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Gastro toll reaches 7 as MC apathy continues
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Eight-month old Ishu suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting under treatment at the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana and a new-born whose mother is down with gastroenterities, being attended to by a relative
Right: Eight-month old Ishu suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting under treatment at the Civil Hospital in Ludhiana. Left: new-born whose mother is down with gastroenteritis, being attended to by a relative in one of the city colonies. — Tribune photos by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, July 25
Seven persons have died while hundreds others have been taken ill, some of them seriously, due to gastroenteritis in several localities falling within the limits of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. The areas include Mauji Colony, Gurpal Nagar, Kabir Nagar and New Aman Nagar, where hundreds of people have fallen sick. The supply of contaminated water is being said to be the reason behind the spread of gastroenteritis.

Punjab Education Minister, Harnam Dass Johar observed that “negligence and irresponsible attitude of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation” was responsible for the increase in the number of gastroenteritis cases. Mr Johar has ordered an inquiry and asked Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma to investigate the matter and fix responsibility.

Meanwhile the affected areas presented a pathetic look today. The outpatients camp being run by the Civil Hospital wore a chaotic look, with patients and attendants waiting for medical assistance.

Residents of various areas have been maintaining that the outbreak of gastroenteritis was mainly due to the supply of contaminated water. They showed several broken pipes. One of the residents revealed that only yesterday the corporation officials had started repairing some of the broken pipes. They claimed that they had made several representations to the corporation but no remedial measures had been taken till now.

The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation continues to remain sloth-stricken, trying to pass the buck on to the Health Department. Local residents have been crying hoarse for the past several weeks that they were being supplied contaminated water. However, their protests seemed to have fallen on the deaf years of the corporation. Many newspapers have carried a campaign highlighting the problem of contaminated water to different areas. But the corporation appears to be unapologetic by claiming that all samples of water collected from various areas have passed the tests.

Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, claimed that the corporation had swung into action immediately after the reports of the outbreak of gastroenteritis. He claimed that the corporation was supplying clean water to all localities. He said, only chlorinated water was being supplied everywhere in the city. The Mayor said the only problem was the supply of sub-standard chlorine tablets during a medical camp by the Health Department. The Deputy Commissioner has already ordered the seizure of all these tablets. He has also ordered an inquiry into their supply.

However, Mr Harnam Dass Johar was not convinced. He observed that it was the “negligent and irresponsible” attitude of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation that was the main cause of the outbreak of gastroenteritis. He pointed out that it was the responsibility of the corporation to supply clean drinking water. He maintained that he would ensure that responsibility was fixed this time and nobody was allowed to pass the buck. He said this was not the first time that gastroenteritis had broken out. Mr Johar said earlier the corporation officials would claim that it had been reported in “undeclared colonies”. Now let them explain as to how it broke out in the areas within its limits. Mr S.N. Tiwari, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, could not be contacted. He did not pick up his cell phone despite several attempts.

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Tiwari wants probe

Ludhiana, July 25
Expressing anguish and concern over the spread of gastroenteritis in Ludhiana, the AICC secretary, Mr Manish Tiwari, has asked the authorities concerned to ensure that the best medical facilities are provided to the victims.

In a statement issued from Delhi and released here, Mr Tiwari has said he had asked the authorities to conduct an investigation into the matter and fix responsibility.

Mr Tiwari urged the local MLAs and the Mayor to ensure that gastroenteritis was brought under control and people provided safe drinking water .

He said that it was unfortunate that gastroenteritis had been allowed to take epidemic proportions. TNS

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Two doctors booked for negligence in Arshia case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
Two doctors of Mohan Dai Oswal Cancer Hospital have been finally booked by the local police for allegedly causing the death of three-and-half-year-old cancer patient, Arshia, on July 20 night.

Dr Harjit Kohli and Dr Vandana have been booked by the police for criminal negligence leading to the death of the patient. They have been booked under section 304 (causing death by negligence) and 120 (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Mr R K Bakshi, DSP, Industrial Area, is the investigating officer of the case.

The doctors had allegedly injected medicine wrongfully into her spinal cord. The accused had pre-empted registration of a case against them by applying for anticipatory bail in a local court yesterday. The bail petition will come up for hearing tomorrow.

Dr Harjit kohli, Registrar, anaesthesia department of the hospital, has already been suspended by the management .

The registration of the case was the main demand of the victim's parents, Ms Anjali and Mr Prashant Sareen, residents of Model Town Extension here. The basis of the case was a detailed inquiry conducted by an eight-member committee of doctors formed by the local police , which indicted the hospital staff.

After obtaining legal opinion, the city SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, ordered the registration of the case.

Arshia was detected with blood cancer in January this year. She was under treatment at the hospital and was responding well to treatment.

Her condition, however, began to deteriorate when on July 5 the accused doctors administered an injection into her spinal cord. The injection, Vin Cristen, which is toxic in nature, damaged the girl's nervous system. On July 19, the harassed parents called mediapersons to the hospital and aired their grievance.

The girl had slipped into coma .she died on July 20. The victim's grandfather, Maj (retd.) D K Sareen, alleged that the doctors knew about the harmful effects of the injection and yet had gone ahead with it.

The parents, relatives and friends of the victim staged a demonstration in the hospital t and demanded registration of a case.

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BJP workers, councillors gherao ministers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
Hundreds of BJP workers, including some councillors, led by the district president, Dr Subash Gupta, today staged a demonstration in protest against the alleged negligence of the authorities concerned in checking the spread of gastroenteritis here resulting in death of seven persons. The protesters also gheraoed Mr R.C. Dogra, Health Minister, and Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, outside the Civil Hospital where they had gone to enquire after victims of the disease.

The BJP workers alleged that the government had failed to provide basic amenities to the people. They pointed out there was a serious problem of potable water in the city. They also regretted that there was no proper system of attending patients, as the hospital did not have the required infrastructure to handle a crisis like this.

The BJP workers had started gathering outside the Civil Hospital from around 3 pm after they learnt that Mr Dogra was to arrive there.

The two ministers, later while talking to mediapersons, said the situation was serious but under control. They said the responsibility for any sort of lapses would be fixed and the guilty officials would be punished. They maintained that the government and the local administration was trying its level best to provide medicare to the patients and take measures so that such situations did not arise in future.

The ministers admitted that some lapses might have been there on part of the authorities. The Health Minister gave instructions to the local authorities to ensure that the sick were provided best medical treatment and medicines. 

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School bus overturns, 7 hurt
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
A recreational trip of students of Rishi Public School, Kotkapura village (Faridkot district), turned sour when the bus carrying them turned turtle near Dhatt village on the Mullanpur-Jagraon road today morning.

Seven persons, including three teachers and three students besides the bus driver, were injured while the others escaped with minor bruises. They were on a day-long trip to Anandpur Sahib and adjoining places.

The accident took place at about 7 am when a rear tyre of the bus burst and it turned turtle. The injured students were rescued by a newspaper supply van.

Those injured have been identified as Rajiv Mehta, Mahesh Jain and Ms Vijay Bhardawaj, all teachers. The injured students were Gagan of Class X, Nisha and Jasmine of Class XII. The identity of the driver could not be ascertained.

The injured were given first aid at Deol Hospital, Mullanpur Dakha. They were later taken back to Kotkapura in another bus arranged by the school authorities. The school authorities preferred to give medical treatment to the injured in Kotkapura.

Mr Amarjit Singh, SHO, Dakha police station, said no complaint had been registered so far. The SHO added it seems that the school authorities were not interested in lodging any complaint in this regard.

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Rag doll burnt to appease rain god
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 25
Rain-starved residents of the city have finally taken recourse to the medieval ritual of burning rag dolls to appease Lord Indra , the rain god.
Residents of Amar Pura, ward No. 55, mostly women, carried a bier of a rag doll, wrapped in a white cloth, to the Dasehra ground opposite the Civil Hospital yesterday afternoon. Interestingly, just as the rag doll was being torched, winds started blowing followed by intermittent showers. This prompted the gathering to shout pro-Indra slogans. Though people clamoured for a heavy, non-stop rain which did not come. Some of the participants also performed bhangra on the occasion. According to the legend, the rag-doll symbolises the daughter of Lord Indra.

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MCPI meeting backs Punjab stand on SYL
Our Correspondent

Doraha, July 25
An urgent meeting of the state committee of the Marxist Communist Party of India was organised at the party office under the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Hans and Mr Kiranjeet Singh Sekhon here today.

Members from all over the state, including Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Patiala, Sangrur and Chandigarh attended the meeting.

The members discussed the implications of the Supreme court directive for completion of the SYL canal and subsequent termination of agreement by the Punjab Legislative Assembly.

The leaders felt that Punjab had every right to protect the interests of its people, particularly the farming community.

Moreover the Punjab Assembly was within its rights to pass such legislation. "The Central Government has been encroaching upon the rights of the state, thus eroding the powers of the state and sabotaging the federal structure of the court," they said.

The state committee also said that such issues relating to the people of different states could not be resolved by courts or legal experts but by taking all parties into confidence.

Hence, it called upon the central government to find a viable, long-lasting and equitable solution to this problem. the MCPI also criticised the negative attitude of the BJP leadership on the issue and asked the SAD leadership to part company with the BJP.

The State Committee of the MCPI expressed serious concern over the worsening power crises in Punjab . It urged upon the government to declare Punjab a drought-affected state and sought special compensation .

The MCPI has also called upon the Punjab government and the Punjab State Electricity Board to take special measures to meet the situation.

In another resolution, the party called upon the Punjab Government to provide more canal water for irrigation.

The MCPI has also expressed concern over the rising prices and descried the budget as 'anti-people'. Mr Ajaib Singh Bhangu, Mr Lakhwinder Singh Buani, Mr Pawan Kumar, Mr Bal Kishan, Mr Malkiat Singh, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, Mr Nirmal Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh and Mr Major Singh were among those who attended the meeting.

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BJP committed to safeguarding Punjab waters
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 25
The BJP is committed to safeguarding the river waters rightfully belonging to Punjab and the party would not hesitate to make any sacrifice to save the state from turning into a desert.

The state general secretary of the party, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, and a former president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Mr Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, said in a joint statement here today that even as the President of India had referred the legislation rejecting the agreements on sharing of river waters adopted by Punjab Assembly to the Supreme Court, the party would make sure that not even a drop of Punjab river waters was given to any other state.

The BJP leaders said Punjab did not have enough water to meet its own requirements. The groundwater table had come down to an alarming level rendering farm operations difficult. More than 7.80 lakh tubewells in the state had been rendered inoperative and farmers were forced to install submersible pumps at an additional financial burden of over Rs 400 crore. "Even going by various surveys conducted by the government and private agencies, almost 38 per cent of cultivated land in Punjab depends on canal irrigation and the available river water is simply insufficient for this purpose," they added.

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Criminalisation of politics worries Raj Babbar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
Film star and Samajwadi Party MP Raj Babbar while addressing a seminar organised by the Ludhiana Management Association on 'Quality of Public Life- A Prerequisite for India's Development', said the corruption had entered into every aspect of life and a rational approach was needed to solve the problem. Mr Babbar pointed out, "when the corruption is within the reach of someone it is ok and if it goes out of the reach, we start raising hue and cry". He urged people to shun this dual attitude if one wants to make the country corruption free.

He appeared more to be a representative of people than a film actor and his speech mostly centered on his role as an elected leader of the people in the Lok Sabha. He said corruption in day-to-day life had become a matter of how much one could afford. If one affords it then he becomes tolerant of it, and if you could not , then one becomes vocal and criticises it. He urged the people to shun these double standards and come out openly against corruption in public life.

Speaking on corruption in political leadership Mr Babbar said corruption was rampant in political life because of the weaknesses of the democratic system where the politicking was all about numbers and not about policies and ideologies. Answering questions on criminalisation of politics he said the line of demarcation between criminals and good people had almost vanished and criminals in the guise of political leaders were accepted by the people resulting in their induction into elected bodies. He showed concern over falling cultural and moral values.

Mr Babbar in his hour-long interaction kept the jam-packed hall of LMA members spell bound. Earlier, inaugurating the session Mr V. K. Goyal, the general secretary of the LMA, was concerned over the lack of quality in Indian's life.

Mr Mahesh Munjal during his presidential speech said the good quality in life was dependent upon the desires and deed of the people. One need to raise one's own standard to have good quality all round. He explained that corruption and degradation of society was prevalent in even the most-advanced economies of the world and every body will have to do his own share to make it a better world.

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Rights panel asks DGP to probe delay in claim settlement
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 25
Observing that a delay in the settlement of a claim by the insurance company was tantamount to the violation of human rights, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Director General of Police attached to the panel to conduct an inquiry and register a case under appropriate sections against the Branch Manager of National Insurance Company of India (Office III) at Cheema Chowk here.

Dealing with a complaint filed by a city resident, Mr Yogesh Goel, also a practicing lawyer in Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh, the chairperson of the PSHRC, Mr Justice N.C. Jain, held that on the basis of allegations made by the complainant against Mr Bikkar Singh, Branch Manager of the insurance company, a prima facie case for violation of human rights was made out. The complaint should be registered as a case and the inquiry should be entrusted to the DGO of the panel, who would not only join the complainant but the affected party as well, directed Justice Jain.

The inquiry report would be submitted by the DGP at least three days before September 21, when the case would come up for hearing before the commission.

Mr Goel had alleged in his complaint that his Maruti 800 car, bearing Registration No CH01-7776, comprehensively insured with the said company was stolen from a parking lot in Hardwar on the intervening night of June 5 and 6, 2002. An FIR was lodged with police station, Kotwali, in Hardwar and the insurance company was duly intimated. Later, a claim form, along with other necessary documents and non-traceability report from the police, was submitted to the branch office of NIC here for the settlement of claim.

However, the complainant was made to run from the local branch office to the regional office of the company at Chandigarh as his claim was not being settled due to purported ulterior motives of the branch head. According to Mr Goel, the branch manager of the insurance company was expecting illegal gratification before the insurance claim could be settled and sensing that the complainant was in no mood to oblige him, the branch head, at one stage, had even closed the case of the claim, which was however, paid on the intervention of some senior officers of the company at the Chandigarh regional office.

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Erratic power supply irks residents
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 25
Erratic power supply has made life miserable for local residents. It has also affected the capacity of many manufacturing units of the area.
Residents alleged that local officials had been imposing undeclared power cuts, causing great inconvenience to the public. “Besides these cuts, power failures due to overloading and breakdown have been adding to the miseries of the public. We cannot think of undertaking any job requiring uninterrupted power supply for a hour or so,” lamented owner of a workshop at the Dehliz road.

Mr Rajesh Kumar Singla, an industrialist, said. “There are instances when power to our unit on the Malerkotla road remains shut for 24 hours at the day, thus hindering our production. He alleged that some officials had been harassing small-scale industries by effecting undeclared power cuts for long hours. He urged the authorities concerned to adjust the extra hours of the power cut by compensating the lost hours.

Meanwhile, observations revealed that officials of the PSEB were not even serious about the safety of the consumers. It was noticed that the practice of providing galvanized iron wire as an earth wire had been stopped. Besides loose connections in low-height transformers and installations, the metallic conductors were prone to break and fall to the earth level causing danger to the life and property of residents. Though the connection-seekers were told that some conductors of specific rating were not available in the storehouses, conductors, bearing Board stamps, could easily be bought in the open market.

Apparently norms prescribed in the Indian Electricity Rules were being flouted without any hesitation. An official disclosed that the practice of providing earth wire to the consumers had been stopped. Besides providing galvanized iron wire (earth wire) to protect the life and property of the consumer, every fourth pole had to be provided earth connection. However, no such wire was seen with most of the poles. Similarly, Cage Guard, earlier installed to check the conductor fall on the earth, was conspicuous by its absence. Even the cradle guard to be fixed at intervals, does not find its desired position for obvious reasons.

The authorities at the PSEB office, however, showed ignorance about the alleged discrepancies. They maintained that necessary rectifications would be made as the authorities had, recently approved the annual estimate for the maintenance and renovation of the infrastructure.

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Groundwater being overexploited: study
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 25
There are around 10 lakh electric and diesel pump sets engaged in pumping out groundwater for irrigation in Punjab. This has led to overexploitation of groundwater resulting in rapid decline of water table in the entire fresh water zone of the state. This observation has been made in a study, “Efficient management of water resources for sustainable cropping in Punjab,” carried out by Dr G.S. Hira, Dr S.K. Jalota and Dr V.K. Arora of the Department of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, here.

According to the study, out of the 138 blocks in the state, 84 were categorised as dark (withdrawal more than 85 per cent), 16 as grey (withdrawal 65-85 per cent) and 38 as white blocks (withdrawal less than 65 per cent). The whole of central Punjab blocks fall in the dark block category, barring few close to rivers.

The area having water table below 10 m increased from 3 per cent in 1973 to 53 per cent in 2000 and went up to 76 per cent in 2002.

Owing to declining water table, water has to be pumped from lower depths leading to more power consumption. Pumping of water from 12 m depth requires 1.5 times more power than required to pump it from a depth of 6 metres. This will increase energy requirements by 20 per cent by 2005 as compared to 2001.

Another shortfall is that most of the centrifugal pumps are being replaced by submercible pumps, which will cost around Rs 3000 crore to Punjab farmers.

The state has been divided into three distinct zones climaticalls. Foothill zone comprises 10 per cent of geographical area of the state in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Ropar districts with an average annual rainfall of 950 mm. About 0.45 million hectare (9 per cent of the state) of this zone is severely affected by soil and water erosion due to steep slope (36 per cent) and high rainfall (1100mm). Central zone comprises 47 per cent of geographical area of the state in Amritsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Patiala districts with an average annual rainfall of 650 mm. Southwestern zone comprises 34 per cent geographical area of the state in the districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Muktsar, Mansa, Moga and Bathinda with an average rainfall of 400 mm.

The total water demand comprises water required to meet evapo-transpiration (ET) field, vegetables, horticultural and fodder crops, forests, and civic and industrial use.

The crop water demand is more during kharif season (51.9 per cent of the water demand) charactorised by high evaporativity and 31.7 per cent during rabi season with low evaporativity. The water demand is 13 per cent for fodder, vegetables and forests together and 3.4 per cent for municipal and industrial use.

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Office-bearers nominated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 25
Mr Jagdish Anand, district (urban) president of the Lok Jan Shakti Party has recast the party unit in consultation with state president Amar Singh Mehmi and other senior party leaders. While nominating new office-bearers and members of the executive committee, he said that the assembly segment and the ward- level units of the party would be set up in a couple of days.

The following are the new office-bearers: senior vice-president — Mr Kimit Lal Kashyap; vice-presidents — Mr Kuldip Singh Budhiraja and Mr Raj Kumar Larhoa; general secretaries — Mr Avtar Singh Bakshi, Mr Davinder Batra, Mr Rajesh Vaid, Mr Parvinder Singh Raniya; secretaries — Mr Chunni Lal Kashyap, Mr Vijay Kumar Sherpuri, Mr Vinod Madaan, Mr Satpal Behal and Mr Prem Thakur; Mr Teg Bahadur Singh Toni, Mr Prem Lal, Mr Jaspal Singh Khalsa, Mr Bijender Singh, Mr J.D.S. Bijoriya, Gurnam Singh, Mr Satpal Baddan, Mr Pankaj Jha, Mr Satinder Rai.

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Motor parts manufacturers rue power crisis
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has expressed concern over the acute shortage of power in the state. It said the power crisis had disrupted the public life and paralysed work in almost all sectors.

The association observed that even though the PSEB was trying to lay the blame on the failure of monsoon in the state yet the fact was that it had failed to keep the situation under control.

A joint statement issued by Mr G S Kahlon and Mr Charan Singh Kohli, president and general secretary of the association, respectively, said the board should have made arrangements to deal with the crisis well in advance.

Mr Kahlon said situation had become so serious this year that power cuts of seven-hour duration were being imposed and unofficial cuts were being imposed for up to 10 hours. For the first time the timings for government offices too had to be changed from 8 am to 2 pm .

Mr Kohli observed that while the PSEB was grappling with power crisis and the common man was sweating it out in the scorching heat, MC, Ludhiana was completely careless towards the wastage of electricity as flood and mercury lights remained switched on till 9 a.m on the main roads. 

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Market Pulse
Road show
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 25
Orient Tiles Ltd organised an exhibition of its latest products here last evening. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ashwani Sharda, Assistant General Manager(sales), disclosed that the company had come out with a latest range of tiles.

Mr Sharda told that the company’s roadshow was currently going on in whole of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. This was followed by an interaction with leading architects, interior designers and people connected with the construction industry. He disclosed that over 30 designs were displayed at the exhibition.

Mr Sharda said besides the architects' and designers' meet, the company would organise a plumber and mason meet also in major cities of Punjab. This was being done to create awareness among the people concerned with construction work.

Teacher wins Grasim award: Ms Tripta Ahuja, a teacher by profession, has won 175 lire LG refrigerator after participating in the Grasim's "win for sure" offer. The prize was presented to her by Mr Sanjay Bhambri, Area Manager, Punjab, at the JR Fabrics showroom in Ghumar Mandi here yesterday.

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