L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Trustee Suba’s resignation accepted
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The behind-the-scene political manoeuvering surrounding the resignation of three members of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust came to the fore today with the acceptance of resignation of one of the members.

The resignation of Suba Harbhajan Singh, who was considered close to former PPCC President H.S. Hanspal, was accepted by the trust authorities under Section 7 of the Punjab Improvement Trust Act at a meeting here today.

Suba Harbhajan Singh was proving to be a thorn in the flesh for the Congress in the state as Mr Hanspal lost his influence in the corridors of power after Shamsher Singh Dullo took over as president.

Officials of the trust, who did not want to be identified, confirmed the development. They said the trust was authorised under Section 7 of the Act to accept the resignation of a trustee at the local level only.

Sources said the Local Bodies Minister had sent a feeler to the trust asking the authorities for the resignation of Suba Harbhajan Singh.

Initially, there was some reluctance reported from Mr Suba’s side and later the trust asked all four trustees to submit their resignation.

While S.P.S. Bindra and Bhupinder Singh Basant had submitted their resignations two days ago, Gurdial Kaur Khangoora failed to do so.

None of the trustees were ready to confirm the development but some of them later told mediapersons requesting anonymity.

Sources further said following Mr Suba’s resignation, the state government was carving a way for a local businessman to take the reins as the next trustee.

The authorities were working on the notification for appointing Vijay Pruthi, a local businessman, as the trustee. However, the notification had not been finalised till the filing of the report.

Suba Harbhajan Singh said he knew he was being changed and as a loyal soldier of the country he was accepting the orders of the state government.

He added that the term of all trustees had finished in August, 2005 and he was happy that he had completed his term successfully and enjoyed seven months as bonus.

He added that he had no hard feelings as he had finished his stint without any controversy.

“I had no allegations against me. I helped people get their pending work done. I used to spend three hours every day in the office and help people whoever needed it,” he added.



Inn shoots into limelight with “Rang De Basanti”
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Manji Sahib (Doraha), March 24
The Amir Khan starrer “Rang De Basanti” has brought into limelight a historical inn located behind Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Doraha. Till very recently, the inn was in ruins with only its boundary wall surviving the onslaught of elements of nature over the past several centuries.

All those who have watched the movie would recognise the dilapidated building in which a group of friends meet and they make plans to get themselves heard. The inn has become a favourite stopover for passers-by, especially youngsters who urge parents to let them have a closer look at the structure.

Mr Amrinder Singh, a resident of the village who was working in fields inside the building, said earlier the place was used for shooting of Punjabi video songs, but ever since Amir Khan shot his film here, the place had become a favourite spot for film and ad makers. The release of the film has further enhanced the popularity of the inn.

This is one of the several such structures dotted along the GT Road, also called the National Highway No. 1, in Punjab. Such inns were strategically built at a distance of 8 to 10 miles by Sher Shah Suri, who was instrumental in laying the historical road from Lahore to Kolkata. These inns provided a place for rest to the travellers.

This inn had remained a cause of dispute between the government and a family of the village. The inn is in the possession of a family of the village. Members of this family claim that they have won it from a local court.

The private ownership has proved a boon for the building. Though there is another inn, in a better shape and structure, across the Abohar Breeder Canal in Doraha town, filmmakers do not prefer it.

Sources in the Conservation and Archaeology Department said the filmmakers found it very cumbersome to get the place cleared for shooting. “On the other hand, a private owner readily agrees as it provides him immediate financial gains,” they add.

Mr Amrinder Singh said residents of the village, who had spent days and nights watching the shooting, made a beeline to theatres or brought VCDs to see the structure on the silver screen.



Pawan Dham opens gates for seriously ill
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 24
Finally, the city has a place where seriously ill can breathe easy and where quality care is guaranteed. One such seriously ill patient, Sunil Kumar,18, suffering from cancer, is relaxing on his comfortable bed at serene Pawan Dham — the first hospice in Ludhiana.

The hospice is the brainchild of Mr Sarwan Kumar Sharma, chairman, Nishkam Sewa Ashram which is running a senior citizen home at Daad village on Pakhowal Road.

Dr Raman Arora, Head of the Oncology Department, Oswal Cancer Hospital, is the consultant of the hospice.

Dr Santokh Singh, retired CMO, is also in the attendance and runs a general OPD.

He told the Ludhiana Tribune:" Sunil is diagnosed to be suffering from bone tumor . We are in constant touch with Dr Raman Arora. The boy is peaceful and clean environment is helping him up to live in a relaxed way.”

"Ms Simran Sandhu, a housewife, also gave her full assistance in setting up the hospice.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, Sunil said: "I had been in PGI and Oswal Cancer Hospital for the past two years. For the past few months the pain was unbearable. Inspite of strong sleeping pills given to me in the cancer hospital, I could not sleep.

“But after coming to Pawan Dham on March 20, I have been sleeping soundly like a baby. The environs are so calm and peace has descended on me . I want to go out and play cricket ." His mother said , "About two years ago, Sunil had developed pain in the knee. Not very well off, we just put a painkiller cream on his knee but after sometime his knee swelled up.

“We went to a doctor in Kapurthala who, after some tests, recommended us to take him to Ludhiana, but we took him to the PGI, Chandigarh.

“ The tumor in his knee was taken out and he started walking, but soon the tumor reappeared and we brought him to Ludhiana.

“After treatment , Dr Raman Arora has sent us to this hospice. I have to go back to Kapurthala as my younger son is there.

“My husband and another male member will take care of him. Since he cannot leave the bed , we have to assist him in his ablutions too."

Mr Sarwan Kumar said," We have stocked the refrigerator with fruits. The other morning , he said that he fancied a pastry, so we got him a box of pastries.

“Medicines, food, doctors' supervision everything is free. We are trying to save the boy. "

Mr Kumar said people who have a very sick relative and have a function in the house, say a wedding, they could leave him or her at the hospice for up to 10 days but would have to pay for the care.

Similarly, if a working couple had a sick person to take care of and were busy, they could leave the relative here for the day and take him back at night.

"We are here to serve the humanity," he asserted.



Pvt initiative must for farm growth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
A right mix of state policy, private initiatives, infrastructure development, technical change and innovative institutions have to network for further growth of agriculture sector in Punjab, which alone can bring about necessary diversification of income and employment.

This is the conclusion drawn by Punjab Agricultural University economists R.S.Sidhu, A.S. Bhullar and A.S.Joshi who have undertaken a study on “Income, employment and productivity growth in farming sector of Punjab”.

These economists dealt in detail with the prevailing political economy of the process of agriculture development in the state and found that market plays a crucial role in the production process. And over a period of time, the minimum support price was used more as a “political tool” than an “economic instrument” under pressure of politically strong large farmers, especially of irrigated areas. “The aim is to garner votes and strengthen political constituencies”.

PAU study observed that the price support and procurement were “potent” instruments that encouraged farmers to produce more. However, if used irrationally for grinding political axe, these very instruments created insurmountable problems. 



Congmen sing paeans of Sonia
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 24
The resignation tendered by Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Lok Sabha and National Advisory Council over holding office of profit seems to have provided an opportunity to the ruling party functionaries in the city to prove their loyalty to their leader.

Krishan Kumar Bawa, chairman, Punjab Housefed, termed the step a sacrifice. In a statement, he said the Congress had always stood for moral values and principles.

“It was the Congress that attained Independence and once again when Punjab was in the grip of terrorism, it was the Congress government that fought for the restoration of peace there,” he said.

Attacking the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal for their politically motivated campaign against Ms Gandhi, he said SAD leaders had gone into the hiding and even refused to contest elections when militants held the sway in Punjab.

Similarly, the BJP had always pursued its agenda of communalism and fundamentalism to divide and weaken the nation.

The Youth Congress activists, led by district president Dimple Rana burnt the effigies of BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishan Advani at Clock Tower Chowk here last evening to vent their anger against the move.

The YC leaders said the country was aware of sacrifices made by the Gandhi family and by submitting her resignation from the Lok Sabha, the AICC president had stuck to her high moral values that once made her refuse the post of Prime Minister.

Speaking at a rally organised by SC Cell of the District Youth Congress in Industrial Area A here today, its chairman Kuldeep Kumar Teswar and Parminder Mehta, member PPCC, asked the Opposition parties to learn a lesson from the exemplary sense of sacrifice shown by Ms Gandhi.

The Congress leaders observed that self-seeking leaders of different Opposition parties did not even know the definition of offices of profit.

“All of them are out to mislead people through cheap gimmicks and hollow political slogans,” they added.



Badal govt’s projects ignored: Atwal
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, March 24
It seems that the development works started by the previous SAD-BJP government in Koomkalan segment have come to a halt due to negative political approach of the present state government. This allegation was levelled by MLA Inder Singh Atwal during his visit to the grid here.

He further said that the 66 KVA grid substation of Hedon Bet the foundation stone of which was laid by the then Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, was now awaiting machinery. The building of the Rs-4 crore project had been ready for the past 5 years. Its construction was started on August 20, 2001. The people’s demand of the grid was met after a long wait.

It is worthwhile to mention that due to long distance electricity cables, the people of Bet area had to suffer long cuts and voltage drop due to heavy load. With the completion of the grid, the present voltage drop would be decreased to 6-7 per cent, he added.

Due to the apathy of the present government, it had been wearing a deserted look. Bushes and grass had covered the building. It seemed as if no one took this project seriously, he said.

Local officials of the PSEB expressed ignorance regarding having any information about the grid. They said the project was launched under the supervision of senior officials of the PSEB. They further added that senior official could tell better about the completion of the grid.

The people of the area have appealed to the PSEB and state government to complete the grid at the earliest.



Power staff conference today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The 13th conference of the All India Federation of Electricity Employees will begin here tomorrow. The two-day conference will have the participation of over 750 elected delegate of power workers from various states.

The conference will discuss the Electricity Act, 2003 . The employees feel "the Act is intended to dismantling the state electricity boards and privatise the power sector in the country. It favours big businesses, commercial and industrial consumers".

Demanding that the dismantling of power boards should not be carried out in the eight remaining states ,the federation spokesperson said.

Representatives of engineers in the power sector will also attend the conference. The spokesperson said that the conference would decide the future course of action against the implementation of the Act. Mr A.B. Bardhan, president of the federation, Mr Gurudass Dass Gupta, MP, and general secretary, AITUC, Mr Chakradhar Prashad Singh and Mr S. Rana of AIFEE, will address a rally of Punjab power workers and delegates.



Dawar presents cheques for development
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Parliamentary Secretary for Power Surinder Dawar has disclosed that in the Budget for 2006-07, the government has laid major thrust to boost the power production. As much as 23.11 per cent of the total plan size, i.e. Rs 924 crore has been provided for generation of power and strengthening of transmission and distribution of electricity in Punjab.

He was addressing a function at Cheema Chowk here on Monday after presenting cheques for the development works in the area.

Mr Dawar said that out of this Rs 400 crore was to be utilised for the transmission and distribution system, while Rs 300 crore was to be utilised for the completion of the Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant-II. With the fast increase in the consumption of power, the state was facing a serious power shortfall and the previous successive governments had not accorded due priority to this sector, he added. 



Bhagat Singh remembered
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 24
The Youth Forum of Doraha observed the 75th death anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh yesterday. Among those who offered tributes to the hero were Om Parkash Bector, a freedom fighter, Tarlok Singh Jaggi, Pawan Kumar Kaushal, Lakhwinder Singh Buani, Jasvir Jajj, Pritam Jaggi, Gurdial Dala, Kartar Sigh Buani, Jagdev Singh Grewal.

Speakers recalled the sacrifice of the hero. They also urged the younger generation to stay away from drugs and follow the path of righteousness and self-sacrifice.

A candlelit vigil passed through the main market and ended at Old Grain Market where the statue of Bhagat Singh is located. A street play, “Asli hero kaun”, directed by Prof Sompal Heera, was also staged.

Forum president Mudit Mohindra, chairman Jandeep Kaushal, Joginder Kirti, Khushal Jaggi, Anil Bhanot, Gagan Bector, Khushwant Singh were those present on the occasion. A play fair will be organised on March 26 in which a play dedicated to the memory of the martyr and written and directed by Prof Sompal Heera will be staged in Dr Ishwar Singh Memorial Hall of the local Guru Nanak National College.



Delay in pay panel deplored
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 24
Pensioners here have deplored the delay in setting up the sixth Central pay commission. Prime Minister had made an announcement in this connection on February 1, this year . Meanwhile, the pensioners have welcomed the 3 per cent DA hike from January, this year.



State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur to open branches
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
In a bid to expand its presence in Punjab, the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur plans to open its branches in Khanna and Ludhiana. The bank will also open a regional office and a branch in Chandigarh.

“Punjab is a high potential market, witnessing a significant rise in income, to tap which we have chalked out this expansion plan. The branches and the regional office would open within the next three to four months,” said Mr S.K. Bhattacharya, managing director of the bank, who was here to visit the bank’s SME branch today.

Of its total customer base of 1.5 million, the bank has over 50 lakh customers in Punjab. More branches were expected to result in a significant increase in customer base for the bank. Mr Bhattacharya said the bank also planned to open three more branches in Haryana.

When asked about home loan interest rates, in which the bank had effected an increase by 50 basis points recently, he said there was no plan to increase housing loan rates further. On mismatch between cost of funds and lending rates being cited as the reason for increase by several banks, Mr Bhattacharya said, “High cost of funds cannot be a reason to raise home loan interest rates. Banks can always generate revenues from other sources and create a balance. The fact is that housing interest rates had hit an all-time low and it was not possible for rates to remain at that level for a long period. However, we do not contemplate any further increase.”

He said housing was an important segment for the bank and 50 per cent of the bank’s growth came from lending for housing.

Besides tapping the market for housing finance, the bank also encouraged its customers to get an insurance for home loans and also a personal insurance that covered the risk of repayment of the loan in case of borrower’s death. “There have been many cases where the borrower died and insurance helped the family. Families have come to us telling us they would have been in deep trouble if such insurance had not been taken.”

The bank, that sells SBI’s general insurance and mutual funds, would soon start selling National Insurances’ general insurance products too.

Regarding growth in agricultural lending, he claimed that the bank was among the few banks in the country that managed to attain their target of increased lending towards this sector. “This year, we added 85,000 farmers to our fold. Agriculture would remain a key focus area. Besides, the bank would also focus on lending to small and medium enterprises.”


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