L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Lack of funds stalls PAU project
Study on cause of cancer deaths in Malwa
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 17
The seriousness of the Punjab Government towards the issue of cancer deaths in Malwa belt can be gauged from the fact that the government has failed to provide a small amount of Rs 1 crore required for the project submitted by Punjab Agricultural University to find out the real cause of cancer deaths in Mansa and Bathinda districts.

More than a year has passed since the PAU submitted the project report after a meeting with the state planning board. The study of the causes of the deaths has to be conducted jointly by the PAU and doctors of the Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital, Ludhiana. The state government has not even responded to the submission of the report. The Planning Board meeting was chaired by Dr S.S Johl and he had promised that the Chief Minister would sanction the funds to study causes of cancer deaths.

A lot of hue and cry had been raised about the alleged cancer deaths in Mansa and Bathinda districts two years ago. There was general impression that the deaths had been caused by indiscriminate use of pesticides on cotton crop and other crops in that belt.

The objective of the study was—the chemical composition of drinking water, soil, plants and animals with respect to pollutant heavy metals in general and arsenic in particular, the residue of pesticides in crops, soil, water, air, fruits and milk, the incidence and prevalence of cancer in the population of high risk areas and correlation of cancer incidence and its types in relation with pollutant heavy metals particularly arsenic and pesticides. The study was also to suggest remedial medical measures if any, and to treat the inflicted population.

A preliminary study carried out by the PAU found no substantial accumulation of pesticide residue in samples of crops, drinking water and soil collected from cancer-affected villages. It cannot be dispelled that apart from the possible involvement of pesticides in cancer, the quality of drinking water, particularly in south western districts which are known to have only limited quantity of drinking water, needs to be explored.

The study of selected samples of water of hand pumps, deep tubewells and canal water of the three villages from areas where large incidence of cancer has been reported, showed arsenic content in a range of 6-22 ppb. Considering WHO standards for drinking water followed in India, all handpumps as well as tubewell water had arsenic content above the permissible limit. The analysis of canal water for arsenic content showed that it is safe for drinking purposes. It was observed that soil, water and plant samples contained no residue of any insecticide.

The cancer registry data from Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital for the years 2002-2003 and 2004 showed that the cancer of breast, cervixoesphagus, lung, ovary, brain, prostrate, gall bladder, larynx, tongue, urinary bladder were most prevalent in the patients registered in the hospital.

The project report which was jointly prepared by the experts of the PA and Mohan Dai Oswal Hospital would cost Rs 1 crore and would be spread over a period of two years.

Major expenditure was required for the establishment of state of the art laboratory for conducting analysis of different samples of water, pesticides and arsenic content.

The Mohan Dai Oswal Hospital was required to carry out the blood samples for pesticides and heavy metals for population above 40 years of age, pap smear test for females, mammography and FNAC and biopsy if required.

Dr G.S Chahal, Dean, College of Agriculture, who framed the project report emphasis, ‘‘The project has the main theme to find out whether the real cause of deaths was pesticides or intake of heavy metals such as arsenic through drinking water and food. A biased approach to erroneously blame pesticides may end in reduced emphasis on the real cause of this malady which may turn out to be poor quality of drinking water.’’

Still nothing is lost, the state government can still make amends by sanctioning the required funds for the project. 

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SAD in for offensive against Cong
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal is believed to be in for a major urban offensive against its traditional rival, the Congress. The Congress mainly draws its strength from the urban Hindus. According to the changed strategy, which may even antagonise SAD’s alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party as well, the party has gone on a massive campaign to involve the Hindus, who so far had maintained a distance from the party.

Even the former Chief Minister and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had said that his party was expanding its base among the minorities, including the Hindus and Sikhs. He said the SAD would soon become an all-Punjab party and would not be exclusive to any particular faith.

So far the Shiromani Akali Dal is considered to be a party of the Sikhs. After Mr Badal submitted to the Election Commission of India that the SAD was a secular party, it has started the campaign to rope in the minorities. Sunday’s coup where it inducted 25 prominent workers of the Congress is believed to be the beginning of a long-drawn strategy of the SAD to make inroads among the urban Hindus.

The disillusioned and alienated Hindus from the Congress have now been preferring the SAD to the BJP. The BJP, in Punjab, has always played second fiddle to the SAD. An impression seems to be gaining ground among those who wanted to leave the Congress that it was better to join the SAD than the BJP. Because it gives them direct access to the power centre instead of taking an indirect route through the BJP.

The Congress has its reasons to feel worried given the indications that more lower rung Hindu leaders may join the party in the coming days, the BJP is learnt to be equally jittery. Because, the SAD and BJP were considered to have separate vote banks.

With SAD having started to make “intrusion” into its vote bank, it has more reasons to worry than the Congress. Because BJP considered itself indispensable for the SAD but with the Hindus themselves making a beeline to the SAD it has more reasons to worry than the Congress. 

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Cars halt as water mixed in petrol 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
Alleging that petrol was mixed with water, some residents of the city organised a protest outside Azad Fuel Centre near Fountain Chowk, claiming that their cars broke down soon after they got fuel filled from this station only.

Mr Sandeep Goyal, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, said he got his Honda City car tank filled with Speed Petrol from the station by paying Rs 1500 in the afternoon today. But he just covered the distance of a few metres when his car stopped.

‘‘I called up the service centre of the car company. They sent a mechanic immediately who told me that the petrol had water mixed in it. I came back to the petrol station only to be told that there was nothing wrong with the fuel, ’’ said Mr Goyal, while showing a bottle full of petrol which had two layers of liquid.

He said he was harassed for more than two hours before the owner of the station said that they would get the fuel replaced. ‘‘It has damaged my car. They are not bothered. I have spent lakhs of rupees on it. Will they compensate me for that? And the time I have wasted in standing here has no account,’’ said an angry Mr Goyal.

Mr Sunil Vatsa, another resident who had also got his Santro car filled with Speed Petrol in the afternoon, said, ‘‘My car also stopped. I kept wondering what had happened to it. Then I saw others protesting near the petrol station. I came and saw many others too had problems.’’

Another resident, Mr Nishant Goyal, said his car also stopped after he bought petrol worth Rs 1000 from the pump. Protesting outside the station, he said many more people would be suffering from the same problem and wondering what had happened to their cars.

They demanded that the petroleum company should seal the petrol pump so that others do not face the problems like they did. They added that earlier the owner was trying to pacify them but when he saw the matter was getting complicated, he left the place. The protest was going on till the filing of the report. Agitators were waiting for the officials of BPCL company to reach the spot.

Mr R.S. Bangria, Assistant Food and Supply Officer, collected samples of adulterated petrol from the station in the evening.

Talking to the Tribune, he said a tank of the petrol pump definitely had water in it but at this point of time it could not be stated whether the oil was deliberately adulterated or water seeped into it in some way.

He added that they had summoned the company officials to visit the spot. 

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Ex-Ranji Trophy player held with opium
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
Sending shock waves in the cricket circles of the city today, the Haibowal police arrested a former Ranji Trophy player and former coach of the Ludhiana District Cricket Association (LDCA), Rakesh Saini, for allegedly smuggling opium. The police claimed to have seized 440 grams of opium from him.

The Station House Officer, Haibowal, Mr Devinder Kumar, told TNS that they arrested Saini from the Chuharpur naka on Sunday during routine checking. He was walking towards the naka and after seeing the police, he tried to flee.

The SHO said on seeing the police party, this man, who was later identified as Rakesh Saini was carrying a bag containing opium. He added that at this the police party chased and caught hold of this man. He said when the police searched the bag, opium was found in the bag, which was found to weigh 440 gm.

Mr Devinder Kumar said after questioning him, the police came to know that Saini was earlier a Ranji Trophy player and had played about 15 matches for Punjab. He said Saini also had been a cricket coach with the LDCA and at present he was working as a cricket coach with a private cricket academy at Bhamian Kalan.

The police also came to know that Saini had brought this opium from Sriganganagar in Rajasthan. The police officer said it had also come to light from preliminary investigations that Saini himself also used to take opium.

He said Saini had been booked in a case under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The police would try to seek Saini’s police remand and would further interrogate him to know that since then he was involved in this illegal business.

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Gang-rape victim commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
In a shocking case, a sales girl committed suicide after jumping into the Sidhwan Canal after she was allegedly gang-raped by a property dealer and his three accomplices in Paddi village, near Sahnewal, last afternoon.

The body of the victim, a resident of Sahnewal, was recovered by the police from the canal today and three accused were identified.

The 18-year-old rape victim and her minor friend Pooja had gone to Paddi village to sell some items in the afternoon yesterday when four youths sitting in a property dealer’s shop allegedly called her inside.

The accused took her to the back of the shop and allegedly raped her one after another. Her friend who is also a complainant in the case told the police that the victim could not digest the treatment meted to her and jumped into the canal.

She added that she was called inside by Mani. She also alleged that Mani’s brother Ravi and another youth Bhinder raped her.

Following her complaint, the police launched a massive operation and fished out her body from the canal. A case was registered against the accused under Sections 306, 376, 506 and 34 of the IPC.

Her body was sent to Rajindra Hospital at Patiala for a post-mortem. 

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200 stray dogs vaccinated against rabies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
Continuing the campaign initiated by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab, to vaccinate domesticated and stray dogs against the rabies virus, the three-day camp concluded today at Civil Veterinary Hospital, Dakha, near here.

More than 200 dogs were vaccinated against rabies free of cost for which the vaccines were provided by the Punjab Veterinary Council, whose president Dr B.S Sidhu is also Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab.

The camp was inaugurated by Dr Paramjit Singh, Deputy Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry, Ludhiana.

In his inaugural speech Dr Paramjit Singh emphasised the need of public awareness and their keen interest in the campaign. He urged the people to capture the stray dogs and get them vaccinated. He told them the department had already geared up itself to tackle the menace. He brought out the importance of deworming the dogs and getting booster dose of the vaccine also.

In his address, he thanked Mr Rakesh Pandey, MLA, for having provided the funds to purchase the vaccine. He announced that due to the concerted efforts of Mr Malkit Singh Dakha, local MLA, and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Punjab, the existing dispensary at Mullanpur village has been upgraded to a hospital and veterinary officer has already been posted there. 

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AISAD wants July 21 meeting called off 
Fears Panth-SAD clash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 17
The All-India Shiromani Akali Dal (AISAD) has demanded the cancellation of July 21 meeting at Amritsar in the wake of reports of clash likely to take place between Panthic and SAD loyalists that day.

At a meeting of the working committee today, party members expressed anguish at the clashes that took place on July 2 at Amritsar and July 9 at Ludhiana.

They expressed apprehension that if the July 21 meeting was held, it would lead to further bloodshed. Already, the image of the parties involved have taken a beating, the members felt.

AISAD president Jaswant Singh Mann said the SGPC was mired in corruption and mismanagement, which had resulted in loss of crores of rupees in gurdwara offerings and funds. It was shameful that the guardians of the Panth were embezzling money for their personal and political ends.

He said the deployment of the task force amounted to policing of Darbar Sahib and sacrilege of the sanctum sanctorum.

No force could be maintained on gurdwara money to help occupants of the management stay in command, he asserted.

The devotees vising Darbar Sahib could not be intimidated, he pointed out.

Mr Mann said his party was determined to installing a Panthic front to oust Badal and his coterie from the SGPC.

He added that the AISAD would strive for getting the SAD de-recognised from the Election Commission of India since it had ceased to represent Sikhs, by aligning with the BJP and “Hindutva” forces. The party had detracted from the policies since 1920, he added.

The party would formulate its election manifesto in conformity with the spirit of the Akali Dal evolved over 85 years ago.

They would seek the formation of a government to end corruption, streamline administration, accelerate agricultural and industrial growth, and remove casteism and other social evils, he said.

The AISAD also expressed its concern at the Srinagar and Mumbai bomb blasts, which was the handiwork of certain forces keen on destabilising the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.

The party also called for the amendment to the Indian Constitution, as it had failed to safeguard the rights of the minorities.

Mr Mann also gave a unity call for the setting up of a new Akali Dal, which would fulfill the aspirations of the Panth.

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Surjit Mehta re-elected state chief of chemists’ body
Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 17
Mr Surjit Mehta was unanimously re-elected president of the Punjab Chemists Association in its general body meeting held here yesterday while Mr Y.P. Dogra (Jalandhar) was elected general secretary in a five-cornered contest.

Besides Mr Mehta, three other candidates—Mr Atul Sood (Jalandhar), Mr Harish Sethi (Mohali) and Mr Vimal Kumar Jain (Moga) — had filed their nominations for the post of president but all of them withdrew at the last moment, thereby paving the way for the re-election of the incumbent president.

Mr Dogra, involved in a multi-cornered battle, defeated Mr Yogesh Mahajan (Jalandhar), Mr Surinder Duggal (Amritsar), Mr G.S. Chawla and Mr P.C. Khanna (both from Ludhiana).

Talking to media persons after his re-election, Mr Mehta took exception to the alleged harassment and illegal checking by the police at chemist shops all over the state under the garb of regulating unauthorised sale of intoxicating drugs. He threatened that the state body might have to resort to agitation if the police was not restrained.

Mr Mehta, however, made it clear that the association would not extend its support in any manner to those selling schedule H and L drugs without proper prescriptions.

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Traffic awareness camp organised
Our Correspondent

Khamano, July 17
A traffic awareness camp was organised by traffic education cell Fatehgarh Sahib at truck union here to educate drivers about traffic rules. This camp was organised under the command of district traffic in charge Sohan Lal and SHO of Khamano Harmeet Singh Hundal was the chief guest.

In his address Sohan Lal briefed the drivers of truck union and tempo union and operators about traffic rules and appealed them to abide by traffic rules to save accidents due to negligence.

Mr Hundal said drivers should drive with in the speed limit and avoid driving after drinking. He also appealed to them to fix reflectors behind their vehicles.

Mr Singh of Hemkunt driving school also spoke about traffic rules and gave information about driving, licences. ASI, Traffic, Rajesh Kumar, Harlaik Singh, Meet Singh Bhambri and Amrik Singh and other officials and drivers of truck, tempo unions were also present on the occasion.

Truck union president Janak Raj Singh Uppal while talking to media persons said more camps about traffic rules would be organised in the truck union in near future. 

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Pensioners’ plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Samrala, July 17
The Punjab Raj Pensioners Maha Sangh has urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, to implement the promises made by the Congress during the Assembly elections. The demand of the pensioners include revision of gratuity, increase in medical allowance and grant of house rent allowance.
The sangh has decided to intensify its struggle. A state-level rally will be held in Bathinda on August 11. 

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Head Constable held for forgery
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, July 17
A head constable, Baldev Singh, with the Khanna police here has been booked for forgery.
Baldev Singh was found possessing a stolen motor cycle, which he had been using for over two years, bearing fake registration number.

The accused, who is at large, had earlier worked as driver with the SSP and the SP here.

According to SHO Gurwinder Pal Singh, Malkit Singh of Kubbe village and Gurinder Singh of Panaichan village had stolen the motor cycle from Jhallian village under Chamkaur Sahib police station in December, 2003. They had handed it over to Baldev Singh.

The original registration number of the motor cycle, CH 03 J 6961, was changed with a fake one, PB 43 B 0750.

The second registration number had been issued to another person by the Motor Vehicle Registration Authority, Samrala.

The forgery came to light when the police was working on a tip-off on a stolen motor cycle.

The two who had stolen the motor cycle were held by the police on July 16 when they visited Baldev Singh to get money for the stolen motor cycle.

Though the police recovered the motor cycle, Baldev Singh managed to flee.

The police has registered an FIR under Sections 379, 420, 120B and 34, IPC.

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Sarpanch served notice for embezzlement
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 17
The Director Panchayat, Punjab, has served show-cause notice on sarpanch of Kalyan village, Ranjit Kaur, for allegedly misappropriating public money by paying pensions lower than entitlement to the beneficiaries.

The sarpanch, along with a panchayat secretary, was earlier booked under Sections 406, 408 and 120 B, IPC.

The police case was registered after Ludhiana Tribune published a story regarding police inaction despite orders by the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, who, acting on the report submitted by the SDM, Malerkotla, had asked the SSP to register a case against the suspects.

Perusal of letter addressed to Ranjit Kaur showed that the Director Panchayat had asked her to submit her reply within seven days of the issue of notice, vide which she had been indicted for misappropriating public money.

Referring to a report received from S.R. Ladhar, DC, Sangrur, the Director had mentioned that the sarpanch had misappropriated funds.

Earlier, Ranjit Kaur and a panchayat secretary had been booked for allegedly misappropriating public funds and conspiring to deprive pensioners of their right to get full amount of pension for a period of three months.

The FIR has been registered on the orders of H.S. Chahal, SSP, Sangrur, who was apprised of the indictment of the suspects by Mr Ladhar.

The police had been asked to register a case against Ranjit Kaur for allegedly duping 40 innocent pensioners by paying them a lower amount than that entitled to them.

In her inquiry report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, had held that Ranjit Kaur had duped pension beneficiaries of a substantial portion of their monetary benefits.

Dr Indu had mentioned in her report that panchayat secretary Dharam Singh, the government official who had handed over the withdrawn money to the sarpanch, had also acted irresponsibly by not getting the money disbursed in the presence of designated members.

Amar Kaur, Malan Kaur, Amarjit Kaur, Gurdev Kaur, Gurdial Kaur and Kulwant Kaur had complained to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, alleging that Ranjit Kaur had exploited their illiteracy and paid them pension money much less than what was due.

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Sale season draws crowds
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, July 17
The season of sales has started in the city with most leading showrooms and trade houses offering heavy discounts. This is being attributed to rising competition among the trading houses. Some showrooms have raised the discount to as much as 60 to 70 per cent.

These sales are on purses, footwear, branded clothes, jewellery, household articles, interiors fashion textiles, sunglasses, exclusive designer wear, gift articles, linen and bath accessories etc. Some shops named them ‘Monsoon Hungama’ whereas others have put up the banner of ‘End of Season Sale’. These sales are crowd pulling as buyers wait to make their purchases during the season.

One of the showroom owners said, “Honestly speaking, women come and ask the dates of sale. The buyers have become very smart. Even if we want, we cannot fool them. Secondly, there is so much competition in the market that they will go to someone else, if we will not offer them something lucrative”.

Another salesman on The Mall said the sales were put up to clear the stock of the old season. “We can not store for the next season because trends and colours change very fast. These sales should be organised on a regular basis. The stocks can be easily cleared and there is no need to dump the products for the next season. The money comes to circulation again. If the sales are genuine, they definitely benefit the customers,” he said.

The sales are on at places like Chaura Bazaar, Ghumar Mandi, Mall Road, Field Ganj, Dandi Swami Chowk and various factory outlets. Brands like Sportking, Koutons, Country Cotton, Madame, Mochi, Heels and Toes, Harmony, Numero Uno etc are offering amazing discounts up to 30 per cent on their products.

Ruchin, a college student, says that she always buys products in sales. People who believe that one could get just the left-overs in sales were absolutely mistaken. “I get fresh things, which are really in and trendy and at much less price. The sales are for the benefit of customers”, she said.

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