L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Suspected gastro outbreak claims one more life
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 30
The claim of health authorities that the attack of gastroenteritis in nearly six colonies in the Giaspura area of the city was on the wane notwithstanding, the disease claimed one more life while 50 fresh cases have been reported at private clinics and nursing homes during past 24 hours.

According to information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune, Suman (8), daughter of Surinder Singh of Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar in Makkar Colony, who was suffering from bouts of vomiting and diarrhea died while being shifted to a private hospital late yesterday evening. With this, the death toll in the city due to gastroenteritis had gone up to three.

Conflicting reports were being given about the actual turn out of people suffering from gastroenteritis at a camp put up by the health department at Makkar Colony and those reporting to private nursing homes in the Giaspura area.

District health officer (DHO) S.S. Dhir said about 24 patients were being treated at the camp. These were those had got themselves registered during past 48 hours. However, another unconfirmed report revealed that more than 150 patients were diagnosed with symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting while four of them, in a critical condition, were referred to a civil hospital at Sahnewal.

Three more persons suffering from gastroenteritis were admitted to the local civil hospital. Whereas, three persons suffering from gastroenteritis were discharged after their condition improved, informed senior medical officer Kuldip Kaur Sahni.

The DHO said six teams were deployed to carry out door-to-door survey in colonies affected by gastroenteritis. Besides this, they were also told to identify fresh cases and refer them to the nearest health centre. The health workers were also told to educate the masses about the steps taken to prevent its spread and distribute chlorine tablets for purification of water.

On being enquired a few hospitals revealed that there was no significant increase in the number of patients suffering from gastroenteritis, both in OPD's and in-patient departments other than those reporting in the normal course.



Snag in BSNL throws life out of gear
Fire in Chandigarh exchange
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
For the first time in the region, people learnt as to how much dependent they have become on the technology after a major snag in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited threw life out of gear.

Most of the communications were jammed. Those dependent on the BSNL network were made to sit idle throughout the day.

While in Ludhiana and the surrounding areas, only the mobile services were hit, in Chandigarh even landlines also stopped working. The Internet services also stopped working during the day. All those involved with online jobs of various types had to sit idle.

A senior BSNL official told The Tribune that there was no communication with the Chandigarh centre from where the snag reportedly developed.

According to a UNI report, a fire broke out in the Sector 17 BSNL exchange in Chandigarh today, disrupting telecommunication services in which several equipments were destroyed. The fire was noticed around 7 am.

In Ludhiana, there are about 1.6 lakh mobile subscribers, besides several thousand Internet users. The worst part was that the local officials did not have any idea about the resumption of services.

Reports said there was some major damage caused to the network system at Chandigarh which had hit the operations in most parts of the region.

The nigam is learnt to have hired the services of some private agencies also to ensure that the system is put back on the track within a brief period of time. But there was no certainty about it.

Mobile service providers said there was no such record of any service going offline for such a long period and that too in the entire region covering hundreds of kilometers and involving lakhs of subscribers.

An official of a private mobile company said small snags developed regularly, but these affect the services in limited areas only and for a brief period of time. “But this (the BSNL) snag seems to be unprecedented”, the official said.

A number of businessmen, particularly traders, who depend mainly on communications, said they had to suffer huge losses.

“All of a sudden you go offline without being able to communicate to others that you will not be available”, remarked a trader.

He said quite a number of people like him, literally, did not know what to do as they found themselves “practically dumb and deaf”.



Move to issue new red cards
1984 riot victims feel harassed
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
The Danga Peerat Welfare Board (1984), Punjab, is sore at the state government’s move to issue fresh red cards to 1984 riot victims.

They feel that not only the entire process was tedious but they were being regularly harassed by staff of the district administration while getting, enquiring or submitting the forms.

As per the conditions laid down by the government, those who migrated to Punjab after 1984 riot need to submit the proof of being a riot victim for getting the red card. The affidavits submitted by the victims were not treated as evidence. The government has further asked them to submit documents like electricity or water connection bills, ration card, passport, driving license, registry of the house, gas cylinder connection or a bank account opened in 1985 only.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, vice-president of the board Harinder Pal Singh said a month ago, the government had published an advertisement in which it had asked the riot victims to submit relevant documents for getting the red cards. Harinder, who is physically challanged, said: “I went to Mini Secretariat on a wheel chair for getting all details along with a form. But, after two days when I went to submit the form it was rejected by staff concerned. I was told to fill a new form and submit it.”

“While submitting the forms, we are not given any receipt. They just write numbers on files. In case, the forms get misplaced, whom should we contact? Secondly, when we submit an affidavit saying we are riot victims, it should be considered as sufficient evidence. If we are proved wrong, law will punish us. It is impossible to procure documents of 1985 at this stage. That time, when we came to Punjab, we were more worried about our survival then the documents or proofs”, said agitated Harinder Pal Singh.

Harjinder Singh Bagga, another riot victim, said influential persons were able to get red cards issued by the government. “The government must extend the date for issuing the red cards”, he added.

The Central government had already directed the state government to set up a committee for verifying the facts and not to put extra burden on riot- hit people on technical grounds, riot victims said.



Complaints go unheard
Model Town gets muddy water
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
Despite tall claims of the municipal corporation that the water supply was being monitored following the outbreak of gastroenteritis in a large number of localities, residents of the city are now complaining about poor water quality.

Those living in the Model Town area woke to taps spewing black water which contained a large amount of sand and other particles.

C.S.Oberoi said the matter had been reported to the civic authorities but to no avail. What to talk about rectifying the fault, no official had bothered to visit the area for finding the reason behind this problem.

If this can happen in an up market area like Model Town the plight of the people living in the inner areas of the city and the small colonies can well be imagined, he lamented.

Those manning the complaint centre merely said staff would visit the area during afternoon water supply only. When residents asked what they would do without water, staff expressed their helplessness, he added.

The agitated residents also brought the matter to the notice of the area councillor who assured to solve the matter at the earliest.



Sahib Singh's death
Pall of gloom in local BJP unit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
A pall of gloom descended on the local Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) unit over the accidental death of Sahib Singh Verma, a senior party leader, former Delhi chief and the party in charge of the state.

Verma had recently taken over as the party in charge of Punjab and had been in regular touch with the local leaders.

The state BJP president, Rajinder Bhandari was too shocked to comment. He said while the party as a whole had suffered a massive loss, for Punjab it was irreparable. Bhandari said he had quite a long association with Verma.

Recalling his association, Bhandari said he was always accessible and down to earth even when he was the Chief Minister of Delhi and a union minister.

Senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha member, Lala Lajpat Rai said he had lost a personal friend. He said he had quite a long association with Verma.

He was a committed party leader who loved and respected all the workers. He said he had started giving new direction to the party in the state.

State secretary Anil Sarin said that the entire rank and file was shocked. The local unit of the party also held a condolence meeting to mourn the death of Verma.



SAD-BJP men disillusioned for not being heard
Ludhiana has no powerful leader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
There appears to be a leadership vacuum within the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in Ludhiana. Ludhiana has a good number of legislators, including one minister, two chief parliamentary secretaries and the deputy speaker.

Still most of the workers find it difficult to get their grievances redressed at the local level.

Recently, a senior BJP leader alleged that party workers were being taken "for granted" by the local bureaucrats. It is not only BJP workers, but even those of SAD also find it difficult to get heard unless they have a strong reference from some senior leaders.

During the previous SAD-BJP regime, some senior party leaders, including Jagdish Garcha and his brother, Mann Singh Garcha, Mahesh Inder Singh Grewa and Lala Lajpat Rai (BJP) used to enjoy a lot of authority in the local administration.

Since both Garcha and Grewal have lost from their constituencies, their hold on the administration has also been restrained. Both seem to have restricted themselves to their assembly segments only.

There are other leaders like Ludhiana MP Shranjit Singh Dhillon, who is quite close to Sukhbir Badal, or Harish Rai Dhanda, whose proximity to Parkash Singh Badal is too well known.

Most of the Akali-BJP cadres are feeling disappointed. "We seem to be going the Congress way", rued a senior Akali leader, while adding that, "during the Congress rule, bureaucrats remained unaccountable, this time also it seems to be the same".

A local BJP leader remarked, "We regret that our leadership has not been able to assert itself so far despite knowing well how much dependent SAD is on the BJP for continuing in power".

It is learnt that a senior leader, who holds an important position in the government, had to seek the help of the Chief Minister after officials of a particular department refused to oblige him.



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