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MP’s assurance to farmers on compensation
Tribune News Service

Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP and president, AIYADI, listens to the problems of the hailstorm-affected farmers at Jarg village in the Payal constituency on Monday.
Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP and president, AIYADI, listens to the problems of the hailstorm-affected farmers at Jarg village in the Payal constituency on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, March 19
The state government would provide adequate compensation to the farmers whose crops were damaged by the recent hailstorm and heavy rains at the earliest. Strict action would also be taken against any revenue employee who harasses or underestimates the loss suffered by the farmers.

This was stated by Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP, and President AIYAD, while addressing the affected farmers of the Payal constituency at a Sangat Darshan programme in Jarg village, about 45 km from here, today.

Expressing his deep sympathies with the farmers, he said the hailstorm had played havoc with the farmers and irreparable damage had been caused to them. Immediately after learning about this calamity, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had directed the deputy commissioners to conduct a special girdawri to assess the loss and had deputed officers of the rank of principal secretaries to visit the affected fields of the farmers and submit their report to him.

All MPs from Punjab had also raised the issue in parliament, following which union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had assured adequate compensation for the affected farmers of the state. On the complaint by some farmers expressing their doubt about the under estimation of the loss of their crops, Dhillon directed the revenue officers to revisit their fields along with the sarpanch and satisfy the complaining farmers.

Allaying the fears of the farmers regarding compensation for other crops like vegetables and sunflower, he assured that loss of each and every crop had been assessed and the compensation for the loss of all crops of the farmers would be given.

Dhillon also said that the government would look after the interests of the farmers who were cultivating the fields on a contract basis. He announced that the compensation would only be given to the cultivators and directed the officers to immediately get the required proforma filled by the owners and get these verified from the sarpanches/lambardars.

He said that in case any owner does not intentionally sign or was away from the village , the verification of the sarpanch may be considered sufficient for releasing compensation to the affected cultivators.

He claimed that the Chief Minister, in his first meeting with the Prime Minister, had put up the case for substantial increase in the MSP for wheat, and on his request, the Prime Minister had announced a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal for wheat.

The MP and other leaders and officers visited the fields of the farmers and told the officers to do justice with farmers.

On the complaint of the farmers from the villages falling in the Khanna sub- division about the negligence committed by the revenue staff during the girdawri, the MP immediately called the SDM, Khanna, and asked him to listen to these farmers and depute the tehsildar/naib tehsildar concerned to redress their grievance.

Baldev Singh, SDM, informed those gathered at the place that the girdawri had already been completed in the presence of sarpanches of the villages.

He said that around 3200 acres of crops in the four villages of Payal sub-division i.e. Jarg, Sirthala, Mahanpur and Rauni had been damaged by the hailstorm. He added that in case any farmer was still unsatisfied, the loss could be verified again in the presence of the sarpanch.

Others present on the occasion included Santa Singh Umedpuri, district president, SAD (R), Inder Mohan Singh Kadian, district chief, YAD (R), Ajmer Singh Dhillon, Director, Milk Union, Ludhiana, Baba Jagroop Singh, circle jathedar, Sahnewal, and Bharpur Singh Rauni, circle jathedar, Payal.



Commuters allege ‘loot’ by toll authorities
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, March 19
The pathetic condition of the National Highway (NH) 1 even after the charging of ‘exorbitant’ toll from the commuters for the past five years speaks volumes of the callous attitude of the toll authorities on the one hand and their shrewd exploitation on the other.

Many commuters are up in arms and have shown resentment over being openly “looted” on the highway by the toll authorities. The road, they complain, is in no way a toll road. The toll authorities have never taken pains for the past so many years to recarpet the road even once. If at some places the road has been repaired and patched temporarily, at other places it has been entirely ignored and big potholes here and there are a proof of the laxity on part of the authorities.

Dr Narinder Singh Sidhu, principal of a local college, resents that such an exorbitant toll in no way matches with the uneven ride and the big potholes one encounters on the road. “It is a matter of concern if such is the condition of a toll road, he regretted.

A local commuter Jaswant Singh Gill complains that repairing the road, a little here and there, does not serve the purpose. The road should be transformed into a complete toll road if the government is to charge so heavily from us. We are entirely dissatisfied with such meagre facilities against such hefty rates. The government should wake up from slumber to watch the plight of the travellers.

Jandeep Kaushal, chairman, Youth Forum, Doraha, and secretary of the All-India Federation of Democratic Youth, said that with such heavy toll, the entire road should be recarpated and that, too, at the earliest. The federation has threatened that if its demand goes unheeded, it will be forced to launch an agitation against the toll authorities.

The toll scheme, it may be remembered, was launched in June 2002. At every 80 km there is a toll barrier so that there are three toll barriers at different places such as Doraha, Shambu and Karnal. For the first 96-206 km, vehicles such as car, jeep and van are charged Rs 50, the light commercial vehicles Rs 90, trucks and buses Rs 175 and heavy commercial vehicles Rs 375. Similarly for 206-272 km the rates for above mentioned types of vehicles are Rs 30, Rs 55, Rs 105 and Rs 225, respectively. Also for 272 - 372 km, the rates are Rs 45, Rs 80, Rs 160 and Rs 340, respectively. At Doraha, the rates are being charged for the category covering 272 -372 km. The two-wheelers and three-wheelers, along with defence, VIP, police, Fire Brigade, ambulance, funeral vans, post and telegraph, Centre and state government vehicles have been exempted from paying the toll tax. However, monthly passes have been issued to the local residents after a threat from the locals to launch a stir even before the implementation of the toll scheme.

Although the NHAI has repaired broken road at times, fixed railings at turns and attached fences near the fields, commuters resent that it is negligent compared to the enormous amount of toll tax.



Railway employees observe hunger strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
In protest against the non-fulfilment of their demands, members of the Northern Railwaymen's Union started chain hunger strike here today. The union members said despite repeatedly raising their demands with the GM, Northern Railway, and DRM, Ferozepur, no concrete measures were taken in the direction which had forced them to observe chain hunger strike in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Jammu, Pathankot and Kangra Valley railway headquarters.

Addressing the protesting employees, Daljit Singh, divisional secretary of the union, said the decision to hand over several trains running from Jammu to the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation should be cancelled.

He said all the big railway stations falling under the Ferozepur division were lacking hospitals, which should be provided at the earliest. The union said that modernisation of railway bridges lacked several measures needed to handle emergency situations.

They also demanded that an ambulance along with a driver be provided at the rail way station hospital in Jalandhar.

Regarding the Ludhiana loco shed, they said there was no safai karamchari which should be appointed at the earliest. Among other demands raised by the union were availability of specialised doctors at railway hospitals, measures for cleanliness of railway quarters and their repairs, quarters for TRD staff of electric shed and lodging facilities for staff that went on inspection to other stations.

Singh said the demands had already been submitted to authorities last month. Despite having been accepted, none of them had been implemented.

The union also threatened to intensify its stir if their demands were not met immediately. Paramjit Singh, divisional secretary, Loco Running Staff Association, Satpal Singh, vice-president, NRMU Ferozepur division were among others present.



Sexual harassment: Rights panel seeks report
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from SSP Ludhiana following a complaint filed by Rajwinder Kaur of Salem Tabri against the SP (Human Rights) Iqbal Singh Gill, posted at IRP Colony, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, here.

The complainant knocked the door of the PHRC, seeking action against the SP for allegedly shielding the accused named in FIR no 246 of 2006 under Sections 3 and 4 of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act and under other Sections of the IPC at the Salem Tabri police station.

The complainant had alleged sexual harassment at the hands of a private doctor named in the FIR and his associates, who were allegedly running a de-addiction centre and embezzling government grants.



The Tribune the most read paper: survey
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
Newspapers and news channels have emerged as an integral part of people’s routine.

The increasing number of newspapers and news channels indicates that people are news hungry. On the one hand, TV channels provide the latest news immediately, the newspapers provide a hard copy overview, perspective of the news and detail reports.

A recent study ‘Newspapers vs news channels: The Battle Continuous’, conducted by Nishta Mehra of the department of business administration of Khalsa College for Women under the guidance of Amanjot Sachdeva and Rashmi Gangwani revealed that the news channels took a lead in terms of impact (47 per cent), presentation (72 per cent), entertainment (80 per cent), variety (45 per cent), latest news (84 per cent), crime reports (70 per cent), sports coverage (52 per cent), fashion update (60 per cent) and advertisements (43 per cent). While newspapers were considered better in terms of availability (50 per cent), cost-wise (78 per cent), exam notifications (67 per cent), matrimonial ads (87 per cent) and employment news (88 per cent).

The study was conducted on respondents in Ludhiana between 20 years and 65 years. It found that both newspapers and news channels were considered better for political (41 per cent) and business news (43 per cent) coverage. The majority of respondents (71 per cent) felt that something was missing in their daily routine without newspapers and news channels. “The time devoted by the majority of respondents to the two mediums comes out to be less than one hour”, said Mehra.

The favourite newspaper came out to be ‘The Tribune’ followed by The Economic Times and The Times of India, found the survey. Among the news channels, most popular was NDTV (71 per cent) followed by Aaj Tak (54 per cent), CNBC (50 per cent) and Star News (44 per cent).

As far as the ranking of media was concerned, the most preferred media emerged to be news channels followed by newspapers. Internet was third while magazines and radio were fourth and fifth, respectively.



Ludhianvis hail Badal’s decision
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 19
The decision of the chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to himself preside over the monthly meetings of the district planning board and the district grievances committee has been hailed by one and all. The Ludhianvis are agigated that Ludhiana, the financial and industrial capital of Punjab, has suffered for the past many years due to the apathy of the successive governments. The presence of the chief minister in the district planning board meeting every month will pave the way for the development of the town and the district as a whole.

Parkash Singh Badal will not be the first chief minister to preside over the meetings of the planning board and the district grievances committee. Pratap Singh Kairon- the late chief minister, was the first to undertake the chairmanship of the district grievances committee in the early sixties. He continued to preside over the monthly meeting as long as he was the chief minister of the state.

Lachhman Singh Gill, who was chief minister of Punjab for a short stint, also followed the example of Kairon and would preside over the monthly meetings of the district grievances committee. Both Kairon and Gill took lot of interest in the development of the city and the district. The present industrial estate was created during the tenure of Kairon and also the two industrial areas.

During the tenure of Gill, there was a wheat glut as the mexican wheat varieties had just been introduced and he held a meeting of the state officers in Jagraon Mandi where Sarla Grewal, then food secretary, was asked by Gill to take immediate steps for the lifting of the wheat stocks.

Beant Singh who beame chief minister during militancy also could do little for the town and the district as he fall to a bomb blast at the civil secretariat at Chandigarh. But he had one very good habit of removing the grievances of the people. whenever he would visit circuit house in Ludhiana, he would call the Deputy Commissioner, Senior Superintendent of police and the commissioner of the municipal corporation and solve the problems immediately on the spot. The Ludhianvis are anxiously waiting for the chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to come to Ludhiana and mitigate their difficulties.

Ludhiana town faces a number of very serious problems as the town has remained neglected. No worthwhile development has taken place. Rather all the development works started during the SAD-BJP government were delayed deliberately. Only elevated road has been complete without much relief to the city and the flyover over the Dhuri Railway crossing was also started.

The prestigious projects of flyover over the Dhandari Railway crossing and lakkar da pull are yet to be completed. The local residents face maximum problems in going to the walled city in the absence of completion of the lakkar da pull. The completion of the lakkar da pull would provide some approach for the use of the elevated road which is now being used by the burglars and thieves.

The Budha nulla is the biggest eye sore of the town and the outgoing congress government did not bother at all to take any steps for proper cleaning of the same and providing plants for the use of solid waste and the garbage which is lifted from the town. The ganda nulla passing through the congested lanes of the town also poses serious threat to the health of the residents.

The city has witnessed an unprecedented alround expansion and there is a big population explosion. If the human population is 35 lakh, the vehicular population has also expanded phenomenally resulting in traffic chaos in the town. The city roads are the same and the unauthorised encroachments galore. The city needs immediate traffic plan and the budha nulla action plan to save the residents from the dreaded diseases.

The city has no bypass now and the old bypass has become the most congested as it has come into the interior of the town. The city needs ring road immediately to lesson the burden of the heavy vehicles and other traffic.

The Sidhwan Canal which passes through the town is becoming another budha nulla and has become the dirtiest spot in the city. At one time, then canal water used to be drunk by the villagers along the canal but its water is not fit for animal consumption now. The canal banks need immediate strengthening and there is need for providing railing a long banks of the canal to check the number of accidents.

The traffic on the northern and southern bypasses along the canal has increased manifold. The parks of the municipal corporation are in a very bad shape and the federation of the pollution and parks management committees has been fighting with the state government and the state government and the municipal corporation for five years for the implementation of the agreement arrived at between the municipal corporation and the park management committees. But to no avail with the result that a number of parks have been encroached upon and are being used as dumping ground for garbage.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, president, Prof Gurcharan Singh, General secretary and T S Chawla, member of the peoples awareness forum while welcoming the decision of the chief minister to personally preside over the district planning board meetings of Ludhiana have expressed the hope that the town would receive the desired attention of the authorities concerned and witness rapid pace of development.

They have impressed upon the chief minister to take action against the erring officials of the municipal corporation because of whom, the town has suffered.

S S Channa, president, federation of pollution and park management committees, who has been fighting against the apathy of the municipal corporation has also urged the chief minister to give top priority to the curbing of corruption in the MC.



Umbrella body for ex-servicemen needed: Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
Advocating the need for setting up an umbrella body for ex-servicemen, UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) today said the organisation will help provide a more effective and responsive mechanism to meet the needs of ex-servicemen and redress their grievances in a systematic and speedy manner.

Addressing the sixth national convention of the War Decorated, India, a national body of gallantry award winners, here last evening, General Rodrigues said: “Currently different ex-servicemen groups are functioning in the region with different programmes. We must create a single fora that will give us a common platform for the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.”

He said district-level chapters of the umbrella organisation could be set up and single-window facility could be provided for sorting out various issues like pensionary benefits, medical relief, rehabilitation programmes and setting up of business establishments by ex-servicemen and their families.

Lauding the role of war decorated soldiers and other ex-servicemen in protecting the country, General Rodrigues said with citizens initiative a war memorial had been set up in Chandigarh to perpetuate the memory of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the honour of the country.

He said they were pursuing the setting up of a national memorial at Delhi in the memory of soldiers.

“The President has confirmed that the Government of India has processed this and it will soon be a fulfilled dream,” he added.

Ms Jean Rodrigues distributed cheques of financial assistance to 18 widows of the war decorated soldiers of different ranks.

Brig Sant Singh, president, War Decorated, India, said: “This organisation has undertaken the cause of looking after the welfare of heroes and also their families and dependents.”

Artistes of the North Zone Cultural Centre presented a cultural programme on the occasion.



Investors unfazed by fluctuations
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
Stock market fluctuations have failed to deter investors in this region from trading. Trading volumes, say official sources, have stabilised even as panic gripped investors during the initial phase of "long overdue correction".

"While several factors like global markets and budget reaction did contribute towards the decline, a correction was long overdue.

The economy being backed by strong fundamentals investors should not panic," said executive director of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange H.S. Sidhu.

Investors, in general, are cautious and not opting for an exodus from the market now that it is showing signs of stability.

Market experts had been issuing warnings to investors ever since the Sensex hit the 11,500 mark and continued the upward trend.

The situation became confusing for small investor, who was unable to decide whether to sell or enter the market.

"On one side experts kept saying a correction was expected and on the other market continued to rise. Under such a situation it was tough to decide whether one should book profits early or adopt a wait and watch policy. Even purchase decisions were affected," said Maninder Singh, an investor.

Some investors, who failed to book profits when the market touched the last peak, are glum. However, experts say they should hold their shares instead of indulging in panic selling.

Regarding impact of global markets, financial analysts say cyclical trends cannot be ignored and the market would rise again.

"Given the consistency we are maintaining in growth rates market is bound to gain momentum again. For the time being, it is better to wait and watch. After careful analysis, one can also decide to enter," said Ashwani Sharma, a financial advisor, adding, "the rule for investors is to always make careful analysis before making financial decisions."



MP assures industry of resolving problems
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
The proposed boards of trade and industry will be constituted shortly and the problems of the industry will be resolved on priority. This was stated by MP S.S. Dhillon at a meeting of the local industry held to honour the newly elected members of the Legislative Assembly.

Similar assurances came from political leaders Hira Singh Gabria, Satpal Gosain, Harish Bedi, Harish Rai Dhanda and Maheshinder Singh.

The leaders told industrialists that the boards that would be constituted would have representatives from trade and industry only.

As many as 31 industry associations honoured president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry P.D. Sharma for his services. Addressing the gathering, Sharma emphasised on the need to serve society with a mission and without expecting any reward.



3-day bank strike from March 28
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
Punjab Bank Employees Federation said that on a call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, bank employees would observe strike on March 28, 29 and 30 followed by an indefinite strike on May 3 if their demands were not met.

At an extended central committee meeting of the federation held here yesterday, N.K. Gaur, secretary of the federation, said the demands of employees include second option on pension, compassionate appointments and recruitment of staff and stoppage on outsourcing banking related jobs.

Stating that there is an acute shortage of the staff in the branches of banks all over the country, he said workload in banks had risen manifold. Condemning outsourcing, the association said outsourcing of routine works was bound to have an adverse impact on recruitment of regular employees.



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