L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Encroachers continue to rent out PUDA land
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
More than a year after the Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority had issued notices of eviction to some residents of the Housing Board Colony on Ferozepore Road, who were accused of occupying a green belt and renting out the structures on it, no action has been taken and the encroachers continue to have a field day.

These residents of J-type houses had allegedly encroached upon the green belt and had erected some rooms on the area. These rooms were given on rent and the public land was proving to be a source of income for some private persons.

This despite the fact that PUDA had got a survey done in the area in early 2005 and senior officials had themselves admitted that the structures were encroachments and action would be taken.

They had categorically stated that following HC directions to take encroachers head on, they would not spare anybody.

The defaulters were given one-month eviction notices in April 2005 but even after a year and a half, no action has been taken and the structures continue to exist on the spot making a mockery of the HC directions.

Some residents of the area accused PUDA of being partisan in the entire episode. Ms Paramjit Kaur, a resident, said she had planted some ornamental bushed outside the boundary wall of her house.

A team of PUDA employees had, however, removed the plants stating that it was an encroachment.

‘‘This is the height of discrimination. They have razed the flower bed outside my house but did not take any action against those who had erected concrete structures on PUDA land. We got to know that the defaulters were spared by officials due to some considerations,” alleged Ms Paramjit Kaur, an ex-serviceman’s widow.

‘‘I myself complained to the Executive Officer of PUDA, Mr Jeet Ram, and he assured me that action would be taken against them. However, till date nobody has turned up and residents are making money by renting out government land,’’ she added.

She has been taking up the matter at different platforms. She had complained to a former Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, but to no avail. Now, she has shot off fresh letters to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta.

‘‘Being the widow of a soldier, I have been expecting that there would be no discrimination against me. However, this is happening despite my taking up the issue with different officials. There is nobody who listens to honest people,’’ she rued.



Bhattal does some pollspeak
Inaugurates kisan ghar, the first of its kind in Punjab
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Dakha (Ludhiana), December 28
Ms Rajinder Kaur Battal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, has asserted that the Congress government has created history of fast development and welfare in the state and will register a record victory in the coming elections.

Ms Bhattal was addressing a largely attended conference at Mullanpur Dakha after inaugurating a kisan ghar, the first of its kind in the state and constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore, here today.

She announced that it would be named as Shaheed Beant Singh Kisan Ghar as a tribute to the former Chief Minister of Punjab, who laid down his life to establish peace and prosperity in the state.

She said the government had implemented a number of development and welfare programmes for every section of society. She claimed that all 66 promises made in the manifesto during the last elections had been fulfilled.

She said it was the first time in the history of the state that funds amounting to more than Rs 10,000 crore had been spent on various development projects and welfare programmes during the past five and a half years in the state, whereas during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government, only Rs 431 crore were spent.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the interests of farmers had been fully watched by the Congress government by bringing down the interest on agriculture loans from 14 per cent (in the SAD regime) to 7 per cent and ensuring smooth purchase of their produce, whereas during Mr Badal's rule, farmers had to spent several nights in the open and pay hefty bribes for selling their produce.

She said the UPA government, on the initiative of the Punjab Government, had enhanced the MSP of wheat by Rs 100 per quintal, that too before the sowing of the crop.

She said the government had also implemented a comprehensive programme for the welfare of all weaker sections of society and funds amounting to Rs 500 crore had been sanctioned to benefit around 14 lakh persons under various pension schemes of the Social Welfare Department. She said the Scheduled Castes had been provided free domestic power up to 200 units per month.

Ms Bhattal claimed that the Centre had released funds amounting to more than Rs 2,400 crore for development projects in the state and had also selected Ludhiana city for the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewable Mission under which funds of Rs 1,300 crore were being spent.

Lambasting Mr Badal for making a false propaganda by raising non-issues, the Deputy Chief Minister said Mr Badal and SAD leaders did not have any issue for the elections and now they had been resorting to the politics of false accusations to misguide the people and asserted that the wise people of the state could not be mislead this time as they would compare the performance of the governments of both parties.

Appreciating the hard work of Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha for the all-round development of the constituency, Ms Bhattal said Mr Dakha was a farsighted leader, who had served the state with the late Beant Singh during the black days of terrorism.

Addressing the function, Mr Dakha, MLA, said the Congress government had ensured unprecedented development of the state and every section of society had been fully benefited.

He said in Mullanpur Dakha town, a sewerage and water supply project was being implemented at a cost of Rs 5 crore.

He said Mullanpur Dakha had also been included in seven towns of the state for the installation of a treatment plant and funds amounting to Rs 4 crore had been provided for this purpose.

Among others present on the occasion were Mr Parminder Mehta, secretary, PPCC, Mr Manjit Singh Hambran, Mr Paramjit Singh Ghawaddi, Mr Manjit Singh Bhaowal, chairman, Market Committee, Mr Parshotam Khalifa, Director, Khadi Board, Mr Telu Ram, chairman, Municipal Committee, and Mr Bhajan Singh Detwal.

Later, Ms Bhattal inaugurated a newly constructed canal bridge on Gill Road constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore. The bridge was constructed in a record period of 29 days.

Addressing the function, Ms Bhattal claimed that the government had accorded top priority to urban development and funds amounting to Rs 991 crore had been spent on various development projects. Among others who attended the function included Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Palwinder Singh Taggar, Mr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Amarjit Singh Matharoo (all councillors) and Mr Harpal Singh Sangowal. 



ZIPNET to track down stolen mobile phones
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The city police has decided to adopt the Zonal Integrated Police Network (ZIPNET) service to track down lost or stolen mobile phone sets from the unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.

Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, SP (City-I), told the mediapersons that the city police had sent details of 98 stolen or lost mobile phones to the ZIPNET officials for tracing the sets.

The police had decided to adopt the service in the wake of a large number of reports about mobile phone thefts or lost of the sets from the city.

Sources revealed that two mobile phone sets stolen from Dehra Dun last month were recovered from a vegetable vendor in Civil Lines using the same service.

The city police had at that time not adopted the service but the Delhi and Uttaranchal cops worked in tandem to trace the two mobile sets, which changed many hands after being stolen.

The service would be specially beneficial for the city, which is one of the main market for latest and swanky mobile sets. Till now, a set lost or stolen was considered to be gone forever but with ZIPNET many residents can now hope of recovering the lost property.

It becomes more important as costly mobile phone sets are sold in the city, where carrying the latest gizmo is considered quite a status symbol.



2006 — Flashback
A dismal year for industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Hopes turned to despair for the local industry which got little in comparison to its expectations from the government in the wake of the forthcoming elections. The entire year witnessed demands, threats on most issues, only to be quietened on account of inaction. For retail, the segment that boomed this year, it was a transition phase for consumers who drew more towards brands and mall culture. Industrial woes like power shortage, delay in VAT refunds etc continued.

It was poultry industry that received the first jolt of the year on account of avian flu. Sales reduced drastically and the industry took a lot of measures from holding chicken melas to organising awareness campaigns to boost sales. Despite protests by this industry against the government's "ineffectiveness to handle the issue", it took over six months for things to get back to normal.

The year began amid hyper union activity, which gradually toned down. In March,it was for the first time that the city witnessed agitation by workers taking a violent form yesterday when a clash occurred between labourers and police personnel outside Oswal Woollen Mills at Sherpur Kalan Chowk, leaving 40 persons injured. The matter took a few days to resolve. Unions relatively maintained a low profile after that. Even as Avon Bicycle Components Private Limited closed two of its units in September and expected heavy labour unrest, the situation remained under control.

Problems like delays in VAT refunds remained on top of the industry's agenda throughout the year. There were protests, memorandums, but the government responded little. Shortage of C forms continued troubling industry, which even held protests after failing to evoke a response from the government on its demand to extend the last date for filing annual VAT returns and submitting C forms. To the industry’s relief, the government responded by extending the date for submitting forms. Octroi abolition was another major decision for the industry. Power woes, too, continued, in summers and also in winters. Worst hit was the induction and furnace industry, which had to close down on account of shortage. To top it, the Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) decision to increase penalty charges for theft by 10 times was severely condemned.

Even as representatives of the industry expected sops from the government as elections drew nearer, nothing much happened on that front. The industry adopted all measures, from boycotting politicians, to threatening protest on CM’s visits and later even went ahead to thank the government, but these tactics failed to bear fruit. Even when the Prime Minister visited the city to inaugurate Bharti’s mega project, FieldFresh, the industry did not get a chance to meet him.

As if all these woes were insufficient, taxation departments also grew active on raids. Surveys by the Taxation Department continued giving sleepless nights to the local industry.

A week-long strike by the State Bank of India (SBI) in April too hit business hard. Hike in petrol and diesel prices too added to the industry’s woes and a little reduction that came later in the year failed to placate transporters.

Among the good things that happened to the city were launch of products like battery operated bicycles by companies like Avon. Hero launched petro cycles in July. Another company, Techno Bikes, launched battery-operated Chinese two-wheelers in Indian markets.

The city also played host to a large number of exhibitions in consumer items and theses like wedding. Investor community remained happy amid stock market fluctuations. The Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) exchange became the first institution in the region to provide training in capital market .

In February, doyen of the bicycle industry and patriarch of the Avon Group, Hans Raj Pahwa, passed away, marking the end of an era in bicycle industry.

While activity continues, local industry awaits the coming year with hopes of better performance and government support.



Johar under fire for running parallel office
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The MLA of Ludhiana (West) Assembly segment and Cabinet Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, is under fire for allegedly using the state machinery and running a parallel public office at his house on Dugri Road.

The legal wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal has written to the Chief Election Commissioner apprising him of the misuse of the official position by the Congress MLA.

In his complaint to Mr N. Gopalaswamy, Chief Election Commissioner of India, Mr Iqbal Singh Gill, secretary-general of the legal wing, said Mr Johar was using the state machinery under the garb of Suvidha Kendra opened at his residence.

Stating that due to the coming Assembly elections in the state, the Congress had already started wooing voters by various means, Mr Gill said Mr Johar was misusing his official position by calling officers of the office of the DTO, the BDPO, the BDO, the Education Department, the municipal corporation, the Improvement Trust, the DFSO and the Revenue Department at his residence thereby making their work in their respective offices suffer.

He said he openly called the people at his residence for getting their work done, including preparation of ration cards, driving licences, all certificates relating to registration, renewal of vehicle documents and all kinds of public work.

“Whereas there are set rules and regulations for preparation of all such documents, these have been given the go-by at his Suvidha Kendra. The only motive behind the so-called Suvidha Kendra was to allure voters. All department officials come at the spot and issue important documents there only,” said Mr Gill.

He alleged that ration cards were being prepared at his residence only and on the basis of such ration cards fake votes were being prepared by misusing the state machinery and it amounted to corrupt practice.

He demanded a thorough inquiry into the matter. 



This patient needs monetary help
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 28
Santosh, a 28-year-old migrant labourer from Jharkhand, is admitted to the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here under the care of Dr Rajeev Kapoor. The patient, suffering from intestinal tuberculosis, was brought to the CMCH in a critical condition.

As his condition warranted round-the-clock monitoring, Santosh was kept in the ICU, and thereafter had to undergo an emergency operation. As a result of the efforts put in by the medical and nursing staff at the hospital, the patient is in a better state now and his condition has stabilised.

However, according to the doctors attending on the patient, Santosh cannot go home right now as he needs continuous medical and nursing assistance which can be provided only in the hospital.

In the course of extended stay in the hospital, medical treatment and surgery, Santosh has run a hospital bill of Rs 2,40,000 of which an amount of Rs 1 lakh has been paid by a kind donor.

It is just impossible for Santosh or his family members to arrange the money to clear the hospital bill.

The CMCH authorities have been providing the best possible medical and nursing care to the patient at highly subsidised cost. The hapless patient now looks toward kind-hearted people, service clubs and other voluntary bodies to come to his rescue and extend all possible financial help to save his life.

All those who wish to contribute towards the treatment of Santosh can contact the office of Medical Superintendent, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. All donations be made in favour of Christian Medical College and Hospital with “Treatment for Santosh” written on the back of the cheque/DD or on the covering letter.



All set for New Year Eve blast
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, December 28
Days before the countdown began for the New Year Eve, residents of Ludhiana who like rocking parties, started making grand plans for the special day which ushers out the old year and rings in the new year. City hotels , restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs are gearing up to make the 'New Year Eve' an affair to remember This year, too, the city is going to rock on the New Year eve as people have grandiose plans.

At one place famous singer Sukhwinder Singh is going to pull the crowds while at others party animals of the city will dance to the tunes of Arabian and Malaysian DJs who are specially coming to entice the audience. And belly dancers at Park Plaza will surely be great hit with the audience. All three restaurants of Hotel Park Plaza would have music by DJ Bhanu.

Sukhwinder will add colour to the New Year Eve at Sutlej Club. Besides this item girl , Dhristi, singer of romantic number'Saiyaan dil mein aana re' will entertain the crowd at Sutlej Club . Mr Sanjeev Dhanda, cultural secretary of the club, said the food served on the eve would be exotic and would also offer a lot of variety for its members .

Lodhi Club , too, has plans for New Year Celebrations . Babbu Mann, singer of the song .' Mitra di Chatri te ud gai' and many other hit Punjabi songs will regale the audience. Enough bits of song and dance awaits the members of Ludhiana Club. The guests at Fortune Classic will enjoy the music of Malaysian and Arabian DJs coming for the first time to the city. 



Ex-servicemen hold meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
A quarterly meeting of ex-servicemen and widows was held at the Convey Ground. It was presided over by hony Capt Malkiat Singh,vice-president of the league.
Ex-servicemen and widows, in a resolution passed at the meeting, expressed their gratitude to HQ 2 Corps under whose orders a mobile canteen has been visiting Khanna once a month.The canteen has proved to be a boon for the old ex-servicemen and their families as it saves them from the rigours of travelling to Doraha or Ludhiana.

The league members expressed their thanks to the OC of 814 CETS. 



Councillor seeks action against banks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
A local councillor, Mr Sanjeev Talwar, today alleged that some banks in the city were harassing some elderly residents, who were sanctioned pensions by the state government, by not opening their accounts in the banks.

He said a number of such pensioners were really having a bad time as the officials of these banks were misbehaving with them.

In his complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Talwar has attached a list of the banks which were allegedly harassing the pensioners. He has urged upon the Deputy Commissioner to take strong action against the banks.



Ashok appointed Chief Engineer

Ludhiana, December 28
Mr Ashok Kumar, Superintending Engineer of Municipal Corporation, has been appointed as the Chief Engineer (Civil) by the Local Government Department, Punjab.
He joined his office here today. TNS



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