Sunday, April 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


VB serves fresh summons on schools
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has issued fresh summons to four top schools in the city to send their representatives to appear before the investigating officer at Chandigarh next week to reply to the charge of seeking donation at the time of admission to kindergarten. Representatives of four schools that had appeared before the Vigilance Bureau last week had sought more time to present records pertaining to admissions during the past 10 years.

This time the schools have been called one at a time from Tuesday to Thursday next and the Vigilance Bureau is reported to have told the schools to depute some responsible persons to appear before the investigating officer. Last week, all four schools had sent clerks or peons to Chandigarh to seek more time on the grounds that records were not readily available.

The Vigilance Bureau is working on certain specific complaints that say that merit was being ignored for money as some middlemen and school officials, in connivance with senior officials of the district administration, were admitting students after collecting money in the name of donations. The Vigilance Bureau is believed to be in possession of certain incriminating evidence against schools’ authorities and middlemen.

Parents of some children, who were denied admission to Sacred Heart Schools at Sarabha Nagar and Bhai Randhir Singh (BRS) Nagar, DAV School at BRS Nagar and Guru Nanak Public School at Sarbha Nagar, are believed to have submitted affidavits to the Vigilance Bureau stating that money was demanded from them openly at the time of admission.

Affected parents have also formed an association to pursue the matter to a logical conclusion as an earlier inquiry into the matter by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari, has yielded no result. Some of these parents, including Mr Rajiv Kalia, Mr Manu Nanda, Dr Deepak Jain, Mr Munish Kumar and Mr Rajan Jain, have in a signed statement alleged that Sacred Heart Convent, Sarabha Nagar, and DAV Public School, Randhir Singh Nagar, had asked them for donations at the time of admission of their wards.

These parents have suggested that in order to break the nexus between schools and middlemen, the administration must direct the schools authorities to conduct a lucky draw for new admissions. They have also suggested that the administration should ban the collection of money in the name of building and development funds.

They have also demanded that collection of Rs 5,000 by DAV Public School as security fee should be stopped. These parents have made an appeal to all parents who have been asked for donations to come out and share their experience with the Vigilance Bureau so that the menace of donation can be checked.

In an interesting development, the Vigilance Bureau has been able to identify at least one middleman, who has been allegedly in constant touch with one of the school principals in person and on phone. Sources in the bureau claim that they have been able to trace his repeated mobile phone calls to the said principal. Legal opinion is being sought to issue a notice to the alleged middleman.

The bureau is reported to have gathered incriminating evidence that shows that not only senior district officials, but also several political leaders were making recommendations to these schools asking school managements to admit children recommended by them.

The authorities of some schools said they had received fresh summons from the Vigilance Bureau and that they would send responsible persons to Chandigarh on the designated date.

However, the schools authorities are still expressing their inability to present admission record for the past 10 years and expected to get more time for the same.


Youth sustains serious burns
Comes in contact with high-tension wires
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
A youth sustained serious burn injuries when he accidentally came in contact with high tension wires in the Kitchlu Nagar area here today.

The incident involving Jamalpur-Moga 220/132/66 KV high-tension power line passing through the area has left the area residents fuming as they had been writing to the state government about the danger. Towers of this power line are even installed in a school and a medical college.

Jagraj Singh, of the Haibowal area, received more than 80 per cent burn injuries after he was pulled by transmission lines while standing on the terrace of a temple in the area.

He was rushed to the DMC hospital where the doctors attending on him said his condition was critical.

Jagraj Singh, running a studio in Haibowal, had gone to Kitchlu Nagar to buy tin sheets from a temple. When he climbed the roof of the temple, he was pulled by high-tension wires running above the terrace.

Residents of the area said this was third such incident that had occurred due the high-tension wires. Mr Rakesh Verma, president of the Giani Zail Singh Ekta Dal, said the line passed through Bhartiya Vidya Mandir and Lord Mahavira Medical College and Hospital where a number of school children and medical students were exposed to danger.

Mr Inderjit Singh said they had made several representations to the state government and various other agencies but to no avail. He said an SDM was directed last year to inquire into the issue who called certain meetings with the residents of the area. But nothing came out of it.

They said they had written to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Punjab Human Rights Commission, All-India Medical Institute, Central Board of School Education, UNICEF, Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation to do the needful.

Stating that the the construction of various structures under the high voltage transmission lines was illegal under rule number 77, 79, 80 and 89 A of the Indian Electricity Act, 1956, the duo said they were surprised how the local administration allowed the construction of these institutes.

Meanwhile, the grief-struck parents of Jagraj Singh were shaken after the incident. Stating that he was the only hope for them in their twilight years, Jagraj's parents said he was the bread-winner of the family.


Stubble burns as admn sleeps
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Even as the district administration is yet to impose a ban on burning of wheat stubble, farmers in the district have started burning stubble, posing a threat to the environment and the health of the soil.

Although some area under crop is still to be harvested, the farmers have started burning stubble in order to prepare fields for the next crop.

A visit to villages on the Ludhiana-Samrala highway revealed that the practice had already started and the farmers were well aware of the fact that it was an environmental hazard and a threat to the soil, besides the friendly insects and worms.

A farmer, who had set the stubble ablaze, said he knew that he was not supposed to do so, but he could not wait for long since he had to prepare fields for the next crop.

“Some farmers have already prepared the fields for sowing the nurseries of paddy and some have even sown them long back. So it gives me sleepless nights when I think that my work is being delayed”, he said.

When he was asked that the burning would cause respiratory problems and it would affect the health of the soil, he replied: “People can suffer for 15 days for the sake of crops. After all we are not continuing with this practice for a year. It is just a matter of few days”.

Agricultural experts said the level of carbon dioxide was rising constantly in the atmosphere as a result the temperature was rising.

Dr B.S. Sidhu, Professor of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, said the crop residue was considered to be a waste earlier but it was actually a natural resource.

He said its proper management was the need of the time.

He said by burning the paddy and wheat straw farmers lost over one lakh tonne of nitrogen every year, which amounted to a loss of Rs 90 crore.

Doctors in the city stated that they were receiving patients complaining of various respiratory problems due to the dust particles suspended in the air due to harvesting.


Fake currency racket smashed, one held
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Khanna, April 26
The local police today claimed to have smashed a major fake currency racket with the arrest of a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, who was kingpin of the gang. Fake currency worth Rs 1.10 lakh was seized from his possession.

The police has also rounded up a woman advocate and her husband in this regard.

Interrogation of the accused has once again brought to fore the disturbing scenario of jails in the state, which allegedly seem to be breeding ground for the criminals. The accused got into illegal trade after coming in contact with fake currency smugglers lodged at the Central Jail, Patiala. The accused had been changing his identity and address frequently.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police, Khanna, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, the accused, Gurcharan Singh, also known as Kalsi, alias Kishore Kumar, alias Gurmail Singh, was a resident of Model town, Mandi Gobindgarh district, Fatehgarh Sahib.

The SSP said on a tip-off, a special naka was set up near Galwadi village on the Amloh road. The accused came on a scooter and tried to flee on seeing a police party. He was, however, arrested and fake currency notes worth Rs 1,10,000 were seized from him.

Mr Sarao said during interrogation Gurcharan Singh revealed that he was lodged in Patiala jail for involvement in car theft case where he came in contact with Romesh, a resident of Delhi, and Situ, Kuku and Baba, all dealing in fake currency. He started dealing in fake currency in the Khanna area. He confessed to have circulated a large amount of fake currency in the state.

The accused said he was getting fake currency at the cost of Rs 30,000 per lakh and distributed it at Rs 50,000 per lakh. The police would bring his accomplices from the Central Jail, Patiala, on production warrant soon, the SSP said.

Meanwhile, Mr Satya Wart, father of the woman advocate, has alleged that his daughter was arrested at 4 a.m. in the absence of a woman police officer. The SSP, Mr Sarao, denied the charge and said a woman police official was also present at the time of arrest.

Mr Wart alleged that his daughter was suffering from a heart problem and she had not been given food since she was picked up.

Denying the charges, Mr Sarao said he had directed his staff to arrange medical help for the rounded-up persons. He said the police would take action against them only after verification. 


Diversification a paying proposition’
Amarjit Thind & Ravi Inder Makkar

Urna (Macchhiwara), April 26
A large number of farmers at a farmers meet organised by the Punjab Agro Foodgrains Corporation (PAFC) were surprised to know that diversification could pay such rich dividends and that they could reap three crops simultaneously and have time to go in for basmati.

The PAFC, under its diversification programme, organised the meet here today where the farmers of nearby areas were shown intercropping pattern at the farm of progressive farmer Buta Singh Kular. He had successfully grown winter maize and the standing crop was excellent.

Mr Buta Singh told the farmers that he had already earned more than Rs 12,000 per acre by selling his peas crop which was inter-cultivated in maize fields and he expected an additional Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per acre from the standing crop.

He said he had transplanted mentha as an inter-crop in the maize field and expected to pocket another Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per acre, thus, fetching Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 per acre. The best part was that he still had to grow basmati in the same field, he declared proudly. Mr Rai Singh, a progressive farmers of Hariou village, near Samrala, also told the farmers the benefits of growing hyola.

Addressing the farmers, Dr Tarlok Singh Sahota, technical consultant with the corporation, said under the diversification programme, Punjab Agro had launched its multi-crop, multi-year contract farming programme during the last rabi season. Diversification was the sole solution for the lean time witnessed by the state's agriculture sector, he pointed out.

Since October, the PAFC had gone in for cultivation of various crops under its CFP programme which include hyola (gobhi sarson), winter maize, spring maize, sunflower, barley and pulses. The initial response had been very encouraging and more and more farmers were eager to join this programme.

"We have already received a large number of registrations from the farmers for the coming seasons. Hyola, mustard farming has particularly been very successful. It has yielded about 8 to10 quintals per acre of average produce fetching the farmer the amount of Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 per quintal", said an official.

Mr Vasdev, assistant general manager at Jalandhar, said it could be well estimated that as against the wheat - paddy rotation, the gross return of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 per acre per year, the farmers joining this programe with an intelligent selection of crops rotation could easily fetch Rs 40,000 to Rs 45,000 per acre per year from the same field with the additional benefit of saving water resources and other farm inputs.

He further said the corporation had already tied up with companies like Mahindra Shub Labh, Escorts, DCM, Shriram, Rallies, Pepsi Foods, KRBC, United Rice for carrying out an extension programme in the state and these companies would provide technical expertise on growing various crops like basmati, durum wheat, maize, sunflower.

As the PAFC had declared a pre-determined price of crops to be grown under contract, the farmer would be free to decide on the crop he wanted to grow and be assured of fixed returns, he added.

Mr N.K. Sharma, senior manager, PAFC, informed that a number of farmer camps had already been organised and a large number of farmers had attended the camps and got themselves registered for joining the programme.

Mr S.S Bassi, senior district manager, Ludhiana, said the programme had gained importance, especially in a year, when the farmers had faced a decrease in the yield of wheat this year, thus, reducing their returns.

He further added that during the next rabi season, the corporation would start an elaborate programme for durum wheat and seed for about 1lakh acres had already been produced under the seed production programme.


Cops’ remand extended
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
All six police personnel arrested in connection with the police-criminal nexus were remanded in police custody for one more day by a districts court.

Meanwhile, police sources said the remaining five accused were also likely to surrender soon. They had sent feelers that they wanted to surrender and express their point of view regarding the scandal.

The cops were produced amidst tight security at the district courts. They were Jaswinder Singh, Sartaj Singh, Milkha Singh, Amrik Singh, Rakesh Kumar and Prem Singh.

Those yet to be arrested are SI Balbir Singh, SI Darshan Ram, Head Constable Kuldip Singh, Head Constable Amrik Singh and constable Amrik Singh.


Encroachments galore in Chaura Bazar
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 26
The once premier shopping centre, Chaura Bazar, which literally means ‘broad market’, has been rendered so narrow due to encroachments all along the stretch from Clock Tower to Ghas Mandi that at times it is very difficult, if not impossible, to traverse through the maze of haphazardly parked vehicles, roadside venders, rehris and merchandise of all hue, stockpiled by shopkeepers on both sides of the road.

Almost without an exception, either the shopkeepers in the market have let out a portion in front of their respective shops to phariwalas, who stock their goods on the road, extending well over four to six feet on each side. Some shopkeepers extend their sales counters and display their stocks enroaching upon a portion of the road. The result is that the effective width of the road has been reduced by anything from 10 to 15 feet throughout the entire stretch of the market.

Permanently stationed rehris and vehicles parked in front of shops add to the misery of the shoppers in the market that had a glorious past. In old days, the market was famous for its vast variety and big showrooms of readymade garments, textiles, sarees, footwear, upholstery, hosiery, crockery and glassware. Traffic jams are a daily routine in the market.

The encroachments in the market apart, the place has lost its charm over the years due to massive growth in the city population and a proportionate increase in vehicular pollution. The distance between the market and posh localities that came into existence over the past two decades and difficult access to the market as far as swanky cars are concerned, have seen the historic market being edged out by other commercial centres like Mall Road, Ghumar Mandi, Model Town, Ferozepore Road and Sarabha Nagar.

One of the shopkeepers, who has seen better times and hordes of shoppers who used to visit the market even from very far away places in the not so distant past, turns nostalgic when asked about the prevailing state of affairs. “The affluent customers or majority of them have gone away and perhaps permanently to other fashionable and better located markets in the city. The main reason behind this shift is accessibility to the market. Most of the time, it is difficult to even walk on foot through the market what to speak of coming on a two-wheeler or a car.”

Another shopkeeper justifies the presence of phariwalas in the market. “Business is not good for a variety of reasons and over the years quite a few well-known business houses have shifted to other markets. For those who are still here, letting out some frontage of the shop with right to stock goods on roadside is a paying proposition because it ensures a daily flow of funds in otherwise bad period”, he says.

Practically all shopkeepers are to be blamed for rampant encroachments in the market as when even the civic body or the police launches a drive to remove rehris etc, these shopkeepers invariably come to their rescue. But even they blame the authorities for their inaction to improve things. Scores of shopkeepers complain of lack of civic amenities, absence of storm water drainage which leads to accumulation of water during rainy season, inadequate sewerage network with frequently choked and overflowing sewers.

If the shopkeepers are guilty of aiding and abetting encroachments in the market, even though at their own peril, the Municipal Corporation is also equally responsible of non-performance. The Tehbazari wing, entrusted with the job of removing temporary encroachments has been ignoring the menace for reasons best known its officials.


Railways apologises to scribe for overcharging
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The Northern Railway has acted fast in apologising to a senior journalist, who was overcharged by a coach attendant while he was travelling from Ludhiana to New Delhi yesterday morning by the Shatabdi Express, and ordered full refund of the excess amount charged from the scribe.

The authorities have also ordered the Ferozepore Divisional Officer to conduct an inquiry into the functioning of the local railway reservation office and to get details about reservations in two coaches of the Shatabdi Express so as to ascertain how many persons travelled in those coaches. The Northern Railway has also directed its vigilance wing to conduct frequent raids on the Amritsar-New Delhi section, especially in the trains like the Shatabdi Express to see if any unauthorised person is allowed by the coach attendants after taking bribe.

The journalist was overcharged by a coach attendant though he had an upper-class ticket. On his arrival in New Delhi, the scribe wrote to the Chairman of the Railway Board, who ordered an inquiry by an Additional General Manger of the Northern Railway. The Northern Railway authorities got so panicky that preliminary inquiries were held with in a period of four hours and the inquiry officer personally contacted the journalist to apologise for the lapse. Later, he sent a written apology and informed the journalist that the Northern Railways had ordered the refund of the excess amount charged by the coach attendant.

There have been many complaints against coach attendants of Shatabdi trains. Many persons travel without ticket in these trains in connivance with coach attendants after paying a percentage of the actual fare, which is pocketed by unscrupulous railway staff. This way, they make thousands of rupees every day and the Railways incurs heavy losses.


Pensioners seek separate counters
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The State Bank of India, Civil Lines, organised a function for pensioners here today. A large number of pensioners attended it.

Mr B. R. Kaushal, president of the Punjab State Pensioners Confederation, proposed that during the first 10 days of the month, separate counters for pensioners to enable them to draw their monthly pension should be arranged. He said this might be done keeping in view the recent directions of the Punjab Government that pensioners could draw their pension only from the public sector nationalised banks and not district treasuries.

Mr N.L. Joshi, Assistant General Manager, assured that the facility would be provided from May 1 onwards for the first 10 days as represented.

It was also represented that the rate of interest on all sorts of deposits should be higher by 0.5 per cent over the normal rate of interest on deposits regardless of the age of pensioners. Consideration should be given to the pensioners even if they are below the age of 65 years, they said.


Criminal brought from Tihar Jail
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The police has brought a criminal on remand here from the Tihar Jail to settle cases pertaining to shootouts that took place last month near Sahnewal between Kashmiri militants and smugglers, who were arrested while carrying fake currency.

The criminal was booked under the National Security Act.

Police sources said the criminal, Mukesh, was brought here two days ago and was being grilled by senior officers.

Though the sources confirmed that the purpose of bringing him here was his alleged links with the terrorists, the police was also suspecting his involvement in the Nirmal Jain murder case.

The police had taken the production warrant in connection with the Jain murder case only.

Earlier, the police had brought Jaya Prakash here from the Tihar Jail in connection with his alleged links with terrorists and fake currency smugglers.

He was also questioned in connection with the Jain murder case.


Ludhiana sets new record in small savings
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
The Ludhiana district has set a new record in small savings collections under various schemes by mobilising a gross collection of Rs 989.18 crore and a net collection of Rs 523.09 crore during the year ended as compared to the corresponding year that noticed a gross collection of Rs 747.67 crore and a net collection of Rs 403.01 crore.

This was stated today by Mr Anurag Agarwal, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana who said the district had achieved the distinction for the 23rd consecutive time in the state. He said with the efforts of government officials concerned and more than 2500 small savings agents, the district had succeeded in persuading people to make investments under various small-scale savings schemes.

He said small savings agents and officials concerned were spread in each and every nook and corner of the district and educating the people regarding the advantages of investments in small savings schemes over the other schemes launched by banks and other financial institutions.

Appreciating the contributions of the officers and the small savings agents, Mr Agarwal exhorted them to continue with their efforts to maintain the lead in the present financial year also.

Referring to the benefit of small savings investments over the other schemes, the Deputy Commissioner said by making investment in small savings, one could win a large number of attractive prizes and ensure participation in the development process of the state, as 25 per cent of the total investment for development projects in the state came from the Government of India.

Mr A.K. Sharma, Deputy Director, Small Savings, Ludhiana, said this achievement had been made with the concerted and joint efforts of small savings agents and government officials including the staff of post offices.

Mr Sharma said the maximum gross collections of Rs 215.40 crore had been collected in Kisan Vikas Patras followed by Rs 137 crore under MIS, Rs 109.76 crore from recurring deposits and Rs 129.24 crore through the PPF schemes.


Jute suits make waves
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 26
If you thought jute was a lowly thing used for making sacks, then think again. Jute in its finer ‘avtaar’, woven slightly rough, but aesthetically pleasing is making waves in the fashion scene. Jute suits embroidered with sequins, painted, ‘salwaar’ suits and parallel suits are being displayed in city shops selling readymade garments.

The jute fabric in self checks, stripes and in off-white shade is widely available. Moreover, shades in blues, pinks, lemons are also finding a lot of customers. Hitesh, a shopkeeper, says: “Only rich women go for suits made in jute fabric. These suits are exclusive and most of the jute suits are ‘designer items’. Cotton suits with jute applique work are also popular with college students”.

Nidhi, a resident, says: “I love jute fabric as it gives a different look. Women go for organdie 2 by 2 fabric and other cotton material, but wearing a jute suit makes you stand out in a crowd. I buy the one mixed with cotton. Though some of my friends buy jute mixed with ‘terene’ as it is uncrushable. Moreover, jute bags are also very smart and make fabulous accessories with the jute suits”.

A range of jute bags is also available. Imported synthetic jute purses are also available.

Ms Leela , a designer, says: “I buy jute fabric from the market. It starts selling from Rs 100 onwards. It can be bought in stripes, self checks, in pastel shades and even printed jute is available. The jute ‘duppatas’ are also available in off-white shade and can be dyed into any shade. With little bit of designing, the suits look simply out of the world. Moreover, when the clients get it tailored, the suits cost under Rs 1,000, whereas the range of readymade suits starts from Rs 1,500 and above”.

Jatinder, another resident, says: “We men are fashion conscious, too. When my wife got a dress made in jute fabric, I liked the texture. So I got a ‘kurta’ stitched of jute fabric”.

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