Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

 

 

Scandal in horticulture wing of MC unearthed
Officials committed fraud worth crores
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau is learnt to have unearthed a major scandal in the local Municipal Corporation, especially in its horticulture wing, in which some officials and employees allegedly committed a fraud worth lakhs or even crores by using substandard material in maintenance and renovation of parks along with allegedly receiving kickbacks from private companies to pass their bills or give them contracts.

Reliable sources disclosed to Ludhiana Tribune that in a related scandal, the Vigilance Bureau also found evidence that at least 10 MC employees cheated the department by showing them present on duty while they were undergoing a one-year diploma in gardening in the Punjab Agricultural University. The employees received salaries against the rules allegedly by sharing some amount with the seniors.

The scandal in works related to parks also assumes far-reaching proportions as it has not only duped the government but also claimed a life. Due to the alleged substandard material used in installing joyrides and slides in the parks, a five-year old girl, Gursimran Kaur, had lost her life in a park in the Model Town Extension Colony. A slide on which she was playing fell down, causing her death.

The complete vigilance findings have been sent to the state government for necessary action under the rules. The registration of an FIR has been recommended in the alleged cheating done by the about 10 employees. The institution of a regular inquiry has been recommended in the parks kickbacks case. A highly placed vigilance official has confirmed the findings. He said several heads would roll in the Municipal Corporation as vigilance suspects the involvement of officials from top to bottom in the department.

Interestingly, the Municipal Corporation had, in the wake of the girl's death, indicted 6 officials, including some SDOs and JEs for dereliction and negligence of duty. The officials were chargesheeted and a private firm entrusted with the installation work of the joy rides was served a show-causes notice. The MC authorities had, however, taken no action against some senior officers of the horticulture wing, which looked after hundreds of parks in the city. The vigilance findings have named some of the senior officers in the horticulture wing and the MC for being involved in the scandal.

Sources disclosed that the main modus operandi in the embezzlement in the maintenance works of the parks centered around receiving kickbacks and maintaining no records about the purchases and payments. A vigilance team led by DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill found that the necessary receiving and dispatching register was not even maintained. No record of receipts was found in different raids conducted in the horticulture wing.

Giving more details the sources said the MC has formed a number of societies in the different areas of the city, which have representatives from the public as members. The societies employ workers who are paid salaries or wages by the Municipal Corporation.

The societies look after the maintenance work whereas the MC provides all the infrastructure. The embezzlement was made in three ways. One, the MC officials allegedly received some kickbacks in the awarding of contracts and passed the bill only after receiving some commission.

Secondly, the officials, again on the payment of some graft, ignored the irregularities in the installation of the joyrides and slides, which ultimately caused the death of a five-year-old girl. Third, the MC officials also ignored the prescribed rules and instructions as given in the nature of work. They also ignored the substandard material used in the installation of the joyrides. Even plants and other things were said to be of inferior quality.

The second scandal was regarding the alleged fraud committed by about 10 MC employees. These employees allegedly in full knowledge of some seniors, whom they might have given some bribe as well, underwent a one-year diploma in gardening from PAU. However, they were shown present on duty in that period as well, which was not possible. These employees then on the basis of this diploma allegedly got promotions by superceding some senior colleagues. These employees even got salaries or daily wages of the alleged period.

According to vigilance sources, the accused employees in their statement to the vigilance team inquiring into the allegations said that they had studied during day time and given duty during night. Vigilance sources said this statement was unacceptable as it was not possible for the employees to do work and study together as they, naturally, needed some time to sleep also! Further, the employees ignored the rules of informing the seniors about their study, as they are required to take the permission of the authorities concerned for any such work.

The vigilance team led by DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill and DA (Vigtlanee) Jaswant Singh Sandhu had conducted the surprise checking in the horticulture wing of the MC on the orders of the SP (Vigilance), Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, sources disclosed.

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10 migrant families looted by dacoits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
At least 10 families of migrant labourers living in a row of houses at Vishnupuri were robbed by eight armed dacoits yesterday early morning. The incident came to the notice today afternoon when the victim families along with a municipal councillor approached the mediapersons to complain about the non-registration of any case in the incident.

Surprisingly, no police personnel visited the crime site till today evening. The dacoits armed with a gun, sharp-edged weapons and rods decamped with some cash, clothes and jewellery. They also beat up some male members in order to take away the valuables. About Rs 12,000 is reported to be taken away by the dacoits.

According to Mr Satpaul Puri, municipal councillor, the incident took place in street No. 3 Vishnupuri at about 4 a.m. yesterday morning. At least eight armed persons, after scaling the wall of the plot, forcibly broke into a house by breaking its doors and windows. The assailants then began beating up the family members to extract cash and other valuables from their possession.

The dacoits spread in all the houses and looted 10 families. The inmates were tied and locked inside their houses. It was well after some hours, that the labourers managed to inform other residents.

Mr Puri accused the police of complete inaction in the case. He said no one was picking up the phone in the Salem Tabri police station. He talked to DSP (Rural) Harmohan Singh who called him and the victims to his office. However, Mr Puri claimed that the DSP was not available and he kept waiting for him for several hours. He also claimed he talked to SP (Operations) S.S. Sandhu, who assured him of police action but nothing was done.

Police sources in Salem Tabri said SHO Gurpreet Singh was on leave for five days. They said they had got no information and could register a case only when someone complains to them. Sources said as now it has come to the notice of the police, a police party would visit the place today evening.

There was panic among the labour families. They were upset over police inaction as the dacoits took away all they had. The police is suspecting the dacoits to be some migrant labourers only. A similar dacoity was committed by some migrant labourers near Raikot a couple of months ago.

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MC moots proposal for solid waste management
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
In the wake of renewed focus on improving the delivery of civic services, especially after the proactive role of the Supreme Court, the Municipal Corporation has mooted several new proposals to effectively deal with the issue of solid waste management in the city.

Giving details, the MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, told Ludhiana Tribune that MoU had already been signed with a private company, Excel India, for setting up a garbage treatment plant at Noorpur Bet village on the Ladhowal-Humbran road and land measuring 21 acres 2 kanals has been purchased for the purpose by the MC. A consultancy report by Rail India Technical and Engineering Services (RITES), a Government of India undertaking, had formed the basis of this project which was in an advanced stage of commissioning.

The civic body was also in the process of appraising another proposal submitted by a private company, Ratna Overseas, which would make possible the vertical stacking of garbage and thereby drastically cutting down the requirement of land for solid waste management.

According to MC Additional Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, who heads the health branch, the city generated around 850 MT of solid waste every day and the main storage points were some 240 garbage containers, nine filth depots and over 150 open garbage dropping places in different localities, from where garbage was transported to two garbage dumps, located near Jainpur village on Humbran Road and opposite New Jail on Tajpur Road.

The existing dump at Jainpur was almost covered to its full capacity which was also the case with 10 acres of land being used for land filling method of garbage disposal at Tajpur Road. With the setting up of garbage treatment plant at Jainpur and providing another piece of about 25 acres at Tajpur Road, would enhance the garbage handling capacity, besides bringing in qualitative improvement, claimed Mr Sharma.

Mr Kalsia, who would be attending a two-day national workshop on "Facilitating ULB initiatives on solid waste management: what needs to be done" in New Delhi on December 19 and 20 along with Mr S.K. Sharma, observed that the epidemic in Surat (Gujarat) in 1994 served as an eye-opener for the civic administrations in the country and necessitated urgent steps in the field of solid waste management.

The Union Ministry of Urban Development had set up a technology advisory group (TAG) on solid waste management way back in August 1999, to look into the technical, financial and capacity building aspects. The Central Public Health and Environmental Engineering Organisation, under this ministry, had also brought out a comprehensive manual on municipal solid waste management in May last year, while the Ministry of Environment and Forests had notified the municipal solid waste (management and handling) Rules, 2000, for compliance by all urban local bodies (ULBs) regarding waste collection, storage, segregation, transport, processing and disposal of solid waste, setting deadlines for establishment of these facilities.

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Earning livlihood in a novel way
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, December 12
In the evening they return to their homes with a satisfaction on their faces. What makes them to be cheerful is that they have got appropriate returns from the day’s hard labour. But what is interesting is their ingenuity to earn money. They have found a novel method to make money. They help people to cross over the Dhuri rail track with their vehicles and charge Rs 2 per two-wheeler. Even they lift up small carts to take across the rail track from the either side.

Two-wheeler drivers find it difficult to cross the Dhuri railway line because of the flyover project in progress which would connect Millar Ganj and he Bus Stand flyover.

A great rush of these children could be seen near the railway line especially in the peak hours. They eagerly wait on both the sides of the railway line, for a two-wheeler rider who wants to go across. A group of two children wait for a customer on either side of the railway line to avoid missing any chance of earning money. Whoever gets a customer first, calls his partner on the other side to perform he duty. During lean hours, they give call for attracting commuters to their their services. They lift the vehicle very carefully and take it to the other side. This helps not only the commuters and save their time, but gives these children a chance to earn handsomely and honestly.

One of the children, Naseem says that it is very easy way of making the fast buck. He says that he earns not les than Rs 100 every day. “One day, when he was passing by the railway line, he saw some children doing the job. But this job could not be performed by him alone as he needed a partner. Soon he met Sanjay at the spot who offered him to launch the joint venture and now both are satisfied with their earning,” Naseem adds.

Sanjay said, “This is the best and most remunerative job he ever did. I know that this idea of making fast buck would not long as after completion of the flyover project in few months, there would be smooth flow of traffic. But in the mega city, a hard working chap could not die of hunger.” 

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AISSF joins issue over Ludhiana (Rural) seat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
The youth wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has staked claim to Ludhiana Rural assembly seat and has urged the party high command to allot party ticket from this seat to Mr Balwinder Singh Bains, president of the youth wing.

Addressing a meeting of the party activists at Chet Singh Nagar here, the district president of youth wing, Mr Sarbjit Singh Baba, said Mr Hira Singh Gabria, the then SAD nominee, who had won the last election with a massive margin, had lost his base besides facing a host of other charges. It was more than evident that Mr Gabria’s graph had slided down because the SHSAD candidate Mr Gurdarshan Singh Grewal had failed to get even half of the number of votes in the Lok Sabha elections, held later.

The speakers at the rally made a fervent plea with the leadership of the Panthic Morcha to nominate a ‘clean, honest and competent’ person like Mr Balwinder Singh Bains to contest the election to the state assembly from Ludhiana Rural assembly segment, which Mr Bains has been nursing for quite some time now.

However, this demand has evoked a strong reaction from the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill), which asked the Panthic Morcha Convener, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, to take disciplinary action against Mr Bains and other activists of the youth wing.

In a statement, the district chief of the AISSF, Mr Sukhdev Singh Mander, alleged that the so called ‘clean and honest’ persons staking claim to the assembly seat, were in fact a group of persons engaged in encroachment on government land. He also questioned the working of Mr Bains as president of the youth wing, saying the organisational set-up was even now incomplete and no district units were formed.

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Momos appeal to city tastebuds
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Decmber 12
Ludhianivis are always looking for different cusinies to give a new experience to their tastebuds. Momos — a savoury popular with-Eastern States of India is the latest snack to take the fancy of the city folk. A fast food joint besides serving the regular Chinese food is offering momos for the first time.

Martini Lee that offers this rather bland snack says, “Actually I had started momos in my fast food joint at Fountain Chowk two decades ago. But some how they did not click with the locals. But in the last few years , the Punjabis have become more adventurous as they have been served different cusinies at the weddings. Surprisingly now the momos are a great hit”.

Momos are a popular snack of Gantok, Siliguri, and I hail from Darjeeling. I worked as a chef in Golden Dragon in Kolkata so I have the desired expertise. The momos are quite similar to uncooked samosas. The dough is made by using flour and eggs. They are rolled out. For the vegetarian momos, the thinly-cut french beans, shredded cabbage, peas and finely cut carrots are used. After stuffing the vegetables in the rolled like puri, the edges are closed by twisting the dough.

For non-vegetarian momos, chicken keema mixed with green chillies and chopped corriander leaves are stuffed in momos. Then they are steamed by placing them in a sieve that fits the pan. After 15 minutes of steaming, momos are ready.m Before serving , momos are again steamed to heat them up and they are served with momo sauce. The sauce is made of finely cut garlic, vinegar and chilli sauce. To suit the taste of Punjabis, the momos can be fried golden brown to make them more palatable for those who do not like bland food.

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4 killed, 9 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 12
Four persons, including three members of a family, were killed and nine were injured in an accident between a car and a private bus near the octroi post here on Monday night.

According to sources, the family of Ujagar Ram of Bhattian village, near Ludhiana, was returning from Chandigarh after meeting his daughter Ms Paramjeet Kaur when the accident took place. Her mother Ms Surinder Kaur, aunt Ms Balbir Kaur, uncle Mr Malkiat Singh and the the driver of the car died on the spot. Their bodies were returned to their family members after a post-mortem examination at the local Civil Hospital. The injured, including Ujagar Ram, his brother-in-law Soma, Ravinder Kumar, Raunaki Ram, Amarjit Kaur, Neeti (8) and Kimti Lal (5), were referred to a hospital in Ludhiana.

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RSS holds protest rally
Our correspondent

Jagraon, December 12
The local unit of the RSS held a rally today in protest against the ‘barbaric’ attitude of Muslim fanatics of Bangladesh towards the Hindu minority there. The organisation leaders alleged that Hindus, especially women, were not safe there. They were being looted and murdered, compelled to leave that country and take refuge in India, the leaders said.

Addressing the rally, Mr Devinder Nath, convener of the local unit, demanded creation of a congenial atmosphere in Bangladesh. He said that the Indian government should talk to the government of that country in order to ensure protection of Hindus living there and their property.

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Cobbler’s killer at large
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
The city police has not been able to trace the car driver who caused the death of a cobbler at Neemwala Chowk yesterday by dashing his Maruti car against the tree under which the deceased was running his business.

According to a press release by the police today, a case under sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered against the driver of the Maruti Zen (PB-10-AB 2000) whose name has not been mentioned. The case has been registered on the statement of Puran, son of Sahib Deen, a resident of Jhansi Road, who happened to be at the place of accident.

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