Autorickshaw fares go up, residents fret
Accuse three-wheeler drivers of fleecing them,
ask govt to intervene
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Three-wheeler operators’ decision to hike fares has drawn flak from city residents. The Consumer Rights Protection Society, condemning the hike, has termed the decision as “arbitrary and illegal.”

The society said this move would now enable the auto operators to charge wilfully, irrespective of the distance travelled.

The society pointed out that the minimum fare had been increased from a minimum of Rs 2 per passenger to Rs 5 with effect from May 8 as flat rate of fare. “The three-wheeler operators have started exploiting passengers by charging at will,” said Hari Kishan Gandotra, president of the society.

In a memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the society has urged the government to immediately intervene in the matter to stop the “worst type of exploitation by three-wheeler operators in Amritsar.”

Proper and reasonable fares should be fixed depending of the distance travelled and the three-wheeler operators should be asked to revert back to the old fares, read the memorandum.

Gandotra said an emergency meeting of the society was convened to discuss the issue and almost all members were of the view that the general public was being unduly made to shell out more by the auto operators. Unless the district administration checks the wilful charging of fares, there can be no solution to the problem, he added.

If three-wheelers go by the distance formula, then the city residents don’t require to bargain with operators.

Meanwhile, till now the most affected with the hike are people who commute regularly between shorter distances.

Earlier, the minimum fare from bus stand, GT Road, Sharifpura to Vijay Nagar, Batala road or any other place falling in the Vijay Nagar or Batala Road area was Rs 3 and now it has been enhanced to Rs 5, he said.

The enhancement of three-wheeler fares in May is about 100 per cent without any reason and goes against the rules and regulations fixed on the basis of distance travelled per kilometre as has been done in other cities of Punjab.

It is surprising that the district administration, including Deputy Commissioner K.S. Pannu is silent on the issue and has failed to intervene in time.

The immediate enforcement of minimum flat fares should be stopped, added Baldev Singh Prenja, general secretary of the society.



Do away with encroachments, admn told
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
In a request to the chairman of the Improvement Trust, the members of Nehru Shopping Complex Welfare Association have asked to remove the illegal constructions, which have encroached upon the parking and service lane of the building.

Deepak Kapoor, general secretary of the association, said certain eateries, situated on the ground floor, have encroached on the lane by extending their workplace.

“The service lane behind these shops was meant for emergency passage in case of any untoward incident or eventuality. These eateries have installed furnace and kitchen equipment in violation of the building plan, thereby endangering the lives of the innocent people,” said Kapoor.

“These constructions were not only against the terms and conditions of the sale agreement with the trust, but also violates the orders of Punjab and Haryana High Court,” he added.

The encroachment is also hampering the traffic movement and parking of vehicles.

Sunil Bhatia, chairman Improvement Trust could not be contacted as he was out of station.



Cruel fate: Heavy weight falls on bad days
Battling poverty, 33-yr-old weightlifter Nirmal Singh says he’s contemplating suicide
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Thirtythree-year-old Nirmal Singh, a popular weightlifter in his hay days, is now fighting it out with unemployment and poverty.

Soon after he quit weightlifting in 1996, the troubles started knocking at his doors.

The contacts started drying up and nobody showed interest in his pleas for giving him any kind of job. Gradually, came the financial crisis, which made his life miserable.

“I am contemplating suicide along with my wife and three small daughters. I am carrying in my pocket newspaper cuttings of sportsmen who have committed suicide. One of them was an international handball player from Ludhiana, who committed suicide on May 8,” he says.

In absence of any regular financial, the man sees future of his family, especially kids bleak.

“I am willing to take up any job and earn for my family by the sweat of my brow. I do not see any future for my girls. The youngest of them is only one-year-old and the eldest is in the LKG. I see no hope,” says the former player.

“I tried to contact BJP member of Parliament Navjot Sidhu but was not allowed to meet him. Being a sportsman himself, I was sure that he would be able to understand the problems of fellow sportsman. Throughout my life I was obsessed with weightlifting. As a result, I could not study beyond Class X, the consequences of which I am suffering now. I don’t want my children to meet the same fate,” he says.

Nirmal Singh won the Amritsar Weightlifting Association’s championship in 1992-93 and Shaheed Sohan Lal Pathak memorial weightlifting championship in 1993.

The following year, he continued his winning spree by winning a gold medal at the Border Range Police Games and Athletic Meet.

“I am presently working as watchman at the tower of a telecom company for Rs 2,200 and find it extremely difficult to make both ends meet. In case no politician or official of the district administration comes to my rescue, I would go on fast to seek help,” says Nirmal Singh.



Airtel fined for poor service
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Bharti Airtel, a mobile phone company, and its proprietor Sansons, to give a compensation of Rs 4,000, besides refunding the security deposit and litigation charges to Harmeen Kaur Soch, a senior lecturer, department of commerce and business management, Guru Nanak Dev University here.

Harmeen Kaur had filed a case against the company for its failure to restore her mobile phone connection which she kept in its custody before going to the USA. She had asked them to restore her connection after returning from the USA.

In the complaint she alleged that even after keeping her mobile phone connection in custody she had been getting mobile bills which were paid by her brother.

Deciding the case in favour of Harmeen Kaur, the consumer court observed that the company had given evasive replies as to why the company could not restore her connection and all other allegations levelled by the complainant and in a manner, the opposite parties, including the mobile company, had very clearly admitted that they were negligent and deficient in providing service to the complainant.

The court directed the opposite parties to activate the old number of the complainant. However, in case the opposite parties were not in possession of this number, they would supply a new number to the complainant of her own choice without demanding any fresh security.

The court further asked the parties to refund the entire amount charged from the complainant during the period for which her mobile phone number remained in their custody.

The opposite parties would also pay to Harmeen Kaur a compensation of Rs 4,000, besides Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses, security fund of Rs 3,506 and Rs 2,560 which was charged when the telephone number was in the custody of the company .

Harmeen said that the company had already refunded the security deposit while the remaining compensation was still to be given.



Weeding Out Evil
Special panel to look into menace of drugs in city
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, June 29
The district administration has constituted a special central committee to eradicate drug menace in the city, said deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu.

Pannu was speaking at a seminar on drug de-addiction organised jointly by the district administration, the police, Red Cross Society and other social organisations at local Red Cross Bhavan.

The committee comprising teachers, doctors, representatives of narcotics cell and various NGOs would motivate people to stand against the social disease. The committee under its various programmes would hold public awareness rally on June 30 at Verka, said the deputy commissioner. Pannu said there was urgency to act against the drug menace because it is eating the society like a termite.

He there were only one per cent persons involved in this illegal trade while remaining 99 per cent were against it. He said that if these 99 per cent people join hands, days are not far away when this menace would be eradicated. He said the district administration along with police authorities were leaving no stone unturned to eradicate this abuse and for rehabilitation of victims.

SSP, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, addressing the seminar, said the department has achieved success in breaking the supply channel of drugs and narcotics. Special training is also being imparted to narcotics cell of police department to deal with criminals involved in drug trafficking.

As far as demand supply is concerned, he said, it needed a joint effort on the part of every section in the society. He appealed to the general public to inform the police officials about such anti-social elements without only fear to bring an end to this menace.



At 17, city lad is a dance guru
Teen tunes: Meet apna Mover & Shaker
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
He surely has dancing feet. At 17, Amit Sharma is not only an accomplished performer but also teaches others to shake a leg.

The boy’s popularity can be gauged from the fact that he has made it to the final rounds of ‘Aja Nachle”, a dance show on Punjabu music channel Mh 1. What’s more he would also feature in the next video of Alisha Chinoy.

“Nothing gives me more joy than dancing. I want to do everything connected to dance. I started swinging to the tunes at the age of seven and since then there has been no looking back,” says the boy.

His dance school ‘Gurukul’ is already making waves in the city and many of his students are being lapped up by the makers of music videos.

“Initially, there was lot of resistance to my decision of making a career in dancing from the family members. But gradually they accepted the fact. My mother supported me and asked me to go ahead and realise my dreams. Things started looking up for me when I took part in ‘Boogie Woogie’. My work was appreciated and offers started pouring in,” quips the lad, who is in Class XII.

Amit has also organised many dance shows with likes of Wadali Brothers judging the participants.

Ask him about his future plans, and prompt comes the reply, “If everything goes as planned, I would soon be directing a film.”



Change of Guard
Seven varsity depts get new HoDs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Guru Nanak Dev University has appointed seven new heads of the departments of molecular biology and biochemistry, physics, history, computer science and engineering, electronics technology, Hindi and laws at Regional Campus, Jalandhar.

According to notification issued by the registrar, Dr Balwant Singh has been appointed head of the department of molecular biology and biochemistry from July 3. Dr B.S. Bajwa will take over as head of the physics department, while Dr Sukhwant Singh has been appointed head of the history department.

Dr Karanjit Singh Kahlon will be the new head of the computer science and engineering department. Dr Maninderlal Singh, reader, has been appointed head of the electronics technology department, while Dr H.S. Bedi will take over as the head of the department of Hindi.

Dr Rajni, reader, has been appointed head of the laws department at Regional Campus, Jalandhar. These newly appointed heads will take over from July 1.

Dr Subhash Chander Sharma, professor of laws, has been assigned additional duties as the head of the School of Legal Studies at Regional Campus, Jalandhar.



Society chief complains of blackmailing
in forgery case

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
“The issue of community centre has been raised again and again to harass us by Himesh Sharma and his mother Prem Lata against whom a complaint was lodged in Civil Lines police station in a fraud case,” Kashmir Avenue Welfare Society president Lakhwinder Singh said at a press conference here.

Himesh Sharma and Prem Lata had alleged that serious irregularities were found in the amendments made to the site plan of the centre constructed under scheme number 53 on a 1,231 sq yard plot.

They had alleged that the site of the community centre was shifted by the corporation by making amendments after Lakhwinder Singh had shown the ownership of the site.

Lakhwinder Singh, who is also holding the general power of attorney of the land of the community centre in the posh Ranjit Avenue area, told media persons that the accused was raising the issue to pressurise them to take back the case of forgery.

He said the amendments were made after court orders and were legal.

He said even the Punjab and Haryana High Court had decided the matter in his favour by observing that the act of the municipal corporation was legal and valid and in accordance with the judgement and decree passed by the district judge.

The judgement said petitioner Himesh Sharma was not party to the litigation and therefore could not complain if the so-called amendments were carried out as per the court order.

Lakhwinder said the police had booked the two accused after his complaint of forgery against them.

A case was pending in the court and they were trying to pressurise him to withdraw the case.

He said the accused were misleading the corporation officials and media persons by presenting wrong facts.



My City
Don’t let Amritsar go up in fumes
Madhu Arora

Environment is virtually our mother that has given us a terra firma to stand on, fresh air to breathe in and sweet water to drink.

We owe our very existence to her for she has taken care of our food and shelter. But what have we done in turn to her?

We have shown no sign of gratitude, but have exploited her in every possible way. The air we breathe in is polluted with toxic gases, chlorofluorocarbons and noxious fume.

Degradation of environment through industrial activities and vehicular exhaust i.e. air pollution has been a major concern to the authorities and the public now.

Amritsar has got the dubious distinction of being the second most polluted city in Punjab after the industrial town of Ludhiana with the suspended particulate matter (SPM) level touching 400 microgram, twice the permissible limit.

There are two air monitoring stations - one in front of Hall Gate and the other on the Batala road.

Air samples were analysed by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for the SPM, combustible matter, etc., at different road junctions of the city. Analysis showed that the SPM value was double the threshold value for residential zones.

The average lead content was reported to be 0.65 µg/m3 .30 per cent i.e. 6190 acre of area and 40 per cent of the population of Amritsar city is affected by air pollution.

The PPCB has recently organised a vehicle monitoring camp in localities around the Golden Temple and took samples from at least 100 vehicles using petrol as fuel and 100 others plying on diesel.

It was found that the main cause of vehicular pollution was the use of adulterated petrol and vehicles do not completely comply with the pollution control norms.

Vehicular pollution has increased due to an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads i.e. there are more than five lakh vehicles plying on Amritsar roads, mostly two-wheeler and three-wheelers contribute carbon and hydrocarbon emissions.

The pollution level is the highest at the Bhandari bridge intersection which contributes 48 per cent of the vehicular air pollution.

Whereas Crystal Chowk, Court Chowk, Hall Gate and Novelty Chowk are the other highly polluted intersections contributing 5 to 7 per cent of the vehicular pollution.

The authorities have failed to take any steps to curb this alarming development. The data obtained through city hospital for city dwellers shows that people are dying prematurely and also many children are debilitated to the toxic and poisonous air.

There is an apparent increase in the number of cases of chronic cough, running nose, severe throat infection and chronic bronchitis in areas in close proximity of polluted junctions, walled city, slum area outside Lohgarh Gate, Maqboolpura, Haripura, etc.

It is need of the hour to stop increasing vehicular air pollution. Traffic system management plan should be prepared for major roads of the city.

During peak traffic hours two-wheelers and three-wheelers should be restricted in congested areas like walled city and on G.T. Road with the view to reducing hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide level.

Battery operated buses to start in walled city. Public transport routes should be developed which will minimise the use of private modes.



Rural health officers to launch peaceful protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
Rural health officers have decided to launch a peaceful protest from July 1 to express their displeasure and to press the government for regularisation of their services.

Dr Amandeep Singh Gill of rural medical services association said they would launch the movement and would continue it unless their genuine rights were achieved.

He said these contracted jobs were given to them at lag time of approximately 10 years. He said rural health officers were providing health services in the far flung rural areas lacking proper facilities.



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