L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Gastroenteritis breaks out in yet another colony
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Sewage which has accumulated on a plot in the absence of a proper disposal system in the colony
Sewage which has accumulated on a plot in the absence of a proper disposal system in the colony. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, September 25
Gastroenteritis has broken in yet another colony of the city with as many as 157 residents of Makkar Colony in Gyaspura reporting sick to doctors in a medical camp organised by the Health Department here today.

The Health Department confirmed around 70 cases of gastroenteritis. Dr S.S. Dhir, Senior Medical Officer, Sahnewal Block, said around 70 residents suffered from gastro, some from fever while others only took medicines from them.

He added that he had referred a 35-year-old man, Makhan Singh, to Civil Hospital as his condition was deteriorating.

The residents of the area claimed that 50-year-old Murari, a resident of Lakhbir Singh Da Vehra in Gali number 1 of Makkar Colony, had succumbed to gastroenteritis on Friday morning.

The health officers, however, said they could not say anything in this case as the disease could not be identified after death.

A visit to Makkar Colony today exposed the poor basic amenities provided to these people by the Municipal Corporation with broken roads, heaps of garbage and overflowing sewerage greeting the visitors to the colony.

Residents complained of turbid water being supplied to them.

Not only the MC drew flak for not being able to provide clean environment but the filthy living conditions of the local population, mostly comprising migrants, also came to the fore.

Around 5 to 10 families were living in quarters as small as 100 square yards.

Not much emphasis was laid on keeping the environment clean. Houses were stinking and unhygienic conditions prevailed all round.

The sewage was being discharged on the streets itself, some houses were water-logged with this discharge and heaps of garbage were littering all around.

The MC employees came into action soon after the reports of disease and launched a massive cleaning operation in the area.

Later in the day, the MC supplied potable water through tankers and launched fogging operations.

Dr Dhir said the Health Department had taken five samples from various parts of the colony. These would be sent to Punjab Agricultural University, (PAU), for testing.

He added that they had distributed 1000 tablets of chlorine, 250 packets of ORS and visited 260 houses in various streets. Blood samples from fever patients were also collected.

The doctors took group meetings of the people and asked them to live in hygienic conditions.

A door-to-door survey revealed that many people were down with diarrhoea and vomitings.

The worst-hit were the gali number 1, 2 and 3 where at least one person was sick in every house.

Ms Amrik Kaur, a resident, said they were receiving dirty and stinking water for the past one week. ‘‘When people started falling sick and one of them even died, I complained to MC employees last evening. Today morning they came despite it being a Sunday. Otherwise we were complaining to some leaders, who did not pay any heed to us,’’ she said. Mr Hakam Singh Gyaspura, area councillor, however, said there was no problem in his ward.

He said there were only 3-4 cases of gastro in the colony adding, ‘‘I am standing on the spot. I do not see much problem here. The problem is due to so many migrants living in one house.’’

Incidentally, Mr Hakam Singh was the first person to oppose the proposal of the MC chief to carry out a survey in such areas where migrants were living amidst filth and dirt, in a General House meeting conducted recently.

Joint Commissioner, Dr Jaswant Singh and Assistant Commissioner, Mr B.K. Gupta also visited the colony to take stock of the situation in the evening.



Farmers’ unending tale of misery
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
Punjab farmers are these days worried about the economic depression which stares at them menacingly.

To make matters worse, an alarming increase in the number of drug addicts seems to have compounded their problems.

The farmers had never imagined such a sorry state of affairs even during the height of militancy. Moreover, youths in the countryside are facing difficulties even in finding a suitable match for themselves.

According to Gurcharan Singh Mann, a progressive farmer from Tungawali village in Bathinda district, a considerable number of youth, belonging to the farming community, have fallen prey to drug addiction.

Mr Mann was bestowed upon the Parwasi Bharti Award for his innovative methods in agricultural diversification.

He says while economic problems continue to worry farmers, drug addiction adds to their woes.

One of the main reasons for the problem of drug addiction in the villages, according to Gurdev Singh of Moga, remains the unemployment.

He says most of the youth in the villages are educated. But they neither have the avenues for higher education nor do they get any work.

Since they remain idle, they fall for various vices and drug addiction is one of these, he asserts.

During a conversation with a cross-section of farmers, belonging to various parts of the state, who had come here to attend the annual ‘kisan mela’ organised by the Punjab Agricultural University, The Tribune found that farmers have seemingly reconciled to their fate.

Besides unemployment, according to Jagir Singh, another farmer from Bathinda, the rural youth have problems in finding the matrimonial matches also.

He attributed this to two reasons, saying, “One obviously is the unemployment and another non-availability of the girls.”

His views best sum up the obvious impact of falling sex ratio in the state.

“Gone are the days when the farmers took pride in their job,” Mela Singh, a farmer from Philaur, said.

He observes that the land holdings have already turned smaller and even the few who have retained the big holdings cannot claim that they continue to be prosperous.

When the agriculture boom occurred the farmers started from the bottom and built the fortune. After achieving success, they have either not been able to improve upon it or have not managed to retain it.

Even the talk about the
agricultural diversification does not enthuse the farmers much.

They maintain that unless the government did something substantial to revive the agricultural economy, the diversification will not mean anything to them.



Employees end fast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
The two fasting employees of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Mr Satpal Sharma and Mr RS Arora, today ended their indefinite fast after the university agreed to revoke their suspension and they also agreed to reply to the show-cause notice.

They were offered juice by the senior Bhartiya Janata Party leader and former Deputy Speaker, Mr Satpal Gosain, and the local councillor, Ms Amritvarsha Rampal, both of whom brokered the settlement.

The two employees were protesting their termination orders as they had been issued a show-cause notice. They had been fasting for the past 12 days. Today some prominent citizens, including Mr Gosain and Ms Rampal, visited the employees and inquired about their demands. They later met the PAU Vice Chancellor, Dr KS Aulakh. Dr Aulakh reportedly insisted that the employees must maintain discipline at all costs.

He pointed out that he had nothing personal against the two employees or anyone else and he was only following the legal procedure and enforcing discipline on the campus.

Dr Aulakh reportedly agreed to revoke their suspension provided they agreed to reply to the show -cause notice, which they did. Dr Aulakh would also be giving the two employees a personal hearing. The issue would be sorted out after negotiations across the table.

The two employees said they were also prepared to present their case before the university and were always in favour of a negotiated settlement of the issue. They said they would be replying to the show- cause notice.

The employees also expressed their gratitude towards the employees of the university, various social and political organisations for the support during their fast. They claimed that since they had been left with no other option, they had to resort to such an extreme measure.

They also said that they had nothing personal against anybody, particularly the Vice-Chancellor and they had raised their voice once they were left with no option.



Trade unions’ strike on September 29
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
Trade unions in the city today resolved to make the strike on September 29 a success. The strike, being observed on a call given by the National Platform of Mass Organisation (NPMO), is in protest against the Punjab Government’s “anti-people” policies.

Addressing a rally of workers here today, Mr Raghunath Singh, the all-India vice-president, of CITU, alleged that the government’s policies pertaining to privatisation and globalisation were anti-people.

He said workers who had been turned out of factories, should be taken back and cases against them should be withdrawn.

The CPM district secretary, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sekhon, said kisan unions and unions from various industries would participate in the strike.

Meanwhile, Moulder and Steel Workers Union president Mohan Singh said the union would support the strike on September 29.



Passing Thru

Sarita Baluja
Sarita Baluja, who volunteers service in a school for disabled

Do you have a special training that enables you to work with disabled children?

When I visited a school in Delhi where children with orthopaedic disability, cerebral palsy, visually impaired, slow learners were studying, I felt that I should reach out to them. I did not need a degree or a special training to help them, but my maternal instincts would guide me. I have been working as a volunteer in that school for thw past 12 years.

How do you feel when you visit Ludhiana?

Ludhiana is my hometown. My ancestors are from this city so in spite of living in Delhi after my marriage, my roots are here. I feel most of the people still express warmth and love that they did earlier.

What changes would you like to see in the city?

If we are proud of our state and patriotism springs from our hearts, we can surely make this city cleaner than what it is and launch projects for the benefits of the poor. Economically the city is booming and I strongly feel that a motivated society can do better than the state. So those who have earned from the society should generate funds for it so that quality of life of poor people can improve in this city. The infrastructure of the city needs improvement. Traffic should be more regulated as there is a lot of chaos on the streets.

— Asha Ahuja



Ludhiana Calling

WITH over 5,000 police personnel on duty for the Prime Minister’s visit here, the security agencies provided a perfect security cover for him. However, the presence of so many men in khaki could not provide one day free of crime. A petrol station was looted near the Samrala chowk and in the Feroze Gandhi market, thieves stole a bag containing over Rs 1 lakh from a car. There were some purse-snatching incidents, too. All these incidents took place in broad daylight.

Dearth of talent?

Often one hears artistes complaining of poor opportunities in creative fields like acting, dancing and music. Directors, however, have a different story to tell. A director who came here to conduct auditions for a teleshow complained of lukewarm response. Either people of the town are not interested in availing opportunities or there is a lack of training facilities, he observed. Interestingly, talent hunt shows aired on channels like Sony and Zee recently witnessed active participation from the city youth.

Risky livelihood

Making a livelihood has never been easy. People risk their lives to make both ends meet. In a megacity like Ludhiana, where construction of tall buildings has now become common, workers with expertise in high-rise buildings are in great demand. Alongside the buildings, there is a parallel bulwark erected almost of the same height. Seeing the workers at the bulwarks is too thrilling to be believed as they balance themselves on a pair of bamboo sticks (see accompanying picture) on the top of the world and sometimes they even meet accidents also. But the show goes on as someone else steps in to rise to the top as the livelihood has to be made at every cost.

All for publicity

Extensive media coverage has helped increase the awareness levels of people. Every occasion, be it a school function or a sapling plantation drive, gets due coverage. The trouble begins when they want even little activities covered by newspapers. Recently a bank wanted coverage for the retirement function of a senior clerk. A little thinking may do them good.

Cable services

Cable operators, in support of their demands, suspended cable services for five days. All they got was the wrath of residents who blamed them for causing inconvenience to the public. A mere assurance from the media adviser of the Chief Minister got the cable operators back to work. While they kept claiming that various leaders had appealed to them to restart services in view of the Prime Minister’s visit, it is being felt that they understood that such measures would not help.

Bull on road

A bull can be seen on one of the busiest roads of the city — Deepak Cinema road — for several days now. The bull can be spotted in the middle of the road, throwing traffic out of gear. So far so good as no fatal accident has occurred but the bull should be taken away before something major happens.

— Sentinel



SAD-BJP man is civic body president
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, September 25
The Congress suffered a major setback as SAD-BJP alliance captured presidentship of the local Nagar Panchayat today. Ujagar Singh and Daljeet Singh Gill were elected president and vice-president.

It is for the first time when any candidate belonging to a party other than Congress has become the president of the town ever since the Nagar Panchayat came into existence.

Before the election of the president, it was being assessed that Surinder Kundra president of Block Congress, might become the president of the Nagar Panchayat as the Congress was having seven councillors in comparison to six councillors of the SAD-BJP alliance. But the scenario of whole game got changed when a Congress councillor from ward 6, Mangat Rai, raised his hand in favour of the SAD-BJP alliance candidate Ujagar Singh.

Congratulating Mr Ujagar Singh and his team for their success, Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon, MP from Ludhiana has announced a grant of Rs 7 lakh for the development of this town. All supporters of the SAD-BJP alliance took out a huge procession through the bazaars and streets to thank the people of the town.



Activists of Bairagi Mandal for Rohtak byelection
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 25
Several activists of the All-India Bairagi Mahan Mandal, led by its president, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, today left for Rohtak to canvass support for Congress nominee Deepender Singh Hooda in the Lok Sabha byelection scheduled to be held on September 28.

Mr Bawa was accompanied by Mr Jiwan Das Bawa, general secretary, among others on this occasion.

In a statement issued before leaving for Rohtak, Mr Bawa said the functionaries of the Bairagi Mahan Mandal would take part in the election campaign on the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. "We shall mobilise nearly one lakh voters belonging to the Bairagi community in the Rohtak parliamentary constituency to ensure success of the Congress candidate.

He further maintained that the members of the community all over the country had always stood by the Congress, which was the only secularl party, committed to the unity and integrity of the country.

Mr Bawa claimed that Mr Hooda, who is son of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda would win the election with a thumping majority.



Pensioners flay Finance Dept notification
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 25
At a meeting held here today, the Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association flayed a notification, issued recently by the Punjab Finance Department, regarding rationalisation of pensions/family pensions of pre-96 retirees.

They termed the notification as flawed and baffling and decried the Finance Department for nullifying the Punjab Cabinet's decision, dated July 27, providing Rs 40.58 crore for payment of arrears to the pre-96 retirees for the period between January 1,1996 and March 31, 2005.

This was mentioned in a press statement issued by Mr Yashpaul Ghai, additional general-secretary, Punjab Govt Pensioners' Association.

Pensioners lamented that the said notification was silent on pay-fixation though it was mentioned in previous notifications. The Punjab Pay Commission had also made a recommendation to this effect, they added.

They urged the state government to insert the words 'pay fixation on notional basis' in the notification and issue a corrigendum to this effect.



6 poor girls married off
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 25
Six poor girls were married off today by the Maa Bhagwati Club. It also gave them certain household goods. The marriages were solemnised at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Deep Nagar.

Ms Parvinder Kaur, Chairperson, Punjab State Women Commission, Kamal Cheena, president, Youth Congress, ward No. 70, Varun Mehta and former Mayor Apinder Singh Grewal were present on the occasion and blessed the couples.



Tributes paid to Deen Dayal Upadhyay
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
Tributes were paid to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay on his birth anniversary here today. A function was organised by the local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party which was presided over by the district president, Dr Subash Verma.

The speakers recalled his services towards national reconstruction. They pointed out that he was a great visionary.

He was a guiding force for the present BJP in its erstwhile avatar, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He was also the founder of the Hindi weekly, Panchjanya and Rashtradharm.

He was initiated into the RSS in 1937 at the age of 21. He was actively involved in the freedom struggle.



Bharti’s agro-export venture by December
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 25
Bharti group's $ 50-million project for export of fresh fruits and vegetables, to be set up in Ladhowal here, would be completed by December this year.

Fieldfresh Fruit Private Limited, the project being started in joint venture with UK's Rothschild, would be spread in an area of over 300 acres.

"Ladhowal is the model farm where we would set up the Fieldfresh Agri Centre of Excellence (FACE). It would have a research and development laboratory, would offer protected cultivation, micro-irrigation besides a cold chain," said Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director, Bharti Teletech.

The project, which is being considered important in view of the investment inflow and development in the field of agriculture it would offer through latest techniques, also aims to provide immense opportunities to farmers.

The company has already contracted 800 acres of land in Punjab, Uttaranchal and Rajasthan and plans to contract 2,000 acre of land by March 2006 and 6,000 to 10,000 acres within 12 months.

"The project is a major initiative towards crop diversification. However, there is a need to take many more such initiatives if the state is to attain significant growth through such efforts," Mr Mittal opined.

As growing vegetables was a 90- day cycle, chances of losses were also reduced, he said. Besides, the problem of depleting water table would also be solved, he added.

Work on the project has already started and over 90 per cent of the workers being employed in farms are women.

Talking about the success being attained through adoption of latest techniques, Mr Mittal said: "With best practices adopted, we managed to increase productivity of ocra from 800 kg per acre to five tonnes an acre. Farmers are being educated on how to get the best productivity. Experts would work with farmers."

He said minute details like medical fitness of farmers were also being taken care of by the company.

Lack of cold chain, which led to wastages as high as 75 per cent, would be taken care of in this project.

"India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables but holds less than one per cent share in world market, which highlights the urgency to take care of this aspect."

While the company assures purchases, farmers have to invest in new technologies for which the company would help them in availing credit.

Mr Mittal emphasised that the government needed to give freight subsidies in case of such projects as excessive freight increased prices of the products exported, rendering Indian products uncompetitive in global markets.

He said the company expected a turnover of $ 1 billion within five years from this project.



Handicrafts from N-E on display
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 25
An exhibition-cum-sale of exquisite crafts of north-eastern states organised by Purbashree Emporium, a branch of the north-eastern Handicrafts and Handlooms Development Corporation, was inaugurated here today by Mayor Nahar Singh Gill. The exhibition will continue till October at Kaka Palace. The timings are from 10am to 8pm.

The exhibition is aimed at selling their products.

The craftsmen of seven hill states have developed many items of cane and bamboo furniture to suit modern tastes and preferences of the customers. One could see wonderful examples of basketry and cane works from Assam and Tripura. Woven cane baskets of different shapes, coasters, are among exquisite specimen of cane work.


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