Saturday, November 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Mystery shrouds death of 5-yr-old in school
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Fact file

  • Five-year-old Gunveet Kaur died allegedly under mysterious circumstances.
  • School authorities claim that the child died because of a brain stroke or heart attack.
  • Some of the children say that the child died as she fell from the horse carriage.
  • Gunveet Kaur’s parents want an inquiry into the matter.

Ludhiana, November 8
Death of five-year-old Gunveet Kaur has left her parents shell-shocked. Gunveet died allegedly mysterious circumstances at the local G.R.D. Academy on October 31 last.

While the school authorities claim that the child could have died from a brain stroke or a heart attack, the parents are unwilling to accept this version and want a thorough probe to find out the real cause of the death.

Mr Pritam Singh, a retired professor from Government College and grand-father of the victim says, ”Nothing can compensate our loss but nonetheless we must know how our child died.” He goes on to say that there are several versions floating in the school with regards to the child’s death. “Some children, we have spoken to, say that Gunveet Kaur fell from a horse carriage during the riding classes and sustained some internal injuries, but the school authorities are denying this,” alleged Mr Pritam Singh.

Mr Harjinder Singh, father of the child, who is a Poultry Feed Mill Owner, said his daughter was studying in LKG for the past six months in the GRD Academy, Hambran Road and “On October 31, one of Gunveet’s teachers and two-three other persons from school reached our house at around 1:30 pm and said Gunveet had been admitted at a hospital and the doctor had called the parents.”

Satnam, Gunveet’s mother said they had even enquired about their daughter’s condition from the teacher who had come to take them to hospital. “She did not tell us anything. We reached the hospital around 2 pm and there we got the body of our child,” said Satnam.

Mr J.S. Duggal, Principal GRD Academy, when contacted, said, “I do not know the reason of the death of the child. It was their PT period when Gunveet Kaur suddenly collapsed. The teacher brought her to the medical room of the school, we gave her the required care and we realised that she was not well. Without wasting any time, we took the child to Karnvir Hospital at Haibowal, where the doctor declared her ‘brought dead’.

Mr Pritam Singh said though their child could not be brought back but at least an inquiry should be conducted so that the exact cause of the death of child could be known. “We want to make others aware so that such incidents are not repeated,” said Mr Pritam Singh.



PWD under fire for delayed flyover project
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 8
Taking a serious view of the failure of the Public Works Department, Punjab, to achieve the desired progress of the project for the construction of flyover in place of the existing Railway Footbridge (Lakkar Pul) connecting the old city localities with Civil Lines, the municipal corporation has issued a show-cause notice to the department demanding explanation for delay. The MC has further indicated that in the absence of valid reasons, the contract would be cancelled and the execution of the project would be entrusted to some other agency.

The proposed flyover, to be built at a cost of Rs 13.26 crore, was scheduled to be completed by December 2003. The civic body had already paid Rs 6.36 crore to the Railways being the cost of the railway land to be utilised for the purpose and construction of the part of the overbridge on the railway tracks, which was to be carried out by the Railways. Another amount of Rs 1.05 crore was given to the PWD as advance payment out of which the department had reported to have done work worth Rs 40 lakh only till date. The work on the flyover from the Civil Lines side, to be done by the PWD has been suspended with the department taking the plea that it has no funds to pay the contractors.

With the suspension of the construction work of the motorable flyover for the time being, the scheduled completion of the project appears to be a remote possibility. Any delay in the construction of the flyover would also adversely affect the ongoing Elevated Road project, with which the motorable flyover is proposed to be integrated to provide a link to traffic coming from Civil Lines with Old G.T. Road near Raikhy Cinema Chowk, Chand Cinema and Mata Rani Chowk through Multi-Storey parking complex of the municipal corporation.

During a review of all major development projects of the corporation, the Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, took a strong notice of the stoppage of work for the flyover by the contractor, engaged by the PWD because the department, although having received Rs 1.05 crore from the civic body for the project, had failed to make a single payment to the contractor. The project was, even earlier, behind schedule because the amended alignment of the flyover, necessitated by the need to link it with the proposed ‘Elevated Road’ over existing Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema, did not meet the approval of the railway authorities as they were not prepared to make available additional railway land, needed for the revised design.

On the progress of other major projects in the city, the Commissioner said more than 20 per cent work of the Rs 32.68 crore ‘elevated road’ project had been completed till date. “Although the work order was issued on May 18, 2002 for the project with the scheduled completion in May 2003, during one year, the agency had achieved a progress of just about 9.2 per cent due to various reasons. During the period, the Municipal Corporation had paid Rs 3.03 crore towards the cost. However, the pace of work has now picked up and 12 per cent more work had been done by the agency during last five months and another Rs 4 crore had been released by the civic body.”

Similarly, Dhuri Line Railway Overbridge was near completion and one side of the flyover would be opened to traffic by the end of this month. The remaining work was expected to be completed by January 2003. The construction of Dhandari Kalan flyover, scheduled for completion by March 2002, was delayed because mandatory clearance from the Railways was not obtained in advance.



Polythene menace: a health hazard 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
While the traffic and industrial pollution is said to be one of the main problems in Ludhiana, the uninhibited mushrooming of polythene bag manufacturing units in the city is another cause for concern for the people of the city.

This has once again brought to the focus the necessity of banning the use of polythene in the state, at least in Ludhiana on an experimental basis, lest it “choke and suffocates” the entire drainage system of the city.

According to a study conducted by the Environment Watch, a non-profit making organisation working for safe and clean environment, most of the polythene manufacturing units in Ludhiana were flouting the norms with impunity. And bigger the unit, bigger was the violation. It was found that even officials of the Pollution Control Board were targeting small units and letting off big units for reasons best known to them.

There is a great demand for polythene bags in Ludhiana with massive industrial production ranging from woollens, knitwear's up to bicycles and motor parts.

The survey revealed that the polythene bag manufacturers were contributing towards polluting in multiple ways. Since the polythene bags are non-biodegradable, their disposal remains a serious problem. The survey warned that with each passing day, the problem would get complex as more and more polythene bags were being thrown out of houses, which ultimately land into drains thus making them choke.

The survey found to its surprise that there was no monitoring of these units as what was their permitted production capacity, whether they were observing all pollution control norms and whether they were disposing of the highly toxic chemicals released during the manufacturing process according to the set specifications and guidelines. The survey suggested strict vigil over these manufacturing units for a clean environment.

While seeking a total ban on the use of polythene bags in the state, more so in Ludhiana, the survey observed that as a first step, the government should restrict the production of the polythene bags. “It should at least ensure the bags are manufactured within the permissible limits and the production and turnover records should be reconciled”, it observed, while maintaining that most of these units where showing their production and turnover far less than the actual.

The survey concluded that for a city like Ludhiana, the indiscriminate use of polythene bags would “choke and suffocate” the city within a few years only. It called for a public awareness campaign where the people were asked to avoid the use of polythene bags to the maximum possible extent. It said that even a ban on the use of the polythene bags may not work until the people cooperate. But at the same time, it said, the government should take punitive measures against those contributing towards the polythene pollution. 



Badal condemns raids, arrests
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal has charged Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh with resorting to “oppressive” measures to deal with the Akalis to wrest control of the SGPC. He also stressed that detaining former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur at Halwara were a direct assault on the freedom of movement and an indicator of strong arm tactics being adopted by the police to create a reign of terror in the state run up to the committee polls.

Talking to TNS at the Circuit House here today, Mr Badal alleged that the incidents yesterday and the large-scale raids and arrests in the morning were aimed at scaring the members who are being told to vote against their conscience and in favour of the ruling party. The cops were forcibly entering the houses of members and their supporters and intimidating them, he said.

Mr Badal alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Bibi Jagir Kaur were detained on the premise that they had met SGPC member Harbans Kaur Sukhana and that she had gone missing after their visit. The police was just looking for an excuse to harass them. They were stopped on their way and threatened to be booked for kidnapping. Their pleas that she had gone on her will and that the cops could verify this claim from her husband fell on deaf ears, he added.

“Detaining senior leaders of the party for five hours was against the rule of law and unheard of in a democracy. It seems that the government is trying to restrict their movement in the state so that they could not approach the committee members in the state, who in the meantime, could be prevailed upon to change their loyalities,” he alleged.

Reacting to a query, he said the party had not thought of shifting the venue for the polls outside the state in view of the ground realities.

The SAD chief asserted that the government was treating the poll as a political issue with scores to settle. The elections is an internal matter of the Sikhs and that the government has no role to play. The entire state machinery is being misused to cow down the members and wrest control of the Parliament of the Sikhs, he added. 



Karamchari Dal activist detained
Our Correspondent

Amloh, November 8
The police has launched a campaign against SAD activists. Mr Karmjeet Singh Bhagrana, senior vice-president, state Karamchari Dal, was picked up from his residence on the Mandi Gobindgarh road early this morning.

Though the dal has not decided to join the SAD agitation, his detention may be due to his family’s proximity to the party. His wife, Parmjeet Kaur Bhagrana, had been the chairperson of the Market Committee, Amloh, during the previous government.

The police also raided the house of Mr Surinder Singh, general secretary, SAD unit, at Salana village but he managed to escape. It also failed to detain Mr Ranjeet Singh Bhola, a Youth Akali Dal leader, from his residence at Rurki village, but managed to detain Mr Hari Singh Machhrai. Mr Zora Singh Haripur and Mr Joginder Singh Salana, both Akali activists, have gone underground.



Judicial remand for SAD leader’s brother
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Darshan Singh, brother of Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, an SGPC member and vice-president of the state unit of the SAD, was today remanded in judicial custody till November 22.

He was arrested yesterday on the charges of trespassing and criminal assault.

Talking to newspersons, he alleged that he was tortured in police custody.

He alleged that his turban was knocked off and he was pulled by policemen by his hair.

He was also asked to sleep in a dark and dank room. “I was picked up a day earlier and kept in illegal confinement by policemen who were pressuring me to get a case registered by attesting that my brother had been kidnapped by Mr Parkash Singh Badal,” he alleged.

Mr Bhatia said he was approached by Mr G. S. Tohra some days ago. “I was told to impress upon my brother to join his faction.

When I refused, I was threatened with dire consequences. I do not even know the persons who got the case registered against me”, he alleged.



Playing with the health of people
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The seizure of huge quantity of adulterated khoya by the district health authorities on the eve of Divali is being termed as the tip of the iceberg only, as huge quantities of adulterated khoya had already landed in Ludhiana and other towns of the state much before Divali. And it might have already found its way into thousands of stomachs in the state as sweets are prepared months in advance before the festival.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised as to why the administration has not booked anyone so far even after the seizure and subsequent destruction of massive quantities of the adulterated material.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr S.N. Tiwari, said the khoya had been “allotted” to a local agent Roshan Lal. He was to distribute it among various shopkeepers and sweet shops here. He said once the health authorities came to know about it, they seized it and stored it for some days in cold storage. A committee of four doctors was constituted, which found the khoya unfit for human use and ultimately it was destroyed.

The Civil Surgeon said that although the committee had concluded that the khoya was not fit for human consumption, the local agent from whom it was seized could not be booked under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. He can be booked only after the reports of the samples sent to various laboratories for examination are available.

It is being said that the khoya has been coming to Ludhiana and other cities like Jalandhar and Amritsar from Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest khoya market in the North. Some leading sweet-sellers of the city are learnt to have been using this khoya for making sweets. It is being apprehended that even some leading brands in Ludhiana could also be using the same material as such a huge quantity could hardly be required by small-time sweet-sellers.

Leading sweets brands in Ludhiana are said to have orders worth crores of rupees during the festival season. More so during Divali festivities when orders run into thousands of packets. And surprisingly nobody has been booked so far nor has any inquiry been marked into it despite the fact that it concerns the health of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, senior vice-president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, has demanded a high-level inquiry into the whole affair. He said the administration should find out for whom the khoya was meant. He warned that the matter is too serious to be taken lightly.



‘Mass movement needed to fight corruption’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Mr N.N. Sharma, Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Punjab, has stressed the need to launch a mass movement to fight corruption.

Speaking at the concluding function of Vigilance Awareness Week, organised by the Sub-Regional Office of the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) here, he said efforts should be made to strengthen subscribers’ faith in the organisation. “Subscribers need to be made aware of what they are entitled to and in how much time,” he said.

He observed that subscribers’ satisfaction was a must and it was the moral duty of the employees to serve them with sincerity and enthusiasm. He said Punjab region was settling about 900 claims per day and contribution of local sub-regional office (SRO) was almost 75 per cent. Mr Sharma claimed that around 90 per cent claims were being settled within 30 days, which was a record in itself. He said out of 270 PF offices in the country, the local office was among the best. He said death claims were being settled within three days in the Ludhiana office, he termed it as a unique distinction of the office.

Prominent among others who attended the function were Mr S.K. Patnayak, Director (Vigilance), EPFO, New Delhi, and Mr J.P. Upadhaya, Deputy Director (Vigilance), North Zone, EPFO.

During the week, a pledge was administered to the employees of the SRO by Mr S.K. Aggarwal, Regional Commissioner. On November 5, a declamation contest on ‘Role of vigilance in eradication of corruption’ was organised. Mr Patnayak and Mr Sharma gave away prizes to the winners of the declamation contest. Ms Suman Bala, Mr Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Munish Kumar stood first, second and third, respectively, in the contest.

In his keynote address, Mr S.K. Patnayak, Director (Vigilance), said fight against corruption need to be fought at several levels. “We being the government servants, it becomes our moral duty to make our subscribers aware of their entitlements. To eradicate corruption, we must attend to its root cause and upgrade our working system to bring efficiency and transparency in our functioning,” he said.

Mr J.P. Upadhaya said the SRO in the city was the only office in the entire north zone from where no complaint had been received by the Vigilance Office. He said Vigilance Awareness week was observed to mark the birthday of Sardar Patel. It provided a platform to the government departments to publicise their activities and create awareness among the people, he said.

Meanwhile, the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), Mr P. Shankar, said honest public servants need not be afraid of vigilance as this process was in place to facilitate good performance by them, provide them protection and to put checks on the corrupt personnel. He was speaking in a seminar on “Vigilance for organisation excellence” organised by Krishak Bharti Cooperative Limited (KRIBHCO) as part of its vigilance awareness week recently.

The CVC said, “Vigilance is a management function meant to raise organisational efficiency. It needs to be praised by every individual to safeguard the interest of his institution. The fight against corruption can be fought at the organisational level through in-house advisory boards comprising honest officers as they can rightly evaluate the charges against employees.”

Regarding tenders, Mr Shankar said the practice of choosing the lowest tender was there to ward off the possibility of manipulation of contracts through negotiations. 



Total abstinence, essence of Ramzan
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, November 8
Ramzan, the ninth month in the Hijri calendar, which started yesterday, has a special significance for Muslims, who fast and pray during the month.

The austere month provides an ample opportunity to people to get in touch with the inner self by observing Roza or Siyam, which means “to refrain from”. By abstaining from food, drinks and sex for a month, one aims to achieve total cleansing of the inner self. Abstinence from food apart, one observing Roza is also required to stay away from all unethical acts. Nothing bad is to be seen, heard or uttered during Ramzan. The Prophet ordained that fasting was not only abstinence from food and drinks, but also refraining from obscene acts.

And to follow the Prophet’s saying, one must have full physical and mental control. The senses and the organs that need to be controlled are the tongue, eyes, ears, hands and the heart. Once these are under control, there can be no question of any mischief getting committed by the devout.

As it is very difficult in these times to go about one’s daily routine in cities without coming across scantily dressed women and hearing falsehoods, a number of Muslims do not observe Roza. But still, in rural areas, there are devout Muslims who do not venture out of their homes during of Ramzan.

Ramzan also offers an opportunity to promote social harmony as the month is meant not only for fasting and praying but also for charity. According to the Prophet, to be nice and gentle to one’s neighbours and all those coming in contact during Ramzan is only one of the best kinds of charity. The month is meant to foster the spirit of love, brotherhood and friendship. Relationships are built in this month and hatchets are buried.

The Prophet calls upon all Muslims to put an end to all family feuds, mutual dislikes, grudges and communal hatred and open a fresh chapter with fellow human beings because God does not dwell in malicious hearts.

The accent is on spiritual ascent during the holy month which also bans Muslims from engaging in any kind of aggression against anyone.

In short, the month of Ramzan a the period of spiritual training during which Muslims are required to desist from all ills and subdue their greed. The month , which is also called the month of giving and sharing, is an annual reminder to wealthy Muslims to be kind to their not-so-fortunate brethren.

Ramzan reminds a wealthy Muslim of the pangs of hunger and makes him realise his responsibilities towards the poor, as one who is not familiar with hunger cannot understand the ordeal of a hungry man.

Food is taken before 5 am after offering namaz and the Roza is broken around 5.40 pm. For more than 12 hours, even water and smoking is not permissible.



Traffic chaos in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Traffic came to a halt around Subhani Building Chowk in the morning as hundreds of vehicles were stranded after a truck broke down there. It took few hours for the traffic to be cleared and all the roads leading towards the interior of the city remained blocked.

It took hours for the people even to cover short distances. The problem was complicated more as the lanes in the interior are quite narrow. Even the pedestrian movement became difficult as the vehicles got huddled together. The absence of traffic cops from the scene also complicated the problem.

Ultimately it was people themselves who managed to streamline the flow of the traffic and the road got little bit cleared. It was a harrowing experience for hundreds of people who were held up in the jam. This has once again raised the issue of strictly enforcing the one way traffic system in the city interiors besides barring the entry of heavy vehicles during the day time.



Sabha remembers Batalvi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
A meeting of the Sarv Bharati Likhari Sabha International (SBLSI) was held here recently at Punjabi Bhavan to commemorate the birth anniversary of Shiv Kumar Batalvi.

A number of literary figures of Punjab, including Swaranjit Grewal, Dr Jagtar Dhiman, Manu Sharma, Swaranjit Savi, Manjeet Dhuman, Harbhajan Phallewalvi, Mandeep Baddowal, Karamjit Singh Aujla, Davinder Sekha, Kulwant Jagraon and Dr Pritpal Kaur Chahal, participated in the meeting.

In the beginning, Mr Davinder Sethi informed the participants about the literary activities being carried out by the SBLSSI. Manu Sharma deliberated on the unique dimension of “death sensibilities” in Batalvi’s compositions. She also talked about the research being carried out on Shiv Batalvi under the aegis of the Shiv Batalvi Study Circle (SBSC), which is an offshoot of the Academy of Punjab in North America (APNA).

Dr Jagtar Dhiman informed that the activities of the SBLSI are now on the Internet through the APNA website.

In the paper reading session, Dr Kulwant Minhas, Kulwant Singh Jagraon and Dr J.S. Dhiman presented their views about the personality, works and philosophy of Batalvi.

Dr Jagtar Dhiman said that although many people label Shiv as a poet of sorrow, there was definitely a positive side to his personality. 



Punjabi novel released
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 8
The fourth annual function of the Punjabi Sath Barwali, was celebrated at Barwali Khurd village, 12 km from here, yesterday, under the presidentship of Mr Sukhdev Madpuri, Dr Nirmal Singh Lamba (patron) and Master Mohinder Singh Manupuri.

Dr Tejwant Singh Gill, Editor, Desh Sevak was the chief guest who released a new Punjabi novel ‘Khara Dukh Vehre Sukh’ by Avtar Singh Billing.

Bapu Kartar Singh- Bebe Harnam Kaur Memorial Awards 2002 were awarded to Prof Hamdardvir Nausheharvi, Kavishar Dilbara Singh Mangat and Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the BKU.

Each of them was given Rs 2100, a turban and a memento. Earlier, schoolchildren recited poems and songs.



Club distributes woollens
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Rag-pickers, children working in houses and tea stalls and children of labourers get two hours of schooling under a project run by the Child Labour Welfare Department. There are 40 units, comprising 50 students, that are being run under this scheme, which is financed by the Centre and managed by the state government.

Each of the unit besides getting aid is being run by NGOs. One such unit is being run under the supervision of the Inner Wheel Club. The club provides stationery, shoes and whatever is required by students. Today the club distributed woollens among students at the Arya School for Boys, where the classes are run between 3 pm and 5 pm every day. The aim is to make them learn while they learn.


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