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Blast in furnace, no casualty
Our Correspondent

The furnace in which a blast took place at Channi Steel, Mandi Gobindgarh, on Wednesday.
The furnace in which a blast took place at Channi Steel, Mandi Gobindgarh, on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 20
A blast reportedly took place in a furnace of Channi Steel, an industrial unit, around 6 am here today.

When our correspondent reached the spot, he was not allowed to enter the factory. However, he somehow managed to take photographs of the furnace where the blast took place.

The owner of the factory refused to meet mediapersons and the gates of the factory were closed.

Meanwhile, Mr D.S. Rana, DSP, Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, Amloh, reached the site with a police party.

In reply to a question about the rumour of three persons being injured in the blast, Mr Rana said there was no such report. The local Civil Hospital authorities denied that any injured person was admitted to the hospital.

The statement of the factory manager, Mr Raman Sharma, has been recorded. He is reported to have stated that there was no loss of life as no one was working there at the time of the explosion.



Struggling to make a living
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 20
On practically every highway leading to the city, one can see a tribe from Rajasthan either making or painting colourful statues or artifacts. These tribesmen are poverty-sticken and sit on either side of the road, oblivious of the traffic zooming past them .

The drought-stricken Rajasthanis from Jodhpur and Jaiselmer come to Ludhiana and other cities of Punjab looking for greener pastures. Little do they know that in Ludhiana, they will probably be able to survive but barely. A few families like the Paros have moved to Ferozepore road and have put up ramshackle huts and are eaking out a living .These people get moulds and plaster of Paris from a contractor.

The menfolk make a solution of plaster of Paris and water. After getting the desired shape, it is the women's job to beautify the statues. With enamel colours they start painting.

They do not have a moment of privacy as right from the time of giving birth and feeding the baby to cooking, painting and bathing, they have to perform all these activities on the roadside.

The babies are brought up on the street as well. No luxuries for them---no nappies, no fancy food.

While they work, they put up the babies in the traditional cloth cradle tied to poles and they continue to work.

The women folk are busy cooking and cleaning pots and pans. They have hardly any luxury of having a bath as the public hydrant is away. Gulabo said: "We are just thankful that we are alive, though it is a painful existence. We have not gone anywhere. We cannot send our children to school as we have no money. We have no money to buy clothes and buy anything infact. We just admire the nicely dressed women who step out of cars to buy stuff from us. But they, too, inspite of being rich, bargain with us and haggle a lot . Can't they see our abject misery and pathetic conditions? We do not know how we cope up with harsh winters and intense heat . Our bodies ache when we lie down on bare floors after a hard day's work. Life is painful but then we have known no other life.''

She looked helplessly at her children playing on the road and said: "I wonder whether they will have a better life than us.''



Health Dept to crack whip against female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
The district Health Administration has decided to act tough against violations of the provisions of pre-natal diagnostic tests under the PNDT Act 1994 and to curb the menace of female foeticide with an iron hand.

This was stated in a meeting of the district authorities under PNDT Act held here yesterday presidentship of Dr Gursharan Singh, district president of Indian Medical Association.

Giving more details of the proceedings, Civil Surgeon Dr Rajinder Kaur informed that a showcause notice had been issued to Dr Ramesh Jain of Sudhar, whose diagnostic centre was sealed by the Health Department.

Similarly, a penalty of Rs 15,000 was imposed on Dr Sumeet Dhall for violation of the provisions of the PNDT Act.

She said during last couple of days a clinic in Sahnewal had been sealed while two other scan centres in Field Ganj and Civil Lines were proceeded against on complaints of foetal sex determination test.

The authority accorded approval to the ultrasound scan centre set up in Bhagwan Ram Charitable Hospital in Daresi Ground here taking the total number of such centres in the district to 230.



Irony of protest
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 20
It is a unique irony. ‘Lynching’ someone for none of his faults. That precisely appears to be happening with the Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar. He seems to have become the ‘whipping boy’ for all protests related to education. Yesterday a group of students burnt his effigy protesting against the reported move of the government to private industrial training institutions (ITIs) in 
the state.

How mistaken and misled the protesters were, can be judged from the fact that first of all Mr Johar is not the minister in charge of the ITIs. He is only the education minister and is in charge of school education only. The ITI comes under the Ministry of Technical Education only, with which Mr Johar is not even remotely concerned. Second, there is no move with the government to privatise education at this stage.

It has left the protesting students in an embarrassing situation for the obvious reason that they did not know as who was the minister in charge of the ITIs they were studying in. Moreover, the student union leaders had also cut a sorry figure after Mr Johar clarified that the ITIs did not fall under his department, but under Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who besides being the Deputy Chief Minister, is in charge of the Higher Education and the Technical Education.

Mr Johar told the Tribune today that while he respected the students’ right to protest, but he also expected them to choose the right targets. He pointed out, “they (the students) seem to have been misled by someone probably to target me and I am sure they must have realised by now that they were wrong”.

He observed that the students must not get carried away by the rumours. He asserted that there was no move to privatise any education. So there was no scope or reason for protests. He suggested that students or for that matter anybody should check his facts and do the proper homework before going for protest and targeting anyone.



Fighting for land since Independence, he got assurance today
Chander Parkash
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 20
His fight to get dues is as old as the age of independent India. Though he became heart patient while toiling hard for 58 years for getting his dues from the Punjab Government, today when the official concerned promised him that his work would be done within a few days.

Mr Satnam Singh (84), who migrated to India from Pakistan after Partition, is on cloud nine after he was promised by the district revenue authorities that he would be given a piece of land which was allotted to him as compensation for his evacuee property.

The promise came after he gave consent to the Additional Secretary, Revenue Department, Punjab, for the cancellation of the original plot allotted to him and allotment of a new piece of land. The Additional Secretary has directed the district administration to allot him another piece of land.

However, this promise to Mr Singh did not came easy as he had to pay a heavy price for the same. First his wife died with the dream of getting a piece of land. Then repeated rounds of various government offices in Chandigarh and the local district administration took a heavy toll on his health and he became a patient of hypertension and has been getting treatment from a local hospital.

Mr Satman Singh, who has served in Imperial Bank in unpartitioned India and later served in the State Bank of India, had to approach late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, President, A. P.J. Abdul Kalam, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRSC), Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab and Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, in this regard.

After migrating to India, Mr Satnam Singh fought for the record pertaining to his property, which he had left behind in Pakistan. With the intervention of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, he managed to get relevant papers of his property and subsequently he was allotted a big piece of land in Punjab after he settled down in this town.

This was not the end of his fight as he had to fight for the possession of the land allotted to him. When it was found that the piece of land allotted to him was an unfit case for possession, he was denied the land and had to approach to PSHRC.

“Today, the district revenue official, Mr Kalhon, has given me an assurance that if I will maintain my cool, I will be allotted a new piece of land. Though I am hopeful that I am going to get a piece of land shortly, I fear that my repeated rounds to that office can displease any one and I might be made to suffer on that account only,” pointed out Mr Satnam Singh.



Passing Thru
Does casting couch exist?

Shankar Sawhney, Punjabi pop singer
Shankar Sawhney, Punjabi pop singer

It may or may not. I do not want to be embroiled in the controversy. But I do have strong views about it. I denounce the practice. But even if it exists, there is no substitute for talent.

How do you justify the increasing vulgarity in music albums?

I don’t. There are at times requirements of the lyrics or presentation, but I feel hurt at the growing culture of showing scantily clad girls. The producers or the directors do not realise that the number of audience decreases as the clothes become shorter and shorter. Instead of the whole family watching the shows, young boys end up as the only audience. This is counter productive.

Why don’t music companies cut on their profit margins on CDs, DVDs to fight piracy?

Well, this can be a solution if the cost of inputs also decreases. There is a feeling that people may like to dish more for say an original thing for Rs 200-250 than a pirated one at Rs 100 or less, which is always sub-standard. There are, nevertheless, no huge profit margins and producers would have to suffer.

— Jupinderjit Singh



A Ludhianvi who made mark in USA
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 20
Young, enterprising 26-year-old Harman Singh is the CEO of authorGEN, a US-based company with a turnover of $ 2 million. The success story of Harman, a Ludhianvi, was scripted by his hardwork, dedication, intelligence and as he says “with a pinch of good luck”.

He is an alumni of Sacred Heart Convent Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, and after doing his engineering from PTU, Fatehgarh Sahib, he was in a fix over the choice of career. Harman joined Top Careers and You (TCY), an institute that impart training to students for MBA. He discussed his plans with Mr Kamal Wadhera, CEO of TCY. Kamal asked him to go for engineering after seeing his aptitude and Harman cleared the GRE exam and got a scholarship to study Masters in Computers in North Carolina State University (NC), USA, in 2001.

Harman was interested to work in the field of education technology and for his internship he got a project on education technology in a company called ABB. He spent a year on the training project in the firm and by its end he decided to start a business. He said, “I had no capital but I was keen to start a business. I found out the legal implications of a foreign student starting a business in the USA. During the course of two years I had made good contacts and found a mentor in the university. My mentor, head of education technology, NC, had a project lined up, which I offered to do at a low cost. I found the cost of project was to be borne by the customer which ultimately became my capital.”

Harman said,” I took advantage of the fact that it would be cost-effective to hire a team from India, I formed a company, Intellimind Systems, with my partner Harbeer Khurana in Chandigarh. We have 26 persons working in the company, of which 23 are based in Chandigarh and three in North Carolina, USA.”

“My company is called authorGEN and after the first project we did a project for Duke University Durhan NC, Fayetteville State University, NC, and also got contracts from California and Cincinnati. My turnover from half million has grown to $ 2 million and I was in a fix whether to sell it or not when I got a good offer for my company.”

“This year we have launched education-based software products to be used by instructors in schools and universities. Even corporate houses can use audio-visual software for communication. authorGEN now has found an American partner in California that will use our technology to teach kids in US high schools. It can take care of marketing and customer support and will tie-up with different colleges and schools.

Harman said to teach these students online, they need an Indian partner who would give them “online tutors” and this would be done by TCY. This venture is going to be internet-based. The technological platform will be provided and maintained by authorGEN.

Harman said the number of difficulties he faced was basically his inexperience and lack of knowledge of the basics of business management. He said, “I lost a lot of money but then I did not have intensive capital too as an international student I had nothing to pledge to raise funds. Moreover, initially people had lack of trust, but all difficulties could not deter me.



PSEB men’s strike on for second day
Tribune news Service

Ludhiana, April 20
Strike by employees of the Punjab state Electricity Board (PSEB) in protest against privatisation continued on the second day today.

The employees staged dharna and gate rallies at various zonal offices and shunned public dealings.

Mr Kewal Singh Banwait, vice-president, Federation of PSEB Employees, ATUC, said the employees would intensify stir if the government failed to address their concerns. Condemning the move to privatise the board, he said the decision would be detrimental to the interest of the people as well as the employees.

Meanwhile, several other unions expressed solidarity with the agitating employees. The Northern Zone Insurance Employees Association staged a protest demonstration at Dugri. Mr Amarjeet Singh, divisional secretary, and Mr Parminder Pal Singh, joint divisional secretary, condemned the move of the government.

They said the experience of privatising electricity boards in other states had not yielded positive results. “It only led to an increase in power tariffs. The decision would have an adverse impact on the general public, industry and farmers,” they added.



Ex-president of Bar felicitated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
City Lawyers today felicitated Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, former president of District Bar Association Ludhiana on his nomination to the supreme body of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), as the member of the ‘working committee’ by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, Punjab.

Mr Dhanda was presented ‘ kirpan and siropas’ by various senior lawyers, including Mr G.S.Bal, Mr Rana Surat Singh, former Vice President of DBA, Mr T.P.S Dhaliwal, former DBA secretary , Mr Harpreet Singh Garcha, member SGPC, Mr Sanjeev Malhotra and others, at a function organised in the district courts complex here today.

Hailing the decision of Shiromani Akali Dal to nominate Mr Dhanda to the supreme decision making body of the party, these lawyers assured full co-operation to him. Dhanda’s supporters claimed that it would help strengthen the party, as he enjoyed good command particularly amongst the legal fraternity in Punjab and Haryana.

Mr Harish Rai Dhanda has served the District Bar Association, Ludhiana as its President for seven times. He is the elected member of Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, for third consecutive term.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune Mr Dhanda claimed that he had long association with the Shiromani Akali Dal, since 1977. He said he would work to strengthen the party. 



Choe bridge stone laid
Our Correspondent

Amloh, April 20
Six bridges on rivulets will be constructed this year at a cost of Rs 3 crore in Fatehgarh Sahib district, asserted Mr S.S. Dharamsot, Parliamentary Secretary (Home, Justice and PWD), after laying the foundation stone of choe bridge at Badali village of Amloh sub-division here today.

After completion of the bridge between Badali and Bhamarsi, as many as 20 villages will be benefited. During rainy season, about 10,000 farmers will have easy assess to their fields.

The work on renovation of main roads between Amloh – Khanna, Bhadson and Mandi Gobindgarh will begin from next month, he added.

Mr M.M.S. Gill, SE (Drainage), pointed out that the money for bridges had been provided by NABARD. Mr Amarjit Singh Dullet, XEN, said the bridge would be completed by June 30, this year. Mr R.P. Singh, SDO, Mr Jeevan Puri, vice-chairman, Amloh Market Committee, Mr Surjit Singh Baronga, member, Zila Parishad, Ms Kuldeep Kaur, Sarpanch, and Mr Sant Singh, Nambardar, were also present on the occasion.



MCPI opposes privatisation
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 20
The Punjab state committee of the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has opposed the policy of privatisation being pursued by the Congress-led government in Punjab. It alleged that by handing over several key departments like electricity board, health and education to the private sector, the government was running away from its basic duties of providing infrastructure and amenities to the people.

The state secretary of the party, Mr Kuldip Singh, said in a statement here today that in the wake of privatisation bid by the government, people in the state were feeling betrayed since the ruling party had taken a complete about turn from its poll promises.

The party ridiculed the self contradictory statements of the state Education Minister, Mr Harnam Das Johar, regarding the privatisation of 2000 odd government schools in the state. “Even though the minister has now gone back on the move of privatisation of government schools, it is more than evident that the Punjab Government has policy stand on education and health.”

The MCPI called upon the government to come out in the open with well defined policies on education and health.



Dr Indu takes charge of MC
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 20
Local residents hope resumption of development works in the town after a gap of around one year as Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, has taken over the charge of local Municipal Council as administrator.

Dr Indu took charge from Mr Ved Parkash, Executive Officer at the council, who temporarily took over after Mr Rajnish Sharma was suspended from the post of president on March 7, when 11 councillors voted against him.

After taking the charge, Dr Indu directed the local authorities to provide information regarding projects undertaken during the past two years.

“As the council chief had been accused of adopting partisan policies while deciding priorities of development projects, we wish to ensure equal development in the town, irrespective of political alliance of the councillors,” said the SDM. She reiterated that cleanliness, drinking water and street light would be dealt on priority.

Meanwhile, the councillors had welcomed the government’s decision to depute Dr Indu till new chief of the civic body was elected.



Brahmin Sabha implores CM on Parshuram Jayanti
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 20
A deputation of the Brahmin Sabha, Samrala, led by Mr Behari Lal Saddi, President, Mr Kulwant Rai Sharma, Organising Secretary, Punjab Brahmin Sabha, Mr M Atrre, Mr Raj Kaushal, Mr M. G. Prashar met the Chief Minister, Punjab, at the residence of local MLA Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon. Mr Rakesh Pande, Cabinet Minister, Punjab, and others, were also present. The deputationists handed over a memorandum to the Hon’ble Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh requesting him to declare Bhagwan Parshuram Jayanti (May 10, 2005) as public holiday, keeping in view the religious sentiments of lakhs of Brahmin Samaj members all over Punjab.

Parshuram Jayanti has been declared a public holiday for the last five years but this time the Punjab Govt has declared it (May 11, 2005) as a restricted holiday with the result that the Brahmin community felt hurt by the action of the Punjab Govt. The Punjab Chief Minister assured the deputationists to reconsider the matter in the Cabinet sympathetically.



Jawan drowned
Our Correspondent

Khamano, April 20
An army jawan Gurmel Singh of Luhar Majra Kalan village died , when he fell in to the canal while on duty at Bikaner in Rajasthan.

According to family sources Gurmel Singh was undergoing training to build temporary bridge on the canal with other jawans , but he accidentally fell in to the canal . His body was taken to his village.

Captain ,G.R.Vashisht of the 114 Engineering Regiment and about 150 jawans of the regiment were present at the time of his cremation . Bhog and antim ardas will be held on April 27 at Luhar Majra Kalan village.



Yoga camp
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 20
Swami Nityanand Giriji of Yagoda Satsang Society said that in this world of fast change, kriya yoga is scientific and at the same time it is the easiest way of realising God.

He was addressing sadhaks at a yoga camp held on Sunday in the community centre, Aggar Nagar, Ludhiana.



Couple booked for assault
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 20
Paramjit Kaur and her husband Harbhajan Singh were booked allegedly for inflicting injuries on Tej Kaur using sharp-edged weapons. A case has been registered.

Molested: Ms Parkash Kaur of Barnala road, Raikot, was allegedly molested by Baljinder Singh of Guru Nanak Pura Raikot. The police has registered a case.

Held for gambling: Pardeep Kumar of Mohalla Gujjran, Naveen Kumar of Ramnagar, Vicky Anand of Lappo Shah, all of Jagraon, have been booked allegedly for selling private lottery. A complaint was lodged by Mr Kailash Nath Pal, section officer, Punjab State Lotteries. Charts and Rs 805 were seized from their possession. A court later released the accused on bail.


Body found: The body of a 24-year-old migrant was found on the railway track near Dehru village on Wednesday.

According to information some gang men of the railways noticed a body lying at the Up track near Dehru village. The gang men informed the GRP at Khanna.

Case registered: The Machhiwara police has registered a case of abetment to suicide against a resident of Saraba Nagar, Ludhiana. According to complainant Ajay Kumar, there was a property dispute between his father and uncle. His uncle used to harass his father. Following the harassment his father committed suicide by jumping into a canal near Pawat village on April 10. The body of the deceased was found from the canal near Gurthali village.



Generate awareness on VAT: yarn traders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 20
The Federation of Yarn Trade and Industries has demanded uniform implementation of value added tax (VAT) throughout the country.

In a letter to the chairman of the VAT Advisory Committee, Mr Asim Dass Gupta, the federation also pointed out the complications in the new system and said there had been no efforts made by the state-government to generate awareness on VAT.

“The provisions are highly complicated. Traders are not even able to cope up with the tedious provisions in the Act,” said Mr Chanana Singh Ahuja, vice-president of the association.

He said tiny and small-scale industries were the worst affected on account of implementation of VAT.

“The government appears to be concerned only about revenue collection. They should pay some heed to the problems being faced by industry as well,” Mr Ahuja said.

Manufacturers’ plea

Oil Mill Machinery Manufacturers Association has urged the government to include spareparts in the 4 per cent category under VAT. The association said while mill machinery being capital goods was being charged 4 per cent, spareparts were being charged 12.5 per cent under VAT.

According to the association, items like ball bearings and industrial beltings, all industrial inputs, cycle and cycle spare parts and sewing machine and spare parts had been included in the 4 per cent category.

The association also said small-scale manufacturers had been put into a disadvantageous position as they would be paying 8.5 per cent extra input tax credit than output tax credit. The association said though there was a provision of refund, it would be difficult for small-scale manufacturers to wait for refunds as they had limited resources.

“We are already suffering on account of the steep rise in iron and steel prices and this makes the situation even more difficult for us,” the association said.



Airtel subscribers complain of poor signal
Our Correspondent

Doraha, April 20
More than 115 Airtel subscribers have complained of poor network services at Rampur village near Doraha.

Mr Gagandeep Sharma, a lecturer in GNN College, Doraha, said the signal was very weak in the village and hence they were facing a tough time. “The nearest Airtel tower in the area is in Doraha and it is hardly of any use to us,” he said.

“At times, the signal is not available even when the cellphone is kept on the rooftop,” said Mr Tejinder Singh Rampur, SGPC member.

“We have lodged a complaint in this regard to the Regional Manager at Mohali and also to the local office at Doraha. We are also sending complaints to the chairman and the managing director the company, but to no avail,” subscribers said.

A team of technical expects had visited the village, but there was no improvement in signal quality yet, said Mr Tejinder Singh.

Mr Harnek Singh, senior engineer and head of the zone, said, “Our first duty is to provide excellent services to our customers for which we are making best possible efforts. If the people of Rampur are facing any such problem, we shall definitely solve it on priority basis,” he added.



Call rates cut

Ludhiana, April 19
Sify has slashed international calling rates. A company press note stated that calls could be made at Rs 2.99 per minute to the USA, the UK, and Canada; Rs. 4.55 per minute to the rest of Europe Hong Kong and Singaore; Rs 6.35 per minute to Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia, Rs 6.35 per minute to New Zealand, Australia and Saudi Arabia, Rs 8.12 per minute to Iran, Kuwait, and at Rs 11.80 per minute to the UAE. — TNS



Vegetable vendors’ strike goes on
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 20
Agitation started by the Vegetable and Fruit Sellers Association received a jolt when the administration began monitoring the sale of vegetables and fruits at various centres in the town.

Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, yesterday directed the authorities concerned to ensure the supply of vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices to the public. Mr O.P. Jain, secretary, Market Committee, had also asked license holder vendors and commission agents to continue selling the commodities. While police teams escorted the vendors to avoid any untoward incident.

Union activists on the other hand alleged that the administration had ignored their demand to check the alleged exploitation of poor vendors by contractor. Mr Manmohan Singh, president of the union, said the union would continue the strike till their demand was met.


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