L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Assembly poll shadow looms large on MC House
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The shadow of the forthcoming Assembly elections loomed large on the General House of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation today that unanimously passed 15 items out of 21 amidst commotion and unruly scenes. With the model code of conduct likely to come into force in the run-up to the elections, all councillors wanted their issues to be resolved today only, as this could be the last meet.

While the SAD and BJP councillors kept on taking their pick at the present Congress government in state by saying that their alliance would return to power this time, the Congress councillors passed their statements as ‘‘wild dreams’’ that would never come true.

The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, had to adjourn the House for 10 minutes to restore peace on the floor when Mr Gurdeep Singh Neetu, a BJP councillor, alleged that MLA of Ludhiana East Assembly segment had pocketed a major chunk out of Rs 16 lakh released for covering of ganda nullah, as the original RCC design was not being followed and only pillars were being raised.

Taking offence at the allegations, the Mayor asked Mr Neetu to withdraw his statement. When Mr Neetu refused to do so, a number of Congress councillors rushed to the dais to show their solidarity towards the MLA by protesting against the statement. Ruckus prevailed as it took around 10 minutes for the councillors on both sides to broker peace and return to their seats. However, Mr Neetu said he had not eaten his words even if so many people got incensed.

The Mayor got visibly angry when he was asked by Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, a SAD councillor and Mr Parvin Bansal, not to burden the civic body for paying money for making arrangements for his rally at Sherpur Kalan in which the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was the chief guest. The rally had cost public exchequer Rs 3 lakh.

To add fuel to the fire, Mr Dang accused the Mayor of discriminating against areas represented by SAD councillor. The biggest example he cited was that of Mr K.L. Chabbra's ward, who had recently joined the Akali Dal after defecting from the Congress. Interestingly, Mr Chhabra was strategically made to sit amidst opposition councillors although he was known to be a back bencher in the House.

Mr Dang pleaded the issue of water and sewerage bills on the floor. All SAD and BJP councillors were too happy when he sceptically said that the bills would waived off when they came back to power in the next Assembly elections.

Mr Parvin Bansal, leader of the Opposition, also contributed his bit by that the house with Congress majority had not done any development in this regime. He demanded that 18 per cent interest on house tax should be waived, elevated road should be connected to old city parts and an inquiry should be conducted into advertisement scam.

Almost all councillors who spoke in the meeting talked about water and sewerage bills issue, non- lifting of garbage and insufficient fogging operations to contain dengue. They included Mr Bansal, Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Bhairaj Singh, Ms Sunita Aggarwal, Mr Simarjit Singh Bains and many others.

Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, another councillor, raised the issue of delay in carpeting of roads in Jagjit Nagar and Gurdev Nagar. She said though the work orders were released for two contractors, they were not starting the work. Ms Amarjit Kaur rued against shortage of streetlights in her area.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Bholla complained against a tubewell in his area that was not in working condition for the past many months despite his best efforts. Mr Sardul Singh Grewal, a Congress councillor, shocked his counterparts and the Mayor to quite some extent with his pricking remarks for the working of MC. He said councillors had been coming, speaking and going but nobody has ever cared. He said the MC had not done anything on a proposal to develop a stadium for children to play in Jamalpur. Ms Asha Garg criticised Mr Grewal for his outburst against the party-led house leadership.

Mr Bhairaj Singh, an Akali councillor, said there were not enough fogging machines with the MC and the available ones needed repairs. Calling the entire fogging operation as an eyewash, he said dengue could have been controlled well in time had the MC done a serious job to check the breeding of mosquitoes.

Ms Sunita Aggarwal demanded regular cleaning in phases 5, 6, and 7 of the Focal Point. She urged the authorities not to lay roads in some areas where there was no proper sewerage discharge facility.

Mr Ram Lal Yadav, a councillor, accused a senior functionary of the MC of regionalism. Stating that an official was not taking works of his area seriously as he was a migrant , Mr Yadav said he was writing off all

files pertaining to his area as of undeclared colonies. He even threatened to commit suicide if his works would not be taken up.

Assuring him of development in his area, Commissioner Vikas Partap said that the MC did not descriminate against anybody and works in his area would be taken up.

Mr Simarjit Singh Bains demanded an inquiry into the release of a payment of Rs 1 crore for covering of nullah even before the work order was released. He called for the preparation of agenda items in Punjabi.

Meanwhile, the House rejected an agenda item and kept the rest pending for discussion in the next meeting. The House kept the issue of implementation of draft rules of Primary Teachers Services Rules-2006 pending. Similarly, the issue of the implementation of provision of the notification of public interest litigation as far as the issue of flyash in building were considered was unanimously decided to be taken up in the next meeting. The issue of providing space for graveyards was also kept pending. So was the building scheme of MM Nath and other TP schemes.

The other agenda items, including the laying of the proposed ring road outside the MC limits, raising basic salary of Joint Commissioner, Mr B.K. Gupta, and Mr Ashok Bajaj, giving an installment of dearness allowance to employees, transfer of ownership of land sold by MC by charging 5 per cent of total value, charging water and sewerage bills from commercial and industrial establishments, construction of Nigam House for councillors, increase in slaughter house fee from Rs 3.75 to Rs 8 per animal, policy of change of use from residential to commercial houses, providing jobs to wards of deceased MC employees, giving land back to Jwaddi village that was earmarked for cremation ground, and regarding amendment of TP scheme in Gurdev Nagar part-II and giving promotion to Mr Kanwaljit Singh Kahlon as Law Officer were unanimously passed.



Family says ‘Jagminder is dead for us’
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Jagminder Singh alias Aman Verma, held in the sensational Vikramjit murder case and kidnapping of Chandigarh youth, Nikhil Joshi, was ‘dead’ for long for his illustrious family members.

With an elder brother, a doctor based in Canada, and another a renowned astrologer of the city, who was well known for his books on astrology, Vastu Shastra, Jagminder does not seem to be a mere aberration but is viewed by the relatives as a ‘blot’ on the family.

Expressing heartfelt sympathies for the victims of the alleged notorious criminal, his astrologer brother Roopinder Saggu said no family member, including his mother, intends to meet him in jail or fight his case. The family has decided to keep their backs turned away from the accused.

‘‘His present fate is the result of falling in bad company. We had disowned him legally and emotionally several years ago, as his way of life was not accepted and approved by us,’’ he said, maintaining they would keep distance from him.

Jagminder's father is down with cerebral dystrophy. He had retired as a Superintendent Engineer from BSNL. The disease causing shrinkage of brain could be a help in disguise as he was in no position to know the ‘misdeeds’ of his youngest son.

Talking from an astrologer point of view, Mr Saggu said he had warned his brother long ago about the forthcoming danger.‘‘ Astrology can only warn about the impending danger but then the law of Karma has to run its own course.’’

Family sources said the youth had stopped listening to the elders early in his life. He wanted to live a life of indulgence. He used to demand money for cars, mobile phones, branded clothes, items, apart from spending money on girlfriends. ‘‘ When he was first booked, we tried our best to reform him. We hoped that the life in jail would make him realise his mistake but he returned only a hardened one.’’



Vikramjit case: cops leave for Delhi and Jaipur
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The city police today dispatched teams to Delhi and Jaipur to catch several other accomplices of the three accused who were nabbed yesterday in the Vikramjit murder and Nikhil Joshi kidnapping case.

The police was also trying to seek help of Nepal and Dubai police to catch some other accomplices of the accused. These accomplices were the main key of the international gang of criminals, who thrived on lifting cars as well as kidnapping rich youth.

The SSP, A.S. Rai, said the police hoped to crack several other cases with the further interrogation of the accused. They had been taken along to Delhi for the raids.

The police has identified one Rohit Bhandari who was involved in the Vikramjit kidnapping and murder case. The Delhi police has long criminal record of the accused. The police was hoping to catch him soon.



Anti-encroachment drive at Mini-Secretariat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
The District Administration and local police today launched massive anti-encroachment drive in the Mini- Secretariat, Judicial Complex and Lawyers Chambers Complex. Seeing police officials, the encroachers were seen running with their belongings.

The anti-encroachment drive was headed by the SDM, Dr Indu, SP City, Mr Rakesh Aggarwal and two DSPs alongwith a number of police personnel. The officials removed typists and photostat owners sitting behind the DC’s office illegally without any permission.

Thereafter, they removed the encroachments made by the tea sellers and rehriwalas near the Judicial Complex. The police had to face stiff opposition from the lawyers.

The lawyers asked the police officials not to interfere in their Chambers Complex. It was pleaded that the Bar President, Mr Naval Kishore Chhibber was out of station, so the matter should be kept pending till he came. It is learnt that certain lawyers apprised the District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harbans Lal, about the situation. Thereafter, the drive was postponed for the meeting with the Bar President.

The police also faced opposition when they tried to remove the kiosks installed by the alleged riot victims. Later, the president of the Riot Victims Association, Mr Surjit Singh, alongwith other persons raised slogans against the administration and the police.



Migrant labour imbibing Punjabi culture
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Migrant labour plays a positive role in economic development of Punjab. For the estimated 25 lakh to 30 lakh migrant labourers, mostly from Bihar and UP, Punjab is a "home away from home".

The head of the Department of Economics, Punjab Agriculture University, Dr. A.S.Joshi says, migration of this labour is not a new phenomena. He suggests it is high time for government policy intervention and initiatives for compulsory registration of migrant labour in which Punjab Police can play an effective role.

A study by the PAU Department of Human Development and Sociology research workers, Sukhdev Singh and Amandeep Kaur, not only discusses the causes and consequences of migrant labour but also stresses on the need for their proper identification and regulation.

The case study of Ludhiana has revealed that majority of the labour in the city is either from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, mostly in the age bracket of 25 to 35 years. Driven out from their native states by abject poverty and widespread unemployment, this multitude of migrant labour has taken to Punjab as 'fish takes to water'. Not only have these migrant labourers adopted Punjabi dress and food habits, but are slowly getting submerged into socio-religious culture and customs as well. From mere agricultural labourers and small farmers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, these labourers now undertake a variety of skilled jobs from operating machines in hosiery industry to calibrating a seed drill of a farmer apart from taking up construction work in the urban pockets.

Sukhdev Singh and Amandeep Kaur in their study have also focused on the problems that have arisen and multiplied in Ludhiana due to the presence of migrant labour: slums, unhygienic living conditions, increase in crime rate, drug addiction, kidnapping and, of late, getting afflicted with AIDS.

How do the native Ludhianvis view the presence of these labourers amidst their posh localities? The study points out that the local population surveyed finds the presence of migrant labourers as an added advantage because the labour is easily accessible, available and cheap. No doubt, the locals say these bhaiyas were driven out of their home lands because of economic, social, physiological, political or natural causes, the fact remains that they are slowly getting absorbed in Punjabi culture and agriculture, industry and business ventures.

The earnings of these labourers range from Rs.2,000 to Rs.3,500 per month. These migrants, by and large, have been able to pay off the debt raised from their Bihari or Uttar Pradesh baniyas and have built dwelling units back home from remittances sent to their families. The study says that majority of the migrant labourers are able to remit Rs.4,000 to Rs.5,000 to their families every year that has enabled their families to improve the education level of the children and arrange marriages of their siblings.



Sugar lobby pressurised CM on MSP, says BKU
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 23
The fixation of minimum support price (MSP) for sugarcane at Rs 132 by the Punjab Government is a decision taken under the pressure of private sugar lobby of Punjab.

This was stated here today by Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, BKU, Punjab, at a press conference.

Mr Rajewal said it was most painful that in the meeting to fix this MSP by the Punjab Sugarcane Control Board, the Chief Minister was under immense pressure of the private sugar lobby.

The MSP of sugarcane in Punjab had remained lowest in the country continuously for the past seven years and it remained freezed at Rs 100 per quintal for five years while it was Rs 100 in Haryana, he added.

The farmers of Punjab were being punished in the name of losses to coop sugar mills, whereas nobody was ready to fix responsibility on any body for these losses. five coop sugar mills of Punjab were ready to pay Rs 140 but they were not allowed.

He said two years back, Haryana was paying Rs 117 against Rs 100 in Punjab. Even last year, the MSP was Rs 135 in Haryana against 115 in Punjab. Even this year also it was Rs 6 per quintal more than Punjab.

Mr Rajewal further said the Punjab Government was spending crores on coop diversification whereas on the other hand the farmers were discouraged to divert to sugarcane which was a natural and better alternative to wheat-paddy rotation.

He said the Punjab Government compelled coop sugar mills to sell molasses to distilleries at throwaway prices to earn Rs 1,100 to 1,400 crore as excise income.

On the other hand, private sugar mills were making money by selling their molasses at high rates in the open market.

The coop mills were not allowed to install cogeneration plants, distilleries or alcohol plants and the private sugar industry was flourishing in this field.



Dawar harps on Cong govt's achievements
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The Parliamentary Secretary, Power, Labour and Employment, Mr Surinder Dawar, claimed that the Congress Government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh had created a record by fulfilling all 66 promises made in its poll manifesto and had put the state on the fast track of development and prosperity.

Mr Dawar was addressing a public gathering after hearing the complaints of the public at Cheema Chowk here toady.

He said it was for the first time in the history of the state that funds amounting to more than Rs 9,000 crore had been spent on the various developmental projects and welfare programmes during the last four-and-a-half years in the state, whereas during the tenure of the SAD- BJP government, only Rs 431 crore were spent in the five years.



Four-day gurmat samagam commences today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
A four-day annual Gurmat Samagam will start at Gurudwara Nanaksar, Samrala Bypass, here from November 24, under the aegis of Sant Baba Jaswant Singh Ji to propagate the spiritual teachings of the great gurus, to foster universal brotherhood and to pray for world peace. The event will be blessed by the divine presence of many revered personalities and preachers of various social and religious organisations.

Giving this information in a news conference here today, Mr Kirpal Singh, chief spokesperson, said the samagam would be attended by Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Jathedar Sri Keshgarh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh. In addition, many other spiritual intellectuals from India and abroad would spread the eternal bliss of Gurbani amidst the blessings of the Almighty.

Thousands of devotees from various countries like the US, Canada, Japan, U.A.E have already started converging at the venue. All arrangements for a comfortable stay of devotees at the gurudwara have been made and special medical teams have been deputed for round-the-clock medical assistance.

According to Kirpal Singh, the samagam will commence on November 24 with the initiation of 21 Akhand Paths. This will be followed by 'Amrit Sanchar' on November 25. After the bhog of Shri Akhand Path Sahib next morning, there will be overnight kirtan darbar and gurmat sanchar from the evening of November 26 till the next morning.

The devotees, he stated, could also avail benefit of a free dental and medical checkup and treatment camp being organised at Gurudwara Nanaksar from November 24 to 26 by teams of expert doctors from Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College and Hospital. Free medicines will be distributed during these camps for various dental and medical ailments.



Villagers oppose ‘faulty’ sewage treatment plant

Jagraon, November 23
Hundreds of inhabitants of village Hissowal, including some NGOs, are irked over the ‘faulty’ sewage project which, they claimed, was against the norms laid down by the Government of India. The project of sewerage treatment plant in the vicinity of the village, the villagers, was going to prove a health hazard, being a source of pollution in the village as it was being constructed just at a distance of 40 to 60 metres away from the residential houses of Dalits of the village, a dharamshala and Government Senior Secondary School.

The work on the said project has already been started and various representations to government officials has not borne fruit. According to the residents, the project should be installed at least 300 metres away from the residential houses as it stands prescribed in the manual on sewerage and sewage treatment plant constituted by the Government of India. The authorities are bent upon flouting all norms in the setting up of the sewerage system in village Hissowal.

According to Mr. Harmel Singh Sroa, the authorities are not ready to adhere to the specification prescribed by the government, thus compelling him to serve notices on various authorities, including the pollution board. OC



Bairagi Maha Mandal state unit dissolved
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
The state body of the Bairagi Maha Mandal, Punjab, has been dissolved by Mr Ravinder Nandi, secretary general, under the directions of the national president, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa.

In a statement here today, Mr Nandi said the activists of mandal, who had put in their efforts during the 336th birth anniversary celebrations of Bairagi Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, would be duly recognised and given appointments in the reconstituted body, while the dead wood would be pruned.



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