L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Motorists don’t give a hoot to anti-LPG drive
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
Even as the administration cracks the whip on those plying their cars on LPG, the sale of kits for this fuel continues unabated in the district. For as low as Rs 2000, a petrol-propelled car can be converted to run on the gas meant for domestic use. People complain that while they are facing the music for the violation, the motor mechanics and garage owners in the business are laughing their way to the bank.

Waking up to the danger posed by such vehicles and the shortage of LPG in Ludhiana, the Transport Department yesterday challaned 13 vehicles and warned their owners that in case they did not stop using LPG, the registration of their vehicles would be cancelled.

The gas agencies too were warned by the authorities that action would be taken against them in case it was found that cylinders sold by them were being misused. Interestingly, the shopkeepers selling LPG kits or those installing them have not been brought under the ambit of law.

It just takes an hour to fit a contraption that holds the standard 14.2 kg domestic LPG cylinder in the boot of the car and a rubber hose along the undercarriage that attaches it to the carburetor. This modification is possible only in petrol-based cars.

Such kits are selling in large numbers as most vehicles used to cover long distances are run on LPG. Most vans ferrying children to schools, cars used to teach driving and milk vans are using this gas. Similarly, most of the second-hand cars bought by people in the rural areas as well as businessmen travelling to distant places are also converted to run on LPG.

Satnam Singh, a mechanic in one of the motor markets in the city, claims that the latest drive of the administration would fizzle out sooner or later. “The rising cost of petrol has left people with no other option but to go in for the readily available LPG. Most of the households today have more than one gas connection and it makes sense to make use of the prompt supply. Also, how do would the authorities check each and every car in the city,” he pointed out.

Atma Singh, another mechanic into this business, says this has been going on for the past several years, but the administration woke up only when the supply of LPG was affected. He claims that no one from the administration has asked them to stop installing such kits. One can easily get these kits fitted from mechanics all over the city, he adds.

Sources in the administration say that since the checking yesterday was the first exercise in this regard, the vehicles were only challaned. In subsequent checking, the registration certificates of the vehicles will also be suspended because vehicle owners cannot change the mode of propulsion.

The drive will be intensified and conducted by a joint team of officials of the Transport Department and the Food Supplies Department. Wherever an LPG cylinder is found being used, it will be seized and proceedings under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act will be initiated, the sources say. 



1,700 scramble for 1 post of beldar
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
The sorry state of employment in the state was exposed here today when as many as 1,700 candidates reached Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus to appear in an interview for the sole post of a beldar.

While the minimum qualification for the post was middle standard , even post graduate and graduate candidates were seen jostling with each other for the Class IV post.

The office of the Director, Research, PAU, had a tough time tacking the rush of candidates. Several candidates said they were harassed as the university had invited so many candidates on a single day.

Several candidates were, however, visibly disappointed of seeing a large number of job seekers. Many said they could not even hope against hope that they would be the fortunate one to be selected.

A candidate with a postgraduate degree told the Ludhiana Tribune, on the condition of anonymity, that he had applied for many jobs but had been rejected. ‘‘When I saw an advertisement in a a newspaper regarding this post earlier this month I applied for the same. I had been thinking that being a post-graduate I had a fair chance. But I never knew that there would be 1,700 candidates in the race,’’ he said.

Another candidate, who was a graduate, said the only option left for him was working in his fields. The advertisement for the job had came as silver lining to the dark clouds of unemployment for him. “I thought that besides working in the fields, I would be working in the university also. Being an agricultural institution I wanted to gather some knowledge to exploit it practically. After coming here I was even told by a candidate that the selection had already been made. I only pray that there are more posts than what was advertised.” he said.

The university authorities were, however, tight-lipped about the number of posts. While some officials said there was a single post, an official in the office of Director, Research, said the university was yet to decide about the number of posts. He added that after the interview they would form a panel and consider the demand of various departments and then make the appointments.

The interview was going on till the filing of this report. Officials said they would continue till late in the evening as only 300 interviews had been conducted till the afternoon. The candidates alleged that while the university knew that as many as 1,700 applications were received, they had invited all candidates to appear on a single day.

‘‘By no mathematics can anybody interview 1,700 candidates in a day.’’ said a candidate adding that by the evening they had started calling a group of 15 to 20 persons for the interview simultaneously. ‘‘They asked me to submit the copies of my certificates in a jiffy and then asked me to go out. How can they make out that I am a suitable candidate?’’ he asked.

An official said they had advertised the date of interview in the first advertisement only and they had never expected that so many candidates would turn up. The last date for filling the forms was November 19 and there was a little time left for the university to change the interview dates and inform the candidates as well.

Sources said a beldar was required in the Department of Plant Breeding and Head, Genetics and Plant Breeding Department, Dr D.R. Satija, Additional Director, Research, Dr G.S. Chahal and Dr G.S. Nanda, Director, Research, were interviewing the candidates. 



World AIDS Day today
Women more susceptible to HIV, say experts
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 30
The theme of the World AIDS Day-2004 is “Women and AIDS” with the strapline, “Have you heard me today?” Recent studies show that women and girls are more susceptible to HIV and AIDS than men, globally. In India gender inequality remains one of the unfortunate facts fueling the AIDS epidemic.

Experts in the medical fraternity stress that inadequate knowledge about the dreaded disease, insufficient access to HIV prevention services and lack of female-controlled HIV prevention methods fuel the spread of the disease. At the same time they said that as women did not enjoy the same rights and access to employment, property and education as men, so they were more likely to face sexual violence, which can accelerate the spread of HIV.

Dr Rajinder Gulati, president of the district branch of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, said globally there were 17 million women between the ages of 15-49 years living with HIV/AIDS. In the past decade, the percentage of women among adults living with HIV/AIDS had risen from 35 per cent to 48 per cent. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of HIV infected cases (about 60 per cent) among young women in the 15-24 years age group. “The dreaded disease calls for immediate attention. Though, there has been awareness among the masses in recent years, still a lot more needs to be done. The risk of an HIV-positive mother infecting her child is greatly reduced if she has access to anti-HIV medicines, information and confidential counselling and if she is given a special care during pregnancy and delivery”, added Dr Gulati.

Dr Iqbal Ahuja, a leading gynaecologist, said mother-to-child transmission of HIV accounted for 90 per cent of all babies infected in the year 2003. Though the drugs which could greatly reduce the chances of the virus being transmitted were available at cheap rates, but these were not being provided to many women around the world. HIV could also be transmitted through breast feed. Gender discrimination was another fact responsible for increase in the number of HIV cases among women. “There have been reports of sexual violence also. Thousands of women have been raped and purposely infected with HIV”, said Dr Iqbal.

Ms Monica Maini, a school teacher, feels that women had suffered a lot due to discrimination for many decades. It had an impact on their jobs, economic and social status their access to healthcare and education etc. “They are not given proper guidance and education. They should be well aware of their rights. Rather than being quiet and docile, they should have enough guts to bring the culprits to book”, she said.



UNDP selects Ludhiana MC model for study
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
The United Nations Development Programme (UPDP), India, has selected the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC) for a case study of “Municipal Management and Capacity Building, in Ludhiana”. The MC, Ludhiana, is the only corporation in the country to be chosen by the UNDP for the study.

According to a communication received by the Department of Planning, Government of Punjab, the Human Development Resource Centre, UNDP, and the State Plans Division of the Planning Commission of India have prepared a document for “Successful Governance Initiatives and Best Practices:Experiences from Indian States”.

As a follow up, the UNDP, is undertaking the production of a series of short documentary films of selected case studies from this documentation. These films are being used as an advocacy tool to facilitate experience sharing on best practices, both at the national level and between state governments, as well as a means to enable wider dissemination of information.

The other case studies to be filmed are ‘Community Contracting in Rural Water and Sanitation (Swajal)’, in Uttar Pradesh and Uttranchal, ‘Rajiv Gandhi Watershed Management Mission’, Madhya Pradesh, besides the ‘Municipal Management and Capacity Building in Ludhiana’, Punjab.

The Commissioner of the Ludhiana MC Mr S.K. Sharma, disclosed that the work of select municipal corporations in the country was evaluated before the final selection. The UNDP takes into consideration various aspects like the magnitude of services provided by the corporation, the work efficiency, the success in providing basic amenities, the financial management and providing the infrastructure in the municipal limits.

He claimed that it was a matter of great honour for the MC, Ludhiana to have been shortlisted among so many corporations in the country. He pointed out, the MC had already scored several firsts like providing drinking water to the entire population within its limits and setting up of the biomedical disposal plant, to name a few only. The MC, Ludhiana had also topped in the CRISIL rating last year.

Mr Sharma maintained that the local MC would ensure that the pace of success was retained and improved in the due course of time. 



Ludhiana Calling

Ludhianvis have a firm belief, “You earn like a coolie and live like a prince”. They work hard and also like to live it up in luxury, and deservingly so. The standards of the city notwithstanding, a recent marriage ceremony involving two top business families made Ludhianvis sit up gaping. While the two families had cordial relations even before the alliance, they could not resist the temptation of ensuring “the best” celebrations to outdo the other. While the groom’s family hired the services of the man who created the sets for the movie “Devdass”, the bride’s family matched it every bit. The entire ceremony, right from the distribution of cards to the wedding itself, had been meticulously planned. The invitation cards were in the form of small artefacts, which the invitees have preserved. The wedding pandal too was distinct. The entire marriage was conducted according to pure Indian traditions, with the final ceremonies being held amidst the blowing of conches. It was probably an ideal blend of tradition with modernity for an ambience that would be remembered for long. No wonder, the event was the talk of the town.

Power woes

While global business is posing stiff competition to Indian products, our industry is grappling with infrastructural problems. The most prominent being power supply. Industrialists in the city had barely recovered from the losses of the last bout of power cuts along with two compulsory days off, and the cuts are back yet again. Though time and again various ministers keep promising that the problem would soon be over, the situation refuses to improve.

Traffic bottleneck

Decades ago a railway underbridge was constructed in Ludhiana to ensure smooth flow of traffic between the new and old parts of the city. This was complimented by the “Jagraon overbridge”. As the years went by, the number of vehicles grew to the extent that the traffic in Ludhiana is the largest north of Delhi and is among the top 10 cities in the country. But the capacity of the Domoria bridge has increased only marginally. Going across it is major task. More than a convenience, it is a traffic bottleneck, wasting people’s time and fuel. The elevated road being built as an alternative appears to be a distant dream as the work is going on at a snail’s pace.

Animal menace

Even as the municipal corporation and a number of religious organisations claim that they care for animals, a number of stray cows and dogs can be seen being bumped around by vehicles on the roads. Not only do these animals cause accidents, they also suffer injuries, often fatal. More often than not they get no medical attention. Many human lives are also lost in the accidents caused by these animals. It is high time a solution to the problem was found.

SMS irritation

As if poor networks and over-billing were not enough, mobile phone companies have now started invading their customers’ privacy and time. Residents complain of receiving SMS messages from the companies advertising their products and “games” one can play on the mobiles. While mobile phone companies try to lure customers by offering free information on things like educational courses or discounts, most city residents only have this to say, “No, thank you.”

Poor roads

Residents of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and Sarabha Nagar are agitated over the delay in the road pavement work in the colonies. It has been more than three months when the Water Supply and Sewerage Board dug up the roads to lay pipes. The trenches have been filled but the roads are yet to be paved. As a result, clouds of dust rise every time a vehicle passes. It seems MC officials rarely visit the area, otherwise they too would have suffered allergies like the residents and got the paving done.

— Sentinel



Mann issuing misleading statements: Badal
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 30
The Shiromani Akali Dal has called upon the people to take care of the alleged disruptive activities of the President of SAD (A), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who had been issuing statements detrimental to the peace and harmony of the state.

While addressing a gathering here today, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, alleged that Mr Mann had been acting against the communal harmony and peace in the state.

Referring to the statement issued in press regarding the release of list of traitors of the panth, Mr Badal said Mr Mann was himself not clear about the definition of loyals and traitors. “It is an irony that a person with one per cent following is claiming himself to be loyal to the panth and terms the majority as traitors. Now it is high time when people should stop taking notice of his statements, Mr Badal said.

Mr Badal welcomed the inclination of the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Shaukat Aziz, to relax visa conditions for the Sikh pilgrims. Congratulating the Punjabis on appointment of Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh as first Sikh Chief of Army Staff, he said its credit did not go the Congress as he had been promoted because of his merits.

Mr Badal pointed out that the Union Government had ignored Punjab even on the issue of opening AIIMS institutes.

Reacting to media reports regarding his reported meeting with the Congress minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Badal said the media had given undue air to a co-incidence.



Plea to extend service tax date
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
Industry associations have urged the Finance Minister to extend the last date for registration under service tax. Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India (FOTSII), said, "The issue relating to the levy of service tax under clause 'Production of Goods' under business auxilliary service has already been taken up with the Prime Minster, Union Finance Minister, Secretary, Revenue, and Chief Commissioner, Central Excise, Chandigarh. Since no decision has been taken by the Finance Ministry so far, the last date of November 30 should be extended till the decision is taken."

As many as 16 industry associations have supported the FOTSII in this regard.



Tie-up to air Disney kids’ channels
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
Walt Disney Television International Asia Pacific (WDTVI-AP) has signed a multi-year deal with STAR Group to distribute Disney Channel and Toon Disney Channel in India. The deal was announced on Monday by Doug Miller, executive vice-president WDTVI-AP and Walt Disney International and Michelle Guthrie, CEO of STAR. Both channels will be launched on December 17, informed a press note.

“With a 30 million cable and satellite TV audience under the age of 14 in urban India alone, India is one of the world’s largest kids’ audiences and the launch of Disney Channel and Toon Disney will not only have a major impact on the way the Disney brand is enjoyed in India but also in the development of the Indian pay television business,” said Rajat Jain, Managing Director, Walt Disney Television International (India) and The Walt Disney Company (India) Pvt. Ltd.


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