L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Powerless, residents take to streets
Block traffic, stage dharna, beat up lineman 
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 16
Frequent disruption in power supply and cuts for seven-eight hours has forced people to hold protests and block traffic. 

In various incidents since last night, irate residents beat up an assistant lineman in the Chander Nagar locality and industrialists and shopkeepers resorted to "rasta roko" at Partap Chowk. Residents also held a demonstration in the Basant Park area.

In a major protest which led to the disruption of traffic on the Link road and Gill road sections for nearly two hours this afternoon.

A large number of residents, unit owners and shopkeepers blocked the road to vent their anger over erratic power supply.

They alleged that some other areas in the vicinity were being given power while they were denied it even when there was no cut.

The blockade was removed after the police intervened and PSEB officials assured them that corrective measures would be taken.

Residents of Chander Nagar were so charged over the delay in the rectification of a faulty line last evening that some of them assaulted assistant lineman Chuni Lal at the Haibowal complaint centre of the PSEB.

Reacting to the incident, the line staff struck work and refused to attend to complaints. As a result, many areas remained without power for the whole night.

Paramjit Singh Gill, SE of the city west circle, said the department had lodged a complaint with the police against the beating up of the lineman.

The line staff had resumed work and all pending complaints were being attended to, he said, adding that there should be no major bottleneck in power supply.

Residents also staged a dharna in Basant Park over disruption in power supply which was affecting trade and industrial activity in the area.


Grain meant for students rots
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The grain meant for midday meal for the students of middle classes is still rotting at various cluster centres and storerooms of schools, even 15 days after the long summer vacation.

The midday meal, which was to be served to the students of Classes VI, VII, and VIII from July 1, is waiting to be cooked and served.

Sources in the education department said the food has not been served to the students due to inadequate infrastructure in Government Senior Secondary and High Schools of the district.

Sources further said that kitchens have not yet been constructed in several Government Senior Secondary Schools of the district and others do not have cooking material and utensils to serve the students.

“Tall claims of the education department to reduce the dropout ratio in the middle class seem to have fallen flat as the education department has still not started serving food to the students,” said Jatinder Malik, a retired teacher.

The staff of Government Multipurpose Senior Secondary School, near Kesar Gunj Mandi, told The Tribune that the education department has asked them to make the estimated amount of expenditure to be spent on the students. Though the wheat and rice stock had reached here yesterday, the staff was waiting for funds so that they can buy fuel and spices to cook food. They said a separate kitchen has not been made yet.

Another teacher of the government high school said, “For how long we will spend the money from our pockets. I know I have to run from pillar to post to get the bills of expenditure cleared from the department.”

The principal of the Government Senior Secondary School, situated in the periphery area, said, “The government schools are already short of staff and further the department has put an extra burden on our shoulders by initiating midday meal in middle classes.

Now we have to look for a cook and teacher so that we can serve food to them. Despite wheat and rice sacks, which reached the school only yesterday, nothing has been provided by the education department. How can we cook food without utensils?”

However, Sudesh Bajaj, district education officer (DEO), said, “Midday meal was being served to students ever since schools reopened after summer vacation.”



Officers want Braille Bhawan in order before CM’s visit
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
In the wake of the CM’s visit to Braille Press Bhawan tomorrow, officials of the social welfare department are in a hurry to fill vacant posts. Ranjit Singh, secretary of the social welfare department, Punjab, and Rakhi Gupta Bhandri, director, social welfare, visited Braille Press Bhawan at Jamallpur and instructed the department to fill the vacant posts of teacher and administrator of Braille school before the CM’s visit.

They were astonished to see a music teacher teaching maths and English due to shortage of staff.

In the absence of benches, students of two different classes were made to sit on the floor and were being taught by a single teacher.

The officers objected to students wearing dresses, other than uniform. They ordered the in charge to immediately provide them with uniforms, but they said they were given only Rs 600, which was spent on food and other things.

They assured the staff that the department would increase the amount soon. The officers also reprimanded the official concerned and the hostel warden for negligence.

Also, there was wild growth of grass and stray dogs would often visit the premises.

The staff said the dogs gained entry from the wall which was broken at various places.

R.K. Lamba, former district social welfare officer, said it was for the first time in the history of the bhawan that officers from both departments had visited it to take stock of the situation.

Gurpreet Singh Machiwara and Davinder Singh had met the CM and told him about the condition of the bhawan.

Gurpreet Singh said the state-of-the-art auditorium at the bhawan was in ruins due to official apathy.

He said an estimated Rs 2 crore had been spent on the auditorium and termites had eaten the wooden ceiling.



Wait at babu’s office lands 2 in hospital
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Two persons, an elderly man and a woman, who had come to the sub-registrar’s office to get their property related documents registered, fainted while waiting for their turn in a queue here today. An octogenarian was trying to get his will registered while a woman was there for a power of attorney. They both were shifted to a nearby hospital.

Angry residents staged a dharna in front of the office and blocked traffic at 4 pm after waiting for sub-registrar (W) A.P. Verma. Vehicles were stranded and the blockade was lifted at 5 pm. Later, the police officials visited the spot and pacified agitators.

Chaos prevailed at the office today as visitors complained that absenteeism was causing rush.

The visitors alleged that the sub-registrar (East) and (West) remained away from office for most of the working hours yesterday and today. This led to piling of work and resentment among people.

Eyewitnesses said the sub-registrar (W) reached the office at 10.30 am and left his seat for lunch, saying that he would be back by 4 pm. However, he did not return.

In the east office also, sub-registrar Kanwar Narinder Singh arrived at 10.30 am and worked for an hour. Later, he said he had to go for another duty. People confronted him and asked him about his assignment, but he could not give a satisfactory reply. He, however, returned in the evening.

“Verma did not come back. People came out on the roads and started raising slogans against him,” Bacchittar Singh, a resident, said.

He said the registrars did not work yesterday also as they said they had to attend the bhog of a tehsildar. On Friday also they remained elusive, saying that they were busy with CM's duty.

The work was piling up and a huge rush was being witnessed in the office everyday. Moreover, there was no arrangement for water. 



College expansion casts shadow on school
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The management of Master Tara Singh College for Women here had recently requested the state government to transfer its 1,500 square yards land “lying vacant” near campus to the college. During their annual convocation, the MTS management maintained that due to limited space, the campus could not be expanded.

On this occasion, BJP Legislative Harish Bedi also requested Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to transfer the land to college management since it was “not being properly utilised”.

Interestingly, on this “vacant land”, many students from needy and poor section of society get education. The Government Elementary School situated on the land, which was considered to be one of the best government schools in the city at one time, is in shambles today. Thanks to the callousness on part of the authorities concerned, who did not pay any attention to run the school smoothly. But with sincere efforts of certain teachers, about 16 poor children still get education here.

Madhu, mother of a student here, said she sent her son to school regularly as the teachers were very concerned. “We are meagre workers. In our absence my son spent most of his time in bad company. By the time I come home, he is busy in the school. If the building is taken over by the college, these students will suffer,” she added.

Harjeet Singh, BDPO (Mangat 3), said with untiring efforts they had managed to admit 16 students in April this year. “This is the result of our door-to-door campaign to send needy children to schools. The school is up to fourth standard. The number will definitely increase if sincere efforts are made. Besides, two block offices (with 50 schools each) are also there in this building,” he added.

Swaran Singh, president MTS management, however, said if land was given to college, more girl students could get education. When asked about the future of these needy kids, he said that management would provide them education, too.



No clue yet to missing boy
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 16
The police is still clueless to the mysterious disappearance of 14-year-old Davinder Rikhi, alias Happy, of Kanganwal village who had gone missing 11 days ago.

Though the child was reportedly seen with a group of Gujjars settled at Khatra village, near here, the police has failed to extract any information from the suspects.

Happy had left his home on July 5 morning to play with his friends. Family learned about his disappearance when he failed to return home in late evening.

He was wearing an orange T-shirt and black trousers on that day. Happy used to go out to play with his friends during vacation and had no enemies. Family sources said he was in good mental state. According to Raj Kumar Rikhi, Happy’s father, his family members had searched for the boy at all religious places in the area.

Sources had told Happy’s parents that their son had been seen with some members of the Gujjar community near micro-hydle power plant at Khatra village, near here.

“Seeing the picture of Happy, some children from the community had admitted that Happy had stayed with them at the dera. But when the village panchayat came to enquire the matter, senior members of the community forced the children to retract their statement,” said Raj Kumar, alleging that adult male members had left the dera when a police party went to investigate.

The police circulated particulars of the child to all police stations, but failed to find any clue to his disappearance. 



4-yr-old girl run over by school bus
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A four-year-old girl was crushed under a school bus in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, while her six-year- old brother fractured his hand in an attempt to save her.

The incident occurred outside BRS Academy in the afternoon. The deceased, Gurleen Kaur, and her brother Inderpreet were the last to alight from the vehicle.

The police said the two were about to get off the bus when the driver moved it. Gurleen allegedly fell and the rear tyres ran over her.

The police said the driver moved the bus back in panic, crushing the girl again.

The police added that Inderpreet did not let go of his sister and received a fracture in his right arm.

The academy authorities handed over the driver to the Sarabha Nagar police. The bus has also been impounded.



Man, sons booked for assault
Tribune News Service

Khanna, July 16
The Khanna police has booked a man, along with his two sons, for beating up his son-in-law over a minor issue.

In his compliant to the police, Mandeep Pal Singh, a motor mechanic and resident of ward No. 12 of the city, alleged that his father-in-law Shamsher Singh and his two sons attacked him and inflicted injuries on him.

He alleged that the three blocked his way while he was on his way from Khamano to Khanna. Mandeep said he had got married to Shamsher’s daughter around two years ago and now, the girl's family wanted him to stay with them at their house in Doraha.

A case under Sections 323,324, 341, 506 and 34 of the IPC has been registered at the Sadar Police station. No arrests have been made. 



Nuclear Deal
Youth Congress march to garner support
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress today began efforts to garner support for the Indo-US nuclear deal by holding a march through the city. Party workers carried placards bearing slogans in favour of the deal. “The opposition is misleading the masses over the issue,” said Youth Congress president Vijay Inder Singla. “We have started a mass awareness programme on the benefits of the deal.”

He said the nuclear deal would help the country meet energy requirements and there was no fear of compromising on the country’s security or nuclear weapons.

He said on the one hand the country was aspiring to become a global powerhouse, on the other political parties were against modernisation.

He said Dr Manmohan Singh government had made the draft of the deal public to clear the doubt.

The activists carried slogans like “No ifs, no buts, all are sick of power cuts, only remedy is an appeal for nuclear deal”.

The march began from the Clock Tower chowk and went through the Chaura Bazar and other markets of the old city.

Singla said the campaign would be carried out in other cities also.



Power Crisis
Inverter makers make hay
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Khanna, July 16
With unscheduled power cuts having hit the common man hard, the local inverter industry has started to look up.

In one of the worst power crisis faced by the state, in spite of heavy rains, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has been imposing power cuts of at least six hours a day.

A large number of people are now switching to inverters to get some respite from cuts and humid weather.

“People have been making enquiries about inverters for domestic, industrial or official use,” said Shiv, a wholesaler.

With temperature and humidity fluctuating, people are looking for alternatives to keep themselves cool.

“The prices of inverter vary from Rs 3,500 to Rs 5,000. In view of rising prices of lead, the prices of battery used in inverters have gone up manyfold,” said another Gyan Singh.

He said last year the price of a normal battery was around Rs 4,500 and it has shot up to over Rs 8,500.

Though prices of batteries have increased manyfold during the past one year, those of inverters are almost steady.

“Since there were fewer power cuts last year, not many people had turned to inverters. However, things are different this year,” said Tarsem Chand, an inverter seller.

He said the number of sellers have also increased in view of growing customers.

Scheduled power cuts of six hours are often stretched to seven or eight hours a day, residents rue.



Wedding exhibition from July 19
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 16
“Celebrating Vivaha 2008”, a three-day wedding exhibition, will open at a city hotel on July 19.

Stating this here today, company CEO Tarun Sarda said when the exhibition was first launched in 2003, it was decided to test the markets of economic and political nerve-points of the country, beginning from Mumbai and Delhi.

At that time, the organisers could only imagine the challenges and success that laid ahead.

“This is our third year in the city and I am confident that it will be a huge success. When I brought the exhibition for the first time to Ludhiana, little did I know that I would return with another success story. I was overwhelmed to see the response.”

He said with the passing of each year, the exhibition had turned bigger and better, both in terms of quality and quantity of participation.

In addition to best of brands and designers, the exhibition has also added a gamut of cities to its ambit, which included Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. And all cities have responded well to the initiative, he added.

Explaining the concept of the exhibition, Sarda said it was a rare occasion for brides and grooms-to-be, apart from fashion connoisseurs, to pick out the best that had to be offered.

“The latest in the business is available under one roof. This is our sixth consecutive year of exhibitions and third year in the city. With Ludhiana being a city of rich culture and heritage, weddings are of great significance here. And our list of participants caters to all tastes and offers everything that you will need to make your dream wedding come true.”



Corporation evading info under RTI, says exporter
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 16
A local exporter has urged the higher authorities to impress upon officials of the Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India to provide him information under the RTI Act.

He has accused the corporation of denying information about the preparation of specific approval list (SAL).

In a communication to the central information commissioner and in charge, RTI requests and appeals management information system, Dharam Pal Bansal, proprietor D.P. Bansal Exporters alleged that the corporation had been trying to evade information about the process of inclusion of his firm in the SAL on flimsy grounds.

Applying on behalf of his firm was cited as reason for the denial of information. “Please note that as per Section 3, only citizens have right to information under the RTI Act. In view of the above, the said appeal is rejected since the same has been filed by a firm and not by a citizen,” reads a reply to Bansal.

Claiming that his firm had been paying huge amounts as premium to the corporation for the past eight years, he maintained that he had lodged no claim until now. But the corporation had to pay a claim to the Punjab and Sind Bank and IBD Ludhiana in connection with a shipment worth Rs 18.5 lakh as a foreign bank had defaulted by handing over documents without receiving payment from the consignee.

Instead of contesting the claim of the bank, the corporation included the consignor's name in the SAL, thus affecting its goodwill adversely.

“Though we had submitted documents for delivery against payment, the consignee bank ignored the instructions and handed over the documents without realising payment. If the consignor bank lodges claim for the loss, why should our image be tarnished by including our name in the list?” he argued.



Dog-bite cases on the rise in city
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The growing population of stray dogs has become a problem for city residents, as it has resulted in a gradual increase in the number of dog bites cases. Against 334 cases of dog bites in the district in 2006, the number rose to 469 cases in 2007. In spite of having convened repeated meetings to initiate ABC (animal birth control) programme in past three years, the administration has failed to pursue the project.

The F&CC of the municipal corporation has approved the sterilisation programme for stray dogs in the city.

PFA (People for Animals) district president Dr Ajay Jain said he had submitted a detailed programme schedule prepared by the WHO to the deputy commissioner last month but nothing had come out of it so far.

“We have been treating injured stray dogs brought to our hospital, but the need of the hour is to start an immediate sterilisation drive for dogs,” Dr Jain added.

The dog population is increasing at an alarming rate in urban as well as rural areas following a complete ban on killing of stray dogs under the PCA.

District health officer said there was a probability of further increase in dog bite cases in the coming years if the growth of dogs was not checked at the earliest.

Disconcerted over the nuisance caused by dogs, residents of a locality in Urban Estate, Dugri, have instructed the watchman to keep the stray dogs, that sneak inside their houses from slits of gates, away from their houses.

Also, there have been incidents wherein stray dogs feeding near slaughterhouses have attacked infants in adjoining localities.

Adding to the problem is the fact that regular anti-rabies vaccine is out of stock in the market as its manufacturing has been suspended at CRI, Kasauli, due to the PCA Act.

Pointing towards the increased risk of rabies deaths, a senior health official said: “A single shot of alternative vaccine ‘human immunoglobins’ costs Rs 5,000, which is beyond the reach of economically weaker sections.”



Check piracy

With the increase in the number of music lovers, selling of pirated CDs (compact disc) or DVDs (digital video disc) is booming at large scale in the city. Pirated CD hawkers are seen openly selling audio and video CDs on the footpath near to Ghanta Ghar market, Janakpuri, Chaura Bazar, Sabji Mandi in Sector 32 and many such areas. Costly softwares are easily available through pirated CDs in the market at much less rates.

Despite knowing the fact that the pirated CDs or DVDs have a poor audio and video quality, people still buy the same.

The government must issue standing instructions to the city administration as well as the police to conduct raids wherever the pirated CDs are being sold. Further, the city must have anti-piracy cell to check the business of piracy.

Ravi Chander Garg, Ludhiana

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.



Biz Word
Store opened

Ludhiana: Reliance Retail launched its first ‘iStore’ in the industrial capital of the state at West End Mall on Ferozepur Road here today. After the success of iStores in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Jaipur, this is the fifth iStore in India and first in Punjab. This format is an offering from Reliance Digital, the consumer durable information technology arm of Reliance Retail.

Addressing a news conference here today, Ajay Baijal, CEO of Reliance Digital, informed that the “iStore” was spread over 1,363 square feet area, offering shoppers the opportunity to learn and experience innovative products and solutions in a modern environment. According to Baijal, visitors to iStore would have trained, knowledgeable experts to help them experience entire product line. The store will also offer specific training modules for different applications through regular training modules. Customers would be provided access to dedicated after-sales service and troubleshooting through an in-house service arm called ResQ. — OC



Toxicology lab a blessing  for researchers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
The state-of-the-art toxicology laboratory in the department of entomology of Punjab Agriculture University had all sophisticated equipment and instruments required for toxicological studies, said head of the department Dr N.S. Butter. He said the laboratory was considered a landmark facility in view of the excessive use of pesticides in the state.

Giving details, the laboratory in charge, Dr Balwinder Singh, stated that more than 3,000 samples were analysed annually in addition to the analysis forming a part of the students’ research programmes. Some new molecules formulated by different companies were also tested in the laboratory, he said adding that the laboratory provided analysis facilities to faculty members who were to present research proposals for approval from the Research Evaluation Committee of the PAU where it was mandatory that the data on pesticides residue analysis was presented.

Elaborating the mandate assigned to the laboratory, Dr Singh said: “It undertakes studies aimed at examining pesticide residues in various components of environment, studying metabolic activities of pesticides in insects and plants and resistance to pesticides in insect pests.” He also informed that two mega projects were operating in the laboratory. One of these was an Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-sponsored All-India Network Project on Pesticide Residues Analysis.

The second project was funded by the directorate of agriculture and cooperation, ministry of agriculture, Government of India, which deals with monitoring of residues at the national level. In this project, the pesticides residues were analysed in consumable commodities such as rice, wheat, milk, vegetables, fruits etc, said Dr Singh.

Dr Butter highlighted that the toxicology laboratory would be strengthened further in terms of infrastructure and scientific manpower. 



College session starts with havan
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
Akhand path and havan ceremonies were performed on the onset of new academic session at many colleges in the city today. The fresh faces looked cheerful and excited and were seen making new friends at the college campuses.

At Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women, the new academic session commenced with prayer to Almighty. It was followed by Kirtan and Ardas by Bhai Sahib Tejinder Bir Singh and the ragi jatha. Gursharan Kaur, principal of the college, welcomed the new comers and congratulated the students for excelling in annual examinations and in the field of sports as well.

At SCD Government College, hundreds of students gathered in assembly where principal welcomed them all. He asked them to concentrate on studies and lead a disciplined life.

Havan ceremony was performed in Kamla Lohtia SD College at the start of academic session 2008-09 today. Swami Nigam Bodh from Ved Mandir blessed the students and wished them prosperous academic year.



Gift wrapping contest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A gift wrapping competition was held for Classes VI to X at GRD Academy here today.

Yamini, Manila and Surbhi stood first, second and third, respectively, in category A while Balpreet, Arnav and Chetan stood first, second and third, respectively, in category B.

Kirat, Gautam and Shivani were adjudged first, second and third, respectively, in category C.

Principal Aneeta Kundra gave away certificates to them.



Teachers urged to take profession seriously
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
A three-day lecture series aimed at making teachers “motivated mentors, progressive planners and efficient executors” was organised at BCM School Dugri. Principal Dr Vandana Shahi reminded teachers of their responsibilities towards the future generations of the country. She emphasised the indispensability of progressive planning for efficiently executing their duties.

In his lecture, BCM School, Focal Point, principal M.R. Mehta urged teachers to take their profession seriously and practise teaching as a life-long commitment rather than pursuing it as a mechanical and financial vocation.

“The lectures rejuvenated our senses to continue with our mission of teaching and mentoring children,” said a teacher, Gagan Sohal.

“Through such regular training programme, we endeavour to make teachers as communicators of life experiences and wisdom rather than mere transmitters of factual information,” said the school principal.



200 patients examined at health camp
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 16
As many as 200 patients were examined at a free medical camp organised by the Healthcare Homeo Charitable Society at Dera Bhajangarh in Islam Ganj area.

Kultar Singh Jogi and Dr Ravinder Kochar were the guests of honour.

Dr Kochar with his team of doctors examined patients suffering from various common diseases.

Office-bearers of the oganisation were also present at the camp. They announced to open 20 charitable dispensaries all over the city.



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