L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Squall wreaks havoc in city
Claims two lives; disrupts water, power supply
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Two persons died and several were injured due to building collapses. Goods worth crores were also gutted in fires resulting from short circuits following the squall that threw life out of gear.

Though the rain accompanying the strong winds provided respite from the blistering heat, the city and its periphery were plunged into darkness. A number of trees were uprooted and several persons received injuries while they were driving.

The PSEB also suffered a loss of lakhs of rupees as electricity poles and other equipment were damaged.

Virender Kumar (35) of Gyaspura died when an asbestos sheet on the roof of a dhaba fell on him. His aide, Surender Kumar, received severe injuries and was rushed to the CMCH where he died.

A 20-year-old youth, Jagdish Kumar of Janta Nagar, died when the wall of his house collapsed due to strong winds.

Mast Keen, another resident, was injured when he was going home. He was rushed to the DMCH. He was shifted to the Civil Hospital in the morning today. Vicky was injured in a roof collapse in Rarri Mohalla when he was passing through the area along with his daughter and wife. He was taken to hospital.

Owners of Garg Factory in Kanganwal village reportedly suffered a loss of Rs 3 crore when the factory caught fire at around 11 am. Fire workers worked for around 12 hours to control the fire. Despite the heavy rain, it could not be controlled and was doused only around 11 am today. The fire was caused due to a short circuit.

A petrol station at Khasi Kalan village also caught fire.

Fields of wheat were gutted in various villages. The problem was compounded due to the burning of wheat stubble by farmers. The fire spread to neighbouring fields and threatened to engulf some houses in the fields. Some residents were seen running for shelter as they feared the fire would destroy their houses.

In Ludhiana, glow signboards of a number of commercial establishments were damaged and the outer wall of Sacred Heart Convent School collapsed. Certain areas remained waterlogged throughout the day. A number of trees were also uprooted and damaged electricity wires.

Employees of the municipal corporation remained on their toes to remove fallen trees and redress the complaints of water supply.

While life is limping back to normalcy, erratic water supply remained on the top of the woe-list of the residents. 



Power to be restored within 2 days
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Despite employees of the PSEB working continuously since last night to restore electric supply, it would take them at least two days to restore it to all areas. Sources in the PSEB office told The Tribune that the storm had cost the board dearly as at least 500 poles and 60 transformers in the district would have to be replaced or repaired. The damage was so much that the employees would have to work overtime to restore the supply and it would take not less than two days.

The sources said the supply to the suburban areas, including Raikot, Jagraon and Khanna, was the worst-hit as the area had more open spaces. In Raikot and Jagraon alone, a number of poles and transformers had been damaged.

Various teams constituted to assess the damage were deputed and despite working overnight, the sub-urbs of the city are still under darkness.

In eastern and western parts of the city, including Punjab Agricultural University and other comparatively open areas, the damage was maximum. Similarly in Jagraon, Khanna and Raikot, poles and transformers were either being repaired or were being replaced.

The disruption in electricity in most areas was caused due to the uprooting and falling of trees on high-tension wires. Telephonic communication was also snapped in some areas as landlines went out of order. Towers of some mobile companies also suffered damage.



Dullo inaugurates gaushala on controversial land
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 9
The president of the Punjab State Congress Committee has found himself in the midst of a controversy with a youth of Khera village, adjoining the local town, accusing the organisers of a gaushala and a religious place of trying to grab a piece of land belonging to him by getting a foundation stone laid by the president of PPCC on Sunday.

Terming one of the organisers as a hardcore terrorist, the victim, Ranjit Singh, alleged that the organisers, who were father and son, had threatened to eliminate him in case he obstructed them from occupying the land worth lakhs.

A perusal of records at Dehlon police station revealed that Balwinder Singh, a former Army man, had been convicted of murdering one of his colleagues in 1987 and some other criminal cases.

Though Baba Balwinder Singh and Bhupinder Singh were not available for comments, sevadars present on the spot denied the charges levelled against their ‘master’ and maintained that they had taken the step with the intention to serve deserted cows.

Though a large number of wall posters showed that Mr Avtar Singh, president, SGPC, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA, and some other SAD leaders had been invited to grace the inaugural function, the organisers got printed other posters showing Ms Parneet Kaur Congress MP as one of the dignitaries. Mr Samsher Singh Dullo president, PPCC, announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh after inaugurating the gaushala on May 7.

In an application addressed to Mr R K Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, Mr Ranjit Singh, son of Nirmal Singh of Khera village, a close relative of Baba Bhupinder Singh and his father Balwinder, alleged that the duo had threatened to eliminate him in case he obstructed them from occupying a piece of land measuring about 2,500 square yards where they had erected a foundation stone for Sri Chand Memorial Gaushala. Mr Samsher Singh Dullo had inaugurated the gaushala and announced to send a grant worth Rs 1 lakh to the organisation.

Ranjit Singh claimed that he had become legal owner of the land on the basis of a declaration made by the Sub Judge, Ludhiana, on November 11, 1994. A suit file by Gurmeet Singh, an uncle of Ranjit Singh and a relative of Baba Bhupinder Singh and Balwinder Singh, failed in the court of Civil Judge (Senior) Ludhiana, and the defendant retained owner of the land. “Now when they have lost all hopes to get the land by misguiding the courts, they conspired to grab the land on the pretext of opening a gaushala here,” alleged Ranjit Singh, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Balwinder had been booked under section 302 and 353 for of alleged obstruction in performing official duty by one his colleagues, followed by his murder. The Dehlon police had registered a case under section 452 and 323 against Balwinder Singh on the statement of Ms Mohinder Kaur, wife of Hoshiar Singh of Khera village. They had later arrived at a compromise. 



Halwara airport: farmers launch protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Farmers from Halwara and other surrounding villages, near here, today launched a movement against the proposed land acquisition for the international airport coming up there. The farmers staged a demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office to register their protest.

The process of land acquisition is likely to start after the state government issues a notification in this regard. Fearing eviction, the farmers of Halwara and surrounding villages, whose land is likely to be acquired, have started a campaign.

The farmers said the Land Acquisition Act constituted during the British period must be amended and public interest must be clearly defined. They argued that the government wanted to give benefit to the big industry at the cost of farmers’ livelihood, which they would not allow. They warned the government against issuing land acquisition notification that might lead to a statewide movement.

The demonstration was organised by the Ujada Roko Kisan Committee, Jamoori Kisan Sabha, Kirti Kisan Union and Bhariti Kisan Union (Ugraha) and supported by various political and other farmers’ organisations. The farmers asserted that it was not the issue of compensation but settlement of those uprooted.

They demanded the setting up of a committee having members from the effected villages in this regard. The committee will not only decide the compensation for the farmers but also their permanent settlement. They said the international airport at Halwara was in no way going to benefit them but only the industry.

The farmers said about 2,000 acres was lying unused within the Halwara airbase. They suggested that instead of acquiring more land and uprooting more farmers, the government should utilise the same land for the new airport.

The farmers have planned to stage a protest at Barnala on May 17. Nine other organisations have planned a separate demonstration on May 23. However, there will be other issues, besides land acquisition, which will be highlighted during the May 23 demonstration.

Prominent among those who addressed the demonstration today included Manjit Singh Kadyan, Jagjit Singh Talwandi, Hardev Singh Sandhu and Darshan Singh Kuhli. 



Tenant’s appeal against eviction dismissed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
The court of Additional District Judge, Mr Sanjiv Berry has dismissed the appeal filed by the former officer of Central Bank of India, Mr R.K. Bhatia, against the eviction order passed by the lower court.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Berry held that there was no infirmity or illegality in the order passed by Rent Controller-cum-Civil Judge, Mr Jaspal Verma, directing the tenant to vacate the residential house of the landlord, as the same was needed by the landlord after his retirement.

‘It was the settled law that the landlord was the best judge of his residential requirements. It was no concern of the courts to dictate to the landlord how and in what manner he should live or to prescribe for him a residential standard of their own”, observed by the lower court, while accepting the petition filed by senior Journalist Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwar.



Residents oppose land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
The scheme of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) of developing residential colonies is in the dock with the residents of the areas raising a protest and threatening that they would not allow the trust to do so.

Thousands of residents of various colonies, including Onkar Vihar, Guru Ram Dass Nagar, Ashiana Onkar Vihar and Bhola colony today claimed that there were hundreds of houses already existing in the area and the LIT had woken up to develop a residential colony by razing these structures.

,Stating that they had spent their life savings on constructing houses in these colonies, the residents said that they would oppose the move tooth and nail and knock at every possible door to demand justice.

The residents staged a protest outside the office of Deputy Commissioner today and handed over a memorandum to him. Quoting a judgement of the Supreme Court, the residents said the SC had held that constructed areas should be avoided while acquiring the land, particularly when public purpose sought to be achieved by acquisition was similar to an already existing one.

‘‘We have generated loans by pledging our belongings to buildhouses to live a comfortable life. Now the LIT has woken up and wants us to evict. They should have a plann in advance and keep the areas reserved for developing their projects. Otherwise this is unfair. We will move uptill the apex court if justice is denied to us, ’’ said an angry resident.

He added that mostly residents belonging to the poor strata of society were living in these areas. They had constructed houses on 50 square yards of land also.Hundreds of people were living in per acre of the area. ‘‘By acquiring the land, they would make by homeless. What is this justice? To provide houses to rich and well to do they would throw us out.”

They claimed that the colonies were developed more than 10-12 years ago. The Municipal Corporation had even passed the house plan. ‘‘If they had something in mind, they should have told us in advance. Now when we have spent our life saving they are doing this to us,” said a resident. 



No differences with Ravi Inder, says Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Asserting that there was a broad consensus over the constitution of the Panthic Front, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) president, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, today said he had no differences with Mr Ravi Inder Singh. He said, the proposed Panthic Front was not any association of leaders, but a broad based political programme with a common minimum programme which was being worked out.

Mr Chandumajra, who was here to preside over a function organised to induct leaders from different factions into his party, told The Tribune that there was a general consensus among the Panthic groups to join hands and provide a better alternative to the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said the workers who joined his party today were disillusioned with other leaders.

The Akali leader maintained that the focus of his party would remain on the welfare of the farmers. He said the farmers were facing severe economic crisis and his party would stage a demonstration in front of Parliament on May 17 to draw the attention of the country towards the farmers' plight in Punjab. He demanded that the government should waive the debt of the farmers as this was forcing them to commit suicides.

He demanded the setting up of a Farmers' Rescue Fund with 50 per cent grant from theCentre and 50 per cent from the state government, mandi board and the commission agents for providing relief to the farmers during natural calamities. He said this was important as the farmers were being forced to commit suicide because of economic problems.

The district president of the party, Mr Jaswinder Singh Bhaliawal, said there was a lot of disillusionment among the workers of various Akali factions, particularly those of the SAD and they were keen to join the Akali Dal-Longowal.



Nehru’s death anniversary observed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
The Nehru Sidhant Kender Trust commemorated the 42nd death anniversary of India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru here today. A function was organised at the kender's Panday auditorium on this occasion.

Students from 25 schools of Ludhiana were present in large numbers along with eminent citizens. Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Member of Parliament, was the chief guest. Mr Dhillon and the trustees of the trust paid floral tributes to Pandit Nehru.

On this occasion, the Trust gave away the following scholarships in various categories: Nehru Scholarship amounting to Rs 4, 43, 760 to 442 students; Nehru Scholarship (Meritorious) worth Rs 50,400 to 21 students; and Mittal Panday Scholarship of Rs 2, 55,000 to 85 girl students.

The Trust had organised an inter-school declamation contest on May 5. Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar, won the contest. Nehru trophy was given to the school. Mr Dhillon congratulated the Trust for fulfilling the dreams of late Sat Paul Mittal and appreciated the efforts of the Trust in giving away scholarships and awards to students. He called upon the children to follow the foot steps of Pandit Nehru.

Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-president of the trust, welcomed the chief guest and the students. He said the Trust had distributed scholarships to the tune of Rs 10 lakh to more than 548 students.



Promise on power exemption to be fulfilled
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 9
Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has said the credentials of the candidates and their chances of winning the elections will be the main considerations in the coming Assembly elections.

The party will ensure that besides exempting power bills of members of the Scheduled Castes and promises made to other sections of the society are fulfilled before the commencement of the elections.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune after addressing a gathering at the inauguration of a gaushalla at Khera village near here on Sunday, Mr Dullo said, "though we will give due stress on credentials of the candidates, evaluation of victory chances would be the entire criterion during selection." 



Pensioners rue AG office’s apathy 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
Pensioners across the state are sore at the working of the Accountant-General (AG) Punjab's Office in Chandigarh. According to Punjab Government's notification of August 25, 2005, for the rationalisation of pensions of pre-1996 retirees, pensioners submitted their cases to the AG , Punjab, through their respective departments.

However, the AG Office has returned a number of cases on filmsy grounds and asked the respective departments to re-submit the cases along with service books and other documents. Members of the Punjab Government Pensioners' Association point out that hundreds of cases are gathering dust either in Punjab Government offices or the AG office, Chandigarh. Octogenarian pensioners, suffering from various ailments, find it difficult to visit the departments or the AG's office time and again.


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