L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Farmers harvest wheat crop with hands
Kanchan Vasdev

Mahitpur (Ludhiana), April 4
Notwithstanding the total mechanisation of agriculture in the state, farmers of the district have reverted to the traditional practice of harvesting wheat manually to combat the shortage of wheat chaff.

Around 30 per cent of the farmers in the district have already started harvesting operations while those who had sown the late varieties will begin harvesting after a couple of days.

A survey of some villages —Mahitpur, Sidhwan Bet, Kishanpura, Gaur Sianh Karim Bakht, Salempur, Bhundri, Hambran, Issewal, Birmi and Jhammat— revealed that farmers had taken to manual harvesting instead of depending on combines and reapers.

This development is set to result in less environmental pollution since the stubble left after manual harvesting is not burnt to clear the fields. In case of mechanical harvesting, the residue has to be set afire.

Farmers said that like all other commodities, the prices of chaff had increased manifold in the past. Many of them were forced to sell their healthy animals due to the increasing cost of keeping them. Agricultural experts had then advised the farmers to harvest their crop manually so that they would be able to produce straw and store it for future use.

This development spells doom for combine owners who had sold their lands to buy combines considering it to be a more profitable option.

Farmers said that they were depending on migrant labourers for harvesting.

Gurbhej Singh, a farmer said that manual harvesting is a time-consuming method but still the farmers prefer it. But sensing the trouble of the farmers, labourers, too, are demanding high wages.

The labourers said that they were picking up agricultural jobs instead of industrial ones as there was a great demand for them in the countryside.



Pensioners suffer as SBI strike continues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
While employees of the State Bank of Indian (SBI) continued fighting for their rights, those were the pensioners and salaried class people who were at the receiving end it being the beginning of the month.

The largest bank of the country has a significant share of account holders who are senior citizens or government/private sector employees. Many customers also felt that the strike would adversely affect the bank’s reputation.

A large number of people in these categories could be seen returning disappointed from the bank’s branches today. “We have been waiting and now we are told that the bank would remain closed for an indefinite period. It is harassment as we rely on pension for our expenses,” said Satwant, a customer.

Though bank employees said they worked on April 1 and 2 specifically for pensioners and salaried class, majority of customers rued that they were not aware that the bank was to remain open on April 1, the day when public transactions do not take place on account of closing, and on April 2, which was Sunday.

“We have been struggling for our demands for quite some time. It is only because we are left with no other option that we had to resort to an indefinite strike. We have apologised to our customers for inconvenience and they should not blame us because it is the Finance Minister who is responsible for this situation,” said Mr Vijay Kalia, general secretary, State Bank Officers Federation.

Customers, however, felt that bank employees could have kept this fact in mind to save customers from inconvenience. “Due to closing our salaries are delayed. Bank strike has only added to the problem. At the beginning of the month, it is quite a harassment not to be able to withdraw your own money,” said Pankaj, an SBI customer.

“Even after privatisation, we preferred to continue with the SBI as we pose faith on the bank. But we feel let down as this kind of situation would never occur in a private bank,” said Savita Sharma, another customer.

Mr Yash Paul Ghai, general secretary of the Government Pensioners Association, who expressed solidarity with bank employees, said: “It is the government who is to be blamed. Bank employees were left with no option. But pensioners are suffering due to the strike”.



Traffic Bottlenecks — II
Poles a major hazard
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 4
Electricity poles and power transformer-supporting structures are a cause of traffic bottlenecks and accidents here.

With underground wiring a distant cry and shifting of poles expensive, residents look towards the government for a solution, but the problem does not seem be a priority.

Several persons have been injured as their vehicles hit poles and twisted and mangled poles can be seen on roads.

Poles create a bottleneck even on four-laned roads, forcing vehicles to be slowed down.

These structures have caused minor and major accidents during evening and night hours and even in the daytime.

No glowsigns or reflectors have been pasted on poles and so, those cannot be seen at night.

Poles are so close at the narrow markets of the old city and colonies like Rishi Nagar, Chandan Nagar, Prem Nagar, Nanak Nagar, Shimla Puri, Salem Tabri and Haibowal that the wires are intertwined, causing fire.

At some places, poles block roads, allowing room for only two-wheelers to pass.

The idea of shifting poles seems to have escaped planners of so-called modern colonies like Sarabha Nagar and Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar.

As per the master plan prepared by the traffic police, poles need to be relocated immediately.

DSP Sandeep Goel says poles reduce road width considerably and give space to encroachers like slum-dwellers and roadside vendors.

He says shifting poles is the only solution and the traffic police has been recommending to the government to take up the matter on a priority basis.

The roads cannot be widened unless poles are shifted and this has to be done by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) after the municipal corporation meets the expenditure, which is between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000 per pole.

The only solution seems underground cables, but the municipal corporation and the PSEB have no such plan.

According to Mr D.B. Arora, Chairman, Central Zone, PSEB, underground wiring requires huge finances and can be taken up only when the municipal corporation is able to meet the expenditure.

PSEB sources say poles, earlier on the edge of roads, have come up in the middle of roads after widening.

At several places, unplanned colonies have come up, where colonisers have given narrow road space, that too by including poles and electricity cable-supporting towers, hoping that the PSEB will have to shift those later.

A Ludhiana Tribune survey suggests that the PSEB can help matters by either shifting poles to the central verge of roads or changing its design so that it occupies less space.

Strong poles can be put on wide platforms, on which transformers can be installed, to reduce the space occupied.



Woman gets 5yr-RI in kidnap case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 4
Mr Hardial Singh, Presiding Officer of the Fast Track Court, has convicted Laxmi of Tajpur Road for kidnapping three-year-old Anita. She was sentenced to a rigorous imprisonment for five years.

However, the court acquitted one co-accused, Davinder Kumar giving him benefit of doubt. Another accused, Sonu(husband of convict) had already been declared proclaimed offender.

The accused were booked under Sections 363, 364, 365 and 34 of the IPC at Division No:5 Police Station on April 13, 2004 following the complaint of Omni, sister of victim’s mother.

According to the prosecution, the victim was coming with her mother-Malo alongwith the complainant from the Durga Mata Mandir. Luxmi picked the girl and ran away. She was stopped near Guru Nanak Stadium, but she handed over the girl to her husband, who ran away with the girl.



SAD ‘indifferent’ to senior leaders’ woes
Our Correspondent

SAD leader Gurbachan Singh Chhanna
SAD leader Gurbachan Singh Chhanna

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has been accused of ignoring committed leaders and workers of the party having alliance with former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala.

The disappointed leaders alleged that senior leaders of the party had been too busy during the past years to observe the death anniversaries of the 13 persons, who were killed in the police firing in the state on the eve of the “dharam yudh morcha” on April 4, 1983. As many as 12 persons were killed and 65 seriously injured during the stir.

Mr Gurbachan Singh Chhanna, a senior party leader and a follower of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, accused the leaders of cashing in on the sacrifice for political mileage and ignoring the traditional leaders and workers of the party. “Though we have been the worst sufferers of the police firing, we were not even invited,” he rued.

The leader claimed that he had led a jatha of around 100 workers on the day and had a close encounter with death. He claimed that Balbir Singh of Chhanna, one of his workers, had received bullet injury in the incident and later died but none of the leaders ever bothered to visit his family.

According to Mr Chhanna, he had courted arrest during Akali movements on various occasions. He had also spent two weeks in Ferozepore jail on one occasion.

Ruing party’s decision to observe the death anniversary on March 4 every year, the leader said he along with his supporters would continue paying tributes to martyrs on April 4 each year. “Even today we offered prayers at village gurdwara and paid tributes to the martyrs,” he added.



Mayor urges councillors to sink differences
Our Correspondent

Mr Nahar Singh Gill
Mr Nahar Singh Gill

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 4
Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and vice-chairman, All-India Council of Mayors, has called upon chiefs of civic bodies of the state to sink narrow political differences, while finalising developmental projects in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

Mr Gill said this after an informal meeting with the councillors of the town, led by Mr Jatinder Bhola, president, Municipal Council. “Issues and priorities at the level of civic bodies are normally linked with the lives of common people and these should be decided irrespective of political alliance of the beneficiaries,” said Mr Gill.

Mr Gill stated that the tendency of bureaucrats to hold control over the final approval of development projects has been harming the interests of public.

He advocated that the heads of all civic bodies including corporations, councils and panchayats should be given more executive powers.

He recommended that civic bodies should implement policies for the benefit of the masses instead of giving favours to individuals.

Mr Gill clarified his intention to contest Assembly elections. He said, “I am ardent worker of the Congress party and would be pleased to serve the people of my area through the state assembly if seniors in the party want me to do so.”



Farmers panic as buffaloes die
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 4
The foot and mouth disease has killed some buffaloes at Payal and Khanna.

The buffaloes had fallen ill suddenly. Veterinary doctors treated the sick buffaloes, but some died in 15 days.

Biloo, Darshan Singh, Harjit Singh have lost one buffalo each, Binder Singh and Sarup Singh lost two each and Kaka Singh lost five.



Farewell party
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 4
Various employees unions including Technical Service Union, Employees Federation of PSEB, Council of Junior Engineers and Grid Maintenance Circle Khanna organised a farewell party for Mr Santokh Singh who had retired after putting in 37 years in the PSEB here today. Mr Karm Singh Gill, Additional Executive Engineer, presented a gold ring and a shawl to Mr Singh.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |