Tuesday, March 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


‘Political hand’ in contract allotment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Recent contracts allotted to certain contractors for the carpeting of some major roads in the district by the Construction Division-I of the local Public Works Department (PWD) have become a bone of contention between some officials of the department and some contractors who alleged that the tenders were not given on merit.

While the officials of the department claim that there was no hanky-panky in the allotment of the contracts, some contractors, who were in a race, allege that these were given to some persons under the patronage of a minister.

The PWD had recently invited tenders for three roads in the district—the Ludhiana-Sidhwan Bet road, the Khanna-Malerkotla road and the Ahmedgarh-Chhpaar-Latala-Burundi road. March 12 was the last date for receiving applications.

Mr Attar Singh Chadha, a Raikot-based contractor, who had applied for the Ahmedgarh-Chhpaar-Latala-Burundi road contract, a project of more than Rs 1 crore, alleged that PWD officials did not issue a tender form to him although he had submitted his cumulative deposit receipt (CDR) of Rs 1,60,000 drawn on the Oriental Bank of Commerce with the officials on March 11 before 2:30 pm.

He alleged that while he and some other contractors were not issued the tender forms, an official of the department had called contractors, who were otherwise issued forms, to his office on March 12 and had requested them to withdraw the forms as there was pressure from a minister to allot the contract to a particular contractor. Similar allegations were levelled by another contractor, Mr Harjinder Singh.

Mr Chadha said he would not bow under political pressure and vowed to fight for his rights.

However, Mr Gurnam Singh Azad, Executive Engineer, Construction Division-I of the PWD, denied the allegations. He denied any political pressure from any quarter and claimed that a transparent and set procedure was adopted in allotting the contracts.

Mr Azad said since many contractors applied for the work and only one had to be selected, such allegations were common.



Rs 20-crore scam in city
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Close on the heels of self-claimed bankruptcy by a private financial institution that had resulted in huge losses to hundreds of investors, another scam, almost similar in nature and magnitude, has been reported in the city.

According to sources, at least an amount of Rs 20 crore is involved in the scam. The only difference is that the person, who has kept the money, has not refused to pay it back, but has only delayed the payments.

Sources said the person involved in the scam was actually a businessman running cloth and hotel business. He would organise monthly ‘kametis’ involving crores of rupees. These were organised in small groups having at least 10 members.

He is learnt to have told the contributors that he may not be able to repay their money on scheduled time. He is also reported to have refused to pay extra amount that would accrue to a contributor in due course of time.

The ‘kameti’ business runs parallel to the illegal financial market in Ludhiana. People make monthly contributions in small groups. The contributions range from Rs 100 per month to even Rs one lakh per month. In some exceptional cases, the monthly amount is said to be even Rs one crore.

In the current case, the said person had been organising ‘kametis’ for several years. However, he would make the payment on scheduled time. This helped him to create huge assets in real estate. After the flow of money stopped, he reportedly refused to make the payments on time, thus worrying hundreds of contributors.

Since the business is not legal, the contributors cannot even lodge a complaint. They have no other option, but to wait and hope that some day he will return their money.



CM bails out DCC president
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is learnt to have come to the rescue of the beleaguered District Congress Committee, Ludhiana (urban) president, Mr K.K. Bawa, who faced action for his outburst against the appointment of Mr Harnam Dass Johar and Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi as ministers.

After Mr Johar and Mr Birmi were appointed ministers, Mr Bawa had flashed letters of protest to the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, Ms Ambika Soni, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, the PCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He was asked to explain his position by Mr Hanspal.

However, Mr Hanspal reportedly exonerated him of all charges. Sources said it was not Mr Hanspal, but the Chief Minister who favoured a lenient view on the issue.

This has once again put to rest all speculations about the possible removal of Mr Bawa from the post of the DCC president. Mr Bawa was appointed president of the DCC, Ludhiana, in February, 2002, when Mr Surinder Dawer relinquished the post after being nominated party candidate from Ludhiana East. Since then Mr Bawa continues to be the acting president of the DCC. His appointment is yet to be confirmed.

Mr Bawa belongs to the camp loyal to the Chief Minister. Mr Bawa had led a campaign at the time of the appointment of the new PCC President. He had led a team of several district presidents to Delhi and met Ms Sonia Gandhi, urging her not to replace Capt Amarinder Singh. The party is reportedly trying to seek a rapprochement between the two factions to provide a semblance of unity.



CBSE introduces course on ‘life skills’
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, March 24
To improve upon the mental health of students and help them face tough challenges ahead in their life, the Central Board of Secondary Education has introduced a new course termed as ‘life skills’ from Class VI in the new session.

The course will deal with the need to have flexibility in the attitude of students and improvement in their self-esteem. Topics related to population education such as demographic transition, gender equality and population stabilisation are also likely to be part of syllabus of the new subject. The course will also aim at bridging the communication gap among children, teachers and parents.

The details of the subject were discussed at a conference of the principals of CBSE schools held at Dehra Dun late last year. The books for the course will be ready for circulation in another week and the subject will be introduced only for Class VI students this year. However, every year a new class will be covered for the subject from next session onwards.

A circular regarding this from Mr G. Balasubramanian, Director (Academics), CBSE, has recently reached a few local CBSE affiliated schools. Ms Paramjit Kaur, Principal of BCM Arya Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar, said the circular mentioned that the aim of the course was to make children more adaptive to social changes. She said the board authorities also felt that kids were under much stress due to stiff competition and the course would help them find ways to cope with it.

She said it was a good step taken by the CBSE in view of several cases of mental break down among the youth after they failed to clear their entrance tests to course of their desire. She said high expectations from parents, schoolteachers and relatives not only for higher classes but even at junior level added to their stress. A course on the subject had become a need to help the children improve mentally and spiritually, she added.

Responding to the global changes in the field of information technology, the CBSE, through its website, has also floated information regarding the introduction of a new course on ‘multimedia and web technology’ as an elective subject for Classes XI and XII. It has been stated that the syllabus for the subject will soon be available on the site. Schools interested in introducing the course have been asked to send their applications to the board.

However, principals of many schools, including Guru Nanak Public School, Kundan Vidya Mandir and St Thomas Senior Secondary School, were found to be without any information regarding the new courses. Ms Neena Khanna, Principal, KVM, said she did not receive any circular regarding new courses. She, however, said she was introducing music, fine arts and psychology for students of plus one students in humanities stream. She said courses in entrepreneurship and bio-technology would be introduced as optional course for the students of commerce and non-medial stream, respectively. 



Residents seek more trains’ halt
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 24
Residents of Doraha have urged the railway authorities to increase the number of trains halting at the Doraha railway station. Halting of fewer number of trains at this station was causing inconvenience to the regular commuters, they said.

According to Dr Joginder Singh, a former Chief Medical Officer and resident of Doraha, “The town has a population of about 25,000 and a large number of labourers from Bihar, UP, MP, and Rajasthan also visited this place. The town, which also has a Combat Engineering Training Centre, is surrounded by many villages having a population of nearly 20,000. But, the number of trains halting at the local railway station was not proportionate to the density of population here.”

There was no direct train for Mumbai, he said. “The express train running through Doraha has been diverted via Dhuri and Patiala under some pressure. Moreover, stoppage must be provided to train Nos. 2925 and 2926, Pashcham Express. There is no night train from Delhi side and even from Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi and Itarsi. The residents want that the Chattisgarh Express should get a halt here. The train No. 8238 already has a stoppage here,” he said.

He said the Amritsar-Dehradun passenger train (No 329 and 330) earlier had a stoppage at Doraha, but the facility had been withdrawn due to some reason. “This train has stoppage at every station beyond Khanna and Ludhiana. This is a passenger train and should also stop here,” he added.

According to the retired CMO, “Copies of the request letter have been sent to the Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala division; the Union Minister of Railways; the General Manager, Northern Railways, New Delhi; Mr Lajpat Rai, Member Parliament; and Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, Punjab. He said a personal request had also been made to the DRM, Ambala, for introducing this service.

The non-stoppage of these trains was causing inconvenience to the passengers as they had to go to Ludhiana or Khanna in order to catch these trains, he said.



Pandits condemn J&K massacre
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The massacre of 24 people in Nadimarg, near Shopian in Kashmir, last night has sent shock waves among hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits living in different parts of the region. The incident has come at a time when the Mufti government there has initiated moves to rehabilitate Pandits back in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri Pandit Sabha, Ludhiana, today held an emergency meeting to condemn the killings and condole the death of 24 persons in the incident. The meeting also expressed sympathies with the bereaved families.

The sabha members urged the Government of India to take strong measures against terrorism in Kashmir. They also demanded that the people staying back in Kashmir should be provided adequate security as they were continuously being made soft targets.

Meanwhile, the Punjab unit of the Shiv Sena has also condemned the incident and demanded the dismissal of the Mufti government. In a joint statement, the Shiv Sena leaders, including state general secretary Pawan Sharma district unit president Krishen Sharma and coordinator Suresh Manchanda have expressed grief and shock over the incident. They have also demanded that the families of the victims should be provided a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each.

A senior BJP leader and Member Parliament, Lala Lajpat Rai, also condemned the killings of innocent people in Kashmir. In a statement here today, Mr Rai demanded the dismissal of the Mufti government sand and said the law and order situation had deteriorated in Kashmir. He demanded adequate security for Pandits. 



Goods worth lakhs burnt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
A major fire broke out in a packing material factory in Sherpur here today reducing goods worth lakh of rupees into ashes.
According to Mr Surinder Kumar, owner of Vijay Packing Materials, the fire broke out at around 1 p.m. Spotting the flames he immediately rang up the fire station. As many as seven fire engines, which were pressed into service, douse the fire.

Firemen on the spot said the fire was spreading like anything as the material stored in the factory was highly inflammable. It took them more than an hour to control it. The workers of the factory also did their bit by sorting out the burning and the unburnt material quickly. The factory manufactures cardboard and other material required for packing various goods.

Fortunately, no worker was hurt as the workers could see the smoke coming out from a portion and ran out. The cause of the fire was said to be a short circuit.



PSEB staff to stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
PSEB employees will stage a dharna on March 26 in support of their demands following a breakdown of parleys with the management.
According to Mr Swaran Singh, president of the Workers Federation, affiliated to INTUC, no senior officer of the board reached the venue of the meeting which had been convened by the Assistant Labour Commissioner. The unions represented at the meeting included the Struggle Committee, the Bijli Mulazam Front, the Bijli Mazdoor Sangh and the Employees Federation.

He said the unions were on the warpath after the Haldea Committee recommended privatisation of the board and laying off the staff. Such a move was not in the interests of the employees as well as the consumers since the recommendations had been tried in other states and had failed to make any discernible improvement in the power supply and generation situation.

The federation said the proposed changes would only push up the cost of power, making it unaffordable for the common man. 



Sikh scholar honoured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
An internationally acknowledged Sikh scholar and writer, Dr Sarup Singh Alag, has been honoured by Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, for his selfless services to the Sikhism through his writings and distribution of valuable publications free of cost in English, Punjabi and Hindi throughout the globe.

The Takht Jathedar, Bhai Balwant Singh Khalsa, while presenting a citation at a large congregation at Talwandi Sabo, applauded the services being rendered by Dr Alag for a pretty long time.

The SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, presented a siropa, a memento and a sword to Dr Alag on behalf of the SGPC. Mr Badungar released the fourth and the fifth editions of Dr Alag's most valuable book ‘Gurmet Aute Nashe’ on the occasion. The book is in high demand. Dr Alag distributed the Alag Shabad Yug Trust's literature on the occasion.

The scholar has also been honoured by the Canadian Government for his services. Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, an MP and minister in Canada, congratulated Dr Alag on behalf of the Canadian Government. In the certificate of appreciation presented to Dr Alag it was mentioned that he had spread awareness about the Sikhism worldwide.

The citation presented to Dr Alag bears emblem of all provinces of Canada along with the seal of the federal government. 



‘Palledars’ stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Hundreds of members of various food agencies sat in dharna outside the mini-secretariat here today on a call given by the All-India FCI Mazdoor Federation in protest against the privatisation move.

The general secretary of the federation, Mr Amarnath Koomakalan, while addressing ‘palledars’ said if the government went ahead with the privatisation of food agencies, lakhs of labourers would be affected.

He said the government was also contemplating to lower the rates of loading of gunny bags to 22 paise per bag from 47 paise per bag. He maintained it would ruin the ‘palledars’.

He said if the government did not listen to ‘palledars’ they would be forced to intensify their agitation.



Prison reform project launched
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 24
“Ahsaas”, a human rights organisation, initiated a phased prison reform project in Punjab Prisons. The Ludhiana Jail reverberated with meditation by the Prajapita Brahamkumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya. Starting with this meditation camp, Ahsaas will also be providing the inmates in Punjab literacy classes and personalty development courses, which will include vocational guidance, dramatics, music and dance.

Ahsaas intends to market the products made by the jail inmates. The inmates are involved in knitting, embroidery, painting and stitching and their products could be marketed in exhibitions held in various cities of Punjab. The profits which accrue after sales would be distributed to the family members of the inmates.

The special focus of Ahsaas is centred around violence against women and children.



Traffic blocked on highway
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 24
Traffic was blocked on the national highway for more than two hours here following the beating up of a driver by security personnel. It was later lifted when the ASP, Amloh, Mr Dinesh Partap Singh, assured to take suitable action against the person who assaulted the driver.

According to information available, the DTO, Fatehgarh Sahib, had launched a check-post (naka) near the Floating Restaurant, 3 km from here, today. The naka party is said to have signalled a Qualis car no. HR-01L-4011, which was coming from Ambala towards Ludhiana to stop. The party then chased the car with and succeed in intercepting it near Giania-Da-Dhaba, near main chowk, Mandi Gobindgarh. The security persons attached with Ms Raghbir Kaur Khera, DTO, Fatehgarh Sahib, allegedly gave a severe beating to the driver of the car and his arm was fractured. According to the driver, Bhushan Singh, he was not signalled to stop.


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