Wednesday, June 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Spate of robberies force ‘thikri pehras’
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Learning from the past experiences of spate in robberies during this month every year, people in several villages of the district have begun thikri pehras in their respective areas to prevent any strike by robbers.

With little support from the police and only sticks, rods and axes as their major weapons, the participants are not sure if they will be of any help. Last night’s robbery at Rajgarh village in which five armed robbers used guns to loot a dera, besides a similar incident at Ludhiana early this month, have made the people apprehensive of combating such incidents without guns.

People of different villages falling under Ludhiana, Khanna and Jagraon police districts were critical of the police. They alleged that while the police personnel were supposed to help them in night patrolling, they had not seen any of them in the past couple of nights ever since they launched the pehras.

While last year there were 16 cases of dacoity and 122 of burglary, this year there have been 11 cases of dacoity and 58 of robbery in the first four months. The figure is of Ludhiana police district only. The recent spate of robberies in Khanna and a number of similar incidents in Jagraon have added to the apprehensions.

While at some places the villagers have began the exercise on their own, at others the night patrolling exercise has been launched after receiving the orders of the Deputy Commissioner to do so. A survey of a number of villages revealed that most of the villagers had no information about such orders and had resorted to such an exercise on their own to ensure their safety.

The Deputy Commissioner’s orders stated that under Section 8 of the Village Panchayats Act, 1918, sarpanches of all villages in this district will have thikri pehras during the night in order to prevent robbery, theft and snatching incidents. It was also learnt that the orders remained enforced throughout the year, but the people resorted to such an exercise only after there was an increase in incidents of robbery. The lack of effective supervision by the police also make the village panchayats relaxed. The orders are re-enforced after every few months.

The thikri pehra was in full swing at Pakhowal and surrounding villages last night when a Ludhiana Tribune team undertook a survey of these villages. Mr Gurinder Singh (name changed), a resident of one of the villages, said though the police had told them the exercise would be just to help the police in night patrolling and some personnel of the police would be stationed at key places in the village to come to the aid of the villagers, no personnel has been seen for the past two days in their village.

Another man of a nearby village, who also did not wish to be identified, said, ‘‘Every year, a number of anti-social elements come with the inflow of labourers to the state, seeking employment in the paddy sowing season.’’, he said, explaining the need to launch such an exercise.

The villagers explained that this month always had robbery incidents. Migrant labourers now stay behind after the wheat harvesting and go back to their state only after the completion of the paddy sowing season. They said it had been noticed in the past that migrant labourers indulged in snatching and robbery before going back.

Some of the villages have devised a permanent method of keeping vigil during the night hours. Mr Gurmeet Singh Bassi of Lalton Kalan said they had done away with this system and had instead employed permanent guards to patrol the village during the night throughout the year. He said thikri pehras were organised by enthusiastic villagers for few weeks only and then the interest used to wane.


Seven charge-sheeted in hostel renovation case
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has issued charge-sheets against seven persons, including a former executive engineer, two subdivisional engineers and four junior engineers, in the infamous hostel renovation scandal.

The rumour had been doing the rounds of the campus for the past two days, but could not be confirmed. Sources close to the authorities disclosed that more charge-sheets were on the cards and former estate officers could also figure in the list.

The axe has fallen on Mr Piara Singh Gill, former XEN, SDE Harnek Singh, SDE A.K. Garg, Harbhajan Singh, V.K. Saggar, Harpal Singh and Mahipal Singh, all JEs, according to Dr K.C. Aulakh, the Vice-Chancellor of PAU.

The matter had been pending with the university for the past two years. The then Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, had assigned Additional Director Research, Dr V.K. Sharma, to probe into the matter, and he had submitted his report in January, 2001. Action, however, was not taken against anybody. The new Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, who was clearing all pending cases in the university, had now initiated action.

Sources disclosed that the office of the Director, Students Welfare, had released an amount of Rs 70 lakh for the renovation of the hostels and it was alleged that the university had not advertised any notices inviting tenders and quotations for the materials required. Sources also said that this procedure was not followed only in case repair work amounted to not more than Rs 10,000.

These allegations were first levelled by the Employees Union of PAU and it had also demanded an inquiry into the matter. It was also alleged that although the university had spent lakhs of rupees on the renovation, yet the condition of hostels had not improved.

Sources disclosed that the records showed that Rs 6. 38 lakh were spent on repair of roofs, Rs 5.62 for civil works, Rs 13 lakh on renovation and Rs 2.56 lakh for the upkeep and maintenance of the hostels. Heavy expenditures were shown on other works including repair of toilets, floors and fixing of doors and window-panes. The employees’ union had alleged irregularities on July 20, 2000 and the vice-chancellor had immediately ordered an inquiry.

Dr Kalkat had asked for the report within a month, but the ADR had submitted it in January. Action was not taken on it then and Dr Kalkat had submitted his resignation in March.

Dr Aulakh said that he was issuing charge-sheets at the moment, but whosoever was found guilty would be punished. He said that the university was a seat of learning and nobody had the right the misappropriate its funds. He assured that strict action would be taken against all those who were found involved in the case.

Sources say if the matter was being probed seriously and honestly, then many officials and employees were certain to face action. They said that within a day or two, more developments were expected.


CMC fires consultant, union takes up issue
Our Correspondent

CMC version

The in-charge of the Public Relations Department of the CMC, Dr Sanjay Chand, said that Dr Joseph, who had been holding press conferences, was never on the pay rolls of the hospital.

He said that the Director of the CMC had called him from the USA to mobilise funds for the hospital, but he never worked for the hospital. Consequently he was asked to go back to the USA and was paid an amount of $ 5,000.

Ludhiana, June 19
A controversy has again arisen between the management of CMC & H and the Brown Memorial Hospital Employees Union over the termination of services of a US-based international healthcare consultant appointed to mobilise funds from the USA. Dr George Joseph Themplangad was appointed executive manager, to be in charge of strategic planning and development, on March 15, 2001. His services were terminated on May 17, 2001.

“My services were terminated without giving me any valid reason and without any notice by Dr Silas J. Charles, the Director, CMC&H. He threatened to cause me physical injury or get me killed. Incidentally, Dr Charles only had asked me to join the hospital at a salary of Rs 75,000 per month. My job was to obtain research grants and project funds and to get funds from the USA. I was appointed for one year, but I was sacked for inexplicable reasons and asked to vacate my accommodation and my telephone was disconnected,” said Dr George T. Joseph at a press conference this morning.

A visibly upset yet determined Dr George said he was asking the hospital for compensation of one year’s salary, amounting to more than Rs 22.5 lakh, against illegal termination of his services or for his reinstatement. He also demanded that Dr Silas Charles should be made to resign as the hospital needed a full-time director and not a director who came for short periods.

He further told the media that he was fighting the battle in the open to bring transparency in the collection and utilisation of funds. He said sharp differences arose when Dr Charles told him that all the funds that he would generate should be credited and routed through ‘Ludhiana CMC Board USA’. Dr George reacted strongly and stated that the funds that he would bring to the Hospital within India or outside India would go directly to the specific department of CMC that was in need of the funds. In this way, more transparency could be brought to the utilisation of funds.

Dr George stated that it was obvious that the operation of the common kitty had no transparency and funds could be siphoned off without scrutiny to their proper implementation. He wanted that for the sake of transparency and integrity, the funds should be made available to be utilised specially for the very designated purpose for which these were sought and received.

Dr George sent a legal notice to the management and the management contradicted itself by stating that Dr George was never appointed in the institution in any capacity. Mr Sukhpat Wadhera, the lawyer for Dr George said, in his reply to the legal notice sent by the hospital that Dr J. Jacob, the newly-appointed Associate Director, who had been a member of the governing board for numerous years, was a witness to some of the intimidation tactics and abuses that were heaped on his client. All the efforts made by the correspondent to meet any member of the management failed.

The office-bearers of the union, told that they were backing Dr George and were going to press for his reinstatement with continuity of service and full back wages, besides a thorough investigation and strict action against the top administrator of CMC who had threatened Dr George Joseph. Though the complaint was made to Mr N.S. Chahal, the chief operation officer, nothing had been done so far. Dr George said he had come with the specific purpose of redeeming the lost glory of CMC by collecting funds. In one year alone, he could collect Rs 4 crore and almost wipe off the deficit of Rs 5 crore in the annual budget of CMC.

“The Dog House on 3 acres on Samrala Road was being sold by a third party. Nobody knows where that money is going,” said Dr George. He said he was going to fight the injustice as 100 persons were fired by the management using strong arm tactics. Within two months Dr George had visited most of the departments of CMC and addressed the problems effectively, winning acclaim and support in the process. The union was shocked that in spite of good work done by him, his services were terminated. 



Judicial probe sought into Baddowal issue
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The Baddowal controversy continues to generate heat with many eyebrows being raised over the Chief Minister’s meeting with the Union Defence Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, on April 17, much after the High Court judgment, seeking the shifting of the 17 field ammunition depot, Baddowal, about 7 km from here.

Following the demolition of three marriage palaces in Baddowal on June 5, one of the owners had alleged that they were approached by a Ludhiana stock-broker on behalf of some influential and powerful people for settling the issue. The broker had allegedly demanded Rs 20 lakh for procuring a no-objection certificate from the Ministry of Defence and also restoring the electricity which had been disconnected. The accused broker has already denied the charges. The Chief Secretary is inquiring into these charges and will submit his report to the Chief Minister shortly.

But questions are being raised as to what prompted the Chief Minister to approach the Union Defence Minister seeking the shifting of the ammunition depot, particularly after the Punjab and Haryana High Court had already ordered the demolition of all the unauthorised structures within a radius of 1000 yards around the ammunition depot. While the High Court delivered the judgement on March 19, 2001, the Chief Minister met the Defence Minister after about a month on April 17. Mr Badal was accompanied by his nephew, Mr Manpreet Badal, when he met the Defence Minister.

This is an important aspect which is being ignored. According to Mr Harish Khanna, the president of the Punjab unit of the Janata Dal (Secular), there is a need to hand over the inquiry to some independent agency like the CBI or the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. The best he suggested would be a sitting Judge of the High Court. He pointed out: “Can the Chief Secretary ask such questions, and for that matter any questions, to the Chief Minister?”

The charges being levelled by the marriage palace owners that they were asked to pay Rs 20 lakh assume significance in view of this fact. In fact the Chief Minister had made an announcement after meeting the Defence Minister, which was widely covered by the media, that he (the Chief Minister) had been assured that the ammunition dump would be shifted since it posed a threat to Ludhiana city.

Interestingly, Baddowal is not the only ammunition dump which is so close to the civilian population. There are several others also. But Mr Badal only mentioned this ammunition depot. Moreover, he never raised the issue when some ammunition depots caught fire.

There are already charges against the local administration that while implementing the High Court orders, it selectively chose a few for demolition, while others were left. Those left included one belonging to the relatives of Mr Manpreet Badal, which also falls within the 1000 yard radius and is only next to a palace which was demolished on June 5.

There is widespread belief that the administration was being directed from the top to carry out the demolitions. Mr Jeevan Dhawan, an industrialist, pointed out: “Otherwise, why were only three marriage palaces selectively chosen for demolition and others leftout?” He observed, if the administration was fair and impartial, at least it could have served demolition notices on all the owners simultaneously. 



Scarcity of funds affects flood control measures 
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Though the monsoon is just a week away, no adequate measures have been taken by the district administration to save the flood-prone areas from the fury of the Sutlej so far. According to Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, the administration had received only Rs 2.20 crore to undertake flood-control measures especially to strengthen the left banks of about 92 km of the Dhusi bandh that falls under the district. However, the requirement of funds is said to be more than Rs 100 crore to save the city and its neighbouring areas from floods.

The officials in the Irrigation Department say that there are about 20 points on the Sutlej stretch within this district which are vulnerable and give way in case of heavy flow of water in the Sutlej during the monsoon. Such points are located at Dholewal, Milkowal, Issapur, Ghamana, Mattewal, Jamalpur, Seed Farm, Khera bet, Mattepur and Talwandi. Out of these, four points, Mattewal, Mattewara, Mattepur and Talwandi are considered to be the most dangerous spots as these points are more prone to breaches.

One of the officials in the Irrigation Department on the condition of anonymity said, “We need at least Rs 20 crore just to strengthen the four most vulnerable points, but the state government has released only Rs 2.20 crore out of the Natural Calamity Fund to take care of the whole stretch of about 100 km falling in the district. The department had spent about Rs 5 crore during the past three years to strengthen the Sutlej banks near Dholewal, which is now considered reasonably safe.”

He said only 1.25 lakh cusec water can flow safely at present in the Sutlej, but the quantity sometimes increases to 4 lakh cusec resulting in floods. The official also agreed that the water passing through the Dhusi bandh was controlled at Ropar, but about eight seasonal rivers such as Sewan, Sersa, Budhki and Sangraon met on the way, which could not be controlled at all. Sometimes these prove more dangerous than the water coming from the upper area.

It may be pointed out that the Sutlej water entered the city in 1988 and 1995 when the Budha nullah overflowed during monsoon and the flood water entered various localities near Jalandhar bypass up to Haibowal and number of surrounding villages. The Municipal Corporation had released about Rs 81 lakh to the Irrigation Department, however, the Mechanical Wing of the department that was entrusted with that work has failed to complete de-silting of the nullah.

The sources in the department have alleged misutilisation of funds during the past years. They say that the repair of structures was shown without undertaking any work at all. Consequently, the paddy crops worth crores was destroyed during the past years. The relief work should have been handed over to some other non-government agencies or at least there should be more transparency in the utilisation of these funds.

Interestingly, there is a District Flood Control Committee under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, which inspects the flood-prone areas in advance and suggests the repair works to be undertaken by the drainage wing of the Irrigation Department. The senior officials of the irrigation, health, revenue and other departments are its members. The villagers allege that the repair work is undertaken on with the recommendations of the politicians in the ruling party and not according to the requirement. The panchayats are also not involved in this process.

About seven boats are also kept at the block headquarters for use in emergency situations, but these are in a dilapidated condition and have not been repaired so far. No repair work has started on the Dhusi bandh so far. The department officials say that the required material was not available. The work may start in the next few days. It will be definitely completed before the monsoon arrived.

Is the department ready to deal with any eventuality in case of any breach in the bandh? An official on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner said, “It will depend on the severity of the flood. We do not want to waste money by collecting sand bags in advance. In case of such an eventuality the arrangements will be made with the help of villagers on the spot.”

On the other hand, the villagers allege that the administration is trying to embezzle money in the name of labour cost and sand bags. Mr Manmohan Singh of Kasabad village, said, “We have never got any relief from the administration, though our crops had been destroyed number of times due to flood waters. Rather we have always contributed in strengthening of the bundh.”

The experts, however, say that the so called flood control measures undertaken by the administration are no permanent solution of the problem. In fact, few years ago the Sutlej river used to flow over 15 km area that has been narrowed down to just 1km area. Moreover, due to increase in area under paddy cultivation, the scope of water saturation has been drastically affected. The increase in permanent concrete structures in the city has further aggravated the problem. The government should undertake permanent measures to solve the problem with the participation of people.



Sorry scribes

Those journalists, who think themselves to be influential and able to poll the right strings, are doubly cursed in one case. Can they get their cars financed, which non-journalist can easily get done at zero per cent interest? The answer is perhaps a big ‘NO’. Recently coming across a man working for a financier, he revealed that finance companies did not lend money to scribes. He was reluctant in providing details to the correspondent, but revealed, “We finance everyone except scribes. Journalists have always been influential. We can do nothing, if their cheques get bounced. Ik taan paise nahin dende upron dhamkiyan dende ne. So we all have decided not to finance journalists”.

Cricket craze

The city seems to be in the grip of a severe cricket mania, thanks to school holidays and the current Zimbabwe tour of the Indian cricket team. Because parents will not allow their children to play in the blistering sunshine of June, children can be seen playing cricket as early as 6 am, wherever they find enough space to indulge in it. Playing cricket on a breezy cool morning, in fact, can be anybody’s delight for that matter.

Even market places such as the Bhadaur House , which have spacious parking lots, are being used by cricket-crazy youngsters, particularly when the market is closed at the end of a busy week. If the number of players is not enough to set a full field, the players invariably decide on playing the ball on the off-side only, which in itself is a kind of specialised coaching. Anybody hitting the ball beyond a certain point on the on-side is given out. That surely teaches young batsmen the art of steering the ball in a particular direction.

Well, those who thought and said that cricket’s popularity would go downhill following the match-fixing exposures must revise their opinion.

Hospitable colleges

Does the style of entertaining judges make a difference in the decision? At least the three city colleges, where the inspection team from Panjab University visited, believe in the affirmative. An overwhelmed member of the team when asked about the general report from the colleges said, “We will submit the report after two days. All we can say at the moment is that eating sessions at all the colleges were par excellence.” Commenting on the hospitability, another member of the team said, “On an average, the colleges would score 65 per cent infrastructure wise but in hospitability, they would all score 150 per cent.”

Dateline PAU

It has become hectic for the journalists covering the Punjab Agricultural University beat as new developments take place here everyday. The new vice-chancellor has perhaps been on a notice-issuing spree since he joined office. Recently, he issued a chargesheet to a professor and then it was the turn of an Assistant Economist, who was first chargesheeted and then sacked. He even suspended the services of a clerk who was sitting over a file, only to reinstate him later. Then only yesterday he issued chargesheets to seven employees of the university in a hostel renovation case. An official of the university rightly said that he was deciding on all the pending issues which had been hanging fire since many years.

Village directory

A private publishing company has come out with a useful directory on villages of the state. Much to the convenience of those who want to know the location of any village existing in the state the publisher claims that they only have to name it and they will find it in the directory. It contains data on all villages in a district and the entries are done alphabetically. Each district is further divided into blocks, which give the details of the villages. However, it contains no phone numbers, which are the most prominent source of communication these days. The publishers can at least use entries with the phone number of the sarpanch of the respective village.

Guzzlers paradise

‘Ahatas’ are favourite haunts for liquor-guzzlers, who find it difficult to cope up with the behavioural expectations in an up-beat bar. As common opinion goes, these guzzlers choose such places where they can have the drinks without any inhibition. But of late, some of these ahatas have also started demanding ‘decency’ from their customers. Seen scribbled on the wall of one such place was “ulti karan wale noo 50 rupaiyea zurmana keeta javega, te zada peen wale nu bahar kadh ditta javega” (those who will vomit will be fined Rs 50 and those who are very tipsy will be thrown out.)

Long vacations

The District and Sessions courts have closed for a month-long vacation beginning June 16 and will function exactly after a month. Who does not know that the legal process is slow in India and already innumerable cases are pending in the courts? After educational institutions, the courts close on all holidays and coupled with an occasional strike, there are hardly any working days left. That courts close for a whole month causes a lot of anxiety for the litigants as they are on tenter hooks till their cases are decided either month longway holidays are hangover of the British Raj, when they moved the capitals also due to harsh summers. In today’s fast-moving times, the wheels of judiciary come to a grinding halt for one long month. For the sake of speedy justice the holidays should be limited to a fortnight only .Justice delayed is justice denied. What is needed is fast moving judicial system and less of holidays ?

Funny stickers

Many a person wants to show his individuality. Even if it means that they have to stick funny stickers on the bumpers of their cars so that people notice them. Sentinel came across some funny rib-ticklers. One read, “Laugh alone and the world thinks you are an idiot.” Another car carried a sticker which read, “Born free.....Taxed to death”. Yet another one proclaimed, “Always remember you are unique....just like everyone else”. One car-owner had stuck this sticker, “I get enough exercise just pushing my luck.” The stickers do bring a smile on a weary driver, who is hassled by traffic.



City needs comprehensive traffic plan: study
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
The industrial hub of Punjab, which awaits the status of a metro city, has several gigantic growth-related problems - the chaotic and almost unmanageable traffic conditions in the city being the biggest one which needs to be tackled urgently and at various levels.

With an estimated population of 18 lakh and approximately 3.5 lakh vehicles on the city roads, serious traffic problems like undue congestion and inefficient utilisation of transport infrastructure have become order of the day. Most of the city roads, particularly in old city area, being narrow, with encroachments all along, frequent traffic jams, minor and major road accidents, have become a routine for the city residents.

Even on highways passing through the city, the situation is no better. The Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge to Jalandhar bypass, Link Road from Samrala Chowk to Bharat Nagar and Rahon Road from Sunder Nagar to Ravi Dass Chowk are among some of the most problematic areas, according to a study conducted by the Transportation Planning Consultants, a New Delhi based consultancy firm, for the purpose of preparing a comprehensive traffic and transportation plan for the city.

Other areas in the city which need immediate regulatory measures and structural changes to ensure better traffic movement are Samrala Road from division No 3 to Baba Than Singh Chowk, Brown Road up to Laxmi Cinema Chowk, Meena Bazar, Books Market, Hazoori Road and Domoria Bridge Road. The study points out that on these roads, the average speed is not more than 10 kmph, which results in high socio - economic and environmental loss to the city.

The saturation level of congestion on the city roads has created a situation in which increased travel time, high transportation cost, besides avoidable loss of man hours has become a part of life in the city. Lack of a proper mass public transport system has further added to the traffic chaos and has boosted the use of three-wheelers and cycle rickshaws besides increased use of personal vehicles. With the result that the roads, unable to cope with the ever increasing volume of traffic, appear to be bursting at the seams and the problem seems beyond any solution.

It is not only the vehicular traffic that has many impediments which stand in the way of its smooth flow allover the city, but the pedestrians also meet the same fate. The continuous stream of vehicles forces them not only to wait for long periods to cross over, but the face highly unsafe conditions on the roads.

The traffic problems of the city are multi-dimensional like transport system, inadequate transport network, undesirable land use distribution, besides poor traffic management and massive encroachments all along the city roads and service lanes.

The recommendations made in the study include, short-term (regulatory), medium-term and long-term (capital intensive) measures. It says the city needs a comprehensive traffic and transportation plan. The land use under transport sector, which is just around 8 per cent, should be increased, further commercialisation of old city areas should be stopped forthwith and development of new district centres at the outskirts be promoted to alleviate the pressure on city roads.

Other measures suggested for better traffic management are shifting of the General Bus Stand to Samrala Road, construction of an outer Ring Road as a bypass for through traffic, connecting the missing links to the roads on the periphery, provision of adequate parking lots, strengthening local bus service and introduction of local railway in another ten years, which is the ultimate solution.

The execution of these measures will involve an expenditure of a staggering Rs 142 crore, but the municipal corporation and the state government do not seem to have that kind of financial resources, at least for now.

However, Dr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, is quite optimistic. Elaborating various steps taken by the civic body to create infrastructural facilities for better traffic management in the city, he said a seven-storey MC parking complex at a cost of Rs 13 crore, construction of three rail overbridges at a cost of Rs 38 crore, construction of seven bridges on the Sidhwan canal and the Budha nullah at an expenditure of Rs 6.5 crore and construction of a road along the Budha nulla at a cost of over Rs 12 crore were completed or near completion. In addition, adequate parking spaces, all along the highways and on all octroi posts and a large number of traffic signals, slipways and improved major crossings have been provided to improve the flow of traffic in the city.

Other major projects in the pipeline, Dr Sandhu said, were 2.5 km-long elevated road on the Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema, the first of its kind in the region to be built at a cost of Rs 32 crore and a flyover to replace existing lakkar pul, which is proposed to be linked to the elevated road.


Hargobindpura a mohalla with a difference
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, June 19
Hargobindpura, a mohalla situated to the right of the Chandigarh road near the Samrala chowk, is like any other typical mohalla of the city but with a difference.

Its various lanes and streets present scenes straight out of hell. Enter any street from any side at any time of the year and you would find lakes and puddles of dirty sewerage water all over making it impossible to traverse it on foot. In such a situation, what can the residents do? While menfolk have to go out for work, womenfolk can while away their time indoors, cursing the day they decided to build a house in the locality.

If they have to buy something from a shop in the next street they have to wade through dirty water every time. Street Number 5 seems to be the worst hit on this count. Reason, instead of a proper sewerage there exists only an apology of a system installed some years ago using a six-inch pipe.

The miseries of the hapless, helpless residents do not end here. Though the area falls in the municipal limits, it does not have a water supply system like the rest of the city. People have installed handpumps for their water requirements. But what they get out of these handpumps can hardly be called water fit for human consumption. It is a yellowish liquid with a pungent smell and has to be decanted before it is thought fit to be taken. Obviously, the water is being polluted by the industrial waste being generated around the area.

Ludhiana Tribune had carried a story on the sorry plight of the mohalla residents in July last year after the residents had called upon the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, in connection with the problems being faced by them. Then the Commissioner had asked the residents why they were living in such a colony where there were no basic amenities.

Well, since the Commissioner evinced no interest in mitigating their sufferings, the residents sought the intervention of the Chief Minister by sending written requests and memorandum. But having failed to get any response from the Chief Minister also, the residents have now forwarded a letter to the Governor of Punjab listing their grievances and demands in detail.

Drawing the honourable Governor’s attention to the problem of stagnant water in the locality, the residents have warned against the spread of an epidemic. There are virtually no outlets for water.

The residents say that though they have been paying house tax, they were being victimised because of political considerations. The area councillor, Mr Manjit Singh Mundi, was meting out a step-motherly treatment to them because he thinks the mohalla residents did not vote in his favour in the past elections. Residents told this correspondent that he had openly disowned the area.

Listing their grievances further, the residents have lamented the fact that there were no street lights in the locality as a result of which traversing flooded streets at night was a quite an ordeal which could also lead to unforeseen accidents. They have also deplored the fact that though the locality is located right along the GT road from where the Chief Minister’s and other ministers’ entourages pass every other day, none of them has ever bothered to pay them a visit and see their plight.

In the end, the residents have expressed hope that he would surely issue the necessary orders. And in case they still fail to get what is due to them, they may have to knock at the doors of the judiciary as a last resort. The residents would also, in that case, stop paying house tax to the Municipal Corporation.


Company fails to deposit workers’ PF
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, June 19
The woes of about 300 workers of Arihant Cotysen company do not seem to be over. They have not been provided salary amounting to Rs 15 lakh for the past three months, though they had presented their cases in the ‘sangat darshan’, but no action was taken.

The workers were shocked when they came to know that the management had not deposited their provident fund, though the amount worth Rs 6,72,185 was deducted from their salary. The Regional Provident Fund Commissioner of sub-regional office, Sham Nagar, Ludhiana, has alleged that the company has committed a fraud by not depositing their funds.

According to Mr S.K. Aggarwal, Regional Commissioners “Arihant Textile Mills has deducted a sum of Rs 6,72,185 from the salary of its employees, but has failed to put its share of provident fund in return. A case has been registered under sections 405, 406 and 409 of IPC and has been handed over to Economic Offence Wing for investigation.”

The workers have, however, alleged that the provident fund commissioner had failed to take the action during past one year. The company had not only misappropriated the provident funds, but the number of employees were also shown lesser than the actual number, to save the share of the company in the provident fund contribution.



Man alleges police detention
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
Mr Puran Parkash Singh, a resident of Talwandi Kalan village near here, yesterday alleged that he was detained from June 10 to 16 at the police chowki of Ladhowal in a bid to favour the party opposed to him in a case of land dispute.

In his complaint filed with the DIG, Ludhiana range, Mr Puran Parkash Singh stated that the chowki in charge had been bribed by the opposite party, as a result of which he was detained in the chowki for six days.

He cited the relevant numbers from the revenue records in support of his claim to be the genuine owner of the land in question.

He also stated that he had been tilling the five acres in all, since 1980. In half of it, he had sown green fodder. While he was preparing to sow in the other half, Billu Ram of Ladhowal obstructed him from doing so with the help of the local police.

He also pleaded for safety from the staff of the Ladhowal police post and the opposite party, which was threatening him and trying to take possession of half of his land.

Mr Puran Parkash Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that though he had been detained at the chowki for all these days, he was not beaten or roughed up by the cops.

The in charge of the chowki, Mr Paramjit Singh, told Ludhiana Tribune that the land did not belong to Mr Puran Parkash Singh and that his allegations of having been detained at the chowki for six days were baseless. He said he had nothing to do with the dispute.


‘SAD ready for SGPC poll’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president, SGPC, said the SAD (B) was ready for timely elections of the SGPC. He said the SGPC had passed a resolution regarding this and sent it to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said these while speaking to mediapersons after a meeting of Akali workers here today.

Mr Talwandi refused to admit that he had any differences with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht. He also emphasised that he had nothing personal against the former president of the SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Mr Talwandi informed that the SGPC had ordered a high-level probe into the alleged embezzlement of funds in the past. The investigation team would soon submit its report to the SGPC executive and action would be taken against those found guilty, he added.

Earlier, while addressing the workers at Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib, Mr Talwandi appealed to them to attend the Akali conference scheduled to be held at Alamgir Sahib on July 2. Prominent among those present at the meeting were Mr Bachan Singh Cheema local MLA, Khanna, Mr Kirpal Singh Kheerniya, a member of the SGPC, and Mr Devinder Singh Cheema, district SAD president.


BSNL services inadequate 
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, June 19
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seems to have failed in providing better communication services. The local telephone exchange, which has 1,400 lines, has not been able to fully meet the needs of its subscribers.

Many a time one cannot make even a local phone call. The 92/95 facility has been disrupted for the past many days. The main reason behind this inefficiency is the shortage of staff. Only two technicians are looking after the main exchange of Machhiwara and nearby villages of Hambowal Bet, Sherpur, Powat, Panjgraian and Poonian. The post of telephone inspector has been lying vacant for more than five years.

Some applicants have been waiting for their new telephone connections since 1997. An applicant, Mr Kuldeep Singh of Dashmesh Nagar extension, told Ludhiana Tribune that though BSNL claimed to have provided connections upto the waiting list number of 1063, he had not been able to get a connection so far despite his number being 1033. He said he had met all the district-level officials in this regard, but in vain. Mr Gurmail Singh of Razoor village said he had applied for shifting of his telephone to Machhiwara, but it had not been done as yet. The subscribers sought immediate attention of higher officials into the functioning of the BSNL.



People resent new office timings
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The change in office timing is not being favoured by the people saying it has only reduced the working hours. Most of the people visiting the Mini Secretariat here said that most of the officials were not available before 8 a.m. and hardly anyone could be found on duty at 7 a.m. As per the new timings the government offices will remain open between 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

According to Mr Swaran Singh Barwala, it is difficult for the people to come from remote villages and reach here by that time. Normally people arrive around 12 o’clock. But by that time there is a huge rush in offices.

Mr Shyam Singh Harike, a social activist and a leader owing allegiance to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), also feels that the office timing should not have been changed. According to him, people are used to a particular timing and it is very difficult to change their attitude for a while. Moreover in Haryana the timing for the offices always remain the same throughout the year, he said.

Mr K.K. Bawa, secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said, many people were not even aware that the office timings had been changed. He observed that the changed office timings simply meant reduced work hours.

Mr Daljeet Singh from Sahnewal also expressed similar views. He maintained that the changed office timings would simply allow more time to the employees to relax at home. They need not to come at seven in the morning as not many people leave their home for work before ten, he said.

Maj (Retd) Syal, a businessman, said that the office timings should be uniform.



Valmikis burn copies of Hindi weekly
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
Hundreds of the activists of Bhartiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj, led by its national joint secretary and state convener, held a rally at Clock Tower Chowk here and lit a bonfire of a Hindi weekly to express resentment against a ‘sacrilegious’ article, published in its issue dated June 13.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Vijay Danav pointed out that in the write-up ‘Kalyug Ke Valmiki’, written by Mr Shailesh Rawal, Bhagwan Valmiki had been portrayed in bad light. He said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, had given a written assurance that the government would take serious view of such provocative and objectionable writings, which hurt the religious sentiments of any particular community.

Mischievous elements continued to malign Bhagwan Valmiki, and the Valmiki youth would give a befitting reply to such ‘sacrilegious’ writings, Mr Danav added. He said the organisation would lodge a criminal complaint against the author of the article and publishers of the magazine.

The activists burnt a large number of copies of the magazine. Other speakers called for stern action against those behind such provocative and mischievous activities and effective steps to curb these in the future.


Separate directorate for BCs sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
The All-India Vishawkarma/ Ramgarhia Federation has demanded the implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations in letter and spirit and to provide 27.5 per cent reservations in all government and public sector appointments, academic admissions and in the elected bodies like panchayats, municipal corporations, municipal councils and state assembly, as ruled by the Supreme Court of India.

This was demanded the federation in its presentation to the Chairperson of the Punjab State Backward Classes Commission, Mrs Satwant Reddy, through the chairman of the national council of the federation, Mr Rabinder Singh Sohil, at the scheduled public hearing, held at Chandigarh. The commission was set up by the Punjab Government recently to assess the social, educational and economic condition of the backward classes and to decide on the inclusion of ‘Ramgarhias, Tarkhan and Dhiman’ castes in the list of backward classes.

Mr Sohil said before the commission that the Directorate for the Backward Classes be separated from the Joint Directorate of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes in the larger interest of the backward classes. He said that the Punjab State Backward Classes Commission ought to be reconstituted at the earliest. Mr Sohil termed on the status of the Punjab Backward Classes Financial Corporation as merely of a dummy organisation.

He further stated at this public hearing which was attended by more than a dozen delegates of the Federation that a special column should be included in the census forms to indicate caste of every individual.



Youth drowned in canal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Tragedy struck the family of a telephone department employee today morning when his son was reported to have drowned in the Sidhwan Canal in mysterious circumstances. The body could not be retrieved till the evening.

According to the police, the incident took place at about 7:30 a.m. Parminder Singh, a resident of Punjab Mata Nagar, had gone to a park near the Satluj Hospital and the canal as per his daily routine. However, when he did not return for over two hours, the anxious parents went to the place to inquire about him. They learnt there that a youth had fallen in the canal.

Mr Daulat Singh, the father of the deceased youth, said they learnt that some other youth was seen with his son, but had not been able to ascertain his identity so far. The parents and other relatives of the youth rushed to the Deputy Commissioner to seek the services of the divers and to reduce the flow of water, but were shocked to learn that the district administration had no such provision.

They then went to the irrigation department officials, who also expressed their helplessness as the water flow was high and would take at least three days from now to recede.

The police said it was not clear whether the youth had died accidentally or he was thrown in the canal. Suicide was not ruled out as the youth was unemployed.



New award instituted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
The Bairagi Maha Mandal has instituted an award to perpetuate the memory of Pandit Shardha Ram Phillauri, the author of the most popular ‘aarti’ (prayer), ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hare’. The award would be presented annually to a prominent religious personality.

This was announced by Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president, Bairagi Maha Mandal, Punjab, after a meeting of the body here last evening. The meeting was attended, among others, by Mr Hari Das Bawa, patron, Mahant Gian Das Maksoodra, Mr Ved Parkash Bawa, Mahant Uttam Das Hathan, Mr Kartar Bawa, Mr Mohinder Das Bawa, Dr Rajinderpal Singh Bairagi, Mr Naseeb Bawa, Prof Jeewan Das Bawa, Mr Ravinder Nandi, Mr Ram Saran Mansoorvi, Mr Baldev Bawa and Bairagi Maha Mandal Women Wing Chief, Mrs Shanti Bawa.

The Mandal president said it was a matter of great pride for all Punjabis that the most widely-recited prayer in all kinds of religious ceremonies by the Hindu community, was written by Pandit Shardha Ram Phillauri.

Mr Bawa urged the Union Government to issue a commemorative postal stamp in the memory of Pandit Shardha Ram Phillauri and also to initiate measures to build a suitable memorial to him in Phillaur town so that the coming generations could draw inspiration from this religious personality.



Federation to hold arms training camps
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
In a significant move, the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) has decided to impart arms training to its workers in specially organised district-level camps.

Mr Paramjit Singh Khalsa and Mr Sukhjinder Singh Jaura, general secretaries of the federation, said in a statement here yesterday that the minorities in the country were feeling apprehensive over the arms training being given by the Bajrang Dal and certain other fundamental Hindu organisations to their activists. “The Sikh youth cannot remain silent spectators to these developments, particularly in the wake of military action at Darbar Sahib, followed by the massacre of Sikhs at several places in the country in 1984.”


Conductors hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
Protesting against the non-fulfilment of demands, the Punjab Roadways Conductors Union staged a dharna at the bus stand here today.

Stating this in a press note, Mr Gurbachan Singh Mangli, president of the union, and Mr Gurcharan Singh, general secretary, said on May 28, they had given a memorandum to the General Manager, Punjab Roadways, to fulfil their demands in 15 days, but no steps had been taken.

The union has been demanding preparation of a seniority list of the conductor staff, giving regular promotions, quick disposal of complaints against the staff, updating overtime schedule and relieving them of extra duty after rotation.


Cookery skills demonstrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
A cooking demonstration was held by the members of Gayatri Ladies Club here yesterday.

According to a press note, Mr Harpreet Singh, a chef, prepared a variety of dishes, including Indian, Chinese and Continental, for the club members and guests. The chef also prepared various desserts and puddings.

Mr Harpreet Singh made different types of salads on the spot. He also made flowers of tomatoes and small buckets of lemon.


Three commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Three persons died under mysterious circumstances last night after they were reportedly crushed under different trains at the Ludhiana-Ambala railway line.

Two of the victims have been identified as Kartar Singh (85) and Mohinder Singh (30). Both belonged to the local Islam Gunj Colony.

The police claimed that Mohinder and Kartar had committed suicide due to depression.

The Government Railway Police said the body of the unidentified man was found near the railway station, while the bodies of Mohinder and Kartar were found near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib. 


Man beaten up, hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, June 19
A man, who allegedly used to make obscene phone calls to women, was beaten up, kidnapped and dropped on the roadside.

According to an FIR lodged by Beant Singh of Koom Kalan village with the Sahnewal police, his cousin, Parminder Singh of the same village, was allegedly making a phone call from Dashmesh Medical Store on June 15 when he was allegedly attacked by Kuldeep Singh, Daljit Singh, Amrik Singh, Sarabjit Singh and Satwinder Singh. Alleging that Parminder Singh often used to make calls to their wives, they first beat him up and then forcibly took him along to Ratangarh village, where they tortured him.

Beant Singh stated that on reaching there with Balbir Singh, he saw that Satwinder Singh had wrapped a cloth around the neck of Parminder Singh and nearly 10 to 12 persons, including the sarpanch of Ratangarh village, Sukhwinder Singh, were instigating those beating him. Later, they took him along in a trolley and dropped him near a petrol pump. He had to be admitted to the CMC Hospital, Ludhiana. A case has been registered.

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