L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC Staff Strike
Public works paralysed
Employees of engineering branch join dharna
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
All public works related to building branch, complaints and even supplying of information under the RTI Act have come to a halt in the local Municipal Corporation as the employees of building and drawing branch have proceeded on mass protest leave against Vigilance Bureau action on their colleagues.

As there was nobody in the offices, residents were a harassed lot. There was nobody to attend to the applications for site plan, complaints against encroachments and to provide information under the RTI Act.

Sources said the public information officer (PIO) of the MC had even written to the authorities that he was not able to provide any information sought under the Act as there was nobody in the building and drawing branch.

The offices wore a deserted look as the harassed residents were seen going back from the MC office. They said the government should intervene to help sort out the matter of agitating employees otherwise it was public who was suffering.

A resident said he had to apply for the site plan of his house. The document was to be submitted to a bank as he was getting loan. ‘‘But everything is delayed due to the protest.’’

The sources said there was nobody to act on the complaints of building bylaws’ violations. No notices to violators were being sent and the work had come to a standstill.

The agitating employees of building and drawing branch who were protesting against the arrest of their colleagues got a shot in the arm today when the employees of engineering branch also sat on a dharna along with them.

All members of the Punjab Municipal Town Planners Association, all ATPs, building inspectors, draftsmen, assistant draftsmen, SDOs, XENs, JEs and superintendents of all branches sat on a dharna.

After reports of harassment to the residents and the protest, city mayor Hakam Singh Gyapsura reached the Zone D office and assured the agitators that he would convey their grievances to the state government.

The agitating employees said they would be organising a rally at Jalandhar tomorrow and employees from Patiala, Amritsar and Ludhiana MCs would be participating.



Start work on rly overbridge: NGO
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
Citizens for Public Cause (CFPC), an NGO, has lauded the announcement made by SAD president Sukhbir Badal to provide necessary funds for the construction of a railway overbridge in place of Lakkar Pul while demanding that the construction of the same be taken up immediately and project completed without any further delay.

In a communication to Sukhbir Badal, general secretary of the body Virinder Bhakoo has said that the overbridge project was hanging fire for the last several years due to laxity and indifference on the part of the civic body.

The railway overbridge in place of the erstwhile Lakkar Pul was to be constructed simultaneously with the "Elevated Road" on Old G.T. Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema and both were to be inter-connected to provide yet another link between Civil Lines and the old city and improve the traffic condition in the city.

The CFPC urged the government through the president of the ruling party to not only allocate adequate funds for the railway overbridge but to monitor the progress of the project, and if necessary, make the senior civic officials, including the mayor and the commissioner, accountable for timely completion of the construction work. At the same time, the government should maintain coordination with railway authorities at the highest level to deal with procedural problems and inter-departmental wrangles. Bhakoo pointed out that once in place, the overbridge would take a lot of traffic volume off the congested Domoria Pul as well as Jagraon Bridge and ease the traffic movement across railway tracks.



New answer-sheets leave students in a fix
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Several students, both private and regular, appearing for their first final examination of BA today faced problems while filling the newly introduced Optical Mark Recorder (OMR) sheets by Panjab University, Chandigarh.

The answer-sheets had to be changed by college authorities as many students filled the forms in a wrong manner. Though 15 extra minutes were given by the colleges (as told by the university) to fill the sheets, students said they were not familiar with the new procedure and, therefore, mistakes on their part were natural.

Anju Goel, a student of BA I, said they were given training about filling the new computerised form by college authorities. "But it had to be filled with a black pen only. And I forgot to bring the black pen in the examination hall. I was asked not to write with a blue pen by the invigilators. At last an invigilator arranged a black pen for me,” said Anju.

The principal, Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women (GNKCW), Dr Manju Chawla, said private students faced more problems while filling the OMR sheets than the regular ones. Many private students forgot to bring black pens.

"Besides, several answer-sheets had to be replaced. The students seemed very confused while filling the answer-sheets. There was tension of exams and the new forms added further stress", said Dr Chawla.

Prof Ashwani Bhalla, lecturer at SCD Government College, said the new procedure was adopted to streamline the working of the university. He said not only the manual working would decrease but also evaluation would become much easier with this procedure. 



Shopkeepers remove encroachments
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Shopkeepers of electrical goods market in Sadar Bazaar have set an example for others by removing encroachments by themselves.

They stated this during a function organised to honour councillor Simarjit Singh Bains, who was nominated in the Finance and Contract Committee.

Jasmeet Singh, an office-bearer of the Ludhiana Young Electricals Traders Association, said while they had removed the encroachments themselves, the rehris removed by tehbazaari department had come back on the spot and creating problems for them.

Bains expressed pleasure over the good work done by the shopkeepers. He assured them that the MC would make an effort to remove all the temporary encroachments.



Guru Nanak Stadium headless too
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Guru Nanak Stadium, which is facing electricity crunch for the past three months, will soon have no authority to govern the stadium as the district sports officer (DSO) Gian Inder Singh is leaving his post by the end of this month.

The sports department has approved his application seeking voluntary retirement.

The sports fraternity of the city feels that the sudden retirement of DSO will affect the proceeding initiated by the sports department to restore power supply in the stadium.

Power supply to the stadium was disconnected as bills amounting to whopping Rs 4.75 lakh are still lying pending. The Sports Department blames the Municipal Corporation (MC) for non-payment of bills. Sports Department official says the MC has to foot the bill since it has opened some of its offices in the stadium. But MC officials are not convinced and agreed foot some share of the bill.

The coaches complaint that if the electricity would not be restored till summers then it will be quite difficult for them to work in sweltering heat.

The coaches alleged that red tapism in both departments was the behind the darkness of the stadium.

The bureaucracy gave deaf year to the assurance of Guljar Singh Ranike, sport minister, for settling the issue soon.

This is not the first time since the power supply has been disconnected by PSEB officials, even last year the power supply was disconnected for almost two months due to the non-payment of the electricity.

It was after the intervention of parliamentary secretary Harish Dhanda that the electricity could be restored in the stadium. Talking to Tribune, a civic official said since the Sports Department owned the stadium, it is not the corporation's responsibility to clear power dues.

While the sport department said since the electricity meter is on the name of the MC, how can the Sports Department foot the electricity bill?

A coach said: "I am worried as the summers are approaching and it will be impossible to sit in the room without electricity. Moreover, with the retirement of DSO the hope of early solution of this issue has received a setback."

Class IV employees are the worst hit. They say they have to cycle to Fountain Chowk around 10 times on an average daily to send fax or some such chores. The athletes especially the basketball players are suffering, too. They have to wrap up their practice sessions by dusk as there is no lighting facility in the stadium.

Upset over the prevailing development, the DSO Gian Inder Singh said,"I have intimated the higher authorities about the issue and I have met officer of the MC and I hope that the issue will be resolved during my tenure.



Public prosecutor's house burgled
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
Thieves struck at the house of additional public prosecutor Ashwani Bedi and decamped with around 22 tola gold items, cash of Rs 1.90 lakh in Durgapuri, Haibowal Kalan, Ludhiana. A case has been registered.

Bedi said he, along with family members, had gone to Vaishno Devi for three days. When he returned back, he was stunned to see that the locks of doors and almirahs were broken by the thieves.



Parking contractor’s staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Employees of a contractor of parking lots in the mini secretariat today staged a dharna to protest against the withdrawal of the contract from their contractor.

The term of contract came to an end on March 31 yesterday. The auction could not be held and the deputy commissioner assigned several home guards to charge parking fee from the vehicle owners.

Nearly 35 labourers raised slogans against the deputy commissioner, who they claimed was responsible for rendering them unemployed.

They added that the contractor was paying the parking fee to the authorities every evening. There was no need to withdraw the contract till the lots were auctioned afresh.

‘‘We were paying the authorities money everyday. If the term had come to an end, it could have been extended at least till fresh auctions were held,’’ said a labourer, adding that they had lost their jobs overnight. 



Protest against opening of liquor vend
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Residents of Gandhi Colony and workers of a liquor vend contractor were involved in a clash over opening of a vend in the area, which is largely residential. Timely intervention of the police prevented the situation from turning ugly. DSP Paramjit Singh Pannu reached the spot and took both the parties to the police station.

Trouble arose when workers of the vend started cleaning it in the morning. The residents objected but no one paid any heed to it. Later they brought a holy book and kept it in the vend and started chanting. This angered the workers, who asked them to leave the shop. The workers allegedly threw away the holy book. This led to a clash between both the parties.

The police was informed and cops reached the spot. No case has been registered so far. The police is trying to effect a compromise between the warring factions.

The residents said they would not allow opening of a vend in their area as it would become a haven for tipsy people. It would become difficult for the womenfolk of the area to venture out.

They added that every year at the start of the new financial year, they had to suffer because of opening of one liquor vend or the other.

Representatives of both the parties were deliberating on the issue at the police station till the filing of this report. 



IT dept expects 15 pc rise in revenue
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
The income tax department is expecting revenue collection to the tune of Rs 1,460 crore as the process of filing tax returns got over yesterday.

The department that notched up a collection of Rs 1,244 crore last year, including tax deducted at source (TDS), from Ludhiana and Jalandhar regions, is likely to register a 15 per cent increase this time, said sources.

The department received as many as 10,000 returns in Ludhiana on the last date of filing IT returns yesterday and the total number of returns is expected to be more than seven lakh this time. More than 5.25 lakh returns were received from Jalandhar and Ludhiana till February.

The areas that fall within the jurisdiction of these regions include Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Phagwara, Khanna, Jagraon, Moga, Dhuri , Malerkotla, Mandi Ahmedgarh and villages surrounding them.

For tax officials, the first day of this financial year was relatively relaxing after they worked on Saturday and Sunday and till late evening yesterday to accommodate the heavy rush of assessees.

Meanwhile, assessees who were expecting to file their returns online were disappointed as the department's website did not open. A large number of such people turned up late in the evening as failure to do so would have invited a penalty of Rs 5,000.

"It came as a big disappointment as those who could have had the convenience of filing their returns online were unable to do so," said Raman Goel, secretary of District Taxation Bar Association.



Unable to get NSCs redeemed
64-year-old alleges harassment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Sixtyfour-year-old Tara Singh is a harassed man, unable to get his National Savings Certificates (NSCs) encashed even after visiting the post office concerned on the date that his investments were due for maturity.

This retired JE from the PWD said the postal staff at the Bhdaur House post office were rude to him and refused to process the certificates. "The due date fell on March 28 and I wanted to re-invest my investments before March 31. However, when I went to the post office, the staff members asked me to come a couple of days later. When I went again, they told me they were unable to trace the register that had the record of these investments," he said.

For Singh, who has been a regular investor with the post office savings schemes, the treatment came as a big disappointment . His purpose of re-investing the amount has already been defeated as the financial year came to a close yesterday.

"A retired person like me relies on savings and I had high trust in postal savings. But now my trust is shattered," he rued.

When contacted, senior superintendent, Post Office, V.K. Raizada said no complaint on the said issue had been received so far. "If we get any such complaint, we would not take long to resolve it. Such a thing should not happen."



Kidney patient needs financial help
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
Jasbir Singh (19), like all other young boys of his age, had dreams of a productive and purposeful life till two years ago when he fell victim to life-threatening condition of kidney failure. The disease not only shattered his dreams but drained the scant financial resources of the family, which went toward life-sustaining twice-a-week dialysis since then.

The failing health of Jasbir, a resident of Basti Jodhewal locality in the city, forced him to quit his small-time job with the result that his father Daljit Singh, a street vendor, has been finding it difficult to support a family of four members while at the same time sparing funds for the treatment of his son.

The doctors in the urology department of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital here have suggested Jasbir to go for kidney transplant and have also conducted preliminary tests on both Jasbir and his father, who has offered to donate his kidney to save the life of his son. The case for kidney transplant is likely to be approved in the forthcoming meeting of the district-level committee set up under the Organ Transplant Act to be held later this week.

According to the doctors, the estimated expenditure on kidney transplant and follow-up treatment will be around Rs 3 lakh which is beyond the limited means of the the patient and his family. Jasbir, as also his family, are now looking toward kind-hearted people of the region for financial assistance for the kidney transplant which seems to be the only ray of hope for the young boy.

Those willing to extend a helping hand to the family can send their donations to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana with "Treatment of Jasbir Singh (CR No 2008-114456)” written on the back side of cheques, drafts or on covering letter, or else could get in touch with the patient (mobile number 099147-51871).



Religious function sparks off controversy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
A religious function got embroiled in a controversy at a local hotel today when activists of Darbar-e-Khalsa spotted the holy Guru Granth Sahib kept in the basement of the hotel.

According to Jasdeep Singh Kaonke, president of the organisation, the holy book was kept in the basement while people were drinking on the ground floor.

He demanded action from the SGPC against the organisers on the ground that the act was against an edict of Akal Takht.

Kaonke said they had got information about the ceremony yesterday only and he had especially gone to the hotel asking the owner not to indulge in it. But the latter did not care.

After the intervention of the orgainsation, the function was stopped by the hotel owner midway only. The holy book was sent to a gurdwara. 



Mehndi contest by women club
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
The Evergreen Women Association organised mehndi competition at Kiddies Paradise School here yesterday. As many as 50 girls participated in the competition. Poonam Sharma encouraged the girls to participate in such competitions.

President further said the association aimed to teach the girl all kind of hobbies. The association was paining to start hobby classes where all kind courses would be taught free of cost.



Two commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
A 24-year-old man of Gyapsura committed suicide by hanging himself this morning. A migrant from Bihar, Sanjay used to run a shop in Gyapsura. He was found hanging by his friend.

Another resident, Keshav committed suicide by hanging himself in his house in Chawni Mohalla area today.



Biz Word
Singal is chairman of CII Punjab State Council
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Ludhiana-based J.R. Singal, managing director of Eastman Cast and Forge, is the new chairman of CII Punjab State Council for the year 2008-09.

Singal incorporated Eastman Industries in the year 1982 and the the company later got an ISO 9002 certification. A manufacturer- exporter of a diversified range of bicycles, components and accessories, suitable for both conventional and contemporary bicycles, Eastman delivers a complete bicycle, single speed and multi- speed chain wheels, free wheels, axels, hubs, pedals, chains, frames, and other parts and accessories, stated the CII today.

It is also an established brand in Latin American countries, including Panama.

Gunbir Singh, managing director of Bambino Holdings (P) Limited, was elected as vice-chairman of the CII Punjab State Council. Singh, who has over 22 years of experience in the textile 
industry, switched to tours, travels and real estate business six years ago and the travel unit of his company has emerged a market leader in Punjab.



Device to detect insects in stored grains
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
Ludhiana-based Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has developed a mechanical device for detection of insects in stored grains.

The device is capable of instant detection and a fair quantification of insect infestation in stored food grains. The device facilitates the detection of the presence or absence of live or dead insects in stored grain and it also allows to visualize the egg infestation in the grain sample.

The device has been patented by CIPHET recently.



‘Changi Kheti’ to have wider reach
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 1
The monthly farm magazine of Punjab Agricultural University "Changi Kheti" will now reach 51 families in Rakh Othian village in Ajnala tehsil of Amritsar. Till now, there were no subscribers to the magazine from the border belt.

Dr Baj Singh, assistant director, Horticulture, Nawanshahr, has paid subscription for 51 copies of the magazine for all the families of the village in the memory of his elder brother Mukhtar Singh Sarpanch.

Dr Baj Singh said his elder brother was a keen farmer who had interest in horticulture. He said the magazine would go a long way in bringing better farm technologies to farmers. 



Result worries for pvt affiliated schools
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, April 1
Although the 5th standard board examination result for govt and private-aided schools was out yesterday, students of private affiliated schools had to wait for yet another day till their result was finally declared.

While the result for govt and aided schools is declared, the students of the affiliated schools feel cheated as they were being told that their result is being prepared at Chandigarh and will be declared only after a day.

The parents of the wards allege that it is very ironic on the part of the board authorities that the result of the same class students, appearing under the same board is being declared separately.

“Where will the merit of the students of affiliated schools be placed while considering the total result of the state”, the parents of these students allege.

The result list of various local affiliated schools that has lately arrived here in the afternoon today is so vague that it is difficult either for the school authorities or the students to make out the marks or even judge whether have passed or failed.

The students of private affiliated schools decry that they are really fed up with the Punjab School Education Board and its faulty functioning. The parents complain that prior to this too it was just a month back when PSEB board suddenly announced that the students in private affiliated schools would have to take the board examination.



Spice to refund extra SMS charges
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
In an interesting decision, the Permanent Lok Adalat has directed Spice Communications to refund the amount levied on a customer as extra SMS charges for sending SMS on Independence Day.

Pronouncing the verdict, chairman of Lok Adalat C D Gupta and its members R S Khokkar and Nand Lal held that the company was not justified in charging extra, when the customer had taken a pack of 2,000 SMS, both local and national, at a fixed monthly amount. The company could not charge extra for SMS without notifying the same to the subscriber well in advance.

These orders were passed in a complaint moved by a city lawyer, Aru Sharma of Durgapuri Haibowal Kalan. It was alleged that he had not exhausted the pack of 2,000 SMS, even then the company charged for sending SMS on August 15, 2007.

It was further pleaded that he was surprised to see that the company had deducted Rs 80 on Indepence Day. Re 1 and Re 2 were charged for sending local and national messages respectively.

On the other hand, the company justified charging extra on Independence Day claiming that it was as per the policy of the company. It was submitted that the consumer was entitled to the benefit of SMS pack except for the blackout days, which were duly notified in leading newspapers. The company had termed the other allegations to be false and frivolous.

But after hearing the arguments, the Permanent Lok Adalat held that the company did not produce any agreement between the company and the subscriber. So,they were not entitled to charge extra on Independence Day without sending intimation to the customer.

The Lok Adalat directed the company to refund the amount charged for sending SMS on August 15, 2007. 



250 examined at medical camp
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 1
More than 250 patients were examined and given medicines at a free medical check-up camp,

organised at Atam Public Senior Secondary School, Atam Nagar by Lord Mahavira Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital here today. The team of doctors at the camp was led by Dr Ravinder Kochhar.

Inaugurating the camp, the area councillor lauded the joint initiative by the school and the homoeopathic college. He said the medical treatment was becoming unaffordable for the common people and such medical camp provided much relief to the ailing people by offering treatment free of cost and virtually at the door step.

President of the school managing committee Hira Lal Jain, who is also the chairman of Lord Mahavira College and Hospital, said he and the institutions were committed to serve the ailing humanity. Similar medical camps will be organised regularly in the periphery of the city as well rural areas in the district, he added.



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