L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Hike in oil prices resented
Transporters seek withdrawal
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
Upset over the highest ever petroleum and diesel price hike, city residents continued with “temporary corrective measure” by trying to stay away from petrol stations. Post increase petrol would come for Rs 52.26 per litre while diesel would cost Rs 32.33 per litre.

“The hike is unjust and has badly hit the middle class. Worse is that one cannot reduce consumption as fuel is a necessity. I wonder how I would adjust my monthly budget in accordance with this hike, maybe we will try to reduce other household expenses but I am quite disappointed with the government as the increase in petrol and diesel would result in an increase in prices of other commodities as well,” said Ms Payal Gupta, a Civil Lines resident.

While residents beelined to petrol stations last night, the number of consumers significantally declined today, on the first day of the hike. “I am trying to reduce petroleum consumption but wonder whether I would be successful.

For me the hike is much more than Rs 4 as when I pay through my credit card, taxes like service tax and education cess are also charged,” rued Mr Ashwani Sharma, an employee of HDFC Bank.

The impact of the hike was visible in the city where autorickshaw operators started charging more.

Terming the hike as “much needed”, petroleum dealers said the government was left with no other option.

“Oil companies have been suffering heavy losses as a result of which this hike was imminent. We did witness a fall in the number of customers but it is only a temporary phase,” said Mr Somesh Chadha, president, Ludhiana Petroleum Dealers Association.

The hike was condemned by truck, tempo and bus operators as well. Protesting against the hike, the All Tempo and Mini Truck Operators Union held a dharna at Sherpur Chowk. Demanding withdrawal of the hike, Mr Kirpal Singh Sandhu, president (Punjab), said: “Rise in fuel prices would affect prices of other commodities as well, which would hit common man. The government must withdraw this increase otherwise we would be forced to intensify our stir.”

Transporters said they were already facing a tough time due to government policies and the hike has added to their woes.

Condemning the hike, Mr Jaswinder Singh Grewal, president, Ludhiana Mini Bus Operators Association, said bus operators would also suffer as they would not be able to match the cost of operating with the current fares. “Before affecting any such increase the government should study its feasibility. International rates should not be the only criterion when it comes to millions of people who will have to bear the brunt of such a decision.”



Residents claim they were tricked into Dullo’s rally
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
While some Congress leaders, including city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, had been basking in the glory of a contact programme started by him in view of election year in the state, residents of ward number 28 and 31 today alleged that they were tricked into attending the programme, stating that it was being organised to inaugurate a bridge over Sidhwan Canal near Shimlapuri.

Claiming that they went to attend the rally organised by Mr Gill and PPCC chief, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, on Sundays only when they were told that the latter would be inaugurating the bridge, the residents said that they were fooled, as there was no such programme.

‘‘They tried to show their strength by asking us to gather for the inauguration of the bridge. But there nobody talked about it.When we went to Mr Dullo, he started looking the other way. We are very angry with the leadership as they are not able to provide us with required facilities, and when it comes to garnering of votes they come with folded hands,’’ said Mr Balwinder Singh Reehal, a resident.

Mr Reehal added that the Congress-led government was resorting to delaying tactics as far as the construction of the Gill bridge was concerned, as they wanted to coincide with assembly elections in the state.

‘‘They would start the construction side by side when they would come asking for votes. We understand their intentions. But this will not happen,’’ added Mr Reehal.

The construction of the Gill bridge is the long-pending demand of residents of adjoining areas. It had collapsed a year ago and was not constructed since then. Though there was a parallel bridge, it was not sufficient in catering to the traffic needs of this area. Many protests were organised to demand a new bridge as many accidents had taken place in its absence and many families had lost their members at this spot.

Despite an announcement by former Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, that the work on this bridge would start soon, it was never taken up. 



Making a mockery of RTI, the LMC way
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
How much time does the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) require to provide as unimportant an information as regarding the allotment of a parking lot contract under the Right to Information (RTI) Act? The answer is—more than six months and that too for just a response— if the case of Traders and Property Dealers Association of Feroze Gandhi market is taken into consideration.

After knocking at the doors of the Punjab State Information Commission several times, what the association got in response was a copy of the letter written by them only attached with a covering letter by Information Officer of LMC making a mockery of the Act, implementation of which had once rekindled the hopes of a transparent administration among the public.

The association had in November asked the MC for providing information about the allotment of parking lots in the prime Feroze Gandhi Market. Even after the allotment, the MC did not provide the information despite receiving a number of letters in this regard.

According to Mr S.S Ghuman, President of the association, after getting tired of waiting for the reply, they shot off letters to Mr Rajan Kashyap, Chief Information Commissioner in March and May. The latter even asked the PIO of LMC for a reply.

‘‘It was only after being summoned by the Information Commission that the LMC budged from its stand and finally sent us a letter. Our hopes were soon diminished when we saw a copy of our letter enclosed in place of the reply. ’’ said Mr Ghuman adding that the copy contained signatures of various officials to whom the letter was forwarded for necessary action.

The association has once again sent a letter to Mr Kashyap, demanding action against the LMC. ‘‘Earlier the MC had not appointed a PIO till two months ago and now when the Joint Commissioner was finally given a charge, they are making a mockery of the Act. ’’ said Mr Ghuman.

‘‘We are only demanding the proceedings of auction of the parking lots on December 5 and 19, 2005 and the details on how the parking rates in the market have been increased arbitrarily. I do not understand what is their problem. That means there is some hanky-panky in the allotment. ’’

It is not for the first time that some resident is complaining against violation of RTI Act by MC. President of Federation of Park Management Committees, Mr S.S Chana, had also complained against the violation of the Act. Following his complaint, Mr Kashyap had even summoned the MC chief to reply.

Later, Mr Pawan Sood, another resident had complained against the MC for not providing the required information. Finally when he received a letter it contained information which he had never asked for. 



Arrest warrants against girls in firing case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
The mystery over the identity of two of the four girls allegedly involved in Sarabha Nagar firing case is finally over with the police obtaining arrest warrants against two Chandigarh-based girls from a city court here today.

The Judicial Magistrate First Class, Mr Tarsem Mangla, has issued arrest warrants against two girls, Pannu and Sukhi, residents of Sector 10-A in Chandigarh. ‘‘The identity of the two girls has also been established but it cannot be disclosed at this juncture as it could hamper investigations’’, police sources added.

Sources stressed that it was allegedly a rowdy group of girls from the City Beautiful who had resorted to firing in the Sarabha Nagar Market on May 27 night. The girls had allegedly been involved in similar incidents in Chandigarh also. The girls belonged to an influential family.

The police sources said the motive behind firing was also almost clear but certain points would be confirmed after the arrest of the girls only.

The judge had turned down the police plea for arrests warrants yesterday on the plea that it had not been put up with adequate legal reasons for issuing the warrants. The police then traced a witness to the alleged firing incident, who was convinced to make a statement before the judge under section 164 of the CrPC.

DSP Bakshi told Ludhiana Tribune that various teams had been dispatched to Chandigarh for arresting the girls. He said the identity of the other two girls would be disclosed soon.

There was immense curiosity in the city regarding the identity of the girls and the reason that led them to fire in the air. It was probably the first case of its kind in the state where the girls had resorted to spreading terror by using firearms in the open.

The police had registered a case under Section 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance) of the IPC and for the violation of different provisions of the Arms Act regarding the incident against the four unidentified girls on May 28.



6 of robbers’ gang arrested
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 6
The police has nabbed six members of a gang of robbers and recovered arms from them. This information was given by Mr M.F. Farooqui, SSP, Khanna here today. They were allegedly planning to rob a petrol pump. A case has been registered against them under Sections 399/402 of the IPC and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act at police station Samrala.

As per details, CIA staff Khanna along with SHO Samrala and an ASI were holding a special checking at Neelon bridge, when a police informer hinted that a group of persons with arms were hiding nearby and had plans to loot a petrol pump. An ASI was deputed to survey the location and find out about their presence. Malkit Singh confirmed the presence of persons and more force was called for and the police party split up in groups and gheraoed the culprits.

The SSP told that investigation had revealed that the gang was headed by Jagtar Singh of Lopon. 



Absenteeism in offices to be checked 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
To check rampant absenteeism in government offices, Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta has deputed the ADC (G), ADC (D) and all SDMs to conduct surprise checking of offices of various departments within two days and submit their reports to him regarding the absentees.

He said strict disciplinary action would be initiated against officers/ officials who were found absent or late in offices and have a tendency of leaving offices before closing time.

Mr Gupta said he had received numerous complaints from people regarding the late arrival and absence from the seats of some of the staff members in the offices, which created a lot of unnecessary harassment to the people who visit the offices to get their works done and cause delay in the disposal of routine work.

He appealed to government employees to remain available on their seats during the working hours so that the efficiency in the offices could be improved.

The DC also informed that he had written to the heads of the departments concerned to initiate strict disciplinary action against those employees who were caught absent during the checking of the offices by SDM, Jagraon, on June 5.

Such checking would be a regular feature from now on, he added.



Gift of love for bedridden brothers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 6
Life has not been a bed of roses for Ashu and Vicky, two brothers in their early thirties. They are shattered at being bed-ridden for the past so many years as they are suffering from muscular dystrophy. Their parents who are in their sixties are braving all odds to bring a smile on the faces of their sons.

Ms Pappo Abnash Singh, Ms Parveen Narang and Ms Ruby Fernandes, members of the Association of Social Health in India (ASHI), an NGO, today met the brothers and interacted with them.‘‘The purpose of our visit is to encourage them, to boost their morale. They are so disturbed that they need to be counselled regularly. We have brought some gifts for them to bring smile on their faces’’, said Ms Pappo of ASHI.

Kumud, mother of Ashu (32) and Vicky (30), while narrating her tale of woes said,‘‘At the time of birth, they were not normal. Though they could walk on their own but very slowly. We sent them to Dalhousie Public School but their education was disrupted as the problem had started aggravating. And for the past 10-12 years, they are not able to move and are bed-ridden’’.

The unfortunate couple seemed to have come to terms with the situation now and have been trying hard to fulfill all demands of their wards as they know that they (the sons) are not going to live with them for long. They have kept a servant for them who looks after both of them very nicely. ‘‘At times, they sleep late but I am there with them till they sleep’’, said Prakash, the servant. A physiotherapist also comes daily to keep them active. They feel refreshed after doing these light exercises.

The ASHI members said, ‘‘We know that sympathies or words can not heal them, but these act like a balm. We sincerely wish that other organisations or NGOs should visit these boys, who do not need any monetary help but love and affection’’. 



Patwari arrested for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
The Ludhiana Range Vigilance Bureau has arrested an Aasikalan-based patwari for allegedly taking bribe from residents of Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh for the mutation of land purchased by them

SP (Vigilance) Gurpreet Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that Jaswant Singh of Bilaspur had bought land near Qila Raipur. The accused patwari Ranvir Singh demanded Rs 5000 for the mutation of the land.

The complainant claimed the patwari later agreed to do the work for Rs 2000. However, once he pocketed the money, he demanded more. Jaswant Singh brought the matter to the notice of SP Gurpreet Singh this morning.

The SP immediately dispatched a team, headed by DSP Gurcharan Singh, who arrested the patwari and recovered the bribe amount too. The patwari has been booked under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.



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