCOCA), to deal effectively with the terror spread by organized criminal gangs, most of which have been operating in the state for the past 5-7 years with strong political patronage.
This was disclosed here on Monday by a spokesperson in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), who said the ATS would have the mandate to act both against terrorist/militant outfits and criminal gangs.
In addition, the Union Home Minister, on a request from the Chief Minister, has already agreed,tentatively, to provide 2 CISF companies in exchange of the same number of IRB companies from Punjab to ensure security at the high-security/sensitive jails where hardcore terrorists and gangsters are lodged. These additional companies will remain at the prisons for at least six months, said the spokesperson.
At his meeting last week with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Captain Amarinder had raised concern about the growing nexus between militants and gangsters, pointing out that jail staff, including Superintendents/Wardens, had been receiving constant threats from such elements. This nexus had led to incidents like the Nabha jail break, the Chief Minister had observed, urging the Home Minister’s intervention to secure the prisons.
Besides, said the spokesperson, the state government is also requesting the judiciary to notify trial courts in jails to avoid frequent movement of members of top criminal gang, who are being targeted to settle inter-gang feuds and rivalries.
The Chief Minister, said the spokesperson, had issued strict directions to the police and intelligence agencies in the state to come down heavily on all criminal gangs in the state. As of March 15, 2017, there were 22 organized criminal gangs operating in Punjab, with 240 gang members, of which 137 gangsters were lodged in various jails of the State, the spokesperson further revealed. As per official data, 12 category ‘A’ gangsters, and 10 category ‘B’ gangsters, are still absconding.
These criminal gangs, many of which are patronised by political leadership, have been involved in inter-gang rivalry killings, contract killings, extortion from real estate developers/builders, drug smugglers/traders, bookies/satta-hawala dealers / liquor contractors/singers etc., land-grabbing, kidnapping for ransom and other serious crimes, including drug/arms smuggling.
With the erstwhile SAD-BJP government led by Parkash Singh Badal failing to carry out any recruitment in the prisons in the past decade (up to 50% vacancies currently exist at cutting-edge level posts), things have gone out of hand, said the spokesperson.
Lack of technological upgradation is another reason for inadequate control over jails, he said, adding that the Captain Amarinder government is expediting the recruitment process of warders and matrons in the Prisons department.