L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Errant drivers dump students on road
Try to give traffic cops the slip, 138 challaned
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Hundreds of school students were left stranded on the road today by their respective vehicle drivers in Sarabha Nagar, who wanted them to walk a long distance to their schools in order to avoid being challaned for not possessing documents and for overloading of buses.

As many as 138 vehicles carrying children of various schools were challaned by the traffic police at the Sidhwan Canal bridge connecting BRS Nagar with Sarabha Nagar. The police carried out a massive checking drive and these drivers fell in the police net for either not wearing uniform, not having the school’s nameplate over the vehicle and packing students like sardines.

The students suffered harassment as the drivers did not comply with the orders of the District Magistrate, who had issued instructions some days ago and given them 15 days time to follow these.

As word spread around that the police was challaning vehicles, drivers deserted their vehicles in various lanes of Sarabha Nagar and made the students walk for 1 to 2 km to reach their respective schools. It was a terrible time, especially for the young children who had to walk long distances to reach the schools by carrying heavy bags on their backs.

In the entire process, the students and parents were harassed. Students missed their morning assembly and in the afternoon, parents got worried as children reached home late by two hours. They kept on sitting in their vehicles parked on various roads, unable to understand why the police was after their life.

“I called up the school and the attendant told me that it closed at the usual time. I got panicked and then we found out that the autorickshaw carrying them kept on waiting for the cops to go and did not cross the bridge,” said Ms Jaswinder Kaur, a parent whose son studies in Sacred Heart Convent in Sarabha Nagar.

Traffic cops said those challaned included three buses, 11 mini-buses, eight tempos, four Swaraj Mazdas, 28 Maruti vans, five Mohindra vans, four Metadors, four Tata 407, two jeeps, a maxi cab, a DCM Toyota and 61 three-wheelers. They said the vehicles were carrying students of Sacred Heart Convent, DAV School, Baba Isher Singh School, besides others.

SI Kulwant Singh, who was leading a team of cops during the challaning spree in Sarabha Nagar, said they had challaned some vehicles two days ago also. He added that the traffic police had held a meeting with drivers a fortnight ago and asked them to follow the DM’s orders in the interests of schoolchildren. However, none of them took it seriously.

More than meets the eye

With the challaning of a large number of vehicles carrying children coinciding with the admission season in prestigious schools of the city, there seems to be lot more than what meets the eye in the case.

Every year during admissions, the activism of the traffic police in noticing violations by drivers of school buses or vans is witnessed. One remembers how scores of schoolchildren were made to sit in two buses throughout the day two years ago in such a challaning spree.

The schools in Sarabha Nagar and Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar are the most sought after for admission. Apart from huge donations, recommendations of senior police and civil officials are made for admission of children.

Several times in the past, the school management has locked horns with the police or the bureaucracy. Sources in different schools of the city revealed that the school management of some schools have not accepted all recommendations of officials. The school buses of a specific school, whose Principal was in the news recently for not implementing the orders of the District Magistrate , were hit the hardest by the challaning drive. The Principal enjoys the reputation of a strict administrator.

However, police officials stress that the drive has nothing to do with the admission. The vehicles were challaned as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which had called for tough action against erring drivers. 



Staff leave bank doors open
Police patrol averts burglary
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

The Punjab National Bank Model Town branch where the locks of the doors were found open by the police on Thursday night
The Punjab National Bank Model Town branch where the locks of the doors were found open by the police on Thursday night. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, January 20
Alleged negligence on the part of officials of Punjab National Bank (loan branch) in leaving the grill door and the main door of the building improperly locked, sent the city police in a tizzy at midnight last night.

The police feared that some burglars had struck the bank situated just a stone’s throw from the Model Town police station. When the cops realised the negligence of the bank officials, they summoned senior officials of the bank, who reached there by 2 am. The officials reportedly admitted in writing to the police about their negligence.

Later this afternoon, the police wrote to the Divisional Bank Manager of the bank seeking disciplinary action against the erring officials. Mr Warryam Singh, Senior Manager of the branch, said a departmental action had been initiated against the erring official.

The Model Town police also wrote to the SSP seeking action against the negligent officials. SHO Rajesh Kumar said the negligence could have caused a major burglary. ‘‘The bank is situated close to the police station and all blame would have fallen on us”.

The SHO stated that at about midnight a Model Town police team found the bank doors unlocked. He said under instructions from SSP Narinderpal Singh, the night patrol teams minutely checked the doors of financial institution regularly.

He claimed a team led by ASI Girdhari Lal found the lock at the grill and the main door of the bank open. He went inside the bank but there was no sign of burglary. He informed senior police officials who reached there with fingerprint experts and a dog squad.

The cops found a telephone number of the General Manager of the bank, who was called along with other bank officials. The police also found that a gas cylinder was kept in the bank, which could have been used for cutting open the lockers. The police pointed out that any burglar could have walked into the bank.

Senior Manager Warryam Singh said there was negligible cash in the branch. He said an officer on probation had been entrusted with the duty of locking the doors last night. He claimed the official could not re-check the locks as he had to attend to a problem faced by a client in the adjoining ATM unit of the branch.



Man gets life term for killing woman
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana January 20
Sessions Judge Mr Harbans Lal has sentenced Anil Kumar Singh, Inspector of Munish Manufacturing Corporation, Ludhiana, to rigorous life imprisonment on the charge of killing a woman of the local Makkar Colony in April, 2004. He has also been ordered to pay a fine of Rs 10,000.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Harbans Lal held that the prosecution had successfully brought home the charges levelled against the accused beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.

The judge turned down the plea of leniency raised by the accused with the remarks that he had committed a grave offence.

A case under Section 302 of the IPC was registered at the Focal Point police station here on April 6, 2004 following the complaint of Pawan Kumar, husband of the deceased, Mansa Devi.

According to the prosecution, the complainant owed a sum of Rs 20,000 to the accused.

Due to the failure of repayment, the accused bore grudge against him. Also, the accused had an eye on the niece of the complainant.

It was on that account that the accused was made to vacate the room in which he had been putting up.

The complainant had submitted to the police that he was working as supervisor in Hero Cycles. On April 6, 2004, he left the house for work at 5.30 am.

Later, Dhaneja informed him that his wife had been murdered. When he reached home, he found the body of his wife on the bed.

The blood was oozing out from the nostrils and mouth of Mansa Devi.

A blood-stained ladle was found near the body, said the complainant.

The prosecution examined Bimlesh Kumar Chobey in the court.

He deposed that on the day of the murder, he happened to pass by the house and saw Mansa Devi take water from the hand pump.

In the meantime, the accused came there and took her inside the house by grabbing hold of her arms. He later came to know about the murder of the woman.

District Attorney Amar Ashok Pathak said the prosecution had examined 17 witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused.



Pollution level alarming
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Experts at a seminar have underlined the need for maintaining a balance between development and safeguarding environment. They said the progress in agriculture and industry had led to a degradation in the state’s environment. Excessive use of chemicals in agriculture had led to contamination of the soil, air, water and food. Industrial effluents had polluted rivers.

Inaugurating a two-day all-India seminar on “Environment: status and challenges ahead” at Punjab Agricultural University, a senior official of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, said it was time to incorporate environmental-friendly technologies in the planning process. The industry, too, must take adequate precautions while disposing of industrial wastes otherwise citizens would have to pay a heavy price at a later stage. The common man should say “no” to plastic bags. “In fact, it should be made mandatory that all building plans should include rainwater harvesting technology in the architectural design”. He gave the slogan “ each one should plant one, nurture one plant.”

The Dean, Postgraduate Studies, Dr Darshan Singh, who presided over the seminar, said deterioration of environment in the state could also be attributed to unplanned and haphazard urban growth and development.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, who was to deliver the presidential address, could not attend because of his other engagements. However, his address “Plan for the planet” was circulated to the delegates. In his presidential address, he said if India’s population was increasing at the rate of 1.4 per cent, annually, so were the pollution hazards. Vehicles, industries and burning of agricultural waste like paddy straw were causing suffocating air pollution, leading to asthma. Water bodies in Punjab were getting polluted by industrial effluents, untreated sewerage and pesticides. Giving example of Ludhiana’s infamous Budda Nullah, a tributary of the Sutlej, he said against 56 species of fish found in it in 1964, there were none now. This was due to industrial discharge and domestic sewerage flowing into it.

Dr Aulakh expressed concern over pollution and health hazards caused by biomedical waste from hospitals and nursing homes, which was a major cause of diseases." Development of both urban and rural areas is a continuous process. It cannot be stopped since requirements of the growing population are to be met. However, this cannot be allowed by compromising on health of the people or by destroying the eco system”.

The keynote address to the delegates by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology Executive Director, Mr N.S. Tiwana, was a telling comment on the state of pollution in Punjab. Studded with statistics, it painted an alarming picture of how severely Punjab was polluted. The major contributors to unclean Punjab’s soil, water and air were industry, vehicles, agricultural waste and chemicals containing aerosols. The Punjab Pollution Control Board has identified 15,547 polluting industries violating one or the other provisions of the environmental Act. Of these, 9,465 units were listed “ red category”, he added.

With the number of vehicles going up in the state from 3.6 lakh in 1980-81 to more than 32 lakh in 2002-04, Punjab was among the top 10 states in the country with vehicle pollution density of one vehicle per 8 persons against one vehicle per 200 persons in the country. The keynote address also revealed that major Punjab cities — Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Bathinda, Mandi Gobindgarh, Nangal, Batala, Dera Bassi and Mohali — were choked by air pollution leading to health problems. Punjab rivers were also polluted, threatening aqua life.

Referring to challenges ahead, the delegates were told that the environmental problems facing Punjab had developed over decades of “misuse and over-exploitation of resources”. Only a holistic and an integrated trans-disciplinary approach could help Punjab to have a clean environment. For this, Punjab would have to follow “builder pays principle” and for industrial pollution control, Punjab would have to opt for” load-based standards and cleaner technologies”. 



Chahal under Badal’s shadow!
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
During the inauguration of the Walia Plaza at Ghumar Mandi, photo journalists could not have asked for more when the chief guest, the Adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr B.I.S. Chahal, took a seat on a sofa with a picture of former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, along with the hosts overlooking him.

Except for some reporters, not many people noticed the picture initially and Mr Chahal sat comfortably on the sofa along with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Narinderpal Singh, and the Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Mr S.K. Sharma.

After the photographers noticed that it would make a good picture as Mr Chahal was sitting right under Mr Badal’s picture, cameras started flashing. Mr Chahal also got conscious and was told by the DC that the photographers wanted to click his picture with Mr Badal’s photograph over him. Mr Chahal also had a look at it (Mr Badal’s picture). It made a good break at an otherwise monotonous function.

Mr Chahal had come to inaugurate a showroom, Walia Plaza, owned by one of the relatives of Mr Labh Singh, a friend of Mr Chahal. Among others who were present on this occasion included Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Mr Surjit Singh Ahluwalia and Mr Jasvir Singh Chadha (both councillors) and Mr Labh Singh Ahluwalia, Director, News Today, and former Chairman, Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation.



Power consumers may soon submit meter reading themselves
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Electricity customers in the state could soon be giving their meter reading to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and getting their bills instantly. Based on observations through its training workshops on customer orientation, the PSEB has already sent a proposal to the board chairman regarding this for implementation in the east and west zones in Ludhiana.

“Over 80 per cent of the customer complaints are pertaining to metering, billing and distribution. If a customer is given an option to give his own reading to the board and he is issued a bill on basis of that, all these problems are taken care of,” Dr V.P.Chawla, Consultant Infrastructure Advisory, CRISIL, told the Ludhiana Tribune today. He, who is the former Director General (HRD) UPSEB and former adviser (HRD) PSEB, was here in connection with a two-day workshop on customer service orientation for PSEB’s distribution staff.

He said the model wherein a customer gave his own reading and was issued a bill instantly was implemented successfully in five centres in Noida. “It is easier to implement the model in newly developed areas where meters are new and it is easier for the board to keep records. However, the board would do meter reading twice a year to ensure proper disclosures,” he said.

All the implementation requires is streamlining. There is no need of any additional investment either.

Regarding the problem pertaining to over staffing, Dr Chawla said despite an overall overstaffing, several centres were short of staff. “Several options like recruitment and outsourcing are there. But as they involve additional costs, the aim now is to come out with such a solution so that efficiency is built with lesser staff only.”

The compulsory training started by PSEB, for which CRISIL has a 12-month consultancy cum implementation contract, aims at building efficiencies.

Chief Engineer (Central zone), PSEB, Ludhiana, Mr D.B. Arora, said proposals for the new metering-billing concept for the east and west zones had already been sent.



Rising prices: BJYM burns CM’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
In the course of their ongoing protest against spiralling rise in prices of essential commodities, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) workers burnt an effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister and held a demonstration at Division No 3 Chowk here today.

Speaking on the occasion, district president of the party Sanjay Kapoor observed that people were frustrated over the steep rise in prices of wheat flour, pulses, rice, sugar and other essential commodities.

At the same time, they were being made to suffer due to acute shortage of power and burden of hike in power, water and sewerage rates all over the state.

Addressing the party workers, district president of the BJP Subhash Verma and former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly Sat Pal Gosain alleged that the functionaries of the Congress government in the state were fooling public in the name of development, which was nowhere to be seen.

The government had failed to provide basic amenities to the masses and corruption had reached new heights in every department, they alleged.

The BJP leaders said the party as well as its frontal organisations would continue to expose the state government.

They claimed that the ruling Congress, having failed on all fronts, would be thrown out of power.



Protest against BJP leader’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
Activists of the SC/ST cell of the District Congress Committee today staged a protest against the statements by some BJP leaders on the functioning of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

Led by Dr Ajit Singh, senior vice-president of the SC/ST cell, the activists burnt the effigy of the Bharatiya Janata Party, stating that the leaders of the party always stooped to cheap tactics to gain publicity.

He claimed that the MC was functioning well. Development works were carried out in all wards of the city, irrespective of the political party of the area councillors.

Dr Ajit Singh also said the policies of the Congress-led government in the state were people-friendly. He hailed the announcement of Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship for SC and ST students.



Public Relations Dept to get 24 hi-tech vehicles soon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
The Department of Public Relations, Punjab, is being revamped for launching an extensive publicity drive to take the achievements of the government to each and every corner of the state. Under this plan, 24 new high tech vehicles will be inducted in the department very soon.

This was disclosed by Mr BIS Chahal, Media Adviser to Chief Minister, Punjab, while interacting with mediapersons after inaugurating Walia Plaza on Ghumar Mandi Road, here today.

Mr Chahal informed that at least one fully equipped publicity vehicle would be made available in each district of the state. He informed that the vacant posts of field officers in the department were also being filled on a regular basis, which would help in further improving the functioning of the department.

Referring to the achievements of the government, Mr Chahal asserted that as a result of responsive policies of government, the environment in the state was fully conducive for the flow of large scale investments and 95 big projects of multinational companies from all over the world with total investment of Rs 43,265 crore had already been sanctioned. He said in the next meeting of the state level Investment Committee to be held on January 28 eight more major projects were likely to be cleared. He informed that out of total 95 major projects, 17 projects costing Rs 4,342 crore had been sanctioned for Ludhiana district.

Dwelling on infrastructure development in the state, Mr Chahal said government had implement a major infrastructure up-gradation programme worth Rs 500 crore under which construction of seven ROBs and up-gradation of 355 kms of major roads was being undertaken. Among others present on this occasion was Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana.



Now, wedding choreography
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
Footloose, a fitness institute, has made exercising pleasurable by introducing a variety of dances like Salsa, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Hula Work Out, aerobics and step aerobics. Now it has started “wedding choreography”.

Relatives of both the bride and the groom are keen to a synchronized dance at weddings of close relatives. This kind of dance needs to be choreographed and Amit Verma, Director of Footloose, has started choreography for weddings and pre-weddings.

He is teaching theme-based “ladies sangeet” , special choreography for “jaimala” and “Bollywood muqabala” between bride’s and groom’s friends.

Wedding choreography has become a craze in the town .



Award for Delhi writer
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 20
Jagdish Kaushal of Delhi has been chosen for the Mata Jaswant Kaur Award for 2004 for his book on children. The award had been instituted by Pritam Singh and his brother Kulwant Singh in the memory of their mother to be given to writers of best books on children.

Punjabi Sahitya Akademi, Ludhiana, secretary Surjit Patar and the brothers jointly chose the awardee. Akademi’s senior vice-president Gurbhajan Gill and former president Principal Prem Singh Bajaj said Jagdish Kaushal had been chosen for the award for his book “Gao, khedo te sikho”.

Akademi’s general secretary Ravinder Bhattal said the award carried a cash prize of Rs 10,000, a citation and a shawl.

Mr Patar said: “The book has been written in a scientific manner. The language is simple and it is hoped that it would arouse the interest of children and also help in strengthening the cause of Punjabi.”



Father looking for son
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
A hapless father from Lokoha village in Bihar is running from pillar to post for the past one month in search of his 12-year-old son, who had run away from his native village to Ludhiana.

The missing boy, Ram Chander Yadav, has gone missing from his village since four months. He had made a phone call to his parents a month ago stating he was in Ludhiana working in a general store.

His father, who is staying in Gurdwara Akalgarh for the past one month, is searching all over the city for his son.



Body found
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
The Salem Tabri police today recovered the body of a middle-aged man from Budda Nullah near GT road bridge. SHO Gurbans Singh Bains said the man was identified as Bhundi, alias Kaka, a resident of Street No 2, Peeru Banda Colony. He said there was no external injury on the body. The police has conducted proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPc. The police has sent the viscera of the deceased for chemical examination.


Government misleading on VAT: assn
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
The Auto Parts Manufacturers Association has alleged that the state government is misleading industrialists by giving erroneous statements on the refund of VAT. Mr G.S. Kahlon and Mr Surinder Singh, president and general secretary of the association, said once again the Finance Minister had said that the state government would start the refund from January 16 but the department was yet to receive any notification.

Since the implementation of VAT, the government had made several commitments to traders and industrialists which had not been honoured.

They said entrepreneurs faced hardships due to non-receipt of VAT refund whereas it was promised that it would be provided within a month after each quarter of the financial year. 


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