L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


SMO shifted over state of hospital
Health Minister pays surprise visit
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 25
Grossly upset over poor maintenance, lack of amenities and a pathetic sanitation level in the Civil Hospital here which came to his notice during a surprise visit to the hospital on Sunday, the Punjab Health Minister, Dr Ramesh Chand Dogra, today ordered the transfer of the SMO, Dr Manjit Kaur, to the Civil Hospital, Phillaur with immediate effect.

Confirming the transfer of Dr Manjit Kaur, the minister told the Ludhiana Tribune over telephone today that even though he was on a private visit to the city, he had decided to go unannounced to the hospital in the wake of numerous complaints from patients and other quarters about poor upkeep of medical equipment, denial of proper medical care and several other irregularities in running the hospital.

At the time of the minister’s visit to the hospital, the SMO, Dr Manjit Kaur, daughter of the late President of India Giani Zail Singh, was out of town and was stated to be tending to her hospitalised son in Chandigarh.

During his rounds of the wards in the Civil Hospital, the minister expressed his displeasure and shock at the condition of bathrooms, dirty bed sheets and pointed these out repeatedly to the Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, who was accompanying him. He also took serious note of several diagnostic machines lying in a state of utter neglect and complaints from the patients and their attendants that they were made to purchase medicines from outside. Not only this, the patients were referred to private diagnostic centres even for routine clinical examinations and diagnostic tests.

In his telephonic conversation, Dr Dogra said it was most regrettable that even after investing crores of rupees in creating a massive health infrastructure, the government hospitals in general and the Civil Hospital in this city were not able to render the desired medical service to the masses. “In such a scenario, what else the government can do but to privatise the health institutions so that these institutions can deliver the goods.”

The minister further stated that he had definite information that diagnostic equipment of the hospital was deliberately not being got repaired so that the patients could be referred to private diagnostic centres and the doctors could get their hefty cut from the exorbitant fee charged by the private clinics. Similarly, shortage of medicines in the Civil Hospital was also intentional because the nexus of doctors and private medical stores was out to fleece the poor patients, who visited the Civil Hospital for treatment.

He said he would soon hold discussions at the top level and depending on the policy stand taken by the government, the medical and other services of civil hospitals in major towns might be partly privatised with the assistance of diagnostic centres in the private sector, that would be persuaded to reduce their charges for the benefit of the poor. Dr Dogra said the administrative authorities in the hospital would also be held accountable for negligence in the maintenance of the wards, medical equipment as well as in dispensing medical and nursing care to the patients.



Question paper outside syllabus, say students
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 25
The students appearing in annual examination of Functional English, for BA I, by Panjab University Chandigarh were shocked to note that the question paper they received contained many questions that were outside the syllabus. They have urged the university authorities to either give grace marks or cancel the old paper and take afresh examination.

Parents of some students appearing at Government College for Women at Ludhiana informed that their wards were given a question paper for the said examination, that was meant for the old students.

Appearing first time in the said examination, the students received question papers meant for those students who had started the class according old syllabus. As there had been substantial changes in the syllabus of communication skill: speech skills of functional English, fresh students and those appearing as compartment candidates were to receive different question papers.

“We were shocked to see question papers with a note ‘only for Compartment Candidates of vocational Course’ and we reported the discrepancy to the staff in the examination center,” said one of the students.

Showing her question paper with serial number 108, she claimed that question number 1 for nine marks and question number 8 for three were totally out of syllabus and there other changes according to the new syllabus.

A private college lecturer, teaching English to the students of Punjab University claimed that university had brought many changes in the syllabus of said subject for B A I students, last year. Those students who had not cleared the paper last year were allowed to appear in exams according to the old syllabus. Hence a separate question paper was set for those students.

The staff at the said center, instead of arranging appropriate question paper took a representation from the students and assured them that they would be forwarding the same to the higher authorities so that the students might be compensated.

University authorities when contacted showed ignorance about the discrepancy.



Fruit, vegetable prices up as mandis remain closed
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
Fruit and vegetable prices went up today as commission agents began an indefinite strike in protest against the privatisation of market-fee collection here. The estimated revenue loss to the government on account of this strike throughout the state today is over Rs 80 lakh.

Agents as well as retailers from throughout the state will hold a dharna in front of the Chief Minister’s residence at Chandigarh tomorrow.

While market fee collection has already been handed over to the private contractors in 77 out of the 98 operational mandis (total number of mandis is 147) across the state, in the case of 21 mandis, including Ludhiana, the auction for the contract was postponed following a protest by agents.

Agents, who have been condemning the Mandi Board’s decision to privatise fee collection, say setting up a fixed amount will not be affordable for them as fruits and vegetables are perishable commodities, the sales of which vary each day.

“Now that the Mandi Board has privatised fee collection at various places, wholesalers as well as retailers are facing problems,” said Mr Amarbir Singh, general secretary, Punjab State Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association.

Agents alleged that private contractors were harassing them and also retailers by overcharging. “It is due to such harassment only that we are condemning privatisation. When fee was being deposited on a regular basis, where was the need to privatise,” questioned Mr Amarbir Singh, adding, “in fact, due to the strike, the state government is losing out on revenues. The Jalandhar mandi has been closed for almost two weeks now.”

Agents are even learnt to have appointed flying squads, teams of four or five, across the state to ensure that wholesale markets remained closed.

As no purchasing took place today, vegetable and fruit prices shot up. Mango, which was available for around Rs 20 per kg in wholesale markets, went up to Rs 30 today, the price of banana went up from Rs 18 to over Rs 26 a dozen and that of grapes from Rs 25-30 per kg to Rs 40-50 per kg. Vegetables also witnessed an increase in prices. Tomatoes were available for Rs 18-20 per kg today against Rs 8-9 per kg last week, green peas were priced at Rs 15-16 against Rs 7 per kg and onions Rs 6 against Rs 4 a kg in wholesale markets.

Prices are likely to be affected more if markets remain closed further.

“Today there was not much increase in the prices as on the first day. The impact will be more visible in the days to come,” a commission agent said. In the case of fruits, this impact is clearer four or five days from the strike as it takes a similar amount of time for orders to be processed.

Meanwhile, commission agents will submit a memorandum to the Chief Minister tomorrow. They have threatened to observe a fast in all districts if their demands were not met. Agents also conducted a meeting here today to discuss the further course of action. The meeting was chaired by Mr Subhash Ahuja, president, Ludhiana Fruit and Vegetable Dealers Association, and Mr Madan Lal Bagga, president, Punjab Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association.



Bridge inaugurated twice within 24 hours
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
Fuelled by the hunger for publicity, a bridge worth Rs 60 lakh was inaugurated twice within 24 hours in Kirpal Nagar here. The official function to inaugurate the bridge connecting Kirpal Nagar with Kashmir Nagar was held at the site today, with Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister, Industrial Education and Science and Technology, opening the bridge for public formally. Yesterday it was inaugurated by a senior leader of the Congress at a function organised by area Councillor, Mr Rajesh Jain.

Incensed with the Municipal Corporation authorities for not ‘‘taking him into confidence’’ for organising the inauguration function, Mr Jain said it was he who had done the entire work and he was not even invited for the function.

Eight months ago, the foundation stone of the bridge was laid down by Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, along with Mr Jain. ‘‘The bridge was completed a fortnight ago and all these days I was asking Mr Jagjit Singh to spare sometime for the inauguration. He had asked me to wait for some days. When I learnt that the bridge was being inaugurated by Mr Pandey, I organised a small function.’’ said Mr Jain, adding that his name did not appear on the inauguration stone.

Mr Tota Ram, a senior Congress leader of the area had opened the bridge to the public yesterday. Many residents were present on the occasion. Pictures were also taken to make the ceremony a memorable one.

Officially, the bridge was opened formally by Mr Pandey. The City Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, and the Commissioner, MC, Mr S.K. Sharma, were also present.

Mr Pandey, talking to mediapersons after the function, said officially the bridge was inaugurated today.

Mr Sharma, while addressing the gathering, said by the end of this year as many as eight bridges would be opened to the public. He added four were already completed while the rest were near completion. He claimed that these were being constructed at a cost of Rs 6 crore.

Mr Nahar Singh Gill said the MC had earmarked an amount of Rs 13 crore for providing potable water and sewerage connections to the residents of unapproved colonies. He added that the road connecting Haibowal to Sabzi Mandi would soon be made workable.



Woman among 4 hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 25
Three person, including a woman, were injured in a clash which took place at Krishna Nagar here today morning. The injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital here. Bhushan Kumar, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, said his niece had been married to Ravi Chhabra, a resident of Krishna Nagar last year.

He alleged that her in laws were harassing her on for bringing less dowry and they had sent her back to her parent’s home at Mandi Gobindgarh. Today when the girl’s relatives went to the house of Ravi Chhabra and requested his family to allow her to come back, they allegedly beat them up. Bhushan Kumar alleged that he and the girl’s brother in law, Munish Kapila, received injuries.

On the other hand Ravi Chhabra’s mother said that the girl’s family had lied to them at the time of marriage. She said the girl was mentally challenged and was not able to do even basic household chores. She said that her daughter-in-law had been taken to Mandi Gobindgarh by her parents to teach her stitching and other domestic work. Today 15 to 20 persons reached their house and started beating her son and dragged him to a vacant plot. She said and added that her son was injured and she was also injured. 



Passing Thru

Pawan Garg
Mr Pawan Garg is a leading businessman. He was in Ludhiana for laying the foundation stone of a Shopping Mall.

What prompted you to choose Ludhiana for the multicrore mall project?

Ludhiana is the most vibrant city in the north after Delhi. It has huge potential in terms of trade and business. The trend of malls has already picked up in the metropolis like Delhi and Bangalore. Why should Ludhaina lag behind. We got the opportunity and also the best place and we decided to build one.

Are you sure it would be a success given that your experiment is the first one in the city?

There are always certain risks. But those have already been taken care of. We find tremendous potential in Ludhiana as it has huge middle class population that would like single spot shopping plus entertainment.

There is a popular perception that malls are not for the average middle class?

This is an absolutely wrong perception, quite a misplaced one. The malls offer shopping opportunities to everybody from an ordinary working class person to a well settled businessman or industrialist. These factors have already been taken note of and you will see for yourself.

How much time will it take to complete?

About 15 months. Within two years the mall would be vibrant with all sorts of activities. It will have the four screen PVR theatre and restaurants, besides, of course the shopping centres.

— Vimal Sumbly



Aggarwal sammelan’s drive against social evils
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
The Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan will launch an aggressive campaign to curb menace of dowry and wasteful expenditure on marriages. The body will motivate members of the community to desist from ostentatious display of wealth at social function. It will submit memoranda to the authorities in this respect. Members will observe peaceful dharnas at marriage palaces where these norms were flouted.

The state committee of the sammelan, which met here last evening with Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal in the chair resolved to prevail upon the members of Aggarwal community to cut down the number of guests at marriage functions, stop bursting of crackers and fire works display in the wake of alarming level of environmental pollution.

According to Mr Aggarwal, the members expressed their resentment against the government decision to make Maharaja Aggarsain Jayanti a restricted holidays. It also called for the inclusion of the life history of Maharaja Aggarsain in school text books and adequate political representation to the community at all levels.

The sammelan finalised the election programme of the state body The new office-bearers would be elected on June 26, 2005. Those present in the meeting pleaded for building a consensus so that the elections were held unanimously.

Mr Surinder Kumar Gupta, Mr Devinder Kumar Gupta, Mr Ashok Kumar Bansal, Mr Manjit Kansal, Mr Subhash Aggarwal ,Mr Om Parkash Aggarwal, Mr Subhash Gupta and Ms Ritu Garg, senior vice president of mahila wing were also present.



At the crossroads
Votary of cultural bonds with Pakistan

Last year he went to his native village Darkali in Rawalpindi (Pakistan) in search of his roots. He met his class fellows and received the blessings of the elderly people. The present occupant of his house handed over to him two marble slabs bearing the names of his father, grandfather and great grandfather. These slabs that served as the foundation stones of the ancestral house in 1921, are now his prized possessions. This linking with the past has opened new vistas for him to chalk out plans for the future. He is now the votary of cultural bonds with Pakistan through the medium of tourism.

Mr N.S. Nanda crossed over to India in 1947 at the age of 12. The family faced hardships and the children could not get proper education. His name was struck off the school rolls, when he was in Class IX, as he could not pay in time 13 annas as the monthly school fee. This disheartened him but he did not lose courage. Later he passed his matriculation examination as a private candidate and got service in the Postal Department. He graduated while in service and kept up his interest in music and dance. Over the years he organised musical concerts and played mandolin and violin, besides winning laurels as a bhangra dancer.

He is a traveller and longs to see the world. So far he has visited the USA, the UK, France, Germany, Canada, Singapore, Bangkok and Pakistan. His visit to Lahore in 2001 for attending the World Punjabi Conference proved to be a turning point in his life. He has paid two more visits to Pakistan during 2004, not in the capacity of a promoter of the hotel industry or the lover of art and literature but as a champion of tourism. He was honoured at the Gymkhana Club, Lahore, by Mohammad Aslam Iqbal, Minister for Tourism, Punjab (Pakistan). Mr Rai Azizullah Khan, Member of the National Assembly (Pakistan), besides being the chairman of the Cultural and Tourism Committee, invited him to attend the international convention of the Indo-Pak Forum for Peace and Democracy in Lahore.

Mr Nanda believes in hard work, apart from adhering to the doctrine of determination, dedication and devotion. For him the sincerity of purpose is the moot point that can ensure goodwill and success. Exploitation of any sort is detrimental to the maintenance of equilibrium in social relations. Deception is the other word that he detests. He is single-minded in cementing the bonds of friendship at the personal as well as social level. This has prompted him to welcome the cultural troupes from Pakistan.

Mr I.K.Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, is his role model in this respect. For literary inspiration, he looks up to the litterateur Kartar Singh Duggal, while Jagjit Singh and Reshma keep alive in his mind his love for song and music.

In 1981 he established Nanda Hotels Pvt Ltd in Ludhiana and assumed the charge as the Managing Director. At present he is the president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab and also of the Dhan Pothohar Brotherhood, Punjab.

—N.S. Tasneem



Students involved in traffic challan drive
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 24
As a part of campaign against the violation of traffic rules, the local police involved the students of various schools in controlling vehicular traffic in the town and surrounding areas.

As many as four teams of students of local Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, headed by NGOs at city police station, laid nakas at various spots in the town on Saturday.

Besides controlling traffic at crucial points, students filed challans of violators of traffic rules.

Commenting on the importance of the camp Mr Harinder Singh, SHO, City, said the practice would make a change in attitude of youngsters after they had themselves acted as ‘authorities’.

Around 100 vehicles were challaned for violating rules. Short coming in RC, uninsured vehicle, not wearing of helmet and safety belt were the violations.



PAU employees hold rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
The PAU Employees Union and the PAU Class IV Workers Union today held a joint rally in front of the College of Veterinary Sciences in protest against the decision of the Vidhan Sabha to set up a full-fledged university of veterinary and animal sciences in Ludhiana.

Addressing the rally, Mr D.P. Maur and Mr Amrit Pal said they were not against the formation of new universities and institutions but they were against the bifurcation of the PAU for setting up veterinary university.

“The PAU is already running under financial crises. Therefore, it is not fair to run any other university with the same budget. It is undemocratic to transfer employees to another institution without taking their consent. This might adversely affect their service conditions as happened in the case of Ladhowal Farm staff,” said the leaders.

The leaders demanded that there should be debates on the issue of setting up a veterinary university by bifurcating the agricultural university. They demanded that the PAU employees should not be transferred to any other institution without taking their consent.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Pal Singh and Mr Hardev Ghaloti, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Class IV union and Mr Joginder Ram, Mr Charanjit Singh Grewal, Mr P.S. Gill and Mr Surinder Singh.

Meanwhile, both the unions will hold a joint general body meeting in order to chalk out the further line of action tomorrow.

The joint action committee of employees and teachers of the university has hailed the decision of the Vidhan Sabha. The university will play a pivotal role in giving boost to research on animal production, nutrition and diseases and will help in dairy development and diversification of crops apart from providing employment to a large number of people, the committee said.



Hike medical allowance: pensioners
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
A fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month being paid to Punjab employees and pensioners since January 1, 1998, is inadequate to meet the cost of medicine these days. During the past seven years, the cost of medicines has registered a rise of 49 per cent as per the consumer price index and medicare cost data , according to a press note issued by Mr Yash Paul Ghai , Additional General Secretary , Punjab Government Pensioners Association.

At a meeting held here today, pensioners reminded the Congress government of its promise made on the eve of Assembly poll in February , 2002, regarding enhancing of medical allowance . They pointed out that during its 30- month rule and after having presented four budgets, it had failed to fulfil even a single promise.

They complained against the government ‘s discriminatory policy in allowing full re- imbursement of medical expenses to MLAs, former MLA pensioners and other political figures . The same 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 former and serving employees “ they said.



Designing jewellery is her passion
Asha Ahuja

Tripti Jain Ludhiana, April 25
She took seriously to designing jewellery in her twenties and created her own line “Regnum”—a Latin word which means regal. Tripti Jain’s fascination for jewellery started from her childhood which finally led her to enrol in Jewellery Design Technical Institute, Noida. After completing diploma, she did another three months course to become a Gemologist.

After working with well known names like Tanishq, Mehra Sons and Khanna Jewellers, Tripti decided to start her own line. Tripti says: “Jewellery business is based on trust and faith. My business grew when the satisfied clients spread the word.”

Tripti do not believe in repeating her designs. Her latest creation is the “Floral line”. She loves to work with coloured stones and diamonds.

“But I have experimented with Kundan jewellery too. I go to Jaipur every month to buy stones.” After designing a piece, she gets it crafted by the master craftsmen in Mumbai.

She derives inspiration from nature and period jewellery. 



Senior citizens hold conclave
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
A conclave of the senior citizens was held here last night Neelam Khosla, an amateur singer, regaled senior citizens. Songs of 60s and 70s sung by members but made everybody nostalgic.

The conclave mooted by Mr Prem Nath Gupta, Director of Osho Tools, Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, MD Vice-Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, aims to provide a forum to the senior citizens where they could sit find ways to utlise their leisure and skills.

Lt-Col (Dr) DB Sharma, general secretary of the conclave read out a report on its activities. Mr S.P. Karkara, President, welcomed the guests Col Sharma pointed that the main aim of the organisation is to give something to the society and not expect anything in return from the society.



Singla’s assurance welcomed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
The Punjab Tax Bar Association (PTBA) has welcomed the assurance given by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla here on Sunday, that compulsory audit provision made in the Punjab Vat Act for dealers with a turn over of more than Rs 40 lakh, would be scrapped.

Mr Ashok Juneja, chairman of the association, who along with the Vice-President, Mr B.R. Kaushal, met the Finance Minister, said the Finance Minister had also given an indication that other undesirable provisions in the VAT Act would also be suitably amended in keeping with the demand of the business community and the members of taxation bar.

According to functionaries of the PTBA, Mr Singla had stated that the provision regarding audit certificate was not desirable since compulsory audit was already being done for such dealers under the provisions of income tax laws.

“The minister agreed with the contention of bar members that when there is no provisions for audit under excise and service tax rules then any such provision in VAT act was uncalled for.”



Ceiling fan falls, three injured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
Three persons, including a woman, received injuries when a ceiling fan in the canteen of mini-secretariat fell on them while they were having lunch in the canteen here today.

The three have been identified as Baljinder Kaur, a stamp vendor, Om Parkash and Avtar Singh, both working with some lawyers in the district courts. The fan, which was switched on, fell on them when they were sitting there.

Fortunately the machine of the fan fell on the table while the wings fell on them. They could have received serious injuries had the machine fell on their heads. Employees in the canteen said that many fans in the minisecretariat were more than 25 years old. These had been repaired several times but never replaced.



Parshu Ram Jayanti to be celebrated on May 10
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 25
The Brahaman Sabha of Samrala, has decided to celebrate the Jayanti of Bhagwan Parshu Ram on May 10, according to a spokesman of the Sabha Behari Lal Saddi here today.

Talking to mediapersons, in the local civil rest house, Mr Saddi said that on May 7, Shobha Yaatra will be started, to highlight the sacrefices of Bhagwan Parshu Ram and religious personalities of the area would deliver speeches.

Mr Saddi also said that the state-level function to celebrate Jayanti of Bhagwan Parshu Ram will be held at Mandi Gobindgarh.



Gang supplying spurious diesel busted
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 25
The reports about the supply of spurious diesel by an inter-state gang nabbed by the Raikot police created panic among vehicles owners. The Petro-products Sellers Association of the local town on the other hand called upon consumers not to be panicky and buy the fuel after testing its density.

Panic spread after the Jagraon district police nabbed a member of an inter-state gang involved in the manufacturing of the spurious fuel.

According to Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, the police has unearthed the racket and arrested Malkiat Singh of Rajgarh in Bathinda district along with a tanker containing 12,000 litres of spurious diesel made from kerosene oil.

The accused had collected kerosene oil reportedly from the area of Jagraon and present consignment was to be supplied at Giddarbaha.

Though the kingpin of the racket, Shanker Dass Goel of Badhani Kalan, fled, the driver told the police that the spurious fuel was supplied at the rate of Rs 20 per litres.

A police party, led by Mr Randhir Singh, intercepted the tanker carrying 12,000 litres of the fuel.

Besides supplying the spurious fuel in all major towns of the state, the accused used to supply in the neighbouring states, including Haryana, Rajasthan and HP.

The vehicle owners and the transporters of the area felt panicky after receiving reports regarding the racket. Mr Jaswant Singh, a transporter of Jandali village, urged the authorities to ensure the supply of quality fuel at the outlets.


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