Saturday, July 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Land grab dogs vet hospital
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Doraha, July 26
A government veterinary hospital on the railway station road here is struggling for the past two weeks to retrieve a piece of land that some persons have allegedly grabbed in the name of religion.

For the past two years, this hospital has been trying to remove some shops and kiosks from the government land. The encroachment has blocked entrance to the hospital. Though land records support the hospital’s claim, the district administration has never tried to retrieve the land. The Doraha police has not registered any case in this regard, so far, in spite of repeated pleas.

The hospital authorities have given representations to senior police officials, administration officials and even the Chief Minister, but seen no action, so far. The Doraha police said it had not registered any case in this regard, as an investigation was on.

Mr Sucha Singh Mast, Subdivisional Magistrate of Payal, said a Tehsildar was looking into the case. He said he could not give a reason for the delay, as the hospital authorities had visited his office in his absence. “The complaint was, then, referred to the Tehsildar; and I learnt about it later. I will call the parties concerned soon to my office and try to find a solution to the problem,” he said.

The SDM said his office had referred the complaint to the Police Department for taking action on it. A visit to the site showed how encroachment by the religious place and the shops had created problems for the hospital. The encroachment had not only blocked the entrance to it, but also eaten up its animal-house. There was tension in the air, with ‘sewadars’ of the religious place and shopkeepers greeting everyone with threatening stares.

Dr Satwant Singh of the hospital said persons of the religious place had encroached upon a small part of the hospital land some years ago and never let go of it. The hospital authorities had, then, sought help from the police and the administration, but it didn’t come its way. Dr Satwant said the administration had been alerted, then, that the encroachment would increase — a fear that came true on July 14 when the religious place grabbed about 200 sq yd of the hospital land. The hospital has approached every authority since then, but help is not coming.

Sources said the persons managing the religious place enjoyed the support of some local politicians, including municipal councillors. They were allegedly forcing the police and the administration not to offer help to the hospital authorities.

The hospital authorities say that an immediate action is needed, or all will be lost.



Unending bondage for Rs 98,000
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 26
The Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan, an NGO involved in the release of bonded labourers in Punjab, has managed to free another agricultural labourer from the clutches of his landlord at Muktsar.

The organisation has managed to get released 32-year-old Hardeep Singh, a resident of Sukkanwala who had been in ‘chain bondage’ for the past many years. A ‘mazhbi’ Sikh, he had borrowed money from Amar Singh of Chakkiwala of the same district due to some pressing domestic need. He worked round-the-clock to pay back the borrowed money, but could manage to repay Rs 6,000 only.

Hardeep had to work for three landlords for more than 11 years in lieu of Rs 98,000. He was made to work for as little as Rs 150 a month and could not manage to wipe off his debt on this measly amount despite hard labour. In case he did not report for work, Rs 100 was deducted from his salary or added to his debt.

According to Mr Jai Singh, president of the forum, the problem of bonded labour is widespread in the state, but the government, district administrations and politicians pretend that it does not exist in Punjab. Illiterate labourers, being socially, economically and financially backward, borrow money from influential landlords who exploit them by paying no wages for the work done in lieu of repayment of the debt. The interest rate is Rs 5 per hundred. Hence, the victims are trapped and cannot break out of the vicious circle that ensures that the person is in bondage for life.

Narrating his tale of woes, Hardeep said being unable to work for Amar Singh in adverse circumstances, he borrowed Rs 42,000 from Harbhagwan Singh of his village to pay back his previous landlord and worked here to repay this debt for four years. Here, too, he was unable to repay his debt and he took another loan of Rs 46,000 from Darshan Singh to get out of the clutches of Harbhagwan Singh.

“I was made to work round-the-clock all through these years. No leave, no rest and my life was even a shade worse then the cattle. In case, I took a leave, Rs 100 were deducted from my salary which was Rs 150 a month, and in case I remained away for a night, another Rs 150 were added to my debt,” he said.

“All landlords had promised to pay me a salary of Rs 22, 000 a year, but they paid me Rs 150 a month only. I had no option but to work as per their terms and conditions. In the present context, the landlord started beating and abusing me for neglecting my work. Fed up with the exploitation over the years, I ran away,” he added.

“One of the landlords tempted me with arranging for bank loans to settle my debts. He arranged two loans of Rs 16,500 and Rs 22,000 for me. All the money went towards settling my debts. I had to even sell off a buffalo for Rs 9,000 in a futile effort to clear my debt,” he lamented.

Mr Jai Singh said his case for relief and rehabilitation had been taken up with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).



Cholera panic grips city residents
Shivani Bhakoo


  • Dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps and rapid loss of fluids.
  • Mild fever and body aches.

Ludhiana, July 26
Recent cases of cholera in areas adjoining Ludhiana have caused panic among residents here. While the authorities concerned claim to have launched a cleanliness drive in the city, several slum areas continue to remain risk-prone because of unhygienic conditions, contaminated drinking water and insanitary conditions.

  • Drink boiled, chlorinated & iodised water.
  • Eat thoroughly cooked hot food.
  • Avoid salads and cut fruit.
  • Patient should be given ORS.
  • Avoid eating out.

The cleanliness drive is yet to reach several colonies, including Chander Nagar, Shimla Puri, Kundan Puri, Sunder Nagar, Industrial Area, Janta Nagar, Chhoti Haibowal and other low-lying areas. Digging of roads by various private telecom companies has further worsened the situation leading to stagnation of water at many places.

Though not a single case of cholera has been reported in the city yet, its fear is very much there in the minds of people. Col P.K. Dandona from the Department of Medicine, Christian Medical College and Hospital, said cholera was an acute diarrhoea illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium vibrio cholerae. The infection was often mild or without symptoms, but sometimes it could be severe. “The severe form of disease can lead to profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, leg cramps and rapid loss of body fluids leading to dehydration,” he said.

“A person may get cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacterium. The disease can spread rapidly in areas facing insanitary conditions. The symptoms include loose stool with an increased frequency. A patient can also have fever and body-ache in some cases. Immediate hospitalisation is needed as acute form of the disease can lead to low BP, shock and kidney failure resulting in the death of a person,” said Col Dandona.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president of the local unit of the Indian Medical Association, said, “A person should only consume boiled, chlorinated or iodised water. Other safe beverages include tea, coffee, bottled beverages with no ice. One should eat thoroughly cooked hot food or fresh fruits. Avoid undercooked food or raw fish”, he said.

“Cholera is an acute form of gastroenteritis. It can be mild or even without symptoms, but a severe attack can lead to death if proper treatment is not given immediately. Diarrhoea and vomiting cause deficiency of body fluids. If an infected person is given fluids immediately after the first symptoms show up, the disease can be completely cured. Aqueous solution of sugar and necessary salts should be consumed in large quantity,” said Dr Gursharan.



High Court stays appointment of PAU Registrar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
The appointment of Mr Vivek Pratap, an IAS officer, to the post of Registrar of Punjab Agricultural University, has been stayed by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court consisting of Mr Justice Swatantar Kumar and Mr Justice S.S. Saraon.

This was disclosed by the Mr Hari Singh Brar, president, Punjab Agricultural University Teachers’ Association, in a press release issued here today. Earlier in the day, PAUTA’s advocate informed the Vice-Chancellor about the decision. Mr Brar along with other members had challenged the decision of the Punjab Government to appoint a bureaucrat as a Registrar.

The court’s decision has come as a shot in the arm for PAUTA, which was agitating for the past four days against the government’s decision. The association members had contended that the university had completed the process of selection of the Registrar in accordance with the Haryana and Punjab Agricultural Universities Act 1970 and the selection had been approved by the Board of Management of the university, but the Punjab Government had issued orders of appointment of Mr Vivek Pratap as Registrar without consulting the university.

Mr Brar said an academician was required for the post of Registrar as he was in a better position to understand the working of the university and issues of the students, teachers or the employees.

The issue has become a bone of contention between the university and the government in the last few days. The appointment had come as a surprise as the university had advertised the post.



Breach plugged to check floods; 
24-hour vigil maintained
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ayali Kalan (Ludhiana), July 26
The District Irrigation Department has posted guards on a 24-hour vigil at a drain emanating out of the Sidhwan Canal and passing through this village following the overflowing of water and weakening of the bundhs, causing a minor breach into it. The breach occurring near a low road bridge pressed panic buttons in the village as water gushed out of the drain and inundated a couple of streets on Tuesday as well as last night.

The villagers immediately assembled and plugged the breach with support of Irrigation Department employees. Following this the Irrigation Department deployed guards on round the clock vigil along the drain, who keep on putting sand wherever the water flows.

A desilting machine was also pressed into service as the villagers were using the drain as dumping ground of the sewer waste as well as waste of animals, especially cattle. Huge mounds of such material was desilted out of the drain.

It was a strange twist of fate for the villagers. On the one side they were waiting all these days for the rain gods to smile on them and now they are being threatened by floods. Darshan Singh, an ex-servicemen and a resident of the village, said everything was in the Almighty’s hand. He praised the Irrigation department for immediately coming to their rescue.

While the immediate remedial measures proved effective, the threat of further breach or over-flowing has not been ruled out. The drain coming from the Sidhwan Canal divides into two sub-drains, which finally culminate at Gurre and Khungral villages near Jagraon.

Due to dumping of waste in the drain, the water-carrying capacity has reduced. But the flow is the same as the water has to reach far-flung areas. The waste disposal and low bridges over the drain have compounded the problem as the water either overflows near the bridges or makes a breach in the bandhs. This exactly happened on Tuesday night.

Major Singh, armed with a spade, met a Ludhiana Tribune team in the village. He said he along with two other employees were on 24-hour duty due to the flood threat. He said the department immediately sent them here after the villagers told them about the breach. He said the situation was under control.

Department sources said the situation was saved due to de-silting otherwise there could have been a major problem. However, the absence of a desilting machine or vehicle with the department pinched them hard. They had to hire a private machine owner who charged them Rs 800 per hour. The department had to dish out Rs 7200 to him to save the village.

The department sources said they had requested the villagers not to use the drain for waste disposal. They said the low bridges were also a cause of concern. The level of river-bed had increased due to decomposition but it does not seem that anything could be done to raise their level. They said the only solution was that the bandhs need to be strengthened.



Erratic power supply irks residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 26
Residents of MIG Colony, Phase II, Urban Estate, Dugri, have been plagued by an erratic power supply for the past many weeks but the problem has been aggravated since Wednesday. Several complaints have been lodged with the authorities, but nothing has been done for a permanent solution.

According to Mr K S Kreer, general secretary of the New Millennium Club, the night of July 24 was the most unbearable, forcing more than a 100 residents to protest in front of the office of the PSEB, Model Town Extension, at midnight. The staff on duty, including the JE, allegedly ticked them off remarking that the people drew power illegally adding to the load on the supply. This was resented by the people. Officers visited the area but came back without doing anything, he added.

Actually, the situation arose as the transformer is unable to bear the load. As compared to the prevailing load in the colony, about 350 KVA, the transformer has a load capacity of only 100 KVA.

A deputation led by Mr Kreer met Mr A.S. Khangura and explained the problem in detail. A request to replace the transformer was also made. The defective transformer has been replaced but the new one is of the capacity as that of previous one.



Istri Sabha alleges police repression
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
The local unit of the Punjab Istri Sabha has demanded strict action against those policemen who had inflicted brutal repression on DMCH employees in general and women employees in particular.

The demand has been made by the sabha after meeting women employees in Ludhiana Central Jail and listening to their horrified tales of police repression. A delegation comprising district general secretary Jit Kumari, Barjinder Kaur, Avtar Kaur and Veena Sachdeva met women employees. Women employees narrated their tale of woes that not only lady police beat them in a fascist style but male policemen also attacked them. Many women employees were arrested from their residences and were brought to thanas where they were beaten up by policemen. They used foul language. Arrested women employees showed injuries on their person.



Owner-labour dispute on missing consignment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 26
Tension gripped the Iqbal Gunj area and Division No. 3 police station today following confrontation between a group of hosiery owners and factory labourers over the issue of a missing consignment of hosiery good worth Rs 2 lakh belonging to Starlite Hosiery and allegedly stolen by a labourer, Ravinder Mehto.

The matter was aggravated by the arrival of over 150 labourers from Chandigarh in support of the accused. Both groups gathered in the police station in large number.

The controversy surrounded the allegations and counter-allegations by the two parties in the case. While the factory owners were accusing the labourer of theft, the labourer’s family had complained to the police that the hosiery owners had kidnapped a brother of the accused and a case should be registered against them.

Police sources said they were investigating the matter.



Rail project in the dock
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 26
Inept handling by the Public Works Department (PWD) has jeopardised a Rs 15.7 crore railway-overbridge project. The overbridge was to connect old city with Civil Lines; its delayed construction will stall its integration with the elevated road that is being built here to replace Lakkar Pul.

The Municipal Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, reviewed all major development projects of the Municipal Corporation earlier this week and found that the contractor concerned had halted the project. The PWD had not paid him, even after receiving Rs 1.05 crore from the MC for the project.

Though senior MC officials are silent on the PWD lapse, legal advice is being sought on if the MC can penalise the PWD and withdraw work from it on the basis of an agreement between the two. On being asked to give details of utilisation of funds, the PWD officials told the MC that only Rs 61.62 lakh had been spent, so far, and the balance had been deposited in the treasury. However, they say that the amount cannot be released now, due to financial crisis and the government having frozen all funds in the treasury books. The PWD, however, sought the release of funds to get the work resumed.

The project had been undertaken in February, but the PWD didn’t make a single payment to the contractor. A part of the overbridge is to be built by the Railways, for which, the MC has already paid it Rs 4 crore. It has also paid it Rs 2.36 crore for using the Railways land.

The project had been delayed already due to alignment problems. Additional Railways land as required by the revised design was not being made available. The amended alignment required the flyover to have a two-way road.



Change in train timings sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
Irked at the late running of the 5.40 pm Ludhiana-Jakhal passenger train, allegedly due to the introduction of more trains on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore section from July 1, commuters on the Ludhiana-Dhuri-Jakhal route have urged the Railways authorities to change the timings of the train.

In a memorandum submitted to the Station Superintendent, Ludhiana, copies of which have also been forwarded to the Area Manager, Northern Railways, the DRM, Ferozepore division , the DRM, Ambala division, and the CCM, Baroda House, Delhi, the Daily Passengers Association, has stated that as the 5.40 pm train from Ludhiana ( 2LJ) was running late by up to two hours, it would be better to change the timing to 7 pm. They have also demanded that the timings of the train now leaving Ludhiana at 4.10 pm (6LJH) should be advanced to 5.30 pm. The association has stated in the memorandum that the changes will not only provide relief to commuters, but will also fetch more revenue for the Railways as the bus services on this route comes to a halt at 6.30 pm. 


Vyas Purnima celebrated 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
Vyas purnimotsav was celebrated with fervour at various temples and deras in and around the city here recently. Langars and havans were held at several places on the occasion.

The holy celebrations at Shri Ram Sharnam Ashram in Daresi grounds started in the morning with a recitation of ‘amritwani’. An akhand jap-yajna also came to conclusion and floral tributes were paid to the guru by the devout .

At the Ved Mandir in the same grounds, a poojan ceremony was performed under the supervision of Swami Nigambodh ji at the smadhi of Swami Bhaskranand ji. Mantras were recited by the pupils of the Sanskrit Vidyalaya. Swami Nigambodh, in his discourse, explained the circumstances under which Rishi Ved Vyas penned down several scriptures, including Vedas and Puranas.

There was a large gathering at the Shri Siddh Peeth in Civil Lines where a poojan ceremony was performed at the samadhi of Shree Dandi Swamiji Maharaj by Shri Chhavinath Pande, Rishi Onkar Dattji and Raj Kumar Sharma. A darbar of Maa Bhagwati was also decorated on the occasion. The gathering also paid tributes to late Pt Jagdish Chander Komal.

Brahmchari Ram Parkash, in his discourse at the Guru Purnima Utsav function at Shri Ram Sharnam Ashram in Naulakha Bagh Colony, said that the religious festival was being observed since the Vedic times. He said obeying one's guru was the real guru puja.

Among other temples and ashrams where a religious festival was celebrated with fervour were Shri Anant Prem Ashram where Sant Prem Darshananand presided over the proceedings, Mata Indu Mandir and Shri Prem Mandir.



Rain brings relief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
Rain over the past couple of days has provided the much-needed relief from the heat in the region because of the delayed monsoons.

Though the city had a brief spell of rain yesterday also, it were the early morning showers today which made the difference in the day temperature. A cool breeze blew over the city under cloudy conditions making it pleasant to be outdoors.

Brief spells of rain have also lashed the surrounding towns of Ahmedgarh, Dehlon, Kilaraipur and Sahnewal in the past couple of days bringing relief to farmers.



Two targets of dowry-seekers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 26
Two cases of alleged harassment of women by dowry-seekers were registered yesterday. The first case was registered under Sections 498-A, 406, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC at the Division Number 4 police station on the complaint of Ms Sunita Rani, a woman of Dhuri in Sangrur district, against her husband Satish, mother-in-law Shindo, brother-in-law Bittu and her other in-laws.

She accused her in-laws of subjecting her to mental and physical torture for making her bring more dowry. When she failed to meet their demands, she was turned out of the house. No arrest has been made, so far.

The other case was registered on the statement of Ms Gagandeep Kaur, a woman of the Urban Estate Phase-II of Dugri, at the Model Town police station. The case under Sections 406, 498-A, 420 and 506 of the IPC is against her husband Harpreet Pal Singh, mother-in-law Devinder Kaur and the other in-laws, who live in Chandigarh. According to the complainant, her in-laws started harassing her mentally and physically soon after her marriage, as they wanted more dowry. At being unable to fulfill the demands, she was forcibly evicted from her house. No arrest has been made in this case as well.

Fraud alleged: The Division Number 5 police has registered a case of alleged fraud under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Pritam Dass, a man of Moga. The case is against a man called Kuldeep Singh and his sister, who live in Ludhiana, and another man, Dalip Singh, who lives at Jagraon.

Mr Dass alleged that he had paid Rs 1,25,000 to the accused for sending him abroad. They had neither fulfilled their promise, nor returned his money. No arrest has been made, so far.


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