Thursday, June 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


The megacity today is sitting on a powder-keg
Massive urbanisation around Baddowal ammunition depot a threat
From A.S.Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — A cloud of fear and apprehension hangs over Ludhiana ever since the fire late last month at the Bharatpur ammunition depot in which at least five persons died and more than 14,000 tonnes of ammunition worth hundreds of crores of rupees was destroyed.

A similar episode at the Baddowal ammunition depot, stated to be one of the largest in North India, could result in a much bigger loss of life and material because of the fact that the relentless march of urbanisation has almost overtaken the depot, and a large number of residential colonies and even marriage palaces have come up within a stone’s throw of the depot.

The Defence Act, 1903, stipulates that an area ranging from 1000 yards to 3000 yards should be declared as a work of defence area and no construction allowed there. But the fact of the matter is that not only individual civilian structures like marriage palaces have come up in this area but several permanent urban settlements like residential colonies, housing thousands of people have mushroomed. Clearly, both the defence as also the civilian authorities have been lax in enforcing the rules and have done little more than issuing notices and registering FIRs against the violators. Now that the issue of the threat to the lives of the people has become live and real, each side is trying to blame the other.

The Army authorities say that they have registered nearly 300 FIRs while the district administration claims that it has issued notices to the violators but feels helpless in moving against the violators because of stay orders from the courts. But as Mr Darshan Arora and Mr Agyapal Singh, chairman and president of the Ludhiana Citizens Council, as well as a large number of residents of Ludhiana point out, although the district administration has been claiming that it has been strict with illegal structures and residential colonies in the prohibited area around the ammunition depot, the fact is that it has also provided them with roads, water connections, power supply, electric poles, telephone connections, police force, permanent police posts and bus services.

The ammunition dump is located about 7 km from the Clock Tower,well known landmark of Ludiana and is spread over an area of nearly 8 sq km. Several concerned citizens like Mr Girish Kapoor and Mr Harmohanjit Singh say that the depot, which has been created for the security of the citizens of Ludhiana from the enemy, has now become not only a hazard for them but also an obstacle in the future growth of the mega city. Ludhiana has already expanded well beyond Doraha and Sahnewal on the G.T. road towards Delhi and touched Neelon on the Chandigarh road. It cannot expand much along the G.T. Road towards Jalandhar road because of the Satluj. Therefore, the only direction in which it can expand is along the Ferozepur road. But the ammunition depot is proving to be a big hindrance in this regard. Therefore, the only way out is to have the ammunition depot to be shifted elsewhere far away from Ludhiana. Mr Kapoor argues that the cost of setting up the new depot by the defence authorities can be met from the sale of land at present occupied by the depot which is worth hundreds of crores of rupees.The Ludhiana Citizens Council has held a series of meetings in recent weeks to debate the issue and discuss the possibility of shifting the ammunition depot to a new location far away from the city. Its office-bearers have also led a deputation to the Mayor of Ludhiana, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal.

In a note addressed to the district administration, the Mayor has expressed the view that evacuation of an area of 1000 yards from the depot is not a solution to the problem. Only the shifting of the depot to a more suitable location can resolve it. “There is a great sense of fear and panic among the people because of the Bharatpur episode. It is very necessary to remove it. Moreover, the westward development of Ludhiana city has been stopped due the ammunition depot even though the Municipal Corporation has under consideration a number of proposals, including construction of a by-pass and an enlargement of the city limits.”

“As a Mayor of the city, it is my prime duty to safeguard the interests of the residents and ensure its future development..It is therefore essential that the ammunition depot be shifted elsewhere.”


Mixing business with pleasure — that’s Ludhiana for you
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — For Manisha and Ashish Bansal, a young couple married for around 14 years, the fun now begins after eight each night. Ashish is back from his work and Manisha is almost done with her daily routine of helping her in-laws, children with their homework and other household chores. This is the time that the couple can afford to socialise and freak out and eventually have some fun.

Says Manisha, who is originally a Delhite: “Till a couple of years ago, Ludhiana was just another conservative town, but not any longer. For most people like us in the city, who have a jet-setting life style, life actualy begins at night time. And of late, this megacity has begun to offer many places for fun and frolicking to the denizens of the city.”

This megacity with its teeming millions is now a place where tradition has taken a back seat and the city is finally a happening city.

For proof, check this out. An estimated 100 cyber cafes and another 200-odd pool parlours have sprung up in the city in a short span of over two years. And not to miss the 50-odd clubs and a fast food joint in each and every nook and corner of the city. Besides, a bowling alley, pubs, family bars at a few of the swanky new hotels, discos and a rooftop go-karting-all add to the city’s list of the entertainment avenues now available.

Says Amit Sayal, a college student: “The change that the city’s social scene is going through is what Chandigarh was going through a couple of years ago. There is this fun element that the city never had.” And rightly so, considering the number of city residents flocking these places.

Until a few years ago, the city’s social scene was limited to visiting either of the three oldest clubs and entertaining oneself there or eating out at one of the up-market hotels. Kitty parties later became quite a rage, but even these have outlived their time. Says Mrs Poonam Bindra, who is quite well-known on the city’s social list: “The genesis in the social and cultural network of the city began after a few of the city’s youngsters came back after studying in the metropolitans. There they got used to that urbane and jet-setting culture and when they settled down here, they brought the culture alongwith.”

She also feels that with the rapid industrialisation came a lot of money, but because the older generation had earned it with hard work, they could not spend it easily. “The younger generation, however, got everything served on a platter and they are the ones splurging on this new culture. But lack of education on their part is responsible for the culture not being akin to Bombay and Delhi.”

For long manufacturing and retailing heaven , the city is now stirred up with huge stores. A wide range of international labels — Adidas, Levis, Nike, Loiuss Phillips, colour plus, Diwan Saheb — all have their exclusive showrooms, besides half a dozen other super stores that are selling other big brands like-Givo, Arrow, Raymonds et al. Even branded jewellery like Tanishq, cartier and a few famous Swiss brands are also available in the city.

Interestingly, though dance parties have been popular amongst the young and old of the city for quite some time — be it private or at the discotheques — it is now the pub culture that is taking the city by storm. A few years ago, hotel city Heart was the only one to offer the services of a bar, but was not frequented by families. Now a lot many hotels have joined the race and the bars at Grewalz and the sports bars at Hotel Majestic Park Plaza, Champs, are quite a rage. Says Nipun K. Vig, Assistant Manager, Food and Beverages, Majestic Park Plaza: “Seeing the popularity of the sports bar amongst the people here, we have now decided to introduce a wide range of cocktails and mocktails.”

And wait till you get to the food.Till recently, the city was famous for its butter chicken, daal makhni and shahi paneer. But no longer. Today the Punjabi cuisine has given way not just to the South Indian, but also for Italian, Mexican, Chinese and Japanese. Even sea food (prawns and fish) is quite popular among the city residents.

However, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh, Director of Basant Resorts, one of the fastest growing chain of fast food joints in the city, feels that the reason for the popularity of any of the joints in the city depended on the joints’ ability to change the taste of the cuisine to suit the taste buds of the residents (meaning sumptuous in fat content and spices.)

The fact, however, remains that Ludhiana now has the right mix of everything. The megacity is certainly heading towards becoming the new zone for business, leisure and the future.



Cultural melas catch Ludhianvis' fancy

Culture is a term that is interpreted by various people in different ways. Mostly, it is associated with song and dance, and in Punjab, with bhangra and giddha, accompanied by boliyan. When the teams of boys and girls come on the stage, the audience is thrilled and the collective unconscious binds them together. During the performance, the atmosphere is surcharged with emotions and it becomes obvious that the persons sitting under the colourful shamiana or in the tastefully decorated hall belong to the same cultural moorings.But there is more in it. Culture encompasses art, literature, music, customs, habits and other intellectual expressions of the society. Time and space play a dominant role, first in outlining and then in defining a particular culture. Tradition gives it a solid base even as it is ever in the process of renewing itself. Culture is not the garb but the skin of a person. It is inherited or absorbed but cannot be acquired at will.

Ludhiana is the hub of cultural activities in the state. Every week, more or less, one cultural event or another takes place in Punjabi Bhavan, Guru Nanak Bhavan, Nehru Sidhant Kendra Auditorium or an educational institution. Generally, folk songs and dances captivate the audience. The lilting melody and the measured dance steps make the people happy, both young and old. The song and dance troupes dominate marriage parties where loud music creates the typical atmosphere of festivities. The show goes on to infuse the spirit of togetherness among the persons, educated as well as uneducated.

Culture, of course, is the common heritage that has not much to do with formal education. An individual who is otherwise a cultured person in the common parlance may not be in tune with the culture of a particular region.

Cultural melas are of recent origin in Ludhiana. These started with the sponsoring of Prof Mohan Singh Mela by Jagdev Singh Jassowal. The idea has caught the imagination of the people and they flock to this annual two-day mela with gusto. Folk sangeet, folk dance, folk games and folk means of entertainment such as rope-dance, snake-charming and cockfight are the highlights of this mela.

Sometimes there is too much of hustle and bustle all around and the events appear to be happening in a disorganised manner. Still, the panoramic view conveys the cultural unity among the people, both rural and urban, of the city. Some other melas in the name of Yamla Jatt, Narinder Biba and Jagmohan Kaur are also celebrated by the enthusiasts of Punjabi folklore. Indeed they satisfy the cravings of the old as well as the new generation for linking itself with its glorious past.

At another front, although on a lower key, Viraasat Bhavan is fulfilling the needs of the people of the city. It is mainly the venue of art exhibitions and on-the-spot painting competitions. Sometimes there are shows of clay-modelling and spinning-wheel competition (charkha) which provide a new dimension to the cultural activities of the city.

Daljit Singh Jassal has a mind to create an Andretta of Sobha Singh's dreams in Ludhiana on a larger scale. His fascination for old utensils, old house-hold items, old agricultural instruments, old tapestries, particularly phulkari and old means of conveyance, particularly gadda, has proved to be contagious. Still much needs be done in this field but it all depends on the patronage extended by private and official agencies.

However, the young ones of this city who have gone abroad in search of greener pastures have been imbued with a different culture. Pop songs and dances allure them immensely. Even their sense of humour has undergone a sea change. Their visits to the city coupled with the influence of television satellite channels have infused exotic elements into the otherwise placid waters of Punjabi culture. This intermingling of the old and the new, of the folk and the pop, has been welcomed as a sign of vibrancy in our cultural legacy. At the same time, this sudden confluence of the East and the West has been disapproved by the purists. Of course, no individual approval or censure but the march of time will indicate as to what is to be assimilated and what is to be rejected.

— N. S. Tasneem


When police pays thugs to catch thugs
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — It is certainly not a comedy of errors. Nor is it a transcript of the run-of-the-mill Bollywood film wherein a thug leads the protagonist police-wallah to a gang of gun-toting criminals that he is in search of. This is the real-life situation where the police sets up thugs to catch bigger thugs.

According to official sources, 90 per cent of crime detected in local and special law cases (relating to drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, illicit liquor, smuggling etc.) is due mainly to information given to the police by informers. These informers, however, have comparatively less contribution towards the detection of crimes committed under the Indian Penal Code.

Interestingly, several police officials feel that a police officer's efficiency and crime detection prowess often increased if he had a regular, reliable and strong chain of informers. "Though success in the police is often judged by the ability to detect cases registered under the IPC, but it is equally important to curb such social vices as gambling, prostitution, drug menace etc. and this is done largely through the informers, who themselves are involved in these crimes," says an SHO in the city.

He reveals that it is generally the conflict of personal interests between rival thugs that is cashed in on by an intelligent police officer. "If the business of a gambling den is being adversely affected as a result of a new gambling den that has sprung up in its vicinity, the person who runs the den or a regular participant in the den would himself approach the police and give information about this new den on the condition that his own business interests would not suffer and this wish is often complied with and the person is allowed to work uninterrupted by the police," he elaborates.

Sources also point out that similar is the case in detecting prostitution, drug trafficking and liquor smuggling. During investigation, TNS came across a pimp, who also served as a police informer. This pimp is active in the Simlapuri area, which is an abode for a large number of sex workers. On the condition of anonymity, he revealed that he often sought the help of police to settle scores with the customers of his girls, who beat them up or did not pay the agreed amount.

"If the troublesome customer comes again, we set him up with one of our girls and inform the police on the condition that our girl would be let off the hook and the customer would be arrested after the police has conducted a raid," he reveals.

Meanwhile, police sources also point out that often large caches of poppy-husk and opium are seized with the help of drug addicts on the condition that the police let him have a part of the drugs seized for free. "These drug addicts are often also engaged in other social evils like gambling and prostitution, and in case they fall out with those involved in the other businesses, they also inform the police about them," informs a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

And while most become police informers to get indirect benefits, there are others who work for monetary gains. A high-ranking police official informs that several informers have to be paid on a regular basis even if they have not brought forth any information, just to retain them. "Every time I meet any of my informers, I have to dole out at least Rs 200 for him. If he has helped me gain valuable information, then the price is fixed according to the information supplied which could vary from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000," he says.

It is also learnt that the police department has set up a secret service fund specifically for paying money to these informers. It is learnt that a maximum of Rs 5,000 can be paid for a piece of information or it can be used in parts, but the discretion of using this fund lies only with the SSP. There is, however, no set frequency for availing this fund and payment from the department is generally never refused.

Other than the police informers, there is also a breed of police touts. who are generally small politicians or in some cases "yellow" journalists, point out several police sources. Their role is not just limited to supplying information to the police for direct or indirect benefits, but they 'fix' deals between a complainant/accused and the police in return for a small portion of the money exchanged between the two parties.

At times, the police also uses its amli informers (informers who are drug addicts) for getting several works done in exchange for a little quantity of opium or poppy husk. Informs a senior police officer, "The department is often short of funds for engaging labour for maintenance work. So we ask amlis to work for us and we give them a little bit of drugs in return."



Planetarium equipment remains outdated
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — Nehru Planetarium, located near the Rose Garden here suffers from official apathy. The planetarium looks more like a dilapidated structure than a modern scientific building aimed for developing scientific temperament among the people.

Constructed in 1987, the planetarium is the only of its kind in the north and one of the few in the country. These planetariums were set up to inculcate and develop a scientific temperament among people, particularly the students by displaying various astronomical phenomena and scientific processes.

The planetarium has been trapped in irony from the very beginning. Instead of being looked after by a scientific institution, it is being managed by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. Probably that itself explains why the planetarium has been reduced to such a state.

With a seating capacity of 80, the planetarium has hardly any visitors today. Some officials deputed there, claimed that two shows are being run daily — from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 12 noon. On Sundays, the shows are run in the afternoon.

However, a visit during the said hours shows that the planetarium has not been running any show for quite some time. Officials maintain that due to the fault in the airconditioning system, shows had to be stopped for the time being.

The hall of the planetarium with dome-shaped roof looks like an outdated structure with hardly any scientific get-up worth its name. The dome is supposed to serves as an artificial sky during the shows depicting "planetary movements", besides other astronomical phenomena with the help of projectors.

None of the officials of the Municipal Corporation here was prepared to go on record, although most of them admitted that the planetarium was not properly maintained. One official said, "It is like everywhere in the government. So, we have no regrets." At best, the planetarium appears to serve as an employment avenue for a few people and nothing more. The scientific equipment are obsolete and outdated. In fact, they were reportedly so at the time of installation itself. The slides and the movies shown are believed to be as old as the planetarium itself, if not older.

The ticket window serves a best witness to its working. It is reportedly lying closed for years. One senior official said tickets are provided to the visitors in the hall itself, that is why the window was lying closed. However, the reality appears to be quite otherwise, as there are not many visitors. So much so not many people in the mega city are aware that a planetarium exists in Ludhiana, although it is adjacent to the Rose Garden.

The real reason for the poor maintenance of the planetarium is said to be lack of coordination among various wings of the Municipal Corporation. There is no centralised command to operate the planetarium, as there are so many actors calling the shots at the same time.

The Electricity Department is supposed to be responsible for power supply, the Construction Department for the maintenance of the building and another department for the technical back-up. The planetarium is managed like any other municipal outlet. The plight of the building is so bad that the roof is leaking thus damaging the wood paneling. This has been happening for several years. Nobody seems to be bothered. An official said, the estimate for repairs had been submitted to the higher authorities a long time back and nobody knows when it well be approved.

However, officials, as they always do, hold a promise and assurance on the condition of anonymity. The planetarium, they say, will have an entirely fresh and modern look within 20 days as the corporation had reached an agreement with an agency in Delhi for total renovation. Let's hope the officials prove themselves right.Back


An embodiment of perseverance and strength
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — He overcame paralysis to make a name in the field of chess. He learnt a number of languages on his own and even mastered astrology to eke out a living. But he is aghast at the insensitive treatment meted out to him by the government and the world around him.

Meet Rajiv Nayyar, 27, a resident of street no. 5, Dasmesh Nagar, in the city. Struck by polio at the tender age of five and permanently rendered paralytic neck down, he is today not a picture of pity and compassion but instead a personification of perseverance, and an embodiment of unimaginable strength to survive against all odds.

With only his head and neck functioning normally, Rajiv was ‘definitely differently abled'. Making optimum use of his brains, he literally ruled chess championships in North India and even made a memorable impact in the national tournaments seven years ago.

But fate had other hurdles in store for him. In year 1993 due to severe financial crisis faced by his family and the absence of help from the government or the sponsors, Rajiv had to abandon his dream of becoming a chess champion and stopped competing in the tournaments. The decision tormented him more as at that time he was the highest rated player in the North India and had just finished third in the National Junior Chess Champioship.

Besides being the only player from Punjab to shine in the game, always considered a bastion of the South Indians, he was probably the only player in the country who inspite of such a demoralising handicap was scaling heights in any sport. A couple of tournaments more and Rajiv would have become the first player of the state to achieve the prestigious Chess Grandmaster norm.

“I was completely normal till the age of five” he reminisces, “when one day inspite of warnings from my parents I continued playing in the dirty rain water that had accumulated in the streets along with the over-flowing sewer water, a phenomena common in this industrial hub of the state”.

That night high fever gripped him. When he tried to rise from his bed to fetch a glass of water, his legs refused to move and he fell down with a thud. Since then, he is forced to move around in a wheel chair driven by his devoted parents.

Till the age of 14 life seemed even worse than hell. Rajiv was totally dependent on his parents for all kind of movement. His life was constrained to the four walls of his room with occasional visits outside. His education too stopped at class III.

Then a ray of hope arrived. On his 14th birthday, Rajiv’s parents gifted him a chess board and pieces to pass his time. The game caught his fancy and Rajiv began mastering its intricacies. Without any proper schooling he began reading chess books with help from his couple of friends and the ever willing parents. Within months he began defeating anyone willing to play with him.

Recognising his talent, Rajiv’s parents took him to particpate in a chess tournament held at Nabha town in Patiala district in 1986. Rajiv surprised many senior players and finished third in the state-level tournament. Since that day to the year 1993 he was always the darliing of the chess fans and tournaments amazing all with his moves and the vibrant smile greeting all inspite of his handicap.

More than his efforts it was the contribution of his parents that kept Rajiv going. His father being an accounts officer spent literally every penny with him on his son’s treatment first and then on his passion of the game. His mother too began working to meet the burdgeoning bills of Rajiv’s participation in chess tournaments across the country.

This writer being an amateur chess player himself was incidentally a witness to the pain and efforts of his parents to keep the ambition of his son afloat. They even worked over-time and sold much of their property in the process. The efforts they put to enable their wheelchair son play in tournaments across the country can only be imagined rather than expressed.

Rajiv has all regards for his parents, “Who would invest money in a child whose 90 per cent of body was motionless,” he asks, “They are my God” he remarked.

But inspite of conquering such hardships, the family had to bow before the power of money. With lack of any help from the Punjab Government and dearth of sponsors to the game not as glamorous as cricket, Rajiv began missing more and more tournaments until the year 1993 when he had to abruptly stop.

“I had to stop playing.Inspite of persistent efforts and requests the state government, especially the Sports Department, refuses to offer some kind of sponsorship or patronage to me. For them chess was not a priority game,” he resented. Some local sponsors did come but they too withdrew after a couple of tournaments.

Life returned to square one with this setback. A promising career thus stopped mid-way due to the apathetic attitude of the government towards the game. Today for the last seven years Rajiv has not played any tournament. In order to make both ends meet he took to chess coaching but even that was not helping much financially. The never-say-die spirit of this man then encouraged him to look for some other means of earning livelihood and to support his parents.

It is here that astrology attracted his attention. And studying the texts in rediscovered zeal commenced. Today after a study of three years Rajiv provides astrological guidance to others and supports his family. But the passion for chess remains. A number of dust-covered expensive chess books lie underneath the astrology texts beckoning him. "Yes, I will return some day to them" the determined youngster asserts, and if some help from the government comes forth, his wait may not be that long. Back


Breeze, showers bring cheer
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31— The fall in the mercury following mild rain showers here last night wiped the frown off many faces in the city after the unremitting heat wave that has gripped the region for the past two months.

The rain accompanied by strong winds, started around 1 a.m. today.

Though the rain was not heavy, it was sufficient to dispel the pall of dust hanging in the atmosphere for the past couple of days and responsible for the almost daily duststorms. It also helped bring down the temperature by almost four degrees.

According to the information from the Department of Agrometreology at Punjab Agriculture University, the maximum temperature on May 30 was 41.5C and the minimum 28.4C, around three to four degrees higher than what the temperature generally is at this time of the year.

It is learnt that this squall was spread to large parts of the district, including Doraha, Sahnewal, Mullanpur etc. The total rainfall in the region was measured at 4.6 mm.

While the showers were welcomed by most people in the city, the vegetable and fruit vendors cursed the rain gods for playing spoilsport.

The prices of some of the seasonal fruits like watermelons and melons, that had come down to Rs 10 per kg last week from the earlier price of Rs 40 to Rs 35 per kg a fortnight ago, has also fallen to less than Rs 5 per kg today because of the sudden rain showers.

Power breakdown in several localities like Civil Lines, Model Town, Kitchloo Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Chandan Nagar etc. because of the strong winds also caused some discomfort to the residents of these areas as the power supply was restored only in the wee hours of the morning.


12-year-old sodomised?
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — A case of sodomy has been registered at the Sadar Police Station against two persons by the father of the 12-year-old victim.

According to the FIR, the complainant, Mr Ram Dass, has alleged that around 8.30 p.m. on the night of May 22, Chand Singh and Prabhu Bhaiya, both residents of Kadian village, forcibly took away his 12-year-old son to some secluded place and had unnatural sex with him. He said the victim had left home to buy some provisions from a general merchant store when the incident occurred.

The complainant has also alleged that his son was threatened by the accused with dire consequences if he disclosed about this incident to anyone. The police has registered a case under Sections 377 and 34 of the IPC against the accused.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that a medical examination of the victim was done at the local L.M. Civil Hospital around three days ago, but the doctor concerned had denied that the victim had been a victim of sodomy. However, a board of doctors was later constituted to conduct the medical examination of the victim. The board has sent a swab of the victim to Government Medical College, Patiala for chemical examination.



A blot on city’s face
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — It is a distinction, Ludhianvis will not be proud of. The district is continuously recording highest number of rape cases occuring in the state for the last four years.It seems time has come to award it the dubious honour of being the most ‘ unsafe ‘ place for womenfolk.

After remaining on top in the years 1996 and 1997, the district recorded 46 such cases out of the total 332 occurred in 1998. Last year the figure went up to 56 with total of 393 in the state.Though in the first three months of the current year the district has recorded only 7 of the 86 cases happening in the state and is at the third place after Patiala and Jalandhar, analysts feel that this is a temporary aberration, They say that with the arrival of migrant labour, the main culprits as well as victims, from April onwards the district would soon leave others far behind.

Figures accrued from the State Chemical and Examiner’s Laboratory, Patiala, where swabs collected from the victim’s body are necessarily sent for examination, reveal that apart from the disturbing trend of regular rape incidents in this industrial hub of the city, the rise in rape cases all over the state has also assumed alarming proportions.

From being an otherwise low rape-incidence state just a decade ago, the state now registers a rape case almost every day. In fact in the last 455 days as many as 479 cases have been registered . The average working out to be even more than one per day in the state.

While the migrant labourers were the main parties involved in the rape cases , a disturbing trend witnessed last year was of increase in rape cases in non-industrial places like Ferozepure, Gurdaspur and Patiala. But the abnormal rise in these places has still not been able to beat the crime rate in Ludhiana.

According to the SSP, Ludhiana, Mr Kuldeep Singh, more number of rapes occur here for the simple reason that its population is the highest in the district.” The more number of people you have in a city , the more the crime rate would be,” he stressed. According to him another major contributing factor towards the high number of rape cases is the inflow of migrant labour to the district. He said most of the rape cases involve them not only in this district but also in other Industrial places of the state.

Dr. D.J.Singh, Deputy Director, Punjab Police Academy Phillaur, who has conducted a number of studies on various aspects of crime, asserted that no doubt it is the lower strata of society that is primarily involved in rape cases, now people from all sections of socoiety were reporting incidence of rape. He said in his opinion the modern day parents pre-occupation with their own lives has made it impossible for them to keep a regular tab on the activities of their children. 


Cycle industry faces tough competition
From Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, May 31— The future prospects of the bicycle and parts industry here look gloomy. Around 3,000 manufacturers of bicycles and cycle parts in ''Manchester of India'', which form more than 70 per cent of the total bicycle industry in the country, have overcome all sorts of crises in the past — be it scarcity or high prices of raw material, erratic and insufficient power supply, taxation burden, labour problems and even tougher times during a decade-long militancy.

But immediate concern of the industry, which was already reeling under a prolonged demand recession and numerous other problems, is the arrival of China-made bicycles which are about to hit the market in the next couple of days. Priced at between Rs 550 and Rs 700, the Chinese bicycles would inflict a severe blow to Indian bicycles once these gain acceptance of the domestic buyers on the counts of quality and ruggedness in comparison with the local products, observes Mr V.P. Chopra, President of the Federation of Punjab Small Industries Associations.

Mr G.L. Pahwa, President of the United Cycles and Parts Manufacturers Association, the largest representative body of the bicycles and component industry, with about 1,600 units as its members, is upset but not unduly pessimistic. Sore over apathy and indifference of the government, Mr Pahwa says: "The government very well knew that under WTO provisions imports had to be liberalised and 714 items were placed under the exempted list this year which opened the floodgates for imported goods. Yet, no concrete steps were taken or suggested to the industry for making it technologically update and globally competent.''

However, sounding an optimistic note in the same breath, he says: "I have full faith in the determination of the Punjabi entrepreneurs. The local industry has always managed to stay afloat."

In the context of threat to the domestic industry from Chinese bicycles, Mr Pahwa and other industry representatives point out that Punjab has a locational disadvantage in procurement of basic raw material — iron and steel. All main steel producers are situated at far-off places like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa and the freight incurred in transportation of raw material and finished goods adds to the cost of production and renders the local units uncompetitive.

Mr Chopra is more forthright in saying: "The public sector main steel producers have to be disciplined and run like other commercial organisations. They go on incurring huge losses and the industry has to pay for their inefficiency." He is confident that if basic raw material is made available to the local units at reasonable prices and other minor constraints are removed, the local bicycle industry could give the Chinese run for their money.

Among other problems of the industry, mostly in small scale and tiny sector, adds Mr Pahwa, are lack of resources for technical upgradation, non-availability of liberal and cheap financial assistance, spurt in the prices of iron and steel, particularly mild steel rounds and sheets and other inputs like nickel and industrial chemicals.

While the industry has hailed the reduction in the rate of sales tax on bicycles and cycle parts from 6.6 to 4.4 per cent by the state government recently, Mr Pahwa feels that abolition of central sales tax Form C would give a big relief to the industry even to the extent that overall sales tax collections could go up. "These forms are so hard to get in sufficient numbers that at times evasions seems to be an easier proposition," he remarks in a sarcastic manner.

The industry views with concern the proposed hike in power tariff for all categories of consumers. Laments Mr Chopra: "Power supply is a perennial problem for the industry. While an increase in the power rates is a regular phenomenon, the PSEB top management has never dwelt upon the issue of improving quality of power supply. When we (the industrialists) are made to pay through the nose, aren't we entitled to a reasonably good power supply set-up. What the industry has to cope with are power cuts, tripping, system failures, shutdowns and peak load hour restrictions on what is left after that."

The general trend prevailing for a long time is that the industry goes on crying itself hoarse over all kinds of real and sometimes imaginary problems and the government most of the times remains aloof and unmoved, leaving the industrial units to fend for themselves. But the crisis gripping the bicycle and parts industry at present calls for immediate and positive response for a timely remedial action, otherwise the industry providing direct and indirect employment to around three lakh persons in the city was doomed to die, that appeared to be the general consensus in the industrial circles.


Way to riches through the stomach
By A.S. Prashar
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, May 31 — If the way to riches lie through the stomach, not many know it better than Mrs Rajni Bector who has successfully turned her cookery hobby into a Rs-100 crore business empire.

Starting out in a small way in her Sarabha Nagar residence garage here nearly two decades ago, Mrs Bector's business now includes ice-cream, bread, biscuits, confectionery items, buns and squashes and beverages. The buns manufactured by her factory at Phillaur are being supplied exclusively to MacDonald's for consumption as hot dogs throughout India and the Far East.

"It was not easy," recalls Mrs Bector in an interview with TNS. "I had to struggle hard. Ludhiana may be a big city, but its social circle is small. People did not appreciate women from affluent houses venturing out on their own and working independently. But I always wanted to be economically independent and did not mind working.

"I was very good in cooking. And since I remained alone in my house for most part of the day with nothing to do, I decided to turn my culinary skills to my advantage and occupy myself in the process. I used to cook a lot and call children from my neighbourhood to impromptu parties.

"Then one day, somebody suggested that I should supply ice-cream to a party he was hosting at his house in the evening. I did and the product was appreciated by all. Then I decided to put a stall at a fete held in the city. Incidentally, the stall allotted to me was next to the one the established Kwality ice-cream. I was nervous. But luckily, my product sold as much as the one marketed by the well-known company. This encouraged me try more..."

To begin with, Mrs Bector recalls that she used to make ice-cream with a hand churner. Soon, she bought an electrical churner and the business flourished. Her ice-creams and salads became a hit at exclusive parties held in the city. When she set up a small unit, she gave it the brand name of Cremica.

As the business grew, she added "Mrs Bector's" to the brand name of her product. Born in Karachi and brought up in Delhi, Mrs Bector married Mr Dharamveer Bector in 1957 at the age of 16. "I completed my studies after my marriage", she recalls.

Once she was asked to supply confectionery items at a party hosted in PAU for the visiting American Ambassador. "Mr Ravi Sawhni was the Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana then. I supplied a large number of confectionery items but the Black Forest cake I made was so much liked by the Ambassador that he declared that he wanted to the kiss the hands who had made it.

Mrs Bector used to be very active socially, visiting hospitals and Red Cross and trying to help the needy. But now age has slowed her down. But she continues to be in the local Luxmi Ladies Club. She remained its President for two years and claims to have put it back on the rails as a functional unit. She was also the first Lioness Chairperson in 1979.

As she looks back at her career as a woman entrepreneur, she has no regrets. "I am quite satisfied with the fact that I was able to make a success of it. And my advice to my fellow women is: Persevere. Hard work will make you successful in life. Work is worship. And always strive to be economically independent".



Occupational skin diseases common

Ludhiana, being the industrial hub, occupational skin diseases are far more common here than in other cities. some of the high-risk industries are chemical industries, fabricated rubber products, leather tanning, plating and polishing industries.

Individuals with dry skin, when exposed to jobs that bring them in contact with solvents, soaps and detergents, can develop hand eczema. Oily skin, though more resistant to the action of these agents, is more susceptible to pimple-like eruptions. Fair-skinned individuals are more prone to develop sunburn reactions and skin cancer. hairy skin is predisposed to hair root infection when in contact with cutting oil, grease and dirt. persons with a tendency to excessive sweating are likely to develop intertrigo (rash along body folds), prickly heat, bacterial and fungal infections.

The most common industrial chemicals which cause allergy are metallic salts, compounds of nickel, chromate, cobalt and gold, organic dyes, biocides and germicides. The eruption can occur anywhere on the skin depending upon the site of contact. Contact with chromium vapours leads to skin rash which involves the forehead, eyelids, face, ears and neck.

Electric burns have assumed importance with the growth of electrical apparatuses and installations. workers, potentially exposed to excessive heat, are bakers, boiler, heaters and foundry workers.

Ionizing radiation leads to radiodermatitis and a variety of cancers affecting thyroid, liver, bones and blood. The effect of exposure to ultraviolet rays can be seen in workers of carbon arc, welding and cutting torches and electric are furnaces etc. Repeated exposure to infrared radiation is seen in bakers, blacksmiths, electricians, foundry and furnace workers, glass blowers, iron workers and welders.

Exposure to laser occurs in workers engaged in cutting and drilling metal, glass or diamonds. The eye is at the greatest risk.

Management of skin diseases: A person with a history of atopic eczema should not be placed in a job where there is exposure to irritants or where repeated hand washing is required.

Workers' education: Harmful agents can be prevented from reaching the skin by wearing protective clothing. Since the hands are most affected, gloves are very useful. Specific gloves should be used for specific chemicals e.g. rubber/plastic gloves to protect against water and liquid chemicals and leather gloves for dry materials. The other articles of protective clothing include body suits, face shields, aprons, boots, etc. barrier creams are also useful when applied over hands before handling harmful substances.

Environmental methods: Ventilation for removal of fumes or powders and the use of fans, hoods, etc. are effective in removing gaseous substances from the environment. For cleanliness, providing washing facilities and insistence upon routine washing at regular intervals, especially before taking food, is essential.

In addition to the industrial occupational problems, Ludhiana citizens face air, water and noise pollution, which affects their health very badly. Nasal allergy and bronchial asthma affect not only grown-ups but new-born babies as well. Cyclists and scooterists inhale carbon-monoxide and carbon particles which are enough to choke their respiratory airways. Pressure horns affect the inner membrane of the ears and can make the people hard of hearing or even deaf. Water pollution is responsible for the cases of vomiting, diarrhoea, jaundice and typhoid.

Urbanisation and industrialisation, no doubt, has brought revolution in the living style of not only rich people but the average people as well. people eat well and sleep well after day's hard work. The need of the hour is to create better working conditions for the industrial workers.

— Dr Gurinderjit Singh


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |