Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

 

 

Girl killed as slide collapses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
A five-and-a-half-year-old-girl was killed when the slide on which she was playing in a park here fell, last night. The girl died on the spot as her head hit a pointed stone. Daughter of a transporter living in Model Town Extension, she was a student of Guru Nanak Public School.

The incident took place at about 9 p.m. Gursimran Kaur, daughter of Mr Balbir Singh, was playing with her younger sister Avneet and other children of the colony when a slide on which some children were playing fell. The girl was picked up by other children, who could not carry her properly. The girl died by the time she reached her house 50 metres away.

A large number of concerned residents rushed to the site. The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was declared brought dead. There were heart-rending scenes in the colony as sobbing neighbours tried in vain to console the wailing parents of the victim. People were cursing the Municipal Corporation (MC) for the careless manner in which the slides and the swings had been installed.

The body was taken to Katani Sahib for cremation this morning. Mr Balbir Singh said their world had come crashing down. His wife was administered some sleep-inducing injections as her condition was uncontrollable. Tears had dried up in the eyes of three-year-old Avneet.

Mr Jagjit Singh, a neighbour and relative of the family, said no official of the MC had come to share the grief of the family. He said the residents’ association of the colony would hold a meeting shortly to chalk out a method to bring the guilty to book.

Angry residents of the colony and aggrieved family members demanded stringent action against the officials of the MC who had installed the slides and swings. The foundation of the slides and swings were only a few inches deep, due to which the danger of such accidents always loomed large. The residents said they had informed the MC, but nothing had been done in this regard.

The foundations of the slide spoke of the careless manner in which it was installed. The foundations were only a few inches deep and no proper base was constructed. The condition of other slides and swings in the park were the same. Mr Jagjit Singh alleged that poor quality material had been used in the construction.
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Encroachments on rise in Model Town Extension
D. B. Chopra

Ludhiana, October 22
The Model Town Extension, Block-A, here is supposed to be a posh residential area. However, as one enters from near the Krishna Mandir road one finds that the spaces on the road side have been occupied by vendors of coconuts, temple offerings and toys, among others. In the corner are shops of bangles, ringlets and garlands. Unless immediate action is taken, the cluster of shops on encroached land will go on expanding.

A little further lie heaps of crushed stones and white sand. These are not meant for any construction going on in the area, but have been put up for sale. In the next block lie piles of bricks which are for sale. Shopkeepers in the market are a harassed lot on account of the noise and pollution caused by the trucks parked here.

Mr Shakti Kumar, who runs a glass house in the market, says because of the heaps of crushed stones and sand in front of his shop, there is no parking space for his customers’ vehicles. The heaps of building material acts as a deterrent on prospective customers of other goods. The shopkeepers have been asking for a probe into the allocation of Rs 15 lakh for the construction of concrete floors in front of the shop.

The area also faces the problem of stray pigs. The owner of these pigs has created a couple of ponds in vacant plots by breaking manholes and drawing water. Migrants use these vacant plots as open toilets.

These problems have been brought to the notice of Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, whose house in on the road facing the market. Some residents have requested him to use his influence to things right, but no action has been taken.

A representation, signed by almost all residents of the block, was submitted to the then Corporation Commissioner, Dr S.S. Sandhu, on September 26 last year. It stated that the colony residents were sore over the encroachments on the land meant for common use. It added that sand entered their homes. Further, truck drivers played songs on high volume. It added that jhuggi-dwellers were turning the area into a filthy place. When this was objected to, these migrants adopted an aggressive attitude. It added that these migrants included criminals.

The representation concluded with a request to remove encroachments and suspicious characters. Dr Sandhu had deputed Mr V.K. Gupta, Additional Commissioner, to visit the area and look into the complaints, but the officer never visited the locality, alleged residents. The residents then met Mr Raminder Singh, Additional Commissioner, who visited the area about four months ago. he deputed Mr Jasbir Singh Heer, to look into the matter, but no action was taken.
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Youth dies as gun goes off
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Bickerings between an aged couple took a bitter turn at Dugdi village, near Payal, this morning when the couple’s young son was killed when he tried to snatch a gun from his father.

Twentythree-year-old Harpal Singh died on the spot as a bullet pierced through his neck. His father, Gurbax Singh, was also injured as another bullet hit his feet. The police has registered a case of accidental death.

According to the Payal police, Gurbax Singh and his wife used to have fights.

The couple were again involved in a heated argument today when the son told them to stop quarreling. The police said the intervention of the son irked his father who picked up a gun to shoot him.

The boy tried to snatch the gun. In the scuffle, the gun went off, killing the son and injuring his death.
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197 lakh tonnes of paddy straw burnt every year
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Contrary to the claims of the Deputy Commissioner that the appearance of smog during this time of the year is a normal process, scientists of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have established that the paddy straw burnt by the farmers was the main reason behind it.

According to a survey conducted by soil scientists at the PAU, 197 lakh tonnes of paddy straw is burnt every year, thereby, resulting in pollution and causing many respiratory problems.

According to Dr P.R. Gajri, B.S. Ghuman and Harmanjit Singh, soil scientists who conducted a survey in all districts of the state, 38.52 lakh tons of organic carbon, 59,000 tons of nitrogen, 2,000 tons phosphate and 34,000 tons of Potash is burnt every year by the farmers.

The scientists have further calculated that this also resulted in destroying valuable plant nutrients present in the soil.

The scientists also said the experiments conducted by them had proved that straw could be incorporated in the soil and this process had no adverse effects on the soil as well as the crop contrary to the common belief that the incorporation of stubble resulted in the severe attack of various pests on the next crop.

The incorporation of the stubble, however, improves the fertility status of the soil and also saves the environment. For incorporation of paddy straw in soil the scientists suggested that paddy straw should be uniformally spread in the fields and then ploughed 2 to 3 times with a disc harrow and then buried in soil with the help of mould board plough. This should be followed by heavy irrigation and straw should be left for two to three days for decaying.

Subsequently after two ploughings with disc harrow and one ploughing with cultivator, the wheat should be sown, according to the university recommendations. By following this procedure the straw gets totally incorporated in the soil and no fraction of it has to be burnt.

Meanwhile, Mr Darshan Singh Habiba, a farmer and the Jagjiwan Ram Purskar winner, said that by burning the stubble we were making the life of our next generations miserable.
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Steps against anthrax reviewed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
A special meeting was today convened by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, to review the measures being taken against a possible anthrax threat.

It was attended by senior officers in the administration, the police, the postal department and the health and medical department.

The Deputy Commissioner said the postal authorities had been directed to withhold any suspicious article and store it at a safe place.

It was also mentioned that the public should take certain precautions against the letters containing powdery and stiff material, lumpy material emitting foul odour, letters and parcels with excessive postage stamps and addressed to known personalities, letters with markings like ‘do not x-ray’, ‘fragile’, ‘do not open’, and ‘to be opened by addressee only’, and letters with excessive weight, excessively taped articles unusual return names and addresses.

Mr Sandhu said the postal authorities had been directed that in case they found any such substance, they should inform the addressee about the article and ask him to come to the post office to collect it.

In case he failed to turn up, the postal authorities would then contact the health department to verify the contests.

A special control room had been set up by the health department, which could collect such suspicious articles till 6 pm daily from the post office.

These would be delivered at the microbiological testing laboratories of the CMC and the DMC.

The general public was also told to report, in case of any suspicion, on telephone numbers 444610 or 100.

A control room had been set up in the Civil Hospital, with telephone number 444193.
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Mystery shrouds youth’s death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Mystery shrouds the death of a youth whose body was found near the Civil Hospital here today.

Neither the hospital staff nor any other person were aware of his identity.

Hospital employee said the youth was not a patient. There was no sign of injury on his body. The police is investigating.
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Coal shortage hits power generation
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 22
Thermal plants of the Punjab State Electricity Board are faced with the serious problems of shortage of coal, thanks to the financial crises gripping the PSEB. The PSEB has not been able to make the payment of arrears to Coal India Limited and the Railways. The arrears are estimated to be around Rs 80 crore with more than half of these being of railway freight.

According to information available, the Bathinda Thermal Plant has a coal stock for 12 days, the Ropar Thermal Plant for eight days and the Lehra Mohbbat Thermal Plant for four days.

Meanwhile, the urban and industrial feeders are being subjected to three-hour power cuts in order to ensure six-hours power supply to rural areas daily. The Punjab Government is understood to have directed the PSEB to ensure six-hours power supply to the rural areas for wheat sowing preparations.

Despite the fact that the PSEB gets its revenue by supplying power to urban areas and industries as the rural areas get free water and power, the state government’s move seems to be aimed at keeping the rural population in good humour, in view of the coming elections.

Meanwhile, the repair work on the Mukerian Hydel Channel, which had breached on October 9, has started.

However, power generation will start only in the first half of November. All four units of the channel are down at present.
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Two assault cases registered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
The Sadar police has registered a case under Sections 341, 506, 323, 120-B, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Gurmit Ram, a resident of Hajuri Bagh mohalla, Chattian colony, against Manoj Kumar, Rajinder Singh, Satnam Singh, Kaka Singh and Chaman Lal. According to the complainant, the accused had beaten him up and threatened him.

The Sadar police also registered another case of assault and intimidation yesterday under Sections 452, 427, 324, 325 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Kulwinder Singh, a resident of Kharhi village, against Binder Singh. According to the FIR, the complainant had lent Rs 50,000 to the accused. But when he asked the accused to return his money, the accused, armed with an iron rod, entered his shop and beat him up. He had also threatened him before leaving. No arrest has been made so far.
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Traffic blocked as 3 vehicles collide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Traffic was obstructed at a bridge over the Sidhwan canal, near Verka Milk Plant, this afternoon after an accident.

Three vehicles were involved in the accident. A Fiat car was hit by a Punjab Roadways bus which in turn was hit by a bus.

No one was injured, but the windscreens of the buses were broken. However, the traffic was regulated after more than an hour.
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COMMUNITY

Freedom fighters, social workers honoured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
The Shri Nand Lal Ahuja Memorial Award, set up in the memory of a veteran freedom fighter from the city, was presented to Ek Prayas, a voluntary social organisation, for its significant contribution to the rehabilitation of mentally challenged children at a function organised by the District Youth Congress at Sawan Public School, Noorwala Road, here yesterday.

The DYC chief, Mr Parminder Mehta, presided over it and the Congress legislator, Mr Rakesh Pandey, was the guest of honour. Several other freedom fighters and prominent social workers were also honoured.

Mr Ashok Arora, vice-president, Ms Radhika Jaitwani, secretary, and Ms Sunanda of Ek Prayas were presented shawls and mementoes by the DYC, while Mr Hans Raj Bhatia, Mr Tulsi Das Jaitwani, Ms Gurdial Kaur and Ms Leela Wanti were honoured with presentation of shawls for their services rendered to the country and society.

Speaking at the function, Mr Pandey and Mr Mehta exhorted the youth to channelise their energies for nation building and in particular to make contribution to the relief and rehabilitation of physically and mentally challenged persons and to enable them to become self-reliant.

Paying rich tributes to Ahuja and other freedom fighters, Mr Mehta said it was only because of valiant struggle by great sons of the motherland that the countrymen were enjoying fruits of Independence. “The younger generation should draw inspiration from the deeds of the freedom fighters and should dedicate themselves to safeguarding the hard won freedom”.

Among those present were family members of late Nand Lal Ahuja, including his wife, Leela Wanti, son, Kuldip Ahuja, and daughter, Rama Soni. DYC activists, including Mr Sarbjit Singh Bunty, Mr G.S. Arora, Mr Jawahar Lal, Mr Sabhajit Pandey, Mr Ashok Arora, Mr H.S. Thukral, Mr Raj Kumar Kashyap, Mr Jasbir Gill, Mr Sat Pal Ghai, Mr Anil Kareer, Mr Amarjit Bhatti, Mr Mohinder Pal and Ms Champa Devi, also attended the function.

Floral tributes were offered at the portrait of Ahuja by political activists and other guests and students of the school presented a colourful cultural programme.
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Disabled, but not in despair
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 22
A frail man of 56 regularly visits the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC) in his wheelchair all the way from a village near Guraya. While moving along the highway with traffic zooming all around him, he is generally not sure whether he will be able to reach the hospital for his check-up or not. He has had a surgery recently to remove a blockage in his urinary tract. He has been visiting this hospital for the past 27 years.

Mr Dilbagh Singh was a small farmer. But like many other youths who sell their land and get entangled in the net of some unscrupulous travel agents to go to foreign countries, he, too, became a victim of such an agent. He went to Greece via Kabul, but after a few days he was caught by the police and deported.

Dejected and penniless, he reached his village near Guraya. He was ill and was in the grip of viral fever. Dr Mohan Verghese, a senior cardiac surgeon of the hospital says, ‘‘He was brought to the hospital in a semi-conscious state. After he recovered from fever, he became paralysed waist down. I also found that he had a blockage in the heart and needed a pacemaker to survive. He expressed his inability to pay. A donor paid some amount and the rest of the amount was contributed by the hospital and the first pacemaker, at a cost of about Rs 10,000, was installed in his heart in 1976.’’

According to Dr Verghese, after the operation Dilbagh was provided with a wheelchair so that he could move by himself. Since 1976, he has undergone five pacemaker replacement operations at the hospital. The cost of a pacemaker has increased to Rs 50,000. On every occasion pacemaker was replaced free of cost as his son is a driver and does not earn enough to pay for his treatment.

Since he was a paraplegic, Dr Mohan Verghese took him to Lalton where the CMC has a referral centre. Dilbagh got training in weaving cane chairs and somehow managed to supported himself and his wife. Dr T.M. Jaison, Head of the Cardiology Department, says, ‘‘After the change of pacemaker, his heart condition is good. But he has to come for a regular check-up to the hospital. We have been treating him free of cost. Our social service department is meeting the expenses with the help of some NGOs.’’

Dr Kim Mammen, Professor and Head of the Urology Department of the hospital, recently found that he also had an obstruction in the urinary tract for which was again operated upon at the hospital, free of cost. He has been asked to come for a check-up every month and this brave man wheels himself for a check-up every month.

Whenever he visits the hospital, he makes sure that he helps other patients by directing them to different departments. He is always ready to explain hospital procedures to the new patients.
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Generators play with health
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
Smoke generated by generators and burning of paddy stubble is causing increase in incidence of eye irritation and difficulty in breathing among local residents.

Generators are being used more because of three-to-four-hour power cuts everyday. Though the state has been facing a power crisis due to stoppage of electricity generation by all four units of Mukerian hydel channel following a breach in the channel on October 9, Ludhiana has seen a steep rise in the use of generators as a large number of industries are located here. According to officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), there are more than 40,000 generators in the city.

Mr Pardeep Gupta, Executive Engineer, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), says, “Though only BIS-certified generators can be used as per PSEB norms, use of tractor, trolley or bus engines for generating electricity is common. These engines generate too much smoke and noise. However, checking the type of generators or the smoke emitted does not come under our purview. We issue guidelines only regarding the height of chimneys in industries.” He adds that the power to monitor the generators used in domestic areas rests with the Municipal Corporation. Officials of the corporation, too, plead their helplessness in this regard.

Mr O.A.K. Sondhi, Zonal Commissioner, Zone A, says, “We cannot take any action unless the residents lodge a complaint with us. Many a time, we listen to the users of generators sympathetically. We know that they too have a genuine problem in view of frequent power cuts.”

As far as the pollution caused by burning of paddy is concerned, neither the PPCB nor the MC is ready to take any responsibility. They say the issue concerns the Agriculture Department.
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Inauguration of Valmiki Bhavan on Nov 4
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
The four-storey Valmiki Bhavan, first of its kind in the region, built at a cost of Rs 2 crore, would be formally dedicated to the city at a state-level function here on November 4, which would also mark the Valmiki Jayanti. The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, his cabinet colleagues and prominent members of the Valmiki community, would attend the function.

This was stated by Mr Ashwani Sahota and Mr Vijay Danav, state convener and joint secretary of the central unit of the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj (BVDS), respectively, while addressing a meeting of the body here yesterday. Mr Bhim Singh Anarya, national general secretary of the BVDS, presided over the meeting.

Activists of the BVDS were asked to mobilise people to make the function a success. According to Mr Danav, all district units of the body had been asked to ensure participation of their workers. He said about one lakh members of the community were expected to attend the function.

A commemorative calendar and a book on the life and teachings of Bhagwan Valmiki would also be released on this occasion.

Among others, Mr Pyare Lal Anjan, propaganda secretary, Mr Lakshman Dravid, Mr Raj Kumar Hamdard (Chandigarh), Dr Dev Singh Asur (Sangrur), Choudhry Yash Pal, Mr Ashok Shudra, Mr Ram Lal Adiwal, Mr Charan Das (Patiala), Mr Kumar Darshan, Mr Tarlok Gill, Mr Nand Lal Randhawa (Amritsar), Mr Om Parkash Bhatti (Ferozepore), Mr Kamal Danav (Balachaur), Mr Shiv Kumar (Ropar), Mr Mohan Vir Chauhan, Mr Hardish Kukku (Rajpura), Mr Vir Bhan Danav (Moga) and Mr Eklavya Manak (Abohar) were also present at the meeting.
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Atwal promises to do his best
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly and newly elected Vice-Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) yesterday said he would do his best to come up to the expectations of member-countries. Addressing a press conference here, he said it was an honour for democratic and liberal Indian traditions.

The CPA was founded in 1911 as the Empire Parliamentary Association and the United Kingdom Branch administered its affairs. The original members were Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, New Foundland and United Kingdom. Evolving with the Commonwealth, the CPA adopted its present name in 1948. Branches now exist in 163 national, state and provincial parliaments with a total membership of over, 15,000 parliamentarians.
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Seminar on copyright law
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
A two-day national-level seminar on “Copyright Law with Industry and Users” organised by the Kaka Bhagwant Rai Memorial Social Welfare Society and the District Bar Association, concluded here yesterday. Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court opened it.

The main objective of the seminar is to disseminate awareness about the intellectual property right (IPR) among lawyers as well as the general public and to discuss important aspects of the proper use of law. Mr Justice Singhvi later released a volume of printed papers on the subject “Materials on Copyright Law”.

Those present on the occasion included the District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.S. Arora, Mr Hardev Singh Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab, Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Chairman Bar Council (Punjab and Haryana), and Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, President, District Bar Association.

A professor in the Faculty of Laws, University of Delhi, Mr Ashwani Kumar Bansal, highlighted the importance of intellectual property right of an individual. He said: “It is necessary to know the preconditions so that one may convert one’s ideas or skills into protectable IPR.” Moreover, it is a duty of lawyers to inform their clients what not to do, so that the IPR a new concept is not marginalised, he added.
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PWD workers flay govt
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
The PWD Field and Workshop Workers Union, Ludhiana, has condemned the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for not taking any note of the ‘morcha’ put up by the Daily Wage and Work Charge Regular Employees Action Committee in Chandigarh for the past two months in protest against the non-acceptance of demands.

In a press note issued here today, the zonal president of the union, Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, and its press secretary, Mr Randhir Singh Toose, said though the Punjab Government issued a notification on January 23 in connection with regularising the services of those daily wagers who had completed three years of service by December 31, 1999, nothing had been done so far. The leaders said as a result of the dilly-dallying by the state government , 4,387 employees of the Public Health Department, 1,500 employees of the Irrigation Department, 450 employees of the PAU, 172 employees of the Sewerage Board and thousands of the Forest Department workers had been deprived of regularisation.

They further stated that although the recommendations of the pay commission had brought cheers to the regular government employees, the fate of the daily wagers had further deteriorated. They said the salary of Class III employees of the Public Health Department, including pump operators and fitters, was much less than the salary of regular Class IV employees of the same department.
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Fresh realignments in city Cong
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
With elections approaching, there seems to be fresh realignments in the Congress in Ludhiana.

The local unit of the party is plagued by the same factionalism and dissidence as elsewhere. However, some significant developments were noticed during yesterday’s visit of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Capt Amrinder Singh, to the city.

The PPCC President, who was scheduled to address two public meetings — one in Sahnewal and the other at Samrala Chowk — cancelled the former, much to the embarrassment of the organisers. He explained that since he was much behind the schedule due to the late arrival of the train, he could not make it to Sahnewal. And this must have provided enough fodder to the detractors of Mr Nahar Singh Gill, who had organised good show with significant attendance. Mr Gill is also a claimant of the Ludhiana (Rural) seat, in which the Sahnewal area falls.

Another significant development was the presence of the former speaker of the Punjab Assembly Mr Harnam Dass Johar, at the railway station to receive Capt Amarinder Singh during his press conference and also at the rally of the District Congress Committee president Mr Surinder Dawer. Mr Johar and Mr Dawer, till recent past, and not see eye to eye with each other. The two had exchanged blows during the April 11 rally in Ludhiana.

Moreover, Mr Johar is a close confidant of the former Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. He never liked to be seen with Capt Amarinder, lest he annoyed his mentor. Given the gravity of the situation and a number of credible claimants for the Ludhiana West seat, from where Mr Johar is also a claimant, he seems to have started the process of seeking a rapprochement with the PCC president. This was a shock to many of his supporters, who have already burnt bridges with Capt Amarinder.

However, Mr Johar today told Ludhiana Tribune that it was wrong to attach him with any particular group in the party and his commitment had always remained with the PCC president. He explained, “it hardly matters who is the leader. My commitment is with the party”. He claimed that he had never opposed Capt Amarinder and had always considered him his leader.
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Eternal appeal of saga of good vs evil
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, October 22
Despite cultural invasion by the foreign media with the help of the cable TV network, the craze for watching Ramlila among the people has remained unaffected in the city. In every nook and corner of the city these days almost everybody including housewives, children and old people of the family are busy discussing the classic story of a perfect hero Rama and a true representative of evil Ravana.

Though several persons do not like to miss even a single episode of the popular TV soaps, during the Navratras, they take out time to watch Ramlila even if that means missing more than one episode of the popular serials.

The main Ramlila venue like Daresi, Jawahar Nagar, Kitchlu Nagar, Aggar Nargar and many more, remain jampacked in the evening. The audience comprises people of every age group and from different strata of the society.

The children have always been the most excited and important audience of Ramlila. They are the main target audience as the purpose of Ramlila is not only to entertain but also to inculcate moral values among the future generation.

Ramlila is an important part of Hindu culture. Nobody could imagine the celebration of Vijaydashmi (Dasehra) without Ramlila. It would be like watching the climax (the concluding part) of a story without listening the whole story. Moreover, the true sprit of the Dasehra festival could not be experienced without Ramlila.

Ramlila is also an effective medium to give chance to these young and talented artists. Moreover, it improves the communication skill of the participants. It is very difficult to give live performance as it is not everybody’s cup of tea. As the festival season approaches, the dramatic clubs and religious societies join hands to organise the Ramlila. After the hard work of more than two months, these artists get ready to disseminate the noble message.
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Lamps are ready but sans light
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 22
Potters all over Ludhiana are preparing ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps) in anticipation of Divali. They are also busy churning out ‘karvas’, a round receptacle used for drinking water after breaking the ‘Karwa Chouth’ fast.

Kamla, who has a shop of earthen pots and figurines, says: “This year we have 15 types of ‘diyas’. Some are in the shape of a flower, or petals or Ganesh holding a ‘diya’ in his hand and of course, the ordinary diyas. They are priced at Rs 2 to Rs 15. Last year at this time of the year, I was selling diyas and other objects worth Rs 10,00 a day. But this year I have not sold anything yet. Many of my old clients who own factories and mills tell me that this year the market is very tight and they have no money for such things.”

Kamla used to order beautiful artifacts of clay from Gorakhpur. A truck load costs Rs 65000. This year, considering the trend, she has turned down the agent’s offer
who was ready to allow her credit. But Kamla did not accept the offer.

Another potter, Lakhoo, is also unhappy as he says the sales are not encouraging. He says: “With the prices of oil spiralling, I do not think many people will use diyas. People prefer candles as these are easy to handle. Earthen diyas require a lot of labour. These have first to be soaked in water, so that they do not absorb much oil. Then people have to prepare the wicks. Sometimes oil leaves marks where the diyas are placed. So people use candles and buy only a few diyas for the ‘Deepawali Puja’.”

The dice seemed to be loaded against the artisans. Kamla says that they have to get the clay from the fields or get it all the way from Rajasthan. They have to make the delicate diyas with their hands. For ornamental diyas they have moulds that give them standard shapes and sizes. To make the clay products more attractive, they embellish them with paint. But they are finding their hard labour going in vain. 
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Infantry Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 22
Infantry Day will be celebrated in Ludhiana for the first time on October 27. A function for serving and retired officers of the Infantry will be organised at the Officers Mess of the 103 Infantry Battalion in the evening.
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