Sunday, April 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


SMO’s assets cross Rs 1-crore mark
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The assets of Dr Kanwarjit Singh Kakkar, Senior Medical Officer, Koom Kalan, one of the two doctors caught by the local Vigilance Bureau for indulging in private practice two days ago have swelled to more than Rs 1 crore in further investigation by the Bureau.

The assets of the second accused, Dr Rajinder Singh Chawla, Medical Officer, Dhanansu, have, however, been estimated at a few lakhs of rupees only. Both doctors were found running a private clinic in Jamalpur here.

Different Vigilance Bureau teams today opened lockers of both accused in Dhandari and Jamalpur. Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sidhu, SSP, Vigilance revealed that 36 tolas (360 gm) of gold jewellery as found in a locker of Dr Kakkar at a bank in Dhandari. About 15 tolas of gold jewellery was found in the locker of Dr Chawla.

Mr Sidhu disclosed that another locker of Dr. Kakkar was found empty. The father of the doctor had operated it recently. Mr Sidhu said they had learnt that the locker contained several important documents. The Vigilance Bureau was questioning the family members of the doctor in this regard.

Dr Kakkar is accused of possessing movable and immovable property worth over Rs 1 crore. He had a big house in Urban Estate Dugri besides a three-storeyed clinic-cum-residence in Jamalpur. The market value of this clinic alone was more than Rs 50 lakh. The clinic was furnished with latest machines and several air-conditioners were found installed in the clinic and at the doctor’s residence.

The doctors were reportedly running this clinic for the past several years but no action was taken against them all these years. Apart from the Vigilance Department, the Health Department is also supposed to check such illegal practice.

The doctors were caught two days ago in a trap laid by the Vigilance Bureau. It may be noted that government doctors in the state are paid a special non-practising allowance as it is commonly believed that doctors may not treat patients in government hospitals if they are allowed private practice.

Meanwhile, the local chapter of the Punjab Civil Medical Service Association has condemned the move of the Vigilance.

Meanwhile, the State Health Department is yet to take any action against the two doctors.



RBI orders go out of bank window
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
More than a month after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued directives to all banks, government offices and private persons to stop stapling of currency notes, the directives are being flouted with impunity by the banks, offices and private concerns.

The RBI had issued directives under Section 35-A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, against the stapling of currency wads through newspapers, TV channels and had also issued circulars to the banks to discontinue the practice as it was damaging currency notes. The RBI had also appealed to the public to accept only unstapled notes.

Even a month after the directive was issued stapling of currency notes is prevalent in almost all banks of the city. The residents said if they did not staple the notes, bank officials refused to accept these. So they were forced to follow the traditional method of handling currency. At the same time, officials of various banks said they dealt in notes worth lakhs everyday and if they did not staple these, it would lead to chaos in banks.

Stapled notes are still being issued and received by local branches of various banks. The managers of these branches said they had no option but to accept and issue such notes as the RBI had failed to notify any alternative for wadding of notes.

Managers of some banks, on the condition of anonymity, said they had clients who withdrew or deposited lakhs of rupees everyday and due to stapling, they were spared of counting thousands of notes at the counter. Moreover, the wads were also easy to handle.

“We take the responsibility of a stapled wad issued by the bank. If somebody complains to us about a missing note, we don’t hesitate to compensate him. But if the notes are not stapled, anybody can pull a note out and complain to the bank. Then we would land in soup,” a manager said.

He said the bank unions, led by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU), had written to the RBI Governor and the Chairpersons of all banks that unless the RBI gave clear instructions regarding any alternative method of wadding, besides safeguarding the employees against the loss of currency notes, the RBI’s instructions would not be followed. But, even after a month the RBI had not removed the doubts of the bank officials, he said.

According to the UFBU, the procedure, as directed by the RBI, has exposed cashiers and officers in charge of currency chests at various bank branches to the risk of shortage or fake notes, for which they may not really be responsible.

It has demanded that the bank managements should first set up necessary infrastructure at all their branches and currency chests to ensure that employees do not suffer financial losses, if any, arising out of the introduction of the new procedure. It has directed the employees not to switch over to the new procedure till the necessary safeguard measures are taken. 



Farmers turn to manual harvesting again
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The shortage of hay (toori) during the past two years has forced the farmers of the district to resort to manual harvesting of wheat instead of opting for combine harvesters. The development has proved to be a boon for migrant labourers, whose demand has increased manifold. An added benefit is that it will result in less environmental pollution since after harvesting the crop using combine harvesters, the stubble has to be set afire to clear the fields.

While nearly 30 per cent of the crop in the district has already been harvested, the work is in progress at a fast pace. A quick survey by a Ludhiana Tribune team of various villages, including Issewal, Gill, Dehlon, Jhamat and some villages near Mandi Ahmedgarh, revealed that majority of the farmers had employed migrant labourers for harvesting their crop.

Two years ago, the farmers of the district had harvested almost the entire crop with the help of combines and reapers, as it was convenient and saved time. The practice had led to acute shortage of straw, because the husk produced by combines is of poor quality and not liked by cattle. The cost of fodder in the market had increased manifold due to the shortage. Due to this reason, many dairy farmers were forced to sell their healthy animals as keeping them was proving to be a costly affair.

Agricultural experts had then advised the farmers to harvest their crop manually so that they could save straw and store it for future use. Following the advice and learning from their past experiences, the farmers switched over to the traditional method of harvesting.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, a farmer, said although manual harvesting was a time-consuming exercise and labourers were demanding high wages, yet they had gone for it sensing the money they would save on buying fodder for their cattle. Mr Avtar Singh, another farmer, said the fodder prepared with the help of threshers after harvesting the crop manually was of better quality as compared to that prepared by combines. He said he was also going in for manual harvesting as last year it had become very difficult to sustain as the cattle did not get good quality fodder.

While the labourers are happy with the development, the combine owners are a disappointed lot this year. They had been making money during the past years by renting out their machines during the harvesting season. Some people had even sold their land to buy combines hoping for a good business, but the latest development has spelt doom for them. Mr Amrik Singh, a combine owner of Mandi Ahmedgarh, said their business had been hit hard due to manual harvesting. He said if this trend continued, they would face a hard time in future.



PAU to put surplus land to commercial use
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, April 12
The Punjab Agricultural University authorities are contemplating to generate funds by putting varsity’s surplus land, to commercial use. The said land spreads from gate No. 2 to Aggar Nagar on the Ferozepore road and has a very high market value.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, said here today that the board of management of the university had already approved the proposal, but how the land would be used for commercial purposes was yet to be decided. He said the PAU authorities had discussed the matter with the MC authorities and they had been asked to suggest possible methods of putting the land to commercial use. He said the senior architect and the estate officer of the university were also studying various proposals. The land could be auctioned or leased out to prospective buyers. There was a proposal to have a shopping-cum-flat complexes or an office accommodation on the said land.

Dr Aulakh said the university would also put the Prithipal Singh Indoor Stadium to commercial use. A committee had been set up examine the proposal.

The stadium could be used as a marriage palace and an exhibition hall, he said. He, however, emphasised that the authorities would ensure that the academic environment of the university was no disturbed due to the commercial use of the surplus land.

Enquiries show that the university is facing financial constraints as the state government has not released arrears worth Rs 21.7 crore for the past three years. The amount pertains to the GPF contribution of teachers and non-teachers. Even for the current financial year, the university has passed a deficit budget to the tune of Rs 19 crore.

The Punjab Government has agreed in principle to provide a fund of Rs 100 crore to the university and has also sanctioned the first instalment of Rs 20 crore out of the same, but the amount has not been received so far.

The prices of commercial land along the Ferozepore road vary from Rs 20,000 to 30,000 per sq yard and the sale of surplus land, as proposed by the university, may fetch it a handsome amount to meet its financial commitments. 



Barnala to release granth on Sobha Singh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
The Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, will release S.Sobha Singh Smriti Granth in observance of the birth centenary of Sobha Singh at the auditorium of Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar here, on April 19. The 400-page smriti granth has been compiled and edited by Mr Parduman Singh Bedi, Mr Gurbhajan Gill and Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwer and has been published with the financial assistance of the Sardar Sobha Singh Memorial Foundation.

The granth contains articles by nearly 60 prominent writers, including Dr Mulk Raj Anand, Dr B.N. Goswami, Uma Vasudeva, Amrita Pritam, Prof Pritam Singh, Dr Harcharan Singh, Dr M.S. Randhawa, Gurbux Singh Preet Lari, novelist Nanak Singh, Jaswant Singh Kanwal, Surjit Singh Barnala, Parkash Singh Badal, B.C. Sanyal, Hirday Paul Singh; S.G. Thakur Singh, Prem Singh and Mehar Singh, all artists. The granth contains 80 photographs of important paintings and the life of the artist.

The function will be addressed among others by Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, Dr Surjit Patar, President of the Punjabi Sahitya Akademi, Amrik Singh Pooni, Prof Gurbhajan Gill and Hirday Paul Singh, Hindi poet and grandson of the artist. A slide show depicting the life and work of Sobha Singh by eminent photo artist T.P.S.Sandhu would also be organised on the occasion.



BKU seeks restoration of free power, water
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
The BKU, reacting to the proposal of the Union Government to freeze the prices of farm produce, has reiterated its demand to link prices with the price index and also to come forward with support price for the forthcoming crop without further delay.

A meeting of the state executive of the BKU held here yesterday with its president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, in the chair made a strong case for minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at Rs 980 per quintal and that for pulses and oilseeds at Rs 2,860 per quintal based on the wholesale price index.

Expressing concern over the dwindling agricultural economy and the increasing indebtedness of farmers, the BKU functionaries urged the government to remit all farm loans and slash the rate of interest on farm credit to a maximum of 4 per cent so that the farmers could easily pay back the loans.

The BKU secretary general, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, said the meeting called upon the state government to restore the facility of free power and water to farmers in the wake of improvement in the financial health of the state. “The Chief Minister had promised that the facility will be restored once the state turned the corner. Now that the government is in a comfortable position as far as the availability of funds is concerned, the commitment should be fulfilled.”

The BKU demanded that the growers should be paid fully for the crop at Rs 100 per quintal and those who had received payment of Rs 70 should be paid the balance amount immediately. According to Mr Kadian, the meeting also demanded early action for the payment of 100 per cent compensation to farmers for crop loss due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm at several places in the state. Though the government had ordered special girdawri for this purpose yet no follow up action had yet been taken to assess the actual losses.



Expert lays stress on crop diversification
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
“The primary threat to nature and people today comes from centralising and monopolising power and control. Not until diversity is made the logic of production will there be a chance for sustainability, justice and peace. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is a survival imperative,” said Ms Vandana Shiva at a talk organised by the Media Artists & JDM R&D Foundation on social, environmental and economic justice at Punjabi Bhavan here this morning.

Mr Surjit Patar introduced Ms Vandana as a winner of the Right Livelihood Award, also called the Nobel Alternative.

She has written 11 books and is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Environment, which works on biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats of livelihoods and environment by centralised systems of monoculture in forestry, agriculture and fisheries.

Dr Vandana said, “Farmers are committing suicide all over the country as they do not get the just price. When the minimum support price is fixed, it causes uproar. Diversity in crops is the only solution to farmers’ survival.

The main reason for the diversification of crops is to save water. But mono-diversity is not the answer. The farmers have to be encouraged to sow crops that take less water like “chana and makki” crop.

She said that in foreign countries, the organic farming is increasing by 20 per cent. Economically genetic engineering of food has not been very successful. Ms Vandana said,” 99 per cent new seeds are evolved by the farmers and only 1 per cent are developed by the companies. Why should they pay money for patented seeds?”

She said the government had to stop the free import and restrict it as our farmers have to compete with the lower prices of imported produce. Developed countries are dumping their produce and causing ruination of our farmers.

The privatisation of water in Orissa caused farmers to quit farming as water cost 13 times more. The control of water is being given to MNCs’ as the government says that it cannot manage water resources. Moreover, they bring in money.

But it has been seen the world over that wherever water has been privatised and given in the hands of MNCs’ agriculture has finished. The plan is to get food from outside and divert water for industry and people.

Earlier, Mr SS Johal also emphasised on the diversification of crops to save water.



MC responds to residents’ demand
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
Swinging into action, MC officials arranged a temporary power connection to run a submersible pump in Fateh Ganj mohalla in the old city, within 24 hours of a distress call by area residents for ensuring water supply.

The Ludhiana Welfare Council, a representative body of the residents, had submitted a memorandum to the MC authorities and the area legislator, Mr Surinder Dawar, bringing to their notice the acute scarcity of water in the area. They had pointed out that a submersible pump had been installed in the area, but it had been non-functional for the past many months as it had no power connection.

According to Mr Satinder Pal Singh Chadha, the residents had been persistently calling upon civic officials and the area councillor, Mr Kailash Kapoor, for remedial measures to tide over the water shortage. A submersible pump was installed in the locality, but in the absence of power connection, it remained non-functional and the situation did not improve.

As the demand for water went up with the onset of summer season, the society again took up the matter with MC officials. A delegation also met Mr Surinder Dawar, MLA, seeking his intervention. Mr Chadha said the pump started working last evening after a temporary power connection was provided. The society had urged the civic administration to ensure that the pump remained functional with the temporary power connection till a permanent connection was provided by the PSEB.



Of nature and human nature

Ludhiana, April 12
Historians and anthropologists, artists and scientists, believe that nature is older than all the organic organisms. The sun and the earth existed for long before the first living cell was formed. Nature is both a mother and nurse, a guide and friend. Teacher and philosopher. The mystics look at nature as the manifestation of the creator. The biologist tries step by step to unfold the secrets.

He will never find the ultimate truth. The artist admires the beauty. Recreates through a medium of his choice, skill and expertise.

Artists of the world are universal approach. Being honest in pursuit, are aesthetic in appeal. Music is soulful, dance is cosmic.

Painting imbibes rhythm of colour as silent music. Imaginatively executed, a photograph of nature affects tellingly.

The visual fine arts have devised better tools and means, courtesy scientific advancement. Photography and cinematography have grown by leaps and flights. The aesthetic principle is the same. Alfred Eisentaedt, US Life magazine photographer, writes, “The most important thing is not clicking the is clicking with the subject.” Ludhiana-based photo-artist, TPS Sandhu has learnt so. Both inspirationally and studiedly.

Nature as subject is close to his heart and mind. He believes that nature is beauty, purest manifestation of God. “It is at once truth, beauty and goodness.

Universal mother, nurse, teacher and trainer rolled into one. Mysteries should be enjoyed.

Moments of beauty should be stilled and preserved, shared and passed on,” he adds. He takes the photograph of nature as antidote to depression or mental disturbance.

“Nature never did betray / The heart that loved her,” concludes Wordsworth convincingly. In fact no flower is mean, no leaf is unwanted. Man poisons environs.

In his lust, man is unkind to human kind. The situation is alarming. Mental diseases are multiplying. French philosophical genius, Voltaire, gives a priceless gift to the seekers of wisdom through his wise-words, “Nature has always had more force than education.”

It is such thoughts that true artists discover and realise their own ways. Sandhu intuitionally joins the admirers of nature. Arts are relevant and corrective, educative and affective.

Sandhu has held solo exhibitions. Recently, Sandhu-Ranjodh Singh duo organised one with nature as theme. Photo-artists elicited appreciative comments form the elite.

At Jalandhar Gymkhana Club, the artists found new avenues of meeting the aesthetic eye through the magic eye of the lens. Photograph widens horizons, even mental ones.

A photograph of nature fights diseases as non-medicinal anti-dote to physical aberrations and psychological misconception, any disorder. “To expand the room and home, space and world, provide some space to a photograph,” they modestly say.

A good photograph helps in mental therapy, relieves tension, fights depression. Looking at trees, and flowers, sun and clouds, seas and mountains is soothing and refreshing. “A fine photographic entry expels worries,” Sandhu concludes. Try it.

M.S. Cheema



Mann for trade via Wagah
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12“The Congress is the main stumbling block in the way of unity between former CM Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. After enjoying the patronage of the present regime, especially during the SGPC elections, Mr Tohra is finding it hard to shrug off the favours,” says Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief and MP Simranjit Singh Mann.

Talking to The Tribune here today, he said he was concerned about the economy of Punjab which is in a deplorable state. There was scant procurement of agricultural produce and potato farmers were on the verge of bankruptcy.

He said when he raised this issue with the Agriculture Minister, the minister told him that the Punjab government had not sent a formal request to tide over the potato crisis.

Mr Mann condemned the “lackadaisical” attitude of the state government. Free trade through the Wagah route was the key to economic progress and growth in Northern India, he added.

Regarding commutation of the death penalty to life imprisonment of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, he said the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had assured him that the needful would be done.

He added that his party has urged the state government to ban the activities of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan of Ashutosh.



Body seeks Swiss asylum for hijackers

Ludhiana, April 12
The International Human Rights Organisation has urged the Switzerland Government to grant political asylum to four Sikh hijackers who have been ordered to leave Switzerland by May 8.

In a communique issued here today, Mr Mohinder Singh Grewal, secretary general of the organisation, four hijackers ‘‘had been supporting the Sikh cause of political, social and religious freedom in India.’’ He said the four, including Jasvir Singh, Karan Singh Khalsa, Dalip Singh Khalsa and Harminder Singh Khalsa had served sentences in Pakistan and went to Switzerland where they had been living for the past eight years. Mr D.S. Gill, chairperson of the organisation, while endorsing the appeal, said if they would be deported to India they might face the fate of Prof Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, who was deported to India by Germany. TNS



2 killed, 5 hurt in roof collapse
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 12
Two persons were killed and five others injured in Mandiala Kalan village, 15 km from here, last night when the roof of a house collapsed.
According to police station incharge, ASI Jaswant Singh, eight migrant labourers were sleeping on the roof of a house while three inside the house in the fields of a farmer, Amarjit Singh of Mandiala Kalan village. At about 11p.m., the roof collapsed in which seven persons were injured. Two of them died later. The deceased have been identified as Akhilesh Kumar and Bikhari Rai. Post-mortem examinations of the bodies were conducted at the Civil Hospital, Khanna. The five injured were discharged after a first aid.



Sodomy accused held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The local police today arrested Harjinder Singh, alias Jinder, an accused in a sodomy case involving a 10-year-old- boy of Janta Nagar.
According to police sources the Division No 6 police had already registered a case against him under Sections 377 and 506 of the IPC for allegedly sodomising a boy on April 10.

The victim’s father had complained to the police against accused. The medical report by the local Civil Hospital had confirmed sodomy. The accused, according to police, has confessed the crime.



Workshop on upgrading knitwear industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
Knitwear Club and Benninger India, with support from the Ludhiana Dyeing Association (Cotton Division), Dyeing Factories Association, Ludhiana Knitters Association and Textiles Committee, organised a workshop on ‘Open Width Processing - Challenges and Solutions’ here on Friday.

The resource person for the workshop was Mr Arnold Wohlgensinger, a Sales Director with Benninger Co. Ltd, Switzerland, who was accompanied by Mr C.N. Guruprasad, Senior Marketing Manager of Benninger India.

Addressing the participants, which included dyers, processors and knitters, Mr Wohlgensinger explained the concept of open width processing in detail with major emphasis in comparison with the tubular process, in practice these days. He said the open width processing, a state-of-the-art technology, was gaining popularity worldwide. He supported his views with technical inputs on the functioning of the machine, its working and the advantages it could offer over tubular processing. “The new technology (open width processing) can lead to a major cost saving, removal of major fabric problems being faced in tubular processing, besides conservation of natural resources as water, fuel and steam.”

Mr C.N. Guruprasad gave a brief address on ‘Bicoflex’ padders taking into account the normal working conditions and the limitations posed by the reduction in lot sizes and increasing variation among the requirements.

In his opening remarks, Mr Narinder Miglani, general secretary of the Knitwear Club, said the workshop aimed at apprising the entrepreneurs of various issues related to open width processing, challenges posed and the solutions. He urged the industry to make the maximum use of the new technological advancements throughout the world. Mr Vinod Thapar, president of the club, observed that this was a relatively new area and awareness creation was the foremost step.

In his concluding remarks, Mr Kesho Ram, president of the Ludhiana Dyeing Association said many doubts about technology and apprehensions about its applications had been removed and the local industry needed such programmes aimed at technology advancement to reach up to global standards.


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