Friday, March 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Interest-free arrear bills can be cleared till monthend
By Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The Municipal Corporation will accept the payment of arrears of water, sewerage bills and house tax, without interest from today till March 31.The issue of inflated bills and penal interest on arrears, in a large number of cases pertaining to paid up bills of previous years, was raised by Ludhiana Tribune on February 22. A few days ago, District Youth Congress activists staged a protest dharna in front of the MC office here, demanding waiver of interest on old arrears of bills if water, sewerage and house tax bills in pursuance of a state government direction in this regard.

A coordination committee of the councillors, comprising representatives of all major political parties, which met here last evening under the chairmanship of Mayor Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, took this decision.

The performance of the MC, as far as collection of house tax and water, sewerage bills was concerned, has been dismal. During a period of 10 months, the total recovery of house tax has been Rs 16.61 crore (50 per cent) whereas water and sewerage charges have yielded Rs10.87 crore (43 per cent).

However, the MC has not been able to provide any relief to a sizeable number of people, who have been served notices to pay arrears of house tax and water, sewerage charges, which residents concerned claimed, were already paid up but the payments were not posted in the ledgers. The residents genuinely protest that payments were made long ago and it was not possible to produce receipts after lapse of several years. Particularly, for payments made in cash, there was no other evidence of payment, except for actual receipts and the residents were being penalised for the lapse on the part of MC employees.

Many a councillors feel that there should be clearly marked cut off period for raising demand of old arrears. Since quite a few provisions like disconnection of water supply and sewerage and attachment of property for non-payment of house tax, existed, there was no justification that arrears should be allowed to pile up for years together and then people slapped with hefty bills, which they found difficult to pay.

The demand for streamlining the MC departments was also gaining ground.


Farmers demand water
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, March 1— Several farmers from Badhowal and surrounding areas today staged a demonstration in the mini secretariat complex protesting against the denial of water for the wheat they have sown.

According to Mr Gurmukh Singh of Badhowal village the water had been released in the main canal about two weeks ago. However, no water was being supplied to the village through the distributaries. Mr Gurmukh Singh claimed that when they approached the Irrigation Department officials, they were told that there were directions from the higher-ups that water should not be released through distributaries in this region as it had to be taken to the tail-end.

He said while they had approached the Deputy Commissioner with a representation, he marked it back to the irrigation officials. However, the irrigation officials did not take any action on the DC’s orders and “threw it into the dustbin”.

The farmers are worried as any further delay in releasing the water in the distributaries might damage the wheat crop. Particularly, the farmers pointed out, there were virtually no rains this season and the farmers are dependent on the canal water only. In case the water is not released immediately in the distributaries the wheat crop will dry.

Another farmer, Mr Rajinder Singh, who has sown wheat in about five acres, said in their village alone about 100 acres of land had been denied water. There are hundreds of acres of land in the adjoining villages which also desperately need water as the wheat crop may fail. He pointed out since Badhowal was falling in the vicinity of the Army’s ammunition depot, tubewells were not permitted there. The irrigation was dependent on the canal water only and this had been denied to them.

Mr Rajinder Singh said if they had been told in advance that water will not be supplied to the village, they would not have made any investments. He pointed out, since the farmers were already under debt, the failure of the wheat crop might spell doom for them and it may not auguer well for the government. The farmers were sore with the ruling Akali Dal also as they said, they had been feeling let down. 


New courses at PTU soon, says VC
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The Punjab Technical University (PTU) will soon begin courses in hotel management, bio-technology and fashion technology. Discussions over the syllabi and duration of the new courses are being held with specialists in the field.

This was stated by Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor of the university, while talking to mediapersons at the inauguration of an inter-university cultural festival being organised at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Institute of Management and Technology, Civil Lines, here today.

Regarding the non-formal courses being run in collaboration with private companies, Dr Gurm said it was a novel way to introduce advance courses for the students at nominal charges as compared to market rates. He denied the charges of preference framed against the university while choosing private companies for negotiations. He said that tenders were not floated before collaboration as he thought that it would lead to unnecessary delay.

About the charges being framed against the university authorities for recruiting under-qualified staff, Dr Gurm said no under-qualified person was being taken in the faculty. He said the complete staff recently recruited by the university was taken as per the norms and requirements set by it.

Dr Gurm said even though much efforts were being made by the university to promote job-oriented technical courses for rural students, not many students from rural areas were able to qualify for the courses. He said several seats reserved for the students from rural areas had to be changed to the general category for the same reason.

When the VC was asked about the number of institutes currently affiliated with the university, he said they were around 15. However, the Registrar of Regional Engineering College, Jalandhar, sitting next to him, pointed out that the number should be above 30. The VC then called up at his office at Jalandhar to check the exact number. Dr Gurm was told that they were 36 in all. Later, the officer at Jalandhar called back to inform that the total number of affiliated institutes was 34, which included 17 management institutes, 14 engineering colleges and three pharmacy colleges.

Dr Gurm said applications of nearly 55 institutes seeking affiliation with the university were lying pending in his office. He said the cases of such institutes, which included four engineering colleges, were being considered.

Dr Gurm also pointed out that since several seats of BBA courses at many colleges were lying vacant, the course might be closed after a few years. He also said discussion were on for extending the BCA course by one year. He, however, pointed out that both the courses were gradually losing popularity and all those opting for it were those disqualified for other courses, including BE.


It’s our Budget, say residents
By Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, March 1— Barring few reservations, the common man seems to be happy with the Budget proposals presented by the Union Finance Minister in Parliament yesterday. At the same time some people belonging to the service class did not approve of the reduction in the interest rate on Provident Fund savings.

Contrary to the general apprehensions that this might be a harsh Budget, in view of the devastating earthquake in Gujarat, the Budget proposals are quite soft and development- oriented. Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, pointed out that after so many years the country had got a good Budget that had taken care of all sections of society and at the same time laid equal focus on infrastructure development. He said the common man had been least effected by this Budget.

Mr Raju Sharma, a petroleum dealer, felt that there was no concrete policy on agriculture. “It appears that the Finance Minister did not have farmers in his mind while formulating the Budget proposals,” he observed. He said that there were no proposals for safeguarding the interests of the country after the World Trade Organisation regime comes into force from next month. However, he added, it was good on part of the government not to enhance the prices of petroleum or petroleum products like diesel or gas.

Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, Director, Aggar Nagar Society, described it as a “growth and development-oriented Budget”. He hoped that the proposals are taken to their logical conclusion and not given up midway as has happened in the past.

Mrs Ritu Mehra, a housewife, while welcoming the Budget said the common man had been spared. She said it was good that the prices of essential items like gas had not been increased. At the same time she hoped that the prices may not be enhanced later. She pointed out earlier also while there was no proposal of a hike in prices of gas in the Budget the government subsequently enhanced the same.

Mr Aseem, a student, said while everything seemed to be all right, the imposition of 15 per cent tax on branded items was uncalled for. He felt that most people were happy as they had not expected such a soft Budget as people expected some harsh measures in the Budget after the Gujarat disaster.

Mrs S. Garg, a housewife, also felt satisfied with the Budget proposals. But she observed that the reduction in the interest on PF savings will hit the average middle class. She pointed out due to the continued inflation the proportionate income is getting less and expenses are increasing. She said the interest on PF rates should be restored to the previous level.

Mr Chiranjiv Singh, a local business man dealing in hosiery said the Budget had not much to offer to the small scale sector. He said it was too early to pass any judgements as it had to be seen if these proposals are given a practical shape or not.

The local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party legal cell has also hailed the Budget. In a statement, Mr Ashok Juneja, general secretary, Punjab and Mr Rakesh Gautam thanked the Finance Minister for excluding the lawyers from service tax.

On the other hand, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings has expressed its dismay over the Budget. In a joint statement Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary of the chamber regretted that “the expected incentives for the small-scale industry which is already undergoing recession for the last three years has not been provided in the Budget”.

They pointed out the exemption under the income tax limit and excise duty limit had not been enhanced. The custom duty surcharge of ten per cent will further increase the cost of raw material. They demanded “some protective measures” for the small-scale sector.

The Wool and Woollen Export Promotion Council has also “not found any relief in the Budget”. In a statement the chairman of the council Mr Ashok Jaidka said long-standing demand of the woollen industry to reduce import duty on raw wool has not been acceded to.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has described the Budget as “anti employees, anti farmers and pro-capitalists, favouring big corporate sector”. In a joint statement, the INTUC leader, Dr Shiv Gupta, Mr K.R. Tripathi and Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor said the Budget had given no relief to the working class.


Old men foot the bills
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — Senior citizens of the town have to face hardships when it comes to dealing with the so-called public servants in the local municipal corporation and elsewhere.

All bills, including those of electricity and house tax are deposited by a member of the family who can spare the time for the purpose. More often than not, it is the grandfather who looks after these chores.

These old men have to stand and wait, sometimes for hours together, for their turn at the bill windows of various departments. Many a time, these old men are bothered for no fault of theirs due to lapses on the part of the ‘public servants’.

Mr S.P. Bhanot, aged 90 years a resident of Chandar Nagar, had duly deposited his house tax for 1999-2000 on January 11 last year along with the fire tax totalling Rs 4050. But to his astonishment, he was served a notice on February 26, asking him to deposit Rs 6136, including interest.

Mr Bhanot, who retired from the post of superintendent in the municipal corporation in 1972, had a tough time yesterday, cajoling the clerk concerned to look up the records carefully.

He could not see the inspector concerned. Suffering from hernia, he had to cope with the pain which grew all of a sudden. His eye sight is also failing him. He has to use a walking stick.

Mr Bhanot said all his sons except one were settled in far-off places. His son with whom he lives here remains ‘awfully busy’ with his work.


CICU donates Rs 4 lakh for quake-hit
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has contributed Rs 4.03 lakh towards the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for earthquake victims of Gujarat. The contribution was handed over to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, by Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, of the chamber.

Members of the CICU executive committee, including Mr Charan Singh Kohli, Mr G.L. Pahwa, Mr Phuman Singh, Mr Upkar Singh and Mr Manjit Singh Khalsa were also present on the occasion.

The Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Sabha, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Block C, has dispatched a truck load of essential items, garments and tents. According to Mr R.C. Vasudeva, president of the sabha, the relief material was contributed by residents of the locality with the blessings of Swami Nishtha Ji Bhikshu of Geeta Vrish Ashram. Mr Raj Kumar Garg, Mr Vijay Kumar, Mr Madan Lal and Mr Prithu Raj Sharma have accompanied the truck to Gandhi Dham.


Census workers leave out many?
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — Though census work was closed yesterday, several residents claimed that they had not been visited by the enumerators. Several residents called up at Ludhiana Tribune office today, telling that they were not visited by any enumerators. They said they informed about the same to the director of the census operations over the telephone, but still, no one visited them.

In a similar written complaint by a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Mr Prem Singh, it was stated that earlier his house was not listed in the house listing operation performed in May. He said he had informed the census officers even at that time, but in vain. As a result, he was not visited during counting in this month again.

The residents said since the confirmation of complete coverage was still in progress, the residents not visited should be properly attended to.


IHRO expels Balwant Singh
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has expelled Dr Balwant Singh, a retired professor from the PAU, for misusing the name of the organisation for his personal ends. Stating this in a press note, Dr D.S. Gill, chairman of the organisation, said a meeting of the council was held as its members took a serious notice of the “indiscipline and violation of norms” by Dr Balwant Singh and decided to expell him from the organisation.

In another resolution, the governing council expressed its dismay and distrust over the activities of the Avtar Singh Gola Action Committee which seemed more concerned over monetary help to them from the administration rather than securing justice for Avtar’s family.


Research of epic dimension
By Tasneem

THE book, Ludhiana Bolda Hai authored by Dr Atam Hamrahi, will be published shortly. In it he has narrated the ups and downs of this city since the times of the Mahabharata. This research work, which consists of 650 pages, has been conceived on epic dimensions.

In 1938, Noor Ludhianvi produced Ludhiana Directory, in which he depicted the contemporary picture of the city. This is now a rare documented and only one copy survives. In November 1998, Dr Hamrahi took up the project, sponsored by the district administration, of delineating the historic progress of the city in its entirety. It will present the past and present of Ludhiana.

He had been fully involved with this work when he fell prey to a paralytic stroke on February 24,1999. With proper treatment and strong will power, he recovered fast and resumed his work. With renewed determination he had hardly accomplished the challenging task, when he received another crushing blow. On May 3, his left foot had to be amputated, as gangrene had set in. Now again he is giving the finishing touches to the project in an enthusiastic manner.

Dr Hamrahi retired as professor of Punjabi from Government College, Ludhiana, on October 31,1993. Starting his career as an untrained teacher in December 1954, he had put in 39 years of service in schools and colleges at the time of his retirement. He is a recipient of state award as an ideal teacher. After doing his Ph.D, while still in a school, he guided 11 research scholars, besides helping many other Ph.D. students off the record. He also wrote numerous books, both creative, critical and research based. Primarily he is a poet, but over the years he has strayed into the field of pen portraits, in poetic prose, of his prominent contemporaries in different walks of life.

He has composed 350 pen portraits, published in four collections. Two research books of his — ‘Nobel Laureates of Literature’ and ‘Satire in Punjabi Folklore’ have been published by Punjabi University, Patiala. He has now taken up such works like ‘Maha Punjab’ and ‘Shahnama Punjab’.

Eager as he is for seeking avenues for the enrichment of Punjabi language, literature and culture, he is ever full of ideas and the ways to execute them. His brain is always at work.

At a recently held annual function at Bhasha Bhawan, Patiala , the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, walked up to the wheelchair at the dais to bestow Shiromani Sahitkar Award for 1999 on Dr Atam Hamrahi. It was a poignant scene, full of pathos and elevation.


Sarpanch complains against DSP
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — Mr Inderjit Singh, sarpanch of Kasabad village, near here, has alleged the involvement of the DSP (Sadar) in the village shamlat land grab case by some residents of the village.

The sarpanch submitted a complaint to Mr Kuldip Singh, SSP, yesterday.

In his complaint, Mr Inderjit Singh stated that a case had been registered on August 31, 2000, in this connection against nearly 35 accused who wanted to grab 16 acres of the land. The DSP, who had been entrusted with investigation of the case, was actively collaborating with the accused and had been issuing threats to him.

Emboldened by the DSP’s backing, the accused made another attempt to grab the land on February 8. When he tried to stop them, the accused fired in the air in order to terrorise him.As a result of that, he again got a case registered against them at the Salem Tabri police station which was again referred to the same DSP for investigation.

The DSP called him to his office yesterday where he was threatened and humiliated in the presence of the accused persons. The DSP reportedly threatened him for getting false cases registered against the accused.

The Sarpanch requested the SSP to hand over the investigation of both the cases to an officer of the SP rank and to take appropriate legal action against the erring DSP.


Awareness drive for landlords from today
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, March 1 — Keeping in view the growing resentment in the public and the pressure build-up by political parties, the district administration has decided to launch an awareness drive in the city to register the antecedents of tenants, employees and domestic servants.

According to Mr Kuldeep Singh, SSP, ‘‘The administration and the police are going to launch an awareness drive from tomorrow. It will include distribution of pamphlets through newspapers and announcements through public address system by the Public Relations Department.’’

About the purpose of the whole exercise of registration of tenants, employees and domestic servants, he said the drive had been launched in view of the recent spurt in crime and kidnappings in the city. The registration of cases against some residents has served the purpose in the sense that public has been made aware about the need to keep a record of the identity and the antecedents of their tenants and employees.

It may be pointed out that the police has registered more than 40 cases in the past one week against the residents who had not furnished information about their tenants to the nearest police station.

A delegation of the District Youth Congress had given a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner asking him to launch an awareness drive before registering cases against the defaulting residents.


Speedy redressal of complaints stressed
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu today directed the officers to deal with the complaints, brought for redressal in the weekly ‘sangat darshan’ programme, expeditiously, making it clear that deliberate delay would be viewed seriously and the erring officers would be sternly dealt with.

Disposing of the complaint of Mr Jagdev Singh Kular against the Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr Sandhu issued instructions to the PSEB officials, not to harass the consumer for payment of arrears of the flour mill, prior to August 5, 1997, when somebody else was running the unit.

A resident of Taunsa village Mr Gurpal Singh, alleged that his complaint against the village panchayat was marked to some other officer at the instance of the panchayat. Mr Sandhu instructed the XEN, Panchayti Raj to conduct the inquiry personally and submit the report.

On another complaint by Ms Mohinder Kaur over inaction by the inquiry officer, the DM, Samrala, was directed to look into the irregularities, allegedly conducted by the nambardar, and report within 24 hours.

Taking cognizance of the complaint by Ms Kulwant Kaur, sarpanch of Raipur Bet village, the Deputy Commissioner asked the Block Development and Panchayat Officer to remove encroachments in the village.

The complaints by residents of Sham Nagar locality for construction of the road and Mr Surinder Singh, resident of Butari village, about abduction of his son by more than half a dozen persons of the village were marked to Ludhiana Improvement Trust and SSP, Jagraon, for immediate disposal. Mr Sandhu directed the XEN, Pollution Control Board, to deal with complaints regarding pollution, brought in the sangat darshan, on priority basis.

Out of 53 complaints brought for redressal in the programme, 35 were settled on the spot. Officers were asked to submit their reports on the rest of the complaints next week.


INTUC, PSEB workers threaten agitation
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — The Punjab INTUC and the PSEB Employees Union have threatened to launch an agitation if the state government continues with its anti-labour policies and indifferent attitude towards government and semi-government employees as well as factory workers.

Mr Swarn Singh, president, PSEB Employees Union, said the government was adopting delaying tactics towards acceptance of the demands of government and semi-government employees, while factory workers and daily wagers, were also having a tough time. He demanded hike in the minimum wages of factory labour to Rs 3500 per month.


Mother, daughter’s bodies recovered
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, March 1 — The bodies of Ravinder Kaur and her 2-year-old daughter, who jumped into the Sirhind canal on February 16 were recovered by the police, at the Gurthalli bridge, 2 km from here, yesterday.

The 12-day long painful wait of Mr Mohinder Singh, father of Ravinder Kaur, came to an end when the Ludhiana police under the command of Mr Joginder Singh, SHO, Division No 6, Ludhiana, with assistance of the army, recovered the tied bodies of mother and daughter. The bodies were handed over to the relatives after postmortem.

An FIR was registered at Division No 6 police station on February17 on the statement of Mr Mohinder Singh who had alleged that her daughter left the house as a consequence of harassment by her in-laws. The case registered under Sections 406, 498-A and 34 of the IPC against the dowry-seekers Jagjit Singh, husband, Manjit Kaur, mother-in-law, Iqbal Singh, Father-in-law, Sarbjit Singh and Balwant Singh, brothers-in-law. Three of them, Jagjit Singh, Iqbal Singh and Sarbjit Singh had been arrested, while the others are still at large. Now with the recovery of the bodies , Section 304-B has been added to the earlier sections. The husband, according to the SHO, is still in police remand while the father-in-law and one of the brother-in-law have been sent to judicial custody.

Mr Mohinder Singh of Khatia village in Udhamsingh Nagar district (Uttaranchal), said his daughter Ravinder Kaur was married to Jagjit Singh of New Janta Nagar, Ludhiana, in January, 1998. “I had done whatever I could to satisfy the ever-increasing demands of her in-laws. But still my daughter was subjected to physical and mental torture”, he said.


In-laws, husband booked
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 1 — Neetu Rani a resident of Kundan Puri, has alleged in her complaint that on February 22 her husband, Sunil Kumar, and in-laws harassed her and demanded dowry. A case had been registered under Sections 406 and 498-A of the IPC yesterday. The police has arrested the accused and presented them in the lower court. The court sent them to one day police remand.

Lahan seized
The police seized lahan from Jagdish Singh, a resident of Bahadurke, on Wednesday. A case has been registered under Sections 61, 1, 14 of the Excise Act.

Man beaten up
Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Khud Mohalla, was allegedly beaten up by Khushwant Singh, a resident of Haibowal. The accused reportedly came in a maruti car ( Pb10-AG-6786) and beat him up with a hockey stick and gun. The accused reportedly ran away after beating the complainant, A case has been registered under Sections 336, 511, 34, IPC.

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