L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Growth of this bustling metropolis has no parallel
Land prices highest in the North
Amarjit Thind

No inhabitant of Meer Hota, a tiny hamlet on the banks of the Sutlej founded by the Yodhas in 1498, would have thought that their settlement would transform into a metropolis called Ludhiana a few centuries down the line. Plundered and razed many times by invading hordes, the city rose like a Sphinx every time and continues to expand.

Today, that small village is a bustling metropolis and is famous as the industrial capital of Punjab, besides being proudly referred to as the Manchester of India. The city is home to top industrial houses in the country. According to a survey, it is the 19 most populated city in the country and is still growing, thanks to industrialisation and the enterprising spirit of the Punjabis.

The reasons are obvious. Given the enormity of the industrial growth with thousands of crores of annual turnover and also exports, Ludhiana’s growth has been unparalleled and unmatched. There may not be a single city in the country which has witnessed such rapid expansion and spectacular growth like that of Ludhiana.

A city that had just quarter of a million people only 50 years ago, as most of its population had crossed over to Pakistan, now has over 30 lakh residents (13. 95 lakh as per 2001 census). Till the time of Partition Ludhiana, was a Muslim majority city, which due to the rapid industrialisation, is fast being overrun by migrants. Although the contribution of the migrants cannot be ignored, they have changed the demography of the city with certain areas being fully inhabited by them.

But development has come at a stiff price. The city is today gasping for breath and has the dubious distinction as one of the most polluted cities in the country with no respite in sight. The Buddha Nullah which passes through the city has become an eye sore due to the criminal discharge of effluents by industries. Grand plans to set up sewage and industrial discharge plants along the course of the nullah have remained confined to files only.

With space at a premium, land prices are among the highest in the North. A thriving land mafia has managed to corner most of the open places in the city. Unplanned growth over the decades is taking its toll on the city residents. Berefit of green lungs, the air inhaled has led to an alarming increase in respiratory and other allied diseases.

Commuting from one destination to the other without a private vehicle is a nightmare. One has to ride on rickety and smoke-billowing autorickshaws which are not only a traffic hazard but also a major sourse of pollution in the city. The 30, 000 autos are synonymous with public transport, which is non existent. Many ambitious schemes in this context have either remained on paper or not progressed beyond the announcement stage.

Traffic too is a mess. As the city grew no one anticipated the need for wide boulevards with the result that most major arteries are choked at any given time. And given the growing volume of traffic on the city roads today, the situation will aggravate in the coming days.

Many existing projects, like the elevated road under construction, aimed at decongesting the city have progressed in fits and starts. Others are long overdue. In fact, more flyovers overbridges and underbridges are needed to solve the traffic woes of the city. In addition to this, a sound public transport system, like the mass rapid transport system, will go a long way in redressing the problem.

Parking is another problem area of the city. All the big commercial establishments do not have any parking area and the people have to park on the roads compounding the already chaotic conditions in the city. The only option available is to have more multi tiered parking lots in the city and increase the areas earmarked for parking in all big establishments. Strict adherence to the norms in future and pulling up the current violators will sent the message that offenders should flout the laws on their own peril.

The city also needs more green areas. While the residents in the new localities can enjoy a leisurely stroll in the mornings and evenings, those living in the old city are not so fortunate. For example, the only open space available in the old town is the Daresi ground. Residents of the area complain that no open spaces were earmarked for them in the localities that sprung up around them. Even now the areas which were cleared after some old government buildings were shifted to other areas are being put to commercial use by the authorities. It would have been better if they were developed as parks or green belts.

Civic amenities too have reached a breaking point. The existing infrastructure is groaning under the load of the burgeoning population. Inspite of tall claims of the civic authorities the outbreak of water borne and other diseases are a regular phenomena. The supply of power also leaves much to be desired.

As no effort is made to check the mushrooming of illegal colonies, the quality of amenities provided by the developers is suspect. This problem is acute in the old areas where it is impossible to augment the existing infrastructure.

As the city has grown there is need to have a second rail terminus on the outskirts of the city which will not only cater to the industrial belt but also the areas largely inhabited by lakhs of migrants. A majority of migrants live in tenements in the villages both inside and outside the municipal limits of the city. If a station is set up at Dhandari, it will also ease the rush at the present station in the heart of the city.

Despite the rapid industrialisation, the city is not connected to important cities in the country by air. The centre has given the nod for a new airport at Laudowal to bring the city on the national and international air chart. But the existing airport at Sahnewal seems to have been forgotton. Instead of spending crores on building the airport from scratch, it would be advisable to upgrade the existing facilities at a fraction of the cost.

The city is also politically important because it is centrally located and most of the parties find it convenient to hold their programmes here. As such the visits of VVIPs and VIPs are routine. These visits throw the city life out of gear as arrangements are made in the name of security. Traffic is diverted and it is not uncommon for people to wait for long time to let the cavalcades pass on bust thoroughfares.

To ease the troubles of the common man there is need to a particular place earmarked for holding rallies and dharnas, a sort of Hyde Park, in the city so that the residents are not in inconvenienced on this account. A helipad at this site would also ease the pressure on the grounds of the Panjab Agricultural University which are presently used for this purpose.



Govt health infrastructure inadequate
Private hospitals providing world class facilities
Kuldip Bhatia

Even as the state government is pursuing the agenda of privatisation of health institutions in the state, and in fact the civil hospitals in major towns, having been told to generate their own financial resources for day to day expenses, are already partly privatised, the government health infrastructure in Ludhiana is grossly disproportionate to the burgeoning population, both in terms of manpower and financial resources.

With a population of more than 30 lakh, the district has just one 100-bed Civil Hospital here and another five at subdivision headquarters at Khanna, Samrala, Jagraon, Payal and Raikot. In addition there are 10 primary health centres (PHCs) in all blocks, 5 rural hospitals, 9 community health centres, 29 dispensaries in the city and 245 sub centres in the villages, which do not have a PHC.

In all the district has 315 sanctioned posts of doctors, out of which 40 are vacant at present and similarly, quite a few posts of pharmacists and other supporting staff out of a total workforce of nearly 2500 are lying vacant.

That the exisiting infrastructure in the government sector is inadequate, ill-equipped, and its day to day functioning is further hampered due to several factors, is admitted by civil surgeon Rajinder Kaur. She told Ludhiana Tribune that a major portion of the annual budget allocation and grants from the government under different health care programmes of around Rs 32 crore goes towards establishment expenses.

“The department gets a meagre Rs 26 lakh for purchase of medicines, as well as purchase and maintenance of equipment, and at times, the amount under this particular head (purchase of medicines) is received towards the fag-end of the year which makes it difficult to assess the actual requirement of specific medicines at different times of the year. Moreover, we have to keep some funds in reserve to meet exigencies like epidemics, water borne diseases.”

The Civil Surgeon agreed that the services being rendered by the government health institutions are not of the desired standard and need to be spruced up. She attributed the prevailing level of delivery of services to various factors like tendency of absenteeism among the government doctors posted at rural hospitals and PHCs, absence of supporting specialists like gynecologists, anaethetists, surgeons or paediatricians which render the other doctors redundant, and on the top of it all, lack of medicines and latest diagnostic equipment.

Dr Rajinder Kaur did not fully agree with reports that almost without exception, all government doctors, posted both in the cities and rural areas, are not only carrying on private practice, but have set up full fledged ‘benami’ nursing homes in violation of service rules, which further affects the health care ought to be provided by government institutions.

She asserted that action will be taken against the defaulters if specific complaints of private practice by government doctors are received and found true. She, however, hastened to add that the department has no elaborate mechanism to keep a watch on such doctors.

If the government health institutions lag far behind in providing comprehensive medical care facilities to Ludhianvis and the rural population in the district, it is the private sector which more than makes up for this deficiency.

The city has two premier medical institutions — the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Christian Medical College and Hospital — besides a large number of other private hospitals, well equipped nursing homes, cardiac care centres, state of the art diagnostic centres and clinical laboratories, which provide latest medical and surgical treatment in different super specialities, not only to the local people, but also to those from neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

It is solely due to the world class medical services being provided by the private institutions that the industrial capital of the state is fast emerging as a popular destination for medical tourism in this region, with the NRIs from all over the European countries, Canada, USA and elsewhere for treatment even in the complex fields of cardiac surgery, neurosurgery, renal failure, orthopedics and orthodontics.

Notwithstanding the fact that the health infrastructure in the city lacks a great deal and is grossly inadequate to meet the increasing demands of population in the mega city, a clinical laboratory, run by District Red Cross Society for last several years outside the old civil hospital has been closed down for last couple of weeks. The laboratory was providing the facilities of blood test and other clinical tests mostly to the patients visiting the civil hospital at highly subsidised rates. There were also rumours that the premises of the laboratory were being leased out to some private party.

However, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, told Ludhiana Tribune that the lab had been closed down as a temporary measure as an experiment. “While the laboratory was running in losses and the number of incoming patients was insignificant, we have closed it down for the time being and have deployed the doctor and the supporting staff to increase the working hours of the Red Cross Blood Bank. The blood bank now functions till late in the evening to cater to the needs of critically ill patients.”



Ludhianvis give top priority to entertainment
They love their drinks, wear designer clothes, party hard and have a penchant for jewellery
Asha Ahuja

Sartorially speaking, the clothes sported by the young crowd are sexy of the latest cut and straight from a designers’ boutiques. The hair is streaked in all hues from burgandy to blonde with diamonds and precious stones glittering in ears, wrists and even ankles.

Food and drinks now involve designing the layout of the spread apart from the lavish menu aimed at ticking the taste buds of the guests. Drinks are a specialized arena, with professional bartenders being brought in from Delhi. These bartenders design bar options and come up with fascinating concoctions that even tempt the teetotallers.

Welcome to big bucks Ludhiana, whose denizens have shed their small town inhibitions and are working harder and partying even harder. Gone are the days when a night out meant a social do where booze flowed freely, albeit in the men’s enclosure.

The women would dress up for the occasion and catch up on the latest in fashion and bollywood. A bold soul would ask for a rum-masked in coke and sip it nervously. Parties went on till midnight, and party goers came back sloshed on whiskey and food, intellectually and event wise no wiser.

But a lot of water has flowed down the Sutlej since then. parties now reflect the city’s hitherto undeclared metropolis tag. Entertainment is now a serious business testing the skills of the entertainer and his alignment with the tastes and preferences of the customer. Innovation in events, like all other industries, is the key to success.

A show thrown in, a live performer, a theme, the more exotic the better, the layout of the party to support the objective of the show, a never before attempted effect — these factors surround the attempts of event managers and their support specialists in the entertainment arena today.

Mass media and the resultant exposure to the entertainment scenes of metros has created an awareness amongst the client base which event managers continually evolve and align with. Prospective clients have attended parties in Delhi, Mumbai and aspire to bring these to Ludhiana to be known as the ‘ in’ people with a concept of how to do things.

Parties in the Manchester of India have evolved into a completely participative crowd, men and women moving in fluid movements to the latest chartbuster being played by the current rage DJ.

Sartorially speaking, the clothes sported by the young crowd are sexy of the latest cut and straight from a designers’ boutiques.

The hair is streaked in all hues from burgandy to blonde with diamonds and precious stones aglitter in ears, wrists and even ankles.

Food and drinks now involve designing the layout of the spread apart from the lavish menu aimed at ticking the taste buds of the guests. Drinks are a specialized arena, with professional bartenders being brought in from Delhi. These bartenders design bar options and come up with fascinating concoctions that even tempt the teetotallers.

The food scene is no different in exactment - menus cover a host of tastes and preferences, health food options are now available as regular menu items, the layout and design of the spread is appetizing and appealing to the eye, and conducive to self service. Japanese, Tapanayki, Thai cusinie finds many takers today in the earlier chowmein and manchurian crowd.

Being a city of corporate houses, big shot mandarins have over the years learnt the art of partying which is secod to none.

Event management companies walk that extra mile to fly in exotic orchids from Bangkok or Singapore and live bands from Mumbai and Goa, Shehnai player from Uttar Pradesh to get the right ambience.



Youngsters regret there is no exclusive lovers’ zone in city
“Cops and crowd don’t let romance blossom”
Shivani Bhakoo

“All we need are some good places where we can be together. Where is the need for doing the rounds of the city educational instutions if there are good places in the city,” remarked Jasmine, a postgraduate student, studying in one of the local colleges. She was candid enough to say, “whether you accept it or not, youngsters have been going on dates and will continue to do so in future too...since they do not find any good and suitable spot, they just go on roaming around the city.” Surely, a wastage of time, effort and petrol of dad’s swanky airconditioned car !

Ludhiana may soon boast of high-end malls that may make it rival even the ultra modern Gurgaon, but the youngsters here rue that there is no exclusive lovers’ zone anywhere in the city. A city whose population has already crossed three million, in fact, hardly has any beauty spots like good parks or green patches. Ask any teenaged college going boys and girls who would like to freak out with their friends and the answer invariably will be: Arre yaar, where is the place.

Except for the Rose Garden, where bushes outnumber the roses, there is no place where the people can take a leisurely stroll, sit together chat and cherish a few stolen moments. Barring one or two, there are not even good cinema halls either. Restaurants, may be a few of those, do not offer the privacy and exclusity carved by lovers who simply want to gaze deep into the eyes of their beloveds or even hold hands for a few moments.

This may sound odd for a city that labels itself as cosmopolitian but a major part of the dating game here is all about hunting for that secluded spot that shields the young lovers from the prying eyes of the people and parents and at the worst, the cops.

“All we need are some good places where we can be together. Where is the need for doing the rounds of the city educational instructions if there are good places in the city,” remarked Jasmine, a postgraduate student, studying in one of the local colleges. She was candid enough to say, “whether you accept it or not, youngsters have been going on dates and will continue to do so in future too...since they do not find any good and suitable spot, they just go on roaming around the city.” Surely, a wastage of time, effort and petrol of dad’s swanky airconditioned car !

Her bosom pal and classmate, Ravneet, maintained that inter-sexual friendship is more of an in- your- face thing nowadays given the permissibility levels of the society today. Anyone who steps in the college has a special friend who is different and apart from others. “Friends always want some special and exclusive moments which they would share between themselves only and for such moments you need a special place”, Ravneet said. The end result, “you have to opt for the gheri routes and hang out in places like Sarabha Nagar Market and the Rani Jhansi Road. The chances of getting caught are so great that half of the time is wasted in looking over ones shoulder to see if some familiar has spotted you. It is such a dampener on a hot date,” she added resignedly.

Such sentiments are echoed by the boys too. Sikander Sharma, an undergraduate student, says, “there are many who have their own cars and can afford to take their friends on long drives. But friendship cannot be an exclusive right of the rich and there are people like me who cannot afford a car. If I want to share some exclusive moments with my lady friends, I have nowhere to go.”

In the backdrop of a debate whether a city like Chandigarh should have a lovers’ spot, the youngsters in Ludhiana chorus that they need one. Chanduigarh has plenty of open spaces where the couples can meet without any fear and have a good time.

Who knows what the future holds for the youngsters, but one thing is for sure that there is no dearth of people who would shoot down such a proposal citing moral grounds and may be for justified 



Ultra modern sports facilities are there but the culture is missing 
Anil Datt

Ludhiana, the industrial hub of Punjab has emerged as the sports capital of the state with a number of sports infrastructure coming cup here in the recent past. By building up of sports complex for the games such as athletics, football, basketball, volleyball, handball, gymnastics, judo and badminton, the city can now boast of providing ultra modern facilities to the sports persons.

The city had played host to the 31st edition of the National Games in the year 2001. This occasion proved to be a ‘blessing’ for the players. The eight lane synthetic track at Guru Nanak Stadium was re-laid apart from creation of the warm-up 200 metes track. The track conforms to the standards of any national/international meet.

The main Guru Nanak Stadium where athletics and football matches were held during these games was renovated and its seating capacity was enhanced by erecting new enclosures. Four towers of flood lights were also installed there so that matches could be organised during the late evenings.

An international standard cycling velodrome and astro turf hockey ground were built up at the Punjab Agricultural University campus. The indoor multi-purpose hall, situated adjacent to the Government College for Women was spruced up and its seating capacity was increased. All these facilities were provided at a cost of Rs 15 crore.

The city has an exclusive indoor hall for the game of basketball. This hall where terra flex synthetic surface has been laid down at a cost of Rs 12 lakh has seating capacity of 2500 which is being increased for another five hundred spectators. Besides, there are two outdoor basketball courts and all these are flood-lit.

A hostel, next to the multi-purpose indoor hall was built up with the assistance from Government of India in the year 1998 at a cost of Rs 70 lakh. This hostel has fifteen rooms to accommodate about 60 players and two sets of two rooms with kitchen and toilet each for the coaches. At present, the hostel houses the players of the Centre of Excellence being run by the Punjab Government.

The cycling velodrome at the PAU was created by the state government in 1989 at a cost of Rs 1.50 crore and its pavillion capacity was added during the National Games in 2001. This structure also conforms to the international standards.

The astro turf hockey ground at the Punjab Agricultural University was prepared by the Punjab Government at a cost of about Rs 3.50 crore and the university authorities contributed Rs 40 lakh for this project in addition to the land. It was agreed upon among the Punjab Government, the PAU and the Department of Sports that the later would have the executive control over the project and would be jointly responsible with the university for its maintenance.

However, despite all these facilities, the city lack a sports culture. Ludhiana has been the venue of the National Football League matches for the last couple of years but these ties have failed to attract spectators. Only a handful of people turn up to watch the matches during which the star soccer players of the country are seen in action.

Ludhiana city also cries for a cricket stadium. The game of cricket which has the maximum number of fans are deprived of a stadium. Ever since the governing body of cricket- Board of Control for Cricket in India has made it mandatory for the state associations to provide Test level facilities at the venues, the city has been deprived of hosting any Ranji Trophy and other inter zonal matches.

The Shastri Badminton Hall which was spurced up during the National Games has been misused by the local administration. The hall was often used for purposes other than sports activities. In the recent past, it was used for counting of votes during the SGPC elections and was also made centre for keeping ballot boxes of the general elections, last year. These excercises damaged the wooden floor at the hall and rendered it ‘unplayable’ for weeks together.

Similarly, Guru Nanak Stadium has also been allowed to be used for activities such as musical nites and holding of rallies by political parties. Such acts are needed to be curbed in order to keep up the stadia so that the sports persons are not forced to abondon their activities.



Cops always have a date with the Mafia
Jupinderjit Singh

Four years ago the then DGP, Punjab, Mr Sarbjit Singh and the Chief Secretary Mr N K Arora had to rush to the city for confidence building measures among the public following the cold-blooded murder of a youth allegedly at the hands of some cops, besides a spate of incidents of snatching and the failure of the police to catch a gang of child kidnappers and a pedophile indulging in rape, sodomy of minor girls and boys.

This was apart from the usual police sponsored and police abetted crime in the city perpetrated allegedly by a notorious gang of criminal ‘loan sharks’ who financed the black money of industrialists, corrupt government officers and several cops of all ranks. Then there were number of groups of land mafia who operated without any fear of law thanks to their police-politico -journo nexus.

It was such troubled times that Ludhiana was officially known as the crime capital of the state. After all these years, has the scene changed? While moving towards the metropolitan status, is the city also becoming a den of gangs —the mafia or the underworld — considered an unavoidable evil of the metropolis culture? Is the government geared up to tackle influence of mafia which is already making inroads in labour work in the city?

Has the city police, the administrators and the government able to find a solution of the over 10 lakh floating and several lakhs of now permanent migrant labour population in the city which is more often than not — and not entirely right at several occasions — held responsible for the crime rate? Has the police been able to contain the growth of the gangs especially those abetted by the politicians? What about the regrouping of gangs of Punjabi criminals with those among the labourers?

The answers to these questions would vary if you ask the common man or the cops. The police continue to deny the existence of the gangs when you confront them with the question. But the same cops would speak in length during press conferences about how they busted this and that gang. Obviously , this meant that the gang was functioning all these months and would continue doing so with only few members of the group arrested!!

Nirdosh Dhand, the allegedly notorious criminal who enjoyed the shelter of several top ranking officials and was a terror to reckon with in the finance and recovery business till a couple of years ago, is now on the run thanks to immense police pressure exerted on him.

Though his activities are on the sly, the cops have not been able to catch him. Most other members of his gang were arrested or have changed their areas of operation. Some had formed splinter groups, which can unite the moment Nirdosh manages to return.

And when you ask the cops, they talk in hushed tones about political shelter given to him by highly influential politicians. The murder of Lalla, who was close to a senior BJP leader( claims are that he was his nephew) allegedly by Rana and his group in broad day light in Haibowal last year was the high point of the gang war in the city.

The police which otherwise refuses to acknowledge officially the existence of such groups attributed it as murder due to personal enmity between the two gangs. Unofficially, cops give details about how Rana was being used by Nirdosh Dhand and some congress leaders with agreement of the cops to silence Lalla whose daring acts was becoming major embarrassment for the police. The highlight being his act to steal a car impounded as case property from the custody of a dsp and then calling him up to tell he had stolen it.

With Lalla eliminated and Rana behind bars, police made everyone believe that the gangs have been destroyed. But later events proved how misguided the claims were. Several supporters of Lalla have been attacking Rana and other accused in the district courts where they were brought from central jail for appearance in the case. Some of the supporters even clashed with Rana and others in the central jail which finally led to shifting of the different group members in different jails of the state.

A major headache for the police these days is the gangs drugging and looting people in train, buses or on major highways. Though several such gang members have been arrested from time to time, new gangs keep on forming or the old ones return to commit the crime repeatedly. A new challenge for the police is the emergence of certain gangs of teenagers including both migrant labourers and local youths, who indulge in purse, chain snatchings.

Though three such teenagers were arrested recently, the incidents continue unabated. It has forced people to erect gates at key roads of an area or install security systems at home. That the city is the epicenter of pirated films trade is a well know fact. Police keeps on conducting raids often but has never been able to catch the main supplier. The trade was however hit when a team of Bhatinda police succeeded in arresting one Bholla from here who was allegedly the main distributor in this trade. One wonders why the local cops were not able to pin him down all these years. The police has never been able to catch the kingpins or the main supplier of drugs in the city.

Despite knowing the challenges put up by such gangs, the police infrastructure has not been upgraded or modernised. It is too easy for traffic violators to jump red lights with the cops remaining a mute spectator. While the population of the city has crossed 30 lakhs with another 10 lakh listed as floating population, the number of cops manning the city has come down due to retirement or death of cops in the last decade. The official number of cops is less than 5000 but practically only 3500-3700 are working.



People of all faiths, cultures feel at home in city
Vimal Sumbly

LUDHIANA is not just the industrial and financial capital of Punjab, it is a mini India in itself. With an estimated population of over 30 lakh people, Ludhiana has a cosmopolitan culture. People right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari have come here and settled down and added to the colourful collage of cultures.

And among the three million people who live here, you cannot single out a Ludhianvi. Nor can you make out who is not. That is the unity in the diversity of Ludhiana’s culture.

Ludhiana known world over for its hosiery products owes it to Kashmiris who migrated here about 200 years ago in the wake of famine over there.

The Kashmiri settlers brought with themselves the handicraft of weaving woollens. Since they were stricken by the draught back home and were on the verge of starvation they started working as labourers.

Little did they know that they were laying the foundation for a large scale industry which will give Ludhiana its identity. This was a beginning only. Later Ludhiana emerged to be the centre of hosiery industry and other industries followed.

It is not just the Kashmiri, but the Keralite, the Tamilians, the people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and other parts of the country who came here and settled for good.

The huge industry, Ludhiana takes pride in, is dependent on the massive work force from the two states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The labourers also come from other states, but UP and Bihar have prominent share. The Keralites and the Tamilians are mostly in medical and para-medical profession.

Till partition Ludhiana happened to be a Muslim majority town. The partition saw the mass exodus of the members of the Muslim community. Simultaneously there was large scale migration from the other part of Punjab. People from different regions settled down here.

Even during the post Indira Gandhi assassination riots of 1984, quite a considerable number of people came and settled down here.

The massive influx of the people belonging to different communities notwithstanding, Ludhiana has retained its typical Punjabi character. The language remains predominantly Punjabi. Even the people from UP and Bihar have started speaking Punjabi in a different accent.

The greatness of the city remains in the fact that it has absorbed all the culture in itself while at the same time letting the people to maintain their own distinct identity.

Gopi Kothari, a leading manufacturer of auto parts, has come here from Rajasthan. He has scripted one of the best success stories. He observes that he imbibed the entrepreneur spirit from the city.

Likewise Madan Mohan Vyas, a former chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, who is also basically from Rajasthan, feels that Ludhiana is one of the most progressive cities in the country. Vyas is also a successful industrialist manufacturing yarn.

The members of other communities like the Kashmiris also feel “quite homely” in Ludhiana. “The greatest thing about Ludhiana is that you never feel like an alien here”, remarks Dr TK Kaul, Professor and Head, Department of Anaesthesia in the Dayanand Medical College.

Kaul is here for over thirty years and feels too homesick about Ludhiana if he goes out.

There are thousands others like him, who after coming here never thought of going back. Ludhiana is not just irresistible, it is too magnetic as well, remarks, Tom Joseph, a Keralite who is here for about ten years now. He arrived here is a theatre assistant and ended up making Ludhiana as his home. He believes that Ludhianavis themselves being real good entrepreneurs and hardworkers they really appreciate hardwork and sincerity.



People want Sahnewal as satellite town
Lovleen Bains

As more and more professionals, businessmen, qualified and educated people and students working or studying in Ludhiana are chosing this town as permanent residence or for that matter on rent , the town seems to be a fit case to be developed into a satellite town of Ludhiana.

This is a popular view the people among the residents of this tow situated just 12 km from the Industrial city that remains engulfed in Pollution, traffic chaos and congestion on the roads, besides posing threat of getting infected. The moment you come close to Sahnewal, your lungs began feeling the pollution free air and a certain freshness that eludes residents of Ludhiana.

No wonder that many persons commute daily to and fro to Ludhiana. They find the rents cheaper here with added advantage of clean environment. There are many who after retiring

from their jobs in Ludhiana have opted to buy property and live here. A number of colonies are also coming up in the city promising state of the art facilities.

Mr Jasminder Sandhu, chairman, market committee, Sahnewal, feels the same: ‘‘This trend is recently picking up speed with more and more city people preferring to stay in Sahnewal town where they find a unique blend of the urban and rural characteristics.’’

He observes that as an urban town the fast developing educational institutions as schools and colleges, widely constructed roads, adequate sanitation local bus stand, railway station civil hospital and police station, became a source of attraction. But it is the rural feeling that the town upholds as the pollution free environment, healthy surroundings, fresh vegetables and at the top of all pure milk, that has made a town as of Sahnewal a more preferable place to reside. ‘‘Sahnewal should be developed into a satellite-town of Ludhiana.’’ he stressed

Mr Tejinder Singh Gill, who earlier resided at Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar in Ludhiana, is now living in this town: ‘‘ We choose a plot at a PUDA approved colony of Sahnewal and constructed our house here to escape as the noise of the city and the congestion and suffocation that followed during the major Diwali and Dushera festivals besides the daily pollution level had became unbearable for my father. We left our house and chose this place and it has proved to be a better option.’’

Mr Parveen Singh, who was earlier residing at Dehradun with his parents, got a chance to stay at Ludhiana but he says, “Sahnewal town appealed to us more. The facilities provided here are in no less a measure than any big city. Rather, you get a patient hearing by officials. Poeple here are polite and do not seem to be involved in some maddening rat race.’’

Moreover, he said, when choosing any peripheral area of a big city to avoid the din of the city, there is no better option than this town. Coming from Haibowal to bus-stand of Ludhiana costs you more than Rs 30 on a rickshaw. It consumes more time than boarding a bus from a nearby bus-stand at Sahnewal and reaching the Ludhiana bus stand by paying only Rs 7 for the ticket. It is also less maddening.’’

Another person Harnam Singh (name changed) has now settled in this town seeking relief from attacks of Asthma, ‘‘I was suffering from asthma when the doctor suggested me change of place. I began residing in Sahnewal, went for a daily morning walk, inhaled pollution free air and became as fit and healthy as ever.’’

Similarly, a mechanical engineer posted at Ludhiana, has selected bought a plot at Sahnewal town and is constructing his residence here. another professional, Amanpreet Singh, who is employed at Ludhiana, has preferred to reside at Sahnewal town. similarly, many chartered accountants, who are employed at Khanna and Ludhiana and big businessmen, have chosen Sahnewal town to be a place of their permanent residence.

‘‘The land is cheap, the cost of construction is low, medical facilities are available at affordable prices, more over the things of daily use even the vegetables, fruits and milk is much cheaper and purer,’’ they contend.

Mr Ramesh Kumar Pappu, president, nagar panchayat, says: ‘‘The town is developing rapidly hence more and more people prefer to stay in this area. The construction of the main market road is nearing completion. Residents are ensured proper sanitation and clean drinking water, the streets have been constructed, the proposal for sewerage and water supply have already been sent to the sewerage board that would be initiated in the coming months. Our town should be made a satellite town.’’



A pity, no memorial to remind people of Sahir
Vimal Sumbly

Masroof zamana mere liye kyoon waqt apna barbad kare. This foreboding of Sahir about himself has tragically turned true in his native city, Ludhiana. The man who immortalised Ludhiana by suffixing it with his pen name seems to have been forgotten here. Barring a handful of die hard admirers of Sahir, not many people in Ludhiana know about Sahir’s Ludhianvi origins. This encyclopaedic ignorance seems to have been compounded by the hostile indifference of the rulers towards the man who is known across the continents for his revolutionary and iconoclastic poetry. And with him is known Ludhiana. Except for an annual mushaira, that is usually organised at the end of March, by the Adeeb International in memory of Sahir, there seems to be nothing else to keep alive his memory.

It is not that his poetry is not popular. Hundreds and thousands of people would be humming and singing his songs daily, which he wrote for the films, but most of them are not aware that Sahir was the son of the soil, which he fondly took pride in. His unbound love for Ludhiana was remarkable. When he attended the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Government College here in Nov 1970, where he had studied, in a spontaneous outflow of emotions he presented a poem that was full of nostalgia and also reflected his deep and everlasting love for Ludhiana. The poem read like “nazar karta hoon in fizaoon ki, apni rooh, apna dil aur apna kalam... nam mera jahan jahan pahuncha, sath pahuncha is dayar ka nam... mein yehan mezban bhi, mehman bhi, aap jo chahain dijye mujhe nam.”

While scores of statues and memorials of different people are dotting different parts of Ludhiana city, there is hardly any memorial of Sahir in the city. Not that the initiatives were not taken, but they seem to have been taken half heartedly. Sahir Memorial which was decided to be set up by the Beant Singh government was scrapped thanks to the callous attitude of a former Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, who had unfortunately become the ex officio president of the Sahir Ludhianvi Cultural Centre, entrusted with the task of setting up of the Sahir Memorial.

He did his level best to ensure that the memorial did not come up. When the government sanctioned Rs 60 lakh for the Sahir Memorial he wanted it to be diverted for Guru Nanak Bhawan, another cultural centre for the reasons best known to him. While his proposal was rejected, but he again did not allow it to be spent on the memorial. Ultimately the money was returned to department of cultural affairs, as the site earmarked for the memorial by the Improvement Trust Ludhiana was utilised for setting up a commercial complex. A post modern paradox.

About six years ago the then mayor of Ludhiana Chaudhary Satya Parakash had publicly announced at an official function that the road between Fountain Chowk and Rose Garden would be named Sahir Ludhianvi Road. A signboard was also put at the Fountain Chowk. But it no longer exists there now. And there may hardly be anyone who would be knowing that the Government College Road, is actually Sahir Ludhianvi Road. Given the ignorance and indifference among people about Sahir, he seems to be proving himself right in his own words, “kaun jane mere imroz ka farda kya hai, qurbatein barh ke pashaiman bhi ho jati hein, dil ke daaman se lipat ti huyi rangeen nazrein dekhte dekhte anjan bi ho jati hein.”



Tourism potential remains untapped
Jupinderjit Singh

Ludhianvis love to freak out but have few options to chose from in the city and its major vicinity. Though the city sits in the lap of history, has water bodies like Satluj, Sidhwan Canal, neelon, a Tiger Safari and children’s park, yet people have only hotels , roadside eateries to go for excursion in the evening or at the weekends.

There is growing frustration among the masses here for not having enough options to freak out. Most of these looking for a sojourn go to far off places as the place offers them no spot for excursion.

Apart from the residents a large number of people keep on visiting the city for a business trip. The city however fails to hold them back as it has little to offer for their recreation purpose.

Even though the city has several historical monuments, they lie ignored. One one side the Sutlej river flows while on the other a channel of canals crisscrosses through the city. But there is not a single boating club or an artificial lake to attract tourists. Sidhwan canal presents a mesmerising scene in the night with the reflection of the road lights mingling with the moon light in the water.

People flock the Leisure Valley in the morning and the evening. They only hope against hope that someday some boat club would come up near the valley to add to the attraction.

The district has a number of old sarais and other historical monuments which thanks to government’s apathy have been lying abandoned.

The few places of public interest can be counted on fingers. The Neelon resort, Tiger Safari and the war museum apart from visiting Leisure valley, Rose Garden or the Bagh are some of these. Lack of proper publicity, government’s apathy, and the absence of new attractions have taken the sheen off these places.

Though located at excellent locations, the places are seldom on the top priority of the residents. At best they remain a stopover.

Neelon, 25 km from Ludhiana towards Chandigarh has a huge potential. With its green cover, it offers fresh pollution free air. Situated on the bank of the Sirhind Feeder, the Neelon tourist resort could never achieve any glory.

The shifting of the animals subsequently deprived the place of a major attraction. Several proposals were later mooted to add more attractions to the place but the ground reality remains the same.

Tiger Safari, situated 10 km on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway is another potential tourist resort not exploited to its maximum. Having the cool and calm environs the safari provides a place for those looking for few hours of peace away from the maddening crowd of the city. Two bears were added to attraction list but the Safari has failed to hold the interest. Its area is small and there is no proper landscaping or place for visitors to sit and cool off.

The Lodhi Fort is lying abandoned. It was a mud fort built by Sultanpur Lodhi who had founded the city. The Sunet mound which opened the door to the dark ages after excavation was done here is also lying ignored and slowly being encroached upon. There are several other such places of interest which could have been tapped in a better manner.

The city being a business capital of the state, the industrialists can invest the money for constructing various places of interest like lake clubs, boat clubs, amusement parks and the like. They can generate money from these places and provide the city a place on the tourist map as well.


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