Thursday, September 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Indo-USAID joint project for slum development
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 4
The two-year action plan, under the Indo-USAID joint project, aimed at improving access of services to urban poor in the city is all set to be implemented.

The preliminary work of identification, survey, mapping and creating a data base has been done, said Mr Billy Corbett of the City Alliance and team leader of a USAID group and its Indian partners, who were here to interact with the top brass of the Municipal Corporation.

Speaking at a presentation of the Indo-USAID FIRE project, Mr Corbett said that started in 1994, the Financial Institutions Reform and Expansion (FIRE) project had so far provided $18 million in technical assistance and training resources and $55 million in loan guarantees for housing, sanitation and water-supply projects.

The main objectives of the programme, he said, were sustainable delivery of water and sanitation services, development of commercially viable projects, sustainable infrastructure finance system and capacity building of urban professionals.

Describing the civic body here as a reform-oriented urban local body, Mr Corbett expressed confidence that in future, the project would lead to building up an effective partnership between the agencies involved, the MC and the urban poor towards improvement of low-income settlements.

While the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, coordinated the discussion, other members of the visiting team comprised Ms Ellison Berett (City Alliance), Ms Renu Sehgal (USAID), Mr Chetan Vaidya Indo-US FIRE project), Ms Renu Khosla (National Institute of Urban Affairs), Mr Ashwajit Singh, Mr Bikramaditya Ghosh, Ms Geetanjali Seth, Mr Himanshu Sikka and Ms Honey Khanna (Infrastructure Professionals Enterprise).

According to Mr Corbett, the project for bringing basic services within reach of the urban poor had been launched in about 12 cities all over India and Ludhiana was the only city to be covered under the project from this region.

While USAID provided financial help to civic bodies for technical assistance and training resources, the actual funding for the sewerage and water supply projects came from agencies like the World Bank, HUDCO and private financial institutions.

Initially, 20 settlements in the city would be taken up on the basis of demonstrated willingness of communities to contribute resources, consent to participate and availability of infrastructure under existing or the new water, sewerage and sanitation projects.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Sharma said the city, like any other industrial urban area, had peculiar problems related to infrastructure and environment.

The fast rate of growth and corresponding demand for infrastructure had led to a shortfall in basic amenities and the influx of labour population, coupled with lack of proper and economical housing facilities, had given rise to a situation in which slums were mushrooming.

According to MC records, the city had 182 slums covering a population of around 3 lakh, while the survey conducted by FIRE project team had identified 209 low-income settlements with a population of 3.47 lakh and an estimated 75,000 households.

Stressing that the expansion of basic amenities for the slum population should be need based, the MC Commissioner also wanted the agencies, involved in the project to address the problem of another four to five lakh population located at the fringe of the city and further the tendency among slum dwellers to shift from one colony, after it was developed, to other vacant areas around the city.

He said that any material assistance from the agencies involved in the project for ameliorating the urban poor would be welcome and described the short-term and long-term plans for the development of civic amenities in the mega city.

“The MC is already providing potable water to almost 90 per cent of the population and sewerage network had covered around 65 per cent of people. With the completion of ongoing projects, water-supply coverage will be complete by March 2003 and sewerage facility will also be available to the entire city localities by 2004,” he said.

Mr Sharma said providing affordable houses with reasonably good civic amenities was another alternative for the slum development programme and the MC had taken up a massive project for construction of 15,000 dwelling units for the urban poor, which would be allotted to eligible persons at a nominal initial cost and balance payable in easy installments on a long-term basis.



I’m fake, confesses baba
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, September 4
A self-proclaimed saint today confessed that he had been fooling people by claiming that he could treat all ailments by giving amulets and ash to patients. He confessed this in front of a large gathering at programme at a which had been organised by the local unit of the Taraksheel Society of Punjab at Sukhdev Singh Nagar here. The society had challenged the claim of the baba and had announced that it would give him Rs 1 lakh if he could prove his claim in public.

As declared earlier the society had organised a function in front of baba’s abode where he used to hold congregations of Shiva devotees on Sunday. The amount of challenged money was enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh. Baba then instead of proving his claim, apologised for his imposition as a saint. He confessed that he had no divine powers acquired by virtue of his faith in Kord Shiva. Instead he was an ordinary person who had not studied up to middle school.

He used to prepare leather straps and affix iron shoes to cloven hooves of horses and bullocks for a living. Later he chose this religious was which was one of the easiest ways to make millions of rupees. He also admitted that some persons, having a shady background, had been visiting his abode which he would not permit in future. He also gave the society a written apology.

While addressing a large gathering, Mr Ashok Kumar, president of the society, illustrated the charges which had been levied against baba. He said that society had received a written complaint against baba through the president of its local unit, Dr Jaswinder Singh Kalakh. It was alleged by the neighbours of the baba that besides duping innocent people baba and his disciples had been creating nuisance for the residents of the area. Persons of shady character had been visiting his abode and even old persons had been beaten up by musclemen of Baba, for no fault of theirs. The society had challenged the claim of Baba and offered him Rs 1 lakh if he proved his claim in public.

Magician Jadev Kammo Majra demonstrated his magic tricks on the stage and explained their scientific basis. He appealed to the public not to have blind faith in self-proclaimed saints. Dr Nirbhai Singh Dhillon, Dr Jaswinder Singh, Dr Rajinder Dehlon, Dr Manjit Dhulkot and Mr amar Iqbal (all society office-bearers) spoke on the occasion.



City waits for ‘Guru of Joy’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 4
Sri Ravi Shankar, head of the Art of Living Foundation, is visiting the city on September 7 and 8. Several functions have been organised by members of the foundation for these two days.

Stated to be one of the three wisest men living on earth, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar commands a widespread following particularly among urban elite and the middle class in the city.

The Art of Living Foundation has been regularly organising daily training sessions and the concept of “art of living” seems to be developing into a movement with more and more people, particularly the youngsters, getting attracted to it.

Interestingly, the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) , comprising business managers of the city, has also organised a lecture by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar “to improve business, professional and personal lives of its members”.

Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary of the LMA, said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was a featured speaker at the United Nations and the World Economic Fora, besides several television and radio programmes.

Admirers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar include people from different walks of life. Ms Anita Nayar, a businesswoman, said her life had witnessed a sea change after coming in contact with the Art of Living Foundation.

She had also initiated her daughter into the movement and said the results had been instant and everlasting. “My daughter has benefitted from the teachings,” she said.

Ms Nayar has not met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar but she, like hundreds of others followers, are keen to see him speak live. “I have heard people saying how overpowering his sermons are as they lead to instant transformation of a human being,” she added with faith and conviction.

The main lecture of the spiritual Guru is on September 8 in the grounds of Government College for Women for which preparations are on in a full swing.

Organisers are expecting at least one lakh people on the day and no special invitation cards are being distributed. The members of the foundation revealed that many people were enquiring if they could have a closer view of the Guru.

Popularly known as “Guru of Joy”, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was awarded the title of' “Yogashiromani” at the World Conference of Yoga in New Delhi by the then President of India, Giani Zail Singh.

He has been awarded Phoenix Award by the United Nations and is the only non-western member of the Council of the Divinity School at Yale University in the USA.

In 1996, he chaired the International Conference of Religions at the University of Kyoto, Japan and was the guest speaker at the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an international non-profit making educational and services organisation. The foundation is one of the biggest registered NGO with the United Nations.



Students condemn new education policy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 4
A delegation of the Diet Students Welfare Association, Punjab, met the Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behl, this morning and discussed the new education policy with him. The delegation strongly criticised the policy. Mr Behl listened to their problems and said the policy would be reviewed.

But the students were not satisfied with Mr Behl’s assurance and wanted another meeting. Association president Virinder Singh Khera said that if the government did not take back the new education policy, the DIET students would come on the road to protest and would stop the vehicular movement all over Punjab.

General secretary Balwinder Singh Ropar said that DIET students would go to the district education headquarters on September 5 and wear black badges to show their resentment.

They also demanded that the education should not be privatised. They urged the minister to review the education policy and delete the clauses that were against the ETT courses.



Declining education system in Punjab

I have read an advertisement in a national newspaper dated 29-8-2002 inserted by Government of India, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, New Delhi, regarding ‘First Computer Literacy Excellence Awards for Schools 2002’. This list includes 21 state level awardees. His Excellency, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, will distribute the awards.

Unfortunately no school of Punjab figures in this list. What a shame!

Schools from states like Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Sikkim and U.P. find a place in this list and we Punjabis call these states — backward states!

The Punjab government as well as private institutions in Punjab should do some introspection.

H.S. Kohli, Ludhiana

Gender bias continues

The Articles of the Indian Constitution keep both the sexes at par, and make no discrimination with women. Accordingly, the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Civil Procedure Code, the Evidence Act, the Companies Act, the Income-Tax Act, the Panchayati Raj Act, the Co-operative Societies Act etc make no discrimination in any respect against the female sex.

There is a department (Food and Civil Supplies Department ) of the Punjab government that actively practices gender bias. It is doing sheer injustice and shows discrimination against the women folk.

This ‘anti-humanity act’ and discrimination is clear from the instructions regarding the issue of ration cards, as given in item No 6 of their letter Memo No 1/126/96 2/3041 dated 9/6/1998, which has been circulated to all Food and Civil Supply offices of the state of Punjab. Under these instructions a lady cannot be considered as head of her family.

Does this mean that there shall be discrimination in issuing of ration cards by ration depots, or shall there be difference in the prices of such ration items?

All over the world, we have ladies as presidents and prime ministers as heads of the countries, as head of the police Department, the Supreme Court, the Education Department, and business concerns, Food and Civil Supplies offices have women folk as their heads but for ration cards they can not be considered as head of family.

It is, therefore, suggested that the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Department must amend or delete item No. 6 of their abovesaid circular and should accept woman as head of the family when she is the applicant for the issue of a ration card for her family (Form D-1).

This gender bias must go without any delay.

Principal Gurdial Singh, Ludhiana.

Green Park on way to destruction

Central Park Model Town, Ludhiana, is near the Model Town Market and opposite to multi-storey complex in Kothi No 378/379. The area of park is 5464 sq. metres.

The Central Park Welfare Society was formed in 1997 and was looking after the park with its limited resources. But when in December, 1999 the Horticulture wing of the M.C. in its advertisement in the newspaper offered Rs 1/- per sq. metre as maintenance grant, the park began to plant 80 saplings of ‘Ashoka’ and 80 saplings of ‘More-pankhi’ over 100 sq metres area was covered with quality roses, and 100 sq metres with seasonal flowering plants. In the monthly meeting of the society it was decided that the park can only be developed if a pump is installed as there was no water in the area.

A sum of Rs 45,000 was collected by the society from its members to install the pumps and to construct a small store room.

Now in the park there are 40-eucalyptus trees, brush-bottle plants, 70 ‘More-pankhi’, 76 ‘Ashoka’ plants and 200 other permanent plants. Calcutta grass was developed in about 1500 sq metres, whose cutting and cleaning is done regularly. Two gardeners are employed for its maintenance .

But we are sorry to write that the society has not received maintenance grants from December 2001. For the last eight months the society is unable to properly maintain the park.

About 500 ornamental bushes, trees, flowers and grassy lawns are being destroyed. The money spent by corporation for the last two years is going waste. The society urges the corporation to release the maintenance grant as early as possible so that the park may remain maintained.

Harbhajan Singh, President, Central Park Welfare Society, Model Town, Ludhiana.



Bibi wants youth to shun drugs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 4
Former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur today exhorted the youth to stay away from drugs and work towards the betterment of society at a meeting of Akali workers here today. She also told them to ensure mass participation in the statewide protest rallies on September 11.

She also condemned the Congress regime for unleashing a reign of terror targeting political opponents in the state. Workers and leaders are being framed in false cases. All the facilities given by the Akalis have been withdrawn by the present government, adding to the woes of the common man, she added. She along with SGPC member Bibi Bhajan Kaur, was also honoured on the occasion.



32 bottles of liquor seized; 3 held
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, September 4
The Sahnewal police has seized 32 bottles of illicit liquor and registered cases under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act against three persons.

It seized 15 bottles of liquor from a man called Bablu Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, who was caught at a Ramgarh village checkpoint. A man called Sunil Kumar was caught from near Sahibana village with nine bottles of liquor in his possession. A man called Gulshan Kumar of Kurukshetra was caught with eight bottles of liquor from near the same village.

The Payal police has registered two cases of violation of the Excise Act against a man called Jagdev Singh of Ghudani Kalan and another person called Kulwinder Singh ‘Kala’ of Kaddon village. These men were allegedly keeping illicit liquor in their house. Both ran away to evade arrest and the police found nothing.

Gambling money: The Sahnewal police seized Rs 5,200 of gambling money from a man called Rajan Kumar of Ludhiana’s New Shivaji Nagar. A case under the Gambling Act was registered against him.

Threatened: A man called Amardeep Singh of Sahnewal has reported that his brothers Sukhwinder and Rashwinder, who live in Tibba village, have threatened to kill him. He says that they want him to let out his shop on Sahnewal’s Dehlon Road to them.

He said he feared that his brothers would, now, attack him. A case against the brothers has been registered at the Sahnewal police station under Sections 448, 511, 506 and 34 of the IPC.

Gun seized:
The CIA wing seized a .12 bore gun and a cartridge from a man called Bitu Sethi of Ferozepore’s Tankwali Basti. The man was caught near the Malak Road bridge drain in a cordon-and-search operation.

The man could not produce any gun licence, following which, a case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act was registered against him. The police said it was a country-made gun. Later, Mr Tajwinder Singh, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, sent the man to judicial custody till September 17.


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