L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MLA ‘shields’ sarpanch over village funds
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Baniewal, September 30
While sewer water has been inundating the fields in this village for the past five years, the village sarpanch has allegedly embezzled funds meant for digging up a drain to solve the problem.

Though the Rural Development and Panchayat Department has initiated an inquiry against the sarpanch, the officials expressed their helplessness to do much about it as he was allegedly being “shielded by a local MLA.”

These allegations were levelled by none other than the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) of Sidhwan Bet block, Mr Baljit Singh, who said there was no account of around Rs 2 lakh released to the panchayat as no development had taken place.

“We cannot do anything in his case. Whenever we ask sarpanch for details, he avoids us and goes running to that MLA. What can we do if he does not reply to a chargesheet. We cannot suspend him as there is a lot of political pressure,” said an official.

The villagers have been running from pillar to post for the last many years seeking a solution to their problem. Former MP Gurcharan Ghalib had released an amount of Rs 1 lakh from his quota some years ago but there was allegedly no account of money.

Mr Baljit Singh said there were no funds now for digging the drain as an amount of Rs 5.5 lakh was estimated to be spent on this project.

“We have feelers that there are no funds for this work,” he added.

In the absence of any official action, the farmers continued to suffer losses. They had been loosing their crop for the past five years. Some of them were reeling under debt worth lakhs as their crop got damaged every year.

A number of farmers said rainwater was getting collected in a pond which was also flooding their fields in the absence of an exit.

They had been fighting to get a drain so as to connect the pond with ‘buddha nala’ passing near the village.

The revelation has come as a shock to the villagers pinning their hopes on the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had referred their case to the BDPO of Sidhwan Bet.

“Our fodder crop has also wilted and whenever we go inside water to harvest it, our feet develop wounds due to dirty water,” said Mr Sant Singh, a lambardar of the village.

He added that when the road, incidentally two feet higher than the village’s plinth level, was being laid by the Mandi board, the villagers had requested the then chairman to make an arrangement for the drainage of water but it was not done and the villagers continued to suffer.

Mr Jarnail Singh, another affected farmer, said rain was not welcome in their village.

“Whenever clouds hover over the sky we start cursing God. We really get sleepless nights during the monsoons. After all, rain spells doom for us,” he said.



Irked farmers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Khanna, September 30
Despite the tall claims of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on September 26 during the inauguration of paddy procurement at the Khanna grain market that paddy would be purchased on the same day and the payments would be done within 24 hours, farmers are being forced to wait for days to sell their crops at Khanna and other areas.

Some farmers alleged that the procurement agencies were not purchasing their crop under the pressure of rice mill owners who were on strike. He also alleged that rice millers had threatened procurement officials against purchasing paddy.

Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the B K U ( Rajewal ), threatened to start an agitation against the government if the procurement was not started. The agitated farmers of the Samrala area had blocked traffic for two hours at the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway in protest against the slow procurement of paddy. He had called a meting of office-bearers of the union to discuss the agitation in Chandigarh on October 1.

Joginder Singh of Mehmood Pur village said he had been at the Khanna grain market for the past four days but the officials had not purchased his crop. Another farmer, Ranjodh Singh of Lalon Khurad village said he had been waiting for a week to sell his paddy.

Secretary (Market Committee) Khanna Mohan Singh Pannu said he could only ask the procurement officers to purchase the paddy within the specifications. He said there was excess moisture in the paddy. Dr Sona Thind, DFSO, Khanna, said the paddy within the specifications was being procured and the procurement agencies were lifting paddy to their own godowns as the sheller owners were on strike. 



Drive over, quacks reappear
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 30
The much publicised drive against quackery in the city and elsewhere in the district seems to have come to a naught after about 12 clinics of unqualified medical practitioners were raided and sealed in Prem Nagar locality where three children had lost their lives due to wrong medication over a week ago.

As a result of poor follow up by the Health Department and indifference on the part of police thereafter, the quacks, who had gone into hibernation fearing action by the authorities for some time, have resurfaced in almost all city localities.

Even as a number of colonies in Giaspura area on the periphery of the city were in the grip of gastroenteritis and both civic and health officials were present in the affected areas in full strength, quite a few unregistered practitioners and even chemists were dispensing medicines to patients without any fear of law or enforcement authorities.

That the well connected fraternity of quacks not cared two hoots for the administration was clear from the number of patients being attended to in the clinics of unqualified and unregistered practitioners in different parts of the city. It would be anybody’s guess that these quacks were carrying out their activities with active support of political leaders, certain health officials and police.

The gravity of the situation and the threat being posed by quackery to local residents was evident from an incident reported from Makkar Colony which had witnessed an outbreak of gastroenteritis last week. According to area residents, an illiterate wife of a self-styled “doctor” in the colony was said to be dispensing medicines to patients going by the different colour of the tablets in the absence of her husband while the health officials were still camping in the locality to tend to people affected by gastroenteritis outbreak.

According to sources in the Health Department, nearly 8,000 unqualified and unregistered persons were carrying out medical practice in the district, with a little more than 2,000 in the city alone.

However, Dr Rajinder Kaur, Civil Surgeon, reiterated that the department was committed to deal effectively with the menace of quackery. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, she said the lists of quacks under their respective jurisdiction had already been prepared by the medical officers, both in urban and rural areas, and the health authorities were forwarding these to the district police for taking action against such unlawful medical practitioners.

She said the Department did conduct raids on several clinics in Prem Nagar area a few days back. 



Woman alleges molestation, 2 booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 30
The Sahnewal police has booked a resident of Lakhowal village and an other person for allegedly molesting a woman of Sahnewal on the evening of September 24. The woman who works as a mid-wife in a hospital in Machhiwara was returning home when the incident took place.

In the FIR lodged with the police, the woman alleged that she was waiting for a bus on the road when two persons came on a scooter and started teasing her. Chuhar Singh was driving the scooter while the other person with a piece of cloth tied around his face was pillion riding.

The two asked her to come with them. On denying she alleged that she was molested. Some residents of her village who were passing that way came to her rescue.

A complaint under Sections 294, 341 and 354 of the IPC has been lodged.



2 denied bail in cheating case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 30
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Satvinder Singh, has dismissed the anticipatory bail applications filed by Bhushan Kumar Ghai and his son Sudhir Kumar of Madopuri in a case of alleged cheating.

The accused were booked under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC at division No. 6 police station on September 16 following the complaint of Mr R.P. Handa, owner of M/s Neelam Steels, Ludhiana. According to the complainant, the accused had cheated them of Rs 30 lakh by committing a fraud.



Passing Thru

Joe Baath
Joe Baath, Hindi commentator, TNA Wrestling, ESPN Star Sports Channel

How did you get to do compering for TNA wrestling?

I owe it to a large extent to my physique. The channel wanted someone who could talk well and also suit the show, which is how I fitted in. Somewhere my love for wrestling, too, helped. I have always been fond of it. Now, it is part of my life and I enjoy the show.

What do you say about violence in wrestling shows?

I disagree that there is violence in wrestling shows. The uncertainty in wrestling is equal to that in cricket and other games. Besides, we warn our viewers not to apply wrestling tactics in their life as these require high skill and practice.

Besides compering, what else do you enjoy?

I am a stand-up comedian. I did a course from Australia in DJing as well. I have been into modelling and enjoy all these activities, including hosting shows.

How long would you want to continue with the TNA wrestling show?

I love the game and would want to do it till I alive.

— Shveta Pathak



Pending subsidies to SSIs ‘to be cleared’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 30
A provision for Rs 100 crore has been created by the Punjab Government with a view to clearing the backlog of pending subsidies to the small-scale industry. Besides, the government plans to strengthen and repair all roads in the state by March 2006. This was stated by Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, Punjab, at a function organised by the United Cycles and Parts Manufacturers Association here today.

Mr Singla also inaugurated a Research and Development Centre constructed at a cost of Rs 25 lakh.

He said the government was committed towards fast industrial development in the state, for which emphasis was being laid on infrastructure.

Stating that pending subsidies would be cleared, he said the state government would issue interest-free tradable bonds by January 2006 against the pending subsidy to industrialists.

He said the trade and industry in the state had accepted the value added tax (VAT) system and said officers would not be allowed to harass tax payers. He said the government had declared the first year as a grace period for the proper adaptation of industry and trade to the new VAT system. He also assured industrialists that the required refund out of the tax paid under VAT would be started at the earliest.

On the notice by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for shifting industrial units from residential areas along the Gill road, the minister said no such unit would be shifted.

Commenting on the announcement of the Prime Minister, during his recent visit to the city to develop Ludhiana as a model city, Mr Singla elaborated that under the Urban Renewal Development Project, a plan for creating basic infrastructure to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore would be submitted for approval to the Centre. He said of the total project cost, 50 per cent of the funds would be born by the Union Government, 30 per cent would be arranged from financial institutions and the remaining would be contributed by the state government.

He said work on the setting up of an international airport at Laddowal would start soon as the required land had already been provided by the state government. He also assured the release of the remaining grant of Rs 15 lakh, out of the announced grant of Rs 25 lakh, by the Chief Minister for the Research centre.

Among others who were present on the occasion were Mr Surinder Dawer Parliamentary Secretary, Mr O.P. Munjal and Mr G. L. Phawa, president, of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.



Workshop on capacity building of NGOs 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 30
Dr H.S. Deol, Commissioner, Linguistic Minorities in India, interacted with the participants on the second day of the workshop organised by the Society for Service to Voluntary Agencies (North), SOSVA (N), Punjab. The workshop had been organised for capacity building of NGOs at Bachat Bhavan, DC Complex, Mini Secretariat, Ludhiana.

Mr B.B. Mahajan, Special Director, said, “This workshop is second in the series of ten workshops to be organised by SOSVA (N) in the next three months at Jalandhar, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore, Bathinda, Patiala and Mohali.

These workshops have been planned in collaboration with the Department of Planning and other sister departments of the government engaged in implementing development programme through NGOs. Prof Gurdev Singh, Project Director, SOSVA(N), detailed the objective of these workshops.



Book released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 30
“Kuka Lehar”, an account of the freedom struggle between 1857 and 1947, written by the Secretary of Namdhari Darbar, Sant Dalip Singh, was released at the Punjabi Bhavan here today.

The function was organised by Kala Sadan, Bhaini Sahib, in association with the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, Ludhiana.The function was presided over by Dr J.S. Grewal, Chairman of the Advance Study Institute, Government of India.

The book was released by the chief guest, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the Minorities Commission.

The president of the Namdhari Darbar, Mr Harvinder Pal Hanspal, was the special guest of honour.



Army parachuter cremated
Our Correspondent

Khatra (Ahmedgarh), September 30
A parachuter of the Army, was cremated at the local crematorium situated here today. Even after three days after his death, no official from the civil authorities or the Sainik Welfare authorities attended his funeral.
Naik Gurmeet Singh had fallen from a running train near the Kanpur railway station on September 28. He is survived by his wife and a two-year-old daughter.



Yoga camp from October 1

Ludhiana, September 30
A yoga camp will be held at Mandir Yoga Ashram, Chander Nagar, from October 1 to 3.
It will be conducted by Brahmchari Hiranand Maharaj of Amritsar. Acharya Rakesh Kumar said chronic patients would be treated free of cost. — OC 


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