L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Martyr’s kin get disputed land
Villagers claim it’s theirs, begin relay fast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
For 40 years, family members of an Indian soldier who achieved martyrdom at the Khalra border in Amritsar district fighting the Pakistan Army, struggled to get a promised piece of land. And when, finally, the Union Government relented, he was ironically given 2.75 acres, including a part of a burial ground in Birmi village in Ludhiana.

Though the Revenue Department gave the possession of the land as the family accepted its fate, residents of Birmi village, mainly Dalits, are up in arms against the transfer of land. Tension in the village grew today when a group of residents sat on a relay fast in protest against the possession.

The panchayat has also moved a resolution alleging that the land allotment was illegal. The panchayat has alleged that the allottee and his companions dug up graves of their ancestors as well as of some minor children buried recently.

The Hambran SHO, SI Savinder Dhillon, said the police was keeping a watch on the situation and not allowing anyone to disturb the law and order situation.

He said Mohinder Singh had given time till September 17 to the villagers to either get his allotment cancelled or get a stay from court.

The panchayat, however, maintains that it had possession over the land for over 100 years and the administration should have thought about the problem before allotting the land to someone. It stressed that the land allotment was illegal.



Ailing dispensaries give doctors a tough time
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 26
The doctors, hired by Zila Parishads on a three-year contract in June this year under a policy of privatisation of rural dispensaries, are a harassed lot.

The ambitious plan of the government to hand over the subsidiary health centres to panchayats and deliver medical services to rural population through these doctors, called service providers, has been in trouble for several reasons.

According to them, most of the dispensaries do not have even basic amenities like water, electrical fittings, public utilities and furniture. Not only this, the Zila Parishads have failed to make adequate arrangements for delivery of medicines at the dispensaries in their respective areas. The doctors are made to carry stocks of medicines and other material from the district headquarters.

A doctor, deployed in a rural dispensary in this district, requesting anonymity, alleged that the respective departments had not been able to finalise the modalities for disbursement of salaries to the doctors. As a result of uncertainty and confusion, the doctors had received salaries for the month of June in the past week of July.

Certain doctors claimed that the medicines supplied to the rural dispensaries were sub-standard. When this was brought to the notice of the health authorities, they withdrew stocks of these medicines from many dispensaries, but not before a large number of patients had already been given these.

In case of life threatening reaction due to such inferior quality medicines, they would have to face the consequences for no fault of theirs, the doctors said.

Most of the doctors, maintained another doctor, were feeling cheated as the government had miserably failed to keep its promises. If the prevailing situation was allowed to continue for some more time, the doctors at these rural health centres might be forced to quit, leading to collapse of the healthcare delivery system in the villages.



Migrant Verification Scheme suspended, temporarily
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
The city police has suspended the Migrant Verification Scheme for a few days as it had caused anger among migrant labourers, leading to a clash yesterday.

Peace has, meanwhile, returned to the Basti Jodhewal and Sunder Nagar areas today with no untoward incident reported from any of the colonies. Residents maintained calm and composure and religious leaders also kept sentiments under control and did not let the communal tension take a violent form.

A heavy force remained deployed in the area throughout the day to avoid any law and order problem.

The SP, City-II, Mr D.P. Singh, said the decision of suspending the scheme should not be viewed as a retrogressive step. He said the scheme, under which the police used to register migrants and issue them identity cards, had only been suspended temporarily to solve problems being faced by the migrants. He said the scheme would be launched again next week and bottlenecks delaying the issuance of ID-cards would be removed.

The migrants have been mainly complaining that they have to make several rounds of the respective police stations for getting the ID-cards, which affected their work. They have also alleged corruption in the issuance of the cards. The police, however, has denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, a local court has remanded six persons arrested for yesterday’s clash in police custody till August 29, Basti Jodhewal SHO G.S. Bains said.



Farmer ends life
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, August 26
Depressed over his poor financial condition, a 27-year-old farmer, Rana Man Singh, son of Rana Nath Singh of Kacha Machhiwara village, hanged himself to death.

Rana Nath Singh barely managed to arrange the marriages of his three sisters and two daughters with the 4.5-acre ancestral property. As a result, his two sons were left with no option but to earn their livelihood by dint of labour. Depressed over this, Rana Man Singh took the extreme step.

His aged father, younger brother, wife and two children are yet to come to terms with the tragedy. Rana Jasvir Singh, the village Sarpanch, has urged the state government to help the bereaved family.

The local police handed over the body to the family after a postmortem.



2 held with opium
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
The police has arrested two persons and seized 800 gm opium from their possession.

According to information, a police party had laid a naka on the Khaira Mehdooda road. Two persons, Chhinder Pal Singh and Dalip Singh of Haryana, who were coming from Mehdooda village, were stopped for checking and opium was seized from their possession.



Sukhdev does not belong to Thapars alone: historian
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Had martyr Sukhdev been alive today, he would never have liked the way Thapar community was trying to annex surname “Thapar” to his name.

While the whole country knows him as Sukhdev only and feels proud of him, the Thapars, by trying to attach surname “Thapar” to his name, are trying to create confusion. The martyrs do not belong to one particular community, they belong to the nation. Moreover, nobody knows the surname of Bhagat Singh or Rajguru.

Members of the Thapar community have been demanding that the recently completed elevated road between Chand Cinema and Jagraon the bridge, which will be inaugurated on August 31 by the Chief Minister, be named after him.

The demand has been seconded by everybody, including senior leaders from all political parties. In fact Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had assured the community during his visit in 2002 that the road would be named after Sukhdev once it was complete. Sukhdev’s home, where he was born and brought up, is quite close to the elevated road in the Chaura Bazar area.

While everybody in Ludhiana has been supporting the demand for naming the elevated road after Sukhdev, but not many are happy with the way Sukhdev is being attached to a particular caste and community.

“Sukhdev is in memory of everyone in the country...no child would be unaware about his martyrdom, but once people start calling him Sukhdev Thapar there will be too much confusion as to whether it is the same Sukhdev who was martyred along with Bhagat Singh and Rajguru,” remarked Mr Gurpreet Singh, a local resident and a history scholar.

Arguing that the road be named after Sukhdev, Mr Deepak Thapar, a member of the Thapar community, said in Ludhiana there was at least one memorial in every martyrs’ name, like Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Rajguru Nagar, Sarabha Nagar and Udham Singh Nagar. But there is no such memorial in the name of Sukhdev, who belonged to this city only. He said it would be a tribute to the son of the soil who was born and brought up at a place that was quite close to the elevated road.



Rs 60-lakh sewerage project launched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
MLA and PPCC general secretary Malkiat Singh Dakha has asserted that record development has taken place in the state during the present tenure of the Congress. More than Rs 9,000 crore had been released for various development and welfare schemes of different departments, he added.

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating the work for the execution of a sewerage project to be completed at a cost of Rs 60 lakh at Thakarwal village, 10 km from here, today.

To provide potable water in the villages, the government has launched the “water supply and environmental sanitation” scheme with the assistance of the World Bank. The scheme would benefit 6,500 villages and would involve an expenditure of Rs 1,819.35 crore. The projects would be completed in six years, he added.

He said 500 villages had been selected for the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project in first phase from all 19 districts of the state. He said 95 villages had already been identified for inclusion in the pilot batch where the work would start soon.

He said the government had taken steps for the welfare of the weaker sections and Rs 1,154 crore would be spent to implement various welfare schemes for them this year.

He said the government had created a special fund of Rs 450 crore to ensure regular and timely disbursal of pension/financial assistance to 11 lakh old aged, widows, orphans and handicapped beneficiaries.

He said Rs 80 crore had been released to provide toilets in the houses of SC families in rural areas and the government had also enhanced the amount of shagun from Rs 5,100 to Rs 15,000 on the marriages of daughters of SCs.

He said the bills of water and sewerage as regards residential houses up to 5 marlas in urban areas had also been abolished benefiting the poor by Rs 195 crores.

Mr Dakha also announced that the Dugri-Dhandra–Narangwal road was also being constructed at a cost of Rs 8.50 crore and would be named after Justice Gurnam Singh, a former Chief Minister of the state.

He also laid stone for the pavement of streets and drains costing around Rs 8 lakh in the village.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Manohar Singh Gill, Chairman, Block Samiti, Mr Sukhminder Singh Sukhi, president, BCC, Pakhowal, Mr Harpreet Singh Rai, sarpanch, and Harminder Singh, XEN.



Drugs sans prescription banned in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 26
In an attempt to curb the menace of drug abuse, which has assumed alarming proportions in the city and other parts of the district, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, imposing a ban on the sale of a variety of intoxicating drugs and medicines without the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.

The storage of these medicines without a licence will also be an offence under these orders.

The orders, which took effect immediately for a period of two months, said the information made available to the administration revealed that some medicines were being abused by drug addicts, particularly the youth, for the purpose of intoxication, which was endangering the life and health of users, as also society at large.

The drugs put on the restricted list include cough syrups like phensedyl and corex, syrup codein, tablets and capsules of lomotil, lomofen, sudhinel, proxyvon, proxytab, dexavone, parvon, carbutyl, mandrex, carsoma compound, all formulations containing pentazocine or dextroproxiphone, injections norphine, morphine, pethidine, fortwin, petaven, pentawin and calmpose.

Sources in the Health Department told Ludhiana Tribune that the provisions made under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act did impose restrictions on the sale of drugs included in Schedules H and L which could be sold only against prescription of a registered medical practitioner. In the same manner, storage of these medicines was also governed by wholesale and retail licences granted under the Act.

However, slack enforcement, as also shortage of manpower with the state Drug Controller, had led to a situation where violation of provisions of the Drugs Act had become a rule rather than an exception.

The sources pointed out that even in the wake of massive drug abuse and unrestricted sale of intoxicating medicines by unscrupulous elements, the police could not intervene on its own without taking the drug enforcement staff along to search premises, seize stocks and book offenders under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

“But now that the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC are in place, the situation has altogether changed. The police is now empowered to take cognisance of unauthorised storage and sale of intoxicating drugs and book the culprits under Section 188 of the CrPC,” the sources added.



Minibus operators demand bus stops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Suffering due to absence of any earmarked areas for bus stops, minibus operators at a meeting today urged the administration to take measures in this direction.

“As no stops in the city have been earmarked as stoppages for buses, not only do people suffer inconvenience, even minibus operators face harassment as they are challaned many times for stopping at places which have not been identified as bus stops,” said Mr J.S. Grewal, president, Ludhiana Minibus Operators Association.

On an average 75 minibuses traverse four routes each to and from the city. There are four halts per bus on an average, most of them in heavy traffic areas like the Bhai Bala Chowk and Samrala Chowk. As minibuses have to pick passengers, they halt at these places, which creates traffic problems and results in their challaning as well.

“We have state permits and cannot omit a passenger. There is an urgent need to have bus stops and we have been asking the administration for quite some time to take measures in this direction at the earliest,” added Mr Grewal.

Minibus operators had also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner nearly a fortnight ago. They also discuss other problems being faced by them.

They expressed concern that no action had been taken so far on the unauthorised auto-rickshaws operating outside the Municipal Corporation limit. Mr Grewal said these auto-rickshaws, particularly during early mornings and in evenings, carried passengers even outside the corporation limits.

He said the routes where such violation was common were from Ludhiana to Alamgir, Baddowal, Mullanpur and Kohara.

The auto-rickshaws owners were eating into the profits of minibus operators, said minibus owners. They rued that despite being apprised of the situation, the local administration was not during anything to control the situation.

Mr Sehbar Singh, general secretary, Punjab Minibus Operators Association, Mr Amarjit Singh, president of minibus operators association from Raikot, Mr Rana Singh from Sudhar and Mr Jarnail Singh from Khanna were also present at the meeting.



MC, Telecom Dept duck norms
Our Correspondent

Doraha, August 26
Digging up of roads by the Telecom Department for laying wires is posing a threat to the residents of Doraha who have to be extra vigilant while using these roads lest they should fall into one of these pits and suffer injuries.

Although some of these pits have been already filled up by the residents themselves, many of these continue to pose threat to the residents. These pits have been dug by the Telephone Department on the Rampur road, Madhu Mangat street, the Boparai road and roads in Doraha village.

Mr Jandeep Kaushal, a resident of the area and social activist, said “For the past one week, we have been under constant threat as no official is bothered about the damage it may cause to the residents. We are facing a tough time as neither the Telecom Department nor the Municipal Council is ready to do anything to solve the problem.”

The MC Executive Officer, Mr Surjit Singh, said, “The digging has been done without permission from the MC and we are in no way responsible for the inconvenience being faced by the residents. But as the things cannot be left as they are, we will take remedial measures soon.”

“The work has been stopped and a fine imposed on the telephone authorities for not seeking prior permission from the MC,” he said.

Mr Jagjit Singh, DE of the Doraha telephone exchange, said, “Five months back, we had deposited Rs 5 lakh with the MC for road cutting. As we were under the impression that the work can be continued with the same fee, we initiated the work a week back. As we have now come to know that the fresh amount had to be deposited, we will pay the same in due course.”



Insurance staff resent transfers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Resenting transfer orders of 50 insurance employees from the city to various places in the state, the General Insurance Employees Union today said the action was against the ruling of Central Labour Commissioner of the central Delhi zone.

“Fifty employees have been given transfer orders by the chief regional manager. However, this is against the Central labour Commissioner’s ruling. We have been posted here since 1978,” the employees said today.

They said in 2004, under the voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), 15 per cent employees took retirement. The remaining employees have been issued transfer orders for places including Moga, Raikot, Sangrur, Khanna, Samana and other stations.

The union said while United India Insurance and New India Insurance had transferred 10 per cent employees.



Revenue officers’ assn flays DC’s action

Machhiwara, August 26
The Punjab Revenue Officers’ association has condemned the Deputy Commissioner Nawanshahr, Mr Krishan Kumar, for allegedly removing the turban of a reader of Naib Tehsildar, Nawanshahr and demanded his immediate removal.

Mr Subhash Padam, general secretary of the association, said here today that the DC had hurt the feelings of the Sikh community by removing the turban of Harpal Singh.

The association has sought stern action against the erring Deputy Commissioner. A case has already been filed against the DC with the state human rights commission. The association urged the state government to initiate criminal proceedings against the DC. OC



Residents rue power cuts

Ludhiana, August 26
Senior citizens of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Society have alleged that the government has failed to check power cuts which have been causing inconvenience to them.

Mr R.R. Katyal, general secretary of the society, said unscheduled power cuts ranged between 10 and 12 hours daily, causing inconvenience to residents, particularly the aged who were confined to the bed due to chronic diseases like heart diseases, blood pressure and diabetes. — OC



Ferozepore road survives real estate slump
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 26
Amidst the reports of slump in the real estate business, Ferozepore Road continues to retain the investors’ interest. It is learnt that while most of the areas have started facing the slump after a massive boom, the prices along the Ferozepore Road have remained steady.

This is being attributed to the number of malls and the housing projects that are coming up along the road.

Even the new areas of Ludhiana have started to spread out along this road only. Most of the posh areas of the city like Gurdev Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Aggar Nagar, Rajguru Nagar, Feroze Gandhi Market, the Mini Secretariat, some leading hotels and malls have come up along this road only.

According to some old timers the city mainly witnessed the expansion along this road as it was an open area and land was easily available. Now the city has expanded up to Mullanpur Dakha, which is about 15 km from the city and is still expanding.

The realtors have started looking beyond the the Field Ammunition Depot at Badhowal, which was earlier considered to the city-end. They may develop the area beyond the depot’s one thousand yard radius within which the construction activity is barred.

While the exact rates per square yard or per acre are difficult to ascertain, but the real estate dealers maintain that the prices have remained steady. The dealers said though the prices have not increased during the last six months, but unlike in other areas, the rates have not come down either.



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