Wednesday, May 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


DC conducts surprise checks
Single-window system soon for DTO office 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
A day after joining as the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, Mr Anurag Verma, has issued directions to all departments to stop the practice of seeking and sanctioning leave over the telephone.

The directions came after Mr Verma conducted surprise checks in the offices situated in Mini Secretariat at 9 a.m. today and found that sanctioning of leave over the telephone was quite prevalent in various offices of the district administration.

Stating that any employee, who failed to seek prior sanction of the leave should be considered absent except under unavoidable circumstances.

The checks were conducted in all branches of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, offices of DEOs (Secondary and Primary), Divisional Town Planner, District Transport Officer, SDM (East), Sub Registrar (East) and Sub-Registrar (West) and Deputy Director (Local Bodies).

A senior assistant was found absent in the office of Deputy Director (Local Government). The DC took a notice of some employees, who were sent on tour by the officers in charge without making entry in the movement register. On this, the Deputy Commissioner directed the controlling officer to properly maintain the movement register and any official, who was to go out of station, must make entry in the register.

During the checking of DTO Office, the Deputy Commissioner found that large number of people were standing in a queue for getting photographed for driving licenses. About this, the DTO informed that there was an acute shortage of sanctioned staff as compared to the requirement, due to the increased work load of registration of vehicles and driving licenses during the last about 10 years.

After discussion with the Mr Mukand Singh Sandhu, DTO, the Deputy Commissioner decided to introduce a single window system in DTO Office to minimise the harassment and unnecessary wastage of time of the people. He asked the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rahul Bhandari to take this assignment as a special project and prepare the complete plan for single window system in consultation with the DTO.

He said after introducing the new system, the applicants for getting driving license or new registration of the vehicle would have to submit complete applications on an earmarked window and a slip would be issued to them mentioning the final date for getting his work done and on that date his document would be returned to them after doing the needful at the same window.

The Deputy Commissioner said as per the directions of the Chief Secretary, Punjab, punctuality and presence of the employees during the office hours would be strictly ensured , so that, the public, visiting the government offices in connection with their routine works, could get justice without any delay and harassment.

The Deputy Commissioner noticed that some places in the Mini Secretariat were filled with filth and waste papers. He then directed all the officers in charge to get their offices properly cleaned from inside and outside, so that, the proper cleanliness could be ensured in whole complex.

Among others who accompanied the Deputy Commissioner included Mr Rahul Bhandari, ADC (G), and Mr M.S. Jaggi, SDM (West).



Redressal of public grievances is my top priority: DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, today said top priority of his governance in the district would be the redressal of public grievances effectively and timely, speedy expedition of development projects and efficient implementation of all policies and programmes of the government for the welfare of the people. The DC announced this here today during his first interaction with the mediapersons at the committee room in Mini Secretariat. He said he would be conducting a massive survey of the city to know about its ailments and to look for the scope of improvement.

He said he would personally give maximum time to redress the public grievances in his office and would ensure that all the other district heads also dispose off the public complaints at the earliest. He said he would also hold the meetings of the officers, in which those complaints would be settled, which due to some reasons remained unsolved with in a period of 15 days, in the presence of complainant at the meeting.

Responding to a point regarding the steps to clear the illegal encroachments and kiosks from the two roads leading to the CMC Hospital i.e. from Jagroan Bridge via Jail Road and from Lakshmi Cinema via Subhani Building, the Deputy Commissioner said this problem was also brought into his notice by doctors of the CMC yesterday, when he went to see the injured of Khud Mohalla fire and train tragedy there and said he would take urgent steps to clear all obstacles on these two roads, so that the patients could be shifted efficiently to the CMC without any delay.

Regarding the survey of the hazardous industrial and commercial units in the city on the directions of the CM, Punjab, after the fire tragedy in Khud Mohalla, Mr Verma said he was going to hold a meeting of the officers concerned, today itself and would review the whole situation minutely, so that the required steps could be taken in time by the government.

Meanwhile, the BJP, while extending welcome to the new Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, has expressed confidence that the new incumbent would serve the district in an independent and diligent manner, like his predecessor, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, did. The district president of the party Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, said in a statement here today that in his address to the employees, Mr Verma had exhorted them to accord top priority to the routine work of the public on a daily basis, which amply reflected his intentions.



No SIT probe into VCD expose
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Provide security to satta operators, police told

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the ADGP (Security) Punjab to immediately give security to Subash Katty and Bittu Chawla, alleged satta operators and protagonists in the VCD case, who had complained of having received threats from some senior officials after the expose.

A copy of the orders issued on May 14 and received here today said the commission was completely satisfied with the allegations made in the petition and it had also upheld the petitioners’ view that the task of providing them with security should not be given over to the Ludhiana police, as they had accused it of corruption and threatening them.

Ludhiana, May 20
The Punjab Government has changed its earlier decision to get VCD expose investigated by a special investigation team (SIT) headed by an ADGP. The media expose had compelled the government to announce a probe by the SIT into the case involving 11 city cops, who were seen taking bribe in these VCDs from two alleged satta operators.

Almost a month has elapsed since the scam rocked the state. The satta operators had in these VCDs left nothing to imagination and had even hinted at the involvement of top police echelon in the police-satta operators nexus. It is perhaps pressure from these senior police officers, who may be exposed if the matter is probed, that the government has changed its decision appointing the SIT saying that the government was satisfied with the ongoing inquiries.

Senior officials told The Tribune that there was no need for the SIT since the internal vigilance cell of the Punjab Police, Vigilance Bureau and Detective Wing of the Ludhiana police were already conducting independent investigations in the case. Barely days after the scam came to light senior officer announced at Chandigarh that the government had decided to constitute the SIT for probe in the case. It was to be headed by ADGP (Crime) K.K. Attri.

The ADGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui had also stated that the probe by these agencies was on, but the matter would also be probed by the SIT. However, Mr Attri told TNS today that so far no SIT had been constituted and there was no need for it. He added that since senior officers were already looking into the matter there was no immediate need for appointing any SIT to investigate the matter further.

‘‘I have only read about the government’s decision to appoint the SIT in newspapers. I have not received any orders so far asking me to constitute the SIT’’ he said. He added that as per information with him there was no need for the SIT as a number of inquiries were already on in the case.

The move assumes significance in the wake of allegations levelled by the two satta operators that some senior officers were also involved in corruption. They have been demanding an inquiry by the CBI into the entire episode. They have demanded that if the Punjab police inquires into the case, the investigation should be headed by a senior official or some officer from the other police district.

Sources said some employees in the Police Department thought that the government should wait for the decision of the high court regarding the writ petition of the complainants — Subash Katty and Bittu Chawla — in the case seeking a CBI inquiry into the episode.



Travel travails of Army men
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Most of the Army personnel are feeling more sinned against than sinning after the May 15 fire tragedy in three coaches of the Frontier Mail which led to 36 persons getting charred to death. Most of the deaths are being attributed to the close doors of the coaches which had allegedly been blocked with the luggage of the Army personnel.

Several officers admitted that there was a serious problem and some Army men usually did sit near the doors with their luggage. However, they pointed out that the Army personnel faced problems as they usually did not get reservation on time.

A Captain said even the officers who were entitled to AC travel did not usually get space in the coaches. He said hundreds of jawans travelled daily in trains. There were a limited number of seats reserved for them and they jumped on any train or coach.

Ram Kumar Yadav of Rewari district in Haryana said it usually happened that he had to travel without reservation. “First we cannot arrange reservation in advance as we are not sure when we would be granted leave and when we get the leave it is difficult to manage reservation”, he said.

Although the Railways has reserved some coaches for Army men in almost all trains, these fall short. Nishan Singh, a Havildar, pointed out there were lakhs of jawans posted in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. A number of them either went home or returned for duty. The seats were limited, he said.

The Army personnel said the Railways and the Defence Ministry should conduct a survey to assess the average number of soldiers travelling daily in trains and they should be provided reservation in accordance with those figures only. The current reservation was granted according to figures which were decade old. They said the records needed to be updated.

Meanwhile, the president of the Indian Ex-service League Punjab and Chandigarh, Lt Col C.S. Dhillon, said the number of reserved coaches for the defence personnel should be enhanced as their number had increased. He pointed out it was regretful that while the defence personnel were ready to die for the country, they had to face such hardships.



Water cess hike: Oppn dharna from today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 20
The phased increase in water and sewerage cess over the next five years in the state, announced by the Local Bodies Department, Punjab, has come as a blessing in disguise for the main opposition parties — the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while the attitude of the ruling Congress, at best, could be described as ‘defensive’ and evasive on the crucial issue, which has evoked strong resentment from the urban population.

The SAD-BJP combine, which was keeping a low profile for quite some time, now due to arrests and subsequent interrogation of several former ministers by the Vigilance Bureau has suddenly gone aggressive by launching a full scale assault on the Congress government for what they described as betrayal of the electorate through manifold hike in water supply and sewerage charges and fee structure for college education.

After an impressive protest march and rally against the increase in civic charges and tuition fee in the colleges, the two parties are all set to stage a dharna from tomorrow here at the municipal corporation headquarters against the ‘anti-people’ decision and make a big issue out of it.

The dharna, according to Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, district president of the SAD, will continue for three days. The BJP leaders have stated that the party would continue to fight with all its might against the unjust and undemocratic decision of the government till the hike was rolled back.

The move has put Congress functionaries, including the ministers, Mayor and ruling party councillors in a piquant situation. While they were reluctant to openly criticise the decision for fear of annoying the leadership and attracting disciplinary action, they feel embarrassed not to discuss the issue in public.



Encroachments thrive around Ghanta Ghar
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, May 20
Encroachments around Ghanta Ghar, the 99-year-old monument which has acquired the status of the city’s icon over the years, are on the rise. The stately structure continues to be surrounded by an ugly cluster of rehris and autos leaving little place for pedestrians.

Along the G.T. Road there are at least six pavement hawkers selling purses, chains, cheap rings and locks etc .

Three open-air tea shops and a lottery market has come up behind the Verka Milk Bar near the immediate periphery of the historic monument. No pedestrian can even think of enjoying the cool shelter of the dense peepal tree on a hot afternoon as all the space has been occupied by two tea shops. Auto-drivers, whose vehicles are parked in the adjoining auto-stand, do not allow others to relax on the huge wooden bed which they maintain for themselves.

A barber has rested his mirror against the iron railing around Ghanta Ghar to carry out his business and close to him stands a rehri selling fast food and another one selling lemon soda. And then there is a cluster of fast food rehris and mango-shake rehris, which occupy the whole open space provided in front of the lottery market. These roadside sellers have even put up seats for their customers with the result that pedestrians have to squeeze through the crazy maze.

When the Congress came to power to govern the city’s civic body, it promised to remove all encroachments in the city. But nothing of the sort happened.

The beautification plan, according to which the area around the monument was to be converted into an open, neat and clean space facilitating the movement of men and vehicles, which had been shelved by the previous civic body regime, was expected to be taken out of the files for implementation.

It is a different matter that nothing was said about the plan which had been allegedly shelved under pressure from the encroachment mafia.

It is because of the deeply-entrenched encroachment mafia of the city that observers in the city are not attaching much significance to the Deputy Commissioner’s recent directive to widen the roads leading to CMC Hospital from the GT Road.

In their opinion, while the Deputy Commissioner may be eager to widen the roads, the task has to be carried out by the Tehbazari Department of the Municipal Corporation, which has failed to deliver the goods so far, frequent raids by its staff notwithstanding. These raids, as time has proved it, are nothing more than an open farce. The roadside sellers disperse for a while before returning to their slots.

Observers further opine that if the authorities were really serious to remove encroachments from the city roads and provide some relief to the public, they must formulate an independent anti-encroachment body with the sole objective of widening the city roads which can withstand pressure from local politicians who always come to the rescue of these roadside sellers. To begin with, the authorities must concentrate on widening the 12 roads in the old city which were identified more than two years ago. Almost all these roads lead to CMC Hospital. Encroachments on these roads have also increased. 



City sizzles at 44°C
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
If you are feeling it intensely hot outside, you are right. Because it is for the first time in the last five years that the mercury has already crossed 44°C during these days. Ludhiana recorded a maximum temperature of 44°C today, which is five degrees above normal.

The previous two weeks remained relatively cool than expected with the maximum temperature ranging between 35.3°C and 40.4°C. The temperature remained normal between April 20 to May 13. But it jumped in the following week between May 14 to May 20.

The figures of the last five years available with The Tribune indicated that as compared to the temperature during these days in previous years today was the hottest day in last five years with mercury touching 44°C. It was never so hot during these days in previous years, a weather expert said.




During summers, one does whatever possible to keep cool. The city residents have several swimming pools equipped with the latest filtration plants and modern machines that claim to keep disease away. Despite all this, infections from the pool are commonplace. There are others in the vicinity of the city who take recourse in rivers and ponds to cool off. It is common to see small children bathing in the Sutlej. Despite the lack of chlorination, these kids hardly ever fall sick and are protected by Mother Nature.

Appeasing Fire God

Fires are common in summers, but Ludhiana has been particularly unlucky this year with many of these fires turning into major tragedies. It started with the Khud Mohalla fire that claimed many lives, and soon to follow was the fire aboard the Frontier Mail. There have been other smaller fires that have caused huge losses. A section of residents feels that this is due to the anger of the Fire God, so they have performed hawans to appease the Fire God and hope their prayers will be heard and Ludhiana will be protected from fire calamities in future.

Vacation time

It’s vacation time in most schools and colleges with the examinations either over or getting over. Travel agents have started advertising schemes in newspapers and are offering trips to unexplored places. Even though the exotic trips cost a fortune, more and more people are now willing to undertake cruises to the Caribbean. Despite the attractive schemes, adventure sports like mountaineering and para-sailing, are becoming popular with younger Ludhianvis.

Wireless ‘sermon’

The wireless network of the district police commonly sends or receives crime news, besides circulating the directions of senior officers to those in the field. However, recently, the policemen on routine surveillance duty were in for a surprise when a top official roared through the walkie-talkie that those cops who indulged in corruption should make sure their bodies were strong enough to bear the consequences. The directions came a few days after two alleged satta operators exposed corruption in the police department by recording 11 cops taking bribe. The official repeated the message several times.


Drivers of different vehicles have their own unique way of communicating with each other while driving. Taxi and truck drivers can be seen making special signs while passing each other .The signs range from inquiring about each other’s haalchaal to warning about the DTO nakka ahead. Autorickshaw drivers stick out one of their legs and “wave it”. The other driver reciprocates and the “handshake” is complete. An autorickshaw driver, Amarjit Singh, said, “This is our way of saying ‘hi’ to each other.”

To be seen only

Cultural programmes organised by the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam have attained certain prestige. Ludhianvis like to be seen at these programmes as they have become the high point of talk in social circles. Some persons are least interested in culture but just like to be seen. In the programme ‘Tiranga’ which was based on classical music, many were seen leaving the hall after they had made sure that they had been noticed, as culture really does not interest them, but being seen at such programmes matters. Later, they can talk of the programme and show how involved they are in culture.

Saviour’s advice

Mr Virinder K. Mathur, who has the habit of picking up accident victims from the road and saving lives (16, so far) says that for road safety, helmets for scooter drivers and seat belts role for car drivers should be strictly adhered to. He asks: Will not a Sikh woman suffer from a skull injury, if she meets with an accident? “When accidents happen, everyone bleeds the same way, so, why do women of any sect want exemption from wearing helmets? The police only wants the safety of people. Now, it is up to the people to take it or leave it.

Obese policemen

The police image takes a lot of beating when newspapers publish reports of brutal treatment given to innocent people in police custody. When one comes across obese policemen, which one comes across often, a feeling of revulsion is common among the public. The police force should be the fittest, but policemen with the bulge speak volumes of their laziness and wrong eating and drinking habits. They surely do not inspire any confidence among the people, as they feel that such fat policemen can never be active enough to nab thieves. To make the police force smart, obese policemen should not be given any promotion till they lose weight.




Protest against NDA govt policies today 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The stage is set for the statewide strike against the policies of disinvestment, privatisation and anti-people policies of the NDA government by Left parties and farmers organisations for the rasta roko stir tomorrow from 12 noon to 2 p.m.

According to sources, various outfits would spread across the state and organise rallies and dharnas at all district headquarters. The protesters would then march and sit on dharna on various state and national highways to bring all vehicular traffic to a halt for two hours. Various employee organisations have not only extended their support to the striking unions but will actively participate in the strike.

The unions have alleged that the government was working as per the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank and had initiated the disinvestment process wherein prime PSU were being sold for a pittance. Similarly, various anti -people and anti -employee steps have been initiated to appease the international monetary institutions.

The faulty industrial policies of the government had resulted in the closure of more than two lakh industrial units which are lying locked, rendering lakhs of labourers jobless. No new posts have been created and the old ones are being abolished.

The recent fee hike in the fees of schools and colleges too have been condemned by the unions. They said the move has pushed education out of the reach of the common man. Healthcare in most parts of the country is unavailable but nothing is being done to redress the problems of the rural people.

The agitators have appealed to all like-minded parties to support their cause and have urged the people to bear with them in case of any inconvenience since a mass protest would be the only way to wake the government out of its slumber.

Meanwhile, the Indian National Bank Employees Union has decided to boycott the strike call and has asked the strikers to raise the issue in Parliament rather than disrupt the movement of traffic in the country. Its a political strike and would fail to achieve anything worthwhile.



MLA inaugurates road
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 20
The Congress Government in Punjab will lay emphasis on the development of undeveloped and underdeveloped localities in the urban areas and a special plan is being devised to provide basic amenities in these localities on a par with other developed colonies.

This was stated by Congress legislator Malkiat Singh Dakha while addressing a function after the inauguration of a new road on the Dhandra — Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar section in the city. The project was completed with the efforts by Youth Congress activist Gurbhej Singh Chhabra.

Mr Dakha said the state government as well as the civic body in the city were observing the year 2003 as ‘development year’ and developmental works in undeveloped and under-developed colonies in the towns and cities would be taken up on priority basis.

Mr Dakha, during interaction with the residents of the colony, listened to their complaints, most of which related to civic amenities and services. He assured the people that their problems would be redressed in a time-bound manner.

Prominent among others present at the function were Mr Palwinder Singh Taggar, councillor, Mr Jasbir Singh Jassal, Mr Kamikkar Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh Chhabra, Mr Mohinder Singh Sheenh, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Gurpreet Singh Chhabra and Mr Kuldip Bhola.



A clarification
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana May 20
The Punjabi Sur Sangam Kala Manch, Ludhiana, will organise its cultural programme -cum-fashion show on May 24 at Nehru Sidhant Kendra. Channel V anchor Madhukar Malhotra will host the show, manch president Raju Malik told mediapersons today. The date was advertently mentioned as May 29.



Trade unions divided over today’s strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The ideological differences between the Left-affiliated and other trade unions are likely to affect the tomorrow’s nationwide strike called by the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and its affiliated organisations against the Union Government’s policies of liberalisation and disinvestment. Surprisingly, the Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) and the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh seem to be on the same side in opposing the strike.

An AITUC spokesman said the strike was aimed at registering the protest of the common masses in general and the working classes in particular against the economic policies of the government. The spokesman said the policies were not guided by the needs and requirements of the country, but being dictated by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multinational companies.

The Left parties are opposing these policies on the ground that these will ruin the social and economic fabric of the country. The AITUC said these policies would only lead to a mad race for earning money at the cost of social security of people. There was already a large-scale migration of people from rural areas to urban areas, where they were living a subhuman life.

Moreover, hundreds of persons have been rendered jobless, thanks to the new economic policies of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. These policies will lead to large-scale unemployment, and result in chaos, anarchy and social unrest. The country, AITUC observed, was not prepared to adopt the western economic model at this stage,” it said.

On the other hand, the INTUC has opposed the strike and alleged that it was politically motivated. Various organisations affiliated to the INTUC, in a joint statement issued here today, said “INTUC-affiliated trade unions shall not participate in the nationwide strike on May 21, for which, the call has been given by Communists-supported trade unions with vested political interest,” the union said.

The president of the Punjab unit of the INTUC, Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, said the strike was “politically motivated, unjustified, unwarranted and not in the larger interest of the working community”. He said, instead of giving a strike call and cause a huge financial loss to the government, employees, workers and labourers working in the private sector and Communist leaders should take up the matter in Parliament to stop the government from adopting these policies.

The Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) has also decided not to participate in tomorrow’s strike. The president of the body, Mr K.R. Tripathi, said the INBEC was not participating in the strike, since it was “politically motivated”. Other organisations opposing the strike include the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the National Organisation of Bank Workers, the National Organisation of Bank Officers, the Indian National Bank Officers Congress and the Indian National Bank Employees Federation.

However, the Punjab Bank Employees Federation affiliated to the All-India Bank Employees Association has supported the strike call and would organise a protest demonstration tomorrow at Bharat Nagar Chowk. 


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |