L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Blast at cracker unit leaves owner dead
Tribune News Service

Forensic experts collect samples from the house damaged by the explosion.
Forensic experts collect samples from the house damaged by the explosion.

Ludhiana, September 23
A powerful explosion in an illegal firecracker manufacturing unit in a house at Peeru Banda Mohalla, Salem Tabri, left a man dead and his wife and a son badly wounded this afternoon.

The victim, Satnam Singh, was making crackers to meet an urgent order for a marriage party when the explosion took place. He did not have the required licence issued by the district administration.

His wife Rano and son Gori, sitting in the adjoining room, were injured. Rano may suffer permanent damage to the ears. They are being treated at a local hospital.

A younger son of the deceased had a providential escape as he had just left for tuition.

The explosion was so massive that the doors and windows of the double-storey building were reduced to pieces and the walls and roof developed wide cracks. Certain portions of the roof had fallen.

The police has locked the house as it could collapse any time. Relatives and neighbhours were seen squatting on the street outside the house, mourning the dead and wailing over the loss.

Satnam was the main breadwinner of the family. Manufacturing crackers was the family vocation and the business was usually high around Dasehra and Diwali, besides the marriage season.

The SHO of Salem Tabri, Beant Kumar, said the damage caused to the house and the condition of the body suggested that a huge quantity of explosive material was lying in the house.

A team of forensic experts and experts from PAP Battalion, Jalandhar, along with a bomb disposal squad, inspected the house and gathered samples.

The police would wait for the report of the samples before registering a case. The SHO said the report was necessary to verify if some explosive material other than the one used in manufacturing crackers was stored in the house.



Sitting on powder keg
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Residents of Peeru Banda Mohalla are virtually sitting on a tinderbox of their own making. Most of them are manufacturing crackers illegally.

Today’s blast is a grim reminder of several such incidents in the past which have not only damaged property, but also claimed lives.

Though the illegal activity continues all through the year, the police, civil administration and the department of industries have turned a blind eye to it.

The authorities take note only when such an incident occurs. Even though it is common knowledge that firecrackers are being manufactured in almost every house here, the administration has not made any effort to check it.

Under the Fire Explosives Act, the manufacturing or storing of explosives is banned in residential areas. The colony is a residential area and is thickly populated.

The houses are constructed close to one another and a blast in one, could damage a cluster of buildings.

The then district magistrate had issued orders in 2005, banning the storing or manufacturing of crackers in residential areas.

Last year in May, four houses had been badly damaged in a powerful explosion in the same colony. Two labourers were allegedly injured but were whisked away by owners. The houses were situated at a stone’s throw from the house where the blast took place today.

Another blast had taken place a few days before Dasehra in 2005 when a woman had died. Sources said several minor blasts keep taking place here.

The police and the administration conduct raids after such an incident occurs and the illegal activity stops for a few days, only to restart with fresh vigour.



Bhagat Singh inspires youth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
The Naujawan Bharat Sabha today demanded the constitution of a national-level commission to discover the missing drafts of four books written by Shaheed Bhagat Singh, while in prison during a state-level Janam Shatabadi convention held here.

Youths from all over Punjab attended the convention with great zeal and enthusiasm. Speaking in the convention, state convenor Rajwinder appealed the youth to come forward fearlessly to build a new India of the dreams of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

In his address, he asked whether the countrymen were valuing the Independence for which these great martyrs kissed the gallows. Even after 60 years of Independence, a large chunk of India’s population is devoid of basic amenities. Unemployment, poverty, corruption and lawlessness is prevalent all around, he said.

‘‘Bhagat Singh was not only a great patriot and young revolutionary but a great thinker and ideologue too. This had been revealed by the variety and depth of his knowledge contained in his prison notebook and other historical documents. While in prison he also wrote four books, including ‘My Autobiography’, ‘Ideal of Socialism’, ‘Revolutionary Movement in India’ and ‘On to door steps of Death’. The rough drafts of all these four books are lost in mysterious circumstances which are yet to he discovered, ’’ he added.

The convention also passed few other resolutions besides demanding a national-level commission to discover the missing drafts of books written by Shaheed Bhagat Singh. They demanded to include the important documents written by him in curriculum at all level, to compile, publish and provide his (and his comrades) documents in all Indian languages to all the schools, colleges and public libraries free of cost, to acknowledge the revolver used by Bhagat Singh and Rajguru in Saunder’s murder case as a national heritage and preserve it in the National Museum.

The youths marched up to the Jagraon Bridge in a procession, garlanded the statues of martyrs and pledged before these statues, to contribute their whole to build the dream India, free from any exploitation and injustice.

Several other organisations, including the Moulders and Steel Workers Union, Lok Morcha, Lok Ekta Sangathan, Rashtriya Shaheed Bhagat Singh Mazdoor Sangathan, Istri Bhalai Sabha and sympathisers of Inqlabi Jamhoori Lehar gathered at Baba Than Singh’s memorial at Sunet and took out a massive rally. The rally passed through various localities before culminating at Jagraon bridge. 



Railway overbridge spills misery
Vijay Bansal

Jagraon, September 23
The construction of the bridge over the level crossing on the tehsil road, Jagraon, was started in December 2006, with a target to be completed by February 17, 2008. Now even after the passage of nine months, only 30 per cent of the target has been achieved.

It has irked the business community, whose establishments fall on both side of it, as they are suffering huge losses because it has blocked vehicular traffic and makes it hard even for pedestrians to cross. The other two roads to which the traffic has been diverted to cross through Kacha Malak Road is narrow causing traffic jams. The other known as Sherpura road connects the GT Road and is full of potholes.



Patwari booked for meddling
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
The police has booked a patwari, Jatinder Kumar, on the allegation of tampering with the record pertaining to encroachment at Jawaddi village.

A drain was allegedly “grabbed” with the connivance of revenue department officials.

Police sources said the department turned a blind eye towards the land grabbing by a person who knew a senior Akali minister.

The patwari concerned was booked on the recommendation of deputy commissioner, Sumer Singh Gurjar.

The DC had conducted an inquiry on the complaint of Shashi Bharti of Jawaddi. The patwari was accused of dereliction of duty and not informing senior officials about the encroachment. 



1 injured in freak accident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
An unidentified passer-by was seriously injured in a freak accident in New Aman Nagar this afternoon when a transformer fell on him after a jeep hit the pole.

The victim had taken shelter under the transformer when the jeep driver lost balance after hitting another car.

Power supply to nearly 100 houses was snapped due to the accident. PSEB JE Harwant Singh said the poles collapsed as a result of the accident. 



Ludhiana Calling

A fashion designer from Mumbai learnt a sure shot way to sell her designs to the richie rich of the industrial town. As she could not manage to attract enough buyers, a friend recommended that the moment a visitor comes to her stall, she should “drop name of one of the ladies from the whos who family of Ludhiana and say she bought a couple of suits and saris only yesterday. And use the first name so that the visitor thinks that you know her well,” the friend suggested. The designer did so and, interestingly, she not only sold off her entire collection, but managed to bag some future orders too.

Plastic way

Plastic has assumed a significant position in welcoming guests on the campus of Punjab Agricultural University which is the seat for promoting knowledge in the growth of greenery. At a function held on the campus recently, Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal was handed over a bouquet of plastic flowers. Not just in this case, plastic flowers can be seen sitting pretty in the rooms of several senior university officials and teachers. How ironical, considering the fact that Dr M.S. Randhawa, former vice-chancellor, always said, flowers “talked” to the growers.

Greed, innovation

Unprofessionally managed publicity agencies have become the order of the day. These agencies make tall promises to their clients, to fulfil which, they try to fool newspersons in different ways. While earlier it was restricted to forwarding the same press release at different stations by changing the dateline, these professionals are now exercising a new technique. They send a press release and resend the same after 10-15 days. When confronted by a journalist, the PR person who recently did so, apologised, only to repeat the action.

Dreaming big

Ever since the SAD-BJP government came to power in the state, acting SAD president and the heir apparent, Sukhbir Badal, has been making Ludhianvis dream big with the promise of a metro-rail project among so many other things. This, he says, will provide immense relief to the people here from congested traffic and transportation will also be smooth. Whether the project takes off or not is anybody’s guess, but whenever he happens to be in town, it is a nightmare for the commuters. The roads are blocked and traffic is diverted. The same thing happens when his father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is in town. And he happens to be here too frequently. Metro-rail apart, only if the father-son duo could think of poor Ludhiana commuters who suffer from their frequent visits.

BSNL help(less)line

The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited might have made phenomenal progress in terms of hooking cell phone subscribers. But their services remain as primitive as one can expect of a government organisation. Their helpline phone numbers are a good example. Whenever one calls on the number, there is a long narrative about the services offered by the BSNL. For 10 minutes, the caller is forced to listen to all that is already known to him. Then he is made to hold since “no customer care executive is available”. This goes on for minutes together before one is forced to hang up as no customer care executive is free to take the call. This probably explains the fall in the number of BSNL landline subscribers.

Picture perfect

Till now the newspaper offices used to be flooded with photographs and details of the persons elected or nominated by various associations. But recently, the National Students Union of India (NSUI), in a bid to inform the public about one of its leaders who was expelled from the union due to his anti-party activities, sent the details to be published in the newspaper along with a photograph of the “expelled leader”. When asked, one of the office-bearers said, “People take notice of the news if it is published with picture.”

Stray cattle

Stray cattle rule the city roads. The menace is growing with every passing day. Abandoned cows and bulls are seen all over the roads blocking traffic. The civic body seems to be helpless in dealing with the menace. The residents are now pinning their hopes to the newly constituted MC House. May be some leaders take up the matter sensitively and the roads are made cattle free.

Please learn

Ludhianvis are known for doing “kuccha” business. That means they sell goods without giving “pucca” bills to save VAT. Even the residents have now become habitual of getting kuccha bills and saving money on VAT. The other day, a resident came across an electric appliance dealer who did not agree to pay a kuccha bill. “I will never evade tax come what may,” said the dealer who is known for his honest dealings. If only other traders learn something from him.

Tail piece

The daily crime report, prepared by the police and sent to senior officials, tries to give details as brief as possible in such a typical ‘pinglish’ style that one can’t stop laughing. The best came recently when a complainant Sher Singh was listed as Lion Singh. A crime reporter, who called up at the complainant’s landline phone, was at the receiving end of the latter’s wrath when he sought talking to “Lion Singh”.




Cops fail to trace three missing students
Our Correspondent

Amloh, September 23
Residents of this and nearby towns are worried over the disappearance of Stiphen Maseh (12), son of Ramesh Maseh and a Class VI student of Government Senior Secondary School (Boys) here. The boy after coming from the school went to play in the nearby street in the evening of September 18 but never returned. Prior to this, Raj Kumar (15), son of Sunil Kumar of ward No. 7 went missing on July 28.

In yet another case, a Class VII student of Government Girls School was reportedly missing since June. The police, however, has failed to make any breakthrough in these cases.

Missing boy’s mother Kirna when contacted said today that her son was the eldest among five children (three daughters and two sons) and had gone to play after returning from the school on September 18 but never returned. The boy’s father happens to be a daily wager.

A few neighbours, relatives and local MLA, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, were present on the occasion. Kirna said when the boy did not turn up at the sun set; they searched for him and informed the police.



Introduce traffic management

In absence of a proper mass-transport system in the city, a common man is left at the mercy of rickshaw and auto rickshaw walas. They charge money according to their whims and fancies. The number of vehicles in the city is on a massive rise and a normal drive, even by a personal vehicle, takes very long.

The government announced introduction of new buses as a part of mass transport system, however, in the scene of the current rush on the city roads, it will be very difficult to have any fixed time schedule on majority of the bus routes.

A proper care in planning the routes and a better traffic management is one way out. The resident welfare associations also need to be contacted for encouraging a car pool system.

Maninder Singh Gurm, Ludhiana

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Cop booked for missing machinery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
The city police has finally conceded that the machinery worth lakhs of rupees, confiscated from an industrialist in 1994 was missing from police custody, by registering a case against a head constable today by holding him responsible for the alleged crime.

The Divison No 6 police station has booked head constable Beant Singh for misappropriating the machinery. As per the police records the machinery was handed over to him with direction that it be safely deposited in the malkhana in the district court complex.

However, the malkhana record does not state if any such machinery was received. Maninder Singh, an industrialist, has been running from pillar to post for its recovery.

He had got orders from a local court in 2005 to take the machinery of supardari. However, the machinery remained untraceable. After approaching cops and malkhana officials, Maninder filed a complaint in a local court seeking its intervention to trace the machinery.

The court had directed the local SSP to conduct an inquiry into the matter. However, the machinery could not be found but it indicted the head constable who was officially entrusted the job.

SHO Mandeep Singh said investigation into the case was on to ascertain how the machinery was disposed of and if any accomplice helped the accused.



Three khadi clusters to be set up
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Khadi and village industry that provides employment to a large number of people across India is being modernised. The khadi and village industries commission also plans to introduce an “electronic charkha”, for improving the efficiency of work.

The commission has sanctioned three new projects in Punjab alone. These include a khadi cluster in Amritsar, Phulkari cluster in Patiala and wooden handicraft cluster in Hoshiarpur. These projects will be implemented in the current financial year. It will provide Rs 3 crore to these clusters for reviving and regenerating the traditional craft and giving sustainable employment to the artisans in these areas.

Chairperson of the commission Kumud Joshi said, “The electronic charkha designed by a Bangalore engineer will be launched in November. It would revolutionise the khadi industry. The khadi outlets will adorne a modern looks to make these more attractive.”

Joshi said, “Punjab’s contribution towards the khadi industry is on a large scale. About 20 districts have been covered by the commission with the total production worth Rs 9 crore. About 23,000 people have been employed in the khadi industry. Special incentives are being given to those in this business. They have been covered under the janshree bima yojana and the artisan welfare trust.

The commission chairperson disclosed that the department of science and technology had introduced the product design and packaging and efforts were being made to increase the production and wages of the artisans.

She disclosed that the rural employment generation programme was being implemented throughout the state through the khadi and village industries commission and the Punjab state khadi and village board with the help of nationalised and regional rural banks.



‘Stop locking VAT registration numbers’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
Taxation lawyers here said the Excise and Taxation Department was harassing the business community unnecessarily by locking their registration numbers “unlawfully”.

Addressing a meeting here today, Satish Aggarwal, president of the Taxation Advisers Association, said: “There is no provision in the VAT Act to lock the registration numbers of the traders. It just leads to their harassment as they are not able to carry on their business transactions. The goods being sent to other states are detained at the barriers.”

“The provisions under the Act are being used against the traders, which is highly unfair,” said Jatinder Khurana, press secretary of the association, adding, 



Cropping pattern puts stress on groundwater
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 23
The high level of production of rice and wheat in Punjab has come at a heavy cost. The experts say the most prevalent cropping system in Punjab and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain is a wheat-rice rotation. While Punjab has only 1.53 per cent of the total geographical area of India, it produces 22 per cent of total wheat and 12 per cent of total rice in India.

This wheat-rice cropping system has become unsustainable and has put a great deal of stress on our groundwater resources in tubewell-irrigated areas.

Statistics show that water table has fallen drastically in many areas of the state.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr G.S Hira, former additional director of research, PAU, stressed on reviving old water courses in central Punjab and shifting of rice transplantation to June 30 every year. “This will help alleviate economic stress of farmers as well as the Punjab State Electricity Board”, he said.



Paddy rates fall due to rain
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 23
Unexpected rains in the last 24 hours took farmers by surprise. Although, no major damage to crops was reported from any part of district but farmers had a tough time in shielding their grains in mandis.

While the paddy procurement is yet to start, the farmers have already started bringing their grain to mandis.

The official sources said since paddy arrival is not much, hence they are all sheltered and no major damage was caused anywhere.

On the other hand, the farmers feel that increased moisture content in paddy due to unexpected rains, have dampened the spirit of the farmers who are now ready to sell their produce at Rs 720 per tonne, which is Rs 20-40 less than what they were getting two days back at the Khanna grain market.

The farmers are even finding it difficult to bring their produce to the grain markets due to the rains.

Though, the Khanna grain market was receiving around 4000 tonnes each day till Friday, it registered an arrival of just 850 tonnes on Saturday, while the arrival was less than 1000 tonnes today.

After the rains, buying of paddy has almost come to a standstill, the sources at the market said.

However, they expressed hope that the situation was likely to improve within the next couple of days.

Earlier, the farmers were in a hurry to sell their produce before the procurement by government agencies start on October 1, as they was getting more 
than the MSP of Rs 675, fixed by the government.

However, the rains have dismayed the farmers. But the farmers, who will begin the sowing of rabi crops, have welcomed these rains.



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