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PSEB complaint redress system privatised
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
Prompt power complaint redressal is just a phone call away now. The long wait for immediate redressal of power supply complaints is a thing of past with a hi- tech pilot project of the PSEB, involving a private company, becoming operational here today.

Consumer care and accountability are the main objectives of the scheme which was initially resisted by the employees' unions. The service would have become operational much earlier but was not accepted by the employees. Keeping public interest in mind, the PSEB management left the unions with no alternative but to give their assent, albeit reluctantly. As many as 50 gangs have been constituted for the city which will move in a specified area and will be informed about complaints in their beats through pagers or mobile phones.

The scheme was formally inaugurated by Mr S.K. Anand, Member (Operations), PSEB, in the presence of Mr H.S.Sohi, Member, Finance, Mr H.S. Khangura, Chief Engineer, Mr A.S.Grewal, Mr D.B. Arora and Mr Niranjan Singh, Mr B.P.S. Gill, ASE, who oversaw the project, was also present on the occasion and elaborated on the salient features of the scheme.

The officials pointed out that the consumers would have to dial a single No. 9622 121212 for getting their complaints registered round the clock. The call centre service had been outsourced to a private company, M/s I 2 I Enterprises, Ludhiana, which would also get back to the complainants to seek their feedback on the promptness in getting the faults rectified and the quality of the repairs. This information would be routed to the board offices for action, if any, against the erring employees.

Presently, no complaints are being registered at the PSEB complaint centers subdivision wise. These complaints are marked by the phone attendant at each subdivision which are then forwarded to the fault repair staff which go in pairs to attend each complaint and report back to the office and the necessary entry is made in the complaint register.

Officials said most of these complaint centers operate in shifts round the clock and an abstract of the total complaints attended during the past 24 hours was prepared in the morning with the status of calls attended and those left pending with the corresponding reasons to the maintenance staff.

Mr Gill pointed out the previous system had certain functional constraints. The staff had to make repeated trips to the faulty locations from the complaint centers and in some cases to the same locality which resulted in avoidable loss of man hours besides delayed response to restoration of power supply to the consumers. Since the registration of complaints was a manual process, there was no generation of Management Information Schedule (MIS) reports and subsequently poor monitoring and analysis thereof.

Another major drawback was that the staff registering the complaints were not trained for public dealing thus they failed to project a consumer-friendly image of the PSEB, he added.

The ASE maintained that the effort was to modernise the working of complaint centers with a view to bring efficiency, transparency and to promote better customer relations by way of quality service. Hence, the need arose for resorting to the call center concept for consumers in the city by outsourcing the service.

Mr Gill said the call center should have single response number (one phone number with several incoming telephone lines) for the entire city. The consumers lodging a current complaint would be greeted with a welcome note and given due respect and a computer-generated complaint number. In case of power cut or feeder/transformer breakdown, they would be informed accordingly with the possible restoration of supply information.

The complaint would be sent as a pager message to the complaint staff operating in that locality, who after attending the fault, would report back to the call center and the status of the complaint would be changed to attended from pending. In case of any delay in attending the complaint , the message should be directed to the JE, AEE, Senior Xen and SE concerned in charge of the area after every two hours till it was attended. The respective officers would be held accountable for any delay in carrying out the necessary repairs, he added.

Another feature of the scheme is that the call center staff will randomly call back 10 per cent of consumer registering their complaints to gauge their satisfaction for services rendered and for authenticating the complaints. The centre will generate daily/weekly printed MIS reports for the PSEB and transfer the data to a central server to be installed in the CE/ operation office which shall be interlinked with SEs office computers through networking so that senior officers could have access to all reports and related data.


Johar opposes demolition drive
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 9
The statement made by Punjab Minister for Higher Education Harnam Das Johar that under the ongoing drive against encroachments in the city, no demolitions would be carried out till January 20, could not have come at a worse time. The campaign, initiated at the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had run into rough weather when officials and staff of the building branch refused to go ahead with the task of clearing encroachments without adequate security cover.

While Mr Johar’s warning to the MC staff of being penalised if the demolitions continued could be termed close to contempt of the court, it is not for the first time that the minister has targeted the MC. Mr Johar had criticised the civic body on one such occasion where even Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was present. The Chief Minister had to intervene and admonish him and place on record the good work done by the MC.

The MC officials and functionaries of various political parties did not take kindly the observations of Mr Johar that some encroachments of a few feet by residents were justified.

The DCC (Urban) president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, and the PPCC secretary, Mr Parminder Mehta, have also expressed concern over the growing unrest among the residents against the demolition drive. Mr Sharma said a deputation of the DCC functionaries had met the Chief Minister at Chandigarh to apprise him of the situation. According to Mr Sharma the Chief Minister had given an assurance that the MC would be asked to put the demolitions on hold and the government would take up the matter with the court for review of its earlier directions.

Sources in the ruling party said the anti-encroachment drive was bound to have far-reaching political ramifications in the wake of the Lok Sabha elections which could be announced soon.

Mayor Nahar Singh Gill said the MC was bound to carry out the court directions. However, he said the administration had been given instructions to verify all objections and representations submitted by the residents and carry out demolitions only after being sure that the structures were unauthorised. “We shall not act in an arbitrary manner,” he said.


Steel users feel ignored
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
While the populist sops announced by the National Democratic Alliance government in the shape of a mini-budget have come as a heartening New Year gift for middle class, the small-scale industry, particularly dealing with the engineering sector is feeling ignored and cheated.

While the government announced reduction in customs duty on various products, the steel consumers were surprised as to why steel was excluded from these reliefs. The marginal reduction of 5 per cent in the customs duty on the import of steel was termed as generic in nature since it has been provided for all products.

For the past over a year, steel consumers in the country had been seeking reduction in the customs duty on import of steel from 25 to 10 per cent. They had been maintaining that the rising prices of steel in the country could be checked in case the customs duty on the import of steel was relaxed. Even the Kelkar Committee constituted for the tax reforms in the country had also recommended the reduction of customs duty on steel to 10 per cent.

When the government was in a generous mood, the steel consumers had also expected some relief. They regretted that the government did not bring it down to 10 per cent. This would have breathed life into the small-scale sector which was the backbone of the industry in the country. Industry representatives apprehended that the government might not have liked to annoy the big steel players on the eve of elections when they could come out with big donations to party funds.

A leading representative in the industry pointed out that the customs duty on the import of coal was reduced from 25 to 15 per cent. This would again benefit the big steel players who needed coal for the steel production. He observed the government could also have brought down the customs duty on import of steel at least to 15 per cent.

The steel consumers felt that the government did not provide them any relief since they did not constitute any vote bank. “It is obviously aimed at the middle-class constituency that has been offered so many sops with the eye on forthcoming general elections,” regretted an aggrieved manufacturer.


Manuke residents take on AIDS
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Manuke (Ludhiana), January 9
While the world struggles to contain AIDS, sheer determination of the residents of this village has wiped out the stigma of having the highest number of AIDS patients in the district.

For the past three years, the village was infamous for the growing number of HIV +100 cases, thanks to large population of truck drivers and presence of some sex workers, but all that has changed for the better now, as not a single new case has been reported in the last one year.

This has not happened in a day. It took nearly two years for the village panchayat to educated residents about taking preventive measures for the disease. Even an illiterate barber here sterilises his equipment before using. So much so that the villagers have started matching blood reports instead of horoscopes before finalising a marriage.

This move has brought the village into the limelight not only in India but in the world as apart from the local media some USA and Canada-based newspapers hailed it as a finest example of preventing the disease.

As many as 11 deaths took place in the village in 2001-02 from the disease and almost a similar number of people, who were tested positive for the HIV. Word soon spread around about the high incidence of the disease. This is where Mr Gurmukh Singh, sarpanch till June 2003, stepped in. He roped in like-minded individuals and started spreading the message. The results came out this year when no fresh case of AIDS was reported. A fact, confirmed by sources in the district Health Department.

A visit to the village by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that right from the present panchayat members to children in the village, everyone was spreading the message of erasing the pock mark on the village.

A modest former sarpanch, Mr Gurmukh Singh, who claimed that each resident of the village should be congratulated for the feat, urged The Tribune team to go around the village and check the awareness level itself.

The team found that even children of the lower classes of a school run by Mr Gurmukh Singh knew the details of the fatal disease and how to prevent it. Though the children giggled at the questions but their replies revealed that they were quite serious in following the teachers’ advice.

“We tell our parents to take precautions with needles and syringes, especially if we find some drug addict and yes, above all, we should stick to one partner” they advice.

A blood test laboratory was the next place. The attendant confirmed that for the last year there has been no fresh case. The village panchayat had made almost all villagers undergo the test for better prevention of the disease.

A barber near the laboratory also showed how he took precautions by sterilising his equipment before using them on a customer.

Mr Gurmukh Singh revealed that the village panchayat suffered major problems in checking the activities of two sex workers operating in the village. It was ultimately six months of pressure that the sex workers left the village.

Though happy at the turn of events, the elderly villager said the precautionary measures have to continue. He said the problem area was the large number of truck drivers who frequented North-East states and came in contact with sex workers there.


Manch holds rally against female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
The Malwa Sabhyachar Manch today took out a procession against the female foeticide. A large number of volunteers of the manch participated in the march which started from the Jagraon Bridge and ended at Punjabi Bhawan. The participants included students who were carrying placards denouncing the female foeticide.

The convener of the manch, Mr Krishen Kumar Bawa, who was leading the rally, said that Punjabi society was facing a serious threat of disturbed sex ratio. He added that despite awareness and strict measures taken by the government the sex ratio remained disturbed. He said it was high time that people started taking note of the problem.

Mr Pawan Dewan, general secretary of the manch, said that notwithstanding the strict laws enacted by the government, the female foeticide still continued. He said it was essential that awareness was created in the society about the danger of the disturbed sex ratio. He observed that if people did not voluntarily check the female foeticide it would not be possible to solve the problem.

The rally was organised on the eve of a Lohri mela, being organised by the manch tomorrow. Mr Bawa and Mr Dewan maintained that the rally was organised to coincide with the Lohri mela, which was an important part of Punjabi culture. They said, the greatest threat to the Punjabi culture was moral degradation and female foeticide was one of its aspects.

The manch leaders maintained that they would further strengthen and consolidate the movement against the female foeticide and create awareness among the youth. Otherwise, they warned, the society would be heading towards social unrest.


Spreading awareness on road safety
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
With a view to create awareness regarding road safety and traffic rules, a continuous awareness campaign would be conducted involving District Transport Office, Traffic Police Educational Institutions and NGOs and more and more seminars would be conducted at the urban and rural areas to educate drivers regarding the safety measures.

This was stated by Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a state-level function in connection with the Road Safety Week organised by the Transport Department at Children Traffic Park here today. On the occasion road safety demonstration by schools students and the traffic police was made and photographs regarding traffic violations and road safety materials were displayed.

Mr Verma said special literature containing traffic signs and road safety rules had been got published by the District Transport Office, which would be supplied to all senior secondary schools and colleges for educating students in the morning assemblies by teachers regularly. He said on-the-spot painting competitions and declamation contests regarding traffic rules would be organised, so that students could be provided sufficient knowledge about the road safety and traffic rules.

Mr Verma informed that road accidents caused an irreparable loss to the society, as, in India, more than 80,000 persons lost their lives, 3.5 lakh become handicapped in the road accidents . He informed that the country suffered an estimated financial loss of Rs 55,000 crores from the accidents in a single year.

He said by fully abiding by the traffic rules and road safety measures , most of the lives could be saved and mental torture and financial loss caused by the accidents to a large number of families could be avoided. He appealed to the voluntary organisations to come forward to educate drivers not to take alcohol while driving , keep the vehicles properly maintained and fully follow the traffic rules to minimised the number of accidents on the roads.

Dr Kamaljit Singh Sra, Additional State Transport Commissioner, while addressing the function said during the Road Safety Week, people were being educated by distributing relevant literature on traffic rules, medical check-ups and pollution check-ups were being conducted in all districts and subdivisions by the teams comprising of the Transport Department and traffic police . He said in all districts thousands of students had been imparted special training regarding the traffic rules, besides on-the-spot painting competitions were being conducted to create awareness among students. He appealed to the drivers to take proper road safety measures, as the negligence of any driver could cause a serious damage to him and other innocent people using roads due to accidents.

Mr M.S. Sandhu, District Transport Officer, speaking on the occasion informed that during the Road Safety Week, a special awareness drive regarding traffic rules was being conducted daily jointly by the Traffic police and the staff involving the Transport Association and NGOs in the district. He said pollution checking of the vehicles was being conducted and pamphlets on road safety were distributed by the traffic police at different places.

He said Mr S.S. Juneja Traffic Missionary, displayed the “Dos and Don’ts” regarding the road safety through slide projector. The medical examination of drivers was also conducted by doctors of the Health Department. He informed that reflectors on the backs of trolleys were being fixed to avoid accidents during the night.

On the occasion, on-the-spot painting and writing competitions were conducted, in which 103 students of different schools participated. In these competitions Kesev Rai of BVM School stood first, Harish Kumar of SDP Senior Secondary School came second and Harsimran Singh of Government Senior Secondary Model School, PAU, declared third.


Bravery award for Khud Mohalla fire hero
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
Kartar Singh, alias Lucky, a hero of Khud Mohalla fire incident, has been given the 12th Red and White Bravery Award posthumously for showing extraordinary courage and saving the lives of many caught in fire.

The award was given to Ms Jasbir Kaur, the hero’s wife, and their two children by the Punjab Governor, Mr O.P. Verma, on January 7 at Chandigarh. The award includes a gold medal, a cash prize of Rs 20,000 and a citation.

Kartar Singh was chosen for the award out of 550 persons from Punjab and Haryana who had sent applications for it. The Khud Mohalla tragedy had taken place on May 19 last year in which 10 persons were killed and over 100 injured. Kartar Singh saved nearly 20 persons but was engulfed by flames and succumbed to the burn injuries at the CMC hospital.

The residents of the area who had witnessed the incident had been demanding a bravery award for Lucky who had rescued many persons trapped in the fire, caring a little about his life. The residents claimed that he was a real hero who deserved to be awarded.

Kartar Singh, lived in a house opposite the hosiery factory that caught fire. When he heard the cries of those trapped inside the factory he ran out of the house, put a blanket on himself and started rescuing workers trapped inside. After half an hour, he was seen going to the hospital on a scooter. But he never came back from the hospital.


Jathedars ‘should not issue suo motu notice’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 9
The President of the SAD(A), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has said that Akal Takhat should not summon any Sikh directly after admitting a complaint against that person from any third party or by taking a suo motu notice.

Participating in 'Kharian Kharian' programme to be aired by Lashkara channel on Sunday evening at 7.45, Mr Mann pointed out that this practice had resulted in hasty issuance of hukamnamas in the past that have created confusion among the Sikhs the world over.

Describing hukamnamas issued by former Akal Takhat Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh on the issue of langar and Giani Puran Singh against a former SGPC President he said his party had urged these Jathedars to refrain from taking such hasty actions. He suggested that only pre-screened complaints referred to it by a screening committee should be taken up by Akal Takhat, Mr Mann said the committee should not be limited to the well-wishers of the group dominated by the SGPC general house.


MC to provide better amenities
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 9
The City Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, today reiterated the commitment of the Municipal Corporation to provide better civic amenities to the population in the city and step up the pace of development works.

While inaugurating a new tubewell in Ward 19, Mr Gill focused on the various development projects which were in different stages of execution. He explained the major steps being taken by the MC to create better infrastructure. The Mayor claimed that a number of tubewells and submersible pumps were in the process of being sunk in different localities to augment the supply of potable water.

Mr Bhagwan Das, area councillor, Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura, Mr Sardool Singh Grewal, Mr Raju Thapar, Mr Satwinder Singh Jawaddi, (all councillors), Mr R.P. Mehta and Mr Mohammed Khaleel, among others, were present at the function.

Later, Mr Gill laid the foundation stone of a sewerage project in Ward 18 and commenced work on yet another sewerage project, estimated to cost Rs 6 crore in Ward 31.


Ramoowalia covers 70 villages

Ludhiana, January 9
The Lok Bhalai Party chief and former Union Minister, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, has covered over 70 villages on the ninth day of his Lok Jagao-Punjab Bachao padyatra from Machhiwara to Muktsar.

Talking to TNS over the phone, he said he and his fellow padyatris were warmly received at all villages they had visited. En route, the gram panchayats and thousands of villagers pledged to uphold his mission and party agenda, which was aimed at saving Punjab and Punjabis from the clutches of corrupt and opportunistic leaders. TNS


Hospital canteen ransacked
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 9
Members of a trust running affairs of a religious place, allegedly ransacked a canteen being run at a hospital adjoining the religious place and stole goods worth Rs 40,000. The police has registered a case. The victim has sought intervention of higher officials in the matter.

Mr Nirmal Chand Sharma, a resident of nearby Ghangas village, alleged that some members of the trust running the affairs of a religious place situated near Katahari village had been harassing him with a view to taking over the canteen in a hospital. He had been running the canteen since 1983.

He said, “In June 2003, they asked me to vacate the canteen and I stopped receiving the rent. Consequently, I approached a court in Khanna which passed a stay order in my favour.” The police registered an FIR under Sections 448, 427, 457 and 380, IPC.

Meanwhile, various organisations have condemned the action and demanded action against the accused. Mr Chamkaur Singh, sarpanch of Ghangas, and some panches urged the higher authorities to intervene in the matter. A bandh was observed in Karamsar Market on Wednesday in this regard.

Police sources said an ASI had been deputed to investigate the case.


Kidnapping bid: 2 youths arrested
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 9
The police has arrested two youths involved in a kidnapping attempt yesterday. The police said one of the accused was earlier an employee of the victim’s family.

According to the police, two youths, Mewa Singh of Khanna and Balwinder Singh of Batala, reached a local school and tried to kidnap a student, Harmanjit Singh of Khattra village.

Both the accused posed themselves as relatives of the student but the student denied to identify them and refused to go with them. The school principal raised the alarm and handed over the accused to the police.

A case has been registered against them. The police said that they tried to kidnap the student for ransom.

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