Sunday, April 29, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



CAG recommends action against ‘errant’ PAU officials
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
The issue pertaining to the loss of about Rs 4 crore invested by the Punjab Agricultural University in Punjab Wireless Systems Limited, (Punwire) drawn from the provident fund and pension fund of the varsity employees is again back in limelight. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), Punjab, has asked the PAU authorities to fix the responsibility for the loss of this entire amount and also an explanation for investing in a private company in violation of the state government's specifications.

Allegations have been levelled against the university authorities by several employees saying that the varsity was sitting pretty over the loss of the employees’ money. With the direction from the CAG, the loss of the amount has been confirmed even though the varsity authorities were earlier denying the loss.

According to highly placed sources despite the objection the varsity has also been asked to initiate action against the officials who invested money to the tune of crores of rupees with this company which had already gone bankrupt. Its assets have also already been attached by a UT court.

Sources also disclosed that the varsity would actually loose an amount corresponding to Rs 7 crore as an interest of 15 per cent was to be compounded monthly for three years on the principal amount of Rs 4 crore.

Commenting on the issue, Dr K. S. Aulakh said the university was discussing the issue to prepare a reply to the CAG’s direction. He said action against any individual officer was unlikely as it was the collective decision of a committee which was constituted especially for the investment.

He said that it was invested after checking the credentials of the company and after learning that the state government had its share in the company. The Vice-Chancellor also said that it was difficult to recover the invested money from them as it had no owner now.

The CAG, in a communication to the varsity, had also written that while the state government had specified that investment of the surplus funds may either be made in fixed deposits, certificate of deposit or as a loan to other public sector enterprises of the state government, the varsity invested the money in a private company.

The Comptroller had also written that by investing the money in Punwire, the PAU violated the directions of the state government.

The communication reads, "The investment committee of the PAU in its meeting held on May 26,1998, July 10,1998 and November 3,1998, decided to invest out of the GPF, CPF and pension fund to the tune Rs 4 crore with Punwire at the rate of 15 per cent interest compounded monthly for three years. The decision of the investment committee was further approved by the PAU VC on May 28,1998,July 20,1998 and November 11,1998.’’

The CAG has further written, "The Punwire has now been liquidated and as such the chances of the recovery are very remote. Action against the officials who defaulted to grant loan to the company needs to be intimated’’.

It should be recalled here that the PAU Supervisory Staff Association had written a letter to the then Vice-Chancellor, Dr G.S. Kalkat, last year requesting him to initiate steps to recover the amount with interest from Punwire, since the company was facing a grave financial crisis. The association had also urged the VC to review all investments especially of CPF, GPF and pension funds for which the varsity was a custodian of the amounts of the employees.

The association had also suggested to the Vice-Chancellor that such amounts should be deposited only with the nationalised banks approved by the Department of Institutional Finance, Punjab. 


Factory manager booked for death of 2 labourers 
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Activists of the local unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party stage a dharna at the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana on Saturday.
Activists of the local unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party stage a dharna at the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana on Saturday.

Ludhiana, April 28
The Focal Point police today booked a manager of a factory on a charge of negligence leading to the death of two labourers, while cleaning a septic tank of the Paxon Industries here last evening.

While two labourers Pappu (30) and Raj Kumar (19) died inside the tank, another labourer Sonu was rescued. He was admitted to the CMC & Hospital and was stated to be out of danger. Two other labourers Mohan Singh and Vinod Kumar, who had accompanied the victims, escaped unhurt.

Kamal Kishore, alias Vicky, manager of the factory has been booked under Section 304-A ( causing death by rash or negligent act) even as angry activists of the local unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party staged a dharna near the mortuary of the Civil Hospital here demanding immediate arrest of the accused.

The activists, along with the aggrieved relatives of the victims, also demanded suitable compensation from the owner of the factory. Mr D. P. Khosla, vice-president of the state unit of the BSP, alleged that the manager hired five labourers from Rajiv Gandhi Colony last evening for cleaning the tank but did not inform them about the danger.

Sub-Inspector Paramjit Singh, in charge, Vardhman Chowki, said the police registered a case immediately. He said that the accused had absconding and would be arrested soon.

According to Mr. Khosla the incident took place at about 7:00 p.m. last evening. Five labourers , hired by the manager, went to clean a septic tank. However, the moment the labourers entered into the tank they were suffocated by the poisonous gases emanating from the industrial and other waste.

According to an eye witness, Vinod Kumar, one of the labourers who escaped unhurt, deceased Pappu and Rajkumar collapsed the moment they entered the tank. He said the injured labourer Sonu went into rescue them but also fell down. He was rescued by Vinod and Mohan Singh. Mr D. P. Khosla said Pappu was the only earning hand of the family. He has left behind his wife and four children.

Mr Khosla also alleged that the a number of self-styled mediators were trying to hush up the case. A delegation of the party has also submitted a memorandum to DSP Gurjit Singh demanding compensation for the families of the deceased labourers and immediate arrest of the accused. 


‘Lok Bhalai to contest 90 seats’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) will contest 90 assembly seats in the forthcoming elections, and though the elections were still about a year away, the party had finalised at least five candidates for the Ludhiana (Rural), Jagraon, Barnala, Phul and Talwandi Sabo seats, who have been told to groom their respective constituencies and interact with the electorate.

This was announced by former Union Minister and National President of the party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, while addressing a delegate session of the LBP here today. Hundreds of delegates from all over the state, later re-elected Mr Ramoowalia as party president for a three-year term.

He said a five-party People’s Front, comprising the Lok Bhalai Party, the CPI, the CPI-M, the Janata Dal (S) and the Samajwadi Party, was already in place and final adjustments over sharing of seats will be arrived at well before the elections. Mr Ramoowalia made it clear that the party will have no truck either with the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Congress.

Reacting to the SAD (B) propaganda of his being an opportunist politician, Mr Ramoowalia charged the SAD (B) President and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with ‘lying and misleading the public’. He maintained that the project of the international airport at Amritsar was scrapped by a public investment board of the Government of India and it was only after more than 50 members of Parliament had taken up the matter with the Union Civil Aviation Minister that the Union Cabinet, in its special meeting, had cleared the much needed project. He also expressed his apprehensions over the fate of the Bhatinda Oil Refinery. ‘‘The original outlay of Rs 16,000 crore has been brought down to Rs 9800 crore and the French collaborator has backed out.”

Claiming that the common people, in more and more numbers, were reposing their trust in his party and had high hopes, Mr Ramoowalia observed that grants being doled out by Mr Badal by way of development will in no way affect the electoral prospects of the ruling alliance or for that matter of other political parties. “The SAD-B had distributed huge funds among the electorate and had even gone to the extent of paying for each and every vote in 1999 when the then Union Minister, Mr Sukhbir Badal, was contesting from Faridkot. But every one knows what happened.”

The LBP chief said his party was focussing on the problems of farmers, small traders, taxi operators, truck drivers, NRIs, Dalits, Ramgarhias and Ramdasias, the student community and the unemployed youth. In its crusade against environmental pollution, the party had raised the issue of pollution caused by half a dozen paper mills in Amritsar district, which were subsequently ordered to be closed by the Punjab Government.

He claimed that in a bid to consolidate the organisation, various wings like the youth wing, the women’s wing, the NRI wing, the backward classes wing, the ex-servicemen’s wing, the religious harmony wing, the Dr Ambedkar wing and the kisan wing had already been set up. The party has fixed a target to have a minimum of 15,000 units in villages and mohallas in towns and cities in the near future.



Who is to blame for security lapse?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
Notwithstanding the acquittal of two jail officials in the branding case of an undertrial, the question of the failure of security staff to prevent smuggling of prohibited articles in the jail or at the bakshikhanna in the district courts remains unanswered.

While the jail officials today sentenced Bawa Kumar, an undertrial, to solitary confinement for conniving with undertrial Raman Kumar to brand the latter, no action was taken for the security lapse at the bakshikhanna. The undertrial had reportedly smuggled a lighter into the bakshikhanna though security was supposed to keep vigil on such activities.

No one was willing to claim responsibility for the lapse. Mr G.S. Sidhu, Superintendent Jails, said security at the Bakshikhanna is the duty of the city police. He said the lighter was a prohibited article under the rules and the jail official recovered it in the evening from Bawa Kumar when he returned to the jail.

The jail official said the security lapse was serious and he would demand action against the erring policemen from the city police. The jail department had decided to lodge a criminal case against Raman Kumar for maligning two jail officials.

According to Mr Naun Nihal Singh, SP (Headquarters), the city police could not be held responsible and the lighter was not a prohibited article. He said it was not possible to frisk all undertrials and complete security at the bakshikhanna was not possible as it was in bad shape. He added that construction of bakshikhanna was not the job of the police as it was under the jurisdiction of the district courts.

According to sources, such security lapses could assume serious proportions if some undertrial managed to smuggle arms or weapons and cause harm to someone. A senior police official said the bakshikhanna was convenient for such activity. He said not only was it situated in an unsafe building, but offered free access at night. He added that the room had no roof and there had been instances of undertrials receiving things from relatives via this route.

Built in the early 20th century, the building had been declared unsafe by the government long ago, but no other accommodation had been provided for it due to paucity of space and funds. The gate and the windows had no wire mesh, due to which it was easy for anyone to supply a thing or a weapon to the undertrials.



Changing face of Ludhiana
K. S. Chawla

The face of this industrial capital of Punjab is changing with the local Municipal Corporation having taken up a number of major development projects.

Development works costing about Rs 100 crore are in progress. The civic body is now spending more than 60 per cent of its income on development works and establishment and contingency expenditure is less than 35 per cent.

Construction of a railway overbridge at the Ludhiana-Dhuri level crossing is one of the prestigious projects under way. The project is estimated to cost Rs 9.50 crore. Since the bus stand is located on the link road and all buses have to go via this route, this level crossing is a big traffic bottleneck. Work on this project is likely to be completed by October.

The corporation has also undertaken the construction of another railway overbridge at the level crossing at the Dhandari focal point. Work on this Rs 12.84 crore project will be completed in 2002.

The corporation has also proposed to construct an elevated bridge from the Jagraon bridge to Chand cinema on the GT Road passing through the city as this area is congested. The project, estimated to cost Rs 38 crore, is being opposed by certain political leaders. Some associations of shopkeepers are also opposing the construction of the bridge as they plead that their businesses will be hit. The bridge will help residents have easy access to the old town. Political differences among leaders of the ruling alliance in the state are also coming in the way of clearance of this project.

The corporation has revised the construction plan and put up the new design in the office of the Mayor to seek the approval of residents. Some people suggest that the elevated bridge should be built from Sherpur Chowk to the Salem Tabri bypass on GT Road to ease congestion.

The corporation also proposes to construct a flyover at Lakkar Pull which will connect the old and the new city (Civil Lines area). The flyover will be a direct link with the proposed elevated bridge. The Punjab Government has given the green light to the corporation for the construction of the elevated bridge.

The corporation has also taken up the construction of roads on both sides of the Budha Nullah after removing encroachments on about 250 acres. The Drainage Department has undertaken the cleaning of the nullah. The corporation has already provided piped drinking water in colonies on both sides of the nullah, says the corporation Commissioner, Dr S.S. Sandhu. He says the nullah is not polluting the ground water now.

The civic body has constructed three bridges on the Budha Nullah in Chander Nagar, Bajwa Nagar and Madhopuri. Besides, three more bridges have been built along the Sidhwan Canal on Gill Road, Pakhowal Road and behind Guru Nanak Public School. New residential colonies have come up along the canal.

Besides undertaking the construction of overbridges and roads, the corporation has taken steps to improve the environment. The horticulture wing of the corporation has planted 1.7 lakh saplings on various roads. The survival rate of the plants is 99 per cent, claims Dr Sandhu.

Rakh Bagh and Nehru Rose Garden are also being improved. A leisure valley is being created along the Sidhwan Canal from the Ferozepore road to the Dhuri line on 22.5 acres. A mini rose garden is also being set up in the old city near Kidwai Nagar.

However, much needs to be done to improve sanitation in the city. Dr Sandhu says that the necessary steps are being taken in that direction. 



Power theft in the name of God!
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
When city residents are facing power cuts due to scarcity of power, there is one religious organisation which considers power theft as its right. A 10-day religious festival is going on in the Daresi ground here, which will conclude on May 2. More than 10,000 persons are coming daily to listen to Anant Dass Mahant of Amritsar in the evening. Yagyas are organised during day time, besides other religious programmes. The organisers have found an easy way to run hundreds of tubelights, bulbs, fans, coolers, speakers and other electric gadgets by putting kundis on wires.

Neighbouring shopkeepers allege that the supply is being drawn from the streetlight wires. The organisers, however, claim that they have taken a temporary connection from the PSEB and arranged generators. Mr Ratan Singh, an organiser, said, “We have taken a temporary connection by furnishing Rs 10,000 as security. The meter has been installed by the board. Moreover, there is usually power cut in the evening”. However, securitymen working there revealed that this was just to deceive the board employees and fulfill the legal formality. But a large portion of the electricity supply is taken directly from the poles. The kundi connections can be seen near the ground and on the main road itself.

One of the shopkeepers alleged that, “This is a normal practice in all religious programmes organised here. The board employees seldom care to check power pilferage, especially if the organisers have taken a temporary connection”. The board employees could not be contacted to know the action being taken against the organisers for power theft.


Sops for ’84 riot victims
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
The Punjab Government has conceded several major demands of victims of 1984 riots and directions have been issued for speedy implementation of the decisions taken to this effect.

Children belonging to riot-affected families will now be entitled to a higher reservation of two per cent in technical institutions, including engineering and medical colleges.

According to Mr Surjit Singh, president of the Danga Peerit Welfare Society, Punjab, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in a meeting with senior government officials, has ordered immediate allotment of 38 MIG houses to riot victims in Patiala.

Further, the families occupying houses in the CRPF colony on the Dugri Road here, will also get LIG and MIG flats in the city.

Mr Surjit Singh, who has been appointed an observer for the House and Booth Allotment Committee, headed by the Deputy Commissioner, informed that the families, which had filled up occupancy forms of LIG, Phase II houses till October 31, 2000, would be allotted the houses already occupied by them.

The government, he added, had also decided to set up a senior secondary school in Dugri Urban Estate, Phase I, here. The construction of the school building would be undertaken by the Municipal Corporation on a piece of land allotted by Puda.

He said the riot victims, who could not so far get ‘red cards’ despite having submitted the applications for the same, would be issued these cards after due verification at the earliest.


The tribe of Thapars
M. S. Cheema

Thapars are a small close-knit group, historically linked with the making of Ludhiana. They made this city richer, better and wider. Who can forget the trio : Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev? Sukhdev Thapar was born on May 15, 1907. He shares the date of martyrdom (March 23, 1931) as well as the place of gallows (Lahore jail) with the other two. He has the same year of birth as Bhagat Singh (1907).

Sukhdev was born in his ancestral house (Naunghara, Baba Wehra). As one enters this history-making locality, one comes across a board pointing out the site of a godown of Oriental Bank, founded by a Thapar of Ludhiana, Lala Karam Chand Thapar. He built a chain of mills — jute mills, sugar mills, cotton and cloth mills, paper mills. He was the founder of Oriental Bank of Commerce. His role in banking is historic. Lala Karam Chand Thapar could spot the potential in a person and he took many Punjabis under his wings to teach them the possibilities in business and commerce. Thapar Engineering College is the pride of Patiala and an academic asset of Punjab which has one of the finest engineering campuses in the country.

Thapars outshone the others in the field of architecture. In Mohalla Thapran and Katra Nauharian one finds graceful houses and fine havelis. The haveli of Gurdial Singh Thapar takes one on a journey into the word of aesthetics. Bagh Sita Ram Singh is a landmark in architectural evolution this side of the Satluj.

Centuries ago, the Thapars lived in Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia. Some of them left Kabul for Peshawar and Rawalpindi. As time passed, they adopted Ludhiana as their new home. They brought some bricks and soil from the memorial of their community saint, Baba Gajju. This is preserved at the Ludhiana memorial in Gurdev Nagar. They are called Kabuli Thapars.

The Thapars occupied the safest and the central parts of the city. Once they owned most of the land in the town and its periphery — Daresi to Shivpuri, along the Budha Darya, Brahampuri, Madhopuri, Gowghat and Harbanspura. In the heart of the city, they owned properties near Ghas Mandi, Kachi Gali, Basati Bazar, Sarafan Bazar, etc. They developed mandis (Mandi Kesar Ganj) and markets (Raman Market).

Old timers recall that near Shivpuri-Daresi-Gowghat, the Thapars ran wrestling arenas (Akharas). They patronised wrestlers, mostly amateurs, for the love of health and body-culture. During dangals, the place looked like a festival of health. Many temples received liberal donations from the Thapars.

Jagraon, Ahmedabad, Khanna, Moga, Patiala and Chandigarh are the out-posts of Ludhianvi Thapars.



Flavour of the week

WITH the mercury soaring, the heat is becoming unbearable and mind you the worst months of May and June are still ahead. Due to electricity lines hanging hazardously low, the golden dreams of many a farmer have been turned to ashes. Their entire crop has been wiped out in a few hours. When will PSEB compensate them, if at all? What are they supposed to do in the meantime? These are the question troubling those farmers whose crops have been burnt to cinders due to faulty high-tension wires.

Is it Christmas time? The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on his sangat darshan to Ludhiana played Father Christmas, doling out gifts in cash and cheques to people and organisations who appealed to him. Most of the times, one is told that many development plans are not being carried out due to lack of finances and many government employees have not been paid salaries, then how come these freebies are being given so freely.

A two-day Bakery Workshop is being conducted at PAU. Experts have been invited to give nutritional recipes. This workshop has been organised to popularise baking. The participants seem to be happy learning new recipes.

The new movie released this week is a remake of ‘Fatal Attraction’. The makers of Hindi films seen to have always found the theme of marital affairs intriguing. ‘Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya’ has Fardeen Khan, Urmila Matondkar and Sonali Kulkarni in lead roles, ably supported by Suresh Oberoi and Ravi Vashwani. Jodi No. 1 is doing rather well, but last week’s release ‘Albela’ sank without a ripple.

In the summers, the preferred fabric is definitely cotton. Most readymade garment manufacturers worth their name are luring customers by making statements like 100 per cent English or Egyptian cotton. Cotton has come a long way from earlier times when it had to be made stiff after starching and had to be ironed by a dhobis.

If only one followed the advice of elders, one could save oneself from sun strokes. Little things like drinking sattu water, shardai, drinking water from earthen pots, wearing pastel colours, wearing cotton fabrics, avoiding synthetic clothes, avoiding hot spicy and junk food, regular exercising and walking could make summers more bearable.

The city is looking forward to the arrival of Shovna Narayan, a Kathak exponent of repute. Her play, along with co-star Sunit Tandon, based on the relationship of Yudhistra and Draupadi, has also received rave reviews. Shovana’s fans are excited and looking forward to seeing her perform.

Children are being kidnapped rather too frequently in the city. Parents are to be blamed partially for this. How come they do not educate their kids on this topic? Most of the young ones are lured by a sweet or a simple promise and the naive and gullible child trots off with the kidnapper. Parents have to be more careful and in case both parents are working and children left on their own, the children should firmly be told of the kidnappers’ tricks.

A lot of computer education centres have opened. Most of them charge a hefty fee. Now with summer holidays approaching, many kids will enroll themselves in one or the other computer school without knowing the merits and demerit of the courses or standard of education. AA


Free stitching school opened
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
Mr Charanjit Walia, a former MP, inaugurated a free stitching school of Prerna Kendra, a social organisation led by Dr Ranjit Kaur, at Jassian Road here yesterday. It also gifted some sewing machines.

The organisation has been fighting against illiteracy, inequality, maltreatment of women, poverty, unemployment, environment pollution, corruption, bribery and injustice for the past 12 years. It makes arrangements for education in backward rural areas, holds free medical camps, provides legal assistance to women and helps poor students, orphans and widows.


Six-year-old girl raped
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 28
A youth aged 21 years reportedly raped a 6 year-old-neighbour’s girl yesterday.

According to police sources, the accused Rakesh Kumar, brought the said girl to his house, forcibly raped and threatened to kill her, if she told about the incident to anybody, according to the statement of the victim’s mother.

The girl was brought to the local Civil Hospital for medical examination.

According to Mr Sushil Kumar, DSP Samrala, SHO, Arvind Puri, the accused was arrested within a few hours. Case under Sections 376, 342 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, have been registered.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |