L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Rainwater floods city; tall claims of MC washed away
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
The city was inundated after just an hour of downpour this afternoon. All low lying areas and some posh areas of the city were flooded throwing normal life out of gear for some hours.

The rain caught a number of commuters unawares and their vehicles broke down in flooded roads. Some houses with low plinth level were also flooded and the residents had difficult time draining water manually.

The deluge exposed the tall claims of the local civic body officials, who had been saying that the flood water drains would take care of the flood water.

Many residents had to wade through knee deep water at several places as it took quite some time for water to drain out. Areas like Rani Jhansi Road, Damoria bridge, Habiowal, Durga Puri, Model Town, Chander Nagar and some parts of Sarabha Nagar were the worst affected as the streets were flooded with rain water. The streets were water-logged till the filing of this report.

The MC workers were on their toes and were draining water by opening manholes and clearing garbage. In the old city, shopkeepers and residents were also seen helping them clear water.

The residents of some areas, including Chander Nagar, Civil Lines, Green Field, Shastri Nagar, Cheema Chowk, Green Park and Kitchlu Nagar, were crying hoarse at the preparations of the civic authorities to check flooding during rains. They claimed that every time it rained they had to suffer as their normal life was thrown out of gear. They added that rainwater entered their houses and they had to drain it out using buckets.

The colonies in the old city, including Karimpura Bazar, Street Mansa Ram, Field Ganj, Kesar Ganj Chowk, Damoria Bridge, Dholewal Chowk, Vishwakarma Chowk, Chaura Bazar, Ghanta Ghar, Lakkar Bazar, Ashok Nagar, Janakpuri, Partap Chowk, Sunder Nagar and others like New Madhopuri, were also water-logged.

Commuters, especially women, had a tough time in anticipating their way through water-logged roads. A number of college goers were seen standing in front of Khalsa College with their two-wheelers broken down. Many of them were seen calling up their relatives for help.

Ms Ginni Ahuja, a resident of Street Mansa Ram, said this was an everyday story during the rains and various complaints to the authorities concerned did not yield results. “We actually need a boat to venture out when it rains”, she said.

Mr S.S. Chana, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, said they were having a harrowing experience because of the deluge. Most of the roads in the Block I were flooded in spite of the storm water drains laid out with a lot of fanfare two years ago. He added that the misery of the resident were further compounded due to the backflow of sewage water, which flooded some of the houses. The residents are sore that the sewage lines have not been cleaned in spite of the several requests made to the authorities.



After 30 gastro cases, MC invites tender for chlorine tablets
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
Finally waking up from deep slumber, the Health Branch of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation today invited tenders for chlorine tablets and oral rehydration solution (ORS) after many cases of gastroenteritis were already reported in the city.

More than 30 cases of gastro and other water borne diseases were reported from various hospitals in the city during the last 2-3 days. Bitten by its criticism for not supplying clean potable water, the local body “swung into action” and immediately invited tenders today.

In a notice issued by Dr K.J.S. Kakkar, Health Officer, MC, as many as 5 lakh chlorine tablets and 10,000 ORS packets are required by the local body to tide over the crisis posed by the rainy season. The notice inviting tenders were published in some newspapers today. Many eyebrows are being raised over the entire process as it would take atleast one month when the MC would actually get the tablets and ORS packets. Residents wonder that the season of gastroenteritis would be half over by then.

As per the notice, the time limit for applications is 15 days and sources in the local body said that it would take atleast another fortnight when the tender allotted company would procure 5 lakh tablets and hand these over to the MC.

“They should have been well-prepared for the rainy season in advance. They are inviting tenders now. The supply would come after a month and then it would be of no use. The public exchequer’s money would go waste especially in case of ORS packets,” said an official of the district health department.

He added that the health department had its own stock of chlorine tablets which were distributed to residents in different parts of the city. 



Twentyfive-year-old fighting for life
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 24
Puneet, a 25-year-old resident of the city, is fighting for life with his only hope pinned on samaritans of the region to defeat the life-threatening condition of renal failure.

Puneet was admitted to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here in August last year and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic kidney disease stage - 5 secondary to polycystic kidney disease. Since then, he has been kept on periodic hemodialysis.

He is unmarried and belongs to a poor family. He used to work in a hosiery factory, but because of his crippling illness, he had to quit his job eight months ago. His mother, the only bread-winner in the family, is a teacher, earning approximately Rs 3000 per month. To make matters worse, his father is also bed-ridden due to polyarthritis.

According to Dr Basant Pawar, Professor and Head, Department of Nephrology, CMCH, Puneet will either need lifelong treatment — that is biweekly hemodialysis — or he could go for renal transplantation for his chronic kidney disease, which in view of his financial status, looked way beyond his reach.

The CMCH authorities have issued an appeal to the people, NGOs and clubs to come to the rescue of this hapless youth.

All those who wish to extend a helping hand, can send their cheques or demand drafts, made in favour of “C.M.C, Ludhiana Society”, for the treatment of Puneet, to Dr Basant Pawar, Head, Department of Nephrology, Christian Medical College and Hospital.



Public information campaign kicks off at Sahnewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
The second public information campaign (PIC) in Punjab, launched by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) was inaugurated by MLA and former minister Santokh Singh Choudhary at Sahnewal today.

The campaign is aimed at creating awareness among common citizenry about the major programmes of the UPA government in the areas of employment, health, education, rural infrastructure, urban renewal and the Right to Information Act.

The MLA complimented Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for consolidating and implementing major programmes of the government.

Mr Chaudhary also inaugurated a photo exhibition on “Safe Motherhood” organised by the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), Chandigarh unit, and visited stalls set up by various government departments, agencies and NGOs.

Expressing satisfaction over the implementation of these programmes, he expressed hope that this would help common people get benefits. He stressed the need for creating an effective mechanism to involve people in these programmes.

Highlighting the need for making these programmes successful, he said people at the grassroots level needed to be involved in the implementation of these programmes.

The programmes — Bharat Nirman, RTI, JNNURM, Sarva Shikhsha Abhiyan, Mid-Day Meal Scheme, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), etc. — were aimed at building a new India, he pointed out. These programmes would be implemented during the next three years.

He said the state government would spend Rs 20.75 crore on providing houses to poor people in the state. The government had repaired 250 km of road in Phillaur constituency and 50 km of new road would be laid shortly, he added.

Under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which had been started in Hoshiarpur district, he said every registered unemployed youth would be provided 100 workdays a year in the state. He added that those who did not get work would get Rs 100 per month as unemployment allowance.

He added that Rs 450 crore would be spent on healthcare in the rural areas under the rural health scheme.

He also announced that Rs 10,000 crore relief had been approved by the Central Government for the rural people under the National Rural Health Mission.

Mr Chaudhary also appreciated the enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, which would help create transparency and accountability in the government functioning. He said this would help exterminate corruption from the governing system.

He said 100 municipal committees in the state would be brought under Water Supply Schemes and Sewerage System.

He appreciated the initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Press Information Bureau for launching public information campaigns throughout the country to help common people get awareness about the government programmes with the coordination of all units of the Directorate of Field Publicity, the Song and Drama Division and the DAVP.

He also appreciated various NGOs for helping a cross-section of poor and needy people through various government schemes.

Officer in-charge, PIB, Jalandhar, A.K. Mehay proposed a vote of thanks and said the campaigns were being organised throughout the country to highlight the flagship programmes of the government.

Earlier, Joint Director (Media and Communications) PIB (Northern Region), Chandigarh, S.S. Pantode in his welcome address explained the aim of the PIC.

Others present included Sahnewal Nagar Panchayat president Ramesh Kumar Pappu, Phillaur Nagar Council president Narinder Kumar Goyal, Phillaur Market Committee chairman Dr Rakesh Sharma, Ludhiana Zila Parishad member and Mullanpur Market Committee vice-chairman Damanjit Singh Mohi.



A dry day, says PAU Met Dept

Ludhiana, July 24
While the entire city was inundated due to heavy rain today, there was no rainfall recorded by the Punjab Agricultural University Meteorological Department. This was due to the fact that not even single drop of rain fell at the university’s observatory, which is located near Sidhwan canal.

While it poured throughout the city, the PAU farms nearby witnessed a dry spell. There was however heavy rain on the PAU campus.

The weather report by the PAU did not mention rain in the city. The scientists said the reason was that there was no rain at the observatory and thus it could not be measured. — TNS



BJP lambasts Centre for rising prices
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 24
As part of their nationwide protest against soaring prices, activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by district president Dr Subhash Verma, organised a unique demonstration at Clock Tower chowk here today in which bells, ‘shankhs’ and utensils were sounded.

The protesting BJP workers flayed the Congress-led UPA government for steep rise in prices and shrinking financial resources of the middle class people. They specially targeted the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and the Finance Minister Mr P. Chidambaram, whom they charged with utter failure in coming to terms with the dismal situation.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Verma remarked that the government had failed to tackle the rise in prices basically because of there being ‘two Centres of power’ at the Centre. “It is most unfortunate that the country is being governed from 10 Janpath (the residence of Congress president Ms Sonia Gandhi) rather than by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.”

He also ridiculed the claim of the government that there was no scarcity of food grain and pulses in the country. “If it is really so, then why are the prices going beyond the reach of the people,” Dr Verma asked. He maintained that hoarders, and black marketeers, were holding poor masses to ransom while the government had become a mute spectator.

The BJP leader also flogged the Left Front for what he described as their dual policies. “Leaders of the Left Parties are running with the hares and hunting with the dogs.” They (the Left Front leaders) support the government decisions in the meetings of UPA Coordination Committee while oppose the same issues in public. Dr Verma said both the Congress and left front stood exposed before the people and they would have to pay a very heavy price for their misdeeds in near future.

The protest demonstration was attended by all office- bearers of the district, mandal and ward units, front organisations of the party and councillors.



Canals’ eroding banks cry for repair
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 24
Even though the Punjab Government is spending crores of rupees on various projects under the Punjab Nirman Yojna, the Canal Department has failed to undertake necessary repairs of the eroding banks of canals passing through the state.

What to talk of concern for the life and property of common people, it has gone to the extent of ignoring warnings by the civil authorities about the safety of strategic points like the Indian Air Force station at Halwara, where a large portion of bank near adjoining Sudhar Bridge on Abohar Canal has eroded.

Admitting the necessity of immediate strengthening of the badly eroded bank, the department, instead of starting remedial action, has sought a grant from the Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana.

A perusal of records shows that Mr Ashok Gupta, DC, Ludhiana, had apprised Executive Engineer, Canal Department, Faridkot, of the critical condition of the eroded bank of Abohar Canal near Sudhar Bridge. Referring to the information received from Mr Prem Gupta, SDM, Raikot, the DC Ludhiana had alarmed the canal authorities that the situation if allowed to continue, would pose threat to the life and property of the IAF Halwara that was situated close to the eroded portion of the bank.

Interestingly the canal authorities, instead of taking the warning seriously, tried to ignore the matter by putting some sand-filled gunny bags and twigs, suggesting that they were little concerned about the life and property of residents of the area. A similar attitude was exhibited by authorities responsible for the maintenance of Sirhind Canal near Jandali Bridge, which was inspected by Executive Engineer Ropar after a story was published in columns of Ludhiana Tribune. Repair work was yet to start here also.

Repeated reminders, through DO letters from the DC Ludhiana seemed to have compelled the canal authorities to review the matter. Admitting that the well-being of the residents, including IAF officials, was at stake, the canal authorities showed their inability to undertake the repair works, as they had no funds for the same.

Mr Prem Gupta, SDM, Raikot, claimed that he had been watching the situation closely. “But I am not satisfied with the remedial action taken by the canal authorities. Some of the sand-filled gunny bags, stacked to stop further erosion, have already been drifted with the flow of water and the twigs placed on the bank seem to be of little use,” commented Mr Prem Chand after inspecting the spot yesterday.

Earlier, residents of the area had shown resentment against the “indifferent” attitude of the canal authorities towards the maintenance and repair of the banks of the Sirhind canal and Abohar passing through this part of the district. Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, and Mr Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, SDM, Payal, had been apprising the canal authorities of the condition of canal banks in their respective areas from time to time.

Senior functionaries in the Canal Department, including the Special Secretary, had taken notice of stories published in The Tribune but nothing concrete had been done. Sources had revealed that the major reason for inaction was paucity of funds and now the same has been admitted by the Executive Engineer, Faridkot.



Work on gurdwara in limbo as two groups lock horns
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 24
Even after receiving permission from Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti to continue the construction of a gurdwara on a piece of land near a samadh at Dhulkot village, the committee of the religious place has been finding it hard to go ahead with the construction as another faction of the Dalits have objected to the same.

Consequently, the committee has been shuttling between offices at Ludhiana and Jagraon on the issue.

The other faction is demanding the transformation of a partially constructed hall into a marriage palace.

The Jagraon police has underlined that nobody will be allowed to create disturbance on the issue and dispute, if any, will be referred to the Sikh religious body.

According to sources in the Latala police, a group of Dalits led by Capt Surat Singh had approached Akal Takht to prevent another group of Dalits led by Budh Singh from continuing the construction of the hall, which was supposed to be used as “dewan hall” for the gurdwara.

The complaint was forwarded by Joginder Singh Vedanti to SSP Jagraon R.K. Jaiswal who directed SHO Latala to act on it.

The group led by Budh Singh when called by the Latala police presented a letter issued by the Jathedar allowing them to continue the construction.

“In view of the appeal made by villagers and recommendations made by SGPC member Harpreet Singh, you are allowed to construct Singh Sabha Gurdwara under the supervision of Mr Garcha after isolating the ‘samadh’ from it. The management is directed to strictly follow norms laid down by Akal Takht,” reads the letter written by Mr Vedanti to sarpanch Shawinder Kaur and “sangat” of Vehra (Dalit colony) of the village.

The group keen on constructing the gurdwara also produced copies of a written compromise arrived at between the two groups.

“As matter is under the consideration of Akal Takht, all villagers agree that the decision of the Jathedar would be binding on all,” reads the undertaking made by members of both groups.

The villagers had submitted before the Jathedar that Bhagat Ravidas Gurdwara was situated away from their habitation and they wanted to construct a new one.

“As we have got a partially constructed building on Jurahan road, we would complete the construction with donations from villagers and other devotees. We promise to maintain sanctity of the religious place at all cost after construction,” the management had assured to the Takht chief.

SHO Latala Zamil Mohamad said he had restrained both parties from creating nuisance near the place and act under the directions of the Sikh body.



Celebs at city weddings may soon be reality
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
Bollywood stars may soon be frequenting the city, not for mega events but for private celebrations like weddings and other parties. If enthusiasm of entertainment providing companies is anything to go by, the city of opulent and boisterous Ludhianavis, who look to outdo each other, is among the “very high potential” places to witness the presence of celebrities at private events.

“People these days spend quite generously on weddings and want the occasion to be memorable. They do not hesitate spending lakhs of rupees just on a single function. Inviting celebrities, particularly Bollywood stars and singers of fame, is something that is picking up fast, particularly in Punjab. Ludhiana is the most important market for us,” said Vijay Arora of Touch Wood Entertainment Limited, which has put up its stall in the ongoing “Vivaha 2006” exhibition. The company, like many others, sees tremendous potential in the city and is keen to exploit it.

Getting a celebrity can cost anything between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 30 lakh. “It all depends on who you want. We give people the option of selecting from Punjabi singers, talent hunt stars, comedians and Hindi film actors,” says Prashant Jain, project manager of Delhi-based Entertainment Worx.

While the price range for singers and comedians of television shows starts from Rs 1.5 lakh, a not-so-known Punjabi singer can cost a little lesser, while a Bollywood star comes at a princely sum of Rs 10 lakh or more for a visit.

“The presence of a celebrity no doubt makes a difference. I have asked them for the price tags, which are fine considering the amount we spend on weddings. I have only got to decide what occasion I want a celebrity for — sangeet or reception,” quipped Anuja, whose daughter’s wedding falls later this year.

“After a lot of queries were generated from Punjab at our Delhi office, we opened one in Chandigarh. The response from Punjab is quite encouraging and people want to know not just about stars but also whether we can organise the entire event where a star is invited for them,” adds Mr Arora.



Faith makes devotees perform daring feats
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, July 24
Many South Indians have settled in the walled city of Ludhiana during the past three to four decades. Though a new generation of South Indians have sprung up, yet they have not forgotten their rites and rituals. With regularity they take out religious processions dedicated to Mariamma in the month of sawan.

They are devotees of Mariamma, also known as Sheetla Mata. They revere her deeply and have such a great faith in her that they can perform heroic feats otherwise unimaginable. Yesterday, they took out a procession in the evening in the honour of their deity from Daresi Grounds. The procession marched on the GT Road, passed through Chaura Bazaar and then back to the temple of Mariamma at Daresi Grounds. It was seen that many had pierced their cheeks with iron rods.

On inquiring, they said neither did they feel any pain nor did they develop any wounds after removing rods from their cheeks. They fast for a few days before the great day and prepare themselves by praying to her while fasting. Raghu said, “Mariamma is protecting us so deep is our faith in her that we know that physical wounds that we inflict on ourselves will heal and will not cause us any pain”.

A slightly built man in the procession had hooks put into his back. Shankar, a 45-year-old man, pulled a Maruti car tied with rope and looped into the hooks made in his back. The women danced and pranced with great passion. They are training their children to perform these unique feats of faith. The children too pierced their cheeks and at the end of rods balanced two lemons. It was just a beginning for them.

The South Indians have even inspired some local Punjabis to perform such feats and surprisingly they too participate in these rituals and take part in processions. 



Rare honour for Prof Kapoor
K.S. Chawla

Prof Kapoor
Prof Kapoor

Ludhiana, July 24
It is a rare honour to be nominated for the second term on the academic council of Vishwa Bharati University, Shantiniketan, founded by Rabindera Nath Tagore. Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, former Pro-Vice Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, has been renominated to the academic council of Vishwa Bharati University, Shantiniketan, for a period of three years. Prof Kapoor who is a renowned Sikh scholar is also a well known educationist of Punjab and has served on many important committees of the University Grants Commission.

Prof Kapoor served on a high powered committee constituted to study the problems of development of higher education in rural areas. At present he is also serving as a member of the national monitoring committee set up by the HRD Ministry to study the problems of higher education of the minority institutions in the country.

Prof Kapoor has also served as Editor-in Chief of the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. For his outstanding work in the field of education, Prof Kapoor was awarded Shiromani Award in 1985 by the President of India.



Need to plant saplings stressed

District and Sessions Judge Harbans Lal plants a sapling at Court Complex, Ludhiana, on Monday
District and Sessions Judge Harbans Lal plants a sapling at Court Complex, Ludhiana, on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, July 24
The District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, today stressed the need for launching a drive to plant trees to improve deteriorating environment due to massive pollution in the city.

He was addressing a Vanmahotsava function organised by the Lions Club, Ludhiana Royal, and the Lions Club, Ludhiana Samrat, at the District Courts Complex here today. After the function, the Sessions Judge along with the Additional Sessions Judges, Mr H.P.S. Mahal, Mr Gurbir Singh, Fast Track Court Judges, Mr Roshan Lal Ahuja, Mr Jagroop Singh, Judicial Magistrates, Mr Shatin Goyal, Mr K.K. Jain, Mr Sandeep Jossan, and Ms Manjinder Kaur planted saplings. — OC



Agricultural loans on cards: Bansal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 24
“Our country is emerging as a big power among the developing countries. The developed countries too have realised the importance of India,” said Mr Pawan Bansal, Union State Finance Minister here on Saturday.

Mr Bansal said the UPA government was all set to provide agricultural loans to the farmers at the rate of 7 per cent per annum interest, out of which 2 per cent interest would be borne by the government in shape of subsidy for two specified crops. Though it would mean an extra expenditure of 1700 crore every year but it would help improve the conditions of farmers, he said.

He was addressing a function attended by lawyers, doctors, professors and lecturers organised by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Legal Cell.

Earlier he was given a warm welcome by the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, the Chairman of the District Legal Cell, Mr Dharmjit Singh Khera, general secretary, Mr Kamaljit Sharma and a Bar Council member, Mr Balwinder Goel.

Releasing a souvenier on this occasion Mr Bansal said Ludhiana had emerged as an industrial hup. It had special recognition in the region and it had done particularly well in the small scale industry growth.

The District Bar Association president, Mr Naval Kishore Chhiber, welcomed the minister. He raised the demand for releasing grant of Rs 50 lakh announced by the Chief Minister of Punjab for the construction of new chambers complex for young lawyers.



Induction furnace industry holds dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
Alleging step-motherly treatment by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) towards the induction furnace industry, the Induction Furnace Association of North India held a dharna in front of the PSEB office on Ferozepur road here today.

Mr K.K. Garg, president of the association said, “The induction furnace industry had been crippled due to meagre power supply. The PSEB has been discriminating against our industry and has reduced our power supply whereas it has continued its supply to arc furnace units whose operations are similar to ours.”

The association said that over 100 induction furnace units consumed 300 MW of power whereas four arc furnace units consumed 200 MW. Induction furnace units presently are getting power supply for only three days in a week for 11 hours a day while the arc furnace units are getting power supply for five days in a week. The electricity board should not resort to such discrimination, the association said.

The dharna was supported by Ludhiana Re-Rolling Mills Association, Ludhiana Iron merchants and Traders Association, Fasteners manufacturing Association, Induction Furnace Association of Mandi Gobindgarh and Malerkotla.



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