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


‘Don’t worry, track cracks are a normal occurrence’
From Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — “Developing of cracks in the rail track is a normal thing”. This is how the railway authorities here reacted when asked about the cracks in the track detected near here immediately after the passing of an express train late last evening.

Taking the incident in a very casual manner, local railway officials said that last year 11 such cracks in the track were detected in their jurisdiction. In 1998 the number of such cases was eight.

Officers concerned say that because of the setting on of the winter season, the track started shrinking, which according to them is a normal phenomenon, and consequently the track develops cracks.

It may be mentioned that the cracks in the rail track had led to major controversy in this part of the country. Such cracks were said to be the main reason for rail accidents near Khanna recently in which several persons were killed. Earlier, about two years ago in a similar train mishap several persons killed near Gobindgarh.

While the memories of these accidents are still fresh in the minds of the people of this region, railway authorities concerned say that cracks in the track are a normal occurrence. In fact, there was a lot of panic among the passangers immediately after the train passed over the cracked stretch late last evening.

According to informed sources, the driver of the train, 4630 DN Satluj Express which was coming to Ludhiana from Ferozepore, felt tremors near the Thareke village railway crossing between Ludhiana and Badhowal. He reported the matter to the local railway station authorities. The station authorities immediately alerted the technical staff concerned to check the track.

The driver of the other train —Ferozepur local — was also told to run the train at a minimum possible speed because of the tremors felt by the earlier train. It was the driver of that train who was able to pinpoint the cracks in the track. Immediately, technical staff was rushed to the place to repair the cracks. The traffic on the track was restored after the midnight.

Elaborating the cause of the incident, Mr T.R. Rana, Station Supervisor, Ludhiana, said," Such incidents are quite normal, especially during the winter season. The lines get shrinked due to low temperature and they are repaired by welding”.

It is learnt that about 350 workers are engaged in the maintenance of about 45 km track in Ludhiana. It includes Sahenawal to Bhatian(40 km), double line, 4 km on the Ludhiana-Dhuri section and 1.3 km on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore section.

Regular checks are supposed to be conducted by the staff via a trolley and engine-run special computerised machines which monitor the condition of the track. However, the sources say these checks are not conducted sincerely and even the reports of different enquiry committees are taken casually by the officials concerned. Mr Rana admits, “We take incidents seriously only if there is some casualty. Otherwise it is a routine matter”.

When asked about the records kept on accidents he expressed his ignorance about any such register.

Mr Rajinder Singh, Section Engineer, who had visited the accident sight for a on-the-spot inspection, declined to disclose the causes of cracks or the reports of enquiry. Surprisingly, no official was ready to comment on the issue at Ludhiana.

The passengers on the other hand were worried about the safety. Mr M.S. Jindal, a trader, on the platform said, “The railways are interested in revenue collection and not in the safety of passengers. We are not sure whether in case of accident the so called medical relief train will reach there or not.”


Modern infrastructure soon for traffic cops
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — The traffic police in SAS Nagar and Ludhiana is being modernised. Traffic policemen in these cities will soon get new wireless sets, radar guns and breath analysers to enforce discipline on roads.

It has also been decided to provide the traffic police in these cities with more manpower. The local traffic police needs about 100 more personnel for ensuring smooth traffic on roads.

The decision was taken at a meeting of senior police officials of the district. The meeting was headed by the ADGP (Training and Traffic), Mr D.R. Bhatti, at Police Lines here today. Sources said the meeting had been held to discuss traffic problems of the city.

The officials said traffic violators should be educated and challaned at the same time to make them aware of traffic rules. Traffic policemen will give stickers to violators with “Yes, I obey traffic rules” printed on these, along with a copy of the challan. Policemen will also distribute pamphlets among the public to promote the obeying of traffic rules.

Sources said the traffic police had also sought the help of some sponsors to paint slogans at many places in the city. These slogans will educated the people about safe driving and following traffic rules. Cones will be used for marking diversions or lanes on roads. There will be a separate lane for autorickshaws on the crowded stretch of the national highway from the Jagraon bridge to Chand Cinema.

After listening to the problems faced by traffic policemen, the ADGP said the new equipment would be available within two weeks. The traffic police has been facing a lack of infrastructure for some time now and this is affecting traffic discipline on roads.

It is now routine for residents of the city to jump the red light. Whenever, such an incident happens, one usually finds a traffic policeman on the other side of the crossing who can do nothing except blowing whistles. However, the offender never stops to get a challan. “We’ll see that such scenes are not repeated,” a senior police official said. He also said, with a wireless set in hand, the policeman would be able to immediately inform the policeman at the next crossing, who would then catch the violator.

The official said there had been a lengthy discussion at the meeting on various problems of traffic here. The traffic problems on stretches of National Highway 1 were also discussed. The ADGP said, after consulting traffic experts and senior police officials, a master plan would be prepared for removing traffic bottlenecks in the city.

A committee comprising an ASI, a head constable and a constable is already organising awareness programmes in schools here. It has been decided to give live demonstrations to school children on how to cross a road. School children will also assist traffic policemen in managing traffic or educating violators.

The police hopes that elders will improve their ways when reproached by school children.


Water samples sent to PAU for examination
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — The office of the Civil Surgeon here has sent the samples of water collected from various areas of the city to Punjab Agriculture University for examination. This step has been taken keeping in view the reports of typhoid cases in some areas of the city.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, has written to the Municipal Corporation asking to keep a check on the quality of the drinking water. Dr Rajinder Kaur has also written to the Deputy Commissioner asking for help to take control of the situation. According to doctors, the situation has not taken an alarming form but if nothing substantial is done in time to control the same, it can take the form of an epidemic.

“We don't want the disease to take the form of an epidemic. As it is a water-borne disease many people can get infected at the same time by drinking contaminated water. So we are taking serious steps so that the situation does not go unabated.” said Dr Rajinder Kaur.

The doctors advise that with the recent reports the city residents should be more careful and should make sure that they are taking thoroughly filtered and treated water. 


Business management faculty protest
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — The faculty of the Department of Business Management is sore over the reported move of the authorities to change the designation of a professor of statistics to that of professor of management.

Sources in the university say that the stage is being set to bring Dr S.K. Singla, Professor in the Department of Statistics, as Professor of Business Management in the department.

Confirming that a proposal has been mooted to re-designate Dr. Singla as Professor of Business Management, Dr. Zahir, Dean , College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, said that it was within the ambit of the university rules since business management was a multi-disciplinary subject which could also include such subjects as finance, commerce, economics, statistics, etc. He, therefore, justified the proposed redesignation of Dr Singla as Professor of Management.

The teachers of business management have unanimously, according to sources, protested against the decision to associate Dr. Singla with the teaching of business management courses. In fact, the Academic Committee of the department in a meeting held recently observed that the allotment of students to Dr. Singla had been made in gross violation of Rule 4.2.1. of the Resident Instruction Bulletin (RIB) of the university. This rule, they affirm, clearly stipulated that only a teacher of the discipline/faculty concerned can guide the research of a postgraduate student. Since Dr. Singla does not hold a degree in business management, the teachers argue that he is not eligible to guide MBA students as a major adviser.

This move, according to certain faculty members of the Department of Business Management, has been allegedly initiated by certain senior faculty members of the Department of Business Management, and endorsed by Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities. Some teachers of the university say that this move is aimed at giving the reins of the Department of Business Management to Dr Singla after the present incumbent lays down office on superannuation in February next year.

Dr Singla, when contacted by Ludhiana Tribune said: “I have been transferred to the department of Business Management as Professor of statistics only and am not aware of the other developments”. He also maintained that the teachers who are not happy with his posting have mere apprehensions that other teachers without any qualification/orientation in business management may also join this department. Dr. Singla informed that he held a diploma in business management and had served in IGNOU as a leader in the School of Management. He further said that he was well versed in teaching subjects like quantitative techniques and operation research.

The teachers of the department are also peeved that Dr. Singla has been allowed to teach courses of management and even allowed to guide the research work of MBA students, allegedly in violation of the academic rules of the university.

According to informed sources, a meeting of the faculty of the Department of Business. Management was held recently to allot courses for the ensuing semester starting in January. However, the meeting was adjourned since no decisions with regard to allotment of business management courses to Dr. Singla could be taken.

During the last academic session (1999-2000), he was assigned to teach a few courses of business management and to guide the research work of four MBA students. This year again he has been asked to teach courses of management and guide five more MBA students as their major adviser.

It is learnt that the teachers of business management have met Dr. Zahir and Dr. Sahni collectively to convey their point of view to them. They have also held a meeting with the Executive Committee of the PAU Teachers’ Association (PAUTA) in this connection. 5


Bank employees threaten stir
From Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Dec 14 — The Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) has threatened to go on an indefinite strike, if the government did not withdraw the Bill providing for reduction of government equity from 51 per cent to 33 per cent.

The INBEC has also condemned the BJP government for tabling the banking companies and financial institutional laws.

According to a press note, Dr Shiv K. Gupta, general secretary, and Mr K.R. Tripathi, president, INBEC, in a joint statement said the presentation of the Bill in the Lok Sabha by the Finance Minister was against the interest of the country. He said the Union Government was selling country's assets to multinational companies. The Bill was intended to shield wilful defaulters, who owed more than 75,000 crore to various banks.

Mr Tripathi said that instead of taking action against the wilful defaulters by disclosing their names publically and declaring them criminal offenders or attachment of their properties, the government was shielding them by presenting the said Bill, against which most of the opposition parties had strongly opposed in the Parliament.


Inquiry indicts University panel
From Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — The inquiry instituted by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to investigate the circumstances which led to the disqualification of the PAU team at the Inter-State Agricultural Universities Youth Festival held at Jorhat (Assam) has indicted the executives committee of the Dance, Drama and Music Club of the university.

Following unsavoury incident, which brought disrepute to the university, the Vice-Chancellor appointed the Registrar of the university, Mr Alok Shekhar, as the inquiry officer. He was asked to pinpoint the lapses and the persons responsible for the same, and also to recommend action to be taken against those found guilty.

In his inquiry report, submitted to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Shekhar has squarely blamed the executive committee of the club which decided to send 35 participants in the youth festival against the prescribed norm of 27 members. In his three-page report, Mr Shekhar has noted that a meeting of the executive committee of the club held on October 9 under the chairmanship of Dr H.S. Sekhon, Dean, College of Agriculture Engineering and president of the club, decided that “a team of 35 members would be sent to participate in the youth festival. It was also decided that only 27 members out of these 35 would be got registered for the youth festival. Others and spare students would be kept out at the cost of the university.”

It may be recalled that the PAU team which had been sent to participate in the said youth festival was not only disqualified, but was also divested of all the medals it had won in different cultural events because the team consisted of 35 members instead of fixed limit of 27 participants.

Quoting Mr Samuel John, who accompanied the contingent as the teachers in charge, Mr Shekhar has noted in the report that some of the unregistered students participated in the events and also won prizes. It was, however, during the last event of the festival, namely, group dance giddha that the performance of unregistered students was objected to by the organisers. It was finally on a complaint lodged by the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University that the PAU team was disqualified and stripped of all the medals it had won.

Mr Shekhar has also criticised the executive committee for sending two junior teachers — Mr Samuel John and Dr Ashu Kalaranna — as teachers in charge with the contingent. The teachers concerned failed to control the situation when a crisis broke out.

Mr Shekhar has concluded that while Dr H.S. Sekhon, Dean, COAE, and other members of the club committed the lapse of sending students in excess, Mr Samuel John and Dr Ashu failed in their duty to control and supervise the activities of the contigent. He has recommended that explanation of all indicted by him should be called before any action is taken against them. Mr Shekhar has also recommended in his report that to check the recurrence of such incidents in future, the authorities should issue instructions to all concerned that the contigents for participation in such events should be sent “as per the prescribed norms and rules”.

Besides, senior teachers should be appointed as teacher-in-charge for any such event, he suggested.


Probe ordered into cheating allegation
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — The district police today directed its economic offence wing to conduct an inquiry into the allegation of cheating levelled against officials of the HDFC bank by an NRI woman.

The woman, Ms Raj Sidhu, has alleged that she was duped of Rs 1.70 lakh by a bank employee who withdrew two cheques of Rs 85,000 each from her fixed deposit account on his own. The bank has refuted her statement, saying that the cheques on which the amount was withdrawn carried her signatures , the authenticity of which has already been verified with a hand-writing expert.

The key to the case is, however, the main accused , Mr Raj Kumar, the alleged bank employee, who according to the NRI woman encashed the money. The person disowned by the Bank has already vanished. The bank officials also claimed that they had already lodged a complaint with the police regarding the vanishing of the person. It said the person was not their employee.

In her complaint letter, the woman said she was an NRI. Her husband was based in Canada and she had come to India for the education of her two minor children.

She opened a saving account with Times Bank here and intended to deposit Rs 2 lakh in fixed deposit. A person called Raj Kumar who was manning the inquiry counter of the bank volunteered to come to her house to explain her at length the details of profitable schemes.

She said the man came to her house, she trusted her and opened two FDs of Rs 1 lakh each in the name of her two sons for a period of one year. She alleged that the man also took her signatures on certain bank papers which were blank.

Her complaint further states that after the merger of Times Bank with HDFC , she heard rumors of various irregularities committed in several customer accounts . On inquiry she was shocked to learn that she too had been defrauded of Rs 1.70 lakh. She made several visits to the bank officials who gave her a positive response.

On one such visit she said that she met Mr Sanjeev Gupta , the new manager, who assured him of some action but nothing was done. Later she reported the matter to the police. She alleged that the bank officials were hiding the fraud committed by the employees of the bank.

Mr Sanjeev Gupta, bank manger, when contacted, denied that there was any involvement of the bank staff. He said the bank had already conducted an inquiry into the matter and after signature verification of the cheques it was found that the signatures were of the NRI woman only. He said the cheques were bearer's cheques and were cleared according to the normal banking procedure.

Regarding the allegations against the bank employee, he claimed that the man was never an employee of the HDFC or Times Bank. He could at most be called an agent. He said the bank had already lodged a complaint with the police regarding the vanishing of the man.


Postal strike enters 10th day
From Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Dec 14 — The Postal employees have threatened to continue with their indefinite strike till the implementation of their demands.

According to a press note, Mr C.L.Verma, divisional secretary, All India Postal Employees Union, Class III, said that the members were agitated at the statements made by Minister of Communication. He alleged that the minister was misleading the public by announcing that there demands had been accepted.

Mr Verma said that the local administration was putting unnecessary and unwanted pressure on the officials with less service by issuing notices.

Meanwhile, peaceful gate rallies were held in the morning and afternoon which were attended and addressed by various leaders of the Telecom Department.


‘Value-addition of food products needed’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — Dumping of food products in the developing countries has created a sense of insecurity among the farmers, small entrepreneurs of food industry and scientists all over the country. ''Food security'' has become one of the most important elements on which the overall stability of countries like India depends.

Food scientists, who have come here from different parts of the country to attend a training course in PAU, when contacted, expressed their deep concern pertaining to the implications of the WTO in the country. They were of the collective view that small industries may suffer the most, and will have to decrease cost of production and maintain the quality of products.

According to Mrs Neelam Khetarpal, Head, Department of Food and Nutrition, HAU, ''indigenous food products will be affected the most. But we can not have a closed economy, we cannot live isolated from the rest of the world,'' she added. Mrs. Subhashini Verma from PAU, said that" common people are ignorant about it and there is a great need to make the general public aware of the implications of the WTO and to educate entrepreneurs.''

At the time when the GATT agreement was signed, it was considered a ray of hope for the developing countries because the protected economies were expected to open up resulting in better opportunities in the international market, thus benefiting the food industry, but the scenario do not appear rosy at present.

Dr ( Mrs) R. B. Grewal, Associate Professor, Department of Foods and Nutrition, HAU, also expressed similar views. She believes that it may affect our indigenous small-scale industries as they are not in a position to compete with multinationals at present.'' She emphasises that there is a strict need of planning at the regional level. The areas having potential for production of different products, especially where the farmers add some value to their products, should be earmarked and their production and marketing should be encouraged. She maintains that farmers should join hands and make cooperative socities to compete the multinationals. Dr ( Mrs) Sudesh Jood (HAU) and Dr Rajni Modgil said that quality of the products should be improved to survive the onslaught of multinationals.

Mr Yogesh Parulekar, a food scientist from Maharashtra, defined the problem as an important aspect that concerns scientists on various fronts. According to him ''Cheaper food that has entered our markets do pose a threat, but we can definitely compete with them if we decrease our cost of production and improve quality of products.''

Dr Vijya Lakshmi from Bangalore and Dr Alpana from Jabalpur were of the view that ''30 per cent of production is going waste because of lack of post-harvesting facilities. Value-addition to the products may help to a great extent.''

Dr Singh, Dr F.C. Shukla from PAU and Dr I. N. Patel, food scientists from Gujarat, suggested that there should be a big chain of cooperatives to sell the products or value-added food products, produced by the farmers.


Charitable veterinary clinic by NRI
From Deepkamal Kaur

BARUNDI (Ludhiana), Dec 14 — Residents of Barundi and neighbouring villages, in tehsil Raikot, will no longer have to travel to the city for surgical treatment of their ill farm animals, thanks to Mr Devinder Singh Sidhu, a non-resident Indian, who has already donated Rs 10 lakh for the setting up of a charitable veterinary clinic in the memory of his late mother, Dalip Kaur.

After spending three decades as a consultant engineer in the US, Mr Sidhu has now come to the rescue of his villagers. He was born in this village and took his primary education in a government school here. He then joined a secondary school at Gujarwal and, thereafter, graduated in electrical engineering from Guru Nanak Engineering College here. In 1972, he migrated to the US with his wife and two children and in a couple of years he was a successful entrepreneur.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he said, ‘‘Although it has been 28 years now when I migrated to the US, yet I was in constant touch with my roots. Last year when I came here, my relatives and friends of this and other neighbouring villages, who pursue agriculture and dairy farming on small scale, told me that there was no surgical treatment available for their animals in this area.’’

He decided that he must do something for them. After consultations with his brother, Mr Sardool Singh, a brick-kiln owner, and Mr G.S. Chahal, Director, Animal Husbandry Department, Punjab, he chalked out a plan under which it was decided that he would pay for the infrastructure, while the government would pay for surgical instruments and the salaries of doctors. A pathological laboratory has also been set up in the clinic, where blood, milk, faecal and urine tests would be conducted at reasonable charges.

The clinic was formally inaugurated today by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab. He honoured Mr Sidhu for his laudable efforts in raising the clinic for his natives. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister of Technical Education, Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Minister of Animal Husbandry, and Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, were also present on the occasion.


Robbers strike again
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — Close on the heels of two robbery incidents yesterday, another robbery occurred in Islam Ganj area of the city last night. Robbers broke into a shop and took away machinery and other sanitary goods worth more than a lakh.

The stolen goods include, two spray pumps, machinery and other goods. The complainant Kailash Rani has named a person Sohan Lal of being one of the robbers. Other accused remain unidentified. The police has registered a case, but no arrest has been made so far.


Traders meet Excise Minister
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 14 — A delegation of the Punjab Pradesh Vyapar Mandal met Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, Cabinet Minister of Excise, demanding government’s intervention in releasing the seized hosiery goods by the CBI and officials of Excise department on December 5.

The delegation told the minister that the hosiery industry would lose crores of rupees if the goods were not released immediately.

Mr Sunil Mehra, Baba Ajit Singh, Mr Raju Bindra, Mr Kasturi Lal and others were in the delegation.

Members of the delegation said that the workers were forced to migrate and the traders from other states were hesitating to visit the city because of harassment by excise officials.

Mr Sunil Mehra and Mr Raju Bindra pointed in the meeting that the information collection centres established by the government had become torture camps for the traders where they were tormented by officials.

Their bills were alleged to be fake and undervoiced. Mr Adesh Pratap Singh issued instructions to the department officials on the spot. He warned them of harsh action if they continued to harass traders.

After meeting the minister, Mr Mahinder Aggarwal said, ‘‘Both Cabinet and state ministers have promised that to clear the backlog of ST cases, a special camp would be held in Ludhiana so that the traders had not to go to Chandigarh and Patiala. A notification will be issued soon to allow summary assessment up to Rs 20 lakh and self-assessment by the traders.

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