L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Flood scare in villages near Sutlej
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, said there was nothing to worry for Ludhianvis as in any case Pareechu water would never reach Ludhiana. He said following the reports of flash floods in Himachal he had spoken to the Chief Engineer of the Irrigation Department, the Punjab Government, who had ruled out any possibility of flash floods in the region.

Mr Verma said the Chief Engineer had told him that the water flowing into the Bhakra Dam was flowing 100 metres below its maximum capacity and if the artificial lake formed in the Tibet developed a breach it would raise the level of the dam by 5 metres only.

He added that the district was prepared to tackle any eventuality in view of the monsoons. He said he had directed the officials to be ready by July 1 and set up flood control rooms at vulnerable sites. 

Madhepura (Ludhiana), June 27
Villagers living alongside the Dhussi bandh on the Sutlej are having anxious moments following flash floods in Himachal Pradesh yesterday caused by overflow of water from the Pareechu lake in Tibet, even as the district administration has ruled out any possibility of flooding in Ludhiana due to the Pareechu lake waters.

While the Jagraon police today set up a flood control room at Madhepura village, identified as one of the most vulnerable sites prone to floods, the damaged studs spoke volumes about the preparedness of the administration to fight any eventuality.

The police shifted rescue material to the flood control room and installed a wireless unit for speedy communication in case of any eventuality.

Unfortunately, the studs erected right near the control rooms badly needed repairs. Villagers said these would be washed away with any fast current of water posing threat to the Dhussi bandh. Once water hit the bandh, it would wash away scores of villages.

The administrative officials, however, said there was no direct threat from the flash floods the measures were being taken as a normal exercise in the wake of ensuing monsoon season.

The Jagraon police sets up a wireless unit in Madhepura village in Ludhiana on Monday
The Jagraon police sets up a wireless unit in Madhepura village in Ludhiana on Monday. — A Tribune photograph 

A survey of a number of villages alongside the Dhussi bandh by a Tribune team revealed that many villages situated on the flood-prone sites, including Madhepura, Sherewal, Kannian, Gidderwindi and Chotti Masianh villages, were living at the mercy of weather Gods only. Residents said even if there was no threat from the Pareechu waters, their fears had been compounded due to the coming monsoon season.

Though Madhepura had faced worst of floods twice in 1978 and 1988 and the entire village was washed away, the residents of this village said they had to bear the brunt of situation every time there were floods.

Similar tales were narrated by residents of other villages, including Bonker Dogran, Khaira Bet, Gor Sianh Hakam Khan, Bholewal and Kharak, who had tasted the fury of floods a number of times. The villagers said during rains they were not able to sleep at nights.

The villagers of Gor Siahn Hakam Rai said the government had spent a lot of money on erecting spurs as well as studs to contain the high velocity currents of water but that was not sufficient. They said every year after the onset of monsoon, they had to move their family and household goods to some relatives’ house in Ludhiana city as the water inundated their village.

Mr Surjit Singh, a resident of Baghian Bet village, said their village being in close vicinity of the river had become habitual of witnessing officials of various departments in this season. “When the monsoon is round the corner they make a beeline to our village. Look at the damaged spurs in Madhepur. Those are the ones, which save us from the river water but when these are vulnerable how we will be saved. ’’ he asked.

Mr Kashmir Singh, a Rai Sikh of Sherewal village, said even last time all these villages were washed away in floods. Villagers suffered losses of lakhs of rupees, besides loosing many lives. “But it did not make any difference to the government.”

He rued that flood or no flood, their agricultural land that lines the bandh had to withstand the situation every year. “Last year also our paddy crop was washed away. This year also we are very worried.’’ he said while standing in his kutcha house. ‘‘If the bandh is strengthened, we can also build a pucca house. However, who cares?’’

While there has been no measures taken for the flood control at many of these sites the work of desilting of drains has also not started.



Minor girl ‘raped’; uncle booked
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 27
A minor girl of Ghungrali Sikhan village has accused her maternal uncle of handing her over to some persons who had allegedly raped her. The police has registered a case against the uncle and some other persons in this connection at Samrala police station.

The victim, Ramandeep Kaur (14) daughter of the late Sadhu Singh, had complained that on June 14 at about 8 a.m. her uncle, Samardeep Singh, came to their house and told her that his wife ( her aunt) Sunita was ill. He asked her to go to his house as he had got permission from her mother. She was alone in the house at that time as her mother, Inderjit Kaur, had gone to work. The victim, Ramandeep, said she sat on the scooter of her uncle. When they reached near Sangatpura village her uncle stopped the scooter near a car parked on the roadside. Some persons sitting in the car pulled her in the car. Her uncle returned on the scooter. They took her to a room where all the accused started molesting her and forced her to drink whisky and cigarettes. They all allegedly raped her. She said she did not know them but could identify all of them if they were produced before her. The accused threatened the victim of dire consequence if she told anyone about the incident.

After that the accused threw her on a road near her village. Mr Gurpal Singh, Sarpanch of the village, noticed the girl lying on the road. He informed the mother of the victim. The girl was produced before the SDM Samrala where she recorded her statement. She fell unconscious. She gained consciousness on June 26 at Samrala Civil Hospital. The Police has registered a case under Section 376, 342, 506 and 34 IPC after recording her statement.



Bid to manhandle murder accused in court complex
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
A mob tried to manhandle three accused of murdering a resident of Chowni Mohalla at the district courts this afternoon. The mob, consisting of over 150 men and women, attacked the accused advocate, Thakur Singh, and two of his accomplices, including a woman, when they were being produced in a court by the Salem Tabri police.

Enraged at the murder, the mob consisting of aggrieved family members, relatives and residents of Chowni Mohalla attacked the police team that brought the accused to the court. The police had to use force to keep the protesters at bay but could not stop some of them from breaking into the cordon. The mob hurled abuses at the accused demanding stringent punishment for them.

The mob led by some Congress leaders had gathered outside the court complex since morning waiting for the accused to be produced. The police delayed bringing the accused but the unrelenting mob did not budge.

Finally, when more police force was requisitioned, Thakur Singh, his accomplices Amrik Singh and Bhinder Kaur were brought to the court. However, some persons from the mob came close to manhandling the accused.

Spokesperson for the protesters, Goldy Sabharwal, former vice president, District Youth Congress, Pinky Arora and Manjit Kaur, both vice-presidents of the District Mahila Congress, said they had staged the protest to express anger at the brutal murder of Lalit Kumar, alias Tony, who was allegedly poisoned to death by the accused.

The spokesperson demanded immediate cancellation of the licence of the advocate. Thakur Singh and others were arrested by a team of Salem Tabri police two days ago. They had been charged with murdering Lalit Kumar, a munshi and resident of Chowni Mohalla here. He had been missing since May-12 and a complaint in this regard had been lodged with the police. The revelation had shocked the family of the victim as the accused had allegedly been expressing sympathy with the family.

The three others arrested by the police were Amrik Singh, his wife Bhinder Kaur and Ashok Kumar.

The police officials said during investigations, it was found that the relationship between the advocate and the munshi had got strained in the recent past over the issue of a missing cheque.



Lovers commit ‘suicide’
Tribune News Service

Baghian (Sidhwan Bet), June 27
Rai Sikh boy Gurdeep Singh, 24, and Dalit girl Mandeep, 18, consumed some poisonous substance in an alleged suicide pact on Friday. The girl died in the Jagraon Civil Hospital on the same night, while the boy died yesterday in the DMC Hospital, Ludhiana.

This remote village that lacks basic civic amenities is in the limelight these days due to alleged suicides, which took place because of strict opposition to their marriage.

The girl’s family was so anguished over the incident that initially they did not claim her body for three days. Later, at the intervention of the Sidhwan Bet police the family took the body.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, SHO, Sidhwan Bet, said both were in love for the past three years. They wanted to get married but could not overcome the caste barrier. Both allegedly met outside the village and consumed some poisonous substance.

The boy worked at a shop while the girl was a school dropout. Though the families did not talk to mediapersons, they admitted to the police regarding their love affair.

Mr Jaswinder Singh said the caste difference was a major problem though marriage within the same village was also not common in Punjab. Most of the villagers preferred to remain silent on the issue.



3 city youths die in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Three city youths were reportedly killed and another seriously injured when the car they were travelling in fell over a bridge into a gorge near Udhampur in Jammu and Kashmir early this morning.

The deceased have been identified as Rana, Sukhwinder Singh and Sandhu, while the injured has been identified as Amit Kumar.

They all were residents of Dugri and were on their way to Srinagar. They were travelling in a Skoda car.



Chaos reigns at Sub-Registrar’s office
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 27
The privatisation of the computerisation service of registration of revenue transactions, including sale deeds and agreements, have created chaos at the local Sub-Registrar’s office as the parties had to wait for hours before they could get their deeds registered. Local leaders have urged the district administration to restore the proper functioning of the office.

Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, however, claimed that the problem would be solved soon as she had taken up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, who had directed the contractor to depute experienced staff for the purpose.

Mr Darshan Kumar Shastri, an office-bearer of the Property Advisers Association, said the registration work at the office had been disrupted since June 22 when the work was given to a contractor. “Contrary to the common belief that privatisation would improve the service, the public have been facing harassment since the installation of three computers by replacing one by a private contractor. Interestingly, the operators deputed by the contractor did not know the basics of computer applications,” said Mr Shastri.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, former councillor apprehended that besides causing harassment to the public, the system might increase chances of tempering with the revenue records. “As the antecedents of the staff appointed by the contractors have not been verified before entrusting them the job of registering the transactions worth crores, there are chances that the files maintained in the computers might be tempered with,” apprehended Mr Bhola.

Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, SAD leader and councillor, accused the state government of compromising with the interests of the public. He claimed that the privatisation of such services for which the government was getting huge revenue pointed towards the failure of the administration.

Mr Amit Kumar, one of the contractors, admitted that the problem arose due to initiation of the process. “Otherwise we are handling 16 other offices in the district where there is no problem in the functioning,” stated Mr Amit. He said the staff would be changed in case they could not mange the things.



Inauguration of work on road during rains flayed
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 27
The strengthening work on the Ahmedgarh-Sangrur stretch of the 70 km-long Ludhiana-Sangrur road was to be completed by June 30 but the work has not started yet. Meanwhile the work on the Ludhiana-Ahmedgarh stretch was inaugurated by Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, yesterday.

Opposition leaders have questioned the inauguration of the strengthening work of the road at Gill village at a time when the rains have started.

The formal inauguration of the strengthening work on the road had taken place on April 21 and the authorities had claimed that by June end the road would be ready for motoring. Though the work on the stretch of road between Malerkotla and Sangrur had started immediately after the inauguration no span of the road has yet become motorable. The sources revealed that the paucity of funds halted the construction of the road.

The work on the road, stretching between Ludhiana and the local town, has not been started reportedly due to technical problems regarding the implementation of VAT.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, SAD MLA from Kilaraipur, termed the inauguration of the work on the Ludhiana-Ahmedgarh stretch as an eyewash and questioned the justification of work during rainy season. “Even a layman can understand that the ongoing rainy season would not allow the construction work of any nature. Particularly, in the case of road construction, dry and hot weather was required for laying premix carpet on the surface,” argued Mr Garcha.

Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, local councillor and SAD leader, said the condition of the road would worsen after rain. He apprehended that water filled potholes might cause major accidents as the drivers would not be able to see them. 



ST Advisory Committee becomes redundant!
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 27
As a result of indifference on the part of senior officials of the Excise and Taxation Department here, the Sales Tax Advisory Committee, constituted by the state government, has virtually been rendered redundant.

Having been notified more than a year ago, the meetings of the committee were not being held at a regular monthly interval, the names of the members had not been circulated among the officers and the advisory committee had, for all practical purposes, failed to carry out the desired task of working as a bridge between the tax payers and the department.

In a memorandum submitted to the Punjab Minister for Excise and Taxation, Mr Sardool Singh, two members of the committee — Mr Sushil Malhotra and Mr Shiv Gupta — have pointed out that due to a huge communication gap, the members of trade and industry are facing a lot of problems after the valued added tax (VAT) was introduced in the state from April 1. Since the Sales Tax Advisory Committee had not been given importance by the officials, the nominated members found it difficult to take up the problems of the assessees at an appropriate level.

They maintained that in the absence of interaction between the committee and the department officials, the very purpose of constituting such committees was defeated. Moreover, the delay in the redressal of the problems and grievances of tax payers, caused by communication gap, was leading to utter disappointment and frustration among traders and members of industry.

Both Mr Malhotra and Mr Gupta were of the firm opinion that the government ought to have launched a comprehensive campaign to educate the tax payers as well as the general public with implication and intricacies of VAT after the new tax regime was started in Punjab from April. “Even after nearly three months of switching over to the new system of tax, the officials of the Sales Tax Department and the assessees are still groping in the dark and various provisions of VAT are still unknown to the affected parties.”

Apart from taking necessary steps to activate the Sales Tax Advisory Committee all over the state, the government should come out with detailed literature, booklets and pamphlets so that the ambiguities in the VAT Act could be explained to the tax payers in a most simple manner and the new tax structure could yield the desired results.



Revive handloom project under SGSY, says study
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
The Bathinda district has the potential to form 2,000 self-help groups, says a study conducted by the Agriculture Finance Corporation(AFC). The corporation was commissioned by Punjab National Bank (PNB) with a view to expanding its operations in micro financing. According to the AFC, there is a potential for an investment of Rs 13.60 crore against the present investment of Rs 80 lakh.

A team of experts, who undertook the study, recommended that the handloom project in the district under the SGSY be revived. It also suggested credit linkages of self-help groups and using them as distribution channel.

“As 56 groups in blocks Sangat, Nathana, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda and Phul are still operating they can be revived by providing them training, input and marketing support for the cloth produced with proper buyback arrangement with textile mills,” the AFC said.

The team pointed out that “capable and dedicated” NGOs, which were a vital link in organising, sustaining and developing self-help groups were in short supply in Punjab. Till such groups were able to undertake viable income generating activities, the banks would have to play a pro-active role in the formation of self-help groups and getting support from Nabard.

The AFC also said constraints in self-help group linkages were mainly due to illiteracy, interference by vested interests, lack of knowledge of banking norms and procedures. Besides, there is also inadequate manpower in bank branches, frequent transfer of bank staff, rigid procedures and poor rural orientation of bank employees, which discouraged self-help groups to approach them.

The team said the lack of coordination and efforts by banks, panchayat samitis, BDOs, DRDAs in identifying BPL families also deprived such group from availing loans. There were also problems related to skill training of group members, the identification of income generating activities and also marketing. It also said corporates and bank’s industrial customers should be persuaded to use such groups as marketing channel for their products.

The middle term measures recommended were — organising rickshaw-pullers as self-help groups in urban areas by providing them hire purchase facility of rickshaws, bulk finance to corporations for onward lending to such groups, development of NGOs and encouraging anganwari workers towards the same and flexible and rural-oriented approach by banks.

The team recommended that the banks should develop an exclusive cell for micro finance activity involving self-help groups, their development and credit linkages and also streamline BPL concept and target uplift of poor through such groups and government schemes.



62nd round of National Sample Survey from July
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
The 62nd round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) will begin from July. The round would cover unorganised manufacturing enterprises, apart from consumer expenditure , employment and unemployment.

“The survey would help assess the performance, growth and contribution of the unorganised manufacturing enterprises, which forms around 94 per cent of the total enterprises towards the economy,” said Mr Surinder Singh, Superintendent and Head, NSSO, Ludhiana.

The NSSO, under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, today started a three-day regional training conference for the survey. The conference was inaugurated by Mr R.C. Chopra, Director, Small Industries Service Institute (SISI). Over 75 delegates are attending the conference.

Mr Surinder Singh said in order to reveal multi-dimensional aspects of employment-unemployment situation in India, information on several correlates would also be gathered in the survey, that would continue till June, 2006. The concept and procedures to be followed in the survey would primarily be based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Unemployment Estimates.

“Except Leh and Kargil districts of Jammu and Kashmir, interior villages of Nagaland and those situated beyond 5 km of bus route, villages in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which remain inaccessible throughout the year, the entire country would be covered,” he said.

It was in the 56th round, during July, 2000, to June, 2001, that the unorganised manufacturing sector was covered. “As a follow-up of the Fourth Economic Census, 1998, a survey of manufacturing enterprises in the unorganised sector was conducted in the 56th round of the NSS. The 62nd round is basically a repetition of the 56th round survey in terms of concepts and coverage,” Mr Surinder Singh said.

This round would be divided into four sub-rounds of three months’ duration each, during which an equal number of sample villages or blocks would be allotted.

The government is conducting training of field staff throughout the country, Mr Surinder Singh said. Inaugurating the regional training conference, Mr Chopra emphasised on the accuracy of data to be collected so as to ensure that results are comparable and the analysis is correct.

Mr B.K. Giri, director, Sample Design and Research Division, Kolkata, Mr Mewa Singh, Deputy Economic and Statistical Adviser, Ludhiana, and Mr Harjit Kumar, Superintendent, members of the State Directorate of Economics and Statistics and representatives from government departments were present.



Amarnath yatris being fleeced
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Various non-governmental organisations (NGO) providing free of cost services to the Amarnath yatris have alleged that some private traders and ponywallas have been fleecing the pilgrims.

These organisations reveal that the pilgrims were being charged much more than the charges prescribed by the government.

There are a number of NGOs from Punjab serving langar and providing other facilities to the pilgrims free of cost. According to Mr Rajan Gupta, general secretary of Shri Amarnath Baltal Langars Organisation, “The pilgrims are being looted”.

He said the ponywallas were charging Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per pilgrim from Baltal to the Amarnath cave and return, against the prescribed rate of Rs 1,600 fixed by the government. He alleged that the state government had failed to take note of the situation and was allowing the “loot of the pilgrims”.

There are hundreds of pilgrims, who cannot walk to the cave.

So they have to take the service of the ponies. For this the government has fixed Rs 1,600 as charges for pilgrimage on panies from the Baltal base camp to the holy cave.

“But these rates appear to have been confined to the official files only as nobody bothers to enforce these”, Mr Gupta revealed, while adding, “Even if somebody complains, the complaints go unheeded”.

He appealed to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board to ensure that the pilgrims had a hassle-free pilgrimage.

“It is not only the pilgrims who have to face the problems but also the langar organisations find it difficult to transport their material to different places on the way to the holy cave. The ponywallas charge exhorbitantly from the langar organisations”, Mr Gupta said.



Floating object found in bottle of Maaza
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 27
It was meant to be a bottle of soft drink containing fruit pulp, supposed to soothe the parched throat of a consumer. But a bottle of Maaza, marketed by The Coca Cola company, could have spelt disaster had it escaped the watchful eyes of the owner of a confectionery shop here.

Mr Bhupinder Singh of Kids Confectionery in Simlapuri today brought a bottle of Maaza to the Ludhiana Tribune office here, which had a 3-4 inches long object, looking like a dart, floating in it. He said his brother, who ran the shop, had noticed the floating object in the bottle before it could be sold to someone.

According to Mr Bhupinder Singh, officials of the local bottlers were intimated and the bottle, with the bottling date marked as April 19, 2005, was shown to Mr Ajay Kumar Gosain and Mr Shiv Kumar, Supervisor and Manager, respectively, of the bottling company here. To the utter shock and dismay of the shop owners, the company officials did not feel apologetic over this lapse on their part and rather misbehaved with them.

Later on, the owner of the shop was asked to hand over the bottle containing a floating object to the company officials in exchange for one or two crates of the same product. But Mr Bhupinder Singh decided to highlight the issue through media.



Drive against drugs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 27
The Indian Anti-Drug Addictions Forum (Regd) organised an awareness programme for youth here yesterday under the presidentship of Mr H.R. Tripathi, president of the forum, where importance of the International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking was highlighted with the view to creating awareness among the public.

Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary of the forum, Mr Sushil Malhotra, president of Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum (Regd), Dr Ajay Shahi, president of National Forum for Consumers’ Rights, Mr Sunder Lal Mehta, vice-chairman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Harish Kapoor, president of the Hosiery and Industrial Workers’ Association, addressed the public and alerted them against drugs like opium, bhukki, smack, cough syrups, alcohol, heroine, charas and ganja used by youth, rural labourers, agriculturists, college students.

Though the Central Government had enacted several legislations, yet the problem could not be solved unless the citizens themselves do not help in controlling the menace. Smuggling of drugs still continues from neighbouring countries like Pakistan and China.

Mr Tripathi and Mr Malhotra alleged that drugs were being supplied in jails to prisoners by the police itself, which should be strictly controlled. Many police personnel are themselves habitual users of opium and bhukki. Therefore, the higher authorities of the police in Punjab should check the menace in the police force. Sometimes false cases of possession of opium and bhukki are registered to implicate persons in the police chowkis.

Mr Shiv Gupta, general secretary of the Indian Anti-Drug Addiction Forum ( Regd), appealed to the district administration and health authorities to control effectively and ensure that no drugs were supplied by chemists to addicted people. Anti-drug seminars should be organised in schools, colleges, private factories and rural areas to educate the public against use of drugs.



Truckers go on strike today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Truck operators, tempo operators and three-wheeler drivers would observe strike tomorrow in protest against the recent hike in petrol and diesel prices. Mr Jagdish Singh Jassowal of the Punjab State Goods Transports Association said as many as 72 unions of vehicle operators in Punjab would join the nationwide strike.

There would be no loading or unloading, booking or delivery on that day, he said. Mr Jassowal said in order to make the bandh call successful, various associations across the state had put volunteers on duty. The associations had also put up posters declaring the bandh in Transport Nagar.



Summer camp concludes 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 27
Gurkirpa Playway and Daycare Centre organised a summer camp, Fun Fest, which concluded yesterday. A large number of children turned up for the camp. Dances like Giddha, Bhangra and Dandiya were taught to children by professionals.

Children also learnt to play harmonium and tabla. A painting competition was also held in the school sponsored by Met-Life India.

To beat the heat on the last day, a pool party was organised.



9 workers found absent
Our Correspondent

Amloh, June 27
During a surprise visit to local offices at 9.15 a.m. today, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parlimentary Secretary (Home, Justice and PWD), found nine employees not present in the SDM Tehsil offices.

Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, said he had issued warning to those employees who were found arrive late to office. All employees of the Sub- treasury Office were found present. Mr Dharmost told mediapersons that he held public meetings from 9 am to 10.30 am at the Municipal Complex here and from 11am onwards at the Municipal Complex, Mandi Gobindgarh, every Monday to listen to the problems of people.



P.S. Johal is Joint Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 27
Mr Pritam Singh Johal assumed charge as Joint Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, here today. He has replaced Ms Babita Kler, who was posted at Jalandhar recently. The last posting of Mr Johal was at Ropar where he was District Transport Officer. He met Mayor of Ludhiana and Commissioner, MC, on the first day of his new assignment.



Seminar on hair styling
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 27
The Piazza Beauty Parlour and Training Institute will hold a seminar on latest hairstyles, hair colouring and hair straightening here tomorrow.More than 100 participants are expecting to attend the seminar.“The seminar will be beneficial for the participants as different types of hair colouring will be taught”, said Mr Abhay, main organiser of the seminar.


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