Saturday, March 3, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


200 city phones out of order
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — Notwithstanding their earlier claims, officials of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) today admitted that at least 200 telephone lines were damaged because of digging for widening of roads in the Model Town area only. The BSNL officials assured that the repairs would be completed by Monday and the work had already been started.

There had been regular complaints by the local residents, shopkeepers, traders and employees from different areas regarding the disrupted telephone lines. The complainants of Bhadaur House, Chaura Bazaar, Field Ganj, Civil lines, Transport Nagar, and Madhopuri had a tough time recently. The complaints were mainly about the Mata Rani Exchange and Transport Nagar exchange. Time and again, Ludhiana Tribune tried to talk to telecom officials, but there was hardly any satisfactory reply from them.

The subscribers had various complaints like continuous engaged tones, the delayed dial tones, “all lines to this route are busy, please dial after sometime” and “this number does not exist, please check the number you have dialled”, although these numbers exist very much. Not only the city residents but also the villagers of Koom Kalan, Balewal and Chunta approached the telecom authorities regarding their ‘dead’ telephones. “They always turned a deaf ear to the problem”, said one of the irritated villagers.

It may be mentioned that most of the telephone lines in these areas were disrupted during the digging process by a private telecom company during the laying process of underground cable wires or during the road widening process by concerned local authority.

Earlier, the telecom officials were tightlipped about any kind of fault in any of the telephone exchanges. They denied the allegations that there was major fault with the telephone exchange.

The General Manager, BSNL, Ludhiana, said that several employees of the department were engaged in correcting the problem. He also said that there might be two or three complaints daily but there was no fault with the exchange.

However, the telecom officials did not disclose the identity of ‘local authority’ due to which 200 telephones in the Model Town area went out of order recently. A BSNL spokesperson said that the department had already started working in the area and all the telephones would be restored within two or three days. 


‘Human resources ignored in Budget’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — The CPI, CPI (M), All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Hind Mazdoor Sangh (HMS) and ICTUC organised a rally at the Clock Tower chowk here today to protest against the ‘anti- people, anti- poor and pro- rich Union Budget’.

Various speakers at the rally pointed out that it was for the first time that in a national policy, human resources have been totally ignored and all stress had been laid on the development of finance capital centered in a few hands. The so- called reforms introduced in the labour laws would lead to low payment and insecurity to the already suffering labour and increase unemployment. The 2 per cent yearly reduction in the number of employees in the state sector and contract labour would lead to joblessness and crisis of sustenance to millions of Indian masses.

The speakers questioned the very statistics presented in the Parliament on the decline of population below poverty line by 7 per cent in one year. They termed it as a mockery because only three days ago, the Finance Minister had said the economic growth had been low in the past year despite the reforms process being followed for the past ten years. The speakers hoped that if his statistics on the poverty line were true, poverty in India would be eliminated in another 4 to 5 years.

The basics of development of human resources like education, health and social sector, women and child development, had been ignored. Introduction of loan scheme in education sector was an indication that the government would withdraw from these sectors and allow these to be expensive and out of the reach of the common man. Only lip service had been paid to elementary education and no new proposals for making the health care to reach the common man had been introduced.

The Budget was very enthusiastic for reducing rates of items used by the elite like cars, diamonds, jewellery and giving undue concessions to the big business while ignoring the small-scale industrial units. Making the entry of foreign companies easier would further worsen the condition of the SSIs and public distribution system. The only hope for the poor to get food supplies at cheap rates was being deliberately eroded, leaving the low income consumers at the mercy of traders.

Public sector units, even those generating profits, were being privatised without any rationale. The BALCO deal had dealt a big blow to the national exchequer. There was no mention of means to nationalised banks. The government, the speakers said, was out to sell the country’s assets to a handful of the big corporate houses and the foreign multinational sector as well. No announcement has been made about the minimum support price to the farmers.

The dismantling of the FCI was being done to pave the way for easy entry of foreign companies like Cargil and Monsanto in this field. Such policies of the government, the speakers pointed out, were highly detrimental to the country and if not opposed now, would land the nation into a situation of no return and abject poverty. They appealed to the people to come out against the anti-national economic policies. Those who addressed the rally included Mr Kartar Singh Bowani, district secretary of the CPI, Dr Arun Mitra and Mr O.P. Mehta .


Action against MC chief sought
By Iqbal Singh

KHANNA, March 2 — A few municipal councillors of the Khanna Municipal Council have demanded action against the council’s chief, Mr Onkar Rai Mehta, who had been found guilty in an inquiry conducted by the Deputy Director, Local Bodies Department, Ludhiana.

According to information, the council at its meeting on May 12, 1999, unanimously passed a resolution (No 14/167) to demolish the old flushes behind the bus stand and Guru Amar Dass market.

Some members filed a complaint to the Local Bodies Department alleged that while writing the resolution in the proceeding book the president changed the resolution. They alleged that the resolution was passed as mentioned in the agenda which was only for demolition of the flushes. But the president for his personal gain added that one Satnam Singh had given an application that he has a shop adjoining to these flushes and he is paying Rs 700 as rent for his shop to the MC and he is ready to pay Rs 700 per month for the land which is being vacated after demolition. The president while writing in the proceeding book got recorded that the resolution has been passed to rent out the land to Satnam Singh at Rs 900 per month.

The councillors alleged that they came to know only when new shops were constructed in place of the flushes and possession was handed over to Satnam Singh. They inquired from the authorities about this, which told that all this had been done as per the resolution.

They alleged that they were astonished and shocked to see proceedings recorded in the proceeding book which were totally false.

The members further alleged that when there was no reference of application of Satnam Singh on the agenda then how the application could be discussed at the meeting.

It is pertinent to mention here that no property of the MC could be rented out without an open auction and the presence of the Deputy Director concerned or his nominee is must at the time of the auction.


‘Ensure purchase by FCI’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has termed the Union Budget as ‘anti-farmer’. Presiding over a meeting of the state executive here today, the BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, observed that the indication by the Union Finance Minister to the effect that central agencies like Food Corporation of India might not enter the market to purchase foodgrain would wreck the farm economy.

He said the move to entrust the responsibility of purchasing farm produce from the farmers and distribution of essential items through public distribution system (PDS) to the states was bound to adversely affect the farmers, particularly in the surplus states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.

The states were in no position to buy the foodgrain, other than that needed to meet their own requirements, nor did they have adequate storage provisions.

In Punjab, the situation was going to more serious, because the state was ill-equipped to handle the 70 per cent wheat, contributed, to the central pool. If the Union Government pulled out of the procurement, the farmers in the state would be ruined. He appealed to the state government to intervene and take up the matter with the Union Government, to ensure that wheat and paddy was purchased by the FCI.

The meeting urged the government to immediately announce the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and other rabi crops on the basis of price index. The price of wheat should be at least Rs 912 per quintal and the government should ensure purchase of entire produce of the farmers.

The BKU president alleged that the government policies related to agriculture were influenced by the WTO agreement. He said the issues of farmers would be discussed at the proposed kisan convention in Delhi on March 19 and the Punjab unit of BKU would struggle to force the government to keep agriculture out of the WTO regime.

By another resolution, the BKU demanded that procedures for crop loans by the cooperative institutions should be simplified and those farmers, who repaid their crop loans without any default should not be made to produce documents of land each time. The state government decision to reimpose octroi on tractor trollies carrying farm products in excess of 20 quintals came under criticism at the meeting and the BKU asked the government to reconsider the matter.


Cheap mobile phones a month away
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, March 2 — Cheap mobile phones, at a par with the BSNL rates, are just a month away. After the clearance from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, removing restrictions on providing of mobile phone service, a private company which has provided land services, has started giving mobile connections also.

While currently there are very limited mobile hand sets provided by the company in Ludhiana, these will be supplied on a mass scale from the month of April. An official of the company has disclosed that the rates will be at a par with that of BSNL. There will be no charges on the incoming calls. The monthly rentals may be higher. But this is yet to be decided and it will be finalised by the TRAI only.

Immediately after the TRAI relaxed the restrictions on providing of mobile services, the company reportedly provided connections to a select group of people in Ludhiana city, only to ensure that any other existing mobile company does not get it stayed. The company reportedly sent the bills to the subscribers for the ten days. The company reportedly rushed in such a haste that the hand sets which were said to cost not less than Rs 14,000 were provided for not more than Rs 2,000 only.

The company officials maintained that the hand sets would be available in a price range of Rs 6,000 to Rs 16,000 depending on the quality. While the rates will be same as that of the BSNL, the rentals will be decided by the TRAI.

The Connect telecom company has extended the 95 dialling facility to its subscribers in Ludhiana. The facility is available to the subscribers in Patiala and Chandigarh.


PAU convocation on March 20
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — The annual convocation of Punjab Agricultural University will be held on March 20. It will be presided over by Lieut-Gen. J.F.R. Jacob, Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University. Dr R.S. Paroda, Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Government of India, will be the chief guest on the occasion.

Giving further details of the function, Mr Alok Shekhar, Registrar of the university, said that 389 postgraduate degrees will be awarded in the convocation. These will include degrees for 16 MBA students, 309 M.Sc pass outs and 64 PhD students. Besides, 20 candidates will also be awarded gold medals for their outstanding academic achievements. 


Battlelines drawn for Satluj Club elections
From Tribune Reporters

LUDHIANA, March 2 — Hectic lobbying has begun for the support by the rival groups for the forthcoming Satluj Club elections scheduled for March 11. The two groups have already started their election campaign. Of over 2,500 members, there are 1,938 eligible voters in the club.

Though the elections are about a week away, separate parties were arranged by the two groups recently. One of these parties was held in a marriage palace on the Ferozepur road and the other at the residence of a probable candidate for the post of general secretary.

Although final battlelines are yet to be drawn, the regimentation seems to have already started between the two groups. One group is led by the incumbent general secretary, Mr A.S. Chawla, and the other by a former general secretary, Mr Jeevan Dhawan. The two had contested the elections last year also in which Mr Chawla defeated Mr Dhawan by a margin of eight votes.

While Mr Chawla is seeking re-election for the second term others in the team include, Mr Manoj Verma for the post of vice-president, Mr Sandeep Jalota for joint secretary, Mr Yogesh Bansal for treasurer, Mr Raju Sharma for mess secretary, Mr Ramesh Gupta for bar secretary, Mr Tony Malhotra for sports secretary and Mr Manjula Jain for the newly created post of cultural secretary. The candidates for executive posts include Mr Gurinderjit Singh Ladi, Mr Karan Bal and Mrs Sunita Ahuja.

While the other group is yet to finalise its candidates for some of the posts, it has announced Mr Jeevan Dhawan’s name for the post of general secretary, Mr Gaurav Chaudhary as joint secretary, Mr Sunil Bansal as bar secretary and Capt Satish Sood as mess secretary.

Mr Raju Sharma, who is seeking re-election as mess secretary, claimed that the incumbent group had fulfilled all the commitments made to the members during the past one year. He expressed confidence that given the past performance of the group led by Mr Chawla, they were confident about getting a second term.

However, Mr Jeevan Dhawan disputed the claim and alleged that the current team had violated the club constitution not once, but several times. He claimed that there was resentment among the members as they were being thrust with undue additional financial burden. Mr Dhawan was of the opinion that the election should have been unanimous since all members in the club are like a family and “club is our second home”.

Notwithstanding the hectic lobbying by the two groups, both Mr Sharma and Mr Dhawan maintained that the elections would be held in a friendly atmosphere.


Focal Point roads need focus
By D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, March 2 — Metro Road, which is the main arterial road of Focal Point used by residents of Urban Estate and Jamalpur Colony, lies in tatters. Other roads of the area as equally bad.

The Focal Point residential area was developed by PUDA in a modern way providing wide roads and boulevards with trees and all that. But over the years, due to poor upkeep and sanitation the area has degenerated into something akin to a rural setting.

The boulevards, which had been created with a view to impart a beautiful look to the area, have in fact become a convenient dumping ground. Pigs roam freely searching for the food. The path lining the trees along the road looks like a path one normally comes across on village peripheries.

The ugly look encourages passersby to use the place as an open urinal. The road, too, is laden with accumulated dust. It appears as if the road has never been swept since its construction.

Not only this, the juncture near the Dasehra ground is a serious traffic hazard. In the absence of any traffic lights, minor accidents at the place occur everyday. Residents feel that traffic lights should be installed at the earliest to minimise accident risks, particularly when there is a rush of children while going and coming from their schools.

The Jain School road is perhaps the worst of all roads of the area with innumerable potholes and ditches on the way. The speed breakers have not been constructed as these should have been.

The road leading from Metro Road to Jeewan Nagar also suffers from the same fate. It is so bad that for anyone visiting the place for the first time, it may really prove very nasty if not fatal.

Residents have little hope of getting these roads repaired and cleaned as they do not have much faith in the Municipal Corporation.


Tete-a-tete with G. S. Thind
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — “In England, there is only one way street. The parents have to look after their children and then the children have no responsibility of taking care of the old parents. But it does not pose many problems for the old people as they are drawing pensions from their jobs as well as old-age pensions,” said Mr Gurbachan Singh Thind, Mayor, Slough, near London, who is here to attend Punjabi cultural festival to commemorate the memory of Justice Gurnam Singh to be held in Narangwal on March 4.

Mr Thind and Justice Gurnam Singh were friends and he returns every year to attend functions held in his memory. He left India in 1968 and joined politics. In Slough, among the population of 1.20 lakh, only 20,000 are Indians and Pakistanis. Yet in the majority of white populace, he was elected as Mayor of Slough after holding the post of the Deputy Mayor. According to him people elect leaders on the basis of their work and qualifications.

“I have three jobs to perform. I am the Speaker of the Assembly. Secondly, I am the head of the Municipal Corporation and thirdly I have to carry out many general duties like visiting hospitals, schools and to attend to emergencies etc. There is hardly any corruption. No post is given to the relatives of the officers on recommendation, but every post is given to the genuine person,” said Mr Gurbachan Singh.

When asked about the influence of Western culture, he said, “When in India Western culture is sweeping the youngsters, so obviously second generation Indian children are steeped in Western culture. The children do not stay with their parents and pursue their own goals and choose their own life partners. Though I have settled in London, yet my roots with India are strong and I visit my native village, Racheen in Ahmedgarh Mandi, and meet my friends twice a year.

Justice Gurnam Singh was the founder of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Guru Nanak Girls College, Ludhiana. Punjabi singers Surinder Shinda, Harbhajan Mann, Mohammad Sadeeq, Ranjit, Kuldeep Paras, Narinder Mawi and Ranjana will perform at the cultural festival.


More donations for quake victims
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, March 2 — Trade, Industrial, religious and social organisations continued to make contributions for the earthquake victims of Gujarat.

On behalf of the staff and students of Guru Nanak Public School, the Principal, Ms Kulwant Kaur Virdi, and president of managing committee, Mr Jagat Singh, presented a cheque for Rs 3,40,500 to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, last evening. The funds were collected by the students and the staff of the school had contributed one-day salary.

Other contributions received at the counter set up by the district administration were Rs 14,150 from Mr Surinder Singh, president, Gurdwara Bhai Sahib Singh, Krishan Colony, Rahon Road, Rs 14,150 from Fodder Market Arhti Union, Salem Tabri, Rs 9,000 from a Gurdwara and Rs 2,100 from Mr Mohinder Pal Singh Hawas.



Spring has worn its beautiful mantle and the flowers have brought a riot of colour. Moreover, heady scents in the atmosphere are adding to the delight. The birds keeps chirping, chattering as if welcoming the spring. The temperature is just right for exercising, for taking walks and for of course spring-cleaning the house.

Various colleges have been busy preparing for their convocations. Many of them invited eminent personalities to address the students. Prof V.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of PU, conferred the degrees on the students of Kamla Devi Lokhatia College and Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala , Minister for Animal Husbandry, advised the students of Guru Nanak Homoeopathic College to extend medical facilities to poor patients.

PAU was the hub of activity all through the week. A communal harmony fest was held for three days at the Government Senior Secondary Model School, PAU. There were singing contests, poetry recitation, and declamation competitions. A flower show at the PAU was an added attraction. The response was good and a number of entries had come from Jalandhar and Patiala.

‘Maa Retire Hoti Hai’ an excellent play by Ramesh Talwar. with Jaya Bachchan in the lead role kept the audience in splits as the dialogues provided a lot of humour. But when will the residents of Ludhiana develop a theatre culture? Jaya stopped the play midway as a cameraman was taking photographs. She said angrily, “How can you behave in such a manner? How can we continue acting when you are distracting us?

The new release this week is ‘Officer’. It is a suspense thriller, Sunil Shetty , the Macho man, is the hero and is provided support by Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Danny. The Mast, Mast girl, Raveena Tandon, is the heroine. ‘Kasoor,’ another suspense thriller, is doing well. So one hopes ‘Officer’ too will have a good run.

Summer fashions will be seen soon. The shops and boutiques are gearing up with voils, nets, shiffons and other summer material. The youngsters have discarded woollens and are wearing colourful tops and are dying to get into skirts and shorts.

Discount sales have gripped the town and those who wish to store for the next season or have to give gifts should shop now as the prices are low.

— Asha Ahuja


One hurt in clash 
From Our Correspondent

SAHNEWAL, March 2 — One person is stated to be serious having suffered a head injury as a result of the clash between the two groups, that occurred on Wednesday.

According to an FIR registered at Payal police station, Harpreet Singh of Rampur village was coming back from the grounds of Nankana Public School after playing volleyball, along with his friend Sukhwinder and cousin sister when he was attacked by Manjit Singh, alias Balri, Gurjit Singh, alias Palli and Harjit Singh, alias Dimpi.

The attackers had long sticks and a kirpan in their hands. As a result of the attack, Harpreet Singh received a serious head injury. He has been admitted to hospital.


Women arrested
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, March 2 — The Khanna police claims to have arrested two members of a chain snatchers gang, who were wanted by the police in a case registered against them three years back.

According to a press note issued by the SSP Khanna, Mr R.N. Dhoke, the arrested have been identified as Palo and Chambi.

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