Sunday, June 11, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Metropolitan Council mooted for Ludhiana
State government's response lukewarm
From A.S.Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10—A serious move is underway to convert the local municipal corporation (MC) into a metropolitan council.

The proposal is being closely examined by the politicians as well as officers of the MC and is also being taken up with the concerned authorities at Chandigarh. The issue was informally discussed at a recent meeting held in the state capital last week by the MC Commissioner, Dr S. S. Sandhu, and officers of the Department of Local Bodies of Punjab.

But the move is nowhere near fruition as yet. As one politician put it: “Abhi Dilli door hai.” The MC at its meetings held in recent years has adopted resolutions seeking the status of the Metropolitan Council for Ludhiana. But there has been no response from the state government so far. If anything, the government has seemingly been rather dismissive of the concept of the Metropolitan Council and has refused to react so far.

According to Mayor of Ludhiana, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, the only condition mentioned in the relevant laws for the creation of the Metropolitan Council in a city that it should have a population of not less than 10 lakh and a budget of about Rs 300 crore. The population of Ludhiana is now nearly 30 lakh and the annual budget of the MC stands at Rs 270 crore. “The House has been adopting resolutions demanding a Metropolitan Council status for the city in view of the importance, size, location and economic importance of Ludhiana. But I am sorry to say that there is not much movement on the issue so far. I don’t know what considerations weigh with the government”.

Informed sources in the MC say that there is a definite provision in the law for the creation of a Metropolitan Council. It is already in existence in Delhi. With the creation of the Metropolitan Council, Ludhiana will become an autonomous governing zone with the city enjoying all the powers of a state. The Mayor will also start enjoying the powers of a Chief Minister. Important areas like police, health, education etc will all come under him just as they are under the Mayor of a city in the USA.

The Mayor of New York, Mr Rudy Guliani, has been making waves in his city because of a tough crackdown on the rising crime wave which he has initiated after dismissing the city police chief.

In other words, if the Metropolitan Council is established, the city will become as powerful as the state. As a matter of fact, it will become independent of Chandigarh for all practical purposes with the city fathers formulating budget, levying taxes, running their own police and administering the city.

And there lies the catch.

No politician worth his salt in Chandigarh will allow that. MPs or MLAs will not like a situation in which in which their clout is diminished and the municipal councillors stop kowtowing to them.

Predictably, Minister for Local Bodies Balramji Dass Tandon, when contacted by TNS, said he had not heard of any such move by the MC. In any case, there did not seem to be any provision fort he Metropolitan Council in the laws governing the local bodies in the state, namely, the Punjab Municipal Act, 1976.

He pointed out that even the super megapolis of India, Mumbai, is governed by a MC. “If Mumbai does not have a Metropolitan Council, I don’t see how Ludhiana can have it?” he asks.

The existence of a Metropolitan Council in Delhi is a case apart. It is the Capital of India. It has the Lieutenant-Governor of its own who enjoys all powers. “I don’t see how Ludhiana city can have the Lieutenant-Governor because the state has a full-fledged Governor besides the elected government headed by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,” said the minister.

He, however, hastened to add: “Let the proposal come from Ludhiana. It will receive all the consideration due from the state government.”

The usual political platitudes apart, experts here point out that a solution to the problems of cities like Ludhiana lies in making them as much autonomous as possible. As a matter of fact, the decentralisation of power should take place all over the country. Decision-makers sitting in far away places like Chandigarh and Delhi cannot be expected to be intimately familiar with the day to day problems of an area.

In this connection, it is pointed out that one lakh wells dug up in the villages all over the country in 1994 when Mr Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister at a tremendous cost in the mistaken notion that there is a shortage of water in every village have now fallen in disuse. As a matter of fact, in states like Punjab where there are lakhs of tubewells, wells are seldom used.

Similarly, thousands of dwelling units built for economically weaker sections on the periphery of villages under the Indira Awas Yojana lie abandoned because nobody wants to live like outcasts in houses built outside the villages.

Such faux pas would not have taken place had the planners remained in touch with the ground realities at the local level.


Students’ brainchild — a scooter that runs on LPG
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 — The grit and determination to carve out a niche for themselves in the ever-exploring scientific world has led five students of the local Guru Nanak Engineering College into designing a two-stroke Vespa scooter that uses liquified petroleum gas as an alternative fuel.

The final year students of Production Engineering — Kuljit Singh, Sant Sevak Singh, Karan Chowdhery, Prabhjeet Singh and Tanmeet Singh — have succeeded in designing this pollution-free and fuel-efficient scooter as part of their research project titled, "An Experimental Investigation to check the feasibility of using LPG as an alternative fuel on a Two Stroke Vespa Scooter. “This scooter has been run successfully on gas, perhaps for the first time, at a distance of around 60 km at a stretch and for 210 km intermittently. With the design of this scooter, it could well be a step for converting and running a scooter on LPG commercially.

The emission of this scooter as checked and certified at the Prestige Honda Lally Motors is also much less than the scooter that runs on petrol. As certified by the company, the carbon monoxide emission in the scooter on LPG is 0.2% as compared to the scooter on petrol with CO emission of 1.5%.

The hydro carbon emission in the LPG run scooter is 1500-1700 ppm as compared to the other scooter which runs on petrol, and has an HC emission of 1700 to 1900 ppm.

Says Karan Chowdhery, one of the student inventors: “What started as an experiment has led us to a stage where we can now look forward to converting scooters on LPG commercially. As the running cost of this scooter is very less as compared to the normal scooter that runs on petrol, it is bound to do well in the market, if introduced commercially.” He informs that the running cost of the scooter on LPG comes out to 30 paise per km as compared to the cost per km, of 80 paise of a normal scooter.

The young inventors claim that though they spent Rs 15000 on their experiment (Rs 6000 was spent on buying of a second-hand scooter for the purpose), the actual cost of converting the scooter on LPG on a commercial basis would work out to be much less. Says Sant Sevak Singh, “The rough estimates prepared by us show that the cost of conversion would not exceed more than Rs.3000. During the experimental stage, the cost was much higher as we had bought different materials that were later not used.”

The wonder scooter — as the young inventors would like it to be called — looks just like a normal scooter on the appearance. And as Tanmeet Singh points out, aesthetic appearance has been given special consideration. “Other than the two additional knobs that are seen on the outside — one for switching on to the petrol and other for the LPG — there is no difference in its outward appearance,” he points out.

The petrol tank of the scooter has been removed and a retrofit kit has been fitted inside the cavity, thus created under the seat of the scooter. This kit is vacuum-assisted and varies the pressure of gas according to the requirement of the engine. A provision for vacuum has been made by designing a special component which transfers the vacuum from cylinder to the retrofit kit. The problem of providing the right amount of lubrication to the engine has also been solved through the same component and lubrication is suction based.

The inventors point out that the economic range of the scooter on LPG is 35 to 40 km per hour at the ideal weight of 186 kg for two persons. The capacity of the gas cylinder fitted in the scooter is 2 kg and can be refilled at a price of Rs 45 per kg. The small petrol tank fitted inside as a stand-by in case of the exhaustion of the gas cylinder, has a capacity of three quarters of a litre and can run on petrol for around 25 km.

Other than this, the starting problem in the scooter has been greatly reduced by converting it into LPG as it is in vapour form. The inventors also informed that they are now proceeding for getting a patent for their invention.

However, the project in charge, Mr Prabal Chakravarty, says that there is still further scope for further study in this project. He says that the arrangement needs to be refined as the lubrication pipe has chances of getting clogged and the engine could seize in this situation and the wear and tear in the cylinder has to be measured.

He, however, maintained that this was the first time that a two-stroke engine had been successfully run on LPG. “With petrol prices going up, environment protection being the key issue and the new proposed act legalising the use of LPG as a fuel, this invention is surely going to be a boon for scores of scooterists.”


Migrant labour: an asset or a liability?

Standing at the railway platform of Ludhiana, a glance is enough to notice the intensity with which the migrant labour is adding to our number each day.

The migrant labour comes mainly from Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh with an earnest desire to make both ends meet. Earlier agriculture being our pre-occupation, the labour came seasonally and returned after completion of work. Today our main focus being industry and above all the city being the industrial hub of Punjab, migrant labour has plenty of work at hand.

The man usually comes alone and having settled down brings his family along. Thus with a satisfied earning, migrant labourers have become permanent inhabitants of this place. The labourers work in factories from dusk to dawn and with a view to earn more, engage themselves in overtime also.

Initially, the labourers used stay in rented quarters mostly designed for them in and around industrial area. As their financial position is becoming stable, they have begun to buy plots, build houses in the open markets and own vehicles. Ration cards are being issued to them and various parties are getting their votes in order to win elections.

As we start from Dholewal and approach Sahnewal, a sort of 'migrant labour land' seems to been established, with only nominal Punjabis to be seen here and there. Villages like Dhandari Kalan, Kanganwal, Jugiana, Gobindgarh etc seem to be humming with labour class.

The landed farmers of these villages prefer to use their land constructing labour colonies rather than growing crop as it is more lucrative. With no dearth of labour class, the farmers can sit back and look for safe earnings. This occupation today has become more promising for them than agriculture.

The crux of the whole situation is that our factories function because of the migrant labour. These factories can come to a standstill in their absence. But the line has to be drawn somewhere. The industrial area speaks for itself as to the abundance in which the labourers arrive with no plans to return but for short breaks.

This has obviously created an imbalance in the population as the states of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh etc are being vacated each day and the number of labourers is increasing day by day in Punjab, particularly in Ludhiana. The increase in population is leading to many problems.

The migrant labourers being unaware of the traffic rules and adequate road sense bump each day into one thing or the other resulting in minor or in some cases major road accidents. With their increasing number, the safety on the road has been hampered and driving has become a risky affair. To add to this, they are usually unaware about healthy environment and mostly live in dingy surroundings, invite sickness for themselves and others.

Another bleak aspect is that Punjabi culture endowed with rich tradition all values, is receiving a setback with their presence as these labourers have their own traditions and modes of living. They are not ready to assimilate the Punjabi culture. The live as a separate identity and do not join the mainstream.

Something concrete has to be done. Some half a dozen prominent personalities of Sahnewal who include the Chairman Marketing Committee, Sahnewal, Mr Santa Singh Umedpuri, Mr Tejinder Singh Sandhu, president, All India-Anti Corruption Association, Baba Jagroop Singh, circle president, Shiromani Akali Dal, and others have demanded a strict vigilance on the part of the government in this regard. It has been further noted that some of the migrant labourers are of criminal disposition and having committed certain crimes find an easy escape in Punjab. So the demand also is for issuing identity cards by their states concerned and a strict record of their entry and exit must be maintained.

However much depends upon our young unemployed generation . The realisation on their part is a must. ‘ Dignity of labour’ is the need of the hour. The reality that we simply ignore today is that if people from other states can come and make a dignified living for themselves, why can’t we?

—Loveleen Bains


‘I’ll give my son good education’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 10 — It was more than 50 years ago that a couple came to the city from Mathura in search of green pastures.

Punjab — or for that matter Ludhiana — was not known for its riches in those days. Nor were there many persons around who would not go out in un-ironed clothes. But the couple resolved to stay put, come what may, after having decided to set up a small enterprise of washing and ironing clothes. The going, for them, was not easy by any means. But they kept the wheel of life moving by dint of sheer labour and a strong faith in God.

Sanjay, the grandson of the aged couple, learnt to iron clothes from them. He talks fondly of his dada-dadi. He now lives here with his father, who is supervising the business.

Though born at Mathura, Sanjay has grown up in the city and speaks impeccable Punjabi and of course, considers himself a pucca Ludhianvi .

What happens to their business whenever they have to undertake a trip to Mathura to attend marriages etc. in the family? Sanjay, who at 28, is the father of a six-month-old son, sounds very professional when he says the business must go on. The customers must be provided the services they need everyday. So they make alternative arrangement in their absence.

Would he like to see his son taking over from him? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’. He wants his son to get a good education. Surely, the times are changing. Who knows what lies in store for Sanjay’s grandchildren 50 years hence.


Dance party in city’s pub
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 — Ultrasonic music, beaming lights and dancing couples amidst specially spread out mist celebrating the ‘American Night’ at a local pub yesterday. That is what is already on in Ludhiana.

It was an all American panorama created for the occasion within the pub. Right from the music played up to the food served to guests it was all American touch. Scores of people including a few couples, boys and girls, enlivened the evening by their live performances. The idea according to the organisers was to “create an all American atmosphere”.

Special prizes were meant for the special performers. Sonu got the best solo dancer award. Chetan and Ritu were adjudged as best dancing couple. A Ugandian model Lilian and Miss Delhi Jaspreet Dhillon added to the glamour of the night.

According to Mr Gurbir Singh Kahlon, Managing Director of the pub, more and more people are coming to participate in such parties.

As the city takes forward strides in adopting western culture, people have also started overcoming their inhibitions.

Although, it is the gentry from high and affluent classes only, which visits the pub, the young people from middle class also take out their time for entertainment in the pub. These include mostly students from various colleges.


Mangat elected Fellow
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 — Dr Naurang Singh Mangat has been elected as Fellow of The Royal Statistical Society, London, England.

The council of the society keeping in view his research contributions in the field of statistics at the international level has conferred this honour on him.

He was nominated by Dr Briant Brian Francis, Director of Centre for Applied Statistics, Lancaster University, England and by Dr Chris Skinner, Director, Department of Social Statistics, University of Southampton , England.

Dr. Mangat has worked for about 20 years in different capacities in the Department of Plant Breeding at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.


Jatinderpal Singh Saluja
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 — The District Governor of Lion District 321-F, Dr N.K. Grover, has appointed past President of the Lions Club, Ludhiana North, Lion Jatinderpal Singh Saluja, as Zone Chairman.

Lion Saluja has assured Dr Grover and region Chairman Joginder Taneja for his full co-operation in the coming years to Lionism. 


Clash at university; three booked
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 — The police today booked three students of Punjab Agricultural University on the charge of violence and disturbing peace and harmony in a public place after six persons were injured in a clash between two groups of students at the university yesterday.

A case under Sections 323,324, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered on a complaint of Nagar Singh against Bikram, Navneet, Randhir and 10 others.

The complainant has alleged that they first beat him near the Agronomy Department and later when he along with other students was going to lodge a complaint with the Hostel Warden, the three accused alongwith 10 others apprehended them and allegedly attacked them with sharp weapons. While Nagar, Navdeep, Narinder and Umesh have been admitted to D.M.C.H., Bikram and Ranvir were admitted to Civil Hospital.

It is learnt that an old dispute between the two groups is the cause of the clash.

Liquor seized: The police has seized 12 bottles of illicit liquor from Kishan Lal in the Jodhewal Basti area. The accused, a resident of Kota Samol village in Ropar district, has been booked under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.

Two booked: Two persons have been booked by the police on the charge of embezzlement of funds and forgery.

Jagdish Rai and Jeet Lal, both employees of York Exports, have allegedly embezzled Rs 1,95,750 from the firm by forging signatures on payment receipts.

A case has been registered under Sections 408,465,467, 468 and 471 of the IPC on a complaint of their employer, Mr Bharat Bhushan Jain.

Case registered: Twentythree bottles of illicit liquor were seized from Tarlok Chand and Rakesh Kumar by the Division No.3 police station and the accused have been booked under Sections 61,1 and 14 of the Excise Act.



Foreign brand names allowed
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 10 —The small-scale industries have now been allowed to use foreign brand names for the export products. As per the revised export and import policy for the year 2000-2001 there is no value cap on the DEPB for the branded products. According to Mr P.D. Sharma, the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab, represented the case of the small scale exporters to the Development Commissioner, Small Scale Industries, who took up the matter with the DGFT.

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