Friday, October 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Coal supply to thermal plants critical
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
The coal supply to the three thermal plants of Punjab continues to be critical and if no immediate steps are taken to make the payment to the Coal India Ltd., the state may face a severe power crisis. The state is already facing power cuts from three to four hours in the urban areas and 12 to 14 hours in the rural areas. According to information available today, Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant has coal for five days, Bathinda Thermal Plant for seven days and Ropar Thermal Plant for 15 days, respectively. The PSEB owes Rs 71 crore to the Coal India Ltd. and the last payment of Rs 15 crore was made to it on October 1.

There is no doubt that the demand for power consumption has decreased in the state after the start of harvesting of paddy as during the summer months, the power supply to tubewells was ensured for 10 to 12 hours and heavy power cuts were imposed in urban areas. The PSEB was buying more than 250 lakh units of power from the Central power plants and other state electricity boards daily to meet the power needs of the state in view of the drought caused by the failure of the monsoons. The power consumption has been brought to 748 lakh units daily. The PSEB is supplying power in rural areas where late-sown paddy like Basmati was sown. The PSEB is getting 79 lakh units of power from the state hydro units, 107 lakh units from the bbmb plants and 421 lakh units from three Thermal plants. The three thermal plants are the backbone of the power supply to the state. The generation from the hydro plants is low because of the fall in the level of the reservoirs.

Sources close to the PSEB say that the cash flow has not been mobilised as anticipated and the PSEB is left with no choice except to impose a heavy cut on power consumption in the rural areas and reduce its purchase from the central power projects. The PSEB is now buying a little over 150 lakh units of power daily from the central projects.

Enquiries show that the PSEB authorities are concerned about the failure of the Punjab Government to implement the report of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission which has recommended the withdrawal of free power supply to agriculture and suggested a levy of 57 paise per unit as power tariff for the tubewells. The regulatory commission has also recommended the hike in the power tariff for the domestic and industrial consumers in the urban areas.

The Cabinet has not taken any decision as it is faced with a dilemma of facing opposition from the farmers and parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal, the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal and Akali Dal (Amritsar).

The Chief Minister already faces a difficult situation on the issue of minimum support price for paddy and a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is being held tomorrow to discuss the situation arising out of the failure of the Centre to increase the MSP and start early procurement of paddy.

Highly placed sources in the government concede that the state government cannot refuse the implementation of the report of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission on power tariff unless it decides to go to the Punjab-Haryana High Court in appeal against the regulatory commission. It is mandatory on the part of the state government to implement the report of the commission.

The PSEB authorities maintain the report of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission is an “order” and the government has to comply with the same.

The PSEB authorities are of the view that the state government should have gone ahead with the report pertaining to the domestic and industrial tariff and kept the farm sector issue pending.


Tricksters thrive at railway station
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, October 10
Tricksters, who infest the local railway station like anything, are devising novel methods every day to trap unsuspecting migrants leaving the city with their hard-earned money and deprive them of the same.

Two migrant labourers — Hussaini (28) and Nanku (22) — who reached the station yesterday to catch a train for Bahraich, missed the train by a couple of minutes. Soon another train — Darbhanga Express — reached the station and the duo started asking about the ticket counter from persons hanging around them. But before they could get to the counter, they were approached by two tricksters who claimed that they were PAs to a DSP and as such they were empowered to issue the required tickets to them. The migrants were taken in by the talk and Hussaini opened his bag to pay for the tickets. One of the tricksters started scribbling something on a paper while his accomplice managed to take all money (Rs 4,000) from the bag and replace it with a sheaf of compressed newspaper. And the tricksters vanished within seconds after committing the crime by which time it was too late for the migrants. According to the migrants, both of them had earned the money after six months of hard labour.

Ludhiana Tribune has carried a number of reports about the movement of suspicious characters on and around the station in the past. Migrants, who are keen on having a hassle-free journey back home, are lured to other stations like Phagwara by the tricksters on the pretext that it would ensure the availability of seats from there. It is another matter that they are given drug-laced biscuits and tea at the first opportunity and deprived of their belongings. In one case, five migrants, who were taken from the local station by three hookers, were found unconscious at the bus stand in Phagwara sometime ago.

Several cases of gullible passengers getting robbed at the station have been reported over the past two years or so. Security, which is beefed up at the station in the wake of such reports, returns to its old lackadaisical standards within a week or so after which the tricksters resume their operations. Only the other day, a blatant attempt was made at platform number five to rob a Dhuri-based businessman of his bag which contained cash and some important documents. A suspicious man who had accosted the businessman to a tea stall also ordered tea and biscuits. Soon the man dipped a biscuit in the tea cup and hurled the same at the back of the businessman’s shirt. Soon, another man standing nearby suggested to him that he should take off the shirt and wash it at a nearby tap. But the businessman’s luck seemed to be on his right side as one of his acquittances, who had just arrived at the station to catch the same train, advised him not to take off his shirt. The intervention by the alert friend had spoiled the designs of the tricksters and they wasted no time in slipping away from the scene. 



Dasehra, Durga Puja festivities brighten city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
With countdown for Dasehra having started, the city has assumed a colourful look. It is no longer only the traditional Ram Lila which is being performed at various streets, markets and other places, but Durga Puja festivities can also be witnessed all over.

Dasehra is associated with the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana. However, as the city has thousands of Bengalis the Dasehra celebrations are also marked by the Durga Puja and the idols of Goddess Durga are immersed on the Dasehra day in nearby canals.

While the main festival will be on October 15, the celebrations have started at least 10 days in advance. Hundreds of people watch the Ram Lila at different places till late in the night. Be it the old Daresi grounds or the new and posh Aggar Nagar, everywhere hundreds of people can be seen watching the programmes where the actors perform the roles of the Rama, Sita, Laxman, Ravana, Hanuman, Vibhishan, Kumbkarana, Meghnada and others.

On the other hand there is the Durga Puja which continues till late in the night. Local people have also started taking part in the Durga Puja. The idols of Durga are being prepared on a large scale. Artisans and craftsmen have come all the way from Bengal to carve special idols of the goddess. The idols are selling for upto Rs 15,000 also. One such artisan Rabindra Nath Bakura has been coming over here for the past 15 years.

According to Bakura, earlier he was hardly able to sell a couple of idols for a few hundred rupees. But now the times seem to have changed for good as now he sells hundreds of idols at good price. He brings the special earth from Bengal and uses only the holy water of the Ganges for making the idols.



Auction fetches 2.59 cr
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
The recessionary trend in the real estate market in the city and elsewhere notwithstanding, there was a tremendous response to the auction of commercial properties in various city localities by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) as 20 properties were sold for a whopping Rs 2.59 crore here yesterday.

According to Mr Raminder Singh, Administrator, LIT, the auction of commercial sites during the past month had also evoked a similar response when several residential and commercial sites were sold for over Rs 2.5 crore.

The sites put to auction included built-up shop-cum-flats in Bharat Nagar Extension, booths, shop-cum-flats and a residential plot in Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar, double-storeyed shops and booths in Rajguru Nagar.

A double-storeyed shop in Rajguru Nagar, with a reserve price of Rs 8,500 per square yard, was sold at Rs 22,800 per square yard which is more than 2.5 times of the floor price.

Similarly, other commercial sites in Bharat Nagar Extension fetched between 17 to 20 per cent premium on the reserve price while in Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar and Rajguru Nagar the properties were sold at 30 to 90 per cent more than the floor price.

Mr Raminder Singh further told that response to the MIG and LIG flats in Model Town Extension and Maharishi Balmiki Nagar under a ‘self-financing scheme’ was also quite encouraging.

The last date for submission of applications for the MIG flats was October 15, he added.



Fate and fortitude

Collectively, life is an odd mixture of paradoxes. Despite the ever-developing instinct for survival, mankind is devising means of collective destruction. Ironically, man has been fighting wars for peace! Peace is illusion with many. Reality with few. Seek outside, it is nearly dark. Seek within, it is light. Individually, one carries one’s very own cross. Life is romance and reality. Life is fate and fortitude. The life-story of Col Inderjeet Singh Gill has a subtle suggestion. He had happy childhood, good schooling. Loving parents and caring siblings. A happy home presided over by Prof Thakar Singh, the saintly father-figure. Inderjeet joined Government College for a short period. He had keen interest in Persian and Urdu. World War-II was on. He joined the Army. Became an officer and rose higher. Served for 33 years. Saw field action holding arty gun. Stayed at peace stations. Developed a sensitive ear for music. Played violin, sitar. With a mind for poetry, enjoyed Urdu ghazal. His wife took interest in the education of children, running of home, besides gardening. The couple decided to settle at Ahmednagar for its climate and comfort. Suddenly, fate changed every plan in 1984. Family returned to the ancestral home. Life started anew after a cut-off of four decades. Army discipline stood by as hope and courage.

Education, marriage and settlement of children is still the burden of most of the parents in our society. The Gills were no exception. After retirement, they faced sudden changes. Striking roots anew, some unseen problems became more acute. At times turned exacting. All to test sleep and patience, health and happiness. Col Gill kept optimism. Got support from others. More was in store. His wife became victim of fatal cancer. A torturing period was on. Pendulum moved between hope and despair. Despair increased, hope gave way. She died. With her died most of the courage of Col Gill. He sank within. He withdrew from society. Lost in the past. Confused by fate. He found all lights gone.

His love for music resurfaced. His devotion to Urdu poetry sprouted. Like a wounded soldier, he struggled to stand up. No pity any more, no sympathy sought. He took to compiling couplets he had noted down over the years, here and there. Hundreds of pearls, he calligraphically re-wrote. Re-read them to find deeper message. Pondering over these couplets, he discovered fresh meanings of life, essentials for survival. Love and despair, life and living, death and destiny, all revealed new faces. He kept on reading. He went on with selecting and rejecting. He amassed thousands of classical couplets. From Wali Deccani to Faiz, he made a span. From the standard dewans he extracted poetic honey.

Col Gill wrote to General Raghbir Singh Pannu expressing his desire to publish the collection. Gen. Pannu spoke to Lt. Gen. M.A. Zaki, PUSM, AVSM, VrC, former Vice-Chancellor Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. The bulk of the manuscript was handled by Dr W.D. Alvi, Reader, Urdu Department.

Col Gill has conquered fate with fortitude through his love of music and poetry.

M. S. Cheema



Karva Queen contest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
The Sarabha Ladies Club today organised Karva Queen and Best Decorated Karva Thali contests.

The competition for Karva Queen was divided into two sections. In the first section for those under 45 years of age, participants in all their fineries walked past the judges. Out of the 12 participants in this category, Ms Anju was crowned the winner whereas Ms Meenu Aggarwal was declared the runner-up.

In the above 45-year section, out of the 12 contestants, Ms Rano Padam won the title of Karva Queen. Neelam Mahendra was declared the runner-up. Twelve members took part in the Best Decorated Thali contest. Ms Meenu Aggarwal was declared the winner, while Ms Nidhi finished runner-up.



14-yr-old sodomised
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, October 10
Amrit Kaur, mother of a minor has alleged in a complaint to the police that her 14-year-old son was sodomised near Sahnewal on Wednesday. She has alleged that a bus driver Kamal Kumar of Ludhiana had sodomised her son. In her complaint she said the accused was driver of the bus in which the Kirtan Society used to travel almost every day.

Amrit Kaur told the police officials that as she and her son also used to travel in the bus they became acquainted with him. She said the driver often telephoned him at her house and the boy used to meet him often. On Tuesday when he came home after meeting the bus-driver he complained of severe pain in the lower abdomen. “It was discovered later,” she said, “that my boy had been victimised by the bus driver,” she added.

A case has been registered at the Sahnewal police station and the search is on for the bus driver who reportedly fled after the incident.



Property dealers call on CM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today assured a delegation of the Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association that the government would give a serious thought to their problems and find out a viable solution soon. Discussing the problems of real estate business with the property dealers and developers during his visit to the city, he said the government would accord top priority to redressal of their genuine demands since transactions in property were a major parameter of economy.

The deputation, led by the chief patron of the association, Mr Pritam Singh Bharowal, apprised the Chief Minister that the real estate business had virtually ground to a halt in the city after the minimum price of land for registration of title deeds in different city localities was increased by the district administration. The association had already raised this matter with district officials and ruling party functionaries, including several ministers, without any positive response so far.

Mr Bharowal and other office-bearers of the association, including Mr Hardev Singh, general secretary, Mr Jasbir Sood, treasurer, Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Sharanjit Singh, impressed upon the Chief Minister to simplify other complex rules and regulations governing the trade of property dealers and colonisers to give a new lease of life to the business of property development and sale, which was facing a severe recession.



Industry opposes exim form
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry has strongly opposed the introduction of the exim form by the Punjab government. By virtue of this decision, no goods can be sent, outside the state without the form. Similarly no goods can enter the state without it. Although some states have introduced entry forms, but there is hardly any state which requires such form for the dispatch of goods.

A delegation of the chamber led by its president P.D. Sharma met the Financial Commissioner, Taxation, Mr Mukul Joshi, at Chandigarh who is reported to have said that there is no chance of the decision being reviewed.

Mr Sharma said, with the introduction of the form, the industry and trade would virtually become a “slave of the Sales Tax Department”. He said it was not easy to get the form from the department. Due to this reason ST-XXII form had been abolished. Many a times even ‘C’ forms were not available due to various reasons, he added.


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