L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Gyaspura elected mayor unopposed
Roads, sewerage, water supply to be his priority
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Hakim Singh Gyaspura, fourth time Shiromani Akali Dal councillor from ward number 72, was unanimously elected city mayor in the General House of the Municipal Corporation here today.

Parvin Bansal, BJP councillor and former leader of opposition in the House, was elected senior deputy mayor and Sunita Aggarwal of the BJP was elected the deputy mayor.

Gyapsura's name was proposed by the BJP’s leader of House, Gurdeep Singh Neetu. He had also proposed Simarjit Singh Bains' name as a second choice. The Congress party was invited to field their candidate.

As the party failed to do so, commissioner, Patiala Division, S.K. Ahluwalia announced Gyaspura elected unopposed. He asked him to join them on the dais.

Later Bains, a strong contender for the post of mayor proposed the name of Parvin Bansal which was seconded by Pal Singh Grewal, yet another contender. Kundan Lal Chhabra, another contender proposed the name of Sunita Aggarwal as deputy mayor and she was also elected unopposed.

At the meeting that started at 3:30 pm and continued till 4:10 pm, as many as 75 councillors were delivered the oath of office by the commissioner, Ahluwalia. As many as 72 councillors took the oath in Punjabi, two in Hindi and only one in English.

As and when the name of Gyspaura was announced, the House reverberated with the religious slogan - “Bole so nihal”. All the party councillors gathered near him to congratulate him.

Later talking to mediapersons, Gyaspura said he would work towards making the city a heaven. He said he was a member of the Finance and Contract Committee for the last 10 years and knew the city's every nook and cranny and the problems that needed immediate attention.

He said his first priority would be to provide roads, sewerage and water supply to all the areas in the city.

He was flanked by supporters and finally taken in the mayor's car.

Earlier, before the proposal of mayor's name, Hira Singh Gabria, jails minister, who had been supporting Gyaspura's candidature congratulated the councillors. He even asked the Congress leaders to cooperate and elect the mayor unanimosuly reminding them of the tradition of the House.

Mayor suffers panic attack

Soon after taking over as city's mayor, Hakim Singh Gyaspura suffered a panic attack when he was taken to commissioner Vikas Partap's office. He was swarmed by numerous supporters and was seen gasping for breath when jail minister Hira Singh Gabria asked his supporters to get him a glass of water.



Banks easy targets for criminals
Most without security guards, alarms, CCTV
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
A robbery akin to what happened at the Oriental Bank of Commerce last afternoon was waiting to happen, with a majority of 326 banks here devoid of proper security arrangements.

A recent police survey has found that 46 of the banks have no security guards despite several reminders by the police to post one at the earliest. The majority does not have functional security alarms, close circuit TVs and very few have night guards. The direction to disallow mobile phones inside bank is violated everywhere.

Police sources revealed that though periodical reminders have been sent to the banks after cops keep doing a reality check of the security arrangements, SSP R.K.Jaiswal has called a fresh meeting of the banks. Those banks, which don’t even have a security guard, the basic requirement, have been specially called for a briefing.

Interestingly, many few banks have mutli-point security alarms. The police recommend that buttons should be installed not with the cashier and the manager, but with the security guard and at a few other places also.

Even though checking crime incidents is the prime responsibility of the police, the banks have not played their role responsibly by paying no heed to the police warning of plugging the security loopholes. This, however, does not mean the police can escape responsibility.

The SSP said it was impossible for the cops to man all the banks round the clock, “The PCR squad visits all banks in their area more than two or three times as part of their daily patrolling duty. Even at the Oriental Bank of Commerce the PCR cops had made three rounds yesterday.”

He said he has been seeking report from the PCR squad about the security loopholes and writing to the bank authorities to plug those as soon as possible, “Unfortunately, very few followed the instructions.”

“Our survey has found most of the banks seem to be banking upon the God only for the safety of people’s money. It is the police which is naturally criticised for the incidents, but residents and such organisations do not realise their responsibilities.”

Moreover, the Reserve Bank of India has already put special security guideline sin place for all banks to follow. Needless to say very few adhere strictly to the norms.

Every time there is a bank robbery, burglary inside a bank or snatching incident outside the financial institution, the police have taken new measures to combat the crime. Two years ago, PCR squads were deputed to patrol the banks two to four times a day.

Similarly, carrying mobiles inside the banks was banned after a customer was looted after he came out of a bank with cash. One of the accused robbers had sounded his accomplices that the target had withdrawn money.



PFA sends invites to fill stadium
Neeraj Bagga
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Even as the Punjab Football Association (PFA) failed to attract viewers to the ground to see the ongoing 29th Hero Federation Cup Football Tournament, it has forwarded invitations to colleges and schools of the region to see the matches bypassing the ticketing process.

Inder Singh, secretary, PFA, said they extended the invitations to colleges and schools through the deputy commissioner. He said the entry of these students would be free of cost and they would have to show their identity cards for gaining entry to the ground.

Prominent among colleges and schools invited for witnessing the remaining matches of the tournament are Punjab Agriculture University, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Government Colleges, both for men and women, Guru Nanak Girls Khalsa College, Khalsa College (Boys), Arya Colleges, both for men and women, and various schools.

Inder Singh hoped that this step ultimately encourage players to put in their best on the field.

Meanwhile, irregular beaming of a private satellite channel, Zeesports, providing live telecast in some parts of the city, has soured dreams of local aficionados of the game who want to enjoy the game from the cosy environment of their homes.

These lovers of the game belong to the segment which could not go to the grounds to see their favourites like Bhaichung Bhutia and others in action from close quarters. However, they wish to watch the game on their TV sets.

According to Chandan, a goldsmith by profession, it is not possible for him to spare time to go to the stadium, located at a considerable distance from his place.

Originally from West Bengal, it was but natural for him to develop a penchant for football.

Sharing similar views, Inder Singh said he learnt the gap in telecast of the matches from some locals and brought the matter to the notice of officials of the private sports channel. The officials were taking up the matter with the cable operators.

About the failure in the dissemination of information about the cup through SMS, he said that he was not aware of the problem.



Boy untraced: More protests held
Tribune News Service

Kaunke Kalan , September 7
With Gurpreet, a minor boy still remaining untraceable four days after he disappeared under mysterious circumstances from illegal police custody, hundreds of residents of his native village, Malah, farmers and workers unions and some teachers marched to the kaunke kalan police post and staged a protest there.

The Ludhiana-Rural police had claimed two days ago that Gurpreet would be traced by Friday afternoon. SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar had stated that the village panchayat knew where the boy was and had promised to produce him by Friday.

However, the panchayat staged a protest saying it had no idea where the boy was and charged police for its failure in tracing the boy. The police have now assured the boy would be traced by Sunday.

The mystery further deepened with the SSP claiming the boy had stolen a mobile phone of a police post guard while running from custody on the night of September 4.

Contrary to the fears of his parents that Gurpreet had met the worst fate,the SSP said the boy had made phone calls to some relatives in Badhani village and he would be traced soon. The protesters were heading towards the SSP office in Jagraon but on the intervention of officials, including Gurjit Singh Romana SP (HQ) and Bhupinder Singh DSP City, Rajinder Oberai Tehsildar stopped at Kaunke Kalan only.

Political leaders, including Bhag Singh Malah Former MLA SAD, Gurdip Singh Bhaini MLA Congress participated in the protest.



Bhojpuri films rule the roost
Asha Ahuja

Lovers of Bhojpuri films come out happy after watching a Bhojpuri film on Friday afternoon.
Lovers of Bhojpuri films come out happy after watching a Bhojpuri film on Friday afternoon. — Photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, September 7
For the city's migrant population, it was an entertaining day with seven city theatres releasing Bhojpuri films today. The day was equally good for owners of these cinema halls, who usually find a scant audience.

As more than one-third of the total cinema halls in the city screened Bhojpuri films, heavy crowds could be seen outside most theatres. The trend of screening Bhojpuri films is being considered a positive change unlike earlier when many cinema halls here screened 'C' grade films allegedly carrying pornography clips in order to attract viewers."I am happy that more and more theatres are focussing on screening Bhojpuri films and I can go with my family to watch these now. Earlier there was no such trend and most of the cinema halls screened films one could not watch with family," said Shambhu, a migrant labourer.

Cinema hall owners, too, are happy as the response to these films is pretty encouraging. Jasbir Nalwa of Naulakha Cinema, located in the old city, said, "A Bhojpuri film titled “Nehrawa Rickshaw wala” ran continuously for 14 weeks which is a record of sorts. No Hindi film in the past three years has run as long as this Bhojpuri film."

Ticket rates for the films also increase when it runs well. "When a film is doing good business, we seek the permission of the deputy commissioner to increase the rates to Rs 20, 15 and 10 respectively. This price structure not only helps the theatre owners to pay the taxes, but also helps the government to get more revenue."

Balbir Singh of Arora Palace also had simailar views. He said, "The permanent and floating population of migrants in the city pockets is keeping the cinema halls alive. Hindi pictures would have sounded the death knell for the cinema halls located in far-off places, heart of the city and the industrial belt."

Another major change being witnessed in Bhojpuri films is improvement in quality. "Now Bhojpuri films have become technically better and we get them at cheaper rates than Hindi films.The sophisticated viwers do not come to old theatres. Now new malls with four screens are being patronised. The labour class finds the rates very affordable and they get entertainment at modest rates. They are happy and so are we," said Manik Raikhy of Raikhy Theatre.



Rally against female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
A large number of school and college students, along with prominent social activists, took part in a ‘raksha jyoti’ rally here today to focus against female foeticide. The rally was organised by the Punjab Academy of Films and Theatres (PAFT). It commenced from Guru Nanak Stadium and passed through several localities before concluding at PAU, gate no. 2, on the Ferozepur road. The rally was flagged off by senior officials and other dignitaries, including Rupinder Singh, SP (traffic), Amrit Lal Aggarwal, president, Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan, Dr Sat Pal Sharma, civil surgeon, Varinder Sharma, DEO, Kamla Jain, Devinder Gupta, R.V. Samrat, Amarjit Singh, Dheeraj Sharma, Gurpreet Kairon, Nirmal Rishi, Naresh Sharma, Ashok Goenka and Varinder Bhikhi.

The PAFT managing director Ashwani Behl said mass mobilisation and creating awareness were the only means to tackle the social evil of female foeticide.



VAT penalties too harsh, say lawyers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Members of the District Taxation Bar Association today condemned penalties imposed on Value Added Tax (VAT) Act.

Naveen Rattan, addressing a seminar on VAT Act organised by the association, said the act was relatively new and all officials of the excise and taxation department were not fully acquainted with its provisions.

The act was quite tough and many times assess had to suffer due to wrong interpretations by the department, the members said.

Talking about penalties imposed in case of delay in filing returns, Gulshan Goyal, president of the association, said penalty of Rs 100 per day up to Rs 10,000 were being imposed which was quite high. He said stringent measures caused harassment and had created fear among tax payers.

Avtar Singh, vice-president, Karamjit Singh, secretary, Jatinder Khurana, press secretary and Ashish Thamman, joint secretary , were among others present on the occasion.



IT surveys on industrial units

Ludhiana, September 7
The Income Tax Department today began surveys on two industrial units falling under range 6. The surveys, that started this morning, are being conducted under the supervision of additional commissioner income tax J.R. Kajla. Sources said the department had seized documents of two industrial units, located in Industrial Area.

The department has been conducting surveys for the last 15 days here with a view to catch hold of concealing income. The surveys were on till the filing of this report. — TNS



Let down thrice, Kitchlu Nagar assn guns for commissioner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Angry at the commissioner, Municipal Corporation, for not attending a Van Mahotsav function thrice, the Dr Kitchlu Nagar Residents Association is gunning for him now.

Stating that commissioner Vikas Pratap deliberately stayed away from their tree plantation function thrice, the association led by Virinder Bhakoo said the reason was well known to him.

In a written statement here, Bhakoo said the commissioner stayed away from this function yesterday though it was rescheduled on his request only.

‘‘We had to request our area councillor, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who was kind enough to reach the venue within minutes. But the commissioner stayed away’’, he said.

He added that the commissioner was invited on August 13 to Kitchlu Nagar at a tree-plantation function. He did not turn up though about 150 people from the area were waiting for him.



Mouse Menace
Measures to control rat population
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana September 7
The history of plague can be traced back to biblical times. According to Dr H.S. Sehgal, professor and head, department of zoology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, rats not only eat our foodgrain but also spoil these by contamination with their feces, urine and fur. Besides causing damage in various ways, rats are responsible for transmitting diseases to humans and livestock.

The department of zoology, PAU, Ludhiana, is developing rat control technologies under an All-India Network Project (AINP) on rodent control funded by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Dr Rajinder Kaur, principal investigator of the project, and a team of scientists working with her said the presence of rats on premises could be confirmed by the presence of rat burrows or holes in the ground, fecal droppings and urine, signs of damage caused by gnawing, rat sightings, tracks on dusty surfaces and a characteristic musty odour.

The team, working on rat control, has worked out three effective measures of controlling rats, viz. environmental sanitation, rat proofing and destruction of rats. Environmental sanitation involves proper storage and handling of food materials and refuse, prevention of its spillage, elimination of rat shelter and removal of grass, weeds and other undesirable vegetation adjacent to buildings and fences. The garbage cans (dustbins) of the houses should preferably be emptied at night before sleeping.

For destroying rats, trapping is a preferred method of capturing but it is of little value in controlling infestations. Poisons for killing rats are known as rodenticides. Rodenticides should be used only when the rodent infestation is very high and all other options fail since non-target animals are also vulnerable to these products. Most important of these are the chronic or anti-coagulating poisons and are now regarded as the first choice rodenticides.



‘Conserve’ natural resources or perish
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Thousands of farmers thronged the one-day Kisan Mela at Regional Research Station, Ballowal Saunkhri here yesterday.

The mela was organised by the directorate of extension education, PAU to give tips to the farmers for the coming rabi session.

Punjab agriculture minister, Sucha Singh Langah, in his inaugural address, appreciated the role of PAU scientists and hard working Punjab farmers in ushering the green revolution.

He said Punjab state was not suitable for paddy cultivation and advised the farmers to shift from paddy to other alternate crops, which consumed less water.

Expressing deep concern over the depletion of underground water, he suggested the farmers to use the technique of drip irrigation.

He also added that we should conserve natural resources, else be ready to perish.

PAU vice-chancellor, Dr M.S. Kang, in his presidential address impressed upon PAU scientists and economists to come up with affordable techniques to increase agricultural production in Kandi area, enhance their income and explore the possibilities of setting up agro-processing units based on local raw material.

He emphasised that horticulture had greater scope in Kandi area where fruits could be successfully grown. Dr Kang gave away prizes to the winners in different crop competitions.

Supinder Kaur Cheema, member, board of management, PAU also addressed the farmers. She called upon the farmwomen to play a pro-active role in decision making at home. She warned the gathering against social evils like female foeticide and drug addiction etc. and stressed upon women education. Chief parliamentary secretary, Punjab, Chaudhary Nand Lal appreciated the research work being done by the university for Kandi area.

PAU director of research, Dr G.S. Chahal, highlighted the achievements made by the university in the field of research for crops in the Kandi area. He said the agricultural problems in Kandi area were different from other areas of Punjab and therefore, the university had developed suitable techniques for agro-forestry, horticulture and water conservation in Kandi area.

During the technical session, the farm scientists of the university and farmers of Kandi area exchanged their views on farming techniques to be adopted in this area for different crops, agro-forestry and horticulture.



Railway pensioners sore over poor medical facilities
Kuldip Bhatia
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The retired employees of Northern Railways here are sore over lack of comprehensive diagnostic and medical facilities in railway hospital, as also the apathetic attitude of the railway administration towards reimbursement of the expenditure incurred on laboratory and diagnostic tests in recognised private institutions.

According to Northern Railway Pensioners Association chairman Sher Singh, the railway hospital in the city was not equipped to provide modern diagnostic tests like echocardiography, TMT, ultrasound scan, and even some simple laboratory tests. Similarly, the hospital did not have specialists for different diseases, as a result, the pensioners seeking specialised treatment had no other choice but to travel to divisional or central hospital at Ferozepur and New Delhi respectively.

In a representation to the Northern Railway top brass and the union railway ministry, he alleged that the local railway hospital was not being upgraded due to vested interests, no diagnostic or treatment facilities existed in the local hospital and a long standing demand of the railway employees and pensioners for providing specialist doctors for consultation and treatment of life-threatening diseases, was still hanging fire.

Sher Singh said, "The railway authorities have recently recognised a local hospital (SPS Apollo Hospitals) but the beneficiaries can avail only emergency services in this private institution. At what stage of disease, railway will consider it as an emergency and who will decided whether the railway pensioner or employees ought to be referred to local private hospital," he asked.

The representation further went on to ask that if the beneficiaries of health facilities were not eligible to have consultation for diseases of heart, kidney or other complications like cancer and hypertension, or seek diagnostic tests at the private hospitals, then what was the purpose of its recognition?

The head of the pensioners body maintained that simply due to system hassles, the railways were spending more on providing free travel to employees and pensioners for medical purposes rather than making basic diagnostic and treatment facilities available at local railway hospitals.

In the wake of brewing resentment among the railway pensioners, he urged the senior railway officials to review the entire mechanism of providing diagnostic and treatment facilities and ensure speedy reimbursement of diagnostic facilities availed at private hospitals which were not available at local or divisional railway hospitals.



Class IV staff dharna on Sept 18
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
The health staff, led by activists of Class IV Government Employees and Workers Union will hold a dharna at civil surgeon’s office here on September 18 to protest against non-acceptance of pending demands and non-implementation of demands, which were conceded more than three months back.

In a statement here today, secretary of the association Harbhajan Singh said all pending demands were discussed with the civil surgeon in a meeting held in June 2007 but the concerned authorities had failed to take any follow-up action thereafter.

He said there was an increasing discontent among the affected employees as genuine demands like formation of seniority lists, timely payment of salaries, delay in distribution of uniforms, statements of GP fund and GIAS, were still hanging fire.

Activists of the association, including Karam Singh, president, Harpal Singh, vice-president, Jagdev Singh, Kewal Singh, Sohan Singh, Bhajan Singh, Subhash Chand, Kulwant Singh, Malkiat Singh and Karnail Singh, who had undertaken intensive tour of all blocks in the district, claimed that the employees would keenly take part in the protest and continue their struggle till justice was dispensed.



Arhtiya assn meeting held

Samrala, September 7
Major Singh Gehlewal, the president of the Sacha Sauda Arhtiya Association, Samrala, thanked the chairman of the federation of the ahrtia association, Bal Krishan Singla, and Punjab president Vijay Kalra for the appointment of Sher Singh Mushkabad as the vice president of Punjab and Major Singh as the joint secretary. The meeting was held on Friday in the grain market. — OC



Book on farm machinery

Ludhiana, September 7
Though farm machinery and use of pesticides has led to overall increased production of foodgrains, there are grave concerns regarding non-adoption of safety measures while using them said Dr M.S. Kang, vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana while releasing a book entitled, 'Kheti Hadsian Ton Savdhan'. PAU scientists, Dr Kanwal Mahindra, Dr N.S. Butter, Dr Rabinderjit Kaur and Gurbhajan Gill have edited the book.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kang said the publication of such a book has made it evident that how much human life is valued by the PAU. Lauding the effort of the editors, he said the book will go a long way in educating the farming community about remaining attentive towards the possibilities of accidents in the field. The first copy of the book was presented to an eminent soil scientist, Dr Gurdev Singh Hira. — TNS



Dearness allowance

The Government of India has recently sanctioned dearness allowance/dearness relief at a rate of 6% to its employees/pensioners and family pensioners raising the same from 35% to 41% with effect from July 1 this year in view of rising prices of essential articles/services of daily use.

We urge the government of Punjab to sanction similar benefits to its in-service employees and pensioners, including family. Pensioners with effect from July 1st, 2007 as the state governments, under an agreement, are to follow the similar pattern adopted by central govt for its employees/pensioners as and when the consumers price index escalates during the six monthly period, as per the practice being followed over the past considerable period of time.

B.R. Kaushal, Ludhiana

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.



Man held for raping minor daughter

Ludhiana, September 7
The Basti Jodhewal has arrested a resident of Kailash Nagar for allegedly raping his minor daughter.

The victim girl stated in the FIR that his father had raped her a number of times when her mother was not at home. She was threatened to keep quiet. However, one day she could not hold herself back and told her mother the entire matter. Her mother called the police, at which the man was booked and arrested. — TNS



Mobile phones from dragon's stable flood markets
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
It is time for Chinese mobile phones flooding city markets. Despite quality related apprehensions, buyers are finding these sleek looking phones an attractive option and sellers are making good moolah from them.

Over 150 models of mobile phones bearing 'made in China' tag have entered the market of this industrial town and most of them offer a wide variety of features that were available so far only in high end phones here. And a surprising factor is that several models bear warranty too, something that might give established companies a run for their money.

Satbir Singh, a businessman who bought one such phone, said, "In merely Rs 6,500 I got this handset that has camera, I can insert two SIM cards in it, apart from enjoying various other features like as many as 20 video games, radio, blue-tooth etc. Similar number of features in any other mobile phone would have cost me anything between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000."

Starting from Rs 3,000 and going upto Rs 12,000, even the entry-level models are equipped with cameras, gaming and other high tech features. Though available in limited colour options, most of them are either black or silver. Phone users are finding the designs attractive. Among the popular models, the ones that can open vertically and horizontally, have a camera that can click pictures from both sides etc are favorites.

The bargains, like most Chinese products are pretty attractive. Gagan, a shop owner in Gur Mandi, said, "These phones are cheaper than the ones that have been available here so far which is why they are getting highly popular."

Sellers said despite being cheaper the features they carry were similar to the high-end phones, which made it easier for them to charge even a few hundred rupees extra from clients.

A couple of models come with a warranty period too. "There are models that come with a warranty period of 1 year. The quality of these phones is good. And given the fact that many companies that are currently selling high do not offer any warranty, a Chinese phone is any day a better option," said another shopkeeper.



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