L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


8 labourers hurt in factory blast
4th accident at Mukesh Steels in 2 years
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
Industrial accidents due to improper safety measures and alleged negligence of staff are on the rise, with yet another blast in a steel factory that left eight labourers injured, three of them seriously, at about 1 am today.

The mysterious blast took place at Mukesh Steels in Giaspura. It was incidentally the fourth blast in this factory in the past couple of years. The cause of the explosion was yet to be ascertained but some scrap bomb seemed to have exploded when put in the furnace. The bursting of a gaspipe could also have led to the blast.

This is also a second such blast within two days in the city. One labourer had died and three others were left wounded in a blast in the boiler of a tyre-manufacturing factory in Jugiana village near Sahnewal two days ago.

Mr Mukesh Kumar, in charge of the Sherpur police post, said a case of negligence against the factory staff may be registered after recording statements of eyewitnesses and the injured.

The injured include Sonu (27), Surinder (32), Ram Pratap (25), Baijnath (32), Ramesh Kumar (30), Ram Vilas, Azhar and another person. They were admitted in the CMC Hospital. They have told the police that the blast took place in a furnace of the factory.

The lava of the furnace fell on the labourers, resulting in burn injuries to all of them. The labourers were first rushed to some private hospital but when their condition did not improve, they were shifted to the CMC Hospital.

The factory staff also allegedly went into overdrive trying their best to prevent mediapersons from taking pictures of the injured in CMC Hospital and also of the blast site.

Five persons have reportedly lost their lives in similar blast in the same factory within the past two years, but no stringent action has been taken against the management or safety measures reviewed.



JE arrested, bailed out in canal electrocution case
Police on lookout for two others
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
With the arrest of a Junior Engineer of the PSEB, the city police has initiated the process of arresting officials accused in the canal electrocution incident in which six persons, including three children, lost their lives.

Though a magisterial probe had indicted 12 officials of three departments — Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Irrigation Department and Municipal Corporation — the police has launched proceedings against only three.

These are Junior Engineers Ashwani Kumar of the PSEB, Joginder Singh of the Irrigation Department and Balwinder Singh of the Municipal Corporation.

Of these, Ashwani Kumar was arrested and subsequently released on bail, DSP, Sarabha Nagar, R.K. Bakshi told Ludhiana Tribune.

He said SDM West M.S. Jaggi had recommended framing of criminal charges just against the three officials, one of each department, and not all 12 found guilty of negligence in duty.

He said efforts were on to arrest the two other accused, one of whom — Joginder Singh — was reportedly transferred to Ferozepore after the incident.

Mr Bakshi said the three officials had been incorporated in the already registered FIR at the Sarabha Nagar police station.

Sources said the three departments concerned had also initiated the process of taking action against the 12 accused persons.

The other officials who were indicted in the magisterial probe and faced departmental action included XEN Gurmit Singh, SDO Kuldip Singh (PSEB), XEN S.P. Singh and SDO Santosh Kumar (MC), XEN Suresh Chander and SDO Sukhpal Singh Khalra of the Irrigation Department.

The incident took place in the evening of June 15 when six persons were electrocuted after two pillars of the PSEB and the MC carrying high-tension power lines tilted considerably enough to pass current on to the canal water.

Two youths — Jassa and Kala — who were labourers jumped in the canal to save the children but lost their lives after succeeding in saving a couple of other youngsters. The district administration had honoured their families at the Independence Day function.

The three departments have been at loggerheads with each other ever since the incident took place. They have been pointing finger at each other to fix responsibility of the incident.

Ultimately, a magisterial probe cleared the matter and indicted all departments for their collective failure.



ATMs for paying power bills soon
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 21
The city people will soon have a round-the-clock facility of paying of electricity bills as the Punjab State Electricity Board is setting up two ATMs in Industrial Area and the Janta Nagar locality at a cost of Rs 3 crore.

Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Power, Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, while addressing a party workers’ meeting at Kidwai Nagar here today, said the government was seized of the power crisis. Several projects for the augmentation of power generation had been initiated as a long-term measure to tackle the problem.

A gas-charged 1000-MW power project was proposed to be set up at Doraha at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore and an MoU had been signed with the Gas Authority of India for this purpose. The National Hydro Power Corporation had been roped in for the 168-MW Shahpur Kandi hydel power project while work had been taken in hand for the Rs 1750-crore second phase of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant at Lehra Mohabbat which would generate an additional 500-MW power.

Mr Dawar, who represents the Ludhiana East Assembly segment in the city, further said that an ambitious project for covering open drains in the area had been finalised. Entailing an expenditure of Rs 14 crore, the foundation stone of the project would be laid by the Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, Choudhry Jagjit Singh, on September 10. It would help deal with the problem of pollution and insanitation in a big way.

He claimed that after having been elected from the segment, he had launched a number of development projects in different localities and in the past three and a half years, an amount of Rs 40 crore had been spent for this purpose. Ten new submersible pumps had been installed to augment supply of safe drinking water, roads and streets had been resurfaced, street lights were provided to several localities and work had been taken up for the expansion of sewerage system and laying stormwater sewerage.

Mr Mohinder Pal Manchanda and Mr Ashok Sachdeva, both activists of the BJP, and Mr Manpreet Singh, a functionary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, announced their decision to quit their respective parties and join the Congress at the meeting. Mr Dawar welcomed the new entrants to the party.

Prominent among others on the occasion were Mr Gulshan Kumar Titoo, vice-president, District Youth Congress, Mr Jasbir Johny, general secretary, Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Dharam Vir, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Jugal Kishore, Mr Ashok Kumar, Mr Anoop Lal, Mr Vicky Sharma, Mr Vijay Gaba, Mr J.L. Barara, Mr Suba Singh and Mr Sumeet Kumar.



Cows rescued from being slaughtered
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 21
The Khanna police seized 20 cows, including one dead and four calves, allegedly being taken from Malerkotla to Kolkata for slaughtering this morning, near Malerkotla chowk on the GT road. While one person transporting the animals was arrested. His accomplices managed to escape.

According to police, Swami Krishnanand, national president of the Gau Raksha Dal, and Mr Satish Kumar, president of the dal’s Punjab unit, had informed the police that some cows were being taken out of the state in a truck No. UP 17-5430 from Malerkotla. A police party led by ASI Paramjit Singh established a police post at the Malerkotla chowk. The police stopped the truck, and seized 20 cows, including one dead. Four calves were also seized. The police arrested Issa, a resident of Ratheri village in Mujjaffarnagar, while Billa, driver of the truck, and Suleman, a trader, managed to escape.

The volunteers of the Gau Raksha Dal sent the cows to the local gaushala.

A case has been registered under Sections 4-A, 4-B of the Punjab anti-Slaughter Act 1955.



Passing Thru

Lillette Dubey
Lillette Dubey, film and theatre actor and director

How has Ludhiana audience reacted to your plays?

I have come for the fourth time to the city with my latest play ‘Sammy’. Ludhiana audience is very receptive to my plays. My last play, ‘Zen Katha’, was quite a difficult one but the city people watched with rapt attention.

Why is theatre in comparison with television and cinema lagging?

There are many factors for it. Theatre has limited audience. Even in my case, when my friends saw me in the movies, they complimented me and said that I was a good actress whereas I had been acting in plays for more than 20 years. In movies, one appears larger than life. Then money is a chief factor. Theatre artists are much less paid. But the success you experience as a theatre artist is instant and magical and cannot be surpassed.

What made you choose the play on Gandhi’s life?

‘Sammy’ deals with the life of Mahatma Gandhi. I wanted to bring Gandhi to people as a real person, how his personality evolved from Mohan Das to Mahatma. I wanted to bring out his sense of humour, his frailties.

— Asha Ahuja



Ludhiana Calling

The Municipal Corporation here recently went gaga over laying a storm water sewerage project in several areas of the city. The project caused much harassment to the people as roads were left dug up for weeks and then not re-laid. People were hoping that at least the streets would not be inundated due to the storm water sewerage project. This did not happen. Even less than an hour of a good rain and the streets and roads are inundated. Life comes to a grinding halt. Vehicles are stuck up and water enters into low lying houses.

No civic sense

People often complain about the apathetic attitude of the Municipal Corporation officials but when it comes to them, they fail on several grounds. A typical example is the case of throwing garbage in a sewage drain which falls later into the Budda Nullah. Despite prohibitory orders by the MC, people throw litter, garbage in polythene bags which choke the drain resulting in overflowing of dirty water. Then, people complain of flash floods. The MC officials also seem to be contended with just putting up the notice boards instead of following it up by taking action against the violators.

Faith in God

A wholesaler dealer in plastic bags, in Jawahar Camp has no dearth of customers. Rather he has excess of them. At one time there are five to six customers wanting his attention. One irate customer asked him: “I have been waiting for a long time and in this time I have become very irritated. Don’t you go mad handling so many customers?” He replied calmly: “I deal with 150 customers daily and I do get mad by the end of the day. “But pointing to the gurdwara opposite his shop, he said: ”But He is there protecting me and hence ever day gives me fresh courage and tolerance.”

No poster of Gandhi available

One principal of the nursery school told Sentinel that for Independence Day, she will just familiarise the little kids with Mahatma Gandhi and the flag. She hunted the entire market but could not find any poster of Gandhi. At one shop, she found Anupam Kher dressed up as Gandhi. She felt quite amazed that posters of film stars were in abundance but no Gandhi poster was available. Finally she downloaded a picture of Gandhi from the net and with some touches, got it framed. “This is really baffling’, she quipped.

Toilets in sorry condition

Guru Nanak Bhavan is the only air-conditioned hall of its dimensions where all prestigious plays and events are held. But the toilets are in deplorable conditions. The toilet seats are broken and there is no water in the toilets. The hall has the seating capacity of 1,000 persons and when the play being staged has a popular star cast, the number of audience doubles. Then the three women's toilets are inadequate to meet the heavy rush of visitors wanting to use these.

— Sentinel



BJP asks PM, Sikhs to quit Congress
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 21
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today asked the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and other members of the Sikh community to quit the Congress immediately, terming the party as the “biggest enemy” of the Sikhs.

In a statement here today, Mr Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, member of the state executive of the BJP, remarked that even though the Congress claimed to have installed Sikhs to highest posts in the country, it was also a fact that the same party had caused irreparable damage to the community.

Mr Grewal, a former president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Punjab, said that it was during the period when Giani Zail Singh was occupying the office of the President of the nation that the Congress had gone ahead with Operation Bluestar under which the Army had entered the Golden Temple complex and Akal Takht in Amritsar. Once again, when Dr Manmohan Singh happened to be the Prime Minister, the ruling Congress had given a clean chit to its senior functionaries guilty of perpetrating the 1984 riots.

He said it was unfortunate that the Prime Minister had presented a “misleading and fudged” report of the Nanavati Commission and ‘Action Taken Report’ in Parliament. “Rather than presenting distorted facts before the nation and the Sikh community, Dr Manmohan Singh should have listened to his conscience and chosen to quit which did not happen.”

The BJP leader was of the view that even now it was not too late for the Prime Minister to make amends and say goodbye to the Congress which was responsible for the massacre of Sikhs.

Mr Grewal maintained that the BJP would continue to fight against misdeeds of the Congress till justice was dispensed to riot victims and the guilty were brought to book.



Accident victims’ kin get relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
The state government has finally paid monetary compensation to the next of kin of the five persons who had died in the bus-autorickshaw accident on the Ludhiana Doraha Canal road last week.

Relatives of the deceased and injured had staged a massive dharna at Gill Road demanding compensation as well as to vent their anger against the administration which could not attend the cremation.

Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, along with Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor of the Municipal Corporation, presented the cheques for the ex-gratia grant of Rs 1lakh each to the next of the kin of the five victims - Gurmail Singh, Palwinder Singh, Malti Devi, Paramjit Kaur and Manjit Kaur, of the accident in the presence of a sizeable gathering in Simla Puri, last evening.

Mr M.S. Jaggi, SDM, Ludhiana (West), Mr. Palwinder Singh and Mr. R S Bajwa (both Councilors) were also present on this occasion.

Mr Dakha and others also condoled the deaths of the victims. He informed that the government would also bear the cost of the medical bills incurred on the treatment of the seven injured persons of the accident.



Villagers remember pilot who saved their lives
Our Correspondent

Saharanmajra, August 21
Residents of the area and a team of officers from the Air Force Station Halwara paid tributes to Flying Officer Kuldeep Singh Johal who chose to sacrifice his life instead of ejecting from a crashing plane to save residents of the village and surrounding areas.

They have been keeping alive the tradition of remembering the sacrifice of the hero for the past 35 years.

Sqn Ldr Piyush Dhawan paid floral tributes to the martyr on behalf of the Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station Halwara, and his staff today. He said his unit would ensure that the sacrifice of the hero was mentioned in books.

Responding to the demand made by the residents and the Pandher Sports Club, he said he would take up the matter with Air Cdr Anil Chopra. “As he had taken off his last sortie from our base it was the duty of the station to perpetuate his memory forever. We will do the needful to initiate the process for erecting a memorial of Flying Officer Johal,” said the officer.

President of the club Sukhpal Singh reiterated the demand of villagers to get a memorial of the martyr set up on a piece of land donated by Jaswinder Kaur. This was the place where the plane had crashed.

Relatives and friends of the martyr, who hail from Johal village in Jalandhar district, participate in the three-day function every year.

Flying Officer Johal had laid down his life while protecting the residents of the area on August 21, 1970.

Johal had taken off form the Halwara base on Rakhi day when his plane developed a technical snag while flying over Saharanmajra village. Even though the officer had the opportunity to eject, he chose to stay on the plane and steer it away from the populated area.



Govt flayed for ignoring education
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 21
The All-India Senior Citizens Organisation has criticised the delay in implementation of decisions by the Punjab Government and further said that the education sector was being neglected by the government.

The press note said the government was not issuing appointment letters to lecturers who were selected by the PPSC in January, 2004.



Tributes paid to Rulda Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
Rich tributes were paid to the late Rulda Singh, a renowned social personality of the Payal area and an uncle of Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, on the occasion of his antim ardas at Bilaspur village, 25 km from here, today.



Theft at Tribune lensman’s house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
Thieves struck at the house of The Tribune photographer Inderjeet Verma in Aman Nagar early this morning.

The thieves struck sometime during the wee hours and decamped with a mobile phone, clothes and some valuables. Mr Verma and his family were sleeping at the time. They discovered the theft when they woke up at about 3:30 am. The thieves seemed to have accidentally pressed the dialing button of the mobile set stolen by them.

As Mr Verma had made the last call from his mobile phone to his son, it was his son’s phone which rang up at about 3.30 am. His son, Mannu, was surprised to receive a call from his father, who was sleeping nearby. When he answered the call, he heard noise of commotion and a male and female voice. They later called up at the mobile phone. The call was answered but same commotion was heard.

Later the attempts proved futile. Though the phone was kept on, no one answered the call. The Salem Tabri police has registered a case.



Six booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 21
Rachhpal Singh, Jasbir Singh of Dangian, Deepa of Gurusar Kaunke and three unidentified persons allegedly assaulted Sukhbir Singh of Dangian with sharp-edged weapons some days ago. According to information, Sukhbir Singh found some part of his electric motor missing. He asked these persons about it. They assaulted him and snatched his gold chain weighing about 20 gms. The local police has registered a case under Sections 324, 323, 148, 149, IPC. No arrest has been made.

In another incident, the Sudhar police has registered a case under Sections 341, 323, 506, 34, IPC on the complaint of Sukhdev Singh of Rajonans against Roop Singh, Kulwinder Singh Jindi, Sonthi and Kali for allegedly assaulting the complainant. No arrest has been made in the case.



Illegal distillery found, two booked

Khanna, August 21
The police arrested two persons including, a sarpanch of Sansowal village, on the charges of running an illegal distillery last evening. It also seized liquor and lahan.

According to police, head constable Surjit Singh conducted a raid at Sansowal village and discovered an illegal distillery. Five bottles of liquor and 30 kg of lahan were seized. Two persons Gurdeep Singh, sarpanch of Sansowal village, and Preet Singh.

A case under has been registered. — OC



Ply makers hike prices by 10 per cent
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 21
In a bid to save the plywood and plyboard industry in Punjab from the threat of closure due to the steep rise in the prices of raw material and the taxation burden during the past few months, the manufacturers have decided to hike the prices by 10 per cent with immediate effect.

A state-level meeting of the Punjab Plywood Manufacturers Association (PPMA), held here today under the presidentship of Mr Inderjit Singh Sohal expressed its concern over the heavy losses being suffered by the units as a result of the spurt in the prices of raw material and other inputs like wood, chemicals, petrol, electricity. In addition, the imposition of valued added tax at the rate of 12.5 per cent had jacked up the manufacturing cost of plywood and plyboard by 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

According to Mr Ashok Juneja, general secretary of the association, the plywood industry in Punjab was at a great disadvantage and had been rendered uncompetitive because the rate of VAT on these products was 4 per cent in Delhi. The plywood manufacturing units in Haryana had already increased the prices by 10 per cent from August 1 due to a similar situation prevailing in that state.

Mr Juneja said as per information provided by Mr N.D. Tiwari, president, Northern India Plywood Manufacturers Association, the rates of plywood and plyboard had been hiked by 10 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, in other parts of the country as well from August 3.

The plywood manufacturers present in the meeting were of the view that the Punjab Government ought to follow the Delhi Government, which had slashed the rate of VAT on timber, wood, plywood, plyboard and laminated board from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent. A similar tax relief given to the industry located in Punjab would help stabilise the prices and provide benefit, both to the industry and the general public.



Small industries’ meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 21
In a meeting of the Dashmesh Small Scale Industries Association, industrialists demanded that residential areas, where over 70 per cent of industry was functioning, be designated as industrial areas. Reacting to the Punjab Pollution Control Board’s decision to shift ‘red-category’ (highly polluting) units from residential areas, industrialists said small scale industry had been functioning in these areas for several decades now and the decision would ruin this industry.

“It would ruin the industry, render many unemployed and would also affect economy,” said Mr Manmohan Singh Ubhi, president of the association.


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