L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Firemen fight obstruction, rude residents before fire
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
Haphazard parking, congested lanes and callousness of part of residents left firefighters fuming today when they had gone to douse a minor fire in Mali Ganj here.

The fire had broken out in a small room occupied by a worker in congested Mali Ganj after the pipe of an LPG cylinder started leaking.

The room caught fire and clothes and other goods were burnt to ashes.

Residents informed the fire department, but before firefighters could reach the scene, they were faced with negotiating haphazardly parked two-wheelers. When they tried to remove them from their path, they had to face the wrath of residents.

“Crucial time was wasted in removing vehicles from our path. Fortunately, it was a minor fire. It could have been disastrous otherwise,” said fire officer Amarjeet Sharma, who led the team of fire fighters.

He said they had to personally remove scooters and motorbikes off the street to make way for the fire tender.

“No one came forward to remove the obstruction in the way of the fire tender in spite of sounding of the siren. Call it lack of concern or public apathy, when I started moving the two-wheelers, owners came forward and started abusing me. We are on emergency service and expect public cooperation in such situations,” said Sharma.

Firefighters said they were not only faced with congested streets but also haphazard parking coupled with rude public.

“They should have come forward to our help. Instead, they started abusing us. Some people even asked us to compensate them, stating that their vehicles had been damaged while these were being removed,” said Sharma.

Terming it the worst experience of his life, Sharma said: “Had it been a major fire, it could have wreaked havoc and the entire blame would have come on us. Public cooperation is the least we expect during emergency situation, as it is their properties we come to protect. I urge people to help us in such situations instead of making things difficult for us.”



Residents get ready for network clogging
Send text messages in advance
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
“Before network gets jammed and mobile companies start charging double for these greetings here is wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year.” This and many similar text messages were exchanged today and even yesterday.

Network jamming on festive and other special occasions having become a routine affair, city residents started conveying their wishes for the New Year to their near and dear ones in advance.

“We did not want to take the risk. Previous experience has shown that messages either do not get delivered or the receiver gets only part of the message. So I decided to send it before hand only,” said Smriti, a college student. People have been facing problems of delay in receiving messages or these not reaching at all.

While phone companies contend that to handle high traffic on such occasions, they could not invest heavily towards increasing capacities, residents questioned the decision of companies to charge them more on such occasions.

“My mobile phone company will charge double the amount for the messages I send on New Year. Why should they charge me such an amount if they cannot provide an infrastructure to handle the traffic and ensure us that our messages will be sent,” said Gaurav Sharma, another resident.

The traffic flow on special occasions like New Year and Diwali has been recording five-six times rise in comparison to routine during earlier years.

SMSs and now MMSs are now the most preferred mode for residents to convey their wishes to their near and dear ones. For the distant ones, e-mails are the choice.

A few romantic hearts also went in for greeting cards. “I do buy gifts and greeting cards as I feel they convey feelings in a much better way than an e-mail or an SMS can give,” said Niharika, a resident. Whatever the mode, festivity is in the air and no one wants to lag behind.



Mayor, Bains bury hatchet, publicly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
In a bid to put the controversy regarding differences between city mayor, Hakam Singh Gyaspura, and senior councillor, Simarjit Singh Bains, to rest, both Akali leaders came together during the Sangat Darshan organised by the local municipal corporation in the Zone C office today.

Both leaders were seen seated together during the programmee in which 126 complaints were taken up for hearing. Bains was already sitting in the Zone C office along with his supporters when the mayor joined them.

Complainants were surprised to see both of them together after the controversy that had been rocking the city for past a few months. After the reports that SAD acting president, Sukhbir Badal, had asked them to bury the hatchet at least publicly, both leaders were seen together for the first time.

They were trying to be normal in front of people but it was anybody’s guess that the duo had to make a conscious effort to send this message across.



Year Ahead
UT education dept plans vocational largesse
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
To help students make appropriate choices after classes X and XII, the Chandigarh administration plans to provide good higher education and career options to them in 2008.

DPI (S) S.K. Setia says the process of career planning has stretched through the secondary and senior secondary years at school. “It requires adequate planning, which we are coming up in the next year, in terms of academic potential, attributes, talents, interests, personality and resources. These new upcoming plans will help locate suitable options.”

Gone are the times when academic excellence was the only parameter to gauge a person’s calibre. To divert from the traditional science, commerce or humanities stream, the education department has ample plans in the pipeline for the vocational stream.

The plans will stretch to 22 vocational courses in city’s 21 government senior secondary schools (GSSSs) broadly bifurcated under four heads — home science, health and para medical, engineering and commerce.

Besides, a stipend of Rs 1,090 per month will be given to the apprentice for one year.

Students with 40 per cent marks in matriculation with science, mathematics and English can undergo three-year diploma courses in architectural assistantship/electronic communication and engineering/library information/interior designing and decoration/pharmacy at Government Polytechnic for Women, Sector 10.

The class XII pass outs can opt for stenography in English/Hindi/Punjabi. Even those who have cleared middle can get expertise in dress making/hair and skin care/cutting and sewing/embroidery and needle work/leather goods making, etc. at Government Central Craft Institute in Sector 11, Chandigarh.

A number of seats have been generated at these institutes for the purpose.

The Industrial Training Institute, Sector 28, will offer middle pass or matriculates to undertake diploma courses in engineering trades like Information Technology and electronics/ draftsman civil or mechanical/ electronic mechanic/automobile/plumber/welder/carpenter/fitter/turner/electrician apart from stenography in English or Hindi.

Those who have cleared class XII with English and aspire to go in for hospitality sector can join Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management-42.

Also, the Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition-42, offers one and half years’ diploma courses in bakery and confectionery/food beverage services/food production and house keeping.

Even government schools of Chandigarh offer two-year vocational courses after matriculation examination with 40 per cent marks.

The GMSSS-8 now has courses in fashion designing/textile designing/healthcare and beauty culture. The GMSSS-10 has hotel management and catering technology/bakery and confectionary/ food service and management/tourism and travel courses.

The GMSSS-23, 22 and 21 have courses in information technology /electronic technology/stenography and secretarial practice (English) for matriculates.

Also, special short-term courses will be offered by private agencies in government senior secondary schools from 3 pm to 5 pm. For instance, Jaspal Bhatti’s MAD Arts Institute plans two-month multimedia and animation courses at GMSSS-19 and 40.

In schools, mid-day meal scheme is being extended up to class VIII from April.

“We are working on the modalities to involve more NGOs from Chandigarh and Delhi, Stree Shakti, YTTS Group, Don Bosco Navjeevan Society, selfhelp group from Bapu Dham with Yuvsatta as co-coordinator. They will cook in small clusters, reducing transportation time within school canteens. We are also planning construction of more cooking sheds for the purpose,” said DPI (S) S.K. Setia.



Year Ahead
Govt apathy, financial crunch big challenges
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
For Punjab Agricultural University 2007 was full of achievements and challenges. The university, keeping its tradition alive, signed a few MoUs for promoting agriculture and research with other countries. The 12-year-old PAU’s Non-Teaching Employees’ Union received a major setback when the new team took over, thereby changing the entire scenario. The most unfortunate part was the severe financial crunch which the university had to face in the recent months. And the worst affected were the pensioners. The authorities were “condemned and blamed” by the higher- ups for bringing the university to such a state.

For the university 2008, too, seems to be full of challenges. Dr N.S.Malhi, director, Extension Education, said 2008 would not be much different from 2007. More focus will be paid on climatic changes, post-harvest and value additional technologies. He said the university would strive to educate the farmers about how to earn more profit from their produce. The National Food Security agenda was another challenging step ahead. Market intelligence should be given more importance this year, he added.

Senior faculty members, however, expressed concern over university deficit and present financial status. They said the entire situation would be cleared during the budget presentation in February. One of the faculty members said the government wanted 4 per cent growth in agriculture but was not willing to invest anything for the benefit of farmers or commoners. Seeing the adamant stand by the state government, even the pensioners feel that situation would not improve in the coming months.

“After serving for over three decades in the university, we have not as yet received pension. The university as well as the state government believes in blame-game, which is not a healthy sign. The meetings and talks will not serve the purpose until and unless bold steps are taken”, said B.D.Tandon, a retired employee.

Harbans Singh Mundi, the newly-elected president of the union, stressed on the welfare of employees. He said more than 40 to 50 demands were still pending and the aim of new executive was to get majority of them implemented in 2008. He claimed that employees would be given patient hearing and the left-out categories given priority by the union executive.



Congress assails govt over economic policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 31
“The Congress will stand with the trade and industry in their ongoing fight against the SAD-BJP government in Punjab over policies that will not only retard the economic growth of the state but might lead to revival of the trend for migration of industry to other states that were offering incentives and growth-oriented packages.”

Addressing mediapersons here today, district Congress committee (DCC) urban president Jagmohan Sharma attacked the government on the proposed advance consumption deposit from all categories of consumers by the Punjab State Electricity Board, harassment of members of trade and industry by different government departments and increased burden of taxes.

Sharma, who recently returned from an overseas tour, said the trade and industrial organisations were justified in launching an agitation against the decision of recovery of advance consumption deposit (security) from all consumers equivalent to power consumption of two or three months, depending on billing cycles.

“The move is unjustified, particularly for existing consumers who are paying their bills for several years now, and more so for commercial and industrial consumers, who are already facing liquidity and are in no position to bear any additional financial burden. The power tariff in the state being already very high, even majority of domestic consumers will find it beyond their means to meet the demand for advance consumption deposit,” he remarked.

The DCC chief said it was ironical that the same members of trade and industry who were instrumental in bringing the SAD-BJP combine to power had now come out on the streets against the coalition government.

“This goes on to prove that people feel betrayed and cheated, as the government has failed to fulfil any of its poll promises.”

He criticised the “reign of terror” unleashed by the excise and taxation department against the trade and industry. He questioned the rationale behind the government and bureaucracy’s logic to allow relentless tax raids, unnecessary seizure of goods, slapping of entry tax and reimposition of octroi in in the state.

Sharma cautioned the government to review its policies related to trade and industrial activities and take corrective steps without delay.

Once the process of agitations commenced and the industry started thinking in terms of shifting elsewhere, it would be too late and prove disastrous for the state economy, which already appeared to be in doldrums.



It’s time to make new pledges
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
City residents are all set with their New Year resolutions with a few interested in doing some noble cause this year whereas others want to enjoy the coming year in the best possible manner.

Jawed Grewal, MD, Country Inns, said: “Despite being one of the leaders in the hotel business, we will strive hard to introduce new concepts of hospitality for attracting more clienteles.”

Sukhdeep Kaur, a beautician, Mystic Cures, said: “My New Year resolution is to make the environment beautiful. For this purpose I will plant a few trees. I will request my friends to do the same as soon as real estate hunters axe around 1,600 medicinal trees in the old Court complex area.” She is of the view that the youth can really carry forward a trend of beautifying the city.

Dr Kuldip Singh, a laparoscopic surgeon, said: “New Year is the best time to think positively about the future reflecting on the previous year’s experiences. As a doctor, I wish good health for all and better awareness about disease prevention.”

Swati, a B.Com student, is focused about her ensuing exams. “This year is crucial for me as I want to score more marks in it. I am looking forward to doing MBA so these exams will decide my fate.”

For Parth, a student, New Year means fun, frolic and enjoyment. About his New Year resolution, he said, enough of the studies, “This year I want to enjoy. It will be full of enjoyment once the exams are over.”

Anirudh is of the view that resolution are meant to be broken, “So far I have not made any resolution as yet but I will try to make my mother happy this year. Thus, I will try my best not to trouble her.

Priyanka, a chocolate manufacturer, says, “I wish people enjoy New Year by spreading love and care all around.”



To launch stir on January 7
Anganwari union seeks benefits

Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 31
The local block of the anganwari mulzam union, Punjab, in its meeting held today decided to burn an effigy of the state government on January 7 in protest against the non-implementation of the welfare schemes. The meeting which was held on the premises of the Jain samadh was attended among others by s its president Kuldeep Kaur. Its financial secretary Subhash Rani reminded the state government of its pre-poll promise for implementing welfare schemes on Uttrakhand’s pattern. She even warned the government to launch an agitation if it backed out from the same. Though the union had already submitted memorandum to the state government for implementing the minimum Wage Act and to pay at least Rs 3,000 per month to the worker and Rs 2,000 to the helper, fixed TA/DA for both to those attending the circle meetings and other official work outside the headquarter, to start welfare fund and pension and gratuity schemes on the pattern of the Maharashtra government. The union had also gheraoed the Chief Minister on December 25 at Fatehgarh Sahib but it failed to move the government. It has, now, decided to procure signatures of 40 lakh people in February and the same to the Prime Minister.



Club organises mass marriage
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
A mass marriage was organised by the Maa Bhagwati Club here yesterday. The marriage of five poor girls was solemnised by club patron Gurcharan Wadhera, president Sukhdev Thaper, Avnish Sikka and gurdwara president Kuldeep Singh.

Chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, Durga Mata Mandir Trust general secretary Krishan Chander Gupta and MLA Harish Badi also attended the ceremony.

Dhanda, who was the chief guest, appreciated the efforts of the club in organising the ceremony and helping the poor.



Public dealing

Banks often start its public dealing very late. I came to deposit money in my account in the State Bank of Patiala’s local branch located at the G.T.Road, Miller Ganj, at 10.30 a.m. But, found that not a single person was sited in their counter. A few staff members could be seen chatting with fellow members while others were sipping cups of tea. Even my 10 minutes wait turned out be futile as the man inside the teller was unable to log on to his computer. Bank staff often wastes their time on futile activities during working hours and take a lot of time in doing a particular job. I, therefore, would request the authorities concerned to look into the matter and take stern action against erring staff.

Ravi Chander Garg, Ludhiana

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PU VC proposes institute on a par with IIM
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
After an inspiring year, the Panjab University is all set to usher in the New Year with a gamut of new courses, projects and schemes.

Come 2008 and the university will be fully computerised particularly the administrative block for the convenience of students who otherwise used to face difficulties in finding out their roll numbers, marks and others.

The computerisation will also smoothen the workflow between different departments of the university. Next would be the file tracking system that would not only enable the authorities to assess the status of a particular file or a pending work but will also help in sensitising the officials about their responsibility. For most part of it, the university has developed software on its own and for the remaining part many software professionals have been called in to give presentations for the same. Both the schemes would partially start from January 16.

In 2008, the university will also boast of a unique coding-decoding system for examination answer books. The software being developed indigenously will scarp off the manual coding and decoding of answer books. For the purpose, special answer-books are being printed. Next year, students will be able to deposit their fee online. Though at present it is possible only in some cases, it would be possible for everyone to get their fee deposited online and also check the status of the admission.

What is being touted as the biggest thing for the year 2008 is a management institute at par with the IIMs (Indian Institute of Management) as is proposed by the vice-chancellor. A blue print of the institute is ready and there would be nine options in MBA.

Also in the pipeline is an exclusive course in disaster management and a new department of disability studies.

Besides these, the university is also planning for starting new courses in Physics, Pharmacy, English, Psychology and Geology.

The university is also contemplating to start a first of its kind BSc (hons) and MSc (hons) in Physics-electronics.

If all goes well, the vice-chancellor also has designs to start a centre in linguistics journalism. In the first quarter of the year, there are also some big events lined up, which includes convocation in January where the chancellor of PU would preside. Next are Students Research Convention and Chandigarh Science Congress.



City institutes to hold CHASCON-2008
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The premier institutions of the city will be jointly holding second ‘Chandigarh Science Congress’ tentatively scheduled for March 10-12, 2008, at Panjab University.

In a meeting of the directors and heads of all the institutions held under the chairmanship of Prof R.C. Sobti, it was decided to organise the event collectively.

Institutions such as PGIMER, IMTECH, CSIO, TBRL, Haryana State Council for Science and Technology, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology are likely to participate. Prof Sobti said Chandigarh Science Congress is going to get a new abbreviated nomenclature, ‘CHASCON- 2008’ and the central theme of the congress is “Empowering India by scientific integration, innovation and invention”.



Vets get training in embryo transfer
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 31
The ongoing training programme on embryo transfer technology in dairy animals, for field veterinary officers or scientists has concluded under the ongoing joint research project of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

The officers and scientists were imparted training with hands-on practise for different procedural methods involved in the embryo transfer of dairy animals particularly the cattle. During this programme the trainees were exposed to brain-storming sessions, lectures and discussions pertaining to embryo transfer technology with specific reference to the estrus-cycle control, synchronisation and super ovulation for achieving better embryo production and calf crop of high genetics and elite germ plasma.

Lectures also covered the emerging technologies of embryo biotechnology and production of embryos in the laboratory.



Lecturers present papers in DU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Dr Purnendu Ranjan and Dr Prashant Gaurav, lecturers in history departments of the Government College for Girls-42 and Government College-46, respectively, presented their papers in the three-day paper reading sessions of the 68th Indian History Congress at Delhi University.

The title of Dr Ranjan’s paper is “Historical evidences for the Study of the Kabir Panth.”



44 donate blood
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Krishan Mohan, home secretary, inaugurated a blood donation camp at the Hotel Aroma on Saturday. The camp was organised by the Darshan Darvesh Foundation in association with the Rotary Club of Chandigarh.

As many as 44 persons donated blood, which was conducted by a team of doctors led by Dr R.S. Shah of the Rotary Blood Bank Society Blood Resource Centre, Sector 37.

Harjinder Kaur, Mayor of the municipal corporation of Chandigarh, Arvind Malhotra, president of the club, Kanta Swaroop Krishan, president of Blood Bank Society, were also present.



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