L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Erosion Of Canal Embankment
Numerous lives lost, authorities unmoved
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 14
Frequent falling of private and commercial vehicles into canals, claiming several precious lives have failed to awaken the authorities concerned.

Despite major accidents having caused due to the bad condition of embankments and roads along canals, the authorities concerned have failed to carry out necessary repairs even after the submission of reports by the civil administration.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that several persons, a majority of them pilgrims, had lost their lives after their vehicles fell into canals allegedly due to the “indifferent” attitude of the canal authorities towards the maintenance and repair of the embankments of the branches of the Sirhind canal passing through this part of Malwa.

While more than 40 passengers were killed when a Punjab Roadways bus had plunged into the Sirhind canal near Ropar after breaking a bridge railing on May 14, 2000, at least 47 pilgrims were killed after the truck in which they were travelling had fallen into the Anandpur Sahib canal near Kiratpur Sahib by breaking a feeble wall constructed along the embankment.

Earlier three members of a family of Randhir Singh Nagar, Ludhiana, were killed when the van in which they were travelling fell into the canal near Harnampura in July 2000. The accident was found to have occurred due to the bad condition of embankment of the canal.

Eleven persons were killed as the matador carrying them fell into the Sirhind canal near Pawad village on August 25, 2002, and 46 pilgrims were killed when the truck they were travelling in fell into the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal near Karamsar seven months ago. These were some incidents that shocked the residents of the area but could not awaken the authorities concerned.

The degree of maintenance of the canal embankment could be gauged from a recent incident in which three of the five occupants of a car were killed when their vehicle skidded into the canal at the Gurthali Bridge, near here, while crossing the eroded embankment.

Though Ludhiana Tribune had published a series of stories highlighting official apathy, the authorities instead of doing the needful had tried to evade responsibility by making false claims about the condition of the embankments.

Interestingly, the executive engineer, Ropar head works, reacting to a communication from then SDM, Malerkotla, Dr Indu instead of initiating action against negligent officials had claimed last year that there was no risk to the lives of people living along the canal.

Responding to a letter by the SDM, Malerkotla, two years ago he had claimed that the condition of the canal embankment near Jandali Kalan and Malikpur was not bad. He had based his claim on an inspection report of the SDO, Doraha. 

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Encroachers back on park land
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Two years after a public park of PUDA and a part of a road was got vacated by the authorities in the HJ Block of BRS Nagar, the alleged encroachers are at it again. They have constructed a room and a boundary wall in the area.

Other residents are fuming and they say that the piece of land worth lakhs is being usurped while the authorities concerned are turning a blind eye to it.

Led by Harpreet Singh, the residents have now shot off letters to the senior authorities demanding the removal of encroachment from the land. They said the alleged encroachers had constructed a room on the place meant for a park and was now constructing a boundary wall there.

They added that the land, which was priced at Rs 15,000 per square yard, always attracted encroachers as it had not been developed as a park by the authorities concerned.

They said even two years ago the place was encroached upon by some residents. ‘‘In fact the area was marked for road and a green belt, which was encroached upon by the residents at that time. We were using another vacant plot adjoining the area for commuting. Later the owner of the plot constructed his house and the passage got blocked. We made various requests to the encroachers to give passage and even made the local councillor to intervene in the matter, which couldn’t yield any results at that time also. Later, after the intervention of senior PUDA authorities the encroachment was removed. Now, the encroachers are at it again,” said Harpreet Singh in a letter to PUDA officials.

He added that the resident constructed a room on the land some days ago and a wall was being erected now. ‘‘We complained to the councillor of the area also. But it did not yield any result”, he said.

The residents said they had pooled in resources and laid a road there so that nobody threw garbage, but now the encroacher did not care about the road also.

‘‘I tried to contact a PUDA official on phone and informed him about the developments. I got a lukewarm approach only,” he said.

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Vultures’ extinction: captive breeding ‘best option’
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
With the population of vultures, the most common and widely accepted scavengers in South Asia, almost on the verge of extinction, the ornithologists have suggested their captive breeding as best solution to safeguard the specie.

According to C.S.Malhi, an ornithologist at Punjab Agricultural University, vultures have already been listed as critically endangered specie in 2000 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Vultures possess efficient digestive system capable of breaking bones in the stomach and have excellent feeding potential as well as feeding rate. In Punjab, four resident species of vultures, including Black or King Vulture (Sarcogyps Calvus), Indian Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus), Indian White backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis) and Egyptian or White Scavenger Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) have almost disappeared from the agro-ecosystem.

Explaining the ill-effects of an exponential diminution of this species in Punjab, Malhi pointed out that the scavenging potential of the existing bird fauna at Animal Flaying and Disposal Centres (AFD) was just a decimal compared to that of vultures.

He said several reasons like a loss of habit, viral disease, livestock management practices and use of pesticides could be attributed to their disappearance.

The major reason, however, according to Malhi, was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called dichofenanc administered in livestock to which the vultures got exposed through feeding on carcasses of such animals.

Given the current decline in vulture population, Malhi feared that the other bird fauna associated with AFD Centres was equally exposed to all these risks which accounted for the ill-fate of vultures.

Since the AFD Centres in Punjab were among the potential feeding sites for scavenging birds, there also posed a constant threat of secondary poisoning among existing fauna in the event of animals' death due to accidental poisoning.

With the flesh at the disposal of vultures at AFD Centres becoming a rare phenomenon, Malhi apprehended that some chemicals were still being used for expediting removal of flesh from carcasses that could endanger the birds.

In the present context when Himachal Pradesh was viewed as the most suitable breeding ground for vultures, adjacent Punjab territory was considered to be the most suitable feeding ground. He suggested priority to rehabilitation process.

He also suggested that a regular monitoring be conducted at AFD Centres and more carcass utilisation centres be created in Punjab. There was a need to set up procedures by which poison or pesticides residue analysis of tissue of dead arrivals at AFD Centres could be carried out before subjecting them to flaying and disposal operations. 

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Trust wakes up to Rajguru Nagar’s plight
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
S.R. Kaler, administrator of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust today directed the officials of the Trust to take up the repair of roads and cleaning of the sewerage system in the Rajguru Nagar residential colony immediately.

Kaler accompanied by Shashi Bhushan, superintending engineer, and other officials of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust visited Rajguru Nagar Colony here and found that the roads of the colony were in bad shape and garbage dumps were also visible along the roads of the colony.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, president, I.S. Khurana and T.S. Chehal, members of the People’s Awareness Forum apprised Kaler and the officials of the Trust about the problems of the colony.

They told the officials of the Trust that the roads of the colony required immediate carpeting as the same were full of potholes and there was no satisfactory arrangement for the removal of the garbage.

The sewerage pipes had also not been cleaned for a long time. At the same time, the water tanks of the Trust were also not cleaned and needed immediate cleaning.

The administrator directed the officials to prepare the estimates for the recarpeting of the roads and start the work on the same after getting the approval of the government.

Kaler also asked the team of the officials that garbage dumps along the roads should also be removed and regular sweeping of the roads should be ensured.

The residents of the colony also complained that the trucks carrying construction material of a mall being constructed on Ferozepur road pass through the colony, thus posing threat to the children who play in the colony.

The vehicles should not be allowed to pass through the colony. They also demanded the supply of clean water to the colony. 

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Plus two students write book
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 14
Two 12th standard students Avinash and Ishant have co-authored a book titled ‘Let the Laughing Men Cry’, a collection of short stories and poems based on human emotions. These students of Tagore Public School, have already got 300 copies of their book published.

On sides of appearing for the board examinations for class XII, they are busy corresponding with several ministers in an attempt to get the book released by an eminent person.

"We at the age of 17 years have experienced, seen and felt the emotions, pain and tears of those who have suffered cruelty of fate. Our book holds depths of humanity and we feel that today five out of ten persons need to be sensitised about humanity. Hence the book reaches out to every class and must be read to understand humanity."

"We had written a letter to President requesting him to kindly release our book. But the President was very busy and hence it was not possible for him to release the book.

We have corresponding with the Human Resource Development ministry and trying Arjun Singh to release our book," says Avinash.

Avinash says his friend Ishant the co-author was busy preparing for examinations. He said the book was all about being human. It contains several short stories and some poems, which talk of the characters that can be totally inhuman, says Avinash. The book has also been reviewed in the National Herald.

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MC House session: Malaria issue set to dominate
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
With the budget session of general house of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation just a day away, the expenditure incurred on controlling malaria is all set to stare the local body in its face.

While the residents grappled with the mosquito borne diseases and many people were reported dead due to dengue during the last fiscal year, the local body in its wisdom spent only Rs 18 lakhs while Rs 40 lakh was earmarked for fighting malaria in the budget of 2006-07.

As if the death of so many people was not enough to move the MC, it did not even spend the money kept under the mosquito control and malaria header. ‘‘It is a matter of shame that the money was kept unutilised in the most thickly populated city of the state where maximum people suffered due to mosquito borne diseases, ’’ said a councillor who has decided to rake up the matter in the meeting tomorrow.

‘‘They did not bother to spend Rs 40 lakh. They should have said that they needed more money considering the spread of diseases. Moreover, Gyaspura and Sahnewal areas were labeled malaria sensitive by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, and MC was asked to check the further spread of disease. But does anybody care? ’’ he asked.

He also said that health should have been the first priority. Roads and sewerage could have taken a back seat at least when it was question of life of many people. But unfortunately the local body did not bother.

The fogging operations to check breeding of mosquitoes carried by the MC remained in the centre of controversy as a half-hearted approach of the civic body was exposed off and on. The residents of various area kept on complaining that no fogging was carried out in their localities. This despite the fact that hundreds of people fell sick with dengue and malaria and many died also.

Doctors of various hospitals also held the civic body responsible for the spread of these diseases. They were of the opinion that had the MC checked the breeding grounds of mosquitoes, many residents would not have lost their lives.

‘‘It was a complete failure of the health and civil administration. Why should so many people die when we can effectively check the spread of disease. These diseases can be prevented only if the authorities are sincere enough in their efforts, ’’ said a doctor, who attended to a number of patients in a local hospital.

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Bank employees seek talks with PM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) has urged the Prime Minister to hold talks with bank employees so as to avoid the three-day strike from March 28 to 30.

National president, INBEC, K.R. Tripathi, said the Prime Minister should negotiate with the employees so that the nationwide strike is withdrawn in national interest. "Demands of bank employees are genuine and the same should be fulfilled," said INBEC.

The employees have raised demands like second option for pension, appointment on compassionate grounds, recruitment of clerical and subordinate staff and stoppage of outsourcing of banking jobs.

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E-banking becoming popular, says study
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Electronic mode is considered to be the fastest growing mode for banking transactions. This was revealed in a study conducted by Kamalpreet, a student of Punjab College of Technical Education, recently. The study was conducted on more than 200 respondents availing services of selected public and private sector banks in Ludhiana city.

The study suggested that the security networks of internet banking, it being the fastest way of conducting transactions, should be made stronger to make it the safest mode of transaction. A professional, well trained and motivated workforce would improve the marketability of the bank vis-â-vis its service quality. Banks, in order to reach pinnacles of service, should improve areas like proper response to customer needs and requests, providing services to the account-holders at the right time and many others.

E-mode was considered as the fastest growing mode for banking transactions and if perceived and implemented in right perspective it would certainly go a long way in improving the service quality in banks.

It was found that banking had moved from its bricks and mortar structure to customer centric approach with the help of technology. Banks had achieved high levels of automation and had started offering e-products to customers. Some private banks had also moved towards e-banking, which included standalone ATMs, phone banking, Internet banking, mobile banking etc. considering the customer base they serve.

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Anti-graft body rues LPG crisis
Our Correspondent

Samrala, March 14
The Anti-Corruption Front held its monthly meeting here in which members from three subdivisions participated. It was presided by commandant Rachhpal Singh.

During the discussion, the issue of shortage of LPG came up and concern was expressed over unabashed misuse of LPG.

Many hotels and dhabas instead of using commercial cylinders are using gas cylinders meant for house-hold use.

In addition, jagratas, langars and other endless religious ceremonies are taking their toll too.

They spend lakhs but when it comes to gas they but pressure on the gas agency manager and manage to get cylinder out of the quota meant for public.

This results in shortage and harassment to consumers. K.K. Kapoor, a gas-agency manager, told the meeting that a lot of pressure is put on him by influential persons and administration to issue cylinders to non-consumers.

Mehma Singh Kang told the manager that in case of illegal pressure, he should contact the Front’s office and all possible help will be extended as no one has the authority to create problems for public.

It was also stressed that action against the kanongos and patwaris, who gave wrong ‘Nishan Dehi’ should be taken.

Capt Makhan Singh suggested that land owners should be issued land-record booklet, which has been discontinued without any reason.

It was decided that strict vigil be maintained on all departments to put a check on the corruption menace.

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Hoteliers elect new office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Ludhiana today unanimously elected its office-bearers. A meeting of the association was held here under the chairmanship of its president, Manjit Singh Nagpal.

The office-bearers include, besides Nagpal, Jagpal Singh Khangura as Chief Patron, Rajinder Basant as chairman, Baba Ajit Singh and Jagdish Anand as chief advisors and Amarvir Singh as general secretary.

Later talking to reporters, Amarvir Singh said the association would be soon meeting the tourism minister Hira Singh Gabria to apprise him of the problems of the hotel industry.

He said the hotel industry was passing through a crucial phase and there were quite a number of issues pending for disposal.

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Kochhar elected president
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
Dr Ravinder Kochhar, principal, Lord Mahavira Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital has been elected the president of the state branch of the Indian Institute of Homeopathic Physicians, for a two year term. Dr Muktinder Singh was elected general secretary of the body.

Other office bearers of the body, include Dr Tarun Choudhary (Ludhiana), Dr Harbhajan Singh (Kapurthala), Dr Tanveer Hussain (Malerkotla), Dr Kuldeep Kaushal (Rampura Phul), - vice presidents, Dr Rinkal Sodhi (Ludhiana), Dr Abdul Hamid (Malerkota) - joint secretaries, Dr Sarbjit Singh (Khanna) - financial secretary, Dr Rajesh Sofat (Ludhiana) - organising secretary.

Addressing the general body meeting of the institute, the newly elected president said his team would keep organising educative and awareness workshops and medical check up camps as a regular feature of the organisation.

Dr Kochhar appealed to the state government to address the pending issues pertaining to homeopathic students and doctors and set up more homeo dispensaries.

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