L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



CM’s cavalcade hits ambulance
Two doctors among four injured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Four persons, including two doctors, were injured in an accident involving the cavalcade of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the Dholewal Chowk bridge this afternoon.

The accident took place when a fire tender could not apply brakes in time and rammed into an ambulance riding ahead of it, in the CM cavalcade.

The injured included Kewal Singh, driver of the ambulance , Puran Bahadur, a para medical employee, besides two doctors who suffered minor injuries.

The injured were rushed to the civil hospital where they were discharged in the evening.

The sources said the ambulance driver had slowed down while climbing the bridge. The fire tender driver could not slow down at the same time and banged right into the ambulance. The ambulance in turn hit a car riding ahead.

Meanwhile, security concerns of the VVIP again came to the fore this morning when the CM left a public function at Gaushala, Hambran road, in a hurry.

Senior police officials and commandos suddenly formed a security circle around the CM within minutes after he arrived at Gaushala and hurriedly took him away. The CM was scheduled to stay for over one and a half hours at the function. He stayed there for a few minutes only. He left the venue even without addressing the gathering.

The city witnessed high security for the CM’s visit. Most of the roads leading to the main route were closed or blocked. However, the CM did not cancel other scheduled visits in the city.

While no police official was willing to divulge any information, administrative sources said the CM left the function at the Hambran road only to complete the tight schedule in time.

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National Road is one-way again
But unhappy shopkeepers stage protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
The police has once again taken a tough stand on regulating traffic in Ghumar Mandi by enforcing one-way traffic on National Road.

Shopkeepers of the area responded to the one-way enforcement by staging a dharna for over an hour in the afternoon. The dharna was lifted on the assurance given of police officials that a mutually acceptable formula would be implement by Monday. Till that time, the traffic would ply one-way only.

Satish Gupta, a shopkeeper, said the dharna was staged because customers had started avoiding the market.

“We admit that there was traffic problem in the market. But the one-way rule is clearly against our business. Our sales have come down and we would be forced to close shops,” he said.

SP (Traffic) Roopinder Singh said except shopkeepers others were happy with the one-way traffic regulation. He said in order to avoid daily traffic jams, the one-way was the only solution.

However, the police was willing to consider any other option which would not hamper the flow of traffic. The SP said tough decisions had to be taken to maintain discipline on the roads.

The police had enforced the one-way rule with much fanfare about two weeks ago. However, early this week, National Road was excluded from the rule allegedly due to the pressure of the shopkeepers as well as some politicians.

The police was forced to enforce one-way again when traffic jams started occurring on the road again. A major jam took place on Monday only when the one-way rule was lifted. 

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Urban slum plan in trouble 
Only 50 nurses in 29 govt dispensaries 
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 21
A healthcare project for urban slum-dwellers, to be run by the state government with financial assistance from the Centre under the reproductive child health (RCH) programme, may not have been completely grounded, but is definitely facing a rough weather.

In the wake of nearly 4 lakh slum-dwellers, including migrants in the city, the state government had recently mooted a proposal for appointing 56 auxiliary nurse midwives for strengthening the healthcare for the urban poor as also for educating them and providing easier access to facilities under the ‘reproductive child health’ programme.

The auxiliary nurse midwives are to be paid a fixed remuneration of Rs 5,000 out of the funds allocated by the Central government under its project which is mainly for checking unintended pregnancies, promoting institutional deliveries, bringing down infant mortality rate, besides making available pre-natal care and necessary vaccination to the expectant women.

However, even though the posts of the auxiliary nurse midwives or multi-purpose health workers were advertised twice by the health department, a few candidates turned up. Till now only 23 posts could be filled. Sources in the department revealed that the monthly remuneration was the main hurdle in the way of these recruitments since the eligible candidates could earn more in private health institutions.

As of now, the health department had on rolls around 50 auxiliary nurse midwives and multi-purpose health workers, attached to 29 government dispensaries in different parts of the city which were considered far too inadequate going by the number of slum-dwellers and continuing influx of migrants to the city.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, civil surgeon Sat Pal Sharma maintained that the existing field staff in the dispensaries and the civil hospital, along with private health institutions was doing their best to propagate the planned family norm, pre-natal healthcare of the pregnant women, institutional deliveries and general health care.

He said the rest of the newly sanctioned posts of auxiliary nurse midwives and field workers under the Central government-funded programme would soon be filled and the work started to have desired results.

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Dance girls silence pipe bands 
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Hundreds of pipe bands in peripheral villages of the city have taken a back seat with dance girls performing on the tunes of recorded songs at marriage parties and other social functions.

The bands, which commanded a price of Rs 25,000 or more a decade ago, are now paid "peanuts" compared to what is paid to the the dance girls.

Whereas a dance girl is on an average paid Rs 2,000, a member of the pipe band is paid a meagre Rs 700.

The business has taken a beating and scores are looking for alternative jobs.The trend for piped bands started in 1992 when an ex-serviceman posted at the Badhowal cantonment formed a private group after retirement. The trend caught on and soon his group became a training ground for the youth of nearby villages. His disciples broke into sub- groups. Several other ex-servicemen also started their own bands.

Badhowal, on the Ferozepur road, alone has approximately 300 pipe band groups. In fact, a majority of houses on the main road display boards, inviting customers.

Pohir village, on the Malerkotla road, has more than 50 such display boards along the main road.There are scores more in Halwara, Jhande, Aauli Bains, Malikpur, Jodhan and Malikpur villages.

Says Dalvinder Singh, who was with the 14 Sikh Light Regiment:“The smartly turned out impeccable bands would draw crowds. Most were led by ex-serviceman."

Goldy of Jhande village is the manager of six bands. "The bands were popular till a few years back. There is some demand even now with the bands having performed recently at different places in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Aslam Khan of Parag Fauji Band in Pohir, said: "The rates for a pipe band could be as low as Rs 2,000 for 10 members during the lean season.The dance groups get approximately Rs 13,000. A male dancer gets Rs 1,000". His shop displays huge posters of dance girls.

Sohan Singh, an ex-serviceman from Pohir, said: " I started my band in 1998. Now I am idle most of the time, like most others. I cannot think of starting another business now."

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DC’s office swanky; loo dilapidated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
The deputy commissioner’s office in the main building of the mini secretariat complex in the city presents an elegant ambience. Unlike other government offices, it wears a corporate look. While the interiors have been carefully designed, the furniture seems to have been aesthetically set up. However, in stark contrast to the interiors of the office, a public convenience just opposite to the corridor is in a dilapidated condition. One comes across broken urinals, continuously running taps and stinking toilets. It is difficult to pass through the corridor without stopping your breath for a while.

A large number of people visit various offices in the building daily.

It is not that the condition has deteriorated in the recent past. It has been going on like this for years together. Apparently, no senior official in the administration seems to have had a look at these urinals and toilets. Even if he had, he just forgot it. In fact it is not just the main building in the mini secretariat which has dilapidated public convenience, even other buildings housing the SSP’s and that of the district public Relation officers is the worst.

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ESI told to refund Rs 3.31 lakh to PAU
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, September 21
A local court has directed the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESI) to refund Rs 3.31 lakh recovered from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) as ESI’s contribution along with 6 per cent interest per annum. The court observed that the provisions of the ESI Act were not applicable to the university employees.

The orders were pronounced by civil judge (senior division)-cum-presiding officer of the Employees Insurance Court K.S. Cheema while deciding two petitions filed by the university.

Convinced with the submissions of university counsel, the court held that university employees were getting proper medical facilities. Hence the ESI’s action in recovering the amount by attaching the university’s account was not justified.

The university had filed two petitions through its then press manager K.C. Sarna under Section 75 of the ESI Act. It was submitted that the ESI’s provisions were not applicable to employees. The press was set up on no-profit-no-loss basis for benefit of its employees and students.

Whereas, the ESI without appreciating the facts brought the employees of press, under its ambit and started making illegal demands of recovery towards employees and employers contribution. Whereas, the university was not deducting any amount from employees salary towards the ESI contribution.

Moreover, all employees were availing proper medical facilities from their own hospital functioning in the vicinity of the university. Even they were also entitled to reimburse medical expenses, in case they were advised to obtain hospitalization from some other recognised hospital. The other facilities like that of granting medical aid to the wards, dependents and other family members of the employees were also provided. So, the demands of ESI were totally illegal, the petition states.

On the other hand, the ESI’s stand was that as per rules, the university was under obligation to get the exemption from them for not paying their contribution. Earlier, they were seeking exemptions. But, when they failed to seek exemption, amount was charged by attaching their bank accounts.

During the course of arguments, the university counsel stressed that as per the Act, if any institution was providing better medical facilities than the ESI, then the same could not be held liable to make the contribution. It was proved on record that the university was providing better medical facilities to its employees, added university counsel. After appreciating the evidence on record, the court ordered the ESI to refund the money. 

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Badal calls on MLAs, leaders
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
The visit of a Chief Minister to a party worker’s or leader’s home means a lot and makes a great difference in the stature of the particular worker or leader in the eyes of others and particularly the administration. Besides, it also conveys the message of the particular leader’s or worker’s proximity to the Chief Minister, even if he (Chief Minister) made a formal appearance for a few minutes. But that was enough for the hosts to get photographs clicked with the Chief Minister for life-long display in their drawing rooms.

And Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal conveyed a lot of messages and got a lot of photographs clicked today spending full day here calling on party MLAs and leaders at their home.

Badal landed in the city in the morning and straightway drove towards Hambran Road to lay down the foundation stone of a gaushala at around 10am. His next scheduled programme was to inaugurate a national conference on surgical oncology at Paul Auditorium in PAU at 6pm. The intervening period he used visiting the legislators like Harish Rai Dhanda, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha, party leader Bhagwan Singh and others.

It was also a hectic day for the officials of the local administration and the police who were literally on the toes for the full day. Badal’s schedule ran late into the night as after inaugurating the conference at the PAU he was to visit the residence of former minister Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal at Model Town and the ongoing Ganpati Mahotsava being organised by Ludhiana North MLA Harish Bedi at Janakpuri.

Badal remarked in his witty manner, there was no politics in his visits as these were purely personal. He said he had planned to visit the party workers and leaders for a long time and today he had got the chance to do so. The Chief Minister talked to family members of the workers and leaders and spent some “good time” with them, posing for pictures with a big smile on his face.

It turned out to be a hectic schedule with frequent photo sessions for the Chief Minister. 

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... Lays stone of cowshed 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today left a large number followers of Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Jyotish Peeth, Swami Madhav Ashram disappointed as he did not address the function at Dharamsangh Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya. Badal, who began his day after laying the foundation stone of a cowshed being set up by the Jagadguru, was scheduled to address the function at the mahavidyalaya, where people were waiting for him.

Everything went as per the schedule.After laying the foundation stone his convoy drove towards the mahavidyalaya. As soon as he got down for entering the venue a few official accompanying him whispered something in his ears. Badal retreated instantly.

While organisers were disappointed, official sources claimed that there was “some communication gap”. However, as per the schedule circulated by the local administration yesterday, Badal after laying the foundation stone was to address the function at the mahavidyalaya.

Words went around that Badal reiterated due to some security threat. However, senior police officials denied it. More ever, Badal remained in the town throughout the day. He also went to West End Mall, where he watched a movie for sometime.

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P. Ram to complain to chief secretary 
Row Over Cleaning of Budda Nullah
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
A few days after the Budda Nullah Cleaning Committee was forced to stall the cleaning work owing to non-cooperating attitude of the district administration, the committee head P. Ram, who is principal secretary, said today that he would complain to the chief secretary in this regard.

Stating that the administration had failed to demarcate the land of the nullah in villages, he said the committee would not be able to do much if the administration did not cooperate. He was here to take a stock of the progress of three sewerage treatment plants in the district.

He said he would report the problem to the chief secretary on September 23 during a meeting being convened on the progress of the nullah.

“I will make him apprise of what is happening in the city. Rest is up to the state government. After all it’s answerable to the high court on the issue. I will prepare the entire report by the next hearing on October 18,” he said.

He refused to comment on the allegations of political interference leveled by the committee.

“I do not have to say anything on this issue. I only know that I have to get this work done as long as the government wants me to do it. Just look at the Kali Bein project. The water flows clear in it now. We hope the Budda Nullah is also as clean as Bein in future,” he added.

He inspected the sewerage treatment plant in Jamalpur in the morning. He stayed there for more than an hour. He even inspected the garbage dump.

Later, he went to the Bhattian and Balloke treatment plants. Officials of the Municipal Corporation and the Punjab Pollution Control Board accompanied him during his visit.

P. Ram had launched the nullah cleaning campaign in December from Kum Kalan. He had rekindled a hope among local residents and villagers living alongside the nullah that they would finally get clean water. But the cleaning committee has hit a major roadblock. 

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Mayor orders removal of posters, hoarding
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 21
After drawing flak from certain quarters, the municipal corporation today ordered the removal of hoardings and banners put up in the city at several places.

The commissioner of the MC, Vikas Pratap, ordered the removal today. By the afternoon, the employees had removed huge posters put up on overhead sign boards. Several others put up on poles were intact till the filing of this report.

The issue was taken up by the city mayor, Hakam Singh Gyaspura, who called the meeting of officials yesterday.

Meanwhile some leaders alleged that the MC had removed the posters and banners put up by a councillor, Simarjit Singh Bains, who was a strong contender for the post of mayor. He was being projected as a strong candidate by Sukhbir Singh Badal, acting president, SAD.

The party leaders said though some posters put up by Bains were removed, others bearing pictures of Gyaspura were still there. They even accused the mayor of pick and choose policy.

Bains refused to comment on the development. He said he would accept the orders of the MC as a law abiding citizen. “If they think it is illegal to put up posters, they have all the right to remove them. But if it is pick and choose then it is a sad state of affairs.’’ he added. 

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Letters
Unauthorised change of name

It is submitted that the AWHO complex is located in the vicinity of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar. It was named Shamsher Nagar as per the brochure of October 89. Unfortunately some ex-servicemen presiding in the colony, have arbitrarily changed the name to Defence colony, without any authority or permission taken.

This amounts to disrespect to the soldier, Lt Shamsher Singh Samra, MVC after whose name this colony was named.

This should not be done sending a wrong signal to the civilians. I have strongly resented this act, and have informed all concerned authorities but to no avail.

It is requested that necessary action be taken by some department, to prevent disrespect to the martyr.

Neeraj, 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.

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