Friday, February 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Child rights: PHRC takes action 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, February 20
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has directed the state Social Security and Child Welfare Department to file a report with the commission on what steps it was taking for protecting the basic rights of the children.

The PHRC has issued this order while acting on a news report recently published in these columns. The report had shown how thousands of children laboured in the city.

The news report, “Childhood withers with motherly responsibilities” carried details of the daily life of impoverished children who were forced by circumstances to do manual labour besides taking care of their younger siblings.

Mr Jagjiwan Singh, an advocate belonging to Hassanpur village near Dakha in the district, had sent the report along with a representation to the PHRC, urging it to take cognisance of the report and take suitable action.

Mr N.K.Arora, acting Chairperson of the PHRC, said the report had raised a vital and important aspect of the fundamental rights of the children and the commission had taken a very serious view of the state of affairs.

He observed in the order: "If childhood was hard and horrifying, manhood would certainly be devoid of the essential ingredients that constitute healthy and wholesome citizenry.”

Giving the Social Security and Child Welfare department time until May 13, 2003, Mr Arora said the Principal Secretary of the department should study the matter thoroughly both in terms of the relevant legal provisions and in their application and apprise the steps it was taking for safeguarding the basic rights of the children in the state.



Trickle in taps, darkness in suburbs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 20
Even as employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board are working round the clock to restore power supply to the areas hit by squall, it would take them at least two days to restore it to all areas.

Sources in the PSEB office told Ludhiana Tribune that the storm experienced by the region had cost the board dearly which had to replace or repair at least 350 high-tension poles, around 500 low-tension poles and around 150 transformers in the district.

PSEB sources said that power supply to the sub-urban areas, including Raikot and Jagraon, was the worst hit as the area had experienced hailstorm yesterday. In Raikot and Jagraon alone, around 220 high-tension poles, around 310 low-tension poles and around 90 transformers were damaged.

Various teams constituted to control the damage were deputed and despite working overnight the suburbs of the city were still under darkness.

The sources further said that in eastern and western parts of the city around 80 high-tension poles, around 130 low-tension poles and around 25 transformers were reportedly damaged. Similarly in Khanna circle around 40 high-tension poles, around 70 low-tension poles and around five transformers of various capacities were either being repaired or were being replaced.

Power supply was yet to be restored in the suburbs, some areas of the city as well as the district. Residents of Pritam Nagar area complained that they were living in virtual darkness since Monday night and it was conveyed to them that it might take two more days for the conditions to become normal. Residents complained that while the water supply was restored yesterday but the pressure of water was still very low.



Complainant turns hostile
Bribery charge against cop
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 20
The security staff of the DMCH, whose chief and some other employees were booked by the district police for illegally detaining a Punjab Police Constable two days ago, are in for more trouble as one of the complainants has turned hostile.

Jaswinder Singh, Sarpanch of Saidpur village in Gurdaspur district, has gone back on his initial claim that Constable Dharminder Singh had demanded a bribe of Rs 40,000 from a family of the village, whose daughter was admitted in the hospital with severe burns.

Police sources said the Sarpanch had given this in writing to the police. This new development may come as a welcome relief for the police as there were indications that the allegedly aggrieved family was also not much inclined to press the charges further.

With the village sarpanch also turning hostile, the security staff of the DMC has been isolated in the case. Hospital sources told Ludhiana Tribune that the only evidence the staff had got was an alleged written and signed confessional of the policeman. He had given this statement while in the alleged illegal captivity of the hospital staff.

The alleged confessional according to police sources, was immaterial as the policeman had in his complaint alleged that he was detained illegally and beaten up for over three hours. The cop is physically challenged also.

Those booked, included Chief Security Officer, Col J.R. Jagga, Security Officer Darshan Singh and other employees Sukhdev Singh, Surjit Singh and Baldev Singh.

Police sources said the security staff was trying to settle some old scores. Sources said it was not for the first time that the security staff had misbehaved with some persons. Relatives of patients were usually harassed by the staff, police sources alleged.

The unsavoury incident had taken place on Tuesday. Ugly scenes took place at DMC hospital when relatives of a patient along with activists of the hospital employees’ union caught and detained a Punjab Police Constable for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 40,000 from a patient to settle a police case.

The DMC union activists and the patient’s relatives told mediapersons that they called the reporters first so that the police may not ‘shield’ the suspect.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, a Sarpanch of Saidpur village in Gurdaspur district, had earlier complained that a married woman Amarjit Kaur was admitted in the DMC hospital with burn injuries. He had claimed that it was not a dowry-related case and the in-laws as well as the parents of the girl were jointly attending on her. 



No admission to M.Sc (Journalism)
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 20
The academic council of Punjab Agricultural University has merged the Department of Languages, Culture and Journalism with the Communication Centre and renamed it as the Centre for Communication, Languages and Culture.

The admission to the M.Sc. (Journalism) course has also been suspended for the time being ,according to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh.

The Vice-Chancellor had appointed a four- member committee comprising Dean, Postgraduate Studies, Dr K.S. Sekhon as Convener, Dr J.S. Kolar, Director, Extension Education, Dr G.S. Nanda, Director of Research, Dr A.P.S. Mann, Dean College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, Dr V.K. Sharma, Registrar, to review the work load of the Communication Centre and the Department of Agricultural Journalism, Languages and Culture and to consider the possibility of their merger.



Girls prayed for India win
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 20
“Do you know why Indian team did well against Zimbabwe yesterday at Harare?” asked a college lass and hastened to reply” because we fasted for our heroes specially Rahul Dravid. Sehwag and Dravid are eligible bachelors and sooo cute.”

With Ruby Bhatia and Mandira Bedi, TV actresses sharing experts panel on cricket gals come and go talking of googly and silly point. Aditi, Meena and Rajni students of BA II say,” We were also very angry at India’s dismal performance against Australia, but we would never think of burning their effigies.

After all, they never ask us to give them positions of demi-gods. It is their fans that exult them at their success and berate them when they lose. Actually nothing succeeds like success was amply seen yesterday.

The previous day Saurav’s effigies were burnt and yesterday he was again the Prince of Kolkata.

We girls are balanced. We pray for their success. When they play badly, we ask God to give them sense and they improve. As they did in yesterday’s match.” Hope, the fasts take India to finals, wish the girls. 



Effigies of Badal, Modi burnt
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, February 20
To protest against the implication of two Punjab ministers in a sex scandal by the BJP government in Gujarat, activists of the District Youth Congress, led by Mr Kewal Arora, Vice -President of the party, burnt effigies of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Arora alleged that the BJP and its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) were feeling frustrated over the massive response to the Congress campaign in the ensuing Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh. "It is out of desperation that the BJP and the SAD have hatched a conspiracy to implicate the ministers in the scandal in a bid to defame the Congress government, headed by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh."

Congress functionaries charged the BJP leaders with stooping to low level and resorting to cheap tactics to misguide the electorate in Himachal Pradesh. They, however, resolved to give a befitting reply to the slander campaign of the BJP and it allies and to stand firmly behind the Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.

Those present on the occasion included Mr Ashwani Kumar, Mr Karan Kumar, Mr Om Parkash, Mr Sanjeev Kumar, Mr Shunty Verma, Mr Tony Malhotra and Mr Pappu Shukla.

Meanwhile, the local unit of the BJYM has demanded the sack of the two ministers who were allegedly involved in immoral activities during the Gujarat elections.

Protesters today took out a rally through various parts of the city and later burnt an effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister for his silence over the unsavoury episode. They claimed that instead of ordering an inquiry, he was shielding them by asking them not to join investigations in Gujarat.



12.55 cr loan for EWS housing
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 20
Decks have been cleared for the Rs 27.86 crore housing project under the Valmiki Ambedkar Malin Basti Awaas Yojna (VAMBAY) in the city with the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) giving sanction to a Rs 12.55 crore soft term loan for the construction of 4,050 tenements for the economically weaker sections (EWS) and slum dwellers.

According to terms of reference of the loan, the Municipal Corporation would be required to secure the loan by a guarantee by the State Government with budgetary provisions for the repayment of principal and interest on stipulated dates. In addition, the civic body would have to get a notification issued by the government regarding its nomination as a nodal agency for the implementation of the scheme, seek approval from both the government and the general House for the project and the borrowing.

Giving details of the project, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, told the Ludhiana Tribune that the project envisaged construction of dwelling units for families belonging to the economically weaker sections. Under the scheme, each dwelling unit would be built in an area of 15 square metre at a cost ranging around Rs 75,000, including the cost of land, low cost sanitation and essential services. Out of the total cost of project for the construction of houses, a portion will be ear- marked for the upgradation and renovation of 400 existing houses of eligible families in slum areas at a cost of Rs 10,000 per unit according to the provisions of the scheme.

The MC has identified a 15-acre plot out of 105 acre MC land at Jamalpur, for the housing project and it was proposed to construct shops and booths in an area of 1 acre. The target group, added the MC Commissioner, for allotment of these houses would be from amongst 182 identified urban slum colonies with a little over 63,000 households, besides a population of about 1.5 lakh below poverty line in the city. The allotment would be either in the name of a female member of the family or jointly in the name of the couple.

Further, 50 per cent of these houses would be reserved for members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, followed by 30 per cent for backward classes, 15 per cent for EWS families, 3 per cent for physically and mentally handicapped persons and 2 per cent for old pensioners.

Mr Sharma further told that the families, headed by a female member, would get preference over others.



Congress meeting

Khamano, February 20
A Congress meeting in connections with the coming nagar panchayat poll slated for March 9 was held under the chairmanship of Mr Harbans Singh Pandher here on Thursday.



Coop banks to lower loan interest rate
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 20
“Henceforth, the maximum credit limit of crop loan from cooperative banks will be calculated on the basis of land owned or cultivated by farmers. Moreover, from next crop season, the interest rate on crop loans have also been reduced by one per cent.” This was stated by Mr G.S. Atwal, Parliamentary Secretary, Cooperation, Punjab, while addressing a function on ‘customers’ meet at the local branch of the Ludhiana Central Cooperative Bank here today. 


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