L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Explosives destroying exercise deferred
Army refuses to go ahead without MoD approval
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 21
The district administration, Customs Department and the Police Department had gone ahead with making all preparations for destroying the thousands of explosives stored in the dry port here without taking permission from the Ministry of Defence. The process to destroy over 11,000 explosives was scheduled tomorrow morning.

The administration had no option but to abort the project at the last minute this evening with the Army team refusing to go ahead for the task without the approval of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The segregation of the explosives was to begin tomorrow morning. It was to be completed within two days. The segregated explosives were to be destroyed from October 24 onwards at a safe place near Macchiwara.

The District Magistrate had even promulgated special orders declaring the area within one km of the dry port out of bounds from tomorrow. The area residents and the industrialists would be harassed due to the last minute change of the plan.

Two companies of the Indian Reserve Battalion, apart from additional forces from other police districts, were also scheduled to arrive here late tonight. It could not be ascertained whether they have been informed in time or not.

All attempts to contact Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma, ADC Ajmer Singh, SSP Narinderpal Singh proved futile. But Mr G.S. Bahia, GA to DC, confirmed the postponement. He said the reason was known to the Army authorities here only who informed the district administration this afternoon about the non-approval of the Ministry of Defence.

What was baffling was that none of these departments had informed the public through the media today. The officials were not answering the calls from the Ludhiana Tribune office despite repeated attempts.

Thousands of these explosives, including rockets, bombs, grenades, among others, were recovered in the two-week-long operation by the PAP, Jalandhar, early this year. These explosives were stored in the dry port. It was decided that the explosives would be destroyed with the expert help of the Army.

The administration had over a month ago announced that the process of segregating the explosives and destroying would start from October 23. Three days ago, the district magistrate had declared a specific area out-of-bounds for the general public. But all this was done without proper approval of the MoD.



Parents asked to submit photos after student eloped
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 21
Taking a lesson from the fake mother case, the management of A.S. Modern Senior Secondary School here has directed the parents of the students to submit their photographs to avoid any such incident in future.

The management has also asked them to submit the photograph of the person whom they want to depute as the guardian for their wards. Meanwhile, the management has decided to rusticate the two girl students involved in the case.

Earlier on October 18, a local maid servant took along a plus one girl student by posing herself as her mother along with a youth who also showed himself as the brother of the student. The class teacher got suspicious and caught the fake mother. She was handed over to the police, the girl, however, managed to flee with the youth.



Heavy gambling in city as Divali draws near
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 21
Come Divali and it is gambling everywhere. Although gambling is not new to Ludhiana, but it crosses all limits on the eve of Divali, a festival associated with the goddess of wealth. It is learnt that in most of the hotels and clubs, including some elite ones, gambling continues non stop. It goes on till morning hours (unofficially).

The stakes run into lakhs of rupees. Small time gambling apart, people belonging to top industrial families are also learnt to be trying their luck at the cards. However, most of them do it more for fun than earning wealth. Some of them even do not mind to lose a handsome amount during these days.

It is not only men, even women have found interest in gambling. Since gambling during Divali days is accepted to be a routine affair, even the administration appears to be taking a lenient view. Some members of a few clubs told Ludhiana Tribune that everybody knew about the gambling in clubs and hotels during Divali days.

One of the members of a ladies club here said that during Divali days, she played at the club in the afternoon. “I accompany my husband to another family club in the evening. It is a good passtime”, she added.

One of the officials with the district administration, on the condition of anonymity, disclosed that they were well aware of the ‘gambling fever’ in elite ladies and family clubs. “To be honest, we really cannot do much to stop this. The players play with counters and no cash money is exchanged on tables. We can impose a fine but the amount is very nominal. This fine is nothing for such ‘highstake’ players”, he said.

In fact the gambling fever ends with Divali and everybody does it for entertainment only. However, the entertainment comes at an exorbitantly higher price. While it is difficult to make out whether anybody has really made a fortune but there are so many people who have lost huge money. “In one of the leading clubs stakes are in lakhs (of rupees) only”, disclosed a member who claims to have watched the Divali gambling for several years. It is only the rich and the big who can afford to gamble in the particular clubs. As Ludhiana turns out to be a good gambling bet, people from other cities are learnt to be a coming here as well.



Elderly cautioned against osteoporosis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 21
“Osteoporosis or weak bones is a major health problem which contributes to over 1.5 million fractures every year in the country. Half of the women above 50 years, sustain an osteoporosis-related fracture sometime in their life. Men should also be concerned about this bone problem as approximately one in every eight men will have an osteoporotic fracture.”

The situation was alarming and proper care was needed to prevent it, said Dr Mandeep Dhillon, orthopaedic consultant at SPS Apollo Hospital, here while speaking at a special camp organised by the hospital to create awareness among the people. Around 150 persons got their density checked at the camp. Out of them, nearly 48 per cent were found osteopenic or osteoporotic.

Interacting with those present at the camp, Dr Dhillon said the bone density was one of the factors that determined bone strength. Therefore, individuals with low bone density had a higher risk for fractures and refractures. “Factors that contribute to osteoporosis are aging, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive alcohol intake, low calcium dietary intake, reduced calcium absorption and inadequate vitamin D levels.”

According to Dr Harpreet S. Gill, orthopaedician at the Apollo, regular bone density scans should be done in persons above 45 years of age to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the disease severity, especially in post-menopausal women who were presented with a fracture. He stressed that the people should make sure that they received 1000-1500mg of calcium per day. He was of the view that those diagnosed with osteoporosis could reduce the risk of fracture through diet and lifestyle changes under expert medical guidance.

Dr Rahul Bhan remarked that regular exercise was one of the best things, the people could adopt to prevent osteoporosis. The key to the treatment of osteoporosis lied in prevention.

A seminar was organised in the hospital where consultants of various departments discussed the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. “A fracture may be more than just a broken bone. It may be a warning sign that you have osteoporosis,” they pointed out.



Craft exhibition fails to draw buyers
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 21
Craftsmen from different regions of the country have brought selected handicrafts from their home towns at the Craft Bazaar, which started on October 13 at Nehru Sidhant Kendra. But the artisans are quite disappointed as the sales have failed to pick up. The bazaar will be on till October 23.

Mr Iqbal Singh, organiser of the exhibition, said for the past two days the sales had been low as the city residents were busy with the Karva Chauth festivities. He said the aim of organising the craft exhibition was to eliminate middlemen and bring the creations of the artisans directly to the customers.

A large part of the earnings of these craftsmen are grabbed by commission agents and in order to keep the middlemen out, the Government of India has formed the Akhil Bhartiya Dastkar Samitis, which organises exhibitions of several artisans under one roof.

The bazaar with 50 artisans is showcasing beautifully embroidered Kashmiri suits, bedcovers, kurtis, rugs, carpets and namadas. The artisans are all certified for excellence in their work by the government.

The exhibition also has myriad coloured crockery, platters, flower vases and many artifacts made out of unique pottery from Khurja. Few others have brought with them beautiful pieces made of terra cotta, comprising wall plates, ornamental pots and diyas. Hand embroidered suits, handloom kurtas and pyjamas, bedcovers, curtains and carpets show the skills of the weavers. Costume jewellery, comprising earrings, necklaces and rings, are also handcrafted.

Another stall displays pieces of furniture made of bamboo. Artisans have also crafted leather bags, belts and wallets. Gossamer thin laces from Kanya Kumari are also available. The crafts women of the stall are disappointed as they failed get response due to expensive items. They, however, say keeping in mind the difficult and the time consuming process in making laces, the prices are reasonable. Colourful wooden artifacts and traditional frames from Rajasthan are very attractive. Wooden and golden furniture from Saharanpur compels your attention.



Election to cycle manufacturers’ body today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 21
With election to Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association to be held today two contesting groups are leaving no opportunity to reach members for support. One group led by the incumbent president, Mr G.L. Pahwa, the other by his opponent, Mr Joginder Kumar, have been trying to meet as many members as possible.

The election to the association are scheduled for tomorrow. There are over 1,800 members in the association believed to be the largest association of manufacturers in Asia. With Ludhiana being a predominantly bicycle and parts manufacturing centre, the control of the association is always a matter of prestige.

The association has groups as its members like Hero Cycles, Avon Cycles and Bhogal Sons to name only a few.

Mr Pahwa has the advantage of being the incumbent president of the association. During the past one year he managed some welfare measures for small and medium range cycle parts manufacturers, which he is trying to capitalise now. According to Mr Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma, Mr Pahwa has been quite popular among the members for his accessibility and availability.

On the other hand, Mr Joginder Kumar, who is also contesting for the post of the president has a vast experience. He has remained president of the association for five terms and has served as general secretary of the association for an equal number of years.

Besides, Mr Kumar is considered to be vocal and aggressive when it comes to raising issues concerning the association.



Punjab fencing meet from today
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, October 21
The District Fencing Association (DFA), Ludhiana, will organise the Punjab State Junior Fencing Championship for boys as well girls at the Prithipal Singh Indoor Hall of Punjab Agricultural University here on October 22 and 23. This year’s edition will be dedicated to the memory of former Punjab Minister, Joginder Pal Pandey.

According to Mr A.K. Sharma, President, DFA, players below the age of 20 years as on December 31, 2005, are eligible to take part. Competition in the individual and team events will be held in this championship. The Punjab teams for the National Junior Fencing Championship to be held at Jammu from November 14 to 17 will be selected on the basis of the fencers’ performance during this two-day meet.

Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister for Science and Technology will inaugurate the meet on October 22 while Dr K S Aulakh, Vice- Chancellor, PAU, will the chief guest on October 23.



SBoP staff hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 21
On a call given by the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, employees of the bank held a demonstration in front of their regional office in Millerganj here today.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Naresh Gaur, Joint Secretary, Mr A.K. Chhibber, vice-president, Mr Ashok Malhan, organising secretary, and Mr K.K. Jaggi, regional secretary, of the federation said they had earlier staged a dharna on July 20 at Patiala against the rigid, adamant and uncompromising attitude of their management on various issues but it had failed to have any effect on the latter.

The management had assured a delegation that their genuine demands would be met with immediate effect. But later, the management reneged on their promise and implemented certain policies unilaterally.

The leaders said the single window operators were exercising the passing powers of special assistant as per Eight Bipartite Settlement, but the management unilaterally imposed cash payment and receipt which was not acceptable to the union. But the management imposed it and issued unilateral instructions.

Following this, they were left with no other alternative except to resist and fight the decisions. The management has created the designation of marketing executive which is nowhere in the earlier settlement, wherein the executives are entrusted with verifying the genuiness of the documents of house-loan borrowers. This is a supervisory job and these executives have been told that their working hours were flexible and they could be asked to report for duties even on Sundays, they pointed out.

The bank is also going to establish Currency Administration Cells at different centres having multiple number of branches where the branches are forced to accept cash without counting and collecting of cash from other branches. The management has issued these instructions unilaterally without considering the responsibility of shortage/fake currency notes afterwards, they alleged.

The leaders said they had to struggle for years to ensure the right of regulated working hours and employees were entitled for overtime if they worked beyond this. Following the introduction of the Core Banking System, a lot of customer complaints like slow processing and connectivity problem have become common forcing the staff to sit till late hours, especially those in the cash department. Our working hours have been fixed and not the business hours. So we want that the management should either reduce the business hours or pay overtime to the staff.

The management had also agreed before the Regional Labour Commissioner to recruit security staff in September, 2005, but nothing has been done in this context. Rather, the management is backing out from their commitments that no contractual labour will be appointed.

They warned that in case the management does not wake from its slumber, they will be forced to start a chain fast from October 24 onwards.



5 labourers hurt in roof collapse
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 21
Five labourers were injured when an under-construction roof of a government school collapsed in Seora village in Payal subdivision here today. One injured was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Khanna, while the other four were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Payal.

According to the information, construction of the second storey of the building was under way when the roof collapsed. The victims have been identified as Amarjit, Malkit, Billu, Kheeree and Charanjit Singh.

According to Charanjit, whose arm got fractured, the roof collapsed at about 12.30 p.m. He said some other persons also received minor injuries who had not been admitted to the hospital.



Minor fire at shopping complex
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 21
A minor fire broke out at Ansal Plaza building yesterday morning when a generator kept on the roof of the building caught fire allegedly due to some snag that caused sparks.

Mr R K Sharma, Chief Fire Officer, told Ludhiana Tribune that alert occupants of the building controlled the fire. A fire tender reached the spot but by that time the fire was controlled.


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