Saturday, August 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Several petrol stations sealed in Ludhiana
Owners in New Delhi seek stay orders
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Fact File

  • At least a dozen petrol stations sealed by the Centre in the city.
  • Owners in Delhi praying the Supreme Court for stay orders.
  • Their assistants fled fearing arrest.
  • The stations wore a deserted look in the evening.
  • Pumps allotted in 1994 and started in 2001 also sealed.

Ludhiana, August 16
The sword of Damocles finally fell on at least a dozen petrol stations in the district today after a team of various petroleum companies sealed the pumps following the orders of the Union Government cancelling all allotments after January, 2000. The teams took over the control from the allottees and sealed the petrol stations.

The pumps are, however, expected to be operational by tomorrow as the companies were already in the process of conducting interviews to temporary hand over charges of the pumps until the cases of the actual allottees were decided.

The petrol stations were sealed in various villages, including Mullanpur, Pahir, Sarabha, Gillanwala and Khanpur, and in the city also. Petrol pumps in Dugri, Gill road and on the Ludhiana-Doraha canal road were the prominent among the sealed ones. The teams of the petroleum companies refused to divulge any details or talk with the mediapersons.

The various teams comprising the officials from various companies, including Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum descended on the different petrol pumps and sealed them simultaneously. A petrol pump in Pahir village was the first one to bear the brunt of the situation.

Panic gripped the employees of the petrol stations who were fearing that they would be arrested by the officials as most of the owners of the pumps were not present in the city. They were said to have gone to Delhi to file a writ in the Supreme Court. An owner said that the SC had given a stay order to the stations in all the states except Punjab and Haryana. So these pump owners were anticipating that they would be able to get a stay today but unfortunately the pumps were sealed in their absence.

Sources said at least 40 people, including owners of petrol stations and gas agencies, had gone to New Delhi today to put up a joint petition before the Supreme Court to save their allotments. They are also scheduled to meet some Union Government leaders and demand restoration of their allotments.

Sources close to the allottees said they were feeling victimised. They said the Government had no right to order a blanket cancellation of all the allottees. A number of sealed petrol stations included those who were allotted in 1994 but had become functional recently only. They, too, were sealed.

Ludhiana city has one of the highest number of newly allotted petrol pumps, which were in the eye of a storm following the exposure by a newspaper that the government had given the allotment on considerations other than merit. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had immediately ordered cancellation of allotments of all the petrol pumps made by his government. The actual execution of the orders came today with the sealing of at least a dozen petrol pumps.

Ludhiana city was already in the news over a petrol station controversy following CBI raids on five petrol pumps owned by Mr R.C. Garg. The city had also figured significantly in the media exposure as a number of political leaders were given the petrol pumps. The sealing of the petrol stations caused inconvenience to the public.



Dyeing units in dire straits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
The Ludhiana dyeing industry is up in arms against the government decision to raise the disposal charges of the water used by them. According to a recent government notification, the disposal charges of water have been raised between Rs 2.5 to Rs 5.25 per kilo litre from Rs 1.25 per kilo litre. The dyeing units have termed the hike exorbitant and arbitrary.

Various dyeing associations, including the Ludhiana Dyeing Association (cotton division) and the Dyeing Factories Association have been maintaining that the hike is exorbitant since the costs involved are far less than those fixed by the government. They claimed that the charges have been hiked on the basis of wrong assessment.

According to Mr Rajat Sood, the government has not increased the disposal charges in a rational manner. He claimed that according to their own estimates, it takes only between 17 to 40 paise per kilo litre for disposing water. Moreover, if the volume of water, the basic raw material for dyeing industry, increases the disposal cost comes down further.

He claimed that the disposal charges were hiked by the government after it conducted a survey among the dyeing units asking them to furnish their water consumption for the next few years in order to set up effluence disposal plant in Ludhiana. “While the disposal plant is nowhere to be seen, the government increased the disposal charges based on those figures submitted by the dyeing units”, Mr Sood disclosed.

There are about 200 dyeing units in Ludhiana in small, medium and large sector. However, all these units do not work round the year as most of them work in different seasons, according to the demands. But, Mr Sood claims, the government has fixed the price on a yearly aggregate which is not justified.

The dyeing association took up the matter with the Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, and the Municipal Commissioner, Ludhiana, Mr S.K. Sharma. Mr Pandey has assured them that he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He also suggested the constituting of the advisory panel which would be taken into confidence before fixing or hiking the price.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Commissioner told Tribune News Service that he had clarified to the dyeing units that the charges had to be recovered at the rates fixed by the government.

As a relief he offered to make the recovery in installments. He pointed out, the charges were pending against the units for some time and the corporation was left with no option but to recover them.



3 accused in rape, murder case arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
Three of the five persons accused in a heinous rape and murder case at Hargobind Nagar here have finally fallen in the police net after remaining fugitives for about four months.

The Ludhiana Police got some reprieve with the arrest, as several teams of the city police had to raid parts of West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in search of the accused ever since the crime took place on April 17. The police is now on the lookout for the two remaining accused, identified as Boghal and Getha.

The arrested persons have been identified as Annuhal Haq, Zuber Khan and Zehral. They was arrested from different places in the city.

The five were booked in the sensational case of rape of a woman in Hargobind Nagar in April and killing of her seven-year-old son, Pawan, before her eyes. According to the FIR, the accused entered the house of Ram Milan, the woman’s husband, while he was away to work and attacked the woman.

Her son, Pawan, who was sleeping in the same room, got up after hearing his mother’s shrieks. He was allegedly done to death with the help of a sharp-edged weapon. The accused slit his throat. The woman was raped for hours.

The incident came to the notice of neighbours after Mamta, the 10-year-old daughter of the woman, arrived from school in the afternoon and raised an alarm on seeing the body of her brother and her unconscious mother.

The woman later gave some clues about the accused to the police, at which a number of teams of the district police first raided some parts of the city and later other states like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The teams, however, returned empty-handed as the accused managed to give them a slip.

Police sources said the teams were, however, successful in exerting pressure on the accused with the help of the local police. This resulted in the running away of the accused from their hideouts in those states.



PAU scientist honoured by CM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
Dr N.S. Buttar, Professor of Plant Protection and incharge, Plant Clinic in the Directorate of Extension Education in Punjab Agricultural University, here was presented with a state government Parman Pattar, 2002, by the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on the Independence Day at a state level function at Patiala.

Dr Buttar did commendable research work in the field of cotton entomology with particular reference to American bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) and whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). The pioneer research work, carried out by the PAU entomologist on whitefly had been accepted at the national and international level. Efficient population sampling procedure for whitefly, economic threshold for need based application of pesticides, quick cotton germplasm screening technique against whitefly were the landmark research contributions of Dr Buttar.

As a result of remarkable research on B. tebaci in particular, the plant protection expert has been designated as a permanent member of the work group of whitefly publishing Bemisia Newsletter from Germany.

The PAU scientist was also instrumental in developing integrated pest management system for the management of cotton pests in the state. LHH 144 hybrid of American cotton, resistant to leafcult virus in the state, has been evaluated by Dr Buttar from entomological point of view. In recognition of his valuable contribution in cotton, particularly on IPM and host plant resistance, the scientist was awarded ‘Hexamar Award’ jointly by the Indian Society for Cotton Improvement and Hexamar Research and Development Association, Mumbai for the year 1992-93.

He also established central plant clinic in PAU now named by ICAR as Agricultural Technology Information Centre, which is the first of its kind in the country.

Dr Buttar has also written a book entitled ‘Cotton Insects Pests and Diseases: Identification and Management’, published by the Directorate of Cotton Development, Mumbai.



Municipal workers to agitate against govt decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
A joint meeting of various municipal employees’ bodies held here today decided to launch an agitation against the government decision of imposing ban on recruitment on compassionate grounds. Several bodies of civic employees, which attended the meeting, will organise a protest rally at the municipal headquarters here on August 20 and submit a memorandum demanding restoration of the provision.

Activists of the municipal workers unions, speaking at the meeting, strongly reacted to the decision of the government to ban the recruitment of next of kin on compassionate grounds in death cases. They said the decision was not only inhuman and anti-employees but also against the letter and spirit of the Constitution. The denial of job to one of the family members in death cases will hit the families and dependants of lower-rung employees the hardest.

Prominent among those present in the meeting were Mr Vijay Danav, Mr Yash Pal, Mr Laxman Dravid, Mr Ashwani Sahota, Mr Netaji Sondhi, Mr Basakhi Ram, Mr Dev Raj Asur, Mr Tarlochan Singh Lochi, Mr Surinder Bali, Mr Naresh Dhingan, Mr Mr Shamsher Singh, Mr Balwinder Raja, Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Chaman Lal Shahi, Mr Kamal Raj, Mr Madan Lal Bhumbak, Mr Hari Krishan, Mr Raj Kumar Atwal, Mr Pawan Bali, Mr Moti Lal, Mr Sanjeev Kumar, Mr Surinder Atwal, Mr Subhash Kumar, Mr Devinder Kaka, Mr Om Parkash Bhatti, Mr Kimti Lal, Mr Kala Ram and Mr Babu Lal.



CM’s foreign visit hailed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 16
The Senior Vice-President of the Pradesh Youth Congress and member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Amarjeet Singh Tikka, has hailed the recent visit of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to foreign countries to get aid for the state.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Tikka pointed out that Capt Amarinder Singh was the first Chief Minister of the state and the country who had managed to get such a huge aid worth Rs 5,000 crore from the International Financial Consortium. Moreover, he added, a part of this amount had come as aid and only some part of it had to be paid back.

The leader hoped that this aid would help the state to come out of the acute financial crisis it had been thrown into by the previous Akali-BJP government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said the state would now have all-round progress as this entire amount would be utilised for welfare schemes.

Criticising the former Chief Minister (Parkash Singh Badal) Mr Tikka said, he (Mr Badal) had a lot to explain. He should own responsibility for the corruption of his ministerial colleagues like Sucha Singh Langah, Ajeet Singh Kohar, Tota Singh and Ravi Sidhu. Besides, he added, Mr Badal also owed explanation to the people of the state for the stage-managed return of the dreaded terrorist Wassan Singh Zaffarwal.



Govt urged not to scrap whole batch
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
The Punjab Government’s move to scrap the whole batch of candidates selected by PPSC during Ravi Sidhu’s tenure is altogether unjust and ill-advised, stated the PPSC Selected College Lecturers Association in a press statement today.

Prof Antar Jyoti Ghai, convenor of the association, said there were some cases of bribe payment and the government should take appropriate action against them, but the ‘innocents’ should not be denied their rightful due.

The state administration should not put everybody in the same category.

For example, if the election of an MLA was declared null and void by the High Court using corrupt means to win the election, should all MLAs of the Assembly be disqualified?

If not, then why should the whole batch selected by PPSC be scrapped? asked Professor Ghai.



Protect animals’ rights: PFA
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
The local chapter of the PFA (People for Animals) has urged the Chief Minister of Punjab to ensure that the rights of animals in the state are properly safeguarded.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Sandeep Jain, secretary, PFA, stated that universal declaration of the rights of the animals has been adopted by the International Meeting on the ‘Rights of the Animals’, held in London by the United Nations Organisations.

According to the relevant articles of the declaration, all animals are born with equal claim on life and the same rights to existence, all animals are entitled to respect, all animals have the right to attention, care and protection of man. The articles further stated that representatives of movements that defend animals rights should have an effective voice at all levels of government and the rights of animals, like human rights, should be protected by law.

The PFA while stressing the need to abolish animal sacrifice drew the attention of the Chief Minister towards animal sacrifice at Kali Temple in Patiala. It was stated that animal sacrifice could not be permitted just because of absence of laws to deal with it. Many progressive states have come forward by banning animal/bird sacrifice during religious rituals by forming laws in this regard. These states are Andhra Pradesh, which passed the Andhra Pradesh Animals and Birds Sacrifice Act 1950, Tamil Nadu, (the Tamil Nadu Animal and Birds Sacrifice Act 1950), Karnataka (the Karnataka Animal Sacrifice Act 1963), Pondicherry: (the Pondicherry Animal and Sacrifice Act 1968), Gujarat (the Gujarat Animal and Sacrifice Act 1972), Rajasthan (the Rajasthan and Birds Sacrifice Act 1975) etc.



Complaints of water scarcity
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
Residents of New Prem Nagar and some of the adjoining localities around Hathi complex near Punjab Agricultural University campus are facing acute water shortage for last about one week due to failure of the tubewell. The affected residents alleged that despite repeated complaints, the fault in the tubewell was not rectified and non-supply of water for days together had made their life miserable.

According to Dr Pradeep Chhuneja, a faculty member of PAU, the tubewell in the Rose Garden, feeding their area, had developed a technical snag in the middle of last week and till date it was not attended to. “With not even a drop of water coming out from the taps, we are finding it difficult to arrange water for drinking and cooking. Taking a bath is absolutely ruled out for the time being.”

Some of the area residents said they had visited the tubewell site many a times but there was no one and the room of the tubewell operator was locked. They also contested the contention of the civic officials that water was supplied through tankers in these colonies.

The MC Superintending Engineer, Mr Subhash Dua, said the electric motor of the tubewell in the Rose Garden had burnt and it was being attended to. The tubewell would be operational by tomorrow and in the meantime alternative arrangements were being made to provide water supply to people in affected colonies.



Chandigarh-Morinda rail by April
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
Union Railway Minister Nitish Kumar today said the Chandigarh-Morinda rail link would be made operational for passenger and goods traffic by April, 2003, while the remaining rail link from Morinda to Ludhiana would be taken in the second phase.

Mr Nitish Kumar said all problems pertaining to land acquisition for laying down the track for linking Morinda with Chandigarh had nearly been sorted out with the Chandigarh Administration and the work was going on full scale.

He added that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had been urged to take up the matter in the committee headed by him at his own level and do the needful.



Summer Queen contest held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 16
The Ramgarhia Ladies Club organised a Summer Queen contest here today at Hotel Mariot. The contest was divided into two groups. Group I was for the ladies between 25 and 35 years and Group II was for the members above 35 years of age.

The participants included Ms Baljit, Ms Gurjit, Ms Petty, Ms Manjinder, Ms Parampreet, Ms Raj, Ms Rupinder, Ms Sonia, Ms Aman, Ms Rano Padam and Ms Rainu.

The judges on the occasion were Ms Neeru and Ms Harleen. A dance by Gunisha Dev was also presented on the occasion.



College students attacked

Ludhiana, August 16
At least 10 youths, including some students and outsiders, armed with rods and sharp-edged weapons today morning attacked some second year students of Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic Engineering College here, leaving one student seriously injured. College sources said the attackers had been identified and the students among these had been suspended.

According to sources, the attack was a result of the ongoing clashes among different groups of the college. A case has been registered against the accused. TNS


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