Wednesday, January 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


God comes between death and passengers
Bus hangs precariously from overbridge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
Luck saved at least 25 passengers of a Punjab Roadways bus from certain death after the bus rammed into the railings of a railway overbridge and hung precariously from the edge, virtually in midair just over the tracks near Hardy’s World here today.

It could easily have resulted in loss of life and blocking of the rail track. Had it gone a little further, the bus could have run into high-tension electricity wires, which would have affected rail traffic and power supply to several nearby villages.

After leaving Tarn Taran early today, the bus was heading towards Yamunanagar. The accident took place when the brakes of the bus failed just after it had crossed Laddowal. A car going ahead stopped suddenly and the bus driver had to take a sharp left to avoid a collision. The bus got out of control and hit the railings.

The driver of the bus, Kulwant Singh, trembling with fear even after an hour of the accident, said he did not know what saved everyone in the bus. “All of us had closed our eyes and the bus was all set to fall over the bridge, but, thank God, it got stuck in the railings,” he said.

The passengers were still scared. Everyone tried to come out of the bus as soon as possible, which created more trouble and the bus started going nose down. Some persons, however, remained calm and told the rest of the passengers to take the rear door out or exit from the driver’s door.

The driver, who jumped out of the bus first, was manhandled by the passengers as they thought it had been his mistake. However, they retracted when the driver told them that the brakes had failed and he had to save the car passengers.

The passengers boarded another bus, but the bus that hung precariously could not be retrieved till late today. Had the recovery staff pushed harder, the bus could have fallen down.

The police personnel who came to the spot called in a special recovery van that uses pressure pull.

Sources said the bus was an old one (1992 model) and not road-worthy. Sources in the Punjab Roadways said the road-worthiness of the bus would be tested and an inquiry would be conducted to find out the cause of the accident.



PCR teams ‘ill-equipped’ to check crime
Poppy husk smugglers beat up cops, escape 
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, January 7
Are the hundred-odd PCR teams patrolling the city limits round-the-clock ill-equipped to deal with various kinds of criminals with whom they happen to cross their paths now and then?

The answer to this question is in the affirmative if one goes by last night’s incident near Lalton village in which alleged poppy husk smugglers transporting the contraband on two scooters not only thwarted their arrest by PCR men but also managed to injure the policemen and take away their walkie-talkie set as well. Taking advantage of the foggy weather, the alleged smugglers vanished despite intensive checking in the area after the incident.

According to information, a PCR team patrolling the area near Lalton village intercepted six persons riding three scooters near the fields along the road bisecting Lalton Khurd and Laton Kalan villages around 5.30 pm when the fog had just started engulfing the countryside. Two of the three scooters stopped by the policemen were carrying bags of poppy husk. According to sources, the alleged poppy husk smugglers did not give a chance to the policemen as they attacked the armed policemen with gandasas and swords. The policemen also fired some rounds none of which, however, hit any of the smugglers and they managed to escape with the contraband leaving behind a broken handle of a ‘gandasa’, a bottle of liquor and an old scooter which bears no registration number and there are no clues to its ownership by way of any documents.

Sources point out that it was not the first incident of its kind. Various PCR teams have earlier been attacked by bootleggers distilling ‘hooch’ in villages near the banks of the Sutlej and poppy husk pushers as well. One of the two PCR cops , who rides the pillion, is carrying a carbine or a sten-gun and a walkie-talkie set as well. But criminals are getting more daring these days. Instead of meekly submitting to a couple of policemen and facing the music, they are willing to risk an attack on them and emerge victorious more often than not.

Knowledgeable sources, however, opine that the PCR policemen must assess a particular situation before trying to make an arrest and exposing themselves to danger as criminals of various hues were getting bolder and bolder with the passing of each day because of the political patronage they enjoyed.



No sign of missing CMC intern
Shivani Bhakoo

Dr Kartik RaoLudhiana, January 7
The police and the management of Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) continue to be unaware of the whereabouts of Dr Kartik Rao, 23, a medical intern who disappeared mysteriously on December 7, 2002, from the college.

While the hospital authorities have lodged a report at the Division Number 3 police station here, the police has been unable to crack the case even after one month of the doctor’s disappearance.

Dr Mohan Varghese, Principal of the CMCH, said the missing Kerala doctor had been depressed for the past many days. “His roommates and friends said Kartik had already told them that he would be leaving the place. Before anyone could talk him out of it, the doctor left the hospital secretly,” said Dr Varghese.

The hospital authorities had said in a press note issued here that Dr Rao had left the hostel without permission and never reported back since. “Nothing is known about his whereabouts and anyone having any information in this regard may give it to the college authorities,” said the press note.

Mr Anil Joshi, SHO of the Division Number 3 police station, when contacted, said the police was in touch with the hospital authorities, Kartik’s friends in the CMCH and his mother in Kerala.

“We searched his room and found nothing except some photographs with friends. We have been told that Kartik was in depression. His father had went missing a few years ago. His mother is in Kerala and his sister is a medical undergraduate in Vellore. Dr Vipan Kataddy, one of his close friends, said Kartik had told him he would soon be leaving the institute,” said Mr Joshi.

Mr Joshi also said the department had sent wireless messages to all the SHOs in Punjab and Haryana in this regard. “We have also contacted the IG Kerala and shown pictures of the missing doctor on local networks. Posters of his picture have been pasted at bus stands and railway stations. We spoke to his mother in Kerala, who said he had not reached there, so far,” said Mr Joshi.



Punjab becoming water deficit state
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 7
The amount of water deficit is so substantial that unless serious view is taken and immediate corrective policy measures are adopted, Punjab is heading towards a critical water famine situation. This warning has been given by Punjab Agricultural University in a study conducted by Dr Joginder Singh, Head, Department of Economics and Sociology.

According to the study, the estimates reveal that good quality water is available to the extent of 3.12 million hectare metres (25.34 million acres feet) whereas the normative requirement amounts to 4.90 million hectare metres (39.75 maf). The met deficit comes to 1.78 million hectare metres (14.41 maf). The possible addition to supplies of water after treating marginally fit water available in different parts of the state is estimated to be 0.24 million hectare metres (1.94 maf). The study further notes that already the observations show that the watertable in the sweet water region of the state during 1979-1991 in receding annually on an average by 0.2 metres. A situation may arise when the watertable would have gone down to such an extent that lifting water would require a heavy capital investment in the form of high power electric motors or submersible pumps and also increased energy consumption. At a certain point, it may even become technically and economically an non-feasible proposition. Yet another possibility could be that when a sizeable quantity of the present good quality water gets mined out from upper ground water strata, the subsequent lower level supplies may turn out to be unfit for irrigation.

The report reveals that in spite of lactational advantages of the state having rich water resources, there are still 10,065 villages which have been identified to be scare drinking water areas. Although the feasibility studies were carried out in 90 villages, yet there is not much improvement in the situation.

The average per household water use for human drinking, washing and bathing, livestock and cleaning house in summer was estimated at 645 litres per day. In other seasons, the water use for household/day came out to 356 litres.

The water available for drinking purposes was stated to be insufficient by 21 per cent respondent while for other purposes, it was considered inadequate by most of the families. By making available the piped water supply, an average family could save up to two and half hours time which can be utilised for productive purposes. The water supply, apart from providing relief from a number of water-born diseases has a great potential for dairy by increasing the number of animals and milk yield by about 20 per cent, the report points out.

The report says that the spectacular increase in the agricultural production in Punjab has been made possible due to expansion of the irrigation network covering 94 per cent area in 2000-01 as compared to only 54 per cent in 1960-61. The canals used to irrigate 58.4 per cent of the total irrigated area in 1960-61, the share of which declined to 24.9 per cent due to decreasing availability of water in the reservoir, increasing transmission losses due to seepage from canals and above all the shift in area towards higher water using enterprises.

On the other hand, the underground water was being exhausted through tubewells at a faster rate which covered 75 per cent of the total irrigated area in 2000-01 as against only 41.0 per cent in 1960-61. Across the agro climatic zones analysis showed that the coverage of canals declined in all the zones, while the tubewells registered faster coverage, particularly in the south western (cotton) belt over the past one and a half decade.




Politicians do not take time to grab issues. Rather, they pounce on them. The controversial allotment of over 8000 square yard of land to a builder is a typical case. The land was allotted to the builder by the previous Akali government. At that time the Congress, which was in Opposition, had alleged that the Badal government had sold the land to the builder at a throwaway price for some vested interest. After the Badal government was voted out of power, the issue remained wrapped for some time. A few months back the district administration for reasons best known to it rushed through the process to help PUDA to acquire extra land to be allotted to the said builder. The shopkeepers doing business there for over four decades have been resisting the move since this will lead to their eviction. Ironically, it was the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal leaders like Mr Satpal Gosain and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar who came to their help. Seeing their rivals taking the lead, the Congress leaders also rushed in support of the shopkeepers and going a step further by demanding a judicial probe.


New year is a time for sending and receiving greeting cards, This year the city witnessed a mad competition between private companies, organisations and newspaper establishments over publishing and distributing a variety of colourful new year calendars. Gone are the days when calendars of only the state government or educational institutions issued calendars. People sometimes had to wait for long for these calendars. For years people even had to use influence. But over the years, the trend has changed. Not many wait for government calendars. The newspapers have started publishing colourful calendars. Hotels, private companies seek to score over each other by distributing as many calendars as possible. The supply is so heavy that people have no more room for calendars.

Remembering cards

On new year, a person receives scores of greeting cards. Then what is the best way to make him remember your card? A journalist learnt the best way. He had sent several cards but only one person called back to say thanks. The grateful person gave the reason also. He had to pay Rs 8 postage on the card. The journalist had affixed the required stamps which were stolen. This however, proved beneficial as the man said he remembered the card because of paying Rs 8.

Fog playing truant

The parents of schoolchildren had a respite after the district administration delayed the starting of schools as they were finding it very difficult to send their small children to schools while they themselves were confined to the cozy environs. But just a day after the Deputy Commissioner ordered that the schools would start in the morning at 10 a.m. everyday due to the foggy weather, the weather gods thought otherwise and there was no fog in the region. While the schools would continue to start at 10 a.m. till February 15, will the DC have to revoke his orders? The weather gods have the answer.

Serious about polio

It was a pleasant surprise to see school and college students making rounds of localities on January 6, and going door to door asking if the house had any child below five years of age. They were appointed by the authorities to administer polio drops to children who for some reason could not get them on January 5.

Students are victims

Whether it is a public, sports, or a cultural functions, the students are asked to present a dance or watch the matches against their will. The children are wearing no woollens while performing the dances. It is well known fact that functions never start on time. The children wait shivering in the cold. The other day on a Sunday the students were asked to watch kabbadi matches in the stadium. Girls were not interested in kabbadi and had to brave the cold biting winds. Can the organisers spare the children? Sentinel



Cong workers, leaders a disillusioned lot
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
Disillusionment seems to be brewing up among the Congress workers and leaders over the treatment being meted out to them at the hands of officials in the administration and the police. Most of the workers and middle-rung leaders have started feeling that they were better off during the Akali regime as the officials would at least listen to their problems.

The leaders pointed out that most of the officials in the administration have been remaining inaccessible. Surprisingly, the local legislators also seem to have preferred silence over the way they were being treated here. Some workers claimed that the legislators and MPs were having their own interests to buy peace with the administration, leaving the workers to their fate.

The workers regretted that even the SHOs have become a law unto themselves. They pointed out recently the SHO of Basti Jodhewal police station did not listen to a minister and whisked away a Congress leader from the CIA staff here. The minister had to seek the SSP's intervention for getting the Congress leader released.

Workers said they had already met the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and apprised him of the situation. They claimed that the PCC president had taken serious note of the situation and was likely to take up the issue with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

They have been maintaining that since the general election was only a year away, it was high time that the administration and the police becomes responsive to the problems of the party workers. Some workers and the middle-rung leaders have also sought appointment with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to ventilate their grievances.

These workers were scheduled to meet the Chief Minister at Chandigarh yesterday. However, because of the Chief Minister's pre-occupation at Delhi, he could not come to Chandigarh and the meeting was cancelled. The workers have been suggesting that officers in the administration should be more interactive and should remain accessible.

In the same context Mr Hanspal is scheduled to preside over a meeting of workers and officers here on January 10. He would be visiting the city after a long time reportedly after much insistence by local workers. The workers reportedly clarified that in case the situation continued like this, it would not be easy for the party to romp home a good dividend and the party may lose the maximum Lok Sabha seats.



Minister promises better infrastructure
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 7
The Punjab Minister for Local Bodies, Choudhry Jagjit Singh, reiterated the commitment of the state government to accelerate the pace of development and in particular the development of cities and major towns in Punjab.

Addressing a function, after laying the foundation stone of development works in Daulat Colony in Sunder Nagar locality, here on Monday, he said the government was according due priority to providing better infrastructure and basic amenities to the urban population in the state. Several development works in the area, entailing an expenditure of Rs 58.74 lakh, were taken in hand simultaneously. The government has recently released grant worth Rs 16.5 crore to municipal committees in several towns for upgradation of civic services.

Prominent among others present at the function were Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, senior deputy Mayor, Mr Prem Mittal, the Deputy Mayor, Ms Sushil Gupta, Superintending Engineer (B and R) Mr Ashok Kumar, and Zonal Commissioner (Zone A), Mr B.K. Gupta. The Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, who also represented the assembly segment in which development works were initiated, was conspicuous by his absence.

Focussing on the development works in the mega city, the minister said different projects worth Rs 70 crore were in various stages of execution in the city. Further, work for construction of a sewerage treatment plant at a cost of Rs 85 crore in the city under the Sutlej Action Plan would go on stream and the Chief Minister was expected to lay the foundation stone on January 17.

The Mayor asserted that the civic administration was striving hard to bring about both qualitative and quantitative improvement in the civic services. The MC Commissioner claimed that in addition to ongoing development projects worth Rs 76 crore, the MC had floated tenders for 138 works to be executed at ward level, at an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore. Further, more estimates worth Rs 4.5 crore for similar ward level works were being prepared. This would ensure that the development of all the city wards would also go on side by side with other major development projects.



Manch condemns removal of commission
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
The International Sikh Dharam Parchar Manch today condemned the state government for removing the three-member commission appointed to look into the Piara Singh Bhaniara case.

Mr Gurdeep Singh Leel, president of the manch, in a communique here today said that Sant Bhaniarawala had burnt birs of Guru Granth Sahib and was a culprit in the eyes of the Sikhs.

He said that the Congress-led government in the state had played with the religious sentiments of the Sikhs by removing the three-member commission.

He said that the Sikhs were yet to come to terms with reality after the acquittal of some accused in the 1984 riots case when the Capt Amarinder Singh dispensed with the committee.

They demanded that the Chief Minister should have instead made the report of the commission public rather than removing the commission itself.



Novel scheme for Bet area likely
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
The Divisional Forest Department has written to the state government to allow the residents of the Bet area to work for the department on the land acquired by it. Following an order issued by the Supreme Court, the residents of the area had been forced to vacate the land which had been encroached upon by them.

The Forest Department had started acquiring hundreds of acres in 39 villages along the Sutlej in the district. However, the acquisition had to be stopped when three forest guards were injured in Kot Umra village following an attack by angry villagers who had been cultivating the land for the past 30 years.

Mr Jarnail Singh, Divisional Forest Officer(DFO), said he had written to the government to consider the joint forestry scheme for these villagers as they had no other source of income. A large number of families were dependent upon this land for their livelihood.

Under the joint forestry scheme, the residents of the area were employed by the Forest Department for various works like plantation and watering of saplings. The forest produce was to be shared with the villagers.

Under the scheme, village forest committees would be formed at the village level which would get the funds required for plantation and keep the record of income and expenditure. Forest development agency would be constituted at the district level. The funds would be provided by the government for the plantation of trees.

Various varieties of trees would be planted after consultation with the villagers. This would help in creating awareness among the local people about forestry.

He said by employing these villagers as labourers and watchmen in the forest, it would help them in earning their livelihood besides helping the Forest Department in solving the labour crisis.

The DFO further said the scheme was prevalent in other areas of the state like the Kandi area. He said the nishandehi procedure was underway in Machhiwara, Choorwal, Goindwal Allowal villages.



Threatened with eviction, shopkeepers 
cry for justice
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 7
Apprehending eviction from their respective shops at the hands of partisan administration and officials of PUDA, who were out to favour a private builder, the shopkeepers of Lakshmi Cinema Market, led by former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, today submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, seeking justice and a fair deal for the shopkeepers.

Mr Gosain and the affected shopkeepers told the Deputy Commissioner that PUDA had originally auctioned 7,889 sq yds land to the private builder at the site of Government Knitting Institute, which was enclosed within a clearly demarcated boundary wall. At the time of auction, the PUDA authorities had clearly stated that the land, on which almost 50 shops were located outside the boundary of the auctioned land, were in no way connected with the deal.

In the memorandum, the shopkeepers alleged that under the influence of the buyer of the said land, the PUDA officers and some senior bureaucrats had hatched a conspiracy and the land on which the sops were located, was later shown in the revenue record, as part of the land sold through auction. The underlying motive was to provide a bigger frontage and better commercial exploitation of the land. “While the builder stands to benefit through this dubious deal, the government exchequer will suffer a loss of around Rs 40 crore in addition to dislocation of the shopkeepers in blatant violation of the law of the land.”

Talking to mediapersons later, Mr Gosain claimed that the affected shopkeepers, who were lawful tenants of shops owned by the Municipal Corporation, apprehended forcible eviction from their properties under a deep rooted conspiracy, so that the additional land could be handover to the private builder. He alleged that the entire process of auction of land, adopted by PUDA way back in 1999, was a farce and the land had been offered to the builder at throwaway prices, causing loss to the state exchequer worth crores of rupees.

Mr Gosain, while demanding a high-level inquiry, preferably by the CBI into the matter, called for stern action against defaulting officers. He said if the government failed to respond positively, the BJP, along with its ally SAD and other parties, would hold dharnas and resort to other forms of peaceful protest to seek justice for the shopkeepers.



Nine to be honoured at Lohri mela
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 7
The Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch will honour nine prominent personalities for meritorious work in their respective fields at the Lohri mela to be held here on January 10. These persons, selected by a panel of judges, will be presented with a gold medal and a citation each.

This was stated by Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president of the manch, while addressing a news conference here today. Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, Prof Mohinder Singh Cheema and Mr Pawan Dewan were also present on this occasion.

The recipients of the different awards announced by Mr Bawa were Olympian Sunita Rani (Dhyan Chand Olympian award), Giani Gurdit Singh (Dr M.S. Randhwa award), Padamshri Jagjit Singh Hara (P.N. Thapar award), Harbhajan Mann (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan award), Pammi Bai (K.L. Sehgal award), Sarbjit Cheema (Mohammed Rafi award), Dr B.C. Gupta (Principal A.C.C. Harvey award), Mr A.A. Siddiqui (Bhagat Puran Singh award), and Mr Nakul Khullar (Dr G.S. Cheema award).

According to Mr Bawa, the turban-tying competition and healthy baby competition for children born after January 10, 2002, would be the special features of the mela.



Man killed in freak accident
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 7
Kanahya Lal, a migrant labourer employed in a steel factory in Focal Point, yesterday died after falling from the synthetic roof in the factory while cleaning the roof. According to information, the labourer fell to ground after the plastic roof broke apart. Other labourers of the factory rushed him to nearby Oswal Cancer Hospital where the doctors declared him as brought dead.

Youth electrocuted: Munish Kumar, a 22-year-old migrant labourer from Bihar, was electrocuted while putting clothes on a clothesline on the roof of his house in Satguru Nagar early yesterday. Electric current flowed into the clothesline from a neighbour’s electricity wire touching it. The youth died on the spot.

Two injured in accident: Brijraj Singh, a resident of Abdullapur Basti, was injured after an autorickshaw hit his cycle near the Dholewal chowk yesterday. He has been admitted to the Civil Hospital and is stated to be out of danger. In another incident, Malti, a migrant woman from Bihar, was seriously injured after she was hit by a vehicle on the Humbran road yesterday. She has been admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Man looted: The Model Town police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 356, 148 and 149 of the IPC on a complaint lodged by Kulwant Singh of Panjabi Bagh on the Dugri road against Sukhwinder Singh of Mohalla Fateh Singh. The complainant had alleged that the accused, along with his accomplice, Varinder Kumar, and four others intercepted him on the road, beat him up and snatched Rs 850 from him, along with some important documents.

Beaten up: The Sahnewal Police has registered a case under Sections 341, 323 and 34 of the IPC on the complaint lodged by Amrik Singh of Hira village against Gurpreet Singh, Darshan Singh and Parkash Singh, all residents of the same village. The complainant had alleged that the accused stopped him on the way, beat him up and also threatened him.

Fraud alleged: On a complaint lodged by Raj Kamal, an employee of Subhani Motors, the division number four police has registered a case of fraud under Sections 424, 467, 469 and 471 of the IPC against Surjit Singh, a resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar at Ahmadgarh in Sangrur district. The complainant had alleged that the accused bought a car from the company in lieu of a cheque for Rs 1.95 lakh. While the cheque was not honoured by the bank concerned, the accused had been missing along with the car, he added.

Theft case: On a complaint lodged by Suresh Jain, the Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case regarding a burglary that took place in the premises of his hosiery factory in street number eight of New Shiv Puri on Sunday. The robbers had decamped with goods worth lakhs of rupees and a substantial amount of cash.



ASI caught accepting bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today claimed to have nabbed an Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Punjab police, posted at Mullanpur Dakha, red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 5,000 in return for a favour.

In a press release issued here today, a vigilance spokesman said ASI Hardev Singh has been booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act. A resident of Chakkalan village, Mukhtiar Singh had complained to the police that the cop was demanding the amount for helping him in a criminal case registered against him.



Head Constable commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
Head Constable Kashmira Singh, posted at Basti Jodhewal police station, allegedly committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets at his residence behind Kailash cinema this morning.

Police sources said the HC was suffering from a serious illness and was quite depressed. He was operated upon recently but could be treated properly.



Telephony service in Jagraon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 7
HFCL Infotel Ltd., the licensee for basic telecom services for Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, has now launched its basic telephony service under the brand name CONNECT in Jagraon.

Connect has launched both wireline and mobile services in the city expanding its reach in Punjab to 22 town, informed a company’s spokesperson.

The Connect wireline subscribers shall also have access to free Internet. The subscriber needs to enter user name as “netready”, password as “netready”, and access number as “1525” in the dialer window of their computer to get connected to Internet.

The network in Jagraon would meet world-class standards and CONNECT network subscribers will be able to make and receive calls to and from any part of the country and the world.

Connections would be made available for individual, subscribers and public call offices (PCOs) besides other customised telecom solutions for the businesses in the city.



Ludhiana unit gets ISO certification
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 7
Pioneer Nuts and Botls vt Ltd has been awarded ISO 9001-2000 by the TUV of Germany. The unit was also enlisted with the Engineers India Limited, New Deli. The unit supplies equipments to railways, Bharat Earth Mover, Defence Ministry and other leading industrial units of the country. 


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