Chandigarh, August 10:-Rejecting outright his charges of vindictiveness in the withdrawal of Pratap Singh Bajwa’s security by the Punjab Government, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said it was a routine exercise based on a periodic review of his threat assessment, as provided in the State Security Policy of 2013 after he was provided Z category security by the Centre in March this year.

While his government would never deny security to any person genuinely in need, it could not afford to spare police personnel unnecessarily, particularly when the force was under severe constraints and stress amid the Covid pandemic, said the Chief Minister.

Pointing out that his government was providing security to the Badals in view of the specific threat inputs indicating a threat to their security, as per the threat assessment carried out by Central & State governments, Captain Amarinder said Bajwa’s complaint on this account was petty and frivolous, and not based on facts.

The Chief Minister said the high threat perception for the Badals had necessitated a complement of Punjab Police security, in addition to their Z plus security provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India. There was no comparison between their case and that of Bajwa, who was not a categorised protectee of the Punjab government in the absence of any specific inputs indicating any threat to him from any terrorist or militant outfit operating in the country. With Punjab Police intel showing that he was not facing any specific terrorist or militant threat, Bajwa was only entitled to the positional security cover of an MP, as provided in the State Security Policy approved by the Cabinet in 2013, he added.

Nevertheless, said Captain Amarinder, the Congress MP had continued to have a security detail of 14 persons, with one escort Gypsy with driver, as on March 23, 2020, when some of the personnel were withdrawn for Covid duty. Post March 23, 2020, Bajwa continued to have six security persons (3 Cdo, 2 Armed Bn and 1 of Distt. ), and 1 Gypsy escort with driver.

However, on March 19, 2020, MHA decided to provide Bajwa with Z category security with CISF cover. Initially, only a small component was deployed by CISF due to Covid but this week, they took over his security in full strength, including PSOs, House Protection guard and Escort component. In all, the CISF has presently deployed total of 25 persons + 2 escort drivers and Scorpio vehicle as escort for Bajwa, as per laid down norms for Z category protectees.

Captain Amarinder said that the full deployment of CISF security had necessitated a fresh review of the present situation by the Police and the subsequent withdrawal of the state-level security for the MP, especially in view of the fact that there are no specific threat inputs indicating any threat to him from any terrorist or militant organisations active within India, on the record of the State government.

The exercise was purely a routine periodical security review of the Punjab Police, conducted in consultation with the central agency, as is regularly carried out for all protectees in view of the dynamic and changing situation, said the Chief Minister. He termed as inexplicable Bajwa’s attempt to link this review with his the confrontation with the state government, which, in fact, he had himself chosen to trigger, without any basis.

He made it clear that his government could not afford to oblige Bajwa in this matter, given that the Punjab Police was currently neck deep in handing different kinds of security and other challenges as a border state, including Covid, cross-border terrorism, dropping of weapons and drugs across the Punjab border and the liquor mafia, especially when nearly 1000 cops in the state had been affected by the Coronavirus.

Captain Amarinder pointed out that all protectees and VIPs in the state, including himself, have had to lose some of their security component as 6500 police personnel had to be withdrawn for district and Covid duty. Their security has actually been reduced, unlike Bajwa who, in fact, now has a bigger security team than he had earlier, he added. The Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that Bajwa had chosen to look at his security force as a symbol of prestige and birth-right, which it definitely was not.



Chandigarh, August 10:Acceding to the request of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Government of India has given in-principle approval for setting up a National Institute of Virology Centre for the north zone in Punjab.

At present, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune is the only institution in the country capable of providing a well-coordinated medical and public health response to such an emergency.

The Chief Minister, who had proposed the Centre some weeks back in the light of the Covid pandemic, welcomed the approval, saying the Centre would prove to be a milestone to boost research in the field of virology, make India future ready to predict and detect viruses at the earliest so that necessary preventive steps can be taken. Captain Amarinder further said that this Centre would also go a long way in addressing the requirements of the northern region including the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, UP and UTs of Chandigarh and J&K.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister's office said that the Centre’s letter of in-principle approval had been received by State Chief Secretary from Secretary to Government of India, Department of Health Research of Ministry of India-cum-Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Prof. (Dr.) Balram Bhargava. He has requested the State Government to identify about 25 acres of land on long lease so as to enable ICMR to set up this prestigious centre at the earliest.

Notably, Captain Amarinder had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 10 requesting him to direct the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to set up the proposed centre, which would focus on addressing regional, national and global needs in virology, diagnostic, research and therapeutic evaluations to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chief Minister had proposed a specialised Centre in Medicity, New Chandigarh, which would be well placed to serve the interests of the North-Western region given Chandigarh’s international air connectivity. He also pointed out that the centre could easily be incubated in PGIMER, which is located only 7-8 kilometers from the proposed Medicity.

An approximate amount of Rs. 400 crore would be required for the Centre with BSL-3 facility and an additional Rs. 150 crore would be needed for the BSL-4 facility excluding the land, which would be provided by the Government of Punjab.

Pointing to the unprecedented crisis faced by the country amid Covid-19, the Chief Minister hoped that this Centre would be instrumental in providing diagnostic support, undertake research in basic virology, build capacity in the field of virology to promote universal health coverage, develop rapid and affordable quality diagnostic assays for viral diseases, besides introduction of teaching courses for the M. Sc Medical Virology and DM, Virology.




Chandigarh, August 10:On the Chief Minister's directives, the vigorous checking by the Enforcement Wing of Taxation Department led to imposition of penalty worth Rs.4.12 crore on 310 defaulter vehicles out of total 348 during the month of July 2020 especially amid trying circumstances of Covid-19.

Notably, the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has already given stern instructions to the Taxation Department not to be complacent on the part of tax evasion.

While reviewing the performance of the Taxation Department, the Commissioner Taxation Nilkanth S. Avhad appreciated the efforts of the Enforcement Wing in detecting the GST evasions thus preventing the loss to State exchequer. He categorically asked the officers not to compromise on the tax collection at any cost and should take on the tax evaders to mop up state's revenue.

According to a spokesperson of the Taxation Department, the penalty of Rs. 1.76 Crore on Vehicles carrying iron scrap, Rs. 1.12 Crore on Vehicles carrying iron and steel finished goods, Rs. 65 Lakh on Vehicles carrying (parchoon)/mixed items, Rs. 15.5 Lakh on Vehicles carrying Aluminium scrap/Copper scrap, Rs. 7.5 Lakh on Vehicles carrying Cigarette/Tobacco products and Rs. 34.81 Lakh on Vehicles carrying miscellaneous items, has been imposed during July 2020.

Divulging further, the spokesperson stated that in terms of commodity wise distribution in the month of July 2020, iron scrap accounted for 42% of the total penalty, while finished goods in iron and steel accounted for 27% of the total penalty and parchoon/mixed items accounted for 15% of the total penalty imposed.

Amongst the various officers posted in mobile wings in Punjab, the maximum detection of tax evasion during July 2020 was carried out by STO Rajeev Sharma working in MW Chandigarh-2. He imposed a total penalty of Rs. 55 lakh in 21 cases during July 2020. Maximum penalty in a single case that has been imposed in the month of July 2020 is 14 lakhs. It was a case of bogus purchase of copper scrap and aluminium scrap amounting to approximately Rs 45 lakhs. The vehicle was detained for checking on the GT road near Shambhu, subsequently on investigation a penalty of Rs.14 lakh was imposed, the spokesperson added.


More than forty thousand students participated in poetry competitions dedicated to the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Singla emphasized on increasing the participation of school children in educational competitions

Chandigarh, August 10:More than forty thousand school children have participated in the field of poetry recitation competitions organized by the Punjab School Education Department dedicated to the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. The series of competitions have been started by the School Education Department under the directions of Education Minister Mr. Vijay Inder Singla and ‘Shabad Gyan’competitions have already been concluded and now 40888 students from all over the state have participated in the online poetry recitation competitions. Mr. Singla has directed to ensure maximum participation of children in these competitions so that artistic skills of the students can be sharpened besides motivating them to acquire maximum knowledge of Guru Tegh Bahadur's philosophy.

Giving details of these poetry competitions a spokesperson of the school education department said that 5212 students from Patiala district participated and obtained first position in the competition. According to the spokesperson 9441 students of secondary wing, 12193 students of middle wing and 19254 students of primary wing of government schools took part in this competition and recitation of the poems related to the philosophy of Guru Tegh Bahadur ji. At the same time 351 students with special needs also participated in the competition.

According to the spokesperson, Patiala came first with 5212 participants, Jalandhar second with 4536 children and Sangrur district came third with 3269 children. In the primary wing Patiala district got first position in the state (3801), Jalandhar got second position (1938) and Amritsar got third position (1595). Similarly, in middle wing Jalandhar (1408) secured first position, Ludhiana (1115) secured second position and Ferozepur (1106) secured third position. According to the spokesperson, Jalandhar with 1190 students from the secondary wing came first, Ludhiana with 939 students came second and Sangrur with 719 children came third.

Similarly, Samana-1 (Patiala) came first with 696 contestants, Munak (Sangrur) came second with 592 and Khuiyan Sarwar (Fazilka) came third with 370 contestants from primary wing. In the middle wing block Ferozepur-3 came first with 318 contestants, Ghall Khurd (Ferozepur) came second with 186 contestants and Jalandhar came third with 154 contestants. Out of the secondary wing blocks, Barnala came first with 145, Bhagta Bhaika came second with 138 and Ferozepur-3 block came third with 135 contestants. Overall, Samana Block of Patiala came first with 755 contestants, Moonak came second with 687 contestants and Goniana came third with 471 contestants.


Mohali’s Punjab Biotechnology Incubator Viral Diagnostic Laboratory for COVID-19 inaugurated

Chandigarh, August 10, Punjab Biotechnology Incubator under Department of Science, Technology and Environment Govt of Punjab, having an NABL accredited analytical facility in Food, Water, Agriculture and Environment sectors with strength in RT-PCR based Molecular Diagnostics was chosen by State Government for strengthening to enhance State’s COVID-19 testing capacity to fight with this global pandemic.

PBTI’s Viral Diagnostic Laboratory for COVID-19 with a well planned infrastructure and Hi-end equipment set up on an area of more than 1000 sft with the support from Department of Medical Education & Research and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences was inaugurated today by Medical Education & Research Minister Punjab Mr. O P Soni and Health and Family Welfare Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu in the presence of Sh Alok Shekhar IAS PSSTE, Sh DK Tewari IAS, PSMER, Dr Raj Bahadur, VC BFUHS and other dignitaries.

The ministers congratulated Sh Alok Shekhar and his team on this occasion and encouraged the staff with their motivational words.

Sh Alok Shekahr informed that the laboratory has become fully operational and has started analyzing the samples after getting ICMR approval . Dr Ajit Dua, CEO PBTI informed that starting with 100 samples per day, the testing shall be ramped up to 1000 samples per day as soon as the automated RNA extraction system is commissioned. The support provided by PPCB and Wipro Limited in terms of Hi-end equipment and PPE kits was acknowledged with thanks during the ceremony.

It is pertinent to mention here that PBTI a 1st of its kind comprehensive Public Sector facility is providing State-of-the-Art Analytical services to Industries, Exporters, Traders, Farmers, Bee keepers, Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and Regulators of the country in general and Punjab in particular since 2007. Over the period it has earned various National and State level recognitions and status of National Referral Laboratory by different ministries including notification as Referral Laboratory by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI and as National Referral Laboratory for LMO/GMO detection by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare, GoI. It has also established International linkages in niche areas like Food authenticity. Taking note of the strengths of PBTI, the state Govt has notified it as State Analytical Agency in its targeted sectors.

PBTI’s committed team provided an exemplary support to Food Exporters and Processors of the state and adjoining areas during COVID-19 Curfew in the state by providing essential analytical services which was applauded by PSSTE.



Minister directs technical education department and Board and IKG PTU to start online services on this pattern

Chandigarh, August 10: The Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister Mr. Charanjit Singh Channi today launched the portal of Maharaja Ranjit SIngh Technical Education University to provide online services to the students in the presence, Mr. Anurag Verma Principal Secretary Technical Education and Industrial Training. The students of MRSPTU would be able to raise application requests online for availing various services, such as Provisional Degree Certificate (PDC) Transcript, documents/degree/ Detailed Marks Card (DMC) correction, verification, attestation etc. The students could pay fee online and receive the document copies online in their student Login.

Congratulating for the unique initiative of the MRSPTU due to the Corona pandemic, Mr. Channi directed the officials of Punjab Technical Education Department and Punjab Technical Education Board and IKG PTU, Kapurthala should also launch an online portal to provide services to the students without any delay. The Minister said that during these tough times due to COVID-19 online administrative services and classes are the best ways for the students so that they do not face any academic loss. The Minister also asked the officials to be a little bit extra cautious of the online fraudulent practices while running the online service provider systems.

Mr. Anurag Verma Principal Secretary Technical Education Department sharing his views on the occasion assured the minister that soon such online service provider system would be put in place in the technical education department and Board, besides this IKG PTU would be directed to start online services on this pattern within a week.

Dr. Mohan Paul Singh Ishar Vice Chancellor MRSPTU briefing about the newly launched online service provider portal said that the students could also opt to receive the documents by post by paying postage charges. The university staff would see the online requests of the students along with the details submitted in staff login. After processing the request, the required document would be uploaded to the Student login. The university has also provided the facility that if postage charges are paid, university staff would post the document at the shipping details provided. This system is also integrated with the university accounts management system so that receipts of the fee paid are automatically added to financial books under appropriate heads.

Prominent other present on the occasion included Mr. Anurag Verma of Principal Secretary Technical Education and Industrial Training and Dr. Mohan Paul Singh Ishar Vice Chancellor MRSPTU, Dr. Buta Singh Sidhu Registrar MRSPTU and Dr. Savina Bansal Dean Academic Affairs, MRSPTU were present online during the launch of the portal.


NABARD accords sanction for Transformation of PACS as MSCs

Cooperation Minister hands over in principle sanction letter

Chandigarh, August 10:-The Cooperation Minister, Punjab, S. Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, today presided over a high level meeting of the department to discuss issues related to Cooperative sector in the State.

The detailed deliberations were held regarding the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) as Multi Service Centre scheme of NABARD, convergence with activities under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund launched by the Prime Minister, computerisation of PACS, Merger of DCCBs into Punjab State Cooperative Bank (PSCB), Issue of KCC to farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries activities.

The Chief General Manager (CGM) NABARD informed that the special re-finance facility for transformation of Primary Agriculture Society (PACS) as Multi-Service Centre (MSC) is available with SCBs with re-finance @ 3 percent Rate of Interest (RoI) for meeting the credit plus requirements of the members which will enable them to diversify their business. The grant support for computerisation of PACS was also discussed in detail.

The Minister handed over the in-principle sanction letter for ‘Transformation of Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) as Multi Service Centre (MSC)’ for creating Agri-infrastructure involving 60 identified PACS to MD, PSCB during the meeting.

Among others present in the meeting included Mrs. Kalpana Mittal Baruah, Special Chief Secretary, Cooperation, Mr. Vikas Garg, Registrar Cooperative Societies, Hargunjit Kaur, Managing Director, PSCB. The NABARD team was led by Dr. Rajiv Siwach, Chief General Manager, Punjab Regional Office.




Chandigarh, August 10--Continuing its spree against the illegal liquor in the state, the Joint teams of Excise and Police department today destroyed a major haul of 1. 33 lakh litres of lahan in Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts of the state.

Divulging the details a spokesperson of the Excise department said that the joint teams of Police and Excise department destroyed 1,33,500 litres of lahan in a major operation involving the three districts. Approximately 1,25,000 litres of lahan was recovered and destroyed in Ferozepur and Tarn Taran districts. Around 6500 litres lahan was recovered in village Mahalam in Jalalabaad of Fazilka district and 2000 litres lahan in Ferozepur district.

The spokesperson further said that a joint raid was conducted in the enclaves of confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas at Harike by a team of Excise and Police department of Ferozepur and Tarn Taran. During the raid around 1.25 lakh litres of lahan was recovered along with 26 plastic Tarpaulins and 10 iron drums. The team destroyed the lahan and got a FIR registered at Police Station Harike.

Similarly, an Excise team along with the Police also conducted raid at village Mahalam (Jalalabad) and recovered 70 bottles of illicit liquor along with 6500 litres of Lahan. Immediately swinging into action the team destroyed the lahan in a field of the village.

The spokesperson further said that a joint operation was also held by the Excise and Police department at Ferozepur. The team conducted raid at village Dhani Dariya Wali and recovered 2000 litres of lahan from the village. Subsequently the team destroyed the lahan in the fields and started process of registering the case. “Action against illegal liquor will continue in the coming days till the state is not made free from this scourge” added the spokesperson.