Sunday, February 16, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Land-grabbers sell shamlat land
Peeved villagers write to PM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
The controversy surrounding the encroachment on shamlat land worth crores at Jagirpur village, near here, refuses to die down with the alleged land-grabbers selling off the land. Peeved villagers have in turn written a letter to the Prime Minister to intervene into the matter.

The problem has existed for the past several years but no permanent solution has been found so far. Of late the villagers said, the land grabbers had started selling a part of the land.

In the letter, the villagers alleged that as the land was in the possession of some influential persons, the district administration had failed to do anything to get the land vacated.

The land was given to the village panchayat in 1973 under the Indira Vikas Yojna. This 55-acre land is worth crores but was taken into possession by some individuals. Various inquiries had been initiated into the case but to no avail.

The villagers have now written to the Prime Minister to step in as the land was meant to be given to the homeless. They say an inquiry by an independent agency can bring the guilty to book.

The Bharati Bhalai Morcha has been virtually driven from pillar to post to get the land vacated but to no avail. The morcha has alleged that the land with mutation number 729 and 730, as per the revenue records, belonged to the panchayat of Jagirpur village and some people had illegally occupied it.

The morcha had said despite the fact that the land belonged to the panchayat, the administration was not doing anything to get it vacated. The president of the morcha, Mr Tarsem Singh said the fight between the panchayat and the land-grabbers had been going on for the past more than 10 years. He said they had approached the former Chief Minister and the Rural Development and Panchayat Minister but other than promises, nothing had been done.

Mr Tarsem Singh, in the letter to the Prime Minister, alleged that whenever the matter was highlighted by the morcha, its members were falsely implicated in some case or the other.


Cong nominee wins legal battle, elected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
Ward No 67 has a new councillor. The election of the Bahujan Samaj Party-supported Independent councillor Hans Raj was declared void by the Election Tribunal-cum-Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, and Congress nominee Dimple Rana, who had secured the second highest number of votes in the municipal elections held in May, 2002, was declared elected.

After a notification that Mr Dimple Rana was duly elected councillor from Ward No 67 was issued by the State Election Commission, the Divisional Commissioner, Patiala Division Mr C.S. Srivastava, administered the oath of office to the new councillor under Section 35 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 in his office on Thursday.

In his election petition, filed under section 78 of the Punjab State Election Commission Act and Rule 87 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Rules, 1984, before the Presiding Officer of the Election Tribunal here, the Congress candidate had pleaded that the election of Mr Hans Raj should be declared void on the ground that he was a government employee at the time when the nomination was filed and remained so till the time of the declaration of result.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that Mr Hans Raj was a regular employee of the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, which was a subsidiary of the State Bank of India, and he had submitted his resignation only after he was declared elected as councillor. It was submitted that under section 13(G) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 any person holding any office of profit under the government could not contest election.

In his orders, the Presiding Officer disagreed with the argument of the respondent that he had obtained prior permission of the bank to contest the elections and had submitted his resignation immediately after the elections. He observed, “The fact that the respondent took permission from the bank to contest the election is not relevant because it is an internal matter between the employee and the bank. The respondent was indeed a government employee and he was holding office till the declaration of the result.”

Meanwhile, several Congress functionaries, including Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Surinder Davar, MLA, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, president, and Mr Pawan Diwan, vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress, respectively, Mr Jasbir Singh Chadha, Mr Rajesh Jain Kala Navkar, Mr Chanchal Singh, Mr Sanjay Talwar, Mr Rakesh Parashar, Mr Kuldip Janda and Ashok Bagga. all Congress councillors have hailed the election of Mr Dimple Rana.


Cold floor, poor lighting at exam centres
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
The Punjab State Education Board examination for class VIII started yesterday on a chaotic note. Invigilators were missing at some schools and incomplete candidate lists added to the confusion. A visit to examination centres revealed that some of them lacked the basic infrastructure.

In many government schools, students were writing their papers sitting on the floor on “taats”. The discomfort of the students was palpable as the floor was cold. Some students, after the examination, said their legs had become numb. “As it is we were so nervous and sitting on the floor was terrible. It is difficult to write while sitting on the floor. On top of it, examiners expect our papers to be neat,” they said. Some other students said: “No proper lighting is provided in the classrooms. We have to strain our eyes no one really cares.”

“How is that after so many years of Independence, our schools cannot give basic comforts to the students? What a sad state of affairs,” a grandparent who had come to fetch his grandchildren said, adding that “the things are just the same as during our times.”


Traders give memo to minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Members of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal have demanded the abolition of octroi in the state. In a pre-budget memorandum submitted to the state Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, they said it was an "obnoxious tax which is going on in our state although in other parts of the northern region it has already been abolished".

They reminded the government that the Congress had said in its manifesto that it would abolish octroi after it came to power. They said there were other methods to compensate for octroi.

Referring to VAT, they said the government had not published the final draft despite several discussions on the proposed tax.

The mandal also sought acceleration of the disinvestment process. It suggested that all loss-making public sector units should be disinvested at the earliest. The memorandum also sought the removal of disparity in the rate of sales tax between Punjab and Chandigarh. It said the mandal had repeatedly been pointing it out that due to the disparity in ST, the state had been suffering huge losses.

Referring to hosiery, they said hosiery was mainly produced from yarn and this industry faced double taxation as they had to pay entry tax and sales tax on yarn and also on the manufactured articles which had affected the growth of the industry.


Farmers block highway
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 15
Six farmers’ organisations blocked traffic on the national highway for two hours today. The BKU (United), the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Kul Hind Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Kirti Kisan Union and the Punjab Kisan Jimindara Kisan Vikas Front were protesting against the “anti-farmer” policies of the government. They were demanding the release of arrears for sugarcane producers and sellers.

Mr Kuldip Singh Advocate of the Kul Hind Kirti Kisan Union, said: “The farmers are living in hell. They are in debt and they have not been paid paddy procurement arrears.

The farmers said the power supply in villages was poor and there were frequent power breakdowns.


MC poll: survey team cancels 140 votes
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, February 15
After a day-long survey yesterday in Ward No 9, a special investigating team-constituted by the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, deleted 140 of the 165 fake vote which had allegedly been incorporated in the voters’ list.

The seven-member team, which was headed by the DDPO, went on a round of the ward and carried out a physical verification of the addresses where most of the bogus votes were enlisted.

The team was shocked when an aged couple expressed ignorance about the six votes which had been enlisted at the specified address. The team officials did not allow the present councillor or his opposing candidate to accompany them. At some addresses, the special investigating team found that some persons had passed away but their names still figured in the voters’ list.

The present councillor, who had allegedly got these bogus votes incorporated in the voters’ list also tried to hoodwink the investigating team by bringing in migrant labourers at an address where six votes were enlisted. However, when the investigating team questioned them, the migrants confessed that they had been brought here a day before. The actual inmates of the house also confessed that they were not aware of the bogus votes enlisted at their address.

While 140 votes have been deleted, an inquiry into the remaining 25 votes has been ordered. The news item regarding the bogus votes had been published in these columns. Following this, the State Election Commission asked the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, on Monday to carry out a physical verification of the votes which had been alleged to be bogus by a candidate contesting the forthcoming municipal poll However, following yesterday’s action, similar complaints were received from all over the town.


SAD(A) lambasts Sikh leadership
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
Taking serious view of the self-immolation threat by widows of the 1984 genocide, the youth wing of the SAD(A) has said it is a matter of shame that no Sikh leader has so far stepped forward to plead the cause of the destitute women in the wake of the acquittal of all main accused in the massacre.

Addressing mediapersons here this noon, Mr Balvinder Singh Bains, national president of the unit, said it was unfortunate that political expediency was the order of the day. Sikh leaders had chosen to keep mum over the issue with a view to exploit the issue for political gains later.

He appealed to the widows to wait for some more time so that a mass movement to get justice for them could be started in the country and abroad.

“It is a telling comment on the leadership that the martial race which braved tremendous hardships and fought injustice for the oppressed in the past, today cannot take care of the lonely and destitute women who are moving from pillar to post to get justice”, he pointed out

Mr Bains said it had been 54 days since the widows first appealed to the SGPC and appeared before Akal Takht to intervene and ensure justice for them. “It is criminal on the part of the committee and the jathedar that no worthwhile step has been announced,” he alleged.


Special cover in Kalpana's honour
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
A special cover was dedicated to Kalpana Chawla at Lupex 2003, a stamp exhibition being held at Main Post Office, Ludhiana, that got under way this morning. The satellite on one corner of the cover is also called Kalpana-I as the Government of India has decided to honour Kalpana. This was stated by Dr S.K. Sondhi, founder president of the Philatelic Club here.

Lupex(Ludhiana Philately Exhibition) is organised by the Department of Posts, Ludhiana, City Division, and Ludhiana Philatelic Club. This year's exhibition is dedicated to Kalpana Chawla who lost her life in Columbia mishap.

The stamps displayed different passages of life through literature, patriots, spots of tourism, animals and historical buildings. The stamps that fascinated the visitors the most were Queen Elizabeth's Coronation stamps and her Golden Jubilee of Coronation Celebrations stamps which are printed using 24 carat gold.

Another interesting corner depicted the journey of Hindi literature with stamps to honour Hindi writers of different periods like Munshi Prem Chand and Sumitra Nandan Pant.

There were special stamps to pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi, Father of Nation.


Kashmiri Sabha to perform havan today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 15
It is a home away from home for about 200 Kashmiri Pandit families living in different parts of the city. Having left their homeland about 13 years ago, most of them are working here in various organisations and institutions. They have been organising regular meetings and functions in their desperate bid to retain the distinct Kashmiri identity and also maintain a sense of belonging among each other.

According to the president of the local Kashmir Sabha Dr M.K. Mam, who is also the Head of the Department of Orthopaedics in Christian Medical College and Hospital, the sabha will perform a havan at Durga Mandir, G Block, BRS Nagar tomorrow.

He said the membership of the sabha increasing. The sabha had already brought out a directory of the Kashmiri Pandits, living and working in Ludhiana. It had been trying hard to retain its lingual and cultural identity. The sabha had been taking various measures to involve all members in various programmes.

Dr Mam said, with this purpose only, the sabha had been celebrating different Kashmiri festivals where the families and the children get together. Special Kashmiri food and tea was served in traditional Kashmiri style. For children special quiz programmes were also organised, which are mostly centred around Kashmir.

Dr Mam pointed out that the Kashmiris had a very strong affiliation with their roots. In fact, he said, it was the strong sense of belonging that had helped them to survive as a vibrant community by fighting against all odds.


Dhamak Punjab Di’ organised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
A musical event, “Dhamak Punjab Di”, to celebrate Valentine’s Day was organised by the Balle Balle channel at the ground of Government College for Women here last evening. Singers Manmohan Waris, Jazzy B, Kamal Heer, Debi Mahsoospuri, Hardeep Gill, Sarabjit Cheema and Sukhi Brar participated in the event. Ghuggi of the Ghuggi Express fame was the anchor. He was assisted by Kimi Aggarwal, an actress who was seen in the recent movie “Jee Aayan Nu”. The comic acts of Bhottu Shah and Kake Shah were hilarious.

But Ludhianivis, always looking for fun, had reached the venue in such a large number that some people had to be forcibly kept out.


45 m Indians suffering from CAD
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 15
There are an estimated 45 million patients of coronary artery disease (CAD) in India. One fifth of the deaths in India are from coronary heart disease. By the year 2020, it will account for the one-third of all deaths. Sadly, many of the Indians will be dying young. Heart disease in India occurs 10-15 years earlier than in the West. These revelations were made by Dr H.S. Bedi, Chief Cardiac Surgeon and Chairman, Cardiovascular Surgery, Metro Heart Institute, Delhi, who was in the city today to provide consultation to patients suffering from various heart ailments.

In an interview with Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Bedi said it was fortunate that many new procedures and techniques were now available in the country. Dr Bedi, who is a pioneer in conducting an open-valve heart surgery on a beating heart, said the newly developed beating-heart technique could benefit countless heart valve patients in the country.

While giving details of the surgery, Dr Bedi said, “The girl was just 17-year-old and had a serious heart problem from early childhood. One of her main heart valve (which controls the direction of flow of blood inside the heart) was seriously damaged and as a result blood was moving in wrong direction into the lungs. Consequently, the lung would get blocked with blood and the girl was unable to breathe. She could not sleep in normal position and had to sit up most of the time. She was operated with the technique called ‘retrograde perfusion of warm oxygenated non-modified blood’. The patient’s heart was kept nourished by warm oxygen-rich blood delivered by the venous route after it was realised that if the heart was stopped, it might not recover”. Dr Bedi claimed that the girl would lead a normal life.

Dr Bedi said in India, more and more people were becoming victims to coronary heart disease. He said according to a latest study, even people in their 30s had fallen prey to it. Among those younger than 30, the CAD mortality among Indians was three-fold higher than the people in UK and 10-fold higher than the Chinese in Singapore. “In Delhi, the pre-dominant cause of people suffering from heart diseases has been wrong food habits, in Kolkotta, smoking has been the prime culprit, In Chennai, patients suffer from diabetes whereas residents of Mumbai seem to have high level of stress”, said Dr Bedi.

Dr Bedi said though in the past two years, people had become more aware about their diet and physical exercise but the results would be seen after five years. “We cannot change the genetic pattern but some precautions could definitely decrease the incidence of heart diseases. One should take everything in moderation”, suggested Dr Bedi.

“I, being a Punjabi, would like to serve Punjabis. We have opened our clinics in Ludhiana and soon more clinics will be opened at Jalandhar, Amritsar, etc”, said Dr Bedi.

Delay in charging enhanced DR

Mr K.L. Chitkara, general secretary of the Northern Railway Pensioners Association, has said nationalised banks are not charging the enhanced DR (dearness relief) to pensioners’ account in time and there is a delay of several months which is regretable. Bank officials concerned say the necessary instructions are not received in time. It may be made clear that the Indian Bank Association which represents the nationalised banks clearly states that the necessary instructions issued by the ministry concerned are faxed to zonal offices of the banks which in turn forward them to the branches.

K.L. Chitkara

Medical allowance

A fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month being paid to Punjab Government employees and pensioners since 1998 is inadequate to meet the increasing cost of medicare. During the past five years, medicare costs have registered a rise of 39 per cent as per the consumer price index/medicare cost data. In view of this, the medical allowance should be raised to Rs 350 per month.

The Congress in its manifesto released on the eve of the Assembly poll had promised to raise the medical allowance. The Congress government should now honour it.

Yash Paul Ghai

MC take note

Apropos “Bad precedent” by Dr R.S. Gill in these columns of Ludhiana Tribune, dated January 30, 2003, regarding an illegal construction raised by a house owner, I would like to add that the tossing of the case by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC) reflects badly on its functioning. The raising of illegal backyard boundary walls by some house owners is a matter of grave concern.

Dr Gurkirpal Singh


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