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Fun rides without NOCs pose hazard at Chhapar
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 26
While the Jagraon district police is all set to combat any eventuality arising at Chhapar Mela that began on Sunday, the civil administration is yet to take a stock of the situation there. Contrary to official claims, the Duty Magistrate present at the control room could not provide information regarding the permission given by the department to the organisers of various kinds of fun rides set up at the mela site.

According to information got from the Chhapar Mela site today a large number of fun rides including motored merry-go-rounds, swings and “Maut ka Kuan”, were doing brisk business. When asked about the no objection certificates (NOCs), most of the organisers answered that the documents were with their masters who were not present on the site. The police had a tough time verifying the NOCs with the stall owners.

Mr Manjit Singh, Revenue Officer and Duty Magistrate, had no knowledge about the number of NOCs and permissions granted to the owners of fun ride stalls that posed hazard to for the life of the entertainer and the public in general.

Sources said that some persons had been seriously injured from boat-shaped equipment during past years, and one of the performers had met with an accident when the car he was driving on the slanting walls of the well had fallen on its floor. In another case, at least four persons had died at Mukatsar Mela three years ago when a cradle of a revolving lark had fallen from a great height due to centrifugal force.

Mr Malwinder Singh, SDM Ludhiana (West) and the mela officer, said his office had received a large number of applications for setting up various stalls at the mela but he could not tell how many were given NOCs, as the records were present in his office. He however claimed that all permissions and NOCs were issued after the recommendation by the Director (Factories), who was supposed to inspect the installation and certify the fitness.

No representative or the official of the office of the Director of the factories was available at the control room. It was learnt that the certificates were being issued merely after going through paper work and no physical verification was done by the technical staff.

The Jagraon police however has made elaborate security arrangements this year. Besides deploying around 1500 policemen on routine duty a special riot control vehicle from the Ludhiana police has been called to combat with any situation. 



A fair that has roots in mythology
Chhapar mela begins
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 2
A village fair that originated as a small gathering of locals to worship snakes embodiment of the Guga 150 years ago has emerged as a mega festival in the past three decades.

The legend narrates a story of a boy and a snake born together in an agricultural family of Chhapar village. The serpent and the boy were so intimate that if one suffered a pain the other used to cry. The mother of the child had gone away in the fields after laying him on a small cot. To save him from scorching sun the snake stretched its hood. Mistaking the snake to be ready to bite, a passerby killed it with his stick. The child died immediately after the death of the snake that left the family in sorrow.

The family was advised by the elders to perform religious ceremonies to worship Guga and Sidh and a he-goat was left free to mark the place of worship by striking at a particular place.

The place was recognised as Mari Guga where people from all walks of life had been worshipping the Guga on fourth day of the month of Bhadas every year.

The farmers of the Malwa recognise the fair to the extent that they change the agricultural chores according to the dates of the Mela.

People also narrate another story regarding second fair known as ‘Minor Mela Chhapar’.

On the onset of the 20 century then Maharaj was told to have banned the mela on the complaint by some farmers.

According to another story a faqir had anchored a twig after cleaning his teeth .A local person uprooted the twig in a fun.

The faqir had then cursed the people of the local area that the place would witness a heavy camp here which would then be followed by a deserted look.

Though originally the fair had started a small congregation of the devotees of Guga it has now transformed in to a big festival. 



Evading highway toll under nose of authorities
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, September 26
Ever since the implementation of ‘exorbitant’ toll on the National Highway No. 1 by the National Highway Authority of India at Doraha, Shambu and Karnal toll barriers for a road stretch from Panipat to Jalandhar, commuters have been adopting novel ways for evading toll by taking alternative routes from time to time. But, now they need not follow any such route as the toll evasion is reportedly being carried out under the very nose for the toll authorities.

Initially, the toll was opposed by all quarters at the time of its implementation, the authorities introduced the system of issuing concessional passes for the benefit of the local commuters. They can now pay Rs 150 for cars, jeeps and vans and get a monthly pass issued with the condition that it had to be renewed on a particular date. A commuter revealed, “Many a time it has been observed that the concessional yellow card enables unchecked passage for other vehicles too. The pass is issued for a particular vehicle but drivers of different vehicles are misusing it.”

Similarly, the system of multiple-entry ticket is being misused by the private bus operators, who run to 20 buses on the highway on a single multiple-entry pass. As a rule, a car or a jeep or a van driver pays Rs 45 for a single entry. Similarly, if a bus is supposed to pay Rs 160 as single entry, it can get a multiple entry ticket by paying Rs 240 for the next 24 hours. It has been learnt that the private buses of various transport, plying on their source have adopted a unique method to evade tax. With a single entry ticket, they can make the buses of a particular transport ply to the road as many times as they wish.

Now how does this method actually work. According to information available, a man other than the driver or the conductor, is especially engaged for this lucrative business by the private bus owners. Now a driver of the private bus moving out of Ludhiana gets the multiple entry ticket on the payment Rs 240 to the toll both for the next 24-hours which he shall hand it over to the third man at the Doraha bus stand who is already waiting for the multiple entry ticket. When the vehicles of that particular transport shall come from the other side to get entry into Ludhiana, the actual job of the hired man begins. He shall board the bus from Doraha bus stand, hand over the multiple entry ticket to the driver or the conductor of that bus who shall horridly show it to the toll supervisor and get away scot free. Again the hired man is dropped at Sahnewal bus stand and waits for that transport bus coming from Ludhiana. It may be estimated that if 15 buses of a transport ply in the route daily, the owners are leading a toll of Rs 3600 per day and Rs 108000 per month. Now if the serial number mentioned on every multiple entry ticket is different, how come the same ticket is used multi purposely? Is it only the highly callous attitude of the toll authorities which is responsible for this heavy toll evasion?

At another times it appears as if it is only the possession of card that is important one time day this correspondent was travelling by a Punjab Roadways bus. The drivers of the bus having pass the toll barriers was overheard saying in a highly exorbitant way to the passengers. “Eh koi toll di parchi nahi, eh tan khali chiita kagaj hai, Parch tan mein kite rakh baitha hain” (This is not a multiple entry ticket. This is only white slip of paper wrapped in a transparent white sheet that I showed to the security man and befooled him I have misplaced the slip somewhere.”

Another day, a Punjab Roadways bus driver gave his slip to another Roadways driver at Sahenwal bus stop in order to try his bus at the toll booth and he was surprised that it really worked.

Such type of lapses on the part of the toll authorities is providing a great set back to the economy of the country. Earnest application of rules or some and callous bypassing of other is creating complications. The commuters can in no way tolerate such disparity when most of them are regularly paying the exorbitant toll demanded of tax.



Irregularity in purchase of cat eyes alleged
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 26
The controversy surrounding the installation of thousands of ‘cat eyes’ in the city seems to be staring Ludhiana Municipal Corporation authorities in the face with allegations being made that these were purchased at higher than the normal price and also the due procedure was not followed in the allotment of the tenders.

Recently the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation installed thousands of fluorescent cat eyes in the city roads for preventing accidents at night. These ‘cat eyes’ have been installed along road dividers and footpaths. The cat eyes are installed along the roads to give an idea of the contours of the road at the night. Although exact number of the ‘cat eyes’ installed in the city could not be confirmed, but it is believed that the number is in thousands.

No senior official of the MC could be contacted for the comments. But well-placed sources in the corporation maintained that there was no question of any irregularity in awarding the contract for the purchase of cat eyes. Everything, the sources claimed, was done in a transparent manner. It is learnt that the MC purchased the ‘cat eyes’ directly from the Punjab State Industrial Development and Export Corporation (PSIDEC), a government agency. These were supplied to the contractor for installation in the city.

The sources revealed that the MC made payment at the same rates as that made by the National Highway Authority of India and the Punjab Public Works Department which also use ‘cat eyes’ extensively. The sources pointed out, there was no question of any irregularity or overpricing of ‘cat eyes’.



Minister pays surprise visit to zoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 26
Mr Hans Raj Jossan, Minister for Forest Punjab, paid a surprise visit to the Tiger Safari and forest project at Bhatian to check the maintenance of animals and birds in the Safari last evening. He directed the forest staff to provide fixed quantity meat and food to the tigers and other animals as specified by the government.

After the checking, the minister informed that all animals, including eight tigers, 40 deer and a pair of Shutar Murg, were being provided adequate diet. Mr Jossan also inspected the Herbal Garden and Forest Chetna Kendra set up by the Forest Department near Amaltas, where 80 species of medicinal plants have been planted. He asked forest officials to make maximum publicity about these projects so that people, in general, and children, in particular, could get knowledge about wildlife and herbal plants. He also visited the Quadian Forest, where the department had planted around 13000 trees of shisham, teak, Burma draik and arjun and expressed his satisfaction over the survival rate of the plants.

Referring to forest development schemes of the department, the minister informed that under a special scheme funded by the Union Government, the Forest Department had chalked out a comprehensive plan for the development of selected villages at a cost of Rs 2 lakh each. He said under the scheme, 400 villages had been selected in six districts of the Kandi area and cheques for Rs 2 lakh each for general development had been delivered to the forest development committees set up for this purpose. The cases for the villages falling in the remaining districts had also been sent for approval to the Centre. He informed that under this schemes, Rs 8 crore had already been released in the state. He said so far 34 villages of Ludhiana district had been selected under this scheme and cases had been sent to the Union Government for approval.

The minister further said that the Forest Department had decided to develop five cities i.e. Ludhiana, Patiala, Amritsar, Ferozepore and Jalalabad as green cities. He informed that in Ludhiana city alone, 50,000 trees had been planted and 15,000 more plants were being planted in the coming days. 



Father, son hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, September 26
Three persons including a father and a son, were seriously injured, when a jeep hit their scooter.
According to the information Mohinder Kumar, Rajesh Kumar and Raju — all residents of Shastri Nagar, Jagraon, were coming to their residence on a scooter (No PUI-9302) via an unmanned level crossing when it was hit by a jeep (PB-15B-0712) coming from the opposite direction injuring all three seriously. The injured were taken to the civil hospital but were referred to a hospital at Ludhiana. The occupants of jeep fled leaving the jeep behind.


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