L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Caved-in old GT Road awaits repairs
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A part of the old GT Road constructed over a sewage drain near Bhadaur House is caving in, causing fear of traffic problem and accumulation of sewage upstream. The road can give way anytime. It is not being repaired, although it has been a fortnight, since it started caving in.

The caved-in part of the National Highway No 1, which is at a distance of just a few metres from the office of the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, was covered with asbestos sheets by the employees, but no repair was carried out.

Shopkeepers of the area said it was not for the first time that the road had caved in, but this time it was not being repaired. They feared if it gave way at night, a casualty might take place as speeding vehicles could fall in the sewer drain bringing waste from old city and draining it in Buddha Nullah.

Officials of the MC said they were waiting for the completion of the elevated road, the construction of which was under way, before taking up the repair of the caved-in road. They added the sewer pipes of the elevated road were to be discharged in the nullah so they had decided to repair the road at that time only.

Shopkeepers said it was shocking that while many heavy vehicles passed over the road, no warning sign had been put up by the authorities directing the commuters to stay away from the caved-in part. They added the asbestos sheets that were kept on the road demarcating the sank part had fallen down.

They demanded if the MC was not ready to carry out repairs, it should put some barricades so that nothing wrong took place there.

As a part of the road has caved-in heavy vehicular traffic has to pass through a narrow space. It leads to traffic jams during busy hours.

Sometimes pedestrians, finding no space to pass through, prefer crossing the road from the caved-in part little knowing that it can be dangerous. “I keep sitting outside my shop and telling people not to step on the road. We have complained to the MC a number of time, but to no avail,” added a shopkeeper.



Absenteeism plagues education, health
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The problem of absenteeism plagues primary schools in Punjab, where, on an average, 36 per cent of primary schoolteachers are absent on any given day. The rate is well above the 25 per cent rate for all-India and the third highest across Indian states, following Bihar and Jharkhand.

A World Bank study on the state points out this problem, which, the study states, plagues health facilities as well.

The study says that recent evidence from a survey of government primary schools across Indian states shows that teacher absence in primary schools in Punjab is extremely high. Compounding the problem is the finding that even when teachers are present, only half (49.8 per cent) are teaching. This is below the all- India average of 59.5 per cent.

While the percentage of teachers absent per day is 39 in Jharkhand and 38 in Bihar, it is the lowest in Maharashtra, where the percentage is 15.

The same problem plagues health facilities as well, where nearly 39 per cent of doctors and 44 per cent of other medical personnel are absent from their place of work, the study points out, adding that among doctors, 11 per cent were found to be absent without reason, 12 per cent were on authorised leave whereas the remaining 16 per cent were away on official duty.

The data about non-doctors shows that the corresponding breakdown is 9,14 and 20.

It emphasises on more work for a better understanding of the high rates of absenteeism, stating that incentives for staff need to be changed if service providers are absent for personal reasons. If institutional reasons are the culprit, the state needs to re-evaluate the value of other requirements that keep providers away from their jobs.

The problem of absenteeism is also to be partly blamed for under-utilisation of health infrastructure across the state, states World Bank.

While the state has a large network of community health centres, primary health centres and sub-centres, in addition to hospitals, in the public sector a vast majority of services are provided through hospitals only, whether in-patient or out-patient.

Lower-level public facilities perform a negligible role at the level of in-patient care, perhaps reflecting the lack of adequate facilities to take care of patients, who are seriously ill, the report says.



Gang of robbers busted, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The district police today busted a gang of robbers, besides solving a case of murder and many robberies. The Sahnewal police arrested four members of the gang — Gurpreet Singh of Jabbowal village, Sarabjit Singh of Rahon village, Balvir Kumar of Khatkar Kalan and Onkar Singh of Kama village in Nawanshahr and recovered vehicles, a revolver and a rifle from them.

The gangsters were caught while travelling in a Qualis by the police. Gurpreet Singh, Balvir Singh and Onkar Singh had stolen the Qualis on November 4 after killing the driver, Sarjivan Kumar, when they had hired it for reaching Garhshankar from Ludhiana.

They had killed the driver at Gobindpur village and had thrown the body in a drain. A case was registered at the Banga police station on November 8. The police claims that Gurpreet Singh and Balvir Kumar had snatched a rifle from Mangli Kanonia village in August last year. A case had been registered by the Sahnewal police in this regard.

The police also recovered a scooter, (registration No. PB-32-C-7351), a Boxer motor cycle (No. PB-10AW-3124), a .315-bore countrymade rifle and two cartridges from Sonu. 



Govt should provide relief to migrants: MLA
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The Punjab Government is aware of the contribution being made by migrant workers in the economy of the state and comprehensive measures should be initiated to solve their problems and grant them status in society.

These observations were made by Mr Surinder Dawar, MLA and Parliamentary Secretary holding charge of Power and Housing, while addressing a labour empowerment rally organised by Congress labour cell near the Civil Hospital here last evening. Mr Dawar remarked that migrant workers had become an inseparable part of the industry and agriculture in Punjab and the government could not let discrimination continue against them.

Mr Sabhajit Pandey, chairman of the cell, lamented that even after spending a major part of their lives here the migrants were denied the right to vote or a ration card. The workers were exploited by private employers, who flouted the labour laws blatantly. “The workers are deprived of basic facilities like health cover, ESI, provident fund and gratuity.” He asked the state government to provide them life insurance, besides ration cards and right to vote.

Prominent among others present at the rally were Mr Sanjay Talwar, Mr Rakesh Parashar, Mr Jasbir Singh Chadha, Ms Gurpreet Gogi, all councillors, Mr Shammi Kapoor, Mr Ramesh Nahar, Ms Veena Sobti, Mr Nirmal Virk, Mr Rehman Shah and Mr Abdul Samad Azad.



Partake of langar at own risk
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 27
Perhaps nowhere else in the world except in Punjab, you will find people stopping you forcibly, not to harm you but to make you eat and drink which can sometimes be beyond your capacity.

Hundreds of langars, organised along the route of various nagar kirtans and other religious marches, are a testimony to the above-noted observation which reflects the devotion of the Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular.

But residents of Gujjarwal village in Ludhiana district had to reserve their comments on the observation after they lost one of their senior citizens and a former state-level kabbaddi player at one such langar. According to Lakhwinder Singh, Sarpanch of Gujjarwal village, Jaswinder Singh was allegedly stopped and thrashed mercilessly by sevadars at a langar at Salani village near Amloh.

Jaswinder Singh, driver of a PRTC bus of Chandigarh depot, was en route to Malerkotla, when he was stopped by sevadars of the langar at Salani village on Saturday. As he has running short of time, he requested the sevadars to let him go. When he tried to move the bus, sevadars put up a wooden log before it. The driver succeeded in crossing the log, but the sevadars chased the bus, stopped it and thrashed him mercilessly. But Jaswinder Singh, instead of complaining to his seniors or to the police, moved the bus so that the passengers might reach their destination on time. A little later he collapsed on the steering wheel and the conductor, who managed the bus while sitting on the engine averted a major accident.

The only breadwinner of the family, Jaswinder leaves behind a son, a daughter and wife. Mr Amarjit Singh Khaira, SHO, Dehlon, has mourned his death.

The observations made by The Tribune revealed that the attitude of sevadars at most of the langars had changed drastically. Instead of making polite request to the occupants of the vehicles to stop for partaking langar, groups of youngsters usually equipped with lathis and sticks block the road and forcibly stop every vehicle and make them “relish” the preparations which they do not need.

As most of the langars are organised on the main roads and there is a risk of being overrun. If the vehicle does not stop, the organisers put up temporary speed breakers by spreading poles or making humps violating the traffic rules. Some volunteers reportedly have received injuries due to such incidents in the past.

Vehicles destined to some hospital, court or official headquarters are the worst affected as the time lost during halts at the langars can not be recovered.

On behalf of the residents of the area, Mr Balwinder Singh, a social activist, has urged the Sikh organisations to regulate the practice of organising langars on main roads so that the pious practice does not cause any inconvenience to the public. 



Govt teachers threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
A meeting of the Government Primary Teachers Union, Ludhiana district, was held at Jawahar Nagar, Ludhiana, here today. The meeting was presided over by Mr Rajinder Singh Garcha, district unit president, while Mr Malkit Singh Kainth, Jatinder Gautam, Harbhajan Singh, Madan Gopal, Romesh Sharma and Sukh-chaina Singh also attended it.

The members condemned the Punjab Government’s anti-teacher/employee policy and warned the government to stop following such policies.

Mr Rajinder Singh Garcha said the state government was interested in giving its MLAs benefits like cars, grants for foreign tours and several other allowances.

The meeting finally resolved to start an agitation next year and appealed to all organisations to celebrate a black New Year. 



DMU halted after brawl
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A Ferozepore-Ludhiana DMU had to stop at a level-crossing near Shastri Nagar for 15 minutes here today following a brawl between a railway gateman and two youths.

The Matiz car (PB-10 AM-7576) of the youths was badly damaged when the gateman downed the gate of the crossing, while the youths were trying to cross over in their car. The gate hit the windscreen of the car. The youths, however, escaped unhurt.

Following the incident, the youths started beating up the gateman, Ganga Prasad. His wife, standing nearby, started pelting the car with stones.

Cops of the GRP reached the spot and controlled the situation. No case was, however, registered till the filing of the report. 



Work in DMCH back to normal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
Things are getting back to normal at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital here following a fortnight-long agitation by a section of the employees. The management had to resort to tough measures to make the agitators join back their respective duties.

A spokesperson for the DMCH said during the past 24 hours, 75 new patients were admitted to different departments, while the number of patients at OPDs crossed the 525 mark today.

The DMCH authorities claimed that all laboratories and operating theatres were fully functional and the entire medical, para-medical and administrative staff was attending to the patients.



Ludhiana accommodating, say Kashmiri Pandits
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Kashmiri Pandits’ relationship with Punjab is historic. They owe their identity to Guru Tegh Bahadur, who laid down his life to save them from forced conversion to Islam at the hands of Aurangzeb. And in recent times, according to the Ludhiana District Gazetteer, the city owes its progress in hosiery and woollens to the Kashmiris only.

There are about 300 Kashmiri Pandit families living in Ludhiana. They have formed an association Kashmiri Pandit Sabha.

According to Dr T.K. Kaul, a senior faculty member and the Head of the Department of Anaesthesia in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana is one of the most vibrant and accommodating cities in the north. “It offers massive opportunities”, Dr Kaul pointed out, adding that “one distinct feature of the city is that it has never evolved a racial or parochial character”.

Another prominent Kashmiri, Dr M.K. Mam, Vice-Principal of the Christian Medical College and Hospital maintains that the city appears to be best suited for Kashmiri Panditis.

He said it was an enterprising city, respecting and rewarding entrepreneurs and intelligent people.

“One remarkable thing about the city is that nobody identifies you with any particular religion or caste... you are treated according to your talent and potential”, Dr Mam remarked, while summing up the character of the city.



‘Ganga Sagar’ accorded warm welcome
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 27
The sacred urn of Guru Gobind Singh, “Ganga Sagar”, was received with great respect by people of Doraha and Sahnewal in the evening today.

The devotees were present in great numbers on either side of the road to have its glimpse. It was placed on a rotating pedestal on a specially prepared wagon. When the sacred urn reached Doraha and then Sahnewal, the devotees offered siropas to Nawab Azizullah Khan, member of the Pakistan National Assembly.

At Kaddon Chowk, Doraha, the holy urn was accorded a warm welcome by Mr Tej Parkash Singh Kotli, former Transport Minister, Punjab, Mr Surinderpal Sood, acting president, Nagar Council, Mr Bant Singh Doburjee, Akali activist, Mr Jagjiwan Pal Singh Gill, Mr Malwinder Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Jaswinder Singh Jassa and Mr Gurmail Singh Sangowal, member, SGPC.

At Sahnewal, Mr Ramesh Kumar Pappu, President, Nagar Council, Mr Devinder General Executive Officer, Mr Chopra, SO, Mr Shamsher Singh Kaile, former President, Nagar Council, Mr Avtar Singh, president, Reru Sahib Gurudwara Committee, Mr Baljit Singh, member, Reru Sahib Gurdwara Committee, along with other people paid obeisance.

Add sports story: Students of Guru Nanak Model Senior Secondary School presented a gymnastics show on the occasion. The winning team of Kila Raipur won a cash award of Rs 21,000 and the runners-up were awarded Rs 15,000 by the chief guest. International empire Satinder Sharma and international player Satinder Singh were honoured by the Doraha Hawks Club. The Panj Piaras lead a nagar kirtan which started from Gurdwara Alamgir Sahib, near Ludhiana, and passed through several adjoining villages on Monday. Photo: Inderjit Verma



CITU leaders flay govt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Mr Chandershekhar, general secretary and Mr Tarsem Jodhan, senior vice-president of CITU, Punjab, have appealed to the Left to rely on the working class movement instead of following Congress-led UPA government which is “totally insensitive to issues of working people”.

Commenting on the executive orders issued to use fly ash for making bricks, they alleged it was being done to crush the indigenous technology being used by small-scale industrialists.

They alleged more than eight lakh brick-kiln workers were rendered jobless in the state and capital worth Rs 400 crore made worthless. They said instead of listening to workers and kiln-owners, the government was letting loose all sort of repression which was undemocratic and showed its authoritarian attitude.

They said the organisation would organise district-level protests in January for withdrawal of these directions and to allow operation of brick-kilns as usual. They appealed to other trade unions to participate in the struggle of workers facing starvation.



It’s kite time in city
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, December 27
If you think the modern generation is busy playing computer games and surfing the internet alone, then think again. City residents have a passion for flying kites, and now that Lohri is round the corner, one can see colourful kites of different shapes and sizes being displayed in many a shop in the market .

A survey by Ludhiana Tribune revealed an increase in the sale of kites. Wholesale kite dealers said every year around Lohri the sale of kites picked up.

Mohan Singh and Ram Singh, who have been selling kites for the past 25 years, said,”In spite of congestion and few open spaces in the city to fly kites, the passion for flying kites has increased. Children are crazy about flying kites. The kites that are popular are chajj, tukul, pari, Lucknow kaat, shatranj, and Bombay baurd.Most of the kites come from Jaipur and Kolkata. Threads dor are prepared in the city also, but the bulk comes from Bareilly too. The price of the thread begins from Rs 150 and can cost as much as Rs 1,000. The price of kites vary between Rs 5 and Rs 150.”

Asked if there had been any change in kites, Vishal, a shopkeeper, said, “Only the shapes of kites have changed.”

Kites made of plastic paper are shiny and catch the eye. Small kites, just the size of a palm, are selling like hot cakes. These are bought for decoration chiefly and are made in Jaipur. Now, even girls have taken to kite flying.



Hike medical allowance, say pensioners
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
A fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 a month being paid to the Punjab Government employees and pensioners since January 1, 1998, is inadequate to meet the increasing cost of medicare now. During the past seven years, the medicare cost has registered a rise of 49 per cent as per the consumer price index and the medicare cost data.

At a meeting held here yesterday, pensioners reminded the Congress government of its promise made on the eve of Assembly poll in February 2002 regarding enhancing medial allowance. They pointed out that during its 34-month-tenure the government has failed to fulfil even a single promise.

They further lamented the “discriminatory” policy in allowing full reimbursement of medical expenses to MLAs, and those receving pension and other political figures. Whereas these facilities are denied to employees and pensioners on the pretext of financial crunch.

“The government has money for former or sitting MLAs but its coffers are empty for its former and serving employees,” they alleged.



Fun, gaiety at ladies club
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The annual function of the Niharika Ladies Club was organised at a hotel here yesterday. Club members celebrated Christmas and New Year. A large number of club members attended the function and enjoyed the celebrations which was marked with lots of fun, music and gifts. A cake was cut to mark the celeberations of New Year and to celebrate the birthdays and marriage anniversaries of the club members.

Advisory Board members were welcomed by the president, Ms Shaheen. The board handed over the charge of the President of Club for 2005 to Ms Ranjit Bajaj. The report of activities of the last year was read out by Ms Karuna Singh, Secretary of the club.

Raj Kumar and his troupe from Delhi presented a magic show which mesmerised the audience. Surprise gifts were given to the audience and a bumper tambola was organised too.



Camp to assist disabled youth on Dec 29
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 27
The local Employment Officer, Mr Jawahar Lal, has said the department will observe World Disabled Day on December 29 on the premises of the Employment Exchange office here.

A camp will also be held in which useful information will be imparted to the physically challenged unemployed youths regarding self- employment avenues , loan terms and other rehabilitation facilities.

Loans would be sanctioned to the physically challenged candidates so that they can start their own venture.



Employees unions to hold rally on December 30
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The coordination committee of the para-medical and Health Department employees, along with several other trade unions, including the Government Teachers Union and the PWD Employees Union, was gearing up for the rally to be organised by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation here on December 30.

Mr Amarjit Singh Pandher, Mr Dayal Singh and Mr Nirmal Singh, activists of the three respective unions, maintained today that the convention would focus on common demands.



Brahmin jatha pays obeisance at gurdwara
Our Correspondent

Samrala, December 27
Three hundred members of the Punjab Brahmin Sabha paid obeisance to Baba Zorawar Singh, Baba Fateh Singh and Mata Gujri at gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib.

The jatha started on foot from Mandi Gobindgarh under the leadership of Pt Charan Dass Shastri (president of the Punjab unit), Mr Devi Dayal Prasher (senior vice-president) and Mr Behari Lal Saddi, president of the Samrala unit. 15-member band marched in front of the jatha singing shabads.



Price hike, power cuts, labour unrest hit industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Hike in prices, power cuts, labour unrest. Problems erupted and captured limelight. But the Manchester of India still remained an attractive destination for the industry and witnessed the entry of renowned players, several even preferring it to Chandigarh or any other city in Punjab.

It was steel and yarn prices that witnessed a steep hike adding to the woes of engineering and hosiery industries. Explosives found from steel scrap at the Dhandari dry port, that resulted in a ban on import, thereby creating steel shortage, hogged limelight for almost two weeks. And then there were the unscheduled power cuts and two days compulsory offs for industry which led to a lot of hue and cry with industry unable to meet orders. The year also witnessed entry of companies like Osim, Nirula’s, besides a couple of leading names in fashion industry.

The beginning of 2004 saw a wave of cheer in the industrial sector with promises coming from the government. But much to industry’s dismay these remained only promises.

In January industrialists saw a ray of hope when the government announced relief measures. However, these announcements remained verbal only.

This month workers of the cycle manufacturing company, Avon, went on strike that ended only after political interference. In April workers of Hero Cycles too went on strike. Despite labour unrest, the cycle industry continued to perform well and recorded a business of over Rs 3,600 crore.

Labour unrest plagued not only the cycle but also the hosiery industry in which workers of Eveline Greatway went on strike in September.

Not merely labour, industrialists too came forward to put forth their demands. These included furnace manufacturers, fastener manufacturers and brick-kiln owners.

It was in October that explosives were found from steel scrap at the Dhandari dry port. For over two weeks the news made headlines, resulting in the ban on import of steel scrap, giving a blow on the steel industry.

This led to shortage of steel, badly hitting engineering goods and other steel consuming industries. Leading steel manufacturers also increased their prices, only to give another blow to the industry.

When rising inflation bothered the government it tried to interfere and influence steel manufacturers to lower their prices. The efforts, however, didn’t bear much fruit, the result being increased inflation and a badly hit steel consuming industry.

Poor power supply continued to trouble industrial sector. It led to increase costs, incomplete work orders and losses to several industrial segments. While the problem still continues, some relief that was provided by tariff reduction was almost nullified when an increase in duty on electricity was declared.

While the hosiery industry remained discontented with power cuts in September, a mild winter only added to its woes. To top it were the increased yarn prices. Despite all these woes, the textiles industry kept gearing up for the post-quota regime that begins from January 1, 2005. Most units increased their budgets for IT, bought imported machines to increase productivity and improve quality.

Industry’s keenness to gear up for global competition was evident with a host of seminars and workshops having been organised for the purpose. Foreign experts were invited to study problems and provide expert consultancy based on international standards for industry’s betterment. Leading industry organisations remained on their toes to accomplish the task.

While VAT, due to be implemented from April next year, continued to be much debated, service tax was another issue that bothered industrialists.

The year also witnessed entry of many new companies from various segments — lifestyle, health, food products, restaurants etc. Despite all troubles, the city remained on top of the priority list for new entrants during the year. Experts feel the coming year will witness a similar positive attitude.



Biz Clips

: Nirula’s, a chain of restaurants, has introduced special party packages for city residents. A press note states these packages are available for birthdays and kitty parties and start from Rs 99 per person onwards. OC

LAUNCHED: Tops, a packaged food manufacturing company, has launched a new range of products, including chocolate powder and cornflour. According to a company press note, the new range is available at all Tops outlets across the country. OC


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