L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Pollution monitoring unit goes missing
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11
Even as the level of air pollution has reached its peak in Ludhiana due to the burning of paddy stubble by farmers, the much hyped Ambient Air Monitoring Unit (AAMU) which was installed by the Punjab Pollution Control Board to study the concentration of pollutants in the second most polluted city of the northern region after Delhi, is lying non-functional in the city for more than a year.

The residents who had visited the site where the unit is installed, to take stock of the situation, were disappointed to find that the unit was absent from the place where it had been installed.

They claimed that the PPCB had made tall claims at that time only to fool the residents by spending a whopping Rs 35 lakh from public exchequer to get the unit whereas the fact was that the unit never became functional.

Intriguingly, the unit was installed after spending a whopping Rs 35 lakh in December 2003. The then Chairman of Board had announced that Ludhiana was the first city to have such an equipment. Sources in the board revealed that the unit had been purchased from a Bombay-based company and soon after its installation it had developed a snag.

No official was available for comments in the office of the board. Some employees revealed that from day one there was a problem with the electronic circuit of the unit as it could not be switched on. Now they had removed it for repairs but nobody knew when it would be reinstalled.

With the installation of AAMU, Ludhiana had achieved the distinction of being the second city in the north to have a pollution monitoring system.

Installed at centrally placed Vishwakarma Chowk here, the system was said to be of a very high quality with the latest configuration.

But now the unit is missing from the place and only the rain guard could be seen at the site.

The unit had been installed to monitor the pollutants 24 hours a day. Residents feel that now was the time when the unit was required the most as pollution level had reached alarming proportions.

The unit was supposed the monitor the levels of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, oxides of sulphur and oxides of nitrogen besides the suspended particular matter (spm). The board had claimed that after getting the readings it would try to solve the pollution problem in the city.

It was pointed out that it would monitor the atmosphere round the clock and the pollutants would be continuously analysed.

A number of people, including representatives of the industry and district administration, were present at the time of installation of the monitoring station. The chairman had said it was the first step towards ensuring a pollution free environment for the people of Ludhiana. 



90 cases of power theft detected
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11
Nearly 90 cases of power theft in residential areas have been detected by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) within the last four days, which has resulted in a penalty of more than Rs 4 lakh.

The board detected as many as 60 electricity theft cases in Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar and Gobind Colony here today, whereas 27 cases were detected on Saturday in residential areas near the Jalandhar bypass.

The electricity board officials conducted a mass raid early this morning in residential areas. Penalty of Rs 1.75 lakh was imposed on those found guilty.

The PSEB, which has intensified its drive to put a check on electricity theft, is conducting such raids in residential as well as industrial areas.The board officials said such checking would continue

In today's raid, officials checked 175 meters of which 60 theft cases were detected. Kundi connections, tampering of meters through magnets and broken seals were found by the officials.

Another search was conducted in Mundian where the board imposed penalty of Rs 1.75 lakh. In this raid, officials detected a kundi connection by a medium sized user, whereas the meter showed nil reading.

The board also detected 27 cases of theft in Bhattian Colony, Nishat bagh and Amaltas Enclave and a penalty of Rs 80,000 was imposed. The mass raid was conducted by a 10-member team headed by SDO Mr Daljit Singh .

"Checking was done in 75 cases of which theft was detected in 27. People are blatantly indulging in theft and in most cases we found them stealing electricity through kundi connection," said an official.

Electricity theft is a major cause of concern as it causes heavy revenue losses to the electricity board. Officials said by intensifying these raids in residential and also industrial sectors, they aimed to curb theft.



SBI takes over defaulter’s property
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11
The Brahmpuri branch of the State Bank of India took physical possession of the property of Puja Knitwears for an alleged default in the repayment of loan here today.

According to bank officials, Puja Knitwears owed approximately Rs 3.32 lakh to the bank. The amount is inclusive of interest and other charges accrued within 60 days of the bank's notice to the borrower.

‘‘The borrower failed to repay the amount despite having been issued a 60 days notice by the bank. Hence the possession was taken under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002,’’ said bank officials.

The possession was taken by Mr S.K Sharma, Chief Manager and authorised officer of the bank. The process was carried out with the assistance of GATS Financial Reconstructors Ltd, the bank informed.

The bank has cautioned general public not to deal with properties and said any dealing in these properties would be subject to the charge of the SBI.

‘‘Borrowers must repay their loans in order to avoid any penal action like taking possession of the property.

While bank tries to avoid such measures, we are left with no other option when people do not even respond to notices,’’ said an official. Mr Sharma also warned defaulters of stringent action in case their debts remained unpaid.



Encroachments clog Katchery Road

Ludhiana, October 11
The small stretch of road connecting Ghanta Ghar and the old Lakkar Bridge, also known as the Katchery Road, has been literally ‘‘hijacked’’ by shopkeepers keen on attracting more business during the current festival season. The road presents a colorful picture ala village fair, these days with dupattas and suit-lengths displayed on extensions and heaps of coloured clothes occupying half of the road in front of the shops.

Not only cloth merchants but some other shopkeepers have also encroached upon the space in front of the shops. Those who have not made extensions themselves have sublet the space in front of their shops and are charging up to Rs 4,000 a month for this. As a result of these encroachments, not only does the movement of vehicular traffic gets hampered but pedestrians too have to take extra precautions to safeguard their limbs.

It is also being alleged that all this is being done in connivance with officials of the tehbazari wing of the local municipal corporation.

The officials either inform them well before a raid or provide them ample time to gather their belongings from the road by parking the trucks at either end of the stretch for a while before proceeding further.

The occasional raids by the tehbazari department are thus merely an eyewash. As soon as the raid is over, the rehris and extensions are back at their respective places. The corporation has never laid down a permanent policy regarding the encroachments.

A handful of shopkeepers of the market, who have not made any encroachments, rue the fact that because of the encroachments, their shops had almost become unapproachable to customers and they were losing business.



Manager foils robbery bid

Ludhiana, October 11
An alert manager of a factory today foiled a robbery attempt by catching one of the two robbers outside a bank on the Mall road here today.

Mr Umesh Kumar, Manager of a mechanical works factory, ran after the two robbers and succeeded in catching one of them with the help of other passers-by. The miscreant has been identified as Sonu.

The manager had come to the HDFC bank. He had kept Rs 70,000 in the glove compartment of the scooter. He saw two persons breaking it and taking out the cash. Raising the alarm, he ran after them. The entire amount was recovered. — TNS



City all set to celebrate Dasehra
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 11
'Ashtami' is a day when girls are in great demand. Minor girls are considered to be embodiments of "Maa Durga" and are invited in all Hindu homes in the locality as "kanjaks" They are worshiped by them. The girls' feet are washed by the host and they are given food to eat . The y are given either money or small gifts like bangles, red duppatas, or some trinklets.

The city is abuzz with excitement as Dasehra preparations are almost complete. The effigies of Ravana, Khumhkaran, Meghnath have been erected in about 80 to 90 Dasehra grounds of the city. Several exhibitions of different goods are on here.

The shops selling electronics are displaying their latest models and offering several discount schemes.

After 'sharads', Divali is round the corner, people are in a mood to shop. Moreover, the children are on Dasehra holiday, so they want to make the best of it. They are insisting on buying new clothes and other knick -knacks. The bazaar that wore a vaccant look a few days ago, is now buzzing with activity. all shopkeepers are relieved as the customers have begun flocking in to once again to buy goods in the auspicious period .

Navratras and Dasehra celebrations are on in schools as this festival teaches triumph of good over evil. Dance schools and educational institutions in the city had begun teaching the "dandiya ras" a, popular dance of Gujarat during "Navratris". Different competitions are being held in different grounds of the city.

Kundan Vidya Mandi, a city branch, celebrated Dasehra under the supervision of their principal, Ms Namita Raj Singh. She explained the meaning of this festival to the students. She said this festival taught every body to tread on the right path .

The children presented tableaus based on the life of Ram & Sita. They danced on the bhajan, "Jai Jai Ram , Jai Shri Ram". A student of Class V spoke on importance of the festival.

Junior Wing of BCM School, Dugri , also celebrated Dashera. Little cherubs were dressed up as different characters from the epic, Ramayana. The juniors performed the "Ram Lila" .

The other attraction was the effigy of Ravana—the embodiment of evil. The effigy was prepared in the campus and bedecked with colourful clothes and accessories.



Villages offered computer stations
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11
The Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana has invited applications from the panchayats for setting up of computer stations in villages under a new scheme ‘‘Computer for All”. The scheme has been launched to provide computer access to children of all age groups.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma said the first stage of the scheme was being started in all 15 villages of the district. He said the application forms could be obtained from the office of ADC(D) on any working day.

Giving more details, Mr Verma informed that under this programme, through the outdoor computer (playground computer), unconditional access to computers would be ensured to all children, including those going to private schools, dropouts and out of school children.

He informed that each village would have a “specially designed kiosk” called “Computer Station” which would be provided with two Pentium IV computers and the children would be motivated to use computers without formal instructions and they would learn the basics of computers in an informal way.

The Deputy Commissioner further disclosed that an important objective of the scheme was to promote Computer Aided Learning and Multi-media interactive CDs are being developed under the CAL component of SSA. These CDs would be provided at computer station s free of cost.

He informed that the scheme would be funded under CAL component of SSA and by the community (gram panchayat). In ICT project, the American India Foundation has placed 50 field coordinators for monitoring and evaluating computer education in schools.

Mr Verma informed that the programme envisaged the ownership and participation of community. Site selection and preparation, including the construction of computer station would be done by the gram panchayat. Computer stations may be constructed in the village area such as Panchayat Ghar, Gurdwara or any other place having easy and open access.

He will be paid a remuneration of Rs 500 per month as retention money by the gram panchayat, His qualification will be decided and his selection will be done by the ICT Society. The users would be charged Rs1 per half an hour. At one computer there can not be more than two users at a time. Thus, at an average revenue of Rs 1200 per month is expected which will go to the operator. The Computer Station Operator will be trained by the ICT Society.

The Deputy Commissioner has asked the District Development Officer to submit the list of the panchayats willing to set up the computer station, so that, the implementing agency could be approached at the earliest.



Computer centre building in ruins
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, October 11
The building of a computer centre at Bhambrian village, near here, tells a pathetic tale of carelessness of the government.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister, had laid the foundation stone of the centre-cum-library on April 15, 2001. The panchayat donated 1.5 acres for this purpose.

The building was constructed at a cost of Rs 20 lakh. It is having four computers with printers. It was inaugurated by Capt Kanwaljit Singh on December 10, 2001.

Former sarpanch Devinder Singh said the centre was given on lease. In the beginning 20 students got admission for computer training. Elders used to visit the library to read newspapers and books, but with the change of government the centre was closed.



Two women killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 11
Jasbir Kaur, wife of Sikandar Singh and Charanjit Kaur, wife of Gurmal Singh of Sarabha, were allegedly killed on the spot when a mini bus (No PB 10 AA 9709) crushed both of them near the village.

Ranjit Singh, driver of the bus, allegedly managed to flee after the accident. Sudhar police has registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A, IPC. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Two booked

Lakhbir Singh Bunty of Mandiani and Gogy of Moga allegedly fabricated and forged registration certificate and permit of a truck and sold the same. A case has been registered.



Man acquitted of wife’s murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 11
The Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, has acquitted Narinder Singh, a property dealer of New Vishnu Puri near Shiv Puri, of the charges of murdering his wife by firing a shot from his licensed rifle, following an altercation over a personal issue on May 16, this year.

The deceased, Gurmit Kaur, (35) had died on the spot. The prime prosecution witnesses turned hostile and paved the way for his acquittal.

The suspect was booked under Section 302 of the IPC at Salem Tabri police station on May 16, 2005, following a complaint lodged by Surjit Singh, brother of the deceased woman.


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