L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Poultry farms to be inspected in 3 days
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 19
In the wake of reported cases of avian influenza (bird flu) in poultry birds in Maharashtra, the district administration has ordered an inspection of poultry farms in the district within the next three days.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today convened an emergency meeting. He directed the Deputy Director of Animal Husbandry to depute poultry inspectors and veterinary doctors to carry out inspection of all poultry farms. The inspection teams would also educate poultry farmers as well as workers regarding the precautions to be taken and symptoms of the disease.

The department has been directed to set up a controlroom from today itself, which would function round the clock to provide all kind of information about the viral infection, preventive measures and symptoms.

Dr B.N. Sharma, Deputy Director of the department, said 20 medical kits had been sent to all subdivisions in the district. He, however, maintained that till date, no symptoms of the disease had been reported at any poultry farm in the district and the department had instructed the field staff to maintain strict vigil in this respect.

Dr Sharma said that the affected bird would show marked depression, associated with coughing, sneezing, excessive lachrymation, oedema of head and face, blueness of the unfeathered skin, nervous disorder and diarrhoea.

He asked the farmers to ensure that all workers had their mouths covered while working in farms. The controlroom (phone 5017728) would become functional from tomorrow at his office (near Zila Parishad Complex in the city).

The Deputy Commissioner wanted necessary steps for immediate laboratory tests of suspected cases and isolation of affected persons.

Dr Rajinder Kaur, Civil Surgeon, urged poultry farmers to immediately get in touch with the nearest Civil Hospital in case they came across any related symptom of the disease. 



No chicken, please! Early fall in prices likely
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
The entry of bird flu in the country has hit the chicken sale in the city. Retailers say prices of poultry products could come down.
Poultry farmers are meeting tomorrow to chalk out plans to arrest the sliding demand.

Retail chicken prices remained around Rs 80 per kilogram. “On Sundays, we usually record a rise in demand, but today business has been quite low,” said a retailer near Kailash Chowk.

But it would take two to three days to gauge the exact response, retailers said. “Demand is likely to come down.”

Chicken prices in the past two weeks have hovered between Rs 75 and Rs 80 per kilogram. Due to summers, prices are likely to show some decline. However, retailers say that market could witness a decline earlier due to the bird flue scare.

“Doctors have said on TV that proper cooking would minimise the impact of the virus, but we have decided not to have chicken and eggs till the situation improves,” Ms Reema Malhotra, a resident said.

The news about bird flu in 2004 had brought down the consumption of poultry products by 75 per cent in the region. The poultry farmers were hit badly and several of them closed shop.

“Last time, the flu had not even reached India and business came down drastically. It was least expected. Awareness about the impact has to be generated in public,” said Mr Sanjeev Bassi, zonal treasurer, National Egg Co-ordination Committee.

“We had been quite cautious about the spread of bird flu after some migratory birds had tested positive. For the last three months we had been sending blood samples from hens to the poultry laboratory at Bhopal. Not even a single sample has shown any bad results till today,” said Capt P.P.S. Gill, a prominent poultry farmer from the district.

He added that there were reports in the morning that some farmers had resorted to distress sale. “If a massive drive to educate residents and farmers that there were no cases in Punjab is not launched then we would be doomed. Our blood has already dried up since yesterday”.



You ignored our protest, now face flu: PFA
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
The local chapter of People for Animals has said that poor hygiene in poultry farms had spread avian flu in Maharashtra.
Dr Sandeep K. Jain, president of PFA, said that the government should ensure steps to control the flu in Maharashtra, otherwise it would spread like an epidemic as our population per square area was much more than in European countries.

‘‘If it spreads throughout the country, it will be fatal and mortality would be too high, ’’ said Dr Jain adding that the state government had failed to take any steps to avoid spread of this disease.

He added that he had written various letters to the Animal Husbandry department alongwith the guidelines by WHO when there were reports of the spread in other countries. ‘‘It did not wake up the government and now everybody is in panic.’’

Dr Jain also said that considering the conditions in which the birds were kept in poultry farms and other selling outlets, the humans were at a risk of not only bird flu but also other diseases like gastroenteritis and salmonella infections.

‘‘If you just observe the skin of birds you can find out a number of infections on it. Then the racks of cages are not cleared of bird droppings and other materials. The norm of 2-2 square feet space is also flouted with impunity. The birds are sold near infection spreading places like nullahs or garbage dumps. There is no check by the authorities concerned. This helps in the spread of infections.’’ said Dr Jain.

The PFA also said that the concerned authorities did not learn the lessons earlier. There were reports that some migratory birds had tested positive for the flu but nobody cared for any warning signs. ‘‘Now it will be the industry that will suffer and if the virus strain is deadly then there would be mortality also.’’

The animals rights organisations had been protesting against the unhygienic conditions prevailing in the poultry farms as well as hatcheries supplying not only to local market but also to multinational outlets. ‘‘Our protests had never been taken seriously. Had they listened to us nothing would have happened,’’ added PFA spokesperson.



SC panel member visits rape victim
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 19
Neelam Sahota, a member of State Scheduled Caste Commission met a Dalit who was allegedly raped by Avtar Singh Tari of Birmi on August 7, 2005. The victim told her how she managed Rs 200 to pay to police persons for writing her complaint.

The Dalit woman, who was working as a labourer in the fields of Avtar Singh Tari was raped. She along with her husband went to the Humbran police but was not heard.

Neelam Sahota who visited the victim last evening warned the police to arrest all accused immediately and also asked SP(H). Jarnail Singh Dhaliwal and investigating officer HS Brar, DSP, Dakha to further take action against the erring cops.



Debt-ridden farmer ends life
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
A debt-ridden farmer of Machhian Khurd village in Koomkalan committed suicide today morning. The farmer, Ajaib Singh, was found dead under a tree outside the village. He had allegedly tried to hang himself after getting drunk, but failed. A strip of sulphos tablets was found in his pocket.

His son Kashmir Singh said that they had suffered a loss in the last paddy crop. Ajaib Singh owned 8 acres only. He had taken about 22 acres of another farmer on contract. He had no money to pay the tractor loan in time and also borrowed money from certain persons.

Police sources said Ajaib Singh had talked about ending his life.

The post-mortem examination of the deceased was conducted at the Civil Hospital. He is survived by his two sons and a married daughter.



Cash, goods stolen from car
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
Thieves stole cash and valuables worth Rs 10 lakh from a car on Malhar road today. The victim, Mr Sachin Rehmi resident of Block-J of Sarabha Nagar has stated to the police that there was Rs 4.75 lakh cash in the car besides $ 13,000, a mobile phone and a lap top
The Division No 5 police has registered a case.



Ludhiana Calling

The city police failed to find the body of Reema Jain even seven months after her disappearance. When the Jagraon police cracked the case, there were many red faces.

The police got the body from Ludhiana, but did not speak to the press there, but at Jagraon after 9:30 pm. By then, the Ludhiana press had filed the story quoting sources.

Mall culture

Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Many rich Ludhianvis flaunt their rich lifestyles. They live in big houses and shop in malls, but raise car panes to avoid the sight of life in sewers (see photo).

The mall culture has started denting the business of old established markets. The markets at Sarabha Nagar, Ghumar Mandi and Model Town are not as crowded as before, even on weekends.

No facilities

People in many colonies of the city which have not been approved are crying for civic amenities. The Municipal Corporation refuses to do anything about it.

A senior official of the corporation, who was the chief guest at a function in one such colony, was cornered by the residents. He was told that if the corporation levied taxes, it should also provide amenities.

PETA protest

The protest by the People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA) against the Kila Raipur games ended without a whimper. The organisation had raised a lot of dust before the games began, levelling allegations of cruelty to animals.

But when it came to proving it at the games, there were no activists to expose it. Much ado about nothing?

Elevated road

Traffic in Ludhiana increases everyday, but the Municipal Corporation has failed to handle the pressure. The much-publicised elevated road project is yet to be completed.

The Dholewal Road is congested and it does not seem that it can accommodate so much traffic. Another elevated road project and years of wait for smooth flow of traffic?

— Sentinel



BJP has widened its base in villages: Khanna
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 19
Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, the BJP state president has claimed that the party had since widened its base in rural section also by amassing support of farmers and agrarian Sikhs. Leaders of the BJP and the SAD, its ally in state SAD had no disagreement over the number of seats in forthcoming assembly election, he maintained.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune here today, Mr Khanna claimed that BJP and SAD would give a befitting defeat to the congress in forth coming assembly elections and the leaders of two allies had no disagreement on the issue of number and choice of seats. "Though final decision regarding the seats and allied issue would be taken by a joint committee of the allies, rank and file in the parties have been told to follow protocol while issuing statements on crucial issues," said Mr Khanna.

On issue of a statement that appeared in a section of media on behalf of Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary Mr Khanna accused concerned media persons of distorting the statement. "I had talked to Mr Grewal and he denied having stated that Mr Navjot Sidhu MP would be next Chief Minister of Punjab," elaborated Mr Khanna. He urged the media to understand and gauge the consequences of 'table news' published without actually talking to concerned functionaries.

Mr Ramesh Ghaie president, Mr Yash Pal general secretary and Mr Raj Pal Garg former president were present on the occasion.



Resentment among pensioners
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 19
Strong resentment prevails among the employees of the Punjab government and its pensioners against the Congress government in Punjab for its failure to meet any of the promises made during the elections to the Vidhan Sabha in 2002.

The rising prices and costly medical treatment is pinching the pensioners.

Mr Yashpaul Ghai, general secretary, Government Pensioners Association, Punjab, in a letter to the Chief Minister and the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress has pointed out that the fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month for the employees and the pensioners is very much inadequate to meet the increasing cost of medical treatment. There has been 48 per cent increase in the cost of medical treatment during the past eight years and enhancement to the fixed medical allowance was called for.

The pensioners, points out Mr Ghai, are not being given the benefit of old age beyond 80 years despite the recommendations by the Third Pay Commission. Incidentally, the former legislators are allowed this benefit at the age of 65, 75 and 80 while the pensioners are given this benefit only at the age of 65 and 75.

The Punjab Government grants its employees the house rent, city compensatory allowance, and rural area allowance but not to the pensioners. This was promised in the 2002 Congress vidhan sabha election manifesto.

Seeking the fifth pay commission, Mr Ghai, has sought the revision of the pay scales of the serving and retired employees.

Mr Ghai has further pointed out that the state government has imposed a major cut in the commutation of pension of those retiring after July 31, 2003. Under the new formula, a person who retires at the age of 58 gets commutation at the rate of 6.21 per cent instead of 10.46 per cent. The new formula is most unjust and the old pension commutation formula should be restored.

Mr Ghai has called upon the Punjab Pradesh congress committee chief to fulfill the promises made by the Congress in 2002. 



Wheat import: MCPI(U) flays decision
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
The state committee of the MCPI (U) has condemned the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to import 5 lakh tonnes of wheat, affecting the interests of the Indian farmers, especially from the North.

Mr Kuldip Singh, secretary of the MCPI (U), said the step was ridiculous and anti-farmer and meant to harm the interests of the farming community. “What is the compulsion of the government in importing wheat when lakhs of tonnes are rotting in godowns and the new crop will be in market in a short time,” he asked.

Coming down heavily on the policy of the Central Government, he said on the one hand the government was claiming to have surplus storage of wheat and on the other wheat was being imported from abroad at a much higher price
than the minimum support price (MSP) assured to the local farmers.

“This means that the government is prepared to import wheat and give
higher price to foreign countries but is denying the same to our own farmers. This is not only intriguing but also scandalous and is a fit case to be probed and looked into by an independent higher judicial agency,” he said.

He said such anti-farmer decisions were being taken under the pressure of agencies like WTO to give benefit to foreign MNCs. Such policies would discourage farmers and were bound to have negative impact upon agriculture, which would ultimately turn India from surplus to deficit in wheat growing.



Tension level high among female convicts
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 19
A PAU study has revealed that tension level, both covert and overt, is high in female convicts. They also display a high level of anxiety neurosis. Their pitiable psychological condition is also discernible given their apprehension of social rejection due to stigma for the crimes committed by them and consequently the prospects of an insecure future.

It also transpires from the study that women convicted for dowry, murder, narcotics and drugs or “other” crime, say rape, kidnapping or fight, fall prey to physical and psychological ailments. Also, their frustrations multiply while under going jail terms. The aged among women convicts also suffer from hypertension and diabetes. What further precipitates their emotional instability are the conditions in jails.

These are the broad findings of a study of “socio-psychological co-relates of crime among women in jails in north-west India” by Ritu Adhikari and B.R. Jindal of PAU’s Department of Human Development and Sociology.

Writing in the latest issue of PAU’s Journal of Research, the two have analysed the state of mind of 150 women convicts lodged in Ludhiana, Ambala and Chandigarh Central Jails. They have also brought out the fact that facilities provided to them and other inmates lodged in these jails leave much to be desired. Even infrastructure facilities were inadequate. Moreover, the convicted women were not allowed to see their families for long intervals of time, which further added to their frustration and tension.

Ritu Adhikari and B.R.Jindal have contended that though crime is a universal phenomenon and usually male dominated, criminality among women has been given scant attention by psychologists, sociologists and criminologists. However, there has been spurt in the rate of women criminality in the recent years. “Our micro-level study is to provide a scientific insight into the social and psychological factors related to female criminality in the north-west India”.

The article in the Journal of Research gives a fine distinction of the types of anxiety, apprehension, over stimulation, cognitive incongruity, response unavailability, and how all these lead to loss of self-control, inability to respond in a situation and how”state” anxiety is different from “trait” anxiety.

An interesting observation was that higher level of education played a part in inculcating higher level of “self control” in the convicts. Drug addicts seemingly displayed high level of covert “emotional instability”, while ones convicted for “other” types of crimes, say rape, kidnapping or fight, showed high overt “emotional instability”. In fact, “tension levels, both overt and covert, were very high in case of all criminals”, says the write-up. It goes on to describe distinct co-relation between type of crime and anxiety.

Women convicted of murder showed very high level of anxiety; In over 44 per cent cases. Majority of women convicts admitted to “sleepless” nights, as they were always thinking about their families. Women charged with murder also showed high level of covert “apprehension”, pointing to hidden feeling of “guilt” in them. All sample women were in high covert emotional instability and always “tense and frustrated”.

The authors, Ritu Adhikari and B R Jindal, expect policy-makers to pay attention to these women criminal convicts to help them tide over their miserable living conditions in the jails.



Biking for Devi darshan
Asha Ahuja

Rajinder Gupta
Rajinder Gupta

Ludhiana, February 19
Mr Rajinder Gupta of Bathinda is on a pilgrimage on his bicycle for the 48th time, this time to Vaishno Devi.
Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he said, “I went to Gangotri in 1989 and returned as ‘kawaria’, bringing water of the Ganges on foot. That journey was a turning point. I decided to quit my job as peon and vowed to visit Vaishno Devi and her six sisters in the hills on my bicycle.

“I have hardly any funds, but people have been kind to me. I cover between 60 and 70 kilometres everyday. I carry a bag which has two blankets and my clothes.

“I want to travel to Kanyakumari. I know that it will be tough, but I want to give it a try. I have been bitten by dogs many times.”

He had been to Amarnath cave on his bicycle. He claimed that once he met some terrorists near Patni Top, but got security from armed force personnel.



Woman killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, February 19
Kamal Bedi, a resident of Ludhiana, was killed and her husband injured seriously when their car rammed into a truck near the octroi post here this morning.
The car rammed into the truck when Mr Nobel Justin Bedi, who was driving the car, lost control. The couple was on way to Faridabad from Ludhiana. While Kamal Bedi died on the spot, Nobel sustained injuries. He was admitted to Christian Medical College, Ludhiana


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