L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Airport politics
From boom to doom for investors
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
From boom to doom. This is the sorry fate of nearly 1000 investors of the region, mainly Ludhiana, who have suffered huge losses after putting in quite a fortune in real estate in Laddowal and Halwara with hopes of making it big if a proposed international airport comes up there.

With the SAD-BJP government proposing Sahnewal as the new site, curtains have now fallen on the real estate deals in Halwara. Investors were on the brink of distress sale.

Today, they look toward Sahnewal, the new site for the airport, with a sigh , where property boom is set to take place now. Learning from the experiences, the real estate dealers as well as land owners in Sahnewal are adopting a wait and watch policy. The owners have not put up the land for sale, chosing to sell it at higher profits in case the airport finally comes up.

The Union government had rejected the Laddowal proposal first, plummeting the investors in depression and then Halwara project was shelved just before it was all set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Both projects were highly publicised, attracting massive investments.

With the SAD-BJP government proposing Sahnewal as the new site, curtains have now completely fallen on the real estate deals in Halwara. A number of property dealers and investors said the investors were on the brink of distress sale.

"When the Halwara airport plan was going in full swing, there were no sellers. Now , there are no buyers. People had bought land in and around Halwara when the news of the airport plan first trickled in. The prices soared so high that people chose to wait to sell for bigger profits. Now, the same sellers are waiting for buyers," said a dealer.

Jagdish Jain of Vardhman Property dealer said investors were paying for putting in their money without having full knowledge of the deal. " The price per acre of land was Rs 9 lakh before the airport plan. It rose to between Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh within days last year. With news reports announcing that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would lay the foundation stone, the prices went up to Rs 50 to Rs 90 lakh. Land near the proposed site went beyond Rs 1 crore per acre."

Now, the same sellers are dying to sell it at 50 per cent of the cost only. "All their hopes that the SAD-BJP government may revive the Halwara Airport plan after coming to power dashed to the ground with the announcement of Sahnewal as the new site.

S. Gupta, an investor (name changed on request), said he had put in crores of rupees and now doesn't see a way out, " I want to sell off the land, but buyers say they would buy only at prices that existed before the boom associated with the airport plan.

Property dealers of the region said there were hundreds of such sorry cases. The dealers narrate the case of an industrialist from Ludhiana who had almost committed suicide after suffering huge losses when the Laddowal International Airport plan was shelved.

In Sahnewal, people have held on to the land deals. Randhir Singh (name changed) of Sahnewal, said he wanted to sell land near Sahnewal but was not getting the desired price, "Now, property dealers are pestering me with new offers." He has chosen to wait.

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Dhandari overbridge hits a block
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The inauguration of the railway overbridge near Dhandari is in doldrums as the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has refused to give the no-objection certificate (NOC) for the bridge, owing to the failure of the Municipal Corporation authorities to take it before the start of work.

Sources in the MC told Ludhiana Tribune that the NHAI had now has refused to give the NOC stating that the local body should have sought it five years ago before finalising the design.

An official of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is camping at the Headquarters of NHAI in New Delhi to get the NOC, but he has told the senior functionaries in the city that the authority was reluctant in giving the same.

Senior MC functionaries said they were trying to sort out the matter amicably and were hopeful that the bridge would be inaugurated soon. It has, however, been opened to public informally and is being used.

Sources said the then Commissioner of MC had failed to get the NOC for the bridge which was mandatory as the ovebridge was to connect the Focal Point area with National Highway number 1. In that case it was necessary for the local body to get the design of the bridge approved by the authority.

It is not only that the NHAI is objecting to give the NOC to the MC but the Railway authorities had also raised an objection last year before giving the NOC on the same grounds. It was after the efforts of local authorities that the matter was resolved and the Railways had finally given the certificate in October 2006.

‘‘We are trying our level best to get the certificate so that the bridge is inaugurated soon. We had sent a senior official to NHAI office at Ambala some days ago but the NOC was not released. Now the official has been sent to New Delhi and we are hoping that matter would be sorted out and bridge would be inaugurated,’’ said Vikas Partap, commissioner, MC.

The work on the bridge constructed at the cost of Rs 17.86 crore was started in April 2001 and was scheduled to be completed in 2002. But due to the failure of authorities to take permission from the Railway authorities, the work was stopped midway.

It was only after the new commissioner took up the matter again that the work was restarted last year. It was only due to the delay that the MC had to shell out Rs 3 crore more public money. Originally, the cost of the bridge was estimated at Rs 15 crore.

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Tribune Impact
Street cleared of water
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The Municipal Corporation authorities came to the aid of residents of G Block in Sarabha Nagar and rectified the two-year-old snag in the sewer and discharged water from the flooded street this afternoon.

Action followed in the wake of highlighting of the plight of these residents in these columns today. Residents said they had been fighting a long battle and had suffered from many diseases in the past, but the local body had failed to act on their repeated complaints.

Thanking The Tribune today, Jagdev Singh, an affected resident said it was only after the news report that the government machinery moved. He said the MC's action to clear the roads of stagnating water had given a new lease of life to them.

The residents said that infinite number of complaints had no effect on the employees and the street in the posh colony was always flooded. They raised the alarm yesterday as mosquitoes had started breeding in stagnating water.

‘‘It was a matter of just two hours. But nobody was listening. Had they listened to our complaints earlier, they would not have faced the wrath of public today,’’ said Jagdev Singh.

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CPM warning on atta, dal scheme
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) yesterday warned the Akali-BJP government in Punjab against backing out from the promise to provide subsidised aata and dal to the poor. The party felt that the government was delaying the issue, which is a matter of concern.

Speaking at a meeting of the district committee held here , the party leaders pointed out that the government did not appear to be serious on the issue.

The meeting also reviewed the performance of the party during the elections.

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Atwal reviews arrangements for Ambedkar function
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal has called upon the frontal organisations and other office-bearers of the SAD-BJP regime to mobilise maximum number of people for the state-level function being organised on April 14 at Daresi Ground here to celebrate 116th birth anniversary of Bharat Rattan Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the main architect of the Indian constitution.

He was presiding over the meeting of the officers concerned, leaders of the SAD and BJP and office-bearers of Dalit organisations, conducted to review the arrangements regarding the function, at Bachat Bhawan here today.

He said the state government had taken a commendable decision of celebrating the anniversary to fulfil the aspirations of the people in general and the Dalit samaj in particular, whereas the Congress had completely ignored such leaders.

Atwal said Dr Ambedkar was respected by every section of the society and did not belong to any particular community, and people from all walks of life should come forward to jointly celebrate his anniversary.

The deputy speaker said to fulfil the dreams of Dr Ambedkar of the uplift of weaker sections, the SAD-BJP government, headed by Parkash Singh Badal, after resuming charge in the state had launched many new schemes for the welfare of the Dalits in the state.

Sat Pal Gosian, deputy speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, asked the representatives of all frontal organisations of the SAD-BJP to display an excellent show of solidarity with the philosophy of Dr Ambedkar.

R.L. Kalsia, secretary, welfare, said all Dalit sabhas in the villages would participate in the function. Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, Harish Rai Dhanda, MLA, and Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, a former MLA, also addressed the meeting.

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Parantha outlet in a spot
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
Ludhiana's popular Pandit's round-the-clock parantha outlet is in a spot with the residents in the neighbourhood of Nikka Mal Saarf Chowk alleging that his business was causing nuisance and they could not sleep throughout the night owing to disturbance.

Seema Sood, who resides on the first floor of the shop, said they were inconvenienced throughout the night as all sorts of people came outside the shop and make noise.

In a complaint to the deputy commissioner, the residents demanded that the outlet be shifted from the place.

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City centre scam: Hearing on 4 bail pleas today
 Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
The anticipatory bail applications of former president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee H.S.Hanspal and another accused Capt Rajesh Singh, allegedly involved in the city centre scam, will come up for hearing tomorrow.

Claiming themselves to be innocent, the duo had moved separate bail applications before the Sessions Judge Ludhiana, who had entrusted the same to the court of Special Judge Gurbir Singh.

Besides the regular bail applications of two prominent officials of Infrastructure Professionals Private Limited Company(IPE) would also come up for hearing tomorrow before the Special Judge Gurbir Singh.

A director of IPE company Amit Sardana of Delhi and Kamal Kumar Verma, director, special project, of the same company, were arrested in this case by the Vigilance Bureau on March 23. They were arrested on the same day of the registration of the FIR. They had remained in police custody for a week and then remanded to judicial custody. Since then, they are in local central jail.

These two accused had applied for regular bail with the plea that the conclusion of trial would take a long time and no useful purpose would be served by detaining them in jail. They had also claimed innocence in their bail plea. 

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Generating cool air under hot sun 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 12
Come summer and makers of straw pads for desert coolers start appearing in the city.

Workers for the purpose like brothers Kishore and Rajesh come from Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, for a period of three months. They buy straw locally and have perfected the art of tying up the straw. A set of three straw pads costs about Rs 50. But pads of big coolers costs about Rs 200.

Kishore, the elder of the two, told Ludhiana Tribune that they are able to sell three to four sets each day. The summer season provides them opportunity to make some extra money. Their brother is working at a factory here and they live with him in Phoolawal.

Rajesh said they work in the open under the harsh sun every day. There is hardly any shade and sometimes their skin develops problems. Working under such hostile conditions makes them feel tired easily. On top, when customers ask them to reduce prices, they feel upset. Why are people so cruel? they ask, specially when their labour is instrumental in giving them cool air.

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Rath yatra for polio victims reaches city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 12
The Narayan Sewa Sansthan Trust based in Udaipur has decided to travel by ‘rath’ to far-off areas of the country to help polio victims. They would halt at different stations, stay for a few days, and with the help of local members help the polio victims.

The members of the ‘rath yatra’ of the sewa sansthan were received at Ludhiana today by the president of the local chapter, Swati Bassi, social worker Hariom Bansal, Satpal Hora and Bharat Bhushan Ashu.

They will stay for four days in the city. Achal Singh Bhatti, a member, while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, said through the ‘Sewa rath yatra’, they would be rendering social service to the people.

Moreover, they wanted to make the people aware about the ill-effects of drug addiction and offer treatment to the polio-afflicted victims with the help of local NGOs.

The other travellers of the ‘rath yatra’ are Rajpal Jain, Bhagwati Lal Menaria, Pyar Chand Solanki and Radhe Sham.

Bhatti said Sadhu Kailash Mana had set up the trust in 1985 at Udaipur to offer services to the poor and sick. Now they have 430 branches in India and 86 abroad. Sansthan has a 450-bed hospital in Udaipur, which functions day and night, for the service of polio-afflicted victims. 

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PETA launches drive to save captive elephants
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a campaign to save elephants from the captivity of zoos and mahouts.

Quoting the experts who have worked with wildlife, particularly elephants, the PETA said it is practically impossible to provide a conducive atmosphere to elephants in zoos or in people’s captivity.

The PETA said on an average an elephant needs 200 kg of food and over 150 litre of water in a day. This much of food is not possible to be provided in captivity in the zoos. With the result the elephants start dying a slow death in the captivity.

Particularly in a place like India where elephant is associated with Lord Ganesha, some mahouts exploit the religious sentiments of people and make a living out of it. But out of the earnings from the elephants, they seldom use a substantial portion of them for the animal.

The PETA pointed out that the elephant’s feet are not equipped to walk on concrete and metalled roads they spend their entire day and much of the night walking on such roads.

Research has shown the elephants to be “social creatures” and the females particularly live in closely knit “family” groups. They are intelligent and sensitive animals and are known to mourn the loss of a relative, just as humans do.

In zoos and cities, the animals are separated from their families as babies and are sentenced to a lifetime of boredom, loneliness and even abuse.

The PETA has been questioning the forcible inhabitation of the animals in zoos. The general perception that the zoos help in educating people about different species does not hold good. Zoos present visitors with a distorted view of wildlife. Conditions in zoos cause many animals to engage in self-mutilation and other abnormal and self-destructive behaviours.

The PETA said, “The zoos cannot provide for the complex needs of the animals who they hold captive as these majestic animals belong to the wild, but instead they are locked up like criminals, even though they have committed no crime".

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Doctor booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 12
The Dehlon police on the complaint of a trustee of the Bhagwant Singh Memorial Charitable Trust, Narangwal, has registered a case under section 420 and 406 of the IPC against two persons, including a doctor.

The trustee, Harmeet Singh, complained to the DIG, Ludhiana, that the trust had established a hospital for providing cheaper health services to villagers. Harmeet Singh used to look after the hospital.

When Harmeet Singh left for aboard a few years ago, he gave Tej Partap Singh power of attorney to run the hospital. Tej Partap Singh first allowed the CMC, Ludhiana, to run the hospital but later cancelled the agreement on November 25, 2002.

He leased out the hospital to Dr Sarbjit Singh for 21 years, which was against the rules and regulations of the trust.

The inquiry was held by the SSP and SP(D), Jagraon, at the instance of the DIG and a case registered.

1 booked

The Raikot police has registered a case against Joginder Singh of Andlu under sections 419, 420, 467 and 471 of the IPC and Indian Passport Act.

According to information, Joginder Singh applied for passport in the name of his brother Mukhwinder Singh and fixed his own photo on it.

The Raikot police has registered a case. Joginder Singh is absconding.

Mandi Ahmedgarh 

Hunt launched

The local police today launched a hunt for three miscreants who had fled from the Sidhwan Bet area under the Jagraon police district after allegedly snatching Rs 1.50 lakh from Suresh Kumar, a commission agent of Giddarpindi village.

Maghar Singh, SHO, Sadar and Sukhdev Singh, SHO (city) supervised nakas and intensified patrolling to nab the three miscreants.

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Now unlimited content, video on mobiles
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 12
In a first of its kind initiative, Oxigen Infovision, an electronic distribution channel, launched Bugzy, an application that would give mobile phone users access to a wide range of services ranging from checking personal mail to instant viewing of audio video and downloading content.

"It is the first time that we are introducing a service wherein irrespective of a service provider a mobile user can access unlimited content enabling the handset provide entertainment and at the same time obtain information," said Pramod Saxena, founder and chairman of Oxigen Services, while addressing a press conference here today.

He said the company had opted for Ludhiana as the first place due to high mobile phone penetration.

"The city also ranks high in terms of affluence, expendable incomes and aspiration of people for technology updation." The company has partnered with MMS of Spain, he added.

Mr Saxena said mobile users and also fixed line users with whom the company has forged a tie-up, could avail themselves of this service on making a certain payment. 

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