India
WITH 1 LAKH DOSES ON WAY, PUNJAB CM ORDERS STEPS FOR 18-45 VACCINATION BY GOVT HOSPITALS FROM MONDAY

Chandigarh, May 7 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday asked concerned officials to prepare to start vaccinating the priority groups in the 18-45 years category from government hospitals from Monday, as the state was expecting 1 lakh doses to come from the Serum Institute of India (SII) over the weekend.

The vaccination of priority groups identified by the state government for Phase III should start as soon as the doses arrive, the Chief Minister said. The state government has identified 18-45 age group construction workers, teachers, government employees and those with co-morbidities as high-risk individuals for priority vaccination.

The Chief Minister, who was chairing a virtual Covid review meeting, directed all government employees, except those with medical problems, to get vaccinated.

While the Labour Department will coordinate vaccination of construction workers and their families, to be funded by BOCWWB, the DCs have been asked to coordinate vaccination of government employees. Vaccination of co morbid categories will also be planned by DCs, with only advance registration and slotting of vaccination site to be allowed.

The state government had ordered 30 lakh vaccine doses from SII for the Phase III vaccination, and the Government of India has now allocated 3.30 lakh against this order to Punjab for this month.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has directed the Chief Secretary to explore utilization of some component of the state’s World Bank loan for purchase of 10000 Oxygen concentrators, along with tankers and O2 plants as well as vaccines.

The Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the various organisations that were sending aid to the state to support its fight against the second deadly wave of the pandemic. He informed the meeting that besides the TATA Group, which was sending 500 Oxygen concentrators, an additional 200 concentrators were being sent by the Tata Memorial Hospital also.


Harsimrat trying to shatter confidence of Medical Fraternity just for free publicity: Balbir Sidhu

Chandigarh, April 12 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Terming the allegations of Former Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal as baseless and political motivated, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that SAD has lost his credibility and support from the people of Punjab and now Mrs. Badal is trying to malign the image and confidence of medical fraternity for getting free publicity.

The Minister said that State Government is working on the advisories issued by GoI. and suitable corrective steps, as required, are being taken. He said that the feedback has been found to be immensely useful and will surely help the State in managing the COVID surge in the state.

He said that contact tracing in SAS Nagar is highest in State as she said lowest in State and 105% target of COVID-19 testing achieved in Patiala as she alleged it was much lowest than set target. He said that contact tracing at Ludhiana is 13 per case, Patiala 14 and while it is 23 at SAS Nagar which is highest in state. Contact tracing is being further enhanced by involving personnel from other Departments.

Responding to the status of labs in State, he said that RTPCR labs are not required in every district. Districts have been attached to 7 RTPCR testing labs with no district more than one or one and half hour distance from testing lab. He said that Testing in state has been about 35-40 thousand per day which will be increased to 50 thousand per day in this week only. The main thrust of testing is in highly disease burned districts. He said that moreover, in addition, all District Hospitals have been provided with TrueNat RTPCR machines for quick testing and results are available in 1-2 hours.

Pointing out the Level-3 care made by state Government, he said that Not all districts require Dedicated COVID Hospitals. Districts have been attached to nearest level3 facility and for transfer of patients on time adequate ALS and BLS ambulances are available in all districts as acknowledged be central teams.

Mr. Sidhu said that the State has added more than 6,000 health care workers of various categories including Medical Officers (Specialists), Medical Officers, Para-medical staff ete. in the last one year to augment the healthcare workforce. Specialist Medical doctors are being recruited through walk-in-interviews regularly and 5o Specialists of various disciplines have been issued appointment letters in the last week only.

The Minister divulged that districts have been authorized by the State Government to engage medical, para- medical and other workforce as per the requirement to augment the capacity regarding COVID isolation management, sampling, contact tracing, home isolation, vaccination, etc.

He apprised that during the recent review meeting held by the Chief Minister Punjab, all Deputy Commissioners have been asked to mobilize the required resources including manpower from other departments in addition to engaging through SDRF to augment the efforts at the district level.

He stated that the State has more than 4000 Level-2 beds available in the Government Sector and around 8,000 beds available in the private sector. The bed occupancy at La is only 25%. Therefore, there is sufficient capacity available at L-2. Sufficient L-3 beds are also available for COVID patients in the Government and private hospitals have also been advised to make more beds available in case the number of COVID patients increases.

He said that as reported by the Central Teams, all districts have sufficient number of ALS and BLS ambulances available to shift the patients to appropriate healthcare facilities without waste of time.


‘STOP MAKING MERRY, KOTAKPURA CASE FAR FROM OVER,’ CAPT AMARINDER TELLS SUKHBIR

Chandigarh, April 11 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday ridiculed Sukhbir Badal for jumping the gun on the High Court orders in the Kotkapura firing case, of which the Honourable court is yet to release the copy, and urged the Akali leader to refrain from making merry as the matter was far from being over.

“At least wait for the copy of the orders, before claiming victory,” the Chief Minister advised the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, mocking Sukhbir’s reaction to media reports of the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s decision on the investigation into the 2015 incident by the Punjab Police Special Investigation Team (SIT). The fact is that there has been no official announcement yet of the court verdict, he pointed out.

“In any case, whatever the verdict in the matter, I stand by the investigation of the SIT, which has, at no point, absolved the Badal family of involvement in the heinous incident, that led to innocent people losing their lives,” Captain Amarinder further said, vowing to ensure justice for the families and punishment for the guilty, irrespective of who they are.

Reiterating that his government will challenge any court order that either quashes the SIT probe or removes the officer in charge, Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh, the Chief Minister said Sukhbir’s desperation to celebrate his non-victory exposed his panic in the face of what he must have seen as writing on the wall, given the direction in which the SIT investigation was pointing.

The SIT has so far chargesheeted six persons in the Kotkapura case, including against then Kotkapura Akaki MLA and Halqa in-charge Mantar Singh Brar. The chargesheet against Brar clearly mentions that “On the analysis of the call details, it has been established that he made phone calls to the then chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Parkash Singh Badal through the Special Principal Secretary to the CM (Mr. Gagandeep Singh Brar, Ph. 981580000) and OSD to the CM Sh. Gurcharan Singh (9915584693).”

Captain Amarinder derided Sukhbir’s attempt to wriggle out of the corner in which he finds himself in the light of the chargesheet against Brar by screaming vendetta and witch-hunt.

Nothing else explains the haste of the former Deputy CM & Home Minister of Punjab to seek validation of his innocence in a HC order that is yet to come, he added.

The Chief Minister further pointed out that the Badal family had left no stone unturned in the past four years to scuttle the probe in the case, which they had been responsible for handing over to the CBI in the first place. As part of the ruling coalition at the Centre, the SAD had pulled all the stops to prevent the probe from reaching its logical conclusion, forcing the present government in the state to fight to get the case back from the central agency and hand it over to SIT to complete the investigation, added Captain Amarinder.

The Chief Minister also took a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for trying to make political hay over the issue with their frivolous and unfounded allegations. Like Sukhbir, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann has also been shooting through his mouth without knowing the High Court’s mind, he observed, adding that the theatrics of Arvind Kejriwal’s party, which has no presence at all in the state, are a laughing stock. Mann’s charge of collusion between Congress and SAD on the issue is not only ludicrous but logic-defying, he said, quipping that “to expect any AAP leader to be logical was like expecting the sun to shine at night.”

Besides Brar, the others chargesheeted in the Kotkapura case are all senior police officers, including then CP Ludhiana Paramraj Singh Umaranangal, then SSP Moga, Charanjit Singh Sharma, then SHO of PS City Kotkapura Gurdeep Singh, then Kotkapura DSP Baljit Singh, and then ADCP Ludhiana Paramjit Singh Pannu. In addition, one person, former DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, has been challaned in the case. Saini’s and Umaranangal’s anticipatory bail pleas were dismissed by the Sessions Court Faridkot on February 11, 2021, and they have not approached the High Court for the same.


PUNJABI ACTOR SATISH KAUL PASSED AWAY

Chandigarh, April 10 (Ozi Indian News Bureau): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday condoled the sad demise of veteran Punjabi actor Satish Kaul (76), who passed away in a private hospital at Ludhiana this afternoon.

In a condolence message, the Chief Minister described Satish Kaul as a versatile actor, who played a pivotal role in the promotion of Punjabi cinema, art and culture.

Being a staunch votary of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat, Satish Kaul would be ever remembered by one and all for his enormous contribution for making Punjabi cinema popular amongst the people.

Expressing his heartfelt sympathies with the family members, relatives and friends, Captain Amarinder Singh prayed to the Almighty to give courage to bear this irreparable loss in the hour of grief and grant eternal peace to the departed soul.


CENTRE REJECTS PUNJAB’s DEMAND REGARDING DBT

NEW DELHI, APRIL 8 (OZI INDIAN BUREAU): The Centre has declined the demand of Punjab Government regarding DBT scheme for wheat procurement.

This was stated here by a Group of Ministers from Punjab, who called on Union Food & Civil Supplies Minister Mr. Piyush Goyal to get the decision of DBT and online land record for payments scrapped. The delegation was comprised of Punjab’s Food & Civil Supplies Minister Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Finance Minister Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal, Public Works Minister Mr. Vijay Inder Singla, Mandi Board’s Chairman Mr. Lal Singh and Principal Secretary Food & Civil Supplies Mr K.A.P. Sinha.

Giving details about meeting Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu said that the group of ministers held detailed discussions with the Union Minister regarding wheat procurement in a congenial manner. Mr. Ashu also apprised that the Centre had postponed the decision of online land record, to make payments to farmers, for six months.

Referring to the issue of DBT, Online Land records, Mr Ashu pointed out that besides these issues detailed deliberations were held in the meeting pertaining to Rural Development Fund, early release of funds to Punjab under various schemes by the Government of India and lifting of its food grains stock by Centre from Punjab. He also stated that the Punjab had urged the Union Minister to release the remaining amount under Rural Development Fund. On seeking the utilisation of funds released under this scheme, the Punjab Ministers apprised Mr. Goyal that all the funds released earlier had been spent as per provisions. They also urged that an audit could be conducted but the Union Minister asked to resubmit the report relating to funds incurred under RDF after that the balance two percent amount would also be released.

The Union Minister also assured the Group of Minister for release of pending funds of Punjab towards Centre shortly.

Mr. Ashu mentioned that a meeting with Arthiyas would be held on April 9 amid present context to explore the new mechanism on the said issues.


CAPT AMARINDER URGES MODI TO CLEAR Rs. 937 CR PROJECTS FOR 400TH PRAKASH PURAB OF GURU TEGH BAHADUR JI

·       SEEKS DEVELOPMENT OF SRI ANANDPUR SAHIB AS SMART CITY, GLOBAL CELEBRATION OF HISTORIC EVENT

Chandigarh, April 8 (Ozi Indian News Bureau) :        Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the state government’s proposal for launching various projects worth Rs 937 crores, including the development of Sri Anandpur Sahib as Smart City, to pay befitting tributes to 9th Guru Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, whose 400th Prakash Purab is being celebrated this year.

          Participating virtually in the high-level national committee meeting, convened by the Prime Minister to finalise plans for celebration of the 400th Prakash Purab, the Chief Minister said, “we are all fortunate to celebrate this great event in our lifetimes and I urge Modi ji to ensure that this historic event is commemorated not only at national but at a global level”. He said Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, also known as Hind Di Chadar, stands as a shining symbol of our country’s great pluralistic tradition and secularism, and his supreme sacrifice – ‘sis diya par sirr na diya’ - forms an important part of India’s history.

          The chief Minister said that he was “blessed” as during his present tenure he had got the opportunity to be part of the grand celebrations of the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji and the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev ji also. “Even during my last tenure, I was fortunate to be part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib ji”, he said.

          Briefing the Prime Minister on the memorandum sent to the centre in this regard, Captain Amarinder said his government plans to duly recognise the towns and villages associated with the life of Guru Sahib in the state by upgrading their infrastructure. Besides the city of Amritsar, the town of Sri Anandpur Sahib and Baba Bakala are significant in this regard, he said. In addition, he said that there are 78 villages in the state graced by the Guru (charan chho prapt).

          Captain Amarinder said the proposal sent by the state government includes projects for development of infrastructure in and around Sri Anandpur Sahib, Amritsar and Baba Bakala; rejuvenation of village ponds and traditional water bodies for Water Conservation in 78 Punjab villages that were visited by the Guru; and setting up Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur School of Textile Technology and Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Handicrafts at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Sathiala, Baba Bakala, respectively.

          The Chief Minister further requested the Prime Minister that the Union Government should release a special commemorative stamp on this occasion. He suggested that the commemorative events should be held all across the country, as well as at all Indian missions abroad, in order to carry the powerful message of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur’s life.

          Captain Amarinder informed the Prime Minister that the details of the main programme on May 1 are being finalised, keeping in mind the Covid situation in the country and particularly in Punjab.

          The chief minister thanked the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, Amit Shah, for making elaborate plans for celebrations of this historic event across the country. “I’m grateful to you for giving such prominence to this event, as normally it is left to the state or communities to manage such celebrations”, he said while also appreciating Haryana Chief Minister’s assurance of organising befitting celebrations in his state too.

          Besides the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, former Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla and Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge also participated in the virtual meeting. It may be mentioned that the high-level national committee was constituted by the Union Government on October 24 last year, to approve policies, plans and programmes related to the commemoration of the 400th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. The committee comprises 70 members, with Prime Minister as its Chairman.


All set for wheat procurement in Punjab: Ashu

Procurement to begin from April 10th, Number of procurement centres increased from 1872 to 4000

Bidding Of Wheat fixed from 10 am till 6 pm

Chandigarh, April 08 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : The procurement of wheat would begin in Punjab from 10th April, 2021. All the necessary arrangements have been made. This was disclosed here today by the Food and Civil Supply Minister, Punjab, Mr. Bharat Bhushan Ashu.

He said that during the current season, the procurement agencies as well as the FCI would procure wheat on the fixed MSP of Rs. 1975. He also added that the Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Department of the State has expressed the possibility of the arrival of 130 lakh metric tonne wheat in view of which, the targets of procurement of wheat have been fixed between various agencies such as Pungrain 8.5 lakh MT and 121.5 lakh MT wheat will purchased by Markfed , Punsup , Warehouse and FCI under Central pool.

The minister further said that the state government has increased from 1872 to 4000 and as per their linking plan, the allotment has been done between the agencies.

Mr. Ashu further said that during the Rabi season 2020-21, the state government has made arrangements for the new jute/HDAP/PP sacks of 50 Kgs with regard to the procurement of wheat for central pool. The Pungrain has arranged for the sacks with 30 kg capacity for filling the wheat to be distributed under the National Food Security Act. Every district is being supplied with Bardana as per need. As per the state government directions, the Mandi Board issued tokens Mandi wise and Arhti wise and Bardana would be sent to the Mandi and provided to the arhtiyas.

He also said that as per the directions of the Union Government, instructions have been issued regarding blue colour stamping of the wheat sacks to be sewn with blue thread.

The minister further divulged that in view of the situation unfolding due to COVID-19, the Punjab Government had earlier taken the decision to start the procurement season from 10th April, 2021 and the procurement process would continue till May 31st, 2021. He also said that token system has been introduced in mandis of state so as to enable the farmers to systematically bring their wheat to the mandis. Apart from this, the social distancing norms would be enforced in the mandis, in accordance with which box signs of 30 ft x 30 ft have been marked at 2 metres distance. The wheat would be unloaded in this area only and further, the bidding time for wheat has been fixed between 10 am to 6 pm.

Mr. Ashu also added that the labourers would be provided with masks by the contractor of transportation in order to protect them from COVID-19. The procurement agencies and Mandi Board officials would ensure that the labourers remain in good health. The instructions have been given to the transportation of wheat between only one route in one Mandi to one storage point, Sanitization, providing masks to the truck drivers.The payments with regard to the wheat procured in Rabi season 2020-21 would be made through the online mode via Anaaj Kharid Portal.

The minister said that all the DCs have been directed to make adequate arrangements for wheat procurement in mandis of State, Harvesting of wheat at time fixed, Chairman PSPCL has been directed to ensure availability of power 24 hours in the 1872 procurement centres and another rice mills cum Mandi Yards. Further, DGP has also been written to regarding providing required security in the procurement centres. District level control rooms and Mandi wise grievance redressal committees have been formed to sort out any issues of farmers. Besides this, the Food and Civil Supplies Department has also set up a control room at Head Office level for redressing the complaints of farmers.


GANGSTER LAWRENCE BISHNOI AND CANADA-BASED GOLDY BRAR'S MAIN ASSOCIATE GAGAN BRAR ARRESTED BY PUNJAB POLICE FROM HIMACHAL’S KASOL

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Bureau) : The Punjab Police in a joint operation with Himachal Pradesh Police arrested a close aide of jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who played the prime role in the planning, execution as well as providing shelter to killers of Youth Congress leader “Gurlal Singh Bhalwan” on the directions of Lawrence Bishnoi and Canada based Goldy Brar.

The arrested accused has been identified as Gagandeep Singh @ Padda @ Gagan Brar @ Labh Singh Labhu @ Gogi s/o Gurmeet Singh r/o Vill Panjgarai Kalan, Kotkapura, Faridkot.

Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Dinkar Gupta, in his press communique, stated that the killing was organised by Goldy Brar, with the help of Gangster Bishnoi, to avenge the murder of his cousin Gurlal Brar.

A few hours after the murder, a post purported on a Facebook page of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, who is currently in Rajasthan’s Ajmer Jail, linked the crime with the death of Bishnoi’s aide Gurlal Brar.

On February 21, Delhi Police arrested 3 men Gurvinder Pal @Gora, Sukhwinder Dhillon, and Saurabh Verma, involved in the murder and the next day Punjab police arrested Gurpinder Singh, a resident of Ghania Wala village, in the murder case for providing weapons to the assailants.

Investigations revealed that Gurvinder pal @ Gora was sharing a flat with Gagan Brar in Kharar and the conspiracy was hatched in this rented accommodation of Gagan Brar at Kharar. Gagan being close associate of Goldy Brar is wanted by Delhi Special Cell and Faridkot Police for his involvement in the murder.

Delhi Police even raided his rented accommodation at Kharar but Gagan had inactivated all his communication channels and gave a slip before the raid as he got information about their arrest by the Delhi Police.

DGP Gupta said that based on specific inputs, teams of Organised Crime Control Unit (OCCU) and Counter Intelligence Units of Punjab Police were tasked for arresting the accused under the supervision of Additional DGP (ADGP) Internal Security RN Dhoke. These teams tracked locations of the accused in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh and apprehended gangster Gagan Brar in a joint operation with the Himachal Police.

During his preliminary interrogation, Gagan Brar revealed that he was working as a bouncer in night clubs in Chandigarh and was friends with Gora and Gurlal Brar for the last over 4-5 years. He had got the job of a bouncer with the reference of Gurlal Brar.

The DGP further disclosed that Gora introduced him to Goldy Brar. Rajan Pandey@ Vishal and Chhotu, named two persons, who seemed to hail from Haryana, stayed in their room for about 20 days and left the room with Gora two days before the murder.

On the instructions of Goldy Brar, Gagan handed over a bagful of arms and ammunition to an unknown person near First Bite Pizza in Kharar, a day before the murder. This bag was brought by Gora and kept in the wardrobe of his room.

After Delhi Police raided his rented accommodation, he took shelter in a friend's flat in Kharar for the next two days and then went to the Golden Temple Amritsar; from there he went to McLeod Ganj and then reached Kasol in Himachal Pradesh.

During his escape, Gagan Brar remained in contact with Goldy Brar via various OTT Apps and Goldy Brar also sent him money via Google pay for his living expenses.

The accused has been arrested in the case FIR number 44 dated 18/2/2021 u/s 302,120-b, 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 25 Arms Act registered at Police Station City Faridkot. The police team produced him before the magistrate and took him on police remand for further investigations.


Punjab scraps 479 mandatory compliances for industry: CS

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Continuing with its endeavour to promote trade and industry besides improving ‘ease of doing business’ in the state, the Punjab Government has done away with 479 compliances that were earlier required for seeking various approvals and renewals by the industrialists.

These compliances were part of a total 541 age-old mandatory approvals identified to be scrapped under Phase-I of reducing compliance burden by various departments

After doing away with this unnecessary paperwork, the state government submitted its action plan on the Union Government’s DPIIT portal on March 31.

Besides, the process was in progress to scrap more compliances that require certain amendments to the existing laws.

This was disclosed by Punjab Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, after chairing a high-level meeting with the administrative secretaries to review the progress of reducing regulatory compliance burden and implementation of the recommendations in this regard to promote ‘ease of doing business’ for the MSMEs in the state, here on Monday.

Ms Mahajan also analysed the proposals submitted by the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME) and reviewed the user feedback strategy for State Reforms Action Plan (SRAP) 2020-21.

The Chief Secretary directed the administrative secretaries to identify rules, regulations and archaic laws, which prescribe imprisonment as punishment for minor offences and to work towards decriminalising those regulations with provisions for financial penalties, if required.

She also directed the Department of Governance Reforms to work towards reducing compliance burden for citizen-centric services to ensure ‘ease of living’ for the people in the state.

The Chief Secretary further asked the administrative secretaries to examine the recommendations pertaining to their departments suggested by the GAME and work towards making amendments accordingly to address the issues highlighted as this could be a lighthouse project for the rest of the country for creating solutions to empower the MSMEs.

Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Alok Shekhar, informed the meeting that the areas/ compliances identified in Phase-I included those that do not require amendments to any laws like removal of renewal requirements for licences, implementing third party or joint inspections with government authorities, standardising and simplifying returns filing and reducing the number of filings, rationalising or removing maintenance of registers and records, minimising or eliminating display requirements for licenses, and digitising and simplifying all manual records and procedures.

The Chief Secretary was informed that as part of Phase-II plan, 70 compliances have been identified across four areas that require amendments to the existing laws, implementation of which was underway and needs to be completed by August 15.

Ms Mahajan appreciated the efforts undertaken by all the departments in implementation of reforms and directed the concerned secretaries to disseminate information as well as engage with stakeholders to create awareness about the new reforms implemented and online services developed.

Pertinently, online industry outreach and stakeholder engagement workshops were being conducted by the DICs in coordination with the departments to create awareness about new reforms, services and query/ grievance resolution in the state.


PUNJAB CM WRITES TO PM ON DBT TO FARMERS, URGES CONTINUANCE OF EXISTING SYSTEM TILL CONSENSUS EVOLVED

 ·        SEEKS MEETING TO APPRISE HIM OF CONCERNS ON DBT ISSUE ‘BEFORE SITUATION GETS OUT OF HAND’

 ·        EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER GoI’s EFFORTS TO ROCK EXISTING SYSTEMS WITH ONE-SIDED DECISIONS & STEPS

 

Chandigarh, April 4 (Raftaar News Bureau :  Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking continuance of the existing system of payment to farmers till a consensus can be evolved on the issue of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).

Asserting that Arhtiyas are not middlemen between the farmers and the procurement agencies, but are service providers, the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the livelihood of the farmers and all others involved in the smooth procurement of food grains is not jeorpardised.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Captain Amarinder also sought a meeting to apprise him about the concerns of various stakeholders about changing the existing payment system “before the situation gets out of hand.” On behalf of the Government of Punjab, he assured Modi of his complete support towards evolving a consensus amongst the stakeholders for long- term durable reforms.

Expressing concern over recent efforts to ‘rock’ the legally sanctioned, and well-established institutional and social arrangements through some guidelines and directives of the Government of India, the Chief Minister said he had noticed a pattern in some of the recent one-sided decisions and steps taken by the Government of India.

He added that as a soldier and a farmer himself, he “would like to highlight the risks and threats that are likely to be posed for the ‘food security’ of the nation as a result of some of these decisions for being completely detached from ground realities of farming in this part of the country.” Recalling the role of the hard-working farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western UP in ushering in the Green revolution and ensuring national food security, he said that security systems and defenses are built over decades, but can be compromised and demolished in moments.

“While I fully endorse the views that as a society, and as nation we have to continuously evolve and reform, and as the political leadership of the world’s largest democracy, we have to continuously think of improving, but I strongly believe that reforms are most successful and sustainable if carried out through a consultative process with all stakeholders, ensuring ownership of all,” said the Chief Minister.

He sought the Prime Minister’s indulgence in the matter with a request to advise the Department of Food & Public Distribution and the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, to initiate discussions and consultations with the stakeholders including the farmers, farm workers and the Arhtiyas to evolve a mutually acceptable system through consensus.

Captain Amarinder stressed that any reforms, including reduction in the time of transfer of the payment to the farmer/ direct payment to the farmers by the procurement agencies should be first discussed with all the stakeholders viz; farmers, Arhtiyas and the procurement agencies, “as any sudden changes that disturbs the existing arrangements may jeopardise the procurement operations, thereby not only affecting the food security of the nation, but also threatening the livelihood of millions of farmers, farm-workers and even traders.”

Pointing to the mutually dependent relationship between the farmers and the Arhtiyas that has developed over generations, the Chief Minister said it had helped the agrarian system, which was primitive and based on rudimentary literacy, to grow to the present levels. In fact, the relationship is a pivot on which the seamless procurement rotates, he noted, adding that Arhtiyas provide services like drying and cleaning the produce before it is offered for auction, and then bagging the produce and keeping it safely till it is lifted by the procuring agency. The Arhtiya thus provides services and performs the tasks that otherwise would be performed either by the farmers or the procuring agency, he said, adding that “these involve huge costs, which cannot be transferred to the farmers.”

He also drew the Prime Minister’s attention to the fact that the State of Punjab, in its efforts towards ensuring transparency in procurement and tracking payments made therein, has implemented an elaborate online Anaaj Kharid Portal (http://anaajkharid.in) in which all the farmers have been registered, and procurement is done through this portal. The payment to the Arhtia is made online through Anaaj Kharid Portal, and the payment made to farmers by the Arhtia is also recorded on the Portal, which is fully integrated with the PFMS Portal of the Government of India, he added.

Citing existing rules and court decisions, Captain Amarinder said both provided for a ‘freedom’ and ‘choice’ to the farmer for payment against his produce. Pointing out that every year about Rs 54,000 crores of payment is made to about 12.50 lakh farmers in two cropping seasons, he said that there have been no major complaints or reports of non-receipt of payment by farmers. Given the high levels of awareness and camaraderie amongst the farmers, it is difficult to say that the farmers are not aware or empowered in this regard, he added.

 


AMARINDER EXTENDS COVID CURBS IN PUNJAB TILL APRIL 10, ORDERS MOBILE VACCINATION CENTRES IN CROWDED PLACES

DIRECTS DISTRICTS TO RAMP UP TESTING, SPECIAL VACCINATION DRIVE FOR ELIGIBLE PRISONERS IN JAILS
COVID REVIEW MEET INFORMED THAT UK STRAIN FOUND TO BE MORE PREVALENT IN PUNJAB

Chandigarh  (Ozi Indian News Bureau) :       As Covid cases and deaths continue to escalate, with the UK strain emerging the most prevalent in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered extension of curbs till April 10, while directing the Health Department to increase the number of vaccination sites to target the priority categories on urgent basis.

          Reviewing the Covid situation with the Chief Secretary and other top officials, the Chief Minister said all restrictions that were in place till March 31 will now remain in force till April 10, after which they would be again reviewed.

          The Chief Minister also ordered the launch of a vaccination drive in the prisons, in the wake of 40 women in Patiala’s Nabha Open Jail testing positive for Coronavirus.

          Expressing grave concern over the situation, Captain Amarinder asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to issue the necessary directions for carrying out testing and vaccination in busy market areas along with other crowded places.  He asked all DCs and Civil Surgeons  to identify places where mobile Covid Vaccination Centres can be created, such as Police Lines, Colleges & Universities, bigger Industrial Units, Bus Stands, and Railway Stations, PRTC/ Punjab Roadways bus depots, market places, etc. to ramp up vaccination.

          All eligible govt employees, and other categories which he had requested for inclusion in vaccine coverage (such as judges, teachers etc), should be facilitated in getting vaccination to the extent of being eligible on account of being over 45 years of age, said the Chief Minister. He directed pooling of resources available in districts with high number of cases for effective management of the pandemic and uptake of the vaccination.

          Notably, the latest data shows the UK strain of the virus to be the most prevalent in the state. While 326 of the 401 Covid positive samples sent initially to NCDC for genome sequencing were found positive for the UK variant, subsequently of the  95 samples sent to IGIB for genome sequencing, 85 samples were found to be positive for the same

          Principal Secretary Health & Family Welfare (PSHFW) shared the updated status of Covid pandemic and the status of vaccination of the eligible categories of beneficiaries.  The meeting was informed that the positive cases and deaths were rising rapidly in some of the districts, with projections presented by CMC Ludhiana showing steep rise in the number of cases and peak around 6th April. The number would be decreasing by mid or late May, 2021, as per the estimates, which suggest that Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala are expected to contribute more cases and positivity is likely to be high in the younger population of 40 years of age or less.

          DGP Dinkar Gupta apprised that since the last meeting when the decision to challan the Covid protocol offenders along with RT-PCR testing was taken, 90,360 persons had been challaned and tested for Covid. He requested for a special vaccination drive in the police lines. 

          While the availability of L2 and L3 beds in Government as well as in private sectors seemed to be comfortable for now, there was need to increase the bed availability in some of the private hospitals which are treating critically-ill patients, the Chief Minister stressed. He also directed all districts to ramp up sampling in general and sampling of contacts of Covid positive patients in particular, increasing RAT to 30%.

          Strict monitoring of home isolation patients should be done, they should be transferred to the appropriate level of healthcare facilities if need be, directed the Chief Minister, asking all DCs and Civil Surgeons to ensure that no deaths occur in L2 facility as a rule, and there is early shifting of the patient to L3 facility once it is established that the patient needs critical care.

          All districts have also been asked to strengthen their teams so that the data entry of Covid sampling and transportation of samples to the designated Lab takes minimum time, and the result is made available within 24 hours.

          On the vaccination front, the Chief Minister directed that any photo ID shall be sufficient to approve the vaccination of eligible beneficiaries. All districts have been ordred to increase the number of vaccination centres by including all health facilities up to the Sub-Centre level, dispensaries, Ayurvedic and Homoeopathic healthcare facilities and private empanelled hospitals.

          While 45+ age group shall be slated for vaccination from 1st of April, 2021, all the districts shall ensure that all health facilities do get started as Covid Vaccination Centres as early as possible and latest by 31.3.2021 with a view to understand the infrastructural bottlenecks, if any, so that there is smooth increase in the number of vaccination centres and the beneficiaries get hassle free vaccination experience.

          All districts have also been advised to motivate all HCWs and FLWs to get themselves vaccinated and those who do not get vaccinated, should be strictly directed to undergo Covid testing every week to ensure that they do not get infected and thereby spread infection to others, the Chief Secretary disclosed after the virtual meeting.

          Dr K.K. Talwar, Adviser Health & Medical Education to the Government of Punjab has suggested that routine non-Covid treatment in some of the selected private hospitals may be deferred by 2-4 weeks, and more ambulance be made available to the District Hospitals where there are no Medical Colleges.

          The Chief Minister was assured that the Health department is ready to increase RT-PCR testing to 35,000 tests per day.


KKR Players Celebrate Holi At Their Camp Ahead Of IPL 2021

Kolkata, March 29 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : The Indian Premier League is set to begin from April 9, 2021. All the teams are gearing up to give their best in the competition. Amid all this, many cricketers are celebrating Holi. The Kolkata Knight Riders team is celebrating the festival of colours. Ben Cutting, Abhiskhek Nayar were amongst the players who were seen celebrating the Holi at the KKR camp.


KKR Tweeted images of the players with the caption: “Leave it to the Knights to bring some colour to your screens!


NCP Superemo Sharad Pawar admit in hospital after abdominal pain, to undergo surgery

Mumbai, March 29 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Sharad Pawar will undergo surgery at a hospital in Mumbai after it was diagnosed that he has gall bladder issue.

Sharad Pawar was feeling a little uneasy due to a pain in his abdomen last evening and was therefore taken to Breach Candy Hospital for a check-up. Upon diagnosis it came to light that he has a problem in his Gall Bladder.
NCP leader Nawab Malik tweeted "He is on Blood Thinning Medication which is now being stopped due to this issue. He will be admitted to the hospital on the 31st of March 2021 and an Endoscopy and Surgery will be conducted. Hence all his programmes stand cancelled until further notice," the minister added.


Punjab Governor Condemns attack on BJP MLA Arun Narang

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian News Bureau) A delegation of BJP leaders lead by Shri.Ashwani Sharma, State BJP Chief and Shri. Som Prakash, Union Minister, called on the Governor and submitted a memorandum. The memorandum highlighted the increasing attacks on BJP workers and leaders in illegal and unconstitutional manners at the behest of the Congress Govenment. 

          The delegation brought to the notice of the Governor the violent attack on BJP MLA Shri.Arun Narang, by politically motivated miscreants backed by ruling party. The delegation called for the dismissal of the Congress Government and restoration of law and order in the State.

          Governor called up the Chief Minister who is also the Home Minister and conveyed his serious concern on the matter. 

          The Governor condemned the latest attack on Shri. Arun Narang BJP MLA. He said the State Government authorities cannot allow such blatantly unlawful and violent attacks on anybody. Governor said these kinds of incidents should not repeat and strong action should be taken immediately to book the culprits. He also sought a report from the State government on the action being taken on these matters.


PUNJAB POLICE BUST INTER-STATE SEX RACKET IN LUDHIANA, 14 PERSONS INCLUDING 10 GIRLS ARRESTED

Ludhiana (Ozi Indian Bureau) : In an early morning operation, Punjab Police on Saturday busted an inter-state sex racket active in Ludhiana with arrest of 14 persons including 10 girls alongwith the lady kingpin already on bail in similar case who used to target needy girls out of jobs due to Covid lockdowns from city and outside forcing them into prostitution.

Antecedents of girls found involved in the flesh trade have been traced back to as far as Nepal, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Chandigarh & Amritsar and further investigations are on to unearth the complete area of their operations, ADCP-4 Ludhiana Rupinder Kaur Sran who led the operation. We have also recovered restricted drugs Etizolam and Escitalopram Oxalate tablets which are only allowed on prescription and the accused are being interrogated to ascertain the source of their supply, the ADCP added.

Initial investigations have also revealed the names of similar operatives in other cities with whom the main accused and her girls were in touch to widen their net, Sran said adding all these angles were being probed and more arrests were likely.

Twenty tablets of Etizolam and Escitalopram Oxalate tablets besides 5 pieces of Spanisshe Fliege sex drops were seized. Seven mobile phones, 28 packets of condoms, besides Rs 3630 and two liquor bottles have also been seized from the spot.

Commissioner of Police Ludhiana Rakesh Agrawal had constituted a special team under ADCP Ludhiana IV Rupinder Kaur Sran, with SHO Mohammad Jamil its member. An FIR No. 46, dated 6-03-2021, u/s 3,4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1956, PS Tibba has been registered in this case.

Giving details about the raid, ADCP Rupinder Kaur Sran said that a tip-off was received about flesh trade activity being run by the accused and her movements were kept under watch. The main accused has been identified as Manjit Kaur alias Pammi aunty resident of street number 10 New Subhash Nagar and was also arrested in a similar case lodged at Police Station Jodhewal in 2018. Three men were also arrested from the house during the raid who had come there as customers.

She was on bail now and was running the illegal activity from her house only by luring young needy girls into prostitution. Modus operandi was to engage girls once into her net to target more needy girls out of work due to Covid lockdown and force them into prostitution. Of those arrested, one girl from Delhi was lured into the trade because she could not repay the loan she had taken from a relative to make ends meet during Covid, while another girl was picked up by the main accused from a city Gurdwara she was visiting at the pretext of job offer. These girls back home used to tell their family members that they were working in a factory or performing in marriage parties, Sran added.


PUNJAB CM ANNOUNCES OPEN-ENDED MINI BUS PERMIT POLICY FOR RURAL YOUTH, WITH NO DEADLINE FOR APPLYING

Chandigarh, February 24 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday announced an ‘Open-Ended Mini Bus Permit Policy’, with no deadline for rural youth to apply for such a permit, while laying foundation stones of Rs 55.16 crore worth of high-tech State Transport Department institutes, including home delivery of driving licences.

The Chief Minister also virtually launched distribution of 3000 mini bus permits for the rural youth to give a boost to the ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgar te Karobar’ mission, with token presentation of permits to 5 beneficiaries. He said that while 3000 permits were being handed over today, while another 8000 would follow through the rest of the year, taking the total to be distributed by the end of the year to 11000, generating both direct and indirect employment.

Captain Amarinder directed the Transport Department to create a user-friendly online facility within the next three months for receipt and processing of applications of all bus permits to make the system far more transparent and eliminate corruption.

These novel initiatives will go a long way in providing smooth rural connectivity and seamless delivery of citizen centric services, said the Chief Minister, lambasting the previous SAD-BJP regime for issuing illegal permits to chosen people without due publicity or adherence to legal procedures/rules.

Recalling that his government had promised cancellation of all illegal bus permits to ensure that genuine people get the benefit of the scheme, Captain Amarinder said under the transparent system adopted by the Transport Department, a public notice for mini bus permits was issued for the first time ever in newspapers. People were encouraged to apply online without any hassle, and as many as 12,384 applications were received.

Congratulating Transport Minister Razia Sultana and the officers of the department, Captain Amarinder said that they had set the ball rolling to achieve five-fold objective to create employment opportunity for rural youth, make travel safer for women and children, ensure vehicular traffic safer for travellers and pedestrians, reduce vehicular pollution and door step delivery of government services. The fast-paced changes in technology, where transport had now reached the Mars, necessitated new initiatives, he said., adding that Vehicle Location Tracking (GPS) Device Project, launched at a cost of Rs.15.50 crore would make travel safer for women and children in public transport vehicles. He disclosed that 100% such devices had already been installed in PUNBUS Buses and 50% in PRTC buses, which would be fully covered in the next six months. Razia said the GPS system would be installed soon in private buses too.

The Chief Minister also referred to the state-of-the-art Command Control Centre at State level and 4 Regional Centres to track the vehicles, and said this would facilitate handling of panic button alerts by any woman/child, online challan for over-speeding vehicle without HSRP fitment, absence of valid insurance & Pollution certificate etc.

On the occasion, the Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of the Institute of Driving and Traffic Research (IDTR) Kapurthala at a cost of Rs. 22.50 crore under Mission ‘Ghar Ghar Rozgaar te Karobar’, with training capacity of 20,000 drivers annually to impart quality training to rural youth, and thus generate employment avenues as skilled drivers within the country and abroad, besides creating qualified trainer base for drivers and instructors of other training institutes. He said the instituted had been planned during his previous tenure and he was happy that it had been realised now.

The upcoming training institute, to be managed by Tata Motors, would be equipped with camera based Innovative Driving Testing System (IDTS) to assess the driving skills of the candidates. The institute, having residential accommodation for 75 participants, would also have driving simulators with motion/static platforms.

The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of Vehicle Inspection and Certification Centre, Kapurthala at a cost of Rs. 17.16 crore with the aim to safeguard the passengers and pedestrians, besides reducing vehicular pollution. The Centre, with capacity to inspect 72,000 vehicles annually, would test the road worthiness of vehicles before driving, among other important features such as online appointment for vehicle testing, replacement of visual inspection with automated sensor based testing equipment, automatic inspection report after completion of inspection report without any human intervention.

He pointed out that Punjab witnessed a gradual decline in parameter of road accidents per lakh population from 23.9 against national average of 36.9 in 2016 as compared to 21.7 and 34.9 respectively in 2018. Likewise, road deaths per lakh population in Punjab have also come down from 11.6 against national average of 17.4 in 2016 to 11.3 against national average of 16 in 2018.

While inaugurating home delivery of driving licenses and Registration Certificates (RCs), the Chief Minister said that Punjab is the first state in the Country to implement this unique system. He stated that a Centralized Card Personalization Centre (CCPC) has been established at Chandigarh, where all smart card based driving licenses and RCs would be centrally printed before being home delivered.

Earlier in his welcome address, Principal Secretary Transport K Siva Parsad said the doorstep delivery would be instrumental in checking corruption and elimination of illegal touts and agents. He said now citizens would no longer be required to visit transport offices to collect documents and this would ultimately decrease the work load in Regional Transport Authorities (RTAs) and SDM offices.

PPCC president Sunil Jakhar termed today’s initiatives the fulfillment of the party’s promise, and lauded the Captain Amarinder government for the remarkable job done by it despite all odds. Transport was a major business and revenue earner for the state, extending from Amritsar to London to Mumbai, but in the previous decade it had been taken over by the Badals, who monopolised the business despite being custodians of the people’s faith, he said, underlining the need to destroy the chain.

Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included; Member Parliament from Fatehgarh Sahib Dr. Amar Singh, President Punjab Youth Congress Barinder Singh Dhillon, Industries & Commerce Minister Sunder Sham Arora and Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu.


Punjab Government 22 Ambulances to provide emergency services in congested areas

Chandigarh (Ozi Indian Bureau) : To provide emergency services in congested areas of cities, the Health & Family Welfare Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu on Tuesday flagged off 22 small Ambulances for each district of Punjab.

Disclosing this here today, Mr. Sidhu said that these Ambulances will be used apart from Ambulances running under 108 help-line. These will be helpful for operation in small narrow lanes to ensure quick emergency services to the patients. He said that each van accommodates 5 attendants apart from patient and driver with easy manoeuvrability in city conditions.

The Ambulance is factory fitted with all the essential equipment including foldable stretcher cum trolley, medical kit box, provision for oxygen cylinder with internal lighting and announcement system, he added.

To fulfill the shortage of ambulances in the government hospitals, Mr. Sidhu said that the health department had procured new 180 more ambulances and all 22 Districts have their independent ALS Ambulances (Advance Life Support) which are fully equipped with life-saving equipment such as Ventilators, Defibrillators, Multi-Para Patient Monitor, Suction Machine, Nebulizers etc. 

He said that now, the Health department has a total of 422 Ambulances in its fleet to cover all areas of cities and villages. 

The Minister said that these  ambulances proved, one of the main pillars to fight the pandemic by reducing the time required for transit of critical patients to required health facilities. He said that at a time when the numbers of positive patients are expected to increase, the addition of these new ambulances will further give a boost to fight the pandemic.

Mr. Sidhu divulged that these ambulances in the State have been deputed at Strategic places and efforts are being made in case of  Emergency, Ambulances would reach the place within 20 minutes in Urban areas.


RECRUITMENT IN HEALTH DEPARTMENT PUNJAB UNDER GHAR-GHAR ROZGAR YOJNA


Chandigarh 19 February (Ozi Indian Bureau) :  Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu on Friday handed over the appointment letters to 771 new Community Health Officers (CHOs) for extending healthcare services at Health & Wellness Centres (HCWs) under the Ghar Ghar Rozgar Yojna initiated by Chief Minister Captian Amarinder Singh.

            Disclosing this on the occasion, Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that Punjab had earlier operationalized 1607 Tandrust Punajab Sehat Kendra (HWCs) at the village level which would now go up to 2378. He said that Punjab Government has already achieved the target of 142% to set up new HWCs/Sub-Centres across the State.

            Welcoming the newly joined staff in the Health Department, Mr. Sidhu urged them to perform the duties honestly. He said that CHOs have been providing the Comprehensive Primary Health Services to people of Rural areas and they did a remarkable job during the lockdown.

            Briefing about the services being provided at these Tandrust Punjab Sehat Kendras, he said that 27 essential medicines and 6 Diagnostics tests/ services are available at these centres. As HWCs.have penetrated the remotest area of the State, the program is already fulfilling the basic primary and quality health care needs of the families living in such areas.

            The special focus of HWCs is on screening people for chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma, etc, and provides free of cost medicines for the same. He said that when the patient put on treatment by the CHOs, it provides permanent relief to him/her and also reduces the burden on the secondary health services.  

            Speaking on the occasion Principal Secretary Health Mr. Hussan Lal welcomed the new Community Health Officers. He also said that Punjab has managed the COVID-19 pandemic very well and this became possible only because of the selfless services of our Health and frontline workers.

            On the occasion, Special Secretary Health Mr. Amit Kumar, Director Health and Family Welfare Dr. GB Singh, OSD to Health Minister, Dr.Balwinder Singh, Political Secretary/Health Minister Mr. Harkesh Sharma, Director National Health Mission Dr.Areet Kaur, and other senior officers of the department were present as well.


CARRYING YOUR RC AND DL BECOMES EASY IN PUNJAB : Documents on mParivahan and DigiLocker treated as valid

Chandigarh, February 19 (Ozi Indian News Bureau) : Now, vehicle owners have an option to carry digital copies of their Driving Licences (DLs) and Registration Certificates (RCs) in the state, as the Punjab Transport Department has allowed the electronic format of DLs and RCs.

Giving this information, Punjab Transport Minister Ms. Razia Sultana said that driving licences and vehicle registration certificates can be produced through mobile apps- mParivahan and DigiLocker, if law enforcement authorities like the traffic police and RTOs will ask for these documents during on the spot inspection. It will enable vehicle owners not to carry the plastic cards or physical copies.

A letter has been issued by State Transport Commissioner to all Secretaries of Punjab State Regional Transport Authorities/SDMs and ADGP traffic to sensitize the checking staff of police department in this regard, said the cabinet minister, while asking the officials to ensure that "virtual" driving licences and vehicle registration certificates on smartphones will be authenticated on the spot verification.

Ms. Razia Sultana directed that the information regarding allowing ‘virtual’ DLs and RCs should be put on the notice boards of the transport offices in the state to aware the general public. Besides, realizing the Digital Punjab drive, this system will also eliminate corruption and will help the people to avoid hefty fines in case of non-availability of hard copy of DL and RC, she added.

State Transport Commissioner Dr. Amarpal Singh further informed that if anyone forget driving licence/vehicle registration certificate at home or misplaced or waiting for delivery of printed smart chip DL or RC than no need to worry, just download the app mParivahan or DigiLocker and save your virtual DL or RC. This is now absolutely valid and can be shown at the time of checking.

He said that the moment applicant’s RC or DL is approved by registering and licencing authority, he/she get a message on phone about the approval and that can be downloaded  in the app.


Dedicated efforts fructified in form of change in the mind set as well as the trust being reposed by people in the reforms in school education: Education minister

Chandigarh, February 4 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : It is official now that Punjab has emerged as a pioneer state in the country which has succeeded in bringing in revolutionary qualitative improvement in school education during the past three years. As per the Economic survey 2021, Punjab has reported the highest attendance rate in the country of 61.6 percent of the children in the age group of 3-5 years i.e. early childhood education.

Punjab school education minister Mr. Vijay Inder Singla said, "Incredible as it may seem, but presently, Punjab is witnessing a renaissance era in school education. With a view to strengthen the foundation of learning level from the very beginning, our government, under the stewardship of Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, is also the first in the country to start pre-primary classes on November 14, 2017. This achievement also mark the continuous efforts of the schools teachers as well who have been working hard to transform the government schools"

Mr. Vijay Inder Singla said that the dedicated efforts have fructified in form of overwhelming response from the community as in academic session 2018-19 the enrollment in pre-primary was 2.13 lakh, in 2019-20 it rose to 2.25 lakh and in the current academic session, 2020-21, the government schools have witnessed unprecedented enrollment of around 3.30 lakh students. He added that it indicated the change in the mind set as well as the trust being reposed by people in the reforms in school education in Punjab.

Mr. Singla said that moreover, keeping in view the positive change in the public mindset, which could be gauged from increase in enrollment, the Punjab government has started recruitment of 8393 pre-primary teachers.

The cabinet minister said that the pre-primary classrooms in about 13000 government schools of the state have been equipped with state of the art "Khed Mahals"( Model Class Rooms) by releasing abundant grants so that the tiny tots could be taught with a play way method. He added that in tastefully decorated Model Classrooms, toys, LED projectors for facilitating digital education have also been provided to make learning a joyful experience for the students. He said that besides, the material for the Psychomotor skills, outdoor activities like Slides, Swings, See-Saw, Balance Beam and social, intellectual and creative games etc. have been provided for the tiny tots.

Mr Singla said, "It also includes teaching learning activities focused on concepts around pre-reading, pre-number and writing, drawing etc. to ensure a conducive environment to the children for having better understanding, comprehension, vocabulary and oral expression. Teachers were imparted special training for nourishing the tiny tots during the pre-school. It also aims at creating awareness in the community regarding the importance of pre-school education and enhancing enrollment."

The school education minister said that though the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is unfortunate as it had forced the closure of schools and forced to maintain social distancing but the Education Department has succeeded in transforming it into an opportunity as the teachers accepted the challenge to prove their mettle. He said that they explored new vistas of latest digital applications and other innovative methods to reach out to students and their parents.

"The sacred bond between the teachers and the students in particular and society in general have been strengthened manifold during the turbulent period as the society has come to know how much caring the govt. school teachers are for the well-being of their students," Mr. Vijay Inder Singla said.


AS CBI FINALLY HANDS OVER SACRILEGE CASE FILES TO PUNJAB POLICE, CM SAYS AKALI ROLE IN SCUTTLING PROBE EXPOSED

AS CBI FINALLY HANDS OVER SACRILEGE CASE FILES TO PUNJAB POLICE, CM SAYS AKALI ROLE IN SCUTTLING PROBE EXPOSED



SAYS HANDING OVER OF PAPERS WITHIN MONTHS OF SAD WALKOUT FROM CENTRE SHOWS CBI WAS WORKING UNDER THEIR PRESSURE



Chandigarh, February 4:

Within months of the Akalis walking out of the Union Government, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday finally handed to the state police papers relating to the sacrilege cases, which Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said clearly exposed that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had been scuttling the process to prevent their complicity in the cases from being exposed.

The documents and files relating to the cases were handed over to the Punjab Police hours before the deadline set by Punjab and Haryana High Court for the CBI to do so was to expire. Notably, the Director Bureau of Investigation had written to Director CBI on January 18, 2021 to return the entire record to the State police without any further delay after withdrawal of investigation of sacrilege cases from CBI and consequent return of the entire record including evidence gathered in cases transferred to CBI on November 2, 2015 vide notification no.7/52113-2H4/619055/1.

The Chief Minister termed it a victory for the state government and an endorsement of its stand that the CBI had, all these months, been trying to scuttle the investigation by the Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Punjab Police at behest of SAD, which was part of the ruling NDA at the Centre till September 2020.

“It is clear now that Harsimrat Badal, as union minister, had been pressurising the central agency to obstruct the SIT probe by refusing to hand over the case files as she knew that her party’s role in the entire affair would be exposed once the police take the investigation to its logical conclusion,” said Captain Amarinder.

SAD’s complicity in the 2015 cases and their subsequent efforts to scuttle a fair and free probe would now be exposed with the completion of the SIT probe, he said, asserting that all those found guilty would be identified and punished under the law. Nobody will be spared, irrespective of their political affiliation or position, he declared.

Pointing out that his government had withdrawn consent to CBI to probe the cases as far back as in 2018, after the Vidhan Sabha unanimously resolved to do so, the Chief Minister said the SIT was also constituted then to take over the investigation. The central agency had, for more than two years, been persistently refusing to hand the case files back to state, he said, adding that the agency, which had earlier filed a closure report in the matter, went on to constitute a new investigative team in September 2019 with the clear and obvious aim of preventing the state government from conducting its own impartial, fair and speedy probe, he added.

The shocking part, according to the Chief Minister, was that the CBI adamantly refused to hand over the case diaries even after the High Court, in January 2019, upheld the state government’s decision, and again, in February 2020, the Supreme Court dismissed CBI’s appeal challenging the HC judgement. “Why else would CBI have behaved in this manner had it not been under political pressure from the Akalis, who clearly did not want the probe to be completed,” he asked, adding that SAD’s acts of omission and commission would now be exposed with the SIT no longer obstructed due to the absence of the case files.

The incidents of sacrilege occurred between June to October 2015 following theft of the sacred Guru Granth Sahib from a Gurudwara in Burj Jawaharsinghwala, Faridkot and discovery of torn pages from the Holy Book in Bargari, Faridkot. They caused widespread discontent and outrage amongst members of the Sikh community.

These incidents led to large-scale protests and agitations in October 2015. The retaliatory action taken by the police led to injuries and death of two persons. In 2015, the Akali Dal Government had transferred investigation of the sacrilege incident to the CBI. Retd. Justice Zora Singh Commission was appointed to inquire into the incidents of sacrilege and police action in the protests, and a report was submitted to the Government in 2016.

After the Congress Government came to power in 2017, finding the report of Retd. Justice Zora Singh to be inconclusive, the Government appointed a fresh Commission of Inquiry, Retd. Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, who submitted a report in 2018.


COVID Vaccination Drive Day 3: IGP Bathinda, CP Amritsar, 9 SSPs among 1146 Police Personnel get jab

Chandigarh, February 4 (Raftaar News Bureau):   The number of Police Personnel turning up at vaccination centres for COVID-19 vaccination has seen a big rise, with 1146 cops across the state getting the Covid vaccine jab on Thursday. A total of 1611 Police Personnel have been vaccinated across the state, mostly in two days.

            Jalandhar Police Commissionerate secured the top rank with 213 police personnel turned up to get Covid vaccine shot in a single day while 123 cops got a jab in Mansa followed by 101 cops in Ludhiana City.

            Inspector General of Police (IGP) Bathinda Jaskaran Singh and Commissioner of Police (CP) Amritsar Sukhchain Singh Gill besides nine Senior Superintendent of Police (SSPs) and three Commandants were among the senior police officers to get the COVID-19 vaccine on Day 3.

            Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab Dinkar Gupta appreciated all the Police Personnel, who voluntarily came forward to get themselves vaccinated to protect themselves as well as the citizens of Punjab from the COVID pandemic.

Meanwhile, the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination drive for Frontline Workers was launched by the Chief Minister Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh at Police Headquarters here on Tuesday.


Three IPS officers promoted as IGPs, two as DIGs in Punjab

Chandigarh, February 4 (Ozi Indian Bureau) : The Punjab government on Thursday, promoted five Indian Police Service (IPS) officers to Inspector General of Police (IGPs) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGs).


Three IPS officers of 2003 batch including Sukhchain Singh Gill, currently posted as Commissioner of Police (CP) Amritsar, Ashish Choudhary, presently on central deputation serving National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Ranbir Singh Khatra, currently posted as Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Jalandhar range have been promoted as IGPs.



While, two IPS officers including Dhanpreet Kaur (2006 batch), presently on central deputation and S. Boopathi (2007 batch), currently posted as Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Personnel-1 at Punjab Police Headquarters have been promoted as DIGs.



Meanwhile, the directly recruited IPS officers get promotion as IGP on completion of 18 years in service while on completing 14 years in service an IPS officer elevated as DIG.


COMPLAINANT TURNED OUT TO BE PERPETRATOR OF TIBBA ROAD SACRILEGE


* SEWA SINGH CLAIMS HE CARRIED OUT THE ACT TO GAIN INSTANT POPULARITY

* LUDHIANA POLICE CRACKS CASE WITHIN HOURS OF THE UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT


Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : An unfortunate incident of sacrilege was reported around 7 pm on 2.11.20 when one Sewa Singh, an 18 year old resident of Suttantar Nagar, Ludhiana, informed Baldev Singh, President of Suttantar Nagar Gurudwara that some torn angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib had been found scattered in a Paddy field in Prem Vihar, Jan Shakti Nagar area of Police Station Tibba, Ludhiana. On receiving this information, police party immediately responded and reached the spot, and FIR no.178 u/s 295-A, 34 IPC was registered on statement of Baldev Singh, President of Singh Sabha Gurudwara, Suttantar Nagar, Ludhiana.

Disclosing this a spokesperson of Punjab Police said that accused Sewa Singh had also told Baldev Singh that he had seen two motorcycle borne moving away from the spot. The scanning of CCTV footage of CCTV cameras installed in the area showed that there hadn’t been any movement of any motorcycle in that area around the reported time. Thus, his various claims and statements regarding the torn angs of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji raised suspicion.



He added that on further questioning by Ludhiana police, Sewa Singh confessed that he had himself thrown the angs of a Sanchi Sahib and Gutka Sahib on the spot. On search of his house, the original Sanchi Sahib and Gutka Sahib from which Angs had been torn by Sewa Singh were recovered by the Police, alongwith residents of the area as independent witnesses. A suitcase was also recovered from basement of his house, in which torn Angs of an old Gutka Sahib had been kept. All the torn angs of Gutka Sahib and Sanchi Sahib of SGGS were thus gathered with due maryada, care and respect by S. Baldev Singh, Pardhan Gurudwara Sahib, Suttantar Nagar.



The spokesperson further added that preliminary investigations have revealed that Sewa Singh had joined a WhatsApp group Guru Nanak Sewa Dal. He came in contact with a web channel named as Punjab Star Daily, Sach diyan Tarangan, which was being operated by a person from Batala. Another member of the Whatsapp group, who was an employee of Punjab Star Daily contacted him and motivated him to share news items for his web channel. Sewa Singh sent 3-4 news items to Punjab Star but most of the news items were not published by the news channel.



He further informed that on 2nd November, in a bid to become popular and famous overnight, Sewa Singh decided to commit a sacrilege incident, portray it as having committed by someone else and then become the first one to highlight the sacrilege incident on Punjab Star Daily web channel. He brought Angs of Sanchi Sahib ji and Gutka Sahib ji from his house and scattered them in the open field in Prem Nagar area of Tibba, Ludhiana. He also shot a video from his phone for circulation as a Punjab Star Daily web channel.



Investigation and subsequent recoveries have shown that Sewa Singh had committed the incident in fulfillment of his personal motives and the unfortunate case has been traced with arrest of the accused. A forensic team from Chandigarh visited the spot for forensic examination and analysis of the spot as well as the recovered items. Further investigations are in progress.



He added that liaison was also established with Dharam Prachar Committee of SGPC and Gutka Sahib and Sanchi Sahib were handed over to them for proper custody, as per maryada. Police produced the accused in court and got two days police remand for further investigations.


PUNJAB MINISTERS CASTIGATE BJP FOR MISLEADING FARMERS WITH SHOCKING LIES TO SAVE THEIR SKIN


· ‘DID CM ALSO MISLEAD YOUR LEADERS INTO QUITTING IN BJP’, THEY ASK SHARMA, TRASHING HIS ATROCIOUS ACCUSATIONS


Chandigarh (Ozi Indian TV Desk) : Punjab Cabinet Ministers on Monday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its atrocious charges against the Chief Minister, saying it was the BJP state leadership that was misleading the farmers and spreading shocking lies to save their skin, after being completely cornered on the issue of the draconian Farm Laws.

Not only was the BJP in Punjab trying desperately to fool the farmers with regard to the agricultural laws of the central government but their leaders and workers were actively indulging in brazen falsehoods in a bid to exploit the sensitive and critical issue to promote their political interests, the Cabinet Ministers said in a joint statement. The fact of the matter was that the BJP was trying to incite farmers against the Chief Minister for their own political gains, they said.

In a hard-hitting reaction to BJP Punjab president Ashwani Sharma’s accusations against Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Ministers said it was obvious that the leaders of the party, which was at the centre of the ill-conceived Farm Laws, were either oblivious to the concerns of the farmers or simply did not care. “The farmers don’t need any instigation. They are hurt and shocked at the treatment being meted out to them by the BJP-led central government. They are fighting to save their livelihood and to survive. But clearly, Sharma, like other BJP leaders, has no realisation of this,” they said.

The Ministers scorned the allegation of the Congress government in Punjab, headed by Captain Amarinder, being responsible for the continued farmer protests and suspension of the goods trains. “Did we also mislead all those BJP leaders in the state who have quit in protest against the Farm Laws in recent days?” they asked, trashing Sharma’s accusation that the Chief Minister was misleading farmers as ridiculous to the extreme. Recalling that the Centre had not suspended movement of trains in Punjab even during the dark days of terrorism, the Ministers said the reasons of law and order cited by the Railways in the present instance was inexplicable, especially since the farmers had already announced their decision to allow transport of supplies by trains.

Pointing out that the security and safety of trains was the responsibility of the Railway Protection Force (RPF), with the state government having no say in the matter, the Ministers asked what the Captain Amarinder government had to do with the safe movement of trains. This was not the first time tracks had been blocked by farmers in a state, they said, adding that instances of such blockades had been reported in many places, irrespective of the government in power, even in the past. “So does that mean the chief minister of that state becomes responsible,” they quipped.

In any case, said the Ministers, it was illogical to even contemplate a chief minister indulging in an act that was causing massive economic losses to this own state, besides causing misery to his own people. That is not the way Congress chief ministers function, they said, quipping that “perhaps that’s the way of BJP chief ministers.”

Punjab’s industry is suffering, its agriculture is suffering, and the economy, which is already severely impacted by the Centre’s failure to release the state’s dues amid Covid, is further crashing day by day as a result of the suspension of the goods trains by the Railways, the Ministers pointed out. In such circumstances, it was foolhardy to even think of Captain Amarinder indulging in politics instead of trying hard to resolve the crisis, they added, asking the BJP leader to stop playing with the sentiments of the farmers, who were already going through unprecedented anguish and pain.

Reacting to Sharma’s allegation of Captain Amarinder failing to maintain law and order in the state, the Ministers suggested that the BJP Punjab chief should go and speak to the people, who had seen first-hand under the SAD-BJP regime what failure of law and order means. Captain Amarinder had successfully ended the goonda and mafia raj that prevailed during the Akali-BJP government, and ushered in an era of peace in which people could breathe freely, without fear, and industry and investment was coming back, they pointed out.

Citing the Chief Minister’s repeated statements urging all parties to rise above politics to resolve the crisis in the interest of not just the state but the nation, the Ministers said it was unfortunate that instead of responding positively, the BJP continued to indulge in political games at the cost of the farmers. But the farmers of Punjab know who is indulging in hypocrisy and who is sincere to their cause, they added.