Sunday, February 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Food, medicine scam in Central Jail
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The Vigilance Bureau today claimed to have unearthed a major food and medicine scam in the local Central Jail here and registered a corruption case against five jail officials including the former and serving jail superintendents. A Bureau team raided the jail premises today afternoon.

The officials had allegedly committed irregularities in purchase and supply of medicine, ration as well as for toiletries. Several fake entries were shown by the accused. Fake entries for Rs 60 lakh were found.

The SP (Vigilance), Kanwarpal Singh, told Ludhiana Tribune that former Jail Superintendent Aamrjit Singh, serving SP Gurcharan Singh, Dr Gurmeet Singh, Dr Surinder Gogan, Dr Ravinder Kumar have been found responsible for the alleged scandal. A case has been registered against them.

He said the scandal came to light during a surprise check by the Vigilance Bureau recently.

None of the suspects has been arrested so far.


Ber growers seek compensation
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Rajjowal, February 22
The hailstorm that hit Jagraon two days ago has caused widespread damage to orchards of ber. The owners are demanding compensation for the damage.

The hailstorm had hit the region two day ago, causing heavy losses to the orchard owners. The hailstorm followed by strong winds is estimated to have damaged 80 per cent of ber crop in this belt.

A survey of various villages growing ber, including Chowki Maan, Gurreh, Rajjowal and Mullanpur Dakha, revealed that the trees of ber were badly hit and fruit had fallen off from the trees.

The contractors could hardly do anything as the unripe fruit cannot be consumed. The owners of the orchards said it was they who had to bear the brunt of the situation as the contractors would not be able to pay the promised amount due to the losses incurred by them.

They added that most of the fruit had already been damaged and the rest which was left on the trees would fall off soon as leaves had also fallen off the trees.

Mr Amarjit Singh, the owner of an orchard in the village said the fruit left on the trees had developed cracks and would lose their colour, shine and taste.

He demanded that the government should compensate them for the losses as they had gone for crop diversification on the advice of government agencies.

Mr Budh Singh, who had taken a ber orchard ber on contract for Rs 1.5 lakh, said he had already suffered a loss of Rs 1 lakh.


World Bank funds for PAU
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 22
Punjab Agricultural University is likely to get World Bank funding worth over Rs 70 crore for agricultural human resource development (AHRD). The university has submitted projects to the visiting World Bank team which held discussions with the PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, and other senior functionaries for two days. The Vice-Chancellor said that the World Bank team was highly satisfied with the performance of the university and the leader of the team remarked that PAU could get funds up to Rs 100 crore even.

The World Bank team was headed by Dr S K Srivatsva, Task Manager based at Washington and comprised Dr SAA Alvi, Agriculture Engineer, Dr S C Jha, ex Director IIT Kharagpur and Dr H S Nanawati, Assistant Director General (Education ), ICAR. The World Bank team arrived at the campus on Wednesday and went round the various departments, besides holding detailed discussions with experts.

The Punjab Agricultural University has sought Rs 30 crore for the development and revision of curriculum, modernisation of laboratories, setting up of central laboratory at the university level, library networking and strengthening and strengthening of RAWE and internship programme, Rs 18 crore for the centre of excellence in food processing, entrepreneurs and agri-business management. The centre of excellence will have CFPAT (Commercialisation of Food Processing and Allied Technologies), FTEP (Food Technology Entrepreneurs Park), IIC (Industry Institution Cell ) and teaching and training.

Dr Aulakh said that the university proposed to start B.Sc., Food Science and Technology (hons ) and masters in Agri-Business Management.

The Vice Chancellor apprised the World Bank of the fiscal and administrative measures taken by the university in cutting the expenditure. He also informed the team that PAU was giving incentives to scientists to attract private funding.

The World Bank team suggested to the PAU authorities that with the strong infrastructure and the international reputation of the university, PAU could go in for marketing education to the developing countries.

The Vice-Chancellor told the team that PAU had already signed an MOU with Mozambique under which 10 students each would be admitted to the veterinary and agriculture courses of the university from the next academic session. He said that some more African and developing countries had shown interest in sharing knowledge with PAU.


World Bank team visits PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has made impressive efforts in agricultural development which has made everyone proud: These views were expressed by a senior educational specialist of World Bank, Dr S K Srivastava, who visited the varsity as a member of the bank’s team for on the spot assessment of the Agricultural Human Resource Development Project (AHRDP), Phase-II, which is being started at the PAU with banks’ assistance. Other members of the team were : Dr C. S. Jha, a former Vice-Chancellor, Benaras Hindu University, and Dr S. A. A. Alvi, an eminent agricultural engineer. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research was represented by Dr H S Nanawati, ADG (Education).

The team held discussions with the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, Deans, Directors Additional Directors, Heads of the Departments faculty, non -teaching staff, farmers and students. Giving the historical background and role of the varsity in ushering an era of Green Revolution, Dr Aulakh, said as a result of the adoption of scientific technologies evolved by PAU scientists, farmers of Punjab had been able to contribute 65 per cent wheat and 45 per cent rice in the National Food Reserve.

There has been phenomenal increase in the production of milk, fish, eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables. However, under the changed environment and economic scenario, now emphasis will have to be changed from maximising production to improving the quality of farm produce, value-addition through processing conservation of natural resources and ensuing remunerative prices to farmers through optimum use of inputs, Dr Aulakh added.

Animal welfare camp

The Department of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Extension of Punjab Agricultural University organised an animal welfare camp at Chhota Samarala village on Thursday. Progressive farmers from Bondali, Rohlaey and Gharkhana villages participated in the camp. Dr M.P. Gupta talked about ‘Common diseases of animals and importance of vaccination. Dr H.K. Verma, delivered a talk on ‘Management of reproductive disorders of animals’. The practice of teat dip was demonstrated to the farmers. Diseased piggery animals were examined. Blood samples and skin scrapings were collected for further investigation.


Damage due to unplanned plantation
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, February 22
The devastation caused by uprooting of trees due to squall and rain that lashed the city could have been averted if the civic authorities had paid a little attention to the manner in which trees have been planted in the city over the past decade.

Experts opine that uprooting of scores of trees in adverse weather conditions was due to the unplanned plantation and non-pruning of tilted or over-aged trees. Scientists in the Department of Forestry at Punjab Agricultural University have suggested that flowering trees or bushes should be planted instead of high trees.

Dr S.S Gill, Head of the Department of Forestry, said flowering plants such as bougainvillaea, maulsari, amaltas and kachnaar should be planted instead of eucalyptus, sheesham, peepal and acacia along the roadsides as these obstruct electricity wires.

Besides, bushes such as those of chandni which give fragrance to the passers by could also be planted, he said. Even on the sides of the roads shade-providing trees such as mahua, sukhchain, kanak champa, tun, chakrasia and kassod should be grown, said Dr Gill. He said alongside narrow roads, medium size bushes like Indian coral, queen’s flower and white champa should be planted.

Dr Gill said there was an entirely different pattern of planting trees in parks. In the periphery, trees such as silver oak, casuarina, asoka, kashmiri poplar and satpatia should be planted, yellow gulmohar and amaltas may be planted in the corners while queen’s flower, white champa and rosewood could be planted in the centre.

Dr Gill added that timely harvesting of tall trees was a must or else these become infested and hollow from the centre. Their value gets diminished and they can cause damage to life and property. He said eucalyptus should be harvested after a span of 10 years when the trees produce a biomass of 8 to 10 quintals and wood of 7 to 8 quintals fetching almost Rs 2,000 per tree. He said such trees might be cut from base as these start producing shoots again.

During the yesterday’s cyclonic storm, several electricity and telephone wires were snapped, several roads were blocked and some portions of a few houses were damaged. The residents have blamed the local authorities for ignoring their repeated requests. They said the process of getting the trees cut was cumbersome. ‘‘The Municipal Corporation authorities have to be called up, permission from the electricity board authorities for stopping the power supply for some time has to be sought and then tractors have to be arranged for taking away the timber. But the major problem was the lack of coordination between the corporation authorities and the PSEB who do not agree on shutting down the power supply when the MC men turn up’’, they said.

In two parks of the Sarabha Nagar I-block colony, several trees fell yesterday. While the electricity and telephone lines were snapped, a portion of house number 116 was also damaged as a tree fell on it. When no employees of the Municipal Corporation came to clear the mess , the residents had to arrange for men and tractors themselves to get the trees cut.

Mr S. S. Channa, president of the association of the colony and a retired IFS officer, said he had pleaded with the corporation authorities thrice to get the eucalyptus trees in the park cut but no one had turned up. He said several trees had got uprooted while many others were tilting precariously blocking the roads.

Mr Manmohan Singh of Model Town also said an old tree outside his shop had grown very weak about which he had written to the Municipal Corporation several times during the past one year, but nothing had been done by the officers till date.


Traffic problem? Dial 103
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
Ludhiana has become the second police district in the entire country to have introduced a special traffic helpline for the residents.

Dial-103 service has been in practice since the last month and after getting an encouraging response from the people, the police has now introduced it in a full-fledged manner. The number is toll-free like the 100 and 101 numbers.

The service is exclusively meant for traffic-related problems. Anyone experiencing a traffic problem can call up on this number.

Mr Gurdial Singh,SP (Traffic), said Ludhiana had become the second district in the country after Chennai to have the facility. He said the helpline was in operation for the past few weeks and more than 50 calls per day were received.

The traffic helpline comes close on the heels of setting up a full-fledged traffic police station in the city.


Patwaris stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Samrala, February 22
All Patwaris and Kanungos of this tehsil sat on a dharna here yesterday in front of the office of Tehsildar here under the leadership of Mr Sukhdev Singh.

The general secretary, Punjab Patwari Union, Mr Budh Singh, said that their demands like office rent, special pay dues had not been met. He said their service books had not been completed and a promotion after 8, 16 and 24 was not being followed.


Khalistan supporters ‘regrouping’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
All-India Anti-Terrorism Front chief Maninderjit Singh Bitta today cautioned the Union Government against overt and covert attempts by Khalistan supporters, both within the country and those settled overseas, to reorganise themselves and disturb the peace and tranquility in the country, particularly in Punjab.

Addressing a news conference here, Mr Bitta, a former President of the All-India Youth Congress, alleged that the so-called engineered campaign by Sikh bodies to save militant Devinderpal Singh Bhullar from capital punishment was not only motivated by terrorist groups settled abroad, but heavy funds were also being pumped in by them to give impetus to the campaign.

He distributed a photo copy of a news report carried by a Punjabi daily about the possibility of the Canadian Government intervening in the Bhullar affair, maintaining that the Canada-based reporter, who had filed the news report, was allegedly involved in the bomb attack on him in 1993 and was among the persons blacklisted by the Government of India to be denied entry in the country.


Linked with Karnal forever
D.B. Chopra

Uchi Daud, (Ludhiana), February 22
This is a tale of a relationship between unknown people of distant places that grew over the years into a solid bond of love and mutual respect for each other.

Mr Gurnam Singh, 82, recalls with nostalgia the first time Mr Labha Mall, grandfather of Kalpana Chawla, came to the village from Karnal to stay for some days with Sant Nikka Singh ji in his ‘kutia’ near the sand dunes outside the village. He had deep faith in the miraculous powers of the saint who never touched money. From making lids for canisters for a living, Mr Labha Mall Chawla rose to be an industrialist.

Mr Gurnam Singh took time to explain how he and several other residents of the village came in contact with Mr Labha Mall, who was always addressed to as Bhagat ji because of his unflinching faith in Sant Nikka Singh ji. With the passage of time, Mr Gurnam Singh and Mr Labha Mall became good friends and the former started visiting Karnal.

Soon, the village became a pilgrimage for the entire Chawla family who visited the village on auspicious occasions with truckloads of fruit, sweets and food. The same were distributed by the members of the Chawla family to the congregations.

Since the kutia of the saint could not accommodate more than one person, the Chawla family stayed with families in the village.

Mrs Gurdev Kaur, choked while recalling the playful Kalpana running up and down the sand dune with other children of the Chawla family and the village. The news of Kalpana’s death along with six other astronauts of Columbia shuttle struck the village residents as a bolt from the blue. She could not swallow a morsel of food that day like many others of the village. When she visited Karnal last about twenty years ago, Mrs Gurdev Kaur was overwhelmed when Kalpana Chawla’s mother began pressing her legs.

Another lady of the village in her early eighties — Mrs Tej Kaur — recalls how Mrs Bhagan Devi, wife of Mr Labha Mall, had made her a sister. She would send plenty of clothes, sweets and fruits from Karnal as part of the traditional ‘sandhara’ on auspicious occasions. She would stay at Karnal for days together.

After the demise of Sant Nikka Singh ji in 1984, the Chawla family bought some houses around the house in Sihan Daud village, Sant ji’s birthplace and built a kutia which took more than 15 years to complete and cost Rs one crore.

Sant Nikka Singh ji had expired at Goraya in the house of one of his devotees. But his body was taken to Karnal by Mr Labha Mall Chawla and cremated there. Later, an ‘angitha sahib’ was constructed at the site to commemorate the memory of the departed saint. A round-the-clock langar is being run at Karnal.

In order to pay their homage to Kalpana Chawla, the villagers have decided to name their annual rural games after her and also float an award for an outstanding student of 12th standard every year. The first award of Rs 2100 has been given to Nidhan Singh of Sihan Daud village, who bagged the second place in the Punjab board exam.


Steel prices: Chamber to approach PM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 20
Expressing serious concern over the steep hike in the prices of hot rolled (HR) coils, the cold rolled (CR) strips and the MS Rounds, the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has decided to approach the Prime Minister and seek his intervention for controlling the prices.

According to CICU general secretary, Mr Avtar Singh, an emergency meeting of the working committee of the chamber was held here yesterday where the industry representatives criticised the arbitrary hike in the steel prices.

He said the prices were being manipulated and monopolised by five major steel producing companies and they were trying to hold the entire nation to ransom.

He said, the meeting proposed various measures which could regulate and control the steel prices in the country. He said the industry suggested that there should be a bar of one- time hike once a year on the prices of the steel since it happened to be the basic raw material for all types of industry. The steel prices have direct bearing on different sectors and can create havoc with the economy of the country.

They demanded that the import of the HR Coils and CR Strips should be allowed on subsidised rate of custom duty and the custom duty should be reduced at least by to 10 per cent from the current 25 per cent.

They observed that the government should constitute a price regulatory committee to keep a check on the price of HR COils, CR Strips and MS Rounds.

It also observed that the association should encourage their members to make suitable compensatory increase in the price of their products and circulars to this effect should be issued with in the country to their traders.


Chamber opposes VAT draft
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
The Punjab industry has expressed resentment over the proposed draft of the value added tax (VAT). The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking feels that it contains harsh provisions of prosecution, heavy penalties, cancellation of registration certificates, stock seizure, restriction on transfer of properties and cash checking.

Feeling aggrieved by the induction of such provisions, the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking convened a meeting here today. The members unanimously resolved to oppose the draft.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, Ashok Juneja, vice-president and Mr Avtar Singh, general-secretary of the chamber said that the CICU had asked the government to amend the proposed VAT on the lines being followed in Haryana.

The CICU leaders said when the Exim form was proposed to be introduced in Punjab, the trade and industry launched an agitation it and got the imposition of levy on the said Exim form postponed. Under the existing provisions in case the return is filed late then according to section 46 one-year imprisonment and fine up to Rs 10,000 as well penalty of Rs 100 a day up to 10,000 is scheduled to be imposed. “When penalty and interest clauses separately exist for the non-payment of tax then there was no need for further prosecution of traders by the proposed draft”, they said.

The chamber has decided to launch an agitation in protest against the proposed VAT draft. The chamber also demanded that the Punjab Government must draft similar provisions for VAT that already exist in other states.


Free service tempts Mobile owners
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 22
With Air Tel and the BSNL having made all the incoming calls free, a number of subscribers from Spice have started switching over to the free incoming services. While Air Tel announced to make all incoming calls free, the BSNL started the free incoming service from today only.

On the other hand, Spice, which has the maximum subscribers in Punjab, may have to suffer losses with a number of people opting out of the service. Spice subscribers expected the company would also make the incoming calls free.

Like Mr Sunil Datt, a Spice subscriber for over four years, who switched over to Air Tel there are others who have either opted for the free incoming services or are about to. Mr Dat said, he waited for four days for Spice to announce the free incoming tariff plan. Since it did not, he decided to opt for the Air Tel.

A random survey by this reporter at various Air Tel showrooms revealed that during the past four days, particularly after the announcement of the free incoming services, the registration of new connections had increased several fold.


BSNL Internet marketing unit opened
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) appointed Balaji Software Arcade (BSA) as its first marketing agent for dial-up Internet services here yesterday.

The first marketing unit of BSNL Internet, also called Sancharnet, was inaugurated by Mr Raj Kumar, SDE of Value-Added Services at BSNL.

On the occasion, Mr Aneesh Soni, chief marketing officer of the company, said the Sancharnet customers would get several value-added services, such as two logins per user ID, 4 MB e-mail space and 2 MB Web space free of cost. He said the users would be able to access the Internet from anywhere in the country using the same code. Free access would be allowed from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. on working days and 24 hours on Sundays as well as national holidays, he said.


BSNL staff oppose privatisation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
The Second District Conference of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) Employees Union, which concluded at Punjabi Bhavan here yesterday, expressed its firm opposition to government’s policies of privatisation, which had led to massive unemployment.

Inaugurating the conference, former Union Minister and president of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, lambasted the disinvestment policy of the government, which he alleged, was influenced by WTO and IMF to benefit multinational companies. Expressing his dismay at rampant corruption he said the political system had degenerated to the extent that corruption had become synonymous with politics.

Other speakers including Mr V.A. Narayanan, general secretary, Mr R.L. Modgil, circle president and Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary of the BSNL Employees Union, called upon the workers to mobilise public opinion against the policies of privatisation and increasing corruption at all levels.


PNB extension counter at Payal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 22
Punjab National Bank (PNB) opened a fully computerised extension counter at National Public High School, Payal, in the district today. The counter is attached with base branch, Doraha.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, Punjab, was the chief guest on this occasion and Mr V.K. Gupta, Deputy General Manager, PNB (Punjab zone), presided over the function. Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, and Mr A.K. Loomba, Senior Regional Manager, (Ludhiana region), were the guests of honour on the occasion. Mr N.L. Anand, Chief Manager, Doraha Branch, Mr V.K. Sharma, Senior Manager, and other bank officers were present on the occasion.

Mandi Gobindgarh

Spice showroom: Mr Paramjeet Singh Sarao, SSP, Khanna, inaugurated a Spice showroom here. Mr Atul Kansal, regional sales head of the Patiala unit of Spice Telecom said from Monday no tariff would be charged on incoming calls for pre-paid connections. For post-paid connections, this service would be provided from the next billing circle.


Profit distribution: A profit-distribution function of the Bhogiwal Milk Producers Society was organised at Bhogiwal village. It was presided over by Mr Inder Singh, vice-president, India Football Federation and general secretary, Punjab Football Federation.

Mr Gurtez Singh Grewal, Principal, Government Senior Secondary School, Bhogiwal, and patron of the society, said the function was dedicated to the development of sports.Back

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