Wednesday, March 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


6 bombs found
Our Correspondent

Khamano, March 18
Six bombs have been found in a field on the Chawa-Bija road, near Shamashpur village, 13 km from here.
Two youths of the village, Hardeep Singh and Soni, noticed a bag. Two bombs were lying near the bag. The SHO of the Samrala police station, when contacted, said six bombs, three of which were live bombs, were found.

He said the services of Army specialists had been utilised to defuse the live bombs. He said the police was inquiring and the bombs might have reached here with scrap. He added that a scrap dealer might have thrown these bombs here to escape inquiry.

Wing to check theft of wood: The Forest Department, on the directions of the Punjab Government, has constituted a vigilance wing to check the theft of wood. This has been stated by Minister of State for Forests Harbans Lal while talking to mediapersons at Bondli village, near here.

He said saving the environment from pollution was the need of the hour. He said the Punjab Government had drawn up a plan to bring about 33 per cent of the land under forest cover.

The minister said panchayats had been asked to bring 10 per cent of their area under the tree plantation scheme. He said a proposal had been sent to the Centre regarding plantation of trees along railway tracks.



Myriad colours of Holi
Our Correspondent

Members of Rajasthani community perform Holika Dahan at Lakkar Bazaar on Monday evening
Members of Rajasthani community perform Holika Dahan at Lakkar Bazaar on Monday evening. 

Cops patrol Sarabha Nagar Market
Cops patrol Sarabha Nagar Market in Ludhiana on Tuesday.

Reveller high on bhang being carried home at Kitchlu Nagar
Reveller high on bhang being carried home at Kitchlu Nagar of Ludhiana.

Ludhiana, March 18
Despite the marches of men in khaki here boys in pink and blue armed with dry and wet colours roamed the city on their two wheelers. No to be left behind, kids toddled about and hurled handfuls of 'gulal' only on those already coloured.

Youngsters in swanky cars smeared their friends with colour and maintained safe distance from other classes. A few adventurous persons drove in open trucks carrying buckets of coloured water. They limited their enthusiasm to revellers only. They had no colours for passersby as policemen kept a vigil.

In farm houses swimming pools were filled with coloured water. A dip in colourful waters was a must for each guest.

While it was Punjabi style in the Civil Lines area, it was the Braj style in Sherpur, Focal Point, Janakpuri, Industrial Area 1,2, and 3. Revellers most of them from Uttar Pradesh, sang 'phagun' and danced to the beat of dholak.

In many temples Ras Lila was performed where devotees played Holi with flowers instead of colours. Holi functions were held at Kiddies Paradise and Gupta Model High School.

At the Bhartiya Yog Sansthan 400 enthusiasts were made to do yogic asanas before allowed to play with colours. Shopkeepers at the Mall put down their shutters and played Holi.

Holika dahan was done last evening by migrants from UP and Bihar.

In Khanna, representatives of various religious and social organisations at a meeting on Tuesday decided to celebrate Holi on Wednesday.

In Amloh, Holi was celebrated with fervour at Amloh, Bhadson and Mandi Gobindgarh. The Mahawar Vashey Sewa Sangh celebrated the festival at Yuvraj Palace Mandi Gobindgarh.







PCR motor cycle squad has its own way of not increasing the workload of the police force. That is instant justice. This is, at least, what seems to be the case from an incident occurring in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. A migrant labourer was seen roaming around on a bicycle with a girl. Both seemed to be lovebirds. Their actions, however, did not go well with the residents, who informed the police. Soon a PCR motor cycle drove in. They caught hold of the labourer. Gave him three or four tight slaps. The girl was ordered to go away. The labourer was punished further. He was made to stand with his hands up for an hour or so. Residents also encouraged the cops and seemed to be quite happy with the instant justice in which they need not go to the police station. No one spared a thought for the hapless labourer, who looked to be at a loss to comprehend.

Generator and cricket

The cricket mania has swept across not only the urban areas in the region but also villages. The villagers, who are predominantly farmers are known to be rough and tough people, who do not arrange luxuries like a generator set to run fans or coolers in summers or heaters in winter. But when it comes to cricket, everything can be given a go-by. Residents of Bharowal , Sidhwan Bet and several other villages have installed special generators to watch the cricket match. The generators would be returned after the world cup is over, a villager told. He said they can live without power supply in the house but cricket cannot be ignored. That, too, when the men in blue were on a song these days.

Designer wear

It was interesting to watch students of Satguru Ram Singh Government Polytechnic for Women during their athletic meet held in the institution (see picture). To buck up the students of different houses specified by yellow, black and red colours, the students wore self-designed dresses in those specific colours. These dresses were like wind-sheeters with a plain top but a cute head cover resembling the face of elephant, bear or wolf.

Traffic lights

Traffic lights at Bhaiwala chowk and old district court complex are playing truant these days. The red light and the green light signal is on at the same moment. This first causes confusion that leads to a traffic jam. Minor accidents have also occurred because of the lights. The comedy of errors can be quite amusing also. Persons waiting for the signals are first exasperated what to do. Then, all of them zoom in the centre. It then falls on the helpless traffic cop to sort out the problem. One hopes that the lights are repaired at the earliest lest some major accident occurs to jolt the powers that be.

Poor man’s Holi?

Festivals are equal for all. But then who can forget the rich-poor divide? This Holi three different kinds of colour powders are available in the market. One is for Rs 10, other is for Rs 60 and still a third one is for Rs 300 per kg. Shopkeepers disclose that the expensive ones were skin-friendly. He added some very technical and high-sounding words of herbs or things from which these colours were made.

Shah Rukh Khan

Remember the scolding one used to get while watching TV or films? “These things will not fetch you marks” is what our parents used to say. But wait. Now knowing about the stars may not be that useless. The knowledge has definitely fetched points for several students in the city. Some school teachers have actually asked students to write profiles of actors like Shah Rukh Khan and others in the recently held examinations. One teacher confided in sentinel that she was really surprised to learn about the educational qualifications of Shah Rukh Khan from the answersheet of one such student. She said the schools were aiming at over all development of the students and knowledge of everything was necessary.

Fanciful cook

Ramesh, working in a house in BRS Nagar, got so addicted to watching cricket matches in his free time that he found neither the spare time nor any inclination to wash his own clothes. When ticked by his employers for not changing his clothes, he said: “I do not think I can wash my clothes anymore myself. I will pay the maid for washing my clothes Rs 50 per month.” Every one was quite taken aback at his laziness.

Long queues

The practical examinations in colleges have started from March 17 for some students. One could witness long queues of students in every college to get ‘no dues slips’ as without them the students do not get their roll numbers. The students are a worried lot in March as the examinations start from April 1 (no joking). The college authorities should start this process early so that the work is facilitated and the students do not have to get tense while they waste hours standing in queues to get ‘no dues slip’.


While travelling to Himachal Pradesh, the Sentinel found an amusing sentence written on the back of truck. It read ‘Bijli di taar, te parai naar ton parre hi raho’. A sensible piece of advise.




Cong govt betraying farmers: Kisan Morcha
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 18
The BJP Kisan Morcha has charged the Congress government in Punjab with betraying the farming community and going back from its poll promises.
In a statement here yesterday the BJP Kisan Morcha convener, Mr Jaswant Singh Chhapa, said that during the Assembly elections in the state, the Congress party had made a commitment to continue with the free power and water facility to the farmers. However, after assuming power, the ruling party had done an about turn and the facility had been denied to the farmers, which had badly hit the agricultural economy. ‘‘The government will have to pay dearly for the step-motherly treatment to the farmers,’’ he added.

The Kisan Morcha leader further asserted that the BJP was committed to the cause of farmers and working classes and cited the recent roll-back in the price of fertilisers as an evidence. He said the party would stand by the farming community in this hour of crisis and maintained that if voted to power in Punjab again, the BJP would restore the free power facility, not only to farmers but the to Dalits as well.

Condemning the firing and use of force against peacefully agitating farmers in a village in Amritsar district, Mr Chhapa said that a fact-finding committee headed by Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, set up by state president of the party, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, would submit its report within a fortnight to the Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani. Mr Chhapa, who is also one of the members of the committee, said that the guilty officials would be sternly dealt with and justice would be dispensed to the farmers.



Poultry farming government’s step child
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
Even as the state government is raising a hullabaloo over the need for diversification of agriculture, poultry farming, a viable alternative, is losing its sheen, with farmers facing huge losses and shifting to other methods of farming due to the ever-increasing prices of feed products and power supply and a deadly disease in chickens.

Almost all poultry farmers in the district are facing losses and are looking for alternatives as the ingredients of feed are priced exorbitantly high and merex, a disease in chickens, has been wreaking havoc on the birds. Data reveals that there are around 600 poultry units in the state, of which almost 30 per cent have been closed down and the rest are on the verge of closure.

According to poultry farmers, an 18-month-chicken costs them around Rs 600, including the expenses on feed and medicines, and the income after selling various products amount to Rs 410. This way, each farmer is facing a loss of Rs 190 on every bird.

Poultry feed costs Rs 6.25 per kg as maize and rice bran are its main ingredients. Poultry farmers have to pay 15 per cent import tax on imported maize. They claim that while the government is giving subsidies to farmers, no subsidies are given to poultry farmers. In a Budget proposal for the next financial year, the Union Finance Minister has imposed sales tax on feed ingredients and medicines used in poultry.

Mr Sanjeev Bassi, who has a poultry farm in three acres on the Jalandhar bypass, says he has been in the field for the past 23 years, but has seen that all governments have a soft corner for farmers, but not poultry farmers. He says while farmers are supplied power at subsidised rates, poultry farmers have to pay at commercial rates.

An office-bearer of the Northern Poultry Farmers Association, he says they cannot go on strike like farmers. He says demands of poultry farmers should be met as their products are perishable and they have to sell these on day-to-day basis. “This defeats our purpose. If hens give eggs, we have to sell these or these will perish. The competition is so cutthroat that poultry products have not experienced any raise for the last many years,” he says.

“An egg has been priced at Rs 2 for the past many years. At places, it is cheaper. Compare this with the MSP of wheat or any other crop. If the government wants us to diversify, it should help us,” says Mr Bassi.

He says merex, the most dreaded disease in poultry, has been causing huge losses. “We buy a chicken vaccinated against the disease at exorbitant prices as these vaccines can be administered only at the hatching stage. When we buy the chickens, 60 per cent develop the disease, which causes liver and ovary failure,” he adds.

Poultry farmers say if the government is a little considerate, it can help them export eggs. There are two crore hens in Punjab. Eggs from the state are supplied all over the country.



Race for chief’s post on
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 18
After the declaration of results of 19 wards here on March 9, a race among the elected councillors for the post of council’s chief has begun in spite of the fact that no notification has been issued for the election by the government as yet.

Among the 19 councillors, 10 have been elected on the Congress symbol, whereas the candidates who contested on the BJP symbol failed to open their account. Out of the remaining nine Independent elected candidates, six were supported by the SAD and the SHSAD.

In the Congress camp, the front runners in the race include Mr Joginder Pal, son of Mr Nand Kumar, a senior Congress leader and relative of Mr Hukham Chand Bansal, president Gymkhana Club, and Mr Jagmeet Singh Bawa, member PPCC. He has based his claim for the post on being senior most among the Congress councillors. The third Congress claimant, Mr Harinder Singh Bhambri, district chief Youth Congress, has sought representation for the youth. His father Mr Balwant Singh Bhambri had earlier served as the vice-president of the council. However, the Congress party has not yet called any meeting of its councillors to decide the candidate for this post.



Confusion over presidentship
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 18
With the decision to hold elections to the post of president and senior vice-president of Municipal Corporation Bassi Pathana on March 21, the race among the councillors for these posts has intensified. Since the Congress got seven seats out of the 13 in the municipal corporation elections contested under the leadership of Dr Harbans Lal, Forest Minister, it was almost certain that the president would come from the minister’s camp.

The post for president has been reserved for women but there is confusion among councillors on whether the post is meant for any women candidate or only SC women candidate.

To insure the victory of their respective councillors both the minister as well as the SAD-BJP leaders called on meetings of their councillors. Sources said the minister called the councillors on a meeting at his Chandigarh residence, which was attended by only six councillors. While Mr Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli’s SAD (B) leader, meeting of newly elected councillors drew eight councillors. However, according to sources, eight councillors today held a meeting independently and decided to put forward their own candidate for the post of president.



Is this water supply safe?
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 18
Complaints regarding contaminated water have been received from a number of areas in the city.
Residents of Akash Nagar and Aman Nagar, near the Jalandhar bypass, are a harassed lot. They say they have been getting contaminated water for more than 15 days as the discharge from one of the broken sewerage pipes has been getting mixed in drinking water.

Mr Sunil Kumar alleges that the authorities are not bothered. “We have been getting this water for the past many days. We lodged a complaint with the corporation on March 10. We sent a reminder on Monday. The officials will come into action only when something serious happens,” he complains.

Ms Surekha Verma says she has been going to other localities to get safe drinking water for the past five days. “The water emits a foul smell. This yellow-coloured water is unfit for human consumption,” she says.

Mr Pawan Sharma says the authorities concerned intervene only when diseases like jaundice, typhoid or gastroenteritis break out. “The leak is still continuing, but officials are not bothered. The authorities have been claiming to have crores of surplus funds, but they have failed to provide even safe drinking water to residents,” he says.

Another resident claims that the residents have requested officials to take water samples from the area, but they have not done anything so far. Mr Subhash Dua, Superintending Engineer (O&M) claims that he is not aware of any such complaint.



Park panels refuse slashed rates
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 18
With the impasse continuing over mounting arrears and lower rate of payment to the Park Management Committees (PMCs) for maintenance of parks in the city, the much hyped plan of the Municipal Corporation to make the city ‘clean and green’ has run into trouble and the green belt of the city is going to dogs (literally).

After the Municipal Corporation persisted on making payment to the PMCs on a slashed rate of 50 paise per square metre as directed by the government against the earlier rate of Re 1 per square meter, most of the 120 odd PMCs, comprising mostly of senior citizens, retired officials and prominent public figures of the respective areas, had become non-functional. As a result more than 400 parks in the city have once again turned into a state of neglect.

The state government, rued the functionaries of the PMCs, had not only cut down the rate for maintenance of parks by 50 per cent, it had also wanted that the monthly payment for this purpose should not exceed Rs 1000 per park, irrespective of the size of the park. Also of the total payment to be claimed by PMCs, 50 per cent should be contributed by the area residents. Since the PMCs had refused to accept these terms, their monthly payments were stopped by the audit department of the MC from October 2001 onwards.

‘‘More than the non-payment of arrears to the PMCs and inordinate delay by the government in taking a positive decision, what pains us is the apathy and indifference of the civic administration and total lack of urgency on the part of the MC on this crucial matter, concerning the entire population of the mega city,’’ observed Mr S.S. Chana, a retired bureaucrat and president of the Federation of Park Management Committees.

Mr Chana, along with other functionaries of the body, wondered as to why the government had failed to take any decision on restoration of the old rates for maintenance of parks and why the MC had not properly followed up the case with the government. ‘‘The issue of maintaining parks in the city might not merit top priority with the state government but for the civic body it should be one of the priority areas concerning the city residents.’’ It was all the more unfortunate for the government to be sitting over the matter when the MC authorities had provided detailed clarification, justifying the rate of Re 1 per square metre and further the MC General House had also gone ahead with a unanimous recommendation that PMCs be made payment at the old rates.

According to Mr Chana, the functionaries of the PMCs had pursued the matter repeatedly with the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, as also with the Local Bodies Minister and Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, without any result so far.

He pointed out that the civic body was spending an estimated Rs 5.50 crore on maintenance of the city parks every year prior to the scheme of private participation was introduced. Compared to the massive amount spent earlier, the PMCs were claiming less than Rs 1 crore annually as maintenance charges with far better results. ‘‘While the government is reluctant to pay mere Re 1 per sq mt for maintenance to the PMCs, the CSR rate for the work is Rs 2.14 and the cost will be much more if the MC gets the job done from its own horticulture department,’’ he added.

Now the ball was in the court of the MC or the state government as the PMCs had now made it clear that they were not prepared to continue on terms offered by the civic body. Hence for the city residents it seemed a long wait ahead for green parks, which were in for an extended bad patch. 



Toxins in the fridge, says study
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 18
It is believed that food kept in the refrigerator is safe for consumption. However, a recent study conducted by the Department of Microbiology at the Punjab Agricultural University has indicated otherwise.

According to the study, dairy products, meat, eggs and fresh vegetables kept in the refrigerator are infested with a bacteria that produces a toxin, causing listeriosis. The symptoms include headache, fever, renal trouble, cardio-vascular disorders, haemodialysis failure and diabetes. The study has proved that the condition usually occurs in newborns, followed by those more than 60 years of age.

The study — ‘Poison in refrigerated food’ — has been conducted by Ms Seema Garcha, MSc student, under the guidance of Dr Param Pal Sahota, Associate Professor. It has indicated that listeria monocytogenes is found in a wide variety of foods kept in the refrigerator as it can survive very low temperatures and long periods of pasteurisation. They have tested various refrigerated food samples and have found that the microbe is found in all forms of dairy products.

It is common in cheese, with a level of 107 colony forming units per gram. Its contamination in raw milk from various environment sources has been found to be 2.2 per cent. Its concentration in curd is high, but a very small number of the bacterium is seen in cultured butter milk, butter and yogurt.

Growth of listeria has been found in all samples of meat and poultry products kept in the refrigerator. Freezing, surface dehydration and simulated spray chilling do not affect its survival. It also thrives in refrigerated eggs as well as cooked eggs.

Contamination of fresh vegetables stored in the refrigerator is also full of listerial infection. However, the infection has been found to be the most in potato and radish. The bacterium survives in radish kept inside the refrigerator and survives heat when it is taken out and cooked. Besides, cabbage, lettuce and other salad ingredients contain listeria in two of 18 samples or even in higher proportions.

To know the number of human carriers, faecal samples have been tested. Five to 10 per cent of the general population has been found to be carriers of the organism. Most of these are either children or the elderly. However, all those who have tested positive for the bacterium do not have listeriosis, indicating that antibodies are common in clinically healthy carriers.

The study, pointing to several large outbreaks, has suggested that contaminated food and food products are the primary sources of the organism. It multiplies in soil, decaying vegetables and surface water and can infect human beings and other animals by oral, cutaneous, respiratory and urinogenital routes. Another cause of concern is its increased enzyme activity in high concentrations in sodium chloride, indicating its prevalence in instant foods with salt content, such as pickles, potato chips, sauces, yogurt and cheese.

The research also indicates that the growth of the bacterium depends on the product type and pH. It has high tolerance against high and low temperatures. Its generation time at 37°C is 36 minutes and it multiplies after every 60 minutes at 22°C.



Coop society men cheated, 2 booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 18
A manager of a co-operative bank and a secretary of a co-operative society have been booked by the Sahnewal police for committing a fraud in the Jandiali Co-operative Society.

The police has registered a case against bank manager Ranjit Singh and secretary Sohan Lal on the recommendation of the Co-operative Department.

The department had recommended the action after an internal inquiry indicted the two officials.

The officials affected the fraud by forging signatures of several farmers and making false entries in their passbooks. The officials of the wings bank and society wings, of the Co-operative Department committed irregularities.

A senior official of the district Co-operative Department said the accused took Rs 13 lakh from the farmers, but did not deposit it in the bank.

Farmers deposit money in the cooperative society, for which, entries are made in their passbooks and the registers, which in turn deposits the amount in the bank.

Department sources said so far the involvement of only two officials has been confirmed.

They have been suspended and will now face action as decided by a court of law. They added no recovery has been made so far.

The fraud came to light when entries were checked on complaints of some farmers. Initial amount was pegged at Rs 9 lakh, which later swelled up to Rs 13 lakh.

It may be recalled that a Rs 54-lakh fraud in the Pakhowal Co-operative Society was detected last year.


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