Saturday, November 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Parks suffer as MC, PMCs wrangle over funds
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 22
With the state government refusing to relent on the issue of maintenance charges to the park management committees (PMCs), comprising senior citizens, retired officials and prominent public figures of the respective areas, deadlock continues between the Municipal Corporation and the representatives of the PMCs. In the process, most of the nearly 400 parks in the city, handed over to 123 PMCs for maintenance, were again becoming a picture of neglect and poor upkeep.

The innovative scheme of entrusting the maintenance of parks by representatives of the area residents was launched in 1999 and the PMCs were promised a payment of Re 1 per square metre each month. In addition, a sum of Rs 2,400 was to be paid annually towards cost of plants, fertilisers, tools and implements. The MC had duly entered into agreements with the PMCs, which clearly laid down the rates at which payments were to be made. The scheme had evoked a tremendous response and for once the city parks had been completely transformed, all with lush green looks, shady trees and flower beds.

However, in the wake of government instructions that the PMCs be paid at a rate of 50 paise per square metre and further that monthly payment for this purpose should not exceed Rs 1,000 per park, irrespective of the size of the park, all work has grinded to a halt. The government further wanted that of the total payment claimed by the PMCs, 50 per cent should be contributed by the area residents. Since the PMCs refused to accept these terms, their monthly payments were stopped by the audit department from October, 2001 onwards.

With payments laying due for more than a year now, quite a few committees had turned defunct and persons engaged for maintenance and development of parks had to be sacked for want of funds. Moreover, those at the helm of PMCs were of the firm view that with an upper ceiling of Rs 1,000 on monthly payment for maintenance, it would be practically impossible to engage the required number of persons for the job.

According to Mr H.K.L. Verma, president, Tagore Nagar Association (E Block), the PMCs, through their coordination committee, had made a fervent plea with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Local Bodies Minister, Choudhry Jagjit Singh, to reconsider the decision on maintenance charges of city parks and restore the earlier rate of Re 1 per square yard, which should be calculated on the basis of actual size of the park.

The coordination committee of the PMCs had pointed out that the civic body had been spending an estimated Rs 5.50 crore on the maintenance of the parks every year prior to the scheme of private participation was introduced. Compared to the massive amount spent earlier, the PMCs were claiming around Rs 1.5 crore annually as maintenance charges with far better results. Further, the committee was of firm view that the MC, having signed agreements with the PMCs, was both legally and morally bound to make the payments on stipulated rates till October, 2002, when the annual agreements had expired.


Tearful adieu to martyr
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, November 22
Sepoy Baljit Singh was cremated with full honours at Laton village, on the Chandigarh road, here today. The mortal remains of the martyr were brought to his native village at 9 am from the local Civil Hospital today. Punjab Police jawans played the band and fired shots from their rifles before the cremation ceremony. Gurmeet Singh, the younger brother of the martyr, lit the pyre.

Sepoy Baljit Singh was on the front with 101 Bombay Engineer Srinagar posted in Kupwara Sector, where he was injured on the day of Divali while fighting the enemies. He was admitted to the Military Hospital in Srinagar, where he succumbed to his injuries on November 19.

The SDM (East), Mr Ajay Kumar Sharma, was present on behalf of the administration. 


Residents move rights panel over civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
Irked over the alleged discriminatory treatment meted out to the New Janata Nagar locality in providing sewerage, water supply and metalled roads, residents of the locality have moved the Punjab Human Rights Commission, charging the civic administration and a former councillor with bias against them.

In the complaint, filed through an affected resident, Mr Sher Singh, a retired Railway employee, who also heads the Environment and Welfare Association, the residents had alleged that street nos 5, 6 and 7 in the colony were denied the facilities of potable water, proper disposal of sewerage and metalled roads for nearly three years, whereas the neighbouring localities were given precedence for various kinds of development works.

During the last hearing before the commission, the MC officials submitted that water supply and sewerage were operational in the area, a fact which was corroborated by the complainant. However, Mr Sher Singh alleged that the roads and streets were yet to be surfaced and he wanted the PHRC to proceed against the civic body for what he termed as “criminal neglect” in denial of basic facilities to thousands of residents.

The MC Legal Advisor, Mr Ashok Bazaz, who represented the MC before the commission, submitted that the civic body had already made a detailed reference, explaining reasons for delay in the execution of development works in the area. He took the stand that due to certain procedural wrangles and the holding of municipal elections, the carpeting of roads and streets could not be undertaken. Mr Bazaz assured the PHRC that the process would be initiated to execute the remaining work, including surfacing of roads, within one month and efforts would be made to complete the same at the earliest.

In his written rejoinder, the complainant, Mr Sher Singh, maintained that the reply submitted by the officials on behalf of the MC before the PHRC was full of contradictions and had failed to touch the real issue of discrimination, raised by the residents. He cited an earlier observation of the Chairperson of the PHRC that the complaint was being taken by the MC in a casual manner to drive home the point. Mr Sher Singh further questioned the role of the then councillor, charging him with pick-and-choose attitude.

The complainant further urged the PHRC to depute its own representative to visit the localities concerned to have the true picture of the area. He also wanted time-bound directions to be issued to the MC for the completion of the remaining development works, which included surfacing of roads and streets and storm water disposal. The Chairperson of the PHRC has forwarded the rejoinder filed by the complainant to the MC. The case would come up for next hearing on February 13, 2003. 


South African leader visits PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 22
A high-level delegation from Limpopo province in South Africa visited Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here today to explore the possibility of active collaboration in the field of agricultural research and education.

Led by the premier of the province, Mr N.A. Ramthiodi, the delegation comprised Ms Ramathlodi, Ms M.E. Nkoana - Mashabane, South African High Commissioner to India, Dr A. Motsoaledi; Minister of Agriculture, Ms J. Mashamba, Minister for Education; Prof Nkondo, Vice-Chancellor, University of Venda, and other progressive farmers, businessmEn and educationists from Limpopo.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of PAU, and Prof Nkondo, Vice-Chancellor, University of Venda for Science and Technology, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two universities to promote international understanding and cooperation for supporting educational, professional and cultural activities.

Addressing a gathering on this occasion, the Premier said South Africa and India had deep-rooted cultural ties since the time Mahatma Gandhi visited South Africa. He informed that a large number of people of Indian origin were occupying important positions in the government. He hoped that his visit will open new avenues for collaboration between India and South Africa which will benefit both countries.

Dr Aulakh said the MoU would open new areas for faculty and students’ exchange as well as for cultural exchange programmes. It would help in developing new international courses for students and faculty, he added.

Earlier, welcoming the chief guest and the members of delegation, Dr Aulakh informed itS members that Punjab, having just 1.5 per cent of the geographical area of the country, was producing 10 per cent of milk, 60 to 70 per cent of wheat and 45 to 50 percent of rice of the country’s, total production.

The delegation visited various departments and research farms of the university and evinced a keen interest in the research work.


Dhaba owners may get ST relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 22
The dhaba owners in the state may get some relief in sales tax imposed by the government a few months ago. However, there is no chance of the sales tax being completely waived on their sales.

This was disclosed by the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardool Singh while talking to The Tribune here yesterday at the residence of the senior vice president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka.

A delegation of the dhaba owners led by the president, Mr Inderjeet Singh Gill and chairman, Mr Sardari Lal met the minister and urged him that the dhaba owners should be exempted from the sales tax since it would hit the common man.

They pointed out, that in case they did not get the exemption, they would have to raise the rates and ultimately it would be the poor who would be affected.

They asserted that it was only the poor and lower strata of the society, who took food in the dhabas and not the rich.

Moreover, they said, it would be difficult for them to maintain account books since most of them were illiterate.

“It would be additional burden as we will have to hire the services of the accountants also”, Mr Sardari Lal said, while adding, “ultimately we may lose our business to the restaurants”.

He said, if the government imposed sales tax on the dhaba owners, they would be left at the mercy of the sales tax officials and it would be difficult for them to work.


Smriti ‘Tulsi’ aspires to be director
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 22
Smriti Irani, who plays a trustworthy and disciplined daughter-in-law ‘Tulsi’ in the serial ‘Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ on Star Plus, says that she owes her popularity to the television audience. She says: “I like meeting the people who made me.” Smriti was here to promote the products of a flasks company.

“The serial is the story of woman’s evolution, from an innocent teenager to an adjusting mother-in-law. I have enjoyed every minute of playing the role. The family in the story has 22 members, all loving each other,” she says.

She says she is getting offers to play lead roles in Bollywood films, but politely declining the offers. “Presently, my focus is on television and I am satisfied with this life. I try to maintain a balance between my personal and professional lives. I am also playing Sita in ‘Ramayana’ and acting in ‘Kavita’, another serial,” says Smriti.

When asked how she felt changing her husband for the third time in the Star Plus serial, she said: “It does not matter; Veerani may change as long as my real husband, Irani, remains the same. I have to play my role, regardless of who is my co-actor.”

This Punjabi woman from New Delhi would like to be a director. “I take life as it comes, but that does not mean that one should not plan for the future. If given a good opportunity, I will prove to be a good director. However, direction comes with experience, as one should know the technical aspect of the job as well,” she said.

Smriti, 26, has a one-year-old son. “My life is close to that of the character Tulsi. For me, wearing a ‘saree’ or a ‘bindi’ has never been a problem. I know that I will be a mother-in-law in real life, too, one day, for which, I am practicing,” says Smriti.

Mr Madhup Vaghani, Director of Milton Global, said the company had chosen Smriti to be its brand ambassador because it wanted consumers to believe that its products were as reliable as Tulsi. “We want every household to have a daughter-in-law like Smriti and products like Milton,” said Mr Vaghani.

This versatile actress has also acted in a TV commercial of the company, in which she plays housewives from Gujarat, Bengal, Maharashtra, south Indian and north India.

Later in the day, the actress visited the company showrooms at Cemetry Road, Ghumar Mandi and Chaura Bazaar, where she also met her fans. Mr Sandeep Khullar, a dealer of the company, said: “The character of Tulsi will help in promoting the product range, as housewives in India consider her to be an ideal daughter-in-law.”


CM gets pat on the back
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
Congress leadership has appreciated the handling of the situation during the election for the post of SGPC President by the Punjab Government. This was stated by Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, here today. Mr Gill, along with the Mayors of the Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar Municipal Corporations met Congress leaders in Delhi yesterday and apprised them of the political situation following the election.

Besides Mr Gill, Mr Surinder Mahey Mayor of Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, Mr Vishnu Sharma of the Patiala Municipal Corporation, and Mr Sunil Dutt of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation met Mr Arjun Singh, Ms Ambika Soni, Ms Mohsina Kidwai and Mr Motilal Vora and appreciated the efforts made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in tackling the situation.

The Congress leaders appreciated the steps taken by the state government in maintaining the law and order situation and felt that there was need to handle the media properly. 


Fire breaks out in two factories
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
A big fire broke out in a thread- manufacturing unit at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Colony in Focal Point last night, as a result of which goods were gutted and a number of adjoining buildings damaged.

The fire broke out around 8 pm in the waste godown of the factory and soon spread to the factory premises. More than 20 fire tenders were pressed into service as people living near the site started vacating their houses. The fire was brought under control after more than seven hours’ struggle. The fire was so intense that even the iron girders supporting the structure melted down and walls and roof of the factory caved in. The loss was being assessed.

Another fire incident was reported from a blanket-manufacturing unit at Meharban village around 9 pm, in which machines, a tractor, raw material and finished goods were gutted.


Jain muni starts ‘mahayajna’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
Jain muni Shri Vinay Kumar ji Alok started another “maha-yajna” at the conclusion of his “chaturmas” here yesterday.

Addressing a “Mangal bhavna samaroh” at Terapanth Bhavan in Bagh Wali Gali, which was organised jointly by Terapanth Sabha, Terapanth Mahila Mandal and the Terapanth Yuvak Parishad, the muni said he was taking up the new “maha-yajna” in the form of a yatra from Punjab to Kashmir with the purpose of promoting mutual brotherhood.

Expressing concern over growing violence, the muni said that the yatra would be an example of victory of non-violence over violence. Mr Surinder Dabar, MLA, who was the chief guest at the samaroh, in his address said the muni was a living embodiment of non-violence.

Mr Jagmohan, president, Sanatan Dharam Sabha, and Mr Bansi Lal Surana, president, Terapanthi Sabha, also spoke on the occasion.

Among others who attended the samaroh were Mr Hira Chand Surana, Mr Satya Parkash Jain, Mr Hemant Parekh, Mr Shyam Lal Jain, Mr Rakesh Garg, Mr Sanjay Jain, Mr Pawan Surana, MsManju Devi Surana, Ms Suman Baid, Ms Kamla Baid, Ms Sudershna Jain, Mr Shakti Parkash Jain and Mr Jagat Golchha.

Later, the was taken in a shobha yatra to the residence of Mr Vijay Raj Surana where he was welcomed by Mr Vinod Surana.


Man crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, November 22
A resident of Mangarh village was killed after being hit by a vehicle when he was returning to his village from Kohara on last evening.

Mr Satnam Singh of Mangarh village complained that he found his father lying in an injured state near a petrol station at Kohara village. He took him to Civil Hospital, Sahnewal, from where he was referred to a hospital at Ludhiana, but he died on the way.

A case under Sections 279,427 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered at Sahnewal police station but no arrest has been made so far.


Two held with poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 22
The Salem Tabri police yesterday arrested two persons and seized 160 kg of poppy husk from their possession.

According to information, the accused were carrying the poppy husk in four bags in a rickshaw. They have been identified as Harbans Singh and Hem Raj, residents of Manakwal and Sahnewal, respectively. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

One arrested
A Kashmiri youth was arrested by the Division No. 2 police after he was apprehended by passersby in the act of kidnapping a student of St Thomas School on Thursday.

According to information, Anmol Bajaj (8), a son of a shawl merchant, Mr Rajiv Kumar Bajaj, was standing outside his school after it had closed. The accused tried to abduct the child, who raised the alarm. The passersby succeeded in nabbing the accused and the police was informed.

The police said the accused, Aziz, who hails from Kupwara, was mentally disturbed. He reportedly told the police that he had got hold of the child in a bid to save him from a speeding auto, but the passersby mistook him to be a child lifter and thrashed him up before handing him over to the police.

Murder accused held
The Haibowal police on Thursday arrested Charanjit Singh, a resident of Rode village in Moga district, and his accomplice, Jagga Singh, who are suspected to be involved in the murder of Satnam Singh, a resident of the Dairy Complex in Haibowal, on November 10.

The police had already arrested Jugraj Singh, a maternal cousin of the victim. Police raids to arrest Surjit Singh, Dhanwant Singh, Bahal Singh and Ranjit Singh, who are other suspects in the case, are going on.

According to the police, Jugraj Singh had allegedly hatched a conspiracy to eliminate Satnam Singh because of his ‘illicit relations’ with his sister. Some professional killers from Meerut were allegedly given a contract for Rs 4 lakh.


BDO’s driver killed
Harvinder Singh of Dhulkot Ramsee village, who was employed as a driver in the office of the BDO, Nihal Singh Wala, was killed in an accident. He was returning in the Jeep after leaving the BDO at Threeke village, when it was hit by a vehicle near the bridge drainage on the GT Road. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 427 and 304-A of the IPC. His wife died about two months back. He left behind two sons.

Car recovered
The Sudhar police arrested Hakam Singh of Mohi village and recovered a car (PB 10M 5050) from him. The police has registered a case under Section 411 of the IPC.



HSBC branch
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) would soon open its 33rd branch in India here in the city. The HSBC group has a well-established business in Europe, America, Middle East, Asia Pacific region and Africa. The HSBC offers a wide range of personal financial services, including personal ending and deposit products. Various products and services offered by the HSBC include, saving accounts, current accounts, time deposits, home loans, personal loans, credit cards, debit cards, mutual funds, payments and cash management services, factoring services, stock brooking, insurance services etc. TNS

World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services (WWICS) organised a free seminar, “Global Avenues - 2003”, for aspiring immigrants to Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia at Nehru Sidhant Kendra here on Friday. Lt-Col B.S. Sandhu (retd), Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the company, along with Mr J.S. Ahluwalia, Mr Curtis Panke and Mr Bob Fenwick, focussed on the demography of the lucrative destinations, their changing economic scenario and their impact on new immigrants. The speakers observed that demand for independent class like skilled workers and professionals, business category and student visa had registered a significant increase. OC

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