L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Allegations, inquiries at MC general house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
Issues of water shortage, choked sewers, non-functional streetlights, roadside encroachments, poor upkeep of parks, non-lifting of garbage dominated the general house of the municipal corporation, which met here today.

Representatives of various wards came up with the problems of non-functional tubewells, failed drainage, water logging of roads, stray animals and favoritism in allotment of tenders.

It was also a day of ordering inquiries and recalling of tenders by the new Commissioner, Mr Vikas Partap, who ordered several probes on various issues highlighted by the councillors.

Coming down heavily on the teh bazaari wing of the MC, Mr Partap said he had received a number of complaints on non-removal of encroachments. He asked Joint Commissioner Jaswant Singh to immediately take action against the encroachments which were leading to traffic blockades.

Asking the staff to pull up their socks, the Commissioner said anybody found patronising encroachers or extorting money from anyone would be spared. He ordered an inquiry into a complaint by Mr Hakam Singh Gyaspura, who alleged that an person was accepting money from some kiosk owners in his ward.

Reacting to the complaint, the Commissioner directed officials to take action in this regard by the evening. Taking up another case, he asked his staff to look into the removal of a board announcing the limit of MC on the Noorwala road.

He also asked his officials to look into a 66 kv project in Mr Gurdeep Singh Neetu’s area in which he had alleged that the underground high tension wiring was being done near a 3 feet nullah and a water supply pipe. He also ordered the calculation of electricity bills of the DFSC’s office and UCO Bank housed in buildings of MC for the past many years.

Following a complaint by Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, another councillor, the Commissioner ordered the re-calling of tenders of a road-widening project at the Leisure Valley area. The road, having a school is a traffic bottleneck. Tenders were allotted to a contractors some time ago but the work has not been started as yet.

He asked the Superintending Engineer, Mr S.C. Dua, to look into the matter of a non-functional tender in Sarabha Nagar.

On an issue raised by Mr Simarjit Singh Bains, a tender allotted to a contractor for constructing a flyover at Gill Chowk came under scrutiny of the MC officials. Mr Bains had alleged that the contract was given on the lowest estimate cited in the quotation instead of a comparative analysis of builder’s qualification and experience.

The allotment of space for advertisements on the Ferozepore road to a company were cancelled and recalled. It was alleged that the MC was compromising on revenue by favouring a city advertiser. The Commissioner asked Mr Bajaj to look into the matter. The issue of boards announcing various religious functions was also discussed.

It was also decided that the telecom companies would have to seek the permission of the MC before digging a road to lay cables.

An inquiry was also ordered on the estimates prepared for repair of fogging machines. As per the budget, each machine was to be repaired at a cost of Rs 18 lakh. After JC B.K. Gupta said the repair would cost more than the machine, the Commissioner ordered an inquiry and asked to fix the responsibility of officials responsible for preparing the budget.



Hike in water, sewerage bills stayed

In a major relief to city residents, the local municipal corporation today unanimously passed a resolution to stay the hike in water and sewerage bills of the past three years, which the residents had been told to pay along with interest immediately.

The resolution has been sent to the state government for approval.

Councillor of ward No. 69 Jaiparkash had put the senior officials of MC in a spot when he raised the issue on the floor of the house. He raised a point that the MC had started issuing fat bills along with the hike at the rate of 10 per cent every year while the notification to this effect was done in 2003.

Later, almost all councillors joined the issue with Mr Jaiparkash and argued that none of the municipal corporations in the state had agreed to levy the hike as it would burden the common man.

Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner, was seen grappling with words when he was asked why the MC had implemented the notification after three years.

It was only after JC Ashok Bajaj read out the notification that the issue was explained. He read out a communique that the state government had put a stay on the raise under pressure but later it was decided that the charges would be levied.

After the notification in 2003, the general house had resolved not to comply with the orders and a resolution to this effect was sent to the state government. But as the MC officials put it, the local body had no information whether the general house’s decision was accepted or not.

The hike was ignored in the bills of three subsequent years.

Now suddenly waking from its slumber the MC officials sent exorbitant bills, including compounded hike of the previous three years. 



Anti-corruption NGO in police net
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
An organisation which claimed to be a legal body formed to fight criminals and corruption in the region has been, ironically, listed as an accused party in a cheating and corruption case lodged by a local woman.

The division no-8 police last night booked and arrested Dr Bharat, president of the Crime Free India Bureau (CIFB), on the accusations that he had taken Rs 12,000 from Ms Harmeet Kaur to help her in a family dispute case.

The case was lodged under Section 420 of the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act after SP City-II D.P. Singh indicted the accused in an inquiry.

SHO Arvind Puri, said in a press conference here today afternoon, that the organisation chief claimed that he had links with high-ups and boasted on their leaflets and greeting cards that they had the blessings of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and Union Home Minister Shiv Raj Patil.

He said the claims were unbelievable and the police had still launched a formal investigation to expose the boasts. The police would also explore the claims of the organisation that it was ‘registered, recognised, and associated with the National Legal Service Authority of India, DCP-Delhi, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Press Council of India and the Public Relation Department of Punjab.

The police has also recovered identity cards issued to the organisation by the Public Relations Department, Punjab.

Interestingly, the organisation also claimed in the leaflets that it was the ‘‘secret anti-crime unit of the superpower media, which supplies secret information to the Union Home Ministry and the President of the country’’.

The police said it was quite ironic that the organisation openly claimed through its leaflets that it was a ‘secret organisation’.

The office-bearers of the organisation were facing media ire too in the past as they were brandishing their special I-cards and claims of being an important media.

Mr Karan Kapoor, president, Punjab and Chandigarh Union of Journalists, has meanwhile demanded a high-level of probe into the alleged activities of the organisation and its claims of being associated with the government and the media.



Postal dept told to compensate jail inmate
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 17
The District Consumer Forum has directed the Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, Ludhiana, to pay compensation of Rs 5,000 to a jail inmate for not delivering him a parcel.

The orders were pronounced by Mr A.S. Narula, president of the forum, and its members Daljit Singh Bakshi and Pooja Dewan on a complaint filed by Kamal Kant Tiwari of Uttar Pradesh, undergoing life imprisonment in a murder case at Central Jail, Ludhiana.

The complaint was filed through post. It was submitted by the complainant that he was doing the course of BPR from Indira Gandhi Open University while in jail. The university had sent a parcel containing books at his residential address in Uttar Pradesh. Thereafter his brother-in-law sent the same parcel to him at the jail address.

However, the postal department failed to deliver him the said parcel. The same was sent back with remarks “unclaimed” on September 21, 2004. His brother-in-law had to come here to Ludhiana to deliver the parcel on December 14, 2004, while the examination of the course had already completed on December 8, 2004. On account of the negligence of the department he had to suffer a lot, the complainant further added.

Raising objections, the counsel for the department termed the complaint to be frivolous and stressed for its dismissal. It was contented that the postman was not allowed to go inside the barracks of the inmates.

As per procedure, a notice was delivered to the jail authorities for collecting the parcels. A notice was delivered to the jail authorities on September 14, 2004. But when no one collected the parcel within a week, it was sent back.

After appreciating the evidence on record, the forum observed that no evidence worth the name has been produced regarding delivery of the notice.

Moreover, no such copy of the notice was produced showing that it was delivered to a particular jail official. 



Valmikis take out scooter rally
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, August 17
Activists of the Bhartiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj today took out a scooter rally to press for their demand of special reservation within the quota for the Scheduled Castes. The special reservation to them has been set aside recently by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The samaj wants the state government to enact a legislation and also get it enlisted in the ninth schedule of the Constitution of India to make it permanent.

The scooter rally started from the office of the samaj at Mata Rani Chowk, Clock Tower. After passing through various places it culminated at the Mini Secretariat where they submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner listing their demand for the special reservation.

The samaj apprehends that some ministers and influential people in the Congress government were not interested in giving special reservation to the Valmikis and the Majhabi Sikhs. That is the reason they did not plead the case for reservation in the court. The samaj has warned that it will continue the struggle as long as the reservation is not granted to them.

The march was led by Mr Vijay Danav and Mr Laxman Dravid.

Mandi Ahmedgarh: Activists of the Bhartya Balmiki Dharam Samaj urged the state government to exclude certain castes from the list of the Scheduled Castes.

Terming review of the reservation policy as the need of the hour, the activists demanded that 50 per cent of the reserved posts and seats should be given to Balmikis.

According to a memorandum presented to Mr Mukesh Sharma, Duty Magistrate, office-bearers of the local unit of the association had protested the alleged indifferent attitude of the state government towards genuine demands of the community.

The activists organised a protest march and rally before submitting the memorandum to the administration.



Paddling for social awareness
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
Mr Makhan Singh Faryad is on a long odyssey to create social awareness against female foeticide, drug addiction and dowry. He began his journey on his bicycle on March 6 this year and has already covered over one thousand villages in Majha and Doaba region. Now he is moving around on his bicycle in the Malwa belt.

Mr Makhan Singh belongs to Ajnala. He has three sons and a daughter. His wife is a teacher. He said, he was feeling quite concerned about the ills in society. One fine morning he thought of moving to all corners of the state.

On an average Mr Makhan Singh paddles 70 km a day. He said, wherever he went, he got good response. In the villages, he meets the head or the sarpanch. People gather around him to listen to what he has to say.

He said, “I am quite overwhelmed by the response I am getting from the people.”

He disclosed that he was being encouraged by the police and the civil administration officials also. He said, they have acknowledged his mission which is of paramount importance in the prevailing situation in the state.

Mr Makhan Singh hopes to return home after a year. However, he remains in regular touch with his family through the telephone. He will return home only after completing his mission.



Bittu refutes police claims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
The senior vice-president of Shiromani Akali Dal(Amritsar), Mr Daljit Singh Bittu today denied the claims of the police that the three youths who were arrested with weapons on August 15 had any intention of sabotage. In a statement issued here today, Mr Bittu said, the police had illegally arrested three of his bodyguards.

Reacting to the arrest of his three body guards on August 15 by the Payal police he said, they were being implicated in false police cases.

He alleged, since the government was not issuing him arms licence for self protection, he had arranged for personnel security and the arms. He further said being a senior leader of a political party, he had to attend various public meetings and functions with his security guards.



Road not to be completed on time: MC chief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
The claims of the MC that elevated road would soon be completed went into oblivion with the MC Commissioner stating that the project would not be finished before the end of this financial year.

The Commissioner said they had held a meeting with the PWD,the Railways and the Improvement Trust authorities last week and they all agreed to restart the suspended work in place of Lakkar bridge within a week's time.

He said the IT would also contribute towards the project as per the orders of state government. The delay in completion was caused due to suspension of work at the railway overbridge that would cater to traffic from the Civil Lines to the old city and from the railway station to Damoria bridge. 



Woman ends life
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, August 17
The body of a married woman, who allegedly committed suicide after jumping into Sidhwan Canal, was found this morning by the panchayat of Katana village.
The Sahnewal police has claimed that Javir Kaur had jumped into the canal on August 14. Her purse was spotted by some passers-by near the canal. A suicide note in which she blamed her in-laws for taking the extreme step was also recovered from the purse.

According to Mr Kamaljit Singh, ASI, a case is being registered under Sections 306 and 34, IPC, on the basis of the statement given by the brother of the deceased and the suicide note.

He said Jasvir Kaur (24) married Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Khanna, three years ago. It was allegedly due to the physical torture and mental harassment suffered at the hands of her in-laws that she was staying at her parents’ house along with her one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.



Bank focuses on investor awareness
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
Citi Bank plans to conduct awareness sessions by investment experts at 25 locations, including Jalandhar and Chandigarh, across the country.
Mr Vidur Varma, Country Investments Director, Citi Bank, said: “Right guidance to investors is a responsibility banks are increasingly catering to these days. Banks can play an important role in this direction as they have a strong infrastructure that can provide in depth research for utilisation towards guiding investors.”

He said the bank had brought together in-house investment experts as well as those from its partner fund houses to share their ideas and insights on strategies related to financial planning, ultimately helping investors build personal investment portfolios.

Ludhiana was the second city in the country where the bank hosted such awareness programme. Today’s programme was attended by students, retired, service class, businessmen and professionals related to the field.

Mr Varma said the bank aimed to reach all categories of investors not only in metros but also even in smaller towns.

Regarding the bank’s target customers, Mr Varma emphasised that retail investors would continue to be a key area. “High corporate growth implies an increase in income of the salaried class. And with a significant share that salaried employees and self-employed persons hold, the bank would continue focussing on catering to this segment. Besides, we have been coming out with special products for women and children,” he added.

Advising diversification in portfolio, Mr Varma asserted on the need to analyse one’s priorities and risk-taking abilities before making investment decisions. Mentioning a study on investor behaviour conducted by the bank, he said it was the investor’s nature to be over cautious, particularly after suffering losses. “However, the need is to assess one’s risk-taking capacities, plan accordingly and continue reviewing decisions,” he added.

On mutual funds having been allowed to invest overseas, he said it would help stabilise returns and benefit investors. Some of the recent decisions by the regulator, including investment in realty stocks by funds, would help stabilise returns, he said.



Online shopping gets popular
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
Online shopping is getting increasingly popular and it is expected to grow annually at 300 per cent in the coming two years. Fuelled by a growing number of Internet users, the growth is quite encouraging for companies engaged in selling online, said Mr Lovy Khosla, managing director, Elvy Lifestyle, the first of its kind mail order company that announced its foray into Punjab's market here today.

The company, which offers home decor and design accessories, has adopted an integrated approach of providing high-end products to customers through shopping catalogues, touch and feel shops and Internet malls.

"We recently started in the National Capital Region (NCR) and got an overwhelming response. While Internet sale holds around 5 per cent share, we are expecting this proportion to grow manifold in no time," he said.

He revealed that besides offering its products on website, the company was in the process of finalising a tie up with at least three other portals. "Apart from that, we will open 80 stores in the coming four years in the country, including Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Chandigarh."

Talking about the company's products, he said its product portfolio included coordinated bed and rug collection, bath collection, kids room accessories, mens' gift collection products in leather, solver plated, artifacts in ceramic , porcelain, glass , wood, etc.

He said the company had hired its own designers and manufactured and imported stuff to supply to its clients.



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