L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


BJP leaders burn effigy of MC Jt Commissioner
Accuse him of using foul language
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
An alleged argument between Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner of the municipal corporation (MC), and a BJP councillor led to a dharna in front of the office and house of the Joint Commissioner here today.

Led by Mr Harbans Lal Fanta, a former councillor and husband of councillor Sunita Fanta, BJP leaders burned the effigy of Dr Jaswant Singh, raised slogans against him and staged a dharna outside his office.

However, a compromise was effected in the evening. Mr Parveen Bansal, councillor and leader of the Opposition in the MC house, said a meeting was held between both groups at the house of BJP leader Satpal Gosain, following which the protest had been called off.

Earlier, Mr Fanta had alleged that the Joint Commissioner had used abusive language against him while he had gone to his (Dr Jaswant) office to get some pending work done in his wife's ward.

However, Dr Jaswant Singh, had alleged in a press note that Mr Fanta had come to his office while abusing him. He had complained about streetlights in the area. ‘‘I assured him that the tenders had been passed for the work and it would be completed within a week but he started abusing me. I told him to behave as he was not the councillor but the husband of a councillor. I have reported the matter to the SSP, the Mayor and the Director of the Local Government,’’ he said.

The BJP leaders and workers held a dharna outside his office and when Dr Jaswant Singh left the office, they assembled outside his house and staged a dharna again. They also burnt his effigy.

Mr Bansal had earlier said he had heard Dr Jaswant Singh using foul language against Mr Fanta. He had said they would continue with the protest until Dr Jaswant Singh tendered an apology to Mr Fanta. He said a dharna would also be staged outside the MC office tomorrow.

Mr Fanta said all development works in his ward were lying pending. The MC with an annual budget of Rs 300 crore had no funds to provide civic amenities to residents, he said, alleging that manholes were uncovered in his ward and some roads were being repaired with sand patches.

He claimed that he had been making rounds of the MC office for the past three months to get the streetlights repaired but nothing had come out of it.



Admin sleeps as spurious drug trade flourishes
Drug inspectors sans vehicles, staff and security
Kuldeep Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 9
The health authorities and drug administration seem to have virtually closed their eyes on the various ills plaguing the drug trade in the district in general and city in particular. To make matters worse, the law enforcement infrastructure is woefully inadequate to curb the spurious drug menace.

There are more than 2000 retail and wholesale chemists in the district and nearly 400 in the city alone.

As no enforcement or regulation worth the name exists, the unscrupulous and opportunistic elements, both among the retail and wholesale chemists, are having a field day.

Sale of spurious, sub-standard and expired medicines, retail sale of medicines without the presence of qualified persons, evasion of sales tax and octroi and sale of psychotropic drugs are continuing with impunity.

In fact there has been a recent agitation by the chemists against alleged police repression on their colleagues in Muktsar district.

The health administration and the drug authorities have failed to check the menace of large-scale sale of intoxicating drugs and psychotropic substances by the chemists without the prescription of eligible medical practitioners as mandated under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Sources in the medicine trade disclose that a majority of retail chemist shops, both in the city and elsewhere in the district, are manned by unqualified persons which is grossly illegal.

The concerned chemists are said to have obtained the licenses by providing the name of pharmacists to whom a token sum of money is paid.

But for all practical purposes, these pharmacists, described as 'qualified persons' in the act, are never available at the chemist shop.

Although it is rather impossible to gauge the extent of sale of spurious, expired and sub-standard medicines, the sources say roughly 40 percent of the total sale of medicines comprises of these segments. A large quantity of 'physicians samples - not for sale' medicines also find their way to the market and are passed on to the unsuspecting buyers, which again, is a blatant violation of the act.

It also amounts to cheating and evasion of government taxes and duties.

Information gathered by the Ludhiana Tribune reveals that evasion of sales tax and octroi on sale of medicines worth several crores every day, is a well entrenched racket.

To aggravate the matters, it has been learnt that a special wagon-load of medicines is brought by one or two specific trains from Delhi each morning by a group of operators and is delivered at the door step of the traders.

The shady transaction obviously attracts no sales tax or octroi since those responsible for enforcement are allegedly in cahoots with the carriers.

In addition, the possibility of passing off spurious medicines in such consignments increases manifolds because the whole affair remains wrapped in secrecy.

The enforcement and regulatory authorities here have their own set of problems for going slow against the menace.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the district Drug Inspector, Mr Dinesh Gupta, says there are only 7 drug inspectors in the entire state with each of them entrusted to look after two to three districts.

"Not only this, the drug inspectors, who are supposed to inspect thousands of chemist shops in their respective districts, have no vehicles, no communication facilities, no supporting staff and no security,” he adds.

In short, the drug inspectors have not been provided the necessary infrastructure to cope with the enormity of the work," asserts Mr Gupta.

He, however, says that in accordance with the assigned monthly quota, 15 random samples of medicines are taken from the chemist shops.

During last around one year, 23 cases under the provisions of Drugs Act have been filed in local courts and another half-a-dozen cases are being processed for presentation before the court.



Streetlights remain on for five days
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
While residents of state are suffering on account of frequent power cuts, streetlights on the Nizam Road in Mohalla Mullan School Gali, near the Kesar Ganj Chowk, are switched on continuously for the past five days.

The residents have complained to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and Punjab State Electricity Board authorities a number of times, but nothing has been done so far.

Similar is the case in the Railway colony, near Raikhy Cinema.

‘‘Electricity is being wasted without any reason. Moreover, the lights, which remain on continuously, will develop snag easily. We are only going to suffer,” said Mr Harish Kumar Suneja, a congress leader in the area.

‘‘The lights are on for the past many days. We called up the MC office and the Commissioner’s camp office several times and registered our complaint. Nobody paid any heed.’’ said Mr Harsh, another resident.



Was accountant murdered?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The five-day-old alleged suicide case of an accountant, Harminder-pal Singh, in Sarup Nagar, Salem Tabri, has kicked up a controversy after some of his relatives termed it as murder and the police refusing to buy the theory.

Inderpal Singh, one of the five brothers of the deceased, has claimed that he and his other brothers have been running from pillar to post to get the suicide case converted into murder but the police was not even ordering an inquiry on his complaint. He said the window grill from which the man was found hanging was not at sufficient height for the purpose. He alleged that the man was first murdered and hanged there.

Surprisingly, the victim’s four children and wife were present in the house when the body was found. The man committed suicide around 3 a.m. but his family learnt about it only when the neighbours raised an alarm.

He alleged that his brother was killed by his wife and a tantrik, who wanted to set up a dera in the victim’s house.

The police claimed that the man had committed suicide on February 4 because of marital dischord and financial problems.

Mr Arvind Puri, SHO, Salem Tabri, asserted that the post-mortem examination report confirmed the suicide. He suspected the role of the victim’s brothers who were living separately.

Inderpal alleged that the victim’s wife had brought the tantrik home with her and was allegedly pressing her husband to vacate the house for setting up a dera. He claimed that his brother had refused and was killed.

Mr Puri claimed that there were no injury marks on the victim’s body.



Shelter homes for women in the offing
Applications invited from NGOs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The district administration has invited applications from NGOs for setting up a shelter home (nari niketans) for women.

Under the scheme, financial assistance would be given up to 90 percent of the approved cost on recurring and non-recurring expenditure and only 10 percent cost would have to be borne by NGOs.

The applications could be submitted in the office of Assistant Commissioner (General) in the Deputy Commissioner's Office in the Mini-Secretariat within a period of 15 days.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma today said the decision to set up such shelter homes had been taken at a meeting of the National Commission for Women, New Delhi, keeping in view the serious shortage of such centres in the state for the needy women.

He said these shelter homes would cater to the needy women/girls who were socially deprived and required special attention and assistance to come out of the problem.

The DC informed that the desired NGOs should submit the applications along with project reports with the details of building, equipments, and other infrastructure available at the office of AC (general) so that these could be sent to the Director, Social Securities, and Women and Children Development Department, Chandigarh, for further action.

Mr Verma said the shelter homes would be supported to offer services for identification and persuading women to use their facilities, including legal aid, to the needy women.

Giving details about the eligibility for the government grants, he informed that the organisations should have experience of working in the related area or should show evidence of competence to take up the proposed scheme.

Information relating to the grants received or likely to be received from the Centre, state government or any other body, including local bodies or voluntary organisations and a statement of full receipt and expenditure for the last two years coupled with a copy of the balance-sheet for the previous year should also be given.

He said the organisation forwarding the proposal should certify that it agreed to be responsible for administering and managing the finance, using the funds provided under the project exclusively for the project work, proper implementation of the programme/services for which grants have been received, submission of progress reports as may be prescribed by the Department of Women and Child Development and refunding the full amount with interest thereon in case of misuse or unauthorized use of the funds.

The government grants would be given for the construction of building or extension of existing buildings or rent of the building in which the service would be given, cost of equipment furniture charges etc due to the delivery of the service and other charges as might be necessary for the proper running of the program, he added.

Mr Verma said the application should be accompanied by the constitution of the association, its articles memorandum and its aims and objectives, constitution of the board management, present membership, and last annual report.



Schools tighten security to check kidnapping
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
Following the kidnapping of a child in Amritsar yesterday, schools, in and around Ludhiana, have taken stringent measures to avoid such mishaps.

Sister Maria Lena, Principal of Sacred Heart Convent Secondary School, said to avoid such incidents the school had deployed policemen and the teachers were also asked to see that the students leave the school safely. “No student is allowed to leave with any one other than parents during school hours. We instruct the students not to go out with anyone”, she said.

Ms Seema Malik, Principal of Delhi Public School, said: “We have always been careful to prevent such incidents. Now we are even more vigilant. We have issued passes with photographs to all people including parents, drivers who come to take the students. The security men do not allow students to go home with strangers.”

A majority of the schools are taking precautions for the safety of the students. Ms Baldeep Pandher, Principal of Green Land Senior Secondary School, said: “We have posted seven to eight persons outside the gate and even on the highway outside the school. All drivers are alerted not to allow students to go with strangers”

Ms Jaishree of Ryan International said they instructed the students not to go out with strangers. All students were asked to remember their telephone numbers and in case of any problems, the students were advised to come back to the school, she said.



Two jailed in attempt to murder case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
A fast-track court has sentenced Gulshan Kumar of Gurbax Colony and Surinder Kumar of Aman Nagar to rigorous imprisonment seven years each in an attempt to murder case. The duo were facing charges for trying to kill Satnam Singh of Bharti Colony in 2003.

Pronouncing the judgement, the presiding officer of the fast-track court, Mr Sunil Arora, held that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the accused. He also imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 each on them.

However, the court acquitted the co-accused, Kulwinder Singh of Aman Nagar, and Gurdev Singh of Abdullapur Basti.

The accused were booked under Sections 307, 323 and 324 of the IPC following the statement of Satnam Singh who said they had attacked him with sharp-edged weapons.



Rly passengers checked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
A massive exercise to check passengers travelling without ticket took place at the Sahnewal railway station where even Shatabdi was stopped for the purpose.

Staff of the Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ferozepore railway, apart from nearly 50 personnel from the GRP and the RPF, were part of the team.



Veterinarians sounded on zoonotic diseases
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab Agricultural University today warned against the great risk faced by the veterinarians in Punjab as they have tested positive for brucellosis.

He said it was a matter of great concern and more effort was required to control these zoonotic diseases, especially the newly emerging ones.

Inaugurating the third annual conference and national symposium on ‘New Approaches on Food Safety and Quality Control with Special Reference to Emerging Food Borne Diseases and Intoxicants’ organised by the Indian Association of Veterinary Public Health specialists at College of Veterinary Science, Dr Aulakh said food borne infections and intoxicants would be the major public health problems for developing countries like India.

He pointed out that with rapid industrialisation, mass food processing and lack of proper food quality control and specially non-implementation of legislation on food safety and quality had resulted in harm suffering due to food born illness associated with milk meat and products.

Lauding the role of the veterinarians, he said they contributed significantly towards the control of zoonotic diseases, food-borne intoxicants and infections.

Out of 22 major human diseases, 14 are zoonotic in nature which are responsible for the rural population to be at risk of various zoonotic diseases. He pointed out, “we have more than 16 million TB cases in India”.

Presenting the annual report, Dr R.K. Aggarwal, secretary of the association, said the veterinary public health was a new discipline in which all the veterinarians should take keen interest.

He said keeping in view the World Trade Organisation regime and global scenario it was the need of the hour to have a Department of Veterinary Public Health in all Agricultural Universities.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr V.N. Bachhil, president, IAVPHS, said the PAU takes keen interest in farmers and animal health and these were closely related as some of the infectious disease were transmitted to the human beings.

It is the primary responsibility of VPH to look after animal health because 80 per cent of the viral diseases from piggery, poultry and dairy were transmitted to human beings.

It was the need of the hour to develop some new techniques to test the food products from animal meat and milk. Quality control was mandatory because lot of fungal diseases occur due to environmental factors and excessive use of pesticides on crops, he added.

In his presidential address, Dr Nagender Sharma, Vice-Chancellor of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology said the VPH previously was related to animal diseases only but it has a vast scope because of transmission of many diseases from animals to human beings.

He observed that it was the duty of VPH to monitor the processing of food, its packing, marketing and transportation. The process of food safety was not completed unless these hazards were not cleared.

“For a successful food safety we require good management, good processing, and good marketing,” said Dr Sharma adding that the food processing factories should follow the quality control mechanism in order to meet the new emerging challenges of the WTO.

As a guest of honour, Dr H.W. Ockerman, Professor from Ohio State University, USA, thanked IAVPH for honouring him and appreciated the efforts made by the organisers. He said the Ohio State University had a long association with the PAU.



Plan on disaster management discussed

Ropar, February 9
In a significant move to cope with crisis triggered by hazardous industrial units in the district or natural calamity, a team of experts from the Disaster management Institute of Bhopal here today presented the plan to the district administration. The team, including Mr Rakesh Dubey and Ms Raina Bains, explained a plan to a group of district crisis management, said the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain. She said keeping in mind the accident hazards in any unit in the district, the expert had prepared the off-site plan. The expert had also explained separate disaster management techniques for the hazardous industrial units.



King Gyanendra’s effigy burnt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Hundreds of Nepalese owing affiliation to the Pravasi Nepali Sangh (Bharat) today staged a protest demonstration against the dismissal of the Nepalese Government on February 1 by the King Gyanendra.

They condemned the action of the dismissal of Sher Bahadur Deuba government. They also burnt an effigy of the King.

Hundreds of Nepalese are living in Ludhiana and most of them are aligned with the Pravasi Nepali Sangh (Bharat). They took out a procession shouting slogans against the King for his “dictatorial and undemocratic” action. The Nepalese alleged that the King had acted in most undemocratic manner.

The Nepalese blamed the King for all the ills facing the country. They pointed out that it was the “feudal and aristocratic” style of the King which had left Nepal as one of the most backward nations in the world.

They said while the King himself relished in luxury, the ordinary Nepalese were dying in poverty.

They hoped that better sense would prevail upon the King and he would restore democracy in the country.



Gang of thieves busted, four held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The police today claimed to have arrested four members of a gang of thieves, allegedly responsible for a large number of theft and burglary incidents in the city.

Addressing a press conference, Mr R.S. Sohal, SHO, said Amandeep Singh, Sumeet, Anoop Singh and Onkar Singh had been arrested and several stolen items had been recovered from their possession.

The gang members would identify target during the day and would break in at night. They targeted shops and houses in Ghumar Mandi.



MC clerk ends life
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 9
Inder Singh (50) of Geeta Colony here reportedly committed suicide by jumping before a train near the new grain market level crossing at about 6.30 am today.

According to information, Inder Singh was employed with municipal council. The reason behind the suicide is not known yet. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

The body was brought to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination and later handed over to his relatives. The railway police has initiated proceedings under Section 174, CrPC.



70 kg of poppy husk seized

Sahnewal, February 9
In a major seizure the police recovered 70 kg of poppy husk from a gang near Kanech village today, as per information by the SHO. Four residents of Jalandhar, were caught during a naka imposed at the village. A case has been registered. OC



Woman labourer dies in fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
A 28-year-old migrant labourer was burnt alive when a fire broke out in her thatched hut at Hussainipura village today.

Shobha Devi, mother of two, could not be saved despite efforts of her husband, eyewitnesses said. He also suffered burns.

The police is conducting proceedings under Sections 174, CrPc. It was unclear if the woman set herself on fire or if it was caused by accident. Her children were playing outside when the fire broke out.



Motor parts assn sends proposals to Finance Minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
In its pre-Budget proposals to the Finance Minister sent today, the Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has highlighted various issues pertaining to the auto parts industry.

Stating that the investment limit of plant and machinery for auto parts in the small-scale sector should be raised from Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 crore, the association said.

Mr G.S. Kahlon, president of the association, said the auto parts industry needed to adopt the latest techniques and machines like the CNC to ensure growth. "In order to meet international standards it is necessary to raise the investment limit of plant and machinery to Rs 5 crore," he stated in the memorandum.

Regarding the control over steel prices, the association said the rise in the prices of steel had badly affected the industry. "The duty on defective scrap should be reduced from the existing 40 per cent to 5 per cent and DEPB facilities to exporters of steel to China should be abolished," it said.

It also recommended the setting up of a steel consultative committee at the Union Steel Ministry level to ensure control on steel prices.

Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association, said before the implementation of VAT, Central Sales Tax (CST) should be abolished and all other taxes should be merged into the VAT system for its successful application.



Biz Clips

Bonus: SBI Life Insurance Company on Wednesday announced 4 per cent annual interim bonus on its pension policy Lifelong Pensions for 2004-05. It will be payable on all policies that are in force as on September 30, 2004. This bonus is in addition to the guaranteed return of 4 per cent per annum to Lifelong Pensions policy holders, a press note said. TNS

Function: The Oriental Bank of Commerce will conduct a state language prize distribution function here on Thursday. Mr Rajiv Rishi, Deputy General Manager, will give away prizes to winners, according to a press note. TNS


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