Thursday, March 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC men, councillors on war-path
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
After the councillors fought out a long drawn battle with senior officers of the Municipal Corporation over several issues, it is the turn of low-rung employees of the civic body to earn the wrath of the elected representatives, with at least three councillors entering into verbal duals with MC employees in full public view in the past few days.

The employees concerned had lodged written complaints with their senior officers, alleging misbehaviour and use of abusive language by Mr Sat Pal Puri, Mr Harbans Lal Fenta and Giani Baldev Singh — all councillors. The matter was also discussed at a meeting of the coordination committee of all unions of MC employees on March 15. The unions of MC employees had urged the MC administration to take immediate corrective measures, failing which they would be forced to resort to “other action”.

While the employees charge some of the councillors with arrogant and rude behaviour towards them, the councillors, on their part, deny these allegations and claim that some employees, who were in the habit of harassing people and taking bribes for doing routine work, were behind the move to give the councillors a bad name.

A councillor, belonging to the Congress party, Mr Sat Pal Puri, who was involved in exchange of hot words with a clerk in the house tax department and had later sat on a dharna “sans his shirt” in front of the office of MC Joint Commissioner Jasbir Singh Heer a few days back, maintained his stand that certain corrupt employees felt bad whenever a councillor approached them for some work, relating to his ward. He was sore that councillors, who were the elected representatives of their respective wards, were shown scant respect by MC employees.

In one of the incidents when a councillor and a clerk locked horns, both called each other “corrupt” with the visitors to the MC headquarters enjoying a rather comic and uncommon situation.

Some MC employees, whom Ludhiana Tribune talked to, observed that in general, the employees hold the councillors in high esteem and the relations between the two were cordial. However, a few councillors, occasionally, put pressure on the employees to do certain works involving contravention of rules or overlooking the irregularities and that is where the problem begins. “These councillors are in the habit of getting irregular works done by intimidation and coercion,” an MC employees alleged.

The City Mayor Apinder Singh Grewal and group leader of BJP councillors Pran Bhatia, both were of the opinion that as a matter of principle, the councillors should rather approach the senior officials of the level of zonal commissioners or at least the superintendents of the departments concerned than going to low-rung employees. Echoing similar views while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, they said the councillors, who were called ‘city fathers’, should maintain decorum and dignity of their office.

The discontentment among both MC employees and certain councillors was brewing and unless the matter was tackled in a tactful and diplomatic manner by the MC administration, the situation was bound to take a turn for the worse.


Computer education contract faces shutdown
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, March 21
The contract between the Punjab Government and the NIIT to provide computer education at subsidised rates to students of government schools seems threatened as target for the first phase has not been met.

Under the contract, computer education had to be provided in more than 700 government schools of Punjab, including about 50 in the city, by the end of this month. However, the project is being run only in Government Girls’ Senior Secondary School at Mansuran, where it was launched in October last with much fanfare.

Though the necessary equipment had reached the Government Boys’ Senior Secondary School of Jawahar Nagar by mid January, the project has not got on there till date. The school had added two rooms, sent admission forms and selected a nodal officer for this purpose. Things are rather similar in Government Girls’ Senior Secondary of Khanna.

Regarding the failure to meet the target, the faculty of the NIIT said they could not cover all schools within the given as several school teachers had been on the census duty and students did not attend the school regularly. After the census, students had their annual examinations.

Meanwhile, there is confusion among students of the two government colleges here as they do not know whether they will now have to take the computer-science test or not.

Computer education is being provided by the Punjab Government in the Government College for Women with the help of the NIIT and in the SCD Government College in collaboration with Tata Infotech. However, even at the end of session, students have not been told anything about the date of examination. The staff of the two companies said it was not clear whether the government or they would set the question paper.

Students say that they have not been taught the full syllabus. The company says that since students have paid for only six months of lessons syllabus for only the first semester has been covered.


Tainted constable booked
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
He had been doing it for a long time. But finally it was curtains for constable Kulwant Singh when he was successfully trapped by the Vigilance men yesterday afternoon soon after he received a bribe of ‘tinted’ notes of Rs 1,500.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, Superintendent, Vigilance Bureau, told mediapersons that he had decided to proceed against the constable after listening to the whole story so that other possible victims could be saved in the future.

Narrating the sequence leading to the arrest of the constable, Mr Bajwa said the constable had been posted till now as a munshi in the Raghunath police post falling under the Sarabha Nagar police station located near the canal. On Monday at around 6.30 p.m., the constable, accompanied by a civilian on a scooter, chased one Mr Gurdip Singh’s car, took him to the police chowki where he beat up Gurdip Singh and also snatched Rs 1,500 which he was carrying on him at that time. The victim was also made to surrender his driving licence which the constable later promised to return in lieu of Rs 5,000.

On Tuesday, Mr Gurdip Singh approached the Vigilance officers for help. A trap was laid according to which Mr Gurdip Singh paid Rs 1,500 to the constable for getting his driving license back. At the last minute, the constable, suspecting a trap, took out the money from his trouser pocket and threw it out of the room through a slit in the wall. On being tested positive for the colour, when asked to wash his hands and the trousers, he confessed to having taken the bribe.

A case has been registered by the Vigilance department under Sections 7 and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

The Sarabha Nagar police also registered a case under sections 354,341 and 506 of the IPC against the constable on the complaint of Meenakshi, whom the constable had taken for a ride in her employer’s car. She complained that the accused had tried to molest her while threatening her all the time.

An estate officer of the Punjab Wakf Board, Ropar, was also trapped by a Vigilance team headed by Mr Malwinder Singh Sidhu, DSP, at Ropar yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 1,000 from a complainant to favourably consider his application.


Insurance co to pay Rs 1.5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the United India Insurance Company to pay Rs 1,52,703 along with interest at a rate of 9 per cent per annum from February 1, 1999, to Kaka Ram Babu Ram Aggarwal of Saban Bazar.

Kaka Ram Babu Ram Aggarwal had taken an stock-insurance policy of the company. The policy, which was from June 27, 1997, to June 26, 1998, was for Rs 10 lakh.

The complainant told the forum that, due to heavy rain on August 26, 1997, water had entered his shop and godown at Bagh Khajanchian. The rain water accumulated due to blocking of sewerage pipes, causing damage to the stock. The insurance claim was presented to the company the next day. The company appointed a surveyor to assess the loss who observed that the godown floor was at the road level and even a slight increase in the water level would flood the godown. He observed that drums of stock were rusted and the loss might have been due to leaking of water through the roof. The complainant said the loss had occurred due to flooding of the godown from the road as well leaking of the roof.

The complainant said that the surveyor had assessed the loss at Rs 1,52,703 after deducting the salvage value. He said he had been asked to submit some document that he had already submitted to the surveyor. He said the surveyor had prepared a wrong report.

The company said the claim should not be paid as the goods had been damaged due to leaking of the roof. It said, despite repeated demands, the complainant had not given a necessary document to the surveyor.

The forum observed that the company was not justified in repudiating the claim on the plea that the document had not been supplied, since the surveyor had himself had reported that he had received it. The forum said the company would have to pay Rs 1,52,703 as assessed, along with the interest.


Farmers shifting to submersible pumps
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The continuously falling water-table in the state has forced farmers to replace their traditional mono-block pump sets with submersible ones. The soil and water experts say that in some districts the water-table is falling by as much as 20 cm every year. The government’s policy of free power supply to the agriculture sector has also discouraged the farmers from taking water saving measures, says Prof S.P. Khepar, Professor, Department of Soil and Water, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU).

The mono-culture of wheat and paddy cultivation has further aggravated the problem. Dr Khepar says, “The problem is severe in Jalandhar, Moga, Patiala and Kapurthala districts where the water-table is falling every year by more than 20 cm. In Ludhiana and Amritsar districts the the rate of fall is 10 cm per annum. Consequently, the farmers are shifting towards submersible pump sets, which are though costlier than mono-block pump sets, but can draw water from more depth.”

Mr Ashok Garg, state distributor of Varuna pump sets, says, “If the present trend of fall in water-table continued for the next three or four years, out of total 9 lakh tubewells in the state at least 3 lakh mono-block pump sets would have to be replaced by submersible pump sets.’’ We hope to get 35 to 40 per cent share of this market, he adds.

The sources in the electricity board say that number of farmers have already replaced 5 - 10 hp electric motors by higher ones as they have to withdraw water from higher depths. Though they have increased the loads illegally but the board can do little in the present scenario.

Prof. S.S. Johl, senior agriculture economist, blames the faulty power policy for this mess. He says, “The area under rice cultivation has reached 66 lakh acres though it should not be more than 20 lakh acres to keep the water-table intact.”

Is there any way to tackle the problem? Prof Khepar has a point. He says, “The government should ban the sowing of paddy in May and should not start paddy procurement before the start of October. If sowing of paddy is delayed to June, the fall in water-table will be 10cm per annum as compared to 20 cm. Ideally, the farmers should sow paddy between June 10 to 20 as recommended by the agriculture experts.”

Secondly, Prof. Khepar adds,“ Instead of providing free electricity supply to the agriculture sector the state government may introduce direct cash subsidy to the farmers such as Rs 2 as bonus per quintal of agriculture produce sold in the market. It will encourage them to adopt energy saving measures which are almost missing at present. A section of farmers may diversify in other areas if they have to pay for the water consumption.”


PSEB demand for Rs 3.13 lakh quashed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
The demand raised by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for Rs 3,13,928 from Mr Rajesh Kumar Arora, a resident of Ganeshpuri, is probably the largest amount ever to have been quashed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum. The forum ordered that “The amount, if any, deposited against the disputed demand ordered to be refunded along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of deposit, till refund.”

According to the complaint, Mr Rakesh Kumar Arora is a beneficiary of the electric connection (SR-28/0361), which was granted on the name of his father late Mr Prithivi Raj. The complainant stated before the forum that he had received a memo on August 25,2000, in which the board had raised a demand of Rs 3,13,928 on the basis of false allegations of tampering of seals and slow running of the meter by 95.54 per cent.

The complainant alleged that when he asked the board to provide the details, it failed to do so and his connection was overhauled because of the reasons mentioned earlier in the memo.

The complainant approached the chairman of the board, who issued a memo for taking necessary action but the respondent did not withdraw the disputed demand. The complainant pointed out that the meter was not checked in his presence and the meter was not sealed and packed properly at the time of removing it, which was mandatory as per the rules of the department. He alleged that he and his family members had been harassed due to illegal disconnection of power supply.

The board pleaded that the meter was duly packed in the card boxes and paper seals, bearing the signature of the J.E. (consumer), were put and sent to the M.E. laboratory. The respondent stated that the meter was found having all the M.E. seals and clamp tampered with on internal examination, loop of the wire connecting the main and load terminal of the meter was also found tampered with.

The respondent stated that on computerised testing, it was indicated that the meter was recording less consumption to the extent of 90.54 per cent. The meter was overhauled on the basis of the report of the laboratory, according to which it was a case of measured theft of energy.

The forum observed that no document had been placed to prove that the consumer was informed about the checking, moreover the document produced by the department showed that the M.E. laboratory report was not signed by the consumer and his presence was not recorded in the report, which was mandatory. The forum held that since the board had not complied with the rules, the disputed demand was liabled to be quashed. 


Begging their way to riches
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
Begging is assuming alarming proportions in the city, with virtually no check on this ever-growing community which has become ubiquitous. Be it religious place, a market, traffic lights, office or even hospital premises, they are everywhere. “Most of these beggars are drug addicts and their day’s handsome ‘earnings’ are often spent on liquor, opium and alcohol and they enjoy life. All this is being encouraged by people who give them alms generously”, says Mr S.K Sharma, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation.

He says, though some of them may be in genuine need of money due to their ailments, but most others are professional beggars, who find begging more lucrative than working.

Religious places, in particular, are swarming with beggars. Most of these beggars are able-bodied and can earn their livelihood by hard work. There are few physically challenged people who deserve alms. With philanthropists giving away so much to the ‘needy’, the number of such beggars was multiplying in the city.

Ms Sudha, a Civil Lines resident, was shaken when she found a beggar in an inebriated state carrying out his “business” inside a religious place. He even created a scene by shouting and using abusive language. “The matter was solved later when two attendants dragged him from the premises”, says Sudha.

There is no denying the fact that the number of beggars had multiplied in proportion to the increase in city’s population. But there is no official or unofficial survey available about the number of beggars. They don’t come from a particular age and sex. Men, women, young and old and the small children crowd around a person at any busy place creating a nuisance.

Some of these religious places offer beggars with food once daily. Some of these beggars often refuse to take eatables, as only cash could solve most of their problems. Ms Radhika, a devotee who visits Dandi Swami Tapowan Ashram daily said that she had even offered some work to a teenaged girl. The girl asked her about the salary. Radhika was stunned when the girl replied,” I can earn up to Rs 2,000 from my profession, why should I go with you for just Rs 800”.

Most of these beggars were ‘professionals’. They inherited the profession of begging from their forefathers. Pandit Mahanand of Dandi Swami temple revealed that beggars were from good families with houses and land in villages, yet they beg.

The beggars no longer make their demands in a humble way. Some of the women and children beggars force people to give money. “Some of these beggars have even torn clothes of devotees when refused to be given money”, added Mahanand Ji.

Tuesdays, Saturdays and festival days are ‘business’ days for beggars, when they easily earn between Rs 200 to Rs 500 a day. However, these beggars have an understanding about their places where they can beg and they generally do not encroach in each others territory.


College clerk found dead: note suggests
suicide after rape
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
Parminder Kaur, a young clerk who worked and lived in Government Women Polytechnical College in Rishi Nagar of Haibowal, allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance here yesterday. Her body was found in her room today along with a “suicide note” that blamed her lover, a person called Satwinder, and his friend Ajit Pal. The note says that these two men “must be taught a lesson”.

According to the police, the college Principal informed the police about the body in the morning, after which, it was sent for a post-mortem. The chemical-analysis report of the viscera will take some days to reach here from Patiala. The police said it had not received the complete post-mortem report so far, due to which, it was difficult to know whether the woman had been sexually assaulted or not before the “suicide”.

From the “suicide note”, it was learnt that Parminder was in love with Satwinder who had called her to his room last night, where she was probably raped by him and his friend Ajit Pal. The note said this had forced her to end her life. However, the police has no idea about these two persons, but efforts are on to find them.

The Haibowal police has registered a case under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC on a complaint of Ms Harvinder Kaur, Principal of the college.


Murderer of two arrested
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 21
The alleged murderer of a seven-year-old girl was, put behind the bars by the police, yesterday.

The Sahnewal police under the command of Mr Kawalpal Singh Bajwa, SHO, and the SI, Mr Shiv Dyal, arrested the alleged murderer Dharamdas alias Joker, of Uttar Pradesh, from the tubewell of the fields of Kanaich village where he was hiding after having committed the crime. According to the Sahnewal police station in charge, “Dharamdas has been working in the Kangroo factory for the past one year.

Taking for some time Prasad, a factory worker, who came to his quarter after he committed the crime, created doubt in Dharmdas’s mind and he found ways and means to kill him somehow or the other to remove evidene. Sudhir Kumar, a Labour Supervisor, on whose statement the FIR was lodged yesterday, saw Dharamdas with a sharp-edged weapon in his hand with which he attacked Prasad on his neck and killed him on the spot.

After having been arrested Dharamdas, he told the place where he had thrown the body. The body was then taken out and has been sent to Civil Hospital for post-mortem. He has been arrested under Sections 363, 366 and 302 of the IPC as two FIRs had been registered against him, one of kidnapping on the statement of Madan, father of Saraswati on March 13, and the other of murder on the statement of Sudhir Kumar on March 19. 

Cases against two for assault on Home Guards
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
The Sarabha Nagar police has booked Mohan Khullar, son of Mr Joginder Khullar, resident of Kazian mohalla, and his friend Jaspal Singh alias Neeta, son of Mr Bachittar Singh, resident of Amar Nagar enclave, near Barewal village, for assaulting two patrolling home guards, Nirmal Singh and Ashok Kumar, on Monday at about 11.50 pm.

According to Nirmal Singh, the suspect, who were riding a scooter (PB10AC 7959), assaulted him and tore up his uniform. They also slapped him as a result of which his turban fell to the ground. The accused have not been arrested so far.

No clue to accident case
The focal point police is still clueless about a hit-and-run case in which an unknown person was found in an injured condition on the GT Road on Tuesday. The victim died in CMC Hospital later. The Dhandari police has registered a case under Sections 279,427 and 304 of the IPC on the complaint of Ram Prasad, son of Hari Lal.

Constable booked
The Sadar police has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against constable Jaswant Singh posted at Jaharvalli post near Mullanpur for demanding a bribe of Rs 500 from the victim of a minor accident for the return of his scooter from police custody.

According to the complaint lodged by Mr Jaspal, son of Mr Mehar Chand, resident of New Model Town, Mullanpur Dakha, one Ranjit Singh, son of Mr Sher Singh, was on his way to Mullanpur Dakha on March 10 when at about 10.15 pm, the scooter he was driving met with a minor accident following which he was admitted to hospital.

Policemen manning the Jaharvalli picket took the scooter into police custody. When the complainant went to take possession of the scooter along with Surjit Singh, brother of Ranjit Singh, constable Jaswant Singh demanded Rs 500 from them.

Dowry case
The division number six police registered a case of dowry harassment under Sections 406,498 A and 506 of the IPC on the complaint of Swinder Kaur, daughter of Mr Gurcharan Singh, against her husband, Jasbir Singh, son of Mr Amarjit Singh, Jaman Singh, son of Mr Chanan Singh and Harnam Kaur, wife of Jagan Singh. The complainant stated that all the accused named in the case demanded more dowry and threatened her.Back



SBI launches Project Uptech for hosiery industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Keeping in view the increasing needs of the textile industry, the State Bank of India (SBI) has decided to launch Project Uptech in the city. It will provide techno-managerial consultancy services to the individual units to upgrade the technology in their units, said Mr M.A. Krishnan, Chief General Manager (Development Banking), SBI, National Banking Group, Mumbai.

He was addressing bankers, and industrialists after inaugurating the project here today. He said: ‘‘ The bank has taken a developmental initiative by opening Project Uptech office for hosiery industry at their special hosiery branch in the city.’’

While presiding over the function, Mr T.S. Bhattacharya, General Manager (Commercial Banking) said: ‘‘ The SBI will provide techno-managerial solutions to the individual units through its in-house and external technical consultants. The project also envisages to provide technological solutions to the local cluster of hosiery units in Ludhiana for its various felt needs, including skill development of hosiery workers. The SMEs who opt to go in for techno-managerial studies will be offered bank finance at concessional margin and moratorium for a longer period. For lesser privileged and needy entrepreneurs, there will also be a provision for interest free equity finance up to Rs 1 lakh.’’

Mr Krishnan dwelt upon the objectives of Project Uptech and its methodology. He mentioned that the SBI had perceived way back in 1988 the need for upgradation of technology by various SME clusters. The bank has been following the cluster development approach since then. So far the bank has already taken up 14 such projects in various industry clusters all over the country.

In his address, Mr A. K. Agnihotri, task force leader of the Project Uptech, said,‘‘ Ludhiana occupies an important niche on the textile map of India. The industry has developed from the traditional woollen base to modern day fashion wears for all seasons. However, with the successive lifting of quantitative restrictions and the quotas under WTO regime, the industry will be subjected to global competition from China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh. In such a free market scenario, the hosiery manufacturers will have to continuously strive for cost reduction and quality improvement. These twin objectives can be realised by technology and modernisation of manufacturing processes.’’

Detailed presentation was also made by the bank’s corporate team from Mumbai. Mr B.S. Prakash, Circle Credit Officer, SBI, Chandigarh, HQ, also expressed his views on this occasion. The Chief General Manager and General Manager (Commercial Banking) responded to various queries of the industrialists. 

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