Friday, June 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Residents go through hell following persistent power failures
Outdated cables, naked wires a constant threat to life
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — Citizens of Ludhiana have been going through a hot and sweaty summer, thanks to the failure yet again of the Punjab State Electricity Board to replace the more than two decades old power cables laid in the city for supplying power to domestic consumers.

These power cables have far outlived their useful life. A large number of cuts, joints, naked wires protruding through frayed cables make them a very unreliable carrier of an essential service like electricity. Little wonder, power breakdowns, wild voltage fluctuations and unscheduled shutdowns are the order of the day in the megacity. Hardly a day passes without one locality or the other suffering a electricity breakdown. If it is Gurdev Nagar in the morning, it is Model Town in the afternoon, Sarabha Nagar in the evening and a half a dozen other localities at night. The PSEB staff take their own time in attending to these complaints. They claim that they are understaffed but the irate citizens hold the total absence of a work culture in the Ludhiana office of the PSEB for their alleged callous attitude.

On Friday night, there was a big confrontation between electricity staff and the residents of Habbowal over a power failure, leading to the detention of certain residents of the area by the police. This in turn brought hundreds of housewives on the streets who laid a virtual siege of the police station concerned. Certain PSEB officials who visited the area to resolve the matter had their cars gheraoed by the irate residents. The issue was settled only after the police let off the detainees. by the housewives of the area.

On the night intervening Sunday and Monday, there was a prolonged power breakdown in Shastri Nagar, Model Town, Civil Lines, Atam Nagar and Dugri Road areas. For hours together, no one from the PSEB attended to the complaints. And when the residents of the affected areas went to the electricity complaint office, those supposed to be on duty inside allegedly just made themselves unavailable.

Power supply to residential areas along College Road and Cemetery Road is also a perennial problem. Not very long ago, a power failure due to a fuse blowout on Cemetery Road where the house of the local BJP MP, Lala Lajpat Rai, is also located, took seven hours to mend. So fed up are the residents that there have been incidents of violence involving them with the PSEB staff.

Only a few weeks ago, there was a big fracas between the irate consumers and the PSEB staff in a locality which led to the registration of an FIR against several people and the arrest of a local leader, Mr Harish Khanna. It is another matter that Mr Khanna was not even present on the spot when the alleged assault on the PSEB staff took place. This was observed by the judge himself while enlarging Mr Khanna on bail.

With the temperature already soaring past the 43° Centigrade-mark and still rising, the citizens are in for hard times indeed. Little wonder, almost every household and commercial establishment in Ludhiana has made a provision for the installation of private diesel generator sets.

And why is the PSEB not replacing damaged power cables? “We have no money for this purpose”, says Mr A.S.Randhawa, Chief Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, rather frankly. “The old lines have more or less outlived their life, leading to heavy line losses, frequent breakdowns and a generally poor service to the consumers. But there is nothing much we can do about it because there is no money... We need at least Rs 40 crore to replace them.”

Mr Randhawa’s admission comes at a time when the cash-strapped state government shows little sign of withdrawing its populist measures like giving free power to the farm sector despite widespread criticism and a recommendation by the government’s own high-powered committee to reverse the decision.

The abnormally high line losses are attributable to:

i) free power supply to the farm sector,

ii) theft and

iii) technical losses.

According to Mr Randhawa, theft of power cannot be avoided. As much as 22 per cent of the power supply in the state goes free to agriculture sector. Another 27 per cent of power supply is lost due to different reasons. While 17-18 % of the losses is due to technical reasons, more than 10 per cent is because of theft.

Mr Randhawa complains that PSEB employees have been corrupted by the consumers. “Don’t pay our men. This is how the vicious circle starts. We have introduced the system of meter cards to ensure that each consumer is visited by our meter readers to ensure proper billing for the power consumed. But I now find that nearly 80 per cent of the cards are not there. They have just gone missing. They were introduced one-and-a-half years ago. An absence of these cards means that the meters will not be read and bills will be sent on the basis of average consumption....”

The wage bill of the PSEB is a hefty Rs 100 crore every month. It has 97,000 employees. Thirtyfive to forty per cent of the total revenue of the board is collected in Ludhiana. Ludhiana and Khanna circles of the PSEB have a staff strength of 5 SEs, 24 XENs, 91 SDOs, 426 JEs, 850 clerks, 254 cashiers, 2100 linesmen, 3400 assistant linesmen and 188 meter readers 188. 


Cheap milk from West may sound farmers’ death-knell
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — Dairy farmers in the state are a worried lot ever since reports of the first import of Scandanavian milk powder and butter oil spread earlier this month.

Interacting with various progressive dairy farmers of the state today, during their visit to P.A.U. to participate in a joint meeting of university scientists, Punjab Government officers and representatives of milk processing units, to discuss the problems of dairy farmers, TNS found that the news had put the farmers in a jiffy. With the price of the imported milk powder put at a meagre Rs 6 per kg and the price of butter oil at Rs 70 per kg, the farming business in the state would be completely ruined, fear most farmers.

Mr Zora Singh, a progressive dairy farmer and Sarpanch of Jainpura village Sangrur, lamented that the panic situation even before the imported milk powder, milk and butter oil hit the market had accelerated their downfall. “All of a sudden, the demand for milk powder and ghee in the market has declined. Over Rs 300 crore worth of ghee is lying in the various milk plants in the state as there are no takers, “he said.

Mr Zora Singh who is also the Director of the Verka Milk Plant, Sangrur, informed that this time the main market of the Punjab dairy farmers-Delhi saw a decline in demand because of the imported milk products. Unless the government imposed a heavy excise duty to stop the flooding of the Indian market by these imported products, the agrarian economy of the state will be adversely affected.

It is also learnt that the Punjab Government has recently proposed to the Union Government that an excise duty of 60 per cent be imposed on the import of all dairy products to give some support to the dairy farmers.

It may be noted that the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan have already imposed an excise duty of 200 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively, to discourage the other countries from exporting their milk products to them and making these a dumping ground for the excess of these products lying in these countries.

Another dairy farmer from Kotli village near Payal, Mr Pritpal Singh, said that milk was highly subsidised in some of the developed countries, which was the reason that it would be available at such low prices here. He felt that the proposed excise duty of 60 per cent was just peanuts and that the government should impose an excise duty of at least 200 per cent to save the dairy farming sector. He, however, agreed that at present this talk was just a rumour.

Interestingly, it is also learnt that in just over a fortnight, Milkfed has reduced the price being paid to milk producers thrice. This is again a sign of distress because of the decline in sales, as the price of milk paid to the producer during the lean summer months was often increased. Earlier in the month, the price of milk was reduced from Rs 1.65 per kg fat to Rs 1.60 per kg fat. The price has been further lowered to Rs 1.55 per kg fat as compared to Rs 1.75 per kg fat paid to the milk producers the same time last year.

Another progressive dairy farmer, Mr Sukhjivan Singh of Ghudani Khurd village also lamented that other than the affect on the prices of milk and milk products, the prices of milch animals was also on the decline because of the sudden panic in the market. “The price of all dairy animals has been reduced to almost its half during the past couple of days. No one is buying any milch animal ,” he laments.

He also says that the dairy farmers in the state now need to be oriented towards improving their produce. “Though all precautions for quality control are being taken at the processing stage, it is not the case during collection of milk by the producer. Often milk of an infected animal or milk adulterated with urine of the animal is supplied by the dairy farmer,” he said.

However, Mr Balwant Singh, a dairy farmer of Gajjanmajra village in Malerkotla, differs. He says that there is lack of innovative research on the subject of increasing yield of milk per animal. “The total milk production in the state increased because there were more dairy farmers and not because of increase in yield. Concentrated efforts have to be made by dairy scientists to help increase the yield and help us beat the forthcoming competition.”


Ludhiana Tribune gets off to a flying start
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — It was a long awaited occasion for the residents of the city as the Ludhiana Tribune started arriving at the doorsteps of The Tribune readers this morning.

The Ludhiana Tribune was formally launched here at a function attended by the members of The Tribune family, hundreds of readers, the staff, the Editor, Mr Hari Jaisingh, the General Manager, Mr S.D. Bhambri, and the Additional General Manager, Mr O.P. Arora.

Prominent among those present included the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, the Ludhiana MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, the Mayor Mr Upinder Singh Grewal, the Vice-Chancellor of the Punjab Agricultural University, Dr G.S. Kalkat, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh, local MLAs, Mr Satpal Gosain and Mr Heera Singh Gabria, the Acting President of the Sarb Hind Akali Dal, Thekedar Surjan Singh, the President of the District Bar Association, Mr Harish Rai Danda, and others.

Mr Bhambri appreciated the readers for cooperating through the generations. He pointed out that The Tribune was governed by the policy of watching public interest only. He said, the paper was not owned by a particular person, but its 20 lakh readers. He assured that it will continue to maintain the trust of its readers for generations to come.

Mr Hari Jaisingh promised that the Ludhiana Tribune would come up to the expectations of the people. It was an illustration of the commitment of The Tribune towards its readers. He pointed out, since The Tribune catered to the needs of the entire north, including J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana and a good part of Delhi, it was difficult to give due representation to issues exclusive to Ludhiana. To fill this gap, he disclosed, the Ludhiana Tribune was launched.

Referring to the great traditions of The Tribune, Mr Hari Jaisingh said, The Tribune was not a product, but a mission and movement launched 120 years ago by a great visionary, Dayal Singh Majithia, to serve the people. He assured that the local issues will now get prominence, which will help ameliorate the problems of people here.

Mr O.P. Arora said The Tribune had evolved over the years and always stood by the people in the region. It is one of the few newspapers which has guarded the interest of the public at all costs and assured it would continue to do so.

Mr A.S. Prashar, the Special Correspondent, who conducted today’s proceedings said, it was the commitment of the Editor and the General Manager which led to the launch of the Chandigarh Tribune and subsequently the Ludhiana Tribune. He also thanked the guests who attended today’s launching ceremony.

Later, Ms Nina Hari Jaisingh inaugurated the new Tribune Sub-Office at Bhadour House, Ludhiana. She also took a round of the new office and evinced keen interest in the latest technology introduced here.Back


Threat of gastroenteritis epidemic
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — The outbreak of gastroenteritis in Fauji Colony of the Sherpur area here, is threatening to assume epidemic proportions, with an alarming increase in the number of patients. While the medical officials confirmed that 65 persons had been taken ill on Tuesday, 90 patients had reported at the makeshift medical camp in the colony by noon yesterday. Although four persons died till Tuesday.

The main reason for the spread of the disease is said to be the contamination of the drinking water due to the leakage in the supply pipe. According to Mr Kewal Garg, a local resident, the municipal corporation has launched a repairing drive in the colony. The bulldozers damaged the sewer and drinking water supply pipes. He revealed that the drinking water and sewage got mixed. The unsuspecting people, mostly labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar consumed the contaminated water, leading to the spread of the disease.

While the doctors on duty and other senior officials denied that it could be cholera, some senior doctors did not rule out the possibility of cholera. Although gastroenteritis and cholera have identical symptoms, cholera is more deadly and assumes epidemic proportions immediately. The patient can also die within no time.

All the four persons who died had complained about vomiting and diarrhea only hours before the passed away. Moreover, the alarming increase in the number of patients is also a cause of concern.

A team of doctors from Civil Hospital and the Municipal Corporation led by the district health officer, Dr R. C. Garg, is camping in the colony for two days. Necessary medicines have also been made available in the makeshift camp.

While most of the patients are given treatment at the local camp, some serious cases are being referred to Civil Hospital. About 10 cases were referred to the Civil Hospital yesterday.

Fauji Colony is a cluster of multistoreyed houses called chals in local parlance. These buildings have been constructed illegally without following any municipal norms. Each house consists of about 30 to 40 rooms.

On an average, five persons stay in one room, which costs Rs 450 a month. These houses are said to be owned by some influential people who earn rent in lakhs without providing any facility to the tenants, who are all labourers from UP and Bihar.

The drains are choked and overflowing. Streets are flooded with dirt and sleaze. It is not possible to walk through these streets, as water is at some places knee deep and with foul smell coming from all around. The chals inside are inhabitable, yet people live there. There is everything that can lead to an epidemic, if it is not already there, at least in the eyes of the health and municipal officials.Raghbir file Kuldeep

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government has placed four officials of the Municipal Corporation, including two SDOs and two junior engineers, allegedly for negligence and dereliction of duty, which led to outbreak of gastroenteritis and suspected cholera in Sherpur locality here. The epidemic-like situation in the slums of Fauji Colony claimed four lives and 65 others were admitted to various local hospitals with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting.

After reports that the outbreak of gastroenteritis was caused by sewerage-water mixing with water in a leaking line in the locality, the Principal Secretary of the Local Government, Mr N.K. Arora, has ordered the suspension of Joginder Singh Sandhu and Rama Shankar Sahai, both SDOs. The junior engineers placed under suspension are Satish Kumar and Jaswant Singh.

The Punjab Health Minister, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, and the Minister of State for Health, Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, along with senior district, health and municipal officials, visited the affected areas and reviewed the working of medical teams and a relief camp set up in the locality.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, after a visit to the area, has directed the civic officials to keep a strict vigil on the level of sanitation, cleanliness and quality of drinking water in Sherpur and surrounding localities. 



Students flood cyber cafes to know results
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 1 — As the word spread in the city about the release of the CBSE senior secondary examination results on the Internet, all cyber cafes were flooded with the anxious students eager to know their performance.

In fact, those who were fortunate to have the Internet connections in their homes were the first to spread the news. These students were able to know their results just after midnight and then telephone calls to friends' places went buzzing. The roads of the city which are normally less frequented after midnight suddenly came alive with cars of the equally impatient parents around to find a terminal.

A survey conducted by this correspondent revealed huge rush of students in the cyber cafes. while inside the air smacked of an understandable tension, the scenes outside were much varied. While some were jubilant over their excellent scores, others burst into tears at the unexpected low score they had got. Still others had a satisfying expression of being content with whatever they had got.

According to initial estimates the percentage has gone much higher than the previous year. Enquiries from various schools revealed that the number of students scoring more than 90 per cent was also higher than before. A number of school principals also acknowledged that the performance of girls was far better than the boys as had been the case for the past decade or so.


Permanent residents of Lakaranwala Pull
From Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — Thousands of people may be crossing the Lakaranwala Pull, connecting the Civil Lines area with the Clock Tower daily. But there are some who stay there and stay permanently. Not for a day, a week or a month, but for years together. These are the people who have come from various parts of the state and the country and “settled down permanently” here on the bridge. Their world begins and ends here only.

About 50 beggars are the permanent residents of this bridge. Some are there for last over four decades. Others like Ram Prakash have lost the count of years. He remembers only that he came here when a chapati was sold for one anna only.

A few ‘inhabitants’ of Lakaranwala Pull own weighing machines. People weigh themselves on these machines. Each customer pays Re 1. But most others are dependent on alms only. On an average, a beggar on the Lakaranwala Pull “earns” Rs 50 during the day.

While most of the beggars there are alone, some have their families also. About half of the beggars are handicapped, while others claim they could not manage any work and had to sit begging. Some ‘senior beggars’, who managed to save some of their “earnings” have purchased weighing machines. This has helped them earn their livelihood, respectably. Says Ram Prakash, “Earlier I had to depend on the alms only, now I earn from my machine and I feel very much proud”. But Ram Prakash has a grievance. There are some people who weigh themselves on his machine, but refuse to pay. “I take pity on them”, he remarks derisively.

Shanker is handicapped. He says he is from Bihar. He is here for last 12 years. He is accompanied by his 10 year old son, who helps him in procuring water and food. Shanker “earns” about Rs 50 a day. He sends about half of his earnings to his wife, who is staying in Bihar with four children. Shanker has no plans to move out. “Where shall I go”, he asks. Rarely does he visit his home in Bihar. That would involve a lot of problems. Moreover some other beggar may usurp his place and it would be too difficult to evacuate him.

But some others do take out their time from “business” to visit their families. They make temporary arrangement with fellow beggars by “selling” the place for a particular amount for a particular period. It is a gentleman’s deal and the “tenant” usually leaves the place without any trouble.

The “permanent residents” of the Lakaranwala Pull have evolved a sense of fraternity among themselves over the years of their stay. They regularly interact with each other. They also share each other’s grief. “That is the only thing we can share, for celebrations and festivities are not in our destiny”, remarks Ram Prakash regretfully.

Ram Prakash has witnessed ten deaths in his “neighbourhood”. These included, according to him, that of a railway engine driver, who had been dismissed from services. There is a strong sense of brotherhood in this settlement. Although not many new inhabitants arrive, but the “locales” do not mind if anybody comes.

Despite their miserable life, a good number of beggars have fallen prey to various addictions like chewing tobacco or smoking. Some are addicted to charas even. How do they manage to procure all these things particularly the charas. Nobody was prepared to disclose.

The Lakaranwala Pull, the Railway Footbridge, is over a 100 years old. Originally constructed of wood, the overbridge continues to be known by its original name. Since thousands of people cross this bridge daily, a good number of them do pay something to the beggars there. There are also some regular visitors, who serve food and other things to these less privileged people, to make their life less miserable.


Students frolic as summer holidays start
From Monica Sharma

LUDHIANA, June 1 — Summer may be too hot for all of us. But it is definitely not so for the students studying in various schools here. Because it holds a promise for them. The promise of a break for about a month. The time to have fun. The summer heat notwithstanding, they welcome it. Rightly so. No early morning awakening. No disturbances and disruptions in watching the cartoons on TV sets and playing video games.

Most of the schools here are closing for summer holidays from June 1. The students and their parents have already chalked out their programmes. A visit to a hill station or a pilgrimage to some Holi shrine includes the itinerary.

Surbhi, a class VII, student of Sacred Heart Convent School has her own plans. She has a lot of homework to do. But that does not disappoint her. After all, studies have always to be the top priority. Fun and frolic come later. She has drawn up her holiday calendar. She has formulated her plans in a meticulous manner balancing the time between studies and recreation. She plans to go to some hill station in Himachal to have a cool break from the hot summer of Ludhiana. This, she says, will definitely refresh her.

The tiring and over-exhausting schedule during the schooldays makes students desperate to have holidays. “Even a single weekly off is relished, what to speak of a month or more”, says Manorama Dewan, a bank employee and mother of two school children. She reveals that holidays are a great relief to parents also. Particularly those, both of whom are working. Mrs Manorama adds: “We parents wait for holidays more than our children do.” She has an explanation also. Because the parents have to plan their programmes in accordance with the availability of their children.

It is not all fun. A number of students have already decided to utilise this time in other extra curricular activities. As a number of institutions have cropped up for imparting training in music, dance, cookery, painting, pottery, computers and similar other several trades. “In fact it is learning with fun,” remarks Akshay Malhotra. He is learning tabla from a local school of fine arts. Many of his friends are engaging themselves in other trades like computers and painting.

There are many others for whom studies will continue. In fact, for them it would be more studies only. Because there are some students who need additional hard work for making up their shortcomings. These students take tuitions in a number of tutorials that have mushroomed in the city. Rahul, a class XI student says: “I have to give ample time to go through the syllabi and to revise my books again and again. This being a crucial year for a student one has to give the most to studies.”

Summer vacation is a sigh of relief for the burdened students and they tend to spend their holidays as they wish. They give full time to the chores which they miss during their normal routine. The teachers also get some time off from their jobs and relax in the holidays. The teachers also give sufficient time to their family which they lack to give sometimes when they are busy in day-to-day schedule. Summer vacation is a time to rejoice for both students as well as the teachers.Back


Cop booked for tampering with records
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 1 — A Head Constable of the Ludhiana police, Ranjit Singh, has been booked by the police on charges of tampering with records under Section 409 of the IPC. The case has been registered following the orders of the Senior Superintendent of Police after seeking the opinion of the District Attorney (Legal) at the Model Town police station.

Scooter stolen: A scooter (PB-10-AG-0427) was allegedly stolen by Rakesh Kumar Agnihotri from Budhuwal Road, Jandali, on May 15 from the official premises of his employer, Bhupinder Singh.

Teenager kidnapped: A 13-year-old girl, Monia, was allegedly kidnapped from outside her house on the night of May 14 by Ranbir Singh, Paramjit Singh and Charanjit Kaur. The police on June 1 registered a case under Sections 363, 366-A and 34 of the IPC.

Scooterist killed: Hargobind Behal was allegedly killed when his scooter collided with a bus (PB-13G-9807) on May 30 near Shivpuri Road.

Killed in mishap: Ravi Kumar succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a truck near Partap Chowk on the morning of May 30. The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Bihari Lal, brother of the deceased.

Injured: Rajiv Kumar received multiple injuries when the scooter on which he was travelling was hit by a white Tata Sumo with (PB-55-3271) near Sahnewal Khurd late on the night of May 29. A case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC has been registered.

Wires stolen: The Sadar Police has registered a case regarding stealing of electric wires from the 25-KV transformer installed at the tubewell of Kuldip Singh in Kasabad village. While a case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered, the police is making efforts to trace the culprits.

Two injured: Paramjit Singh and Jagsaran Singh sustained injuries when they were attacked allegedly by a group of six persons led by Nanak Singh and Baldev Singh on the evening of May 29 at the office of Paramjit Singh in South City. A Dispute pertaining to the office is stated to be the motive behind this criminal act.

The police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 452, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC.

Liquor seized: A team of Excise Department officials led by Mr Nardev Soni, ETO (X), have seized 108 bottles and 200 pouches of liquor during a raid on the farmhouse of Mittarpal Singh at Hedonian village of Samrala subdivision with the help of the local police. A case under Sections 61, 1, 14 of the Excise Act has been registered against the accused Gurmail Singh who was apprehended on the spot by the police.Back


Rewarded for dubious dealings
From Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, June 1— Much hoopla over providing clean and transparent governance and repeated vows to root out corruption by the SAD-BJP government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal notwithstanding, the government appears not only to be shielding officers with dubious records but is also doling out promotions and prize postings to them.

The recent instance is the posting of Mr Daljit Singh Saini as Executive Engineer (Horticulture) in the Municipal corporation in place of Dr J.S. Bilga last week. Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Saini had not only a spate of suspensions from service and departmental and vigilance inquiries behind him, but is also facing a criminal case of fraud and cheating registered against him.

In FIR No 4 dated January 13, 2000, lodged in Kotwali police station here on the basis of a report by the ADGP (Crime), Mr Saini has been charged under sections 419 and 420, IPC, for fraudulently getting a residential plot allotted to an MC contractor by showing him as a permanent employee of the civic body and recruitment of a gardener in the fictitious name of Ashok Kumar, son of Duli Chand, whereas the person concerned is said to be one Avtar Singh, son of Janak Singh.

According to corporation sources, Mr Saini had a long stay in the city as Land Scape Officer before his promotion as Executive Engineer (Horticulture) in 1996. During this period, he had been charged with many irregularities ranging from employing MC workers for his personal use at his farmhouse in Ropar district and at his village in Himachal Pradesh, having assets disproportionate to the known sources of income and fabricating official records to draw payment for a large number of non-existent daily wagers in the horticulture wing of the MC.

Senior MC officials revealed on the condition of anonymity that undeterred by departmental inquiries, vigilance probes and a couple of criminal cases, which were subsequently got cancelled, the officer (Mr Saini) had been wriggling out of such situations. That he enjoyed political patronage in the highest places was evident from the fact that even after having been suspended more than once during his earlier tenure here and not being entrusted with any work by senior officers for a prolonged period allegedly because of his questionable dealings, he has managed to have himself transferred from Amritsar to Ludhiana.

The said officer having been booked for fraud and cheating in January this year is also a story in itself. A detailed complaint about the involvement of Mr Saini in the fraudulent allotment of a residential plot meant for MC employees to an outsider and recruitment of a worker in fictitious name was forwarded by the city BJP legislator, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, to the Punjab Chief Minister who ordered an inquiry by the Crime department into the matter.

However, before the long-drawn probe could establish that a prima facie case existed against the accused officer, Mr Gosain, for reasons best known to him, sent another letter to the Chief Minister saying that the matter need not be pursued as he was satisfied that no case was made out against Mr Saini.

Apparently, the second letter by the BJP legislator, exonerating Mr Saini did have some effect because the vigilance bureau dropped the inquiry. So did the local police, on the basis of the legal opinion submitted by the district attorney that in view of Mr Gosain withdrawing his complaint, the case need not be pursued.

But the crime bureau disagreed and in a DO letter sent to the local police, the ADGP (Crime) directed that a case against Mr Saini be registered immediately and once the charges against a public servant had been prima facie established, Mr Gosain had no locus standi to withdraw his complaint.



Residents of 16 villages hold protest dharna
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 1 — Residents of 16 villages in the district led by sarpanches of their respective village panchayats today staged a protest dharna and later submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner here demanding stern action against attempts to take forcible possession of panchayat land in village Kasabad.

Mr Inderjit Singh, sarpanch of Kasabad village later told mediapersons that former sarpanch of the village Amrik Singh had taken on lease a piece of panchayat land during his tenure in 1998 for a sum of Rs1,60,000. During the period of one year lease, the former sarpanch is alleged to have fabricated documents and got the ownership of the land transferred in his name in connivance with revenue officials.

When the land in question was given on fresh lease to one Sarwan Kumar in May, 1999, by the newly elected panchayat, the former sarpanch refused to hand over the possession to the new leasee and it was only after the intervention of the district authorities that possession was transferred to Sarwan Kumar.

The Kasabad sarpanch further told that harassment of the new leasee at the hands of the former sarpanch continued and the rightful owner was threatened against harvesting his wheat crop sown in 12 hectares of land and his demand for providing adequate security measures was ignored. That former sarpanch Amrik Singh enjoys political patronage as alleged by Mr Inderjit Singh is confirmed from the fact that the land in question, which fetched Rs 1.85 lakh for the one year lease in May, 1999, has not been put to auction so far, nor has the administration taken cognisance of the charges of fabrication of documents and fraudulent change in ownership of panchayat land.

The village sarpanches impressed upon the Deputy Commissioner the urgent need to safeguard panchayat lands and to take stern action against attempts to encroach upon or fraudulently take possession of common lands in the district. The authorities were told in no uncertain terms that if steps were not taken immediately in this direction, the residents and panchayats of the affected villages would intensify the agitation.Back

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