Thursday, June 15, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Mass transfers threaten functioning of ESI
95 posts
of doctor declared surplus 
Lakhs of industrial workers hit
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14 — The wholesale transfer of PCMS doctors ordered by the Punjab Government recently and declaration as surplus the posts of 95 doctors working in ESI hospital and its allied 35 dispensaries in Ludhiana district have created a piquant situation in the city.

As many as 95 doctors working in the ESI hospital here and dispensaries in the district for the past many years have been transferred by the government in one go, threatening to throw out of gear the smooth functioning of the medical services available to more than two lakh industrial workers, not counting another six lakh members of their families. The axe has also fallen on doctors manning important specialities in the ESI hospital here, including gynaecology, obstetrics, anesthesia and orthopaedics.

A temporary reprieve has been won by the doctors following personal intervention by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who has ordered a review. But medical circles here expect little relief in the matter because one of the major factors for their wholesale transfers is the desire on the part the government to economise on expenditure.

Under the ESI regulations, one-eighth of the total expenditure on provision of ESI services is borne by the state government. But because of the financial crunch, the government has been looking for new avenues to cut down on expenditure. As a matter of fact, salaries of ESI doctors remained held up for two months during October and November last year because of non-availability of funds.

Dr S.P. Jagat, Medical Superintendent of ESI hospital, said neither were they consulted nor were their advice and views sought by the government before effecting the changes. "As a matter of fact, we had no inkling about the impending transfers. Had the government consulted us, we could have shown them the way to carry out the necessary transfers and effect economy without actually disrupting the function of the ESI set-up." If the government continues to insist on shifting specialists in the ESI hospital, he will be left with no alternative but to bring in many doctors currently posted in dispensaries.

The ESI hospital and its dispensaries spread all over the city are providing health facilities to nearly six lakh industrial workers and their families in the district. Out of all the facilities, the health institutes are primarily responsible for general outdoor treatment to the worker as well to his or her family members. Indoor investigations and treatment, both medical and surgical, are the responsibility of the hospital. In addition, emergency services at all hours of the day and night are provided by the hospital. The treatment in the outdoor section of the hospital and dispensaries forms the most used and visible part of the activity.

It has often been seen that a number of workers have not being insured, though they are employed in various industrial units. Still others, though insured, do not get themselves registered with the ESI dispensaries, either out of ignorance of the benefits they and their families are entitled to or as a result of wrong advice or information to them. Such workers almost always get themselves registered only at the time of a mishap or an emergency.

At ESI, no worker is turned back or refused registration on any pretext, claims Dr Jagat. "It is our duty to register each and every worker who has got with him valid documents from the ESI corporation," he says.

Times were when the supply of essential medicines and budgetary support for other purposes was more than sufficient. ESI corporation at New Delhi is having no financial problem. The number of insured workers and their contribution is increasing every year.

The general malaise affecting the financial health of the country seems to have affected the working of these institutes as well. Even now, medicines required for general day-to-day ailments are available in sufficient quantity, though abundance seen before is missing. With time, aspirations and requirements of the workers have also increased. It is a fact that specialist services, high cost indoor facilities and maintenance of the institutes have been affected. Patients are also not getting the reimbursement of their bills in time.Back


No room, food for 50 mini zoo ducks
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14 — The fate of about 50 ducks, kept in the now closed Mini Zoo of Nehru Rose Garden here, hangs in the balance as neither the Municipal Corporation can keep them nor can the state wildlife authorities take possession of them as the species does not come under the wildlife animal category.

And as the People For Animals (PFA) organisation here runs from pillar to post to arrange for the adoption of the ducks, the animals living in a small enclosure continue to suffer for want of proper space, water and food. Even the water provided in the pond has a depth of a few inches only, rendering it impossible for the ducks to swim.

A visit to the site revealed that the ducks were crammed in the enclosure and fighting with each other for the little food available in the scanty water whose colour had changed to black.

As the zoo was closed down by the Central Zoo Authority last year, few people visit this part of the Rose Garden.

According to Dr Sandeep Jain and Dr A.S. Gogia, President and Vice- President, respectively, of the PFA, the ducks, being no one's babies, are perishing in the zoo. They revealed that a mini zoo was set up in the Rose Garden for the entertainment of the visitors, especially children, about 15 years ago. But later, a number of animal lovers and organisations like the PFA complained to the Central Zoo Authority about the inhuman conditions of the existence of the animals in the zoo. Not only were they improperly kept in small enclosures but proper care for food and shelter was also not taken.

Following these complaints, the zoo authorities ordered its closure in early 1999. Subsequently, monkeys, sambhar, cheetah, spotted deer and birds like parrots, black pigeon and peacocks were shifted either to Chhat Bir Zoo or Deer Park, Patiala. However, as the ducks do not come under the wildlife animal Act, the Wildlife Authority, Punjab, expressed its reservation in keeping the ducks at one of its zoos in the state. The ducks come under the domestic animal category and cannot be kept in the zoo. According to activists of the PFA, the wildlife officials also informed them about the lack of proper space for keeping them even for a short while.


Army jawan killed in encounter near LOC
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 14 — Naik Bhagwant Singh, a resident of Bhaini Arora village, near Pakhowal, on the outskirts of the city, was reported to be killed near the line of control (LOC) in Jammu and Kashmir in an encounter with anti-national elements in yesterday.

According to information received by the army authorities here, the deceased army man of 12 Sikh regiment was involved in a fierce encounter near Domari Nar in the Kirn sector of Jammu and Kashmir in which he laid down his life.

The body of the jawan would be received by the army authorities at Baddowal AD here some time tomorrow from where it would be taken to his native village for cremation.


Congress flays move to hike power tariff
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 14 — The Congress has taken strong objection to the PSEB and the State Government move to effect an increase in power tariff. Addressing a rally of the party workers, Mr Ramesh Joshi, General Secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress, said the rates of power were high in the state and another hike was unjustified.

Mr Joshi took the SAD(B)-BJP Government in Punjab to task for its failure to fulfil poll promises, particularly those affecting the urban people. He said the Government had made a commitment to abolish octroi but in a complete volte face, the octroi collections were entrusted to private contractors, who were creating more problems for trade and industry by adopting strong-arm methods.

The Congress activist also opposed the reported decision of the Union Government to release Sikh youth who were detained in jails for crimes like terrorism and sedition and remarked that if put into effect, the move would once again threaten hard-earned peace in this border state.

Meanwhile, the Nationalist Congress Party block President, Mr Balbir Kumar Aggarwal, and General Secretary, Mr Paramjit Saini, also criticised the reports of a hike in power tariff, saying yet another increase would ruin trade and industry and make life difficult for lower and middle class people in urban areas.


BKU rejects farm prices
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 14 — Bharati Kisan Union (BKU) has rejected the farm prices for kharif crops as recommended by the agricultural costs and prices commission (ACPC) describing them as totally inadequate and incommensurative with the cost of inputs.

An emergency meeting of the BKU executive committee and the office-bearers held here on yesterday under the presidentship of Mr Ajmer singh Lakhowal called upon the government to fix the procurement prices of agricultural produce on the basis of wholesale price index with the year 1966-67 as its base to ensure remunerative prices to the farming community and to put an end to the series of protests, rallies and dharnas that the farmers had to resort to in order to draw the attention of the government towards their pathetic conditions.

Giving details of the proceedings, the BKU general secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, said that the meeting viewed with concern the failure of the government to come out with a concrete action plan and a comprehensive policy for the marketing of pulses, vegetables and oilseeds to assist the farmers who wished to diversify and quit the traditional crop rotation, which in any case was no longer economically viable.

Further elaborating, Mr Kadian said wooed by tall claims by the state government, a large number of farmers in Punjab had taken up sunflower cultivation but regretfully no government agency was prepared to purchase the crop which was left to rot in the mandis and the farmers were ditched. As a result the producers were forced to sell their sunflower crop at between Rs 700 and Rs 800 per quintal against the minimum support price of Rs 1,155 fixed by the government.

The meeting observed that rather than making mere appeals to the farmers to diversify and come out of traditional crop rotation, what was needed was a comprehensive policy and action plan for marketing of crops like vegetables and fruits with special emphasis on creating infrastructure for exports of these items.



Upcoming hotel brings woes
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 14 — Residents of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar are having sleepless nights over an upcoming hotel in G-block of the posh colony as hectic construction work at the site has damaged the water mains, disrupting the water supply to a large number of houses and massive excavation carried out for a large basement in the building has damaged a portion of a road, which has caved in, besides uprooting a few streetlight poles.

It was an anonymous phone call from an affected resident which took this reporter to the spot. A woman who answered the doorbell of a house located nearby, when asked about the construction activity said, "You see for yourself. More than half of the road which provides access to many houses has caved in. There was no water in the area for a couple of days since the water main was damaged during excavation done for the basement. Even a streetlight pole was uprooted in the process. The proposed hotel has made our lives miserable even before coming into existence. We don't know what is in store for us once it becomes functional," the woman said in an angry tone.

Another elderly resident of the locality was of the opinion that nuisance created by the construction activity was a secondary issue. What the residents objected to was the change of land use for commercial purposes allowed by the civic body in an area which had been developed as a purely residential colony. In a rather helpless manner he said, "It is just the beginning. Once the hotel starts functioning, it will have generators, kitchens and late night parties, producing all kinds of noise and creating numerous problems for the houses in the vicinity."

In utter disregard for rules and regulations and showing scant consideration for the people living in the colony, the owner of the hotel site has dug a bore to draw water needed for construction and subsequent use not on his own land but in a portion of the road, which was a clear act of encroachment, complained another resident.

The Municipal Town Planner (MTP), Mr S.S. Gill, told The Tribune that the owner of the land had been challaned and served with a notice to repair the damaged road at his own cost. Further, the water main damaged due to excavation had been repaired and water supply to the area restored, he informed.

The owner of the hotel site, Mr Sunil Malhotra, said that the building was being constructed in accordance with the by-laws and sanctioned plan. Some portion of the road at the rear of the construction site had collapsed due to unseasonal rains. The Municipal Corporation was informed accordingly. The repair work on the damaged portion had been carried out by him at his own cost and had since been completed.

As regards the objections raised by certain residents in the change of land use, due sanction had been obtained from the authorities concerned.


Bears damage ambulance
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14 — For hours, Raju and Sonu , the two male bears rescued by the People for Animals Organisation and the district wild life officials freely entertained the lawyers and litigants at the District and Sessions Court here on Monday. They had probably got an inkling of their freedom from the captivity of a madari.

But when the two were being taken to the Chat Bir zoo on the directions of the court in a strongly fortified ambulance of the People for Animals Organisation, the realisation that it is a journey from one captivity to another might have descended upon them, for the otherwise docile animals vent ire on the lifeless seats, shanks, pipes and even thick iron walls of the ambulance.

According to PFA officials, the two bears tore apart the seats, broke the shank and pulled apart the water pipes. They even damaged a thin iron partition between the driver’s seat and the rear enclosure. The ambulance seen by the correspondent carried tell-tale signs of the bears’ anger. The drivers and his co-passengers had immense good luck as the bears did not succeed in breaking the glass partition between the driver’s seat and the rear side of the ambulance.

According to wildlife officials the bears having a collective weight of about five quintals so intensely banged the properly locked entrance door that dents appeared in it and it tilted outside. Later it took a collective effort of seven wildlife employees to push the door to its normal place.

The bears were brought under control after being administered four shots of tranquilisers each.Back


Cops save kidnapped man of Haryana
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14— A 25-year-old man was rescued by the Ludhiana Police here late last night after he landed up from Kurukshetra under mysterious circumstances at around 11 pm at the Ludhiana bus stand.

According to the information available from police sources, the man — Ram Chander Prakash — is a resident of Alaahar village in Yamunanagar district. He is alleged to have left his village last afternoon for Kurukshetra in order to meet his sister. He reportedly, reached Kurukshetra around 4:30 pm and was allegedly abducted by two or three persons from outside the bus stand.

When Ram Chander came to his senses, he found that he was in Ludhiana. He then went to a PCO near the bus stand and called up home to inform his relative that he was stranded in Ludhiana. Meanwhile, his family, on learning from bystanders in Kurukshetra about his abduction, had informed the police at Kurukshetra.

When he called up home, his family immediately informed the Kurukshetra police, who in turn informed the police at Chandigarh. The Ludhiana police was then informed through a wireless message at around 12 midnight and a police party led by Inspector Santokh Singh reached the PCO. They inquired if he had some relations in the city and then sent him to a distant relative, Ved Bhushan Bansal, at around 2:30 am.

Three held: The police arrested three thieves almost five hours after they had stolen a few goods from an audio-video shop in Sita Nagar area. It is learnt that the police, led by Mr S.S. Nagra, had laid a naka near Aman Hotel near the bus stand around 4:30 pm when they apprehended three youths coming on two scooters.

They had a colour TV and a VCR in their possession. The three accused — Jagan Singh, Ramvir Singh and Gajinder Singh — all of Dhaulpur district in Rajasthan, had stolen the TV and VCR from the shop of Vijay Kumar at around 11 am when there was no one in the shop.



Shopkeeper assaulted
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14 — A middle-aged man was injured when he was attacked by a group of youths at Mata Rani Chowk in broad daylight. Hundreds of bystanders watched the gory incident, but nobody came to his rescue.

According to the police, Satish Kumar, a shopkeeper in Chaura Bazar, was attacked by a group of eight to 10 persons with sharp edged weapons. Eyewitnesses said Satish was first dragged for some distance and subsequently thrashed. However, the arrival of the police saved him.

The police said some personal enmity may be the cause of assault on Satish. The accused are believed to have some enmity with one of his (Satish’s) friends which led to the assault on him. He has suffered multiple injuries on various parts of the body and is undergoing treatment in Civil Hospital here. The doctors attending upon him said he was out of danger.

The police has registered a case and investigations are on. No arrests have been made so far.


Tearful adieu to Gurjot
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 14 — The family, relatives, friends and other villagers of Dhandran today bid a tearful adieu to seven-and-a-half-year-old Gurjot, who was kidnapped by a farmhand for ransom and later killed as the accused did not have the resources to keep the boy in hiding till the ransom amount was paid to him.

The body of the child was consigned to flames around 2:30 pm and later the villagers reached the gurdwara. After praying for the departed soul, they consoled the family of the child. The atmosphere of the village was tense and the people were still in a state of shock. They said such a ghastly incident was unheard of. The postmortem of the child was performed at Civil Hospital in the morning. Later the body was sent back to the village.

Meanwhile, the accused, Cheenu, was today presented before the court of the JMIC, Mr K.K.. Kreer and he was given a police remand till June 17. Though the police had registered a case under Sections 364 and 34 of the IPC on June 11, a case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC has now been registered.


Sunday bazar draws large crowds
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14 — Millions of rupees are transacted every Sunday in and around Chaura Bazar here on account of sale in the Sunday market. Sunday is no exception for the market to get relief from the multitude of people. In fact, on Sundays the bazar is more overcrowded with people coming from the adjacent areas to make purchases.

Almost every household item is available in the Sunday market. Be it kitchen items or the toiletries or purse or shoes or suitings. Everything is on sale at a heavy discount. A good looking shirt costs you no more than Rs 100. The maximum price of an item, whatsoever it may be, is not more than Rs 150.

However, the maximum sale is recorded in hosiery items in all seasons. A few hundred vendors set up their shops every morning. By the evening they earn at least Rs 500 each. But the sales during summer fall as people prefer to stay indoors during hot months.

There are two types of hosiery items — one is purchased from Delhi's Azad market and the other is clothes said to be the "export rags" which are rejected in exports. This cloth, according to a vendor, is sold by weight which makes it far too cheap. For example, a good cotton shirt that should not cost less than Rs 400 is available for Rs 100 only.

Sanjay and Kamlesh are two brothers. They set up their stall on every Sunday. They purchase shirts from Delhi's Azad Market. Sanjay claims they hardly manage to save Rs 7 to Rs 10 on a shirt. "How much can you save on a shirt which you sell at Rs 60 only," he counts when asked about his margin of profit.

While Sanjay and Kamlesh sell their own goods, most of the vendors act as commission agents. They get Rs 10 on each shirt they sell. The leftover stock is returned to the trader.

But the other type of goods are manufactured locally. According to Manjit Singh, a local vendor, there are about 100 manufacturers who hire the services of the vendors on commission basis. In fact Manjit owns a shop in Chaura Bazar. On Sundays he lays out a table to sell shirts on commission basis.

The vendors admit that the quality of the cloth used for the manufacture of garments sold in such markets is poor. But they add that these are meant for the people who cannot afford to purchase shirts costing Rs 400 and more. The customers are mostly from the lower middle class and the labour class. Besides, people from countryside also come in good numbers to make purchases from here.

Regular shopkeepers also get benefit of the Sunday shoppers. While some of them keep their shutters open, others put up stalls outside their shops selling various items. The only thing they need to do is to install a board mentioning "SALE'' in bold letters to attract customers.

Big traders like Subash, who owns a Raymonds agency in Chaura Bazar, feel that the big shopkeepers are not affected by the vendors as the clientele is entirely different. In fact he was appreciative of the trend as it enables those people who cannot afford big brands to have a feel of better suiting, no matter what is its quality and durability.



Santro sales zoom in Punjab, UT
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, June 14— Hyundai Motor India, the country's second largest car manufacturer, has grossed cumulative sales of 10,279 units of Santro and 678 units of Accent in the region of Punjab and Chandigarh since the beginning of national deliveries in October, 1998.

Santro has now become the top-selling car in Punjab and Chandigarh since its launch, according to Mr B.V.R. Subbu, Director, Marketing and Sales, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. The cumulative figure for the Santro sales in the region for the period January-May, 2000, stood at 3785 units, an increase of 137.15 per cent over 1596 units in the corresponding period last year.

Nationwide, Hyundai has sold 7,561 units — 5,851 units of Santro and 1,710 of Accent in May, 2000. This represents a growth of about 67.3 per cent over sales of 4,519 units achieved for May,1999. Nearly half the cars have been sold in Ludhiana, According to Mr Asheem, Chief Executive Officer, Godawri Motors Pvt. Ltd., the local dealer for Santro and Accent cars.

Keeping with the endeavour of continuously listening to its customers and incorporating their feedback in the products, HMIL has introduced the new Santro'zip Drive GS with power steering and a new, sporty rear spoiler. All the variants now also have a new stylish, smiling radiator grille. Besides, the new power steering option in Santro LS and the new rear spoiler in Santro GS, the Santro zipDrive line-up also has two new colours in imperial red and India blue replacing the existing vivid red and campus blue.

Powered with the 999 cc, in-line 4-cylinder, 12-valve SOHC, 55 ps @5500 rpm, MPFI Hyundai Epsilon engine, the Santro zipDrive line-up is both Euro-I and II compliant and available in six vibrant colours —imperial red, neutral silver, Indian blue, noble white, amazon green and golden beige.

Apart from the two new versions, the Santro Standard model, renamed as Santro LE, continues to be a part of the product line-up with the new look radiator grille and other standard features.

The introduction of the new zipDrive model line-up, a result of Hyundai's philosophy of 'Customer First' and its continued quest towards listening to customers, has been well accepted in the market. While the earlier model Santro GLS I constituted only 5-8 per cent of the three variants, the new Santro LS zipDrive has garnered a share of 25 per cent amongst the three variants. It is also noteworthy that the cumulative sales of Accent for year 2000, January-May 2000, is the highest in its segment nationwide.

The cumulative sales achieved by the company as of May, 2000, stand at 1,08,178 units, which includes 98,557 units of Santro and 9,621 units of Accent since the nationwide delivery of the Santro began in October, 1998.


Making it big in designer wear
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 14— It is dreams in various colours and hues that she sells and quite successfully too. Dreams in cotton, silk, crepe, organdy or the fashionable lycra and in colours like burgundy, peach, ashes-of-roses or the other usual colours.

Meet Ms Neelam Dhanda, proprietor of one of the leading designer wear stores in the city. Neelams, in just a couple of years since it was opened in the city, it has attained fame not just here, but also in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Chandigarh for selling the latest in designer wear, be it formals, casuals (both Indian and western ) or night wear for men and women.

For a woman married into a typical conservative business class family in the city, Ms Neelam Dhanda has come a long way. Married at the tender age of 19, she was a confirmed housewife during the initial years of marriage. “I was basically a creative and artistic person. I got bored of the normal and routine way of life. It was then that I struck upon the idea of starting a playway school, which slowly became very popular,” she informs.

Incidentally, the playway school started by Ms Dhanda by the name of tiny-tots was one of the first to be started in the city. She is regarded as a pioneer in the city for starting the trend of sending children to playway schools before starting a formal education. For the past over seven years since the store was established, it has attained a big name for itself. From selling merely designer clothes for women, the store is now recognised more for the designer brand names in men’s wear that it sells, which is probably not available anywhere in the region north of Delhi.

Says Ms Dhanda, “We are selling Provogue, Givo, Principe Ferre, Regalia, TNG, Ocia Italia all international brands in men’s wear. For women wear, I have my own designer houses in Delhi and Mumbai. After designing the latest in sarees, wedding lehngas, and salwar kameez, we sell these through our store here.’’

She informs that her store — both the men’s and the women’s section — has a hanging of at least 250 pieces at a time and the customer has a full range and variety. This store also provides for custom tailoring for men’s western wear. From a piece at the rate of Rs 350 onwards, the price range of garments can extend up to a couple of thousands and caters to both the middle income and elite classes.

Talking about her family, Ms Dhanda says it was only because of the constant support and guidance of her husband, Mr Deepak Dhanda, that she managed to carve a small niche for herself. “Even my son Akshay has now joined me in my business and with their help, I can think of myself as a small star that shimmers in the dark night sky,” she says.

As a word of advice to those yearning to make it big in any creative field, Ms Dhanda says hard work and honesty count the most. “One has to carve his or her own destiny. Be true to yourself and your work and success will surely be yours,” she says.

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