Monday, May 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


District Congress chiefs replaced
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today replaced the District Congress Committee (DCC), Ludhiana Urban and Rural unit, presidents. While Mr Jagmohan Sharma, a leader from among the traders has been appointed president of the DCC (Urban), Mr Harmohinder Singh Pradhan, a former MLA, has been appointed president DCC (Rural).

While Mr Sharma replaces Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Pradhan has replaced Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran. Although both Mr Sharma and Mr Pradhan have long association with the party, but their proximity to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Chief Minister and the Agriculture Minister in the present government is too well known. This has come as a surprise to leaders considered close to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The replacement of the DCC presidents is being viewed as the assertion of authority by the PCC president, Mr H. S. Hanspal. Although the official camp is tight lipped over the developments, it is learnt that this group had favoured the continuation of the incumbent presidents for sometime more, at least till the parliamentary elections. However, Mr Hanspal reportedly wanted to set up his own team of district and grassroots level leaders.

The official camp had been maintaining that Mr Bawa was a grassroots level worker and had risen from the ranks. Against this Mr Sharma’s leadership clout remains limited within the trading community. He is the president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, which is affiliated to the Congress. He is quite vocal and had even filed papers as a rebel candidate from Ludhiana (East) against Mr Surinder Dawer, the official party candidate. He withdrew his papers only after the intervention of Capt Amarinder Singh who was the PCC president at that time.

Leaders loyal to the Chief Minister do not seem to have welcomed these appointments. Some of them even apprehend that this might pave the way for an intra-party feud within the party. So far the party had been performing as a single cohesive unit. Although Mr Harnam Dass Johar and Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi maintained a distance, they were never vocal.



Mysterious disease kills hens
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Mr Harminder Singh, a poultry farmer of Shahpur village, shows his dead hens on Sunday; (right) disinfectant sprayed at the entrance of a poultry farm at the village. — A Tribune photograph

Shahpur (Ludhiana), May 25
The mysterious viral disease which has consumed hundreds of hens in Haryana has now spread its tentacles in Punjab also. Thousands of hens in the district have succumbed to the disease. Surprisingly, the state government is yet to wake to tackle it. No one, including experts, have bothered to conduct a survey or help the poultry farmers.

The disease has also affected the egg-laying capacity of hens by more than 60 per cent.

Farmers of the district are having sleepless nights as hundreds die overnight. Farmers claimed that they were already hard-pressed after the imposition of the Budget as poultry feed was made costlier.

The disease had first appeared in Barwala, Haryana, from where it spread to Panchkula and Dera Bassi.

A visit of various poultry farms in the Pakhowal belt by a Tribune team revealed that most of the birds were still being infected by the disease, while at some farms the hens had not been infected. At Shahpur Poultry Farm, Shahpur village, more than 4,000 hens have already died in less than a week.

“I had sold a large number of hens when I had seen the primary symptoms of the disease in my birds. So the mortality has been comparatively lesser. Otherwise it would have been much more.” said Mr Harminder Singh, owner of the farm.

He added that he had suffered huge losses as the egg production at his farm had gone down from 95 percent to 35 per cent. "When I had heard about the spread of the disease I had taken all preventive measures but it still appeared. Our veterinarian had prescribed certain anti-biotics in this regard.”

“Around 700-800 hens are dying everyday. We had even vaccinated these against the Ranikhet disease but the infection has still spread”, said Mr Gurdev Singh, another poultry farmer.

Around 3,000 hens have died at the Grewal Poultry Farm at Pakhowal village in the past three days. The egg production has also come to almost a naught, said the owner of the farm, Mr Sukhjinder Singh. He said the poultry farms at other villages,including Dango, Latala, Dhalian, Burj, Bhaini and Jand were also under the grip of infection.

The farmers said the symptoms of the disease include high fever, loss of appetite, reddening of eyes and the infection finally spreads to the ovary of the bird, affecting its egg-laying capacity and finally leading to its death. The aged birds die quickly as compared to the young ones.

After the infection, that lasts around for a week, the hens regain their egg-laying capacity to only around 75 per cent, making the farmers suffer a loss of around 20 per cent, said a farmer.

While the poultry farmers said they were told by the doctors attending on the ailing birds that the disease was a mutated form of the Ranikhet disease, PAU experts said they could not say anything about it till they identify the virus at the laboratory after drawing samples from the birds.

The poultry farmers said they had been vaccinating their birds against the Ranikhet disease, but to no avail.

Dr Kulbir Singh Sandhu, Head, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, PAU, said the farmers should eliminate the hen as soon as it shows the primary symptoms or if it has come in contact with an infected bird. He said it was better to kill the birds rather than spending on antibiotics. He added that the effective method of eliminating a diseased bird was burying it in a deep well.”



Absenteeism ails Pakhowal PHC
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Pakhowal, May 25
Despite several raids by the Vigilance Bureau to check absenteeism and action taken against the guilty employees, not much seemed to have changed on ground level at health offices in the rural area. This is what at least was observed by a Tribune team at Primary Health Centre (PHC), Pakhowal, today.

Health services continue to suffer in the rural belt due to the rampant absenteeism as was revealed by a visit to the PMC. Sources said the non-availability of the government doctors was one factor that pushed people towards quacks.

The allegations were found true today when a Tribune team reached the PHC in Pakhowal with an accident victim, who had sustained injuries after being hit by a jeep when he was riding a horse-cart. The impact of the accident was so much that the victim’s horse died on the spot.

At around 9:50 a.m. the Tribune team along with the victim, Manjit Singh reached the PHC. The emergency ward was locked and the health centre was being looked after by a class -IV employee, Satinder Kumar.

After seeing the patient bleeding, Satinder Kumar asked him to wait outside till he brought the keys from an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM), Ms Jasvir Kaur, who resides in a flat in the PHC complex itself. At around 10 a.m. the ANM, reached the centre with the keys and opened the door of the emergency ward. Intriguingly the victim, Manjit Singh was not offered any stretcher but was made to walk till the emergency ward.

After giving him first aid the ANM called up the doctor, Dr Jagdev Singh Toor, who was on call duty today, Dr Toor lives in Ludhiana, around 30 km from Pakhowal. The staff nurse, Ms Har Parkash, who was supposed to be on duty from 8 a.m. was not present at the centre. The ANM said that she lived in Gujjarwal, a nearby village and called her up also.

After about 45 minutes, the patient was attended by the doctor. The staff nurse had not arrived even by this time.

Manjit Singh, said that he would not have come to the health centre had he not involved in the medico-legal case. He added that he knew the conditions in such government hospitals and preferred taking treatment in private clinics only. He said he had already taken the first aid from a private doctor and had come here for the MLC report.

‘‘Had I been bleeding profusely or had sustained serious injuries, could I wait for more than half an hour waiting for the doctor? This is the condition of health services in our country,’’ rued Mr Manjit Singh.

Sources in the Health Department said that according to department rules a staff nurse, a member of paramedical staff and a Class-IV employee were supposed to be present in the health centre round the clock. The duties were changed after every six hours and the names of the staff members to be present on duty were written in the list. The doctors were not supposed to be present but they could be called in anytime.

Surprisingly in the centre only a Class IV employee was present and there was no sign of a staff nurse and a paramedic.

The villagers said that they could not depend on the PHC during an emergency and preferred going to a private doctor. The sources said some employees come to the PHC on alternative days.



When fashion show turned solemn
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 25
A fashion show, “Fashion- Passion-2003”, was organised by Punjabi Kala Sur Manch at Nehru Sidhant Kendra last evening.
The first round of the fashion show was dedicated to those people who lost their lives in the fire mishaps at Khud Mohalla and on the Frontier Mail. For this round, the models came dressed in white and walked solemnly with lighted candles. The audience stood and observed silence for two minutes as a mark of respect to the victims.

In the second round, models sashayed down the ramp wearing sarees in a stylish way. The third round was the “salwar suit” round. Consequently, there were rounds displaying parallels with tops, Western gowns and beach wear.

One round was totally commercial as the models displayed T-shirts bearing the name of company’s products. The last round was the “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna” round. It had models wearing casual clothes. They were carrying glasses and pretending to be smoking “chillums”.

Between the rounds, the comedy duo of Bhotu Shah and Kake Shah performed slapstick items. These seemed to go down well with the audience. They even lampooned the police but the latter seemed to enjoy it.

Channel V anchor Madhukar was bubbly. The choreographers of the show were the husband-wife duo of Jaspreet and Gagreen. Western and ethnic dresses were provided by a Chandigarh-based designer.

The young dancers of Dazzle Group dazzled people with their performances. Ms Harleen Kohli rendered numbers from her new album, “Ishq-Ishq”. She rendered Shiv Batalvi's song, “mein ek shikra yaar baneya” with passion.

The models who participated in the show were Simran Bajaj, Shivani Sharma, Simran, Ria, Ruby, Neha, Radhika, Anju, Naina, Kamal Sharma, Rajbir and Megha. They found the length of ramp to be a little short. Lighting, too, could have been better.

The audience started dancing when boys of Sabhycharak Club Put Jatan De performed bhangra. Mr Surinder Dawar, MLA, was among the audience.



Parliamentary panel’s visit today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
A high-level parliamentary standing committee on industry led by its Chairman, Mr P.C. Alexander, will visit Ludhiana tomorrow. The committee members are on a study tour of the state. The members will visit the GS Autos manufacturing unit.

Official sources said here today that the committee members will meet various representatives of the industry in Ludhiana to learn about their problems and also the potential scope of investment and developing infrastructure. The visit of the committee members assumes significance as the local industry has been passing through a critical phase. 



After UP, BSP ‘eyeing’ Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Mr Narinder Kashyap, senior Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader and party’s coordinator for Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, today said Punjab was on the priority list of the party. He claimed that the party was in a position to gain power in the state.

Addressing a press conference here, he said there was a great scope for the BSP in Punjab and it had shown good performance in several previous elections. He said the performance of the party would improve further in the next elections.

He said people in the state were more educated and aware about the socio-economic scenario and they were keen to usher in a change for social justice and economic independence. He claimed that the BSP was getting a good response in both rural and urban areas and party units were being constituted at the grassroots level.

Mr Kashyap said the party would see total reorganisation within next six months in Punjab. He ruled out any alliance or tie-up with any other political party at this stage for the next Parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in 2004.

The party coordinator also announced office-bearers for the district units of Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar and Ropar. Others present on the occasion included the state president, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, and the vice-president, Mr Rabinder Singh Sohal.

Mr Om Parkash Chohan has been appointed president, Mr Vijay Manchanda, Han Raj, Mr Balwinder Bitta have been appointed vice-president, general secretary and treasurer, respectively. Mr Shiv Chand, Mr Jai Pal, Mr Suresh Kumar, Mr Suraj Singh and Mr Shakeel Ahmad have been appointed secretaries.



Centre not informed by states: Minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
“No state, including Punjab, has informed the Centre about any suicide by farmers on account of the debt burden and other related issues, We are willing to constitute a team to look into this shocking aspect,” Union Minister of State for Agriculture Hukamdev Narayan Singh said today.

He was in the city on a personal visit and interacted with his party workers before leaving for Sangrur in the evening.

Talking to TNS, he said his ministry was in the dark about this aspect since no state government had brought this to its notice. He showed willingness to constitute a team of experts or even an inquiry commission to probe the issue. More cooperation from the states is needed on various aspects, he stressed.

About the falling water level in the country, the minister said various measures had been initiated in this regard. The Agricultural Technology Management Agency is carrying out a pilot project in various states where new techniques were being tried out. A mass awareness drive is under way, wherein farmers are being told about the need for resource management and not assume that water is an unlimited commodity.

Elaborating on the initiatives, he said of the identified districts, four were in Punjab — Sangrur, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur and Faridkot. The farmers here are being educated about the optimum use of resources.

He said diversification was also being popularised and more and more states had been asked to identify the crops and pulses which could bring additional monetary benefits for farmers. Such exercises have been initiated successfully in many states, he added.

On the need for crop insurance, he said it was for the states to decide but the Centre was committed to providing 25 per cent of the insurance money, provided the states contributed an equal amount and the farmers chipping in with the rest of the money. The ministry was also in the process of setting up multi-chambered cold storages where farmers could store various crops at a single place with varying temperatures. A provision for a bank loan for up to 60 per cent of the produce so stored has been made, he said.



Tributes paid to train fire victims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Cutting across party lines political leaders and representatives of people from different sections paid their tributes to the victims of the Golden Express Mail tragedy at a shardhanjali samaroh organised by villagers of 19 villages at Manj Phaguwal here today.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, while paying tributes to the victims of the tragedy appreciated the help rendered by the people of Manj Phaguwal village and other villages in shifting the injured to the hospitals.

Mr Verma expressing concern over a number of fire incidents in the district, said if the fire safety measures had been taken many lives could have been saved in the Khud Mohalla fire mishap.

He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the development works at the village.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti appreciated the efforts of nearby villagers.

Paying his tributes to the victims, Mr G.S.Galib,MP, appreciated the efforts of the people of the area for their service to the injured and announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the development of the village. Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, and Ms N.S.Gill, Mayor, also paid tributes. Mr Pritpal Singh Pali, president, Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, announced Rs 15-lakh grant for the treatment of those injured and Jathedar Swaran Singh, president, Gurdwara Akal Garh Sahib, announced Rs 1-lakh grant for the village.

Among the prominent personalities who paid their tributes included Mr Trilochan Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, former acting President, SGPC, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Jathedar Surjan Singh, Mr G.S.Lapran, president, DCC, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr Darshan Singh Shiwalik, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, Mr Parkash Singh Jandiali, Mr Avtar Singh Malha and Mr Jaswinder Singh Baliwal. 



PSEB to take help of lady police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Learning from their bad experience during a raid at the CRPF colony to check power theft, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities has decided to take the help of a team of women police in future.

Sources in the department told TNS that the PSEB authorities were always taking the help of the district police whenever they planned to raid any sensitive places. However, earlier no PSEB raiding party had been accused of serious charges like outraging the modesty of women during raids as happened in the case of the CRPF colony on Thursday night.

The sources said if women police personnel were with the raiding party, the chances of levelling allegations regarding the misbehaviour with the women would have been very less.

Meanwhile, the controversy over a clash between residents of the CRPF colony and the raiding party of the PSEB colony continued even two days after the incident.

Allegations and counter-allegations are flying thick and fast with both parties accusing each other of misconduct and violence. The colony residents have accused the PSEB employees of misbehaving with women resident of the colony and even attempting to outrage their modesty.

The PSEB employees on their part have alleged that the colony residents were in the habit of levelling such allegations.

The incident took place on Thursday night. A team of PSEB officials assisted by four policemen raided 50 odd houses in the colony. The raid took an ugly turn when residents of the colony clashed with the PSEB team.

The police booked several women of the colony on the charge of obstructing PSEB employees from performing their duty the next day. The residents, angry at the police move, have complained to Mr Harish Kumar, SP City-I that the employees tore clothes of women and outraged their modesty. They have demanded the registration of a criminal case against the PSEB employees and cancellation of the FIR lodged against them.

The PSEB employees have in a separate release said the charges are false. The women, they alleged, had themselves torn their clothes to implicate them.



Demonstration against power tariff hike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Shiv Sena activists today staged a demonstration against the recent hike in the power tariff and tuition fee of the students. The Sena activists held a procession and after passing through various areas organised a demonstration at Clock Tower. The demonstration was led by the urban units president of the party, Mr Dharmendra Khera.

The protesters were shouting slogans against the government alleging that it had gone back on its promises made to the public. They were carrying banners and placards criticising the policies of the government. The speakers pointed out that the power tariff had been hiked for the second time in less than a year.

The speakers claimed that no section of the society was happy with the government as it had failed on all fronts.

They alleged that corruption was rampant and the development activity had come to a standstill. The protesters demanded that the fee hike be withdrawn to provide relief to people. 



‘Govt decisions anti-people’
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 25
Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, a former minister, today flayed the hike in power tariff, hike in fees and funds of students, withdrawal of free power supply to farmers, Scheduled Castes and the withdrawal of old age pension and shagan schemes. He describe these as anti-people policies of the Congress government.

The burden of Rs 350 crore of power hike had made it beyond the reach of common people, and industry would be affected as it would not be able to compete with industry in Himachal Pradesh. Instead of burdening people to earn more revenue, the government should cut its expenditure. He said the bhog of Shri Akhand Path Sahib was performed in memory of those killed in the railway accident near Ludhiana .



Clinton’s astrologer to visit city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 25
Noted astrologer Kidar Sharma will visit the city on May 28 and 29. It will be his second visit to the city. Mr Sharma rose to prominence after he prepared the horoscopes of former US President Bill Clinton, his wife Hillary Clinton, their daughter Chelsea Clinton and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

Mr Sharma is famous for his ability to tell the date, time and place of birth of a person after seeing his or her face. Impressed by his abilities, he was invited by Mr Clinton to the USA when he was the President. Subsequently, his clientele among India’s who’s who also grew. He is also considered close to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and several Chief Ministers.



Gang of robbers active in Amloh
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 25
A gang of robbers operating in Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh areas has created a sense of insecurity and fear in the minds of the residents.
According to Mr Nirbhai Singh, Sarpanch of Sounti village and proprietor of a cold storage along the Anian road, a gang of at least 10 robbers with covered faces, armed with rods and a gun, barged into the cold storage at 1.30 a.m. on Saturday and looted Rs 5,350 from Paramjit Choudry, Rs 500 from Desh Raj, an operator, and Rs 275 from Jagtar Singh, a foreman.

The robbers gave them a beating, tied their hands and locked them in a room. They also broke open the lock of the cold storage office and looted money. Two hours earlier, the gang looted Rs 150 from a migrant labourer at the tubewell of Malkiat Singh at Sounti village. Mr Nirbhai Singh said he had informed the police about the incident but the latter was clueless.

A similar case was reported earlier when robbers barged into Johly Feed Industries at Tooran village under Mandi Gobindgarh police station in the wee hours of May 22. The chowkidar was locked in a room and the robbers looted Rs 18,000 from the factory. Mr Johli Malhotra, owner of the factory, said he had informed the Mandi Gobindgarh police about the incident but to no avail.



Police clueless about burglary
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, May 25
The Machhiwara police has not been able to find any clue to the burglary which took place in the town four days ago. Burglars had stolen 400-450 gm of gold and Rs 50,000 from the residence of Mr Ashwani Gupta, who lives in Ward No. 4, the most densely populated area of the walled town.

With this burglary, the number of such cases has crossed 10 in the past few months. All burglaries have occurred in broad daylight. Not even a single thief has been arrested by the Machhiwara police in any of the cases so far.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Gupta said he had been assured by Mr Dilbagh Singh, SHO, and Mr Gurtejinder Singh Aulakh, DSP, Samrala, that the culprits would be found. He has appealed to the police to take quick action so that people of the town do not feel insecure. 


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