Saturday, August 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Scalpel of hope
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 17
“About 90 per cent of the total burn patients in India are women and children. Over 70 -72 per cent burn cases are reported from homes due to negligence and lack of safety devices. The remaining 28 per cent cases are of industrial and chemical burns.” This was disclosed by Dr Ashok Gupta, a renowned plastic surgeon from Mumbai who is also the president of the India chapter of Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, US-based non-government organisation. He was in the city to perform surgeries sponsored by the FSSG on congenital deformity patients at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.

Dr Gupta, along with Ms Allison Saxman, Associate Director, FSSG, will perform over 15 such surgeries at DMCH during the two-day surgery session that started here today. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Ms Saxman, said FSSG was a non-profit charitable group with a mission to extend the benefits of advanced quality reconstructive surgery free of cost to underprivileged children, who suffer from physical deformities caused by accidents, diseases or birth defects. “The surgeons in Ludhiana are not only dedicated, but efficient too. They are concerned about their patients,” she added.

Dr Gupta said, as Ludhiana had dedicated surgeons and the equipment required for these surgeries, the NGO had decided to extend its help here to those who could not afford to go to Mumbai. He added that surgeries would be performed to correct a wide-range of deformities, like ear deformities, webbed fingers, extra digits, cleft lift and palate, crania-facial anomalies, among other things. Besides, intricate structures would also be reconstructed through microsurgery.

Dr Gupta said patients with congenital deformities were neglected by society. “Many of them are abandoned by their families just because of a birth defect on their face,” he said.

Dr Sanjiv Uppal, a plastic surgeon at DMCH, said, “We are extending help to people with limited resources, who cannot afford the cost of treatment and surgery. The patients here have to pay minimal cost for the surgery, which is not more than Rs 3000.” He added that eight surgeries had been performed so far, including a rare surgery of a five-month-old child. Besides him, the surgeries were being assisted by some other surgeons of DMCH, including Dr Chiranjiv Gill and Dr P. D. S. Nain, he said.


Police sets up ‘Cold Cases Squad’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
In a novel move, the Ludhiana police has set up a “Cold Cases Squad” to re-start investigation into unsolved crime cases of the past 5 years. In the beginning the police will concentrate on murder cases and subsequently cases relating to robbery, snatching and kidnapping would be taken up.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, SSP, Ludhiana, said a large number of unsolved cases were haunting the city police for the last several years. Due to shortage of force, concentrated action on solving such cases could not be taken.

He said in order to give due attention to these cases, the police had decided to set up the unique squad, which would work under his supervision and would have SP(D) and an Inspector as key members.

The SSP, however, could not give details about the exact numbers of unsolved cases. He said the cases would be re-opened shortly.

Sources said the Ludhiana police had particularly drawn flak in the past due to its failure in solving a number of cases particularly the murder of three members of a family in Nandpur village and the subsequent robbery in their house. Another major incident case that has remained unsolved involved a bomb explosion that took place in district courts on the eve of Independence Day last year. The police was making an inventory of other such cases.

Sources said the new move could produce mixed results only as there was wide possibility that the persons and clues related to a crime may not be available to the police. The move may, however, prove beneficial to a large number of relatives of the victims of such unsolved cases who were moving from pillar to the post to get justice.


CM urged not to abolish octroi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 17
Employees of the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Punjab, demanding that octroi duties should not be abolished.

Stating this, the employees said with the abolition of octroi the corporation was likely to face a serious financial crunch and may even find it difficult to pay the salary to its employees. They also stated that employees who have rendered 240 days of service should be given confirmation.

The MC employees further said the rate of interest on provident fund be increased to 12.5 per cent and a bonus of 12.5 per cent be given to them. The employees also demanded that they should be exempted from water supply and sewerage tax. Besides, they also demanded that projects of parks assigned to non-registered societies be stopped as it lead to misuse of MC funds.

Employees of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on Friday staged a dharna in protest against the reported move of the government to abolish octroi in the state. A number of employees gathered outside the corporation office raised slogans against any move to abolish octroi. Various speakers said there would be a grave financial crisis in case octroi was abolished. Addressing the employees the president of the Punjab Nagarpalika Karamchari Mahasangh, Mr Hansraj Gagar, urged the government not to go ahead with this move. He said that in some other states, where octroi had been abolished, the employees had been left without salary. He claimed that some employees had even committed suicide as they could not see their families starve to death. The employees were supported by several other labour and employees’ unions. Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were Mr Lovely Paul, Mr K.C. Gupta, Mr Balwant Rai, Mr Baldev Raj, Mr Madan Lal Josh, Mr Shiv Prasad, Mr Ram Sukh and Mr Ram Krishen.

Fatehgarh Sahib: Hundred of employees from all municipal councils of the district organised a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today urging the government not to abolish the octroi in the state.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Gurcharan Bhatia and Mr Ram Lubhaya, both employees’ leaders, urged the government to continue the collection of octroi. They said if the government decided to abolish it under the ‘pressure’ of certain vested traders, thousands of employees involved in its collection would become unemployed. Moreover, this would ultimately affect the development projects in towns and cities.

They said if the government tried to impose taxes on the public to recover the loss caused due to abolition, the public would not spare it as they are already paying heavy taxes.

They suggested that if the government wanted to please the traders, it can abolish the transit permit system and the permit fees should be taken only in that town where the goods has to be delivered instead of charging in every town. To control the problem of traffic on octroi posts, the strength of the staff could be increased so that the octroi receipt is made earlier. They also suggested that the rates of the octroi could be lowered so that the traders may pay the octroi at their own and the theft could be controlled.

However, the confusing statements of the government regarding abolition has created a panic and chaos among traders as well as octroi contractors and staff of the councils. The collection of octroi of the Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib was given on contract today, which clearly indicates that the government is befooling the traders just to take the benefit of the ensuing Assembly elections. Octroi contractors said if the octroi was abolished the government would suffer a loss of more than Rs 560 crore annually.

Latter, employees submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

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