Thursday, March 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Interest-free payment of water, sewerage arrears allowed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
The confusion prevailing over one- time amnesty drive for interest-free payment of arrears of house tax and other charges like water rate and sewerage, effective till March 31, 2001, was cleared with the state government approving the extension of facility to payment of arrears of water rate and sewerage bills also, provided all outstanding bills were cleared. Earlier, only the arrears of house tax were covered under the scheme

The decision to accept payment of water and sewerage bills, without interest was taken at a meeting convened by the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, at Chandigarh last evening. Besides the city Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, and the Commissioner Dr. S.S. Sandhu, Lala Lajpat Rai, member, Rajya Sabha, attended the meeting.

Mr Grewal, talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said that the core committee of councillors, comprising representatives of all political parties, had already decided that the waiver of interest on arrears of water rate and sewerage should also be allowed, but the decision could not be implemented earlier since it needed the approval of the state government.

Senior MC officials confirmed that the Directorate of Local Government was processing the formal approval and orders were expected to be received today itself. The next four days being holidays, the payment of arrears of water rate and sewerage will be accepted, without interest, from next working day on March 12.

The Punjab Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, had made a public announcement during a function organised by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust here on February 18 that all local bodies in Punjab had been directed to allow interest free payment of arrears of house tax, water and sewerage bills till March 31.

The issue was vigorously taken up by the councillors, belonging to all political parties, including those from the ruling SAD-BJP combine and the District Youth Congress activists staged a dharna, demanding that the facility be provided to the city population for all kind of arrears of MC bills, including the water and sewerage charges.

In an all party meeting, convened by the Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, on February 28, it was decided that the facility of waiver of interest be allowed on all outstanding bills, including those of house tax, water and sewerage. Giving effect to the decision, albeit partially, the MC formally announced on March 1 that the facility of interest free payment of house tax arrears would be available till March 31. However, people were under the impression that arrears of water rate and sewerage were also covered under the scheme. But residents were in for disappointment when the payments of water rate and sewerage arrears were refused without interest by the MC.

Meanwhile, the District Youth Congress has strongly reacted to politicisation of the issue of interest- free payment of water and sewerage arrears and has charged the Mayor and the ruling SAD-BJP alliance with adopting dual policies.

The DYC President, Mr Parminder Mehta, has alleged that the Mayor and the BJP councillors were playing in the hands of MC administration. Mr Mehta said just because the DYC had launched an agitation, demanding the facility of waiver of interest on arrears of water and sewerage bills, the BJP was trying to make political capital by first making the MC authorities withdraw the facility and then take credit for restoration of the same. He said it was most unfortunate that the Mayor had backed out from the decision of interest free payment of all kind of arrears, taken in a meeting of councillors of all political parties in February 28, on the ground that it was a ‘hasty’ decision and out of the competence of the elected representatives of the people.


International Women’s Day — a big farce?
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
So, another Women’s Day is around. There would be functions and many tributes would be paid to women. Chief guests at such functions would quote dictums like “God could not be everywhere so he made mothers”. “Behind every successful man there is a woman” and so on. Indeed, these are lofty words! Do these words really have any relevance when one faces the realities of life? Do women enjoy that much respect which the above mentioned dictums express?

If so, how could sons, brothers discard 1,00,00, frail, sickly, widows at Allahabad during Maha Kumbh where they had gone for a pilgrimage? To leave these feeble, aged women at the sunset of their lives, in a place miles away from their homes in alien surroundings was surely a very bad act. Wouldn’t it have been better if they had allowed them to go with the flow of Ganges and allowed them to die a swift and painless death rather than suffer so horribly and live a life full of insecurities and indignities. Happy Women’s Day!

Bride burning, brutal rapes and domestic violence have not lessened even with the emancipation of women through education.

Domestic violence is not a phenomenon of any class or any one particular country. It is a universal phenomenon. Women have been treated shabbily and beaten mercilessly, whether educated or illiterate, rich or poor. Do housewives have any choice, for they are financially dependent on their spouses? The parents don’t want them back either. All marriage vows are viewed forgotten. Women are objects of sex for their husbands and they exert their conjugal rights without her consent. She does not have control over her womb, her pregnancy etc. Men call the shots all the times.

Many a time girls are married against their wishes, sometimes as part of a business deal. They cannot wear clothes according to their liking. Even at home, the women’s choice of food is hardly taken into account. It is always the menfolk whose choice is considered. If a woman becomes widow, she is supposed to live a colourless life. She has to suppress all her wishes. She cannot be present at auspicious occasions. At some places in India widows’ heads are shaved and they are sent to Benaras and Mathura to lead a pious life. On the contrary, a widower can marry within a month. If a couple cannot have children, again the woman has to bear the brunt when it is well-known that it could be due to impotency of the man that the woman can’t conceive. If girls are born and no male issue results then, too, the woman is the scapegoat.

When will the discrimination against women stop? Will one day, especially reserved for women, make a difference to the quality of life of women without basic change in the attitudes of male psyche and literacy of women.

Has this day really changed the lives of women of the world? Has the domestic violence reduced, rapes stopped, and incidents of bride burning disappeared?

Sexual harassment at workplace is very common. The woman is treated shabbily if she dares to complain against sexual harassment. Even after Supreme Court directives to take up such like cases quickly, the process of law is slow. The situation will change for the better only if the society changes its attitude towards women. The International Women’s Day will remain farcical notwithstanding the market being flooded with cards glorifying “womanhood”.Back


College to celebrate Women’s Day
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 7
Guru Nanak National College, Doraha is celebrating the International Woman’s Day tomorrow. The chief guest would be Mrs Inderjeet Vashist, principal, Government College for Women, Ludhiana.

The other invitees of the function include Prof Ms Surinder Kaur, lecturer, Swami Ganga Giri Janta Girls College Raikot, Ms Manjit Kaur, deputy DEO, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bulara, former Member Parliament, Dr Ms Gursaran Sidhu, president, Rotary Club, Doraha, Municipal Councillors including Ms Raj Rani, Mrs Narinder Kaur Gill, Mrs Oberoi, women sarpanches and the panches of surrounding villages and the principals of schools and colleges of Doraha.


Row over land adjoining temple continues
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 7
The row over the land adjoining the Jai Bajrang Bali temple in Purana Bazar, an old city locality, continues with a meeting between MC officials and members of the managing committee of the temple ending in a huff amidst trading of charges and exchange of hot words between the city Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, and certain managing committee members in the MC office here today.

The temple is located on a piece of land, which is a part of ‘nazool land’, the ownership of which rests with the Municipal Corporation by virtue of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act. Since the site is entered in the property register of the MC, a vacant piece of land, adjoining the temple, was disposed of through open auction by the civic body for the development of commercial sites a few months ago.

The managing committee of the temple took strong exception to the move by the MC, saying the land, adjoining the temple, was a part of the temple complex and under the possession of the temple management. The MC, it argued, had no locus standii to interfere with the land and putting a portion of the land to auction, was a hasty and wrong decision.

One or two meetings between the MC officers and the members of the managing committee held earlier to resolve the dispute remained inconclusive because the temple management could not produce irrefutable evidence of being the lawful owners of the land.

The meeting held in the afternoon today proceeded well for some time when it was decided that a six-member committee, comprising the Joint Commissioner Mr Harjinder Singh, Assistant Commissioner Mr. O. A. K. Sondhi, Assistant Town Planner, Mr Krishnamurthy, the Law Officer Mr Ashok Bajaj along with the area councillor Mrs Nirmala Jain, and president of temple managing committee Mr Tarlok Bhagat, would examine all relevant documents and decide over the issue of ownership of the land.

However, the situation took a turn for the worse when several representatives of the managing committee started speaking at the same time and some of them attributed motives and doubted the intentions of the Mayor Mr Grewal objected to their behaviour and told them that he had made it clear, even before the meeting was scheduled, that only five representatives of the committee, would be allowed to hold discussion with the MC officers. As some of those present at the meeting raised their voices and threatened a mass agitation against the MC, the Mayor told them to leave the room and further said that all decisions taken earlier in the meeting were no more valid.

Mr Grewal made it clear that no one would be allowed to encroach upon the MC land under the cover of religion. “Even though the ownership of the MC over the land in dispute was beyond any doubt, we shall still get it examined thoroughly and take a suitable decision.” He said the claim of the temple management that a local court had given a verdict in favour of the temple management was not tenable, because the said judgement going against one of parties, the Punjab Waqf Board, did not necessarily mean that it was in favour of the managing committee. Moreover, the MC was not made a party in the said law suit.

Mr Tarlok Bhagat, president of the temple managing committee, and several others, who attended the meeting, have condemned the “high-handedness” of the Mayor. He said when the ownership of the land was still in doubt, the MC had no legal or moral right to sell the same. He said residents of the locality would not let the ‘temple land’ be sold for commercial purposes and would oppose the move tooth and nail.


Class V maths paper cancelled
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 7
The putting off of the Mathematics exam of Class V today, on the first day of the exams, caused major problems for the students, teachers and parents. The question paper was reportedly published in some leading newspapers, due to a leakage. The exam was put off on the verbal directions of DEO(P) Ludhiana. In the Machhiwara Block, 1,794 students who were to appear in the exam had to go back.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, president of the Teachers Front of the local unit, when contacted, expressed deep concern over the whole matter and said that it was not the first chance of leakage of question papers.

He added that earlier, all the question papers of Class V used to leak, with the connivance of some corrupt Education Department officials. He suggested that in addition to following the annual exam system, we should adopt a grading system was done abroad.

He also condemned the policy of the department to depute secondary teachers in these exams. Reports of the leak also came in from Jagraon.


The mathematics paper of Class V has been cancelled here on Wednesday as per the directions of the District Education Board authorities at the eleventh hour.

It is apprehended that the question paper might have been leaked. Now the exam would be held in the end according to school heads of Samrala centres, but the authorities, however, have refused to give a final date. It is worth nothing that the local authorities of the block had set examination centres for 1,530 students. 


Groom robbed of shagun money
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 7
A bridegroom was robbed of his shagun money at a marriage palace on the Ferozepore Road in Ludhiana.

During the shagun ceremony, a man approached the bridegroom and advised him to put the shagun money in a bag. The man, later, took away the bag. Bridegroom’s family thought that man was from the bride’s family, but it was not so.


City too busy to remember Sahir
Vimal Sumbly

Ludhiana, March 7
Masroof Zamana Mere Liye Kyoon Waqt Apna Barbad Kare — Unfortunately, these words of Sahir have turned true in Ludhiana, his native city. The man who immortalised Ludhiana by using the city’s name as his pen name seems to have been forgotten here.

Barring a handful of admirers of Sahir, not many persons here are aware that his 81st birth anniversary falls tomorrow. Except an annual mushaira at the end of March by the Adeeb International, nothing else is done to keep alive the memory of Sahir.

It is not that his poetry is not popular anymore. Ludhianvis love the songs that he wrote for films, but not many of them know that Sahir lived here and was proud of it.

When he attended the golden jubilee celebrations of his alma mater, the local Government College, in November 1970, he presented a nostalgic poem — Nazar Karta Hoon In Fizaoon Ki, Apni Rooh, Apna Dil Aur Apna Kalam... Nam Mera Jahan Jahan Pahuncha, Sath Pahuncha Is Dayar Ka Nam... Mein Yehan Mezban Bhi, Mehman Bhi, Aap Jo Chahain Dijye Mujhe Nam.

There are many memorials here, but not one is dedicated to Sahir. The Sahir Memorial planned by the Beant Singh government was scrapped after a former local Deputy Commissioner took charge of the Sahir Ludhianvi Cultural Centre here. The Rs 60 lakh that the government had sanctioned for the memorial, he tried to divert towards the development of Guru Nanak Bhavan here.

Though his proposal was rejected, he did not allow the money to be spent on the memorial and it had to be returned to Department of Cultural Affairs. The site for the memorial was used for building a commercial complex.

About six years ago, the then Mayor of Ludhiana, Chaudhary Satya Parakash, had announced at an official function that the road between Fountain Chowk and Rose Garden would be named Sahir Ludhianvi Road.

A signboard that was put at Fountain Chowk is no longer there and hardly anyone knows that the Government College Road is actually Sahir Ludhianvi Road.

Sahir’s 81st birth anniversary may again pass unnoticed as Sahir had foreseen — Kaun Jane Mere Imroz Ka Farda Kya Hai, Qurbatein Barh Ke Pashaiman Bhi Ho Jati Hein, Dil Ke Daaman Se Lipat-ti Huyi Rangeen Nazrein Dekhte Dekhte Anjan Bi Ho Jati Hein.Back


Sahir Ludhianvi poetry recitation contest
Our Correspondent

Ludhinana, March 7
Nearly 30 students from 15 local colleges participated in the Sahir Ludhianvi inter-college poetry recitation contest, organised by the Asian Club at Khalsa College for Women here today.

The Poem, Kissi Ko Uddas Dekh Kar recited by Anjali of Malwa Central College for Women won much applause. Sukhjit Kaur of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College sang the song, Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein Khayal Aata Hai. Garima of Devki Devi Jain College of Education recited the poem, Phul Diyan Reejhan.

Besides, a quiz for the audience was also held, in which the questions based on life and achievements of Sahir were asked.


‘Budget will hit rural, organised sectors’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
The Central Committee of the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has criticised the Union Budget as a budget of capitalists and for the foreign and big Indian companies. The Finance Minister has proposed to withdraw all surcharges in income and corporate taxes, said Mr Jagjit Singh Lyalpuri, General Secretary, MCPI.

In a press note he said, ‘‘The government has given relief in direct taxes amounting to Rs 5,500 crore, which will benefit capitalists. The common people have been burdened by slashing the interest rates on provident fund and small-scale contributors in the name of providing cheap capital to capitalists.’’

He said the Finance Minister had proposed to permit hire and fire of workers affecting more than 90 per cent of workers employed in the organised sector. These proposals would encourage the legalisation of the contract labour system. It would also deny the workers even the minimum wages and other benefits under various labour laws.

Mr Lyalpuri condemned the budget for ignoring the agriculture sector which was providing employment to about 70 per cent of the population in the country. The Finance Minister had left the people to rapacious market economy. All types of social services, including health, education and sanitary, had been abandoned.

He said: ‘‘The Budget is not only anti-people but also anti-nation. All sections of the rural and organised sectors are going to be hit.’’


Employees' rally against Budget on March 22
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
The Government School Teachers Union, Punjab, will participate in the employees' rally to be held at Chandigarh on March 22 to protest against the Budget and the anti-people policies of the Central Government, according to Mr Charan Singh Sarabha, General Secretary of the union.

In a press note issued here today, he condemned the central Budget and said: ‘‘It is anti-employee, anti-worker and anti-common citizen as it will freeze employment opportunities for educated and skilled youths and will increase disparities between the poor and the rich.’’

While opposing the Central Government's approach, he stressed upon the Punjab Government to accept the employees' demands which included stopping privatisation or liquidation of different departments, regular appointments on all vacant posts and to create more posts to decrease workload in different departments. 


Pensioners seek better deal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
Pensioners have urged the Punjab government to implement the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission for the pensioners. A spokesman of the Pensioners Association said a number of benefits and concessions such as higher exemption limit in income tax, concession in rail and air fare, no registration fee for getting telephone connection and old age allowance are allowed to senior citizens.

Keeping in view all the aforesaid factors, the 5th Punjab Pay Commission which submitted its report pertaining to pensioners to the state government on February 20, 1998, recommended the benefit of old age allowance for the pensioner at the age of 65 and 75 years at the first and second stage, respectively. At present this benefit is allowed to them at the age of 70 and 80 years. 


Destruction of Buddha statues condemned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, has condemned the destruction of unique centuries old statues of Buddha in Bamiyan by Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban militia. He said that Mulla Mohammad Omar’s edict to destroy all statues in the country had done irreparable damage to historical world heritage.

Mr Bitta also demanded stern follow up action on the intelligence agencies observation of the activities of 50 Pakistani and Afghan nationals in the capital. He said that ISI elements were also spreading their net in the North-East also.


Cinema owners’ plea to CM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
The city cinema owners have urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to reduce the percentage of one-time tax on cinema halls.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, chairman and managing director, Shingar cinema, said here that the steep hike in the one-time tax on cinema halls by the state government had paralysed the cinema industry. The industry was affected to the extent that even the salaries of the employees were being given from owners’ pockets.

The association members and distributors said that public interest to see films in theatres has faded due to the impact of various satellite channels and prevailing economic condition in the market. Hence, the cinema-owners were the ultimate sufferers as the number of cinemagoers was decreasing day by day. Mr Gurcharan Singh said even box-office movies were not attracting the public.

Mr Abnash Singh of Luxmi cinema said that about 220 movies were released in India last year. Only two movies were box-office hits and the rest were average. It was difficult to deposit the lumpsum entertainment tax fixed by the government due to less occupancy of seats per show.

Members added that due to overall recession in the market, they were not able to cope up with so many taxes like entertainment tax, show tax, MC tax, advertisement tax, house tax, hence should be allowed to run the night show which was discontinued due to militancy.

The owners and distributors requested the state government that under such circumstances, the percentage of lumpsum entertainment tax should be reduced and increase in the exemption of off-days in account of shows.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Narinder Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Nalwa, Mr Satnam Singh and Mr Shiv Prasad. 

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