L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Left protests against fuel price hike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
Various Left parties, including the CPI and the CPM, today staged a demonstration at the mini secretariat here against the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel.
They demanded an immediate withdrawal of price hike and sought the bringing of prices of essential commodities under control.

Communist leaders maintained that there was no logic behind increasing the prices of petroleum products in the country.

Addressing the demonstration, member of CPI’s central committee Joginder Dayal said the government was trying to mislead general public by claiming that the hike had been necessitated by the sharp rise in crude oil prices in the international market.

He claimed that Indian public sector companies usually made long-term contracts with international oil companies to maintain price stability in the country.

The Left leaders also referred to the rising prices of other essential commodities.

They pointed out that the prices of pulses and other items of common use had witnessed a steep increase and there was no check on these.

They said the common man was feeling the heat of the continuously rising prices.

The leaders said they would continue their protest against the rising prices, particularly those of petroleum products, as these would have a direct impact on the economy and other essential commodities.

The leaders also ridiculed the Punjab Government’s decision to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel by “a few paise”.

They said it was a cruel joke on the people of the state and pointed out that the reduction of prices by a few paise would hardly make a difference to the common man.



Include social cost while fixing MSP, recommends PAU
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
Punjab Agricultural University has (PAU) has suggested including "social cost of production of depleting natural resources, loss of biodiversity and soil fatigue" while calculating the minimum support price for various farm products.

The university has also suggested that land and water use planning policy based on national demand for different agricultural products must also be framed keeping in mind resource endowment of different regions, comparative advantage of production and availability of infrastructure.

On farmers' suicides, PAU quotes ' the draft policy which brings out the fact that only 27 per cent farmers have access to institutional credit and the remaining 73 per cent farmers being dependent upon non-institutional sources like ' artiyas'. PAU found 7 per cent rate of interest as fairly low rate. Its apprehension is that further reduction to 4 per cent as suggested in the draft may be difficult, keeping in mind the transaction cost of around 2 per cent and about 35 per cent rate of default, seriously undermining the economic viability of these institutions." More important is farmers' access and flexibility for institutional loans".

PAU, in its draft proposal on national agricultural policy, has supported the state government's case of Rs.1280 crore demanded by the Johl committee from the Centre for diversification to compensate the farmers for loss in income due to switch over from rice to other crops.

"There is no justification in similar claims by other states because agricultural needs to be promoted only where it is required, and also there is no economic justification for growing of all crops in each state and region which only leads to inefficient use of resources", it said.

PAU Vice-Chancellor K.S.Aulakh had constituted a Steering Committee to study the 'Jai Kisan' Policy document. The National Commission on Farmers, headed by Dr. M.S.Swaminathan, proposes to submit to the government later this year for adoption by the nation on August 15,2007, when India celebrates 60 years of Independence.

The Steering Committee, which was guided by Dr. Aulakh, found that the draft document is relevant to agriculture and rural development as it encompasses land and water use, agricultural technology biodiversity, marketing, post-harvest handling, value addition, capacity building etc. The idea behind this documents is to place "faces before figures" aimed at focusing on the problems of farming families as "human beings" feeding the nation.

PAU favours a broad consensus on "water pricing policy", now being adopted by different states resulting in irrational and in-judicious use of ground water. Water is nation's public property and its use must be monitored on long term basis for sustainable agriculture and country's food security.

"States like Punjab which contributes maximum to the nation's pool of foodgrains must be given special financial provision to renovate soil health", it said.

The university has advocated minimum support price and assured marketing in all areas to support "dying" crops and "saving" high value crops from price fluctuations.

Farmers must be ensured remunerative prices for assured marketing of oil seed, pulses, fruits and vegetables. 



‘Veer Naris’ narrate tales of woe
Job announced for Kargil martyr’s widow
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The henna and wedding bangles on her hands were as fresh as her marriage, when the cruel hands of destiny (read man-made tragedy) snatched her husband away. A Naik in Indian Army, Chanan Singh was guarding the frontiers of the country at Kargil, when an enemy shell killed him and exploded the life of this newly wed, Ms Rajvir Kaur, (24), who became a widow just a month after her marriage in 2004.

When Rajvir Kaur was finding it difficult to collect the bits and pieces of her shattered life, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta’s announcement of providing her a job in Education Department today gave her another lease of life.

The DC was addressing a function at District Sainik Welfare Department here today. Speaking from the dais, he said that she would be given the job within a month.

As the announcement came, Ms Rajvir Kaur thanked the authorities with moist eyes. “Though the job as a peon would never be able to fill the void created by my father’s death but I am proud that he laid down his life for the nation’s security. I am grateful to the authorities for taking care of me after his death,” said Ms Rajvir Kaur, who moved with her parents at Sokran village in Sangrur after differences with her in-laws after Chanan Singh’s death. The announcement also rekindled the hopes of Ms Jasvir Kaur of Akhara village in Jagraon, who lost her husband, Havildar Puran Singh in Kargil sector in December 2005.

Merely 34, Jasvir looks much older as the scarring tragedy of her life added years to her life. “I am not able to come face to face with this harsh reality. I am not able to cope up with this loss,” she said sobbing.

A mother of two daughters and a son, Jasvir Kaur is somehow managing to keep her kitchen fire burning. Yet to get pension of a ‘vaar naari’ she is ready to do any job to afford her children’s education.

“My husband died during shelling on the night of December 19 last year. We had no financial problem but now I need some help. If I am given a job, I would be very grateful as my children would at least get educated,” she added.

Lt Commander Tarlochan Singh, District Sainik Welfare Officer, said they were getting her case processed on a fast pace. He added that she got delayed in moving her application as she was suffering from hypertension after her husband’s death.



Sarabha Nagar firing: bail plea hearing today
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana June 13
The anticipatory bail applications filed by three girls allegedly involved in the Sarabha Nagar firing incident would come up for hearing tomorrow before the court of Mr A.K. Mehta, Additional Sessions Judge.

Earlier, taking cognisance of the bail application filed by the accused — Sukhdeep Kaur, Neha and Tript Kaur, alias Pannu, of Sector 10-A, Chandigarh — the judge had adjourned the hearing and gave July 12 as the next date of hearing due to summer vacations.

However, the counsel for the girls had moved an application with the District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, with a request to prepone the date of hearing. Thereafter, the Sessions Judge had forwarded the application to the Mr Mehta for necessary action, as the application was pending before his court.

It was submitted that the girls were innocent and were falsely implicated in the case. Convinced with the submissions, Mr Mehta agreed to prepone the date of hearing to June 14.

An FIR was registered against the girls after the firing incident at Sarabha Nagar police station on May 27 under Sections 336 and 34 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act.



Two killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Samrala, June 13
Two persons were killed in two separate accidents here last night. According to reports, Gurjeet Singh of Ghungrali Sikhan village, 3 km from here, was hit by a vehicle while he was travelling on a motorcycle. He was taken to the local Civil Hospital where he later died.

Rani Dhawan (45) and his son met with an accident near Chehalan village, 5 km from here, and she died on the spot. The Samrala police has registered a case and started investigation.



Admn gears up to tackle floods 
Our Correspondent

Sidhwan Bet, June 13
Reacting to reports of encroachment on the course of drains and tributaries meant for siphoning off flood water, the SDM Jagraon has deputed a senior revenue official to ensure revival of rescue equipment and machinery acquired at a cost Rs 1.5 crore as contingency plan last year.

The action has been taken on the complaint of Major Singh Bhaini, chairman Block Samiti, Sidhwan Bet, who had accused Jaswant Singh and Phuman Singh of Kiri village and some other residents of encroaching upon the drain land.

SDM Sukhjinder Singh Gill said he had deputed tehsildar Daljit Singh Chheena to probe the matter and ensure that all infrastructure required to meet the exigency was in order.

Referring to the arrangements made at the cost of Rs 1.5 crore as part of a contingency plan last year, Mr Gill claimed that Jagraon subdivision had enough equipment and machinery to cope with any flood threat.

Though no formal warning had been received from the Punjab Irrigation Department, the administration had last year raised concerns over the possibility of floods, as the Sutlej passed through the Bet area of the subdivision.

“We have already done our spade work and are awaiting orders after the formal allocation of duties is completed,” said Mr Gill adding that final arrangement would be made as per the advise of DC Ludhiana Ashok Gupta.

Records showed that 28 villages in the subdivision had been declared flood prone under category “A” last year. These were Madepur, Kanya Hussaini, Parjjan Biharipur, Maniewal, Talwandi Nau Abad, Wallipur Khurad, Akkuwal, Hujra, Gagg Kalan, Hiatwal, Kot Umra, Gorsian Khan Mohammad, Bhundri, Shehbazpura, Baghian, Mand Tihara, Sherewal, Khurshaidpura, Bhiani Gujjran, Aliwal, Sheikh Kutab, Abbupura, Safipura, Baniawal, Ghamewal, Gorisan Kadar Bakhash and Bahdurke.

Kiri, Kot Mana, Ahngarh, Taraf Kotli, Patti Multani, Kakar, Bhatha Dhua, Ranke and Kotli villages had been listed in “B”category.

With one motorboat, three aluminum boats, five life jackets and some tents in hand, the administration hopes to receive substantial assistance from the military in case of emergency.

Mr Chheena said office-bearers of social organisations, including Lions Club, Lions Club Middle Town, Lok Sewa Society, Rotary Club, Jay Cees, Parsuram Book Bank, Aarthia Association and the Officers Club, would also be requested to extend help. He said investigations into the alleged encroachment had been started.

He added that officials concerned had been directed to ensure that the flow of water was unobstructed in Jassowal, Chachrari, Swaddi, Sidhwan Bet and Moga drains that passed through the subdivision.

The flood warnings are usually sent by SDE Ropar Head Works to the control room in the office of the DC Ludhiana.

In case of heavy rains, warning is conveyed through telephone and wireless. During any threat, control rooms established at the DC office and the SDM office function round the clock and staff at the offices of DSP Jagraon, SDE Drains, Executive Engineer Irrigation, BDPOs, DFSO/AFSO Jagraon, Agriculture Officers, SDE PWD, Executive Engineer PSEB, State Irrigation Department are informed for necessary action.



Board to offer more facilities to ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta has said he will accord top priority to improve the quality of services and facilities to the ex-servicemen by strengthening the District Sainik Welfare Board.

The Deputy Commissioner was addressing a function of ex-servicemen organised by the board at Sainik Bhawan here today.

He said vocational training for various ventures would be introduced for the ex-servicemen to enable them to get suitable employment. He directed the District Sainik Welfare Officer to complete the modalities to start vocational training programmes and submit the case for approval at the earliest so that required funds could be sanctioned.

Acknowledging the contribution of the Army men, the DC said the country was proud of its brave soldiers. He said the board would be geared up and the prevailing infrastructure would be strengthened. The conduct of quarterly meetings would be made a regular feature and he would personally review the progress of all schemes, he added.

Referring to a demand regarding the issue of arms licenses to the ex-servicemen for getting security jobs in private sector, the DC said the licenses would be issued to ex-servicemen within a period of 24 hours after his appointment as security personnel in any private establishment.

He said in this regard he would write to the private organisations not to insist for the arms license before the appointment.

Mr Gupta also informed that he would get compassionate cases of widows of ex-servicemen expedited. He informed that the government had also issued a notification to enhance the pension to the ex-servicemen above 65 years of age from Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month with effect from May 10.

Referring to the demand of financial assistance at district level out of Jhanda Diwas Fund, he said assistance to the needy and poor ex-servicemen would be started shortly and a district-level committee for the approval of genuine cases would be set up.

Mr Tarlocahn Singh, District Sanik Welfare Officer, said the provision of local level financial assistance up to Rs 1,000 should be introduced out of Jhanda Diwas as the board has sufficient funds of Rs 12 lakh.

Giving details of the activities of the board, he informed that during the last year the board had released cash awards/annuity to gallantry awardees to the tune of Rs 64.97 lakh to 266 beneficiaries and Rs 58 lakh towards insurance in 79 cases.

Commodore Makhan Singh, vice-president of the board, also addressed the gathering. Mr P.P.S. Kahlon, Air Marshal (retd), Col C.S. Dhillon, president, Ex-servicemen League, Col R.S. Sohi and Col M.S. Samra were among others present on the occasion.



Drug abuse spreading wide
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 13
The menace of teenagers being involved in the consumption of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants has assumed alarming proportions in the area.
It calls for drastic corrective measures like strict regulation, enforcement of laws and a massive initiative by educational institutions and NGOs to apprise the youth of the detrimental effects of intoxicants.

According to psychiatrists and de-addiction experts, no enforcement of laws on the sale of addictive substances, glorification of consumption of alcohol and drugs in films and on television and increasing stress are some of the factors responsible for the proliferation of addiction.

There is unrestricted sale of addictive drugs by chemists, particularly those located near educational institutions, in gross violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Dr Rajeev Gupta says intoxicating substances are openly being sold across the counter and some families in villages have started selling addictive drugs to teenagers at a hefty premium.

According to Dr Paramjit Singh Khurana, teenagers with a family history of substance abuse or a feeling of being isolated and those who are depressed or have low self-esteem are at a greater risk of developing serious alcohol or drug problems.

Sources in the Health Department reveal that the shortage of manpower has led to the prevailing rot as there are seven drug inspectors for the state, with each one looking after two or three districts.

Besides maintaining a check on the sale and distribution of drugs by chemists, they are required to pursue court cases pertaining to violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which leaves them with little time for law enforcement.

The police has no power to intervene and must be accompanied by the drug control authorities to check the unauthorised sale of psychotropic substances and in such a situation, drug peddlers and unscrupulous chemists are having a field day.



Mini Secretariat all set to get new look
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
The Mini Secretariat, till now an “apology” for the seat of administration, is all set to get a new look. A special committee formed for the project has started the process of clearing traffic bottlenecks, encroachments, parking mismanagement and opening of new exit and entry points in the complex.

The committee, constituted by Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta, started surveying the area today and took stock of the situation.

Till now, the secretariat presented a chaotic confusing arrangement of parking, traffic movement, seating of persons visiting the place.

As per the new plan, the Mini Secretariat would have seating arrangements for more people, lawns would be better maintained and additional exit and entry points would be set up towards Model Gram side. This would reduce pressure on the Ferozepore road. Lawns would be landscaped and a massive cleaning operation has been launched.

District Transport Officer Kuldeep Singh, who surveyed the area along with an architect at the complex, said with the additional entry and exit points, the problem of haphazard parking would be checked.

Parking lots would be well maintained and action would be taken against the violators, he said, adding that there was a lot of space inside the complex but it was not being utilised properly. Though the pressure on space had increased manifold over the years, proper organisation could help the matter.

The DTO said they would add more benches to the already existing ones to increase sitting capacity. Benches would be kept in lawns also so as to accommodate more and more people.

Landscaping of the lawns and other areas would be done with the help of a professional. The beautification may include the statue of Paramvir Chakra awardee Flight Lieut Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon.

The work would be done at a fast pace so that the chaos was controlled as soon as possible, he added.



Chilled water for Pindi Street visitors
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 13
Members of the Wholesale Chemists Association today installed two water coolers, fitted with high-quality filters, at Pindi Street here, the biggest wholesale medicine market in the region.

With the addition of two more coolers, the number of such coolers, dispensing safe and cold water, has gone to five in this market. The coolers were formally switched on by senior members of the body, Dr B.C. Kapila and Mr Madan Lal. Sweets were also distributed.

Addressing the gathering, president of the association Tikka Dalip Singh said the step was aimed at the social commitment of the association and continued efforts of the trade to extend better service to the customers.



Industry apprises PSEB of its problems
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 13
Local industrialists today urged the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to implement contract demand instead of connected load to determine the quantum of load being used.

At a meeting with Member (Distribution), PSEB, J.S. Sekhon here today, representatives of various industrial associations said it was important to implement contract demand so that industrial consumers were able to face the rising competition.

The industrialists discussed various problems being faced by them with the board. Raising the issue of “clubbing of more than one unit even if both units were getting a supply at 11 kV”, they said though the purpose of clubbing, which was to prevent consumers from causing any loss to the board by availing of concessions available to medium supply consumers, was understandable but it made no sense when two or more units were already working on 11kV.

On default of payment, the industrialists urged the board to consider genuine cases. “There may be genuine cases when industrial units may fall sick due to business environment or wrong government policies. In some cases, the land of a unit is sold to a third party and the board enforces arrears of the previous consumer on buyer of the land,” said Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry president P.D. Sharma.

He said surcharge on tariff in respect of units belonging to the general category of industry should be levied if contract demand exceeded 4,000 kva and not in case of 2,500 kva.



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