Wednesday, September 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Students protest against exam fee receipt anomaly
Tribune News Service


 * The school board employees were allegedly taking Rs 410 from each student as examination fee but were issuing receipts for Rs 380 only.
 * Officials of the board rushed to the scene, crossed the Rs 380 mentioned on the receipt and wrote Rs 410 instead.
 * Students have demanded an inquiry into the irregularity.
 * They have demanded more windows for fee collection to avoid long wait.

Ludhiana, September 24
Ugly scenes were witnessed at Punjabi Bhavan here today when hundreds of students raised slogans against the local officials of the Punjab School Education Board for allegedly issuing them receipts for less amount than paid by them as examination fee for the matric and senior secondary school examinations to be held next year.

A copy of the receipt of examination fee issued by the Punjab School Education Board.
A copy of the receipt of examination fee issued by the Punjab School Education Board. The encircled portion shows the overwriting.

The PSEB employees were allegedly taking Rs 410 from each student as examination fee but were issuing receipts for Rs 380 only. Students protested against this and questioned the authorities. The lower level employees, however, refused to listen to their grievance saying they knew better.

However, as the situation threatened to become worse, some senior officials of the local office of the PSEB rushed to the scene. These officials crossed the Rs 380 mentioned on the receipt and wrote Rs 410 instead.

This was enough to cool the tempers of most of the students who went home satisfied but there were several others who have demanded an inquiry into the irregularity. They said what will the board do about the students, who had been issued receipts before the anomaly was brought to the notice of the officials.

No official of the PSEB was willing to answer the query or to come on record. They only said everything was fine and the mistake had been corrected there and then. They maintained that it was just a clerical error and not much should be read into it.

Meanwhile, long queues were seen at the PSEB counters in the Punjabi Bhavan for the submission of examination fee and the forms. Students have demanded more windows for the purpose to avoid long wait in the queues. They said more employees of the PSEB could also be deployed for a few days here.

The employees said they make elaborate arrangements but the students turn up on last days only. Today was the second last day and more rush was expected tomorrow.


Dairy owners hold MC, residents to ransom
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 24
Call it lackadaisical and evasive attitude and utter unconcern of the municipal corporation over the pathetic plight of thousands of residents in more than 10 colonies on the periphery of the city that hundreds of dairies, with several thousand head of cattle, refusing to shift to the proposed dairy complex in the Jamalpur area for well over a year now. Rather than being grateful to the civic body that an alternative site for dairies was being provided, dairy owners have been dictating terms for shifting and demanding more concessions by way of reduction in the price of land and development charges.

Due to the concentration of dairy units in these underdeveloped and congested residential areas, there has been a total collapse of civic amenities in the areas and the residents are left at the mercy of dairy owners. According to the residents, they live in the worst kind of sanitary conditions, with cattle excreta scattered all over, choked sewers and drains, unbearable stench and heaps of fodder stacked all around the streets and in front of houses, being a common feature.

Having exhausted all other channels to get their grievances redressed, Mr Raghbir Singh, a resident of Guru Arjan Dev Nagar, filed a complaint with the Punjab Human Rights Commission, on the behalf of the residents of the affected colonies alleging violation of civic rights and sought a direction to the Municipal Corporation for immediate shifting of dairies from the residential colonies in the city.

The petition, which has been pending before the PHRC, stated that between 1985 and 1993, the district administration, the Punjab Pollution Control Board, the District Grievances Committee and the Municipal Corporation had passed orders for the shifting of dairies at different occasions, which were never implemented nor any follow up action was taken. As a result, the residents of the colonies, where in dairy units were located, were forced to live in inhuman conditions.

Information collected by this correspondent revealed that during a preliminary survey some 500 dairy units were enumerated in colonies like Guru Arjan Dev Nagar, Jagdish Pura, Kailash Nagar, Subhash Nagar, Salem Tabri, Issa Nagri, Chander Nagar, New Chander Nagar and Asha Puri. Thereafter, orders were issued under Section 343 (1) (c) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, declaring these areas as ‘no cattle zone’, which were published in Punjab Government Gazette on October 23, 2001.

Thereafter, the corporation had earmarked land in the Jamalpur area for the development of a dairy complex where basic infrastructure was proposed to be provided and plots carved out for sale to dairy owners in open auction. Later, under pressure from dairy owners, the civic body had agreed to allot these plots to eligible dairy owners at a price of Rs 1200 per square yards which also included development charges. But the matter has been hanging fire ever since, all hopes of the residents of their misery coming to an end with the shifting of dairies, evaporated in thin air, at least for the time being.

In the course of hearing of the complaint before the PHRC, an official of the corporation had intimated the commission on March 25, 2002, that a meeting of dairy owners was convened by the corporation on March 19, 2002, in which they were asked to deposit 50 per cent of price of plots (Rs 600 per square yard) within one month. However, again on August 23, 2002, the same official informed the PHRC that the dairy owners had not deposited any money against the price of plots with the corporation and they were pleading for the reduction in the price of land.

Several senior officials of the civic body, however, were unaware of the latest status of dairy complex with one of them saying on the condition of anonymity that the proposed location being unsuitable, the project had been shelved for the time being. However, there was no official confirmation or denial (of the project being shelved).


Overstaffed PSEB sags under its burden
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
The government is yet to initiate concrete steps to tackle overstaffing and reduce the cost per employee in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), which has been highlighted as the main cause of the deteriorating financial health of the board by different industrial bodies as well as consumers of various categories.

According to sources, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) had directed the PSEB to reduce its manpower by 10 per cent to make the employee-consumer ratio on a par with other states besides salaries and related benefits. Currently, the board employs 91,624 persons out of which 81,130 are regular and the remaining 10,494 are work-charged or daily-wagers.

A perusal of the year wise increase in the manpower expenses during the past three years reveals that the establishment expenses have increased from 3.9 per cent to 10.44 per cent. The expenses were Rs 1095.56 crore during 1999-2000, Rs 1136.56 crore in 2000-2001 which increased to Rs 1255.25 crore during 2001-2002.

Thus, the employee cost of PSEB for the year 2002-2003 is estimated to touch Rs 1316.50 crore, which covers salaries, dearness allowance and its increase from time to time, staff welfare expenses plus various other allowances etc., and this amount works out to 19 per cent against the total revenue expenses, while the same for most of the other state electricity boards (SEBs) is around 9 per cent to 15 per cent. Hence, the employee cost is on the high side, they added.

The sources said the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) had pointed out that during 2002-03, the cost per employee of the board worked out to 61 paise per kwh as per annual revenue report (ARR) against an all-India average of 41 paise per kwh. The white paper brought out by the state government on The state of Finance — March 2002 and the CAG report for the year ending March, 2001 had also highlighted overstaffing in the PSEB.

The board serves 54 lakh consumers, which means that 16.9 employees serve per 1,000 consumers. The corresponding figure for Maharashtra State Electricity Board is 8.96, West Bengal Electricity Board 10.72, Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board 11.06 and Gujarat State Electricity Board 7.40, they stated.

Ironically, the PSEB also continues to bear a monthly burden of Rs 5 crore on account of the salaries being paid to around 6,500 employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam who have been declared surplus. They are being paid regularly without any work, they added.

The sources point out that the need of the hour is to study the need of manpower in the board in the wake of financial crises hawking the board. After a thorough study, surplus employees should be re-deployed according to their requirement even if they have to be re-trained for their new assignment.

The other alternative is to have the optimum utilisation of existing manpower in the PSEB. The VRS/retrenchment of employees is not implementable due to obvious administrative and financial implications as well as to avoid an unrest among the employees.

The revision of tariff is not the only solution to get the board out of the red. Establishment and administrative costs, operational and maintenance costs and other avoidable expenses should also be brought down immediately, the sources stressed.


No headway in kidney racket case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 24
While the police success in busting kidney racket in England early this month and in Amritsar recently is hogging limelight, the Ludhiana police has failed to make any further headway in the year-old kidney racket case registered at division no. 6 police station.

The case was registered on October 11 last year on the complaint of three Nepali labourers.

The case witnessed vigorous police investigation as far as the allegations were concerned and two persons, relatives of a donor, were arrested from Patiala. One accused conduit in the racket was arrested swiftly, but since then the case file seems to be gathering dust. The main accused Amritpal, an agent functioning from a prestigious city hospital, is absconding. Neither has he been arrested nor declared a proclaimed offender. While the police officials concerned with the case had made loud claims that they would end the racket once and for all by conducting raids and nabbing all the suspects, including some doctors, nothing of this sort has happened.

Not a single raid was carried out in any city hospital even though the local media published elaborate reports about the racket.

Ludhiana Tribune had in fact traced two more victims, besides the three original complainants, in the kidney racket but as per information available from police sources, these victims were not incorporated in the police investigations. The sword of Damocles fell only on two relatives of a kidney recipient from Patiala.

The police had drawn flak for arresting these two persons instead of taking any action against some Municipal Councillors of Patiala. Some employees of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and councillors besides two senior political leaders had also figured in police investigations for furnishing false affidavits in order to help a recipient or a donor in the case.

While SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, police sources on the condition of anonymity said the investigation had gone slow because of other pressing matters. They stressed that the police has definitely not closed the matter and will pursue it to its logical end. They said the main accused Amritpal is absconding as he is a master of disguise. They said raids on hospitals or arrest of other persons could be made on solid proof only.

It may be noted that Ludhiana has always figured prominently in kidney racket cases. Whenever a kidney racket comes to notice, some link to this city is invariably made, as in the recent busting of a racket in Amritsar. It has been reliably learnt that some conduits arrested there were seen operating in some Ludhiana hospitals also. Police sources here said they were awaiting definite information about the links.

The kidney racket in question came to light last year when three Nepali labourers, Sumer Bahadur, Sandeep Kumar and Prem Kumar, all working as waiters in a local hotel alleged that they were cheated by some agents, who promised them Rs 1 lakh each for donating their kidneys but paid them only a few thousand rupees.

The police identified the two agents as Rajesh Kumar and Amritpal. The former was arrested but the latter continues to elude the police. The police had also learnt that Amritpal was giving a “monthly” to an SHO but no action was taken. It had also come up during investigations that the main accused Amritpal was nabbed by a local police official but let off after some huge payment.


Mela over, devotees’ rush continues
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, September 24
Even after three days of the ceremonial closure of Chhapar Mela, devotees, visitors kept pouring in to worship snake embodiment of Nag Devta today.

In fact the mela, which had gained notoriety for the past many years, due to incidents of crime, went off peacefully. Except for some sporadic incidents, the fair remained peaceful. Only one case of a small theft was registered during all these days.

According to Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, Senior Superintendent of Police, at Jagraon, the Dehlon police has registered an FIR under Section 379 against Avtar Singh Rajdeep Singh, Daljit Singh, alias Meet, and Kuldeep Singh, all residents of Mohiafter village, after they were caught stealing spare wheel of scooters from the premises of the mela. Mr Chhina asserted that no incident of eve-teasing, chain-snatching or any other crime had been reported.

According to him, the police had taken extra care to keep an eye on bad elements because the people were scared of coming to the fair after hearing about incidents of the past years. He claimed that strict ban on the entry of vehicles to the main site of the fair had helped to check crime because the rural folks used to bring liquor and weapons in their vehicles. This time, however, it was not allowed. Moreover, ban on Zinda dance had helped to check crime against women.

However, contrary to police claims, some petty incidents were reported to have occurred on nights at the mela. Information of weapons and liquor through vehicles, and men working at stalls and merry-go-rounds were seen equipped with crude weapons like lathis. 


Hard times for city parks
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, September 24
Various parks in outer colonies of the city which had been spruced up earlier by citizens’ welfare committees because of liberal grants by the Municipal Corporation are returning to their old shabby look, thanks to an official change of policy in this regard.

Parks in the Urban Estate on the Chandigarh road, which had been turned into a watcher’s delight, are being neglected with wild grass growing around flower beds and plants drying up for want of proper care. Now, instead of six gardeners who had been employed for maintaining these parks, there is only a single hand who is looking after a little portion of the vast park.

Piqued at the current state of these parks following the stopping of the earlier grants, the Urban Estate Phase-II, (West) Dhandari Kalan Residents Welfare Society in the Focal Point area has served a legal notice on the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, through XEN (Horticulture), seeking payment of grant for the maintenance of four parks from February to June, 2002. These parks include two on the Chandigarh road, measuring 3339 and 3932 square metres, one park opposite house numbers 1108- 1112, which measures 1410 square metres and one opposite house numbers 964-969 measuring 1392 square metres.

The notice says that the duration of the agreement for the maintenance of these parks was from July 1,2001 to June 30, 2002 , according to which the corporation had agreed to pay Re 1 per square metre to the society. The corporation had been paying the grant up to January last after which the payment was withheld for no fault on part of the society. Thus the corporation was liable to pay the grant from February to June at the rate of Rs 10,062 per month totalling to Rs 50,315.

The notice further states that the society has been complying with the terms of the agreement regarding the maintenance of these parks in which a large number ( about 500) trees, shrubs and flower plants were planted. Several flower beds were developed and the grass was regularly mowed. Apart from these efforts, the cleanliness of these parks was also ensured to make these pollution-free and the same were also protected from stray cattle and pigs.

Another notice for the recovery of Rs 65,835 has been sent to the Municipal Corporation by the Vikas Samiti, Janta Nagar, which has sought these dues for the maintenance of other four parks in the Urban Estate, Dhandari Kalan. A visit to these parks, which measure 9405 square metres (5953 sq. metres, 1581 sq. metres, 563 sq. metres and 1308 sq. metres, respectively) revealed that these are a neglected lot because of stopping of the grant. This correspondent witnessed stray cattle grazing on the grass which has grown fast due to the recent heavy rains. Wild grass surrounds flower beds and garbage lies scattered around these parks.

Mr Satnam Singh, president of the society, told Ludhiana Tribune that the corporation was now insisting on paying only Rs 1000 monthly per park irrespective of its size and it was not possible to maintain these parks with the meagre amount.

Sources in the municipal corporation , however, said that the new proposal had been made in the wake of objections made by the audit branch over the payment at the rate of Re 1 per square metre for the maintenance of the parks.



Several social and cultural outfits in the city are gearing up to celebrate Dasehra in their respective areas. Ramlila committees apart, special Dasehra committees are being formed and funds are being collected. Special melas would also be held at several places like the Daresi Grounds, Dugri, Focal Point and other localities. Unfortunately, these melas also offer an opportunity for petty criminals to make some fast buck. There are pickpockets and the “mufatwars” who display tempting lottery charts which are specially made by them to lure innocent children and the illiterate migrants. This time, the police must ensure that these melas remain free of such elements.

Traffic nuisance

Roads in the city are among the busiest in the state. This is because of the obvious reason that the length of roads has not increased in due proportion to the increase in number of vehicles plying on the roads. Ludhiana has the largest number of vehicles registered than in any other city in the state. The pressure is showing up on the roads, which get clogged more often than not. Cycle rickshaws and carts too add to the traffic problems in the city.

While the cycle rickshaws are an important mode of transportation, they also lead to various problems. Having total immunity from the law, as they need no registration nor do they need a driving licence. This immunity seems to embolden them to do whatever they want to. Most of these carts are overloaded and often lead to several accidents.


A painful scene of how relationships can go awry can be witnessed anytime at the Marital Disputes Cell of the Ludhiana police. But a colleague saw a touching scene in the cell the other day.

While a young couple was indulging in blame game in front of the official who was trying to settle the dispute, their two young children were crying bitterly as there was nobody to look after them. Suddenly one of the relatives asked the couple in a high pitched voice, “Just hold the baby,” but the fighting mother replied in a curt voice, “Why can’t his father hold him. I don’t want this baby. Let him take them with him.”


Law enforcement on foeticide negligible
Our Correspondent


 * Country on the verge of demographic catastrophe.
 * Enforcement of law negligible.
 * Sex-determination technology popular among all groups.
 * Sex imbalance will have drastic effects on population.
 * Out of more than 25,000 ultrasound machines in the country, only 15,900 are registered.

Ludhiana, September 24
The country is on the verge of a demographic catastrophe. If effective measures are not taken immediately, boys and men will soon outnumber girls and women. In India, pre-natal sex determination is a culpable offense but the enforcement of law, has been negligible. These facts were put forward by speakers at the concluding session of the two-day health education conference on ‘Reproductive rights, PNDT Act and female foeticide in rural Punjab’ organised by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) at the hospital premises today.

The speakers said the census showed a consistent fall in the sex ratio. The intensity of sex ratio imbalance in the zero to six year age group was most striking though not limited to affluent regions of Punjab (793), Haryana (820), Chandigarh (845), Gujarat (878), Himachal Pradesh (897) and Delhi (865). For the general population, however, the desire for a son had not translated itself into the killing daughters. But with the availability of sex-determination technology, families were afforded a “sanitised” means to rid themselves of daughters and the technology rapidly gained popularity among all groups.

There would be drastic effects of sex imbalance on the population. “Fewer surviving women do not mean that they enjoy a higher status. On the contrary, the growing shortage of women in the marriage market means that they are subjected to being kidnapped by criminal gangs and sold into marriage to men anxious to find wives”, warned one of the speakers.

In 1979, there was a ban on sex determination in all government institutions. At the same time, private clinics performing sex-determination tests and procedures, started emerging and spreading all over the northern and western India. In the 80s and 90s, clinics, particularly in Punjab, Haryana and Mumbai, advertised blatantly, on choosing “a boy or a girl”.

To combat this menace, the Supreme Court had directed that ultrasound machines and scanners, being used without registration should be immediately sealed and seized. Since the Supreme Court directive in May, 2001, 299 cases were registered and in 232 cases, ultrasound machines, other equipment and records seized. Experts revealed that there were an estimated 25,000 ultrasound machines in the country and only 15,900 were registered out of these.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed a series of detailed amendments to the 1994, Act. These amendments related mainly to expanded definitions e.g. “pre-natal diagnostic techniques” have been expanded to include pre-conception techniques, additions and more detailed explanations of sections contained in the act. Fine up to Rs 1 lakh can be imposed and the registration of a medical practitioner can be cancelled for violating these provisions.


Come September

Come September, and with it comes an image that spells out imagery which has linguistic and idiomatic overtones. Besides, it provides a theatre of general memories. Certain years, even some dates, become a record of history. September, 1947, recorded the biggest human exodus when the worst ever bloodshed was witnessed. In the same year, Punjab received heavy rainfall perhaps to wash away the sinful acts. The Sutlej rose to a record height. It constantly rained in the city from September 23 to 30. The Prime Minister, Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri, was forced to open the Attari-Wagah border to relieve pressure on Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army crossed border on September 6, 1965. The theatre of war changed. This sent panic signals to far-off East Pakistan.

The September of 2001 started a new chapter in US history. September 11 unfolded an agonising crisis, worst fate, a date with destiny.

The Twin-Towers of the World Trade Center were air-dashed against. The defence headquarters, Pentagon, Washington D.C, suffered partial damage. US pride was hit hard and Americans were confused and stunned. The disaster, worst since Pearl Harbour, challenged the world’s biggest power. The WTC, a symbol of commercial and economic might, fell in ruins. The nation was aghast. However, the Mayor of New York rose to the occasion. George Bush mustered courage to challenge international terrorism.

All peace-loving people expressed sympathy with the USA. Men of courage came forward to meet the challenge thrown by the Al-Qaida. India has suffered this evil in the garb of communal hatred. The USA learnt of late. We sympathise with the suffering mankind anywhere. A sense of pain is a binding factor. However, only a few are sincerely sensitive and wisely expressive.

A city girl, Harkirtan Kaur, wrote to the American Center, New Delhi. Acknowledging her message, Ms Lea Terhune, Editor SPAN Magazine, wrote, “Thank you so much for your letter of October 20, and all the fine sentiments you expressed in it. We appreciate and fully agree with your feelings that nothing can justify these attacks and also that we must stand united against such onslaughts to democracy.” The publisher, Mr James J.C., in his column, A Letter From The Publisher, wrote, “More recently, Indians were shocked by a terrorist incursion into their own Parliament.” He further states, “Indeed, such letters have come in steadily since September 11. One came from Harkirtan Kaur, a young class XI student at Sacred Heart Convent School in Ludhiana, who wrote thoughtfully and from her heart about the war against terrorism.” In the end of his piece in SPAN, Mr James quotes Harkirtan’s sentiments and thoughts, “I express my full faith in the justice of the mission of “Enduring Freedom.” No expostulation, no speeches and no religious explanations can justify these attacks or turn knaves into heroes. We, as a world, must muster enough courage to take every possible step to see these terrorists vanquished.” No wonder, this schoolgirl talked with the maturity as an ambassador of peace and hope. No wonder again, the publisher picks up her letter and thanks her profusely. She is our city girl of sensibility. She does India proud, more so Ludhiana.

M.S. Cheema


VAT provisions resented 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 24
Trade and industry circles here are up in arms against the state government over what they term as ‘draconian’ provisions of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, 2002, which is to come in force from April 2003.

The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has expressed resentment against provisions for imprisonment ranging between six months and two years for violation of the proposed Act and has served an ultimatum to the government for immediate withdrawal of these ‘unjust and black’ clauses, failing which the members of trade and industry would launch an agitation.

Speakers, including Baba Ajit Singh, chairman, Mr Sunil Mehra, general secretary, and Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, district secretary, observed that similar provisions were proposed to be incorporated in the Sales Tax Act by the SAD-BJP government in 1999 but in the wake of strong opposition from the trade and industry, the government had relented.

According to Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, the provision for compulsory audit by all dealers registered with the Excise and Taxation Department would ruin the small traders, who would be at the mercy of auditors and advocates and even in case of minor omissions and irregularities, would be under threat of being sent to jail.

The mandal activists also lodged strong protest against other penal clauses like provision for 110 to 150 per cent tax on minor errors in bills, invoices and other documents. “The provisions for heavy penalty will in turn give rise to more corruption in the Excise and Taxation Department and the whole purpose of the anti-corruption drive launched by the Congress government will be defeated.”

Mr Aggarwal maintained that most of the clauses of the VAT Act were against the interests of trading community. For example the traders would be liable to pay two per cent monthly interest on delayed payment of tax but in case of excess amount deposited with the department, the government will pay an interest of only one per cent. Other provisions like seizure and search, fine and imprisonment were absolutely uncalled for and were tantamount to curbing the freedom of the traders. By proposing to enforce such harsh and draconian laws, the government had virtually backed out from its commitment of simplification of tax laws and putting an end to “inspector raj”.

According to Mr Sunil Mehra, a state-level meeting of the mandal units would be held at Jalandhar on October 6 to discuss the issue in detail and to chalk out a strategy for the agitation if the government failed to respond in a positive manner on this crucial matter.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |