Sunday, June 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PAU warning goes unheard, paddy transplant 
in full swing
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
Despite various warnings by Punjab Agricultural University to transplant the paddy crop after June 10, in favour of conservation of underground water, the farmers, throwing caution to the winds, have gone ahead with the practice much before of the recommended time.

Many farmers have already done the transplantation while the rest are doing so at a fast pace. This despite the fact that the water table has gone down over the years and in some area it has been recorded as low as 350 feet.

The experts had time and again advised the farmers to transplant paddy only after June 10 to avoid the problems of glut due to higher moisture content and, thereby, reduce the pressure on the already depleting water table and power supply. PAU experts had appealed to the farmers to cultivate the late varieties of paddy to get the maximum yield with low moisture content.

But to no avail. The appeals do not bother the farmers. A Tribune team conducted a survey of some villages and found that many farmers were already transplanting paddy and several of them had finished the work at least two weeks ago.

Although all the farmers Ludhiana Tribune spoke to were well aware of the depleting water table and the directive by the university, they were still transplanting the plants. “It is going to be very hot next month. So we are finishing the work as soon as possible. Moreover, the nursery was prepared in April. So the plants were overgrowing,” said a farmer.

The farmers said that they were forced to cultivate the paddy early as labour was available just after the harvesting of the crop. “It becomes very difficult for us to make the labour available after May 15. Most of the labourers who migrate from the other states go back to their states as they have to start the work in their own fields.” said Rajinder Singh, a farmer of Mohi village.

PAU experts say that the over-exploitation of ground water resources has led to an alarming decline amounting to more than 23 cm each year in the water table with 70 blocks in the state being classified as dark areas, where water exploitation exceeds 85 per cent.

The experts said that dark area comprises the whole of central Punjab with Ludhiana topping the list. The other areas include Jalandhar and Sangrur, while 15 blocks of the state have been classified as grey — where the ground water depletion is about 65 per cent.

According to Dr N.K. Narda and Prof D.S. Taneja, Head, Department of Soil and Water Engineering and senior resident engineer, PAU, there are more than 10 lakh tubewells, both power and diesel operating, in the state today which are way above the desirable limit. As per estimates, a crop on a five acre farm can be raised with a three-and-a-half-inch bore. But the incidence of such small bores is negligible in the state. Such is the mindset of farmers that various schemes like drip irrigation and sprinklers have not found favour with them despite subsidies by the government.

The PAU experts expressed alarm over the declining water table and stated that the exploitation of underground water can be checked by following different management practices including irrigation schedules, optimum sowing time, tillage and interculture.

Dr G.S. Hira and Dr C.B. Singh suggested that in rice higher yields can be maintained by irrigating the crop at a 2-day drainage period after continuous submergence for two weeks after the transplantation. Also, they observed that the optimum time for starting rice transplantation was June 10 and this would save 60 cm irrigation water compared to continuous submergence throughout the year.



NRI accuses Gosain of extortion
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
A Germany-based non-resident Indian (NRI), Mr V.S. Bhogal, accused senior BJP leader and former Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain today of extorting Rs 55 lakh from him in 2001. The NRI claimed that he could not lodge a complaint then as Mr Gosain was the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Bhogal levelled these charges at Congress MLA Surinder Dawer’s press conference here. Mr Dawer also levelled serious allegations of corruption against Mr Gosain. He said Mr Gosain had contacts with criminals like Lalla, who had admitted to having links with the BJP leader. He also showed photographs of Mr Gosain with Lalla and other notorious criminals.

Mr Bhogal claimed that he had sold his factory to Mr Gosain’s relatives for Rs 4.5 crore and they had paid him Rs 5 lakh in advance. He claimed that Mr Gosain and others later backed out of the deal. He alleged that he had been held hostage and his passport snatched. He claimed that he was made to pay Rs 55 lakh and threatened of dire consequences in case he did not give in to their demands.

Mr Gosain denied these charges and said he was present at the time of the settlement of the issue. He said his role was limited to that of facilitator for the compromise. He added that others, including Mr Bains, a counsellor, were present when the compromise was worked out on September 9, 2001.

Mr Gosain said Dr Tejinder Singh, brother of Mr Amarjit Singh, with whom Mr Bhogal had made the deal, was present when the agreement was finalised. Dr Tejinder Singh admitted that Mr Bhogal had paid Rs 55 lakh to his US-based brother, Mr Amarjit Singh, as Mr Bhogal had backed out of the agreement after getting a better offer.

According to Dr Tejinder Singh, Mr Bhogal had made a deal with Mr Amarjit Singh to sell his factory for Rs 4.5 crore. He added that Mr Bhogal had taken an advance of Rs 5 lakh from Mr Amarjit Singh, but he later backed out and subsequently agreed to pay Rs 55 lakh for backing out. Dr Tejinder Singh said he had papers signed by Mr Bhogal, mentioning that everything had been done following an understanding between the parties.

Dr Tejinder Singh said Mr Gosain and Mr Bains were present only as witnesses. He alleged that Mr Bhogal had issued cheques which had bounced. He added that Mr Bhogal later asked his local manager to pay them Rs 55 lakh in cash.



Has DMCH Principal resigned?
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 31
Discontentment and anxiety prevails among senior faculty members at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here, where rumours are agog regarding Dr S.C. Ahuja, Principal, DMCH, having resigned. Though the management has refused to comment, yet sources close to the Principal have stood their ground, saying Dr Ahuja has put in his papers over serious differences with the management.

Reliable sources told Ludhiana Tribune that Dr Ahuja was unhappy with the working of the management. He is the Principal of the college, but he was being made to obey orders from a blue-eyed person recently appointed by the management, but is otherwise junior to Principal. Dr Ahuja presently is on leave till June 5, 2003, and is expected to get his leave extended till his resignation was accepted. He was given an extension for a period of two years by the ad-hoc management committee in February.

It is learnt that Dr Ahuja, in his letter written to the management, had pointed out that he was unhappy as the management had taken away all his powers and given them to the Chief Executive Officer, who was made all powerful.

Dr Ahuja, when contacted, said, “I would not like to comment on this, you better talk to the management about this”.

Mr Amrit Nagpal, secretary, managing society, DMCH, meanwhile, maintained that these were just rumours. “Dr Ahuja is on leave till June 5 due to some personal reasons. No, we have not received his resignation”, he said. But other members of the management committee confirmed the development, but added that the management was not inclined towards accepting the resignation.

The recent events at this medical institute have compelled the hospital management to give second thoughts to its earlier proposal that aimed at disallowing private practice by the faculty members. Members of the managing committee now say that the issue had come up only as a proposal and no decision has even been taken on the issue. Mr Amrit Nagpal said: “These are just the vague thoughts for the betterment of the institute. We will not take any decision without taking the faculty members into confidence. There will be no imposition on them”.

Meanwhile, it is also learnt that some other senior faculty members have expressed a desire among colleagues to quit from this medical institute because of what they term as “management’s biased attitude”. The CEO is alleged to be bypassing the Principal and senior faculty members in all the hospital-related matters.



Cable operators elated at CBI probe
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
The High Court orders for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged misdeeds of “cable mafia”, particularly the sexual exploitation angle of the scam in Amritsar, have created a sense of exultation among small cable operators in the city, who have been levelling similar charges against cable network companies here for sometime but without much response from the authorities.

Functionaries of the New Cable Operators Union, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, expressed hope that during the course of investigation, the collusion of local cable sharks with their counterparts in Amritsar might also come to fore and the highhandedness of cable network companies and exploitation of small cable operators might be put to an end permanently.

The cable operators had been raising their voice against the “strong-arm” tactics of the three major cable networks in the past, but due to influence wielded by the cable network owners, who also claim proximity to senior police officers and certain politicians, they were still calling the shots and virtually holding both cable operators and city population to ransom. During the past few months, the “monopolistic” cable network companies had raised the monthly subscription for cable connection from Rs 150 to Rs 350 per month and the consumers were being blackmailed to submit to the arbitrary and unjust demands.

“The consumers are being forced to pay exorbitant charges for their cable connections only because three main cable companies operating in the city — Win Cable, Siti Cable and City Home — keep on mounting pressure on us to hike the monthly subscription on the basis of increase in charges by the satellite pay channels. As a result, even though having no control over the rate of monthly subscription, we have to face the wrath of the consumers,” observed Mr Kamlesh Bhardwaj, chairman of the association.

Charging the cable network companies with fleecing the public and at the same time faking their accounts to cheat satellite channels, Mr Raman Kumar, president of the association, claimed that there were an estimated 3.25 lakh cable connections in the city but the records of the cable network companies showed only around 1 lakh connections and accordingly payment was being made to the satellite channels. “Effectively, the major operators are passing on only one-third of the actual collection made by them to the satellite channels while the rest of the money was being pocketed by them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has also announced that the party would launch a movement to combat the menace at different levels. The district president of the party said a “Cable Consumers Forum” would be set up to fight the extortion racket of the cable networks and pressure would be mounted on the authorities to regulate the affairs of the companies in an effective manner.



Sarpanch suspended for embezzlement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
In a major development, Sarpanch of Talwandi Rai village Baldev Singh, a close aide of senior Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi, was suspended after certain charges of misappropriation of funds were established against him.

Opposition groups, including former Sarpanch Ranjot Singh (of the SAD-Amritsar) and Pal Balwinder Singh and Nirmal Singh (both of the Congress), had levelled several allegations against Baldev Singh.

An inquiry was ordered by the Director Local Bodies, Chandigarh, and it was entrusted to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Ludhiana, who found the charges correct. The orders of suspension were issued by the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Chandigarh, recently.

The charges established against Baldev Singh include spending Rs 5,280 on the Chief Minister’s visit during the tenure of Parkash Singh Badal and expenditure of Rs 6,034 on the paint job of the high school building from the panchayat funds.

He also allegedly held eight meetings of the panchayat without completing the quorum and felled two trees, which he later sold and allegedly retained the amount, without the permission of the Forest Department authorities. He had also paid a sum of Rs 3.5 lakh to a brick kiln owner in cash, against the norm of making the payments through cheque.



Law should prevail in J&K: rights’ panels
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
Three human rights organisations have sought the rule of law in Jammu and Kashmir, besides recommending that each custodial death must be followed by a judicial enquiry and compensation paid to the victims’ family without waiting for the outcome of the trial.

These are some of the recommendations made by the Association for Democratic Rights, Punjab, Human Rights Forum and Organisations for Protection of Democratic Rights, both from Andhra Pradesh. The members of the joint team comprising Dr A.K. Maleri, Mr M.V.Krishnaiah and Dr K.Balagopal, visited a number of villages and towns in Kupwara, Pulwama, Badgam, Jammu, Rajouri and Poonch, where they talked to a cross-section of people to ascertain their views on the human rights situation after the PDP government came into power, the response of the people to the proposed dialogue with Pakistan and the problems of those living close to the LoC.

Talking to TNS here, they said the people were of the view that while the instances of human rights violations had come down during the rule of the PDP government the administration’s response to the same and its respect for lawful governance was no better than in the previous administration and the Governor’s rule that preceded it.

Citing an instance from a preliminary report prepared by them, they said the death of Abdul Hamid Wani of Machoow, Badgam, was the first custodial death after the PDP came into power. He was picked up by the police and died in their custody two days later. The cause of death was listed as suicide by hanging. A magisterial enquiry differed with the police version, but no action was taken against the SHO.No compensation has been paid to the wife of the deceased, they added.

Besides custodial deaths, killing in cross fire is the another means used by the security forces to allegedly settle scores. Thousands of people have died this way in the past since this way the need for a magisterial enquiry is eliminated. This is contrary to the recommendations of the NHRC which stipulates that the very report given by the officer in such cases should be sufficient to register a case against him for the commission of cognisable offence, pending an inquiry by an independent agency, the report listed.

The report says that 17-year-old Shakeela Rasheed of Warnow in Kupwama was shot dead by men of the 18 RR when she was coming back after delivering a message to her uncle who was working in a team engaged in repairing a bridge outside the village. Villagers alleged that the men manning a nearby post opened fire on the three girls as they were running towards the village. Army men claimed that the fire was directed at militants in that direction. Interestingly, no FIR has been registered so far.

Surrendered militants known as Cats in security parlance are operating outside the Constitution and is a illegal practice resorted to by the forces. Citing an instance of two sisters Shahzada (17) and Shamima (15) from Beerwah, the report mentions that one such gang abducted the girls from the Gulmarg road near Magam. Three days later the girls managed to escape but one of them was forcibly married to a Cat when their father approached the human rights activists and the Press. While one of the gang member has been arrested there has been no official denial of such instances and practises by the government.

Local residents are also soft targets not only for militants but also for the Army. Many people have died over the past 13 years when they were used human shields. In one such incident 21 villagers of Gambhir village in Rajouri were sent by an Army unit towards a militant hide-out to cut down on their casualties. As many as three were killed in the cross firing while the others managed to escape. There has been no word from the government in this regard, the report adds.

The government has not paid any attention to those who have lost their limbs in mine blasts. In case of loss of limb the compensation paid is one tenth of the amount given to civilians injured or killed by militants.

On the talks with Pakistan the people feel that the talks should be transparent and that the people should be involved in the process, the report adds. 



10-year-old needs financial help
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 31
Sonu, a 10-year-old boy living at Nihal Singh Wala village, was hit by a scooter. He did not tell about his injuries to anybody at home. He had severe stomachache, coupled with vomiting.

His parents took him to a local doctor who asked them to consult an expert in Moga. It was found that Sonu had a blunt abdominal injury and was operated upon. But even after the operation, his condition did not improve. After hospitalisation of eight days, his parents were asked to take the boy to Ludhiana.

Helpless parents brought Sonu to the Christian Medical College and Hospital on May 19. His whole body had swollen due to acute renal failure and he required immediate dialysis.

According to Dr V.P. Singh, Head of the Department of Paediatric Surgery, CMCH, and the treating doctor, “Sonu had acute post-operative renal failure. He requires repeated dialysis. The treatment will be expensive. We will be able to contribute about 30 per cent through the Liala Memorial Surgically Sick Children Fund, yet they will require Rs 70,000 more. Already five dialysis have been performed so far.”

But for Mr Sultan, father of Sonu, who polishes shoes to earn his livelihood (about Rs 20 per day), it is an impossible task. His wife earns additional Rs 10 per day by collecting waste papers, to help run their house of five persons.

Sobbing Ms Surjan Devi, Sonu’s mother, said, “We have already spent Rs 22,000 on Sonu’s treatment at Moga. Whatever little our relatives and friends could contribute, they have given us. Now they also do not have any more money to give to us.”

All those who wish to help Sonu can contact officials at the Department of Paediatric Surgery, CMCH, Ludhiana.



Erratic power supply hits life in Ludhiana
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
With the mercury soaring to over 40° and the region facing a heat wave, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is once again back to its old tricks, common during the peak summer season. Unscheduled and scheduled cuts, shut downs in the name of maintenance and frequent tripping of power supply in the city have become the order of the day, with disruption in water supply, which throws normal life out of gear.

The comprehensive plans of the Municipal Corporation to augment the water supply to city localities during the last one year have had the desired result and potable water was made available to quite a few areas, particularly on the periphery of the city. Besides, the pressure in water mains in many localities had improved considerably with sinking of new tubewells and installation of a large number of submersible pumps to add to the existing supply network.

However, the entire water supply network of the MC being dependent on routine power supply and alternative sources to run the tubewells and submersible pumps not being available, the erratic supply of power in the city was virtually undoing the efforts of the MC to improve the availability of water.

According to information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune, power supply remained off to more than two dozen localities in different parts of the city for a period ranging between four to eight hours due to maintenance work or tripping in the transmission system. As a result, water supply in these areas was disrupted to the extent that the residents, who had not stored adequate water, had no water to drink or perform other activities like bathing and cooking. In some colonies, the power supply was said to have been restored at around 3 pm but water started trickling in after 5 pm.

The areas seriously affected due to disruption in power included Haibowal, Dairy Complex, Rishi Nagar, Rajesh Nagar, Gill Road, New Tagore Nagar, New Prem Nagar, Maharaj Nagar, Gobind Nagar , Mandeep Nagar, Rajinder Nagar, Guru Nanak Pura, Bindraban Road and Kehar Singh Nagar. In some other colonies, the residents complained of water scarcity due to electrical or mechanical snags in the tubewells and the delay on the part of the MC authorities to rectify the faults and restore water supply.

Sources in the MC pointed out that as such there was no scarcity of water in the city localities. On the contrary, the per capita availability of water during the day and the duration of water supply to the city population was perhaps the highest in the country. “However, we are helpless when the power supply is cut off. It affects the water supply also. Even then we do our best to alleviate the problems of the people by extending water supply beyond the stipulated timing or the supply of water through tankers,” claimed MC officials.

Meanwhile, Ms Rajinder Kaur Grewal, councillor of Ward No 44, has alleged that there were no operators to run the four tubewells in the area which had adversely affected the water supply in Barewal, Madhuban Enclave, Ashapuri and Sunil Park. On the top of it, the poor power supply in these colonies had further worsened the situation. Ms Grewal has urged the MC administration to take up the matter on a priority basis and solve the problem of a large number of affected residents.



Tributes paid to Nambardar
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 31
We can save society from the evils of selfishness and corruption by following the path shown by our Gurus and social workers. This was stated by Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, local MLA, at Majri village, 1 km from here, yesterday. He was addressing a shardhanjali samagam of social worker Sadhu Singh Nambardar. Mr Gurbax Singh Dhillon, state secretary of the pardesh Congress committee, urged the gathering to follow in the footsteps of Sadhu Singh Nambardar.

Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur, state unit president of the Bharti Kisan Union, Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, (SAD) former Minister, Punjab, Mr Pakhar Singh Salana, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Ram Saran Sood, chief adviser, Pensioners’ Association, Mr Paramjit Singh Gandhri, state unit chief,Governmentt Teachers Union and Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Mr Nazar Singh, general secretary, PSSF, Mr Amarjit Singh Gill,district unit chief, Democratic Teachers Front, also spoke on the occasion.

Among others, Mr Raaj Paul Garg, block president, BJP, Mr Baldev Singh Aulukh,Amloh council chief, Mr Dilbagh Singh,chairman, Block Samiti,Amloh, Mr Piara Singh Sounti, president, BKU block, Amloh, and Jathedar Hardyal Singh Naraingarh (SHSAD) were also present on the occasion.



Pensioners’ DA up
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
The Punjab Government has released an instalment of dearness allowance for its pensioners and family pensioners with effect from January this year.
According to Mr Yash Pal Ghai, additional general secretary of the Government Pensioners Association, the Finance Department has issued a notification that the increase in dearness allowance will be of 3 per cent, raising dearness allowance from 52 per cent to 55 per cent of basic pension.

Meanwhile, the association has sent a draft for Rs 11,00 to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the welfare of members of families of those passengers who died in the Frontier Mail fire near here on May 15.



Lok Bhalai Party conference

Ludhiana, May 31
The Lok Bhalai Party will organise a state-level conference tomorrow to discuss the party’s strategy for the forthcoming panchayat elections in the city.

A spokesperson of the party said national president and MP Balwant Singh Ramoowalia would inaugurate the conference. All office-bearers from the state body, besides district and block level officials, were likely to attend the meeting. TNS



1 killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
One person was killed and another injured when a mini truck was hit by another vehicle near a sugar mill, 4 km from Jagraon, here today.
According to information, the mini truck (HR 37A 8711) carrying milk supply was heading for Ludhiana when it was hit by a vehicle, following which it rammed into a tree. Charan Singh of Matoi and Raju of Lakhna (UP), both occupants of the mini truck, received injuries in the mishap. Both were taken to the DMCH.

Raju later succumbed to his injuries on the way to the hospital. The driver of the mini truck fled the scene.



3 injured in accidents

Khanna, May 31
Three persons were injured in two separate road accidents here today. In the first accident, Chand Singh and Jagtar Singh of Nizampur village were injured when the scooter (PB-55-8324) that they were riding was hit by a truck near Ikolaha village. Both were injured seriously. They were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Khanna.

In another accident, a 14-year- old boy was injured after being hit by a truck on the Malerkotla road. OC



12 bottles of liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Khanna, May 31
The police seized 12 bottles of liquor from a man at the Samrala road here today.
On a secret information, a ‘naka’ was laid at the Samrala road and Pyar Chand, a resident of the district, was arrested with 12 bottles of liquor. A case has been registered under Section 61/1/14 of the Excise Act.

Labourer injured: A labourer was injured in a cylinder blast at Nahar Sugar Mill on Saturday. According to information, Singh Yadav, a worker of Nahar Sugar Mill, was working in the mill when an oxygen cylinder exploded. The worker was injuries. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Khanna.

Suicide bid: A 19-year-old boy tried to commit suicide by consuming some poisonous substance here on Saturday. According to information Sohan Singh, son of Darbara Singh, had had an altercation with his father. Taking it serious, he consumed some poisonous substance. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital, Khanna, in a serious condition.


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