Wednesday, December 13, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PSEB employees observe strike
Privatisation move resented
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 —Employees of Punjab State Electricity Board, (PSEB), in the district observed a strike today, to protest against attempted privatisation of the power sector. While normal working in PSEB offices in the city was almost suspended, power supply remained unaffected.

The call for a nationwide strike was given by the National Co-ordination Committee of Power Engineers and Employees against the proposed ‘Electricity Bill, 2000’, which, the employees felt was a move by the NDA government, headed by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to hand over the power sector in the country to private companies. This was being done under pressure from International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, they alleged.

The Chief Engineer of PSEB, Mr A.S. Randhawa, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, claimed that power supply in the circle was absolutely normal and no tripping had been reported from any of the urban feeders. While, major power installations were being guarded, there was no attempt to disrupt supply or damage power installations. “The effect of the strike was simply in terms of the employees not reporting for duty. However, we have enough technical and maintenance staff to provide power supply and maintain emergency services,” he added.

Clerical and technical employees in all the divisions and subdivisions stayed away from work and held protest rallies. Addressing a rally in front of city central division of PSEB near Old Sabzi Mandi, trade union activists flayed the government for buckling under pressure from international organisations and going ahead with privatisation of the power sector. Mr Pawan Kumar, Secretary, Technical Services Union of PSEB, Mr Daljit Singh, General Secretary, PSEB Employees Federation and others, warned the government that the employees might resort to indefinite strike if the government continued with its present policies.

Mr Swarn Singh, President, Workers Federation (INTUC), PSEB, Punjab claimed that the strike was complete. He said power employees all over the country were united against the move to privatise the power sector. He warned the PSEB management and the government against any disciplinary or vindictive action, which might lead to further intensification of the agitation.

The payment of PSEB bills could not be made, as a result of the strike. The PSEB sources informed that the last date of payment would be extended so as to save consumers from payment of surcharge.Back


Public bears the brunt of postal strike
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — The postal strike has hit the life of the common man here. The huge floating population of Ludhiana is the worst affected. As the humble letter continues to be their sole channel of communication, its contact with relatives back home has virtually snapped. Also, due to the postal strike the migrant labourers can no longer send money to their relatives who usually stay in remote villages. Says an old labourer from Bihar, “As the bank facilities in these remote villages are not so advanced , we depend mostly on the post offices.”

The postal strike has deprived the military personnel of one of their most cherished sources of solace — a letter from their loved ones back home. For the members of the armed forces who are staying miles away from their homes, the letter continues to be the most preferred medium of communication.

The businessmen, too, are reeling under the unfavourable impact of the strike. They have to take recourse to the courier services that many feel are not only relatively expensive but also “not-so-reliable”. “Deadlines and strong communication networks hold the key to a successful business and postal strike could very well translate into messed up deadlines and delayed payments,” rues a businessman.

The sale of the greeting cards has plummeted. “Around Christmas and New Year, the sale of the greeting cards used to be a brisk business. But now the strike has hit us hard,” says a shopkeeper.

The student community has its own grouse. With the entrance exams of various competitive examinations in the offing, the students are having tough time in getting their ‘things’ posted on time.

With the continued postal strike, paying of telephone bills has become one of the toughest tasks. As the only post office where one can pay the bills presently is the Head Post Office, paying even a single bill takes hours together. This means either taking a day off from one’s job or assigning the task to someone else. Back


A day of strikes
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — It was a day of strikes in the city, if a round up of the activities of the day is taken into consideration. Employees of many government departments were on strike.

It appeared that employees of various departments were taking a clue from one another.While some were protesting in favour of their long pending demands, others found it to be a novel method to show their grudges against the alleged misbehaviour of their seniors.

Class III employees of the postal department were on strike for the eighth consecutive day today, causing inconvenience to lakhs of residents. Employees of Punjab State Electricity Board were on strike to protest against the proposed privatisation of the board. Their strike suspended normal working in the board, while the power supply remained unaffected.

The Class III employees of Mata Rani exchange were also on strike for the second day to express resentment against alleged misbehaviour.Even teachers of all colleges did not want to be left behind and went on a strike today to press their demands, including implementation career advancement scheme, parity of directors of physical education and librarians with lecturers, relaxation in eligibility conditions and many more.

Whether the strikes are justified or not is a debatable issue. But the common opinion is that if held in a peaceful manner strikes may solve a purpose. Back


PUDA’s decision on ring road shocks residents
Over 300 houses may be uprooted
From Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec12 — The recent approval by the Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Development Authority for construction of a ring road connecting Pakhowal Road to Doraha Canal Road and land acquisition for the same has rattled the lives of as many as 1,000 residents of the area.

The approval came last week ending the hopes of residents that the plan would be shelved and they would be spared of the ignominy of loosing their cherished houses. The approval has also come as a rude shock to the residents who had been approaching the local PUDA authorities, the district administration, the Municipal Corporation and the state government for cancellation of the project.

The residents have been fighting against the project claiming that two years ago officials of PUDA armed with measurement devices suddenly descended on the Passey Nagar colony and Moti Bagh colony. They began taking measurements for an over 200 feet wide road sending alarm bells ringing among the residents as nearly 300 houses fell into the earmarked area of the ring road.

The residents oppose the ring road plan on the plea that how can PUDA suddenly decide on the construction of such a wide road through a densely constructed colony of the city that will directly uproot 300 houses. The residents claim that they were legal owners of the land and had got due registries of the houses. The land, originally belonging to Phullanwal village, was sold to them by private property dealers.

One of the peeved and affected residents, Mr B K Sharma, a retired principal of a school, also running a school in the colony said that he had bought a plot in the colony in 1993 and he got all the legal formalities done while purchasing a piece of land. He said that he had not known in his wildest dreams that this would be the fate of the house erected with his hard earned money.

“Had they known that this land was earmarked for a ring road why had they approved our housing plan? Moreover, there was no board saying that this was PUDA land. Otherwise why would have I purchased this land? I had purchased it with my hard earned money and was possessing it illegally,” said Mr B.K. Sharma.

The residents said that this was a 30-year-old plan when there was no habitation in this area. Then with the development people started constructing houses here and nobody knew that this was PUDA land, and suddenly the authorities arrived here one fine morning, saying that this was a land earmarked for the ring road.

Mr Sharma, said,”What if they give us compensation? Are they doing justice to us? Can they return our well built houses which will face the axe? We are suffering because of no fault of ours.”

Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, Additional Administrator, PUDA, said that the authority had finally got the approval last week and the project was necessary in order to regulate the traffic inflow and outflow of the city. He admitted that the residents’ problem was a genuine one but the department had also pressing reasons for it. He ensured that nothing would be forced upon the residents.

He said that the department would give a patient hearing to the residents and efforts would be made to remove their grievances. If the need be, the residents would be given appropriate compensation, he added. 


Finance companies cheat investors
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — Two finance companies owned by the same family have reportedly duped a number of city residents of lakhs of rupees. The owners have also run away leaving behind the office employees who, too, have not been paid salaries for the last few months.

Half a dozen such complaints have already reached the Economic Offences Wing of the city police. The complainants allege that the company owners had taken money as advance or security or insurance from them for forwarding loans for buying a car or construction of houses. The involvement of a local bank manager has also been alleged in some of the complaints.

Confirming the complaints, DSP S. Malhotra, in-charge Economic Offences Wing, said a substantial number of complaints have been received in the wing regarding the two companies — Allied Marketing and Auto Finance Ltd. He said both the companies were being run in the name of one family.

The DSP informed that the modus operandi of the finance companies as revealed through the complaints was to lure persons for availing housing, car or other loans. The owners then used to lure the persons into depositing some money as insurance or security for getting the desired loan. Then the owners allegedly dilly-dallied on the payment of the loan on one pretext or the another.

After making such alleged false promises to the investors, the company has now suddenly vanished leaving behind the shocked persons.

One such complainant, Mr Abhey Kumar, alleges that he was approached by the owners of one of the finance companies for getting him a loan for the contruction of a house which he badly required . He said that the man said he had good relations with a bank near Clock Tower.

The complainant agreed to take a loan of Rs 4 lakh and gave the persons Rs 44,500 demanded by him on the pretext of costs and security. He said the persons took the registry of his plot and other property documents. However, for the past several months, the complainant was making rounds of the office of the company but was not able to get his money or even contact the man.

Another complainant, Jagtar Singh, alleged that he had been duped of Rs 1.10 lakh by the same company. Rakesh Kumar, a textile goods manufacturer, has also complained of being duped of over a lakh of rupees.

According to these two complainants, the persons were in hand-in- glove with a bank manager. In one case the owner of the finance company took a cheque of Rs 1 lakh from a person but when the cheque bounced (as the person had Rs 90,000 in his account), the finance company owner and the bank manager deposited Rs 10,000 from their own pocket to get the cheque encashed.


College teachers’ strike
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — In response to a call given by the All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFUCTO), teachers of several colleges of the city went to Delhi to join the protest march to the Parliament.

These teachers included nearly 25 per cent of the members of the Punjab and Chandigrah College Teachers Union and Government College Teachers Association. At Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women, the examination was conducted by the temporary and ad hoc staff, as the confirmed staff had gone on strike. In GGN Khalsa College, examination was postponed and the students were informed in advance. Similarly, at other colleges, too, the exam load was kept light so that the temporary staff could conveniently conduct examination.

Teachers on strike are demanding implementation of the Career Advancement Scheme, complete parity to directors of physical education and librarians with lecturers, relaxation in eligibility conditions for the post of principal, relaxation from NET/SLET to Ph.D holders for lecturership, introduction of third promotion, readers’ designation to selection grade lecturers, posts of readers and professors in colleges, and orders on the issues agreed upon between AIFUCTO leadership and the HRD Ministry on September 5, 1995, and October 6, 1996.


Should the govt act tough with striking employees?
From Minna Zutshi

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — The postal strike has entered the eighth day. The deadlock between postal employees and the government continues. What is the view of the common people about the strike? Do they think that the strike is justified? Should the government come down heavily on the employees? Or is a soft approach the need of the hour?

The Ludhiana Tribune talked to a cross - section of Ludhianvis to know their views about the issue.

Mr Kuldip Singh, a property dealer, says, “In my opinion, the postal strike cannot be justified, even though some of the demands may be genuine. The common man has unnecessarily been sandwiched between the striking employees and the government. Otherwise also, there are many ways to voice your protest. Why not adopt some less obtrusive method to draw the attention of the government towards your demands?”

According to Mr Bector , a businessman, “It may sound unpalatable, but the truth is that in our country, the balance between rights and duties is skewed in favour of rights. We are always clamouring for our ‘deprived’ rights. We fail to understand that rights and duties are the two faces of the same coin. Unless, we become conscious of our duties, how can we expect to get our rights? Of course, the reason for this is very simple because what are my rights could very well be your duties. The postal employees’ strike is an offshoot of our ‘rights first’ mentality. Some of their demands may be justified , but their method of getting their demands fulfilled is totally unjustified.

After all, the end can never justify the means. The striking postal employees are causing tremendous economic loss to the nation and they cannot be absolved of the blame.

Mr Gurdip Singh, general manager of a hotel, says,” Postal employees are addressing their demands to the government. Fine. But why should the public be inconvenienced? It is irresponsible on part of the striking employees to bring essential services like postal services to a virtual standstill. Their demands may be valid , but getting their demands at the public cost tantamounts to breach of duty and they ought to be penalised for that.”

According to Mr Murli, who belongs to Uttar Pradesh, “The Postal services are the backbone of our country. Even a single day’s off means loss to the tune of crores of rupees. Also, the dependence of the public on postal services is almost complete. What is required at present is not a knee-jerk reaction but a well-chalked out tough policy that would set a precedent for future also.”

Ms Manjeet Kaur points out, “We do not tire of talking about work ethics in countries like Japan. But when it comes to our own country, the yardstick changes. Let me ask you ,if tomorrow the government agrees to meet some of the demands of the postal employees, will the employees be able to the losses on the economic and human resources fronts? The government should stop treating such strikes with kid gloves. Either the government should decide to concede to some of the legitimate demands or it should invoke ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act). If the government’s strategy is to tire out the employees, then I am afraid that it is not proving to be a cost - effective strategy.”Back



DESPITE the disgrace that some players have brought to themselves and the game by fixing matches, cricket continues to be not only attractive but also seductive as ever for young men. The other sport continue to suffer.

On Sunday, Ramandeep Singh, captain of the Indian hockey team, got married to Depinder Kaur in Ludhiana. Not many persons, including journalists, knew about the event. Only some friends and close relatives of Ramandeep attended the wedding.

When Sachin Tendulkar, Azharuddin and Saurav Ganguly got married, the print media devoted a number of columns to these events. Even a may-not-be affair between Naghma and Ganguly gets publicity. The marriage of an equally important star, but of another sport, went unnoticed.

Hostile hosts

Ludhiana has no dearth of good hotels, but, there is no five star hotel in the city. A year ago, a hotel, belonging to a leading chain of hotels in the country, was established here. Perhaps because it is so popular, some of its staff appears to have lost the art of treating guests.

Recently, a group of journalists had an unpleasant experience at this hotel. A guest may not always be right, but he or she expects the hotel staff to be polite. The journalists were there to attend a press conference. When some of them approached the reception desk, they were rudely told to keep off by a young but arrogant receptionist. She said the hotel staff were not aware that any such press conference was being held there. When the journalists asked her to help them, the receptionist became more angry.

It was found that the management was not happy because the organisers had held the conference in their room instead of the hotel restaurant. This way, the hotel lost the extra money that the organisers would have paid for using the restaurant. However, the receptionist could have explained this to the journalists politely.

Sweet punishment

Recently, an amateur painter of the city organised a solo exhibition of her paintings in Students’ Home on the PAU campus. The Vice-Chancellor was there to inaugurate the exhibition, besides many eminent artists. A seminar on the life and works of Sobha Singh was also organised on the occasion.

A lunch was to the served to the guests after the seminar. When the seminar was on, some of the guests sneaked out of the room and entered the tent where lunch was to be served. Tired of waiting for the others to join them, these persons asked the caterers to serve them the food. The obliging caterers did what they had been asked to do. Meanwhile, a relative of the painter, saw what they were doing and reprimanded the caterers for doing what they did. As the embarrassed guests looked on, the relative told the caterers not serve them the dessert till the lunch was served to all. What a sweet punishment!

Girls do it, too

This may be a male dominated world, but women have learnt how to outsmart men in all fields — even in crime and violating rules. Having fun is supposed to be a privilege of boys only. It is believed that they do things in unorthodox ways, just for the fun of it. Traffic policemen can narrate numerous tales of their adventures and misadventures.

If boys can do it, why can’t girls. Their right to equality is unquestioned. They have equal opportunities to do nasty things that their male counterparts do.

It is believed that only boys drive rashly and violate traffic rules. However, girls also take liberties with these rules. A girl does not have to wear the helmet as well. Usually, girls are not “harassed” by traffic policemen, but boys are. This encourages girls to keep violating traffic rules and taking advantage of this immunity, they try new misadventures.

You can often see three girls on a two-wheeler in the city. They have shrewd ways of avoiding traffic policemen at crossings. They alight from the two-wheelers at the traffic-light points and walk a few yards to get noticed by the traffic policeman. Once they are out of his sight, they jump on the two-wheelers again and drive away.

Roadside marriages

Marriages are settled in heaven and celebrated on Earth. In Ludhiana, the statement will have to be amended slightly. The people here do not dispute the fact that marriages are settled in heaven, but believe that these should be celebrated on roads and parking spaces here.

As the city’s population has grown, marriage palaces here are overbooked in every marriage season. So what do the people here do? They install a tent on a road or some parking space for a full day.

Imagine the plight of persons who find no space to move or park their vehicles because of this. A person has to cover more than a kilometre for crossing a street because a tent has been pitched on the road.

The MC officials also appear to be going soft on the violators. Interrupting a marriage ceremony is not considered to be good. A celebration for a few becomes a nuisance for many others.

Wedding season

The wedding season is always liked by Indians due to rich traditions associated with it. Marriages are opportunities for Ludhianvis to flaunt their jewellery and outfits.

Relative begin preparing for the marriage at least a week before the event. Womenfolk take out their special dresses for the occasion and women of the city do not like to be dominated by anyone. Nowadays, even men spare some time from their work for facials, manicure and pedicure in preparation for the wedding season.

People’s anger

For the past one week, officials of the Sales Tax Department and hosiery dealers are fighting over the issue of alleged evasion of the sales tax by the dealers. Many goods were seized from the dealers after a surprise raid by the CBI and the department.

Though the evasion of the sales tax is no secret, the traders felt offended. Instead of finding a solution, they blocked the rail traffic at the Ludhiana railway station, holding thousands of passengers to ransom. Among these passengers was a soldier who was retuning home on leave from Kashmir. When he urged the demonstrators to lift the dharna, An altercation followed, which led to exchange of blows.

The soldier represented the anger of every passenger. The government should take strong action against such persons who violate laws and then impose themselves on the others.
— Sentinel



MCPI charges BJP with pursuing hidden agenda
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has strongly reacted to the statement of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee over the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, charging the BJP with pursuing its hidden agenda.

The Punjab state committee of the party, which met here last evening under the presidentship of Mr Amarmeet Singh to discuss the political situation, observed that the BJP leadership was making attempts “to rally round the Hindu sentiments”, which was dangerous to the secular fabric of the country. The allies of the ruling NDA combine must resist every such move by the BJP to implement its hidden agenda lest it should lead to the process of disintegration of India.

The national general secretary of the party, Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, said the “stony silence” of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the “communal attitude” of the BJP was a serious matter. The communal tension always hit the minorities hardest and the SAD(B), being a party of the Sikh community, must speak out against the BJP and the Prime Minister.

The party extended its total support to the nationwide postal strike and condemned the “indifferent attitude” of the government towards the strike, which had made the general public suffer. The state committee of the MCPI urged the government to end the stalemate and accept the genuine demands of postal workers. The meeting rejected the minimum wages announced by the state government, terming them very low in the context of rising prices of essential commodities.


Where are all bicycle coolies?
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — Coolies have been carrying bicycles on their shoulders across Lakkar Bridge to earn their livelihood for years now. Soon, there might not be any of them left.

Kaleshar, a frail man of medium height in his late thirties, came here from the Saharsa district of Bihar more than a decade ago and became a bicycle coolie. In those days, there used to be a great rush of cyclists at either end of the bridge who wanted their bicycles to be taken to the other side. At 25 paise per bicycle, Kaleshar used to earn as much as Rs 40 by the end of the day. Now, he hardly makes even that much money, though the rate has gone up to Rs 2 per bicycle. He says that, out of hundreds of bicycle coolies who used to work here in those days, only six are left. This is because there has been a gradual decline in the earnings.

Pitamber, who joined the group of cycle coolies at the bridge about 25 years ago, is also a disillusioned man today. He says that there has been a sharp decline in his earnings as most of the cyclists these days are migrants who prefer to do their own job. It is only a khaas babu who sometimes seeks their services.

The day when the remaining few coolies will also seek a new occupation is not far. However, for the time being, their job at Lakkar Bridge remains a passion for these coolies, who are not sure of their future.

The oldest of these coolies is Sai Baba. He is called so because of his long hair and beard and the saffron dress that he often wears. This tall man came here from Kerala 34 years ago. He has carried bicycles across the bridge for only 10 paise per bicycle.

He has grown old and the bridge has grown with him. He has been keeping ill for a while and cannot work regularly. He has some regular customers who look around for him whenever they approach the bridge on their bicycles. He turns his back to the camera as he does not want his picture to be taken.Back


Road named after Basant Singh Khalsa
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — The road from Durga Mata Mandir to Fountain Chowk in the city was today named after former Punjab Minister and veteran akali dal leader Basant Singh Khalsa, who died in a road accident on the crossing of Ferozepore Road and Durga Mata Mandir a few years ago.

City Mayor Apinder Singh Grewal unveiled the stone to name the road as ‘Basant Singh Khalsa Marg’. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Grewal recalled the services of Mr Khalsa, both as an Akali Dal activist and a minister, towards the city and the state. Mr Khalsa, he added, was known as a champion of Dalit community and strived for their welfare throughout his life.


Lucky draw scheme
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — Lucky winners of the 'Millennium Dhamaka Scheme' were all smile when their numbers were called during the draw. The coupon number 0207749 won the first prize. However, the exact identity of the winner could not be verified till late today. There were a total of 5001 prizes for retailers and shopkeepers and 101 prizes for company's authorised distributors. The prizes included one Santro car, 16 Bajaj scooters, 32 LG colour TVs and many others. The scheme was launched by the Cremica Agro Foods.


Trade unions flay economic policies
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 12 — Activists of Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) attacked the economic policies of the NDA government and criticised the communal agenda of the Vajpayee government. Addressing largely-attended meetings of industrial workers at Focal Point, Dhandari Kalan and General Bus Stand in the city, organised to welcome the jatha march, which arrived here today, the Punjab CITU president, Mr Balwant Singh said that the economic and industrial policies adopted by the BJP-led government had endangered the economic sovereignty of the nation. Free access provided to multinational corporations (MNCs) to the Indian market and freedom to make capital investment in every sector, had proved ruinous for domestic industries.

He observed that the western countries had no interest in the development of this country or for survival of domestic industries. What the multinational giants were after was the vast Indian market. The CITU leader claimed that around 7 lakh industrial units in the country had closed down and many more were on the verge of closure, rendering a large number of industrial workers jobless.

Mr Vijay Misra, vice-president of CITU, Punjab alleged that on one hand, the economic policies being pursued by the government had mortgaged the economic freedom of the country, while on the other hand, communal agenda had further vitiated the atmosphere of amity and brotherhood. The statement of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee on Ram Mandir had exposed the real face of the BJP.

Addressing the meetings, the Punjab CITU secretary, Mr Raghu Nath Singh, charged the SAD-BJP government in Punjab with corruption, nepotism and repression against workers and peasants. The minimum wages had not been revised for more than five years and rule of jungle prevailed in the industrial sector, with lakhs of workers denied basic facilities under labour laws.

He announced that CITU, along with other trade unions, would stage a protest dharna in front of the office of Labour Commissioner, Punjab on December 15, to press the demands for hike in minimum wages for all categories of workers, abolition of contract labour system and equal wages for equal work.

Mr Jatinder Pal, Mr Jagdish Chand, Mr Mohinder Kumar, working committee members of Punjab CITU, Mr Jagdev Singh, president and Mr Malkiat Singh, general secretary of Punjab Woolcombers Employees and Workers Union, also addressed the meetings.

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