Thursday, February 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Political parties defacing walls
Administration looks the other way; residents speak up against the act
Naveen S Garewal

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
Stern warnings issued by the district administration notwithstanding, various political parties continue to deface public property much to the displeasure of city residents. Irked by the action, some city residents have gathered cudgels to take the politicians and their supporters head-on without paying much heed to the consequences. However, even this does not seem to have deterred the candidates from pasting posters on the walls and houses.

The first such person was none other than Col C.S Dhillon, president of the Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh), who has in a written complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, asked the administration to take stern action against erring politicians under provisions of the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1997. The defacement of private property invites strict punishment for violators

According to the provisions of the law, no one can deface the property of an individual by putting up posters, banners, slogans, etc without the written permission of the owner of the building, whether private or public. The concerned party, association, body, candidate, person is liable to be prosecuted and proceeded against under the law and charged with causing wilful damage to the property of others.

Realising the seriousness of the act committed by party workers and possible negative fallout on polling, Ludhiana west candidate, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, has personally apologised to several residents in Tagore Nagar and Udham Singh Nagar areas. He even promised to get the walls cleaned, but seems to be too involved in electioneering to do the needful.

However, there is growing resentment in the city over the acts of posting of posters by the politicians and their supporters. The problem seems to be serious in the walled city as well as in the relatively posh areas. Mr Aneesh Bansal, a businessman and a resident of the Civil Lines area, said he had to lodge a complaint with the authorities as the entire outer wall of his house had been defaced with posters of a particular candidate. He said he tried to contact the candidate on his telephone, but he was not available as he claimed to be busy in campaigning.

"It is more out of fear of inviting the wrath of the voters that political parties are now directing their workers to stay off private property rather than any respect for the Prevention of Defacement of property Act, 1997", says Mr Kamleshwar Kumar, a city businessman. He maintained that as the administration is not taking such offences seriously, the candidates do not seem to bother about the problem. However, he agreed that this time there was relatively less pasting of posters on the walls as compared to the previous elections.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K Sandhu, has through a notification made the city residents aware that under the Act, the defacement of the properties included interfering with the appearance or beauty, damaging, disfiguring, spoiling or injuring in any other way, whatsoever, and the property included any land, building, hut, structure, wall, tree, fence, post, pole or any other installations. Under the act nobody could be allowed to write on walls or paste posters on the public properties. Similarly, fixing of posters on the power and telephone poles or putting up banners on poles on the roadsides was punishable under the provisions of the Act.

Violations under the said Act are cognisable, punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to 6 months or with fine up to Rs 1000 or with both. Under provision of Section 3 of the Act, the government was competent to take such steps as may be necessary for erasing any writing, removing any defacement or any mark from any property.

The Election Commission, too, has in the Model Code of Conduct for the guidance of political parties and candidates provides that "no political party or candidate shall permit its or his followers to make use of any individual's land, building, compound, wall etc. without his permission for erecting flag staff, suspending banners, pasting notices, writing slogans, etc." 



MC income up, but short of target
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
The abolition of octroi, slack enforcement in the wake of Assembly elections and a poor performance of certain departments in the civic body notwithstanding, the Municipal Corporation receipts have increased in the past 10 months of the current financial year. However, the MC may still not be able to meet the budget targets.

The abolition of octroi has not made any significant dent in the MC revenue, because the government, so far, has honoured its undertaking given in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and received Rs 17.42 crore in two instalments against the loss of octroi income in the past two months. Octroi used to be a big source of income with a projected annual income of Rs 130 crore in a budget of Rs 262 crore.

The MC income from the building branch, including the application fee and composition fee, continue to be inadequate. Property sale is another area where much has to be done still. The receipts from building application fee and composition fee (April 2001 to January 2002) was Rs 1.25 crore and Rs 3.18 crore, respectively, falling short by Rs 30 lakh and Rs 85 lakh, respectively, compared to the previous year’s income. However, the income under these heads is only about 50 per cent of the budget estimates.

Property sale did not evoke much response from the public. Against an annual projected income of Rs 10 crore under this head, the MC has been able to mop up only Rs 1.05 crore, so far, compared to the Rs 1.50 crore income in the previous year.

Receipts from house tax, water-supply charges, additional excise duty, cess on electricity supply, development charges, tehbazari, rental income, licence fee and police challans had gone up compared to the previous. In some cases, receipts have been beyond the budget estimates.

In this period, the income from house tax was Rs 23.59 crore (up Rs 7.37 crore), from water-supply charges Rs 11.56 crore (up Rs 1.13 crore), from additional excise duty Rs 11.38 crore (up Rs 7.73 crore), from cess on electricity supply Rs 6.57 crore (up Rs 53.30 lakh), from development charges Rs 1.31 crore (up Rs 97 lakh), from tehbazari Rs 58.69 lakh (up Rs 25 lakh) and from licence Fee Rs 77.63 lakh (up Rs 16.88 lakh).

There was a spurt in receipts from court challans (Rs 7.90 lakh against the budget projection of Rs 5 lakh) and police challans (Rs 9.75 lakh against a target of Rs 10 lakh) in this year.

The MC income at the end of these 10 months was about Rs 155 crore against a budget estimate of Rs 218 crore. Though, compared to the previous year, the receipts this year were higher by about Rs 16 crore, the target of Rs 262 crore for this year still appeared distant.

The MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, said the proposed measures for revenue generation in the past two months of the current financial year were good. He also said, that in about a week, the MC would crackdown on those who defaulted on the payment of civic taxes, development charges or composition fee. “Violations of building bylaws will not be spared. A survey of commercial and other buildings is being conducted here,” he said.



Inadequate space has principals fuming 
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, February 6
High number of examinees coupled with inadequate space and seating arrangement at centres set up by the Punjab School Education Board is likely to affect the smooth conduct of examination this year.

With the board authorities directing some of the schools to arrange for more than 500 students for a particular class, school heads are finding it difficult to make suitable arrangements. Despite repeated pleas from the principals of such schools to reduce the number of students taking examination at their centres, nothing is being done by the board authorities to solve their problem.

Worst hit are students of Class VIII who will appear for examination from February 18. While the board has set 327 centres, most of them are likely to be overcrowded and without proper furniture. Even though the upper limit fixed by the board for setting up a centre is 250, the number is higher in most of the centres.

At Government High School, Jamalpur, 289 students would be taking Class VIII examination. Staff of the school informed that it had benches for 160 students and mattresses for nearly 50 students. Rest of the students would have to sit on the floor of the verandah. They said their head had even approached the authorities last week to reduce the number of students, but she was told that nothing could be done at this stage. Besides, the teachers said it was very difficult to keep a check on so many students who include those from various private academies.

At Arya Senior Secondary School, Old Sabzi Mandi, 529 students would be taking the examination in two centres set up on the campus. Mr Balraj Verma, Principal, said since 800 students from other classes would also be taking the examination, there would be dearth of space and furniture. He said he would have to borrow furniture from nearby schools and arrange it in the school ground to accommodate all students. He said despite repeated assurances by board officers that the number would be reduced next time, the problem persisted each year.

Over 260 students would be taking the examination at Sanatan Vidya Mandir. Ms Sadhna Sharma said while earlier over 300 students were sent to the school, the number had gone down this year, even though it still exceeded the upper limit by nearly 10 students.

At Shri Atma Nand Jain Senior Secondary School, Daresi Ground, 414 students would be taking the examination at two centres set up in the same school. Mr S.C. Malhotra, Principal, however, said the number was close to his estimation and would somehow manage to arrange for accommodating the students.

Similarly, at Government Multipurpose Senior Secondary School, Cinema Road, 241 students would be taking the examination. Nearly 236 students would appear at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Punjab Agricultural University, and the examination for 226 students would be conducted at Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar.



Identity proof must for voters’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
The Deputy Commissioner and District Election Officer, Mr S.K. Sandhu, has asked all eligible voters in the district to carry their voters’ identity cards on the day of elections, as these cards will have to be shown to the polling staff.

Those who have not received their voters’ I-cards, but have their names on the electoral rolls, can produce proofs of identity like driving licence, PAN card of the Income Tax Department, service I-card for government employees, passbook of banks, kisan passbooks, post office passbooks, ration card issued before January 1, 2002, certificate of Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes/Backward Classes issued by a competent authority, student I-card, title deed of property, arms licence, pension passbook or pension payment order for ex-servicemen and I-cards issued to freedom fighters, handicapped person, senior citizens or war widows.

Further, whichever document was produced by the head of the family to establish his identity, would be accepted for the other members of the family as well.



Cong activists join SAD campaign
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
The electoral prospects of the SAD-BJP candidate from Koom Kalan, Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, received a boost as a senior Congress functionary and a former member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Jagir Singh Dard, announced his support to Mr Atwal along with a large number of supporters.

Accompanied by Mr Atwal, who is the son of sitting SAD legislator and Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, the Congress leader addressed a series of election meetings at Ramgarh, Jandiali, Heeran and Bazigar Basti and several other surrounding villages. Speaking at the meetings, Mr Dard made it clear that he had not quit the Congress but had decided to canvass for Mr Atwal, solely on the basis of personal credentials. At the same time, the track record of the Congress candidate, in the fray from this segment, was far from being impressive.

Harping on the massive development activities undertaken in the area during past five years by the SAD-BJP government, Mr Atwal asked the electorate to make a comparison with the work done by the Congress nominee during his tenure as legislator and later as a minister. A bridge on the Sutlej, grants for the construction and renovation of ‘dharamshalas’, pavement of streets and drains and the construction and repair of roads were the major achievements of the government, he added. Mr Atwal cautioned the voters against misleading propaganda and false promises of the Congress.

During his electioneering, Mr Atwal was accompanied, among others, by Ms Hardev Kaur, sarpanch, Mr Shamsher Singh, a former sarpanch, Mr Swarn Singh, Mr Bachan Singh Pamali, Mr Ajit Singh Sahibana, Mr Santa Singh Ummaidpuri, Mr Jagroop Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Gurwinder Singh, Mr Harjit Singh, Mr Parkash Singh, Mr Sher Singh, Mr Bishan Singh, Mr Raj Kumar and Mr Mohinder Singh.



Beant Singh sacrifice must not go in vain: Bitta
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 6
Addressing election rallies in favour of the Congress candidate, Mr Tejparkash Singh, at Maloud, Ghudani and Begowal, the president of the Anti-Terrorist Front, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, said that the sacrifice of late Chief Minister Beant Singh should not go in vain.

Making his point clear, he said that he had not come to address any election rally in favour of a particular candidate. He had come to pay tributes to that great mortal soul who fought against terrorism till his last breath and never gave up. He appealed to the people of the area to analyse the present situation with farsightedness and then vote rationally. He added, “The need of the hour is to adopt the political ideology of the late Beant Singh in order to fight against terrorism that is weakening the roots of our land day by day. This ideology, he said, “Could not be better understood by anyone except his son, Mr Tejparkash Singh, who can find a definite lawful solution like his father and once again make our motherland free from the clutches of foreign rule.”

He was speaking in a press conference at the house of Mr Baljit Singh Dhamot, former MD Cooperative Bank. He also said, “The President of Pakistan, Mr Parvez Musharraf is behaving like a double-edged weapon. Thousands of innocent civilians, army and police personnel have been killed in the recent attacks. Pakistan is continuously spitting venour against Indian by describing it as an aggressor. He has charged India with letting loose the worst form of state terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and at this time it is only the capable leadership, working on the path of our great martyr that can provide a permanent solution of this issue. He appealed to the people to help the family of late Beant Singh Kotli to make their future peaceful and safe from the outside powers. He also said that he would only speak at two places, Payal and Jalandhar, as they are going to influence the politics of tomorrow and pave the way for a better India.

Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, the grandson of late Beant Singh, Mr Lakha Rauni, Mr Bant Singh Daburjee, Chairman, Budhewal Sugar Mills, Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, President Nagar Council, Doraha, Sarpanch Balwinder Singh Chapran, Mr Harkirat Singh Kotli, Mr Harminder Singh Ghaloti, Mr Rupinder Singh Raja were also present among the prominent personalities of the area.



Sohi’s rally
Our Correspondent

Lalru, February 6
The campaign of Congress candidate from Banur Assembly constituency, Ms Sheelam Sohi, yesterday got a fillip with party dissidents from the constituency coming together to work for her success.

Three other dissidents Mr M.S. Gill, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon and Mr Sahibjit Singh, expressed their solidarity with Ms Sohi. 



Keen contest likely in Ludhiana North
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
A keen contest is likely between the sitting legislator of the Congress, Mr Rakesh Pandey, and the BJP nominee and a city councillor, Mr Pran Bhatia, for the Ludhiana North Assembly seat.

Mr Pandey has won the seat thrice earlier, but this time, the hectic campaigning by him so far, has led to a situation where the BJP is making its presence felt. As far as dissidence within the parties was concerned, both of them were feeling the pinch.

If Mr Bhatia was at a disadvantage due to fierce opposition to his candidature by another aspirant for the party ticket, Mr Sunil Mehra, also a councillor, Mr Rakesh Pandey was also facing a shortage of party ranks since most of the workers were campaigning for Mr Surinder Dawar, former DCC (urban) chief, who was contesting election for the adjoining Ludhiana East Assembly seat. After launching his election campaign in a big way in the presence of the PPCC president, Captain Amarinder Singh, Mr Pandey changed gear and rather than going for big rallies, he has so far been holding mohalla-level and group meetings in his constituency. Now he has started a door-to-door campaign.

On the other hand, the BJP candidate, Mr Pran Bhatia, has been on an election office opening spree in different localities. During his tour of New Shivpuri, Sunder Nagar, New Madhopuri, New Kundanpuri, Kara Bara, Chhawni Mohalla, he sought the support of electorate on the basis of ‘unprecedented development’ carried out in Punjab by the ruling combine government, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The Congress Sewa Dal organised a meeting in Kirpal Nagar in Ludhiana North segment in support of Mr Pandey. Addressing the meeting, Mr Pandey, the Sewa Dal chief organiser, Mr Sushil Parashar, and others alleged that the ruling combine had given nothing to the masses except poverty, corruption, unemployment and unbearable burden of taxes. The speakers exhorted the electorate to throw away the ‘corrupt’ functionaries of the SAD-BJP combine and to pave the way for a Congress government in the state.



Badal flayed for filing complaint
Our Correspondent

Samrala, February 6
Mr Parminder Singh Gill, general secretary, legal cell, PPCC, has said that the criminal complaint instituted by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, SAD (B), in the court of the CJM at Chandigarh against Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the PPCC, is legally and factually not maintainable.

He said that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal had no locus standi and cause of action to institute the criminal complaint. Moreover, this complaint is another ridiculous attempt by the SAD (B) to once again befool the people of Punjab, he added. He also said that the Congress has brought true facts before the people.



Cart-pullers submit memorandum
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 6
The Cart Pullers and Rehri Mazdoor Union, in a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, has urged animal lovers, the police and the People for Animals society (PFA) to learn to differentiate between human strength and horse power.

The union has pointed out that on the behest of the PFA, the city police was challaning them even if they were carrying just 10 quintals of weight on their carts. If labour running ‘rehris’ could be allowed to carry a weight of 10 quintals or more,, why they were not allowed to carry the same weight, they asked. The PFA and the police should consider some difference between the strength of a man and that of a horse, they said.

Mr Mohinder Pal Chauhan, president of the union, claimed the city police has intensified the move to challan them for carrying 10 quintals of load. It has forced some cart-pullers to mortgage their houses to get bails. He said, “we have to spend at least Rs 200 per day on the fodder of a horse besides spending thousands on cart and horse. Many of us have taken loan for the purpose and it was not possible for us to pay to the police”.

He urged the Deputy Commissioner to direct the MC authorities to stream-line the process of issuing of licences as well. Though the licence fee was just Rs 16, but a man would have to spend three to four days to get it, he said. He further alleged that some organisations were forcefully stopping them from operating in the city.

The copies of the memorandum have been sent to the Deputy Speaker, Mr Satpal Gossian, the SSP, Ludhiana, the president, PFA, and other persons concerned. The union has requested the DC to take immediate action in this regard.



Bairagi Mandal welcomes decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 6
The Bairagi Maha Mandal, Punjab, has welcomed the decision of the Central government to release a commemorative postal stamp in honour of Swami Rama Nand.

In a joint press release here yesterday, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa and other mandal leaders, while expressing happiness over the release of the stamp also thanked Mr Bal Kavi Bairagi, member, Rajya Sabha, who had been working in this direction for the past four years.


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