L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Competition forces cable operators to charge old rates
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
Do not complain if this month your cable operator refuses to issue you a receipt against the payment of your monthly cable subscription. For, hike in charges by Multi Service Operators (MSOs), that is what many cable operators have been resorting to, owing to “refusal by subscribers to pay the increased amount” and the expected launch of DTH services by a few channels.

While MSOs assert they are particular that the operators do issue receipts, cable operators have a different story to tell.

“Now the MSOs have asked us to make them payment according to the revised rates. The bill in that case would be around Rs 290 and people are not willing to pay the same. The only option we are left with is that we do not issue receipts to subscribers,” said a cable operator on condition of anonymity. He said they had not issued receipts to any of their subscribers for the month of February.

Owing to the 10.2 per cent service tax, that was levied last year on cable operators, an additional 7 per cent charge has been levied which has led to a hike in cable charges. “We have instructed our cable operators to increase rates accordingly,” said Mr J.S. Arora, managing director, Win Cable, adding, “after adding these charges, the monthly rate per subscriber is around Rs 290.”

Mr Arora, however, denied the possibility of cable operators not issuing receipts to subscribers. “We did receive complaints regarding non-issuance of receipts earlier but now we are very particular and there are no such cases,” he said.

Substantiating his point, he said a cable operator did not need to resort to this measure as they charged only around 60 per cent of the total subscribers declared in posh areas and around 30 per cent in case of other areas. Cable prices in the city vary from Rs 150 to Rs 400 depending on the area. According to cable operators the discrimination in the rates exists due to strong resistance in several areas to pay high charges.

After service tax was imposed and hike in rates was announced, cable rates remained unchanged in majority areas in the city.

This is being attributed to the stiff competition that is further likely to intensify after Direct-to-Home (DTH) services are launched by Star TV. Doordarshan and Zee TV have already launched these services that offer the bouquet of channels under DD/Zee at highly competitive rates.

“Now that Star is also set to launch DTH services if we increase cable rates we will lose our customers. We cannot afford to take this risk,” said the president of the Ludhiana Cable Operators Association, Mr Sarabjit Singh.

He said besides DTH services, cable operators were likely to be affected when internet and cable services together would be offered by companies like Reliance.

“Under such circumstances the decision to increase rates would act as a severe blow on cable operators which is why they are still charging old rates.”



Mushrooming of B.Ed colleges worries educationists
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, February 7
Going by the figure of issuing no objection certificates (NOCs) to upcoming BEd colleges in the current year, educationists believe the state government had given a green light to the commercialisation of education. In 2004, the number of old and new B.Ed. colleges, both government and private was 48, but more than 59 new colleges in the state were going to get NOCs this year. This step would bring down the standard and quality of education and the institutions would become profit-making organisations, feel the educationists.

Mr Tarsem Bahia, former Principal of AS College, Khanna, and convener of Punjab State Education Forum, said this could lead to commercialisation of education. The number of BEd colleges in the state till 2000 was 20-25. With the mushrooming of several other private colleges, the number rose to 48 in 2004, and another 59 colleges were expected to be added in the list this year. “Twenty-one upcoming colleges have sought affiliation with Panjab University out of which 10-12 have already been issued NOCs by the state government and the university. In Ludhiana district alone, about 12 new private colleges are expected to be operational this year,” he added.

He said though no government aid was given to these private colleges as these were ‘self-financing’ institutions, still the managements of the colleges would get a return up to Rs 40 lakh in the first year itself. Once everything was settled, each college would be making a profit of Rs 20-25 lakh annually. There would be 100 seats for BEd aspirants with a fee structure of Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000. eighty-five seats would be from the general quota and remaining 15 seats would be from the management quota and the authorities could take anything between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per student, without issuing any receipt for this category.

He said according to the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), M.Ed UGC Qualified teachers were required to teach the students in B.Ed. colleges with the ratio of 1:10. About 700 well-qualified teachers were needed for the purpose, but the state government did not have qualified teachers in such large numbers. “The managements of these colleges would recruit less qualified teachers at nominal salaries of about Rs 5,000 per month, thus compromising with the standard of education. This will lead to exploitation of both students and teachers”, said Mr Bahia. He said the government should look into the matter to ensure quality education and unplanned expansion of colleges should immediately be stopped for the sake of students’ future.



Road caves in, disrupts water supply
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
Failing to move the local civic administration to come to their aid, residents of Shant Park, behind Aggar Nagar, had to pool in resources to restore the water supply that was affected after some patches on the roads, which were left unrepaired after laying of sewerage in the area, caved in.

After rain worsened the condition of the roads that caved in today, the residents had no option left but to call a private plumber to help them tide over the water crisis. While the water supply was restored, the sunk patches on the road continued to serve as a death knell for the passers-by.

In the morning today, a mini bus carrying school children got stuck on the road. Unable to bear the weight of the bus, the uncarpeted road caved in damaging the pipes supplying potable water.

The residents said the alert driver applied breaks and called for help. The bus was then pushed by the resident. They added that the road was left unrepaired by the workers of the Sewerage Board.

Dr Joginder Singh, a resident, said they had complained to the Municipal Corporation authorities a number of times but to no avail. ‘‘We knew that the damaged pipes of water would not be repaired today. So we all decided to pool in money and call a plumber. The repair was done by the afternoon and now our water supply is restored, ’’ he said.

‘‘Our children had a narrow escape today as the bus was going to overturn. The driver asked us to take up the matter with the authorities. What can we do now when nobody pays any heed to our complaints,’’ said another resident.

Similar complaints were received from other parts of the city as the roads were left uncarpeted after laying of sewer pipes. These area included Sarabha Nagar, BRS Nagar, Aggar Nagar and Rajguru Nagar. The residents said despite repeated complaints nothing was done so far.

MC officials said the project of recarpeting of roads were to be taken up on a large scale. They added that tenders were already invited for the repairs.



65 cases of jaundice in Uttam Nagar
SDM orders MC to take preventive steps
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 7
The Uttam Nagar locality of the city is in the grip of jaundice. Following the reports of rising cases of jaundice in the locality, a medical team, led by Dr Ravi Dutt, visited the area today. According to the report of the team, 65 persons have been found suffering from jaundice.

The SDM, Khanna, Mr Jaspal Mittal, said the health authorities had not brought any case to his knowledge. However, he had directed the municipal authorities to take preventive measures to tackle the problem, he said.

Following the reports, the SMO, Khanna Civil Hospital, Dr P.D. Singla, appointed Dr Ravi Dutt to visit the affected area. Dr Ravi Dutt and his team went door to door and reported that there were 65 cases of jaundice. However, private sources say there are around 90 such cases in the area.

Most of the patients are getting treatment at private hospitals and clinics.

Naval Bector and Amardeep Kaur said contaminated water was the cause of the disease. However, the councillor of the locality countered the observation saying he had got water samples checked at PAU and these were found okey.

Dr P.D. Singla, officiating SMO of the Civil Hospital, Khanna, confirmed that the team sent by him had detected 65 cases. He said chlorine tablets had been distributed to the residents of the area.

Mr Najar Singh, Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, Khanna, said the engineering team of the council had visited the area and found that all pipes in the area were in good condition. No leakage from any pipe had been reported. He said he had directed the sanitary inspector to increase chlorination level at municipal water tanks and to distribute chlorine tablets to people in the affected area.



Man gets life term for killing brother
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 7
The Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, has sentenced Kulwinder Singh, alias Kala, of Kotla village to rigorous life imprisonment for killing his elder brother Narinder Singh. Delivering the verdict, Mr Harbans Lal held that the prosecution had proved the guilt of the accused. Keeping in view the gravity of the offence, he said the accused deserved no leniency. He also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the accused.

The alleged illicit relations between the accused and the wife of the victim was the reason behind the murder, as per the prosecution. An FIR was registered under Section 302 of the IPC at the Samrala police station in 2003, following the complaint of Balbir Singh, uncle of the deceased.

There was no eyewitness but the police solved the case. The complainant had told the police that Narinder Singh had come from Muscat. On May 23, 2003, he had gone to the fields but did not return. The next day, the accused came to him and apprised him of the fact. He then went to the fields and found the body of his nephew Narinder near a tubewell. He had sustained head injury and an empty bottle of liquor was lying near him.

When things started moving against the accused, he went to a former member of the block samiti, Samrala, Mr Jagdev Singh, and confessed to his crime. He said five years ago, his brother had gone to Muscat. During that period, he developed illicit relations with his wife.

The accused further said when his brother came back, he did not like his presence in the house. Thereafter, he planned to kill Narinder. On the night of May 23, he had liquor with his brother and when his brother was completely under the influence of liquor, he hit his head with the handle of a handpump.



Lambardar seeks deletion of name from FIR
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 7
A Dalit lambardar of Kalsian village has been running from pillar to post for over four years to get his name deleted from an FIR that was registered against him as well as the sellers and the buyer of a plot as a part of the same had been already sold. Though the District Attorney had not expressly mentioned his name for registering case, the Raikot police insisted on booking him as an accused as he had identified the seller.

Mr Anurag Verma, DC, Ludhiana, said he had directed the authorities concerned to investigate into the matter and submit the report so that the required action could be taken at his end.

In a communication addressed to Mr Anurag Verma, Mr Chamkaur Singh, a lambardar of Kalsian village, has alleged that he was falsely implicated in a case registered under Sections 467, 471, and 120-B of the IPC at the Raikot police station on January 20, 2001. Demanding an inquiry, he has sought justice from the officer at a sangat darshan organised by the district administration at Raikot last week.

Narrating the sequence of events, he said he had signed a registered deed as an identifier of Mr Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Kalsian village, on August 18, 2000. He had sold a piece of land measuring one canal and nine marlas to Mr Malkiat Singh, another resident of the same village. Both persons were known to the lambardar and he had identified them to be the persons mentioned in the deed.

Mr Baljit Singh, a resident of Johlan village, had later challenged the deed and alleged that the seller had sold a piece of land on which he had no legal right. Though the revenue authorities had found no substance in his complaint, the Raikot police registered a case under various sections on the recommendation of the District Attorney. The name of the lambardar was also included in the FIR.

“As a lambardar of the village, I had only put my signature as a token of identification, which was not challenged by the complainant. The deed had been registered after verification of land records and a lambardar was not supposed to verify the share of a person in any case,” argued Mr Chamkaur Singh. He claimed his name was not expressly mentioned in the report.

The lambardar has urged the DC, Ludhiana, to initiate an inquiry into the case and recommend the exclusion of his name from the FIR.



Commuters up in arms against railway authorities
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 7
The commuters availing themselves of the services of the of local 5 -Lohian-Ludhiana (up and down) train are up in arms against the railway authorities claiming that the train takes around five hours to reach the city though it is only a two-hour journey.

They claim most of those commuting by this train are labourers, daily wagers and employees of various departments. As the train reaches here around 11 am daily they get late for their offices or places of work. The scheduled arrival time of train is 8.15 am. It leaves the Lohian station, near Nakodar, at 5.50 am.

Hundreds of commuters board this train everyday from various stations, including Lohian, Nakodar, Bilga and Phillaur, to reach Ludhiana where most of them work. But the late arrival of the train is causing problems for them.

They said they had complained to the railway authorities a number of times, but to no avail. Most of these commuters are pass-holders. Some of them, who worked as labourers, had to return without doing any work as nobody employed them after 9 am.

The 5-Lohian-Ludhiana (down) train reached Lohian around 11.30 pm everyday while the rescheduled time was 9.35 p.m. “We cannot rest if it reaches so late. In the morning, it starts at 5.50 again. We are out for 18 hours everyday. Where is the time to sleep, eat or do other works everyday?” says a commuter.

“We earn Rs 100 or even less than that everyday. Our life goes on daily basis. If we have to waste our day who will keep our kitchen fire burning?”, he says.

Sources said the trains were delayed as there was only one pointman at the Bilga Railway station. The other pointman had gone on long medical leave.

Having two platforms, this one person had to move to and fro to open the gates and change the lines. It took more than an hour at times for him to change the line. Moreover, he had to work for 24 hours a day.

The railway authorities had not appointed anybody else or made a stop-gap arrangement in the absence of the other pointman. The commuters said the pointman had confided in them that he found it difficult to work for 24 hours a day. He had even stated that his efficiency was decreasing day by day.

“What if he changes the opposite line and there is a major tragedy? Is the Railways going to make up for the loss of lives then?” asked a commuter.



Rly employees to launch agitation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 7
Workers of the Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union have decided to launch gate meetings and a demonstration from February 7 to 11 against the anti-labour policies and wasteful expenditure of the government.

The demands include appointment of the VIth Central Pay Commission, the withdrawal of contributory pension scheme, upgradation of other categories and to stop outsourcing. They also wanted their duty hours to be reduced.

They will also urge the authority to abolish essentially intermittent classification, to remove ceiling limit on productivity linked bonus, to review extent policy, to ensure provision of the creation of posts in safety categories and for manning and maintaining of new assets.

They also demanded to stop surrendering of post and downsizing of staff and withdrawal of payment of wages through bank/ECS.



Traders burn effigy of VAT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 7
Led by functionaries of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, traders and shopkeepers burnt an effigy of value-added tax (VAT) at Neem Wala Chowk here today and flayed the state government for going ahead with the tax despite stiff resistance from traders and industrialists.

Addressing the protesters, the state general secretary of the Beopar Mandal, Mr Sunil Mehra, and the vice-president, Mr Jatinder Singh Galhotra, reiterated that the traders would not bow down before the repressive state. They would continue to hold protests till the government agreed to review the decision, they said.

The speakers lamented that as a result of the government policies, corruption and highhandedness of officials, the traders and industrialists had started thinking in terms of migrating to other neighbouring states, and the trend, if not checked in time, would have far-reaching effect on the state economy.

The traders said it was more than clear that VAT, which was slated to take effect from April 1 in the state, would spell higher prices of essential commodities for the people because a large number of items, till now exempted or attracting 8 per cent sales tax, would have to bear a tax burden of 12.5 per cent. They called upon the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to discuss the issue at length with representative bodies of traders and industrialists and bring in desired amendments before the new tax system was given effect.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Mr Manjit Singh, Mr Tejinder Singh, Mr Ravi Sharma, Mr Devinder Singh Jyoti, Mr Paramjit Singh Pinka, Mr Baldev Kumar, Mr Sanjeev Garg, Mr Manjit Chhabra, Mr Rakesh Kumar, Mr Harjit Singh and Mr Harwinder Singh Pappu.



BSNL employees to hold demonstrations today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 7
In response to a call given by all central unions of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), employees and officials of the public sector telecom giant will hold protest demonstrations at the offices of Chief General Manager in Chandigarh and all general managers at district level on February 8 to oppose the Cabinet decision to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecom sector to 74 per cent.

Mr Inderjit Singh, national vice-president of the Sanchar Nigam Executives Association, Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary, BSNL Employees Union, Mr Ashok Kumar Khanna, circle secretary, All-India BSNL Employees Association, Mr Sanjiv Gupta, Mr Balwinder Singh and Mr R.K. Puri, district secretaries of the three organisations, respectively, have said in a joint statement here today that the proposed increase in the FDI in telecom sector was totally unwarranted and the existing foreign investment, already more than that, was being allowed in the USA and many other countries.

The functionaries of the BSNL unions further observed that the government had given a go by to the security concerns of the nation in allowing more FDI in this strategic field. The government plea that more investment was needed to increase tele density did not hold water since the tele density was already growing at a fast pace.

“The decision of the government will only help the multinational corporations to take over the Indian companies and as a direct consequence, the BSNL will be destabilised,” they said.

They said the weakening of the telecom PSU (BSNL) would have a direct bearing on communication services in the rural areas where the private companies were hesitant to provide such services and the people were dependent on the BSNL.



Gurbhajan Gill, Manupuri awarded
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 7
Prof Gurbhajan Gill was honoured with the Surjit Rampuri Memorial Award and Mr Mohinder Manupuri with the Labh Singh Chatrik Award by the Punjabi Writers Association, Rampur, at Rampur yesterday. The awards were conferred on them for their contributions to Punjabi language, literature and culture. The awards consisted of a cash prize of Rs 3100 along with a memento.

Dr Satish Kumar Verma, Head, Punjabi Department, Punjabi University, Patiala presided.

Mr Gill, thanked the literary society for conferring the award on him and said it was our moral duty to conserve the fast-eroding Punjabi culture.

Mr Manupuri, who was awarded for his work “Bal Udarian,” also thanked the literary society.

A kavi darbar was organised on the occasion in which more than 50 poets took part.

Writers like Avtar Singh Biling, Gulzaar Mohammad Moria, Mukhtiar Singh, Jasvir Chajj and Harcharan Mangat shared their views on “Bal Udarian”. 


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