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Protests mark Ludhiana MC meeting
General house passes agenda within 15 minutes
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

The general house of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation today passed an ambitious proposal of the government on the rapid mass transport system in the form of a magnetic levitation train to tackle the evergrowing problem of traffic in the city.

The item stated that the matter was discussed with the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, who was of the opinion that major cities should consider such a transport system to ease out traffic chaos.

The majority also gave its nod to transfer 2475.5 square yards of MC land to the State Transport Department for the construction of local Bus Stand.

The item said the land in question was required for the smooth flow of vehicular traffic.

However, the issues were not discussed on the floor due to protest. The Mayor, Mr Gill, however, said that Congress councillors, who are in majority in the house raised their hands and passed the issues.

Ludhiana, September 27
For the second time in a row, the general house of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC), passed agenda amidst ruckus in its meeting which lasted for only 15 minutes today.

While the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, declared that agenda had been passed by the majority, the BJP and SAD councillors, who had demanded tabling of the last meeting's items again in today's general house, said they have ‘‘rejected’’ today's proceedings.

They further claimed that they would attend the next meeting only if these items were discussed on the floor.

The commotion started over the first agenda item regarding discussion of the last meeting's items.

The Law Officer of MC said that it was unlawful to carry forward the last agenda as the Section 70(2) of Municipal Corporation Act said once the final decision of the general house carried signatures of Presiding Officer, it could not be taken up again.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, a SAD councillor, however, raised an objection.

He was accompanied by the leader of the Opposition in the MC House and BJP councillor, Mr Parvin Bansal, who accused the Mayor of having a ‘‘dictatorial attitude’’ as the issues were given a nod in an undemocratic manner.

Both the leaders demanded that a zero hour should also be included in the meeting so that councillors can voice their problems.

Amidst raising of slogans, both the leaders climbed up the dais and Mayor asked the Secretary of LMC to read out the agenda for the House.

The items reverberated in the House as commotion continued with all SAD and BJP councillors joining their leaders in protest.

The Mayor said they would provide zero hour in the next meeting after discussing it in an all-party meeting.

The meeting started at 11:30 am and by 11:45 am all items were passed.

Both the Mayor and the Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, left the House amidst sloganeering by the Opposition.

Mr Bansal accused the MC of having a lackadaisical attitude as far as the problems of public were concerned.

He said that the issued related to garbage, bad roads, street lights and other development works were not being addressed.

He accused the Mayor of running a parallel House as he claimed that while all issues were given a final nod in the last meeting, a copy of proceedings issued to them had raised objections on certain matters and in some cases committees were also constituted. How could this happen? he asked.

Mr Simarjit Singh Bains, an Akali councillor, said they were all set to rake up certain issues regarding encroachments by the Mayor and an alleged advertisement space-scam but due to their ‘‘adamant’’ attitude he could not do so.

He warned that if the zero hour was not given to them next time they would not enter the committee room.

Mr Gurdeep Singh Neetu, a BJP councillor, alleged that while the MC was going gaga over the proposal of development works, worth Rs 911 crore nobody knew whether these would ever see the light of the day.

He alleged that a Malaysian company had offered to build a bypass connecting the Oswal Hospital road to Jalandhar bypass on BOT basis for five years but the MC had refused to accept the offer.

Now, they have proposed to construct the same bridge with the union government money. ‘‘If I can smell a rat why cannot the government do so?’’ he said.

The last meeting had also ended amidst pandemonium and the Opposition had written a letter to the Local Bodies Department stating that agenda was passed without any discussion and it should be tabled again.



Electrocution of six: MC rejects probe report
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 27
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has rejected the report of the magisterial inquiry into the electrocution of six persons after two electricity poles fell into Sidhwan Canal, virtually challenging the investigation by a Magistrate on the plea that the inquiry was “not based on the facts”.

The inquiry, which was conducted by SDM (W) Malwinder Singh Jaggi, has recommended action against some officials of the corporation besides those of the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Irrigation Department.

A controversy sparked off when the Mayor at the last MC meeting declared the report as accepted whereas it had allegedly been rejected in the proceedings of the General House, which was held on August 22. The minutes of the MC meeting were released today.

While the Opposition has accused Mayor Nahar Singh Gill of running a parallel general house in which ‘‘behind-the-curtain’’ decisions were taken, the report has also brought the MC at loggerheads with the district administration.

Mr Parvin Bansal, leader of Opposition, said they would write to the state government and demand police action against the persons responsible for tampering with the proceedings of the General House meeting without putting it to the notice of the House, says Mr Bansal.

The MC has summarily rejected the report whereas the Police Department, Irrigation Department and the PSEB have implemented the report and initiated action against the officials indicted in the report.

Six persons had been killed in the incident, including three children, when two pillars, supporting high voltage power cables, fell into the canal. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, had ordered an inquiry into the incident. The inquiry report has indicted 12 officials of the three departments.

The police has initiated action against Junior Engineers Ashwani Kumar (PSEB), Joginder Singh of the Irrigation Department and Balwinder Singh of the MC acting on the report.

The other officials indicted in the report are XEN Gurmit Singh, SDO Kuldip Singh (PSEB), XEN S.P. Singh and SDO Santosh Kumar (MC), XEN Suresh Chander and SDO Sukhpal Singh Khalra of the Irrigation Department and three others.



6 more cases of gastroenteritis in Makkar Colony
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 27
Gastroenteritis in Makkar Colony, Gyaspura, is on the decline with only six fresh cases reported in the area today. The district Health Department continued with its medical camp and supplied medicines and chlorine tablets to residents. Dr S.S. Dhir, Senior Medical Officer, Sahnewal Block, said the situation was under control as the municipal corporation had replaced old water supply pipes.

He said the results of water samples collected from the area were yet to be received. The reports of blood tests of patients with fever were also awaited. For the time being it could not be said whether they were suffering from malaria.

Interestingly, Gyaspura was declared sensitive for malaria this year by the Union Health Department, as a number of cases of malaria were reported last year. The government had directed the health authorities to keep a watch in malaria-sensitive pockets and take preventive steps to avoid it.

Meanwhile, the municipal corporation today claimed that gastroenteritis in the Jawahar Nagar area was not due to contaminated water as all four water samples collected from various houses were declared potable by the Microbiology Department of Punjab Agricultural University. No bacteria was found in the samples.

The MC had taken samples from gali numbers 6.



One-year jail for keeping pistol sans licence
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 27
The Judicial Magistrate, Mr Jaspal Verma, has convicted Ravinder Singh of Hargobind Nagar of illegally possessing a country-made pistol of .12-bore and bullet. He was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.

“The accused has committed an offence by keeping a fire-arm without licence. I am of the view that he is not entitled for any leniency,’’ remarked the Judge, while declining the plea of the accused for releasing him on probation. A fine of Rs 500 was also imposed on the accused.

According to prosecution, on December 9, 2000, a police party headed by ASI Waryam Singh was patrolling Railway Crossing, Dana Mandi, Arora Palace areas. On suspicion when they searched the accused he was found possessing a country-made pistol which had a bullet in it. However, during the trial the accused pleaded innocence and claimed that no pistol was seized from him. But convinced with the evidence of the prosecution, the court found him guilty.



Drama at Circuit House exposes cracks in YC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 27
The drama witnessed at the Circuit House here yesterday when two groups of Youth Congress activists virtually came to blows after a meeting convened by state unit president of the party Raminder Awla had concluded is ample proof that new district unit president Dimple Rana has been unable to curb party infighting.

In the clash between supporters of a ward president, Mr Ashok Kumar, and a block president, Mr Gaurav Saggi, the former is said to have sustained injuries and a complaint lodged with the Sarabha Nagar police station.

Party sources reveal that with the re-induction of Mr Komal Khanna as one of the secretaries of the Punjab Youth Congress, the rival group of the DYC president had received a shot in the arm and the ongoing campaign against Mr Rana again stepped up. Mr Khanna, who was unceremoniously removed from the post of the president of the DYC a couple of months back, had been looking for an opportunity to settle scores with the new incumbent, sources revealed.

In this context, it was not surprising that minutes after Mr Awla had prevailed upon Mr Rana and Mr Khanna to bury the hatchet and work together for the party, the Congress candidate from ward No 66, Mr Subhash Taina, who had suffered a humiliating defeat in the byelection, complained to the PYC chief that Mr Rana had worked against him and non-cooperation of DYC functionaries was one of the reasons of his defeat. Interestingly, Mr Khanna was present when the Congress nominee spewed venom against the DYC leader.

If party sources are to be believed, Mr Rana, and for that matter his predecessor does not have the political stature or leadership quality needed to revamp the organisation like a cohesive group. “The DYC leadership lacks direction, organisational skills and power to mobilise the ranks. The appointment of the district president has, of late, become a manipulative affair,”maintained a senior party leader having worked in the YC for a long time.

Another highly placed Congress functionary said if the byelection in a single ward in the city was a test for the party and its youth wing then both had failed miserably. That the candidate of the ruling Congress came a poor third from a ward which had twice returned Congress nominee, was a clear pointer to the sorry state of affairs and failure of the leadership. “With Assembly elections round the corner the ruling party need to do a thorough soul-searching to identify the weaknesses and take corrective measures before it is too late,” he observed.



BJP for probe into KGB funding of Cong, CPI
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 27
The BJP while expressing shock over the alleged funding of senior Congress and CPI leaders by the KGB has demanded a high level probe into the revelations.

In a statement here today, the state secretary of the party, Mr Anil Sarin, said the Cong-CPI-KGB nexus and the charges that the then ministers in the Indira Gandhi government were involved in leaking country’s top secret to the Russian secret agency, needed to be exposed to bring about the truth.

“The shocking revelation by former KGB agent Vasili Mitrokhin about money regularly being paid to the Congress and the CPI is a matter of grave concern for the country.

These sensational disclosures and the manner in which the Soviet secret services had penetrated the political set up of the country at the highest level ought to be investigated thoroughly,” he said.

The BJP leader further observed that the fact that rubles were repeatedly paid to Congress ministers and CPI leaders and that the payment was made through commercial business houses involved in the import-exports business could not be just pushed under the carpet on the pretext of these being delayed and that some of the persons concerned were no longer alive.

He asserted that the government should order a high-level probe so that the facts were brought before the people.

He remarked that as the principal constituent of the UPA government at the Centre, the Congress owed an explanation to the people and could not shirk away from its responsibility by simply rubbishing such serious allegations.

However, given the Congress party’s track record of whitewashing several investigations in the past, Mr Sarin expressed apprehension about its intention of an impartial investigation.



Govt, bank staff strike tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 27
The employees of various government departments here are fully geared up to take part in the nationwide strike on September 29 to make anti-privatisation protests a complete success.

District convener of the Para-Medical and Health Employees Coordination Committee, Punjab, and the senior vice-president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Mr Amarjit Singh Pandher, said this today.

The functionaries of the PSSF, including Mr Dayal Singh, Mr Surjit Singh and Mr Vinod Kumar, had convened meetings of various sections of government employees here during last couple of days so as to mobilise them for the anti-privatisation strike.

Mr Pandher said the protests by the government employees would continue till their demands, like scrapping privatisation policies, withdrawal of ban on fresh recruitments and filling up of vacant posts, were not accepted by the Centre as well as the state governments.

Meanwhile, insurance employees too will join other sections of working class in the strike on September 29, said Mr Amarjit Singh, divisional secretary, North Zone Insurance Employees Association.

Addressing a meeting to review preparations for the strike, he said among other issues, the association would oppose the increase in FDI in the insurance sector, privatisation of pension funds and any dilution of the public sector character of the LIC.

Mr Harbans Singh, divisional president of the association, also addressed the meeting.

Meanwhile, on a call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Ludhiana, will participate in the national strike on September 29. All-India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA) will hold a rally in front of Canara Bank, Bharat Nagar Chowk, on that day.

Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary of the association, said the strike would be observed in protest against the government’s economic policies.

On the demands of bank employees, Mr Gaur said the federation wanted further expansion of public sector banks and opening of more rural branches. He said rural credit should be increased and interest rate on agricultural credit should be reduced. The federation would also raise its demand to stop disinvestment of the government’s shares in public sector banks.

Mr Gaur said bank employees were against mergers and infusion of foreign capital. Instead, private banks should be taken over by the public sector banks, he said.

The other demands included merger of regional rural banks with their sponsor banks, effective measures towards recovering bad loans, treating wilful default as criminal offence and implementation of the recommendations of task force committee on restructuring and recapitalisation of cooperative banks.



MC ‘burdens’ residents with huge water, sewerage charges
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 27
Putting a massive financial burden on city residents, the Municipal Corporation has not only effected a steep hike in water supply and sewerage charges but also directed the residents to pay arrears as per the revised hike for the past couple of years. The MC argues that the rates were revised some years ago but have been implemented now.

The issue was highlighted by the Opposition councillors in MC House today who claimed that the decision would hit residents, especially the poor. Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, a SAD councillor, said it was ironical that the state government was providing free power supply to poor villagers and farmers and it had not thought about the poor urbanites.

Mr Dang said as per the revised rates, the water and sewerage charges were hiked to Rs 60 per marla from Rs 50. He said the charges would increase for those residents who had houses bigger than 125 sq yards. He added that the development charges have also been hiked from Rs 20 per sq yard to Rs 110 per sq yard up to an area of 150 sq yards. For an area of more than 150 sq yards, the development charges would increase to Rs 150 per sq yards.

Calling it an injustice, Mr Dang demanded that the hike should be reversed. The issue, however, could not be discussed in the meeting.

City Mayor Nahar Singh Gill at the start of the meeting had only assured that he would convey the general sentiment to the state government and on behalf of the House he would request a roll back in the hike.

Mr Gill agreed with Mr Dang on the issue of farmers getting free power supply whereas the urbanites were being be burdened. He added that he would go to the extent of urging the government to waive house tax and water supply bills of economically weaker sections of society.



Marriage with Punjabi boys is Manipuri girls’ dream
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, September 27
Girl students from Manipur participating at the National Integration Camp here at Master Tara Singh Memorial College for Women are not impressed with Punjabi culture and hospitality and if given chance, they would like to marry Punjabi boys, who, they believe, are very handsome. “I am impressed the way they tie their turban and speak the word “hanji” (yes). They look really good”, said Juliet, a BSc third year botany honours student from Manipur.

Led by their contingent leader Ms L.Sanatombi Devi from WMGC Thouban, Manipur, the 10 member team has all praises for the warm-heartedness of Punjabis. “People are same. There is not much difference. This is our first visit to the city and we are not finding it difficult to get along with localities or volunteers from other contingents.

All are very helpful here and we are enjoying our stay. We have clicked many photographs to show it to our people back home”, said the contingent leader.

An excited Juliet said, “We are having our cultural programme tonight. The girls have specially bought beautiful phanek (wrap around) with them.We will perform our folkdance, laiharaoba. We will let our hair loose and wear a Kajenglei (a type of hat). A feather will be put in which depicts the goddess in woman”, she said.

Another BSc III year bio-chemistry student, Zeenat, said she was very impressed to see the Golden Temple and the Retreat ceremony at the Wagah border yesterday. “We have never seen such beautiful things before. These sweet memories will be there with me throughout my life. I am so impressed by the people here that I would like to marry a Punjabi boy. Language is certainly a problem but we are able to communicate with each other in English”, she said.

Chandani, another student, said though they were not served the non-vegetarian food here but they had the taste of it at Ghantaghar chowk. “If we feel like having something non-veg, we go out and get it. But aaloo parantha served here very delicious. Back home, we eat food which is very light with less of ghee. Here the dishes are very spicy but the sweet-dishes are excellent”, she said.

The contingent will leave for Manipur on September 30. Other students participating in this camp come from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Pondicherry, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, etc.



Lalton boy cycles his way into Limca Book of Records
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 27
Jagdev Singh Bhima, a newly-married youth of Lalton Kalan village, near here, has cycled his way into the Limca Book of National Records by covering 16,000 km across 13 states of the country. He has dedicated his feat to the tri-centenary of the Khalsa Panth.

Explaining his journey, which he undertook all alone, Jagdev Singh told Ludhiana Tribune today that people he met at various places were friendly by and large except for some hostile encounters in Bihar where he had to use his persuasive skills to tackle them. To ensure his safety he spent his nights either in a gurdwara, a police station or a Panjabi roadside dhaba.

He has an ambitious plan of writing a book on the historical gurdwaras in the country which he had photographed during his journey. He has requested the Punjab Government to arrange a Pakistani visa for him to visit the historic gurdwaras there.

He said he was successful in his mission largely due to his devotional approach to the arduous journey. Jagdev Singh was all praise for his friends and residents of his village who encouraged him to undertake the journey, but was a bit critical of the SGPC for not recognising his effort.



Cattle feed samples examined
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 27
A team of officials of the state Dairy Development Department visited various industrial units engaged in manufacturing of cattle feed at the local town today.

Besides examining working conditions at the units, the team took samples of various types of feed for further examination of its ingredients.

Sources revealed that a team led by Mr Gurmel Singh Chahil, Deputy Director, Dairy Development and Mr Jaspal S, Inspector, Dairy Development, arrived at the local town in the morning.

They visited all industrial units engaged in manufacturing of cattle feed and examined physical nature of the raw material and finished products.

To ascertain the chemical nature of the ingredients, samples were sealed in the presence of representatives of various social organisations.

While talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, the authorities claimed that the step was taken to ensure supply of quality feed to the cattle and pure milk with desired proportions of various nutrients.


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