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


Mobiles alert petrol stations to raids
From A.S.Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1— The use of mobile phones is alleged to have thwarted a bid by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S. K. Sandhu, to organise a surprise check of petrol stations in the city.

According to information available here today, the raids were organised on Thursday. The raiding parties were divided into three inspection teams consisting of officials of the District Food and Supplies office, Weights and Measures inspectors and oil company officials who checked 18 petrol stations in the city.

One team discovered short-measuring in five of the six petrol stations inspected. In all these cases, the petrol outlets concerned were challaned and asked to be shut down till they were recalibrated and sealed by the weights and measures officials.

However, the other two teams found all the 12 petrol stations inspected by them to be okay. Sources in one of the raiding teams claimed that petrol stations might have been alerted through mobile phones about the impending raids and they lost no time in setting things right.

Interestingly, at one petrol station, the raiding party found short-measuring at one outlet. Immediately, an argument reportedly broke out between the officials of the Food and Supplies Department and Weights and Measures office. One official said that it was short-measuring while the other felt that there was nothing wrong with it. To settle the argument, another test was carried out but this time, the outlet was found to be dispensing correctly.

Sources alleged that the argument between the members of the raiding party had given a chance to those operating the pump to readjust the meter. However, testing done on the adjoining outlet again showed short-measuring. The station was challaned this time and asked to remain closed till it was recalibrated and sealed.

Mr Yuvraj Dada, President of the Ludhiana Petroleum Dealers Association, however, said that such raids were routine and did not prove any mala fide on the part of the petrol stations. He poohpoohed the suggestion that the petrol stations had been alerted through mobile phones. "Nobody had an inkling about these raids", he said.

He also said that it was "not possible to readjust" the meter at the petrol stations while the raid was not on. "Somebody is just talking through his hat", he asserted.

As a matter of fact, he said, there were so many checks and controls in their trade that it was not possible to resort to any large-scale malpractices in the sale of petrol and diesel in the city. As regards petrol stations located in semi-urban and rural areas on the outskirts of the city, the possibility of adulteration, short-measuring etc could not be ruled out entirely.

The Deputy Commissioner said the purpose of the raids was to ensure that there were no malpractices at the petrol stations. "If the purpose had somehow been undermined, we will ensure an even stricter check the next time which may not be very far away."


Heavy rain floods city
From D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Just about two hours of heavy downpour and the whole city was virtually flooded this afternoon.

Clouds have been hovering over the city for the past four days, but it was only around 11.30 a.m. today that a mild drizzle started. It soon turned into a heavy downpour lasting till about 1.30 p.m.

Low-lying areas of the city, especially those falling in the old city, were inundated, following the shower.

Vehicular traffic was thrown out of gear as the water level on the roads rose. At least three accidents due to failure of brakes were reported. Car owners and scooterists who got stuck in the rain had a tough time.

The Ludhiana Tribune office was also flooded with telephone calls from all over the city. Mrs Indu Adya called up from Maharani Jhansi Road to say that her house was surrounded by 18 inches of water. And so were many houses in her neighbourhood. All because the Municipal Corporation had raised the road level by several inches recently.

Mr Vinod Gupta, Vice-President, Focal Point Association, Phase 4-A, rang up to say that many factories had been flooded in the area because of the poor planning by the industries department.

Another person rang up from Vijay Nagar in Industrial Area-A. He informed that the situation in the locality had worsened following the rainfall as contractors constructing roads in the locality had dug up the old road and the debris had been left around.

Yet another citizen called up from Dr Sham Singh Road, opposite Grewalz Hotel, to say that 4 feet of water was standing in an adjoining lane, causing great inconvenience. He blamed the poor drainage system for the mess.

A shopkeeper of the Bhadaur House market came to the Ludhiana Tribune office to say that 8 inches of water had entered his shop.

Obviously, the city does not have a proper drainage system. The question that people were asking each other was, what will become of the city in the monsoons?

Besides, power supply to various industrial and residential areas was also affected. Even the Internet services were hit because of the showers.

Had there been no north wind that swept away the clouds, it would have rained for another hour or so. It was still cloudy at the time of reporting. However, it could not be ascertained how much rainfall was recorded.

The minimum temperature dipped further by about five degrees after the showers.


Light plays truant
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Had it not been for the mercy of the weather gods, who cooled the weather with a good spell of showers around noon, the Punjab State Electricity Board had left the Ludhianvis to their fate.

While the PSEB gave the people here a welcome break for two nights by supplying uninterrupted power, the schedule of power cuts was again resumed today. As near darkness descended around noon due to the dense clouds, the PSEB completed the job by stopping the power supply to most of the areas.

In fact there was hardly any area in the city where the power supply had not been disrupted. The people complained that none of the PSEB officials was available for redressal of their grievances.

The bad weather also complicated the problem. 


DA to re-employed ex-servicemen stopped
From Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Thousands of ex-servicemen in the state, who have been eagerly awaiting the payment of dearness allowance on their re-employed posts for the past more than one year, as recommended by the Fifth Central Pay Commission, will now have to wait longer as the Civil Defence Account Office in Meerut has stopped payment of DA to these persons.

According to letters sent to the district Defence Pensions Disbursing Officer in the state, the payment of DA should not be started as a number of objectionable applications of ex-servicemen have been found. Sources in the department said this was just one of the reasons.

Mr Jagdish Prasad, DPDO here, could only confirm the stopping of the payment as he received the letter yesterday. He said there were some problems over some applications and after clarifications, the payments would be made. Declining to comment further, he revealed that they had sought fresh clarifications from their Head Office in R.K. Puram, New Delhi, about the cases and hoped that matter would be resolved soon.

The Goverment of India, vide its order dated October 6, 1999, directed that on the basis of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations, dearness relief to armed forces pensioners and their employed family pensioners, in civil posts in various departments of central or state governments, was to be paid with effect from July 18, 1997. Even a Supreme Court order had upheld the ex-servicemen’s right to claim DA on both pensions and the re-employed posts

The Government decision brought cheers to scores of defence personnel in the country, whose number was in lakhs and who had been fighting for it for many years. However, the struggle did not end after the announcement. The ex-servicemen have yet to receive the payment. According to sources, once the arrears from 1997 onwards are paid, the cycle of monthly payment of the DA, along with the salary will start. According to safe estimates the ex-servicemen will gain somewhere in the range of Rs 400 to Rs 2400 per month once the payments are started.

In fact, apart from resentment among the ex-servicemen over the delay of payments, confusion also prevails as re-employed defence personnel in Jalandhar district have began drawing the allowance. According to letters written by Wing Commander MS Randhawa, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, to the CDA, Merrut and the Chief CDA, Allahabad.

It has come to his notice that re-employed ex-servicemen of Jalandhar district have been paid their dues, which has humiliated and demoralised his staff and others. He urged the authorities to take immediate steps of making payment to all beneficiaries. Mr Jagdish Prasad, DPDO, acknowledged that payments were made in Jalandhar, but he did not know what the government would now do.


Ludhiana roads or driver's nightmare?
From Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA,  July 1 — For motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, journey on most of the town roads is not a pleasant experience. Bumper-to-bumper traffic, chaotic traffic conditions, dug out stretches of roads, haphazardly parked vehicles in busy markets and rampant encroachments on roads are a common sight. Barricades on road-dividers and speed breakers at several places defeat the purpose for which these have been constructed.

Government bodies like the Municipal Corporation, Improvement Trust, PUDA, Water-supply and Sewerage Board, PSEB and the Department of Telecom which dig up freshly-laid roads at times, are callous and indifferent towards the town population. It is evident from uncovered manholes, crude patchwork on repeatedly dug up portions of roads, dumping of building material and empty drums on roads and unplanned construction of road-dividers at many busy roads.

Barricades on road-dividers at many places in the city are nice to look at and save motorists from the glare of headlights in night. However, the height of these barricades becomes a traffic hazard at intersections because drivers, when taking a turn, are not able to see vehicles coming from the opposite direction. Many accidents, some of these fatal, happened because drivers failed to notice the oncoming vehicles in time.

Also, many humps or speed breakers have not been properly marked in white. At some places, warning signboards to indicate these have not been put up which adds to the number of accidents.

Mr Gurbaksh Singh Bhatia, a resident of E Block in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, says that speed breakers have been built in an unimaginative manner in the locality. "Many two-wheeler drivers have been involved in mishaps while negotiating these sharp humps. The matter has been reported to the MC authorities, but, nothing has been done so far."

On Malhar Road at Sarabha Nagar, the main approach road has been widened, but, after this, electricity poles which were earlier on the pavements, now stand in the middle of the road. These have become traffic bottlenecks. A similar problem exists in Feroze Gandhi Market where electricity poles have been shifted to widen internal roads, but, a large number of these have been dumped near the entrance to the market, blocking a big portion of the road. "Repeated pleas to the officials concerned have failed to elicit any response," said a shopkeeper.

Uncovered manholes in the town have proved to be virtual death traps and have claimed many lives, without shaking the civic authorities out of their slumber. Encroachments on roads, pavements and busy intersections test the nerves of drivers. Lack of adequate parking places in the interior of the town makes the matters worse.

The Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Dr S.S. Sandhu, said the issue of altering the height of barricades on road-dividers would be looked into. He said certain unmarked or unauthorised speed breakers would also be marked or removed.

A senior official of the Ludhiana traffic police said poor road sense and ignorance of traffic regulations, even among educated persons, were major causes of mishaps. "Everyone seems to be in a hurry in this town. Even those driving swanky cars drive in wrong lanes. The traffic police is clueless on what should be done to improve the road sense among drivers. All earlier measures have failed to produce desired results," said another traffic police official.


Pensioners seek justice
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Mr. B.R. Kaushal, President, Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, today regretted that many of the pensioners were facing loss to the extent of Rs 500 per month, in their pension due to the revised formula laid down by the Punjab Government.

He said that the special pay benefit which had earlier been allowed to the pre-1996 and pre-1986 retirees had not been given this time to the post January 1, 1996, retirees.

He pointed out that under the revised instructions, provisions to exercise option had been withdrawn, thus putting retirees to a position of disadvantage.

Mr Kaushal suggested that the government should allow the benefit of special pay towards their pension while calculating the emoluments to this category of pensioners.

The confederation urged the Finance Department to save the pensioners who retired between January 1, 1996 to September 30, 1996 for the recurring monthly loss on their pension and asked the Punjab Government to do justice to this category of pensioners by issuing revised instructions.


‘Farmers deserve free power supply’
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Welcoming the Punjab Government’s move to continue free power supply to the farmers, Mr Sham Singh Harika, Adviser, Punjab Pradesh Kisan and Khet Mazdoor Dal, called upon the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to earmark power generated from the Bhakra Dam for agricultural use and that from the thermal plants for industrial and domestic use.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Harika condemned the statement made by the PSEB Engineers Association, criticising the government’s policy to continue with the free power supply. He said one should not forget that the farmers toil day and night in adverse circumstances to produce foodgrains and the free power supply had proved to be a great boon to them. He said the increase in wheat and rice production was indicative of the advantage of the free power policy.

Mr Harika said the nation should come forward to help the Punjab farmer out of his precarious financial situation. If farmers are not helped with such policies, then they may resort to suicides. He said the US government provides about 37 per cent subsidy to the farming sector.

Mr Harika suggested that one possible way out from the controversy over the free power supply would be to earmark power generated from the Bhakhra Dam to farmers only. He claimed that the farmers could get very cheap power supply from the dam.

Condemning industrialists who opposed the free power supply to the farmers, Mr Harika said if the industrialists think that agriculture is lucrative, then they should sell their industries and become farmers.


YC sends water tankers for drought hit
From Our

LUDHIANA, July 1 — District Youth Congress President Pawan Diwan today flagged off two water tankers for Jodhpur in Rajasthan to assist in supply of drinking water to the drought affected people in that region.

Speaking at this occasion, Mr Diwan said the two tankers would remain in Jodhpur for one month and would cater to the needs of drought-hit areas under the supervision of government officials. He said the Punjab Youth Congress President, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, had already sent 10 water tankers to Rajasthan.

Mr Diwan was accompanied by party activists Ashwani Garg, Amarjit Singh Bindra, Vikas Singla, Swarn Bansal, Paramjit Kalra, Vimal Choudhry, Harpreet Singh Dang, Sudhir Syal and Anil Sudan, among others.


Pharma unit MD talks to students
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 1 — Care Vet Pharma is a Punjab-based fast-growing company making veterinary medicines, said Mr Pawittar Singh Grewal, Managing Director of the firm, while talking to the outgoing BVSc. batch at PAU Veterinary College. The company was founded about a decade ago. It manufactures products like vetliv, leptamin, prolapsyn, vetpyrin, tonics, analgesics, antidiarrhoeal’s, nutritional feed supplement hormone etc. According to Mr Grewal “We launched medicines for prolapse and iodine and copper deficiencies for which there were no remedies available earlier.

The company is dedicated to improving animal health and productivity by making available products of high quality and setting high standards of business ethics and customer service.

Care Vet Pharma gets each product tried and tested by veterinary practitioners directly in the field. Possessing a well trained dedicated field force which has developed close contacts with veterinary professionals they aim to set up a countrywide distribution network.

Senior veterinarian doctors, scientists and members of the veterinary faculty were also present on the occasion.Back


PM urged to save animals
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 1 — The People For Animals (PFA) and the People For Ethical Treatment (PETA) an American Animal’s Rights Organisation, have urged the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to direct the Chief Ministers of all the states to take effective steps to end cruelty against animals.

Stating this in a press note issued here today Dr Sandeep K. Jain, President, PFA, said that a meeting between the two organisations was held in Mumbai recently and it took strong notice of the widespread cruelties suffered by the animals in the country. The cruel way of transporting animals from Kila Raipur railway station to some slaughter houses was specially discussed and condemned in the meeting.

The Prime Minister was specially urged to direct the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for stopping the cruel practice at Kila Raipur. The American organisation has opened its office in Mumbai and would work for spreading vegetarianism, nature conservation and roping in celebrities to stop cruelty against animals.


A dialogue with the martyrs

Good morning, the trio of martyrs,” I addressed the statues of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. “What is special about this morning”, asked Sukhdev gently. It set me thinking. “What do you mean by trio”, was queried by Rajguru. “And, how do you call us martyrs,” Bhagat Singh spoke in a firm and gentle voice.

I felt and thought about the question. Thought and felt more deeply, eyes became misty. The more I tried to regain clear thinking, a clearer vision, the more confused I got. A film reeled out on the projector of my mind: my teacher teaching me good morning etc, and explaining its meaning. Trio was easy to follow, martyrdom was too abstract for my meagre equipment of intelligence. Fumbling for words, I could utter, “Good morning is customary greetings, trio is combination of three”.

“Shaheed-e-Azam, in the early hours of March 23,1931, you and your dear, equally patriotic, friends were hanged at the Lahore jail. The news spread faster than jungle fire. No fire was lit in kitchens. None took food. Children did not get milk as the whole supply went down the gutters of Lahore. All throats cried hoarse and all eyes wept profusely. So did the whole of Punjab, and India followed. My own mother denied me food as a baby, so you are our great martyrs”.

They nodded significantly. I felt a little encouraged to pursue a dialogue “What do you feel great sons of India our dear martyrs?”

“For us, every morning, or for that matter, everyday is good. But we are concerned with good days, years, lives for all Indians, nay entire human kind, “ spoke Sukhdev Singh Thapar in the Malwa dialect of Punjabi.

“Trio is a mechanical device. We seem to be a solid pyramid to those who can not see through. We are a prism to the discerning eye”, explained Rajguru in his soft and gentle Bengali voice. I gratefully uttered, thank you, thank you! You were a baby crying for milk when we were hanged at Lahore. We were killed, that is all. How do we become martyrs?” Bhagat Singh spoke of the historic event of early hours of March 23, 1931.

I cried for want of food that day because none lit the fire, and the entire milk supply was drained down the gutters. The entire city and later the whole of the Punjab, nay India, wept and cried hoarse for days and months.

I wiped my ears, cleared my throat, folded my hands and begged their pardon for disturbing their peace. They nodded significantly. I felt a little encouraged to pursue a dialogue. “What do you feel, great sons of India?”

“We have our firm belief, confirmed by the experience historically. We continued to feel for the suffering humanity, especially the poor people of the sub-continent, about whose future we had rosy dreams and plans,” elaborated Bhagat Singh.

“Near home, we watch strange drama twice,” Rajguru interjected. “Twice a year, on August 15th and on 26th of January,” specified Sukhdev. “In pouring rain, the news-seeking and photo-hungry put garlands around our neck. In bitter cold, they do repeat that perfomance with an eye on vote, party-politics, elaborated Rajguru.

“We do not mind the dust and heat, frost or cold. We accept the basic nature of Mother Nature”. Bhagat Singh said philosophically. “We keep company of pigeons and other bird. We do not mind pigeon-droppings,” interjected Rajguru.

“Do you mind anything, martyrs,” I asked respectfully. “Not much, but we feel the pinch of the garlands put round our necks by way of deceptive politics, but we enjoy clowns of many hues. You know we cannot watch TV or go to a picture-hall”.

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