L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Acute LPG shortage in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
Even as the one-day state-wide strike by the state unit of the All- India Federation of LPG Distributors tomorrow has been called off at the eleventh hour to avoid further inconvenience to the LPG consumers but the acute scarcity of cooking gas here continues with no relief in sight for next couple of days.

The 45-odd LPG distributors of the city were getting decreased supplies of 30 to 40 per cent from their respective oil companies and the back log for the supply of refill cylinder was 10 to 12 days at an average, that too after booking was made 21 days after receiving previous supply. Some of the LPG distributors, it was authoritatively learnt, had resorted to refill booking after 30 days of previous supply in violation of the directive from oil companies.

That the much publicised government assurance, to improve the LPG supply situation and the directive to oil companies to import additional quantity without further delay remained on paper, was evident from the rush of consumers at almost all the local LPG distributors offices.

To add to the woes of the consumers, many of the distributors were still said to be indulging in black marketing of LPG cylinders and other malpractices like making out-of-turn supplies and diverting supply meant for domestic use to commercial establishments at a premium.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, sources in the LPG trade admitted that there might be certain dealers who were wilfully diverting supply of domestic cylinders for commercial use to make easy money but at the same time the distributors, at their own level, could not do much to curb this practice.

“We have to supply LPG cylinders to bona fide consumers against valid booking and once the delivery is made, there is no mechanism available to us to keep a track on regarding its usage,” said one of the local distributors requesting anonymity.

There was almost a consensus among quite a few LPG distributors that the administration was keeping its eyes closed to the gross misuse of domestic cylinders of LPG by trade, industrial units and vehicle owners, running their automobiles on cooking gas.

Although the availability of LPG to domestic consumers will improve only when supply in required quantity was received by the distributors, yet steps to check diversion and misuse could also lead to some relief to the people, they maintained.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party Punjab State Secretary, Mr Anil Sarin , has attributed the shortage of essential commodities being witnessed in the country to the “misrule” of the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

In a statement issued here today, he alleged that the LPG shortage was a government-created crisis. Even as the festival season had begun, the city was witnessing serpentine queues for LPG. The black market was thriving and those who could not afford to pay in black had to wait for 15 to 30 days to get a refill cylinder.

The BJP leader alleged that the government had stopped giving new connections, thereby disturbing the supply chain management deliberately with the view to reduce the subsidy burden. He alleged that on the behest of the government, the oil companies had reduced the import of LPG in last four months. Since the government had refused to share the burden of subsidy on LPG, the oil companies were left with no alternative but to reduce the LPG supply through their respective distribution chain.

Mr Sarin further alleged that verbal orders to this effect were issued and were being carried out since August this year. “The distributors were told that the delivery period after booking will be 21 days for the customers, who have two cylinders. This has disrupted the whole distribution cycle. The written orders to this effect were issued last week only, thus resulting in LPG shortages and black marketing.”



Manhole death: police writes to MC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
After waiting for a month for the Municipal Corporation to take some action against alleged negligent officials or employees regarding the alleged death of a 7-year-old boy, who had fallen in a open manhole left uncovered by the MC, the city police today began the process of identifying the persons and taking action against them.

The city police has written a letter to the MC authorities for disclosing the identity of the officials or the employees concerned with the responsibility of covering the manhole as well as ensuring that it had remain covered.

Police sources said the need to write an official letter arose as the police was not able to know verbally who the officials or the employees were. The police feared that the body of the boy could have been recovered and destroyed.

The police had already registered an FIR under various sections against unknown persons for the alleged incident in which 7-year-old Mohan Bahadur had allegedly fallen to death in an open hole in phase-6 of the focal point here on September 11.

Sources said now the MC had to state his position officially to the police on the matter. Either they have to name the persons concerned or have to deny the occurrence of the incident.

The police would amend the FIR and book the officials or employees concerned if the MC identifies them. The city police and the district administration were already at loggerheads with the MC over the issue of death of six persons of electrocuting in Sidhwan canal on June 15. The MC had rejected the findings of the police and the district administration in this regard.

The MC has been making varied claims about the incident all these days. The claims have been strengthened by the fact that that the body has not been recovered. While the police said that all possible search operations to trace the body from the sewer pipes were made but they did not prove successful.

The MC has been claiming that the alleged incident did not happen. An official of the MC even claimed that the boy was fit and fine. The official said the boy had gone to some relatives house and was recovered next day. ‘‘After his recovery his family fled with him fearing repercussions of making a false complaint against the MC.’’

The police had, however, exposed the claims by finding that the family had not fled.



Non-teaching staff observe strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 10
In response to a call given by the Private College Non-teaching Employees Union, the non-teaching employees, went on a day strike in Arya College here today to press their pending demands. The strike was led by Mr D.K. Menro, president of the union.

The union leaders claimed that all private colleges in the state observed a two-hour strike, while, agitating employees would hold a district-level rally at Fatehgarh Sahib on Oct 21, and a day's fast at DAV College, Jalandhar, on Oct 24.

The first batch comprising Mr Rajiv Bhasin, Mr Jagdeep Singh, Mr Rachpal Chand Sharma, Mr Ashwani Thakur, Mr Anil Sharma, Ms Neelam, Mr Hardev Singh and Kanwar Gurdit Singh sat on fast today.

Addressing the rally of non-teaching employees, the union activists criticised the delaying tactics of the government over pending demands which included pension, gratuity, merger of 50 per cent ADA in basic salary, restoration of 95 per cent grant-in-aid and removal of ban on new recruitment. They rued that the government was inflicting gross injustice on non-teaching employees of private colleges, who were functioning as the back bone of the higher education in the state.

The rally, attended by the office bearers of all local units of the union from different local colleges, regretted that the indifferent attitude of the government had forced the employees to resort to the path of agitation, which, in due course, would be bound to vitiate the conducive atmosphere of the educational institutions. "But the entire responsibility for creating such a situation lay upon the government," the union leaders remarked.

The union leaders urged the government to see reason and concede all genuine demands of the non-teaching employees, failing which the ongoing agitation would be further intensified and the employees would continue their struggle till justice was dispensed to them.

Prominent among speakers at the rally were Mr Amrik Singh, Mr Ravinder Kaplish, Mr Vijay Kumar, Mr Sohan Lal Sharma, Ms Rama Sobti, Mr Vimal Kumar, Mr Ram Avtar, Mr Inderjit Rana, Mr Ram Charitra and Mr Ram Das.



58-year-long wait for ‘promised’ land
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
Despite moving from pillar to post for the past 58 years, 84-year-old Satnam Singh’s struggle to get the possession of his land seems to have come to a naught once again.

In spite of approaching the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC), requesting various officials of the administration and government of Punjab, Mr Satnam Singh is yet to get the land. He has sent a number of reminders to the officials concerned but to no avail.

As many as 58 years have passed since he left his home and land in Pakistan at the time of Partition and he has been trying to get land in lieu of his land there for all these years.

He was promised by the Additional Secretary Revenue Department, Punjab, that he would be given land if he gave his consent for the cancellation of the original plot allotted to him.

The PHRC had also closed his case on the plea that the matter involved intricate questions of facts and law and the commission was not a forum for such like matters. The commission had left the case to the Revenue Department authorities.

His fight for his right started in 1947 itself. But the promised land has eluded him till now. The Tribune had also highlighted his plight several times but it has had no effect on the authorities.

‘‘For the past four months I have been lying low as I was told by some officials that raising a hue and cry would offend the officials. But even after so many months of patience I am yet to get my plot,’’ he said.

He was allotted 26 kanals and 8 marlas of land in Machhian Kalan village in mid-1970s in lieu of his evacuee property. The land was allotted to him that time after the intervention of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. He had to struggle from 1948 to 1979 to procure the record of his land from Pakistan Government. It was only after the late Prime Minister took up his case that he was provided with the record.

But even now he is unaware of the next course of action and is again banking upon the media to come to his rescue. ‘‘I suffer from hypertension and all this running around has already caused much damage to my health and I was hospitalised also. My wife also passed away without actually seeing the land allotted to us. I feel I should at least get the possession during my lifetime.’’ he said. 



Passing Thru

Justice D.K. Jain
Mr Justice D.K. Jain, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

What is the reason for the huge pendency of over three crore cases in the courts?

People are becoming more and more aware of their human and legal rights. That is why there has been a spurt in the filing of cases in courts by the affected parties. Moreover, the human and material resources required to meet the ever growing demands in courts is inadequate, which result in a backlog of cases and inordinate delay in the administration of justice. Our ‘’ justice delivery system is bursting at the seams’’ and unless timely measures are adopted, it may collapse any time. And that would be the collapse of the rule of law.

What should be done to cope with such a situation ?

The need of the hour is to prevent the disputes and if need be, resolve the disputes at the earliest possible through alternative disputes redress methods. The popularity and effectiveness of these alternatives have recently led to the inclusion of Section 89 in the Civil Procedure Code, which requires the court to refer the dispute for settlement by way of arbitration, conciliation, mediation and settlement through Lok Adalats. When the parties fail to get their disputes settled through either of the alternative dispute resolution methods, the suit would proceed further in the court of law.

— Rajneesh Lakhanpal



Punjab offers aid to J&K, Pak
Amarinder gives directions for coordinating relief work
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state would provide generous aid to the quake- hit Jammu and Kashmir. The Chief Minister has also talked to his counterpart, Mr Pervez Elahi, in West Punjab offering aid and assistance for the earthquake victims.

Talking to The Tribune here last night, the Chief Minister said in the first phase the state would be sending 40,000 blankets besides tents for the temporary shelter of the victims. The Chief Minister had discussed the issue with the Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is monitoring the relief work in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Minister said he would visit Jammu and Kashmir. He said tents and blankets were being dispatched to Uri town. He said more aid would be dispatched to the quake- hit areas. He said the Punjab Government was in constant touch with Jammu and Kashmir Government, offering all assistance to the state.

Capt Amarinder also extended the aid offer to Mr Parvez Elahi.He said people of this part of Punjab stood by their brethren across the border. He said: “Human bonds transcend borders and we are pained at the massive loss caused by the earthquake in the subcontinent”. He said, people of Punjab stand by all victims in the hour of crisis.

The Chief Minister was here to attend the marriage reception of a son of SP (City II), Mr Kuldeep Singh.

He was accompanied by senior police and civil administration officers. He also gave directions for the coordination of relief work with the officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Government. 



Relief for earthquake victims
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana October 10
Three trucks of 10,000 blankets were sent by the district administration and by the Food and Civil Supply Department today from here for the recent earthquake-affected families in Jammu and Kashmi.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, Mr Anurag Verma, flagged off the trucks for Jalandhar, from where the relief material would be further sent to Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Verma said the affected people of the worst hit earthquake in the Kashmir valley were in urgent need of blankets, woolen clothes, tents etc., as they are spending their nights in the open. He said the voluntary organisations, Industrial Units and Industrial and Trade Associations should come forward to contribute these items for the needy.

He said those who were willing to contribute could contact Mr G .S. Bahia, Assistant Commissioner (General), on telephone number 2400002, in the Mini Secretariat Ludhiana.

DMCH to provide medical aid: Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here has decided to make available a team of medical and paramedical staff to render medical assistance to those injured in the earthquake in the northern part of the country.

The institution has expressed its willingness to coordinate with the authorities for the deployment of the team in the affected area as and when it was needed.

At a meeting of the faculty members held here today under the presidentship of Dr Daljit Singh,Principal, it was further resolved that the faculty and staff of the DMCH would contribute one day's salary towards relief and rehabilitation of the quake victims.

Dr Daljit Singh said the hospital would also provide free treatment to any victims brought here from the quake- affected areas for specialised treatment.



Protest against ‘corruption’ in LIT
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
Activists of the SC and ST cell of the District Congress Committee today protested against the ‘‘prevalent corruption’’ in the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) here.
Led by Mr Harmit Singh, vice- president of the cell, the activists burnt an effigy of corruption and claimed that it had touched an all- time high in the office of the trust.

Addressing the agitators, Mr Harmit Singh said that everyday scams worth crores allegedly in connivance with officials concerned were being reported from the office.

Recently, a scam worth Rs 150 crore was unearthed by trustee Malkiat Kaur, who had demanded a vigilance inquiry into the case after writing to the Chief Minister.

The activists vowed that they would intensify their struggle against the corruption. 



Labourer assaulted
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 10
A farm labourer was injured in an attack by some residents of Ikolaha village, 6 kilometres from here, today. The accident victim, Kuldeep Singh, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

According to the victim, there was a clash between his employer and another farmer on Sunday. He said an opponent of his employer was angry with him because he had told about the clash to some residents of the village.

This morning, when Kuldeep Singh was working in the fields, a farmer, Amar Singh, and some other persons attacked him and injured him. He was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

The police was informed about the incident. 



Techfest attracts industry

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 10
Entrepreneurs and industrialists of the area have shown keen interest in the All-India Inter-Engineering Festival, Techfest, scheduled to be organised at Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Longowal, on November 12.

Prominent among these are industrial houses, including Shryans Industries , Rajit Paints, Super Jatindra Pipes, Shree Pipes and Sainik Textiles.

Dr P. K. Jain, Chairman, Training and Placement Department, said students of the institute were all set to present papers ranging from technical papers to exciting workshop and mind boggling projects, multimedia quiz, brain teasers, fun games and movie shows.

The college had earlier won the Best Engineering College Trophy in 2002.

Jagandeep Singh, student chief coordinator, Venu Gopal Sharma and Anil Kumar, student organisers said that technology could be used innovatively to serve the cause of masses in real sense.

“The idea of organising the mega-event is to provide the student community an opportunity to discuss matters with technical think tanks and managing pioneers of stalwart companies,”, they added. — OC



RBI told to frame rational credit policy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 10
Alleging inadequate financing by banks to small and tiny industry and agricultural sectors, the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry has urged the Reserve bank of India (RBI) to announce a "rational credit policy of pricing credit to small scale sector".

These sectors are facing the problem of inadequate credit availability and on the other hand banks charge high interest rates, alleged Mr P.D.Sharma, president of the chamber.

Contending that the risk involved in case of providing credit to priority sectors was much lower in comparison to large borrowers, Mr Sharma said despite this fact, banks were charging very high rate of interest from small borrowers.

"In the Budget 2002-03, the government put a cap on interest rates to be charged from the SSI sector. The cap was fixed at +2 per cent above the Prime Lending Rate (PLR) and the minimum rate was -2 per cent below the PLR, whereas there was no minimum rate specified in case of large borrowers."

He said after the matter was taken up with the RBI, it announced, in its credit policy, that there should be benchmark PLR and banks evolved a formula and marginally reduced PLR.

The chamber said that this industry should be provided credit at low interest rates. It pointed out that there was a significant reduction in credit extended by banks to priority sectors, which was a matter of great concern. "Credit to SSI as a per centage of net bank credit reduced from 13.8 per cent to 8.2 per cent during 1995-2004. The number of SSI accounts also reduced from 29.6 lakh to 18.1 lakh during this period," the chamber pointed out.


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