Saturday, January 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


New registration plates not yet
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The implementation of the new High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) for vehicles in the country is likely to be delayed further since many states have informed the Centre that they were in the process of finalising tenders and would need another six months to a year to complete all formalities.

It may be recalled that the government had changed the colour composition of the registration plates for all vehicles — from the numbers on a black background to a white one - in the country some months ago with the directions that all vehicles manufactured after February, 2003, will have to sport the new HSRPs and that the old vehicles will have to switch over to the new plates by the same time in 2005.

Informed sources told TNS that the several states had made a representation to the Union Surface Transport Minister, Maj Gen B C Khanduri (retd), that they were in no position to implement the directives in toto. The guidelines for floating the tenders were yet to be drafted and as such implementing the policy would not be possible at this stage. Hence, the states should be given more time.

The Centre had extended the dateline which expired on February 28, 2002. In the ensuing period many states and other organisations approached the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of the policy. A final decision in this context is likely to be announced by the court on February 20. Many states are said to be waiting for the decision of the court before they proceed further. In case the court extends the deadline, the states will have no option but to implement the scheme at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Vehicle Security and Road Safety Industry has issued an appeal to the people that the HSRPs was a path-breaking step by the government in public interest. The security features — incorporated following the recommendations of a high-powered technical committee formed by the government to bring in standardisation, regulation, security and regulatory mechanism on their issuance — were necessary to meet the challenge of theft and rampant misuse of vehicles in criminal and terrorist activities.

One of the constituents of the confederation has moved the SC, praying for transferring all cases to the court and their speedy disposal.

The Road Surface Ministry had stipulated that prospective vendors will have to get their products certified for meeting the specifications by the two notified testing agencies in the country — the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi, and the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Pune. Detailed specifications for the plates were notified by the ministry under the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.

After getting their products certified, the vendor has to approach the respective state governments to obtain the rights to manufacture and supply such plates. The decision to select one or two vendors to produce and supply the plates will rest with the state governments.

The sources revealed that till date no vendor had obtained the Certificate of Approval from any of the two testing agencies.

According to the Motor Vehicles (New High Security Registration Plates) Order, 2002, two alphabets representing the name of the vendor / manufacturer would be preceded by the mini seven-digit permanent identification number of the vehicle on the HSRP.

An HSRP requires yellow background with black letters for transport vehicles and white background with black letters for other vehicles. Besides, it should have a chromium based hologram sporting a chakra in blue — on both front and rear plates.



Violence makes home help scarce
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The recent cases of violence against servants in the city have cast its shadow on the domestic help front with the migrants becoming wary of being employed full time in houses.

The children of migrants, who work mostly in the city houses as domestic help, have been left shaken after a murder and a beating incident. They are refusing to work in houses and many of them have left their jobs also.

Two incidents of violence against servants had shaken the city during the past one month. Avdesh, an 11-year-old boy, was allegedly murdered by his employer in BRS Nagar and the employer was booked by the police. Just a week ago another girl, working as a servant was beaten up brutally by her employer.

Things have come to such a pass that the children of migrants are giving them a tough time by refusing to work as domestic help. Their parents are now requesting various shopkeepers to employ their children as salesmen.

“My son does not have a job. He has got many offers for a domestic job during the past few days but he refuses to work in a house. Same is the case with other children. They are so scared after the murder that they are ready to sit at home and starve but do not want to work in a house.

This problem is being faced by people of our community who have migrated here,” said Ram Ratti, a maid who has been working in the city for the past 15 years.

“Earlier the children use to love working in the houses as they used to get good food and clothes to wear. But suddenly many of them have now picked up the jobs of salesmen,” said a shopkeeper in Bhadaur House market.

The housewives are also facing an acute shortage of servants. In a city like Ludhiana where most people depend on servants for household chores, refusal of migrants to work as servants is making the going difficult for the housewives.

“No assurances can make the migrant children budge from their stand.

The fear has gone deep into their psyche. Now they suspect everyone. They feel they are not safe in the houses.

They have started feeling that anybody can eliminate them anytime,” said Ms Harinder Kaur, a resident of the Karimpura area adding that, “I am looking for a servant for the past many days. I have told my other servants also to look for one. But they say that nobody is available”.



Kidney racket: police raids DMCH
Tribune News Service

The DMCH management said on Friday that the Ludhiana-based Human Organ Transplantation Authorisation Committee had been authorised to give permission for kidney transplantation operations being conducted in the DMCH and the CMCH.

It said the four-member committee had been constituted by the state government in 1998. Since then the committee had been granting permission as per the provision in the Human Organ Transplantation Act, 1994, and as per the guidelines issued from time to time.

The management said during this period the authorisation committee had been granting permission of records’ scrutiny and the interview of the donors and the recipients. If ever any difficulty was felt, the committee had been referring the matter to the Director, Medical Education and Research (DRME), Chandigarh, for clarification.

Ludhiana, January 17
After Amritsar, the special investigation team formed by the police to investigate the kidney racket has started its operations in Ludhiana. The city has recorded second highest number of kidney transplantation cases after Amritsar.

Some members of the investigation team yesterday raided the DMCH and took away records pertaining to over 450 kidney transplantation cases conducted in the hospital in the past four years.

Police sources said all documents had been taken away to Jalandhar where the IG, Mr S.K. Sharma, was heading the investigation team. Mr Sharma told TNS on the phone today that the records pertaining to the kidney transplantation operations of some other hospitals would also be taken into custody. The IG said the investigation team had send notices to several donors and recipients, whose operations were conducted in Ludhiana. He said the focus of the investigation was on two factors. First, a racket, which included middlemen and a well-organised system. Second, a place, where two parties met each other and agreed on mutual benefits. Mr Sharma said the investigation team was concentrating more on the middleman angle, which could be rightly termed as a racket. He said the focus was on Ludhiana because three hospitals were mainly carrying out such operations.

The police has already questioned an alleged agent who was arrested by the Ludhiana police a few months ago.

The sources confirmed that about 70 per cent of kidney transplant operations included non-related donors. They said special instructions had been made to verify the cases regarding the donors from Nepal and Bihar. The main focus was on collecting evidence against one of the alleged prime suspects, Amritpal Rajasthani.

Meanwhile, the DMCH authorities have been denying any kidney racket in the hospital. Even though Amritpal was spotted in the hospital easily till last year, no official was willing to accept it.



IMA’s memo to DC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
To protest against the arrest of two doctors, the local unit of the IMA held a rally and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner at the mini secretariat here today.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president, and Dr Rajesh Sharma, general secretary, in a joint statement, said there had been total disregard for the procedure laid down in the Transplant of Human Organs Act, 1994.

Even if the police had some grounds for acting against the doctors, they should have asked a higher investigating agency to hold a probe. The doctors had told the authorities about their willingness to assist in the investigations,” said the IMA members.

The association demanded a probe into the matter as per the provisions of the law by a sitting judge of the High Court or Supreme Court or the CBI.

The members felt the government was not aware of the process laid down by law which had to be followed before the doctor could operate on a patient.

Dr Gursharan said: “Any mistake or mischief at one step can be rectified at the next. It is wrong to single out doctors for some alleged crime on the part of patient donor or middlemen. As per the law, all patients and donors involved in the alleged racket should be put behind bars.

The government should listen to the doctors’ view in this regard”.



For Cong, all roads lead to HP
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
It is only a little late. Had it been earlier, most of the Congress workers and leaders would have celebrated their New Year in the cool environs and snow-clad hills of Himachal Pradesh and they would have all the reasons to be there other than the New Year. Currently the Congress leaders in Punjab are busy chalking out strategies to ensure a better performance in Himachal Pradesh.

A number of Congress leaders, including some ministers and legislators, have been assigned different constituencies of HP where they will campaign for the party. The party sources revealed that the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) had been assigned the responsibility of 18 Assembly segments. Most of these segments have common borders with Punjab.

Given the Gujarat performance, the Congress is learned to be taking no chances this time. The workers and leaders to be deputed in HP are being meticulously chosen and only those leaders would be deputed whose credibility and capability is good in the party circles. A local Congress leader disclosed that the workers were being chosen carefully to ensure that they worked hard for the party.

The PCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, is learned to have had consultation with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for finalising the list of leaders and workers to be sent to Himachal Pradesh. There are some leaders from Ludhiana who have also been selected for HP. Since a large number of constituencies of HP border Punjab, the PCC leaders have been told that their responsibility would be greater. Besides, workers and leaders from other states will also campaign in the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to spend maximum time in HP since he is quite familiar with the area, besides Punjab’s proximity with HP. The party High Command is learned to have given him additional responsibility and he is being consulted on all the issues concerning the elections there.

And for the local leaders, it is yet another chance to score their points with the Chief Minister and the PCC president by way of volunteering their services for HP. A number of middle rung leaders and workers are already queuing up for the assignments. However, the party is reportedly being selective in picking up the people, taking due care that each worker deputed there yields good results.



Youth Congress mobilises cadres for 
Assembly elections
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The Indian Youth Congress (IYC) has decided to mobilise its cadres for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. The cadres will be drawn from different states across the country and assigned responsibilities in the state.

Addressing a joint press conference here today the national treasurer and in charge of the Punjab unit of the IYC Mr Ketan Patel, the Punjab Youth Congress president, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, and senior vice-presidents, Mr Pawan Dewan and Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, said Punjab will send maximum workers to HP since there were nearly 18 constituencies adjoining the state.

Mr Patel said, the Congress will contest the elections on the issue of terrorism, communalism and the non-performance of the BJP government in the state. He claimed that the people in the state were disillusioned with the government and that they wanted an alternative which only the Congress could provide.

The Youth Congress leaders said that their workers would actively campaign in the state and create awareness about the threats being posed by the twin problems of communalism and terrorism.

Mr Patel also tried to dispel the notion that there might be a repeat of Gujarat in Himachal Pradesh. He pointed out that the situation in Gujarat was quite different from what it was in HP.

Regarding the reorganisation of the Youth Congress at the grassroots level, like the block and the district, Mr Patel said committees had been constituted to examine the performance of the leaders at these levels. All those found inactive would be immediately removed.



Society secy quizzed by cops 
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The curious case of Lachhman Singh, a secretary of the Dehlon Co-operative society, who first disappeared and then re-appeared under mysterious circumstances from Dehlon village is becoming murkier with each passing day.

The Raikot police investigating the case has stumbled upon a scandal of sale and purchase of animal powder and milk by some employees of the Dehlon society.

Police sources said that the alleged kidnapping of the secretary and robbery of Rs 50,000 from him was all part of a plan to cover up the scandal. records of the society were being verified to ascertain the facts.

the DSP, Raikot, Mr H S Brar, heading the investigation in the case, said the police was awaiting the statement of Lachman Singh regarding the sequence of events, but information collected by the police showed that there was a scandal of thousands, if not lakhs of rupees.

He said the police was sure that the kidnapping story was false.

Meanwhile, family members of Lachman Singh have asked for more time from the police for producing him before it. the family had promised that it would produce the man this morning but sought more time today.

Sources said the police was not taking any harsh step as lachhman singh was not keeping good health.

Lachhman Singh had gone missing with Rs 50,000 of the society from its office in Dehlon village early in the morning of January 11.His bicycle was found parked outside the co-operative office but he was nowhere. His family alleged that he was kidnapped by some persons and robbed of the amount.

His father suffered a stroke due to the incident on January 14.

Lachhman Singh returned yesterday. He , however, gave contradictory statements to the police about his whereabouts all these days ,claiming he was kept in a room by the kidnappers. Sources said he was not sure about the number of kidnappers too.



Couples in no hurry for kids
Say companionship, not procreation is important
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, January 17
DINKS (Double Income No Kids Syndrome) is becoming the norm in metro cities as more and more working couples, due to extremely busy and hectic lives, opt out of starting a family. With times, the values have changed to such an extent that even the young housewives staying at home are not too keen on children.

“No kids yet,” is the exasperated reply of Preeti, a young married woman of 25. Married for past four years, she and her husband have decided not to start a family yet. Preeti says: “Though it is our decision, yet a whole lot of relatives, neighbours and acquaintances keep asking us why we do not have children. We are tired of telling them there is nothing wrong with us. It is just that we want to spend time with each other and travel a lot and enjoy our freedom. We will have children eventually”.

Her friends Taran and Karan, Vicky and Sandhya in their mid twenties and their husbands touching thirties have decided to have their families when they are ready for it, notwithstanding the social pressure.

Sujata, a housewife, says: “We want time to ourselves. In India the social set-up is such that after a year or two of marriage, child is a must. Why can’t we choose the time to start our family? But no one spares us. Even the maids keep asking if there is any problem?”

Taran says that the purpose of marriage is not just procreation. It is companionship first and children should be offshoot of that commitment later. To raise children in modern times is not easy. We know once we have children, the rest of our life will be devoted to them. Can’t we devote a few years to ourselves,” he asks.



Children wait for their parents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Life has never been a bed of roses for 10-year-old Nandini and eight-year-old Narayan. The two children have placed their trust in fate to reunite them with their parents. Admitted to the local Civil Hospital, the two can’t even tell the address of their parents.

The children had met with an accident in Malerkotla a few days ago from where they were admitted to the local Civil Hospital by the police. Nandini has recuperated, but Narayan is yet to recover from a head injury.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital are looking after them. Doctors say Narayan would get well in a couple of days.

While Narayan is not able to talk much due to his injury, chirpy Nandini is a centre of attraction for the hospital staff and relatives of fellow-patients. They are the ones who have been fending for them all these days.

Despite the attempts of the police, the whereabouts of the children’s parents could not be established. Nandini says she lived in a house near a railway station. She doesn’t know the name of her native town. She says her mother had been selling bags to feed the two. When these children were hit by a car, they too were carrying bags.



Unpaid employees of PUDA cry foul
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 17
Nineteen employees of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), who were shifted to the Municipal Corporation way back in April, 2001 at the time of handing over of Urban Estate Phase, Dugri, to the MC for maintenance, are a harassed lot. Caught between wrangling of the two bodies over payment of their salary, the daily-wage employees have not been paid salaries from June, 2002 onwards.

The affected employees contended that they had been paid their basic pay plus dearness allowance on a par with other ad hoc employees by PUDA till May, 2002. The final decision on their wages to be paid by the MC was to be taken by PUDA and conveyed to civic administration as per an understanding at the time of transfer of the PUDA colonies to the civic body. However, the PUDA authorities had so far failed to sort out the matter and repeated pleas and personal visits by the affected employees have failed to evoke any positive response till now.

The employees had also approached the Hon’ble Punjab and Haryana High Court and obtained a direction that they be paid wages at the same rate that were being paid to the other employees in similar category.

The employees maintained that according to the High Court directions, they were entitled to basic pay plus DA as was being paid to them prior to their being shifted to the MC.

On the other hand, the MC officials, while denying any discrimination against the employees, asserted that in accordance with a memorandum of understanding with PUDA at the time of transfer of Urban Estate, Dugri, along with the maintenance staff, PUDA authorities were to decide on the salary structure and inform about it to the MC, which they had not done till now.

A senior MC official claimed that 56 PUDA employees were taken in by MC at the time of the transfer of these localities. Out of them, 39 were being paid salary at the rates fixed by the Deputy Commissioner with the assurance that any difference in rate of payment after final settlement of the issue would be subsequently paid to them.

“These 19 employees are deliberately refusing to receive their salary on DC rates and we have rather issued notices to them to receive their salary. As far as final fixation of wages is concerned, that is for PUDA to decide and the MC shall carry out the decision as and when intimated,” he said.

Till a decision was taken by the PUDA authorities on the matter, the affected employees seemed to be destined to move from pillar to post to get what is due to them.



Hanspal to unfurl national flag
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
The PPCC President, Mr Harwinder Singh Hanspal, will unfurl the national flag and preside over the Republic Day celebrations at a function to be organised by the DCC (Urban) at the Vishwakarma chowk, here on January 26.

This was announced by the DCC (U) president, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, while addressing a party meeting at Congress Bhavan, here today. He said in accordance with the directions received from the party leadership, no individual functions would be organised by the functionaries on Republic Day and the entire party machinery would work for making the DCC function a big success.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh, General Secretary, PPCC, Mr Surinder Dawar, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, both legislators, Mr Parminder Mehta, president, DYC, Ms Usha Malhotra, president, Mahila Congress, Mr Satwinder Singh Jawaddi, Mr Jasbir Singh Chadha and Mr Amarjit Singh, all councillors, and Mr Gurbhej Chabra, member, PPCC, among others, attended the meeting.

Mr Lahwinder Singh said the membership drive would commence next few days and asked all party functionaries to be fully prepared to discharge their duties.

Mr Bawa said the preparatory committee would meet again on January 23 to finalise the arrangements for the Republic Day function and to coordinate the activities of different subcommittees.



Tributes paid to Namdhari martyrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Cutting across political, social and religious barriers, people from all walks of life thronged Bhaini Sahib headquarters of Namdhari Darbar to pay tributes to 66 Namdhari martyrs of the freedom movement who were blown up by British rulers at Malerkotla on the occasion of their annual martyrdom day.

Paying tributes to the martyrs, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, said that the brave sons of the soil had “voluntarily presented themselves before the cannons of British rulers”. He said the induction of religious spirit in the political movement by Satguru Ram Singh Ji here enthused freedom fighters in the country which ultimately culminated in throwing out the British from India.

He said Mahatma Gandhi had followed the principles of Satguru Ram Singh Ji and introduced Ram naam in his anti-British movement.

Mr Hanspal called upon all political and religious representatives to rise above political considerations to jointly fight for the interests of Punjab. Appreciating the contribution of the late Beant Singh for giving liberal financial aid to the Namdharis, Mr Hanspal announced on behalf of Capt Amarinder Singh continued financial help for the purpose.

Mr Buta Singh, former Union Minister, also spoke. Among others who paid tributes were Mr Gurcharan Singh Glaib, MP, Mr Nahar Singh Gill Mayor, MC, Ludhiana, Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Sukhdev Singh Sehbajpuri, Mr Isher Singh, Mr Upinder Sharma, Mrs Malti Thapar (all ex-ministers), Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, Sant Swaran Singh, Sant Dalip Singh Namdhari and Sant Harpal Singh.



SC/BC employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Employees led by activists of SC/BC Employees Coordination Committee today sat on a dharna at the mini secretariat here and submitted a memorandum to the authorities concerned. They are seeking immediate acceptance of their long pending demands.

Speakers, including the President of the coordination committee Mr Gurmeet Singh Railway and general secretary Mr Mewa Singh urged the government to implement the 85th constitutional amendment in Punjab, implement 27 percent reservation for the Backward Classes, complete the backlog, release scholarships to students, put an end to the policy of privatisation, and the increase minimum wages of workers.



Poor BSNL services irk residents
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, January 17
People of this historic town blame Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited for poor mobile services. The cause of the problem is non availability of BSNL mobile tower at the local telephone exchange, they say. BSNL cellphone consumers who have obtained connections from the subdivisional telephone office at Samrala alleged that the department has been neglecting their demand on purpose.

Aggrieved consumers say where there is strong competition among cellphone operators and other business rivals of BSNL, Spice and Airtel have already in the city. They wonder why BSNL has not done the same.



Citizens council meeting today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
A meeting of the executive body of the Friends Citizens Council (regd) will be held under the leadership of the council president, Mr Raman Goomber, at Hotel Classic retreat tomorrow. They will discuss the arrangements for the Republic Day function in January and the pulse polio campaign in February.

The executive will also talk about organising of various other social welfare functions.



Child kidnapped
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case against unknown kidnappers for allegedly kidnapping a three-year-old son of a labourer living in Bhagwanpura Colony in Division No. 6 police station here.

The child, Atul, had come to Puneet Nagar in Basti Jodhewal on Sunday to attend a function at the house of an uncle. Relatives searched for some hours and then reported to the police. Police sources said they searched for the boy, but his whereabouts remained unknown. The police registered a case today. 



Theft in gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, January 17
The safe of a gurdwara of Pawa Khagat village was broken by some unidentified persons yesterday night. Cash worth Rs 2,500 was stolen, according to the granthi of the gurdwara, Baba Sukhdev Singh of Saidkheri, Patiala. The theft was noticed in the morning and the matter was reported to the police. A case has been registered .



Steel price hike shatters SSI sector
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Engineering industries, particularly in the small scale, are in dire straits due to continuous and abnormal hike in the prices of iron and steel — basic raw material for these industries — and the proposal for yet another increase in the power tariff.

Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary, Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association, in a press note here today said that the rising prices of steel would destroy the industrial economy in the state. He criticised the state government for its “indifferent” attitude towards the issue and “lack of seriousness” to address the problem, which was related to the very existence of the engineering industry in Punjab.

According to Mr Kohli, the SSI in Punjab were on the verge of a total collapse due to a variety of factors. On its part, the government, rather than making attempts to provide some kind of relief to the industry, was creating more problems, threatening the crisis-ridden industrial units with annihilation. The uncertainty prevailing in the prices of basic raw material, coupled with massive power crisis had hit the exporting units the hardest.

Unmindful of the pathetic state of affairs of the industry, the government was preparing for yet another fatal blow to the industrial economy in the shape of another steep increase in the power tariff. The proposed hike from 33 to 44 per cent for all categories of consumers, along with a 3 paise per unit fuel surcharge, which had already been imposed, would cripple the industrial units and render most of them economically unviable.

Ironically, power rates were jacked up only in August last and now, after a short interval, another upward revision was being made, which was unjustified and uncalled for.

While the PSEB was out to destroy the industry through Mr unbearable burden of power tariff structure, nothing worthwhile was being done to bring about improvement in the power supply. “The industry, as well as other categories of consumers, are facing unscheduled power cuts, prolonged shutdowns and frequent breakdowns. The PSEB management has also failed to cut down expenditure, as asked by the Power Regulatory Commission.”

The association has urged the state government to intervene and has also called upon the Power Regulatory Commission to reject the proposal for a power tariff hike by the PSEB in the interest of industrial economy and other categories of consumers in Punjab. The government should come out with effective measures to bail out the industry from a crisis-like situation, which was expected to deteriorate further in the near future under threats from the WTO regime and the VAT system looming large over the heads of the industrial community.


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