L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Surya Kiran residents sitting on tinderbox
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Residents in the Surya Kiran building on the Mall Road are virtually sitting on a tinderbox. With the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation turning a blind eye to the 100-odd diesel-run generators installed by shopkeepers in the backyard of the building, the residents fear that a minor fire in the area could result in a major tragedy.

Only this morning, a flat on the third floor of the building, belonging to Mr J.S. Arora, caught fire. Fortunately, the fire was spotted and controlled in time otherwise it could have turned into a massive fire considering the amount of diesel stored in tanks of generators.

The fire was spotted by morning walkers in Rakh Bagh when they saw thick smoke billowing out of the flat. They informed the fire brigade which pressed two fire engines into service and controlled the fire.

Firemen had a tough time in approaching the flat from the backyard of the building as they had to make their way through intertwined electricity wires, huge generators and spilled diesel. Only after struggling for around two hours, the fire was doused.

Firefighters said it was due to the alertness of the morning walkers that a tragedy was averted. Had some splinters fallen on generators on the ground floor, those would have caught fire. The tanks filled with diesel could have caused blasts and the building would have been under threat.

This happened just two days after the Surya Kiran Owners Society shot off letters to the Deputy Commissioner against the generators installed by various commercial establishments. They had been sending SOS to the Punjab Pollution Control Board and the LMC, but to no avail.

Mr Sunil Aggarwal, a resident, and Mr J.S. Gill, estate officer of the society, said they had taken up the matter with owners of commercial establishments and apprised them of the dangers posed by the generators.

“We have been told curtly that we have nothing to do with the gensets. Moreover, we are told that we have no authority to question anything in the building as they have equal rights,” added both of them.

They said the backyard was meant for playing. However, it was reduced to a store of heavy duty generators and a network of wires.

Urging the civic administration to come to their rescue, the residents said the wiring was loose and sparking was witnessed throughout the day. “We have made several complaints to MC officials. They do not listen to us.” 



Doctors rally against downsizing
Our Correspondent

PCMS doctors hold a rally in front of the Civil Surgeon’s office in Ludhiana on Friday
PCMS doctors hold a rally in front of the Civil Surgeon’s office in Ludhiana on Friday. — Photo by I.V.

Ludhiana, March 17
In response to a call given by the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA), PCMS doctors in the district today held a protest rally in front of the Civil Surgeon’s office here against the recent decision of the state government to downsize the existing strength of PCMS doctors and paramedical staff by handing over 1,193 government health institutions to zila parishads.

Functionaries of the PCMSA, while addressing the rally, condemned the “haphazard shifting” of regular doctors and supporting staff and replacing them with contractual staff. Today’s district-level rally was part of the statewide struggle, launched by the PCMSA, along with representatives of various paramedical and health staff unions.

Dr Hardeep Singh, state president, Dr Balwinder Kumar, district president, and other speakers condemned the government move, terming the contract system as anti-employee and a step towards privatisation of health services. Through this ill-conceived decision, the state government was shedding its constitutional responsibility of providing health services to the rural population and the poor, they said.

The speakers were sore over the dislocation of government doctors and paramedical staff as a result of “far and wide” transfers as also downsizing of the PCMS cadre, which had led to abolition of 1,193 posts.

Dr Hardeep Singh pointed out that at a recent meeting with representatives of the PCMSA, Mr D.S. Guru, Principal Secretary, Health, had declared that 117 dispensaries located in urban slums would not be handed over to zila parishads and further that 2,852 sub-centres, under the jurisdiction of the 1,193 remaining dispensaries, would also remain with the state Health Department. Mr Guru, he added, had claimed that 590 fresh posts of PCMS doctor had been created at clinical hospitals.

The PCMSA chief, however, lamented that the promise of the government not to harass doctors could not be taken at its face value. Citing the case of Ludhiana district, he revealed that as many as 68 PCMS doctors would be uprooted from 108 health institutions being handed over to zila parishads. Of these, only 27 could be posted at the newly created posts in clinical hospitals, while the rest would face “out of district” transfers.

Similarly, the pharmacist cadre was also bound to face the heat as it stood to lose 1,193 posts of the 2,975 sanctioned posts. Pharmacists would also be uprooted like the doctors for posting to other districts, Dr Hardeep Singh said.

Lambasting the government for a hasty and shortsighted step as also ignoring the interests of the medical fraternity, he demanded that rural mini-PHCs be upgraded and fresh doctors with full pay and other benefits be appointed for these institutions. At the same time, he vowed that the PCMSA would continue its stir against the contract system management of health institutions under the zila parishads.

Among others, Mr Balbir Kalia, district president, Pharmacists Association, Mr Karnail Singh and Mr Harjinder Singh of the Paramedical Association, Mr Harbhajan Singh of the Class IV Association and Mr Gobind Sharma also addressed the rally.



Kisan mela focuses on water conservation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Thousands of farmers from Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Gurdaspur and Himachal thronged the kisan mela for the kandi area at Ballowal Saunkhri here today. The mela was organised under the aegis of the PAU. The theme was water conservation.

Ms Supinder Kaur Cheema, member of the Board of Management, PAU, inaugurated the mela and urged women to involve themselves in farm operations by adopting latest technologies from the university.

She appealed to the farmers to get training from the university in various fields. Scientific agriculture alone could yield better returns, she said.

The Director of Extension Education, PAU, Dr S.S. Gill, emphasised on the planting of more trees for checking deforestation. He suggested that each farmer should plant at least five fruit trees and five other trees.

He said trials for compost making from paddy straw were yielding good results at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Langroya. He called for the effective utilisation of water resources.

The Deputy Commissioner, Nawanshahr, Mr Krishan Kumar, highlighted development plans in the district. He said agro-processing units would be encouraged in the district.

More than 60 medicinal and aromatic species of plants have been introduced in the kandi area. "Biul" and "subabul" have been recommended as green fodder during the lean period as these also meet fuel requirements.

A progressive farmer, Rana Moti Singh, also addressed the gathering.

Experts from the departments of Agronomy, Soils, Horticulture, Forestry and Natural Resources, Entomology, Plant Pathology, Home Science and Veterinary answered queries of the farmers.

The farmers purchased improved seed varieties. More than 1,500 kits of seasonal vegetables were also put on sale. The farmers evinced keen interest in the purchase of fruit plants.

A live broadcast of the mela was arranged by the AIR, Jalandhar. An animal welfare camp was also organised. Certificates were awarded to winners of various crops and exhibition competitions.

Various departments of the university, Krishi Vigyan Kendras at Langroya, Hoshiarpur and Ropar, IFFCO, Markfed as well as entrepreneurs had put up exhibitions. 



BKU for CBI probe into sale of wheat by FCI
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has demanded a high-level inquiry by the CBI into the manner in which the FCI had disposed of huge stocks of “defective” wheat at Rs 530 per quintal for use in cattle and poultry feed.

Talking to mediapersons here today, BKU chief Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and secretary general Manjit Singh Kadian maintained that wheat stocks sold at such a price could not be used as cattle or poultry feed as these were available in the market at much cheaper rates. “The wheat sold by the FCI is, in fact, fit for human consumption and certain officials have manipulated the whole operation to benefit themselves,” the BKU leaders asserted.

They called upon the government to announce the support price of wheat at Rs 950 per quintal and revoke the decision to import 5 lakh tonnes of wheat to tide over the “non-existent” shortage in the country. 



Caste poison kills lovers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Unable to overcome the caste barrier, a lovelorn couple ended their lives in a suicide pact by consuming poison in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar here today.
The couple — 22-year-old Bhanu Pratap and 18-year-old Anita, died at DMC Hospital this morning. They lived in closely-situated rented rooms in a partially constructed house in the colony.

According to ASI Tarlochan Singh, they wanted to get married, but the boy’s parents, who claimed to be from an upper caste, were against the match. The police official said the two consumed poison from a bottle and were found writhing in pain by Ms Kamla, mother of the girl.

She, along with neighbours, raised the alarm and the couple was taken to a hospital, but could not be saved. The police is conducting proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC.

Raju Kumar and Kamla, parents of the girl, said they were willing for the marriage. “The parents of Bhanu Pratap live in Unao district in Uttar Pradesh. They did not agree to the marriage,” they said.

Bhanu Pratap worked as a painter of signs here.The ASI said the couple did not leave any suicide note. 



Prerna rally taken out by Youth Congress workers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Activists of the Youth Congress led by the state president, Mr Ravinder Amla, took out a prerna rally here today highlighting the various achievements of the state government. The rallyists walked around the city shouting slogans and displaying placards in support of the government.

Among those who participated in the rally were the District Congress Committee president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, the District Youth Congress president, Mr Dimple Rana, a Councillor, Mr Navkar Jain, and a Youth Congress leader, Mr Ajay Johar.

Addressing the rally, Mr Amla pointed out that the government led by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had started a lot of development programmes in the state. He claimed that the economy had witnessed a boom. The infrastructure was the best in the state and foreign investors were getting attracted towards the state.

He said the government had made special schemes for the rural people of the state. He pointed out the rural employment and other facilities provided to the farmers were unmatched and unparalleled in the state history.



Kidwai Nagar residents demand better amenities
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Residents of Kidwai Nagar are sore over the deplorable condition of parks, roads and streetlights in their area.
They claim that despite repeated requests to the civic body and area councillor the conditions prevailing in their locality remain unchanged.

Mr R.R. Katyal, general secretary of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Society, said the parks in their area were not being maintained. These had been virtually turned into garbage dumps by the residents and were frequented by stray animals.

He said a fountain installed in the park at a cost of Rs 4 lakh a few years ago had also become non-functional due to lack of maintenance.

The residents further stated that they were feeling discriminated against as there were no other amenities also. 



National policy for the aged sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
"The formulation of a model national policy for the aged and setting up of a national commission for the aged are needed", say members of Public Cause, an organisation of senior citizens.

The existing national policy framed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has become ineffective on account of a variety of reasons, including lack of funds, they feel.

Mr R.R. Katyal, organising secretary of Public Cause, states that the elderly form about 7 per cent of the total population and generally live and die uncared for.

They wondered who was responsible for looking after them—the government, society or the children? "Senior citizens are suffering from mental torture and agony as no government seems to be worried about their plight," they say.

Nuclear families have also affected the elderly. The Director of the organisation, Mr Yashpaul Ghai, says there is need for the formulation of a model legislation in this regard. "The senior citizens deserve free medical aid, suitable homes, allotment of funds, day care and recreational centres, free bus fare scheme and quota in the allotment of flats," he says, adding that they want to be engaged in Red Cross activities, maintenance of parks and campaigns against drug addiction and foeticide.



Pensioners’ adalat on March 22
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
The Accountant General , Punjab, will hold a pension adalat on March 22 at 9.30a.m. at the Circuit House, Ludhiana.
All problems relating to pension will be addressed at the adalat. Any pensioner along with his complaint and required documents, including PPO, may put forth his case in the adalat, says Mr Yashpaul Ghai, general secretary of the Government Pensioners' Association. 



Gang of four burglars busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
A key member of a gang of four burglars, which includes two brothers and their father, today startled police officials and mediapersons by claiming at a press conference that he had committed over 600 petty and major thefts in the past five years.

Lakhwinder Singh, a member of the gang, in response to a query said he had committed 600-700 thefts since 2001 and had been caught a few times only. The SP (Detective), Mr Gurpreet Singh, rubbished the claim.

The accused along with his brother Balwinder Singh, foster father Surinder Singh and an accomplice, Abdul Majid, were caught on the charge of committing about 24 thefts and burglaries in Shimla Puri, Haibowal and division No. 6 police station area of the city.

The police seized a single-barrel gun, iron rods and sharpedged weapons from them. They also recovered several items and vehicles. The items mainly included electronic goods, some jewellery, ladies suits and two LPG cylinders. The vehicles included four motor-cycles and a scooter. 



Normalcy returning to Oswal mills
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Even as the workers' representatives persisted with their demand to take "sacked workers back", the management of Oswal Woollen Mills said a majority of the workers had resumed their duty and the situation was getting back to normal. The management, however, expressed unhappiness over the prevailing "labour unrest plaguing the industry".

It was for the first time that the city witnessed agitation by workers taking a violent form yesterday when a clash occurred between labourers and police personnel outside the Oswal Woollen Mills at Sherpur Kalan Chowk, leaving 40 persons injured.

The workers of Oswal, who were agitated due to retrenchment of nine workers a few days ago and registration of cases against 200 labourers yesterday, resorted to stone-pelting when they found the factory closed yesterday morning. The police had to fire in air to disperse the crowd and cases were also registered against several workers.

The workers, who persisted with their demand to "take back the sacked workers", also submitted a memorandum in this regard to the administration today. "Our aim is not to cause any violence which is why there was no protest rally today. We want that they should take the sacked workers back," said Mr Jagdish Chand, joint secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Punjab. Alleging that the company was not adhering to labour laws and not paying workers their dues, he said that the union wanted the same to be implemented.

The management, on the other side, attributed the situation to "outsiders, who", it said, "were provoking and threatening workers of the factory who wanted to resume their duty". Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Sandeep Jain, director, Oswal Woollen Mills, said: "We have not sacked any workers. A few of them who have not resumed duty are being threatened by certain union leaders. There are 1,800 workers in this factory and 900 work in a shift. Of the 900 workers, 450 have resumed duty and we expect most workers in the next shift to come to duty."

Mr Jain said that the company had apprised the administration of the situation and hoped the situation to be under control soon. "It is for the first time in the last 42 years that this factory has witnessed an incident of such nature. The last couple of months have seen an increased activity on this front where several unions are provoking workers and disturbing industrial environment. There is a dire need to bring the situation back to normalcy." 



Sit-in by SBI staff
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
The State Bank of India Staff Association held a dharna outside the zonal office of the bank in support of their demands here today.
The demands include payment of overtime, reconsideration of the transfer and promotion policy, filling of vacancies in all categories and equal housing and medical benefits for all employees.

The employees also condemned outsourcing of bank’s work. They threatened to observe a strike on March 28 if the management did not fulfil their demands.

Mr D.C. Landra, deputy general secretary, Mr R.S. Kalra, assistant general secretary, and Mr Rakesh Mahajan, zonal secretary of the association, addressed the employees.


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