L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Railway ticket scam worth lakhs unearthed
Asst station master suspended
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 25
Iqbal Singh, assistant station master of Dhandari railway station, on the periphery of the city, has been placed under suspension for his alleged involvement in a paper ticket scam. A probe into the scam has been entrusted to the vigilance wing of the Northern Railway.

On August 14, railway officials had seized seven blank paper tickets (BPT) from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh-bound passengers after a trap was laid to nab the accused.

This came after charges of embezzlement over a period of past one year were established in the course of preliminary inquiries conducted by a special anti-fraud team.

The passengers had claimed to have paid Rs 4,500 for those tickets. However, the carbon copies of the tickets in the BPT book found in the possession of Iqbal Singh showed a total fare of Rs 150 from the same seven tickets, which were issued to places like Rajpura and Ambala.

Senior railway officials said in the absence of printed tickets to remote and far-off places, the ASM used to issue tickets to them from the BPT book.

While the original copy of the ticket given to the unsuspecting passengers, most of whom were migrant workers, bore the actual destination and fare recovered for the journey, two carbon copies in the BPT — one to be sent to accounts section and the other kept as record in the BPT book itself — made by the official later on showed only a fraction of the actual amount of fare for a short journey.

Based on the suspicion that the fraudulent act had been going on for over one year and further that the accused official had allegedly siphoned off more that Rs 4,000 on a single day when the anti-fraud team laid a trap, the scam was expected to run into several lakh rupees.

Confirming that the suspension orders of the ASM had been issued from the headquarters, divisional railway manager of Northern Railway Satish Kumar, during his visit to the city yesterday, said detailed investigation into the case was being conducted by the vigilance wing of the Northern Railway and further necessary action would be initiated on the basis of inquiry report. 


Midday Meal
Schools make do with borrowed utensils
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 25
Unable to receive central assistance to construct kitchen-cum-store and procure utensils under the recently implemented midday meal scheme for upper primary private aided schools, staff of these institutes have been forced to get the food cooked under makeshift arrangement out in the open.

Staff of some private schools have even hired utensils from religious places.

Parents of students have urged the authorities to expedite the issue of grants so that meals for their wards are prepared in controlled environment.

None of the private aided schools of the area falling in this part of Sangrur district has received funds for the construction of kitchen-cum-stores and purchase of kitchen paraphernalia, including LPG cylinders, gas stoves and utensils.

Workers employed cook food out in the open on makeshift brick-and-mud fireplace. They are also forced to store ration in classrooms.

While heads of some schools have purchased utensils by borrowing money from their management committee, others have requested office-bearers of gurdwaras and temples to lend them necessary utensils.

Deputy secretary to Government of India had directed principal secretaries of all states to get the scheme implemented in upper primary schools of educationally backwards blocks with effect from October 1, 2007.

Special secretary-cum-director general, school education, and state project director, Sarav Sikhya Abhiyan, Punjab, Krishan Kumar, had on March 17 directed deputy commissioners concerned to ensure that the midday meal scheme was implemented without a delay.

Though schools have received grants for purchase of ration and other routine expenses, they have not received funds for the infrastructure.

Each upper primary school is supposed to receive Rs 60,000 towards constructing kitchen-cum-store and Rs 5,000 for kitchen paraphernalia.

MGMN Senior Secondary School principal Pardeep Sharda said they had purchased some utensils with the help of office-bearers of their management committee, but the kitchen-cum-store was yet to be constructed.

“As we do not know the specifications of the proposed structure, we cannot take the risk of getting it constructed on our own. As we know the hazards of cooking food out in the open, we have directed our staff to take extra precaution during the procedure,” added Sharda.



Vehras: Mayor’s announcement opens can of worms
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
The announcement of mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura that he would take action against “vehra”owners has opened a can of worms.

Whether the action would be taken remains to be seen as most houses rented out to hundreds of migrants are owned by some councillors and MC functionaries.

Questions are being raised whether notices would be sent to owners of such houses. Yesterday, he had announced that the MC would issue notices to house owners where 100 to 600 migrants were staying in a single house, thereby putting pressure on the sewerage and other civic amenities.

He had maintained that such houses had unhygienic conditions and garbage was thrown in the open. This was the main reason for the outbreak of gastroenteritis every year. As so many migrants stay in such houses, the owners make thousands of rupees every month on account of rent. Many functionaries of the MC either have such houses in the name of their wives or as “benaami” properties.

A councillor said many councillors got elected only to protect their “vehras” that were a means of making easy money.

‘‘It was only after constructing such houses that they decided to contest for the MC elections so that they could protect these houses. Now they were demanding that these houses, which were mostly in colonies that had not been regularised, should be regularised.

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that a senior leader has such vehras in the names of all of his relatives,” a councillor said on the condition of anonymity.

Every migrant was asked to pay at least Rs 500 and sleep in shifts. “You can well imagine how much an owner would be earning by way of rent if there are 500 migrants? Do you think action would actually be taken?” the councillor asked.



Tantriks dupe woman of Rs 60 lakh
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, August 25
A married woman of Bhaini Sahib village has lodged a compliant with the Sahnewal police that she has been duped of Rs 60 lakh by three tantriks of Rajasthan.

As the police sources inform, the family of Amarjit Kaur was in an imbalanced state of mind. In order to retain normalcy and find ultimate peace and solace, the family of the complainant reached the place where these tantriks resided.

These tantriks gradually began to extract money from the victim in return of restoration of their mental health, “but in phases”. The victim alleged that the tantriks, namely Loon Ram, Mukesh Ram and Madan Lal, shrewdly began to seize the amount almost on every visit.

The complainant revealed that when the condition of the family showed no improvement even after offering lakhs of rupees to these so called ‘babas’, she grew suspicious and demanded her money back, but to no avail.

She then complained to the Sahnewal police, which in turn registered an FIR under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC against the accused. The case has been handed over to the EOW for further investigations.

Meanwhile, Gurjit Singh, SHO, Sahnewal, said no arrests have been made so far in the case.



Transfer of 500 teachers stayed
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
What could be termed as a major reprieve, the state education department has stalled the transfers of around 500 surplus teachers due to the discrepancies found in the transfer process.

These teachers were slated to be transferred to other districts and far off villages across the state because of the rationalisation policy introduced by the education department.

According to an official source in the education department, the transfer process has been stalled by the intervention of education minister Upinderjit Kaur.

Director public instructions (secondary) Jagtar Singh Khatra said, “The transfer process has been stalled as discrepancies have been found in the transfer proceedings.”

However, the government school teachers have not been intimated about this development and are going ahead with the transfer related formalities.

District education officer Sudesh Bajaj denied receiving any such information in this regard. She said, “We have not received any written orders in this regard.”

Sources in the education department said the department succumbed to political pressure and stalled the transfer process. It was alleged that the teachers, who have affiliations with the political bigwigs, have manipulated the transfer process.

According to the rationalisation policy, surplus teachers posted in schools will be shifted to other schools grappling with the problem of staff shortage. These teachers can be sent either to the rural or urban area (out of the district), as per the discretion of the education department.

Parveen Kumar, general secretary of the Government Teachers Union (Punjab) said, “The entire transfer process was irrational as it were the senior teachers of the district who were unnecessarily victimised.”



Planetarium in Disrepair
Rich MC can’t even spare Rs 50,000
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
For the past eight years, the richest municipal corporation in the state has not been able to spare a few thousands of rupees for the repair of an air-conditioning unit to keep its planetarium working.

Nehru Planetarium, near the Rose Garden here, is a perfect picture of neglect. Despite being one of its kind in the state, the planetarium has been awaiting repairs for the past several years.

Though its state-of-the-art projector, used for displaying astronomical phenomena, is in a working condition, the only problem is a snag in its AC unit. The projector cannot be run in this weather as the heat can spoil the sophisticated equipment.

Until a few years ago, schoolchildren from other parts of the state used to visit the city to watch astronomical phenomena, but not any more. Things have come to such a pass that the attitude of the authorities has reduced it to a defunct structure.

Roofs leak, cracks have appeared in walls and doors are giving way. The AC and generator rooms do not have doors, making these an easy target for thieves.

Some employees said on the condition of anonymity that the roofs of the building leaked during monsoon, posing a threat to the sophisticated equipment kept in the building. “Cracks have developed in some walls of the building and the AC unit needs repair. The floor has also got damaged at some places,” they said.

“I believe they just need Rs 50,000 for the repairs. For the past eight years, I have been listening that the file is ‘moving’, but to no avail. I do not know what is its status today. It is, however, a shame that we cannot maintain this structure,” an employee said.

Instead of helping things at the planetarium, the MC has started transferring its employees to other departments. These employees were religiously looking after the gadgets and cleaning them properly. “The equipment will be nobody’s baby,” an employee said.

The planetarium was a prestigious project of the municipal corporation and was maintained by it. Now, its ticket cabin is being used for storage purposes.



Politicking on gurdwaras

Ludhiana, August 25
The SAD and Sikhs living in Haryana have postponed their respective rallies to be held on August 30, ostensibly on the assurance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.This has subdued their tempers for the time being. But the Sikhs of Haryana are in no mood to give up their demand for a separate gurdwara prabandhak committee to administer the affairs of the historic Sikh shrines in that state.

The demand for a separate committee for the Sikhs in Haryana has originated following factional fight between the Sikhs living in Haryana and Punjab. After having established his position in Punjab and gaining absolute hegemony over the Sikh affairs Parkash Singh Badal thought of helping his fellows in Haryana. The Sikhs living in Haryana resented this and demanded a separate committee. Those living in Haryana are a force to reckon with and have an effective vote bank.

In the last SGPC poll, the pro-Congress faction of Sikhs living in Haryana won six out of 11 seats. They decided to raise their voice for the panel for running the affairs of shines in the state. The Congress almost promised to set up a separate committee for them in its 2005 Vidhan Sabha poll manifesto. A committee was also set up under chairmanship of H.S.Chatha, agriculture minister, for studying the demand for a separate committee for Sikhs living in Haryana. The panel was almost ready to submit its report when the SAD led by both Badals raised hue and cry about the interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs by the Congress. They tried to generate heat on this issue and BJP president Rajnath Singh also extended his support to them. This clearly indicated the proximity of the BJP with the Akalis and also interference in the affairs of the Sikhs.

According to political observers, another reason behind this was unceremonious ouster of Joginder Singh Vedanti as Akal Takht jathedar. Vedanti's ouster a large-scale resentment among of the Sikhs. All efforts by the Chief Minister to molify Vedanti have failed so far.

The SGPC authorities have tried to project through media that no discrimination has been done against Sikhs in Haryana and more funds have been spent on the maintenance of the shrines and spread of religion in the state. Under the 1925 Gurdwara Act, the SGPC was authorised to spend up to 10 per cent of the income of the historic shrines. The SGPC found it difficult to pay salary of the skeletal staff that it had appointed. To tide over this crisis, the Akali leaders persuaded the government to make amendment in the Act and place a few gurdwaras under direct control of the SGPC.

In fact,this was the start of Akali's hegemony over the gurdwara affairs. Subsequently, such provisions were made through notifications till recently. This enabled the Akali Dal to patronise and establish institutions like the medical, dental and engineering colleges.

Now, the Akali leaders have forwarded the demand for enacting an All-India Gurdwara Act. Justice Harbans Singh, who was the chief commissioner, gurdwara poll, had suggested the administration of gurdwaras far flung areas and state as autonomous units. The SGPC wanted to know the role of an apex body rather than federating unit as suggested by Justice Harbans Singh. The Akalis think this as the basic threat to its hegemony over the gurdwaras. Now, the stress is on the interference in gurdwara affairs and not on the enactment of All-India Gurdwara Act which will help establish uniform traditional practice in the gurdwaras from Amritsar to Manded and free Patna Sahib to Damdama Sahib.



Religion is big business
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
If you are clever enough to attach “religious sentiments” with it, you can get away with anything in the city. At least the land mafia, which encroaches upon prime land worth crores of rupees here, believes so.

Several religious places have been set up in the city over the years and the “developers”, besides encroaching on the land, start getting regular income in the form of offerings by devotees.

Prime land in and around the city, like Janakpuri, Kundanpuri, Basti Jodhewal, Dholewal chowk and Kitchlu Nagar, has been taken over by “saints” belonging to different religions. Even officials concerned feel helpless in such cases.

A property dealer, who happens to be a tenant of one such saint, said about 25 years ago, the saint had started praying in the area, which was not properly developed. “Gradually, he started holding prayers and his disciples grew, as did the area of worship. Nobody stopped him or his disciples from performing prayers on government land. This emboldened him and today he has constructed many shops near a temple,” he said.

Whenever police or MC officials try to take action against the culprits, they are either criticised or face the ire of local politicians.

A top MC official, wishing not to be quoted, said it was impossible to nab the culprits as hundreds of devotees and local leaders start mounting pressure on them. “The situation becomes uncontrollable if religious colour is added to it. People start holding protests and meet elected representatives against demolition drives. We are helpless,” he said.

One of the police officials added that “gangsters” identify the places first and start with the slow process of attaching religious sentiments to it. “If they are not stopped at the initial stage and the encroachments removed, they succeed in constructing huge places of worship over the years,” he said.



Environmentalist killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Prof Rupinder Maan, convener of the coordination committee of environmental protection organisation, who had recently led a “chetna march” from Ludhiana to Chandigarh for environment protection, died in a road accident near Sardoolgarh, Mansa, last evening.

Prof Maan struggled hard to make the masses aware of saving the environment in Punjab through his actions and voice. It was a day of mourning not only for his family, but also for the academic community.

He stressed on saving the environment and highlighted the problems of the downtrodden section of society throughout his career.

He started his career from Government Brijendra College Faridkot as lecturer in Punjabi and was later transferred to Government Rajindra College, Bathinda. Presently, he was serving at SCD Government College here. He always spoke against social evils through his poems, which were appreciated by people belonging to various walks of life. Prof Maan was actively working for “SEWA Punjab”, an organisation for environment protection.

SEWA Punjab, Punjab Commerce and Management Association (PCMA) and the coordination committee of environmental protection have expressed shock over the untimely demise of Prof Mann. Prof Ashwani Bhalla, executive vice-president of the PCMA, while sharing his experiences with Prof Mann said, “Rupinder was flowing water in the river that never stopped.” His literary works were inspiring. He wrote books, essays and ghazals.

Prof Rajdeep Gill, office secretary of the coordination committee of environmental protection organisations said members will continue to achieve the objectives of environmental protections with the messages and teachings of Prof Maan. The students and staff of SCD Government College gathered at the college campus to pay homage to the departed soul.



NRI donates money for needy students
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
While the state government believes in making mere announcements of providing “free” education to poor and deserving students, an octogenarian NRI from London has done it in spirits by handing-over a draft of Rs 1, 11,000 to the needy and meritorious students of Government College for Women here today.

O.P. Sharma, an NRI from London, told The Tribune that in India, governments were just interested in minting money and create a huge vote-bank. On the contrary, “A lot of charity work is being done abroad by NRIs. The social, educational and welfare organisations were genuinely working for the progress of Indians, particularly the needy and downtrodden sections,” he said adding that members of SEWA (Social, Educational and Welfare Association), a Southhall based charity organisation had donated the sum for the welfare of students. Besides, similar sum will be handed-over at Chintpurni temple for the mass-marriage of poor girls in coming days, said Sharma.

Talking about the registered society SEWA at Southhall, Sharma informed that it had 500 active members belonging to different religions. “In London, we are first Indians than Punjabis, Sindhis or Gujratis. We donate money as per our desire and spend it for society’s welfare”, he said. Every year, he visited India with his family to donate money at Chintpurni temple and Brindaban, he added. “I was impressed to see the academic achievements of students here during my last visit. I decided to do something for them,” he said.

Prof Kuldeep Singh from GCW told that this was perhaps for the first time that an NRI had come to the aid of needy and poor students. The function was organised by Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle. Prof Krishan Singh told the importance of social work to the students. R.K. Aulakh, college principal thanked O.P. Sharma and his family for showing their concern for the poor and deserving students.



Reappear Exam
Students made to sit on floor
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Tall claims of the education department to provide adequate infrastructure in government schools have fallen flat after students appearing for the Class X compartment examination were made to sit on the floor to take their mathematics examination at Government Senior Secondary, Dholewal Road, here today.

These students had already suffered due to the careless attitude of the education department, for they were made to run from pillar to post to get their roll numbers. Owning to negligence on part of board officials, who misplaced their roll numbers, the students had to undergo harassment right before the examination.

The students, who appeared for the mathematics examination, complained that they were made to sit on the floor due to which they could not take the examination properly.

Students further complained that the examination in charge followed a pick-and-choose policy with them and made some of them sit on the floor.

Upset over the treatment, they complained it to their parents after the examination. Enraged parents protested against the school authorities and the examination in charge.

“How can one take such a tough examination sitting on the floor? I admit that I could not clear the examination in the first attempt but I was well prepared this time,” said Harmanjot Kaur, a student who appeared for the mathematics examination.

Parents complained against the school administration and the examination controller.

Parents, who were anxiously waiting for their wards outside the school, complained that the school authorities delayed the examination by half an hour because of poor seating arrangement.

Succha Singh, father of one such student, criticised the education department for negligence.

He said: “My son is allergic to dust and he was made to sit on the floor. Also, ongoing construction in the school put him through a lot of discomfort.”

Admitting the fault, DEO (secondary) Sudesh Bajaj said: “We have received complaints regarding poor seating arrangements made by many schools, owing to which students faced a tough time. The department will take necessary action against the erring schools.”

In charge of the examination centre at Government School, Dholewal, Renu Adya said: “We were told by the department that only 200 students will take the examination but over 300 students turned up. We did not have enough infrastructure to house so many students. Left with no option, we decided to make them sit on the floor.”

Punjab School Education Board chairman Dalbir Dhillon assured that necessary action would be taken against the erring schools. 



Mayor orders removal of encroachments
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, Aug 25
Encroachments on the ganda nullah near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib would soon be demolished to help sewage flow smoothly into the nullah.

A decision to this effect was taken by mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura during a meeting with deputy speaker, Vidhan Sabha, Satpal Gosain, today.

The mayor directed the MTP to issue notices to the shops that had come up illegally on the nullah and were blocking the proper cleaning operation. Officials from the water supply, sewerage board and the municipal corporation were also present on the occasion.

Various plans, including covering of the nullah, were also discussed during the meeting. But, it was maintained that covering of nullah in Patiala had created problems of flooding for the city. Consequently the plan was not taken seriously.

The meeting also discussed about the problems faced the by those living in the area.



Cops as security guards a rage with NRIs
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Brandishing big earrings, swanky cars, heavy jewellery and stylish hairdos is passe for NRIs visiting this part of Punjab. Instead, it is the craze for gunmen that the non-resident Indians are craving for these days.

And the police department is taking the most of the pressure. On an average, three to five NRIs, accompanied by a local politician or a journalist, approach the city police chief every month seeking a policeman as a permanent guard with them during their stay in the country.

“These NRIs are generally embroiled in a major trouble. They are genuine victims in some cases, but in many other, the threat is cooked up just to get a khaki-clad gunmen for their security,” said SSP R.K. Jaiswal.

Surjit Singh (name changed), an NRI, who had come to the SSP office to get a policeman as security guard told the TNS outside the city police office that his life was under threat at his native land.

However, after a little coaxing, he admitted that the mere presence of a policeman by their side made a difference to their social standing.

“People take you seriously only if you have a gunman around. It adds to your status also,” he said.

Jaiswal said NRIs usually flaunt pictures of their India visit abroad with a police escort.

“NRIs seeking gunman usually cite threat to their life or property at their native place. A very few of them are genuine, while remaining just want police security to show off to villagers as well as to other NRIs when they go abroad.”

The craze for gunmen picked up this year after the Punjab government restricted the free posting of policemen as gunmen.

Earlier, gunmen were easily provided to influential persons. However, a change in rule now categorises political, religious leaders as well as needy persons who can get policemen as permanent security men.



Computer centre for industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Managing director of Bhogal Group of Industries M.S. Bhogal inaugurated a computer centre on the premises of United Cycle Parts and Manufacturers Association on Gill Road here today.

The centre, established in the memory of Karam Singh Bhogal of the industries, will provide training to industrialists and their children.

It will also offer facilities like drawings of various products and solution for manufacturing of dyes and fixtures used in manufacturing. Besides, advanced software will be used for CAD (computer aided design) and CAM (computer aided machine).

Bhogal said the centre would help industrialists emerge more competitive amid global competition.

It will be beneficial for entrepreneurs in micro, small and medium industry who are also the largest employment generators.



Workshop on computer usage to benefit extension officers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
A 5-days workshop on computer use and its applications concluded at Punjab Agricultural Management & Extension Training Institute (PAMETI) at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here recently.

The workshop was organised for the benefit of extension officers from the agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry departments of Punjab. The intent of the workshop was to cover the common day-to-day application of MS office and Internet so that the technology could be used at the grass root level. Due to overwhelming response by the participants, on-demand session on aspects related to hardware was also organised, in which they learned Windows and software loading.

Dr SPS Brar, director PAMETI, while inaugurating the workshop discussed the course module and course objectives. He explained the importance of computer and Internet in the modern world. He said, “Through the use of Internet, information can be assessed at a very low cost and also, it saves time and energy.” Speaking in context to reforms in Agricultural Extension Scheme, he said the computers along with Internet connections were being provided at development block level to each Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA).

Dr HS Bajwa, Prof (Agronomy) from PAU elaborated the importance of cyber extension. He said cyber space was an imaginary space of computers connected with each other on the network across the globe. Dr Dinesh Grover, department head of Computer Science, PAU gave introductory tips for using computer. He also discussed various knowledge and application aspects relating to MS Windows. Extension Associates, PAMETI Jaswinder Singh, took sessions on MS Excel and Internet while Rupinder Kaur took session on MS Power Point. In total, 16 extension officers got registered for the workshop.



Vet varsity row ends
Ex-student, warden reach compromise
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
After several days of allegations, counter allegations, the row by Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU) came to an end today with both the former student and hostel warden reaching a compromise.

Dr Amritpal Singh Sekhon, the former student who had allegedly manhandled the warden said, “Everything has been sorted out in the presence of vice-chancellor, Dr V.K.Taneja; president Sikh Students Federation (Grewal), Gurcharan Singh Grewal; propaganda secretary, Jasdeep Singh Kaonke; and members of the Teachers' union.

B.S. Sandhu, warden hostel number 8, GADVASU on the other hand said he felt sorry if he hurt anybody's religious sentiments. He said it was an unfortunate incident that happened at GADVASU and students and teachers should learn a lesson from it.



Fruit arrival from J&K eases prices
Veggies prices continue to sore
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Amid turbulence in Jammu and Kashmir, supplies of pear and apple from that state have already begun. The suppliers in J&K have started sending fruits through a different road route. This has brought some relief to fruit lovers as prices have declined within last one week.

The price of pear in wholesale markets, as a result, has declined by around Rs 100 per box of nearly 20 kg in the last four-five days.

As supply of apples from Kashmir is also expected to pick up in a couple of days, fruit rates would decline further.

Pear is arriving in city markets via Udhampur to Samba or Bayala Chak. “Increased supplies have led to a decline in prices. In the coming few weeks, rates of other fruits, particularly apple, are likely to reduce,” said Amarbir Singh, general secretary of Ludhiana Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association.

Boxes of apples weighing 12 kg and 14 kg arrived today. The wholesale price of these is Rs 400-500 per box.

In retail market, while pear is priced between Rs 45-50 per kg, apples are available between Rs 40-55 per kg.

However, vegetable prices have once again started rising. Rains in Himachal Pradesh have affected supplies, causing the present hike. Increased demand due to the beginning of festival season is another reason behind this rise.

The price of potatoes in wholesale market has nearly doubled from Rs 5-6 in the first week of this month to Rs 10-12 per kg, whereas onions have recorded a hike from Rs 7-8 to Rs 10-12. Other vegetables that have witnessed a rise are cauliflower (from Rs 12-13 to Rs 35-40 per kg), ginger (from Rs 20-22 to Rs 45-50), tomatoes (Rs 6-7 to Rs 12-13), mushrooms (from Rs 35-40 to more than Rs 55 per kg) and coriander (from Rs 25-30 to Rs 100-125).

Prices, in days to come, would depend on weather situation, said agents. An increase is more likely due to expected rise in demand, they added.



ITI students on strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
At least 60 ITI students went on strike after a teacher's passed an objectionable remarks against a student. The students alleged that remarks made by the teacher were uncalled for.

Gurdeep Singh, a IInd year student (electrical) on behalf of students demanded lodging of FIR against the "erring teacher".

"We will continue with our protest until disciplinary action is taken against the teacher", he added.



Mobile dental van dedicated to public
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 25
A new air-conditioned mobile dental clinic, equipped with the state of the art dental instrumentation, was inaugurated and dedicated to the public at Christian Dental College (CDC) here today. The ceremony was performed by Dr Abraham G. Thomas, director, Christian Medical College.

In his address, Dr Thomas stressed the need to provide promotive, curative and oral rehabilitation services to the needy people not only in Punjab, but also the adjoining states of northern India. He lauded the efforts of the department of community dentistry at CDC in reaching out to the people in the remote rural areas and creating awareness about oral and dental diseases.

Dr Abi M. Thomas, principal, CDC, expressed his sincere gratitude to the “Friends of Ludhiana Society”, UK, for financing the entire cost of the mobile dental van, costing more than Rs 24 lakh. He further informed that the community dentistry department of CDC had brought smiles on the faces of more than 1,300 senior citizens.



Gabria opens hospital
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria inaugurated Ratan Charitable Hospital yesterday. Gabria said the Jain community was doing a noble job like setting up of a hospital.

He appreciated their efforts and urged others to lend a helping hand to them.

Meanwhile, the Punarjot Eye Bank Society is organising a special campaign ‘Punjab Eye Donation Awareness March- 2008’ under the National Eye Donation Fortnight from August 25 to September 8. 



Mittal to address LMA
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
Rakesh Bharti Mittal, vice-chairman and managing director of Bharti Enterprises, would address members of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) here tomorrow.

Mittal would talk on ways to create a competitive edge. Anil Kumar, president, LMA, said business environment had become highly competitive and adopting innovative ways to sustain and flourish amid such situation was critical for any business.



MC still awaits its chief
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 25
The election to the post of the local municipal council president still hangs fire inspite of the fact that the civic elections in the state were held on June 30.

Thereafter when July 21 was fixed for the president’s election, it took a new term and the same was kept in abeyance as none of the two candidates agreed after securing an equal number of votes.

Since then the local SDM has been appointed administrator to look after the affairs of the municipal council and till date the election has been kept in abeyance and the entire working has virtually come to a standstill.

According to SDM, in the event of equal number of votes caste, the Constitution provides for the system of toss. Baldev Krishan opposed the move.



Bus Stand
Stalls overcharge commuters for eatables
Manav Ghuman

Ludhiana, August 25
For every bottle of cold drink or bag of chips, passengers at the local bus stand have to shell out extra money.

While the bus stand authorities have put up a price list of eatables and clearly mentioned that these have to be sold on the maximum retail price (MRP) mentioned in the list, stall owners continue to overlook the list and charge over and above the MRP from consumers.

Consequently, consumers end up paying between 10 and 15 per cent more than the MRP.

Dilpreet Singh, a government employee who commutes regularly, says eatables at the bus stand are overpriced.

“A bottle of cold drink that generally costs Rs 10 is priced at Rs 12, while a bottle of juice, whose MRP is Rs 20, is sold at Rs 25. As I usually commute by bus, I prefer carrying my water bottle along and avoid paying extra money for the cold drinks and juices,” he adds.

Jagjeevan Singh, a student who regularly commutes from Malerkotla, says overcharging is a regular practice at the bus stand.

“I once argued with one of the stall owners but to no avail. He asked me to buy eatables from outside since their prices were fixed and he would not reduce even a single rupee,” he said.

Punjab Roadways general manager Rasjeshwar Singh Grewal said stall owners were not allowed to charge more than the MRP.

A price list had been put up at the bus stand and no stall owner could charge for products more than that, he added.

“Commuters can register their grievances with the station supervisor if they find anything irregular. So far, we have received no complaint in this regard and immediate action will be taken in case any complaint is registered,” he added.



PSEB employee held for graft
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
The vigilance bureau here has arrested a revenue assistant with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) on charge of seeking bribe from a local trader for adjusting his power supply bill.

A vigilance press release said the accused, Jaswinder Singh, had sought a bribe of Rs 3,000 from a trader, Ranjit Singh, who deals in plastic products, for adjusting his power supply bill.

The deal was struck at Rs 1,000. The money was being exchanged when a vigilance team swopped down on the PSEB employee and caught him red-handed.



Craze for motifs on vehicles

Call it an “identity crises” or “pompous declaration”, a few people love to festoon the rear glasses of their vehicles with peculiar motifs, surnames and interesting catch-phrases. It is indeed a pleasure reading Sandhu beneath the painted tiger with elaborated silver claws.

“Jattitude” derived from “attitude”, however, speaks volumes for the innovative ideas.

The habit is not just restricted to the new genre of landowners as even the truck drivers have a passion for peculiar catch phrases. Most interesting being “Yaran di lorry te GT road naal yaari” and “Bille rashq na kar meri kismet te, tere vi din phirange” hinting at life of truck drivers on the grand trunk road.

The superstitions like hanging of a lemon, a shoe or paint a “nazar battu” is catching up with autorickshaw drivers as well. An interesting one liner that read, “Buri nazar na rakhin veera, do percent te aayi hoyi aan” (spare my auto from bad looks as I have been financed on 2 per cent interest) was among the catchiest ones.

River darshan

Swelling of the Sutlej might have given sleepless nights to those living on its banks but for the young generation it meant witnessing the might of river that was reduced to a trickle after the setting up of dams. It was a festival-like rush on the river bridge when 1.5 lakh cusecs of water was passing through. It in fact became a tourist spot for scores of youngsters, who had never seen it rising to such an extent. Many of them were seen SMSing their friends in the city to reach the river and enjoy. A young woman, who was going to Amritsar by bus saw the water rising. She made it a point to return by car so that she could stop on her way back and see the gushing stream. That was not all. She called up all her friends in city and invited them to see the river. Many like her made the day of a few vendors selling drinks and eatables as the place was turned into a picnic spot.

Bindaas bureaucrat

A top bureaucrat of the city is known for his “bindaas” attitude. His damn care attitude and unique rural accent is often a subject of jokes among official and media circles. His unbridled sense of humour even in face of adversity or tense situation often makes one hold him in awe also. The other day,he was the subject of an eight-column banner story in an English daily. A fellow senior colleague called him to say that he read about him in the newspaper. The call receiver replied almost immediately “what did you read? Is it negative? “ Then he paused and said “ Hold on. Don’t sympathise. Media reports sometime make me feel that I was doing nothing  positive”.

All in name of gods

Exerting their supremacy and political power to get away with anything by putting up advertisements on direction indicating overhead boards on major of the roads city seems to have become a favourite pastime of leaders of the ruling coalition, be they ministers, legislators, or for that matter functionaries of the municipal corporation. And more often than not, all this is being done in the name of gods. Caring two hoots for the advertisement policy of the civic body, the political masters of the day choose to defy all norms. The kind of embarrassment municipal corporation officials had to suffer after removal of an ad about Ganpati Mohotsav, put up by a local BJP legislator and the fact that the advertisement was restored on the direction indication board shows beyond any doubt as to who wields the stick,and have the right to flog whoever comes in the way, of course in the name of gods.

“Elite” or indecent

One of the prestigious clubs in the city, the Sutlej Club is also known as “elite” and the “officers” club. “Educated” members, excellent facilities, bowling alley for kids etc, lure every resident to get its membership. The management tries hard to bring entertainment for its club members whenever possible.

A decent ghazal singer (woman) enthralls the members in her melodious voice during weekends. But recently, under the influence of liquor, the so-called “educated” members started creating nuisance at the dining hall by asking singer to sing songs of their choice only. Poor singer sang almost all songs and obliged these senior members.

As if it was not enough, in the presence of families, they started dancing on their seats, sent flying kisses to the singer and used indecent language. The other families had to tolerate this nonsense for almost two hours. Wife of a member heard saying, “Alas! money could give them little decency to respect a woman”.

Lord’s darshan

The devout followers of the “Lord of gopis” eagerly await to visiting temples to rock the cradle of “infant” Lord Krishna on Janamasthmi for. With age catching up, old people, restricted to their homes, are sitting at their homes on the auspicious occasion missing out a visit to the temple.

Making new innovations, a few families in the city made arrangements for a “cradle of the lord” at their homes. Shakuntala Devi, a senior citizen of Atam Park, said “I am indebted to my daughter-in-law who made an arrangement for ‘darshan’ of the Lord at home”.

Sinful waste

Ambitious organisers don’t want to miss a chance of media coverage. At one such exhibition, recently, organiser sent intimation about the event nearly 10 days in advance. That was followed by continuous calls to the reporter concerned. On being told that there was still a week to go for the event, the organiser left the reporter fuming as he said a pre-event press conference too was being conducted. The reporter was terrified thinking that all this was to be followed by the inauguration and three days of continuous demands for the coverage of the event besides the conclusion. Wish organisers resisted from attempts at such sinful waste of newspapers’ sacred space.

Contributed by Anshu, Kanchan Vasdev, Jupinderjit Singh, Kuldip Bhatia, Shivani Bhakoo, Sanjeev Bariana and Shveta Pathak



Bus stand in pitiable state

Due to some urgent work I had to go to Ahmedgarh on Sunday. Normally, the journey to the town from the industrial city takes about two hours, but due to poor bus service, as well as pathetic condition of the bus stand, I ended up spending the whole day.

Condition of the local bus stand is deteriorating and is crying out for help since many years. During monsoon, its condition becomes like that of a pond. Moreover, the road that leads to the bus stand is in a deplorable state with several potholes. That is why, the bus drivers hesitate to enter the city. People from the town and its surrounding areas have to go the Pohir village, which is almost at a distance of more than three kilometres.

The local administration and the authorities concerned need to intervene immediately so that concrete steps could be taken to improve the condition of the bus stand and the linking roads.

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.



Man in police net for wife’s murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
The two-and-half-month-old case involving the death of a married woman by burning in Gyaspura has turned out to be an alleged murder case with the booking of her husband for the offence by the Focal Point police.

The woman, Sona (22), had died of burns in the house on June 11.

Her husband, Rakesh Kumar Patel, along with his brother Ram Bharose, both belonging to Partapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh, had passed it off as an accident.

However, the parents of the girl who live in the same district recently approached the police complaining of suspected murder.

They said Rakesh had not informed them about the death of their daughter. They learned about it by chance when they visited the city to meet their daughter.

They filed a complaint before the Focal Point police, which registered a case today after conducting investigation.

SHO (Focal Point) Gurdev Singh said the police found it unusual that the man had told the parents of his wife about her untimely death. Later, when the police began investigation, the accused along with his brother ran away. The police registered a case after taking the statement of the neighbhours. Raids were on to arrest the two.

Badri Prasad Patel, father of the victim, said she was married to Rakesh for five years.

He claimed that Rakesh had been seeking dowry from their daughter for some time but their daughter had told them about her husband’s demand this year alone.

They visited the city after their daughter failed to make contact with them after June.



No letup in steel prices yet
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 25
Steel prices in the international market, especially primary steel like HR coil and CR coil, have fallen by $ 100 per tonne. However, there is no letup in the prices in the Indian markets and in the local market.

Steel continues to be sold at a premium price of Rs 52,000 and Rs 60,000 per tonne, according to Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana.

Avtar Singh told The Tribune today that secondary steel producers had reduced the price of angle iron and MS rounds by Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per tonne.

Kulfi was being sold for Rs 36,000 per tonne, while MS rounds were available for Rs 42,000 per tonne, respectively.

The primary steel of HR coil and CR coil was being sold at a premium price of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per tonne over and above the fixed price, he alleged.

He said although secondary steel prices had fallen, there was not much demand for the same as the market was witnessing a slump.

He was of the opinion that export of engineering goods could pick up now as the US dollar was getting strengthened.

The value of a dollar had touched Rs 43 now. This was a good indication for boosting the export of the engineering goods.

However, the demand from China, which has been a major buyer of the engineering goods, has now fallen. The export of engineering goods was likely to fall by over 25 per cent and of bicycle and cycle parts by over 40 per cent this year.

The major reason behind the situation was the steep hike in the prices of steel in the country, which had hit the production badly.

The industry in Punjab in particular has received a big setback, he added.



City school to attend Istanbul convention
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 25
A team comprising Gulshan Kaur, Lehar Khanna, Savreen Kaur and Avishi Chopra from Gobindgarh public school (GPS) left today for Istanbul, Turkey, to participate in the 11th International convention of students’ quality of control circles (SQC), which is being held from August 26 to 28.

Students’ quality control circles is an International organisation of schools which come together to improve quality in education and improve people's lives through voluntary participation by groups of students lead by a teacher in-charge known as students’ quality circles.

This year eight schools from India and 163 schools from around the world will be participating in the SQC.



Infection prevention week at DMCH
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 25
The infection control committee (ICC) of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), in collaboration with the Department of Microbiology,started hospital infection prevention week at Dumra auditorium. The programme, to be conducted from August 25 to August 28 will be attended every day by the faculty members, senior residents, postgraduate students, interns, nursing staff and students.

Inaugurating the programme, Prem Kumar Gupta, secretary, DMCH managing society,lauded the efforts of the hospital infection control team and said the age-old adage of the “prevention is better than cure” held good in modern hospital practises even today.

DMCH principal Daljit Singh said “hand hygiene” remained the cornerstone of the good hospital infection control practises. He stressed that "healthcare associated infection" (HAI) was a global problem and needed utmost and urgent attention. Medical superintendent of DMCH Rajoo Singh Chhina, who is also coordinator of the event along with Raj Kumar and Deepinder Chhina, emphasised that the endeavour was to promote learning of these hospital practises in a simple and easy manner.

Raj Kumar,professor and head,microbiology department, delivered a lecture on the "nosocomial infections." The main objective of the presentation was to create awareness about preventive steps for this type of infection. Professor of Medicine at DMCH H.S. Pannu, in his presentation on the "bad bugs - no drugs" said the antibiotic resistance was increasing due to inappropriate use of antibiotics. He emphasised that the treating clinicians should be aware of the sensitivity pattern of the pathogens present in the hospital before starting antibiotics.

Gautam Ahluwalia, professor of medicine, speaking on the occupational exposure in healthcare workers, said the needle-stick injury due to inappropriate capping of the needles was the commonest cause of occupational exposure. 



SAI centre trainees receive sports kits
Anil Datt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, August 25
Trainees of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre being run from the Guru Nanak Sports Complex here were given sports kits for the current session.

At least 117 trainees in six disciplines, who are enrolled with the centre under the sports promotion scheme of the SAI, were handed over kits at a function organised at the indoor multi-purpose hall in front of Guru Nanak Stadium.

Chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda gave away kits to players which include 18 in athletics, 12 in basketball, 25 in handball, 20 in judo, 21 in volleyball and one in weightlifting. The kit consists of a pair of track suits, pair of warm-up shoes, two pairs of socks, one kit bag, two T-shirts, a pair of game shoes and one set of playing kit.

The chief guest also honoured Amit Kumar and Inderjit Singh, both trainees of the centre, for bringing fame to the centre as well as the nation during international events. Amit won a gold medal in the Youth Asia Judo Championship held in Yeman while Inderjit bagged a silver medal in the Junior Asia Athletics Championship conducted in Jakarta, recently.

Addressing the trainees,Harish Rai Dhanda said they should set their goal for bringing glory to the state and the nation. He appreciated efforts of SAI centre in charge, Harbans Singh, in providing facilities to the trainees like sports kit, stipends, medical allowanace, education allowance, insurance coverage besides competition exposure as per the guidelines of the SAI.

He assured all sorts of assistance for the centre for providing much advanced training to the players at the centre so that they could give their best during the competition.

Ramandeep Singh Grewal, former capatin, Indian hockey team, and deputy director, sports, Punjab Agricultural University, J.S.Bhandari, officiating district sports oficer, Ludhiana, international athletes, Gurpreet Singh, Hardeep Kaur, president of the Rotary International, Kuldeep Singh, Harinder Sharma, Sit Kapila, Neelam Rani, Sonia Kumari, Surinder Singh, Devinder Singh, Rakesh Singh, Jasbir Singh, Jaspal Singh and Daljinder Kaur, all coaches were also present on the occasion.



Boost Cup
Abhishek, Abhijit star in KVM win
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, August 25
Fine batting by Abhishek Talwar (46 runs) and an equally useful contribution with the ball by Abhijit Randhwa (4 for 15) guided Kudnan Vidya Mandir School, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, to beat DAV School, Lawrence Road, Amritsar, in the second match match of the Boost Cup Cricket Tournament (u-16) organised by the Punjab Cricket Association under the aegis of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) at Guru Nanak Public School ground, Sector 36, Chandigarh, today.

In a 50-over-a-side match, DAV School were bundled out for 114 runs in 45 overs. The main scorers were Shiv Luv (40), Vishwash Mahajan (37) and Sidhant (20).

For KVM School, Ludhiana, Abhijit Randhawa sent down 10 overs and scalped four victims for 15 runs, followed by Abhishek Talwar who took two for 20 in as many overs. Udhay Chopra accounted for one wicket for 15 runs.

Kundan Vidya Mandir, Ludhiana, achieved the target (115 for 5) in 40 overs. Their innings revolved around Abhishek Talwar and Nikhil Choudhary who made 46 and 26 runs, respectively, while Chirag Maria contributed 13 runs.

For the losers, Vishwas Mahajan grabbed two wickets for 26 runs, while Sidhant and Ashray shared one wicket each, conceding 25 and 15 runs, respectively.



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