L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Campaigning ends, and with it the din
Traffic snarls marked the day
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
With the campaigning coming to a close in the evening today, residents heaved a sigh of relief.

On the final day of campaigning, the candidates left no stone unturned to reach out to the masses and there was chaos on the roads and the blaring of public address systems, mounted on autorickshaws, appealing to vote for a particular candidate.

Traffic snarls could be witnessed on all major roads. Though the traffic police remained on its toes, the traffic seemed out of control. It had to direct the traffic manually to handle the rush.

“Elections are a pain in the neck. Only a few people wait for these eagerly. For the common man, it is a waste of time. VIPs descend on the city and life is thrown out of gear. The noise of campaigning is hard to bear,” Karan, a physiotherapist, said.

Even as the residents heaved a sigh of relief, the candidates would have to depend on door-to-door campaign now.

“We will start soon after the clock strikes 5. Only a few hours are left for the big day. We can’t rest till we meet everybody in our ward,” Parvin Bansal, a BJP candidate, said, adding that he had covered a major part of his area, but he would not waste time by staying at home. 

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Not by promises alone
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana August 6
As electioneering for the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation came to a close today, not many contestants gave much thought to solving the problem of chaotic traffic in the city. Every road in the city remains clogged by traffic and unauthorised parking.

We have been fed on promises of flyovers and a metro for too long

Although SAD leader Sukhbir Badal promised to set up metro rail and a number of flyovers in the city in the next three years, not many seemed impressed since he failed to explain from where finances for the same would come.

Some time back, the Rail India Technical and Engineering Services (RITES) had conducted a survey on the feasibility of metro rail in the city. But the project remains consigned to official files. So people seem wary of all promises.

The elevated road project, a stretch of a mere 2 km between Jagraon bridge and Chand Cinema, took about seven years to be completed. Even after completion it has not served any purpose as it does not have any tributory to divert the city's traffic. Another flyover in the city outskirts towards Delhi awaits inauguration.

The city is in a dire need for a network of flyovers like Delhi, besides a metro, to tackle the problem of traffic. Conservative estimates put the city's population at 30 lakh, while unofficial estimates maintain that it has already crossed forty lakh.The city has the maximum number of vehicles in north India after Delhi. The vehicular density in proportion to roads and per capita number of vehicles is the highest in the country.

The common man remains cynical about the promises. Said Jagdish Kumar, a businessman:”Since the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation was set up and election process started in 1992, we have been fed on promises of a metro and flyovers, but nothing has come up.”

Sardool Singh, another businessman, said instead of finding a solution to the growing traffic problem, Ludhiana seemed to be turning into a dump yard for rejected vehicles and autos from other metros.

He pointed out that all autos taken off Delhi roads, as these had failed to meet pollution norms, had landed in Ludhiana.

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Elections, a lucrative venture for some
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
Contesting an election may involve huge expenditure for candidates, but for some of them it is a good “commercial” venture.

After contesting the election, candidates are “better off” than before as they make good money by way of fund raising, which has become an important part of campaign, particularly in a city like Ludhiana where money is in abundance. Every election here is considered to be a profitable venture.

For a candidate representing a mainstream party, raising funds is not difficult. In fact, people are more than forthcoming with their contributions.

Estimating the exact “earnings” of the candidates is not possible, feedback from people involved in the campaigning and those contributing towards the election fund, indicates that the earnings run into lakhs of rupees.

The average earnings of the candidates are estimated at around Rs 10 lakh.

People are dependent on councillors as they not only help them in matters concerning the corporation, but also attest domicile certificates, among other things.

Besides, the business and industrial community is at the mercy of the MC. There is reportedly not a single commercial or industrial building in Ludhiana which is constructed according to the permitted plan. There are violations and even encroachments. Councillors come handy in resolving such problems. Hence, election time is the ideal time to oblige the councillors.

A number of businessmen said they have always found a councillor better placed than an MLA when it came to getting work done in the corporation. Moreover, the councillors, unlike the legislators, were easily accessible. That was the reason why people did not mind giving money towards the election fund. However, this does not hold true for all candidates. Some spend from their own pockets also but the number of such candidates is small.

A candidate, who has been a two-time councillor, and is contesting for the third term, admitted candidly, “My principle is that I don’t spend a penny from my own pocket, but I don’t take home any money raised during the elections either.”

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Ward Watch 54
Will it be hat-trick for Ashu?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
Bharat Bhushan Ashu is a councillor who has served for two consecutive terms. He is trying his luck for the third time, hoping to score a hat trick. However, there is one difficulty, he is contesting this time from Ward 54 (Kitchlu Nagar and Tagore Nagar) as the ward he represented so far has been reserved for women.

A strong contender for the post of Mayor if the party wins, Ashu is pitted against Sandeep Kapoor of the BJP. Kapoor is relatively new to politics although he has been involved with political activities since school days. He has been groomed with the ABVP.

Ashu first contested independently from Ward 49 in 1997 and won by a slim margin of 36 votes. In 2002, he contested on Congress ticket and won by one of the largest margins of 4,756 votes.

Even while being in the Congress, at times, he has acted on his own even if it meant antagonising the party. That is probably why the party, despite an opposition, decided to field him.

But things are not going to be easy for him this time. Although Kapoor is new to politics, he has been active in student politics and the District Bar Association, where he would often confront Harish Rai Dhanda. Dhanda is the MLA of the area and his support counts means a lot for Kapoor. He has been enjoying full support from Dhanda.

The area predominantly remains inclined towards the SAD-BJP alliance, particularly after the new government reopened the gate of the PAU towards this area. This was a long-pending demand of residents.

Both candidates are keeping their fingers crossed. “We are trying our best to reach out to everyone in the ward and seek their support,” remarked a supporter of Ashu.

Kapoor said, “I am trying to do my best. Let the voters decide.”

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Ward Watch 55
Akali rebel may upset BJP applecart
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
For Sneh Lata of the Congress, things could not be more easy in Ward No. 55 (Rishi Nagar and surrounding areas), thanks to the presence of SAD rebel candidate, Maninder Kaur Ghuman, against the official alliance candidate, Sunita Sharma (BJP). There is likelihood that the anti-Congress vote in the area might get divided to Sneh Lata’s advantage.

She has inherited the seat from her husband, Balkar Sandhu, who represented the area for two consecutive terms as Congress candidate.

With the ward getting reserved for women, the party fielded her. Her family enjoys considerable clout in the area.

Under the seat-sharing agreement, the ward was allotted to the BJP but SAD aspirant Maninder Kaur Ghuman decided to contest independently. Her husband, Jagbir Singh Ghuman, is the member of the SAD general council. Her son is the vice-president of the District Youth Akali Dal.

Ghuman claimed that she was being backed by Akali workers. She said the party had to “hand over” the ward to the BJP under compulsion, knowing well that the BJP candidate had no standing in the area.

Asked if disciplinary action was initiated against her, she said there was no question about it as once she won, she would join the SAD only. “They know it is an Akali seat,” she claimed.

Her rivals are alleging that the Ghumans are spending a lot of money. She, however, said it was baseless. “We have not spent much, but have contributed immensely towards the development of the area,” she claimed.

The official alliance candidate, Sunita Sharma, said she had the full backing of the SAD-BJP and all workers were supporting her. She said Ghuman was nowhere in the race and had created a “false hype”. She said her fight was with Sneh Lata and Ghuman stands no chance.

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Task ahead for new MC
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
As elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation draw to a close today, it is time that serious thought is given to traffic and industrial pollution, poisoning the atmosphere and playing with the well-being of denizens.

While a hue and cry is being raised about Budha Nullah and genuinely so, nobody seems to give given a thought to other pollutants. One cannot ignore the ever-rising cases of tuberculosis in the industrial area because of high pollution levels and unhygenic conditions in shanties.

Better safe than sorry, only if somebody takes the issue seriously.

Industrial emissions and vehicular traffic have already been identified as the two major contributors towards pollution in the city. And it is not impossible to tackle these. Like in Delhi, CNG has been introduced.This could be done in Ludhiana as well.

Sadly enough, most vehicles which were condemned in Delhi are operating in Ludhiana, right under the nose of law enforcement agencies.

Industrial pollution also needs to be tackled on priority. Industrial growth needs to be regulated and industrial houses must ensure that the wastes are treated before being emitted.

It is the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana alone which can take a bold initiative to save the city. 

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(A)suvidha camps
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
Suvidha camps may provide relief to some, but for most others these are a source of “asuvidha”.

People come from far-off villages to get their work done but return disappointed due to inadequate staff.

These camps are organised at different places at the behest of politicians in their respective areas. In order to provide services to the electorate on the doorstep, they put others through a lot of trouble.

The camps require officials to go out to particular areas along with the entire paraphernalia. In the meantime, those who visit the offices for various works have to return disappointed.

Although these camps are not being organised these days because of the model code of conduct for municipal elections, even that does not provide any relief to people. Because officials are now busy with the election work.

Whenever such camps are organised, workers from DTO’s office, health department, food and civil supplies and other departments are “summoned” to these camps.

A clerk working at mini secretariat, on the condition of anonymity, said routine work suffered at respective offices due to shortage of staff.

“People come from far-off villages to get their work done but return disappointed due to inadequate staff.

If politicians organise such camps, they take care of the problems of the residents of their particular area alone. The work of others suffers during suvidha camps,” said the clerk.

Another clerk at the DTO office said learning licences were issued on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays but the staff was often called out on these days. Consequently, people suffered in the absence of staff.

He suggested that organisers of such camps should chalk out a schedule in advance so that the information was circulated among people and they could plan their visits to the offices accordingly.

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‘Restore ambulance services’
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 6
Terming the withdrawal of ambulance service from Ludhiana-Malerkotla road as impertinence to human life, leaders of various social, constitutional and religious organisations have urged the higher authorities to restore the service and save the lives of the victims of accidents on the highway.

In a communiqué addressed to higher authorities including chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, office-bearers of various social and religious organisations accused the district administration of allegedly ignoring the safety of the lives of thousands who travel on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road near here.

“Withdrawal of the ambulance from Kup Da Tota by the DC, Sangrur, shows that the district administration has no concern for the lives of those who might meet with an accident and succumb to their injuries for want of adequate medical aid,” alleged Ravinder Kumar, president, local unit of the Congress and a signatory to the communiqué.

Jatinder Kumar Bhola, president, municipal council, said he, alongwith other councillors, had urged the chief minister to impress upon the district administration to restore the ambulance service without further delay. He claimed that the rescue operation taken by the local police and passersby, supplemented with the ambulance service, had saved many lives during the last seven years.

Jagwant Singh Jaggie, vice-president, municipal council and district unit of SAD, claimed that he had taken up the matter with Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP, Sangrur and secretary general, SAD, and remedial action would be taken soon.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the District Red Cross Society had launched the ambulance service in the area about seven years ago. Funds were provided by the then MP Simran Jit Singh Maan. Though the name of the SAD (A) was inscribed on the life saving vehicle, the service was allowed to continue even during the Congress regime in the state. Howecer, maintenance of the vital facility was interrupted intermittently after formation of the SAD government in the state and the vehicle had been withdrawn completely now.

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Digging cuts off colony from city 
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, August 6
Rajguru Nagar Colony on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore highway remains cut off from the main road on account of digging of the main sewers.This has put residents to great inconvenience.

The sewerage board started digging on the Ferozepore road about a month ago, but the entry to the colony was left unaffected. On Saturday, the sewerage board authorities closed the entry point without notice. The colony set up by the improvement trust is considered one of the plush ones in the town. But it remains devoid of basic amenities.

The colony residents will now have to use a longer route to go to the city and send the children to educational institutions. Lodhi Club road, which will be the main road for the residents, is full of potholes and has not been repaired for months.

As the sewerage board authorities started digging the main highway three months ago, the police was requested to deploy personnel to man traffic, but nothing was done.

One pilot car of the traffic police with an ASI and two traffic constables has been put on duty at Ferozepur Road opposite Gurdev Hospital. But this police team does not manage traffic management. Rather it is found busy challaning vehicle owners.

Resentment prevails among the residents of Rajguru Nagar as the improvement trust has failed to keep the colony clean with no official dump for the garbage. Congress grass remains another menace.

The Akali MLA of the area has not visited the colony since his election to the Vidhan Sabha. His wife is contesting for the municipal corporation poll on August 8.

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Ludhianvis get a taste of Awadh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana August 6
Apart from the fierce battles and legendary titles, Awadh, the long-forgotten kingdom whose memories now exist only in history books, is also known for its fabulous cuisine.

Typical Awadhi sweets like “sheermal” and “lauki kheer” can be savoured among the regular spread of custard, “gulab-jamun”, fruit salad and ice-cream, etc.

Opulent in its spread, the Awadhi fare quintessentially harks back upon the era of the rich Nawabi traditions, where indulgence was the essence. This is probably reflected to its core in the ongoing Awadhi food festival being held at a hotel here. The royal spirit is piquantly palpable in the buffet of the 20-odd archetypal dishes from Awadh.

Among the guests were Congress legislative party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who presided over the proceedings, and her entourage of party leaders, including sitting and former legislators and ministers.

Even she couldn’t resist the remark: “Too delicious and sumptuous.” Emanating from the flour-sealed gargantuan handis, the tantalising aroma whets the appetite for the whole range of sorbas (sort of soup) and kebabs as starters.

The choice is as varied and sumptuous, including the “gulnaar kebab”, “machhi ke shami kebab” and “kakori kebab”. The main course includes “Lucknavi biryani”, “kofta pulao” and “yakhni pulao”, “warqui paratha”, “sultani dal”, “nargisi kofta”, “paneer pasanda”, “ananas ka muzaffar”, “maas ki dal khasgi”, “nehari khaas”, “murg mussallam” and “aachari gosht”.

Typical Awadhi sweets like “sheermal” and “lauki kheer” can be savoured among the regular spread of custard, “gulab-jamun”, fruit salad and ice-cream, etc.

According to hotel general manager Arun Jaie, the festival was a success last year and there was a great demand for it. The response, he said, was extremely good, as Ludhianvis who were connoisseurs of good food, might have found a similarity in the taste.

“We have taken every care to see that the cuisine is authentic and pure Awadhi,” he said. “The spices are locally available but the style of cooking and the use of spices is considerably different from the Hyderabadi cuisine.”

Chef Abdul Haleem Qureshi has been specially brought from Lucknow, the heart of Awadh.

He leads a team of 12 workers who have been assisting him in creating the delicacies here. The festival is on for 10 days.

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Mission Shakti

Ludhiana, August 6
The Rishi Chaitany Trust, Gurumaa Ashram, Gannaur,Sonepat, organised a meeting yesterday in Sanatan Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Deep Nagar, Ludhiana, under the project ‘Shakti’.

The project is an initiative by Anandmurti Gurumaa to save girls and empower them with education.

Varinder Sachdeva, president of ‘Shakti’, while addressing the other members of the project, explained that sex ratio has drastically declined to less than 800 girls to every 1000 boys. He requested them to create awareness about this evil in the society and help eradicate it.

The mission of this project is to make the people realise that every girl is an embodiment of Shakti - the power, and should be saved, not killed.

Others present on the occasion were V.K. Khullar, Rakesh Arora, Sudhir Sehgal, Rajan Sachdeva, Kamal Chopra, Parveen Khara, Ravinder Aggarwal and Gurinder. 
— OC.

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Plantation marks BoB centenary celebration
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
A special sapling plantation drive to commemorate the centenary celebrations of Bank of Baroda was launched at Punjab Public School, Samrala, and Government High School, Ottalan, on Saturday.

As a distinct gesture to celebrate 100 years of providing quality banking service to the community across country, the bank’s senior branch manager, Jatinder Singh in Samrala planted saplings.

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Rotaract office-bearers

Ludhiana, August 6
Office bearers of the new Rotaract Club for the year 2007-08 were installed at the Government College for Women by the Rotary Club of Ludhiana North.

Dr Vijay Obed, president, RC, Ludhiana North, said the chief guest was Prabhjot Kaur, principal, and the installing officer was Dr S.S. Johl. — TNS

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Youth killed for proposing marriage
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
His dream to marry a girl he loved cost him his life.

Kulwinder Singh Kindi, a 25-year-old youth of Barota Road, Shimla Puri, had dared to ask his beloved’s grandfather for her hand in marriage. The latter could not stomach the proposal and allegedly clubbed the youth to death.

Buta Singh, the girl’s grandfather, has been booked under Section 302 of the IPC for killing Kindi.

According to the police, Kindi went to the girl’s house this morning when his grandfather was at home. When he spelt out his proposal, Buta Singh got angry and allegedly hit him with a cricket bat, killing Kindi on the spot.

Buta Singh was arrested then from the site of crime.

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Effluent Treatment Plant Society 
Electroplating units not keen to get membership
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
Two months after it began its operation — the Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) Society — most units in the electroplating industry are yet to avail its membership. Of an estimated 500 units in this industry, so far only 245 units have become members, of which, 200 have signed the MoUs. Despite the dismal scenario, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has failed to take any action against the erring units.

The situation has not registered much improvement since the last month even as the office-bearers of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) had said “most industrial units” would avail membership.

Apart from the electroplating units, a few from bar and wire drawing industry too have come forward to avail membership.

The SPV has now pinned hopes on the PPCB to “motivate” the units that are not giving any importance to the issue of getting their water treated.

“Membership is certainly low. We have been regularly conducting meetings and asking industrial units to avail membership but not many of them are coming forward now,” said Joginder Kumar, CEO of the Ludhiana Effluent Treatment Society, the SPV formed to facilitate CETP functioning.

Despite low membership, the treatment plant is functioning and an average of 34,000 litres of water is being treated daily. However, higher membership would not only mean that industry complies with instructions of the P. Ram Committee, it would also reduce the functioning costs.

The P. Ram Committee had stated that the units which fail to get their hazardous waste treated within the deadline (May 31), would face closure. Kumar said the SPV is sending updated lists of those who have availed membership and those who have signed MoUs to the pollution control board.

“If the board asks the industrial units to avail membership, the situation might improve,” added Kumar.

To generate response from industrial units, the SPV, after putting the CETP to functioning on June 1, asked units in the electroplating, bar and wire drawing industries to avail membership, failing which, it would not be responsible if an action was taken against them.

The SPV had also set a target to increase the membership to 500 by the mid of June.

However, the threat failed to evoke the desired interest. So far, 10 lakh litres of water has been treated. Increase of 10 lakh litres of water for treatment would cut costs by 10 paise per litre.

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