L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Students’ lives at risk
Portion of school roof collapses due to rain
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, July 11
Even as children of Government Elementary School at Kutcha Number 16 in Prem Nagar here continue to risk their lives, sitting under a partially collapsed roof, the district administration has merely ordered the repair of school instead of shifting the children to a safer place.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, said since the matter of possession of the school building was in court, he had directed the District Education Officer (Elementary) to take the opinion of the District Attorney (Legal) before undertaking any repairs in the school.

He said the DEO had met him over the issue. Her department had taken the decision not to shift the school.

Meanwhile, the department took stringent measures in an effort to stop the media from photographing the place. The schoolteachers offered stiff opposition to the Tribune Photographer, stating that they had received a written note that they would have to face action if they entertained mediapersons.

A visit to the school showed students sitting in the open as the rooms were used as toilets. The rooms were later cleaned by a part-time sweeper and the children shifted inside.

Due to the hot and humid weather, the children, who were constantly fanning themselves, found it difficult to concentrate on what was being taught. There is no electricity connection. Another cause of distraction street urchins who were pelting stones at girls in the school.

Teachers said attendance in the school was falling each passing day as the parents preferred to keep their children at home. Due to rains, the chances of a roof collapse had increased manifold.

However, Ms Harvinder Kaur, DEO, when contacted, said she was looking for a place to shift the students. She said she was holding meetings with officials of the department and soon a solution to the problem would be found. 



Five held for robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The Ludhiana police today claimed to have foiled a robbery of Rs 20 lakh from outside KG Forgings Company in the Focal Point area and arrested five persons. The arrested persons are Balwinder Singh, alias Sonu an employee of KG Forgings, and Sukhdev Singh, alias Sabi, Paramjit Singh, Shankar Gautam and Akhilesh Pandey, who worked as labourers in other factories.

The police claimed that the five had planned to snatch Rs 20 lakh from a cashier of KG forgings, who was to take the cash to a sub unit of the factory on the pay day yesterday. As per the plan, Balwinder Singh was to inform the other four about the departure of the cashier.

However, the police acted with alacrity following a secret information and caught the four just a few minutes before they were going to commit the crime, claimed the police.

According to the SP(D), Mr Gurpreet Singh Toor, the five had come in contact with each other some months ago. They used to eat together in a local dhaba and it was there that they hatched a conspiracy to commit the crime. Balwinder had allegedly told them that he had seen the cashier of his company taking cash to the sub unit on the tenth day of every month.

The police got information about their criminal plan and arrested them. The SP said earlier also they had planned to commit robbery twice, but had failed due to some reasons.

A case under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC has been registered against the accused. 



Is city becoming a haven for criminals?
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, July 11
On July 3 family members living in the lower portion of a kothi in Beant Pura along the Chandigarh Road woke up to find that the upper portion had been thoroughly ransacked by burglars who decamped with Rs 5.5 lakh, a revolver and some jewellery. Mr. Sarabjit Singh, a mill owner, had locked the residential portion before leaving for Chandigarh along with his family. The division number 7 police registered a case.

On July 4 four Tata Sumo-borne men kidnapped an employee of a businessman in Mandi Kesar Ganj from near the general bus stand while he was waiting for a bus to Nabha to deliver a payment of Rs 3.5 lakh there. He was robbed of the money and thrown out of the vehicle near Lalton Kalan village.

In another incident the same day, burglars struck at the house of a jeweller in Raman Enclave at night while the family was sleeping in the verandah and took away Rs 15 lakh and 1 kg of gold.

Gurcharan Singh, a factory worker, who was driving the company’s auto, was deprived of Rs 8,200 in the evening near Giaspura railway crossing. Just as he restarted the auto after some wait at the crossing, five men surrounded him from all sides and ordered him to part with the money. After some initial bickering between the GRP and the Sherpur police over the matter of jurisdiction, the former agreed to register a case.

On July 5 two motor cycle-borne youths snatched a gold chain from around the neck of Ms Sukhpal Kaur, minutes after she came out of the gurdwara in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar falling under the jurisdiction of Sarabha nagar police station and sped away.

Earlier in the day, perhaps the same pair of motor cycle-borne chain snatchers had targeted one of the two girls walking in Durga Puri in Haibowal. But somehow this time , they could not make a clean snatch of it. While the chain fell down on the ground, the robbers fled away with the gold pendant only. A youth passing by tried to overpower the snatchers but they managed to speed away in the direction of Chuharpur village.

On July 6 Ms Paramjit Kaur, a resident of Dhandari village, had come to gurdwara Pheruman near the Dholewal chowk in the morning to pay obeisance there. While she was still in the gurdwara premises, a man snatched her purse and ran away. The purse contained Rs 25,000 and some jewellery.

Later in the evening, a migrant working in a hosiery, who boarded an auto from Focal Point to reach the railway station, was deprived of Rs 35,000, his savings of two years , which he wanted to take along to his native village. As he tried to resist the robbers, he was stabbed and thrown out of the vehicle. In this case, the auto driver was clearly in league with the robbers.

On July 7 a gang of thieves ransacked four shops in Jamalpur falling under the jurisdiction of division number 7 police station and decamped with several thousand rupees kept in the cash boxes.

It seems the city has become an ideal haven for burglars and snatchers as it provides ample scope for their nefarious activities. The cases mentioned above do not paint the real picture of the city’s crime scene. For, the number of snatchings and thefts is definitely much more. Some of these, being minor in nature, are not reported to the police. In other cases, the police dilly dallies in registering a theft case ( just to keep the statistics straight) to such an extent that the complainant gives it up in the end. It is indeed very difficult to get the theft of a scooter or a car registered at any police station in the city.

In some cases the policemen are even willing to compensate for the loss to persuade a complainant to forget about lodging a report.

In the chain-snatching incident of July 5 in Durga Puri, it was learnt later on that the motorcycle-borne had been sitting outside a temple in the area for quite some time and prior to that they had been roaming around in various streets of the locality. Though more than 100 motor cycles, belonging to the PCR squad of the city police, patrol the city streets round-the-clock, these have seldom crossed the path of burglars and snatchers. It was a rare chance when a PCR team had detected the activity of those trying to bust a bank along the Ferozepur road some time ago.

Observers of the city’s crime scene ridicule the obsolete motor cycles provided to the PCR squad. These old Enfield mobikes are not able to chase even a fast Luna, they say emphatically.



Polythene bags give MC tough time
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
Before you throw polythene bags in sewers, spare a thought for the sewermen of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, (LMC). Polythenes result in choking of the system and it is the civic body who has to take the blame for the persistent problem.

While governments of many states have banned the use of plastic bags, the MC officials look upto the state government to ban the same. At times recommendations in this regard are also sent to officials concerned citing the menace of bags as the major deterrent for not being able to keep the city clean.

A lot of manpower of the MC is wasted in cleaning the sewer manholes that choke due to various reasons with the polythene bags being a major cause. The MC receives a number of complaints regarding overflowing of sewerage and it has to depend on sewer men to clean the mess.

“After talking to sewer men a number of times, we have come to this conclusion that polythene bags are to be blamed for the persistent problem. In most of the cases, where sewerage overflows, polythene bags followed by other kinds of litter is known to be the cause. We keep on appealing to the residents for being careful while disposing off the polythene bags,” said an official of the MC.

While it is the residents, who are to be blamed, the civic body has to face their ire instead, when they protest due to choking of the system that causes a plethora of problems. “They throw garbage filled in polythene bags in the drains. Finally, these bags make way into the system. Finally it gets choked,” he said adding that these were lifted by winds and deposited here and there in the drains also.

Being non-biodegradable, the polythene bags do not disintegrate and caused choking. Moreover, other kinds of garbage got stuck in these and create problems, the official added.

He said they had raised issue at various meetings also but no step was taken to do something to curb the menace. District administrative officials said the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate, Ludhiana, Mr Anurag Verma, had already prohibited the manufacture and use of polythene bags made of recycled plastic having thickness less than 20 microns and using carry bags or containers made of recycled plastic for storing, carrying, dispensing or packing off food stuff.

He had also directed the shopkeepers not to sell polythene bags of plastic having thickness less than 20 microns. The orders had been passed under Section 144 of the CrPC. But the orders are silent on the use of plastic bags.



Passing Thru

Ms Sudipta Sen Gupta
Ms Sudipta Sen Gupta, head, marketing, Cage Coffee Day

Do you find any dis-similarity in tastes of people in Punjab from those in rest of the country when it comes to coffee shops?

Punjabis love food. you would be surprised to know that after operating in the country for more than six years, when we entered Punjab markets, we had to undergo a revamping. People here prefer having snakes along with coffee unlike people in other parts of the country. Realising this, we introduced food items as well in our menu and today the revenue that comes from food is 45-50 per cent of the total in case of Punjab whereas for other states it is less than 30 per cent.

Any new offerings in food items?

Yes, we have begun revamping of the menu to include health and freshness element. We would use items like herbs, bran, sunflower and multi-grains in our snacks to increase the nutritional value of food we offer. The core focus is coffee but food makes up a good portion of our entire cafe experience.

What are the other changes you are planning?

Changes would be made in a format depending on preferences of clientele in certain areas bringing out a combination of coffee through cyber cafes, music cafes, garden cafes, open air seating, round-the-clock road travel and coffee through highways cafes. The latest in the offing if coffee through lounge cafe format. We plan to increase the number of our outlets from the existing 228 to 350 within a year.

— Shveta Pathak



Power cuts are back
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
Not even a few weeks of relief from power woes had passed that residents are suffering cuts again. With scheduled off days having been withdrawn by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), power cuts up to four to five hours are being imposed in various residential areas in the city.

“It’s hardly been a few days that power was more or less regular that cuts have begun again. In our area, power was suspended several times and for almost four hours, there was no supply,” said Suresh Kumar, a resident in Civil Lines.

With a view to meeting power demand during paddy season, the PSEB had imposed cuts on the residential and industrial consumers. This was done in order to provide eight hours of power supply to agricultural consumers everyday.

While arc and induction furnaces were operational only for three days in a week, a 24-hour compulsory weekly off was imposed on industrial consumers. In case of residential areas, scheduled cuts of three to six hours were declared by the board.

Due to shortage of power, residents suffered unscheduled cuts for even as long as 14 hours. However, in the past few weeks, the situation was better and power supply in residential areas was more or less regular. Withdrawal of compulsory offs now has resulted in a shortage in power supply and, as a consequence, more power cuts.

“We have withdrawn compulsory weekly offs, but not the schedule of cuts. As per the schedule, cuts of three to six hours are to be imposed. Due to weather situation these were not being imposed, but now that there is some shortage, power cuts have to be imposed,” a PSEB official said.

“As paddy sowing is over and rains also lead to reduced demand, power situation improves. But on other days, there could be some shortage, the official said. However, the situation, he claimed, was far better than before. “We have even supplied power for 13 to 14 hours to agricultural consumers and also an uninterrupted supply to residents.”

Industry, meanwhile, is happy as their compulsory weekly off has been withdrawn.

“With the compulsory weekly off having been withdrawn, we would be able to meet our orders as production would improve, which is certainly good for the industry,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor of United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

In the coming days, power situation is likely to improve and residents would suffer lesser cuts, PSEB officials said.



Stray dog issue may rock MC House meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The issues of stray dogs and non-payment of dues to Park Management Committees, (PMCs) are likely to rock the general house of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation scheduled for Wednesday.

The leaders of opposition in the MC House are planning to raise these issues in the zero hour of the meeting. This was decided at a meeting of the leaders of opposition chaired by Mr Parvin Bansal in the evening today.

He said that though the menace of stray dogs was causing problems for the residents and cases of rabies were on the rise, the MC had failed to do anything to start the sterilisation of dogs.

Mr Bansal said that he would raise the issue and take it to its logical conclusion. Besides, the non-payment of dues to PMCs is also going to be discussed in the meeting. Mr Bansal said that the parks of the city were in bad shape and the MC had reduced them to garbage dumping grounds.

If some PMCs were maintaining these green lungs, they were being treated like this. They were not being paid their dues. He added that the recent notification in this regard was aimed at favouring some private persons in the PMCs.

The issue of repair of public streets and desilting of budha nullah and lack of the cleaning of sewerage system in view of repairs were on the agenda of leaders of Opposition.

Besides the amendment of town planning schemes would also be discussed in the meeting. Some councillors had been alleging that the MC was favouring some rich and influential and amended the TP schemes to compound their encroachments. They added that they would demand that all TP schemes should be amended. Some councillors had even threatened to gherao the MC house in this regard.



Village adoption drive evokes huge response
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 11
An ambitious plan of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to reach out to the rural population in the country by adoption of a village each by all 1,600 units of the association all over the country, has evoked a huge response. After the programme was launched in August 2004, more than 400 villages had been adopted for providing basic medical care by the IMA in different parts of the country till date.

This information was given by Dr Vinay Aggarwal, national secretary-general of the IMA, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here yesterday. Dr Aggarwal, who was in the city to take stock of the preparations for the national conference of the association, scheduled to be held here in October, 2005, told that in Punjab, different city and town units had so far adopted 16 villages and many were in the process of doing so.

He said the campaign, aptly named ‘Aao gaon chalein’ was conceptualised with a view to make available basic medical facilities, an in case of emergency, specialised medical care to the rural population. In addition, the qualified medical professionals would also aim at creating health awareness and hygiene consciousness among the rural masses which could further help in keeping several minor health problems at bay.

Focusing on the commitment of the IMA towards society, Dr Aggarwal said the association had resolved to make the people anemia-free on the ‘doctors day’, observed all over the country on July 1. Many steps had already been initiated to achieve this objective, the first and foremost being improving awareness level.

He said an estimated 80 to 90 per cent population in the country was anemic and over 50 per cent of these persons were suffering from nutritional anemia, caused by iron deficiency. This condition could be easily treated and managed at nominal expense and minor dietary changes.

The IMA secretary-general expressed his satisfaction at the arrangements being made and selection of the venues for the forthcoming national conference in the city, which was being convened for the first time at a place other than Delhi.



Farmers resent disinvestment of sugar mills
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
Various farmer organisations have resented the government’s move to privatise some loss-making sugar mills in the state. Leaders of these organisations maintained that the government was deliberately trying to promote the private sugar mills while making it difficult for the cooperative sugar mills to survive.

The working president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal), Prof Manjit Singh Kadyan, said the state government appeared to be hell bent to “sell out” sugar mills under the pretext that these were loss making. In reality, only three of the 14 sugar mills were running into losses while 11 had made substantial profit this year. He said the sugar mills of Jagraon, Zira and Rakhra had suffered losses, while sugar mills at Budhewal and Nawanshahr had made huge profits.

Prof Kadyan said this was despite the “discouraging policy” of the state government towards these cooperative sugar mills. He pointed out that the cooperative sugar mills were being “forced” to sell the molasses to the private liquor manufacturing companies at a meagre rate of Rs 76 to Rs 80 per quintal. Against this, the private sugar mills were selling the molasses in the open market for Rs 600 per quintal. He revealed that this disparity has led to a cumulative loss of Rs 525 crore to the sugar mills in the past five years.

The BKU leader stated that just because of the “discriminatory and discouraging policies” of the government, the sugar mills had crushed far less sugarcane this year.

Prof Kadyan said even if the state government wants to change the management of the cooperative sugar mills, the first right should be of the farmers and the cooperative share holders and not the private companies who would only ensure their own interest at the cost of the farmers.



BJP councillors threaten to gherao Mayor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
The BJP councillors today threatened in the house of the Municipal Corporation that if the MC authorities postponed the meeting of General House scheduled for Wednesday, they would gherao the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill.

Reacting to some reports in the evening, that the corporation was likely to postpone the meeting, Mr Parvin Bansal, Leader of Opposition in the MC House, said if there was some truth in the reports they would agitate against the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner.

He alleged that the Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner were not willing to face the representatives of people as they had failed miserably to provide civic amenities to residents.



S.K. Garg president of bank officers association
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 11
Mr S.K. Garg was unanimously elected president of the All India Bank Officers Association at a meeting of the association here last week.
According to a press note, the biennial meeting of the association, which was attended by members of various banks, deliberated on various issues like the second pension option to officers. The members also opposed mergers and acquisitions of banks.

Hailing the recent wage revision settlement, the association said it was historic and unique in the banking industry and would benefit bank employees.

Mr K.S. Sandhu was elected secretary for the next term.

Mr Vinod Sharma, secretary, AIBOA, Punjab State Committee, Mr Avtar Singh, Officer Director, Punjab and Sind Bank, and Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Association, Ludhiana, were among others, who attended the meeting.



ASI booked on bribe charges
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, July 11
ASI Hakam Singh, investigating officer in the case of forcible cutting of hair of a Doraha-based laboratory technician, Lakbir Singh on July 5 was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act today.

According to the DSP, Samrala, Mr Jasvir Singh, complainant Tejwinder Singh, brother of an accused in the case Kirandeep Singh, has alleged that Hakam Singh took Rs 20,000 from him to enable him avoid arrest and giving him a chance of getting anticipatory bail.

He alleged that Hakam Singh took money in the presence of sarpanch Jaswinder Singh in the office of the local octroi contractor. Tejwinder Singh also mentioned the serial number of currency notes in his statement.

Meanwhile, Hakam Singh has gone underground following the registration of case. When contacted on phone he said he would move court. 



Jeweller’s shop burgled
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 11
Modern Jewellers in Charakhria bazar, Jagraon, has been burgled. The thieves stole gold, diamond and cash valuing Rs 19,72,200. According to Mr Rajiv Ahir SSP, Jagraon, the shopkeeper was away to attend a marriage when the thieves struck.

They cut open the iron fence with a gas cutter and entered the shop. They broke open the jewellary safe box and stole gold weighing 3.037 kg, 12 pairs of diamond earrings, a diamond ring and Rs 20,000 in cash totalling the value Rs 19,72,200.

The local police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380, IPC.



China biggest rival in textile segment: Oswal
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 11
After the end of the quota regime in textile (apparel segment), the gains for India are not substantial whereas China and Pakistan did achieve good results.
As a matter of fact, exports of apparel products from China to the US market increased by an average of 546 per cent in January, 2005, alone. The quota system expired on December 31, 2004. The largest increase was in cotton knit shirts and trousers which were up 1836 per cent and 1332 per cent, respectively.

China is now facing pressure from the USA and the European Union to check the surge in exports and have imposed some safeguards against China. Safeguards can be imposed on China as per agreement under WTO upto 2008. Mr S.P. Oswal, chairman, National Textile Committee of the SRx, CII, said in an interview that India was facing cost pressure. “They are having comparative advantage over us.”

According to Mr Oswal, China is the biggest competitor of India in the textile segments and during the past five years China has built enormous capacities in the entire chain of textiles. China invested $ 35 billion in five years whereas India invested only $ 5 billion and this shows the gap between the two countries.

However, he points out now the government of India has given impetus by providing a policy framework congenial for investment. The target for investment is Rs 1.20 lakh crore to Rs 1.40 lakh crore (30 billion US dollars ) for the development of the textile industry. Though it looks ambitious, it seems necessary if India has to occupy a respectable position in the world trade. Lot of investment is basically to correct absolence which India did not correct due to industry remaining unattractive for investment. This will create a lot of employment — 2 to 3 million jobs, he said.

Further, the government has a scheme of TUF (technology upgradation fund ) which is good for the industry. But the investment will be productive and profitable preposition only if other issues like power cost and infrastructure cost are brought in line with other competing countries. These issues are very important and the whole problem should be tackled in an integrated approach, the emphasises. The industry is optimistic if all these factors are taken care of, the objectives can be achieved. 


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