Wednesday, April 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


United they put city on hold
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Normal life came to a virtual standstill here today due to the nationwide strike by trade unions affiliated to the Hind Mazdoor Sabha, the AITUC, the CITU and others except the Indian National Trade Union Congress. The employees’ unions of the Education Department, banks, the BSNL, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), public-sector insurance companies and various other departments participated in the strike. The call for the strike had been given in protest against privatisation and the proposed Budget.

At a joint rally of about 20 trade unions brought together under the banner of the Joint Council of Trade Unions, Mr D.P. Maur, joint secretary of the council, said, “The government policies have been anti-worker for the past 10 years due to the World Bank pressure. Correct politicians, bureaucrats and companies have looted national property, while the government is taking away employment, education and health.

Mr Amrit Pal, general secretary of the PAU Employees Union, said the government had already abolished 12,200 posts in the public sector and proposed to abolish 42,200 posts. Mr Tarsen Jodhan, a former MLA, said small-scale industries were passing through a difficult phase and the proposed amendments in the Industries Disputes Act were aimed at adopting hire-and-fire policies.

Another rally was organised by the Punjab Bank Employees’ Federation near Bharat Nagar Chowk, where, Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary of the federation, said, “The Union Government had put a heavy burden on the middle class by lowering exemption limit for income tax, but done nothing to recover Rs 64,784 crore that the corporate sector owed to the IT and Central Excise Department. The government should take steps to recover Rs 70,000 crore accumulated as non-performing assets (NPAs) in the nationalised banks.”

At another rally, Mr Charan Singh Sarabha, state general secretary of the Government School Teachers Union, said, “The government has been pursuing anti-worker policies for the past many years. It is trying to adopt retrenchment in the Education Department without realising its implications.” The local unions of the Municipal Corporation, the LIC and the other insurance companies, the BSNL and the PSEB employees also organised separate protest meetings.

Though the INTUC and the SC/BC Employees Unions had boycotted the strike, no work was done in most banks or insurance companies here. Thousands of persons, who had to deposit their electricity of telephone bills, had to return disappointed.

Punjab Government Transport Workers Union’s branch, participating in the countrywide strike held its rally at the Bus stand here. They also took out a procession and raised slogans against the Central Government for working against the interests of its employees. The rally was addressed by leaders of different unions including Swaran Singh, Amrik Singh, Baljinder Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Sohan Singh and Ravinder Khanna belonging to AITUC.

On the call given by the All India Bank Employees Union, all banks at Samrala and Machhiwara remained closed here on Tuesday causing inconvenience to the public. A demonstration was held on Monday in front of Punjab National Bank. Employees of the local telephone exchange sat in dharna under the presidentship of Mr B.S. Sandhu.



BSNL employees observe strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Ludhiana unit of National Federation of Telecom Employees observed a one-day strike here today, after a call was given by the Punjab Circle unit of the federation and other national-level trade unions. In Ludhiana district, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited BSNL employees did not work and they sat in front of their respective offices for the whole day. Besides this, a large number of BSNL, workers staged dharna in front of office of General Manager of the nigam and took out a massive rally there to protest against anti-employee policies of the government.

The BSNL employees strictly opposed the government’s policy of division of BSNL in to separate companies. The other main reasons for observing the strike are, downsizing or retrenchment of staff in public sector undertakings (PSU’s), privatisation of BSNL, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), and closure of PSU’s.

The BSNL workers also raised slogans in front of the GM office and demanded to raise income tax limit up to Rs one lakh and to restore 20 per cent rebate on income tax and to abolish five per cent surcharge. Besides, these agitators also demanded withdrawal of LPG gas price hike used for domestic purposes and rail fares. While addressing the rally, the circle secretary of BSNL employees union, Mr Balbir Singh said “This strike and rally to be held today, would be clear message to the government to review their anti-employee and anti-labourers policies.” 



Kashmiri terrorists seen in city
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
After some Kashmiri terrorists have been seen in the city and it is believed that they were involved in some contract killings and robberies here, the Ludhiana police is trying to bring here some persons, who are already under arrest in Jammu and Kashmir, for questioning.

The police has obtained production warrants of at least two such suspects who were arrested by the Jammu police some weeks ago under POTA. Sources in the police said some terrorists were indulging in criminal activities here to raise money for buying weapons. The names of the suspects are Surinder Singh “Fauji” and Amrik Singh ‘Balbir Singh’ ‘Amarjit Singh’. On an application moved by the district police, the Judicial Magistrate (first class), Mr Rajesh Ahluwalia, has directed the Jammu police to allow the production of the two suspects in his court on April 24.

The Ludhiana police had sought the warrant after a key witness in a case of the murder of a big industrialist had identified these men to be alleged killers.

The industrialist had been killed by two motor-cycle-borne youths in January here. After this, the police received information that some Kashmiri terrorists had been seen here with the two suspects for about two weeks.

The police department is keeping the matter under wraps and only when he was confirmed with the record of the court proceedings that a senior police official, on the condition of anonymity, said there indeed had been such a development but the police did not want to create any unnecessary alarm.

He said the police suspected that some terrorist outfits had sent small-time criminals here to indulge in robberies. There have been a number of murders and robberies outside banks in the city in the past one year.



Bid to save money costs dear
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 16
Inability to pay hefty medical bills forced a man to hire some untrained midwives for helping his wife to deliver a child and in the course he had to pay with the life of his wife. While the baby is normal, the women died within a couple of hours of the delivery.

Babban, a migrant labourer from Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, and Shamkali were expecting their second child. Shamkali (23) died soon after giving birth to a boy on Sunday.

Shampati, mother-in-law of Shamkali, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said the family had migrated here from their village six months ago. She said the victim had been married to her son for the past five years. The victim had given birth to a baby girl about three years ago, when the family was still in the village, but the child could not survive for more than a few days because of malnutrition.

"We came to the city with high hopes. My son is a daily-wager and we are not in a position to pay hefty bills of hospitals. One of our neighbours suggested us to take my daughter-in-law to a midwifes. We were told that midwife was quite experienced and 'reasonable'. I took her to the midwife, Parminder Kaur (not her real name), once for check-up during pregnancy and she assured that everything was normal", said Shampati.

The victim started having labour pains on Sunday morning and the family called the midwife. The midwife said that she along with her sister-in-law, reached their home at 9.30 am. "But when we reached here, we found that Shamkali was bleeding profusely. We told the family several times that the case was very serious. I immediately gave an injection to stop bleeding but to no avail. We asked her mother-in-law and husband to take her to some government hospital or dispensary but within few minutes, the victim delivered a child and we were forced to continue with the treatment. When we left the home, both the child and the mother looked fine", said Parminder Kaur.

When asked if she had taken a thorough training to be a midwife, Parminder Kaur said that she was not actually into the profession. "My mother is a trained mid-wife and I have always worked with her as a helper, but because she was away for a few days, I decided to do the case myself. I took my sister-in-law with me, who has also been trained by my mother", maintained Parminder Kaur.

Their 'doctor-bag' carries a few medicines, including some pain killers, oxytocin injection, Methyl ergometrins injection, clucose powder and glycerine solution.

"We charged Rs 500 from these people", said Parminder. But Shamkali said that they had given Rs 1000 to the midwives. "A total of Rs 1200 were spent on the delivery", said Shamkali.

Ms Pappo Abnash Singh, a social activist said she had given financial help to the victim's father-in-law as he was working as a gardener at their place. "I was shocked when he narrated this story to me. I was not told anything about the girl's pregnancy, I would have definitely taken the victim to some good doctor, if I knew about it earlier, " she said.

Ms Abnash said Shamkali would have survived if proper treatment had been given to her. "But because the family did not have enough money to afford heavy expenses, they preferred to take the services of untrained midwives and lost the innocent girl", she said.



Finance Dept ‘refuses’ to release sanctioned grant
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 16
A Rs 7.5 crore central grant from the Critical Infrastructure Balance Scheme for the ongoing Dhandari railway overbridge project in the city was perceived as a boon for the cash strapped municipal corporation in the city. But thanks to the indifferent attitude of several departments of the Punjab Government and bureaucracy that Rs 4 crore released in two instalments during the months of January and March, 2002, by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry still eludes the civic body.

According to senior officials of the MC, the project was estimated to cost Rs 15 crore, out of which around Rs 4 crore had already been spent from its own resources and the scheduled completion of the overbridge was in December, 2002.

Despite best efforts made by the MC officials to get the amount of the grant released from the Finance Department during the last three months, nothing worthwhile has been achieved so far.

With the abolition of octroi in December, 2001, the MC had been experiencing a serious resource crunch and the Central grant to cover half the cost of the flyover was nothing less than a windfall for the civic body. But having failed so far, despite its best efforts, to secure the sum of Rs 4 crore released by the Union Government to the state through the Reserve Bank of India, has proved a real dampener. That things were moving at a snail’s pace is evident from the fact that the Department of Local Government issued an order on March 27 asking the Finance Department to release Rs 1 Crore to the MC, which was sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Commerce on January 15, 2002 and the amount stood transferred to the State of Punjab through the RBI on February 1, 2002.

In another follow up bid, the MC took up the matter with the Directorate of Industries and Commerce, Punjab, who wrote to the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry on February 26, 2002, making it clear that the department had no objection if the entire funds of the Central grant were released direct to the MC. But it was not to be and the subsequent installment of another Rs 3 crore was also routed through the state government and met the same fate.

It is not only the Central grant of the MC that is being withheld by the Punjab Government. To make the matters worse, the government had, till date, not released the instalment of around Rs 10 crore which was payable in March on account of loss of income due to abolition of octroi and a staggering amount of Rs 22 crore of additional excise duty collected by the government on behalf of the civic body.



Move to ban vehicles on Old GT Road
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Responding to chaotic traffic movement on the Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge towards the Clock Tower Chowk, due to the ongoing work for 'elevated road' project in the city, the municipal corporation has drawn up a tentative proposal to ban all motor vehicles, on this stretch on experimental basis for a few days to begin with. The move was finalised at a meeting, convened by MC Commissioner R.L. Kalsia here today, which was attended, among others, by Additional Commissioner S.K. Sharma, S.P. (Traffic), the MC Traffic Consultant and other civic officials.

Giving details of the deliberations, Mr Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that with effect from Wednesday, entry of all motor vehicles will be banned on this stretch of G.T. Road between Chand cinema and railway station from 7 am to 9 pm and only three wheelers, two-wheelers and man-propelled vehicles would be allowed to ply.

The vehicles will have to take alternative routes from Jagraon Bridge towards Field Ganj or Brown Road and similarly all vehicles entering the city from Jalandhar side will have to take a right turn from Old Sabzi Mandi or Mata Rani Chowk. The railway passengers from old city localities will now have to cross the Jagraon Bridge and reach the railway station from Guru Nanak Stadium side entrance.

Mr Sharma further said that it was impressed upon the S.P. (Traffic) to make available adequate number of police personnel to ensure proper enforcement and traffic management so that some semblance of order could be brought in the flow of traffic on this section of the national highway. 




LUDHIANA has many things to be proud of. It is not only a vibrant city with enterprising people always keen to reach for the skies, it is also the city of progressive people who think beyond sectarian lines. It prides in having residents belonging to all religions, be they Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists or others. Representatives of these religions got together recently at the Nehru Sidhant Kender to express solidarity with each other and condemn the incidents in Gujarat which threatened the secular fabric of the society there. The gathering made a fervent appeal to the public to maintain peace and communal harmony and not get provoked by vested interests and anti-social elements. (see picture)

MC harassment

Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is not an admirable institution, not without reason. Instead of working within their own jurisdiction some of the MC officials are harassing common people on one pretext or another. There are hundreds of people who have been complaining against various type of harassment. A number of officials have been suspended on the charges of corruption. But a good number of the remaining ones do not seem in any way different. Even senior officers admit that they have to pick people from the same pack.

A leading businessman of the city had a harrowing experience. For over a year, his building was not allowed to be completed due to some violations of the building by-laws. Ultimately, the issue was settled and he was asked to deposit a certain amount as fees for the penalty. Despite that, the harassment did not stop, with some junior officials making frequent rounds to the building and threatening him to stop work. Ultimately one of the officials asked him in unambiguous terms that he would have to "oblige them". The official also wanted the businessman to file a complaint against neighbour, so that he could also be harassed for obvious reasons. The businessman declined to do so. To his utter dismay and surprise, the next day, the same official arrived at his site claiming that he had already got an affidavit against him from his neighbour.

Ad mad

Looking slim and trim has become a sort of obsession with city residents. Slimming centres too, leave no stone unturned to woo residents. Besides inserting advertisements in the newspapers showing an obese woman's photographs before and after losing weight they are coming up with catchy ideas to leave a mark on the minds of people. A slimming centre on Ferozepore Road has come out with a slogan which catches the fancy of all passersby. The banner put up by the centre reads, "From Tuntun to Kareena, the transformation done here."

Professional rivalry

The city has been witnessing intense competition among media organisations. Ironically, the reader towards whom the competition is aimed at becomes the actual sufferer. This is what happened to two city residents who were in dire need of a rare blood group for a seriously ailing relative. Someone informed them that two journalists, working in the office of an English Daily, belonged to the same blood group. The needy persons, however, went to the office of another English Daily by mistake. When they learnt they had come to the wrong address, they sought directions for the office they were seeking. But to their utter shock, employees at the office they had gone to, bluntly told them they didn't know the adds. The needy persons cited the emergency, but the employees refused to budge. They somehow managed to reach the office and blood was donated in time to save the life. But the experience provoked them to say the rivalry was getting too much.

Jagjit disturbed

Ludhianivis attended Jagjit's concert in hordes. But Ludhiana's audience is very restive. They keep passing comments, their mobiles disturb the artist. Jagjit, too was disturbed by the nuisance created more to the annoyance of the truly receptive audience. It is time Ludhiana audience came of age and learnt to accord the respect to the artists that they deserve.

Strike out strikes

About one crore government employees all over the country went on a strike on April 16 to protest against the Centre's economic policies of privatisation and liberalisation. Though trade unions have failed to instill a spirit of discipline and work culture among its members or to take care of public interest over the past many years, yet now they are complaining about the end of job security and decrease in monetary benefits. Incidentally, the strike is expected to cause losses worth hundreds of crores to the state exchequer. It also resulted in much public agony. A bank employee, who was at home enjoying the holiday, said, ‘‘The trade unions claim to fight for public interest. Has any union ever given a call for strike to protest against the absenteeism and poor work culture among government employees?’’

Docs or traders

The profession of medicine seems to have become a lucrative business. By charging high consultation fee, accepting commissions for referring patients for various tests to specific laboratories and selling out samples of medicines to them, several city doctors seem to have left no means of earning a fast buck. So much so, that a renowned doctor has put a notice in his clinic with a message ‘Consultation fee : Rs 150 for 15 minutes only’. Agreed that the doctor is busy and has limited time for each patient, but what if the patient has a complicated problem and needs more time for consultation? Will he charge Rs 10 extra for every minute exceeding the time limit.

Quenching thirst

Come summers and one starts feeling thirsty often. One has to stand in long queues, especially in public places, for cold drinking water. Even in schools where there are enough water taps in every part of the building, children have to wait for their turn (see picture). While the tiny tots bring water bottles to quench their thirst, children from higher classes can be seen near the taps after every period as well as during lunch breaks.


Written on a banner fastened on to a tree near Dholewal Chowk, "Joginder Singh Pehalwan, Ithhe har tutti te utri haddi da ilaaz tassali baksh keeta jaanda hai." (All kinds of fractures and dislocations of bones are corrected here.)

— Sentinel



Cong dharna against Gujarat violence
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The District Congress Committee, Ludhiana (Urban), today organised a demonstration at the Mini Secretariat to protest against the communal violence in Gujarat and demanded removal of Chief Minister Narinder Modi. The dharna was led by DCC President K.K. Bawa. Among others who participated in the dharna were member of Parliament, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, and the DCC (Rural) President, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Bawa criticised the Gujarat Chief Minister for his role during the riots. He observed that Mr Modi should have resigned on moral grounds. While he had not done that, it was the responsibility of the Central Government to remove him. "However, it is shameful that he is continuing as the Chief Minister despite everyone asking for his removal," Mr Bawa said.

He said that the Gujarat violence had created a sense of fear and insecurity among the minorities in India. He asserted that this was high time that the Government of India took remedial measure to restore the faith and confidence of the minorities in the Indian secularism. "Otherwise we may walk into the trap laid down by the divisive forces bent upon harming the country", Mr Bawa warned.

Mr Ghalib said that the Congress under the leadership of its President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, had launched a campaign for getting Mr Modi removed and also restoring the trust of the minorities. He claimed that it was only the Congress that could guarantee a free, secular and fearless regime where everyone would feel safe.

Mr Pawan Dewan was critical of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, saying that during its regime the minorities were feeling most insecure. He pointed out that it was not just in Gujarat but also in other parts of the country that minorities were victimised. He pointed out that even in Jammu and Kashmir the minorities were being selectively targeted.

Mr Nahar Singh Gill made a fervent appeal for defeating the designs of the communal and divisive forces which were bent upon dividing people on sectarian lines. He said it was not harming the image of the country but also leading to economic losses. He called upon all the secular people of the country to join hands against the communal and divisive forces.



PAN grievances redress fortnight 
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 16
To reduce the pendency of the permanent account number (PAN) and for the redressal of public grievances, the Income Tax Department is observing special fortnight from April 15 to April 30 at Mandi Gobindgarh with PAN enquiry counter, said Mr Harjinder Singh, Assistant Commissioner, Income Tax, here on Tuesday.

In case the PAN has not been allotted to any assessee, he can file an application along with a photograph at the counter.

This application shall be acted upon on priority basis and thereafter, allotment will be made within 10 working days.

These steps assume a special significance in view of the facts that Sections 139A(5)(a) and (b) are to be strictly enforced from 1-4-2002. As per these provisions, a person is required to quote his PAN number on all his returns with any income tax authority. 



Opium seized
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 16
The Khanna police has arrested a person under the NDPS Act and seized 500 gm of opium from his possession.

According to the police, SI Gurcharn Singh of the CIA staff, Khanna, nabbed Ranjit Singh, son of Jagdev Singh, near Arraichan village and seized the opium from him. A case has been registered against him.



BSNL to release more WLL connections 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
In order to cope with the cut-throat competition in the market, the Bharat Nagar Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has also given Wireless in Local Loop WLL connection in the technically non-feasible (TNF) areas. Now, whether the area is TNF or not, it seems, the BSNL is determined to provide as many telephone connections as it can.

During the previous financial year, the BSNL reportedly provided 2,000 WLL connections in the TNF areas. Some private section Telecom companies provide telephones to subscribers by using this latest technology in the country. For a WLL connection, there is no need of network of telephone wires in the area where the subscriber lives. Moreover, the portable WLL telephone has a rechargeable battery. This could be taken along and could be used under the city limits of about 50 km.

Besides providing WLL connections to facilitate the subscriber and to increase the number of consumers, the telephone connections in the seven telephone exchanges in the district have been made on demand. Now the applicant for new telephone connection in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Barewal, Dugri, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Mata Rani Exchange II and III and Khanna telephone connection can get the service within one week of the application. Earlier only Bharat Nagar and Dholewal telephone exchanges were on demand telephone exchanges..

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the General Manager, BSNL, Ludhiana, Mr V.S. Srivastava, said, “Although there are many private telecom companies in the market, still we are second to none because customers trust us.” He further said, “in the financial year 2001-2002, the BSNL provided as many as 35,383 new telephone connections in Ludhiana district only. Moreover, keeping in mind the need and importance of communication in this deemed metropolitan city, we have planned to provide 30,000 new connection this year.”

Mr Srivastava said “About 25,000 applicants were in the waiting list on April 1, 2001. On completion of this financial year, there are only 10, 500 applicants in the waiting list.” “Despite shortage of staff and other facilities, we are doing what is needed for competing in the market after the arrival of private telecom companies.”



CICU poll on April 20
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The election of the Chamber of Industries and Commercial Undertaking ( CICU), a body of hosiery, cycle and cycle parts, auto parts and trading units here, has been announced for April, 20. A tough fight is likely between Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, the current president who is holding the post for the past 10 years, and Mr Manmohan Singh Marton of Marton Cycle Industries.

Mr Marton has launched his campaign and is approaching the members through personal letters and door-to-door campaign. He has promised to introduce discipline and work culture in the chamber. Mr Marton, who has remained president for the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association for two terms, says, “My priority would be to solve the problems of members pertaining to sales tax, electricity rates, pollution and labour laws. These would be sorted out through regular meetings with members and departments concerned and officials. Product specific groups would be formed to improve the quality for prosperity of the industry as a whole.”

Mr Balwant Rai, another industrialist, is also in the race.

Meanwhile, critics of Mr Pardhan have blamed him for manipulating the previous election results through bogus membership. Mr Marton said, “Initially, the membership was restricted to large and successful entrepreneurs. For a voting right, one would have to pay an annual contribution of Rs 2250 to Rs 3200. Now voting rights have been given even for Rs 700 contribution. Moreover, the present president, who is 86-year-old and is even unable to move, has virtually made the chamber a defunct body.”

There are more than 1600 registered members of the chamber, but about 850 members will be able to cast their votes, who have paid their annual subscription fees. Mr Harbans Singh, general manager, District Industry Centre, will be the presiding officer. 


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