L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC passes Rs 801-cr budget in 30 mins flat
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
The general house of the Municipal Corporation (MC) today passed its annual budget worth Rs 801 crore in half-an-hour averaging Rs 26.7 crore per minute.

n 62 pc for development of city
n Rs 15 crore for machinery 
n Rs 50 lakh on computerisation
n No new taxes
n 35 pc to be spent on establishment
n No provision of amenities for destitutes
n No provision for stray animal shelter
n No special fund for afforestation

The crucial budget meeting began at 10.10 am and was wrapped up at 10.40 am. The general house meeting convened for discussing the budget was a mere formality as only a few councillors took part in the proceedings, during which no discussion on significant matters related to the city was taken up.

Like the monitor of a class, MC Commissioner AK Sinha read out the budget provisions for 2011-2012 and like law-abiding students, the councillors approved it without much deliberation. The councillors,who did raise some issues, were confined either to their respective areas or places where they were facing problems.

Out of a total of 75 councillors, only a few councillors including Simerjeet Singh Bains, Jagbir Singh Sokhi, Pal Singh Grewal, Gurdeep Singh Neetu, Parminder Mehta, Hem Raj Aggawal and Amrit Varsha Rampal took part in the discussions while most of the other councillors were mute spectators. It seemed that they had not even read the proposal properly.

No fruitful discussion took place. The authorities themselves appeared keen to wind up the meeting at the earliest, due to which the councillors were not given much time.

As a result, issues related to public like slow pace of development works on which crores were being spent, traffic management and revenue pilferage were not taken up.

Some councillors did manage to present their viewpoint and asked MC officials to change their budget allocation. The issue of low-target income raised by Simerjeet Singh Bains, less funds for acquisition of land raised by Pal Singh Singh Gewal, and poor house tax assessment by Parminder Mehta and Gurdeep Singh Neetu were considered and some changes were made in the budget.



n MC procures German fogging machines

n Sewerage cleaning machine worth Rs 1 crore to reach the city within 15 days

n It was once again a poor show by women councillors as most of them hardly spoke at the meeting

n Except for Harish Rai Dhanda, all other MLAs who are ex-officio members of the House were missing from the meeting

n The meeting hall would be made hi-tech by installing a sound system

n MC building of A-zone would get a new look

n Senior Deputy Mayor and BJP councillor Praveen Bansal remained inactive during the proceedings

n Premises of private firms that opened manholes illegally would risk being sealed

n MC Commissioner announced that forcible acquisition of land for Haibowal Pulli would be recommended to the Deputy Commissioner to ease out traffic

n Sewer men would be trained to use gas masks

n Main sewer lines and Budha Nullah will be de-silted

n Budget for land acquisition increased from Rs 5 crore to Rs 50 crore


Development gets lion’s share of Rs 494 cr
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
With the lion’s share of Rs 494 crore of the annual budget set aside for the development of the city, the general house of the Municipal Corporation today passed a development-oriented budget with a total outlay of Rs 801 crore.

Though there was an increase of Rs 10 crore in the outlay compared to last year, there was a decrease of 7 per cent in the funds set aside for development.

Last year, the MC had proposed Rs 550 crore for development, which was Rs 56 crore more than this year.

Besides allocating 62 per cent on development, the civic body proposes to spend 35 per cent on establishment and 3 per cent on contingency.

The budget provides Rs 177 crore for new development works and Rs 63 crore for maintenance works. The proposal also talks of the development of slums in and around the city and more sewers, bridges, streetlights and parks by the end of the next fiscal year.

Senior Deputy Parvin Bansal said no new taxes were levied this year and the MC was all set to go mechanised with Rs 15 crore earmarked for buying machinery and Rs 50 lakh for the computerisation of MC offices.

The MC has also earmarked Rs 50 crore for new roads, Rs 39 crore for bridges, Rs 18 crore for streets and drains, Rs 3 crore for streetlights and Rs 10 crore for parks.

According to the budget estimates, octroi and VAT would remain the biggest source of revenue with a projected income of Rs 300 crore (figures for the current year in brackets — Rs 225 crore), followed by house tax Rs 90 crore (Rs 75 crore), octroi on electricity Rs 34 crore (Rs 31 crore), composition fee Rs 6.5 crore (Rs 5.5 crore), sale of property Rs 50 crore (Rs 33 crore), additional excise duty Rs 18 crore (Rs 40 crore), HUDCO loan Rs 135.26 crore (Rs 85 crore) and licence fee under Section 343 Rs 130 lakh (Rs 120 lakh).

Apart from development works, which would be allocated a major share of 62 per cent of the total income, Rs 281 crore would be spent on establishment and Rs 24.85 on contingency.

The expenditure of the O&M cell of the MC on establishment and that on contingency would be maintained at Rs 28 crore and Rs 24 lakh, respectively.



Manhole menace dominates debate
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Three recent deaths that resulted after the unsuspecting victims slipped into open manholes appear to have galvanized city councillors to address the serious problem. This was evident when the issue dominated the budget session proceedings of the municipal corporation house with the councillors highlighting the insensitivity of MC officials.

The house meeting began with a condolence message on the death of a 7-year old child who fell into an uncovered sewer manhole on the Jalandhar bypass and the two MC employees who died while trying to clean the manhole. Later, Congress party councilor Hem Raj Aggawal, expressing “grave concern” over the fatalities, raised the matter in the house while commissioner AK Sinha was reading out a budgetary provision in the MC’s operations & maintenance (O&M) branch. “In order to avoid such accidents in future the MC must ‘assign’ ten manholes to every councilor so that he or she can get them replaced immediately when they get broken”.

Sinha asked Manjit Singh, executive engineer in the O&M branch, about the number of manhole covers available with the branch. When the latter told the house the branch had about 500 of them angry councillors accused junior civic officials of “misleading” them.

Raising the issue of “insensitivity” of MC officials, Congress councilor Parminder Mehta said the subdivisional officer of their area had been replying he had no manhole covers for the last three days. Similarly, BJP councillor Gurdeep Singh Neetu claimed even the officials of his area have been replying the same followed by Congress councillor Rakesh Prashar who also rued same.

All the councilors demanded tough action against MC officials after which Sinha asked the executive engineer to give the manhole covers in the MC subzones so that councilors did not face any problem. He also assured them in case any negligence on the part of civic officials was reported “strict action” would be taken against them.



Defiant, Bains stays away from Akali function 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Fissures within the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) came to the fore once again when Youth Akali Dal (YAD) supremo and Akali councillor Simarjit Singh Bains continued to be defiant and boycotted a function presided over by the patron of the YAD, Bikram Singh Majithia here today.

He was conspicuous by his absence when Majithia named Akali leader Inder Mohan Singh Kadian as chairman of the market committee. Even though Bains was in town, he did not bother to pay him a visit.

Majithia, however, denied there were any differences. “Bains is very much with us,” he said, asking the media why it was bothered about who all were present at the function. “I am the patron of the YAD. I will take care of it. You don’t worry,” he remarked.

Bains was also not seen at Guru Nanak Stadium, where Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal was to preside over a meeting with city officials regarding Shaheed-e-Azam Punjab State Games to be organised from February 28.

Jails minister Hira Singh Gabria and Bains’ rival could be seen hanging around Sukhbir.

Talking to The Tribune, Bains said he would not compromise on his self respect and would not mind staying away from Akali functions. “I am a politician as I am passionate about serving the people. It is not a business for me. I was sidelined during Majithia’s rally in the city and now I do not want to attend these functions. My self respect is supreme for me,” he stated.

Though he was a loyal soldier of the party, he would not stoop to sycophancy, he added.

Bains hogged the headlines by showing his indifference to the party in three functions, but SAD leaders are keeping mum on the issue. Sources said they reckon Bains as a force as he had the support of 15 councillors out of a total of 75 in the MC House.



MC Budget
Councillors take note of traffic woes only after suffering them
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Though residents face a lot of hassles day in, day out while commuting in the city’s inner areas they hardly ever get noticed. However, after municipal corporation councillors encountered a traffic problem on Thursday they raised the matter in the MC house.

Due to ongoing construction work on the Lakkar Pul rail overbridge traffic congestion in the older areas of the city has increased exponentially. As a consequence councillors have to put up with a lot of trouble while going to the civic body’s A zone office to attend budget session meetings. When Congress party councillor Parminder Mehta raised the issue in the house a large number of councillors also supported him and asked MC officials to work out a solution.

“Both residents of and visitors to the old city area face a lot of hassles due traffic congestion in this area, due to which their lives have become miserable. If the MC doesn’t take the steps required now the problems will worsen in the near future”, said Mehta

In a similar vein, Congress party councillor Hem Raj Aggarwal asserted: “Some solution for traffic is necessary because we (councillors) face a lot of problems while coming to the MC office to attend meetings. Civic officials should ensure traffic is managed properly at least on days when a meeting. Is held at the MC office.”

Even Akali councillors Parminder Singh Soma and Ranjit Singh Dhillon pitched in. “The MC should identify major traffic bottlenecks in the city’s old area and remove any structure that is causing a snarlup on the streets, even if that means the acquiring the land on which it’s situated.”

MC commissioner AK Sinha assured the house steps would be taken to ensure smooth flow of traffic in the city’s inner areas.



MC officials face councillors’ wrath
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
It was a bad day for officials of the Municipal Corporation (MC) during the budget session as they got a rap from councillors for poor working and corrupt attitude.

Whether it was the working of the house tax branch, tehbazaari branch, advertising branch or the operation and maintenance branch, the councillors criticised the officials for poor working. Congress councillor Parminder Mehta said officials of the house tax branch were not collecting money from new areas of the city and later to meet their targets, they focus on the inner areas, which was wrong. He said instead of making fresh assessments, the officials were only exerting pressure on the inner areas of the city.

Training his guns againt officials of the advertising branch, Akali councillor Simrejeet Singh Bains said it was shameful that due to the poor working of the branch, enough revenue was not being generated. He said the staff of the branch did not even bother about the elected representatives of the people as the recommendations of the high-powered sub-committee on advertisements had not been implemented yet.

BJP councillor Gurdeep Singh Neetu and Congress councillor Gurpreet Singh Gogi rapped the officials of the tehbazaari wing for not removing temporary illegal encroachments effectively. Neetu said the branch should be privatised so that the MC could generate the maximum revenue from this branch. Later while discussing the income from the O&M branch, Congress councillors Hem Raj Aggarwal and Rakesh Prashar accused MC officials of corruption while issuing sewerage connections. Prashar alleged that on Wednesday an employee of the branch had taken Rs 500 from someone as bribe for a connection, but returned the money after he intervened. 



On World Excise Day, officers wear black badges
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
On World Excise Day, the Superintendents of customs, central excise and service tax department lodged their protest by wearing black badges today. The protest to wear black badges was observed in each and every office of the central excise, service tax and customs in the zone, including All headquarters and field formations, divisions, range offices, airports, inland container depots, containers freight stations, cargo complexes against the apathetic and indifferent attitude of the authorities.

Their long-pending demands include promotions, career progression, payment of overdue arrears of pay as recommended by various courts, parity with the counterparts of Enforcement Directorate as recommended by Pay Commission, creation of separate service as recommended on various occasions by the department, direct promotion to senior group ‘A’ post like other gazetted officers etc. the IRS officers of CBEC got their parity with the counterparts of Income Tax in the last cadre restructuring.

The central executive personnel have totally been ignored in spite of playing lead role in earning major portion of the revenue for the government and dealing with hardcore smugglers, organsed revenue offenders and white collared evaders. Most of the superintendents are retiring after getting only one promotion in the service span of 35-40 years after joining the job at the level of an inspector of Central Excise while their counterparts in Income Tax, Central Secretariat services, Central Police Organisations, etc are getting minimum 6 promotions despite the fact that their counterparts of Income Tax/ Customs are recruited through the same competitive examination with same eligibility conditions in the same department / organisations with the same hierarchy and nature of job.

AK Sharma, president, All India Central Excise Superintendents Association, Chandigarh Zone, added that the call given by the All India Central Excise Superintendents Association to wear black badges on Excise Day by all the Superintendents throughout the country was culmination of the frustration and resentment growing in the cadre owing to the failure of the Central Board of Excise and Customs to address the issue of acute stagnation and bleak career prospects in the cadre of Superintendents. If the Board fails to address the demands of the Gazetted Executive Officers Cadre, the officers will be forced to make strategy for the next course of action which will be decided in the forthcoming meeting of the All India. Association of Central Excise Gazetted Officers. 



Akali MLA tries to give illegal shops a breather
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
The move by Akali MLA Harish Rai Dhanda to get a proposal on approving a 60-foot stretch of a road in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar as a “residential cum commercial” area tabled in the municipal corporation house met stiff opposition from city councillors Thursday. The apparently political move is aimed at providing respite to the unauthorized shops constructed in the area.

Towards the end of the budget meeting mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura told the house Dhanda, who is also local chief parliamentary secretary in the local bodies department, wanted to include an item on the agenda.

Dhanda in turn stated: “The need to convert a stretch of a road in BRS Nagar into a residential cum commercial area has arisen because a large number of residents have been running their businesses in the area for the past many years. Now, in order to provide them relief, it’s become necessary for the house to pass the proposal and send it to the state government for its nod”.

Though initially some of the councillors agreed with Dhanda, Akali councilor Pal Singh Grewal opposed the move. “A separate house meeting should be convened to ensure a healthy discussion of the proposal”, he said, urging Giaspura as well as MC commissioner AK Sinha not to approve the item. Congress party councillor Parminder Mehta also opposed the move.

However, councillor Hari Singh Brar in whose constituency BRS Nagar falls, said: “Not only this road but there are four others in the locality which need to be declared as a residential cum commercial areas”.

At the same time Akali councillor Harbhajan Singh Dang demanded change of land use was also required in his area. However, all these moves then met stiff opposition from councillors across the party line who disapproved the matter.

Pertinently Dhanda’s move assumes significance because the civic body had recently sealed some shops on this road only after which a trustee of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, who also happens to be an Akali leader, had broken it. Though the matter is now before the courts Dhanda, apparently eyeing the vote bank and the stake of his party colleague, moved the resolution in the house.



Riot victims at it again
Occupy vacant government land in Dugri
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 24
In the wake of weak-kneed response of the district authorities and the police in dealing with mob of anti-Sikh riot-affected persons when they were out to take forcible possession of government flats in Dugri early this month, the riot victims were now eyeing other vacant government lands in the city.

In a brazen attempt to usurp prime government land, certain unidentified riot-affected persons had occupied a piece of vacant land adjoining CRPF colony in Dugri where a automobile service station was being set up. Undeterred by demolition of a portion of the boundary wall by the PWD staff a couple of days back, the unlawful occupants on the government property were still continuing with construction of a raised platform intended to be used for washing of vehicles.

Upset over lackadaisical attitude of the district and police officials to maintain the rule of law, the area residents were still to come to terms with arrogance and persistence of those behind the illegal act.

"It seems the state government has given a clear go ahead to the riot victims to take possession of the government property, including flats and pieces of vacant land for whatever purpose suits them," observed an angry resident of CRPF colony while adding that the same persons, who had instigated the mob to make forcible entry into GLADA flats, were behind the bid to set up service station on state government land.

Even though the labour deployed at the construction site could not specifically name the persons who had taken possession of the land, area residents claimed that it was handiwork of someone closely related to a leader of riot victims. "If allowed to come up, the service station will become a big nuisance for the residential colony and it will also encourage other people to occupy government land and property in a similar manner without any fear of the law enforcement machinery," said another area residents.

A PWD official, when contacted, told The Tribune that a portion of the boundary wall at the site was pulled down on the instruction of district authorities. "We have sent a detailed report of the encroachments made on the government land to district officials and will initiate further action as per their directions," he stated.



Open auction
PUDA sells group housing site for Rs 18 cr
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 24
In an overwhelming response to its offer for sale through an open auction, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) today disposed of a 2.24 acre group housing site on Barewal Road for Rs 18,13,71,300 at a premium of 39 per cent over reserve price of the land fixed at Rs 13,00,99,200.

Nearly 12 property developers, some of them from far off places like Delhi vied to outbid each other after having deposited eligibility fee of a little more than Rs 13 lakh each. However, the deal was clinched by Brij Mohan and Company who offered the highest bid of Rs 20,011 per-square metre as against reserve price of Rs 14,353 per square metre.

Dr Jaswant Singh, additional chief administrator, who presided over the auction proceedings along with other PUDA and district officials, told The Tribune that the land was meant to be utilised for multi-storey group housing with unrestricted height, FAR 2.25 and parking provisions in the complex as per the government guidelines.

A salient feature of the housing scheme, he added, was exemption of the site from the provisions of the Punjab Apartment and Property Regulation Act 1995. However, the number of units to be constructed in the group-housing scheme would be governed by density of population mentioned in the master plan. Even though the group-housing site has been sold at a handsome premium by PUDA with keen interest evinced by the local and outstation property developers, sources in the real estate sector asserted that this particular sale of residential land was, in no way, an indicator to the health of the realty sector which still remained to be established. "Residential properties always go at a high premium in a mega city, irrespective of the prevailing trend in the market. It is yet to be seen whether the realty sector is headed north and the real test will be proposed auction of freehold commercial site on Ferozepur Road on March 14, remarked a real estate developer present at the auction.



Four missing girls recovered
Handed over to parents; said they had ventured too far away and could not find their way back home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Leaving nothing to chance in the wake of Kushpreet kidnapping and murder incident that rocked Chandigarh two months ago, the quick action by the city police rescued four girls, who went missing from the Daba area yesterday.

The girls were recovered from a temple in Janta Nagar here this morning and were subsequently handed over to their parents. The four girls, aged between 3 to 6 years, went missing while they were playing in the street yesterday morning.

After failing to locate the girls, the parents of the girls, who work as daily wagers, reported the matter to the police in the evening. The cops soon swung into action and a team headed by deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Yurinder Singh and additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP) Sushil Kumar launched a massive search operation to locate the girls.

The search operation continued till the wee hours following which the girls were spotted at a temple in the Janta Nagar locality.

The girls are reported to be safe. They told the cops that while playing they came too far from their house and lost their way back home. The girls were spotted by a priest of the temple, who gave them shelter. The parents fearing social embarrassment requested the cops not the reveal the identity of the girls. 



Car falls into basement of City Centre
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, February 24
In yet another incident, a car fell into the disputed City Centre building located in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar near Pakhowal road here today.

The incident took place this afternoon when the driver of the white colour Hyundai I-20 lost control over the vehicle and it fell into the basement of the building.

It is learnt that the driver jumped from the vehicle on time and escaped injuries.

He immediately fled the scene. Panic gripped those living in the area, and there was a loud noise as the vehicle fell to the basement. The commuters soon reached the spot and informed the police about the incident. Till the time of filing this report the vehicle could not be pulled out of the basement of the building.

RTI activist Arvind Sharma, who also resides in the locality, complained against the callous attitude of the civic authorities for leaving the state- of- the- art structure in utter neglect. He further added several requests by the area residents to erect a boundary wall alongside the City Centre building had fell on deaf ear of the authorities. 



Hookah joint controversy
Police, health dept at loggerheads
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
The Department Of Health And Family Welfare has blamed the Police Department for the inordinate delay in action against "Mr Beans" the hookah bar in Sarabha Nagar, as the Police Department has failed to register an FIR against the owner of the coffee shop on the pretext of the offence being "non-cognizable".

Following a public interest litigation (PIL) put up by some Ludhiana residents in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, the court had instructed the health department to conduct raids on the hookah joints. The health department along with the police had raided the hookah bars, including Mr Beans in November 2010 wherein minor boys and girls were caught smoking hookah.

The samples of flavours used in the hookahs at this particular joint had "failed" in the lab test thus a case underthe "Prevention of Food Adulteration Act" was registered by the health authorities. In absence of a valid license, the hookah joint is also violating "the Anti Tobacco Act".

Thereafter, the Punjab and Haryana High Court further instructed the Department Of Health And Family Welfare to pursue the case with the police.

District Health Officer (DHO), Dr Jagpal Singh, expressing helplessness on the matter said, "The Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, wanted and immediate action in the matter but we had no option but to apprise them about the police department's reply." 



Flower Show
Petunia, verbena on display
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Flowers are the emblem of bright and better land and spread joy, gaiety and mirth everywhere. Various varieties of flowers delighted visitors at the Flower Show and Competition in Punjab Agricultural University .

The show is dedicated to Dr MS Randhawa, former Vice-Chancellor, PAU.

A two-day flower show organised by the department of floriculture and landscaping (DFL) in association with the department of family and resource management, College of Home Science, PAU, commenced here today.

Chief guest Dr MS Kang, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, said flowers provided unique happiness and calmness to all. Dr Kang appreciated the ingenuity of students who beautifully decorated the flower arrangements on diverse topics such as inflation, world cup cricket, harmony, spring winds, global peace and prosperity and assigned beautiful captions like “Simple living high thinking”.

Dr Kushal Singh, head, DFL, said the show was a big attraction not only for the staff and students of the PAU, but also for all city schools and colleges. He added that it was a yearly event and was dedicated to Dr MS Randhawa, who had a passion for flowers and plants. Referring to the competition, Dr Kushal divulged that about 2,500 entries had been received. He said students from various schools and colleges had demonstrated their talent and creativity by tastefully decorating the flower arrangements.

Fresh-cum-dry flower arrangement and flowers grown in pots were on display. Different varieties of flowers developed by the PAU such as sweet william, phlox, petunia, verbena, pansy, marigold (french), were also displayed. A floral tribute was paid to Dr Randhawa by Dr Kang and other dignitaries. An exhibition on the research-based technologies for floriculture and landscaping developed by the PAU was organised.



Pending Demands
Pvt teachers to go on mass casual leave
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 24
Accusing successive governments of ignoring long-pending demands of teachers of private colleges, members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) have threatened to intensify their agitation.

While activists from colleges situated in Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Muktsar and Ferozepur districts will go on a mass casual leave to participate in a protest rally at Chatar Singh Park in Ludhiana on Saturday, rest of the activists will shun work for two hours as a mark of protest.

Members of the PCCTU led by Jatinder Pal Sharma, regional secretary, and Vinay Sofat, finance secretary, said teachers posted at various private colleges would participate in the protest rally.

Accusing successive governments of implementing wrong policies in the state, the activists alleged that a section of officials in the office of the DPI (Colleges) had been misguiding officials in the department of higher education on the issue of implementation of recommendations of the University Grants Commission.

CAS for DPEs and librarians, exemption from refresher courses, implementation of pension and gratuity scheme, lifting of ban on recruitments and regular disbursement of grant for salary and arrears were cited as main demands of the protesting teachers.

Lecturers of private colleges of the state had been on a warpath for several months to get their demands accepted.

The members alleged that a majority of management committees of private colleges had been violating fiscal norms laid down by statutory bodies and the UGC for many years.

Those leading the agitation were allegedly victimised by the management committees of their respective institutes. The outfit has now decided to intensify the stir.



From Schools

Ludhiana: Ajay Singla of DAV Public School brought laurels to his alma mater by securing the second position in the fifth National-Level Commerce Talent Search Examination (CTSE), results of which were declared by the CTSE Foundation, Ludhiana, Punjab, here today. Ajay has won a digital camera as a prize, along with a CTSE trophy. More than 10,000 students from 201 schools took the exam which was held in January this year.

Farewell party

Class XII students of Bharatiya Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, were given a farewell party by their juniors here today. Students of Class XI showcased their talent in myriad cultural items like songs and dances. A one-minute show and musical chairs proved to be a crowd-puller. The main attraction of the show was an item wherein girls of Class XII paid tributes to their teachers and principal. To make the farewell party different, all students came dressed in their school uniforms. Members of the BVM Trust, including MM Bamba, OP Sabarwal, RK Behal, RK Gupta, principal of Shishu Vatika Indu Bala, and former principal of BVM School Chander Prabha were also present. They showered their blessings on students and wished them luck for future endeavours. Principal Sunil Arora thanked everyone.

Juniors bid adieu to seniors

The management, staff and students of Green Grove School celebrated Fete-au-Revoir to bid adieu to students of Class XII. It was indeed a grand celebration. School president JPS Jolly, accompanied by chairperson Satinderjit Jolly, and Navera Jolly gave a traditional onset to the day by lighting the lamp which was followed by a prayer song. Students of Class XI accorded a floral welcome to president, chairperson and school principal S George.

Aastha and Varun of Class XI anchored the show and touched upon the golden moments that they shared with the Class XII students. The show commenced with a cake-cutting ceremony. A fabulous western dance by girls of Class XI added festivity to the occasion. This was followed by one-minute game, tongue twisters and compliments that were showered on the outgoing students by juniors.

Mouth-watering snacks and delicious cuisine for lunch was a great treat to all. Satinderjit Jolly felicitated students. Jaspreet Singh Nagi and Oshine Sethi were adjudged Mr and Miss Green Grove. The Punjabi folk dance performance by Class XI students added coup-de-grace to the entire show.


Under the guidance of officiating principal Navita Puri, Kundan Vidya Mandir organised a seminar on career planning for parents and students of Class X. The programme started with a prayer by Puri for seeking enlightenment, guidance and divine providence and discernment. Rohan Goyal of Class XI-A delivered a thought-provoking speech on making the right choice. School counsellor Dr Manisha Gangwar presented a multimedia presentation on the importance of career planning. Meena Jindal, PGT, business studies, gave a comprehensive multimedia presentation on various traits required for choosing a stream. — TNS



British Parliamentary Debate
32 teams to slug it out
Shivani Bhakoo/TNS

Ludhiana, February 24
Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE) was abuzz with activities today, with students looking excited, cheerful and confused, as around 32 teams from all over India gathered on the campus to take part in a two-day British Parliamentary Debate.

Students from all over India, including National Law College, Bangalore, Ram Manohar Institute, Lucknow, Excel Institute, Lucknow, Law College, Dehradun, Dental and Medical Colleges of CMC, Excel Institute, Mathura, and Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law, Patiala, have come to the college to win the prize money.

Samarth, Srishti and Sachi from National Law School, Bangalore, said the topic given to them was “Food Comes First and Ethics Later”. “The best thing about this debate is that we are given topics on the spot,” said Srishti.

Samarth, however, said he was greatly impressed with the hospitality of Punjabis. “We are enjoying here, everyone is so friendly and helpful here. As far as Punjabi food is concerned, it’s the best,” said Samarth. Kushal, Ashish, Bikram, team members from Law College, Dehradun, said they were a bit confused and were busy preparing for the topic. “But we are excited. Such debates give us energy and polish our communicative skills. We have come here with an aim to put everyone down. It is good to see that all other team members from various institutes are so intelligent and bright,” said Ashish. 



‘Majithia needs to learn basics of politics’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 24
Strongly reacting to former minister and patron of Akali Dal Youth wing Bikramjit Singh Majithia’s remarks on Congress and PPCC president Captain Amarinder Singh, the local party leaders today asked Majithia to restrain his tongue and maintain a semblance of decency while talking about his political opponents.

Presiding over a meeting of the District Youth Congress at Circuit House here, district president of the party Dimple Rana observed that the utterance of Majithia against Congress and its state chief Captain Amarinder Singh had crossed the limits of political decorum.

“His (Majithia’s) wild accusations against the Congress and its leaders show his arrogance, political immaturity while also establishing that power has entered the heads of all members of Badal family.”

Rana said the ruling SAD government was no longer a political party and had been reduced to a "family undertaking”, with all those related to Badal family occupying powerful positions in the government and the party.

Former president of District Congress Committee Krishan Kumar Bawa while addressing a gathering in Atam Nagar assembly segment said by using abusive language against Congress and its leaders, Majithia had proved that he needed to learn the basics of politics.

“Majithia as well as other members of Badal family ought to introspect and cast a glance towards their misdeeds like conniving with mafia operators in liquor, sand mining, transport and cable network trades before launching attack on their political opponents.”



Scottish scholar reaches out to farmers
Anshu Seth/TNS

Tom Dieters
Tom Dieters

Ludhiana, February 24
Moved by the plight of farmers in the state, Tom Deiters, a scholar-cum-agriculturist from Scotland, who documented the woes of farmers in his study six years ago, has come to Punjab to educate their wards and family members.

Tom was in the city today to show a documentary on ill-effects of the unabated use of pesticides on the health of the soil, on human beings and animals. “I had come to Punjab six years ago for my thesis on globalisation in agriculture while doing my masters in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam. It was then that I had decided to come back to serve the people here,” added Tom.

The Scottish scholar visited the villages in Malwa region of Punjab and showed the documentary that focuses on multiple issues concerning agriculture and agriculturists to the residents there.

Considering the increasing incidents of cancer, coronary diseases, hypertension and disabilities in newborns, it is must for the state government to promote organic farming, the agriculturist said.

As it is rightly said that the best time to dispense education is to catch them young, Tom, too, has taken up the task to educate the schoolchildren in rural areas adding: “Once they understand the underlying implications of the documented facts, they will not only remember, but will also practise them in long run.”

Scholars, environmentalists and professionals from other fields agreed with Tom on the need to promote “organic farming” in the state.

“Organic farming is feasible and sustainable, as it can be started in a limited stretch and then can be expanded to larger areas. There is no substitute to the natural means to grow food and gradually the world will have to come back to the old ways,” observed Tom.

Modified Food

Vandana Shiva, leading physicist and environmentalist of India, who has been part of Tom Deiter's documentary alleged that some tainted Indian officials are serving as agents of Monsentto, a US-based multinational company. The environmentalist held the company responsible for bringing genetically modified food in India and the world at large to dominate the research in the field of agriculture under the garb of food security



Woman commits suicide

Phillaur, February 24
A newly married woman, Beant Kaur, reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself to the ceiling of the room in her-in-laws house at nearby Miowal village in Phillaur subdivision last night.

Paramjit Kaur of Aasi Ali village, mother of the deceased, alleged before the police that her graduate daughter was married to Surinder Pal Singh on November 10 last year, but she was being tortured physically and mentally by her-in-laws as they were demanding more dowry and had asked her to get Rs 6 lakh now.

She said that the deceased was in deep stress due to the increasing demands of her-in-laws. A case has been registered. — OC



Man strangulates wife

Phillaur, February 24
A married woman, Kuldip Kaur, was allegedly strangulated by her husband Jagdish Lal after a minor domestic quarrel in the nearby Daduwal village last night. The SHO, Zandiala, said the police had arrested the accused, who had confessed to have committed the crime.

The deceased was married to Jagdish of Mehatiana only eight months back. The family members of the deceased alleged that Jagdish made a phone call to them, saying that Kuldip had a massive heart attack, but when they came to her-in-laws house, they noticed some marks on her neck and informed the police. — OC



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