Friday, May 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Vacate school building, orders DDPO
Kanchan Vasdev

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Taking a serious note of a Tribune report regarding the conversion of a school building into a cattle shed by some villagers at Bassian village, the District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) today ordered to vacate the government school premises. An inquiry has also been ordered into the matter.

The building constructed at a cost of Rs 5.5 lakh was meant for housing a government primary school. But petty politics among two groups of the villagers converted it into a cattle shed. The Ludhiana Tribune had, on May 6, highlighted the grave misuse of the building.

Mr Mohinder Singh Grewal, DDPO, confirmed that the vacation orders had been issued today. He said the news report had highlighted the plight of the school, which was confirmed by a Block Development Officer.

He said their inquiries also revealed that village politics had played spoilsport and destroyed the very purpose of spending public money on the school building.

The DDPO disclosed that an inquiry had also been ordered into the matter and the BDPO of Sudhar block had been entrusted with the inquiry as he was handling additional charge of Raikot block under which the village falls.

He said the sarpanch of the village was under suspension and an inquiry was pending against him also. 



Four mentally challenged to be shifted to Amritsar
Infrastructure in Civil Hospital inadequate
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
While the district administration is in the process of rescuing more mentally challenged persons chained somewhere in the district as a part its 10-day survey, the four rescued ones are all set to be shifted to the mental asylum in Amritsar due to a lack of proper infrastructure in local Civil Hospital for handling such cases.

These four persons — two men and two women — were rescued by a team of the district administration here late yesterday from a charitable institution near Laddowal. Some of them had been chained. They were brought to Civil Hospital here for treatment.

The team had got a tip-off that these persons were in the ashram being run by a godman. After the tip-off, the administration had sent some of its employees to the ashram, who had found three of them chained in different rooms. The team, then, got them rescued.

Civil Hospital sources told TNS here today that there was no special ward for the rescued persons. The male and female patients were being kept in a common ward, causing a problem of its own kind for the nursing staff.

The shocking thing is that relatives of all these persons have left them for good and none of them has turned up here in spite of being called by the hospital authorities. The attending doctors said they, too, had contacted their relatives, but nobody had turned up, so far.

The hospital has no separate ward for these patients. Doctors said they could not be kept with other under-treatment psychiatric patients as they could cause trouble for them. At present, the patients were being kept in the ICU and nobody was behaving in a violent manner.

Dr Sarabjit Kaur, attending psychiatrist, said they were being given anti-psychotic drugs and they were responding to the treatment. She said they would be sent to the mental asylum at Amritsar for further treatment. Three of them — Krishna (32), Inder Singh (35) and Dyal Singh (36), could be treated, but Alka (20), born mentally challenged, presented a tough challenge.

The staff nurses said they had a difficult time last night, as one of the persons, kept pacing up and down the room and disturbing the other three.

Sources said the administration had been tipped off about three more such persons in the district, who would be rescued tonight. 



‘Wonder drugs’ flood market
Claims misleading, say doctors
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, May 8
While the administration seems to have turned a blind eye, manufacturers of several “wonder drugs” claiming sharpening of brain are targeting the students preparing for various entrance examinations.

Through their advertisements, several companies claim that their capsules or syrups can “improve memory and understanding and remove fatigue, laziness and depression.” However, doctors have refuted all such claims by saying that such companies were misleading people by selling their products without prior trials and tests. They said there was no evidence to support their claims and such medicines should not be allowed in the market.

Neurologists and psychiatrists have also pointed out that even though many companies had boldly written “no side-effects” on their cartons, yet many ingredients of such drugs could lead to long-term problems. They said the sale of such medicines was high as many patients, misled by the advertisements, directly went to drug stores where the owners sold them medicines without asking for prescription.

Besides, they said the drug manufacturers were targeting people in small townships such as Ahmedgarh, Jagraon, Doraha, Khanna, Samrala and Machhiwara where they felt it was easy to dupe people.

Dr D.P. Mishra, Reader in Clinical Psychology at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, said there was no literature to support such claims. He said he, too, had been approached by several companies for recommending their “brain tonics” for students finding difficulty in retention or those suffering from depression. He, however, said many doctors lured by the gifts being offered by such companies could be recommending these to their patients.

Dr Gagandeep, Head of the Department of Neurology at DMC, said he never recommended any such medicine to his patients as he felt that these would only make them spend money unnecessarily. He urged the government to set up a drug monitoring agency in India and make sure that no drug could be sold without prior trials.

Similarly, Dr Praveen Sobti, a Paediatrician, said there was no certainty regarding the role of such formulations in sharpening the minds of students. She maintained that all such claims were false.

The owner of one such company marketing the sales of memory capsules at Pindi Street said the product was being manufactured in Hisar. When asked whether these were being sold after prior tests and under a valid licence, he said he was not sure about it as he was simply marketing the capsules.

Regarding the advertisements, he said the product was just one-month old and he could not sell it without advertising it through print and electronic media.

Mr Sanjeev Garg, District Drug Inspector, when contacted, said his duty was to keep a check on the sale of fake allopathic medicines.

He said in case the medicines were herbal in nature, he did not have the power to control their sales. Similarly, Dr S.N. Tewari, Civil Surgeon, said he could not do anything about such medicines if they were some ayurvedic products.



Students in unsafe building
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
It is a school of contrasts. While the reconstruction of the senior secondary wing of Government Model School at Dholewal Chowk is being undertaken by the Parent-Teachers’ Association (PTA) as an ultra-modern Rs 3-crore project, the students of the primary wing are studying in a three-room set, that too declared unsafe by the Public Works Department (PWD)long back.

The senior secondary wing of the school is equipped with latest infrastructure and has complete staff. On the other hand, there are no activities and no educational toys for the students of the primary wing. Besides, the primary wing is also understaffed as there are just three teachers to teach five classes with a strength of 126 students. Since one of these teachers will be retiring soon the primary wing will be left with just two teachers.

Interestingly, the primary wing has recently got more students as it has been merged with a primary school of Nirankari Bhavan as the latter was being run in a rented place and authorities were told to vacate it.

All these students of different classes now sit in a separate room with just one teacher. Since this shifting, the strength of Nirankari Bhavan School has gone down to 22 from an initial number of 50.

The building of the primary wing is in a pathetic condition as roofs and walls of classrooms have developed cracks in it. There are no windows and the rooms are dark and dingy.

There are no lights. While the teachers prefer taking classes out in open, this becomes impossible in hot afternoons or in rainy season.

The worst thing for the primary wing is that there is an overflowing, open drain in the backyard, the stench coming out of which becomes unbearable for the students and staff.

Teachers said it had become a routine problem for them at least for the past three years.

The teachers said they had repeatedly sent their plea to the District Education Department describing the poor conditions they were working in and asking them to do something about it, but nothing had been done so far. The headmistress said the primary wing recently received a grant of Rs 7,000 but that was meant for purchase and maintenance of school furniture.

Despite all this, the teachers of the primary wing are quite optimistic as they believe that they would soon get sufficient grant from the government like their senior secondary wing. 



One-year-old boy tests HIV positive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
A one-year-old baby boy has reportedly tested HIV positive. The case was recently reported by a private city hospital. Both the parents of the baby are also learnt to have tested positive. The father of the baby boy is a truck driver.

Sources in the medical fraternity revealed that during past few months, at least six persons were tested HIV positive. And all of them were truck drivers. Although the names of these persons were being kept a secret, but these have reportedly been submitted to the Civil Surgeon’s office.

The detection of HIV positive cases at regular intervals were being viewed with a sense of concern. The doctors opine that there might be some more HIV positive cases which obviously have not been detected so far. The truck drivers who remain away from their home for longer durations are said to be the most vulnerable to this infection.

There is no standard system for finding out the HIV positive cases so far. All the positive cases have been detected during the random investigations only. Even the recent case of the one-year-old child was detected during a random investigation.

This was followed by the testing of his parents and both of them too tested positive. The district health authorities were said to be having not much infrastructure and other facilities to ensure proper monitoring of the disease which seems to be spreading fast in the state. 



2 booked for cylinder misuse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Focal Point police has booked the owner of a local factory and the manager of another unit for allegedly misusing domestic LPG cylinders for commercial purposes and circulating LPG cylinders without proper documents in the area here today.

The cases were registered after officials of the District Food and Supplies Office raided the factory in connection with the illegal circulation of gas cylinders in the city. Cases have been registered against S. Ganeria, manager of a firm, and Anurag Jain, who owns a factory in Phase-6 of Focal Point.

An official statement issued in the evening by district administration said the raids were conducted under the directions of Minister for Food Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Mr Avtar Henry. The department also confiscated 80 LPG cylinders from roadside vendors who were selling these in an unauthorised manner.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, has warned all industrial units in the district not to use domestic LPG cylinders at their commercial establishments and advised them to change their cylinders and buy commercial ones within a week.



Left parties flay new taxes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Four left parties — the MCPI, the CPM, the CPML and the Forward Block have condemned new taxes levied on the poor and middle class people under the policies of the WTO and liberalisation, paving the way for imperialist globalisation.

The steep hike in college and university fees have pushed education out of the reach of the common man.

This was the consensus at a meeting held here under the presidentship of Jeeta Kaur of the CPM, Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, Mr Prem Singh Bhangoo, Mr Kuldip Singh of the MCPI, Mr Mangat Ram Pasla and Mr Harkanwal Singh of the CPM, Mr VP Saini and Mr Pritam Singh of the state unit of the Forward Block. Mr Rajwinder Rana of the CPML was also present.

It was resolved that a convention would be organised on June 8 at the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall, Jalandhar, from where the next phase of people’s struggle would be announced.

The leaders felt that with the hike in basic services healthcare had become costly. Fresh taxes in the guise of user and service charges have been imposed on water supply and sewerage system, thus, adding to the cost of living in the urban areas.

The farming community and Dalit sections had also not been spared by the Congress regime led by Capt Amarinder Singh as electricity bills had been reimposed which were exempted by the previous government. This amounted to reneging on a poll promise. A hike in bus fares was on the anvil and there were reports about students being deprived of the bus pass facility.

While the people were groaning under the taxes, the government was continuing with the road show of removing corruption. This is a clever ploy to divert the attention of the people from the real economic issues and problems facing the people. Canal irrigation cess had been reintroduced and this time it was on the command area rather than only on the irrigated areas.

Similarly, the bogey of austerity was being raised to retrench workers and employees. Wages and perks of MLAs and ministers had been increased manifold making a mockery of the austerity measures.

The fascination of the Chief Minister to travel by chopper was another burden on the exchequer. Police repression was increasing day by day and elections had been reduced to a mockery of democracy.

The meeting called upon other democratic and secular forces to participate in the convention for saving the people of Punjab. The leaders also flayed the BJP-led NDA government for deferring the Women’s Reservation Bill.



Protest against hike in water charges

Ludhiana, May 8
Residents of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar staged a dharna in protest against the hike in water and sewerage charges in front of the mini-secretariat here today. They also want the local municipal corporation to cancel the exorbitant bills of more than Rs 7 , 000 despatched to them.

The protesters said they were occupants of small 64-yard houses which had been given to them by the government under the 20-point programme. The houses constructed by the Punjab Housing Board had provision for one water connection and a sewerage point for toilets. At the time of the allotment they were told that no water or sewerage charges would be charged from them. But now the civic body was charging them for a service which was free all these years. Moreover, paying such a large amount was beyond their reach, they lamented.



Hike in sewerage, water cess flayed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Ludhiana Motor Parts manufacturers Association has condemned the hike in water and sewerage charges by the state government. Describing the decision to hike charges by 50 per cent as an anti-people measure, the association has asked the government to reconsider the decision.

In a press release issued by Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association, said the hike was unbearable. Mr Joginder Singh Guliani, vice-president of the association, said the hike in water and sewerage charges would adversely affect each and every section of society which would ultimately be a loss to the government in the long run.



7 hurt in clash among villagers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
A clash between two groups at Bassian village left at least seven persons seriously injured. Swords, lathis and sharp-edged weapons were freely used in the clash.

The clash took place over the issue of a school building in which one group had kept cattle.

Raikot DSP H.S. Brar said the injured had been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sudhar.



Antakshri on May 10
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
The local City Jaycees will organise an “antakshri” on Saturday for delegates of Zone 1. Drawn from different cities to participate in a two-day training programme, “Chairmanship and parliamentary system”, to be hosted from Saturday.



Hike in steel prices ‘unjustified’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Punjab has assailed the decision of major steel plants to hike prices in the wake of fall in the prices of steel in the international market.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the association, said here today that steel producers like SAIL, TATA, and Essar had indicated the possibility of an increase in prices of hot-rolled coils against the trend of fall in steel price in the international market. The prices of steel had gone down by about $ 100 a tonne because of the SARS crisis in China where the consumption of steel had slumped due to the closure of steel-using industry. The threat of price rise had disturbed steel-users who had not been able to absorb the earlier 80 per cent abrupt hike in the prices of hot-rolled coils.

The government had proposed to bail out steel plants at a much heavier cost to banks and financial institutions. Earlier, nine bailouts had been worked out for three thermal plants. He maintained that the bailout was not justified as the capacity utilisation in the industry had increased from 76 per cent in 1999-2000 to 88 per cent and the exports had gone up by 40 per cent.


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