L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Councillor alleges fogging scam
Vigilance starts probe
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
An alert councillor of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, today exposed an alleged scandal involving workers of the civic body after two MC workers sought a certificate from him without spraying the entire mixture of chemicals meant for fogging in his area.

The alleged scandal came to light when, two corporation employees Hari Pal, an operator, and Jarnail Singh, a driver, came to the ward of the councillor, Mr Parvin Bansal, sprayed insecticide in some areas and asked him for a certificate stating that the entire chemical was used.

The councillor checked the tanks carrying insecticide and found that only 15 to 20 per cent of chemical was used. He raised the alarm and both employees left the place immediately.

Mr Bansal wrote about the case to the Vigilance Department. An inquiry was on till the filing of this report and both parties were being questioned by the Vigilance Department. Mr Bansal seized the tractor used to carry and spray the chemical and parked it at his place.

With the incident, the fogging operations being carried out by the corporation to check mosquito transmitted diseases had come under cloud. ‘‘We have been hearing about for quite some time that funds allocated for buying insecticides were being misappropriated by some MC employees in connivance with some officials. Today’s incident has shocked one and all.’’ said Mr Bansal.

He said 95 litres of diesel, 30 litres of petrol and five litres of malathion were mixed to prepare a fog, which is sprayed in any given ward. To make the system transparent, the area councillor was required to certify that the operation was carried out effectively and the entire chemical was used for spray.

‘‘It was just that I was vigilant enough to check whether they used it or not. I was shocked to see that 80 per cent of the chemical was being taken back by them. One round of fogging operation in a ward costs Rs 4,500 to the MC and if this chemical is taken back that means there is a need to inquire into the operations,’’ he added.

Mr Bansal demanded that a thorough probe be done to ascertain who all were involved in the scam.

‘‘It is not possible that these two employees are the only ones involved as they cannot sell the mixture in the open market. It can be used in fogging machines only. That means more people are involved in the case. ’’ said Mr Bansal.



Bad roads, open manholes a threat to life
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
Residents of many areas of the city have complained of bad roads, uncovered manholes and lack of repairs in their localities.
They claim that all their complaints to the local civic body went unheeded and they are suffering due to the want of immediate action.

Stating that a patch of road in front of the cremation grounds near the Dhobi Ghat area was needing immediate attention, residents of Civil Lines said a ditch on the road had made their life hell. The rain water entered in this trough formed due to lack of repairs and caused problems for the commuters. Many two-wheelers had met with an accident in the area, especially at night, for not being able to anticipate the problem.

They added that though a city resident had received debilitating injuries after meeting with an accident on this road only some years ago, the civic body does not seem to learn from its experiences.

‘‘They will wake up only after somebody is injured due to this trench. Otherwise who cares? ’’ asked Mr Narinder Kapoor, an area resident.

A partially opened telephone manhole on the Jagraon bridge is posing danger to the commuters on the busy bridge. Though many beggars and passersby have tried to cover the manhole to avoid accidents, it slides back leaving the manhole half open. Many people have fallen in and sustained minor injuries due to this manhole.

Another uncovered manhole on the Dugri road is causing problems to the residents as it cannot be anticipated during rains or at night. They said that this manhole was used by the MC workers for pumping out rain water collected in the area. But it was never covered. 



Onion prices double... and rising
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
A shortfall in supply has resulted in a steep rise in onion prices, from about Rs 10 per kg to Rs 15-20 per kg in the retail market within a week. Market observers say the prices are likely to shoot up to Rs 30 in the coming few days as the shortage is expected to continue.

Against the normal supply of seven to eight trucks per day, with each truck carrying almost 12 tonnes of onions, the city is getting only three or four trucks of onion these days. Attributing the shortage to heavy rainfall in Maharashtra and the government’s decision to continue with exports, Mr Amarbir Singh, general secretary, Punjab State Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association, said : “Instead of tackling the problem by curbing exports, the government has continued with the same. As a result, there is a shortage in the domestic markets.”

The city receives onions primarily from Maharashtra and Rajasthan. “Heavy rain destroyed the crop, resulting in its shortage. This shortage is likely to increase in the coming days,” said Mr Singh, adding, “which would only result in a further rise in prices.” He said the prices were likely to touch Rs 30 a kg in a week or so.

In the wholesale market, onion rates have already reached Rs 12-13 per kg whereas in retail markets these are available around Rs 20 per kg.

Meanwhile, the prices of vegetables like green peas and French beans too have increased. The price of green peas, available for around Rs 15 per kg a week ago, has risen to Rs 30 in wholesale market whereas that of French beans has increased from Rs 8-9 per kg to Rs 13 per kg now. The rates of potatoes, gourd and cabbage have been stable for the last week or so. Tomato prices have come down from Rs 15 to Rs 10 per kg.



Transformer thieves arrested
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is not only reeling under an acute power crisis but also suffering major losses in the form of theft of transformers and meter wires in the past few months. As many as 26 transformers and 3,200 m wires were stolen in the recent past, causing a loss of over Rs 20 lakh to the board.

This came to light today with the arrest of five members of a gang of thieves, who specialised in stealing transformers and wires from various parts of the city , especially from the colonies situated on the outskirts. The gang accused a former employee of the PSEB, who allegedly provided the technical knowhow about the theft operations.

Addressing a press conference at the police lines here this afternoon, Mr Gurpreet Singh, SP (Detective), said a police team led by SI Warryam Singh, in charge CIA-II, had busted the gang, much to the relief of PSEB officials here.

The accused gang leader has been identified as Jeet Singh of Kuliawal village who was dismissed from the PSEB in 1968. The other members were Rajinder Kumar, Kanshi Ram from UP, Vinod Kumar from Bihar and Rakesh Kumar from Gandhi Colony her, who used to buy the stolen transformers.

The police said that a transformer cost from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh, besides oil worth Rs 15,000 in it. The accused used to sell it to the accused scrap dealer at Rs 6,000 only.



CMC to initiate faculty development institute
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 10
CMC is entering into a partnership with the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER), a sister organisation of ECFMG, USA, to start a CMC-FAIMER regional institute. The proposed institute will focus on faculty development as a whole in addition to teacher training.

Dr William Burdick, Co-Director of FAIMER, has flown in from the USA, to participate in a preparatory consultation to devise the curriculum of the institute.

Dr Tejinder Singh, who is organising this consultation, has been a Fellow of the FAIMER institute in Philadelphia and has also been nominated global faculty adviser for 2005.



Passing Thru

Kalsang Y Dagko
Kalsang Y Dagko, Director, Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.

How important culture is to survival of a nation?

It is far too important. Particularly for the people living in exile it is the only hope to keep alive the sense of belonging towards the place of their roots. So is it with us. We have been living in exile for the past 50 years, but we have tried our best to retain our distinct identity and that was possible only by safeguarding our culture.

How could you manage against all odds, particularly when survival was at stake?

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama set up the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts in 1959 in McLeodganj in Dharamshala district, now in Himachal Pradesh. Obviously, His Holiness knew that performing arts, which represent our culture, was one of the important ways of our survival. How far have Tibetans been able to mix up with the other communities?

You can see for yourself that most of us can speak fluent Hindi and other languages of the region where our people live. But at the same time we have ensured that our own language and culture is not ignored at any cost. We dress up in our traditional way. We retain our food habits, without remaining alienated from the mainstream societies.

— Vimal Sumbly



Police seeks locals’ help for Chhapar Mela
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 10
The Jagraon police has sought cooperation from the social and political organisations of the area in managing the affairs of Chhapar Mela commencing on September 16. Meanwhile, the mela in-charge claimed to have made necessary arrangements to make the event memorable.

Addressing a meeting of the leaders and representatives of various organisations of Chhapar and surrounding villages and towns, Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, said the natives could help the administration in maintaining law and order at the mela place. “As the local leaders are familiar with the people and places around the worship place and they have an experience of decades at their back, they can cooperate with the administration by involving themselves in different committees to be constituted for managing various avenues this year,” elaborated Mr Jaiswal.

The SSP said there would be complete ban on the sale of liquor and those agricultural implements that could be used as crude weapons. ‘Zinda’ dance stall that had been reported as centres of hooliganism in the past would also be banned, added Mr Jaiswal. He claimed that the police had called extra force for maintaining law and order at and around the mela place.

Mr Ajaib Singh, sarpanch of the village, said the enthusiasm for the rural fare had been declining during past years.

On the possible causes of fall in the rush at the fair, Mr Ajaib Singh said,”During past years the police has been harassing devotees on one or other pretext. This trend has generated a fear psychosis among the outsiders who are now scared of coming during the peak days.”



Officials absent at martyr’s function
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 10
Tributes were paid to Major Bhupinder Singh MVC, who had made supreme sacrifice during the 1965 Indo-Pak war at a function be organised at Bharat Nagar Chowk here today. But those present on the occasion were annoyed as no representative of the district administration or local politician turned up for the event.

Sources said invitations were given well in advance to the civil servants but no one deemed it fit to pay homage to the martyr who had put national security above self to protect the motherland.

The defence personnel were so upset at the absence of the civil servants that they later mentioned it in the official release of the function. The release said: “The function was organised to honour its hero. However, the function was conspicuous by the absence of district administration officials in spite of early invitations”.

Army personnel of the Hodson’s Horse regiment led the paying of tributes. Col HMS Chatwal, Commanding Officer, laid a wreath on the statue of Major Bhupinder Singh.

A ceremonial guard presented a befitting guard of honour.

Major Bhupinder Singh led his squadron with distinction, in the battle of Phillora and Sodreke. He remained in action from September 11 to 19, 1965, and the tactical handling of his squadron was an example of which any armoured unit could well be proud.

With skillful deployment and bold action, his squadron was able to cause large-scale destruction of enemy tanks and other equipment. In spite of his tank being hit on several occasions he continued to remain in effective command and by several acts of personal gallantry, he set an inspiring example for his men who fought magnificently.

On September 19, 1965, in the Battle of Sodreke, his tank was hit by the enemy and caught fire. While abandoning the tank, he was severely burnt and evacuated. He showed commendable calm and steadfastness under fire even after most of his tanks were hit by enemy fire and set an inspiring example of personal bravery in the best traditions of the Army.



Misinterpretation of religion led to terrorism: seer
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 10
None less than Jagat Guru Shankaracharya Swami Vasudevanand Saraswati, chief of the Jyotirmath Badrika Peeth, one of the four revered maths in the country, is of the firm opinion that terrorism has its genesis in the wrong interpretation of the scriptures of any religion and this demon can only be contained when religious figures shed their biases and spread the true message of the ancient sages and prophets.

In an exclusive interview with Ludhiana Tribune, the Shankracharya, who was attending a function in the vicnity of the town, claimed that terrorism was a global phenomenon and efforts to eradicate it had proved futile so far.

“It is high time that the rulers should understand that terrorism has its genesis in the misinterpretation of religion and cannot be curbed with force. No force in the world is mighty enough to crush any violent separatist movement which has a casteist base. But it would subside when our dharam gurus start interpreting and presenting religious matters in the right manner and spirit,” he stressed.

The middle-aged saint claimed that the concept of “Vasudev Kutubmkam” propagated by the Peeth inculcated a sense of universal fraternity and made every body feel that the whole world is ours. “Once we achieve this target, terrorism will have no existence at all,” he pointed out.

On the issue of reports of certain misdeeds by some highly revered religious preachers and leaders in the recent years, the swami held that it was under the purview of the government to implement the norms formulated by the religious bodies. “We have never supported those people who had been exploiting the supremacy of their religious position. At the same time we expect that people should differentiate between the genuine preachers and those who have been exploiting religious sentiments of innocent persons,” said Swami Vasudevanand.

Responding to a query, the swami admitted that the apparent decline in the interest of Hindus in the Sanatan Dharma was due to faulty education system, impact of westernisation and blind faith in mushrooming sects. “Moreover, the Sanatan Dharma, with largest number of followers, have grown to the extent where everybody cannot afford to follow rituals in everyday life. Otherwise, they believe in their origin and practice their dharma only,” the swami added.



Paddy bonus sought
Our Correspondent

Samrala , September 10
Reacting to the decision of the Punjab Government for free power supply to tube- wells in the state, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, national general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union, said though late but it was a step in right direction. He said this while addressing mediapersons at Civil Rest House here today.

Mr Rajewal said as the Chief Minister had admitted that the financial health of the state has improved, so he should fulfil another poll promises by releasing the balance of paddy bonus at the rate of Rs 20 per quintal.



Bank of India celebrates jubilee
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, September 10
The local branch of the Bank of India cut a cake to mark the celebrations for the Bank entering into 100th year. In a function organised by Manager Hakam Singh, and other employees of the branch, the cake-cutting ceremony was performed by Mr Anil Sood, president of Nagar Council of Machhiwara and Mr Amrik Singh Kahlon, former president of the Arhtiya Association of Machhiwara.

Mr Hakam Singh said the bank management had decided to gift multi-porch business to its customer. Under this facility, an account bearer of any branch of the Bank of India could deal with all 2,550 branches of the bank due to their inter-connectivity.

Block Congress president Surinder Kundra, Sarpanch Shakti Anand, Mr Vijay Sood, former Chairman, Market Committee, Mr Gurcharan Singh Mithewal, vice- chairman, PADB, Mr Mukan Singh Benipal and Mr Harjinder Singh Khera were present.



Arhtiyas, traders apprised of bank schemes
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 10
Local branches of the State Bank of Patiala (SBP) organised a joint meeting with commission agents and traders and apprised them of various schemes launched by the bank recently.

Mr G.S. Behal and Mr B.K. Verma, managers of the Old Mandi branch and the Grain Market Branch, respectively, said the constituents of the bank were asked to follow financial discipline so that optimum utilisation of money could be made.

Besides showing interest in other remunerative schemes, the commission agents showed an overwhelming interest in the Book Debt Advance Scheme that ultimately benefited the farmers. 


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