Monday, September 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Colony residents take to streets with empty pitchers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Residents of EWS Colony in Sector-32 today protested against the lack of water supply to the area for the past four months. They claimed that other colonies of area were being supplied potable water everyday.

As many as 10,000 residents of the colony were drawing water from other sources due to the shortage and were falling prey to several water-borne diseases.

Residents of the colony, mostly migrant labourers, claimed that they had complained to the authorities concerned a number of times but nothing had been done in this regard. The taps had gone dry and they had to depend on a handpump for the supply of water.

They said there was not even a drop of water in around 200 houses (house number 1899 to 2102).

To show their resentment against the shortage of water the residents protested against it in the colony today.

Raising slogans against the authorities they said they had to face shortage of drinking water as most of them were migrants and the authorities knew that there was nobody to take up their cause.

Jai Parkash, a resident of the colony said a month ago they had staged a protest outside the office of the Municipal Corporation following which the water supply was restored for three-four days. He said many residents had fallen ill after drinking water drawn from the handpump.

Another resident, Shri Ram said he had contracted jaundice some days ago and doctor had told him that it was due to the consumption of contaminated water. He added that many others were also falling ill because of this. Several children too had suffered due to water borne diseases.

Kanta, another resident said she had to wait for hours in a queue everyday to fetch just one bucket of water. Chandeshwar, another resident said they had complained to the area councillor, Mr Ram Chander Yadav, but it had yielded no result. The councillor was not available for comments.



Highway robbery mastermind held
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 21
A policeman, who was recruited on the basis of his performance as a wrestler, has been arrested for heading a gang involved in a numbers of highway robberies and looting incidents in Ludhiana adjoining towns and villages. He allegedly enjoyed the patronage of some highly connected politicians and senior police officers.

Satwant Singh, alias Kaka, the kingpin of the gang, had escaped arrest when a police party had foiled an attempt to take away a jeep some time back. The accused has been booked under various sections of the IPC and the Arms Act. He hails from Dehlon village and was declared a proclaimed offender in a case registered at a local police station. Besides snatching vehicles at gunpoint, the gang also used to strike at houses and shops.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Amandeep Singh Rai, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, said the gang had been busted when some of its members were nabbed by police party headed by DSP Malerkotla, Mr Rajbachan Singh, in January 2003. The gangsters were fleeing after taking away a Bolero jeep at gunpoint from its owner. Satwant Singh had managed to escape but the interrogation of those in custody had led them to the accused.

Mr Rai further told that the accused had recruited members in his gang while he was in jail in a murder case. He was a close confidant of Arjuna Awardee wrestler, a GO rank police cop, who is also in jail after being arrested under the NDPS Act for ferrying a huge cache of narcotics.

Preliminary investigations by teams of Mr Rajesh Battu, SHO, city police and Mr Ravinder Singh, SHO, Sadar, led by Mr Rachhpal Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, revealed that accused was recruited as a constable in the sports quota. Though he was a Constable, he openly claimed to be an ASI.

His proximity to senior police officials and political bigwigs helped him live luxuriously. He never performed his duty and went to his place of posting only to receive his salary, a part of which was presented to the Munshi of the respective police station, as a ‘token of love’ for marking him present the whole month.

This had reportedly helped him prove his innocence in many criminal cases. “How could a person posted at a police station in Bathinda district, commit a crime in Ludhiana or Sangrur, had proved to be a plausible argument given by defence counsels in the court,” a police officer pointed out.



Chemists fleece patients
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Even as the Haryana Government has issued directions to doctors to write generic name of the salt and not the brand of the medicine, the Punjab Government is yet to initiate such a step. Medical stores here sell medicines at exorbitant rates.

Two types of medicines available in the market here are ethical and generic medicines. The companies selling ethical medicines offer only 15 per cent margin at the most, while those selling generic medicines offer more than 1200 per cent margin in some cases.

An injection of gentamycin costs the chemist Rs 2, but is sold for Rs 10 at some outlets. A dextrose bottle costs Rs 11 to a chemist while the printed rate on it is Rs 30. Similarly the actual cost of the IV set was Rs 4.50 and it is sold for anything between Rs 24 and Rs 26. A scalpel set is sold for Rs 50 while it actually costs Rs 6 to a retailer. Injection of generic mikacin costs Rs 4 to a retailer while it has Rs 32 printed on it. The 500 mg injection of the same salt costs Rs 7 to the retailer while it is sold for Rs 58.

Similarly there is a huge margin in the surgical products. Some orthopaedic strips cost anything between Rs 500-700 but a patient has to shell out Rs 10,000 or so for them. Sources also disclosed that an injection administered after a heart surgery cost around Rs 300 to a retailer while it was sold to a patient at whopping Rs 3,000.

Sources in private hospitals revealed that the contractor of a medical store on the hospital premises had to pay a hefty sum to the hospital to get the contract for selling the medicines. In some cases, it amounted to more than Rs 30 lakh and in some reputed hospitals it was much more. So the medical store owners were making the patients pay for the cost.

‘‘It was really shocking for me to find out that there was a huge difference between the cost of generic and ethical medicines,” said Mr Pritpal Singh, a local resident. 



Protest against cable operators
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Members of the Cable Upbhokta Sangharsh Committee today held a demonstration against the cable operators in favour of their long pending demands near Ghanta Ghar Chowk here today.

They burnt an effigy of the cable operators syndicate. The members claimed that the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Surakhsha Samiti had also extended them its support in favour of cable consumers.

Mr Madan Kumar Kurwaha, Mr Jatinder Khatri and Mr Devnath while addressing the participants alleged that the cable syndicate was active in the state and causing a loss of lakhs of rupees to the state exchequer.

They demanded that an inquiry by the CBI or the Punjab Vigilance Bureau into the assets of the cable operators. They claimed that they were fleecing the customers while getting richer day by day. They added that some of the operators were depositing the money in their bank accounts abroad.

The speakers threatened that if the authorities concerned failed to take action against the syndicate they would go on fast unto death.

They said that the rates of the cable connections were not uniform in the city. Stating that there were at least 4 lakh cable connections in the city, the speakers said that there were different rates prevailing in the city ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 350.



Two injured in truck accident
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, September 21
The driver and cleaner of a canter were seriously injured as their vehicle was hit by a truck coming from Machhiwara side, yesterday.
A canter (number PB 12F-9010) that was being driven by Jagtar Singh met with an accident when a truck coming from the opposite direction, rammed into it late last night.

The driver of the canter, and cleaner Surjit Singh were seriously injured and admitted to CMC Hospital, Ludhiana Their condition is stated to be serious.

A case has, however, been registered on the complaint of the driver of the canter against driver of the truck (number PB 10U-9817). The truck driver had reportedly fled from the scene after leaving the truck there. No arrests have been made so far.



Green rally flagged off, activists honoured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
A rally, organized by the National Environment Protection Society — Hari Bhari, was flagged off by the Chief Justice Binod Kumar Roy of the Punjab and Haryana High Court from the Nursing Institute of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Hospital, here, late last evening.

The Chief Justice also inaugurated the vanamahotsava by planting a sapling. Other dignitaries also planted saplings on the occasion. Students, holding banners and placards joined the rally, which passed through Shashtri Nagar, Gurdev Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Malhar Road, and dispersed at the Circuit House where sweets were distributed among the students.

Later, addressing the environmentalists at a well attended function, the Chief Justice said that the rising pollution, due to the increase in vehicular traffic on the roads and the substantial decrease in the forest cover in the country, was posing a serious threat to the human lives.

He said that the increase in the pollution was causing a large number of serious diseases among the people, particularly in children. Stressing upon the need to involve the maximum number of people in the awareness campaign, the Chief Justice exhorted the NGOs to organize more such functions so that the people could be educated about the seriousness of the situation.

Chief Justice Roy said the present generation was duty bound to pass on the congenial environment to the next generation. For this plantation and awareness should be increased.

Appreciating the efforts of Hari Bhari and the management of GTB Hospital. Chief Justice Roy called upon other such organisations to strive hard in this direction by involving schoolchildren.

Mr Bharatbir Singh Sobti, Additional Advocate General, highlighted the achievements of Hari Bhari during the past couple of years. He said the society had organised a large number of rallies, symposia and debates involving the student of various colleges.

He said that the society had organized a number of vanamahotsavas in the different parts of the city and planted thousands of saplings with the active participation of the civic authorities.

The chief Justice honoured 12 environmentalists. The Chief Justice and Mr B.I.S. Chahal, Adviser to the Chief Minister, Punjab, presented mementoes to the outstanding personalities working for the improvement of environment.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Justice Amar Dutt, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Prem Chand, SDM, Mr Mohinder Singh Bakhshi, president, managing committee, GTB Hospital, Mr Harbhajan Singh, vice president of Hari Bhari and Mrs G.K. Walia, Principal, Nursing Institute.



Mobile campaign against drug abuse flagged off
Our Correspondent

Doraha, September 21
Mr Tej Parkash Singh Kotli, Transport Minister, flagged off 10 vehicles arranged by Brahmakumaris to spread awareness about drug addiction in villages in and around Doraha.

The minister also inaugurated the drug de-addiction campaign launched by Ishwar Vishav Vidayala, the social welfare institution of the Brahmakumaris. The chief organiser of the programme, Raj Bidi, elaborated upon the evils prevalant in society and said drug addiction had crossed all limits.

“We have engaged 10 vehicles to spread awareness about this social evil on a large scale,” she said.

The function was attended by Mrs Raj Rani, Nagar Council president, Mr Bant Singh Daburjee, senior vice-president, Mr Adarsh Pal Bector, former president, Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, former president, Mr S.P. Verma, president, Artiya Association, Mr Surinder Pal Sood, councillor, and Thekedar Krishan Lal.



Farmer brings home snow bike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
For a young farmer of the city, possessing a unique vehicle was a dream that came true when he and his brother imported a snow bike from Canada some time ago.
Mr Daljit Singh, a young farmer had seen a Yamaha four-wheel-drive during his trip to Canada where his family had an agricultural farm. Since then he had thought of buying the vehicle that would come handy in his farm back home.

His dream came true when he finally imported the vehicle by paying Rs 6.5 lakh including the customs duty some time ago. Now whenever he is out on the streets he gets a lot of attention from curious onlookers.

‘‘Whenever they look curiously at me I feel very good. At least different from them. So many of them have even stopped their vehicles several times to ask me where I got the vehicles from.’’ says Daljit Singh who claims that he was the only person in the state to own this vehicle.

He claims that he uses the vehicle in the fields also but most of the time he drives it on road. He had no regrets that he had to shell out Rs 6.5 lakh to buy the four wheeler while he could have bought a good tractor with the same amount. ‘‘If you want to fulfill your desires you have to pay price. I liked it and wanted to buy it no matter how costly it was. People spend so much on the luxury cars because they want to own one so why cant I? I know so many people who have spent fortunes on imported cars.’’

Daljit does not want to sell his possession to anybody even if someone offers him double the price. ‘‘I will keep it as long as I can. May be I like another vehicle and import it but for the time being its is my dream vehicle.’’ he says.

With an average of 15 km per litre the bike runs on petrol. It can carry two persons and go up the hills also. Thick tyres are an added advantage. He keeps taking it to his village in Wagah Purana where he has a 50-acre farm. He took it once to Chandigarh also where it was fun. ‘‘There were many admiring onlookers and I was happy too. Who does not like attention?’’ he quips. 



Ram Lila to begin on September 24
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 21
Ram Lila will start in Urban Estate, Dugri, Phase I, on September 24. This was stated in a press note by Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary, and Mr Raj Garg, president, of the Urban Estate Ram Lila Dasehra Committee.

It will be inaugurated by Mr Manjit Singh Jawaddi, vice-chairman of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (labour and employment), and jyoti prakash will be performed by Mr Amarjit Bajaj of Bajaj Engineers.

The Dasehra Mela preparations have also been completed. The mela would be inaugurated by Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Minister for Transport, Punjab, and Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, Minister for Jails, Housing and Urban Development would be the chief guest.

The mela would be presided over by the Mayor of Ludhiana, Mr Nahar Singh Gill. Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, former MP, Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, and Mr S.R. Kaler, Deputy Director of Local Bodies, Punjab, will grace the occasion as special guests of honour. Lala Lajpat Rai, MP, Rajya Sabha, will perform the flag hoisting ceremony. Prizes will be distributed by Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Vidhan Sabha Speaker.

The effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghnad will be set on fire by Mr Malkit Singh Dakha, Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, all MLAs.

Shobha yatra will be held on September 27, which would be inaugurated by former Deputy Speaker Sat Pal Gosain, whereas jyoti pujan will be performed by Mr Subhash Verma, district president of the BJP.



Shaad Bilgani honoured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 21
Navrang, a literary society, organised a ‘mushaira’ yesterday at Punjabi Bhavan. Shaad Bilgani was sader-e-mushaira and it was conducted by Ashgar Mehmood Nandan, general secretary of the society.

Shaad Bilgani, Naami Naadri, Dr Shabab Lalit, Arsh Sehbai, Rajinder Nath Rehbar, Mohinder Pratap Chand, Sardar Paanchi, Ajit Singh Hasrat, Zia Nehtori, Chaman Bhatnagar, Shahid Hasan Shahid, Pooran Ehsan, Naveen Aazam, Sagar Sialkoti and Manhor Vijay were among those who participated in the mushaira.

Dr Nalini Kaushal Naazali, and Shabnam Sultana recited their ghazals. Shaad Bilgani was awarded the title of Pasban-e-Adab and a memento was presented by the president of Navrang, Naami Naadri.



Labour unrest worries industrialists
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 21
Strike by workers of some industrial units in the city has caused great concern among industrialists. Labour strike has taken place here after at least two decades. The relationship between the labour and the employers has by and large remained cordial over the years.

But strike in some factories during the past month or so has upset the industrial peace of the town. Industrialists feel that the ruling Congress is not playing its cards well. The latest strike in some factories has been sponsored by labour unions attached to the INTUC.

Workers of Hero Cycles, the largest bicycle manufacturer of the world, have also been on strike for the past few days. The management of Hero Cycles maintains that the strike has not hampered industrial production so far and only a small fraction of the workers has gone on strike.

Mr S.K. Rai, Managing Director, marketing operations, Hero Cycles, said today that initially workers employed by the contractor had gone on strike. He said now some factory workers had joined them. Mr Rai said the workers had neither given any charter of demands before going on strike nor was there any cause for the agitation.

“Our workers are highly paid. We are paying even LTA, besides house rent, dearness allowance and conveyance allowance. For the first time in 50 years, there has been strike by workers in our company,” he said.

Workers of Bhogal Sons have also been on strike for the past week now. Mr Mohinder Singh Bhogal, Managing Director of Bhogal Sons, says that the striking workers did not serve any demand charter.

He maintained that they were paying all dues according to the labour laws of the state, including minimum wages, annual bonus at the rate of 20 per cent instead of 8.23 per cent, besides granting seven days of casual leave. They were also paying even reward money to those who were doing good work.

Mr Bhogal said they were witnessing a strike after thirty years. Mr Sarbjit Singh Sarhali, spokesman for INTUC, alleged that the managements of industrial units were not paying minimum wages and were also deducting payment for leave days. He alleged that the Labour Department was in league with the management, due to which there were obstacles in settling genuine demands of workers. He said the Hero Cycle management must withdraw the notices issued to 14 employees.

Besides these two major industrial units, some other light engineering units have also witnessed strike for a few days. Local industrialists have met the president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, three days ago in Chandigarh and urged him to intervene and direct the INTUC unit to stop interfering in the functioning of the industrial units.

Mr Hanspal also talked to the labour representatives, including INTUC spokesman Sarbjit Singh Sarhali and Mr Parminder Mehta, Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

Mr Mehta suggested that Mr D.S. Chawla, president, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturer Association, be asked to negotiate with industrialists and workers to bring about an amicable settlement. Mr Hanspal asked Mr D.S. Chawla to help in resolving the matter.

Mr Chawla said here today that he had talked to representatives of workers and now he would talk to representatives of industrial units.

He expressed confidence that the situation would ease soon and said that there was only a communication gap between workers and their employers.

Ludhiana employs more than three lakh workers in the light engineering industries. Owners of the factories are of the view that some political leaders want to make inroads into the labour unions by spoiling the industrial climate of the town. They want the state government to act sternly and prevent the situation from worsening.



Interiors Espania furniture
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 21
Furniture by Interiors Espania is on sale at Villa Pearl, a mega store far away from the city. Mr Nitin Bhayana, vice-president, Bhayana Group of India, said here that distance really do not matter as during the past three months the sale of furniture at the store has been brisk.

Their home range furniture is wide and laminated and wooden flooring are exclusive. They also have bed linens, silverware and steel accessories, besides office furniture and 300 designer lights. The company provides customise furniture from Spain in just three months.


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