Tuesday, May 1, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Dumping of explosives: DC seeks govt help
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
Taking a serious note of the recent recovery of live shells from the Sirhind Canal near Doraha and subsequent reports of the possibility of more such shells buried in the canal or elsewhere in the district, the Deputy Commissioner has urged the Central Government to evolve means to ensure that explosives are not dumped in the state along with scrap imported from West Asia.

The administration has also taken a serious view of the dumping of explosives like RDX and grenades in form of case properties in different police stations of the district. It has directed the SSP’s of three police districts - Ludhiana, Khanna and Jagraon to dispose them off as early as possible.

The action comes in the wake of startling reports that a large number of explosives, suspected Howitzer shells, have been dumped at several places in the Sirhind Canal and at other places in the district.

The danger lurks in not only the river and certain villages situated on its bank but also for the residents’ living near at least three police stations in the district. While explosives like the Howitzer shells have been dumped carelessly in the courtyard of Payal police station, RDX and grenades have been dumped in Focal Point and Sadar police station of the city.

According to the Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu, ‘‘ As per the reports reaching my office, the explosives are of two kinds. One, those recovered from the canals or from the scrap and other, RDX and grenades in the form of case properties kept in the police stations.

The DC said he had written letter to the Central Government through the Principal Secretary, Home, urging them to immediate action about the regular dumping of such shells in the state and especially in the district.

He said Ludhiana and Khanna being the industrial centres most of the scrap was imported here.

After the Gulf War , a large number of explosives were found in garbage dumps and rivers. The explosives had arrived in the state along with the scrap imported from West Asia.

According to the letters by the DC, the Central Government has been urged to evolve a system in which at the time of the import someone should certify that the scrap does not include explosives. He said the explosives should also be diffused at the cost of the importer only.

The issue of the safety of residents living near the police stations where the explosives have been dumped assumes significance in the wake of the fire incident at Pathankot ammunition depot and certain incidents in the past in which the explosives had exploded in the Sirhind canal.

According to reports, more than 150 pieces of explosives have been dumped since 1994 at the Payal police station. The explosives had been seized in different instances from the Sirhind Canal. In one such operation a villager was killed when a shell exploded.

Military sources say that the manner in which the explosives have been kept in the city police stations the residents of the city seem to be sitting on a powder keg. 


Farmers blame PSEB for fires
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
More and more fires in wheat fields are being reported with an alarming regularity. Most of them are being caused by sparking in high tension electric wires running above these fields. Only today, two more farmers Daljit Singh and Harjit Singh of Khassian Kallan village approached the Deputy Commissioner seeking compensation for the damage to their crops.

The farmers said, the fire was caused due to sparking in the electric wires running above their fields. They pointed out the wires were quite old and had not been changed for many years. Moreover, the wires had become loose as they had not been tightened.

The two farmers alleged that at certain places the wires had come down quite low.

The farmers claimed that although Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials were intimated about these wires many times, the officials did not care to repair and tighten the wires, as a result the farmers had to suffer huge losses.

On the other hand the fire tenders were reportedly not available without a price. The farmers disclosed that the fire brigade officials had been insisting on a minimum charge of Rs 300 per hour for their services. However, the DC was reported to have issued orders that the farmers should not be charged in case of fire in their fields.

Several acres of standing wheat had already been destroyed by the raging fires in the fields during past several days, resulting in the losses to the tune of lakhs of rupees.

Meanwhile, the Financial Commissioner (revenue), Mrs Shyama Mann, in a communication to all Deputy Commissioners, clarified that the PSEB Chairman had authorised the local executive engineers to assess the losses caused due to the sparking in wires and directed the PSEB to pay the compensation. The letter said, instead of referring the fire cases to the Revenue Department, these should be directly forwarded to the PSEB for compensation.

Procurement agencies warned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 30
The Punjab Government was committed to purchase each and every grain of wheat crop brought to the grain markets by the farmers and strict instructions have been issued to all the procurement agencies to speed up the work for purchasing wheat. This was stated by Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board while addressing a function after inaugurating the water supply scheme at Ladhowal, on the outskirts of the city, last evening.

Sounding a note of warning to officials and employees of the state procurement agencies, Mr Ghuman said that those guilty of causing harassment to the farmers will be sternly dealt with. The government was maintaining a strict vigil over the working of arhtiyas (commission agents) in different mandis and till date licences of around 40 arhtiyas were cancelled for various irregularities.

Commenting on the performance of the Punjab Mandi Board, he claimed that its income had registered a healthy rise and a record budget of Rs 600 crore was adopted for the current financial year. The Mandi Board planned to set up ultra modern grain markets at several places in the state to strengthen the marketing network for the farm produce and the first such market will come up in the city at an estimated cost of Rs 15 crore. The proposed markets will have all modern facilities, including adequate cold storage provisions for fruits and vegetables in order to exploit the huge potential in export market. Stressing the need for diversification of crops and shifting from traditional crop rotation of wheat and paddy, he said the farm experts would be actively involved in the task and the farmers will be motivated to reduce the area under traditional crops and to go in for other crops like maize and cotton.

Mr Ghuman presented a cheque for Rs 1 Lakh to Mr Baljit Singh, sarpanch for pavement of streets and drains in Bachan Singh Nagar village and disbursed sanction letters for pensions to 55 beneficiaries. Responding to the demands of the residents, he announced that a bridge would be constructed over the Budha Nullah to connect Chuharpur-Ballowal Road with Humbran-Ladhowal byepass. Further, he assured that the proposed 120-feet road to provide access to the Central Seed Farm, Ladhowal, will be built on the Dhussi Bandh of the Sutlej river to save the farmers from being uprooted.

Prominent among those present at the occasion were Mr Mohinder Singh Grewal, district development and panchayat officer, Mr Gagan Partap Singh Bhanohar, circle president, Akali jatha Dakha, Ms Manjit Kaur Gogi, councillor, Ms Rajwinder Kaur, sarpanch Ladhowal, Mr Sarbjit Singh Pannu, secretary, market committee and mr Baljit Singh BDPO.Back


PSEB staff call for new management model
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
The Employees Federation of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has called for a new development model for the better management of the board. In its meeting held here yesterday, the federation has admitted that the electricity board has badly failed to fulfill the expectations of the consumers in the recent years.

The increasing losses of state electricity boards under the management of the state government and the failure of the private sector in other states have necessitated the need of new approaches to the management.

Presenting the new model, Mr Baljinder Singh, general secretary, Employees Federation, PSEB, said: “Both state-led development model and market-led models have become irrelevant as the former has failed to fulfill the supply gap in the country and the latter is unable to provide electricity to the rural and other lower sections of the society.

The recent failure of privatisation of electricity supply in Andhra Pardesh, Orissa and Maharashtra show the hollowness of the claims made by market ideologues.”

The Employees’ Federation in its state executive committee meeting held recently has approved the new model. It suggests that the PSEB should be designated as Punjab Electricity Management Board, having a statutory autonomous status, with no political and administrative interference.

Elaborating the new model, Mr Faljit Singh, state president of the federation, said: “The board should be democratised by disinvesting 50 per cent of its shares to two sections of people — 30 per cent to consumers and 20 per cent to workers. Following the financial weightage, the management board should comprise 40 per cent state nominees, 30 per cent share holding consumers representatives, 20 per cent share-holding workers representatives and 10 per cent trade union elected representatives.”

It will increase the financial resources of the board in addition to making responsible towards the consumers and state. The new board can take steps to ensure 3 per cent rate of return on invested capital besides providing power at reasonable rate, he added.

Pointing out the need for a new experiment, Mr Baljinder Singh pointed out the transmission and distribution loses had reached 33 per cent in the state. The most worrisome aspect was that board had become financially unviable entity at a time when the state was already on the verge of bankruptcy.

He said: “The Engineers and officers’ associations are opposing the electricity bill 2000 while demanding status quo position. They do not propose even a single structural change in the management and operation practices. The supporters of privatisation of the board are unable to grasp the ground realities in the state. Moreover, there were few takers for the board at least in the present.”

The federation has urged the state government and the consumers to consider the proposed management model that would be people and environment-friendly. It will result in the supply of the required power at reasonable rate


PNB official commits fraud
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, April 30
Following reports of irregularities committed by a senior official, the Punjab National Bank has started inspection of the records in its various branches.

According to information given by a bank employee on the condition of anonymity, an official of a local branch of the PNB was committing irregularities in calculating of interest of the customers. It was alleged that the official calculated the interest and signed it himself and got signature from other officer concerned on the voucher of the calculated interest. After that he reportedly used to write an increased amount on the signed voucher and the transferred the excess amount in any other account allegedly opened in the name of his relatives. He used to further transfer the money in his own account.

The bank employee further said that some days before the official calculated interest of a customer and after signing the voucher , he changed the money and tried to make a draft of the excess money in favour of some other account holder . But the dealing clerk got suspicious and informed the higher officials about these suspicious dealings.

The matter was then brought to the knowledge of a senior regional manager, Mr K.I. Singh, who then deputed an officer to inspect the irregularities, if any, had been committed by the said official in various branches which include Khanna main branch, Bank colony branch, Shivpuri branch, Ludhiana and Feroze Gandhi Market branch, Ludhiana. When contacted the manager of the branch where the official was working at present, denied to comment on the issue. However, the manager of the main branch, Mr B.K. Sharma, confirmed that there were some reports of irregularities and that the higher authorities have deputed officers to check the records. He further said that a clear picture would emerge after the inspection was completed that whether any irregularity had been committed or not.

He confirmed that the said official had been relieved from the branch to RCC section Ludhiana but till today, he had not joined the new assignment given to him. It was also confirmed that his bank accounts had also been sealed.

The zonal manager and the senior regional manager were not available for comments when contacted.


SAD-BJP govt a failure: Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 30
Scathing attacks were made on the SAD-BJP government in Punjab led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting of Congress workers held at Meharban Masjid on Rahon Road here last evening. Speakers charged the government with making the state bankrupt, betrayal of the masses and failure to solve the day-to-day problems of the people.

Mr Nahar Singh Gill, General Secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), observed that the government had failed to fulfill its poll promises and many vital issues concerning the state. The ruling coalition stood exposed before the masses and apprehending its defeat, the government, as a desperate move, was resorting to doling out grants as sangat darshan programmes in urban areas.

Former Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Dakha and District Congress Committee President Surinder Dawar flayed the rampant corruption at all levels in the administration. "Government jobs are up for grab for those who can pay the price." They said the people from all walks of life were feeling frustrated and they were just waiting for the next assembly elections so that the SAD-BJP combine could be taught a lesson.

Despite having been thoroughly exposed in the Tehelka tapes, the NDA government was clinging to power which was most unfortunate for the country and the democratic set-up.

Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, Secretary, PPCC, and Mr Pawan Diwan, Chairman, Urban Development Cell of the Indian Youth Congress, also addressed the meeting. Prominent among those present were Mr Prem Mittal, former Deputy Mayor, Mr Kuldip Janda, Ms Asha Garg, Mr Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Mr Kanwardeep Singh Pappi, Mr Surinder Chinda, Ms Baljinder Kaur and Mr Suresh Soni (all councillors), Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Chadha, Mr Sardul Singh Grewal and Mr Akshay Bhanot, Chairman, district unit of the Urban Development Cell.


Majha to be FMD-free zone
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
The Centre has approved a state Animal Husbandry Department project for creating an FMD-free zone in Punjab. This zone will fall mostly in the Majha region.

Dr G.S. Chahal, Director of the Punjab Animal Husbandry Department, announced this at a seminar on foot-and-mouth disease organised by the Alumni Association of the College of Veterinary Science in Pal Auditorium of Punjab Agricultural University here today. He said the government would release Rs 100 crore for this project.

He said the state would not allow animals to enter or leave the area and it was being done according to the WTO treaty. He said there was no migration of animals into this belt and only sheep and goats were being brought in or sent out of the area.

He said movement of these animals could be checked by creating checkposts on bridges. He said there was hardly any movement of cattle from Himachal Pradesh, but the movement from Haryana could cause problems, so, this state had also been included in the project.

Dr Chahal said, under the project, the vaccination of animals would be made mandatory in the state to certify that these did not carry any disease or pathogens. Certification would also have to be obtained before selling animal products in the international market.

Dr Chahal also said, for creating a disease-free zone, economic competitiveness of farmers was necessary, for which, scientific methods of breeding animals would be promoted.

He said the project would also include a feed and fodder package for farmers and health cover for cattle. He said marketing and procurement of products was also important.

Dr Kartar Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the PAU, who inaugurated the seminar, said, “The recent spread FMD in north India is a matter of concern, but we should not panic. Livestock is an important part of our economy and health and management of milch cattle is everyone’s concern.”

He said, “Because of the FMD, India is losing Rs 4,000 crore every year. Government agencies and veterinary scientists sould find a solution soon.”

Dr M.S. Oberoi, Head of the PAU Department of Microbiology, stressed the need for the creation of more FMD-free zones and testing the potency of the FMD vaccines. He said the creation of the FMD-free zones was important for international trade in livestock and animal products. He said the World Animal Health Organisation had marked rinderpest disease, the FMD and contagious bovine pneumonia as the strongest threats to animal health worldwide.

Dr Oberoi said the development of the HS (gal ghotu) in the FMD caused more losses. He said vaccination was the only way of preventing an epidemic. He also some countries had eradicated this disease by even slaughtering infected animals, but such methods could not be adopted here.

He said restricted movement of infected animals, prompt reporting of an outbreak and documentary evidence helped in preventing an epidemic. He said Gurdaspur and Amritsar regions, that were isolated by natural barriers, could be turned into the FMD-free zones.

The other speakers at the seminar included Dr K.P. Singh of the CCS in Haryana Agricultural University of Hisar and Dr D.R. Sharma, Head of the PAU Department of Preventive Medicine.Back


Director booked for duping students
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
On the recommendation of the district administration, the Jagraon police has registered a case of forgery and cheating against Dr A.K. Banerjee, director of the controversial Institute of Paramedical Training, Raikot.

Mr Jaskaran Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagraon, told Ludhiana Tribune today that Dr Banerjee had been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468, 469 and 120, IPC. He had been accused of duping over 100 students of lakhs of rupees by offering them different one-year paramedical degrees. The registration of the case comes in the wake of an outcry of the students and the doctors of the region. While the students had approached the Raikot IMA unit with a complaint of being defrauded by the institute, the IMA unit had taken upon itself to pick up cudgels with the institute.

The IMA unit visited New Delhi several times to investigate the affiliation granted to the institute. It procured sufficient evidence to prove the fake affiliation. Subsequently, the Jagraon police also got an inquiry conducted and found similar evidence against the institute.

Meanwhile, District Magistrate S.K. Sandhu also got an inquiry conducted by Additional Deputy Commissioner S.R. Kaler. After taking legal advice from the District Attorney the registration of a case of cheating against the institute was recommended.


BJP tells Mayor to hold MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 30
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has served an ultimatum on to the City Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, to hold a general house meeting of the Municipal Corporation within 72 hours to discuss several important issues, failing which the party would be forced to adopt ‘other means’ to focus on the pending issues, concerning the welfare of the city and its residents.

A letter to this effect, signed by Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Jagdish Prasad Loomba, BJP group leader, Mr Pran Bhatia, and several party councillors, including Mr Sunil Mehra, was submitted to the Mayor. The party has pointed out that the general house meeting should be immediately convened to review the flood control measures in the city, in the wake of the forthcoming monsoon season. Further, effective measures were needed for desilting of the Budha Nullah, clearing of encroachments on roads being constructed along the Budha Nullah and other public places in the city.

That the BJP, a partner in the ruling alliance in the MC, has chosen to come out in the open against the City Mayor is a manifestation of an ongoing cold war between the BJP and the MC top brass. For quite some time now, the party has been criticising the MC administration, especially the Mayor and the MC Commissioner, over various pretexts, be it the pace of development works, the construction of flyovers and the proposed elevated road.

In this context, it may be mentioned that only recently, about half a dozen BJP councillors had submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Minister for Local Bodies, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, to order a high-level probe in to the Budha Nullah project, under which roads along the nullah are under construction at a cost of over Rs 12 crore.


Lost child brought back
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, April 30
Mr Kuldip Singh and Ms Kulwant Kaur, parents of Johny ‘Pinky’, were elated to see their only son return home yesterday after spending five days with a CRPF constable and a resident of Faridabad.

The boy is a Standard II student of Arya School at Doraha who had left the house on April 24 without telling his parents.

The boy’s father said, “Johny had left the house to meet his uncle who is in railway police and lives in Delhi. Johny believed that if he boarded a train from Doraha, it would reach his uncle’s place. However, he forgot to get down at Delhi, after which, another passenger, Mr Raju Sharma, found him and took him to his house at Faridabad. After this Mr Raju and a CRPF constable, Mr Mahipal, brought Johny back to his house. 


Sangat darshan
 Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 30
The first sangat darshan programme, exclusively for the people residing within the municipal limits of the city, will be organised on May 2 at Bachat Bhawan here. Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, will preside, while Dr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr Kuldip Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, and all heads of other government departments will attend the programme.

According to Mr Sandhu, the sangat darshan programme was being launched to focus on the problems of the people in urban areas and to arrange for speedy redressal of their grievances. Mr Parkash Singh Badal had made an announcement during a sangat darshan programme here on April 22 that monthly sangat darshan sessions would be convened in the four major towns — Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala — on the first of every month to address the problems of the people within city limits.


50 persons lose security cover
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 30
Security cover of 50 persons here has either been withdrawn or curtailed. These include leaders of ruling and Opposition parties, according to Mr Naunihal Singh, Superintendent of Police (Headquarters). As many as 150 securitymen have been withdrawn by the state police. 


Doctor booked in attempt-to-rape case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 30
In a shocking incident, a city-based doctor has been booked by the police on the charge of attempt to rape and assault a minor girl.

The dental doctor running his clinic in Ghumar Mandi was released on bail by a district court this afternoon after he was arrested by the Division No. 5 police last night. SSP Kuldip Singh has directed the DSP (Headquarters) to investigate further into the case.

According to an FIR lodged under sections 354, 376 and 511 by the girl’s father, the incident took place at the doctor’s clinic last evening. The complainant, a resident of Vishal Nagar, alleged that he had gone to the doctor with his 12-year-old daughter who was complaining of a dental ailment.Back


3 booked in land fraud case
Our Correspondent

Khamano, April 30
Three persons, including a woman, Avtar Kaur, her son, Chhinder Singh, and their relative, Satnam Singh, residents of Kalwal village, near here, have been booked in a fraud case by the Khamano police under Sections 420 and 406, IPC.

According to information available Gurmeet Singh, son of Surjan Singh of Sohana village, had reached an agreement to sell 25 kanals and 5 biswas with the accused. The rate of the total land was fixed at 8 lakh and he had received Rs 5 lakh as earnest money June 4, 1997. The agreement was signed with Inderjit Singh of Prempura, Mohinder Singh Meheshpur and Jit Singh of Burj as witnesses.

But on the date fixed the accused did not turn up. They refused to draw the will in the name of Gurmeet Singh and also refused to give the money back. Later they gave the power of attorney of the land to their relative Satnam Singh.

Gurmeet Singh, who had purchased the land, had also got a stay order from a court in his favour. On behalf of it the police registered the case against the accused and arrested Avtar Kaur and Satnam Singh and they were produced in a court in Fatehgarh Sahib yesterday.

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