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Irregularities in plot allocation
Govt freezes allotments by improvement trust
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 5
Taking a stern view of observations made by the Punjab State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission regarding “non-allotment” of a plot to a displaced person by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) and other irregularities in the allotment process, the state government has frozen all allotments made from April 2, 2007, and the entire process of allotment of plots have been stayed till the complaint pending with the commission is disposed of.

In his orders, Principal Secretary, Local Government, D.S. Bains, who appeared before president of the commission Justice S.N. Aggarwal (retd), following a complaint by one Avtar Singh, said the commission had raised a finger at the LIT working and the process of allotment of plots.

According to Bains, the government had taken a stand before the commission that in the specific case being heard by it, a preliminary inquiry conducted by the Joint Secretary, Local Government, had revealed that a fraud had been committed by certain people in over half-a-dozen allotments of plots and connivance with some officials of the LIT in this matter was also not ruled out.

Bains had submitted before the commission that a detailed and thorough probe was called for to bring out the truth and if sufficient time was not given for this purpose, the government might have to suffer huge loss of revenue. He had sought two months time to complete a detailed inquiry from the commission.

Granting a period of one month for this exercise, the commission directed the state government to provide it with status of the inquiry conducted by the Joint Secretary, Local Government, and whether any FIR had been lodged by the LIT if allotments were found to have been made in a fraudulent manner.

Further, the commission also wanted to know why the LIT had moved the commission in a single case and not other cases of similar nature. The government was also told to come out with the information whether allotment of plots was still being made on political or other considerations.

Bains assured the commission that other cases of allotments of plots suspected to have been made fraudulently would be filed before the National Commission within 10 days.

In his orders to the Trust, Bains desired that a list of all allotments of plots made from April 2, 2007, be prepared and all further action on these cases be stayed forthwith. G.S. Ghuman, presently administrator of the LIT, has also been directed to personally attend the next hearing by the commission on March 18, 2009.

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Rescued, bonded labourer boy still has hopes
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Eleven-year-old Arjun, who had worked as a bonded labourer in the house of a Kila Raipur peasant for the past five years and was rescued by the administration following pressure from an NGO, hopes his dream to play with children of his age will soon realise.

He, however, does not know what will happen to him as he has no home. Nobody knows where he belongs to and where his parents are. During his illegal confinement, they never tried to rescue him. He was sent to Juvenile Home at Ropar till the administration is able to locate his family.

The unfortunate boy was allegedly sold off to a farmer Rajinder Singh by a Gujjar when he was just six. His migrant family, who used to work for the Gujjar, had failed to pay back a debt of Rs 3,000. The Gujjar had allegedly snatched him and sold him off. He never heard back from his parents after that.

Since then he was with Rajinder's family. The latter's 22-year-old niece, Baljeet Kaur, came to the rescue of the helpless boy and informed an NGO, the Volunteers for Social Justice, who pressed the administration to move and get the boy released from alleged illegal confinement.

When the police raided the house of Rajinder Singh, they could not find Arjun there since he was shifted to their relative's house at Raikot. Following pressure from the police, the family asked the tehsildar, Raikot, Harsharan Singh, to recover the boy.

While talking to TNS, Harsharan Singh said since the boy could not remember anything about his parents, they would be shifting him to Juvenile Home at Ropar for the time being.

He said it was sad that the boy lost five innocent years of his childhood doing household chores, fending cattle and cleaning their dung. The Child Welfare Committee, Ropar division, would, at a meeting, decide about his future, he said.

After his release, Arjun took some time to be comfortable in the outside world. For a few minutes, he insisted on going back to Rajinder's house. Later, he said he was very happy and he had only told Baljeet about his plight.

He only remembered that his father and mother were called Suresh and Guddi and he had four sisters and a brother. Despite being prodded, he could not reveal any other information.

‘‘I was always working at this house. While the farmer's son used to study, I used to clean cow dung of 10 buffaloes and their calves, cook and even feed the cattle. I also want to play and study,’’ he said. Prabhjot Kaur, Child sponsorship coordinator of the NGO has written to the DSP, Raikot, to get the family booked for violating the child labour Act and for confining him illegally. She demanded that Arjun should be compensated and the money spent on his education.

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Bacchus lovers say cheers in Malwa
Traders offer hefty discounts on all brands of liquor 
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 5
Boozers in this part of Malwa never had it so good. After a sharp decline in beer prices, liquor is now available here on hefty discounts. Liquor merchants in the city have slashed the rates of all brands of whisky by anything between 25 per cent and 40 per cent, thus opening a new price war in the business.

The price of premium whisky have come down by Rs 350 a bottle, while the medium and lower segments have seen a drop of Rs 90 to Rs 60 a bottle.

All major vends have put up big banners announcing the new prices that, in some cases, are lower than even the minimum selling price fixed by the government in its annual excise policy.

The minimum selling price of liquor is fixed to avoid unhealthy competition. A minimum price ceiling is required to maintain quality of liquor. But so far, no action has been taken against any vend.

Observations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that prices of almost all brands of whiskeys and wines, irrespective of class of their consumers had slashed substantially.

Stock clearing tendency and unhealthy competition among liquor contractors was cited to be reason behind the trend.

Sources revealed that meetings of liquor traders had proved futile on issue of fixing minimum prices of various brands of whiskey and wine. Though all groups tried their best to make maximum profit during the year, they quoted lower prices to realize value of stocks lying with them.

Now it is almost a free-for-all with vendors themselves deciding the rates. The rates are expected to fall during weeks to come.

This slashing of rates has made the customer a king. Beings last weeks of the current financial year, stocks are being cleared by all vend owners. Besides reducing prices, the vendors have also started giving home deliveries, and even outside their jurisdiction. 

Workers of liquor contractors are selling liquor on tempos. In rural areas, announcements are being made on loudspeakers to attract customers to buy liquor at lower rates.

The high-profile brands like Bagpiper, Officer's Choice, 100 Piper, Vat 69 and Black Dog seem to have registered maximum fall in prices. 100 Piper and Vat 69, which were sold at Rs 1,000 a bottle, are now being sold at Rs 650. Black Dog that was sold at Rs 1,200 is now available for Rs 900.

Royal Stag that was once at Rs 3,300 per case is being sold for Rs 2,000 a case. A case of Blender’s Pride is now being sold at Rs 3,300 per case instead of Rs 4,000 per case.

The price of the country liquor has also been slashed. People are making the most of the situation. They are hoarding liquor to make most of the sale extravaganza.

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Stinking sewer system blot on the city
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
The pace of development in sewerage and drainage system never matched the increasing population of the city which is approximately 40 lakh today. This is how Ludhiana has been surviving for the past many years despite the fact that both Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance have been given various chances to bring development. But sorry to say every rainy season, it's the same old story.

If those working with the Municipal Corporation at the lower levels are to be believed, sewerage pipes are small and they cannot bear the pressure of the increasing population. 

They revealed that the political leaders don't go inside the sewers nor are bothered about what is the exact position in the city. "They think that by asking us to clean the sewer, their job is done, but they are hardly bothered of new lines that are to be laid," added an MC employee, who was working on cleaning a sewer.

He said with the poll mood around, every councillor is trying hard that small problem like choked sewer does not arise and he gets orders about which ward to visit every morning.

In the city with 75 wards and equal number of elected representatives, only posh areas like Civil Lines, Sarabha Nagar do not stink, but the areas untouched by elites are still full of foul smell and are prominently in old city area and areas with economically weaker sections. 

The increase in the number of illegal T-connections in sewerages is another reason where the political leaders have never tried to raise their voice just to ensure to keep their vote bank safe.

Adding to the stinking sewerages are "city blots" Buddha Nullah, Gandha Nullah and several other nullahs dotting the city have always been a scapegoat for these politicians, who promise they will change the present scenario. Wastage of public funds by covering these nullahs or rebuilding pulleys has been witnessed several times.

According to information, Rs 241.39 crore has been sanctioned by the Central government for sanitary sewerage in the city and the work is to be executed by the Punjab Water and Sewerage Board, no one is sure when the project will become the success story.

Open manholes, choked drains and heaps of garbage after cleaning of manholes is the gift of officials and political leaders who never ensure that the work is brought to an end. So before voting, think twice.

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Graft Charge
Reader of naib tehsildar arrested 
Tribune News Service

Khanna, March 4
A reader of a naib tehsildar at Machhiwara was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau today for allegedly taking bribe in lieu of an affidavit. In his complaint to the vigilance bureau, Mahinder Singh, a resident of Daulatpur village in Chamkaur Sahib, accused the reader Yashpal Gopal of not handing over him the affidavit. 

He told the vigilance officials that the reader had demanded Rs 2500 in lieu of the affidavit. The bureau officials laid a trap and told the complainant to hand over the money today at the tehsil complex. 

The reader was caught red handed and arrested. However, the vigilance sleuths failed to trace the affidavit pertaining to the registry of a piece of land of Mahinder. 

The officials then confiscated the computer of the office and said the records would be scrutinised to get the affidavit. Meanwhile, panic gripped the entire tehsil complex on the Ratipur road and almost all officials left their seats in view of the raids.

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3 students hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Three school students sustained serious injuries when a motorcycle they were riding was hit by an over speeding truck near Vardhman Chowk here this morning.

The students have been identified as Prabhjit Singh (14), Gurmandeep Singh (14), both students of Class IX, and Amanjeet (12), who is student of Class VII.

All the three students of the USPC Jain School were returning home after taking their annual examination. While Prabhjit Singh and Amanjeet Singh are out of danger, condition of Gurmanjeet Singh is stated to be critical as he has sustained multiple injuries on his legs and head.

Meanwhile, the truck driver managed to flee from the spot.

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Price Watch
Steep fall in veggie prices 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Prices of fruits and vegetables have registered a remarkable decline over the past fortnight with potato being the only exception as it continued to be stable at Rs 5 to Rs 6 per kg even today. Tomato came down from Rs 12 per kg to Rs 8 per kg this week, while onion was priced at Rs 15 today. 

Cauliflower and cabbage registered the maximum cut in prices and are available at Rs 3 and Rs 2 per kg, respectively. Earlier, both were priced at Rs 10 and Rs 15 per kg, respectively.

However, ladyfinger registered a rise of Rs 2 per kg and from being available at Rs 20 per kg last week it went up to Rs 22 per kg this week.

Capsicum, which cost Rs 30 per kg last month, was today quoted at Rs 18 per kg. As far as fruits are concerned, there has been a slight rise in the prices of some while a slight dip in those of others. 

Apple this week went down to Rs 35 to Rs 50 per kg from Rs 60 last week while banana was today available for Rs 7 to Rs 8 per kg. Grapes (black variety) also came down from Rs 60 to Rs 40 per kg while the green variety is available for Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg. Earlier, it was available for Rs 50 per kg.

Pineapple came down to Rs 11 to Rs 12 per kg from Rs 15 per kg while Cheeku registered a slight dip from Rs 40 to Rs 30 per kg today. Kinnow has become cheaper by almost Rs 10 per kg and is now available for Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg while it cost Rs 30 per kg last month. 

Oranges are available for Rs 450 per 140 pieces, almost at the same rate as about two weeks ago.

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379 examined at medical camp
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 5
A team of doctors, led by Dr Brijinder Singh Rana from Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Charitable Hospital, conducted a free eye and medical check-up camp at its Jammu Colony dispensary here today, under the programme “Diabetic retinopathy initiative”.

As many as 265 patients suffering from eye ailments and 114 diabetic patients for diabetic retinopathy were examined. The medicines recommended were given free of cost. The camp was sponsored by the management committee of Gurdwara Sahib Jammu Colony.

Joginder Singh Makkar, vice-president of the hospital trust, stressed the need for such camps for the benefit of the poor patients.

Among those present at the camp were Joginder Singh Eros, Dr Swaran Singh, GK Walia, principal, Surinder Kaur Ahuja, nursing superintendent, Bhagat Singh Pabla, Himmat Singh Matharu, Gurcharan Singh Devgun, Surjan Singh Thekedar, Gurnam Singh, Jagjit Singh, Kishan Singh, Tajinder Singh Devgun, Manjit Singh Sabhi and Avtar Singh Bawa.

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Students display software skills
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
The ISTE student’s chapter of the Guru Nanak Institute of Management and Technology (GNIMT), Gujarkhan Campus, organised seventh annual national-level students’ competitions “Infovision-2009” here today.

Students of various management and technical colleges of Punjab and other states participated in paper presentation, software development, web development, debugging, logic design, extempore and debate, programming skills and case discussion. Students were from GNKCW, LCET, Katani Kalan, Panjab University Chandigarh, SASIMT Mohali, DBIMT Mandi Gobindgarh, KCW and RIMT Mandi Gobindgarh, GCW Ludhiana, etc.

Ayena of GNIMT bagged the first prize in paper presentation and Navneet Kumar and Jaspreet Singh of the LCET, Katani Kalan got the second prize. In debate, Puneet and Ajay of SASIMT, Mohali, won the first prize and Ayena and Jasleen Kaur of the GNIMT bagged the second prize. 

The first prize in software development was bagged by Tarsem Lal and Shyam Sunder of DBMICS, Mandi Gobindgarh, Albis and Manjit Singh of SASIIM, Mohali, got the second prize.

Harmeet Singh of the RIMT-IMCT secured the first position in extempore and Ajay Verma of SASIMT, Mohali, bagged the second position. In debugging, Tanu Garg and Shikha Arora of SASIMT, Mohali, bagged the first prize. Chandra Mohan and Neha Vashisht of Panjab University Chandigarh bagged the second prize. 

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PAU fails to rectify motor; plants dying
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
With non-operational motor, the plant nursery at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here is in a miserable condition. For more than 15 days now, the authorities have not been able to get the motor rectified. With the result, hundreds of plants, which have not been irrigated, are almost dying.

During a visit to the nursery, one of the care-takers said he could not help in situations where motor was not working. "The fault in the motor has not been rectified even after 15 days. Plants are in miserable condition. We hope that motor will be installed by the evening. 

Temporary arrangements are being made to provide water to plants but that is not sufficient. As the summers are approaching, certain flowers need water twice a day for survival", he said.

A majority of plants, flowers and shrubs in and around the nursery dried up due to water shortage. Visitor Pooja Mehta said she had come to the nursery to get palm trees and some flowery shrubs as she thought that the farm varsity would be having the best of everything. 

"A few years back, I was able to get a variety of plants from here. But it is unfortunate to see that the nursery is not having sufficient plants", said Pooja.

Estate officer Dr Gurkirpal Singh said the motor had started working. He said time had to be spent on repair works and it was beyond the control of the authorities.

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55-yr-old dispensary in a shambles 
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, March 5
The local civil dispensary, presently catering to the medical needs of 20,000 to 25,000 people, is literally in shambles. This nearly 55- year-old rented building in which the dispensary is housed needs urgent repairs. Apart from the plasters that have peeled off from majority of the places, the inner rods and bars, too, are lying naked from major portions of the roof. 

Even a downpour is enough for the building to leak from every possible place, thus displacing the deployed staff. 

Since the doors of the dispensary are broken, the staff has to place the wardrobes in order to temporarily shut the doorway.

The residents rued that the building is on the verge of collapse. Due to this, the patients have almost stopped visiting the dispensary. As the facility is almost negligible for staff toilets, they have to visit nearby houses to answer the call of nature. Even the labourers have stopped coming to the place and is forced to shell out money to private doctors.

With the industry on the outskirts of Doraha, the need for a well-furnished civil dispensary is being felt all the more.

Inspite of officials from the directorate having paid a visit to the place and entertained the problems of the residents, no steps have been taken for improving the pitiable condition of the dispensary. Satpal Gosain, Deputy Speaker, recent visit too could not prove fruitful.

Residents demanded that there is ample land around Doraha, which could be used for the purpose, and the civil dispensary could easily be shifted to the place.

As the medical officer of Doraha could not be contacted inspite of repeated calls, Dr Walia, SMO, Payal, said they too were helpless in the situation.

“I have written to the higher authorities but to no avail. Even the NGO’s or for that matter the municipal authorities too have been requested for according some safe and hygiene place for shifting of the dispensary but no positive response has been made so far,” he added.

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IMA to hold medical camp on Women’s Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 5
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) will observe the International Women’s Day here on March 8 by holding an awareness programme and a free medical camp for women.

IMA president Dr Manoj Sobti and Dr DP Singh Arora, secretary, said the programme would include lectures on social issues, contribution of doctors towards uplift of women, immunisation, awareness on cervical and breast cancer followed by screening of cancer.

At the camp, check-up will be conducted for medical and gynaecological disorders and antenatal examination. In addition, tests like blood sugar level, ultrasound, mammography, PAP smear and colposcopy will be carried out free of cost and free medicines will also be distributed.

Sobti said the entire programme would focus on the health of women, as healthy women would be able to lead a healthy family and healthy families would make a healthy nation. SSP Dr Sukhchain Singh Gill will be the chief guest on the occasion.

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Federation burns state govt’s effigy 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Activists of the UT and the Punjab Joint Action Committee and the Punjab Subordinates Services Federation burnt an effigy of the Punjab Pay Commission in the mini secretariat here today. They warned if the pay commission report was not tabled till March 8, they would sit on a chain fast in Chandigarh on March 9. 

Employees of all levels and categories would sit on the hunger strike on that day. Led by Gurmel Singh Medley, the activists said the Punjab government was fooling the employees. 

They said the pay commission had not even submitted the report to the government and the latter was making false announcements that they would implement the recommendations soon.

He added that if the government actually wanted to help employees it should have ensured that the report was submitted before code of conduct came into force.

The activists said since the demands were made by employees much before the code, the government was still in a position to implement the pay commission.

They reminded the government of making promises, including regularisation of ETT teachers, education workers, forest department part time employees, roadways, PRTC, health and medical department employees.

They warned if their demands were not met they would teach a lesson to the government in coming Lok Sabha elections. 

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Speaking Out
Youths have little hope from political parties 
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
New voters in the city have no hopes from either the political parties in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. A majority of the youth are not even aware that the election dates had already been announced. However, the youth of today feels that the entire system needs an overhauling if the nation has to progress.

Ridhima Kochar, a B.Sc-III (medical) student from the SCD Government College, said though she had got the voting right, but there was neither any enthusiasm nor any expectations from the political parties. 

She said elections were a normal affair in the country and leaders usually made plenty of pre-poll promises, but hardly fulfil them.

“No party tries to bring about positive changes with sincere efforts. We do expect a lot, but they are all shattered at the end,” she rued.

A BA-III student Harpreet Singh said that he was not aware about the major political parties in the country. He said he would like to vote for the leaders who could do something for the betterment of students. 

The leaders who could provide people a healthy environment, good roads, sewerage system and a relief from the maddening traffic congestion in the city, said Harpreet.

Amandeep Kaur, a student from the Guru Nanak Khalsa Collge for Women said voting or no voting hardly made any difference. She said the voters must use their brains while voting. “Voters feel helpless as no party has come up to their expectations since the past many decades. 

The entire system needs to be changed if we want to see India on top in each field. We can very well prove our worth, the leaders will have to take the initiative,” said Amandeep Kaur.

Navpreet Ghuman, another first-time voter, said she was aware about the election. She said: “Before the elections, the residents, including the slum dwellers, are visited by the candidates, who make promises that their party would bring a sea change in existing system and people generally believe them. 

But once they become the elected representatives, they fail to fulfil their promises. Then they start blaming circumstances for not providing them ample opportunities to accomplish the works.”

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City Concerns 
Religious yatras should be better managed 

Regular religious processions are now becoming more frequent and elaborate day by day, which cause immense harassment to an already congested town. These cannot be banned for obvious reasons, but here are a few workable points which, if kept in mind, would help to alleviate the problem.

It must be mandatory for the religious organisations to inform the administration about the time, date and route of the procession two or three days in advance. This should be published in all the local papers and announced on the local TV channels also. The procession should cover only half the road and made longer so that the traffic can go from the other side.

Administration can guide them as to the route and to cause minimum inconvenience to the commuters. The procession should stop on the side if an ambulance has to pass. It must be impressed upon them that cleanliness is next to Godliness. So they should have a garbage van with them and not litter the roads. The volume of the accompanying religious singing should be stipulated for all processions to a certain level.

A fine (decided by the authorities) should be imposed on those who do not follow the norms set by the administration.

Poonam Bindra, social activist

II

It is heartening to read that you have “dared” to write on a sensitive issue which affects all of us on city roads. I congratulate you for your effort and hope it makes sense to thinking public.

We know that religions help solve human problems. I am sure that a legislation banning all such activities will face big resistance because of much higher proportion of drum-beaters among us.

R S Sandhu, 26, Peregrine Groove, Brampton, Canada

III

We love and respect all religions. We must participate in all religious ceremonies and “shobha yatras”. Ludhiana is getting congested, not particularly due to these yatras but mismanagement.

The administration of Ludhiana needs to identify the areas which are over-crowded. There should not be more than one yatra in a month. The yatra should not be banned, but can be restricted with the number of those attending it. Alternative route for the traffic must be identified and published in leading newspapers and relayed on local channels for the ease of masses.

Sukhwinder Singh, Ludhiana

IV

Regular religious processions have become a routine affair today. We witness such processions every now and then on the city roads, which hamper the day-to-day work, and throw the whole system out of order. One of my friends could not appear in a test, which was being held in the city, just because heavy traffic delayed her reaching the test centre, and her chances of getting the job were lost, even before she appeared, which she could not.

We know it well that the transport system is already worse in the city and we are adding fuel to the fire by holding such processions, which Block the road for so much time. It is a fact that a chain is as strong as its weakest link, and this proverb speaks volumes about the traffic chaos, which we witness in the city every now and then. It appears that no one is serious about this problem, which has been ringing a death-knell time and again, and media ( read The Tribune) has revealed the chinks in the system many a time, but all the suggestions always fall on deaf ears, as the powers-that-be have their own concerns.

I also feel that the organisers of such processions should think twice before holding the same. I would entreat all religious or political organisations to have pity on the people and implore them not to hold the city to ransom by holding big processions, during which the traffic is diverted and most of the vehicles come to a virtual standstill.

Miss Glory, Anarkali Bazar, Jagraon

V

You are right in highlighting that various shobha yatras are a regular trouble for residents and even those requiring emergency assistance for medication/ambulances remain stuck off. My opinion would be that administration should allow these processions only after 9 p.m. and then only you will see true devotees and bhagats. Those who have real inclination to the God would participate while the office goers/ business people would return from their daily work and have relief from heavy traffic congestion.

You can imagine how much fuel would be unnecessarily wasted in this traffic chaos apart from mental/physical agony. Also the routes for such processions should be pre-planned, monitored and the public informed in advance about it though media so that they may choose their other alternative way to reach their destinations.

Rajeev Parmar, Ludhiana

VI

The tendency of Indians to celebrate religious occasions and to take out processions is more than centuries old. Religious processions, in terms of their social and religious functions, are usually held everywhere by followers of different religions. And no government can't ban, stop or disrupt religious celebrations anywhere, as the same hurts the sentiments of followers of a particular religion or a community.

One must know the fact that gone are the days when in a city it was so easy to take out religious processions through different ways, there was small population. For the past one or two decade, because of so many innovations and technological advancements in every field and subsequently due to the change of mindset of people towards the same, it has become very difficult for a person to cross a way and to breathe easily at a place.

The only possible solution left for the city administration is to restrict the religious ceremonies as well as processions, is to set demarcation line and set the demarcation line.

Shivanshu Garg, BCM Senior Secondary School, Sector-32, Chandigarh Road, Ludhiana

VII

Religious processions have become a major problem for commuters. But unfortunately, these processions could not be banned in India, as religion is totally politically oriented now . The only way out is that every religious organisation should be asked to get due permission from the municipal corporation and the corporation should draw a route-map and the timing. The yatra organisers should be legally bound to adhere to the prescribed route and time. Now question would arise about the selection of the day and the time of the yatra and according to me, that could be solved by selecting a holiday or only a Sunday and the time should strictly be before 8 a.m or after 7 p.m.

Gagandeep Sharma, Ludhiana

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Singing contest in memory of Sahir 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 5
To commemorate the birth anniversary of renowned poet Sahir Ludhianavi, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), under the aegis of "Dhvani", is organising an inter-college singing competition for the students of medical, dental and nursing colleges of the city here on March 9, at the college auditorium.

Besides, medical and nursing students from the host institution, students from Christian Medical College, Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College and Guru Teg Bahadur Nursing College will also participate in the programme.

In the evening, the troupe of Randhir Kanwal will entertain the audiences with their enthralling performances of "geet and ghazal". The faculty members of the DMCH will also participate in the event.

Principal Dr Daljit Singh said in its endeavour to keep the spirit of Sahir alive among the youth, the competition was being organised with an objective of inculcating the spirit of reverence for his poetry.

Dr Sandeep Puri, medical superintendent, said the most remarkable contribution made by Sahir was through his lyrics. He lifted the standard of Hindi songs to a level that became the benchmark for quality poetry.

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Mercury rises in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
A sudden change in the day temperatures, particularly from the past couple of days, in the city and surrounding areas are a clear signal for the coming long season of summer. The night temperatures have also risen leading to a some people switching on the fans.

The maximum temperature yesterday was 28.6 degrees Celsius and dropped to 27 degrees today. The minimum temperature yesterday was 18 degrees.

Meenu Sharma, a housewife, said: "It is getting very stuffy at night. We have stopped using our quilts. it is time to get our air conditioner cleaned up and also our water coolers in two rooms. I have already called our electrician who said he was busy on assignments for the coming couple of days following which he would come here".

Satwant Kaur, a senior citizen, said: “These days I am only running after my grandchildren asking them to cover themselves with a thin warm cover at least.”

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Shifting of Rajiv Raja 
Gabria smells a rat; to get prisoner’s escape probed 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Perturbed over the manner in which Rajiv Raja escaped from the police custody while being brought to the city for hearing in a murder case, Minister for Jails Hira Singh Gabria has decided to initiate a probe into the issue.

Talking to The Tribune, Gabria said the matter needs thorough investigation as “How a dreaded criminal could manage to shift four Jails in a span of two years,” Gabria added.

The matter was highlighted in these columns on February 28, in which Director-General (Prisons) Mohammad Izhar Alam expressed ignorance about the issue.

Gabria criticised Izhar Alam for going public over the issue. "If not the DG (Prison) then who knows how the dreaded criminal managed to shift in so many jails. We receive the daily report on the developments in jails and this matter will thoroughly be probed," Gabria added.

Shifting of Rajiv Raja from one jail to another still remains a riddle for the cops.

"If the minister and the DG (Prison) didn’t order his shifting then, the big question is on whose orders was he shifted," a senior official asked.

Raja, who was wanted in the murder case of Rakesh Sachdeva, owner Raghav Jewellers, and murder of Darshan Singh and his wife of Punjab Jewellers and many other cases, has left the top cops in a tizzy.

The manner in which he escaped also indicates that the criminal was constantly in touch with his accomplice, who managed to get him freed while he was being taken for hearing.

Rajiv Raja was first housed in Nabha Jail. From there he was shifted to Sangrur and after few months to Ferozepur and then finally to Bathinda.

Sources in the police revealed that former Ludhiana SSP, RK Jaswal, had objected to the sudden shifting of the criminals in so many jails.

A police source added that such criminals were shifted from one jail to another so that they could not establish contact with their fellow prisoners and hatch a conspiracy to escape from jail. 

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Cops-Criminal Nexus
Cops ‘help’ Binderjita gang members get bail
Rakesh Gupta

Raikot, March 5
It seems that the local police is inclined to give the Binderjita gang benefit of doubt in getting bail in a case registered against them. About 20 members of this gang were booked on March 2 for gang war and seriously injuring four persons at the local Bajigar basti.

The cops have indicted a man who was remanded in judicial custody and is already lodged in Ludhiana Central Jail since January 2. Laddi, who has also been identified as an accused in the case, was not present at his home when this incident took place.

Though the police, on the statement of Rajpal Singh, who suffered maximum loss in the attack, claims to have booked the accused Rajpal Singh, presently admitted to DMCH, refuses to loge complaint against any persons.

Stunned, he said, the police has refused to include the names of Hari Singh of Burmi village, Meeti of Tajpur village and Kaddu of Johalan village, as they are influential.

The Binderjita gang is being patronised by the police and politicians.

A driver by profession about 3 years ago, Binderjita leads a gang of more than 60 goons who had made the life of the people hell.

He became gangster after murdering a native of Raikot popularly named 'Jahaj'.

He got acquitted by paying the witnesses handsomely who turned hostile. Presently he and his gang is involved in all kind of criminal activities, including contract killings, extortion, forcible possession of properties and eviction of tenants etc. Instead of arresting them, the cops are found backing this gang.

They act whenever this gang is in problem. In this case also despite several calls by Bajigar Basti residents, the police remained silent.

But, when the mob turned toward the house of Binderjita to burn it, they swung into action and registered a case against the accused. 

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Night driving a nightmare 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
At night, danger of meeting with road accidents in majority of the areas, continue to lurk hapless drivers. Death of the Zila Parishad chairman’s relative in a road accident, recently, has brought to the fore this danger.

Another major hurdle is commuting in the absence of indicators on the road dividers during the night hours. Amit Saini, a resident of Kapurthala, had bumped his Toyota Corolla into the divider on the Ferozepur road while negotiating a small turn last week. He hit the divider as he saw it late. "I could not see it as the lights of vehicles coming from the opposite direction dazzled me.”

People fail to dim the lights of their vehicles thus making it difficult for commuters coming from the opposite to travel, particularly those on two wheelers. Rajat Sharma, a sales executive with a pharmaceutical company, said:” I usually drive home to Dugri late in the evening. It gets extremely difficult to drive normally at several places due to this. We often end up travelling on a bump which upsets the balance."

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Ex-serviceman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 5
Jaswant Singhg (60), an ex-serviceman, committed suicide by allegedly killing himself with .12 bore DBBL gun today. Amandeep Kaur, his wife, was sitting in a room of their house in Preet Nagar when she heard the gunfire. He was alone in the room. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where he was declared brought dead. The police is investigating the case. —OC

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Construction on despite HC orders 
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
As many as two residential buildings have come up on a public park despite a stay by the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders. Though all buildings on this public park were sealed by Municipal Commissioner G.S. Ghuman on February 10, some of the owners have broken the seal and are busy getting finishing touches to the buildings.

A visit to place today showed that the labourers were working without any fear and number plates were displayed outside the house in a series which does not fit according to the numbers allotted to the houses.

The construction on this site has been on unabated despite the High Court's order dated October 4, 2008, ordering the MC and the Punjab government to remove all encroachments and retrieve the land forthwith but not later than six months from the date.

However, instead of vacating this land, the construction is going on right under the nose of the MC officials, who seem to be hardly interested to comply with the judiciary orders which are the last resort for a resident.

Talking to The Tribune, Onkar Singh, who had moved a PIL regarding this construction in 2007, said "I had been living in this are for the past 30 years and this park was used to be full of cheers of kids fighting and playing. When the construction came up on the site, I brought it to the notice of the MC officials repeatedly but to no avail."

Failure of the civic body forced me to move to Judiciary, but the blatant violation of HC orders prove that even MC does not have a regard for Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court who was a part of the bench when the orders were passed, Onkar Singh added.

Interestingly, the site is shown as a public park in the master plan too which raises a doubt on credibility of establishments displayed in the boasted plan of the Punjab government.

Eco-activists S.S. Channa, who has also written a letter supporting Onkar Singh to the municipal commissioner, said, “The corporation needs to appreciated the efforts of a simpleton agriculturist like Onkar Singh who has raised a voice for a public cause and to strengthen the hand of officers against illegal encroachments." But it's sorry to say that corporation has connived with the land mafia to usurp the open spaces of parks and green belts for their vested interests, he rued. 

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Team India kicks off World Cup campaign 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 5
Asia's leading sports broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports will exclusively telecast select matches of the ICC Women's World Cup Australia 2009 commencing on March 7. The tournament, to be played at six venues over 16 days, is the first women's event to be staged after the merger of the International Women's Cricket Council and the ICC in 2005.  The tournament will feature hosts and holders Australia, as well as England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, the top eight ranked women's cricket teams in the world.

Sports channel ESPN will broadcast a total of seven matches live and exclusive from Australia. Host broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports has brought on board an impressive line-up of commentators for the tourney. The commentators will include names like Wasim Akram, Alan Wilkins, Danny Morrison and leading women's cricket experts like Debbie Hockley, Melanie Jones and Belinda Clarke. 

ESPN will telecast a fully produced package starting 10 minutes prior to first ball of each match and finishing after the official post match presentation ceremonies.

India has been placed in group B along with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England while Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies are placed in group A. India start their campaign against arch rivals Pakistan while England take on Sri Lanka on the first day of the tournament. 

Australia will start their campaign on March 8 against New Zealand. On the same day, West Indies will also get into action against South Africa.

The top three sides in each group advance to the Super Six stage where each side then plays the teams to have qualified from the other group. The top two sides from the Super Six qualify for the final at North Sydney Oval on March 22.

India, led by fast bowler Jhulan Goswami, is determined to overcome all the hurdles and go the final distance when they begin their World Cup campaign. The Indian team will be relying heavily on Jhulan and former skippers Mithali Raj and Anjum Chopra, who will be appearing in her fourth successive World Cup. 

The team will also expect some good efforts from vice-captain and pacewoman Amita Sharma and all-rounder Rumeli Dhar, who will appear in her second World Cup. Catch all the drama unfold, live and exclusive, only on ESPN.

Groupings

Group A Group B
A1 Australia B1 India
A2 New Zealand B2 England
A3 West Indies B3 Sri Lanka
A4 South Africa B4 Pakistan
Schedule of broadcast on ESPN*

Date Time (IST) Match

08/03/2009 04:20 Australia (A1) vs. NZ (A2)
10/03/2009 04:20 India (B1) vs. England (B2)
12/03/2009 04:20 England (B2) vs. Pakistan (B4)
14/03/2009 04:20 A1 v B1
17/03/2009 04:20 A2 v B1
19/03/2009 04:20 A1 v B2
22/03/2009 04:20 Final
*Schedule subject to change.

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