L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ex-MO, 3 MC employees held for misappropriation
Salaries, funds withdrawn by forging signatures
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today arrested a retired Medical Officer and three employees of the local Municipal Corporation on the charges of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 2.20 lakh.

The money belonged to various employees of the MC and was misappropriated by forging their signatures.

The suspects allegedly also withdrew salary amounting to over Rs 15,000 of a deceased woman employee, who was, interestingly, wife of one of the suspects only, for two months after her death besides forging her signatures to pocket Rs 24,000 from her Contributory Provident Fund (CPF).

The SSP Vigilance, Mr G.S. Dhillon, said those arrested were — Dr Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, a former Medical Officer-Health of the MC, who had retired on October 31 this year only; Sudesh Kumar Ghai, a clerk with the salary unit; Sanjay, a clerk with the CPF unit and Jagannath, a safai sewak with the MC.

A team led by DSP Surjit Singh Sandhu had nabbed the suspects in separate raids here today. Mr Sandhu said the accused were booked under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 177-A and 120-B of the IPC besides under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The case was registered after an inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau had indicted the suspects.

Mr Dhillon said the suspects had conspired to misappropriate the funds of the employees. The Medical Officer, Dr Gurbaksh Singh, had the Demand and Disbursing powers to clear the payments which were based on forged documents.

The suspects had mastered signatures and thumb impressions of several employees and had withdrawn Rs 1.8 lakh from their accounts.

The most interesting case was of a Safai Sewika, Nirmal Devi. She had applied for a loan of Rs 24,000 from her Contributory Provident Fund. But she died before the payment was cleared. Her husband Jagannath in alleged connivance with the other suspects got the money cleared in violation of rules.

The suspects had also connived to withdraw the deceased woman’s salary for two months. The Vigilance officials said investigations were on to ascertain if the accused had amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.



Dengue claims one more life, 35 new cases reported
Khanna administration takes preventive steps
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, November 8
The preventive steps, purportedly initiated by the district authorities and health administration against dengue in the city, appear to have no effect as the mosquito-caused disease claimed one more life, taking the death toll to seven while 35 fresh cases were reported from various hospitals here during last 24 hours.

Ajay Kumar (5), admitted in Christian Medical College and Hospital with high-grade fever and low platelet count, succumbed on November 5 and his serology report was received today.

The report had confirmed the cause of death as dengue, the hospital authorities informed.

Out of some 50 odd patients admitted to the hospital during last fortnight, 35 had tested positive for dengue and 22 were still under treatment.

In Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, the total number of dengue patients admitted so far had reached 287 with 15 new cases, including one each from Amritsar and Kurukshetra, reported since yesterday.

According to DMCH officials, till now 117 patients had been confirmed to be suffering from dengue while others, suffering from dengue-like symptoms, were in the suspected category.

188 patients had been discharged after treatment while around 90 were still under treatment at the hospital. It was in this hospital that six dengue patients had died in the last week of October.

Other city hospitals where dengue patients had been admitted included Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital (4), Dr B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital (2) and Bhagwan Ram Charitable Hospital (1).

Nearly one dozen patients afflicted with dengue were reported to be under treatment at private nursing homes and clinics in different localities.

Meanwhile, officials of Health Department conducted surprise checks yesterday in various local schools to verify whether the orders issued by the Deputy Commissioner under the Epidemics Act, regarding wearing of full sleeve shirts and full length trousers by the students, were being implemented or not.

Barring a few exception, the schools were found to be complying with the orders. The defaulting institutions were directed to follow suit, it was officially stated here today.

KHANNA: Following the reports of the death of two children due to dengue the administration has started taking preventive measures to check the spread of the disease. Civil Hospital authorities have deputed a team of doctors to visit the effective area. Municipal Council has also launched cleanliness drives in the area.

A team comprising two doctors — Dr N.P.S. Virk and Dr Satpal — visited the Azad Nagar area. They took blood samples of 23 residents. Medicines were distributed to the resident free of cost.

The doctors the residents of the complications of the disease. They told them about the symptoms of the disease.



Rockman workers allege non-payment of salaries
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The communication deadlock between the management and workers of Rockman Cycle Industries and Highway Industries continued today with the workers alleging that they were not even paid salaries for October.

Protesting the closure of the factory, the workers are now planning to move court or write to the Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, Mr J.R. Kundal, who allowed the closure, for review of his decision.

“On November 3, when they went to work they were stopped from entering the factories. Even last month’s salaries were not paid,” Mr Jagdish Chand, general secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), said.

He said any notice about compensation were yet to reach workers. Blaming the management for adopting a wrong approach, he said if they were to close the cycle divisions, they should have at least informed the workers instead of employing police for preventing them from entering the factory premises.

“After putting in so many years of our lives, all that these companies gave us is such hostile treatment,” the union leader said.

On whether workers were willing to accept compensation, he said the company had worked out the amount of Rs 11 crore without consulting the workers. “Our demand is that they restart operations. They have worked out a certain amount, which we are not aware whether it is our dues or retrenchment compensation. The question of accepting it does not arise.”

The workers of the two units continued with their dharnas today also. They would participate in the state-level rally of CITU to be held here tomorrow. The main demands of the workers are wage revision with minimum wage to be fixed at Rs 5,000.

The management of Rockman, meanwhile, issued public notices declaring its closure and said a special cell had been formed to give compensation to the workers. The workers would be paid in presence of a representative of the Labour Department, Punjab.



Factory blast toll rises to three
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The death toll in the Mukesh Steel factory blast case arose to three today with another worker succumbing to the burn injuries suffered in the explosion. Vinod Kumar, with over 80 per cent burn injuries, became the third victim today afternoon.

A labourer Sudama had died on the spot while another worker Ram Bahadur had breathed his last, last evening.

The condition of seven injured workers was said to be improving, hospital sources said. A powerful explosion had ripped the Mukesh Steels Factory on Sunday morning killing one worker on the spot and injuring nine others.



Victims resent police inaction in Bajra case

Ludhiana, November 8The injured persons in the Bajra village shootout case have rued that the police has not been able to arrest the main suspects who had fired gunshots that had injured two youths who were canvassing for a candidate in the co-operative societies election on November 5.

Amanpreet Singh, one of the injured persons who is under treatment at the DMC Hospital here, said the Basti Jodhewal police had not succeeded in arresting the main accused who had fired the shots. Mr Jaswinder Singh Mangat, SHO, Basti Jodhewal, said they were conducting raids. TNS



MC employees continue pen-down strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The agitating employees of Municipal Corporation continued with their pen down strike on the fourth consecutive day today even as the residents, who had to get their works done, suffered.

The employees sat on a dharna outside the main office and continued till the lunch hour. Half of the public dealing day was lost in the protest only.

The protesters constituted a 51-member committee headed jointly by Mr Vijay Danav and Mr Sunil Sharma, to handle the issue more effectively if the MC authorities did not listen to their demand of taking action against councillor, Mr Simarjit Singh Bains, who had allegedly misbehaved with an MC employee.

Mr Ram Chander Yadav, a Councillor, also extended his support to the agitating employees and said that he would stand for their cause against the highhandedness of Mr Bains.

The agitating workers said that if the issue was not resolved they would go on a full day strike from Monday onwards and all the public works would suffer. They added that the 72-hour deadline given to the MC authorities for action would be finished tomorrow and then they would decide about the next course of action.

They added that they were just demanding that the Councillor should be booked under the SC/ST Atrocities Act and proceedings should be initiated against him to remove him from the MC house.

Sources said some Akali leaders were trying to broker peace among both factions but their efforts had failed till date. As Mr Bains continued to level allegations against MC authorities for instigating the employees against him, the employees said that they did not care unless he apologised to them for his misbehaviour.



Building bylaws’ violation comes to light
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
A resident of B-Block of BRS Nagar is constructing a house without leaving any space in the backyard allegedly in violation of building bylaws. Despite repeated complaints by a former scientist emeritus from CMC, who has a house in the neighbourhood, no action has been taken against the alleged violators so far.

According to Dr Gur Kirpal Singh, the complainant, the owner of house number 450 in B Block of BRS Nagar, who retired as an Assistant Commissioner from the local Municipal Corporation, had demolished the old construction in the plot some months ago. Later he started constructing the house and did not leave any space in the backyard. Dr Gur Kirpal said that the wall was causing diminution of sunlight and air to his house, which was located at the back.

The retired scientist said he had complained to the MC in September only that the owner would be violating building bylaws and hence he should be restrained from doing so but to no avail. The construction continued and now a full-fledged structure has come up in the backyard.

Claiming that the construction was “illegal”, Dr Gur Kirpal said that it was in violation of Article 47 and 48A of the Constitution. “The MC has constitutional obligation under Article 243W read with Schedule 12 of the Constitution as not to allow the construction of buildings in contravention of building bylaws implemented by the municipalities,” he said.

He added that his repeated complaints moved the civic body which issued a notice to the owner of the said property to demolish the building by October 11 otherwise it would be forced to take action against the defaulter. Almost a month has passed when the deadline expired but the construction was going on unabated, he added.

When a Tribune team went to the owner, Mr S.S. Jandu’s house, he said that he was not the only one who was violating the building bylaws. He said that 90 per cent houses in BRS Nagar were flouting the rules and when he was trying to do so a lot of hue and cry was raised by the people.

Mr Jandu’ son, who did not reveal his name, said that nobody else in the neighbourhood had a problem but it was the scientist only who was “creating a nuisance.” He added that his father had retired as an Assistant Commissioner from the Ludhiana MC and he knew whether it was a violation or not.

Later he tried to pressurise the Tribune team not to publish the story. He added that the team was “harassing” him by going ahead with the story otherwise, a single case of violation did not make a news worth reporting. 



Garg to head BJP legal cell
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Mr P.C. Garg has been nominated president of the legal cell of the district unit of the BJP and Mr M.L. Maini the general secretary. The legal cell will have three vice-presidents and an equal number of secretaries, according to a press note issued by the party office here today.

Mr Ramesh Sharma, Mr Dev Raj Sharma and Mr Des Raj Manaktala have been appointed vice-presidents, Mr Deepak Chopra, Mr Bharat Bhushan Sharma and Mr P.K. Madhra have been made secretaries along with Mr Karamjit, who will be the joint secretary.

The 16 members of the executive committee are Mr Paramjit, Mr Rajinder Dharwal, Mr Sanjeev Garg, Mr Pawan Arora, Mr Anil Arora, Mr Sarwant Singh Grewal, Mr M.L. Arora, Mr Vishal Gupta, Mr Ajay Sharma, Mr Inder Sain Sharma. Mr Shiv Sharma, Mr Dalip Batish, Mr Sanjeev Malhotra, Mr Avtar Singh Sayan, Mr Ashok Mittal and Mr Satinder Sehgal.



Canadian team to help quake victims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
A 15-member team of the Canada based organisation, the Sikhs and Gurudwara Council of Toronto, would visit the quake hit areas of Jammu and Kashmir to provide relief material to the victims.

Mr Harbans Singh Jandali, president of the council, was here along with the team members.

He said the council had formed a fund for  charitable purposes, called the Guru Nanak Relief Fund, under which it collected Canadian $ 10 lakh. $ 3 lakh were given for tsunami victims to the Red Cross. The council has already started a langar for  quake victims in Muzaffarabad a fortnight ago.

The team would now review the situation and provide help to the victims in cash or kind as per requirements, Mr S. Jandali said.



12 booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 8
Kamaljit Singh Laddi, Kamaljit Singh Bittoo of Dholan, Baj Singh, Surinder Singh, Jagrup Singh, Rajpreet Singh, Raju of Kokri and five others allegedly assaulted Gurdip Singh of Dholan, a conductor of a bus, when a dispute arose for the tickets.

The assailants inflicted injuries on him with a weapon. A case has been registered. No arrest has been made so far.

In another incident, the police has registered a case under Sections 447, 512, 341, IPC, against Reghir Singh, Kuldip Singh and Jasbir Singh of Roomi as the trio tried to grab the land belonging to Sukhwinder Singh.

Opium seized: The police has arrested Narinder Singh Nindi of Khazanwal from Bhanor village and seized 1kg of opium. A case under Sections 18, 61, 85, of the NDPS Act has been registered.



BSNL staff see selloff coming, warn of agitation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Employees Union (BSNLEU) has cautioned its ranks against the government’s intentions to privatise and divide the telecom PSU, which, the union said, if not checked in time, would have disastrous effects on the future of over 4.50 lakh employees.

Addressing a news conference here today, Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary and Mr Balwinder Singh, district secretary of the union alleged that in pursuance of its hidden agenda, the government was keeping senior officers of ITS cadre, away from the BSNL by repatriating them to the Department of Telecommunications (DOT).

They further maintained that in the absence of senior experienced officers, the entire development work of the BSNL had come to stand still.

“It is understood that this move has been prompted by bodies like the World Bank, IMF, multinational IT companies and private telecom operators,” they alleged.

According to the BSNLEU functionaries, the DOT had already prepared a blue print to divide the BSNL into four zonal entities, besides carving out separate companies namely BSNL Mobile and BSNL Infrastructure.

They pointed out that in the face of aggressive marketing by private operators, the market share of the BSNL in value-added services was dwindling.

“The BSNL has about 2.6 lakh broadband connections out of a total number of 5.56 lakh in the country while in mobile services, the BSNL share is just 20.3 per cent.”

Making it clear that the employees would not take things lying down and would wage a concerted battle to seek justice, Mr Balbir Singh and other union leaders urged the government to sit across the table with the BSNL unions to discuss in detail crucial issues like repatriation of ITS cadre officers to DOT and proposal to hike the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in telecom sector from 49 to 74 per cent.

The union functionaries further gave a call to all the executive and non-executive unions of the BSNL and the MTNL to come on a single platform so that the challenge posed by “evil designs” of the government could be effectively dealt with and future of the BSNL employees could be secured.



Apparel industry doing well, says export body chief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Apparel industry is performing well in the post-quota regime and is likely to carve a niche in the high-end fashion markets across the globe, said Mr Ajay Sahai, Director General, Federation of Indian Exporters Association (FIEO) , who was here to address exporters from the apparel industry today.

He said in case of several product lines like shirts, huge export orders were being received, which was a positive sign for the industry.

Emphasising on the need to be more aware about the latest technologies and trends in the international markets and about the WTO regulations, Mr Sahai said awareness would help the exporters to compete effectively.

While Indian industry had an edge above others when it came to high-end fashion market, only a few companies are in a position to take on the Chinese companies when it came to mass production, he said. “Economies of scale help them reduce costs. Besides, they have a couple of other competitive advantages too.”

He said the Indian industry needed to exploit its strengths like easy availability of cheap labour, access to raw material and latest technologies.

On anti-dumping duty, he said problems arose when small and medium enterprises (SMEs) did not co-operate. “Most of them do not co-operate due to high costs of investment.

However, they need to be aware of the mechanism to retain market access, which gets delayed by several years unless reviewed on time.”

Talking about overall exports, he said the country was doing well particularly in the engineering segment.

Mr Sahai also interacted with exporters from the Apparel Exporters Association of India and told them about various government schemes and issues concerning exports. Mr Sanjeev Gupta, president, APPEAL, was also present on the occasion.


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