L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Power, water crises: no respite in sight
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Even as people come to terms with the crippling power crisis in the state, officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have said there is little that they can do in the coming months but advocate power saving measures.

The situation is back to the pre-monsoon period which saw an unprecedented water and power crises in Punjab forcing the government to impose severe power cuts across the board for the domestic as well as commercial consumers. Power was diverted to the farm sector to save the paddy and more was purchased from the national grid and southern states to deal with the situation.

The condition is no better today. Power cuts ranging from two hours to six hours are the order of the day. Certain areas in the city have been without water for the past many days and no respite is in sight. “We do not have any magic wand to wish away the situation but ask people to grin and bear it,” remarked an official.

Mr Y P Ghai, Director, Public Cause, said the unscheduled power cuts have thrown life out of gear. School children, office-goers and working people are the worst hit. Housewives have problems storing water for cleaning utensils while washing clothes and bathing have come to a halt. The main grouse is that the timings of water and power supply have not been publicised making it hard for people to plan their schedule accordingly, he pointed out.

Official line is that the water level in the dams is low and it is necessary to enforce the cuts. Sources said the board was making all out efforts to ensure that power supply to the residential areas was not disrupted for more than three to four hours in a day, but the ground reality is that people had not had a sound sleep in days. The power cut for villages was over 12 hours.

What is making the going tough for the residents is that the power cuts also affect the water supply in the city. Since the municipal authorities do not have the wherewithal to run the tubewells on gensets, water supply gets interrupted following unscheduled cuts. The civic authorities are planning to take up the matter with the top brass of the board so that they could be informed about the cuts in advance to enable the former to alter their supply timings.

Officials admit that for the time being, erratic water and power supply will be the norm. Similarly, power supply to the residential areas being fed by the industrial feeders will also be affected.

The unscheduled, unpredictable and unannounced power cuts have also cast their shadow over the industry. Entrepreneurs rue that they had hardly made up for the previous losses that the power cuts have once again become the norm. Previously, this uncertainty in power supply only during day time, now running night shifts have also become impossible. And all this while the temperature is still intolerable. Industrialists allege that the government was not taking any steps to improve the situation by remaining a mute spectator. 



Power situation grim: minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Punjab Power Minister Lal Singh has said the power situation in the state could be described as “grim”, but added that the state government was trying to arrange power from alternate sources following lowering of the water level in Govind Sagar (Bhakra) that stands 95 feet below its last years level. Mr Lal Singh said this during a visit to the city last evening.

The state of power was a direct outcome of below expected rainfall this year. The power situation, he said, was getting worse and to fulfil the needs and demands of the people of Punjab, the state government was purchasing electric power to the tune of Rs. 14 crore per day from other sources, he said.

He claimed that an interrupted power supply for eight hours was being made available to the farmers in the state for irrigation purposes. In reply to another question Mr Lal Singh said in order to compensate the Punjab farmers for the losses suffered due to the drought-like situation, the Punjab Government had demanded a sum of Rs 250 crore from the Centre, he added. The survey of the losses suffered by the farmers in the state was continuing, Mr Singh further said.



Army canteen racket busted, 1 held
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
The local police and Army authorities have busted a racket run by a Moti Nagar-based grocery shop owner, who employed village youths to buy subsidised products from various CSD canteens on fake cards in the state and sell them at huge profit in the open market.

The Army authorities have in a communication to the police expressed serious apprehensions on leak of sensitive military information by the suspect. Sources said the Army was holding investigation also as the involvement of some of the defence personnel in the racket had come to light during police investigation.

The magnitude of the racket can be judged from the fact that each youth used to pocket about Rs 100 after supplying products worth Rs 2000 each time, making between Rs 2800-3000 per month. Three youths have been identified by the police besides a defence personnel and his wife.

The SHO, Division No. 6, Harjinder Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that on a complaint filed by the local Army authorities, the division No. 6 police had registered a case under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC against Gurnam Singh of Mangli Tanda village falling under the jurisdiction of Koom Kalan police station, Jagpal Singh, J.S.Bhatia and Kuldeep Singh, who live in Moti Nagar.

He said police investigations found that J.S. Bhatia, who owned a grocery shop was the kingpin. His son Vikramjit Singh Bhatia was allegedly expert in forging the stamps of military identity cards. A defence personnel, Swaran Singh, and his wife also supplied subsidised products to him, he added.

Only one of the accused Gurnam Singh, who is in his early 20s, has been arrested so far he revealed that a person named Bholla had got his dependent Army CSD card made, which was issued to relatives of an Army person. He said he later came in contact with J.S. Bhatia, who made several I-cards and roped in other village youths including his brother Jagpal Singh.

He claimed that certain military personnel were also supplying CSD products to shopkeepers outside at a commission of 5 per cent . Interestingly, his card was seized by the Army authorities twice but he managed to make new with help from Bhatia.

The suspect used to buy products from Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Doraha and Ambala canteens. 



Park vehicles at own risk
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
In the absence of any check by the administration, parking contractors are fleecing residents, who have no option but to park their vehicles in the spaces auctioned by the administration.

Not only they fleece the residents by overcharging there but also they claim no responsibility about the vehicle parked under their supervision. To the utter shock of the persons using the parking lot, the parking receipts clearly state, ‘‘If it is stolen we would compensate for only half or even one-fourth price.’’

In most of the cases, contractors do not get their allotment number and even their names printed on the slips issued to the residents. Besides, the slip does not mention the parking fee and they charge people whatever they wish.

The residents are forced to park their vehicles at some parking stand at least once a day as most of these have been given on contract. The receipt is nothing but a piece of paper as it does not have the licence or allotment number of the contractor. If a person loses his vehicle he does not know whom to contact to get the compensation. The smart parking lot contractors do not give the receipt forever and take it back just after one picks one’s vehicle from the stand.

All contractors mention boldly in the printed slips that they are not responsible for the lost parts of the vehicle and if the vehicle is stolen they will not give full price to the owner. The compensation will also be given after a month or two. The receipts mention that if it is lost the person concerned has to pay a fine of Rs 20 or even more.

After receiving several complaints from residents, a Tribune team conducted a survey after parking vehicles at several parking stands, which included the Mini Secretariat, Feroze Gandhi Market, Rose Garden, private and government hospitals, railway station and markets in the city and collected a number of receipts.

Inquiries revealed that the market association at Feroze Gandhi Market was unhappy with the contractor as they did not know who the contractor was as many people kept sitting in the market complex posing as contractors.

Major Amarjit Singh, a resident, had parked his vehicle in Feroze Gandhi Market. The contractor asked Rs 10 as parking fee. When he protested, he was told to pay only Rs 5.

‘‘If nobody takes the responsibility of a parked vehicle why should we park at the authorised stands? ‘’ asks Mr Manjit Inder Singh, a local resident. He had parked his vehicle in the parking lot at Rose Garden and was shocked to learn that his vehicle was not safe inside.



Strike in DMC continues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
There is a lot of resentment among people in the city against the striking employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hero DMC Heart Centre and the indifferent attitude of the administration.

A cross section of people while talking to The Tribune regretted that the management of the DMC was going too soft with the striking employees who do not appear to have any respect for the human life. The striking employees had even forced out several patients from the emergency recently. Some of them were on ventilators, but even they were not spared.

Hundreds of patients have to return disappointed everyday with the functioning of the hospital severely effected. While the heart centre remains locked, the routine of the DMC has also been effected. Today the employees again locked the gates of the heart centre.

Prominent citizens demanded that the strike in hospitals should be banned and all employees should be asked to return to work. In case any employee or trade union leader tries to violate this then he should be dealt with firmly.

Another reason being attributed to the situation getting complicated is its management. While Mr Brij Mohan Lall Munjal, Chairman and Managing Director of the Hero Group of Companies, is the president of the managing committee of the DMC, his son Sunil Kant Munjal looks after the affairs of the DMC. The younger Munjal is busy as he happens to be the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). With both mostly remaining away everything is left to Mr Amrit Nagpal, secretary, managing committee.

The situation in the DMC has got worsened in the past two years with some employees getting encouraged by the management’s indifference. So much so that they even bully doctors and officers of the hospital who have virtually been left powerless.

Meanwhile, representatives of the management, including Mr Amrit Nagpal and Mr Prem Gupta and the members of the union, today held a meeting with the some senior officials of the district administration represented by Mr M.S. Jaggi, SDM (West), and Mr R.K. Jaiswal (SP City I). Another meeting has been fixed for tomorrow. But there appears to be no solution in sight as the patients continue to suffer.



‘SGPC coins lack quality’
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, September 11
Special gold and silver coins released by the SGPC in connection with the 400th Parkash Utsav of Shri Guru Granth Sahib are not up to the mark. Compared with the gold and silver coins issued to commemorate the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa, these coins lack the quality.

Mr Balwinder Singh, a junior engineer, said it was proposed that only one gold coin to be issued to one person and SGPC secretary okayed the proposal. Following this, several devout Sikhs who had come to buy these coins, were disappointed, while employees of the SGPC, carrying slips of their seniors, were openly taking away ten coins at a time.

Mr Balwinder Singh, who wanted to buy three gold coins, was given only one coin in spite of his repeated request. He was disappointed as it was found of extremely low quality. Moreover, the coin was given to him without any accompanying history as was done in the case of gold and silver coins issued at the time of the Khalsa tercentenary. Also, he was not given any receipt.

Moreover, the gold coins, being currently sold by the SGPC in Amritsar only, were being given in a small sachet embroidered with the word Dwarka, which was the trade mark of the Jaipur-based company making the coins for the SGPC. While the gold coin lacks detail, the silver coin seems to be just a stamped lump of rounded silver.

Mr Balwinder Singh also revealed that the first batch of 500 gold coins ordered by the SGPC was sold at the rate of Rs 6,250 per coin whereas the coins belonging to the second batch were being sold for Rs 6,400 each.

He suggested that the SGPC should make these coins available at some other places also for the benefit of the public. Everyone could not travel to Amritsar to buy a gold or silver coin, he added.



Public grievance removal system to get momentum
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September, 11
The Minister for Rural Development, Irrigation, Panchayat and Power, Mr Lal Singh, has stated that the Punjab Government has decided to strengthen the public grievances removal system. Regular meetings of the district grievances removal committees will be organised to redress problems of the people.

He was addressing the first meeting of the newly constituted District Grievances Removal Committee at the Bachat Bhavan here yesterday. At the meeting seven complaints pertaining to general public were discussed and the officers concerned were directed to take immediate action in this regard.

The minister asked the members of the committee to submit the complaints of the people in writing to the administration so that these could be properly verified through the officers concerned and steps taken for its redressal. On a complaint regarding the damaged roads inside the bus stand, he asked the Municipal Commissioner to get the roads repaired within one and half months. 



Gang of robbers busted, four held 
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 11
The Dehlon police has busted a gang of robbers that had been active in the area for around two years. It was allegedly involved in roadside robberies.
Four members of the gang have been arrested. Three of them are already facing various criminal charges.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, said the gangsters, most of whom were well-educated youths and belonged to middle-class agrarian families, had taken to anti-social activities to meet their addiction expenses.

The gang was busted after some of its members attempted to rob a transporter of nearby Lehra village, situated on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road. A youth from Lehra village had informed the gangsters that Sukhwinder Singh, a transporter of the village, used to bring a lot of cash from his office in Ludhiana.

On Thursday night, when he, along with his associate, Jagdev Singh of Roshiana village, was returning from office in his tanker (HR 38 B 1091), he was intercepted by a group of gangsters armed with crude weapons near Dehlon village. The gangsters chased them up to Lehra village when the driver turned his vehicle on a side road. Four youths riding a new Hero Honda Motor Cycle overtook their vehicle and threatened to shoot them if they did not hand over the cash.

Sukhwinder Singh resisted their attempt and raised the alarm. One of the robbers, who was later identified as Palwinder Singh of Ghudani Kalan village, was overpowered by villagers. He, however, later fled.

The police chief further said that Mr Jatinder Singh Khaira, DSP, Dakha, had directed Mr Dharam Paul, SHO, Dehlon, to constitute a special investigating teams to nab the gangsters.

Four members of the gang, Palwinder Singh of Ghudani Kalan, Harjit Singh, alias Banti, of Butahri village, Gurdeep Singh, alias Deepa, of Khera village and Manpreet Singh, alias Mani of Pohir village were nabbed by a police team. They were reportedly conspiring to strike elsewhere.

While Mani was caught for the first time, the other three were already facing cases under various sections of the IPC.



Driver booked for causing death
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
On the statement of Harvinderpal Singh, a resident of Guru Nanak Colony, the Shimla Puri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A and 427 of the IPC against Kamaljit Singh, a driver employed in the PRTC, for causing the death of Iqbal Singh.

According to the statement, the accused, who was driving a PRTC bus, hit Iqbal Singh, complainant’s brother-in-law, near the Gill canal bridge on Friday morning, as a result of which Iqbal died on the spot.

Cases of assault: O.P.Gupta, a resident of Chander Nagar, and six others were yesterday booked by the Haibowal police for assaulting Jagdish Kumar, the complainant, of the same locality.

The complainant said the accused had intercepted him on the road and beaten him up because of a minor issue on Friday. A case under Sections 323, 341 and 148 of the IPC has been registered.

The Koom Kalan police yesterday registered a assault case under Sections 452, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Nazir Singh of Kadiana Khurd village against Asha Singh and his sons — Gurmel Singh, Hardev Singh and Baldev Singh — all of the same village.

In another case, the Sadar police booked Paramvir Singh of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and Karnail Singh for forgery, on the complaint of Sudagar Singh of Daad village.

According to the complainant, he had purchased a plot in Threekay village from Jarnail Singh and Gurmel Singh. But the accused tried to take possession of the land on the basis of forged documents prepared by them. A case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered.

Goods stolen: The Division No. 6 police yesterday booked Sanjiv Kumar, Amandeep Singh and Anil Kumar, residents of street No. 5 of Shimla Puri; Amit Gupta of street No. 2 of Dashmesh Nagar; and Jaswinder Vohra, Ashok Kumar, Bhupinder Kumar, Rajesh and Satish for theft.

Complainant Gurbachan Singh, a resident of Atam Park, said accused Sanjiv Kumar, Amit Gupta, Amandeep and Anil Kumar, who were employed at his workshop in Industrial Area-B, stole goods, from the workshop and sold these to Jaswinder Vohra and other traders on the Dugri Road. The police arrested the accused on Friday. A case under Sections 381 and 411 of the IPC has been registered.


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