L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


City to get 200 buses under JNNURM
Money to be released after final nod from MC House
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
While the much-hyped city bus service of the Punjab government has failed to start in Ludhiana, the Municipal Corporation would be soon getting 200 buses under the Centrally-sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

According to the sources, the detail project report sent by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation a few months back has been sanctioned and the money for buying the buses will be released once the resolution is passed in the MC House.

The sources revealed that the total amount to be spent for buying these buses would be between Rs 50 and 60 crore. The proposal has been submitted to the Mayor for placing it before the MC House for final nod.

They added that once the resolution is approved in the MC House, it would not take much time to start the bus service.

The MC officials said: “The authorities are satisfied with our report and we will be able to make headway once the Ludhianvis have caste their vote on May 13. We will try to finalise it as soon as possible provided the municipal councillors hold house meeting.”

The sources, however, said the indifferent attitude of the MC councillors in organising the house meeting has been affecting the functioning of the civic body.

Since February, 2009, the Punjab government had been publishing “misleading” advertisements in various newspapers that the city bus service in Ludhiana had been started. The matter was highlighted by The Tribune after which the authorities corrected rectified the mistake.

The city bus service in Ludhiana by the Punjab government is an old proposal and except assurance and statements that it would be started soon, nothing has come from the horse’s mouth or the MC.

Notably, the bus service within the city is a long-pending demand of the residents as no public transport is available in Ludhiana.


Counterfeit Currency
Banks continue to flout norms
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
Not caring two hoots about RBI guidelines on counterfeit currency, most banks continue to flout the norms with impunity. Numerous cases of banks returning fake notes to the customers continue to come to the fore every now and then. Most cases, however, go unreported, primarily because bank authorities find the procedure of dealing with such cases tedious and lengthy.

Moreover, a large number of customers are ignorant about the central bank's directions. Also, common man does not have enough ways to gauge whether a note is genuine or not.

However, in spite of a sharp rise in the incidences of counterfeit currency across the country, most banks have failed to follow the apex bank's guidelines.

Since the banks continue to return fake notes to customers, the notes remain in circulation, making the situation worse.

It is notes in the denomination of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 where maximum cases of counterfeiting are being reported these days.

Interestingly, when this correspondent visited a private bank with a fake note, the concerned bank official refused to accept it and also returned the same. When asked what was to be done with the Rs 1,000 note, the banker said, "We do not know. It is fake and I cannot accept it."

As per the guidelines of the RBI, if a customer comes to the bank with a fake note, the cashier receiving the currency should tender the same on a prescribed form. The note is then to be sent to the RBI or forensic laboratory for identification. If found to be fake, the note is then destroyed by the RBI, while the bank gets an FIR registered.

People can identify fake notes by their coarseness, such notes are rough, the shine of the silver thread, which is conspicuous by its brightness unlike a genuine note, in which the silver thread is not very bright and the words “RBI” and “Bharat” on the thread. The thread is also smoother in case of a genuine note.



Fire Call-I
Old city sits on powder keg
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

A fire-prone market in Ludhiana. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, April 28
Is the population of over 35 lakh safe in the hands of a meagre staff of 75 personnel in the fire department? The obvious answer is no.

The recent spurt in fire incidents in the city has put the fire department officials in a dilemma, who are finding it hard to meet the exigencies in the absence of staff and modern equipments.

The residents of Old City, the most congested area of Ludhiana, are sitting on a tinderbox. According to Municipal Corporation officials, around 10 per cent of city population resides in this clogged area which does not even has space for movement of heavy vehicles.

The small street markets like Daal Bazaar, Sarafa Bazaar, Gur Mandi, Bansa Bazaar, Hind Bazaar and Purana Bazaar are virtual powder kegs of these areas. Despite several incidents, nothing concrete has been done either by the area councillors or the MC officials.

While the memories of the Gur Mandi fire tragedy still haunts the residents here, besides a number of other fire incidents in the Old City between 1966 and 2000, the authorities concerned have failed to frame a policy in this regard. The authorities have also failed to issue directions to shopkeepers who have small shops and none of them is equipped with the fire-fighting equipment.

While the commercial establishments need to have no objection certificate from the fire department for running business, one doubts how many of these shop owners ever tried to bother to get the certificate.

The haphazard power cables going right next to the buildings here are a perfect recipe for tragedy. However, the Punjab State Electricity Board has never thought of shifting them. “Sparks are often seen in power cables, especially in summers when the load is high,” said 70-year-old Mangesh Ram, a resident of Old City. Interestingly, the only effort made is a special hotline for water supply in Madhopuri and Purana Bazaar which was laid in 1990-91. The pressure in this pipeline is of no use for the fire department and ever since it has been laid, this five-km pipeline has been just a waste.

Notably, the Old City area has around five wards of the Municipal Corporation and if the shopkeepers and the residents here are to be believed, none of the municipal councillors ever made fire-safety as a poll plank.

If retired fire officer Ram Kumar is to be believed, the residents too are to be blamed. “The shopkeepers give two hoots to laws and if a major tragedy occurs, the blame is put on the fire department. They flout norms by storing more goods in a limited area. As far as shopkeepers are concerned, they throw waste boxes in loft, which can easily catch fire,” he said.



Shoe-proof security for Maya
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
With shoes being hurled at politicians during their election campaigns, the police and party workers are getting cautious and leaving no stone unturned to give the star campaigners a safe passage.

It seems that the leaders arriving in the city are in no mood to take the risk of campaigning at crowded places.

In order to protect the campaigners from any disgraceful event, the police has tightened security.

The police had devised a shoe-proof plan for the election rally of the BSP supremo, Mayawati, who addressed a poll rally at the grain market near Jalandhar bypass here today.

Earlier, a gap of 45 feet was maintained between Mayawati and her listeners, but in the wake of the shoe controversy, the gap had been extended to 60 feet.

SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said the police had made adequate arrangements. Cops in plain clothes were made to sit in the pandal to check activities of unscrupulous elements.

A local leader of the BSP said the first 10 rows were occupied by supporters of the party, while volunteers of the party kept a check on the rowdy elements.



Tribune Impact
MC wakes up to plight of fire dept
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
Taking cognisance of a report published in these columns today “Fire dept understaffed, ill-equipped”, Municipal Commissioner G.S. Ghuman has asked Joint Commissioner Mahinder Pal Gupta to prepare a report on the fire department of the MC.

Talking to The Tribune, Ghuman said, “I have written to The Joint Commissioner to talk to the fire department employees and find out the problems they had been facing for long. Besides, the Joint Commissioner has been also told to prepare the list of equipments required by the fire department officers.” He added the MC would try its best to solve their problems and meet the requirements.

Ludhiana Tribune had been publishing stories in its columns highlighting the sufferings of fire department officials who were giving 12-hour duty for the past two-and-a-half-year and don’t have modern fire fighting equipments. While the directions of the MC Commissioner have come as a hope for the fire department, final nod from the local bodies department of the Punjab government is the issue which would play a major role in revamp of the fire department.



Candidates intensify campaign
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, April 28
With the withdrawal of nomination papers, the election campaign in the city has been intensified by the candidates of the political parties. The candidates of the political parties have shown their strength at the time of filing of nomination papers by taking out big rallies and blocking the movement of vehicular traffic in various parts of the city.

Although there are 33 candidates in the fray for the Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat, the main contest is between the Congress and the Akali Dal candidates. The contest is going to be tough and triangular with the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Keher Singh in the fray. There are candidates of the Samajwadi Party, Lok Janshakti Party and the Lok Bhalai Party also in the field.

The Akali Dal candidate Gurcharan Singh Galib has received the support from the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who has visited the city twice within a week and addressed a many meetings in his favour.

The Chief Minister has made big claims of bringing about development of the city for the first time in 50 years notwithstanding the fact that nothing is visible on the ground except that the Municipal Corporation has started re-carpeting of the roads during the past two months. The other major problems remain unattended.

The SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has also held rallies in favour of Galib and also sternly warned the local Akali leaders to sink their differences and work as a team for the Akali Dal candidate. But still the Akali Dal candidate has not received the full support of the local leaders and they remain divided as ever.

The warning of the party chief is not likely to cut much ice since there is a lot of resentment against certain local Akali leaders and some of them had to leave the rallies without addressing the same in the face of opposition from the local population.

The Akali Dal candidate Gurcharan Singh Galib has defected from the Congress and joined the Akali Dal to contest the elections. His difficulty is that he has not yet forgotten that he has left the Congress and joined the Akali Dal as invariably he tells his audience to vote for the Congress.

The Congress candidate, Manish Tewari, has also intensified his campaign. He has received the support of the Punjab Pradesh Congress election incharge Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and PPCC acting president Lal Singh. All these leaders accompanied him when he filed his nomination papers.

Tewari, while addressing the election rallies, assured that he would bring Rs 10,000 crore from the Centre for the development of the city during the next five years.

The local residents are not convinced with his assertion as he has not shown any interest in the development of the city after his defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

No doubt he has been helping the individual businessmen and industrialists in their business ventures in the Ministry of Finance and Commerce, but the contribution for the overall development of the city has been nil. Tewari has succeeded in securing the support of the local business community, in which the Akali candidate has not been very successful



Poll no charm in Sahnewal
Lovleen Bains

Garbage heaps, a common sight in Sahnewal. Photo by the writer

Sahnewal, April 28
The forthcoming elections seem to hold minimum charm for the residents of this abandoned town as they have been denied even the basic amenities. With frustration reflecting on their faces, the voters of the town have literally negated the idea of making a choice of a particular candidate.

“Why should we tax our minds over issues, which relate to these politicians and are especially designed to meet their selfish ends? Has any body ever come to our rescue in the worst of the situations? “It has been months together now, not even a single official has ever visited the place. Can elections hold any significance for us when our own survival is at risk in such exploding state of affairs? Moreover, why should we bother to support one or reject another, when all are chips of the same block,” a resident bursts out.

Another resident said: “It has now been months together since any cleanliness drive has been launched in the town. Gathered garbage heaps and sewer-water accumulation is a common sight. Sahnewal is literally on the verge of collapse while the authorities turning a blind eye and deaf ear. The drainage system has got choked to such an extent that even a small downpour leaves the condition of streets and houses miserable.”

The sorry state of affairs is revealed from the fact that huge heaps of garbage waste remains collected in the corners of the streets, but no cleanliness drive has ever been launched in the town.

Hence majority of the voters of the town and the adjoining villages have resolved not to exercise their right to franchise at all. Voters of some particular wards allege that leave aside providing sewerage or water or lighting facility in the area, the council has never bothered to repair the dangerously damaged roads or fill up the low-lying areas. Even the single main market road of the town is in pitiable condition.

“It is really amazing that these people, who showed complete apathy towards us all these years can suddenly muster courage to come up to our doors and demand votes. We shall not test their ingenuity any further and no more shall we be swayed away by their false assurances for they are surely going to hybernate once voted to power,” lament the townsters.



Price rise no issue for voters
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 28
Only a few residents of towns and villages falling under Lok Sabha constituencies of Malwa are concerned about hike or fall in prices of essential commodities, including diesel, petrol and LPG, according to observations made by the Tribune.

The issue of price hike or fall is missing in speeches of various candidates and their supporters.

Veena Lomash, a housewife of Dhuri, said, "Who cares for a few bucks reduced on one cylinder of LPG that runs for over a month in a family of four or five. What is more important is that the 'powerhouse' of kitchen should be available at our doorstep."

Arvind Bhardwaj, a social activist of Malerkotla, said people remembered little about rare and meager fall in prices of essential commodities.

"As voters are preoccupied with many other issues, they bother little about price fluctuations. Even I do not remember how much burden on my budget was relieved by recent cut in prices of LPG and petrol," said Bhardwaj.

Gurdial Singh, a farmer of Hussainpura village, and Dilbagh Rai of Issi village said availability of diesel was more important than hike or fall in its price.

Kalawanti of Kanganwal, Jarnail Singh of Jandali, Mohinder Pal of Rajindra Puri and Kewal Singh of Baurhai village were among those who did not even know who exactly, whether the Union or State Government, was responsible for hike or fall in prices of essential commodities.



Libra opens office
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 28
MLA Sukhdev Singh Libra yesterday opened an election office in Raikot. It was inaugrated by Ranvir Singh, Libra’s son.

Leaders, including Talib Singh Sandhu, Pal Balwinder Singh Talwandi, Ram Kumar Chhapa, were present on the occasion.

Former PSEB member Balwinder Singh Abbuwal, a relative of Tota Singh, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a great leader of the nation.

Balwinder added that voters could rely on Libra as he had always been a responsible leader and deserved a win over the Akali candidate from the Fatehgarh Sahib constituency.

Leaders of the Akali Dal 1920 also came in support of Libra on the instructions of state president Ravi Inder Singh.

Senior leaders of the party, including Rajwinder Singh Hissowal, Jathedar Dalip Singh and land mortgage bank chairman Gurbax Singh Tugal, along with party workers, shared dais with the Congress leaders and appealed the voters to vote in favour of Libra.



Tiwari opens election office
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, April 28
Congress candidate Manish Tiwari opened an election office here today.

Leaders of the area, including, Jassi Khangura, Gurdeep Singh Bhaini, KK Bawa, Talib Singh Sandhu, Malkait Singh Dakha, Anil Jain, Telu Ram Bansal, Manjit Singh Bharowal, Balwinder Singh Sekhon, Rattan Singh Kamalpuri, were present on the occasion.

More that 2,000 Congress workers attended the opening ceremony of the office.

Tiwari said the three rural assembly constituencies namely Gill, Jagraon and Dakha would get a package of more than 2,000 crore.

However, he felt a bit awkward in answering the question that the educated youth entering the political scene are expected to refrain themselves from mud-slinging, he said one had to answer in the same language his opponent was asking. After the opening, Tiwari along with the party leaders, visited the market for door-to-door campaign. 



BKU (Rajewal) backs SAD
Tribune News Service

Samrala, April 28
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) today extended support to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at a gathering.

A number of farmers belonging to the union extended support to the Akali Dal in the coming Lok Sabha elections. Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced to help the union in all possible ways for their development. The speakers eulogised the SAD and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Sukhbir said the increasing number of suicides could not be stopped in Punjab without the intervention of the Central government, which had failed to initiate any steps for the development of Punjab.



Police exhumes body of labourer
Rakesh Gupta

Jagraon, April 28
In the rarest of the rare case, the Sidhwan Bet police yesterday tried to exhume the body of a migrant labourer killed about two months ago by some villagers.

The case surfaced in Rauwal village near here. The deceased Rajinder Sharma (45) was killed by fellow workers Ranjit Singh, Vibehsh Yaday and Guddu Kumar and then they buried his body in the fields. It is stated that they had an altercation over the distribution of labour money among them.

They are stated to be of the same village. Though no concrete information is available, yet the investigation by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that yesterday Vibehsh Yaday, one of the killers under the influence of liquor, spoke of the sequence of the incident. Labours sleeping nearby heard it and intimated the matter to Joginder Sharma, brother of the deceased.

Joginder Sharma immediately informed the Sidhwan Bet police regarding the murder and SHO Sidhwan Bet Dharam Paul, along with Duty Magistrate Paramjit Singh Sahota, Jagraon tehsildar, and Dr. Satpal of Civil Hospital, Sidhwan Bet, visited the field today located by Joginder Sharma. They recovered some belongings of the deceased buried in the field near the grain market of the village, including trouser, underwear, lungi, diary and purse. Joginder Singh identified all things recovered as those of his brothers.

The police also recovered some human bones from the fields. Though the police has registered a case against the three accused under Sections 302, 201, IPC, no arrest has been made as the police says the accused Ranjit Singh, Vibehsh Yadav and Guddu Kumar are absconding but unconfirmed sources reveal that the three have been in the police custody since April 26 and on their identification, they tried to exhume the body of the deceased from that field.

SHO Dharam Paul said the body parts recovered from the field would be sent for DNA test and only after the report action could be taken.



Employees block traffic
Demand implementation of pay panel report
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 28
In response to a call given by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) and the UT employees’ joint action committee, employees of various government and semi-government departments blocked the vehicular traffic at Bharat Nagar chowk for more than two hours and later at the bus stand here today against the non-implementation of the 5th Pay Commission report by the state government.

According to district president of the PSSF, Gurmail Singh Madley, employees of PWD, Punjab Roadways, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation, PAU, Ludhiana Improvement Trust, education department, including school and college teachers, health department and many other departments participated in the protest.

Earlier, addressing a rally, the trade union leaders served an ultimatum to the state government to implement the pay panel report without any further delay.

Speakers, including Madley, Charan Singh Sarabha, Manjit Singh Gill and DP Maur, charged the government with adopting delaying tactics. “The government was citing the election code of conduct as standing in the way of implementation of pay commission report whereas the fact of the matter was that the central government as well as the governments in many others states had already given effect to the recommendations.”

Meanwhile, employees of the anti-larva unit (health department) organised a rally and burnt effigy of the state government to protest against delay in implementation of the pay commission report in response to the call given by the Punjab Mulazam Sangharsh Committee.

Addressing the rally, Amarjit Singh Pandher, convener of the committee, and Harbhajan Singh alleged that the government was playing a fraud upon the employees by causing delay in giving effect to the recommendations of the 5th Pay Commission. Even after repeated assurances given to the representatives of the employee organisations, the matter was still hanging fire.

The speakers at the rally warned that there was widespread resentment among the employees over the gross injustice being inflicted upon them and the government might have to pay dearly in the coming Lok Sabha elections if the pay commission recommendations were not immediately implemented.



ATM trouble at grain market
Our Correspondent

Khamano, April 28
Customers of an ATM situated at the local grain market are facing problem due to the often snag in the machine due to which the machine often fails to process.

The ATM machine is in the only one in the town and 15 km area surrounding it. As many times machine fails to process which creates problems for the customers.

Gurdeep Singh, vice-president of the local Sahara Welfare Club, said the residents of the town and the nearby 71 villages are facing harassment. Mohinder Singh Kang of the Human Rights Society, said the bank officials should solve the problem.

Jagtar Singh Khamano of the Government Teachers’ Union said due to the salaries being drawn from the bank, use of the ATM machine is necessary, but this type of problem in machine is proving costly for the customers.

Manager of the State Bank of Patiala, when contacted, assured to solve the problem immediately.



Woman foils snatching; two arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 28
With incidents of snatching in posh colonies becoming a routine, another incident of snatching at Punjab Mata Nagar Street No 19 was reported here yesterday.

A woman, Monika, has set an example by showing valour and nabbing snatchers, who tried to snatch her ornaments and bag. Monika said she was returning home from her office in the afternoon when the incident took place. As she entered Punjab Mata Nagar Street No 19, two snatchers came on a motor-cycle and smacked her on the neck and tried to snatch her chain.

She further said she was shocked by the sudden jolt and had moved towards a corner for a safe shelter. In the meantime, the snatchers returned and tried to snatch her chain and purse. But she retaliated and caught the hand of a snatcher and started shouting.

She received bruises on her legs, knees and right elbow in the process. Listening to her screams, shopkeepers came to her rescue and nabbed the accused, she added.

The brave woman not only saved her gold ornaments from being snatched but also nabbed the snatchers with the help of the shopkeepers and handed them over to the police. The accused had created panic in the entire area with the repeated snatching incidents.



Truck lifters active
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, April 28
The local police has not succeeded in finding out any clue of the 10-tyre truck, which has been missing since April 22. Inderpal Singh Kochhar said Kochhar Transport Company's truck having registration no. PB-23G-5031 of 2008 model, which was parked along with other trucks of the company on Partap Mill road, was stolen. The matter has been reported to the police.

Kochhar said this was the second incident that had taken place. Earlier, a public carrier having no. HR-55A-1429 of the company was stolen on January 20, 2007 but the police had failed to find away clue of that incident.



Accused held for granthi murder

Selkiana (Samrala), April 28
The KoomKalan police has arrested the main culprits in the Inder Singh murder case.

Teja Singh Nihang and Pakhar Singh were arrested after people blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Rahon road yesterday.

Alleging police inaction, residents held SHO Koom Kalan and chowki in charge, Matewara responsible for the murder. They demanded immediate suspension of the SHO. — OC



City lad runner-up in national bodybuilding meet
Anil Datt

Ludhiana, April 28
Local lad, Charan Kamal, who represented Punjab in the Senior National Bodybuilding Championship organised at Andheri, Mumbai from April 23 to 25, gave a sterling performance to make his presence felt.

Taking into consideration his performance during the Punjab State Amateur Bodybuilding Championship conducted at Shankar near Nakodar, Charan was selected to represent his state along with other 16 bodybuilders in the national championship at Mumbai.

Competing in the 65-67 kg weight category, Charan Kamal stunned his immediate opponents to secure second position. In this category, as many as 88 participants shrugged their shoulders for the top honours. Charan Kamal gave a tough fight to his nearest rival from Delhi before securing second position.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, Charan Kamal said that he had a useful exposure at Mumbai where he was pitched against some of the best stuff from across the country. Parvinder Panwar of Muscle Mania and coach of Charan Kamal expressed satisfaction over the latter's performance.

I would concentrate more and practice vigoursly to finish at top in the upcoming national meets, Charan exhuded confidence.

The Punjab Amateur Bodybuilding Association (PABA) has appreciated Charan Kamal's performance at Mumbai. Arpinder Gill, chairman of the association along with other members including office bearers of the district unit, Sameer Kaushal, Parveen Kumar, Madan Mahajan, Pardeep Kumar, Kunal Bajaj, Sukhdev Sodhi, Kiranpreet Pozy and Jaswinder Gill congratulated Charan Kamal, his coach Ranjit Pal Pabla on bringing fame to the city as well as state.



Minor District Zone-B overpower Ludhiana
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, April 28
Minor District Zone-B (Ropar) bowlers restricted hosts Ludhiana to 296 for nine in the first innings and romped home victorious by virtue of first innings lead of 98 runs in the second match of the two-day Punjab State Inter-District Cricket Tournament (u-16) for the ML Markan Trophy played at MGM Public School, Dugri, here yesterday.

In response to Minor District’s first innings total of 394 runs, Ludhiana could muster 296 runs in the allotted 95 overs. The main contributors were Chirag Maria (71), Abhinav Bhatia (60), Gaurav Sharma (42), Sunny Pandey (41), Lekh Raj (16) and Paras Bhardwaj (12).

Minor District Zone B bowlers bowled to a good line and length and managed to restrict their opponents below the 300 mark which eventually steered them to emerge winners on the basis of the first innings lead of 98 runs.

Kunal grabbed four wickets for 79 runs while Karan Ahluwalia and Manpreet Singh took two wickets each after conceding 39 and 117 runs, respectively.

In their second innings, Minor District Zone B were 101 for after 14 overs when the two sides agreed to call it a day.

Harmanjeet Singh scored 20 runs while Manpreet Singh and Daksh Aggarwal were unbeaten on 54 and 14 runs. With this victory, Minor District Zone got two points. In their third match, to be played at the same venue on April 29 and 30, Ludhiana will take on Chandigarh.



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