Saturday, May 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Massive power theft in Police Lines
Meters tampered with, ‘kundis’ galore
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 10
As many as 70 houses in the police lines here continue to indulge in power theft by accessing power supply on ‘kundi’ connections, and nearly 100 others tamper with the meters even as teams of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have been making special and continuous raids at least thrice every week for the last month or so to check the theft by law protectors.

The recent PSEB raids are being conducted to increase the pressure on the cops to install meters and get power supply as the PSEB has been trying hard to control the large scale power theft in the colony with over 300 houses for the last over 5 years. 
In fact the police colony has remained in confrontation with the PSEB ever since it come up during the terrorism era in the state. The PSEB, after remaining quiet for some year, had started raiding the colony in 1996-97 but could not achieve any breakthrough. Four years ago a special team of the PSEB Enforcement Directorate had to beat a hasty retreat following an attack on them by the ‘unyielding’ cops. Similar results came from later raids until the PSEB finally managed to succeed in its efforts and got installed over 200 meters in the colony. 

However, inquires by Ludhiana Tribune reveals that a number of cops, in whose houses the meters have been installed, have tampered with the meters and thus the PSEB drive has been negated.

A highly placed PSEB official revealed that at least 70 houses, inhabited by cops, continue to have ‘kundi’ connections despite the PSEB raids. The department is learnt to have issued them fresh notice to access power supply legally or face action. The official said due time is being given to the cops to ‘mend their ways’ or the PSEB will be forced to take further action. Senior police officers have been urged to take departmental action against such cops.

The mood in the PSEB regarding the ongoing power theft by the cops is to mix persuasion with aggression, Departmental sources said three or four raids were being conducted every week for the last one month to keep on the momentum. The raiding officers were directed to strike a balance between aggression and persuaion. ‘‘ We convince them first, and if our efforts do not bear any fruit, only then we take action against the person as per the rules’’ the PSEB official said.

Defending the PSEB in its efforts to check the power theft, the official said earlier the entire colony was having ‘kundi’ connections but now several of them had got meters installed. The official expressed surprise that the cops, who have installed meters, were tampering with them to steal power.

A number of cops living in the colony admit ‘off the record ’ that they were indulging in power theft. The cops said they do so as the PSEB’s charges of meter installation and power supply were too much for them. Some were of the view that the police force should be given some relaxation also.

Mr Parmod Ban, SP (Headquarters), however, denied any such occurrence was in his knowledge. He said he had no knowledge if any raids were being conducted by the PSEB.



No changes in Cong list
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 10
Amidst reports that the Congress had changed some candidates for the election to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, the chairman of the selection committee and the local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, today said that there were no changes in the list of candidates, and all these reports were being spread by certain vested interests.

Mr Ghalib maintained that there was no reason for changing the candidates, especially when these had been screened by the selection committee and duly approved by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He admitted that some resentment might have been created as there were a number of aspirants, but there was no scope of changing any of them.

The reports gained ground in view of the fact that two members of the selection committee, Mr Milkit Singh Birmi, and the Minister for Stationery and Printing, Mr Rakesh Pandey, were still trying to get the list changed so that some of their supporters get accommodated.

Some vernacular papers today published stories, claiming that certain candidates had been changed. In fact, the reports mentioned the names of the candidates who had been replaced. Mr Ghalib said he had no such information and he was not aware of any letter, claimed in the reports, to have been issued by the Congress high command. He pointed out that any changes, if any would obviously be conveyed to the selection committee and there is no such change or information.

A number of Congress aspirants filed their nomination papers yesterday, besides the official candidates, in the hope that the party high command may make last-minute changes in the list.

The selection committee chairman made it clear that so far the party had issued only one-party authority letter for each ward for the allotment of symbols.



Families of drug addicts living in hell
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 10
Free access to drugs has ruined the health of hundreds of youth who have got hooked on to various drugs out of sheer curiosity. This causes immense distress to their families. Shattered homes and the trauma to families of addicts on a daily basis becomes the hallmark of their lives. Apart from financial ruin, violence, suspicion and moodswings become the routine within the four walls of the addict’s house.

A large number of spouses and children of drug addicts, this correspondent spoke to, revealed horrendous tales of wife and child beating, suspicion, jealousy by the addicts on their loved ones, turning their life into virtual hell.

Ms Manjeet Kaur (not her real name) has been married to Parminder Singh (name changed) for the past 11 years. Narrating her tale of woes, she said; “The suffering cannot be expressed in words”. She said that her husband started drinking just after marriage. There was some misunderstanding between the father and the son. She said: “My mother-in-law died just after my marriage and the grandmother told my husband that his father was going to remarry. He was shocked to hear this and unfortunately did not try to clear this with his father. He started drinking. And now things have become worse. He beats me daily under the influence of alcohol”.

Manjeet revealed that her husband had no love for his children also. “All the time, both my kids are scared. They hardly come out when he is around. He is very suspicious also. If I talk to my servant, he says that there is something wrong between me and the servant. He says that If I am inclined towards the servant, I should run away with him”.

She said that he had no attachment with his father, wife, children and sisters. At present, Parminder Singh is undergoing a treatment at one of the de-addiction centres here.

Ms Satwinder Kaur (35) is another victim. Her husband, Jasjeet Singh (names changed), used to drink heavily but recently started taking poppy husk. “After his ‘dose’, he becomes violent and suspicious. He beats me, abuses me and mentally tortures me. He wants to run away from his family and home”, she said.

Jasjeet does farming near Jagraon. “He daily spends Rs 100 to Rs 150 on drugs, which are easily available in our village. He has no affection for his children. Because of his attitude, I have become very weak. If today I am with him, its only because of my small children. Why should they be deprived of anything?”, she asked.

Jasjeet Singh is also getting treatment from one of the nursing homes here. The attending doctor says that it is very difficult to tackle him as he always wants to run away from the hospital. “We have to keep a 24-hour vigil on him”, said the doctor.

Naresh, another drug addict, feels that drugs are harmful to him but cannot get out of their grip. “I started getting opium during my college days. The fashion has turned out to be addiction. Though I am getting the treatment from one of the city based doctors, yet I know that I can not come out from their influence”, said Naresh.

Vandana, his wife, said that he did not do any work. “All the time he sits at home and curses me and my parents without any reason. It is a horrifying experience. He does not share good relations with me. He daily spends Rs 300 to Rs 400 on opium, and if I try to stop him, he beats me. Otherwise my in-laws are very supportive but he does not listen to them also”, she said.

Aditya, their three-and-a-half-years-old son, said, “When I grow up, I will beat papa because he beats my mother”.

Dr Rajeev Gupta, a city based psychiatrist, feels that it is a serious problem. The women and children of these addicts undergo mental agony. “The worst part is that even the parents of the girls do not support them. They always tell them to adjust with their husbands, which is absolutely wrong. They should at least provide them moral support”, he said.



Two awards for PAU scientists
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 10
The home scientists from Punjab Agricultural University won two awards in the poster session held during the two-day national seminar on ‘Technological advances in home science for rural development’ that concluded last evening.

Among the contestants from the Department of Family Resource Management, Dr P. Sidhu, Dr R. Bakshi and Dr M.K. Sidhu won the first prize for their poster on ‘Successful technologies to make life easier for elderly women’. Dr Gurpreet Grewal, Dr Deepika Vig, Dr Ritu Mahal and Dr Vandana Kanwar were declared first for their poster.

The winners from three remaining departments were scientists from CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar. Dr K. Khambra and Dr Chanchal stood first among the participants from the Department of Clothing and Textiles for their poster on ‘Ring and rotor spun blended yarns for knitting’. Among the contestants from the Department of Food and Nutrition, Dr D. Punia, Dr M. Gupta, Dr S.K. Yadav and Dr N. Khetarpal from CCS HAU were declared first for their poster on ‘Nutritional composition of green beans and their products’.



DYC flays state leadership
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 10
The District Youth Congress (DYC) today blamed its state leadership for not giving it any representation in the elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. The DYC claimed that since the state leadership did not show any interest, the Youth Congress was again ignored while the candidates were being shortlisted for the MC elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, the DYC president, Mr Parminder Mehta, stated that he had already made a representation to the Indian Youth Congress president, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala. He said Mr Surjewala had assured him that the matter would be looked into thoroughly after the elections.

The DYC president, however, maintained that he had no grievances or complaints against the selection committee of Ludhiana. He said it was because of the poor rather no representation of the case of the Youth Congress that left many deserving candidates from the party nomination. He said the DYC had already constituted a committee and chalked out a programme for intensive campaigning for the elections.

Several BJP leaders also joined the party on the occasion. 



City to have solar streetlights
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 10
Municipal Corporation in the industrial capital of Punjab here shall become the first civic body in the state to employ the non-conventional energy sources for streetlights and other civic amenities like running of tubewells and disposal of waste.

According to MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) would soon launch a demo project on Energy Efficient Streetlight System and Solar Water Heating System in the city. To start with 100 streetlight tubes, fully functional with the use of solar energy, would be provided in the Rakh Bagh and Nehru Rose Garden. These 100 solar tubes as well as their maintenance for a period of one year shall be fully sponsored by the ICLEI under a project named “Cities for Climate Protection Campaign.”

The MC administration, Mr Kalsia added, had submitted an innovative plan of enlarging the use of solar energy for total coverage of streetlights and use of non-conventional sources of energy for other civic services after assessing and studying the results of this demo project, in consultation with the experts of the USAID, Ministry of Non - Conventional Energy Sources and ICLEI. In addition to massive saving in energy bills, the use of solar energy would improve the environment of the city. He reiterated the MC commitment for making the city “Green and Clean”

Focussing on several other corrective and innovative measures to reduce energy consumption, the MC Commissioner informed that a team of USAID and Asian E was likely to visit the city in this regard.

The matter was taken up with these agencies by Mr Kalsia last month when he was in Honolulu (USA) to attend a seminar on water supply and sewerage. 



Buses to stop at authorised stops only
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 10
The District Transport Officer (DTO) has directed the drivers of all private, Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation buses to stop buses only at authorised bus stops.

In a press note issued here today, the DTO, Mr Vimal Kumar Setia, said action would be taken against those drivers who stopped buses at places other than authorised bus stops, particularly near the trafficlights points.

Meanwhile, the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, has written to the general managers of the Punjab Roadways and the PRTC to direct all bus drivers in this regard. The SDMs of Ludhiana district and SP (Traffic) have been asked to coordinate the matter, the press note stated.



‘Summer Queen’ contest held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 10
Rimmy Dang, Navraj Kaur Gill and Sushma Gupta were declared the summer queens in their respective categories during the ‘Summer Queen contest’, organised by the Niharika Ladies Club here today at Dhoda House.

The contest was divided in three categories. The first category was for women below 35 years of age, the second was above 35 years age group and the third was above 45 years age group. Twelve participants participated in the first category and six each participated in the second and third categories.

The contest was divided in two rounds. The first round was the simple introduction round in which the contestants walked on the ramp and gave their introduction. The second round was the question-answer round.

Simran was declared first runner-up in the below 35 years age group whereas Jasmeet Kukreja and Neeta Bajaj were the first runners-up in above 35 and above 45 years age group.

The ‘Best Charming’ woman award was given to Neetika Bajaj and Sandeep Oberoi was declared ‘Best Looking. Deepa Kapoor was given prize for her ‘Best smile’.

A talk was given by Dr Walia in which dental problems and remedies were discussed. 



Woman alleges rape by husband
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 10
A resident of Atam Park colony has complained to the police that she was allegedly forcibly married to a man and raped by him and his friends for several days.

A case in this regard has been registered with the Model Town police station after a preliminary inquiry was conducted by DSP (Crime) Gurnam Singh. The police has booked the woman’s husband Harjit Singh and his sister Simran in the case. The woman had also accused a sister of her alleged husband of being involved in the case.

The medical examination of the woman was scheduled to be conducted later in the evening.

Four held for gambling:
The Payal police registered four cases of gambling under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act on Thursday evening.

Those arrested include Raj Kumar, a resident of Doraha, Bagria Ram of Dhamot village. Sonu of Model Town Khanna and Tinku Sharma of Malerkotla Road, Khanna.

1 hurt: A man was severely beaten up by six persons of his own village on Thursday, as a result of which he had to be hospitalised. A case was registered at the Payal police station, in this connection.

Bhagwan Singh, son of Bagga Singh of Kolahar village, complained that he was attacked and injured by six persons of his own village due to which he became unconscious and fell down. He was hospitalised in a serious condition at a local hospital in Malaud.

The alleged accused have been identified as Avtar Singh, Harbans Singh, Goloo, Mohinder Singh, Jai Singh and Bhagwan Singh of Kalahar village. The accused are at large.

Some internal family dispute is said to be the reason behind the attack. 



Withdrawal of capital, interest subsidy irks industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 10
“The ban imposed by the Punjab Government on granting capital and interest subsidy to new and existing industrial units in the state is an anti-industrial growth decision, which is untimely and unwarranted. The industry, especially the small sector in Punjab, is already passing through a period of great crisis and is in fact in dire need of supportive measures from the government.”

These observations were made by Mr V.P. Chopra, president, Federation of Punjab Small Industries Associations (FOPSIA). He said if the industrial growth in Punjab was adversely affected due to the non-availability of incentives from the Government, the accruals to the exchequer in the shape of taxes would also seriously suffer. He further asked whether the government intended to withdraw subsidies being provided to the farm sector under the garb of financial crisis.

Mr Chopra opined that rather than withdrawing industrial incentives, the need of the hour was to slash the government expenses and seriously downsize the administrative force, which was consuming a lion’s share of the revenue earned by the exchequer. “It is stunning to note that the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has revoked the ban on filling 12,000 vacancies although the previous Chairman of PSEB had publically stated that massive curtailment in the workforce of the board is urgently required in the wake of acute financial problems which is the major cause of electricity crisis in the state.”

The FOPSIA chief made a fervent plea to the State Government to announce its new industrial as well as export policy, providing incentives for the growth of industry in the state, which was long overdue. The Government of India had already announced a package of wide-ranging incentives for the growth of industry in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Punjab Government ought to take a clue from it.

Mr Chopra termed the decision of the Punjab Government to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging the April 29 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, quashing the abolition of octroi in the state as a welcome step in the right direction which was in accordance with the election manifesto of the party in power. The system of octroi may be substituted by imposing of entry tax to provide revenue support to the local bodies.


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