L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Marble dealers destroy green cover
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
The leftover green cover along the Ferozepur Road is fast vanishing. While earlier most of the trees were felled by the owners of the marriage palaces spread all over the area, now marble dealers have shifted their business to the same place.

Surprisingly, the forest department appears to be indifferent to the development. As a result of the apathy, more and more people are getting encouraged and cutting the trees to occupy the space.

While most of the green space had been covered by the marriage palace owners, some of it was left around the Field Ammunition Depot, Badhowal. Construction is not allowed within a thousand-yard radius of the depot.

However, now the marble dealers have been putting up the material for sale along the road after cutting trees.

Since they do not need to do any construction and can put up their material in the open, they do not face any objection from the military authorities. But the area loses the precious green cover.

The land along the road belongs to the Public Works Department (Buildings and Roads). However, it is managed by the forest department because the department has planted trees. Interestingly, both the departments seem to have turned a blind eye to the process. The PWD has a separate anti-encroachment wing.

During the past more than one week, two marble dealers have put in their stocks for sale in the area, while many more are likely to follow the suit as no objection is being raised by anyone, much less by the departments concerned.

The area is already facing the environmental hazard due to the dumping of the debris by the roadside. Even the garbage and waste generated from the marriage palaces is also dumped along the road itself.

Although the residents of the surrounding villages have raised a lot of hue and cry, nobody seems to be bothered, thus leaving the field virtually open for the encroachers. 

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Rs 5,344-cr annual credit plan for dist
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
The administration has launched the annual credit plan of Rs 5,344 crore for the district for 2007-08, which is Rs 905 crore more than the last year’s plan of Rs 4,439 crore. This was stated by Deputy Commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar while chairing a special meeting of the senior bank and other officers here today.

He said the annual credit plan of the district was the highest in the country and it had been prepared keeping in view the potential linked plan prepared by Nabard and the lead bank i.e. Punjab and Sindh Bank as per the Central government’s guidelines.

He claimed that with an excellent coordination among the officers of banks and district administration had been surpassing the fixed targets since the past four years. Referring to the sector wise targets, Gurjar said out of the total annual credit plan, Rs 4,134 crore i.e. 77 per cent had been earmarked for the priority sector lending, which helps in uplifting the living standard of the poor section of society. Out of which Rs 1,889 crore had been earmarked for the agriculture and allied activities against the last year’s Rs 1,628 crore, Rs 1,375 crore against the last year’s Rs 1,176 crore for the small-scale industry and Rs 860 crore for other priority sectors in the district.

He said the financial assistance under the government-sponsored programme during 2007-08 would be Rs 15 crore. He further informed that in the annual credit plan Rs 1,210 crore had been earmarked for lending to the non-priority sector against the last year’s Rs 825 crore. In all sectors the provisions for loans had been substantially enhanced.

The deputy commissioner asked the banks officers to strive hard this year also to maintain the top position of the district and directed officers of the different government departments to extend full cooperation banks for achieving the targets.

In the meeting the progress of the quarter ending December 31, 2006, was also reviewed. He said during the current year till December 31st the district had achieved 101 per cent target. In the agriculture sector the achievement had been recorded at 105 per cent and allied activities was at 103 per cent.

Manager Lead Bank Gurmeet Singh said the annual credit plan that had been prepared keeping in view the government guidelines, potential of the area and all banks had been allocated targets on the basis of the potential of all 12 blocks in the district. 

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MC Billing Centres
Staff shortage irritates residents 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
With the last date for the submission of water and sewerage bills just three days away, residents are at the receiving end as they will have to wait for hours together outside the billing centres of the local municipal corporation, thanks to the shortage of staff.

Residents say that about 150 persons wait for their turn at any given time leaving the clerk concerned irritated. Since they are unable to submit their bills in one day so they have to make rounds of different offices after being directed by the clerks.

‘‘It becomes impossible to wait for hours to pay the bills. If they have sent bills to the entire city to collect money within this fiscal year then they should have assigned more staff at the billing offices. Why should people suffer? ’’ Asked residents.

The problem, they say, is compounded as the capital amount bears last year's interest on dues and it becomes difficult for the clerks to manage as the state government had waived off the interests on the dues if the residents had paid their bills by March 31.

Nirmala Devi, a resident of Industrial Area A, said she had gone to an office to deposit her bill worth Rs 24,700. ‘‘I was told that I would get a waiver of about 30 per cent on the total bill. So, I asked the clerk to do so. But, he got irritated and told me to pay Rs 32,000 instead, ’’ she added.

She then reported the matter to Leader of Opposition in the corporation Parvin Bansal. Bansal said that he talked to Joint Commissioner Ashok Bajaj, who said the bill was worth Rs 39,000 and it was wrongly sent to the resident.

Bansal said he was shocked at the official reply. ‘‘That means the bills they are sending need revision. You never know if the corporation is suffering huge losses on account of wrong bills, ’’ he said demanding an inquiry into the matter. He also said the corporation was unable to manage a huge crowd at one time.

Taking a dig at the municipal corporation’s administration, Bansal said though local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia had announced that waiver on interest should be given to those paying their bills by March 31.

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Trains erratic; enquiry service non-functional
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 28
The path-breaking turnaround by Indian Railways under the stewardship of union minister Lalu Prasad Yadav not withstanding, most of the trains in this region continue to run in an erratic manner. Add to the woes of the people, the railway enquiry service (131) at Ludhiana virtually remains non-functional.

As a result of callous attitude of those railway employees manning the enquiry counter and non-availability of information on late running of trains on telephone, rail travellers and members of the public who wish to receive their near and dear ones coming from outstations are facing a lot of harassment, that too almost on regular basis.

Senior citizen K.N. Sharma, a resident of Chuharpur Road in Haibowal Kalan locality, was to meet one of his friends travelling from Raipur to Amritsar on Chhatisgarh Express on Sunday at local railway station. His friend had rang up to tell him that the train was running late as it had been diverted through a different route.

Sharma says he tried to get the information about the arrival of the train from railway enquiry continuously for two hours from 7 am to 9 am without any success. He had no choice but to go all the way to the railway station which is nearly 5 to 6 kms from his residence where he was told that the train was late by over 10 hours.

"Again in the afternoon I rang up 131 a number of times without any result and once again went to the railway station. At the enquiry counter, a notice of train having been delayed by 13 hours was put up. When asked about tentative time of arrival, the person at the enquiry counter rudely told me it would be around 8.30 PM. However, when I reached the railway station for the third time on that day, the train was moving out and I missed the opportunity of meeting my friend just because of gross inefficiency on the part of railway enquiry service," remarked a frustrated and harried Sharma.

The experience of Sharma is not a solitary example, maintain several regular rail travellers from different sections of the society. 

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Great scope for Indo-Pak cooperation in agriculture
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
A 51-member delegation from Pakistan, led by Rai Aziz Ullah Khan, member, National Assembly and chairman Tourism, Culture and Dairy Development Board, government of Pakistan visited Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana today.

The delegation included members of the National Assembly, the Legislature Assembly, the District Nazims and the District Assembly.

In a meeting with the delegates, vice-chancellor, PAU, K.S. Aulakh said: “Indo-Pak friendship can yield fruitful results for both the nations. Pak has excelled in wheat and rice cultivation, and India in cotton and basmati cultivation. Together we can capture the international market.”

Aulakh said, Punjab with 1.53 per cent of the geographical area of the country had been contributing 50 per cent food grains to the nation for the last three decades. It had excelled in agriculture because of the consolidation of land-holding, assured irrigation, high yielding varieties and efficient transfer of farm technology. Punjab today leads the country in the production of not just wheat and rice but also honey, mushroom and milk production.

“PAU enjoys a good reputation among the farmers and they follow the University recommendations in totality. That is the reason, they have excelled,” Aulakh remarked.

The V-C described the Pakistani hospitality as the best in the world.

Leader of the delegation Rai Aziz Ullah Khan said PAU had made significant contributions to the Punjab agriculture and had earned worldwide recognition. We too feel honoured since the parent institute of PAU is in Pakistan.

Integration of teaching, research and extension, which had given an edge to the University for effective transfer of farm technology, could act as a model to improve the farming in Pakistan too, he added.

The V-C presented a set of University publications and a memento to Rai Aziz Ullah Khan. He also presented a set of seven Urdu poetry books by urdu poet Sardar Panchhi and a collection of poems ‘Khair Panjan Panian Dee’ by Gurbhajan Gill. The delegation leader presented a plaque to the vice-chancellor.

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Three arrested for daylight robbery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
The Model Town police has succeeded in nabbing three robbers who had allegedly committed a daylight robbery in a house on Bebe Nanki road on March 26.

Addressing a press conference here today, Simrat Pal Singh Dhindsa, DSP (Sarabha Nagar) said the accused were masons and had recently worked in the house.

They had designed the ceilings of various rooms and had ample knowledge of the family and the house.

Dhindsa said the accused identified as Raju Nishad, Umesh and Ramesh had while brandihsing knives forced the lady of the house, Dilpreet Kaur, to part with jewellery and cash. She recognised them and later gave their addresses to the police.

A team led by SHO Warryam Singh raided their quarters near Sherpurn Chowk and arrested the three. The police was ascertaining if they were involved in other crimes or not.

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Goods worth lakhs gutted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
A massive fire broke out in a book and a Karyana shop in New Model Town at about 4 am today gutting products worth lakhs.

The fire broke out in the Hemkind Karyana store and a Book Store near Midda Chowk, new Model town, which was controlled by 10 fire tenders.

The firemen had to work hard for nearly three hours to douse the flames. The cause of fire was yet to be ascertained. 

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Docs, cops in a fix over body’s gender
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
Ascertaining the identity of a badly decomposed body found in an abandoned plot opposite Central Jail on March has become a tricky challenge for the police and the doctors with all scientific test in process have not been able to even pinpoint the gender of the body. The police has now gone for the DNA test to find out if the person was a male, female or a neuter.

Though the body, found wrapped in several blankets, had feminine clothes, a salwar and a kameej, chemical examination of the body at Rajindra Medical College, Patiala, revealed that the murdered person had 70 per cent male bones and 30 per cent female !!

The body had to be sent to Patiala as the gender could not be determined at the post-mortem examination at civil hospital here. The body found on March 14 was more than a week's old. Though the clothes were feminine, the face of the maggots-ridden body could not be made found.

SHO Gurbans Singh Bains said body appeared to be of a woman, but examination did not find a uterus or signs of male genitals. Sources revealed that doctors at the Anatomy department in Patiala boiled the bones after the post-mortem examination here remained inconclusive. That too complicated matters further with the bones found both male and female.

The problems in investigation were further compounded when a family of Bhattian village claimed the body was of their daughter who was missing from November last year.

SHO Bains said they identified the clothes of the body and were pretty sure it was their daughter. The parents even lodged a complaint with the police that their daughter was visiting a religious dera and was under the spell of the dera head. The police then detained the Baba (dera head) and carried detailed investigation but no evidence of the girl being kept in dera or murdered was found. Bains said even if they believed the recovered body was of the missing girl, the chemical examination revealed it was more a male's body than a female.

Identification of the body was the first step in the investigation of a murder. In this case, the cops are caught up in a tricky situation.

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Literary seminar marks World Theatre Day
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
A literary seminar was organised by Sirjan Dhara in collaboration with the Ludhiana Kala Manch to mark the World Theatre Day at Punjabi Bhawan here yesterday.

‘Dulla’ (Kuknus Marda Nahin), the latest play by S.N. Sewak was discussed by theatre artists, drama critics, and literary persons. Gulzar Pandher from Punjab Agricultural University and Surinder Singh from Panjab University, Chandigarh read critical papers about the book.

Gurbhajan Gill described ‘Dulla’ as a true representative of the people, who became immortal by defying the mighty Mughal Empire. Darshan Dheer, a wellknown writer from the UK, compared Dulla to Robinhood and considered his emergence as a progressive social phenomenon in an otherwise feudal set-up.

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Heads of police handcuffed!
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 28
Visitors to local police station were confounded to see heads of police circle Malerkotla, Sadar police and city police handcuffed to each other and a stranger one by one on Tuesday evening.

However, their astonishment subsided when they came to know that the stranger was a magician Mohammad Ishaq of Rodiwal village and the feat was a part of a party arranged to bid farewell to Rachhpal Singh Hara DSP Malerkotla, Yogi Raj Sharma SHO City and Bimal Sharma SHO Sadar.

Fascinated over the love and affection showered on them the outgoing officials called upon leaders of various social and political parties to continue extending cooperation to the police in crusade launched against anti-social elements.

"It was only due to cooperation extended by social and political leaders that we could provide peaceful environment in the area. We impress upon you to continue your cooperation to new incumbents at circle office and local police station," said Mr Hara while addressing the gathering. 

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Dealer booked for selling fake brand
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
The police today booked Amarjit Singh, owner of the Amarjit Cloth House, Karimpura Bazaar for allegedly selling clothes under the label of Raymonds brand.

Rajiv Dutta, an official with the Raymonds manufacturers, who in surprise checking found him selling clothes under the label, complained the police.

The police has registered a case and the accused has been booked under Sections 63/64/68-A of the Copy Right Act 1957 besides Section 420 of the IPC.

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Switch over to industry necessary, says Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 28
To rehabilitate the trade and industry in the state, Punjab government will strive to provide the facilities enjoyed by the neighbouring states said Navjot Singh Sidhu, member of Parliament. He was addressing a first meeting after coming into power of SAD-BJP government in the state at RIMT-IET Complex here today.

To meet the global challenges, switch over from agriculture to industry is necessary, said Sidhu. He cited the example of Germany which had switched over its 85 per cent dependence on agriculture to 5 per cent by adopting industrial growth.

Another important step to promote industry being taken by the Punjab government was to generate 1000 mega watt power. Octroi will be abolished, he added.

Sidhu criticised the manner of imposition of VAT in the state. He cited the example of Europe where 17 per cent VAT is imposed whereas no other tax of any kind is taken from the trade and industry.

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