Friday, October 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

 

 

Protesters block traffic on Chandigarh road
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
Vehicular traffic on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway was disrupted for more than two hours today after the activists of the Panthic Morcha held a dharna on the main road at Khamano Mandi to protest against incidents of burning of ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib at several places in the state.

The protesters were demanding registration of criminal cases against Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. An effigy of Baba Bhaniara was also burnt.

Reports reaching here said that the road was blocked at around 11.30 am which led to serpentine queues of vehicles on both sides of the small mandi town.

While some buses were stuck in the jam, others diverted their vehicles to village link roads.

Several bus passengers, travelling on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh route said the two-hour journey took more than three hours, causing a lot of inconvenience to them.

The blockage was lifted at around 1.30 pm but it took a lot more time to clear the traffic jam and restore normal vehicular movement on the highway.

Amloh: The activists of the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the Congress took out a rally in protest against the burning of ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib.

Starting from Gurdwara Singh Sabha, it passed through the main bazaar and ended at the Nabha Chowk.

The protesters carried placards, banners and flags, demanding strict action against those responsible for sacrilege of birs.

They also burnt an effigy of Baba Piara Singh and staged a dharna, blocking the traffic on the Nabha-Gobindgarh Road for an hour.
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Land registered in name of non-existent woman!
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 4
This may sound incredible but it is true. The land revenue officials have entered about seven acres of land in the name of a woman who does not exist. Four brothers, who claim to be the actual owners of the land, have filed so many cases and won. Yet the revenue officials remain adamant in still showing the ‘non existing’ woman as the owner of the land.

According to Pritam Singh, one of these brothers, they owned 53 kanals of land in Bains village falling in Ludhiana tehsil and district. He said they had inherited the land from their parents. However, to their utter dismay, they found the land had been transferred in the name of Kuldeep Kaur, who was reportedly the daughter of Darbara Singh of the same village. But Pritam Singh claimed, ‘‘Darbara Singh has no daughter of this name and he has given this fact to us in an affidavit and which has helped us win the case and yet the revenue officials remain adamant in harassing us’’.

Pritam Singh and his brothers today approached the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S K Sandhu, at the weekly sangat darshan programme. Pritam Singh said he was expecting some permanent solution as whenever they got the issue resolved, the revenue officials came again to question their ownership of the land. He said, ‘‘The land is in our possession for generations. Despite that we have been telling them (the revenue officials) to present Kuldeep Kaur before us which they have not been able to’’.

In another case Balraj Singh, Sarpanch of Kotmura village in Jagaron subdivision, alleged that some people claiming to be the relatives of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had cut trees in the forest land of the village. He said that about 200 acres of his land had been taken in possession by the forest department in 1971.

The department had planted trees on it. However, recently some people cut the trees. It was after his intervention that the issue became public. When the forest officials visited the spot, they saw some people cutting the trees. He claimed, although the police had registered a case, no action had been taken, since the accused were reportedly related to the Chief Minister. The Deputy Commissioner said that he would himself look into the matter. He also directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Jagaron, to refer the file to him.

According to an official press release, 55 complaints came up for hearing at today’s progamme and 40 were settled on the spot. 
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Computer education in govt schools a flop show’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
Computer education programmes in collaboration with private companies cannot be successful in government schools. Students from such schools are usually not ready to pay the fee even though it is much less than the charges they would have to pay at any private centre. Since the private companies target at least 200 students per school and there are not as many applicants, such programmes turn out to be flop shows.

This was stated by Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Punjab, who was the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the Punjab Champions College Hockey League on the Astroturf of Punjab Agricultural University. Talking to mediapersons, Mr Tota Singh said that in a joint venture with the NIIT, it was planned to launch computer education programme in 700 government schools in Punjab by April this year, however, the programme has been started only in five to six schools and 80 more schools have come up with over 200 applicants each.

Regarding the formation of elementary directorate, the minister said since there was opposition from some teacher unions, the project has been postponed. “We would first listen to their grievances and proposals and then take necessary step,” he said.

Over the repeated demands of the Association of Punjab School Education Board Affiliated Schools, Mr Tota Singh said it would be impossible to exempt them from paying road tax for their school buses. It was also not possible to lower the fee for setting up examination centre in schools. as the fee was already quite less and the schools would have to pay the amount for the purpose, he added. He said that he had already conceded to their demand by exempting them from getting fresh affiliation while opening a new branch of the same school within two kilometres of radius of the school.

Talking about the demand of the students of Punjab Agricultural University to advertise posts for 300 school teachers for agriculture subject, the minister said the decision was still pending with the Cabinet and is expected to come out at the next meeting. Over the filling of vacancies for JBT teachers, he said since the matter is still pending with the court, the schools would have to do without teachers. He, however, said that panchayats in some villages were appointing teachers on contract basis due to acute shortage of staff in some places.

Regarding sport activities, Mr Tota Singh said much was being done by the State Education Department to uplift the standards. He said that the recent Asian Junior Hockey Tournament had been very successful and in the next month, the department would hold international hockey tournament in which teams from over six countries were likely to participate. He said that three teams including that from England have already accepted the invitation.
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Lakkar Bazar shops burgled
Our correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
A group of burglars invaded a couple of shops in Lakkar Bazar chowk and decamped with Rs 4,000 and a 14-inch colour TV set from one of the shops dealing in furniture last night.

When this correspondent visited the spot, a number of small and big portfolio bags in the rear office of the shop lay scattered around the place.

The burglars were so desperate in their search that they subjected everything to a search. Drawers were broke opened and cushions and bags and everything else was turned upside down. Droplets of wax all over the place suggested the burglars had avoided using the electric lights and instead used candles and papers for lighting.

The burglars found Rs 4,000 in a drawer of the shop counter in the front which they yanked out of the counter with the help of some instrument such as a screw driver.

Mr Swaran Singh, owner of the shop, told that the burglars managed to get hold of a ladder at the back of the shop which they used for climbing on to the roof from where they made their way into the shop.

The burglars also ransacked his neighbour's shop but they found nothing there. In the other shop also, burnt papers were found. Apparently, the burglars made their escape the same way they had made their entry.

However, at the time of this correspondent's visit to the spot, a couple of cops from Division No. 3 police station were writing down the FIR at the shop's counter, while the office at the rear of the shop, from where the burglars took away the TV set, was open to anybody. There were no fingerprints found around.
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No shortage of storage space for paddy,
claims Mittal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
The contracts a for capacity of 22 lakh metric tonnes covered godowns has already been finalised by the government and tenders for another eight lakh MT were in the process, which would be in addition to the existing capacity. This was stated by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister for Food and Supplies, Punjab, here today while claiming that there was no shortage of storage space for the paddy being procured by the government agencies.

Addressing a news conference here last evening, Mr Mittal assured the rice millers that till further instructions, only levy rice would be accepted by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The government would continue to accept the levy rice on priority as it had been doing in previous years. He said that the instructions about the same had already been issued to the FCI and the millers should go ahead to purchase paddy now.

He disclosed that the government had intentionally postponed the movement of foodgrain through railway specials, as that hampered the procurement process because labour used to get busy with loading and unloading of railway specials. With the movement of foodgrain suspended for the time being, there was no lifting problem in mandis and it was being done on day to day basis. Movement of food grains through special rail will be taken up in full swing as soon as paddy arrival decreased.

Mr Mittal stated that ever since the commencement of the paddy season, he had visited a large number of mandis in various districts and had found that farmers were by and large happy and satisfied with the procurement process and were confident about the purchase of their entire produce. He appreciated the efforts being put by the procurement agencies and the administration for conducting whole operation smoothly.

Giving details of the procurement of paddy in the state so far, the minister disclosed that till date 36 lakh MT of paddy had been procured, of which government agencies had purchased 29 lakh MT and millers 6.80 lakh MT. During the corresponding period last year 19 lakh MT paddy had been procured. The food and supplies department had purchased 3.73 lakh MT, Markfed 6 lakh MT, PUNSUP 5.25 lakh MT, Punjab State Warehousing 4.80 lakh MT, Punjab Agro 2 lakh MT and FCI the 7.36 lakh MT of paddy

Meanwhile, Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a meeting of the district officials and officers of procurement agencies, said the administration had directed all the procurement agencies to clear the payments for the purchase up to October 2 as there was no shortage of funds. He appealed to the farmers not to harvest their paddy during night time to avoid problems coming in the way of purchase of paddy.

The Deputy Commissioner appreciated the farmers for bringing their paddy gradually to the mandis which had made the process of procurement smoother. He directed the officers of procurement agencies to intensively visit mandis for checking the procurement operations and lifting of paddy. He further said that priority would be given to the delivery of the levy rice.

Others who attended the meeting were Mr S.R. Kaler, ADC, Mr Parveen Vij, DFSC, and Mr Vipan Kapoor, District Mandi Officer, besides the District Managers of all the procurement agencies.
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Alarming trend of drug addiction among schoolchildren
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 4
There is an alarming rise of drug addiction among schoolchildren in Ludhiana. According to some leading psychiatrists and teachers of various educational institutions students of Class VIII and above are the most affected. Despite vigil by parents and teachers, more and more adolescents are getting hooked to various kinds of drugs, including cough syrup, proxyvon capsules and sleeping pills. Those among addicts who do not get a “good kick” from these drugs, they get dependent on drugs like opium, charas and even smack.

The drug menace has penetrated deep into the lives of the youth and even children. Several schools in the city have been regularly organising seminars, workshops and lectures against drug addiction, keeping in view the sudden increase in the number of drug addicts in schools, says some local social workers.

On condition of anonymity, a social worker revealed that on subsequent visits to several schools in the city by her and her colleagues it was found that one or the other minor was hooked to some kind of drug at one time or the other.

Dr Rajiv Gupta, a city based psychiatrist, said that on an average 10 to 12 schoolchildren both from urban and rural areas, visited his clinic every week. He said, “I was surprised when the parents of a boy who was in Class VIII approached me. He felt dejected and humiliated because he was unable to cope up with the studies and his parents were too demanding. He started taking cough syrups like benadryl and phensidryl.”

Dr Gupta said that the drug-addiction menace in the city is perhaps the highest in the region and has assumed alarming proportions. He said the main reasons of drug addiction included bad company, easily available drugs, touring jobs of parents, parents’ expectations to be on top in studies.

“Not only boys but girls also take various kinds of drugs. Parents in the city are too busy to spare time for their children. Children become frustrated and humiliated and get hooked to drugs. Empty bottles of different cough syrups and pouches of gutkha can be seen lying outside many schools”, said Dr Rajiv Gupta.

Dr B.P. Mishra, consultant clinical psychologist at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune revealed that he received three to four school drug addicts every day. Most of these students were from middle and upper middle class families. He said that more and more schoolchildren were moving towards abusive drugs.

“There is a lot of tension and frustration among school kids due to excessive burden of studies. Parents have very high expectations from their wards. The easily available money is also one of the reasons of drug addiction. The students get these drugs very easily from chemists without prescription,” said Dr Mishra.

Dr Mishra revealed that there was an increasing tendency of drug addiction among girls from middle class families.

According to a de-addiction centre, more and more teenagers in the city were becoming addict. Over 70 per cent patients coming for treatment were under 20 years of age. One of its workers, on condition of anonymity, said that youths took to drugs due to several factors, including it being a status symbol, escapist tendencies and lack of proper care and attention from parents and the children were getting hooked just to satisfy their curiosity about an eatable commonly taken by their friends or some elder member of the family.
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Demolition issue will not be politicised’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 4
The managing committee of the Durga Mata Mandir Trust today resolved that it would not allow the issue of the demolition of the outer pillars of the temple to be communalised or politicised. Addressing a joint press conference on the temple premises here today, the members said it was a purely religious issue involving the faith and belief of lakhs of people.

The president of the trust, Mr Kishen Chand Gupta, senior vice-president, Lala Lajpat Rai, and other members today regretted a one-sided campaign launched by some media organisations glorifying the officer who had “acted in haste”. Mr Rai said negotiations were already going on between the temple committee and the Municipal Corporation and the committee had already stopped the construction work.

Mr Rai asserted that he would “not allow the issue to be communalised or politicised”. “I am here only in the capacity of an office-bearer of the mandir committee and not as a BJP leader or an MP”, he clarified.

Referring to the transfer of Dr Sandhu following the demolition, Mr Rai clarified , “I am nobody to order anybody’s transfer or pressurise anyone to do that”.

When asked whether he would oppose his return to the city, the BJP leader said, there was no chance of his return to Ludhiana. The construction work on the temple was already going on and will be completed very soon, he said. He reiterated that there was no question of encroachment by the temple committee .
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COMMUNITY

BJP used temple issue to settle scores?
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
There is more to it than meets the eye in the shifting of Dr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, following the demolition of an extended wall of a temple, adjoining the Durga Mata Mandir, here on Saturday last.

In fact, a lobby of politicians and some other detractors of Dr Sandhu, who holds the reputation of an upright and no-nonsense officer, were waiting for an opportunity to get even with the MC Commissioner and the demolition of a portion of the temple wall came like a God-sent opportunity for them to settle scores. Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that even the role of certain MC officers on the issue was questionable and rather than making attempts to diffuse the situation, circumstances were deliberately created in which a showdown became inevitable.

It may not be out of place to mention that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a coalition partner of the SAD in the MC here, which spearheaded the campaign for shifting Dr Sandhu over the temple wall issue, was nursing a strong grudge against the MC Commissioner over the controversial elevated road project. In a freak political polarisation in the MC on the Rs 32-crore project, had led to a situation in which the BJP was isolated and humiliated, to the extent that some councillors, belonging to its ally — the SAD — siding with the city Mayor and the MC administration, along with councillors from the Congress and other political parties.

For the simple reason that Dr Sandhu had the knack of tactfully withstanding political pressure and had seen through several major development projects despite opposition, his relations with political persons, wielding influence, were anything but friendly. Moreover, his persistent cleansing drive against corrupt employees and the nexus between contractors and civic officials had also created a lot of bad blood. It was only due to his determination and deft handling that the MC had successfully carried out an unprecedented anti-encroachment drive to make way for the road along Budha Nullah.

The financial health of the MC, which was in a shambles, took a turn for the better and scores of policies and programmes were devised to bring about a qualitative change in the civic conditions. Several major development works undertaken for infrastructural development were a flyover on the link road near the general bus stand, a flyover on Dhuri level crossing, a flyover on Dhandari level crossing, the elevated road on the Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand cinema and a proposed flyover in place of the existing Lakkar Pul.
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Sandhu’s removal condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 4
A number of industrial and trade associations here have condemned the state government’s decision to remove Mr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, who had ordered the removal of encroachments on public land by a religious trust. They have alleged that no person has been given full charge of the MC. They have resented the manner in which Mr Sandhu was removed by the Chief Minister at the behest of some local politicians.

Various industrial associations have decided to launch a campaign for the reinstatement of Mr Sandhu, as they feel, the political parties do not have the courage to come forward in his support due to political compulsions in view of the forthcoming elections. Mr V.P. Chopra, president, Federation of Small Industries Association, said, “No doubt, no officer is indispensable. However, Mr Sandhu changed the face of Ludhiana within three years of his tenure. Roads and streetlight projects in focal points, flyover at Dhandari Kalan and the elevated road project were initiated by him. We urge the government to reinstate him at least for some more time so that these projects are completed.”

The industrialists point out that the Phase IV area in the focal point was with the MC for the past 20 years, but the development of the area started only after Mr Sandhu took over as the Municipal Commissioner. They said the most controversial development project of elevated road from the Jagraon bridge to the Chand theatre had raised many eye brows. However, it was with the efforts of Mr Sandhu that the work started in full swing. However, it may come to a halt with his transfer, they said.

Mr Rajinder Jindal, president, Engineering Export Council, said, “Mr Sandhu took decisions without any political pressure.”

Mr Tarvinder Dhingra, Chairman, LSE Securities Limited, said, “It is a politically motivated decision taken under political pressure of the BJP. Political parties may not oppose the decision keeping in view the voters of particular community. However, the city has lost a good officer, who had earned a name among the intellectual class of the city, if not the political and vested interests.”

The associations have urged the Chief Minister to reinstate him without any delay. 
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Ban on SIMI flayed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
The Khalsa Action Committee and a faction of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF), while opposing the ban imposed on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) by the Union Government, have charged the ruling BJP with attempts to implement its hidden agenda.

In a statement here today, the KAC convener, Mr Charanjit Singh Khalsa, said that SIMI was declared an unlawful body under pressure from the RSS, which was determined for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya on the site of Babri Masjid and considered SIMI an opponent to the move.

He observed that there was widespread apprehension among minorities in the country from activities of bodies like the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.

Meanwhile, Mr Kulwant Singh Ranike, vice-president, Youth Wing, SAD-B, has exhorted the youth to come forward and mobilise their forces to oppose the miscreants responsible for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. He blamed the Congress and certain other parties for fanning communal passions to disturb the peace and communal amity in Punjab. 
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Bank employee awarded Jeev Raksha medal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 4
Mr Tilak Mohan Chibber, senior manager, Punjab and Sind Bank, has been awarded the Jeev Raksha medal by the St. John Ambulance Association for an act of gallantry. The medal was presented to him on September 25 in New Delhi.

A devastating fire broke out on the premises of the Punjab and Sind Bank, Saban Bazar, on February 14, 1997, where Mr Chibber was posted as assistant manager. The fire officer asked the staff to bring the keys of the rear gate which were lying inside the banking hall so that the fire could be stopped.

Mr Tilak Mohan without bothering about his safety, immediately brought the keys with which the fire staff opened the rear gate and the fire was controlled. Thus, the bank record was also saved.

Mr Tilak Mohan has already been conferred with the Special Bravery award by the CMD of the Punjab and Sind Bank and the Red and White Bravery award.
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Time for designer gardens and waterfalls
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 4
What can one expect after people show craze for designer clothes, watches, jewellery, shoes etc? Of course! designer homes, pools and gardens. The salient feature of these garden has to be an artificially created waterfall. There are special landscape designers all over the country, who specialise in creating waterfalls using stones, slates and foliage that gives a stunning effect. The Ludhianavis are having their waterfalls designed by such landscape artists.

One family (members did not want to disclose their names) said it had called a person from Mumbai to create a waterfall. It further said: “Since money was no problem, we wanted to have a unique waterfall created, the likes of which no one else has seen in the city. The waterfall is inimitable and is nonpareil. The waterfall has lovely flora and water falls from all sides into a moat. A small paddleboat adds to the liveliness of the waterfall. Around the moat is another gorgeous waterfall.” Beena, (name changed) continued: “We always wanted a waterfall as the sound of water falling gently is very relaxing. Whenever someone feels tense, he sits in the paddle boat and goes round the moat where beautiful plants, round stones from riverbed and strategically placed artifacts soothe the nerves. This is easily the favourite haunt for every member of the family. We are lucky to have so much beauty in our home.”

Mrs Radha Aggarwal of AggarNagar says:“When we shifted from the walled city to our new house, we decided to have a designer garden and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I have always liked to hear the sound of falling water. It soothes one’s mind and gives the impression that one is at a hill station. The slates and stones, both rough and smooth, and lovely green ferns make one feel very calm. We engaged a local landscape artist but are happy with the job he has done.”

“After retiring from daily chores, sitting by the waterfall provides tranquility, takes away the tension and stress. Moreover, at night it is lit very well and every night becomes a party time”, says Mrs Modi.

But the underlying fact remains that people want the waterfalls to be exclusive. These have become so popular that many clubs and hotels have invested their money in creating these.

The waterfalls are lit well which form a charming backdrop during parties. Mr Grewal, owner of a hotel, says: “People want their parties near the waterfall. Children are fascinated by white foamy water that is recycled. It lends a perfect touch to the ambience.

The city folk feel the coolness arising out from the waterfall and relieve them of stress of daily life. To have a waterfall is definitely an asset.”

Now petrol pumps are becoming more conscious about aesthetics and even oil companies are encouraging their dealers to develop their stations. Rohit says: “Waterfall at our petrol pump has increased our clientele. Children often ask their parents to buy fuel from such filling stations. Needless to say, waterfall attracts customers. Even workers feel relaxed. The sound of gently falling water is therapeutic.”

If one goes around the city one can find a large number of waterfalls beautifully designed at shopping malls, shops, clubs, restaurants and homes. Those who don’t have lawns, have instead installed aesthetically designed small indoor waterfalls. 
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