L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC Budget
No new taxes in next fiscal year
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
No new taxes have been proposed in the budget of the municipal corporation, Ludhiana, and austerity will be the catchword in the next fiscal year. The budget that will be tabled in the budget meeting of MC house within the next fortnight was finalised in the core committee meeting of the MC here this evening.

The MC has seriously decided to check wastage of funds in any forms. The start will be made from the wastage in the form of fat power bills that the civic body was paying due to carelessness.

In many parts of the city, residents were drawing power from kundi connections from street lights and tube wells allegedly in connivance with MC employees.

Moreover, the MC had not installed meters at many tube wells and bill was received on an average. By getting the meters installed, it is expected that the MC will save on 20 per cent of power bills received every year. The issue came up for discussion in today’s meeting chaired by mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura and commissioner Vikas Partap. It was resolved that the timings of switching on and switching off of streelights would be taken into consideration.

The members of the core committee also decided to earmark more funds for purchase of machinery. During this fiscal year, machinery worth Rs 8 cr will be purchased against Rs 5 crore in the last year. The members of the committee said the city was bursting at its seams and needed more desilting and sewer cleaning machines, tankers and fogging machines. By increasing the fund allocation, things would be easier.

The meeting also decided to keep separate the head of fund collected as fire tax. The revenue thus generated would be used for fire services in the city. Earlier, this tax was merged with house tax only.

The meeting was attended by senior deputy mayor Parveen Bansal, councillor Pal Singh Grewal, Gurdeep Singh Neetu and leader of opposition Prem Mittal.



6 hurt in clash at Kilaraipur railway station
Dispute over loading of goods

Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 15
Six persons were injured in a group clash at Kilaraipur railway station near here today in a dispute over loading of goods.

The situation could have turned worse had a police party led by SHO, Dehlon, not reached the spot. Two of the injured were admitted to civil hospital, Dehlon.

Controversy over alleged loading of goods at Gill railway station was said to be the reason behind the clash. The victims were members of the Daily Passengers Association.

The incident exposed the alleged ineffectiveness of the GRP that remained conspicuous by its absence even one hour after the incident.

According to Barjinder Sharma, an office-bearer of the association, the clash started when goons of a carrier agency, armed with sharp- edged weapons, dragged some commuters, after the train heading for Ludhiana halted at Kilaraipur railway station this morning. Other passengers who had alighted from the train to rescue the victims were also thrashed by the assailants. At least six persons were injured in the incident.

"The brawl continued for over 20 minutes and the railway authorities did nothing to protect the life and property of passengers," said Sharma.

According to SHO, Dehlon, Varinder Pal Singh, the exact number of injured and the cause of clash were yet to be ascertained.

"Though maintenance of law and order at the railway station does not fall under our jurisdiction, we reached the spot immediately after receiving information about the clash. While the other injured and the suspects had left the area, we rescued Gagan Kumar and Gagan, alias Chocolate, and admitted them to the civil hospital, Dehlon," he said.

Dinesh Chand and Ramji Dass alleged that certain railway officials, who were involved in the alleged 'goods loading scam' at Gill railway station, were supporting the assailants. "Whenever somebody dares to protest against the excessively long stay of trains at Gill station in order to load goods, they get him thrashed by their goons. The gangsters had also tried to beat the boys yesterday night," maintained Ramji Dass and Dinesh Chand. Raju, Sunny and Raghu were among others who had been beaten by the goons of the railway officials during recent past.



Tenders under scanner; overwriting in estimates detected
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The allotment of tenders of nearly 20 development projects has come under a scanner with the contractors alleging that estimates were changed at the last minute to help particular contractors fit in the required conditions.

During the preliminary investigations into the contractors' complaint, the MC functionaries have found overwriting in estimates in at least 15 to 20 files pertaining to different tenders.

The overwriting, which is alleged to have been done by certain employees, forced people to raise their eyebrows. Sources said employees of MC were alleged to have indulged in favouritism and tried to help certain contractor, whom they wanted to allot the contract of a development work.

It was only after the contractors raised a hue and cry that overwriting came to the notice of seniors. It just looked like an inadvertent effort but preliminary investigations revealed that the entire operation was deliberate and was done to help certain people.

Earlier also similar allegations had caused postponing of tenders of filling of earth at various places. Commissioner Vikas Partap had ordered the postponing of those tenders.

Senior deputy mayor Parveen Bansal said they would get the matter investigated. He added that they had received complaints of overwriting in estimates. ‘‘We are going to take these complaints very seriously,’’ he added.

Bansal said if the allegations were found true, they would review the entire process and cancel the allotment. The tenders would be allotted afresh. ‘‘Moreover if the employees concerned were really at a fault we are not going to spare them. We do not want any such allegations to surface and bring a bad name to the civic body. We cannot compromise on quality of work at any cost,’’ said Bansal.



Panchayat poll: Work begins on a war footing
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
As many as 7,000 employees would be required for smooth conduct of the April 7 elections of Panchayat Samiti, Zila Parishad and Gram Panchayat in the district.

The administrative work for the elections, better known as grassroots elections, began on a war footing today with the state election commission notifying the election schedule.

Though it is the teachers or the bank employees who are first to be deputed for the job, the administration would have to summon employees from all departments this time. Several organisation of teachers have already protested against the deployment of teachers for poll duty.

Deputy commissioner-cum-returning officer of the elections Sumer Singh Gurjar told The Tribune that 892 panchayats would be going for the first-ever indirect elections. As many as 3,000 booths would be set up all over the district.

Under the new procedure, the voters would elect panches, who in turn would elect the sarpanch. The voters would be electing members to the Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samitis and the Zila Parishad.

The returning officer said that no Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would be used in the elections and all voting would be made through ballot papers.

The elections to Zila Parishad would be contested on party symbols whereas the election of panchayat members would be independent.



Tada accused acquitted after 17 years
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
The court of special judge M.S. Virdi (Additional Sessions Judge) has acquitted Jagdish Singh alias Dissa of Kaunke Kalan village, Jagraon, in a 17-year-old TADA case and a case of planning a dacoity.

The judge held that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges leveled against the accused beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt. According to prosecution, on May 4, 1990, a police party was going towards Gaggra village to search for terrorists. When the party reached near Saim Nala, they received information that the accused, along with Sohan Singh, Ram Singh, Balbir Singh and Kamaljit Singh were planning a dacoity.

The police party reached there and asked the accused to surrender. But the accused opened fire. The firing continued for 15-20 minutes. Thereafter, the accused surrendered. Weapons, including an AK 47 rifle and some live cartridges were recovered from Jagdish Singh, as per prosecution. Later, the accused was declared proclaimed offender.



One year of SAD-BJP rule
Govt should get its act together
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 15
The crime situation in this industrial hub has been deteriorating for the past one year. The cases of thefts and snatchings are on the rise but the police is always reluctant to register the FIRs, particularly in cases of snatchings.

The victims are asked to first look for the culprits on their own and then their reports are registered.

The population of the town is estimated to be around 35 lakh, including more than 10 lakh migrants, while the strength of the police force is a little more than 2,000.

The traffic situation in Ludhiana also tells the same story with the rise in the number of vehicles on the roads. There are only 250 policemen to handle the vehicular traffic. People also do not cooperate with the police and certain people consider violation of traffic rules a status symbol. As a result, the number of road accidents is also increasing.

When it comes to the sanitary conditions, it seems as if there is no civic administration in the city. The cases of diseases like gastroenteritis, malaria and typhoid are rising, as the residents are not getting pure and clean drinking water. The state health department also cannot be absolved of the responsibility.

The efforts to clean the buddha nullah have also failed. Thanks to political interference and powerful lobbying by industrialists.

S.S. Channa, head, Federation of Park Management Committees, and Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, president, People’s Awareness Forum, have called upon Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to realise his moral duty of keeping the city clean and green and take steps to set things in order.

The performance of the municipal corporation also calls for complete overhauling. The SAD-BJP, which came into majority, took two months to elect the mayor and other office-bearers after the corporation elections. The general house has met only twice in the past 10 months. The Akali councillors are at daggers drawn and the two most important committees-finance and accounts committee and house tax committee -have not been formed so far. Only this Monday, the general house authorised the commissioner to set up the committees. The misfortune of the town is that two successive mayors have failed to inspire confidence among the Ludhianvis.



CMCH Imbroglio
Church supporters jubilant over reshuffle
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 15
Having scored a victory in the first round of their battle with the top administration of Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here, the section of employees enjoying support of the Church was jubilant and sweets were distributed at several places in the hospital and educational institutions by agitating employees here today.

Even though the police were deployed to maintain law and order, the overall mood was that of festivity after the unceremonious exit of the top functionaries including director Dr John Pramod and other top administrative members of his team last evening.

In particular, the employees who had launched an agitation against the CMCH top brass were happy over the removal of chairman of the governing body Bishop Joel V Mal, whom they considered a powerful ally of the outgoing administration.

According to highly placed sources, the chairman had, at one stage, refused point blank to quit even after Dr John Pramod and his team had tendered their resignations. However, a section of employees, including those supported by church, held an angry demonstration at the venue of the governing body meeting, making it clear that that they will not let Bishop Mal continue in his post any longer.

In fact, the six-member inquiry committee, which will hold a probe in the alleged shady dealings of the previous management, was constituted on their explicit demand so that the real truth came out if the outgoing director Dr John Pramod is to be believed. He said all allegations of financial irregularities and other questionable transactions levelled against the management were based on rumours and were also motivated by a section of senior faculty members and church-supported employees, who wanted to settle personal scores with the management.

While the governing body of CMCH will meet again on April 29 to consider the inquiry report, assess performance of the interim management and make regular appointments of other senior administrators, the principal designate Dr Abraham G. Thomas, who will also be acting director, is expected to take over in about two weeks time.

Till then, the governing body has given additional charge of interim director to Dr Abi Thomas, who will also continue as principal of Christian Dental College, Dr John Abraham will remain principal of Christian Medical College and Dr V.P. Singh, head of the department of paediatric surgery has been appointed medical superintendent.



Unmanned crossings becoming death traps
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 15
Unmanned crossings are fast becoming death traps. The area has seen several accidents, including the one that occurred two days back in which three youths lost their lives near Gill village. The matter has been widely written about, but the authorities, both railways and civil, seem to be unconcerned about human lives. Even public interest litigations in various courts have failed to bear fruit.

It is hard to keep track of the number of accidents and lives lost in mishaps that have taken place at unmanned railway level crossings in the area.

Despite protests by various social and political organisations of the area, no steps have been taken by the authorities. These death traps have neither been shut down nor personnel have been deputed to avoid mishaps.

The gruesome death of four schoolchildren at Ludhiana in May, 2005, death of three residents of Baddowal village last year, death of six persons at Jagraon last month and the recent incident are among the mishaps that were caused due to negligence of the drivers of the vehicles carrying victims and the unconcern of the railway authorities. In some cases, the gatemen had forgotten to lower the barrier at the time of arrival of trains.

Observations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that majority of the unmanned level crossing are traversed by link roads. Poor visibility due to tall dense trees and inaudibility at certain places increase chances of accidents. The Ludhiana-Dhuri and Ludhiana-Jagraon rail tracks are the most accident-prone areas. Jagraon town has three unmanned level crossings within a radius of four kms while the Dhuri line has over half-a-dozen unmanned crossings.



Youth killed as well caves in
Our Correspondent

Khamano, March 15
Class-IX student Gagandeep Singh Gaggi (19) of Chuhar Majra village died while Rana (30) was injured when a well caved in while they were taking out bricks from it. The incident took place at about 11.30 am yesterday when the two youths had just entered the well. The debris and bricks fell on them and they were trapped inside the well. Persons present there immediately informed SDM Khamano Ravinder Kumar and the rescue operation started.

A JCB machine was pressed into service and after about three hours, the youths were taken out from the well and taken to civil hospital, Khamano. Gaggi was declared dead by the doctors while Rana (30) was given first aid. A case against well owner Bahadur Singh has been registered.



War among steel industries gets murkier
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The war between steel consuming industry and local steel producers got murkier as industries, including cycle and cycle parts manufacturers sought an inquiry against producers alleging "massive hoarding of steel". Owners of steel consuming units who met tourism minister Hira Singh Gabria today, told the minister that local steel producers were indulging in malpractices by creating artificial shortage of steel so as to increase rates.

They also alleged massive duty evasion by the producers and sought an inquiry against them. Owners of induction furnaces and rolling mills on the other hand, termed the allegations as baseless and said such rumours were being spread by a section of people for their vested interests.

"Local manufacturers are hoarding steel and increasing rates. Within the last two-three months, prices of HB wire and MS rounds have increased by Rs 15,000-Rs 17,000 per metric tonne. We are unable to procure steel at such high rates. They are creating an artificial scarcity and effecting arbitrary hike. They are also indulging in massive duty evasion. We want that the government should conduct an inquiry against them to detect malpractices," said Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma, president of United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers’ Association.

Earlier, the industry here was affected on account of continual increase in prices by large steel producers. However, for the past around three months, the scenario has changed and even local producers have started increasing their rates. As a result, a new war against prices has started between the local steel consuming industry and the local steel producers.

Representatives of steel consuming industry also alleged that they had received life threats by a local steel manufacturer for raising their voice against the price hike.

"We have brought the matter to the notice of the government, their intentions are clear. They are threatening us and we are worried about the safety of our fellow industrialists," alleged industrialists.

Even as the two industry segments held a meeting to discuss the matter, they failed to reach any conclusion.

Owners of induction and rolling mills, however, termed the allegations as baseless.

"Condemning and blaming domestic steel producers (induction furnaces) for steel price rise is totally unjustified. We have no role in it. The main role is played by big steel producers like SAIL, which is a government undertaking. False rumors are being spread against induction furnace owners, " said K.K. Garg, president of North India Induction Furnace Association.



Professionalism needed in family business: Expert
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The trend of family businesses in India was higher as compared to the rest of the world. As 90-95 per cent of businesses here are managed by families, there is a strong need for a more professional approach in order to attain success.

These views were expressed by Arun Bharat Ram, chairman, CII-FBN India Chapter, at the ‘Sensitisation Session on Family Business’ organised by CII Ludhiana Zonal Council here last evening.

He said all over the world 60-70 per cent of all businesses were family businesses while in India this percentage was 90-95. "The first generation sets up business but attitudes and thinking becomes different by the time the third generation comes into it. Most family businesses try and avoid conflict within the family, but the need is to work out issues through discussion," he said.

Sharing the experience of his own family, he said after facing hardships the family adopted a family constitution that laid down roles and duties of family members and steps to be taken in case of any eventuality. This led to clarity within the family and better functioning of the business.



From Schools
Kajal wins laurels
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Kajal Verma of class X of GMT Public School brought laurels to the school by winning the second position in a scholarship test conducted by Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar. About 300 students from schools of Punjab enthusiastically participated in the test. Fifteen students were given scholarships. Kajal was given a cheque of Rs 15,000. School directors Kashmir Singh Thind and Jasbir Singh Thind and principal Amarjeet Dhaliwal congratulated Kajal and her parents on this achievement.

SEASONS OF LIFE: Cherry Lane Play School conducted its annual concert with great zeal and fervour on the school premises here today. The theme was ‘Seasons of Life’. Seasons were compared to different stages of life. Spring, summer, monsoon and winter seasons were compared to childhood, young age, adulthood and old age. Children depicted the seasons of life beautifully with dances and rhymes. Principal Charul Chowdhary read out the annual school report. Participants were felicitated with certificates and trophies.

WORKSHOP: An all-India workshop for teachers of grade pre-nursery was held in Darshan Academy here today. The workshop was conducted to apprise the teachers of the latest teaching techniques. Each teacher presented a demonstration lesson covering all four learning styles.



Lecturer to present paper at Mauritius
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Seema Kapoor, lecturer in the department of economics of Khalsa College for Women, has been invited by the International Institute of Development Studies (IJDS) to present a research paper on "Globalisation, emergence of India's knowledge economy and role of ICI sectors," jointly with Dr Vikram Chadha, professor of economics, GND University, Amritsar, during the sixth IIDS international conference on development (new series) to be held at University of Technology, Mauritius, from July 15-19.



PNB, IOC register victories
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, March 15
Punjab National Bank and Indian Oil Corporation XI began their campaigns with thumping victories in the 5th All-India Guru Gobind Singh Gold Cup Hockey Tournament being organised by the Ludhiana Sports Welfare Association at Prithipal Singh AstroTurf Stadium of Punjab Agricultural University here today.

In the inaugural match, Punjab National Bank defeated Rail Coach Factory (RCF), Kapurthala, 4-1. In the second match of the day, Indian Oil Corporation blanked Air Force 3-0.

PNB went into an early lead when Navdeep Singh scored a fine field goal in the seventh minute. However, they squandered away the lead in the 15th minute as Gagandeep Singh of RCF sounded the board to level the score.

The bankmen made repeated attack and also forced a couple of penalty corners but failed to convert these chances into a goal.

Eventually, PNB surged ahead in the 43rd minute through a penalty corner conversion by J. Saroha. They consolidated the lead seven minutes later as Parmod Kumar found the target (3-1).

Sukhpal Singh pumped in another goal in the 66th minute which sealed the RCF's fate 4-1.

The second match was played between Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Air Force XI in which the former proved their superiority, wrapping it up 3-0.

With internationals in its ranks, IOC drew the first blood in the eighth minute when Deepak Thakur successfully converted a penalty corner. Three minutes later, Prabhjot Singh was on target which made it 2-0.

Just before the half time, Deedar Singh converted a penalty corner into a goal to increase the lead 3-0. They forced two more penalty corners but failed to capitalise on these opportunities. Air Force XI, too, earned three penalty corners but could not avail these chances.

The third match played between Air India and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited turned out to be a well- contested affair in which the former romped home victors 6-3 in a tie-breaker. At the end of the regular period, the two teams were tied at 3-all.

BPCL shot into the lead in the 10th minute through Hari Prasad.

Air India restored parity in the 34th minute through Len Ayappa and gained lead the very next minute through a filed goal scored by Gevan. They added one more goal in the 57th minute through Gurvinder Singh (3-1).

BPCL players reduced the margin in the 66th minute through Jarnail Singh and the equaliser came off T. Khandelwal's stick in the 68th minute. In the tie-breaker, Joga Singh, Balram and Sher Singh struck for Air India while BPCL men could not convert any penalty push.

In the fourth match of the day, Indian Airlines pipped Punjab Police 5-1 after leading 2-1 at half time.



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