Saturday, February 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Vigilance inquiry against Improvement Trust head
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
A vigilance inquiry has been initiated against Mr Madan Mohan Vyas, Chairman of the Improvement Trust Ludhiana for his alleged role in the irregularities committed in allotment of plots under various schemes of the trust.

The State Vigilance Department has began inquiry in the scandal worth about 10 crore after a committee formed by the government found enough evidence to order a regular vigilance inquiry into the alleged irregularities. The committee comprised of principal secretary and other secretaries. Under the norms, a regular inquiry is ordered only after preliminary verification of facts.

According to vigilance sources, the inquiry has nothing to do with politics and has been ordered after following proper procedure. According to documents, the government had given the nod for inquiry in November last, but due to the procedural delays the State Vigilance Department could direct the Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau to initiate the inquiry a couple of days ago only.

Ludhiana Tribune learnt about the inquiry when some sources in the Improvement Trust revealed that the Vigilance Bureau had in a communication to the trust demanded some records in connection with the inquiry. Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SP (Vigilance), confirming the reports said he had started probe into the allegations. He said the main thrust of the inquiry was to ascertain the role played by Improvement Trust Chariman M.M. Vyas into the allotment of plots to a woman, who had died 20 years ago.

Mr Vyas, when contacted said he received a communication regarding vigilance inquiry last evening and would face it as he was honest and had not committed any crime. He said he had only ordered the mutation of plot against the name of two claimants of the plots allotted to Late Bhagwant Kaur. He said he had given the orders after a resolution to this affect was passed by the trust. Mr Vyas said that he was being victimised.

Vigilance sources and documents pertaining to the inquiry reveal that the irregularities were committed in allotment of plots to Bhagwant Kaur, who was already dead. She was allotted 16 plots in various colonies. Two women, Devinder Kaur and Opinder Kaur, had claimed their right over the plots stating they were the legal heir to the late Bhagwant Kaur’s property. Records state that the initial allotment was made in 1966 and some more plots were allotted to the dead woman last year.

In controversy are plot numbers 64, 65, 86, 87 and 88 in Block-K of Sarabha Nagar, plot numbers 44 and 105-A in Rajguru Nagar, plot numbers 11,13, 54 and 519-F and plot numbers 16, 18 and 19-B. in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. Numbers of two other plots could not be known.

Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, had complained to the government about the alleged irregularities committed in the allotment of plots. The State Local Bodies Department had asked for the records of the case after receiving the complaints. Interestingly, the vigilance inquiry documents mention that when the Local Bodies Department inquired about the plots on August 16, 2000, the Improvement Trust officials allegedly prepared some documents in back date. The vigilance inquiry is probing this allegation also.



MC plan to privatise stadium, Mini Rose Garden
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
In pursuance of its policy to promote private participation in civic services and other amenities in the mega city, the Municipal Corporation has chalked out plans to hand over Guru Nanak Stadium and Mini Rose Garden in Kidwai Nagar to private parties for maintenance. The decision, according to MC Commissioner R.L. Kalsia, will not only lead to better management of these places but also become a source of significant income for the civic body.

The project report for development of the Guru Nanak Sports complex as a sports club to be run by a private company, was approved by the F&CC at its meeting on February 20. The report made detailed projections of estimated income and expenditure on the Sports Club with the conclusion that the project could be self sustainable while revenue generated by giving right of use for different kinds of functions to some private company, could bring in additional income to the civic body.

The private company, entrusted with the maintenance of the complex, would be allowed to use the complex for holding cultural, educational, sports and entertainment events, trade fairs, exhibitions, fashion shows and private gatherings. It could also set up restaurant, canteen, snacks counters, health club and other facilities for the visiting public.

Mr Kalsia told that the MC had spent some Rs 15 crore towards the infrastructure development in Guru Nanak Stadium, including Rs 6 crore during National Games 2001. In addition, Rs 16 lakh were incurred every year towards maintenance, electricity charges and other essential services.

The Sports Club, proposed to be developed in the Guru Nanak Stadium, would comprise official members, unofficial members and trainees, who would pay nominal monthly fee for coaching in different disciplines. Besides, providing necessary infrastructure for training and modern equipment, the trainees could avail services of qualified coaches for intensive training.

A similar proposal to privatise Mini Rose Garden in Kidwai Nagar has also been mooted. Mr Kalsia told that the maintenance, running of canteen and parking lot of the Mini Rose Garden would be entrusted to some private company through open tenders against right to put up advertisements and set up publicity kiosks. A nominal entry fee would also be charged from visitors to discourage anti-social elements.

In order to meet the pressing demand for public utilities for the mammoth city population, the MC has also finalised the allotment of seven sites in different city localities for construction of public utilities by private parties. According to Mr Kalsia, the private companies would construct toilet blocks at sites provided by the MC strictly in accordance with the approved design provided to them and would also be responsible for maintenance of the services, initially for a period of three years. To cover the cost of construction and the lease money paid to the civic body, they would have the right to put up advertisement boards.

In the first phase, public utilities would be set up at Aarti Chowk, Sarabha Nagar Market, Feroze Gandhi Market, Mata Rani Chowk (Opp CPO), Ghumar Mandi Chowk, Fountain Chowk and ESI Road.



No ground for holding practicals here
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, February 22
The Class X physical education practicals of the Punjab School Education Board at most centres here today were a farce. Several schools in the old city that have been made the centres do not have playgrounds or facilities for organising track and field events. Marks were awarded today on the basis of short viva sessions only.

The Gokul Road Jain Girls Senior Secondary School has no playground and the physical education practicals were held on the first floor of the building. Students said teachers had told them to prepare from chapters on kho-kho and badminton for the trials. Today, at viva sessions that stretched from five to ten minutes each, they were asked questions from these chapters only, making it convenient for students as well as teachers. Some girl students said teachers had not divided them into groups in advance, due to which, they had to wait for hours for the practicals to begin. Later, at 2 pm, they were told to go home and return on Monday for the practicals.

It was a same situation at a number of schools in the old city, where there is no playground or public park. In Harideo Mandir School there, when students came for the practicals in the morning and found that the school did not have any playground, the Principal sent them to Sanatan Vidya Mandir in Civil Lines here that already had over 150 students for the examination.

Government Multipurpose Senior Secondary School on Cinema Road also has no playground, so, students who came here were told to run on the cemented surface in the backyard. The morning rain had made a small space for shot put and kho-kho practice muddy.

In the Bharat Nagar Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School, that, too, is without a playground, Mr O.P. Arora, school Principal, said candidates had been taken to a nearby park for the practicals.

Meanwhile, Class XII students took their practicals in drawing and painting, voal music, food making, unit management for garment making, textile yarn calculation, powerloom mechanics, textile dyeing, commercial arts, TV services, furniture design, automobile supension, textile-based sports goods and industrial leather goods.

Students of Class VIII took the science written examination and Class V students took the first-language (Hindi/Punjabi) examinations.



In-laws beat up groom, father
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The move of a young couple to get married against the wishes of their parents led to an attack on the boy’s family allegedly by girl’s relatives in front of the Tehsildar’s office in the mini-secretariat here this afternoon, where the couple, along with the boy’s parents and relatives, had come to get the marriage registered. Attackers seriously injured the bridegroom and his father and took away the girl. The police has arrested two youths in this connection.

The couple had eloped a couple of days earlier and the girl’s parents had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that the boy, Chander Behl, had kidnapped their daughter, Rosy. However, according to the police, the couple was adult and had got married on Wednesday. After the marriage, some relatives of the girl living in Ranjit Singh Park Nagar, also gave their consent to the marriage, but stressed that the marriage should be got registered.

However, when today the couple and the boy’s parents came to the Tehsildar’s office, some armed youths, along with girl’s relatives, attacked them with sticks and sharp- edged weapons. People ran helter skelter to escape the onslaught.

The boy, Chander Behl, and his father, Shyam Lal, escape and were seriously wounded. Both were hospitalised. The Division No. 5 police has arrested two youths in this connection. Both have however, been sent to the custody of the Division No 6 police as a case was already registered there.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune from the civil hospital, Chander said he was in love with the girl for the past two years, but could not marry her as their parents were against their marriage. They eloped early this week and got married on Wednesday.

After this his parents gave consent, but the girl’s parents demanded that the marriage should be legalised by registration. He said he and his wife’s joy knew no bound at getting the consent of her parents, but then they were attacked. He said the assailants had targeted him, but his father suffered injuries while saving him. He said the attackers forcibly took away his wife.



New power distribution scheme
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) launched a new power distribution scheme at Ghahaur village near here, today, to ensure 24-hour supply to domestic consumers in rural areas and about 12-hour power supply for tubewells in the coming season.

After launching the scheme, Mr J.S. Grewal, Chief Engineer, PSEB, said the scheme had been launched for the first time in the state as a pilot project. “It distributes tubewell connections on a single feeder into two groups. A changeover switch is installed at the feeder to supply power to one group of tubewells at a time. The village panchayats of the area have been given the charge of these switches for maintenance and operations,” he said.

Referring to the working of the scheme, Mr Grewal said, ‘‘We have installed changeover switches at the 66kv substation at Dhakha bus-stand and Dettwal feeder, which has 193 tubewells having load of 753kv, by dividing tubewell connections into two groups. It will ensure regular power supply for domestic consumers and 10 to 12 hour supply to the tubewells. Power connections for 27 more tubewells will be released soon under this feeder without any additional cost.”

Mr Grewal said if the scheme proved successful here, it would be implemented throughout the state. The scheme proposal, which had been lying pending in the board’s files for the past one decade, could help in clearing 80,000 applications for tubewell connections within a year, pending since 1988, without any substantial cost to the government or the board.

Commenting on the benefits of the scheme, he said due to decline in power consumption by half at a time, the technical losses would fall to just 25 per cent and feeders’ losses would come down to 50 per cent. It would save power losses by at least 10 per cent. Consequently, the board would be able to clear new power connections where test reports had already been cleared. As after the implementation of the scheme, the load on transformers and feeders would remain just half, so new connections could be released without any additional costs.

According to Mr Grewal, the board required at least Rs 200 crore to introduce this scheme at the state level, which could be recovered from new customers as service charges. It is estimated that the board would save about Rs 200 crore annually due to fall in cases of transformers burning, decrease in distribution losses and more power supply.

The board officials said so far the response from the consumers of this feeder had been encouraging and they had willingly taken over the responsibility of managing the changeover switches themselves and in case the scheme proved successful the PSEB could introduce the same in other areas.



Liquor vends to remain closed on Feb 24
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
The District Magistrate, Mr S.K. Sandhu, has ordered the closure of all liquor vends in the district on February 24 when the counting of votes for the February 13 Assembly elections would be taken up. He warned the liquor contractors of strict action for any violation of these directions.



City’s 25-yr-old Major awarded Shaurya Chakra
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
A few years ago, after getting 92 per cent marks in the science stream with mathematics and biology as major subjects, a waif-like Gurtej, who had an option to join either a medical or engineering college, told his father, Col. Dr. D.S. Grewal, “Papa, I would rather to join your regiment than a medical college.’’ The father, himself a distinguished soldier and author of a number of books on the subject of defence, including one on the Kargil war, was surprised. Initially, he had wanted to see his son become an IAS officer after studying at the IIT or becoming a medico. However, he yielded before the steely determination of his son.

Result — the boy never looked back and cleared the NDA exam in his first attempt and remained a topper through all competitions and internal exams. He has now been awarded a Shaurya Chakra at 25 year of age, the youngest to receive one so far, for displaying gallantry, personal courage and leadership in the face of fire, while fighting with militants in the thick jungles of Assam in April last year.

Recalling the incident, Dr Grewal, said,‘‘On a raining night, the military office had received specific information regarding a group of militants hiding in the forests. Leading from the front, Major Grewal, along with the scout, while closing in on the camp area, swiftly and stealthily overpowered a pair of lookouts. Spot interrogation of the apprehended militants revealed the presence of two hardcore and four newly-recruited militants in a nearby camp. ’’Then Maj Grewal quickly established cordon and moved towards the hideout. The party came under intense small arms fire and grenade attack. Displaying tremendous presence of mind, Maj Grewal deployed his light machine gun to provide covering fire. Then, making use of broken ground and tall grass, he crawled up to and shot dead one militant in hand-to-hand fight.

As he closed on to the other militant, he came under effective automatic fire. Displaying raw courage and lightening reflexes, he rolled behind a log, while simultaneously firing from his weapon, and shot dead the second militant. Frightened by the fire, four other militants tried to flee, but were apprehended by the cordon party. The operation lasted for about nine hours during the night. The successful operation also led to the recovery of five weapons and a large quantity of ammunition.

For this gallant action, he has been awarded Shaurya Chakra, which was presented to him on January 26, this year. Says Dr Grewal, ‘‘ Presently, our son is posted in Assam and is in high spirits. He has proved a great fighter and we are proud of him. He has, in fact, motivated his elder brother Navtej Singh, who had completed his MBA, to join the army through the IMA.’’ He is now entitled to get 5 acre of land and Rs one lakh, as well as free facilities of a phone connection, concessional AC and air travel for life and a number of additional benefits.

News of the award has been received with great fanfare not only by his family but neighbours and relatives as well. Father Grewal says proudly, ‘‘I had never even thought in my dreams that my son would become a successful soldier. Once I had asked his instructor, to throw him out, if he failed to endure the hardships of training as I was not sure about his capability. But he has proved all of us wrong. Still unmarried, Maj Gurtej’s phone calls are eagerly awaited by the family. Ironically they are unable to attend to his call due to a frequently ‘dead’ phone. His mother, Ms Gurcharan Kaur says, We are now eagerly waiting for our son, who has also cleared the internal exam for further promotion and entry to an M. Tech course.”



Collecting ‘lassi-paani’ or revenue for MC?
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, February 22
To a casual onlooker, it would surely appear to be a zealous anti-encroachment drive in action. But to those who know the ploy, the purpose of the whole exercise is to make people cough up money to get their vehicles back.

Around 12 am today an open truck, carrying the tehbazari staff of the local Municipal Corporation arrived outside the building along the Calibre Plaza, which houses a branch of the Bharat Overseas Bank and the Life Insurance Corporation. Outside the building were parked a number of scooters belonging to both the employees working in the building as well as their customers.

A motley group of seven to eight tehbazari men descended from the open truck and in a commando- type action, hauled up half-a-dozen scooters onto the vehicle and sped towards the Damoria bridge. The owners of these scooters were obviously too late to intervene. By the time they came to know about the ‘operation’, the open truck was perhaps miles away from the scene.

Eyewitnesses told Ludhiana Tribune that some of the scooters lifted by the tehbazari staff were properly parked in the row, while a couple of these were parked a little away from the row. Mr Harish Sood (48), who runs a cosmetics shop in Shiv Puri had come to the LIC office to deposit his instalment. It took him hardly 10 minutes to do so. Not finding his scooter where he had parked it, he panicked, wondering if the same had been stolen. But soon some bystanders informed him of the exercise and advised him to reach the office concerned without wasting time in order to settle things before an official inventory was made.

The raid however, in its wake, generated a general debate among onlookers as to the logic of the high-handed action. One gentleman said that either the corporation should provide adequate parking facilities or stop the practice of lifting scooters parked in a row along the road. Another man intervened to say that the problem of parking on the road had been compounded by shopkeepers of Calibre Plaza and the customers visiting the air-conditioned market. Though the market has spacious parking space on its top floor, visitors to the market prefer to park their vehicles outside rather than carting up the same in an elevator provided for the purpose. As the space in front of the Calibre Plaza is not enough to meet the parking requirements, space in front of the Bhadaur House market on the other side of the road also remains congested with scooters and motorcycles.

At this , another participant said that whenever these men feel that they are getting broke, they just steer out with the open truck and resort to such action. While usually they have the consent and approval of their officers, there are occasions when they indulge in such acts on their own without bothering to inform their officers. Some of these staff are said to be so influential that various inspectors and even the superintendent of the tehbazari department abide by their wishes and whims.

With a scenario like that, one can’t help wondering whether these tehbazari men are trying to collect as much revenue as possible for the cash-starved civic body or just making enough to keep their personal ‘lassi-paani’ going on and on!



Appeal to prevent flow of country liquor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The Social and Health Services Directorate of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle has requested the Prime Minister, Governor Punjab, Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court and other dignitaries intervene in checking supply of country made liquor on February 24, when the results of the recently held polls in Punjab would be announced in order to prevent alcohol-related deaths.

Prof Sarabjeet Singh, Director and Dr Ravi Bhushan, President Nasha Chaddo Muhim stated that there were reports that candidates had stored large amounts of countrymade liquor to celebrate their victory. They alleged that preparations for brewing countrymade liquor were in full swing in rural areas, but police had taken no action so far.

Already, more than 35 persons have lost their lives in the state in the past few months mainly due to over-consumption of countrymade liquor supplied free of cost by various politicians and candidates, they said, adding that these figures have been reported in the media but the actual toll was estimated to be much more.

If the process continued on Sunday (February 24), the day of announcement of results, it is feared that many more precious lives would be lost at the alter of poll-related liquor-bonanza unleashed by candidates belonging to a cross-section of political parties.

The Study Circle has demanded that direction be issued to the state through senior police officers to strictly check the supply and consumption of countrymade liquor. Police officers at the district level must be held personally responsible for any death (s) due to this country made liquor. Similarly five dry days should be declared in the state at least from February 23 to February 27 and all liquor shops should be strictly closed.

The NGO has further requested that all earlier news reports regarding poll-liquor related deaths as well as preparations of illicit country made liquor may be considered as FIRs and action may be initiated against the local administration as well as distiller, suppliers etc. The roadside feasts must be banned strictly. Cases have been reported where cops on night duty are roped in for a tipple by politicians overlooking the arrangements.



2 microlight aircraft commissioned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
Two microlight aircraft were commissioned here today at Sahnewal Airport by Col D.S. Dhillon, Deputy DG NCC of Punjab and Haryana.

Giving details about the aircraft, Col Dhillon said that the aircraft would carry two occupants and cover 280 km in less than two hours. He said these would be used for training third year NCC air wing, besides being used in adventure flights. The aircraft could go as high as 14,000 feet even during extreme climatic conditions.

Squadron Leader P.P. Singh of 4 Pb Air Sqd said the aircraft would be fitted with rotax 912 engine producing 80 billion horse power. 



Dowry death alleged; accused abscond
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
A newly married woman was allegedly strangled and burnt after dousing her with kerosene in Bangaru Mohalla falling under Division No 3 police station here yesterday. The police has registered a case against Vinod, the husband, his mother Raj Rani and sister Shikha who have absconded.

According to information, Mr Babu Lal, a resident of Ahmedgarh, who works as an office assistant in a bank at Ludhiana, had married her daughter, Gita, on November 26 last to Vinod Kumar, who was in the scrap business at that time. But after the marriage, alleged Mr Babu Lal, Vinod Kumar stopped working. Later, he started pestering Gita to influence her father to become a guarantor for a bank loan. Mr Babu Lal said that since he was not in a position to repay the loan in case his son-in-law failed to deposit the instalments, he refused to comply with the request. After his refusal, the in-laws of her daughter started harassing her.

He said he had given enough dowry in marriage. Somebody telephoned him yesterday at 1 pm and asked him to reach his daughter's house. He was stunned when he saw a large crowd outside her house. He alleged that her in-laws had strangled her with the help of a dupatta and later set her afire after dousing her with kerosene.

Stabbed: Mr Darshan Lal, alias Pappu, a resident of Lovekush Nagar falling under Division No 4 police station, was stabbed here yesterday by two brothers who run a meat shop in the area. The victim has been admitted to the Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case and is raiding different places in the city to nab the accused.

According to information, the two brothers used to spit at the sight of Darshan who passed their shop every day on the way to work and back home. Yesterday, it was around 11 a.m. when Darshan passed by their shop as usual and the meat-sellers spat at his sight. But this time, he demanded an explanation for their derogatory act at which one of the brothers stabbed him with a butcher's knife and later both the brothers fled.

Robbery bid: Three persons were seriously injured in a scuffle when as many as eight youths tried to rob the office of a finance company in Upkar Nagar here yesterday. A case has been registered at Kailash Cinema police station against the accused who have been identified as Billu, son of Mr Pritam Singh, a resident of Kundan Puri, and his accomplices.

According to information, the accused, armed with hockey sticks and iron rods, entered the office of a finance company owned by an advocate, Mr Ajay Chopra, and tried to escape with Rs 72,000 that was lying in one of the drawers. But when the staff resisted, the accused started beating them. Office furniture was also damaged.

A youth, Rohit, who tried to intervene in the scuffle, was also hit by the accused. A number of persons were injured in the scuffle, three of whom have been admitted to hospital. However, the accused failed in their bid to snatch the money.

1 killed in accident: Som Dutt, a resident of Shiva Nagar, Ludhiana, was killed when his bike (PB-10-K-5115) was hit by a scooter (PB-29-9598) near sugar Mill, 5 km from here.

He was returning to his home from Ferozepore. Scooter driver has been identified as Swaran Singh of Gidderwindi village.

Som Dutt had gone to Ferozepore to resume his duty with Markfed after revocation of his suspension after 20 years and was accompanied by Mr Ramesh Lal, senior assistant, Markfed, Ludhiana. Som Dutt was seriously injured in the accident and was taken to the Civil Hospital, Jagraon, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A and 427 of the IPC.

Liquor seized: Karamjit Singh of Patti Behan Chakar village was arrested from near bridge drain in the area of Chakar with six litres of illicit liquor.

A case under Section 61/1/14 of the Excise Act has been registered.


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