L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Shopowner attacked in eviction attempt
Protest against police ‘inaction’
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 31
A cloth merchant was injured by a truckload of miscreants and the furniture and fixtures in the shop were damaged and taken away in an attempt to take possession of the shop in Ghumar Mandi here today.

The victim, Mr Satish Arora, who is also the president of the Ghumar Mandi Shopkeeper Association, alleged that the attack was made at the instance of certain influential persons who had recently purchased this particular property and wanted to evict him. Mr Arora and other shopkeepers of the area were reportedly also sore at the “inaction” of the police.

According to eyewitnesses, at least 30 to 40 persons in a mini truck and carrying weapons descended at the spot at around noon and started throwing articles lying in the shop on the road. A part of the merchandise was also loaded into the truck. When Mr Arora protested, he was attacked and injured. Some of the assailants went on the roof of the shop and warned other shopkeepers not to interfere.

A couple of shopkeepers and other persons gathered in front of the shop and challenged the attackers. In the scuffle which ensued, seven persons, including Mr Arora, sustained injuries. The police which was intimated immediately, remained “elusive” which led to a protest being staged in the middle of the road by the shopkeepers, disrupting traffic.

While most of the miscreants managed to escape in the truck, five of them were overpowered by the crowd and handed over to the police.

Mr R.K. Bakshi, DSP, who led the police to the spot after more than an hour of the attack, however, claimed that the police had not been partisan and had rushed to the spot as soon as it received the report.

While the accused are in police custody, no case had been registered till this report was filed.



PAU seeks higher state grants
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 31
The authorities of Punjab Agricultural University have urged the Punjab Government to enhance the annual grants of the university in order to meet the needs for research and other development projects. The present annual grant of Rs 90 crore is not even sufficient to meet the salary bill of the staff. The university is faced with a serious financial crisis and needs urgent help to come out of the same.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has pointed out that the university has been getting grant-in-aid from the state government to run the non-plan agriculture and non-plan veterinary schemes since 2002-2003 much lower than the budget estimates submitted to the state government. During 2003 an expenditure of Rs 92.19 crore was incurred under salary of staff against the release of Rs 90 crore. Similarly an expenditure of Rs 94.66 crore was incurred under the salary of staff against the release of Rs 90 crore during 2003-04.

The Vice-Chancellor has stated that as per the state government guidelines the budget is required to be increased by 10 per cent every year to meet the committed expenditure on salary on account of grant of annual increment/ instalment of DA. In case the 10 per cent increase had been sanctioned, the allocation would have risen to Rs 99 crore during 2003-04 and Rs 108 crore during 2004-05 and Rs 119.79 crore.

The university has not released the LTC to its serving as well as retired employees which is admissible to state government employees. Due to shortage of funds, the staff strength is also kept much below the reduced strength of 24 per cent as approved by the Board of Management of the university to curtail the expenditure on salaries.

The pension fund is also depleting fast and unsustainable in the short run. Dr Aulakh has emphasised on contingency needs to be provided by the state government to meet the new challenges of agriculture in the state.

Research work needs to be strengthened on the development of resource conservation of high value aromatic and medicinal plants. Work on tissue culture and techniques of genetic engineering needs substantial upgradation to produce transgenic crop varieties and to make use of wild germs plasm in crop improvement. Special efforts are being made for the improvement of quality of cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables.

The Vice-Chancellor has maintained that no doubt work is already in progress in these areas but substantial financial investment is required to strengthen such programmes so that suitable agro-technologies may be developed to make agriculture of the state sustainable and economical. The ICAR is providing 20 per cent of the total budget under contingencies. The budget estimates for the year 2005-06 approved by the board of management of the university provides for Rs 139 crores which need to be provided by the state government.

The state government has also been informed that the university did not receive the grant for the month of March worth Rs 10.26 crore as a result of which the university had to make the payment of salary to the staff from its own sources. This amount should also be paid to the university.

The Board of Management of the university at its meeting held on March 28 approved the budget estimates to the tune of Rs 182.96 crore with a deficit of Rs 31.18 crore including the budget estimates of Rs 139 crore in respect of the non-plan agriculture and veterinary schemes for 2005-06.

The university authorities have urged the state government to release total funds worth Rs 149.26 crore, including Rs 139 crore and Rs 10.26 crore, to regularise the expenditure for 2005-06.

It will not be out of place mention here that the Punjab Government has decided to set up a new veterinary university known as Sri Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Husbandry University in the state with one veterinary college now with the PAU as its constituent college. The Punjab Vidhan Sabha has already passed the Bill and sent the same to the President for the assent.

But the moot question is: Can the new university be run with a sum of Rs 10 crore which is paid to the College of Veterinary Science by the state government at present out of Rs 90 crore total grant which the state government provides to PAU.

The state government while enacting the Act for the establishment of the veterinary university has made it clear in the Bill presented in the Vidhan Sabha, that “No extra funds for setting up of Guru angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University will be given”. However, the university will continue to get the grant which is being given to the veterinary wing of the Punjab Agricultural University and any increases therein would be commensurate with the increase in grant-in aid to the Punjab Agricultural University. Additional funds would be generated by the university from the NRI seats and user charges.’ The veterinary college admits only 18 NRI students every year in the BVSc course.

The veterinary college is not able to meet the salary bill of the staff with Rs 10 crore, which is more than Rs 11 crore. With the establishment of the new university there will be additional burden with the creation of new posts of Vice-Chancellor, Director of Research, Director of Extension Education and Registrar besides more infrastructure. Will the authorities of the new university sell the prime land located on Ferozepore Road which will be transferred to the new university with the assent by the President? This land is being used for agricultural research at present.



PAU, residents lock horns over closure of gate
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
Punjab Agricultural University(PAU) and residents of Kitchlu Nagar have again locked horns over the closure of gate No 6. The situation took a grim turn last evening with the Sarabha Nagar police registering a case against 40 residents of the colony for allegedly forcing their way into the university campus and manhandling the security staff.

The residents have, however, denied the allegations and counter alleged that the PAU authorities and the police were to misusing the law.

The Sarabha Nagar police has booked around 40 residents of Kitchlu Nagar on charges of assaulting security staff at PAU and rioting outside the Vice-Chancellor’s residence on Sunday morning.

The residents while talking to Ludhiana Tribune maintain that they had peacefully entered the university campus to submit a memorandum to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, in protest against the illegal closure of gate No. 6 which opens towards Kitchlu Nagar.

An FIR has been registered under sections 353, 186, 332, 148 of the IPC on a complaint of security officer PAU, Avinash Sharma.

It has been alleged that chowkidars Mohinder Singh and Rattan Singh were abused and manhandled by the protestors. The university has submitted a list of the residents who were allegedly involved in the brawl. Interestingly, some retired university faculty members have also been allegedly listed in the complaint by the PAU.



Scrap CET, says Public Cause
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 31
Public Cause, a forum for voicing common problems of people, has requested the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, for scrapping the Common Entrance Test (CET) 2005 scheduled for June 3.

In a letter written to Mr D.K.Jain, Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, on May 25, Mr A.K.Bhandari, General Secretary, Public Cause, has requested the court to intervene and save the candidates from undue tension and harassment and financial exploitation inflicted on parents in the form of CETs.

Mr Bhandari said that for the past two years, the number of applicants had been below the number of seats available in different institutions/colleges of Punjab Technical University (PTU). He requested the Chief Justice to intervene at the earliest as after the CET, most of the institutions tried to fill the remaining seats by inviting the candidates for admission without any criteria of merit.

The forum said educationists also felt that there was no need, validity or justification of CETs. Mr Bhandari said when the authorities concerned, too, felt the redundance of CET from 2006, then why parents and students were being exposed to mental and financial hardships this year.

In his letter, Mr Bhandari further added that parents had to face innumerable hardships for arranging good education for their wards and most of them had to raise loans or sell off their properties for the purpose. He requested the court to take suo motu action to scrap CET this year in the interest of both students and parents. 



MC employees to agitate against govt policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
The Municipal Karamachari Dal will launch an agitation to seek justice for employees of the civic body, and in particular for restoration of the policy of providing jobs on compassionate grounds to eligible family members of deceased employees.

This was announced by Mr Vijay Danav, member of the SAD working committee, who was re-elected chairman of the body for two more years at the general body meeting held here today. Mr Danav charged the Congress government in Punjab with pursuing anti-employee policies and denying genuine facilities to the civic body employees.

He said several crucial issues like contractual employment, promotions, grant of allowances and fresh recruitments were hanging fire for a long time with the government virtually turning a deaf ear to their grievances.

Earlier, the following were elected office-bearers of the body for two years: Chief patrons — Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal; patrons — Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Choudhry Yash Pal, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, Baba Ajit Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang; chief adviser — Mr Ashwani Sahota; chairman — Mr Vijay Danav; vice-chairman — Mr Surinder Atwal; president — Mr Lachman Dravid; acting president — Mr Mohanvir Chauhan; — senior vice presidents — Mr Veer Netaji, Mr Gurnam Singh Kotan; secretary general — Mr Surinder Bali, Mr Ravi Kant.

Mr Raj Singh, Mr Niraj Jain, Mr Sunil Mehra, Mr Rajesh Dhingan, Mr Ram Sarup Manchanda, Mr Manohar Lal Ghai, Mr Surinder Minti, Mr Suresh Kumar, Mr Madan Lal Bhumbak have been elected vice presidents; Mr Arun Kumar Bawa, Mr Raj Kumar, Mr Chaman Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh as general secretaries; Mr Jiwan Sharma, Mr Sudesh Ghai as secretaries; Mr Visakhi Ram, Mr Sanjeev Sahota as assistant secretaries; Mr Kamal Raj Bains as press secretary; Mr Vinod Nona, Mr Ravi Shankar as propaganda secretaries; Mr Raj Kumar Lala as treasurer; Mr Jasvir Kumar as office secretary, Mr Lov Kumar as auditor, Mr Vijay Verma, Mr Ajay Chopra as legal advisers, Mr Hartej Singh, Mr Rakesh Adya, Mr Bhushan Malik, Mr Jit Kumar Gill, Mr Tarsem Lal as members advisory committee.



Basic amenities elude Dhandari Khurd
Kulvir Singh

Ludhiana, May 31
Residents and industrialists of Dhandari Khurd colony are an unhappy lot due to bad condition of roads and overflowing of sewer water on roads. Most of the roads here are full of potholes. Certain stretches are so bumpy that people have started calling these shocker-breaker roads.

The colony was a village earlier. It was taken within the limits of the municipal corporation several years ago, but it seems to remain a village only as far as the condition of the roads is concerned. It is now Ward No 16 of the MC, but development is at a low ebb. The area councillor, Ms Sunita Aggarwal, however, assures that the roads will be recarpeted soon.

The condition of roads and sewerage is pitiable despite the tall claims by the authorities. Sewer water can be seen on various roads here. Phase 6 was in the worst condition. However, road recarpeting has begun here now. The blockage of sewer pipes is a major problem.

Mr Gurdial Singh, a resident, said, “The stagnant sewer water is a big problem for school-going children who have to pass through it everyday. Several complaints have been made to the councillor, but all in vain.”

Mr Naresh Kumar, owner of a hardware store, said the road connecting main areas always remained flooded with sewer water and sometimes they themselves had got it cleared.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, a chemist, has complained to the councillor several times, but to no avail.

Ms Sunita Aggarwal, BJP councillor from Ward No. 16, said she and other councillors of the party had taken up the issue several times, but, may due to bureaucratic wrangling and vested political interests, the area did not seem to be on the priority of the state government and local administrators.

She said she was doing her bit within her limited resources and it was because of this that roads in Phase 6 were being recarpeted.



Neglect of public parks leads to encroachments
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 31
Taking advantage of little or no maintenance of parks and greenbelts by the civic administration for quite some time now, a number of residents in Green Field colony on the Pakhowal road have resorted to making use one of the public parks (No. 200 in zone D) in the colony as the backyard of their houses.

The residents whose houses adjoined the park have pulled down the boundary wall of the park, perhaps for the third time during the past two years. Through this unlawful act, the beneficiaries have opened up additional entry points to their houses from within the park and the public place is being used by for every conceivable domestic purpose, besides throwing garbage and disposal of waste water from these houses.

An affected resident, Mr Vineet Monga, said some residents of the colony pulled down the boundary wall of the park this morning to open an additional entry to their residential properties. He alleged the boundary wall had been demolished time and again by the residents. On being approached, the MC authorities put up a signboard at this site last year, warning residents against this activity.

Several residents in Green Field and many other colonies in all parts of the city, where parks and greenbelts were under encroachments, were learnt to be exerting pressure on civic officials and their respective area councillors for the removal of encroachments from parks and their proper maintenance.

With the disbanding of the park cell in the MC around two years ago and the Park Management Committees (PMCs) also going defunct, more than 500 parks in different city localities are nobody’s baby at the moment. The situation is no better in colonies being maintained by PUDA and the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT).

The grassy spread, plants, bushes and shrubs in these parks have gone from bad to worse over a period of time and many of the parks have been literally converted into garbage dumps by the residents living around them.

Many a greenbelt in the city has gone under unlawful occupation of opportunist elements. The affected residents of several colonies have been raising voice against the misuse of parks by jhuggi dwellers and other residents for dumping garbage or carrying out commercial activity.

In the industrial belts, including the Focal Point area, a large number of industrial units have been using the stretches of greenbelt to dump raw material and building material in case some construction work was going on.

Ironically, while both the MC and the LIT have failed to tackle the ever increasing trend of encroachments on public land in the city, the initial protest by the residents in almost all instances of encroachment, has also died down over a period of time and it is ‘business back to normal’ for the offenders.



More girls getting hooked on drugs
Raj Kumar Masih

Ludhiana, May 31
The major issue facing society is the increasing trend of drugs among the youth. According to a survey conducted by Aas Kiran, an NGO, girls more than boys are getting hooked on drugs.

According to Meharwant Singh, medical officer of Aas Kiran, there are two main reasons due to which the youth gets attracted towards drugs. Unemployment is the main and biggest problem. “We know that an empty mind is the devil’s workshop. An idle person may get easily drawn to drugs,’’ he says.

Easy accessibility of drugs from chemist shops is another reason for increasing drug addiction. The youth is mainly addicted to drugs like Proxyvon, Lomodil tablets, Corex, injections, poppy husk and smack.

The urban and rural youth differ in the choices of drugs, subject to the easy availability of drugs. In urban areas, Corex, Proxyvon, injections and smack is more popular whereas in the rural areas, poppy husk, tobacco, opium and Corex are preferred. Liquor consumption is also a common phenomenon among boys and girls.

Girls, mostly college students, are addicted to Corex and Proxyvon. The percentage of girl addicts is more in the urban areas, he says.

Rude behaviour and indifference in some families is also responsible for this trend.

A person addicted to drugs likes to be alone and starts avoiding the family. His or her expenses also increase. Parents must take their wards for a regular medical check-up.

Policy-makers are also responsible to some extent. The government has imposed VAT on all products except tobacco. 



Appeal to check stage-managed abductions
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 31
The Sangrur police has called upon leaders of social and political organisations to discourage those who had been creating panic in the area by reporting concocted stories regarding stage-managed abductions and other similar incidents.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, said in many cases the police had been misguided in connection with incidents of stage-managed abductions. “Besides wasting time and energy of the police, it encourages bad elements to make use of the diversion of the police towards fake cases,” said Mr Chahal.

The police chief cited many cases where the parents of young girls had branded the eloping of their wards as abductions. The role of local leaders was also not cooperative, he added. “Instead of convincing the parents of the girl concerned, they used to impress upon the police to book the relatives of all those youths who ever had casual links with her,” he said.

Elaborating on the matter, he said only two days ago a former panch and resident of Amarpura Mohalla had spread panic in the area by narrating a concocted story regarding abduction of her daughter, Class VIII student. Ms Santosh had told leaders that a local youth had felicitated abduction of her daughter by an interstate gang involved in sale of girls. She had brought her daughter in an unconscious state to the Civil Hospital and claimed that she had been drugged by the abductors. She had named some persons for committing the ‘crime’.

Had Mr Harinder Singh, SHO, not acted with a cool mind, the news of her abduction could have shocked the area. Preliminary investigations revealed that the girl had left her home willingly and she had called her fiancé at the Chandigarh bus stand. Later, she consumed some sedative and an abduction story was narrated to leaders and the police.

In a similar case, the district police recovered Shysha, a young schoolteacher, along with her alleged abductor, Razak, her brother-in-law, from a house at Burail, near Chandigarh. The parents of Shysha had reported to the Malerkotla police that she had been abducted by three persons in a car on May 24 from Malerkotla while she was reportedly returning from school in the afternoon.

Terming the abduction allegations as false, Mr Chahal said according to preliminary investigations, the duo had a love affair. Besides Razak, the two other persons involved were Chand Ram, a friend of Razak, and Rajesh, driver of the car in which Shysha had been taken away from Malerkotla, he said.



At the crossroads
The grand old man of Punjabi literature

Prof S.S. Narula
Prof S.S. Narula (left)

AT 88 Prof Surinder Singh Narula is braving the onslaught of old age. He has been reduced to a skeleton but his brain is as alert as ever. His eyesight and hearing are perfect and his speech is flawless. He is quick to retort and impatient to convey his point of view. The occasion was to present him a copy of the album, “The Song of Seasons”, a visual study of divine nature. Mr T.P.S. Sandhu wanted to seek the blessings of the grand old man of Punjabi literature. He has prepared the album wherein the ecology of each month of the year has been presented in the form of a photograph along side the stanza (pauri) of the Baramaha (Majh).

Professor Narula appreciated the venture and was delighted to be told that he had given the concept some years ago at an exhibition of photographs at Punjab Agricultural University. He leafed through the album and quoted two couplets which turned out to be the theme of human relationship with nature-

“Rutt aaee rutt gyee mitra

Asin tere naal kharhe rahe

Patt-jhar vich patte dig pye

Asin tane de naal arhay rahe”

(The seasons underwent changes but we remained steadfast, O’ friend. In autumn, the leaves fell down but we clung to the trunk of the tree.)

While Mr Sandhu and I were engrossed in conversation with Professor Narula, Kanwaljit Singh Shankar clicked the camera. Professor Narula looked up and said, “I do not want to die as a writer, The other things have no significance.” He then asked me to note down his one-line comment on the wonderful production of the pictorial Baramaha. The comment is almost a quotable quote “This song of seasons will remain forever the rhythm of the life of the onlooker.”

When we were taking his leave, Professor Narula referred to my award-winning novel and said: “I told you earlier also, translate your novel “Gawache Arth” (the lost meanings) into English without any delay. If possible, write another one like that.” I was astonished that at the age of 88, he was not harping at all on his ailments. Generally the old people get some solace by enumerating the diseases from which they suffer. But nothing of the sort in the case of Prof Narula, whose mind is forever occupied in thinking new thoughts.

Many months pass before anyone visits his place. Sometimes the litterateurs and academicians forget about his presence at a secluded place in Gurdev Nagar. The world of Punjabi literature is indebted to this frail figure who joined hands with Nanak Singh, in the forties, to give an artistic shape to Punjabi novel during the early years of its growth.


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