Monday, October 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


BSNL’s cellular services come to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited has launched its cellular services in Punjab. The Chairman and Managing Director of the BSNL, Mr Prithipal Singh, launched the services at a simple function here today. The Punjab Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, and a host of other guests were present at the launch.

At a press conference after the launch, Mr Prithipal Singh said, in the first phase, 1.1 lakh mobile-telephone connections would be given in Punjab. Of these, 10,000 each would be given in Ludhiana, Chandigarh and 50 other cities of the state. It would be increased to about 3 lakh connections by the March of 2003. Of these, 16,000 each would be given in Ludhiana and Chandigarh.

The BSNL chief said both schemes — a post-paid one called Cellone and a prepaid one called Excel — would be “highly competitive”. Besides, these services would be the best in the industry. In Punjab only, the BSNL had installed 150 BSTs (transmitters) in all major cities and on the national and state highways — an infrastructure that was the best in the world.

The connections were being given on first-come-first-served basis. The BSNL might also hire dealers and distributors for expanding this base. Prospective customers only needed to visit customer-service counters with prescribed forms to collect SIM cards.

The BSNL had several advantages over others in the cellular field. All incoming calls from the BSNL land-line numbers would be free of cost. For the STD calls, the customer would not have to pay the airtime tariffs, but the normal land-line STD charges. Moreover, the nationwide roaming facility would be free of cost.

The BSNL services would have a 15-second pulse each, compared to the 30-second pulse of every other service. Any call of 15 seconds or less would cost 60 paise and not Rs 1.20 as in the case of a call counted according to the 30-second pulse.

Mr Prithipal Singh, chief of the BSNL, said he did not fear private players, as the BSNL had an edge over the others, given its massive infrastructure, network and huge manpower. He said he hoped there would be no poaching or price war.

There were 40 million mobile-telephone subscribers in the country and the number was likely to cross the 80 million mark by next year. “We are entering the market with good services and proper tariff adjustments to suit the needs of customers,” he said.


Police ‘biggest power thief’
Pilferage cost PSEB Rs 10 cr in 6 months
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
“Power worth Rs 10 crore has been illegally drawn in the district in the past six months only,” says Mr J.N. Sachdeva, Chief Engineer (North) of the PSEB. This figure includes cases of overloading.

He said all these cases were detected in a special campaign launched by the board to check power theft. “It is a matter of concern that the squads formed for the purpose came across instances where entire localities were drawing power illegally. Some slow down meters and the more daring ones draw power straight from the main lines with the help of hooks,” he said.

To discourage power theft, the board has changed its overhead wires with underground cables and affixed meters covered with iron boxes at the main lines in colonies. Each box contains 24 meters and the keys of the box locks are with the area officers concerned. “Earlier, the meters were installed in the houses of individual consumers,” he said.

He said these meters had been installed at places like Baba Dhan Singh Chowk, the LIG Colony and areas near Christian Medical College and Hospital. The department had reported an increase in the revenue after these measures. The other areas where these cables had been laid include Haibowal Dairy Complex, where a lot of power was pilfered through ‘kundi’ connections.

He said similar measures were likely to be taken in the industrial areas, where, too, power thefts were declining. The decline was due to stiff fines for defaulters. Electronic meters would be installed in units consuming more than 75 KW of power. It was hard to tamper with the new meters, he said.

The CE said the police topped the list of power pilferers. He said, while meters had been installed in police stations, at many stations, power was still being drawn illegally.

He said power to a nearby slum was being supplied from Police Colony, for which, policemen charged Rs 100 per point from each consumer every month.


Punjab to engage international marketing consultants
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
With a view to making the agriculture diversification programme of the government completely practicable, the state government has decided to engage international marketing consultants to get suggestions about new international markets for the fruits, vegetables and other exportable agriculture produce, so that the agriculture produce could be exported to those markets, where, it could fetch maximum price and bring a hefty profits to the farmers.

This was announced by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agricultural and Development Minister, Punjab ,while addressing a press conference at Badowal village, 10 km from here today after blessing the 550 newly wedded couples in a mass-marriage function organised by Bhai Ghannaya Charitable trust.

Ms Bhattal disclosed that keeping in view the deteriorating condition of farmers and exhausting of the natural resources like ground water and soil nutrients etc. due to the present crop pattern of wheat and paddy, the government had accorded top priority to the diversification of agriculture.

She said during the next five years a total of 20 lakh hectare area under cultivation would be diverted from wheat-paddy crops to the other remunerative crops like vegetables, fruits, flowers, barley, winter maize, hyola etc.

She informed that during the current financial year 30,000 hectares had been shifted to the other crops i.e. winter maize , barley and hyola and assured farmers that minimum purchase price would be arranged for these crops. She informed that government had signed an MoU with United Breweries for purchase of barley to be cultivated in 1000 hectares at the minimum price of Rs 500 per quintal.

She informed that the Department of Agriculture had also launched a special campaign to strictly check the adulteration in the fertilizers and insecticides. Two special teams had been formed which had taken 34 samples. Out those 11 samples of six firms were found adulterated, the licenses of these firms were then cancelled.

She further said that the northern states which were away from the ports and having surplus produce for export should be given facilities of free transportation up to the ports as these states were to earn foreign currency by exporting their produce.

Earlier addressing a gathering at the function Ms Bhattal appreciated the social service being rendered to the weaker sections of the society by Bhai Ghannaya Charitable Trust headed by sant baba Jaspal Singh for the last eight years by arranging mass marriages, free of cost and exhorted other social and voluntary oragnisations to follow the foot steps of this trust to help the needy people. She extended her blessings to the newly wedded couples and advised them to dedicate themselves for the formation of a harmonious society by eradicating social evils like dowry and intoxicants etc. She announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the trust.

Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, while addressing the function said that arranging mass marriages on such a large scale of the poor girls and giving them required house hold items by the trust was really a noble cause

Among others who were present and blessed the couples included sant baba Jaspal Singh, head of the trust, Mr Manjit Singh Hambran and Dr Puran Singh Jassi.


Ludhianvis witness Harbhajan’s humility
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 27
Ludhianvis were doubly pleased today. They not only got a very pleasant surprise to find famous Punjabi pop singer Harbhajan Mann at their doorstep, but also received gift hampers, including writing pads, pens, caps with newspaper logo, after showing him a copy of The Tribune.

Harbhajan Mann and The Tribune have come together in a joint venture to honour its subscribers. After a whirlwind tour of Chandigarh, Amritsar Mohali and Panchkula where he got a huge response from his fans, Harbhajan Mann was in Ludhiana today with a Tribune team.

Harbhajan Mann and The Tribune are symbols of earnestness and popularity. The singer started with a visit to Sarabha Nagar. Readers of The Tribune were waiting outside with their copies and Harbhajan obliged them by shaking hands and giving his autographs.

He later visited Tagore Nagar where the people could not believe their luck that such a famous singer was at their doorstep and actually shaking hands with them. He also visited Kitchlu Nagar and Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and other localities. He reminded one of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn with children following him with their autograph books.

He readily agreed to have lunch with one of his fans and served himself and even asked if he could get a cup of tea.

The news of his arrival spread and little children trooped in and asked him to give autographs. He left eating midway and obliged his little fans — such is the humility of this popular singer.

He told his fans that his Punjabi movie Ji Ayan Noon is going to be released in the first week of December and Priya Gill is his co-star.

Harbhajan Mann had got used to response of the people after visiting four cities, but everytime people complimented him or wanted to touch him, he was touched.


Husband in groom’s clothing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
The much-publicised mass marriage function held at Baddowal village here today, in which 550 couples tied the nuptial knot, was not free from an unsavoury controversy.

A prospective bridegroom, hailing from a village in Ferozepore district, was already married, but he hid that fact. He would have got away with it, had his first wife and members of her family not reached the spot in the nick of time. The ugly drama created by the controversy was enough to spoil the celebrations.

The Sadar police subsequently booked the man, Gurdeep Singh, under Section 494 of the IPC. The man was not arrested as it was a non-cognisable offence. If found guilty, he may be sentenced to seven-year imprisonment.

Dr Jasbir Kaur, wife of ex-MLA Tarsem Jodhan, told Ludhiana Tribune that the woman claiming to be the wife of the accused, along with her family, came to her house today morning and sought her help. She said she went to the mass-marriage function and got the marriage stopped.

The condition of the prospective bride of the alleged trickster was pitiable. She and her family were inconsolable as the girl had to return without marriage. They were, however, deriving consolation from the fact that the girl was saved. Police sources said no evidence or clue had come up so far to suggest that any organiser of the mass-marriages function knew about the trick being played by the accused.

Sources among the organisers, the Bhai Ghaniyaji Charitable Trust and the Public Sewa Society, denied having any knowledge about the antecedents of the man. They said they had advertised their noble motive and demanded applications. They had strictly laid down the condition that the couple and their parents should be ready for the marriage and there should be no controversy.

Sources said these conditions were followed in the case of Gurdeep Singh also. In fact, the trust members were agitated at the alleged mischief of the man and had demanded stringent punishment for him, they said.


550 couples tie knot at mass marriage ceremony
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
On October 27, Badowal village was the hubbub of activity as around 50,000 persons witnessed mass marriage of 550 couples. Bridegrooms, their ‘baratis’ brides, their relatives and spectators lent a festive atmosphere to the venue at Pamal village in Badhowal.

Brides and their grooms, bedecked in finery, had to wait for some time for marriages to be solemenised as the assembly of so many brides and grooms took a long time. In fact, a bridegroom arrived after the ‘sehra bandi’ was over.

Five couples got married according to Muslim rites and others as per Sikh and Hindu rites.

Food was served to all guests. Ms Rajinder Bhattal, Agriculture Minister, was the chief guest and she commended the efforts of Bhai Ghanaya Ji Charitable Hospital and Public Sewa Society, the organiser of the eighth rashtriya manav seva sammelan.

Sant Baba Jaspal Singh, head of the society, said that for past eight years the society had been organising mass marriage of needy and orphans girls. The main goal of the society was to serve the mankind, he said. It was in this context that the society was trying to share the load of destitute parents for whom collecting finances for their daughters’ marriages was a problem. In the past three years, 550 marriages had been solemenised, he said.

Baba Jaspal Singh said the total expense was around Rs 1.40 crore and the society had given household articles, besides clothes and gifts to the couples.


Marriage of poor girl organised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 27
The Maa Bhagwati Club (regd), Dandi Swami Chowk, organised the marriage ceremony of a needy girl.

She was gifted household things required to start a new life.

The marriage was solemnised at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Deep Nagar.

Mr Aswani Sikka, president of the club, Mr Vinay Dhir, Mr Davinder Kumar, Ms Manju Sikka, Mr Rajesh Kumar, Mr Sharad Kumar, Mr Harish Goyal, and Mr Amit Gupta blessed the newly-weds.

The chief guest, Dr Jagmohan, said the noble task of arranging marriages of poor girls should be followed by all social and religious organisations of the city.


‘Check plying of illegal taxis’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
The Anti-Corruption Council of India has urged the Punjab Chief Minister to initiate measures to stop the plying of illegal taxis and tourist coaches in the state which are causing huge losses to the exchequer.

Dr S.K. Gupta, director general of the council, said nothing was being done to impound hundreds of taxis which are illegally plying in the state and are not only harming the business of the genuine operators but also causing a huge revenue loss to the state.

He has brought the issue to the notice of the Transport Minister and has asked him to direct all DTOs to launch a sustained drive to curb this practice. Plying any vehicle for commercial purpose without permit is violative of Section 70 of the Motor Vehicle Act, he added.


Maharshi Valmiki function
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
The annual Maharshi Valmiki function was organised with pomp and show at Arya Senior Secondary School, Old Subzi Mandi, here today. A large number of people paid their obeisance to the great saint.

The personalities who graced the function included Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, PPCC president H S Hanspal, Local Bodies Minister Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, singer Hans Raj Hans, Improvement Trust chief Raminder Singh, MC Commissioner S.K. Sharma and MLA Surendra Dawar. The event was held under the guidance of Dalit leader Chandra Shekhar Sahota.

Hans Raj Hans was honoured with the Quami Rattan award on the occasion.

Mr Hanspal assured the gathering that the government was committed to improve the lot of the dalits and would honour all the poll promises. He said he would take up the issue of more representation to the community in the party set-up and affairs. Chaudhary Jagjit Singh said the government would revive Maharshi Valmiki Chair which was mooted during the tenure of the late Beant Singh.


Divali mela for mill employees
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
Vardhman Spinning and General Mills organised a Divali mela for its employees and their families, here today. This is for the first time that a function at such a large scale was organised in workers’ colony of the firm.

Workers’ colony presented a festive look with children and adults enjoying themselves by participating in activities including dance, music, games and lucky draws.

Junit Shankar, a magician from Baddi, kept the audience spellbound throughout the evening. Children also took part in this function.

Prizes including a colour TV, music systems and bicycles were part of various lucky draws. Many other gifts were also distributed on the day.

Mr V.K. goyal, Chief Executive, while inaugurating the function appreciated the efforts of various committees in organising the function. “The credit for the success of the event goes to all members of the organising committees for their dedicated support, initiative and active participation towards creating this phenomenal and awesome day”, he said.


Constable booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 27
The efforts of an Inspector of the Punjab police to get a case registered against a Chandigarh police constable have finally bore fruit with the Mohali police registering a case on his complaint.

Constable Varinder Singh of the Chandigarh traffic police has been booked under Sections 294, 506 and 509, IPC, for obscenity, outraging the modesty of a woman and criminal intimidation. The case has been registered following the intervention of senior police officers of the Chandigarh police and the Mohali police.

The Inspector was reportedly running from pillar to post for the past three days to get the case registered against the constable, who had allegedly made obnoxious calls at his house in Naya Gaon.

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