Thursday, April 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Corruption mars Budha Nullah project
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 4
The Budha Nullah project, undertaken by the Municipal Corporation comprising the construction of a metalled road along the water body, at a cost of Rs 12.74 crore, last year, has virtually become a vicitm of corruption and inefficiency, with the work in progress way behind the schedule and the MC councillors calling for a high level inquiry into the project.

As if this was not enough, certain administrative actions taken by senior MC officials to improve the performance, in wake of explicit directions by the Punjab Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, for completing the work of construction of road at the earliest, have irked the local BJP functionaries to the extent that an alleged orchestrated campaign has been started by the district unit of the party against the civic body’s top brass.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune have revealed that the project had literally proved a windfall for contractors and some officers, supervising the work. In fact, even the entire tendering process and award of work to the seven shortlisted contractors for seven segments of the 9 kilometre road, along Budha Nullah, was not above board.

Interestingly some of the councillors, at least four of them from the BJP and representing localities along Budha Nullah, have demanded a high level inquiry in the whole project, alleging that the contractors had fleeced the MC, and in the process, certain civic body officials had made a lot of money.

In a letter written to Mr Tandon, a copy of which was obtained by Ludhiana Tribune, the councillors have charged that an ‘unheard of 35 kilometre lead was allowed for earth, the debris removed were shown at least three to four times more and bogus payments were made for sand bags, which had been pitched on embankments on both sides of the nullah’. The civic body, they alleged, has been made to forward an extra payment of an estimated Rs 2 crore and the booty has been shared by contractors and colluding MC officials.

The fact that the allegations might have been motivated, can not be ruled out but it is on record that the technical consultants to the project, M/s SGS Quality Control Company, had pointed out several irregularities, discrepancies and even fabrication of Measurement Books (MB’s) by the contractors, executing the work on the project and in many cases fresh MB’s were asked to be prepared, showing correct measurement of the work executed. The MC administration had admitted in one of the general house meetings that the technical consultants had saved quite a lot of money, which might otherwise, have been siphoned off.

During a thorough review of the work done so far, senior MC officials had ordered the shifting of the acting Engineer In charge of the Budha Nulla project, who was reverted back as an SDO and the responsibility was entrusted to another Executive Engineer. The MC administration asserted that the action was warranted in view of poor progress of the work and adverse reports of the technical consultants. However, the removal of the Engineer In charge, who claimed affinity to a senior BJP leader here, has led to a full-fledged campaign by one of the two constituents of the ruling combine against the MC administration.

Knowledgeable circles in the MC pointed out that rather than serving any political or public cause, the ongoing BJP tirade against the MC administration in general and the Commissioner Dr S.S. Sandhu in particular, might be aimed at for exerting pressure for rehabilitation of the concerned officer and to save him, in case an inquiry into the Budha Nullah project was ordered.Back


Villagers oppose eviction order
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
Residents of 10 villages and double the number of residential colonies in the periphery of Ludhiana are up in arms against the order of the Army authorities demanding their eviction from within 1000 metres of the Army ammunition depot at Baddowal.

About 10,000 people of two villages, Ayali Kalan and Bains, about 7 km from here, have been asked by the Defence Minstry to vacate the area falling within 1000 meters of the Army ammunition dump in view of a directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to this effect.

A meeting of 10 villagers and about 20 colonies was called today at Ayali Kalan village which decided to form a 15-member action committee to save the population and to press upon the state and centre governments to shift the ammunition depot. The villages included Ayali Kalan, Bains, Gahour, Daitwal, Thrike, Jhande, Hassanpur, Karimpura, Bhannour and Baddowal.

While talking to the media persons after the meeting, Mr Rajinder Singh, spokesperson of the committee, informed that the committee had decided to submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpyee and the Defence Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, demanding that the ammunition depot should be shifted to some other safe place as it can lead to another tragedy like that of Bharatpur. The entire population of Ludhiana was unsafe till the depot was not shifted.

Mr Hoshiar Singh, sarpanch of Ayali Kalan village and circle president, Shiromni Akali Dal ( Badal), informed the gathering: ‘‘The depot has been shifted twice first from Ucha Pind and secondly from Sherpur Chowk in Ludhiana. The area under the Army possession can be handed over to PUDA to develop it as a residential or industrial area. The entire cost of shifting can be easily recovered from selling the land. The ammunition depot should be shifted to some safe place instead of the population.’’

Can the authorities guarantee the safety of the city population in case of fire or other accidents that may occur after evicting the population within 1000 metre range, asked Mr Surinder Pal Singh, sarpanch of Baddowal village. In fact the authorities had misled the High Court otherwise the court could not have ordered the eviction of the population, he added. The speakers pointed out that they were ready to fight a ‘Do or Die’ battle against the eviction order.

Interestingly, even army officials feel had the planners kept in mind the future growth of the population of the city, they would not have selected the sight, just 7 km from the Clock Tower, the centre of the city. Moreover, it will not be easy to shift the population as the villagers seem to be determined to fight a long battle. They are also feeling encouraged after the victory of villagers in Anandgarh case.

The Army officials admit that Ferozepore road was passing as near as 200 yards from the boundary wall of the dump in a length of about 3 km that poses a permanent security risk from terrorist attacks to the depot itself. Though the dump was constructed in the early sixties, the notification for imposing the restrictions was made only in 1983. The authorities did not bother to restrict the construction of shops and houses even after that notification.

After the Bharatpur tragedy, the Punjab government had requested the Defence Ministry to shift the depot but without any result. The action committee has warned the Defence Ministry and the state government to shift the ammunition depot at the earliest or be prepared for a long agitation by the public.Back



Bring in CNG, but after infrastructure’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
Most persons in Ludhiana favour the implementation of the Supreme Court order on conversion to CNG fuels here as well. However, they want that, before doing so, the government should give an adequate time to transporters for making their vehicles fit for running on the CNG. They say that, this way, the chaos that is happening in New Delhi will not happen here.

Dr D.V. Jinadal, a retired professor, said, “Ludhiana is the second city after New Delhi where emissions from vehicles are raising pollution levels in the air alarmingly. Before implementing such a regulation, the government should ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place. There should be a sufficient number of CNG-filling stations. After a deadline of at least six months, the order should be strictly enforced.”

Ms Shilpa Nayyar, a postgraduate student, said, “We can not breathe due to vehicular pollution here and need an alternative environment-friendly fuel. The order of the Supreme Court is a step in this direction and it should be strictly enforced. However, the government should ensure that everything is in place for its implementation. The government should also launch an awareness drive on the need of using environment-friendly fuels.”

Mr Kanwarjit Singh Walia, a retired government official, said, “The court order should be implemented here as well to save us from vehicular pollution. The administration should first create the necessary infrastructure like the CNG-filling stations. The government should give at least a year for conversion to CNG fuel.”

Dr Varinder Bhambota, another local resident, said, “Autorickshaws and other commercial vehicles are responsible for a high level of pollution here, due to which, this rule should be implemented in the city as well. The government should give at least six months for conversion to the CNG fuels and after that, violators should not be spared.”

Mr Shekhar Gupta, a businessman, said, “Before enforcing such regulation, the administration should make all necessary arrangements so that the incidents of New Delhi are not repeated here. The government should launch awareness drives to educate people on the advantages of using the CNG fuel.”


Compensate farmers for diversification’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has called upon the government to grant a compensation of atleast Rs 5,000 per hectare to those farmers who had diversified from traditional rotation of wheat and paddy crops. At a meeting of the state executive of the BKU held here today, with Mr Karnail Singh Chotian in the chair, lamented that while the farmers were being asked to diversify, the government had failed to formulate a policy for marketing of the alternative crops adopted by the farmers.

Rejecting the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at Rs 610 per quintal announced by the Union Government, the BKU observed that the PAU has assessed the cost of production of wheat at Rs 665 per quintal and the Punjab Government had asked the Centre for an MSP of Rs 735 for wheat. “The state government, therefore, was morally bound to announce a bonus of Rs 125 per quintal for wheat crop to compensate the farmers, the leaders demanded.

Giving details of the proceedings, the BKU Secretary General, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, informed that the government was urged to announce the MSP for next crops of paddy and cotton on the basis of price index, well before the crops were sown. The meeting expressed its serious concern over irregular and inadequate power supply for tubewell, which might adversely affect the forthcoming sowing of paddy crop. It called for regular power supply for atleast 12 hours and adequate supply of water in canal-irrigated areas.

The BKU made an appeal to the farming community to ensure maximum participation in the National Kisan Panchayat session at Talwandi Sabo on April 13 which would launch a nation-wide stir against the farm policy under the WTO regime.

Meanwhile, the Agriculture Department has claimed that it had launched various programmes for small, marginal and big farmers to make them diversify from traditional crop rotation to other cash crops, particularly those which had good potential in the global market.

The District Agriculture Officer, Mr Gurchharan Singh Rajajung, said in a press release here today that in Dhandra village turmeric was inter-cropped in orchards and poplar fields. Under the experimentation, the crop was sown in the two acre fields of progressive farmer and the village sarpanch, Mr Jagjit Singh, in the presence of Dr Mewa Singh Sonar, Director of Agriculture and Dr Rajajung. 


Suicide by farmer
Our Correspondent

Khamano, April 4
A farmer Gurnam Singh of Bhari village near here allegedly committed suicide by jumping into a canal after failing to clear some debt. According to the son of the deceased, Kuldip Singh Gurnam Singh, his father borrowed some money in 1994 and 1997 to marry his son and a daughter.

He sold about 3-kanal land to clear the loan but it could still not be cleared. According to his son, he became depressed after this. He had taken loan from the Punjab and Sind Bank and a cooperative society and had also borrowed some money from some villagers. On March 19, he slipped away from home without mentioning to any member of his family. On March 30 his body was recovered.


Fire Brigade to get 13 more engines
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, April 4
The local Fire Brigade proposes to purchase 13 more fire tenders and other equipment to meet the challenge of fires in the coming summers, according to official sources.

The equipment for which a sum of nearly Rs 4 crore has already been earmarked includes, apart from new tenders, a 120-foot high snorkel ladder which will be a new addition to the existing fire fighting paraphernalia.

With the induction of new tenders, the number of tenders will rise to nearly 30, which is still thought to be inadequate for the city. There are nearly 26 hydrants in various parts of the city from where the tenders can draw water but sources say the pressure of water at these hydrants is generally low, making the task of firemen difficult at times. The number of hydrants also needs to be increased. In summers, the consumption of water goes up many times in the city and as such the hydrants are not of much help to the firemen. Calling in other tenders is the only solution.

The city witnessed a spate of fires during the past 10 days, a couple of which were reported in factories owned by two councillors of the Municipal Corporation. According to fire brigade sources however, most of the fires reported before March 31 are self-created in order to claim insurance.

Most of the city’s hosiery units are located in congested and narrow parts of the old city. Firemen suggest that in order to minimise fires, these units must not store any petrol, diesel etc in the premises. Benzene, which is extensively used by hosiery units, is also a highly inflammable material. The order of the District Magistrate banning the storing of these inflammable materials are not being followed in toto. Whenever a fire is reported from a congested locality of the old city where the tenders cannot enter, the firemen have to lengthen the water pipes by joining pieces after pieces until they can target the site of the fire.

But such an exercise involves a lot of manpower, of which the city’s fire brigade is woefully short. In 1965, when the population of the city was not more than 6 lakh, there used to be 110 firemen. Now, when the city has expanded to a great extent and is still expanding, there are only 65 firemen. Sources point out that there must be at least 350 firemen with the fire brigade. Out of the presently sanctioned posts of firemen, 34 are still to be filled. Moreover, there are no leading firemen as all 18 posts are vacant for the past number years. In addition, seven posts of drivers also remain to be filled.

The city’s fire brigade is likely to be pressed into service this summers more because of wheat fires reported from adjoining villages than fires within the city. Last year, the fire brigade received up to 15 fire calls a day during the harvesting season from villages where standing wheat or stored chaff caught fire.


Sumita Roy a great educationist
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
Ludhiana is fortunate to have as its resident, Ms Sumita Roy, who not only helped the Home Science College to come up and its students to find a foothold in life, but has also made a significant difference to the lives of rural women.

She is truly cosmopolitan. Born in West Bengal, she graduated from Allahabad, did her postgraduation from Gujarat and obtained a Ph.D from Ohio State University, USA under the USAID programme, has finally settled in Ludhiana and is working as Professor, Home Science Extension Education. She joined Home Science College as the founder faculty of Home Science Extension Education, College of Home Science, PAU, Ludhiana, in 1967 and has served here for more than three decades.

To her goes the honour of being the first Ph.D in the discipline (1973) i.e in Home Science Extension Education in the State Agricultural University (SAU) in the country. She was the first professor of the discipline in Home Science College under SAU. Her contribution to the college of Home Science has been tremendous. She served the college as Head of the Department for 12 years and strengthened the academic programme by starting a Ph.D in 1986, the first Ph.D programme to have started in this discipline in the State agricultural universities.

Ms Roy developed a modern multimedia laboratory through a research grant for electronic instructional material production on Home Science Messages. The laboratory is the only one of its kind in the country and is also a unique feature of the university. She also contributed significantly towards knowledge empowerment of rural women and for improving the quality of life of rural households, inspite of having no roots in rural Punjab.

Being totally dedicated to the cause of education, she said, “I completed two independent research projects that were financed by Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission. I also edited a book on research methods, published research papers in professional journals and presented a paper in International and National Academic Forum.’’

Ms Roy is married to a famous ‘interior decorator’ and has led a fulfilling life. She says,” God has not blessed me with children, but he has amply compensated me by giving me the love of thousands of girls, so I feel I am singularly fortunate in receiving unlimited love.”

She had the honour of serving on several national level committees as an expert in Home Science. These include the governing body of ICAR, the highest decision making body for SAUs, other ICAR bodies like the Home Science Panel, Accreditation Committee, Quinunnial Review Committee, Board Subject Matter Committee, Selection Committee etc.

Currently, Ms Roy is serving at the national level as Technical Coordinator of Extension Component of All India Coordinated Research Project, ICAR. She is also serving on the National Task Force for Women in Agriculture. She happens to be the president of the Home Science Association of India, Punjab State Branch and also as vice-president of the parent body.

Ms Roy is a familiar figure in the university. “ I love my students. I am still using the tie and dye curtains my students made for me in the last decade. 


PSEB consumer allowed relief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
In a recement judgement the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to pay Rs 2,000 as compensation for deficiency in services along with Rs 500 as cost of litigation to Mr Gurbax Singh, a resident of Jagraon.

According to the complaint, the electricity meter of the complainant was burnt in 1995. The complainant stated before the forum that he had moved an application to change the meter on August 14, 1995, and the same was changed in February, 2000. He stated that of Rs 4,935 was added to his bill illegally.

The board pleaded that the bills were sent to the consumer on the average consumption of 191 units on the advice of audit and the average was taken on the basis of consumption from August to December, 1994.

The forum stated that the meter remained dead from February, 1995, to February, 2000, which was clear deficiency on the part of the PSEB and accordingly the board was directed to pay Rs 2,000 as compensation on account of deficiency in services along with Rs 500 as cost of litigation. The forum stated that the complainant was entitled to rent rebate for the period during which the meter remained dead. The forum further stated that the average consumption calculated by the board was right and the demand was rightly raised. The forum held that after adjusting the said amount, a demand notice shall be sent to him and he shall make the payment.


Residents flay MC for inaction
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
The Model Gram Welfare Society has flayed the inaction on the part of the Municipal Corporation with regard to illegal construction of shops and a marriage palace at a piece of land which was earmarked for a library in the locality.

Addressing a news conference here today, some functionaries of the society alleged that members of a trust, which included the area councillor, had raised a number of shops and work for construction of a marriage palace was on, despite the fact that the building plan was rejected by the MC. Although the orders were issued for demolition the MC had so far failed to execute the same for reasons best known to them.

The residents of the Model Gram locality, according to the society functionaries, were in favour of setting up a library and a children park at the site.

The society has moved a local court, which has issued a stay orders against any construction work at the disputed site till April 27.


Ahimsa Day to be observed on April 6
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
April 6 will be observed as Ahimsa Day beginning this year, according to a decision taken by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the national committee for the celebration of 2600 years of Tirthankara Mahavira’s Janma Kalyanak in December last at Delhi with Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in the chair.

According to a circular to this effect, a copy of which was procured by Ludhiana Tribune, no animal would be slaughtered on April 6. The meeting also decided to observe the year, beginning April 6 as “No cruelty to animals year”, according to the communication.

Among other decisions taken at the meeting include adoption of 2600 villages for all-round development such as roads, safe drinking water, educational facilities and health care and development of Mahavira Vanasthali Park on the Ridge in New Delhi as an example of environmental preservation.

The Prime Minister also announced that Rs 100 crore would be provided by the government for the celebrations which would be looked after by the Department of Culture. He also said that a commemorative stamp would also be released on the occasion.


Karbla conference on April 7
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
The first-ever Shaheed-e-Karbla conference in Punjab would be held here on April 7 at Kabir Nagar, Basti Jodhewal, according to Mr Atiq-ur-Rehman, president, Indian Muslim Council, Punjab.

In a press note here today, Mr Rehman said that leaders of all religions and political parties would participate in the conference. Prominent among the likely participants are Mr Bakar Hussain Shaz, president International Garib Nawaz Mission. Maulana Akhlaq Hussain Kasmi, Delhi, Maulana Jamil Ilyasi, member, Dargah Khwaja Sahib, Ajmer Sharif.

Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha. Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, Punjab, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, vice-president , Akali Dal ( Badal). Father Ram Lal Masih of Kalvari Church, Ludhiana. Mr Parminder Mehta, president, Youth Congress, Ludhiana, and many other prominent personalities would also take part in the conference which would continue till late in the night, according to Mr Rehman.


Rally against Central Govt
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 4
A rally against the Central Government was organised by the local Block Congress under the leadership of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP from Ropar parliamentary constituency, here today.

Earlier a protest march was organised. The rally was addressed by Mr Dullo, Mr Ashok Tewari, Block Congress President, Mr Ashok Sharma and Mr Onkar Rai Mehta.

Later a memorandum was submitted to the President of India through the SDM, Khanna, in which they demanded that if the Central Government did not resign, the President should dismiss the government.


13 booked for threatening MC men in
wine shop case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
A case under Sections 186, 427, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered at the Division Number 5 police station against Ajit Singh Chawla, General Secretary of Satluj Club, and 12 other unidentified persons, for threatening Municipal Corporation officials and trying to stop them from performing their duty.

Mr Shakti Sagar Bhatia, MC Town Planner, had lodged a complaint with the police that, when some other MC employees and he had visited a wine shop near the local bus stand on March 31 to get it vacated, the accused had stopped them from doing so. He had also damaged some demolition machines and threatened the MC emplyoees.

Case against kidnap
The Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 364 and 34 of the IPC against Abdul Memon and his friend Pappu Paswan for kidnapping a 7-year-old boy, Sahil. The boy had been kidnapped for ransom on March 30.

Sahil was rescued by the police from a gutter yesterday, where the kidnappers had kept him tied and gagged. The police has registered the case on a statement of Mr Ashok Kumar, father of the boy, but, no arrest has been made so far.

Rs 1.2 lakh stolen
A case of theft has been registered under Section 380 of the IPC at the Division Number 5 police station on a complaint of Mr Parveen Kumar Jain, a resident of Basant Bagh.

According to the report, on the night of April 2, some unidentified persons broke the lock of an almirah in his factory and decamped with Rs 1,20,000. The police has not been able to trace the thieves so far.

Harassed for dowry
The Haibowal police has registered a case of dowry harassment under Sections 406, 498-A and 506 of the IPC on a complaint of Monica ‘Mona’, daughter of Mr Vinod Sharma, a resident of Housing Board Colony at Focal Point. The case has been registered against her husband, Gaurav Bhardwaj, and in-laws, P.V. Bhardwaj and Prem Rani, all residents of Shakti Vihar of Haibowal. The complainant said all these persons used to ask her to bring more dowry. No arrest has been made so far.

Kerosene seller held
The CIA staff of the city police arrested Ashok Syal, a resident of Chander Nagar, near the Arya College for Boys here yesterday for black marketing kerosene.

The accused bought blue kerosene that was meant for public distribution and converted it to white before selling it at high rates. The police, acting on an information, raided the place and caught the seller red handed. Two drums of kerosene were also seized from his possession.

A case of fraud has been registered against him under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.Back

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