L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Lights at Beant’s statue lose lustre within a week
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Decorative lights installed around the statue of the former Chief Minister, late Beant Singh, have reportedly gone off within a week after their installation. The lights were installed in January 2005 at a cost of Rs 85,000.

According to Jandeep Kaushal, a local businessman, who had sought information from the Municipal Council Doraha, under the RTI Act, said, the lights, which were installed at a cost of Rs 85,000, did not last even for 85 hours.

He said, the council officials claimed that the lights could not be repaired as some components of the operating system had reportedly been stolen. But even after a span of two years, these components have not been replaced.

Kaushal pointed out, the local residents feel quite bad about it. Doraha being the native town of Beant Singh had special love for him. It is sad that memory of the person, who laid down his life and saved Punjab for the nation was being wiped off in this cruel manner, he added

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Admn gears up for wheat procurement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
The district administration has directed the heads of all procurement agencies and officers of the departments concerned to give final touches to the arrangements for the smooth procurement of wheat in the coming procurement season which will commence from April 1.

The administration has also directed the officers to positively depute the required staff in all 100 mandis of the district by March 30.

Sumer Singh Gurjar, deputy commissioner, today chaired a meeting to review the arrangements at Bachat Bhawan here today.

He asked the officers of the agencies to ensure the availability of the sufficient ‘bardana’ for the lifting of the purchased wheat.

He told the district mandi officer to make the final checking of material required, including the power cleaners and tarpaulins, with the ‘arhtiyas’ in all procurement centers and directed him that the tarpaulins of each commission agent should have the name of the shop printed.

The DC also asked the officer to ensure proper cleanliness in mandis, provision of drinking water, availability of standby arrangements of generators for power cleaners.

He asked the concerned SDMs to visit the procurement centers in their subdivisions and check the arrangements in the mandis.

He informed that the distribution of mandis among the various procurement agencies had been completed.

Giving agency wise details of the share to be procured by agencies, Gurjar informed that Pungrain would purchase 24 per cent, Markfed 22 per cent, PUNSUP 22 per cent, Warehouse 13 per cent, Punjab-Agro 9 per cent and FCI 10 per cent.

He informed that for the on-the-spot settlement of spontaneous problems, mandi-level dispute settlement committees based on officers of agencies, Tehsildar, the representatives of arhtiyas and farmers had also been constituted.

Gurjar asked the chief agriculture officer to educate the farmers to harvest their crop only on proper maturity and bring dry and clean crop in the mandis so that they should not face any problem in selling the crop.

He also appealed the farmers to restrain from harvesting the immature wheat and not to operate harvest combines at night time in the fields.

Gurmeet Kaur, DFSC, informed that the contracts for the transportation and labour had already been finalised.

She said sufficient stock of bales was available with the agencies and there was no problem of storage capacity in the district.

Raj Pal Singh Dhaliwal, district mandi officer, has informed that the arrangements were being made in all mandis on war footing.

Others who attended the meeting included K.P. Brar, ADC (G),Indu Malhotra, SDM (West), N. L. Chadha, DM, Markfed, N.K. Gupta, Assistant Manager, FCI, Darshan Singh Mann, DM, PUNSUP, Dilbagh Singh, DM, Warehouse and S.S. Bassi, DM, Punjab Agro.

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Gang of criminals active in trains
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
A group of criminals today manhandled a passenger after he resisted their attempt to lift his cell phone while on his way from Jallandhar to Delhi in the Malwa Express that runs daily between Jammu and Indore. Had it not been for the help from other co-passengers he would have been thrown out of the running train by the criminals.

Eyewitnesses said a passenger left his cell phone for charging in the train. The moment he left the place, a woman tried to lift it. When the person caught hold of her, she started shouting. When the passenger asked her why did she try to lift his cell phone, she claimed that she thought it belonged to her husband, who she claimed, possessed a similar cell phone.

Within no time, a number of people gathered around that person and started manhandling him. They accused him of trying to molest the woman. However, some fellow passengers came to his rescue and saved him.

The passengers, some of whom got down at the Ludhiana railway station, told The Tribune that they could sense that the woman who tried to lift the cell phone was lying about her relationship. The person, whom she claimed to be her husband, did not possess a cell phone similar to that she tried to lift, the passengers disclosed.

In the meanwhile some passengers reported the matter to the police deployed on the train. The policemen reportedly got hold of the accused. However, the policemen also could not be contacted as they were supposed to escort the train and get down at Ambala only.

However, the passengers who got down at Ludhaina railway station and had witnessed the incident expressed shock. They said had the other passengers not come to his rescue the man could even have been thrown out of the train. They said when the woman was caught while trying to steal the mobile, she raised the alarm and within no time a number of people came to her help.

The passengers said they feared it to be an organised gang of criminals. And once any of their members was caught they come to his or her rescue forwarding various excuses. “It was a classic case of ‘ulta chaur kotwal ko dantay’, remarked Satish Kumar, a passenger who got down here and was a witness to the incident.

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City's shahtoosh shawl fetish
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Possessing a shahtoosh shawl may speak volumes about cruelty to Tibetan Antelope but Ludhianvis do not really care. They top the list in the state for possessing maximum number of shawls woven after killing the endangered antelopes.

Around four to six antelopes, protected under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, are killed for every shahtoosh shawl but this is not enough to move the Ludhianvis, who boast of 200 shahtoosh shawls and a saree.

A list procured under the Right to Information Act from the Office of Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab, indicates that the local residents had the maximum articles related to animals that were banned under the Act.

Oswals of the city were on the top as their declaration said they possessed more than 60 shawls followed by Munjals who have around 20 shawls followed by Kotharis.

Heading the chart individually is Manju Oswal, a resident of Civil Lines, who had declared that she had 22 shahtoosh shawls.

Her case was still pending with the District Forest Officer, Ludhiana, and inquiry report was still awaited by the Chief Wildlife Warden.

Following her are Abhilash Oswal, daughter of Nagin Chand Jain, whose wardrobe boasts of 17 shawls, Monika Oswal and Ruchika Oswal, daughters of Jawahar Lal Oswal, who have 10 and 9 shawls, respectively. The latter himself has 7 shawls.

Madhu Kothari and Rakhi Kothari of Sarabha Nagar have 8 shawls each. Ashok Kumar Oswal of College Road also has 8 shawls. Suman Kant Munjal, son of Brij Mohan Munjal, trails behind them with 7 shawls.

Manisha Oswal and Ritu Oswal have 6 shatoosh shawls each in their possession and Ajit Kang, daughter of Harnam Singh Sidhu, Dr Darshan Singh Road, has 5.

Cases of Satish Chander Sanwalka, Shubha Sanwalka, Anish Sanwalka, Manish Sanwalka, Rajnish Sanwalka, who have two shawls each are pending with the DFO. Narinder Singh Phulka, Surinder Kaur Phulka, Monica Lalli, Tejpartap Singh Phulka, Amarinder Singh Phulka, all residents of Sohian village, have different articles, including shahtoosh shawls, ivory articles and figures. Some cases of Phulka family are pending with the DFO.

While these residents declare with pride about the shahtoosh shawls, the Chiru or the Tibetan Antelope's is struggling for survival. Its population has been reduced by more than 90 per cent, principally due to poaching owing to shahtoosh trade and has been estimated to number less than 75,000.

Though it is one of the world's hardiest animals and can survive in -40 degree F temperatures due to a capacity to tolerate these extremes due to a layer of dense, fine wool next to the skin, called shahtoosh, it is facing extinction for want of this wool only.

An undercoat of wool, shahtoosh is considered world's finest and the warmest wool, with a mean fiber diameter of 9-12 microns, one-fifth the thickness of a human hair.

But unfortunately, this can only be collected by killing the chiru and plucking the pelts. The shawls sell in lakhs and make a fashion statement. But next time when you don a shahtoosh, better realise it is not a matter of pride. 

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Kanwaljit calls Cong vindictive
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 20
The previous Congress government, contrary to its election manifesto promising development, exerted all its power in ensnaring SAD men through false cases, asserted Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab cabinet minister for cooperation, pensions and welfare department.

He was addressing a felicitation function organised by SAD activists at Sangam Palace here last evening to honour him for his record win from Banur constituency.

He warned officials to shy from corruption and not to cause delays in handling public complaints. No case should remain pending more than 15 days.

The minister pointed out that a state-level advisory committee, consisting of two representatives from each district of the state, will soon be constituted.

The committee would give proposals for improving the functioning of the cooperative department and to make it farmer-friendly.

Later, both were honoured at the farm house of Taksali Akali Hardev Singh Sounti.

Among others, Zora Singh Haripur, Randhir Singh Bhambri (both members of working committee of Akali Dal), Balwant Singh Shahpur, former MLA, Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MP, Tejwant Singh Advocate, former president of the municipal council, Amloh, were present on the occasion.

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BJP, SAD activists hold protests
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 20
BJP and SAD activists held protests and rallies to get their demands fulfilled here yesterday though their parties have formed government in the state. A group of local leaders staged a dharna demanding the regularisation of basic amenities, including water supply and disposal of sewer water.

Executive Officer Charanjit Singh Chani claimed that the situation had arisen because of delay in the implementation of raising the main disposal project that had been approved by the previous government.

“Unfortunately the work on Rs 5.25 crore disposal project approved by the previous government has not started. Now, we have taken up the matter with the authorities concerned and hope that the disposal project and water supply problems will be solved after the project has been completed,” claimed Chani while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Activists of the BJP and the SAD, led by president of the local unit of the BJP Ramesh Ghaie, accused the civic body authorities of showing indifferent attitude towards the genuine demands of the local residents. “What to talk of providing other facilities, the authorities have failed to ensure adequate water supply and efficient disposal of sewer water,” alleged Ghaie.

The demonstrators apprehended that an epidemic might break out due to the alleged contamination of drinking water and stagnant stinking water that served as a breeding ground for pathogens and their vectors.

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The changing face of retail sector 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Consumers of today are more inclined towards specialised formats of retail outlets like hypermarkets, super bazaars, shopping malls etc. where they get different variety of products under one roof rather than typical Karyana stores. It is quite imperative that in such a fast paced shift, more and more companies are coming up with different formats of their retail outlets, specially discount stores, department stores, hypermarkets etc. either individually or in collaboration with foreign partners.

A recent research conducted by Sandhir Sharma and Gautam Bansal of the Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE) here reveals that Indian companies had already started taking initiative in this line. Reliance is planning to go for expansion in the retail sector in the coming years, Vishal mega Mart retail chain is planning to set up 80 more stores at an investment of Rs 480 crore in the next financial year. On the same lines, Birlas have decided to roll out its retail business with in the next seven to eight months and is likely to develop the business of its own rather than in collaboration with any foreign partners.

The researchers said in spite of the fact that the government was still not clear regarding the decision of allowing foreign players in huge and potential Indian markets, the sector was buzzing with both domestic and foreign players who were trying to make their presence felt. Players like Wal-Mart had already tied up with the Bharti group to enter into retail markets, though they were not coming at the front end operations but definitely it would help Bharti in gaining the logistical, storage efficiencies, which were important functional areas of retail operations for gaining competitive advantage.

Sharma and Bansal said the majority of retailers still felt that karyana and small stores would not be suppressed at any cost as India had a huge market with people from different segments, class, income groups of society so the need and importance for these traditional stores would remain there. According to statistics available, 70 per cent of the Indian consumers was from middle and lower income groups and they preferred to shop from karyana stores rather than going into big shopping malls. It was only the upper strata (20-25 per cent) of society which would be attracted towards these big formats of retailing.

The experts in the field say that if the foreign players wanted to tap a major chunk of the Indian consumer they had to come to the level of karyana stores as had been done by various domestic players. But one thing was sure that what ever happens it would change the shopping styles of Indian consumers. Indian consumer was definitely going to respond well to these changes. Biggest challenge the retailers would face would be the availability of space for opening their outlets.

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Protest by Jagran Samiti activists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Activists of the Nari Shakti Jagran Samiti (NSJS) today staged a protest demonstration outside the Marriage Disputes Cell near old Lakkar Bridge seeking justice for a woman and her daughter, who were allegedly ill treated by her in-laws.

The organisation had been fighting for justice to the woman, Sushila Rani of New Aman Nagar and her daughter for the last three years.

Today's protest was launched when her in-laws allegedly stopped giving her maintenance, which was decided through reconciliation and was recorded in a panchnama.

Surinder Kaur, Gurmeet Sachdeva and Manjeet Kaur of the organisation have appealed to the city SSO R.K. Jaiswal to take no notice of the false complaints made by her in-laws. They have demanded that due respect and maintenance should be given to Sushila.

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Illegal animal slaughtering goes on
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Despite the Punjab State Human Rights Commission directing the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to check illegal slaughtering of animals, the practice goes on unabated and the civic body continues to be in a deep slumber.

The MC records reveal that the animals are being slaughtered illegally and are posing a health risk to the consumers. The modern slaughter house in Haibowal area being run by Municipal Corporation, records slaughter of only around 180 animals on an average day while the consumption is anything between 500 and 800 animals a day in the city alone.

While the authorities refuse to take a stock of the situation, sources in MC says that the slaughter house was proving to be a white elephant for the local body. Besides spending Rs 10,000 on paying electricity alone every month, the corporation pays for other infrastructure and salaries of the staff employed in the house.

In return, it makes around Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 every month by slaughtering in the legal butchery. ‘‘This was causing a revenue loss to the civic body besides posing a threat to the health of consumers who did not know that the meat being sold to them was unchecked and slaughtered in un hygienic conditions.’’ said an MC official on the condition of anonymity.

He added that it was only after the direction of Punjab State Human Rights Commission that the MC had started slaying animals in slaughter house. But it was only a half hearted approach that only one tenth of animals were being slaughtered under hygienic conditions. Rest all were slaughtered without physical check up and sold directly to the humans for consumption.

The issue was raised in the MC house meeting by Parvin Bansal, leader of opposition who said that the residents were being supplied with unhygienic meat and the civic body was losing the revenue by allowing the illegal butcheries.

Sources reveal that there are around 700 butcheries running in the city. This has affected the working of the slaughter house of MC, which was constructed by it a few years ago.

They said that the meat shop owners preferred doing the slaughtering themselves as they had to pay Rs 8 per animal to the MC. Moreover, in the morning they were not sure whether the number of animals slaughtered in the morning would be sold by the evening or not.

In the absence of any check on the illegal slaughtering, it is going on illegally and lakhs of city residents are being exposed to dangerous diseases. As per the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, notified in the Government Gazette on March 26, 2001, the rules forbid slaughter of animals, except in licensed slaughter houses.

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