L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

PAU gates, egos and real issue
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
With the issue of closing certain gates of Punjab Agricultural University allegedly forcing the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, to resign, there is need to put the matter into proper perspective. Much before the alleged political interference, frayed bloated egos had played spoilsport into making a mountain out of a molehill.

The issue may seem to have snowballed into a major problem now, but for the residents of the city, especially those living in Kithclu Nagar, and routine visitors to the campus, it was always a highly controversial issue and a source of many unsavoury incidents.

The need to close the gates originated due to two basic concerns of the PAU administration. One was the security concern. The campus has mainly seven gates. The administration felt that there was no check on the movement in and out of the campus from the gates.

Secondly, city residents were using the campus roads as a thoroughfare to move to Sarabha Nagar, Rose Garden, Kithclu Nagar and Rishi Nagar. The vehicles generally moved at high speed, raising concern about road accidents. Many such incidents did occur.

In order to regulate the movement, the university authorities (read Dr Aulakh) banned entry from all gates, excluding gate no 2. Drivers of the vehicles entering were required to deposit RCs or/and identity cards with the security guards. They had to return from this gate only to get the documents back. Guards at other gates would not allow anyone to enter or exit the place.

Though many hot exchanges/skirmishes started taking place at gate no. 2 mainly due to the cantonment-like questioning by allegedly rude guards, the matter assumed serious proportions when gate no. 6 was closed for pedestrians also. Now, most of the residents of Kitchlu Nagar using the gate are former PAU employees and officials and a former Vice-Chancellor.

Due to the closure of the gate, their very purpose of living close to the campus and using it for morning/evening walks, visiting libraries was defeated. They had to take a longer route for the purpose now.

Then, PAU had always remained hotbed of groupism and politics. Each retired person and serving one is termed as attached to one group or the other. The visits of the retired employees were viewed as interference with the working of the present administration.

Then, the increasing security, making it appear as the personal fiefdom and citadel of an official rather than an academic place, irked the media persons also. Especially when some of them, writing scathing reports about the functioning, were harassed and their movements watched akin to spies in any army cantonment.

"Where are you going? What is the purpose of the visit? Who are you meeting? How much time would it take?" were the queries put rudely by the guards.

Despite all that, a daylight bank robbery took place in the university, and regular reports of theft of stereos from cars parked near the gate were reported.

Even those residing inside the university were not spared. A young girl married in a family living on the campus was forced to walk the long way to her house leaving the rickshaw at the gate.

Several news reports have been carried in various newspapers as a testimony to the problem.

Then, the closure of gates had in no way curbed the use of campus by youngsters. The lanes leading to the wall towards the canal are still frequented by love birds in the evening.

It was suggested to the administrators by media and senior citizens that movement to the campus should be observed but not like an army cantonment.

Interestingly, the number of accidents occurring at the gate no. 2 after the closure of the other gates has increased, costing many valuable lives. The pressure of traffic due to the sole open gate seemed to be a contributing factor.



VC has quit on petty issue: Dhanda
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 1
Harish Rai Dhanda, the Ludhiana West MLA, happens to be a brilliant lawyer also. And when it comes to defending his case, he puts forth all possible arguments, which are convincing as well. However, today when he defended his leader and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in his case against the Punjab Agricultural University Vice Chancellor, K S Aulakh, he tried more rhetoric than logic. At the same time, he ensured that he remained as respectful of Aulakh as he was critical of him.

Dhanda accused Aulakh, who resigned from his post yesterday, of making a small issue a point of prestige. He said the opening up of a gate was too small an issue for as big a man as vice-chancellor, to resign for. He observed, the VC had other issues also on which he could resign, but why he chose this petty issue as the reason for his resignation was quite surprising.

But when asked that if the issue of a gate was too small for a vice-chancellor, then it could be far too small for the Chief Minister to interfere into the functioning of as big an institution as Punjab Agricultural University, Dhanda remarked, he (the CM) was a man of masses. “He listens to everything big or small and for him everybody was important as he had promised it to the people.” Badal, he said, had to act as he had promised it to the people during his campaign. But are the public demands necessarily justified, the lawyer in Dhanda remarked: “They are not necessarily unjustified either.”

Kitchloo Nagar falls in his Ludhiana West assembly segment. He believes that people of the area voted for him as he had promised to open the Gate Number 6 of the PAU to them. He questioned the assertion of the VC that it could lead to law and order problem. There are five other gates that open up to the PAU also. How can the opening of a single gate "jeopardise the security of the campus", as alleged by Aulakh, Dhanda asked.

He said the closure of the gate had not only led to the problems and harassment for the Kitchloo Nagar residents, but to employees of the university as well. And also to students who used to study in the government school located inside the PAU campus. He thanked the Chief Minister for taking up each and every demand of the people seriously and acting sincerely about it.



Disappointment on PAU campus over Aulakh’s exit
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
The resignation of the vice-chancellor K.S. Aulakh has come as a shock to the people of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) campus.

Aulakh was the man, who ensured and enforced discipline into the campus, said a student. Moreover, the situation that left no other option for the VC but to resign had disappointed the teachers, the employees and the students as well. Everybody seems to regret his unceremonious exit.

Although nobody wants to come on record for the obvious reasons, everybody feels that the way the VC was made to resign had set a bad precedent. “It is not the issue of opening up of a gate that has cost the VC his job, it is the matter of the autonomy of an institution,” remarked a senior scientist in the varsity. He asked, if a VC cannot have the discretion of deciding which gate to close or not, where else could he or she expect the autonomy.

The general feeling prevailing in the campus is that of uncertainty. The teachers and employees apprehend alike that this may be an indicator of what was going to happen in the future. “Coming events cast their shadow,” remarked a student of the Home Science College. Today it is the issue of a gate; tomorrow it may be something serious, she added. The matter should have been left to the discretion of the VC only.

Moreover, what had surprised people more is that the Chief Minister had personally taken up the matter with the VC. There are many other pressing issues the university was faced with, but only the closure of the gate seemed to bother the Chief Minister. “This only speaks about the priorities of the government,” remarked another student.

While the issue had already been politicised with the Akali-BJP alliance defending the Chief Minister's intervention, there is too much disappointment among the academic circles. “People at the campus certainly appreciate the strong sense of discipline and order enforced by Aulakh. At times this was described as his autocratic and dictatorial attitude. But for ensuring smooth running of a big institution you have to take some hard decisions,” remarked a member of the PAU Teachers' Association. Aulakh paid a heavy price for that, he said.



SAARC car rally arrives to a rousing welcome
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 1
A South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) car rally arrived here to a rousing reception, which was led by the minister for tourism and cultural affairs, Punjab, Hira Singh Gabria and the MD, Tourism Development Corporation and Secretary Information and Public Relations, Jagjit Puri.

There were 101 participants, including five women, in the rally, driving 27 vehicles from seven SAARC countries. The rally started from Cook's Bazar in Bangladesh on March 15 and passed through Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and India through Wagah border yesterday.

On April 3, rallyist from Afghanistan will also join it. The rally will cover Sri Lanka and will conclude at Male on April 13.

Receiving the rally at Hotel Aamaltas on the city outskirts, Gabria said that the people of Punjab felt honoured to welcome the rally in a traditional way and hoped that this rally would succeed in its mission of strengthening the ties, mutual understanding and in improving the trade and cultural relations among the SAARC countries.

This, he said, would further help in spreading the message of peace and amity in the world. He said that the Punjab Government was chalking out a comprehensive plan to promote cultural and trade exchange programme with other countries and was planning to set up a special tourism spot named Mini Punjab near Mohali, where the articles and events relating to the Punjabi culture, heritage, dances etc. would be displayed so that the tourists from other countries could be acquainted with the state culture at a single point.

Jagjit Puri said that Punjab would strengthen infrastructure and other facilities at the places of religious, cultural and heritage tourism.

He said that special attention would be given to Ludhiana, known as commercial capital and to Amritsar, known as heritage and spiritual city of the state.

At the new tourist spots to be developed as Mini Punjab, bhangra, gidha and other Punjabi cultural events and festivals would be specially demonstrated to apprise the tourists about the Punjabi culture. Lakhs of tourists visit Amritsar every year for religious pilgrimage and the government had added a heritage panorama at Ram Bag.

Lieut-Col H S Chouhan, leader of the Indian team, while narrating his experiences said that they had received tremendous response from the people of different countries from where they had passed.

He said they hoped that the rally would not only promote the mutual understanding among people of SAARC countries but would also contribute towards the improvement in the trade and cultural relations among these countries.

He disclosed that yesterday the participants of the rally were accorded a tumultuous reception in Amritsar. They had visited Harmandir Sahib, Durgiana Mandir and Jallianwala Bagh. The rally later left for Delhi.



Potholes reappear within hours of repair
MC doing patch-work when recarpeting needed
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Putting a question mark on the quality of material used in repairing potholes on major roads in the city, the premix is giving away soon after it is laid.

Bitten by criticism from all quarters, the cash-rich Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had started patchwork on many roads that had developed potholes after rains some days ago amidst allegations that the civic body had earmarked crores of rupees for roads in the annual budget but it was doing with just repairing the potholes.

A quick survey of the work by a Tribune team revealed that the patchwork was continuing during the afternoon hours and the premix was coming off with tyres of vehicles passing through the road. At some places, the potholes were not broomed before laying premix and consequently it was not settling down and resources were being wasted.

‘‘The bitumen does not get time to settle down due to rise in temperature. Moreover the surface of the road was not cleaned properly and the potholes were reappearing again.

The premix was getting glued to the tyres of the vehicle. By the end of the day, the pothole remains but not the material, ’’ said a resident complaining that the work was not done.

‘‘What is the hurry to finish the work if it is not done properly? And why should the MC waste public money? The patches would wear away within a day or two considering the kind of work they are doing. An inquiry should be ordered to look into the entire issue and the contractors responsible should be punished for working irresponsibly, ’’ said Mr Mohinder Kumar, a resident of Dandi Swami Chowk.

He added that after repeated requests, Dandi Swami Road was being repaired but MC was doing a shoddy job by just filling the worn-out part.

Another resident said that when the entire road needed a recarpeting, the civic body was doing with just repairing the potholes. ‘‘Why should they charge taxes from us if they cannot give us good roads? The richest MC of the state is giving such a service to us.’’



Schools’ body reminds Badal of poll promise
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 1
The Recognised and Affiliated Schools Association (RASA), Punjab, has appealed to the state government to rescue these schools which had been sharing the burden of providing education of the government at nominal fee structure to masses for decades.

According to Jagdish Rai Sharma and Kulwant Rai Sharma, president and general secretary, respectively of the state body, the executive committee had resolved to remind Parkash Singh Badal CM and Sukhbir Badal of the promises made during pre-election period and had urged them to accept the long-pending demands of the union.

"As the faulty policies of earlier successive governments had destabilised the viability of institutes sharing burden of the education department, we had apprised Badal of our problems before elections. He had assured us that necessary steps would be taken after the formation of the government," said Jagdish Sharma.

Referring to the outcome of the state-level meeting held at Ludhiana, Sharma said that the executive committee had appreciated government's decision to close unauthorised schools according to decision of a designated court.

"Instead of creating confusion during admission days every year, the government should either give enough time to erring institutes or close them. But those schools which have spacious buildings, and are constructed according to norms stipulated by the authorities should not be harassed unnecessarily," demanded the association president.

The office-bearers welcomed government's decision to withdraw permission to boys to appear in class V, VIII, X and XII examinations privately.



Ludhiana Calling

No matter how much SAD leaders claim that they have no personal axe to grind against the former CM, Capt Amarinder Singh, for sending Badal and son to jail, any conversation on the topic with them shows their hurt feelings.

At a recent meeting with the press, Parkash Singh Badal repeatedly stated that bygones were bygones, but his behaviour reflected otherwise.

‘Powerless’ sports

The entire nation dreams and speculates about victory of the Indian cricket team. Their loss is viewed as a national tragedy.

But no one seem to be shedding tears for other sports. Take the case of Guru Nanak Stadium, multipurpose gymnasium hall and the district sports office. Their power connection is lying disconnected for nearly two months due to a dispute between the electricity board and the Municipal Corporation, which pays the bill.

While the departments dither, the players and officials suffer.

Emblem misuse

A pothole that resurfaced after a few hours of repairing of a road in LudhianaIt is perhaps due to the traffic police's callous attitude or lack of vigil that the youth in the city are openly flouting traffic rules. Earlier, people used to show-off their designer number plates and now they have started insulting the National Emblem, thanks to the lenient attitude of traffic personnel.

The person using motor cycle as seen in the picture is (mis)using the National Emblem on his two-wheeler. The National Emblem, which can only be used only on the vehicles of President of India and Governors, is being used by this youth in this city.

Promoting strangely

Competition has become tough for the telecom companies with the arrival of many new players. To woo customers, the companies are coming with new tariff plans and other lucrative offers.

But what surprises the customers is that one of the leading telecom company provides the number of another competitor for further enquiries and details. Customers feel when they claim to provide such better services, why do they themelves rely on their competitor's numbers? Isn't it a strange kind of promotional strategy?

Bad roads

The Focal Point area of the city earns the biggest revenue for the city Municipal Corporation. But the MC is paying it back by giving it rural area kind of roads.

The roads have such huge crators and holes that it appears a moon-like surface.

Industrialists are tired of making representations to the MC but no one seem to bother. The basic necessity of providing good roads for the progress of the industry seem to have been lost on the authorities.

City Centre jinxed?

The City Centre Project of the Improvement Trust appears to be jinxed from the day of its inception. Though initiated way back in 1979, its development was stopped due to one reason or the another.

Then, when it finally started, two chairmen of the trust had to leave their posts due to the controversial dealings. Much property development in and around the project depends on its completion but the repeated stops are making people question if it was jinxed and would never be completed?


Punctuality of Chief Justice of Punjab Haryana High Court Vijender Jain gave a tough time to the mediapersons a few days ago, who reach 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 saw him waiting for them.

Well-won battle

Residents of Canal View Colony on Ferozepore Road have won a battle of sorts by getting the Punjab State Electricity Board punished for raising their green belt for erecting towers.

It is with their efforts that the Forest Department has imposed a fine of Rs 62 lakh on the PSEB for failing to take permission from the department. It is a well-won battle for greenery!

Rash drivers

Private bus operators give a tough time to passengers who board their buses to reach their destinations.

Starting from driving rashly to stopping on every local bus stop to abandoning the passengers midway and asking them to take other buses, these operators do it all. To add to the misery of the passengers they compete with other bus drivers on the road.

Only the authorities concerned can put a check on the operators.

Contributed by Jupinderjit Singh, Shivani Bhakoo and Kanchan Vasdev



Khamano residents feel cheated as grant withdrawn
Gurminder Singh Grewal

Khamano, April 1
Residents of Khamano town are feeling deceived as a grant of Rs 36 lakh, granted by the previous Congress government, has been reportedly taken back by the Akali government.

The grant was meant for a stadium at Khamano, thus dashing hopes of the youths to play at sports stadium. This grant was allocated on December 25,2006, by the then public health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa during a function at Khamano.

This fund was lying unutilised because nagar panchayat officials were busy in locating a suitable space for it. They succeeded to locate only 2.5 acres of land whereas the needed space was about 4.5 acres of land.

People of Khamano town have requested the nagar panchayat and the higher authorities to construct a mini-stadium with less amount or to make arrangements for the required land. But before the suitable land could be found, this grant was taken back. Residents of Wards No 5 and 6 where stadium was proposed said that they would protest against this decision.

It has also come to notice that the Department of Planning, CPD branch, in a letter no. PSPB/LPD notified on March 22,2007, has ordered the deputy commissioner of all districts to remit all grants of Punjab Nirman Yojna with the Planning Department when funds are lying unutilised.

This letter is written by special secretary R.L.Mehta. When local MLA Jagjivan Singh Khirnia was contacted in this regard, he said that he would raise this issue with officials concerned and with CM Badal.



Polio patients given tricycles
Tribune News Service

Nawan Pind (Ludhiana), April 1
Swarna Ram, Minister of Social Security and Development of Women and Children, Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, has said the government was committed to the uplift of the weaker sections of society and a component plan of Rs 1280 crore had been prepared for this purpose.

He was addressing a function after presenting 22 tricycles to disabled persons at the polio surgery camp organised by the Bhagwan Mahavir Sewa Sansthan at Bharat Vikas Parishad Charitable Trust, Rishi Nagar, here tody.

The minister said the grant for the construction of houses to the houseless Scheduled Caste families had been enhanced from Rs 25,000 per house to Rs 50,000 and grant for the construction of dharamshala had been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.

He said that the government would fulfil all promises made during elections and provide free education to the students belonging to weaker sections. For this purpose, adarash public Schools were being set up in each block of the state.

He appreciated the Bharat Vikas Parishad for providing artificial limbs to disabled persons and assured that the government would extended all kind of assistance to the NGOs engaged in the service to the suffering humanity.

The minister visited the hospital yesterday and inquired about the well-being of polio patients. He also distributed fruits amongst the patients. As many as 20 polio operations were performed yesterday by the Bhagwan Mahavir Sewa Sansthan.



Body of advocate found, cremated
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 1
The body of an advocate of the Samrala Bar Association, K S Dhaliwal, who went missing, was cremated here today.

The cremation was largely attended. Members of the Samrala Bar association and advocates from parts of Punjab, judicial officers, executive officers, intellectuals, prominent journalists, leaders of the CPI and members of the Tarksheel Society were present.

Among others who were present at the time of cremation included local SDM Baldev Singh, former MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon, former CPI MLA Tarsem Jodhan, president of the Bar Association Uttam Chand, Tej Pal Singh, Gurmeet Gill, BKU president Baldev Singh Rajewal, president of the market committee Harpal Singh Dhillon.

Karam Singh Dhaliwal went missing from Samrala on Wednesday and his body was found from near the Sirhind Canal, Neelon bridge, last evening.



Dr Aulakh elected MCI member
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Dr Baldev Singh Aulakh has been elected member of the Medical Council Of India.

In a closely contested election, Dr Aulakh of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital defeated Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira, a professor of the same hospital and state president of the IMA Dr G.S. Gill. They polled 1980, 1920 and 1880 votes, respectively. As many as 1192 votes were declared invalid.

The fourth candidate, Dr Navdeep Dahiya of Jalandhar, withdrew in support of Dr Gill just two days before the last date of the election.

The counting of votes went up to midnight yesterday and the result was declared by Dr Kiran Jit Kaur, DRME (Director Research Medical Education) and the returning officer appointed by the Ministry Of Health and Family Welfare of India.

Dr Aulakh is a professor of urology and kidney transplant surgery and he has also served in the PGI, Chandigarh.



Vijay writes Badal’s name on hair strand
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 1
Some people wish to do something different so that they are a class apart.

One such young man is Vijay Momi. He is not interested in run-of-the-mill things but is constantly doing something new and different.

This time, he has done the intricate job of writing the name of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on a single strand of hair of a horse.

Earlier, he had presented a picture of Guru Gobind Singh painted on a grain of rice to Badal who highly appreciated his efforts.

He is a painter par excellence too. Capt Amarinder Singh had awarded him a gold medal for his painting of a historic building of Patiala.

Currently, he is doing a character role in a Punjabi film titled ‘Kandh Ole Pardesi’.



Muslims remember Prophet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Muslims today observed the anniversary of Prophet Mohammed. A number of functions were organised and processions taken out to mark the occasion.

The main function was organised at the historic Jama Masjid, which was presided over by Maulana Atiq-u-Rehman, president of the minority wing of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

The speakers recalled the Prophet’s message of peace and harmony and said it was necessary to interpret it in the right perspective.

Rehman stated, the Prophet’s message of brotherhood and harmony was relevant today and he did not belong to any particular religion.

Prophet belonged to the entire humanity as he contributed towards its upliftment, he said.



Arya Samaj Founders Day observed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
The District Arya Sabha, Ludhiana, organised Founders Day at Civil Line Branch of Arya Senior Secondary School here today. The function was presided over by the president of the Sabha Rajesh Sharma.

The function started with a yajna, which was performed under the guidance of Swami Megh Raj. Speaking to the people Swami Madhav Chander said Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj in 1875 to fight the social evils prevalent in the society. He said by founding the Arya Samaj he had shown a new path and brought peace to the society.



Lions Club holds conference
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 1
The Lions Club organised its regional conference here yesterday.

The chief guest on the occasion was R.K.Rana, MJF district governor.

Anil Aggarwal presented the account of various service projects taken up during the past nine months by the club under the ambit of Region V. He gave details of the project of eye operations for cataract removal and transplantation of cornea.

Seven schools had been adopted during the tenure for overall development and providing basic needs to the deserving students in addition to arranging medical check-up camps and distribution of medicines.

Awards were given to the clubs which took an active part in mobilising resources to help society. The chief guest requested the club to gird up for the eradication of preventable and curable blindness by the 2020, a target set by the international organisation.

He informed that the problem of pollution and degraded environment was the project of the year.



Bhandara date extended
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
A delegation of the Shri Amarnath Baltal Langars Organisation (SABLO) led by president Vijay Thakur has again met SASB chief executive officer Arun Kumar and take up the matter of objectionable terms and conditions, which were not in the interest of the pilgrims and the NGOs.

The CEO agreed to amend the objectionable terms and conditions, wherein the last date to start the operation of the bhandara was extended to June 29 from June 21.

The delegation also persuaded the CEO to refund the total amount to the NGO after the end of the pilgrimage.



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