Friday, December 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bumper potato crop leaves farmers high and dry
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — Potato is on its way to becoming fodder for animals, thanks to its bumper crop in the state for the second consecutive year.

Owners of cold stores have started getting rid of potatoes and are even throwing these on vacant spaces. They are also offering potatoes free of cost to dairy owners. Farmers have refused to take their produce back from cold stores as they have to pay Rs 60 per 80-kg-bag as rent to cold store owners while this bag fetches hardly Rs 30 in the market.

As the new potato crop has arrived in the market, old stock finds no buyers. The new potato crop is being sold at between Rs 120 and Rs 130 per 80-kg-sack. Agriculture economists say to recover the cost of production, the minimum price should be Rs 150 per bag. About 50,000 hectares are covered under the crop in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Malwa areas. The unpleasant experiences of the previous year has forced farmers to decrease the area under potato cultivation by about 10 per cent.

Commenting on the seriousness of the problem, Mr Ajit Singh Dhatt, Director of Punjab Horticulture Post-Harvest Technology Centre, Punjab Agricultural University, says, “A large quantity of the stored potato was to be sent to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka for seed purposes. But because of scanty rainfall in those states, the demand for potato seed there is minimal. On account of the decrease in the area under potato cultivation in Punjab, the demand for potato for sowing purpose has also declined.”

The failure of cotton crop in the Bathinda- Mansa belt had also forced farmers to sow potato in that region. Because of the sowing of the new crop, the consequent crop was a bumper one. As compared to the global 40 kg per capita potato consumption per year, Indians consume 14 kg per capita per year.

Mr Surinder Singh Thamanwal, a potato grower of Thamanwal village, says, “The farmers have lost heavily this year. The government and agriculture experts are telling us to diversify production. But we do not have any alternative. If these conditions last for too long, farmers will be forced to commit suicide or to indulge in violent protests.”

Mr Amarjeet Singh Chauhan, manager of a cold store, says, “We will lose lakhs of rupees this year. Farmers have not turned up to take their crop. We are requesting milk vendors to pick up the same.”

Prof Karam Singh, a senior economist in the Department of Economics and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University, says, “Potato is a seasonal crop all over the world. There are ups and downs from time to time. The developed countries have built up marketing and processing infrastructure to control the market. We will also have to set up units for preparing potato chips and potato powder.”

Dr Ajit Singh says, “We can store potato only for some time. Due to poor storage practices, sugar content in potatoes increases. The owners of cold stores will have to follow the recommendations of experts.”


Bankmen observe strike
From Tribune Reporters

KHANNA, Dec 21 — The banking services remained completely paralysed and trade and commercial activities were badly hit here today when bankers working in the local and rural branches of the nationalised banks participated in a one-day countrywide strike called by the United Forum of Bank Unions.

More than 500 striking employees assembled in front of the Indian Bank branch here and staged a massive rally-cum-demonstration in support of their demands. Addressing the rally, Mr. B.K. Jethi, zonal secretary, Punjab Bank Employees’ Federation and Mr R.M. Puri, Secretary of P.S.E.B, Khanna unit said that the strike was in protest against the privatisation of the public sector banks.

While flaying the government for not enacting any stringent law for the recovery of bad loans to the tune of Rs 60,000 crores from defaulters, they demanded that a willful default of bank loan be declared a criminal offence. The union spokesman claimed that the strike evoked total response in the sub-division.


Work in all nationalised banks remained paralysed on account of the strike call given by the All-India Bank Employees Organisation. Employees were protesting against the unfair policies of the Centre.


Wheat seized from agent
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 21 — The nexus between some commission agents and PUNSUP employees came into light after wheat belonging to PUNSUP was seized from a commission agent of Samrala, near here, yesterday.

Mr Sushil Kumar, DSP of Samrala, said the police raided a house that was being used as a store by Harbans Lal, a commission agent, and seized 31 unaccounted bags of wheat from there.

The police has registered a case against Sher Singh, a watchman of PUNSUP, Harnek Singh, a peon of PUNSUP, and Harbans Lal under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC.

The DSP said the investigations were on. He denied that any arrest had been made in the case, but sources said the commission agent was in the custody of the police.


‘Stop bashing cops in films’
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — Almost every Hindi movie these days shows scenes with derogatory remarks against policemen, emphasising their dishonesty, third degree methods, and ruthlessness. It is surprising that no police department or police spokesman has ever protested against the depiction of the police force in such deplorable light. Coupled with this, media coverage of police atrocities has created in the minds of the people, a horrific image of the police.

Ms Priya Vatsyayan, a college teacher, said, “Film producers should not depict the police in such a derogatory manner. Not every police officer is like those shown on the screen. The police must react to the tarnishing of its image or they will continue to get the bashing.”

Mr Shankar Das, a three-star police Inspector, said that police force was not at all corrupt. It was the leaders who were corrupt. “Film producers and directors should not allow the use of such dirty language for police officers. Senior officer should form an action committee to prevent negative portrayal of the police.”

Prof V.N. Mehta, Principal of Arya College for Boys, said: “I have not seen in the last 15 years, a police officer in a positive role unless he is the hero of the film. After seeing the movies these days, the people carry the impression that all police officers are corrupt. The police has not raised any protest against films that shatter the image of the police.”

Chairman of the Ludhiana Citizens’ Council, Mr Darshan Arora, spoke vehemently against film makers who made the police a laughing stock. He said, “During the days of terrorism in Punjab, when the executive, judiciary, and the political will had failed, it was the police that brought peace. It is the vigilance of the police that has kept a semblance of law and order in the country. Nobody should be allowed to make fun of the police and tarnish its image.”

Dr Anshu Vatsyayan is of the opinion that there is some truth in what the movies show. According to her, “There is, of course, some exaggeration in the movies. Definitely, all police officers are not corrupt. The police in real life should deal with the public in a sympathetic manner so that they are able to discern the true image of the police. The censor board is also not doing its job well. They should become more active. The police should also condemn such movies.”

Mr Surinder Dawar, President District Congress Committee, Ludhiana said. “The police did bring peace when terrorism was at its peak. So the film producers and directors have no right to give a bashing to their public image. Movies showing the police in a bad light should be banned and the censors should delete scenes which humiliate police officers.”

Mr Krishan Sahni, a businessman, was of the view that the police should raise the issue with the censors and should take action against the makers of such films. The police should improve their public image to get respect. Movies are a reflection of society. If the police improves its image in real life, it will improve in reel life too.”

Dr Leica Singh said, “If the police is so bad, why do people seek its protection when they are threatened. They feel safe with policemen around them and when someone wants to withdraw police security, they protest.”


Farmers in debt trap: BKU
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 21 — Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, National General Secretary of the BKU, said in a press conference at Khanna grain market today that the farmers in Punjab had fallen into a debt trap. He said the cooperative loans had become more expensive than the market and the interest rate had increased more than the commercial banks. The Punjab government was also charging stamp duty and registration fees on agri-loans.

Mr Rajewal alleged that even the Congress government in Punjab had never charged stamp duty and registration fee during its tenure. The Badal government had imposed 30 per cent stamp duty and 2 per cent registration fee on loans for agricultural purposes. Even after having withdrawn these taxes, after a decision of the Punjab cabinet, the Revenue Department Punjab, vide 175 memo no 8.9.2000-ST-11/6446 dated November 2000 had again imposed stamp duty and registration fee on full loans of poultry and fishing that according to the government were not a part of agriculture.

Mr Rajewal demanded the immediate withdrawal of stamp duty and registration fee. He further demanded that the rate of interest of cooperative loans be brought to the level of at least commercial banks. He threatened that if the stamp duty and registration fee on loans was not withdrawn, the BKU would be compelled to launch an agitation.


Is there hope for Ludhiana?

Noisiest city
By D.B.Chopra

Warm-hearted people
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — The city may soon be listed among the noisiest cities of the world if the increasing noise pollution is not curbed.

Only a mixture of sounds low and high, produced by men and machines, can be heard in the city. 

Places supposed to be free from rattling noises, such as the Rose Garden, have been invaded by mobile phones and children pestering visitors to buy this or that.

Nobody is taking the issue of noise pollution seriously. District magistrates have been issuing orders, banning the use of loudspeakers and pressure air horns on vehicles, particularly during exam days, but to no avail.

A few days back, en elderly resident of Industrial Area and his son walked into the Ludhiana Tribune office to complain about the noise in his neighbourhood. 

The city is full of ailing persons who need tranquility, at least within the confines of their homes.

People living near marriage palaces spend sleepless nights as DJs play music systems on high volume. Students preparing for examination find the noise from religious places in the mornings and evenings too much.

With nearly a hundred cars and a large number of scooters and autorickshaws being added to the city everyday, the level of noise pollution is increasing. 

The old and rickety models that make ear-splitting noise are plying in the city with impunity.

There is no campaign by any social organisation or government agency to spread public awareness about the hazards posed to the general health of the citizens by noise pollution and the ways to control it. In all this maddening din, groans of the ailing, the students and the sound-sensitive go unheard.

Dr Rajiv Gupta, a consultant psychiatrist, says chronic noise pollution can cause irritability, anxiety, restlessness, palpitation, sleep disturbances, memory changes and frequent fluctuations in mood. 

It can also affect one’s attention and concentration. Sudden and loud sound can block one’s cognitive functions and one can have transient loss of control over the mind, going into confusion and disorientation. 

This may increase the risk of road accidents, he adds.

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — “The city is quite polluted and crowded but definitely the people are warm-hearted and nice”. These were the views of Solvej Peterson, a second year medical student from the university of Copenhagen, Denmark. Solvej Peterson and Mette Haahr, another medical student from Denmark, were in the city for 14 days for a clinical practice period, which they took from the faculty and principal of Christian Medical College and Hospital. The students were also posted at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lalton Kalan, by CMC.

It may be mentioned here that after the third semester, University of Copenhagen sends the medical students either abroad or to some other city in their own country for training and practice. The beautiful blonde hair beauties chose India for their training because they believe the country was culturally rich with so many languages and religions. Both the girls experienced effectiveness and humour going side by side during various surgeries performed by Dr Abramam Thomas, Principal, CMC. The strange thing which Mette and Solvej felt about India was the extremes of richness and poverty. However Mette felt sorry for the Indian parents whose children after higher education settle abroad. She said: “Indians are professional. They can bring their country to the top”.

They were upset to see the ‘unused’ potential of Indians and made an appeal to Indian students to utilize their potential for the upliftment of their own nation. Another 4th year student of D.M.D. at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada has come to the city to do his externship. Dr Mehta is a Canadian born Indian who wanted to come to his roots to serve humanity. Dr Mehta said: “I had searched for Indian dentists on the Internet and found the website of Dr Rajan Bir Singh Thind in Ludhiana”.

It may be mentioned here that it is the first website by a dentist who had attracted Dr Aparna Thind from Harvard University earlier. During his externship Dr Rakesh Mehta will visit various institutions and clinics to get training of materials and techniques being used here. Dr Mehta said: “Indians need dental awareness. They visit a dentist only when there is emergency. What I really appreciate about Indians is that they maintain their patience even in severe pain”.

When asked about the social status of old people in Canada, Dr Mehta answered: “Whatever I am today, it is due to my parents. I respect them and their feelings and sentiments about this country. We have joint families abroad and staying there does not necessarily mean that one should forget his customs and traditions”.



Allottees protest against sale of plots
Local landlords don’t want them there
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — Hundreds of residents of Siahar village staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here today. They were protesting against the unauthorised sale of the plots that had been allotted to them by the Rehabilitation and Consolidation Department in 1959.

Mr Krishen Chand, a villager, said a local landlord had sold about 20 of these 90 plots to various persons who had begun construction work there. Most of the allottees belong to the Ramdasi sect. The local landlords had reportedly opposed the move to allot them land here. However, their plea had been rejected by the High Court.

The villagers alleged that they had valid documents to show that they owned the plots, but the administration and the police were not helping them. They alleged that the local police was helping the landlords in harassing them.

The demonstrators, including a number of women, met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, at the weekly Sangat Darshan and urged him to get their land vacated. The DC asked the SDM to investigate the matter.

For the past several weeks, there has been an increase in the number of complaints related to land disputes. The DC said committees would soon be set up in the district to tackle these complaints.


Car bazaar fever
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Dec 21 — After gripping the big cities, the car bazar fever is now spreading to small towns too.

In Khanna, nearly half a dozen car bazars have sprung up in the past two months. Most of these bazars are held along the G.T. Road, wherever the organisers find enough place to park the cars. The organisers of these bazars have been in the automobile trade for years. Earlier, they used to go to Ludhiana and Chandigarh to act as brokers. Now they have started organising car bazars in the town.

Mr Mohinder Singh, a car bazar organiser, says that the prices of old cars have registered a fall. If the price of small cars is Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000 less than last year, big cars are quoted Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh below last year’s price. He is able to sell three or four cars every Wednesday, the bazar day.

Another car bazar organiser said that he was making good profit and it suited both the sellers and buyers as there was little chance of cheating.Back


Missing boy returns home
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 22 — Monu, one of the two boys missing from Jawahar Nagar colony in the city, was found yesterday in semi-conscious condition at the local bus stand. The whereabouts of the second boy, Bharat (12), however, remain unknown.

Monu, who is presently under treatment at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Charitable Hospital, regained consciousness for a few minutes. He recalled that on December 19 he boarded an auto-rickshaw to visit a temple. Two other persons, including one women, also boarded the vehicle. On reaching Bharat Nagar Chowk, the man got down.

Yesterday morning he found himself at a railway station. He said he boarded a train to reach here. He failed to recall how he reached the local bus stand.

Harish, Monu’s uncle, said the boy had recently recovered from an ailment. After receiving medical reports he had left for the temple.


PAU appoints new HODs
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — The Board of Management of the Punjab Agricultural University has made Prof J.S. Hundal and Prof G.S. Grewal the heads of the Departments of Vegetables and Veterinary Pathology, respectively.

The PAU sources said the decision was taken at a meeting of the board held recently in Chandigarh. Prof Hundal will replace Dr Sandhu whose term ends on March 31. Dr Grewal is the acting head of the Department of Veterinary Pathology at present.

The board has also decided to create a post of the Principal of PAU Model High School at Kauni. Drivers will also get uniform pay dues. The board has also fixed the fee for change of name at Rs 1,000.


MC clerk arrested on bribery charge
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 21 — The local police yesterday arrested a clerk working in the Municipal Corporation for allegedly accepting a bribe.

In a press note issued here by Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SP (Vigilance), said the clerk, Jagdish Lal Sharma, was caught while accepting Rs 1,000 from Chamkaur Singh, a resident of Gobind Nagar in Shimla Puri. He said the money was taken to facilitate the registration of a property document in the corporation records.

College teacher attacked
A college teacher, Mr Jugraj Singh, was attacked with sharp-edged weapons by miscreants led by student Harpreet Singh. The teacher had caught the boy using illegal means in an examination at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College here on Tuesday.

The Sadar police has registered a case under Sections 324, 506, 34, IPC, against him. According to the teacher, he had caught the student red-handed while copying in the centre. The student was taken to the Principal and was ordered to leave the college. A case of copying was registered against him.

Later, the student accompanied by miscreants attached the teacher.

Two cars stolen
Two cars and a motor cycle were stolen from various parts of the city on Wednesday. A white car (PB-10-S 0361) was stolen from Shahan Shah Palace on the Ferozepore road and another white car (PB10Y-6696) was stolen from Welfare Palace on the Malhar road.

In another incident, a black coloured motor cycle was stolen from Urban Estate which was parked in front of the residence of Mr Abhijit Singh. Three cases have been registered on the complaints of Mr Vijay Kumar, Mr Ashwini Jain and Mr Abhijit Singh under Section 379, IPC.

Kerosene dealers held
The police has arrested four persons from a shop in Sherpur Kalan for selling spurious kerosene.The police recovered 12 drums containing 2,400 litres of oil.

The arrested persons have been identified as Tony Verma, Pardeep Kumar, Sukhjinder Singh and Shetru Ali. They were nabbed from a shop owned by Jagjit Singh. A case has been registered against them under Section 420 of the IPC. However, Jagjit Singh managed to escape.Back

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