Thursday, October 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Many heads may roll in park mishap case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
With the substandard work done at the city parks, developed and maintained by the Municipal Corporation, coming under focus after the death of Gursimrat, a five-and-a-half-year-old daughter of a local transporter, when a slide fell over her in a park in the Model Town Extension area here on Sunday evening, the administration has decided to deal firmly with the situation and many heads are expected to roll in the process.

Mr R.L. Kalsia, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, told Ludhiana Tribune that on the basis of an inquiry, conducted by Mr Lachman Das, Superintending Engineer (B & R), into the entire work dealing with installation of swings and other equipment in the park, the contractor M/s Rajiv Udyog, were being served with a show-cause notice, which was a statutory requirement before being blacklisted.

In addition, the two SDOs, Mr M.P.S. Kalra and Mr V.B. Khanna, involved in the preparation of estimates and execution of the project, were also being served show-cause notices and the two junior engineers, Mr Narinder Garg and Mr Bal Krishan, were being chargesheeted. Interestingly, the Executive Engineer (Horticulture), Mr J.S. Bilga, who was also indicted in the inquiry report for negligence and slack control, has been spared for unknown reasons.

Mr Kalsia, who had visited the bereaved family of Gursimrat last evening, said the MC would take necessary steps to fulfill the desire of the family members to name the park after their daughter. ‘‘The proposal to name the park after Gursimrat will have to be cleared by the MC General House and it would be included in the agenda for the next meeting,’’ he said.

While making it clear that the civic officials and employees who were found guilty of dereliction of duty would not be spared, the MC Commissioner further said a comprehensive campaign had been launched to inspect all municipal parks in the city for the condition and proper installation of swings and other equipment for the children to make sure that no such mishap took place in future. There are about 70 parks in the city with such facilities and the concerned staff had been directed to complete the inspection and submit a report within 10 days.

According to Mr Kalsia, the MC would give top priority to the work of strengthening or reinstallation of swings in parks, wherever necessary, on the receipt of the inspection report.



Riot victims’ ultimatum to govt
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
The honeymoon between thousands of riot-affected families and the government seems to be over, with the ‘Danga Peerit Welfare Society’, a representative body of riot victims, serving an ultimatum on the state government for implementation of all measures for relief and rehabilitation within 15 days, failing which families of riot victims will gherao the residence of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

A meeting of the state executive committee and district presidents of the society, held at Circuit House here under the presidentship of Mr Surjit Singh, also formed a 31-member action committee to chalk out the final programme for the agitation if the state government failed to relent by November 11.

The riot affected families were reported to be irked over a decision of the state government that the lists, finalised by the district-level committees, for allotment of houses and commercial booths to riot victims on highly subsidised rates, be thoroughly screened and made public for inviting objections, if any. The issue was a subject of heated exchange between activists of the Danga Peerit Welfare Society and Mr Badal here during a sangat darshan programme for Ludhiana North Assembly segment on October 16. The Chief Minister had later announced that the matter would be sorted out within a fortnight.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune after the meeting, Mr Surjit Singh termed the circular issued by the Department of Relief and Resettlement on October 19 as betrayal tantamount to denial of justice to riot-affected families. He rued that the ruling party had taken political advantage of riot victims in the previous Assembly elections and subsequent byelections, but the government had turned its back towards them when it came to providing relief measures and other facilities.

The 31-member action committee announced by Mr Surjit Singh comprised Mr Gurdev Singh Sethi, chairman, Mr Kartar Singh Patna, Mr Surinder Singh, senior vice-president, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhawan, general secretary, Mr Surjit Singh Saluja, secretary, Mr Gian Singh (Ludhiana), Mr Mohinder Singh Kalra (Haibowal), Mr Manmohan Singh (Jalandhar), Mr Prem Singh (Phagwara), Mr Karam Singh (Bathinda), Mr Ravinder Singh (Khanna), Mr Pritpal Singh Tandon (Rajpura), Mr Baldev Singh (Patiala), Mr Darshan Singh Bedi (Patiala), Ms Harvinder Kaur (Patiala), Mr Manohar Singh (SAS Nagar), Mr Taranjot Singh (SAS Nagar), Mr Joginder Singh Malhotra (Anandpur Sahib), Mr Chirjiv Singh Dua (Mandi Gobindgarh), Mr Sukhpal Singh (Raikot), Mr Balkar Singh (Kapurthala), Ms Gurdip Kaur, Ms Harbans Kaur, Ms Gurcharan Kaur, Mr Harcaharan Singh Channi, Mr Surinderpal Singh Suri, Mr Tarlochan Singh Takkar, Mr Tarlok Singh, Mr Harjit Singh (Moga), Mr Tarlochan Singh and Mr Avtar Singh (Khanna).



Four more receive suspicious letters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 24
With the receipt of four more suspicious letters by residents in different parts of the district, the anthrax scare continues to grip the city. The total number of such letters received so far has increased to 10.

Inquiries revealed that different police stations were sending the suspected packets to different places in the city and outside amidst reports that no hospital had the facility to check such packet.

The fresh letters included the receipt of a suspected packet by an NRI woman in Sarabha Nagar last evening. In the second incident, panic gripped Guru Nanak Girls College, Mullanpur Dakha, today when the college Principal, Ms S.K. Brar, received a suspicious letter. The letter was handed over to the police, which has sent it to the DMC for examination. Senior postal officers also rushed to Mullanpur to organise checking of mail.

The third incident was reported in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar today where a family received a suspicious packet. It has been sealed and sent to the CMC.

The fourth incident proved to be a hoax. A former SSP settled at a village in Jagraon received an unstamped packet. He refused to accept it. Later, his security guards came to the Head Post Office, Ludhiana, to inquire about it. The packet was opened in the post office and nothing suspicious was found.

The Focal Point police station has sent the letters to Chandigarh; the Division No 3 and the Sarabha Nagar police stations have sent the packets to the CMC. The Mullanpur police station has sent the packets to the DMC.



Govt sits over PAU recommendation
Kanchan Vasdev

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 24
The state government is yet to act on the recommendation of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) for a CBI inquiry into a decade-old multi-crore land scandal, allegedly involving a former Vice-Chancellor and an industrialist. The PAU has sent another reminder to the government for a CBI inquiry.

Though three months have passed since the recommendation of the PAU Board of Management for handing over the case to the CBI, no action has been taken. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Board on August 17. The PAU had recommended the CBI inquiry after waiting for the report of the inquiry assigned to a senior bureaucrat.

The PAU has sent a fresh reminder to the state government for ordering an inquiry. Sources said the reminder had been sent as time was being wasted and no headway was being made into the scandal. The PAU had asked the state government to follow the recommendations of Mr R.N. Gupta, a former senior bureaucrat, who had suggested an inquiry into the matter by an independent agency.

The controversy started some 10 years ago when the then president of PAUTA, Dr R.K. Batra, had charged the Vice-Chancellor of transferring more than two acres in Kitchlu Nagar to the Punjab Wakf Board. The board had later given the land on lease to an industrial house for an amount much less than the market price.

The investigation conducted by Mr R. N. Gupta, the then Financial Commissioner Development, Punjab, at the instance of the Governor, established in 1997 that there were irregularities in the exchange deal signed between the PAU and the board authorities on March 14, 1995. The khasra numbers which were envisaged by the Board of Management for exchange of area were changed to give the private builder access to the area from Kitchlu Nagar through a sixty foot wide road. The area transferred was 18 marlas in excess of the agreed area of 16 kanal.

In addition, nearly 700 trees on the piece of land were felled without seeking permission of the Forest and Environment Department. Mr Gupta had also revealed that the trees which could have fetched a better return through auction were sold to the builder for just Rs 87,000.

According to sources, Mr Gupta had recommended in his report that the CBI should be asked to investigate the scam further and determine the criminal liability of the officials of the PAU and the board involved in it. A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice K. Sridharan and Justice Swatantar Kumar, while disposing of a writ petition in August 1997, had ordered that a case be registered against erring persons, including Dr A.S. Khehra, the Vice-Chancellor. They had granted liberty to the independent investigating agency of the state police to conduct an investigation against others.

Instead of handing over the case to the CBI, the Board of Management of the PAU had then thought it more appropriate to get the scam re-investigated by an officer holding the rank of Commissioner in the Punjab Government. The recent decision of the board, in consonance with the recommendation of the Gupta Commission of inquiry and the order of the High Court, would help in identifying the persons involved in the land scam.

Sources further disclosed that the board had agreed to transfer the land to the Punjab Wakf Board to enable the latter to set up a religious institution there, but the land was instead given away to a builder.

There were allegations that though the Vice-Chancellor knew that the area exchanged would be used for commercial exploitation, he did not raise any objection.

The then president of PAUTA had alleged that the PAU Board had resolved at a meeting on January 18, 1996, that the leasee should not be allowed to change the use of the land in order to maintain the ecology of the area under green cover.

Despite this, the Vice-Chancellor had accepted a cheque for Rs 87,000 from the builder as the cost of the 700-odd trees on February 6, 1996 giving approval to uproot these.

In complete disregard of the board’s decision, the PAU authorities had allowed the builder to develop the land for residential buildings.



Life term for killing taxi driver
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
Kuldeep Singh of Zira has been sentenced to life imprisonment, besides a fine of Rs 2,000 on the charge of murdering a driver, Iqbal Singh, in Rakba village area, on December 12, 1997.

Delivering the verdict, Mr S.S. Arora held that prosecution had proved the guilt of accused beyond any reasonable doubt and the accused’s plea of leniency was declined. A case was registered against the accused on the statement of Mr Gurdial Singh, a resident of Pandori village, at the Dakha police station, on December 13, 1997, under Section 302 of the IPC.

The complainant had alleged that Iqbal Singh used to work as a driver. On December 12, Kuldeep Singh approached him and hired his taxi on the pretext that a patient was to be taken to Ludhiana. Iqbal was assigned the job. But when he did not return, he enquired about him at Mullanpur taxi stand, but in vain.

On the next day, while he was passing by Rakba village, he saw the body of Iqbal Singh. It was alleged that the accused, in order to grab the vehicle had killed the driver.

Later, the vehicle, was also recovered from the possession of the accused. After about a week, the sarpanch of Warraich village, Mr Harvinder Singh, produced the accused before the police. The accused pleaded not guilty and took the plea of alibi, but failed to prove that at the time of occurrence he was not present in that area.



Voter ID cards
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
The photography sessions for the electorate in the Ludhiana rural Assembly constituency, who have not so far got the voter ID cards issued, have been on since October 21. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, said this would be the last opportunity for the voters to get their ID cards. The cards would be prepared and distributed among voters within a week. 



Atwal to be chief guest at mela
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Speaker, Punjab Assembly, will be the chief guest at the Dasehra mela being celebrated in Urban Estates, Sabzi Mandi Ground and Dugri in the city under the chairmanship of Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, Chairman, Ludhiana Improvement Trust.

This was stated by the Urban Estates Ramlila Dasehra Committee president, Mr Adarsh Vijay Manga, and its general secretary, Dr Shiv Gupta, in a press note here today.

The convener, Mr Raj Garg, said Mr S.R. Kaler, Additional Deputy Commissioner, will inaugurate the mela and the DIG, Mr Suresh Arora, will hoist the flag. The prize distribution function will be presided over by the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) and Mr A.K. Sinha, Mr P.L. Singla and Mr Joginder Singh will be the guests of honour.

Other dignitaries, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, Ms Anita Darshi, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, a former MP, Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, a former minister, Dr Waheguru Pal Singh, Medical Superintendent, Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, will be the special guests of honour.

The committee will honour Mr Kuldip Singh, SDM, Mr Mohinder Pal Gupta, Land Acquisition Officer, Mr S.S. Ghumman, Estate Officer, PUDA, Ms Barjinder Kaur, Ms Harpreet Kaur, Mr Arjun Singh Cheema, all councillors.



Lekhak manch honours author
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
The Punjabi Lekhak Vichar Manch organised a literary function to honour Prof J.S. Bedi, author, art critic and journalist, at a hotel here yesterday.

Prof N.S. Tasneem, renowned poet and National Sahitya Akademi awardee, recalled his association with Professor Bedi during his stay at Brijindera College, Faridkot. He said Professor Bedi had potential in journalism, criticism and literature.

Prof M.S. Cheema, a poet, lauded the visual clarity and pursuit of Professor Bedi. He said the author gradually rose through difficult stages in India and abroad. Earlier, Prof Kulwant Jagraon, a poet and general secretary of the manch, introduced Professor Bedi with the guests. He said he had been with Scotland Yard and was associated with dailies like The Telegraph, Mirror of UK, besides, many national journals and papers of repute.

Professor Bedi exchanged his ideas with several literary persons. Among others present on the occasion were Mr N.S. Nanda, Mr Karamjit Singh Aujla, Mr Kuljit, Dr Kulwinder Kaur, Ms Gurcharan Kaur Kochhar, Ms Amarjit Kaur, Mr Surjit Singh Albela, Mr Charanjit Singh, Mr Tarlochan Lochi, Mr Mukhtiar Mittar and Mr Jagir Singh Preet.



League apprehensive of ‘hot pursuit’ policy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 24
The Indian Ex-services League (Punjab and Chandigarh unit) has expressed its apprehensions about the so called ‘hot pursuit’ policy being devised by the Union Government at the instance of hardliners to smash the trans-border terrorism, both in Jammu and Kashmir and occupied Kashmir.

In a statement issued here today, its president, Lieut-Col C. S. Dhillon (retd), observed that maintaining the sanctity of borders was a different matter but any attempt to cross the border and take the war against terrorists inside Pakistan’s territory would be considered an act of war. In this context, he made a mention of the growing fraternity between India and Israel, which appeared more than diplomatic. “Pakistan is not Palestine where Israel intrudes at its will and gets away with it. The powers that be must understand and ensure that it must at all costs disregard any such advice and the armed forces should continue to fight against terrorism as they are doing now”.

The league further asked the BJP-led NDA alliance to reorient its policies towards the minority communities and in no case it should allow any political party or other organisations to antagonise any particular community and draw political mileage. The barging of VHP activists into the prohibited area of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya under the very nose of the Central and the state government was a serious matter.

Colonel Dhillon remarked that the political fundamentalists, who talk of saffronisation and cultural revolution, were sowing seeds of unrest.



Bull kills man
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, October 24
A man was killed by a frenzied bull at Tibba village, near Sahnewal, on Monday.

According to the information available, a bull, in a violent state, entered a farmhouse and attacked the servant who was cooking food.

The man was killed him on the spot. He was later identified as Vijay Kumar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh. Mr Amarjit Singh, owner of the farmhouse, told newspersons that Vijay Kumar had been working at his place for the past one year.

A case has been registered at the Sahnewal police station and the body has been sent for a post-mortem.



Case registered
Our correspondent

Ahmedgarh,October 24
The local police has registered an FIR against Surinder Kumar, a local trader, for allegedly firing at Sadhu Ram, another trader, yesterday evening.

According to sources, there was a dispute between them on the issue of lifting paddy bags from the local grain market.


Edible oil industry seeks tax exemptions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 24
“The Punjab government should exempt the oil-extracting mills, like floor and rice mills, from paying state-level taxes on direct purchase of oilseeds, as most of the units were on the brink of closure. Out of the 80 oil-extracting mills in the state, 30 have already closed down and the others were facing difficult times due to increase in cost of oilseeds, low production, and low price of imported edible oil,” said Mr A.R.Sharma, president, Solvent Extractors’ Association of Punjab, in a press conference here today.

He said the oilseeds production in Punjab had dipped from 3.42 lakh tonnes in 1996-97 to mere 1.16 lakh tonnes by 1999-2000, which was further expected to fall to mere 60,000 tonnes during the current year. It has badly hit the oil-extracting mills.

He said, “Recent policies of the state and the Centre Government have affected the oilseed production in the country. There was a surplus of wheat and paddy in the country, but we were forced to import about 50 per cent of the edible oil from Malaysia and other countries. The low productivity of oilseeds, and inadequate price support have further compounded the problem.”

Mr Sandeep Bajoria, a former national president of the association, pointed out that per hectare oilseed yield in the state was just half of the world average. The government should invest in the R&D programmes of the Punjab Agricultural University to boost production and to encourage farmers to diversify in this sector. It was an irony that the country was spending about Rs 50,000 crore on the import of edible oil and the mills were facing closure on this account.

Representatives of the industry claimed that due to irregular procurement of paddy during the past few years, the supply of rice bran was not smooth, resulting in non-optimal utilisation of the capacity of these mills.

Mr Bipin V. Patel, president, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, who had come from Mumbai to participate in the annual meeting of the association, here, said, “The government should make coordinated efforts with the help of farmers’ bodies, agriculture experts and representatives of the industry to boost oilseed production in the state.

Mr Patel said there were about 20 per cent taxes on the oilseeds and its derivatives, resulting in lower profit margins to the farmers. The industry was making just 6 per cent value addition on an average, and there was a great scope for improvement.

Mr Bajoria emphasised the need for promoting rice bran edible oil, which was being promoted as ‘heart oil’ in Japan and other countries. He assured the government that the industry was fully prepared to face the competition given by the cheap imported palm oil, provided the government came forward to provide a congenial atmosphere to the farmers and the industry. 




LAUNCHED: The Ultrapure Technology and Appliances India Limited launched two stainless models of designer chimneys here on Wednesday. The models available in two sizes, cost between Rs 16,000 and Rs 19,000.

LECTURE: A lecture on working of stock exchanges was organised for students of M.Com at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Civil Lines, on Tuesday. Mr S.K. Aggarwal, a member of the local stock exchange, who was the chief guest, told the students that the economic, political and social position of a country could be best reflected by its stock exchange. He introduced the students with the latest techniques being used in stock exchanges. He told them about sale and purchase of sensex. A question-answer round was also held.

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