L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Improvement trust sits on prime property
25 shops locked years after construction
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
Despite spending lakhs of rupees on constructing a market in Rishi Nagar, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) is yet to auction the property three years after its construction.

As many as 25 shops were constructed by LIT under its 256-acre scheme falling in ward number 55. The reserve price of shops was fixed for Rs 5 lakh each. But even after so many years, the shops lie locked and their condition is deteriorating with every passing day.

Intriguingly, in a city where every inch of land goes for a hefty sum, these shops are not being disposed of. There is not a single market in the area where the property is cheap.

Former area councillor Balkar Singh said he had taken up the matter with LIT authorities in the past but nothing was done. ‘‘Before the city centre scam came to light, I kept on telling the authorities that the trust can make money by auctioning these shops,’’ he said.

The councillor said as the property prices had skyrocketed in the city, these shops could fetch crores for the trust. ‘‘Look at the way PUDA has auctioned its properties in the past. They earned crores by giving away the booths only. And these are big shops and can really go for a huge sum,’’ he added.

The shops are deserted and some migrant families have taken shelter under the corridors. Residents of the nearby area said at times these became gambling dens as many gamblers gathered under the corridors to while away time.

‘‘A number of times, drug addicts keep lying in these areas smoking all kinds of narcotics. Nobody can check them. We are scared that some day these shops can be used for committing some crime also,’’ said a resident of Rishi Nagar.

When contacted, an LIT official said the improvement trust could only develop buildings and commercial usage was a prerogative of buyers. "Our role is restricted to developing the buildings. So far as using these buildings is concerned, it is entirely upon the buyers. If they find a place lucrative enough, they use it. 



Traffic chaos on Karva Chauth eve
Mohit Khanna/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
Mehndi artists from Rajasthan, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh were not the only ones who had a ball on the eve of Karva Chauth. The famous Pandit paranthawala here had a brisk business as hungry husbands thronged his stall to eat pranthas late last night; the wives were all busy getting mehndi applied on their hands.

The commotion on Chauri Sarak was such that the entire street was chock-a-block last night. The commuters preferred to adopt diversions to avoid the heavy vehicular traffic.

Some husbands were seen feeding their consorts as their hands were all decked up with beautifully designed mehndi.

It was a tough task even for the PCR officers to regulate the traffic as residents thronged from all sides to quell their hunger pangs. "It is getting from bad to worse and I have informed the control room to send more personnel here to regulate the traffic," said a PCR officer.

For Puja Sharma, it was a night to remember as she had applied mehndi on both her hands and could hardly do anything, so her husband planned to take her out for a late-night bite. "By the time I got free from my mehndi session, all the shops were closed. So we decided to have pranthas. It really feels nice being fed by your husband."

Ramesh, a waiter at the prantha shop said, "Usually we attend a lot of customers on weekends but this time, the customer flow went out of control.” Pardeep Kumar, who was in the queue to have a parantha said, "It took me 45 minutes to get the order served. My wife is waiting back home to have food as she cannot cook for herself tonight."



One killed, 3 hurt in bus-car collision
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, October 28
One person was killed and three were injured in a bus-car collision on Ferozepur Road here this morning. The bus driver fled from the spot, said the police.

Twentyfive-year-old Simranjit Singh, a resident of Moga, died on the spot when the car he was travelling in along with three others, collided with a college bus that was carrying students of Nankana Sahib College, Kot Gangsar. Japnit Kaur and her maidservant Kanya, who were also travelling in the car are reported to be serious while Malkit Singh, who was driving the car, was injured. They were on their way to Ludhiana.

According to the police, it was around 7 am when a speeding bus on Ferozepur Road collided with a Maruti car (PB47A- 3113), which was coming from Moga. The car was smashed in the head-on collision and the bus driver managed to flee, said the police.

The brother-in-law of the deceased, Malkit Singh (40), a resident of Moga, who sustained multiple injuries is currently undergoing treatment at Midi City Hospital here and is stated to be out of danger.

The police has registered a case of negligence against the bus driver. Invetigations are on.



In Basta
Blast that targeted judiciary forgotten
Jupinderjit Singh/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
It was a bomb blast targeted at the very seat of the law in the district. On August 13, 2000, a powerful explosion in the building housing the District Sessions Judge court caused a huge hole in the floor, wide cracks in the walls and virtually rocked the city.

Thankfully, there was no casualty. The blast took pace during lunch hour with no one near the room. It was a serious security lapse as the courts were situated right next to the highly secured officers colony and the residence of the city SSP.

The building is not there any more as the courts have shifted to the new court complex. Along with it, the case, too, seems to have gone into oblivion.

While hundreds of blasts had taken place in terrorism and post-terrorism Punjab, this was probably a rare one where the judiciary was the target. Yet, the rarity and attached sensitivity of the case was not enough for tracing the accused.

Three cops of lower rank deputed for security in the courts were suspended. Various theories about perpetrators of the blast followed. All reached dead ends. The then SSP, Kuldip Singh, and IG Zonal J P Birdi had said in news reports that the blast was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

They suspected LeT terrorists. The needle of suspicion pointed towards a murder accused also whose case was under trial in the sessions court. But not much came out of it.

Later in 2004, the cops said a proclaimed offender, Nirdosh Dhand, was the suspect in the blast. However, that theory too fizzled out. Nirdosh is still on run in the Lalla murder case. The present SSP, R K Jaiswal, who is neck deep in investigating the Shingaar cinema blast case, said the first priority of the police was to solve the latest blast. "I am sure the police must have explored all possibilities in finding the accused behind the court blast. No cop likes to leave a case incomplete. But sometimes, it just doesn't work."

The bomb was planted in the publicity board of Free Legal Aid. As it exploded, a cooler installed nearby was broken into pieces. The glass window was reduced to smithereens.



Labour pangs: Migrants on holiday
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
With the festival of lights less than two weeks away, migrants from UP and Bihar have started leaving for their homes. Local industry that relies heavily on migrant labourers for their work has already started facing labour shortage. Shingaar blast, said a section of industrialists, was also a major reason for a large number of workers to leave.

The problem of labour shortage will increase in the coming days as more workers will continue to leave till the festival of Diwali. Even households will have to do without help in the coming few days.

The local railway station is witness to workers leaving for their homes in large numbers.

"In hosiery industry, workers normally stay till the first week of December. However, this time we do not have even unskilled workers. The blast incident scared them and we fear the problem of shortage will grow severe in the coming days," said Vinod K Thapar of Thapar Hosiery Mills.

“I, along with my friends, am going to my hometown for 15 days. We all work in a private firm where we do not get holidays, so it is this time of the year that we take 15-20 days of leave. Our friends in hosiery industry will leave in December," said Radhey Sham, who works for a soap-manufacturing unit.

Industrialists said they remained prepared for many workers to extend their holidays as it was quite a frequent thing to happen.



Ludhiana Calling

With the ongoing festival season, the pedestrian and vehicular traffic on the city roads is bursting at its seams, and the traffic cops find it beyond themselves to cope with the situation. The result is total chaos and persistent traffic jams on all roads around busy commercial areas and even in posh residential colonies. Lack of proper training in traffic management on the part of traffic police also plays its role to further worsen the situation.

At many busy intersections and major roads, the temporary barricades put up by the police to ensure uninterrupted flow of traffic and check lane jumping not only fail to serve the desired purpose, but rather obstruct the vehicular traffic.

Deflated machismo

Journalists from print and electronic media had rather once in a lifetime chance to come across a huge problem in the form of a Russian wrestler at a news conference in a city hotel, earlier this week. Irked over the announcement by the organisers that the proposed wrestling show was postponed, a Russian wrestler Nikita lost his coat and shirt (virtually) and threw a table towards the scribes while throwing a challenge to all of them to have a fight with him.

As the WWE show was on, almost the entire male brigade of scribes ran for their lives and it were only two women reporters who kept their cool and stood their ground till the fellow wrestler joined in and restrained their colleague.

Bangles, everywhere

The biggest festival of Indian women-Karva Chauth- falls tomorrow and all markets are flooded with Mehandi walas and bangle sellers. The enthusiasm among women can be seen from the fact that majority of them carry their bright coloured outfits to match with bangles. The shopkeepers find it difficult to tackle huge rush of women, who demand multicoloured bangles to match with their suit's embroideries. One of the shopkeepers said in a lighter manner that thanks God such festival happens once a year otherwise men could be in trouble.

Time to improve

Call it ambition, business community here is perpetually complaining of low business. Hyperactivity in city markets totally nullifies their claims. Not just that, rising tax collections and heavy disclosers during tax surveys are proofs enough showing that the industrial town is flourishing. Probably, it is time for local industry to stop complaining and focus on innovative ways to give competition to large-scale entrants who are finding this city a high potential market.




Community Hall
Freedom fighter’s kin donate Rs 8 lakh
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 28
Kin of Gaddar movement freedom fighter Kartar Singh Dukki announced to donate Rs 8 lakh for construction of community hall at the Shaheed Kartar Singh Dukki Memorial Government Senior Secondary School, Latala, near here.

The family members on occasion of inauguration of statue of the patriot made the announcement, yesterday.

Kuldip Kaur, daughter of Dukki, and Jagpal Singh, her brother, said the family besides contributing Rs 8 lakh towards construction cost would throw in resources to perpetuate memory of their father who along with his associates had dared to challenge the British government during Gaddar movement.

“We are happy that our dream to see our father’s statue erected in the school premises has been fulfilled. As successive governments had failed to fulfill the demand raised by the residents, we decided to erect the statue on our part,” said Kuldip Kaur Jasbir Singh Khagura, MLA, Kila Raipur, assured his family would also contribute their share 
in the construction of the hall.

He thanked Kuldip Kaur and Jagpal Singh for donating generously for the development of the area.

Krishna Sharda, principal, said the family had earlier donated Rs 15 lakh to the school during the SAD regime and the amount was utilised for constructing a new wing.

The state government had then christened the school in freedom fighter’s name.

Students presented an cultural programmes on the occasion.

Jagdish Singh, Dukki’s grandson, Jagdev Singh Jassowal, former MLA, Lachhman Singh Mangat, Gurcharan Singh Bains, Gurmit Singh Dhaliwal (all NRIs) and Jagjit Singh Layalpuri acknowledged the goodwill gesture shown by the family. 



PUDA’s lakhs go down the drain 
No takers for flats
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
Eight years after the Punjab Urban Development Authority constructed a colony in phase III of Urban Estate, Dugri, for lower income group and middle-income group families, there are no takers for these apartments even as the condition is deteriorating with each passing day.

Not only the PUDA’s investment went down the drain in constructing these flats but also the residents of neighbourhood colonies are claiming that unoccupied houses were becoming dens for some antisocial elements.

Things have come to such a pass that these structures look like dilapidated buildings with grass and weeds growing all around. These remain deserted throughout the day with only gamblers and drug-addicts frequenting there.

The residents of the nearby colonies like Karnail Singh Nagar and Passey Nagar complained that as there was no street lights in the area, the place plunged into darkness after the twilight and there was every possibility that any anti-social elements could operate from there.

The residents said many incidents had taken place in the past where some brawls between various gangs took place in the locality. They also said there was no watchman in the area and it was not safe.

The colony that is almost complete has well designed parks and roads that have weaned away due to vagaries of the nature. Residents living nearby said that nobody was taking these flats as these were highly priced and in LIG flats there was only a single room on the ground floor that had not much utility.

As many as 1000 flats divided into two blocks, MIG flats and LIG flats, were developed under a PUDA scheme in 1999. Although, some MIG flats have been allotted to some people, there are no takers for LIG flats.

PUDA officials said there were 666 LIG flats that were priced at Rs 1.5 lakh and 256 MIG flats priced at Rs 5.30 lakh at that time. PUDA tried to sell these but there were no buyers.

Then efforts were made to tie up with a government authority or some corporation to provide the houses to their employees. But this was not made possible due to certain areas.



Gen-X modern, yet traditional
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 28
The more modern and educated we become, much more do we tend to turn traditional. Hundreds of young people, both men and women are going to keep the Karva Chauth fast today. And if you find a girl wearing swanky jeans and top, do not be mistaken that she is too modern to be traditional. She is certainly keeping the Karva Chauth.

During a random survey by The Tribune among women doing shopping for the Karva Chauth, it was found that quite a number of women were young, highly qualified in holding positions in private and public sector organisations. Quite a number of them were even unmarried. The women said it gave them a feeling of security about the well being of their life partners. Like Henna, a doctor said, “it gives me great sense of well-being about my husband”, she remarked adding that there cannot be great urge than that.

Kangan Khanna, a young unmarried girl working in ICICI said she would be getting married next year. “But I am keeping the fast for my fiancee. Not only Hindus, women from other religions, too keep this fast. It gives a feeling of satisfaction. We are modern but are attached to our roots. We keep the fast for the well-being and long-life of our better-halves”, she said.

Another unmarried student, Sabina said she was not married but keeping the fast. She said her mother told her she could keep it, wishing a happy and prosperous life. Its not only women but men, too are keeping the fast for their wives or girlfriends. Devinder, a bank official said he has been keeping the fast for the past three years, the day when he met Priyanka, his girl friend. “She belongs to Hindu family and her parents are against the marriage. But I keep the fast believing that we will get the blessings of our parents. We will get married without any opposition”, he said.

There are others like him who are keeping fast tomorrow with their wives. Most of the couples belong to generation- X. 



Villagers await call from the Jindals
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 28
Residents of Khanpur village are yet to receive an answer to the calls made to parents of Bobby Jindal congratulating them on the success of their son, who is now Governor of Louisiana, USA.

Nevertheless, they have started akhand path at the village gurdwara to pray for his further success.The bhog ceremony will be held on Tuesday.

Vijay Lakhshami, an aunt of Bobby Jindal, rued that calls made by her had gone unanswered. “Though Amar Chand had been helping my family after the death of my husband, he has not bothered to respond to my call. A recorded message on the answering machine thanked us for the calls made to congratulate them,” she said.

The Jindal clan wanted that at least one member of the family should be sponsored for immigration to the USA by the Governor. 



Foundation sponsors marriages
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 28
A function was organised under the aegis of the Baba Sangat Singh Sewa foundation and Naujawan Bhalai Club Dehlon near here where five couples tied the nuptial knots.

Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, Senior Superintendent of Police Ludhiana (Rural), was the chief guest. Newly-weds were presented jewellery, clothes, furniture and cooking gas cylinders.

Bhullar called upon the couples and their parents to create a congenial atmosphere at their respective homes so that the future generations might enjoy a healthy life.

Satwinder Singh Khalsa, chairman of the society, Jasbir Singh sarpanch, Ravinder Singh, Gurjit Singh sarpanch Lehra, Vijay Kumar, Prem Singh SHO Dehlon and Satya Pal were among others who blessed the couples.



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