L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


New scheme to combat narcotic smuggling
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 27
With a view to combat narcotic smuggling from Rajasthan, the Jagraon police has decided to make persons selling drugs in that state as co-accused in cases registered under the NDPS Act.

Drugs like poppy husk are sold in licensed vends in Rajasthan, which are bought by smugglers and transported to this region, which has one of the highest incidents of narcotic smuggling. Under the new scheme these persons will be booked as they cannot sell the drugs in bulk. It is also in violation of the licence given to them by the Rajasthan Government.

Announcing this at a press conference in Mullanpur here, Mr H.S. Bhullar, SSP, Jagraon, said till now the police was nabbing smugglers who brought the booty here, but no initiative was taken to stem its flow from Rajasthan. ‘‘With the registration of the case against the sellers also, we hope the smuggling will be contained,’’ he added. He said the registration of first such case, against unknown persons, so far had been done in case of the arrest of an alleged smuggler, Baldev Singh, a key member of a gang run by Chand Singh, alias Channi.

Mr Bhullar said the accused, a resident of Adaltiwal village in Patiala district, was arrested by a CIA Jagraon team from near Chak Kalan village whereas Chand Singh, alias Chandi, managed to escape. They were moving in a Tata 709 TPT (HR37A 3840) loaded with poppy husk.

About 30 bags of poppy husk weighing 12 quintals worth over Rs 5 lakh were recovered from the accused.

Mr Bhullar added that these accused paid Rs 3,200 per bag in Rajasthan and sold it at Rs 15,000 to 18,000 in Punjab.



World Theatre Day
Theatre transcends all barriers: Atamjit
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 27
“Theatre is an expression of medium and unless and until this is connected with professionalism, this art form will not blossom. Theatre has many obstacles in its way, but these obstacles only has become its strength,” said Dr Atamjit Singh, a wellknown award-winning Punjabi playwright and critic .He was addressing theatre personalities and writers on World Theatre Day celebrated all over the world on March 27.

The Alive Artists Group (regd), Punjabi Sahit Akademi and Punjabi Likhari Sabha had decided to organise 1st Norah Richards Memorial lecture on this day.Dr Amarjit said that he was curious to know why, when and how this day came to be observed. He said, that he found out that UNESCO, an organisation of UNO, had decided to form an International Theatre Institute (ITI) in 1948. World Theatre Day is celebrated annually on March 27 by ITI centres and the international theatre community: Various national and international theatre event are being organised to mark this occasion. One of the most important of these is the circulation of the international message traditionally written by a theatre personality of world stature at the invitation of ITI.

Dr Atamjit had compiled the messages of last four years by theatre personalities. In the message delivered by Egyption dramatist FathiyeAssal of 2004, she said that theatre is father of all arts. She said,” Theatre takes us out of our inner selves and makes us forget our religion and sex or anything. Theatre transcends all the barriers. But for good theatre , three things needed are —first, whether theatre is moving to social justice. Is it providing environment to help man come out of himself? Second, does the theatre have maturity of expression, and thirdly, whether it has authenticity.

In the message given in 2002 by our very own Girish Karnad, he had emphasised on comprehensive dialogue in theatre. He had given the example of devtas fighting with demons and how demons infuriated by their defeat had made devtas lose their power of speech and memory. Brahma , the creator of Natya Shastra had to intervene and through a dialogue convince the demons that it was in their favour to maintain a dialogue.

Dost of Germany had said in his message ,”Theatre is an impure art and therein lies its power Unscrupulously , it uses everthing that stands in its way. It is forever betraying its own principles. It is, of course, not immune to fashion of the times. It is extravagant and banal, evasive , destroys stories while creating new ones.”

Dr Atamjit, talking about Punjabi theatre, said that though Punjabi theatre lacked authenticity, what the other theatres have achieved in 2000 years, Punjabi theatre has captured the essence of 2004 year of world theatre in 100 years. It is democratic and has accepted the pluralism.



Car bazars hold residents, traders to ransom
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 27
The Sunday car bazars, being organised at Feroze Gandhi Market and a few other places in the city, are virtually holding other shopkeepers and residents of those particular areas to ransom.

The organisers of the car bazars, who buy and sell hundreds of used cars on a single day in the week, not only misuse and damage designated parking sites and other public places around these markets, but also cause great inconvenience to other shopkeepers and visitors by parking the vehicles meant for sale and purchase at every conceivable place.

At times, complain the affected traders and shoppers in these markets, when the number of cars being offered by the car bazars is high and equal number of vehicles of the purchasers are parked all over these places, the designated paid parking sites become off limits for other visitors as a result of the connivance of the parking contractors concerned with the used car dealers.

The Traders and Property Owners Association of Feroze Gandhi Market, the biggest venue for the Sunday car bazars, in a written representation to the district administration and the Municipal Administration, have called for checking gross misuse of parking and other vacant sites by the car dealers. While appreciating the initiative of the civic body for providing fresh pre-mix carpet in the huge parking spaces in the market, the association has pointed out that the car bazar organisers dig up the entire places every Sunday to put up tents and canopies, thereby causing immense damage to the public property.

The association further maintained that in the absence of effective measures to put an end to the undesirable activities of the car dealers, they would continue to undo the good work done by the MC towards providing a better infrastructure to the city population. At the same time, the efforts of the civic administration and public funds would also continue to go down the drain.



Migrant labourer thanks good Samaritans
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 27
It was a close brush with death for 17-year-old Jatinder Kumar alias Channu, who was rescued by hundreds of people on Thursday after he was buried under a truck, which was heavily loaded with iron girders and had fallen on footpath.

The migrant labourer, who was learning truck repair to earn his livelihood in Punjab to support his family at Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, felt at one moment that he was dead.

“When the truck fell on me, I saw death staring me in the face. I ducked and saw darkness all around. However, after a moment I was able to open my eyes, and realised that I was alive. I could speak also” said Channu while lying on the hospital bed here today.

Doctors attending on him said that he was complaining of pain in the abdomen, and would be scanned tomorrow. One of his relatives said that he needed a surgery in a leg.

“After listening to me, the men nearby called for help. I could listen to their panick-stricken voices and hurried steps here and there. Within seconds, I could hear hundreds of voices. Though I felt that I had the power to push the truck away and come out, I could not move any part of my body. I was completely stuck. I prayed to the God for help. The help reaching out to me in the form of hundreds of people instilled a hope in me that I would be rescued.”

Channu said that this was the most nightmarish experience of his life. “A day ago I was thinking that life was very difficult and I wanted to earn money to send back home. But now I think being alive is the best thing.”

He said that he was grateful to the people who worked hard to save his life.

He felt that with their gesture, they had made poor people like him feel that their life was also important.

“I was feeling tense and thirsty while I was lying buried. I asked for water twice while lying under the truck and somebody made me drink a glass of milk also.

I was so touched when people were reaching out to ask me whether I was alright.

After every five minutes they were asking whether I was alive. And I made it a point to tell loudly that I was well. This had perhaps given them the power to remove the iron rods faster.”

As the iron rods were being removed, he started seeing a ray of light. “I was feeling very nervous but when I could see so many people around, I felt relieved.

After that I did not remember anything and found myself on the hospital bed. I was saved with the help of the people who acted like God for me.



Special Story
City’s fire-fighting equipment archaic
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, March 27
This expanding industrial city witnesses scores of small and big fires every summer. Several of these are accidental while some are carefully engineered to hoodwink insurance companies.

Hundreds of small hosiery units and other industrial units are located in the narrow lanes of the old city. Since the city is prospering at an appreciable rate , several high-rise buildings are coming up in various parts of the city on a fairly regular basis, with the result that fire-fighting requirements of the city have also gone up manifold.

But the fire brigade of the city remains as archaic a thing as ever with no modernisation taking place for the past several years in spite of a number of proposals mooted from time to time. Take for example the case of much-needed snorkel ladders which are a basic must for fire-fighters. About three years ago, the proposal to procure the same was mooted and cleared as well. But the city’s firemen are still waiting to have a glimpse of these snorkel ladders and they blame an inefficient bureaucracy for the lapse.

Sources in the department point out that apart from this, the callous attitude of the authorities concerned towards the fire-fighting needs of the city can be gauged from the fact that construction work on the headquarters of the fire brigade near Laxmi Cinema, which was started amid much fanfare about four years ago, has come to a virtual halt. This multi-floor headquarter, is to be built in accordance with the latest fire-fighting technologies. Fire tenders would be stationed at different levels of the buildings at readiness on such a manner that on receiving a fire call , these can shoot off in right earnest and be on the GT Road and to make further headway for the fire site without wasting precious seconds.

But going by the snail’s pace on which the work on this useful building is going on for the past three years or so, it seems highly unlikely that it would be completed in the near future. Decrying the bureaucratic attitude of the higher authorities, firemen rue the fact that the Chief Fire Officer of the town is being made to operate his office, sans a wall, at the first floor of the municipal parking. The authorities are simply just not interested in procuring a better fire-fighting paraphernalia in the larger interest of the city.

Unfilled vacancies of fire-men , lying vacant for many years, remain as such unfilled. No new or latest equipment is being procured.

The number of fire stations was supposed to have touched seven a couple of years ago. But still the city has only four fire stations — at Focal Point, Miller Ganj, Samrala Road and Mata Rani chowk. The building of the proposed fire station at Haibowal has been completed but it is still awaiting occupation by fire-men.

Mr Sharma, Chief Fire Officer, declined to comment on the ground that he had not been empowered to speak to the press by the Joint Commissioner concerned.



Check supply of underweight cylinders, DC urged
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 27
The Ludhiana Cooking Gas Consumers Association today submitted a memorandum to Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, regarding the supply of underweight LPG cylinders in the city. The association urged him to take appropriate measures to counter the menace.

The association said the pilferage of LPG cylinders in the city was due to the price difference between the supply meant for domestic users and commercial users. Whereas a domestic LPG cylinder weighing 14.2 kg was priced at Rs 246, a commercial use cylinder, weighing 19 kg, was priced at Rs 663.

The LPG dealers of the city were minting money by way of pilferage, the association alleged. Two to three kg of gas was taken out of domestic use cylinders and sold at a higher rate to commercial consumers, association alleged.

The association assessed the total pilferage scam to be nearly Rs 36,000,00 every month.

Suggesting measures to check the malpractices in the distribution of the LPG in the city, the association said exclusive appointment of dealers of commercial use LPG should be made or gas companies should open outlets to cater to the need of commercial users. Secondly, these dealers must be required to maintain a record of all their transactions and thirdly random surveys and check of these dealers should be conducted regularly.

Meanwhile, in this regard the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, on Thursday chaired a meeting with coordinators of oil companies and distributors of LPG and petrol pump dealers to discuss steps to curb malpractices in the distribution of LPG and petrol products.

The coordinators of Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum said all their distributors had provided weighing scales to all delivery men for weighing of LPG cylinders for the satisfaction of customers at the time of receiving supply. Indian Oil Corporation was also in the process of completing the exercise by April 30, it was said.

For the convenience of the consumers, electronic weighing scales had been provided at showrooms of all LPG distributors. Sales officers said they had provided five-litre calibrated measures at all petrol pumps. Instruments to check the density of petroleum products had also been provided at the outlets, they said.

Mr Verma appealed to the general public to take maximum advantage of these provisions. In case of any discrepancy the consumer should immediately bring the matter to the notice of the oil company concerned or the District Food and Supplies Controller or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate concerned, he added.

He said henceforth such meetings would be held quarterly. He appealed to the consumers to come forward and to participate in such meetings so that their grievances could be redressed in a speedy and effective manner.

The meeting was attended by Ms Simarjot Kaur, DFSC, Mr S.K. Wassan, District Coordinator, LPG (IOC), Mr Hemant Dhamija, District Coordinator, Petroleum, HP, Mr Surinder Dogra, BPCL, Mr Chander Shekhar Azad, President, Ludhiana District LPG Distributors Associations and Mr Sumesh Chadha, President, Petroleum Dealers Association.



Tremendous social work by Nishkam
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 27
Very few NGOs have worked in such a sustained and consistent manner like Nishkam. This month it enters 28th year of its service in varied fields like taking care of senior citizens, educating slum children, running a couple of dispensaries, day-care centres, teaching girls stitching and computers so that they could become self sufficient.

Mr Sarwan Kumar, chairman of Nishkam Seva Ashram located at Daad village while its registered office is located in 57R Industrial B, says that the last annual expenditure of Nishkam turned out to be Rs 78.50 lakh. This money was given by a philanthropist. “Nishkam has always found willing donors and thus has been able to expand its activities in many fields. Donors do get exemption under Section 80 G of Income Tax.”

The home for senior citizens, Daad, has airy rooms with attached bathrooms. Senior Citizens’ Day is celebrated as Mata-Pita Pujan Divas. On this day senior citizens are honoured and presented with new clothes. Mr Sarwan Kumar said: “Generally 40 to 50 senior citizens stay in relative comfort. We encourage the estranged parents and their children to compromise and send them back home. We have constructed extra rooms for computers and a meditation auditorium for them. Moreover, a dental and eye clinic is also taking care of these two problematic areas. Senior citizens are motivated to donate their eyes and thus many blind persons have got their sight back.”

Two day-care centres for senior citizens provide newspapers, magazines, religious books, tea and snacks for them. These facilities enable them to spend the sunset years of life pleasurably. Health services are provided at a number of different dispensaries being run by Nishkam. A testing laboratory and an X-ray unit has also been set up.A hospital of sorts to provide safe birth has been started recently as the people had wanted it. Mortality rate was high in the area as there were no trained people to deliver children.

Education to slum children is provided at Rs 20 only. A number of slum children are receiving education at various schools operating in slum areas. As the education of girls is of vital importance, around 280 girls are getting computer education. Twenty girls have already found jobs after getting certificates. More than 35,000 girls have learnt stitching and embroidery from stitching centres run by the ashram.

Nishkam also conducts mass marriages of couples from economically weaker sections of society. Lately, it has started an orphanage where it accepts abandoned children from the age of one to six years. A special centre has been set up to house the orphanage in Lalton village. A school will be set up in the same complex.

Nishkam has started supplying books, clothes, medicines, books toiletries to the delinquents of observation home. The children are given inspirational talk from time to time to become good citizens. Nishkam is grateful to all those people and institutions that has helped them.



Punjab Roadways depot observes ‘no detention’ day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 27
The Punjab Roadways depot observed “no detention day” for the 12th time in the past 21 months here yesterday.
Lauding the efforts of workers yesterday, Mr Amritpal Singh Sarkaria, General Manager, said the detention rate of buses in almost all depots of the roadways was mounting due to the non-supply of spare parts from the main office and ban on the purchase of local spare parts for the past three months. However, the local depot took the lead and all detained buses were made roadworthy after the state government provided a grant of Rs 3 lakh each to all depots.

Mr Rajeshwar Singh Grewal, Works Manager, expressed confidence that if the supply of spare parts was properly maintained and adequate finances for local purchase were made available on a regular basis, the depot would keep observing ‘no detention’ day every month.

Mr Charanjit Singh, Traffic Manager, Mr Pardaman Singh, Assistant Controller (Finance and Accounts) and Mr Ranjit Singh Bagga, SSI, were also present on occasion.



Dhillon campaigns in Sahnewal areas
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, March 27
The SAD-BJP combine candidate from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, began the campaigning process by extensive touring in and around the villages of Sahnewal today.

Addressing the public at Majara, Bilga, Kanech, Sudanwala, Upplan, Barwala, Bhairomunna, Pangalian, Mangarh, Heera Basti, Budhewal, Budhewal Colony, Lakhowal, Gaddowal, Mahlon, Pahariwal, Sahnewal Town, old Sahnewal, New Model Town.

Mr Santa Singh Umaidpuri, chairman, Market Committee, Sahnewal, Mr Jagroop Singh, Circle President, Mr Ajmer Singh Bhagpur, Mr Tejinder Singh Sahnewal were among those who spoke.



Fire in gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 27
A devastating fire broke out in a gurdwara at Pakhowal today and damaged property, including religious books and artefacts worth over Rs 4 lakh. No fire tender could reach the village and villagers themselves doused the fire after an hour-long struggle.
The new building of the gurdwara was under construction and short circuit allegedly caused the fire.



Brick-kilns to close down on April 30
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 27
All brick-kilns in the district will close down indefinitely from April 30 as earlier decided by the Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners Association.
The decision was endorsed at a meeting of the Ludhiana District Brick-Kiln Owners Association here on Monday evening. The meeting was held under the presidentship of Mr Inder Pal Singh Walia. More than 200 brick-kiln owners attended the meeting.

Mr Rajesh Singla, general secretary of the association, said a large number of brick-kilns in the district, like other towns and cities of Punjab, had either closed down or were forced to slash their production due to the black marketing of coal. There were several other constraints, he added.

The situation had been further compounded by faulty marketing policy of the Coal India. This had led to exploitation of kiln owners by middlemen and financiers, who were indulging in black-marketing of coal and selling the same at a premium of more than 30 per cent, he said.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) was forcing brick-kiln owners to use ash generated in thermal power plants for making bricks. This was not feasible as no technology was available or had been standardised for the purpose, he added.

Speakers further expressed concern over the development in which the Industry Department and the Food and Civil Supplies Department had invoked ‘redundant’ regulations to reimpose ‘inspector raj’. It had resulted in rampant corruption and harassment of brick-kiln owners, they said.

Mr Walia said a delegation of the state-level body had already met the Chief Minister and apprised him of the pathetic plight of the brick-kiln owners. Another meeting with the Chief Minister and officials of the departments concerned was likely to be held later this month.

The decision of indefinite closure would only be reviewed or reversed, if the government initiated necessary measures to provide relief to them, he added.



Poultry farmers threaten  to stop production
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 27
The poultry farmers of the state today threatened to stop the production of chickens for an indefinite period in protest against the policies of the retailers, who, they alleged, were making 200 to 300 per cent profit on poultry products at the cost of farmers.

After the bird flu scare, the demand of poultry products had gone down drastically and the farmers had to suffer huge losses in the past few months. But even after the scare was over, the retailers have refused to buy chicken at its original price.

They alleged that the retailers were making profit at the cost of poultry farmers. In a meeting held here, the poultry farmers have decided not to sell chicken below the original price even if there were no buyers.

A number of residents of the city have also been complaining of the high price of chicken and other poultry products from the retailers. Even the city hotels offering non-vegetarion delicacies had not reduced their prices. On the contrary, some had even increased the same.

Mr Amrik Singh Saimbhi, office-bearer of the Punjab Poultry Farmers Association, said the farmers would not sell broiler weighing 2 kg for not less than Rs 30, 1.5 kg for Rs 32 and 1 kg for Rs 35.

He said they would reduce the production of chickens by 30 per cent. ‘‘We have received complaints from customers that chicken was sold for the same old price by the retailers even during the scare.”

“We will not sell chicken at reduced prices but would warn the residents not to shell out more money to the retailers,’’ he said.

Poultry farmers from Nawanshahr, Garhshankar, Machhiwara, Rahon, Dhuri, Khanna, and Amloh also attended the meeting. The farmers told Ludhiana Tribune that the cost of farm inputs like the feed was costlier, the labour cost increasing. Mr Saimbhi has urged the state government to intervene to check exploitation of poultry farmers.


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