L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Agents defraud farmers of crores, go scot-free
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
A group of commission agents from different parts of the state have allegedly duped a number of unsuspecting farmers of crores of rupees. While the latter are knocking at various doors to get justice, the agents have allegedly declared themselves as bankrupt and settled in different states.

Not only the farmers but many government officials have also become their victims. As many as 15 commission agents, alleged to be working in a network based in different districts of state have defrauded many persons by luring them with a promise of high interest.

Now most of the agents are on the run. While various complaints have been filed with the various police districts, the police has failed to help innocent victims as some of them have no proof of lending the money and in other cases the agents have shown themselves as bankrupt.

Most notorious case in the district is that of Buta Ram, a commission agent of Raikot who defrauded many farmers by borrowing money and not paying anything back. A number of farmers are trying to get the money back but to no avail.

Incidentally, Buta Ram was a member of a committee formed by the Jagraon police to solve arhtiya-farmer disputes of similar nature. But he himself reportedly became a defaulter and was removed from the committee. The DSP, Raikot, Mr R.S. Brar confirmed that Buta Ram had duped many farmers and they have received several complaints against him. He added that the police was investigating the matter.

Inquiries by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that not only the farmers of Ludhiana but that of Sangrur, Dhuri, Dera Bassi, Longowal, Patran, Patiala and Bhawanigarh had also fallen in the net of many arhtiyas and were defrauded.

Many farmers, including Mohinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Labhu Singh of Khetla village in Sangrur, Randhir Singh, Dyal Singh, Chamandeep Kaur, Mangat Ram, all from Sangrur, some farmers from Karial and Dyalgarh villages, have filed affidavits that they have been defrauded of crores of rupees by certain commission agents.

Many agents from Bhawanigarh, Dirba and Patran owe lakhs to the farmers but have shown themselves to be bankrupt. But there are reports that they have allegedly purchased benaami land in Zirakpur and have started living there. Another agent is said to have constructed an air conditioned office worth lakhs in Baltana but is a bankrupt in papers, alleged the farmers.

‘‘Whenever we go to him he tells us to file a case in the court. He knows that it will take years to decide the case and by that time this much amount would have no value, ’’ said Chamandeep Kaur.

A farmer said that some of them were being forced into signing the agreements according to which they would be given 25 per cent of the total amount. ‘‘We are not very happy with the decision but we thing it is better to have something than nothing. At least some part of our money would come back, ’’ said a farmer.

In their complaints, the farmers have detailed the modus operandi of these agents who promise them high interest on their money and keep paying them accordingly for some years. Finally they borrow a big amount and then said they have no resources to pay back. 



Warrants against dry-cleaner for failing to pay relief
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has issued bailable warrants against a dry cleaner, S. Verma, of Ghumar Mandi, as he failed to appear before the forum despite directions. Before this the consumer forum had issued notice to the dry-cleaner for explaining the reason for not complying with its orders.

Earlier, the president of consumer forum, Mr A.S. Narula, and its members had directed the owner of M/s Mercury Systematic Dry Cleaners and Dyers, Ghumar Mandi, to pay Rs 8,000 as compensation to an aggrieved consumer for deficiency in services.

The orders were passed by the forum on the complaint of Vikram Bansal, a resident of National Road, in August 2004. The forum had directed Verma to pay compensation to the aggrieved consumer within one month of the date of receipt of copy of the order. But the dry cleaner failed to pay the same.

The complainant had claimed that he had purchased two suits from Shree Shakti Systematics, Amritsar for Rs 9865. Both the suits were of superior quality and the seller had advised them not to wash the suits at home. So he got those dry-cleaned from the above said dry-cleaner. But when the suits were returned to him, he found that those were damaged. Their colour had faded.

The dry-cleaner however, refused to own responsibility. It was submitted by him that as per the terms and conditions, the work was done at the risk and responsibility of the customer. The colour guarantee of the cloth was of the firm that had sold it and not of the dry-cleaner.

But after appreciating the evidence on record, the forum had found that there was deficiency in service on the part of dry-cleaner, as the suits had been damaged while in the custody of the dry-cleaner. 



Several localities face threat of water-borne diseases
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 15
Residents in several city localities, including Karamsar colony near Basti Jodhewal and a couple of colonies on Tibba Road here continue to live under a constant threat of outbreak of waterborne diseases even as the number of cases of jaundice and gastroenteritis respectively in the two areas, were on the wane.

Soon after a few cases of jaundice were reported from Mauji Colony and Adarsh Colony on Tibba Road on Saturday, quite a few residents in Karamsar Colony were reported to be afflicted from diarrhoea yesterday. According to health officials, one case of jaundice and six others of diarrhoea had reported to the dispensary for treatment till this afternoon.

Convinced that the supply of contaminated water could be the source of infection, teams of Health Department had taken water samples from the affected area and sent these for chemical analysis. Though officials of the municipal corporation maintained that water supply was constantly being checked for chlorination level and further that the water was safe for drinking, residents in these colonies complained of receiving discoloured water from taps.

The health officials as well as doctors camping in these colonies, however, said that the intensity of the waterborne diseases was not grave and the situation, as of now, was under control. “All the same we are not taking any chances and a strict vigil is being maintained to deal with all eventualities.”

In the meantime, contrary to the stand taken by MC officials, six out of seven water samples taken from these localities during the past couple of days had been found to be unfit for human consumption. It was officially stated that barring one sample, which was certified as potable, all the remaining had developed growth of E. Coli bacteria and were declared as unsafe.

Meanwhile, in a massive preventive measure against malaria, the health staff today prepared more than 1,000 blood slides in Dr Ambedkar Nagar Colony here today which had witnessed a breakout of the disease during the last year. The Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, told Ludhiana Tribune that the larva staff of the department conducted a door-to-door survey in the entire colony to collect blood samples for screening against malaria. The operation was supervised by the zonal malaria officer, Dr H.S. Sandhu, and the district epidemiologist, Dr Ajit Singh Chawla.

While the screening of the blood samples will be completed within the next two days, those suffering from fever were given medicines on the spot and were also advised about preventive measures and follow-up, she added.



Power cuts irk industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Badly hit by long and unscheduled power cuts, the dyeing industry in Geeta Nagar, Tajpur Road, has urged the government to resolve the problem of poor power supply and transfer electric load from domestic feeder to industrial feeder.

“There are more than 100 industrial units in this area. As the area has been declared an industrial zone by the District Town Planner, many more units will be set up here,” said Mr T.R. Mishra, Chairman, Geeta Nagar Dyeing Association, in a letter to Mr Surinder Davar, Parliamentary Secretary.

He said despite the concentration of a large number of units in the area, which were generating revenue not only with their output but also to the electricity board, power situation was a big hindrance in carrying out operations.

“Power cuts are prolonged and unscheduled. Our woes do not end here as voltage fluctuation makes the matter worse,” said Mr Mishra. He said repeated complaints bore no results and as the domestic area also came under the feeder that was serving industry as well, the industrial units had to suffer. 



Students in a fix over practical exam dates
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Mar 15
Students of degree classes of various colleges in the city are in a fix over the dates of practical examination. They alleged that they were intimated about the dates of practicals a day before their examination.

Prof Jaipal Singh, General Secretary, Punjab Government Teachers Association said that students and teachers had been taken aback by the university. “The external examiners are getting information through telegrams on the particular date of practical exam. University should declare the dates in advance to avoid inconvenience to students and teachers”, he said.

The practicals of Physics of SCD Govt College are scheduled from tomorrow. It was decided that a batch of 12 students will give the practical exam but as per universities’ latest directions 64 students will be divided in four groups, which means 16 students will be appearing for practical examination. But the college had no apparatus to accommodate so many students at a time. Not only this, the examiners will also not be able to examine all students simultaneously.

“The university authorities should intimate students in advance so that they can prepare themselves”, said Mr Jaipal.



Narrow escape for 20 students
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
About 20 students of Kundan Vidya Mandir (KVM) had a providential escape today as the brakes of one of the school vans failed near Harkishan Public School, Dugri. Worried parents, on getting information, rushed to bring back their wards. Gurinder, van driver, sustained minor injuries while the windowpanes of the van were broken as it smashed into a trolley.

The parents have asked the school authorities to check the condition of the vans. Some of the old vans needed to be replaced immediately. One of the parents of a student said on condition of anonymity that they had been complaining about the problem to the school authorities for quite some time but no action was taken. “Perhaps they are waiting for a major tragedy to happen”, said the parent.

Another parent said this particular van was old and damaged. The exit door was not functioning properly and the van had a broken floor. “Very old vans should not be allowed to ply on the roads. The school vans are generally crowded and such mishaps could be dangerous. The authorities should fix responsibility to avoid such incidents”, said the worried mother of a student.

Meanwhile, the KVM Principal, Mr Saxena, said that school authorities had nothing to do with the vans. “They are all private vans and we can do nothing in this case. It is the responsibility of parents to look at the condition of the vans. Still, we will call the driver tomorrow to get all the details”, he said.



Student killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, March 15
Avninder Singh (19) son of Ishwinder Singh of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar Jagraon, student of Baba Ishar Singh Paramedical Institute, Kot Isse Khan was killed.

According to the information, Avninder Singh at 7.30 p.m. in morning came to gurdwara Bhajangarh Sahib situated at Kacha Malak road here today and after paying obeisance when he was returning, front wheel of a tractor trailor, passing by his side, all of sudden, came off and hit him. People who gathered, took him to Kalyani Hospital after, where he was declared brought dead.



Passing Thru

Dr Anil Kohli
Dr Anil Kohli, President, Dental Council of India

Are dental surgeon’s in India as competent as in other countries?

Dental education in majority of the colleges here is excellent. The Dental Council of India (DCI) has been keeping a watch on institutions lacking in infrastructure and faculty. Fifteen such colleges, inspected recently by the DCI have been served with show-cause notices and given month’s time to comply with the mandatory requirements.

What steps are being initiated to improve quality of dental education in India?

Around 190 dental colleges train nearly 18,000 dental graduates every year but seats for postgraduate course being limited, a large majority of them did not get the opportunity for postgraduation. A new PG course, equivalent to MDS and with worldwide acceptance is being introduced from the next academic session. It will enable a large number of dental graduates to improve their qualification and proficiency.

Any action plan to tackle quackery?

Plans are being formulated to maintain close coordination with the Indian Dental Association and the state dental councils to enforce regulations on dental practice and to weed out unauthorised persons from the profession. The awareness level among the people, also needs to be improved.

— Kuldip Bhatia



IHRO to take up farmers’ debt cases with NHRC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has decided to take up the cause of debt-ridden Punjab farmers, committing suicides. It would convene a meeting of all factions of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) and other farmer groups in the state and plead this case before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that had already taken cognisance of the cause of Andhra and Kerala states’ farmers last year.

The decision was at an annual meeting of the IHRO attended by its representatives also from abroad, that expressed grave concern over India’s deteriorating situation on its environmental, human rights and law and order fronts, besides on a rapid increase in corruption, particularly in Punjab. The meeting was presided over by its chairperson, Mr D.S. Gill.

Mr Gill said to execute this agenda, a committee comprising IHRO activists Mohinder Singh Grewal (secretary-general), Anju Khullar and Jatinder Singh Sandhu has been formed. Other members of the IHRO, including Manjit Singh Buttar JP, Harkirat Singh Kular, JS Grewal, Sunil Kumar and Gurdev Singh Gill, all IHRO representatives from Europe and North America, stressed the need to take up environmental issues on priority. They underlined the need to start awareness campaign for plantation of trees to maintain ecological balance so as to provide pollution and disease-free environment for better living.

And for that, the resolution added, the IHRO needed to seek cooperation of the people, NGOs and governmental agencies as well. A five-member committee comprising, D.S. Gill, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, Avtar Singh Gill, Inderjit Kaur and Ranjit Singh Gill, will look after this agenda, added the statement.

In another resolution, the IHRO took serious notice of the increase in crime in Punjab, especially after a systematic migration from UP and Bihar that had initiated the otherwise peaceful atmosphere of the state. To check this menace, the resolution adds, an IHRO team — M.S. Grewal, Gurprit Dhunna and Anju Khullar, women’s rights coordinator — will take up this matter with the state and district administrations in the state.

In another resolution, the IHRO mourned the death of its former secretary (administration) Gurbhajan Singh Gill and praised his services for the cause of humanity, adding that the Punjab administration has totally failed to improve the education and health care systems that had degenerated into source of commercialisation and corruption, and the victims are poor people in the state.

The last resolution, the IHRO statement says, pertains to rapid increase in corruption in state administration that has affected every citizen of Punjab and according to it, “Capt Amarinder Singh government has lost moral force to prosecute Badal and others because corruption had increased manifold since the Capt took over the reins of the state. 



Water drainage scheme in rural areas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, today said that ‘surface-flow constructed’ wetlands will be set up in 12 villages in the district. Elaborating on the scheme, he said, this was a rural sullage management technology system consisting of shallow ponds wherein water flows over the land planted with Typha.

Mr Verma said that the village pond was partitioned into two parts by earthen bunds depending upon the requirement and availability of the pond area. Out of these, one part was used as treatment wetland whereas the other part was used as a community pond for cattle bathing or fish farming. The ponds were cut a and dressed to maintain a water depth between one and two feet in a treatment pond and five feet in a treated water pond.

The sullage water from different drains of the village was brought together for discharge, preferably at one point. The sullage was passed through the sedimentation tank to remove the suspended solids. The outlet was located farthest away from the inlet to prevent short circuiting and to give proper retention time for treatment of waste water, which was seven days.

He said the microbial flora attached to the plants had the natural capacity to remove biodegradable organics and nutrients efficiently and reliably. Typha plants played an important role in the treatment of waste water by transferring oxygen through their roots and rhizome system to the bottom of treatment basins. The end result was that the rural areas got clean ponds. The traditional use of ponds for cattle bathing, recreation and recharging of ground water was restored.

Mr Verma said this project would be implemented in the villages of Sidhwan Kalan, Kuhli Kalan, Sohian, Malakpur, Kohara, Nasrali, Nathowal, Bughani, Narangwal, Gagra, Machhiwara Kham and Akalgarh.

The Deputy Commissioner today held a meeting of all the Block Development and Panchayat Officers, junior engineers concerned and directed them to complete these projects in 12 villages within two months. At the meeting, Dr Grover, Senior Scientist, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Mr Mohinder Singh Grewal, District Development and Panchayats Officer, Mr J.P. Singh, Secretary, Zila Parishad, and Mr Parkash Singh, Executive Engineer, Panchayati Raj, were also present. 



March by RJD activists
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
Activists of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) today a marched from G.T. Road to the Mini Secretariat here and presented a memorandum to the district authorities, demanding an end to exploitation of workers, maintenance of law and order and checking unemployment in the state.

Led by state vice-president Krishan Lal Sharma and acting president of the district unit Mr Mukhtiar Singh, party workers impressed upon the government to initiate necessary steps for the implementation of labour laws and grant of statutory dues to the workers. Further, they demanded comprehensive schemes for more employment opportunities, in public and private sector.

The party leaders were particularly sore over police excesses and repression by unruly elements against the workers, particularly migrant labourers. They urged the government to take action to dispense justice to the workers, failing which the party would have to resort to a mass movement in the state, in cooperation with other like-minded parties and trade unions.



Look-alike fails to meet Pathan
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 15
Sanjeev Kumar, a look-alike of fast bowler Irfan Pathan, returned home disappointed as he failed to meet Pathan during the Indo-Pak Test match at Mohali. This young chap still wants to meet Pathan.

On the last day of the match, Rameez Raja, a former Captain of Pakistan, and Inzamam-ul-Huq, the present skipper, acknowledged him as Pathan. Sourav Ganguly was in a fix when he met Sanjeev after the match ended. However, the look-alike was happy to get a good response from Mr I.S. Bindra, president, Punjab Cricket Association. Even 80 Pakistani spectators asked him to visit Pakistan.

Sanjeev, too, became a point of attraction for the media during the Test.



Payment of excise, service tax by Mar 31
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
The Central Excise Commissioner here has directed all assessees of Central Excise and service tax that duty and service tax for 2005 or for the quarter ending by March, may be paid by March 31, 2005.

The department said here today that all branches of Punjab National Bank, covering districts of Ludhiana, Ropar, Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Moga, had been instructed to keep their branches open till midnight of March 31 for the assessees.



One held, poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The Raikot police today claimed to have recovered nearly seven quintals of poppy husk valued at over Rs 2 lakh in the market. The police arrested one alleged narcotic smuggler who was bringing it into Raikot from Rajasthan.

DSP R.S. Brar said that accused Surinder Yadav was nabbed by a team headed by SHO Raikot, SI Randhir Singh. The alleged smuggler had hidden the narcotic packed in 20 gunny bags in fields.

The police was on the look out of two of his accomplices Amar Singh alias Amarru and Jaggu who escaped before the raid. The accused was being interrogated on the activities of smugglers in the region.


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