L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Five injured as building collapses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Five labourers were injured when an under-renovation building collapsed near Budda Nullah bridge in Sunder Nagar this afternoon. Cracks developed in adjoining houses also due to the impact.

The injured labourers and more than 20 other workers were lucky to escape death as the building crumbled during the lunch time and they were outside the building.

Bricks and pieces of falling debris hit them causing the injuries. The Basti Jodhewal police supervised the rescue operation in which area residents and several passers-by volunteered to help. The building feel at about 2:10 pm but it was only known by 4 pm that no labourer was crushed under the debris.

A crane and JCB machine was put into service to clear the debris. The injured labourers Amit, Prakash, Udey, Mukesh were admitted in the civil hospital.

They told reporters that the basic structure of the building was quite old. However, instead of constructing a new one after demolishing the old, the owner had chosen to add more storeys after erecting pillars.

SHO G.S. Bains said the police had not registered any case so far. But, if the labourers or the neighbhours file a complaint, due action would be taken.

He added that the police would check from the Municipal Corporation records, if the construction plan of the new building was approved or not.

Dr Anil Arora, a neighbhour, said the walls of his house had developed cracks threatening the structure due to the collapse of the adjoining building.

An angry neighbourer wishing not to be quoted said many area residents had earlier warned the constructor to take extra precautions as renovating an old building in this manner could be dangerous.



City Centre Scam
LIT officials, trustees keep fingers crossed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
With the local Vigilance Bureau naming the Ludhiana Improvement Trust chairman, executive officer and chief engineer, accused in the infamous city centre scam, fear has gripped trustees and a few officials who are trying to find out whether their names figure in the list as investigations go on.

Getting jittery over the issue, a few trustees and officials had been keeping their fingers crossed alleging that a finger could also be pointed at them as the deals were passed in their presence. They had been calling mediapersons to know about the details of the case eversince the news of its registration was flashed.

The Vigilance Bureau had booked 19 persons, including former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, former local bodies minister Choudhary Jagjeet Singh, former Punjab pradesh Congress committee chief H.S.Hanspal, former LIT chairman Paramjeet Singh Sibia, executive officer D.C.Garga, chief engineer Manmohan Singh besides others in the Rs 1,500 crore scam.

A few relatives of trustees had been calling various newspaper offices since yesterday in a bid to know whether their name was also included in the list or not. “‘Are the trustees also named as accused in the case?” was a question being posed to mediapersons since yesterday. But, as if the assurance was not enough their name was not there, they would insist on knowing the names in the FIR.

“Actually we all are Congress leaders. We can also become victims of witch-hunting. You never know,” said a trustee requesting anonymity. Vigilance sources said even if they were not accused they could be summoned by them for questioning.

Though having enjoyed plum posting during the tenure of Amarinder Singh, they are not willing to go on record in support of the previous government. Some were even trying to join the Badal camp to escape from the wrath.

‘‘The privilege we had till a month ago has actually become a bone in the neck. Neither can be swallow it nor can we spit it, ’’ said a trustee.

A nephew of a trustee recently approached SAD acting president Sukhbir Singh Badal and had inserted advertisements congratulating the latter for his elevation to the post. ‘‘After getting scared some of our counterparts are even approaching the Akalis so that they keep away from the clutches of bureau. But I cannot do this. I will continue to stand by my party, ’’ said the trustee.



Farmers up in arms against rural sports meet organisers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Farmers of several villages around Alamgir near here are up in arms against the organisers of different rural sports events for shredding the embankments of Khanpur Minor canal to widen the pathways for the bullock cart races.

In fact, the shredding of the distributary embankment has been going on for a long time which has led to water stoppage to the last eight kilometres at its tail end. While it was supposed to go up to Dhatt village, the water has stopped at Bhanohar village, eight km ahead, thanks to the shredding.

With limited space available for bullock cart races, the organisers have started shredding the embankments, posing grave danger of erosion. Although the distributaries do not have water right now, once they start flowing, the increased pressure could lead to erosion of the embankments and could also flood and damage the crops.

Villagers told The Tribune that although they tried to stop the organisers from shredding the embankments but to no avail. They said they had brought the matter to the notice of the irrigation department.

They expressed surprise that after shredding the embankments, they spread the earth along the passage. Once the rural games are over, there is no chance of the earth being spread along the embankments once again. They feared that once water starts flowing in the weak embankments might collapse and flood their crops.

The villagers alleged that the organisers were committing a double crime. First, the holding of bullock cart races had been banned as it amounted to cruelty to the animals. Besides, they have shredded the embankments thus weakening them. Both are punishable offences, they pointed out.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union has also objected to it. The BKU (Ugrahan) district president Darshan Singh Kuli pointed out that the bullock cart race is no longer the interest of the farmers but of the rich. Moreover, bulls are not fast-running animals and their races only amount to cruelty on them.



Gosain defends FIR against Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker, Satpal Gosain today defended the registration of an FIR against former chief minister Amarinder Singh and 18 others for their alleged involvement in corruption.

In a statement issued here today, Gosain pointed out, the Vigilance Bureau had registered the FIR on the basis of the inquiry conducted during the reign of Amarinder Singh only. He observed the previous government had not followed up the inquiry conducted by a senior IPS officer, CSR Ready.

Condemning the allegations of political vendetta attributed to the registration of the FIR, Gosain said, it was hypocrisy and double standards. He asked why were these people quiet when Amarinder Singh had registered ‘baseless’ cases against Parkash Singh Badal and others.

He said while the vigilance has conclusive evidence against the former chief minister in the present case, Amarinder government had victimised Badal and his family without any proof or evidence. Gosain said the previous government had done everything to humiliate Badal and his family while now it was only the law that was taking its own course.

The Deputy Speaker maintained that the Chief Minister had himself clarified that he was not interfering anywhere in the case and it was only the vigilance bureau which was taking action on an inquiry conducted earlier.



Exam duty staff seek better dues
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 25
Terming rules framed by the Punjab School Education Board regarding the payment of dues for superintendents and invigilators at examination centres for senior classes as arbitrary and unjustified, various teachers’ organisations have accused the authorities of “adding insult to injury” by making payments lower to those being paid to the staff at the class V examination.

Office-bearers of these organisations have demanded increase in remuneration for various categories of staff at examination centres for class VIII, X and XII.

According to Amrit Pal Gupta, president, Private Aided School Teachers Union, and Bhupinder Singh Bath, president, Government School Lecturers Association, the staff posted at examination centres for higher classes was being paid remuneration much lower than what was being paid to those posted at examination centres for class V.

Interestingly, a centre superintendent for higher classes was entitled to receive Rs 50 per session, for class V examination got Rs 75 per day (one session per day). Invigilators for these classes are entitled for Rs 35 (lower than Rs 45 for class V). Class IV employees for these classes receive Rs 15 per session in comparison to Rs 25 per day for class V centre.

Punjab Technical University was paying Rs 110, Rs 90 and Rs 70 to superintendent, deputy superintendent and invigilator.

Terming the rules as arbitrary and unjustified, the union leaders demanded hike in remuneration for staff posted at examination centres for higher school classes.



Ludhiana Calling

So far, people have been organising various medical camps, animal welfare cams, social awareness camps in the city, but recently a free ‘Astrological Camp’ was organised to dispell misconceptions about this Vedic science and how it is mis-understood and termed as superstitions. Many people “benefitted” from the camp and were told to follow some jyotishs (Astrologers) to know their future. Indeed a unique way to attract the masses!

Phone companies win

If there is one segment of business that is always in a win-win situation it is probably mobile phone companies. Beginning when the World Cup was yet to take place, phone companies must have earned lakhs of rupees thanks to text messages that began doing the rounds. India’s defeat from Bangladesh resulted in hate messages for Team India. And now that we are finally out of the competition, the text messages that read are like: “It’s not the last game..”. The game certainly does not end at least for telephone service providers who also earned a lot by way of cricket-related downloads, music et al.

Tough life for tenants

Life is no an easy game particularly if you are a tenant. Even as transferrable jobs have increased the proportion of this community, they are in no good position when it comes to bargaining. A couple on the lookout for a house on rent were in for varied shocks when landlords, alongwith hefty rents, wanted to fix their entry and exit timings from the house, the number of plants they could have and even frequency of guests. In one case, a landlord went to the extent of telling them that they could only eat vegetarian food if they wanted the house.

Booming education

Thanks to entry of private players, even education has become a booming business. Students, particularly those in final years of their colleges, complain that private academies get their database and make calls to them for admissions to their courses. They list the benefits that their course can provide and also try making the offer exciting by telling them they are offering ‘discount packages’. All this, giving little care whether the course on offer is of any interest to the candidate concerned.

Welcoming admn’s top brass

It was bouquets all the way for the new SSP and DC of the city who have recently joined in. People from all quarters of life and all kinds of credentials were making a beeline for the officials to meet them and present them with bouquets. Well, the officers were also enjoying the attention they were getting because you never know when they would start getting brick bats.

Punctuality of the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Vijender Jain gave a tough time to the mediapersons a few days ago. Jain reached the Lok Adalat venue at 9 am sharp. The mediapersons were taken aback when they reached the venue late and fell short of breath when they saw him waiting for them to address a press conference.

PSEB woes

The Punjab State Electricity Board was not only grappling with the problem of managing power shortage but also seem to have no resources for change or repair of damaged , twisted electric poles or street lights. Such poles are a common sight in the city. A clear example is seen near the birth/death registration office, clock tower where a pole supporting a mercury lamp has broken from the middle with the lamp touching the ground. It has been weeks since the pole was in such a position but the PSEB does not seem to bother.

Roommates now districtmates

Newly appointed city Deputy Commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar and Senior Superintendent of Police R.K. Jaiswal were roommates during the training course of the 1997 batch of the Indian Police Service (IPS) at Hyderabad. Today, by stroke of chance, they are holding top administrative and police posts in the same district. They had undergone the rigours of the training together. Now they are in the position of handling the sensitivities of managing a large district together. It is one of the rare occassion when roommates have got such a chance to work as a team in highly important district of the state. Gurjar always wanted to be in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). Even after being selected in the IPS and during the highly tiring training schedule, he used to study well past midnight for the exam. His labour bore fruit when he made to the grade.

— Contributed by Shivani Bhakoo, Shveta Pathak, Kanchan Vasdev, Jupinderjit Singh.



Election hangover refuses to go
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 25
Namaskar! Harish Rai Dhanda. We have seen you up on the wall since February in the busy Civil Lines before the Assembly elections started and as far as we remember the elections were held on February 13.

The wait for results was nerve racking but you wrested the seat from Congress stalwart Harnam Dass Johar. Of course it was a matter of celebration for your Akali party, your goodself, your family members and your ardent supporters who canvassed for you and worked tirelessly for you to win. And you won.

Your supporters had put you up so that the city people passing by would look at you. But now that you have won and the new cabinet has been formed by Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, don't you think it is high time your huge poster be put down?

You are familiar with the city and are well aware how cluttered it is with innumerable hoardings, sign boards in colours gaudy and not-so-gaudy. And how they are distracting drivers. It would be indeed nice to have your hoardings removed.

Hoardings of Dhanda and his party members have beep put near a prestigious hotel and business centre. Dhanda alone is not guilty of hanging on the wall but even a very popular TV Channel has not removed its big hoarding near Telephone Exchange, Bharat Nagar Chowk.

The big hording tells the commuters that for the fastest election results they should watch their channel. But they themselves are not fast enough to remove the hoardings. Is it really the fastest channel? Think again. The whole city is pock-marked by posters of different candidates urging the people to vote for them. Isn’t it hight time that they be removed even when the reins of the government are in the Akali hands now?

Isn't the city already groaning under the weight of hoardings and posters. The walls are totally defaced with the posters. It is high time that Municipal Corporation stepped in and did its job of seeing that the posters and hoardings are removed.

This correspondent spoke to B.R. Bajaj, Assistant Joint Commissioner. He said putting up the posters or any sort of advertisements was under the zonal commissioners’ jurisdiction.

He would hold a meeting with them soon and ask them to survey the situation and have the posters removed. He quite agreed that the outdated advertisements should be removed at the earliest.



Grievances cells sought to root out corruption
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
The National Forum for Consumers Rights and Anti-Corruption Council of India have appreciated the move of the Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal to root out corruption from government offices so that public may be able to get their various jobs done without bribing government officers and their subordinates.

Dr Shiv Kumar Gupta, general secretary of Anti-Corruption Council, today suggested various steps for elimination of corruption. He said that all the gazetted officers, including IAS, IPS Officers, MLAs, MPs and ministers, should declare their movable or immovable assets to the Governor of Punjab.

He said that all the clerical staff, Superintendents in Punjab government offices, junior engineers, SDOs, executive engineers, SEs and above rank officers, who are posted in a district for more than three years, must be transferred to other districts so that they may not develop vested interests.

Dr Ajay Shahi, president of National Forum for Consumers Rights, said that public grievances cells should be established in all government offices which should redress the public grievances within a week's time. Accountability must be fixed for all the officers who delay the jobs and do not dispose off the files within reasonable time. The Ministers should be easily approachable to the public.

K.R.Tripathi, vice-chairman of the council, said there was rampant corruption in the offices of Sub Registrar (Revenue), Tehsildar, Excise and Taxation, PWD, Food and Civil Supplies, Civil Hospitals, Electricity Board, Municipalities, District Transport Offices etc where there was no accountability and no time limit for disposal of cases. Complete transparency must prevail in all government offices to root out corruption.



A messiah comes to this poor girl’s aid
Kuldeep Bhatia

Dr Naurang Singh Mangat
Dr Naurang Singh Mangat

Ludhiana, March 25
Living in shabby conditions in a labour colony of the city, life of five-year-old Priya was in great danger. The bone of her left ear had melted and due to septicemia (pus formation) the left side of her head and face had badly swollen.

When taken to a private clinic by her parents, the doctors there opined that the child needed an immediate operation failing which she might not survive.

However, unable to afford the expensive surgery, Priya's parents brought the girl back home.

Even as there was little chance of survival for the child, to the surprise of her parents, the infection subsided a bit.

A hole was created in the skin of the ear due to the pressure of pus, which started flowing towards the back of the infected area giving some relief to the girl.

Although having consigned their daughter to fate, Priya's parents were desperately looking for financial help for the surgery which was the only ray of hope for the critically ill child.

On learning the pitiable condition of the patient and the inability of her parents to arrange for surgical treatment of their daughter, Dr Naurang Singh Mangat, founder of 'Guru Amar Das Apahaj Ashram', an NGO, got in touch with Priya's family and offered to get the child treated out of the trust funds.

Dr Mangat told the Ludhiana Tribune that the ailing child was admitted to a private city hospital, where she was operated upon yesterday and was on the road to recovery.

"All expenses for the treatment will be paid by the Guru Amar Das Apahaj Ashram (Trust) funds," he added.

According to Dr Mangat, the plight of Priya and her parents was reflective of similar fate of thousands of poor families in the city and elsewhere, who lived in pathetic and extremely unhygienic conditions in the slum areas.

For Priya and her parents, Dr Mangat and the financial assistance from his trust came as nothing short of a gift from the God.

"But for the help of Apahaj Ashram, and particularly Dr Mangat, our daughter would have been dead," remarked Priya's parents.

A former scientist of the Punjab Agricultural University here, Dr Mangat had also worked as a scientist in University of Windsor, Canada, and Morrison Scientific Research Company, Calgary (Canada).

He is also a former fellow of Royal Statistical Society London and a co-author of internationally used text book ‘Elements of Survey Sampling’ which was published by Kluwer Academic Publishers based in Dordretch (Netherlands), London (UK) and Boston (USA).

This former scientist now pedals his bicycle throughout the city, its periphery and surrounding villages from one labour colony to another helping destitute, lepers, disabled, blind, deaf and dumb.

That only a little financial assistance trickles in from public or that the trust has no building, or even that he has to use a bicycle as a means of conveyance do not daunt the spirited and dedicated Dr Mangat, who has unflinching belief in the cause of service to the poor and the downtrodden.

"With the grace of God, the trust will have its own building and we shall be in a position to provide boarding and lodging to the people targeted for providing shelter and medical treatment," he says with a resolve and confidence.

Dr Mangat can be reached at (mobile: 99152-88035), www.destitutecentre.cjb.net , nsmangat14@hotmail.com , destitutecentre@yahoo.com



Office-bearers elected
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Assistant engineers Bhupinder Singh Gill and Baljeet Singh Gill have been unanimously elected as the president and general secretary, respectively, of the Diploma Engineers Association, PWD (B&R) construction circle, Ludhiana.

Both of them assured to take up all the issues of the employees and stand by them in thick and thin.



UBI earns Rs 612-cr profit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Union Bank of India earned a profit of Rs. 612 crore till December 2006.

This was disclosed by the bank's General Manager, V.K.Dhingra, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

Dhingra who was on a visit to the state also inaugurated the 14th ATM of Punjab at SSI Branch of the Bank near Cheema Chowk here today with S.L.Bansal (AGM Jallandhar).

Dhingra said that Union Bank enjoyed the fifth position for overall business among all the public sector banks by doing business of Rs.1.5-lakh crore.

Evenly spread throughout the country, the bank was operating through 2,183 branches and it intended to open 125 more branches in the country during the next financial year.

While giving details about the bank's business in Punjab, Dhingra said that the bank did a business of Rs. 3600 crore through its 72 branches during last year.

"The bank witnessed a growth of 16 per cent in Punjab last year, whereas at national level, UBI witnessed a growth of 20 per cent in deposits and 25 per cant in advances," Dhingra revealed.



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