L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Sad, a booth-owner is disabled further
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
A physically challenged man's booth was removed overnight to construct cabins of three deed writers allegedly being backed by an Akali leader in the new Courts Complex here today.

The booth belonging to Lalji, a physically challenged person, was put up by him some time ago following the deputy commissioner's permission. Earlier he was on the sixth floor and had requested the DC to allot him a place on the ground floor as it was difficult for him to climb so many stairs every day due to his handicap.

His booth was uprooted and thrown on the urinals by the alleged ‘‘grabbers’’ today. Three pucca structures were being constructed. Some deed writers said that today was chosen by the alleged grabbers for this work as it was a Saturday and no official would be available on Sunday and Monday also as it is a public holiday.

They said poor Lalji was not even in the know that his booth was removed. He had left the place last evening. He could not be contacted and he would know about it on Tuesday only, said his counterparts.

They added that it was shocking that supporters of an Akali leader, who were already running their shops from the basement of the mini secretariat, were eyeing this piece of land right under the nose of authorities. But nobody was doing anything about it.

Sources said a liaison officer of the district administration had even visited the place late in the evening and stopped these people from constructing the cabins. As soon as he left, the alleged grabbers were at it again.

Lalji has always been moving from pillar to post. He was allotted a kiosk in the Old Courts Complex in 1982 by the then deputy commissioner of Ludhiana, Ravi Sawhney, after he had met the latter while repairing chairs in the DC's house. The DC's wife, Madhu Sawhney, who was the chairman of the Red Cross Society, had allotted the kiosk to him as he was physically disabled.

Sawhney, after seeing his desire to work hard, had tried her level best to help him in every possible way.

Ajit Singh Batra, Old Kacheri Sale Deed Writers Association president, said he had come across these persons this morning. He said he did not know whether they were doing it legally or illegally. 



City all set to go greener
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The city is all set to go green with the local municipal corporation planning to plant 10,000 saplings along the roadsides in coming days. The corporation would buy 8,000 tree guards in this regard.

Saplings of medicinal and fruit trees would be planted alongside the major roads and parks in the city and the private parties roped in for developing the green belts outside their properties.

The corporation would also register the park management committees so as to provide a breather to the parks.

The committees would be paid Re 1 per sq yards as the state government has already approved the rates as demanded by these.

The local body has called a meeting of all committees at Guru Nanak Stadium on Monday. Besides them, it has also invited industrialists, residents and others interested in maintaining parks.The meeting would start at 10 a.m. on Monday. 



Pakoras and Patiala pegs chip in & how!
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Pakoras and Patiala pegs are catching the frenzy of youths at Kila Raipur rural olympics. And why not since the title sponsor of the rural olympics is none other than Haywards 5000, a beer company! At the same time, the pakora craze can be gauged from the fact that not a single wrapper of patato chips could be seen in the entire arena. 

According to an estimate, a whopping 1,500 kg pakoras were cooked in the rural games today only.

Mohammad Hussain, a sweet-shop owner of Malerkotla, who is putting up a stall here for the last 40 years, said munching pakoras and sipping drinks had been a tradition here. Except Khajia, a sweet commonly found in Uttar Pradesh, no other sweet can be spotted here in the rural fest.

“My father used to come here and since my childhood I am following this tradition. Today being a “super Saturday” of the rural fest, I have cooked 200 kg of pakoras as the weather is pleasant and I expect the sales will rise tomorrow,” he said.

“Like me, there are more then 120 pakora stall owners here. I can bet you can hardly spot a samosa stall in the entire mela,”said Hussain.

Jatinder, a youth who is busy making money from a nearby parking lot, said, “By the evening we get really exhausted and the same happens with the hundreds of bullock cart owners and thousands of viewers, so the combination of pakoras and liquor is just right for us and this time we are provided free sodas as the title sponsors are Haywards 5000.”

It is not easy to handle an ox for the whole day. By the end of the day, we get really exhausted and want to relax a bit.

If pakoras are selling like hot cakes, so is country liquor. A liquor-booth owner said he had made a lot of money by stocking liquor well in advance. “Now I have enough money to get things rolling for the entire year.”



Industry not to participate in SAD-BJP rally
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Though determined to make their voice heard at the Centre, industry associations here will not participate in the SAD-BJP rally to Parliament on February 26. The industry's reluctance is primarily due to its fear of getting sidelined in the rally where the political parties intend to take up issues related to several sections of society.

The date of the rally being extended from February 22 to February 26 now is another deterrent as the industry bodies do not want to wait that long. A section of industrialists also said that political inclinations, too, were a cause and a large number of industrialists did not wish to be identified as affiliated to the Akalis by being a part of that rally.

Protesting against rising steel prices for six days now, industrialists are keen on taking up the issue with the Centre.

"We are seeking government support but they have extended the date which is quite late. We want that the matter should get resolved at the earliest as it is harming us. Moreover, the political party would take up several issues and we feel that our issue may get sidelined which is why we are now planning an independent move," said Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.



Nights perfect for crime in city
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
As the sun sets on the horizon and darkness engulfs the city this chilling winter, residents run for cover in cosy quilts but criminals venture out at these very hours to strike at will.

They are vitually having a free run with seemingly no cops on roads to check their movements. Nights have just become a perfect and safe time for crime with three persons, including a woman, found murdered in abandoned plots early this week.

Besides two houses were burgled in Rajguru Nagar last night and a woman was robbed and looted in Basant Avenue.

Harminder Kaur, aged 35, was mugged and almost left for dead by two unidentifed assailants, who came to the house and went away without any fear.

Unidentified burglars struck at house no. 446-C sometime last night when the owner Rajinder Singh, a property dealer, and his family was away. The burglars not only looted the house at will but wined and dined at leisure there.

The burglars had no fear of the law as they took away a large and heavy music system, an LCD television besides other electronic goods from the house with neither any neighbour or any one from the night patrolling staff of the city police noticing the unusual movement.

Early this week, the cops recovered the body of a naked woman, stacked in a gunny bag and found abandoned in a plot in Salem Tabri. Police investigation so far suggests the woman was murdered elsewhere and the body dumped here.

Similarly, on Wednesday night, a horse-cart owner was killed by two youths on a roadside in Dugri. Even though it was a busy chowk and cops are usually posted there to check trucks, vehicles at night, no one could prevent the crime or catch the cuplrits.

Again, on Thursday night, a migrant youth was found stabbed to death in an abandoned plot in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. This time, a night watchman had seen the victim with three other youths. He, however, did not check their activities nor informed the police. The night patrolling staff was again missing.



Parks’ Maintenance
Will govt take action against erring officers?

Ludhiana, February 9
Will the Punjab government take action against officers of the local municipal corporation, who defaulted in the implementation of an agreement for maintaining municipal parks in the city with the park management committees? 

This question is being asked by the Ludhianvis after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the corporation to implement the agreement and pay dues to the committees at Rs 1 per sq mts per month.

The scheme for residents’ participation was launched in October 1999 by Dr S.S. Sandhu, the then municipal commissioner in order to make “Ludhiana green and beautiful”. Under the agreement, the corporation was to pay to the committees charges for the maintenance of parks at the rate of Rs 1/- per sq mts per month. The residents showed lot of enthusiasm and about 128 out of 717 parks were being maintained. The agreement worked well for at least three years, but Dr Sandhu was transferred by Parkash Singh Badal in 2002 under political pressure. During that period the town was being developed.

Dr Sandhu even put up huge garbage dumps beautifully published with slogan like “Keep Ludhiana green and beautiful.” The campaign left an impact on this town inhabited by the moneyed men who boast of their riches.

But with his transfer, the developmental work came to a halt as the his successor, S.K. Sharma, who was then a senior PCS officer and protégé of Capt Amarinder Singh stopped all major development project, including the greening of the town. S.K. Sharma’s first orders were “no more sapling plantation and electrification.” He also got executive engineer (horticulture) Dr H.S. Bilga transferred to Amritsar, who was working under the stewardship of Dr Sandhu. The executive engineer (Electricity) was charge sheeted, who later died.

The next step Sharma took was to revise the agreement with the committees and reduced the parks’ maintenance rates to 50 paisa per sq mts instead of Rs 1 per sq mts. The committees refused to work as this was not a viable proposal.

The federation of pollution and park management committees under the leadership of S.S.Channa launched an agitation and approached the state government but no one listened as the commissioner had strong political clout with the Chief Minister and his media adviser BIS Chahal…. with the result the town suffered badly.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission also failed to provide any relief to the federation. S.S.Channa had to file a writ petition in the High Court which ordered the compliance of the agreement reached with the committees and payment at Rs 1 per sq. mts.

It took six years for the federation and S.S.Channa to get justice but the moot question is who is responsible for the damage done to the campaign of beautifying the town. The residents seek an answer from the state government. Will the government take action against the erring officers? The beautification drive has been put behind 12 years.

Now, when the corporation has started reviewing the committees for the maintenance of parks, the authorities are under pressure from councellors to hand over the park management work to their henchmen. The councellors would like to “make hay while the sun shines.” The authorities are also under pressure to increase the length of the parks so that more money is realised.

But, the horticultural experts of the PAU are of the view that the length of the parks should not be increased and the management be handed over to the bonafide residents of the colonies only.

The commissioner has convened a meeting of the committees on Monday for discussing the issues and renewing the agreements.

The area along the Sidhwan Canal which is now lying vacant and is used for organising “apni mandi” on Sundays should also be developed into a rose garden to provide a breather to congested town, say channa and Kapoor. They also called upon the Chief Minister to pay personal attention towards welfare of the town.



Rs 8 lakh silver food bowl
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Leading silver brand from London, Frazer and Haws, has decided to keep its most expensive gift item, a food bowl worth Rs 8 lakh, in Ludhiana.

The company, expecting a turnover of Rs 20 crore from its Indian operations this year, yesterday started selling its silver gift items at Kalamandir outlet here.

“Our research has shown that Ludhiana is a high potential city. Even at our outlets in Delhi, maximum clients came from Ludhiana which is why we decided to put this food bowl, most expensive gift item in this city. We are expecting it to be sold off,” Archana M. Ranney, chief coordinator administration, design and production, said.

Talking about designs, she said offering unique combinations like terracotta with silver and crystal with silver was what the company aimed for.Market for silver gift items was recording an overwhelming rise, she said, adding that it was not the investment value but the treasure value of the art piece that made people buy silver gift items.

“Consumption of gold and silver is the highest across the globe in India. But when it comes to unique designs, the buyers look for treasure value of the item, as they want to pass it on from one generation to another. Investment is not the criterion,” she maintained.



Cupid strikes youngsters
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The youngsters may not celebrate their traditional festivals with such enthusiasm like they are preparing themselves for Valentine’s Day.

Though the festival is few days away, the purchases have already begun in the city. Seeing the enthusiasm among youngsters, even the shopkeepers are trying hard to add something new on this Valentine.

May it be the big gift stores or the leading beauty parlours, discounts and other lucrative packages are being offered to lovebirds for the special day.

Starting from cakes, chocolates, sweets to jewellery, perfumes, leather bags and soft toys, the markets are flooded with gift items, which suits every pocket. The beauty parlours are offering discounts on special valentine packages, which include facials, manicure, pedicure, haircuts etc.

Depicting passion, red-coloured greeting cards and gift items catch everyone’s attention in the markets. Some of the shopkeepers have introduced ‘speaking flowers’ this time, which convey your message to your loved ones. A single flower costs around Rs 200.

Gurvinder Singh of Archies at Sarabha Nagar market said school and college going generation had started celebrating the festival like any other Indian festival.

“Girls are very choosy while selecting a gift. They make sure that the gift is worth and suits their pocket. They usually go for wristwatches, perfumes, leather wallets etc not exceeding Rs 500. But boys do not think twice while spending on gifts. They make purchases worth thousands of rupees”, he said adding that there was no longer any inhibition among boys and girls while purchasing for the loved-ones.

The range of gifts starts from Rs 150 to Rs 6000. Though collection of romantic books is also available in the markets but Ludhianvis, showing little taste for reading hardly buy them, said another shopkeeper on Pakhowal Road.

Anuja Grover, a BA II year student, said she wondered why people objected to Valentine Day celebrations. “Love and symbols of love are celebrated on the day. This expression of love can be for anyone, including mother, father or brother.

“Some religious organisations oppose it every year but it hardly makes any difference. There is nothing wrong in celebrating it. On the one hand, we are competing with western countries while on the other hand, we are fighting over such meagre issues”, she said while purchasing a wrist watch for her friend. 



Robbers injure woman, loot cash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Two armed robbers injured and looted the wife of a chemical factory owner at his house in Basant Avenue yesterday evening.

The robbers decamped with cash and jewellery worth few lakhs.The victim, Harminder Kaur, resident of house No. 2108, was later admitted to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital by her relatives.

The robbers barged into the house and locked the woman in bathroom after hitting her with an iron rod on her head several times.

The woman later called her relatives living nearby. The police has launched a hunt to nab the criminals.



Rising Steel Prices
Small industries feel the jolt 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
The unprecedented rise in the steel prices during the past one year in particular has resulted in a big jolt to the development of small industries in Punjab and the engineering industries in particular which are known as “steel consuming” units have suffered the maximum. The steel prices have risen by more than Rs 10,000 per tonnes from January 2007 to January 2008. The pleas of the small-scale industrialists have fallen on the deaf ears.

As a matter of fact, the steel prices started rising during the NDA regime and at the fag end of the NDA government, A.B. Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister intervened and there was some roll back. Even the UPA government did take some steps in the initial stages of its coming into power to check the rise in the steel prices. But soon the UPA also fell to the pressures of the steel cartel which comprises of major steel producers and prices started rising by Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per tone every month.

The grant of benefits to the newly setup units in the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir during the NDA regime in 2002 gave further setback to the industrialization in Punjab.

Rather a number of industrial units moved from Punjab to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand to avail of the benefits. The NDA government announced benefits of no Central excise duty and no income tax for five years initially to the new units along with cheap power supply.

Besides, the state governments extended the benefits of sales tax concessions for five years. This has resulted in the flourishing of the new industries in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

While the government failed to check the rise in the steel prices, the value of US dollar resulted in further setback to the export of engineering and other goods. The export of engineering goods particularly of bicycle parts and bicycles and hand tools has almost come to a halt.

Cheap availability of bicycles and cycle parts from China gave another setback to the cycle industry. The major cycle producers of the country, including Ludhiana, have opened their offices in China and they buy the components and assemble the bicycles and sell the same in the European markets with their brands. Thousands of small-scale manufacturers of bicycle parts have been hit hard by this trade of the major cycle manufacturers.

The industrialists are sore over the fact that the political bosses from both Congress and the Akali-BJP have failed to help them tide over the difficulties faced by the industry.

They just want to meet Parkash Singh Badal for discussing this issue. Inderjit Singh Pradhan and Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, which represents a large number of industrial organisations allege that the Central government has failed to come to the rescue of the industry.

According to P.D.Sharma, president, apex chamber of commerce and industry, Punjab, the steel cartel has exported huge quantity of steel to China and other countries. He reveals that 202 lakh tonnes of billets was exported from April to November 2007, while 10 lakh tonnes of hr coils were exported during this period. There was total export of 31 lakh tonnes of all types of steel to a few countries.

Sharma disclosed that union steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan had now agreed to roll back the steel prices within 15 days and had setup a committee of experts to look into the matter.



150 companies taking part in eng expo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
About 150 companies from across the country are participating in Engineering Expo-2008, a four-day exhibition of engineering goods that kicked off here on Thursday.

The exhibition was inaugurated by president of the Punjab unit of the BJP Rajinder Bhandari, chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council S.C. Ralhan and K.K. Seth of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Speaking on the occasion, Bhandari said bringing industry on a common platform was must for the entrepreneurs to adopt latest technologies. It would help local as well as other industrial units to find new customers and partners, he added.

Ralhan said with rising global competition industry should use such forums to adopt technologies and processes that make them competitive in terms of quality and cost. “Being economical is critical and would help industry grow,” he added.

General manager of Infomedia Krishna Tiwari said changes in manufacturing segment had increased the need for innovation. “The exhibition would address this need as it brings together all engineering majors and their innovations under one roof,” he added.

The exhibition has dedicated pavilions for machine tools, hydraulic and pneumatic systems, plastics, packaging, electrical and electronics and a few other areas.



Club organises cycle tour to Anandpur Sahib
Our Correspondent

Doraha, February 9
The youth club of Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, organised a three-day cycle tour from Doraha to Sri Anandpur Sahib today.

As many as 40 students participated in this event under the leadership of Dr S.S. Virk and Prof Williamjit Singh, youth-coordinator.

Principal Dr Narinder Singh Sidhu flagged off the tour. Prof Williamjit Singh said this cycle- tour was being dedicated to the 300th year of accession of Shri Guru Granth Sahib as Guru in 1708 AD.

He added that besides going on bicycles, the students would do hiking and trekking on the hilly tracks adjoining Sri Anandpur Sahib. 



School exhibition gets under way
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Top schools of the country as well as abroad participated in the 4th India and International Premier School Exhibition (IIPSE) which got underway at Majestic Park Plaza here. The exhibition is being organised by AFAIRS, India.

The fourth edition of IIPSE showcased schools from across India, including day schools, residential schools, primary, middle and secondary level schools with different board affiliations.

The IIPSE counsellors cleared doubts of the parents. Renowned psychiatrist and child psychotherapist Dr Vinod Goyal participated in the exhibition.

Besides this, there was a presentation for principals, school heads and management trustees by University of Cambridge International Examination, (CIE) U.K.



PAU Athletics Meet
Mandeep best athlete
Anil Datt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 9
Mandeep Singh and Balinder Kaur, both students of the College of Agriculture were declared best athletes among men and women, respectively, in the 42nd annual athletics meet of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

Mandeep annexed seven gold medals while Balinder Kaur proved her supremacy by clinching three gold medals.

Students of the college proved their superiority over their opponents as they bagged the overall trophies in the men and women’s section besides the best march past trophy.

Dr Manjit Singh Kang, vice-chancellor, PAU, inaugurated the meet. He highlighted the importance of sports activities in the development of one’s personality. Arjuna awardee Bahadur Singh and Gianinder Singh Sandhu, district sports officer, Ludhiana, were also present.

Results: Men

Hammer throw: 1 Pervinkle Grewal, 2 Amarinder Singh Grewal and 3 Jaskirat Singh; 110m hurdles: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Pervinkle Grewal and 3 Sukhbir Singh; 400m hurdles: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Sukhmeet Singh and 3 Simranjit Singh.

Triple jump: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Gurinder Singh Chahal and 3 Harpreet Singh; javelin throw: 1 Pervinkle Grewal, 2 Amarinder Grewal and 3 Princedeep Dhillon; 5000m: 1 Gurinder Singh, 2 Neeraj Sharma and 3 Major Singh; 1500m: 1 Gurinder Singh, 2 Sukhmeet Singh and 
3 Zorawar Singh.

Broad jump: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Gurinder Singh Chahal and 3 Harpreet Singh and Jaskirat Singh; shot put: 1 Gurpreet Singh, 2 Pervinkle Grewal and 3 Ashwani Sharma; 100m: 1 Pavinder Singh, 2 Ramandeep Singh and 3 Navdeep Singh; high jump: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Amarinder Singh Grewal and 3 Gagandeep Singh.



JCT take on Air India today
Anil Datt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 9
An absorbing tussle is on the cards when JCT, Phagwara, will take on Air India, Mumbai, in the 16th round match of the ongoing ONGC Indian Premier Football League to be played here at Guru Nanak Stadium tomorrow. 

The earlier match played between these two outfits on December 12 last year at Mumbai ended in a goal-less draw.

At the end of the fifteenth round, JCT are placed at fourth place with 26 points while the visitors with 17 points are currently at the sixth slot.



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