L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Dry port sitting on powder keg
Authorities fail to defuse 11,000 scrap bombs
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The dry port here continues to virtually sit on a powder keg with the district administration and the Army unable to defuse over 11,000 scrap bombs stored in a corner of the large port area, which is the epicentre of industrial activity in the region.

The explosives lying on the premises of the freight container depot (dry port) of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation in the focal point Dhandari here for nearly two years were supposed to be defused by October as announced by the district administration earlier this year. However, a last-minute cancellation of the disposal process took place again as a final meeting of the district administration and the Army authorities could not take place.

The Army has now to start the process of getting clearance from the Ministry of Defence from scratch which means that it will take several more months for the finalisation of the date. The threat of any major tragedy owing to the presence of the explosives in such high numbers always loom large.

Though officials feel there is no threat of a tragedy as the explosives have been lying there since early 2004, explosions in a similar store of scrap bombs in Ghaziabad two years ago underline the urgency for disposing of the bombs.

The defusing of the bombs has already been postponed thrice. Sources said Army officials withdrew as district administration officials could not participate in the final meeting due to their pre-occupation with the visit of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and others VVIPs to the city.

The district administration officials, however, said they had made all preparations for the work, “We had insured all Army team members, labourers and any other officials participating in the work. The bombs were first required to be segregated, packed and transported to the Sutlej banks in Machhiwara. The disposal would have taken place there,” an official said.

He added that the police force was ready, the dry port had been declared out of bounds for three days, a health team was on duty and all other formalities had been completed.

These explosives, including live ammunition, mortar bombs, machine guns, rockets and missiles, were recovered from an iron scrap consignment imported from West Asia by scrap dealers and industrialists, mainly from Ludhiana, Khanna and Mandi Gobindgarh.

Earlier, a bomb disposal squad of the Punjab Armed Police had segregated the explosives from the scrap. The Army was required to further separate the explosives as per power of explosion.

The PAP could not defuse the bombs as the quantum of the explosives required deft handling and only the Army was equipped to handle these.



Caved-in road needs uplift
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Two months after a part of a road caved in near R S Model School in Model Town, repair work is yet to take off despite commuters, including schoolchildren, having started protesting against the delay.

While the municipal corporation authorities claimed that the delay was caused as they had to consult officials of the Water Supply and Sewerage Board {WSSB), residents said the MC was waiting for some tragedy to take place.

MC officials said the Commissioner, Mr Vikas Partap, had asked WSSB officials to prepare a special design for the place so that the road did not meet the same fate again. The same part of the road had sunk some years ago.

They said as per the new design, a concrete core wall would be erected around a sewer pipe of 153 inches diameter so that even in case of a leakage, the road was not damaged.

Tenders had already been floated for the work which had been estimated to cost Rs 16.5 lakh. It would take around two months for the work to be completed. The work would begin within three days, said the area councillor, Mr Jaswinder Singh Bhola.

He said the sewerage in the area was 25 years old and due to leakage, the earth around that part of the road had been washed away due to which it caved in. He said Model Town did not have a separate storm water sewerage and rainwater was being discharged into the common sewer only. This had resulted in overburdening of the system which finally gave way. 



ASI accused of neglecting probe in triple murder
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 2
Even after three weeks of the availability of the chemical examination report of the viscera of three minor brothers whose badly decomposed bodies were recovered from a locked car here two months ago, the investigating officer was yet to receive it and proceed further accordingly.

The bodies were found in an Opel Astra car (HR 10 B 4353) at a plot owned by Kulwinder Singh, a transporter, on August 14. The car belonged to an insurance agent, Karamjit Singh.

Demanding strict action against the erring official, the police authorities have reported the matter to the superiors.

The carelessness was noticed after the senior authorities took note of the reports published in the columns of Ludhiana Tribune about a decision taken by a Double Bench of the Punjab Human Rights Commission seeking report on the matter from the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur.

According to a DDR registered at the local police station, the authorities had sought action against ASI Tara Chand for allegedly showing negligence in investigations.

“Though doctors at the Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, had been asking Mr Tara Chand to receive chemical examination report of the viscera of the children, he did not bother to collect the same,” says the report registered on Monday.

The Tribune had published a news report regarding cognisance taken by the Punjab Human Rights Commission of a complaint made in the matter by Mr Tarsem Sharma, president of the Subhash Chander Bose Society for Blind. A Double Bench comprising Mr R.L. Anand, acting Chairperson, and Mr N.K. Arora, a member, had taken cognisance of the death of Rinku (7), Kaka (5) and Billu (4).

While the father of the deceased had accused the car owner of murdering his sons, the suspect pleaded innocence.

Tapa Nath and his wife, Anita, lived in the town for more than 10 years. The couple was blessed with three sons, but due to marital disharmony, Anita left her home when the youngest son was only six-month-old. According to Tapa Nath, she had been living at Ludhiana for more than three years. He brought up his three children with great difficulty.



Move to include Raikote in Barnala district resented
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 2
Residents of the Raikote area have resented the reported move of the government to include the subdivision in the newly proposed Barnala district. The residents have been maintaining that Raikote has historically been a part of Ludhiana. Moreover, Raikote has geographic proximity with Ludhiana than with Barnala, they said.

Despite an assurance by the Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Mr Lal Singh, to the residents of Raikote during a public rally that it would remain in Ludhiana district only, most people are cynical about it. They said, Mr Lal Singh had no locus standi on the issue and the assurance must come from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, himself.

The local MLA, Mr Ranjit Talwandi, while strongly arguing against the inclusion of Raikote in Barnala district said, there were a number of villages which are at as short a distance as 15 km from Ludhiana, while Barnala would be more than 100 km away. He said, the government had no right to deny the people of the Raikote area the facilities which a modern and developed district like Ludhiana would offer against Barnala, where there is no infrastructure.

He claimed that the assurance given by Mr Lal Singh was only at the behest of the local leader, Mr Harmohinder Singh Thekedar.

Otherwise there was no substance in his assurance. Senior Congress leader Jagpal Singh Khangura has also opposed the inclusion of Raikote in Barnala district. He said this would put the people of the area in undue and unnecessary inconvenience. He pointed out that Raikote was nearer to Ludhiana than Barnala. However, he expressed relief that Mr Lal Singh had already assured the people that Raikote will continue to remain in Ludhiana district only.

He said, while he was not against carving out a new district, but the opinion of the people must be sought before they are made part of some different district. He said, there was less geographic viability for Raikote being part of Barnala than Ludhiana.



Hike in wheat MSP hailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
The increase of Rs 100 per quintal in the minimum support price of wheat has been hailed and termed as a step which would go a long way in sustaining the agricultural economy of the region besides improving the financial health of farmers.

In a joint statement issued here today, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, Chairman, Punjab Housefed and Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, former president of the District Congress Committee, claimed that the Congress government in the Centre and the state was aware of the problems of farmers and efforts were being made at different levels to restore the health of the farm economy.

The intensive crop diversification drive in Punjab and the introduction of high yielding and disease-resistant varieties were a part of the government initiative to make farming a remunerative profession, they added.

The Congress functionaries made a scathing attack on the SAD leadership, while alleging that the Akali leaders had shed crocodile tears for the farmers during their regime and no worthwhile steps had been taken to improve their lot. On the other hand, the Congress Government in the state, led by Capt Amarinder Singh, had been working on various fronts to ameliorate the lot of the people of all sections of society, especially the farmers.

Mr Bawa and Mr Lapran expressed confidence that the ‘‘Fateh yatra’’ being taken out by the Chief Minister, along with the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, would virtually create a wave in favour of the ruling party and the SAD-BJP combine, which had nothing to offer to the people, would once again be defeated in the forthcoming Assembly elections.



BJP holds workers’ session
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The BJP today held a marathon session of its workers at the ward and booth level in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.
The meeting was presided over by the state party president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, and attended among others by the district president, Dr Subash Verma, Mr Prashant Kumar, Mr Satpal Gosain, Mr Anil Sarin, Prof Rajinder Bhandari and Mr Shakti Sharma.

The party sources disclosed that workers from each mandal of each constituency were briefed about the party programme.

It was a sort of orientation programme for the party workers to ensure maximum activity and participation of people in the elections right up to the booth level.

The workers were told about the party programme.

The state president had direct interaction with workers getting feedback about the party’s activities and the expectations.



Truck unionists stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, November 2
Members of the Truck Operators Union of Sahnewal today blocked the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road at Ramgarh for more than an hour in protest against the alleged non-cooperative attitude of the traffic personnel deployed at the place.

Mr Sher Singh, president, of the truck union, told this correspondent that as per the government directive of timely lifting of paddy from mandis in order to make space for fresh arrivals, truck drivers had ensured the same by lifting it in time, but due to challans imposed on them by the traffic personnel, it became not only difficult but also problematic. "This had now become a routine matter till finally today, we decided to revolt when two of our trucks were taken to the Ramgarh police chowki after being challaned," he added.

The members of the union staged a dharna near Ramgarh for more than an hour till a compromise was finally arrived at by the DTO, Mr Waryam Singh. People on the road, however, faced a tough time as traffic jams on either side lead to chaos and confusion that could be cleared only after the unionists ended their protest. 



Scooterist killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 2
In an accident between a truck (No. HR-38D-2726) and a scooter (No. PB-55-1563) at Latala village last night, Darshan Singh, who was driving the scooter, was killed. The Dehlon police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A, IPC, against Kaka Singh of Kular on a complaint of Ravinderjit Singh, son of the deceased. No arrest has been made so far.

Booked for murder

The local police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC, against an unknown person on the charge of committing the murder of Charat Singh of Agwar Gujjran, Jagraon. The body of the deceased was found at Agwar on Tuesday night. The reason of the murder could not be ascertained. No arrest has been made so far.

Motorcycle recovered

A police party comprising ASI Karam Singh, In charge, police post Bhundri, recovered a stolen motorcycle from the Gorsian Makhan village area on Wednesday evening and arrested Shamsher Singh, alias Shera, of Kot Umra. The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Section 411 of the IPC.

Purse snatched

Some unknown miscreants allegedly snatched a purse containing Rs 5,500 in cash and some other documents from Satinderpal Kaur of Sudhar when she was going on her moped towards her school on Wednesday morning. The Sudhar police has registered a case under Section 356 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

11 booked for assault

The Jagraon police has registered a case under Sections 452, 323, 294, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC against Manpreet Singh, Harjinder Singh of Chakar and six unknown persons on the charge of assaulting Paramjit Singh of their village with baseball and lathis two days ago and for abusing him. Some old dispute is said to be the reason behind the incident. The injured has been admitted in the Civil Hospital here.

In a similar case, the police has booked Surinder Singh, Jagtar Singh and Pritpal Singh of Kothe, Jagraon, on the charge of assaulting Mandip Kaur of their village with sharp- edged weapons and for threatening her. A case has been registered under Sections 452, 324, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC. No arrest has been made in both cases so far.



Central Bank of India 8th in income
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The Central Bank of India today claimed that it had been conferred a certificate as per a survey conducted by Dun and Bred Street on top 500 companies for the year 2006. It has also been ranked eighth for total income in the banking sector.

Mr A.P. Shukla, Assistant General Manager, said the bank’s total business for the half year ended on September 30, 2006, which registered a growth of 23.8 per cent at Rs 1.19 crore, while its total deposits were Rs 76.2 crore and gross advances were Rs 43.24 crore.

He said the bank posted a net profit of Rs 215 crore which showed a growth of 99.07 per cent in comparison to previous year. The net Non Performing Asset (NPA) ratio of the bank improved to 2.11 per cent at the end of September 30, 2006, against 2.79 per cent at the end of September 30, 2005.



Monte Carlo plans expansion
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Monte Carlo plans to increase the number of its stores from the existing 23 to 100 within a year. The company said it would not only focus on large cities but on small towns as well.

“We are looking at a lot of tier-II and tier-III towns for setting up our stores,” said Mr Sandeep Jain, Executive Director, Oswal Woollen Mills.

He said a large number of the new stores would come up in catchment areas being created by malls and multiplexes.



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