L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


No fresh probe into fake bill scam: MC
Jyotika Sood
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
At a meeting of the municipal corporation’s core committee convened today, mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura along with councillors of all political parties unanimously decided not to set up a new three-member committee to inquire into the fake bill scam, as the report that had indicted three road contractors and over a dozen MC officials had already been leaked in the media.

“There is no point in conducting another inquiry on the report which has already been published by the media," felt most of the councilors. It was also decided the report would be tabled before the core committee members tomorrow.

Elaborating on the minutes of the meeting, senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal said: "We have full faith in inquiry officer KP Brar, and thus have decided a new committee would not be formed as announced earlier in the MC house. Once the report is tabled tomorrow we will decide what action should be taken against the guilty officers and the contractors”. However, he chose to remain silent on the question of the latter not being given a chance to be heard during the inquiry proceedings.

When asked why the report was not tabled before the MC house, Bansal said: "This is not a matter to be discussed. We have called the report just to ensure no one who is innocent is indicted and also no culprit is allowed to go free."

However, those municipal councillors who are not in the core committee complained the report should have been before the house as they also had a stake in running the civic body.

Objecting to the move of presenting the report before the core committee, Congress councillor HS Brar said, "Every councillor has the responsibility of running the municipal corporation and, if a decision has to be taken, it should be done with the house's consent and not on the basis of the personal opinions of a group of councillors." The retired PAU professor added “there are some rules and regulations and it would be better those are followed”.

Among others present at today’s meeting were SAD councillors Pal Singh Grewal, Prem Mittal, Harbhajan Singh Dang, BJP councillors Sunita Aggarwal, Gurdeep Singh Neetu and Congress councillors Amrit Varsha Rampal, Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Parminder Mehta.


Gosain’s grandson gives false affidavit
Tribune News Service

The affidavit submitted by Sunny, grandson of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain
The affidavit submitted by Sunny, grandson of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain.

Ludhiana, December 14
The MC multi-crore fake bill scam is getting murkier. Documents available with The Tribune not only expose the alleged political-contractor-official nexus, but also bring MC officials under scanner.

A copy of the affidavit submitted by the grandson of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Satpal Gosain, Sunny, to the MC last year shows how politicians, contractors and officials are siphoning off public money. The affidavit signed by contractor Sunny states that none of his close relatives has been elected as councillor in the Ludhiana MC, concealing the fact that his grandfather is an MLA and an ex-officio member of the municipal house. The affidavit was submitted last year.

As per the Punjab Municipal General Rules, no contractor whose family member was associated with the MC could undertake the works of the civic body.

It is being questioned why the MC officials, including the Municipal Commissioner, not bring it to the notice of the higher authorities and why was work allotted to the contractor.

Sources in the local bodies revealed that such a thing had recently come to the fore at Amritsar, too, where a councillor was found guilty as his relative was working as a contractor.



Minister summons records
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Indictment of Sunny, grandson of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Satpal Gosain, in the fake bill scam is finally being taken seriously by the Punjab government.

Local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia today held a meeting with Chief Vigilance Officer AK Prabhakar and Municipal Commissioner AK Sinha at Chandigarh in this regard. All records pertaining to the scam and probe report of the MC have been summoned.

Talking to The Tribune, Kalia said: “I have told the vigilance officer to take up the probe on a priority basis and if guilty, no one would be spared.”

Asked if an independent inquiry from a High Court judge would not have been better, he said he had faith in departmental findings.

The scam came to light in November when some fake bills were seized and Additional Commissioner KP Brar was asked to probe the matter by the Municipal Commissioner. The report indicted three contractors and more than a dozen MC officials from the engineering wing.

The report said Sunny had submitted a bill regarding some work in the Ranjit Park area and had received a payment of over Rs 8 lakh, but there was no record of the payment in the measurement book of the MC. The report was based on official records that bore signatures of several MC officials, including SE and XEN.



Senior cop thrashed by youths
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
The son of a medicine trader and an aide of the Badals, allegedly manhandled the Divisional Commandant (Home Guard) Patiala, Kultarn Singh Ghuman, at Sarabha Nagar Market here late last night.

The incident took place at around 11 pm when Ghuman, brother of District Bar Association president Parupkar Singh, saw a group of youths thrashing a man following a road rage and intervened.

The group led by Sadhu, son of Bhagwan Singh, owner of Gurmail Medical Hall, allegedly hit a bottle on the head of the man whose car hit his (Sadhu) vehicle while parking.

Ghuman came to know about the incident when he was going to an ATM. He reached the spot and saw the youth bleeding profusely. He informed the police about it and intimated the SHO concerned. But no one reached the spot, his brother said.

When Sadhu and his men saw Ghuman, who was not in uniform, they manhandled him and his turban fell. Bystanders told the accused that the person was a senior officer, “but instead of apologising, Sadhu started threatening us and said he is a goon of the city and even the CM stayed at his house,” Ghuman’s brother stated.

When things started getting out of hand, the SSP was apprised of the situation. The SHO reached the spot, but the youths had fled. Ghuman’s brother went to the police station to file a complaint, but Bhagwan Singh, father of the accused, arrived there and apologised on his son’s behalf.

Later, Sadhu wrote an apology in the presence of the SHO. The police tried to keep the matter under wraps, but the incident took a twist in the morning when some people reportedly boasted about thrashing a senior police officer and his brother. The police is now planning to take action in this regard.

Later during the day, Sadhu apologised to the victim in front of the Bar association and senior police officials. It is learnt that the complaint was withdrawn following the apology. Amid all the drama, neither the police nor the victim made any reference about the man who sustained head injury after being hit by a bottle.



Fire at hosiery unit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
A fire broke out at Sudan Mohalla here early this morning, gutting a hosiery unit-cum-residence and reducing material worth lakhs to ashes. However, no loss of life has been reported.

According to information, the building is owned by Ashok Kumar and it took more than five hours for the fire department to bring the fire under control.

Firemen said the exact cause of fire was still to be ascertained and due to narrow streets, the operation was difficult. “We had to take pipes for over half a kilometre as the fire engines could not enter the streets. If the situation had not been controlled on time, it would have become a major tragedy as the area is congested,” ADFO Kartar Singh said.

Eyewitnesses said the fire started from the ground floor and engulfed the first floor where the family was residing. Some chemicals were stored inside the building which worsened the situation.



Migrants’ Health — IV
Most turn to quacks
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Lakhs of migrants may have come here to better their prospects, but in the absence of good healthcare facilities for them at hospitals, they end up going to quacks, putting their lives at risk.

As per the data available with trade unions, about 1.5 lakh workers are registered with the Employee State Insurance (ESI) hospital here while more than 7 lakh migrant workers remain unregistered. A majority of those registered are working with big companies and factories, who maintain their records, but the others depend either on the employer or quacks for treatment.

A large number of them suffer from skin ailments and respiratory problems. A trade union leader, Ramesh Rattan, said even at the ESI hospital or dispensaries, there was not enough staff and adequate medicines. “Even then, the hospital provides several basic facilities to the migrants and are better than quacks, but what about the migrants who are not covered under the ESI scheme?” he asked.

Feroz, a labourer from Bihar and a resident of Muslim Colony here, has been suffering from serious respiratory problems. When he sought his employer’s help, he was told to go back to his village and rest, else he may spread the infection to others, Feroz said, adding that earlier he was suffering from infection, but now he had been rendered jobless as well.

The average working period of any labourer is between 18 and 40 years. Those working at dyeing, rubber, electroplating and polishing units are more prone to skin and respiratory ailments.

“They look weak and have no stamina by the time they reach the age of 40. Most employers don’t care about hygienic working conditions, as a result, the workers end up having serious health issues,” Rattan added.



Marriage becoming visa ticket for rich
Exploiting intelligent girls from poor families

Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 14
Rich families here have been using marriage to settle their wards illegally in foreign countries, including Australia.

Exploiting provisions of student-spouse visas, rich families have been sending their poorly qualified sons by organising fake marriage with intelligent student-visa-holder girls from poor families.

All expenses, including fee and travel, are borne by boys’ families. The trend has come to light due to disputes arising due to alleged betrayal.

Investigations have revealed that a large number of families, including those of traders and farmers, have sent their sons to foreign countries by ‘sponsoring’ the studies of some intelligent, but poor, girls and organising their fake marriages.

With intent to settle his son Harvinder Singh in Australia, Harbans Singh of Dehliz Khurad had agreed to pay for the studies of a girl from the Kutba Bazar area of Raikot on the condition of their marriage.

A travel agent from Dasaundha Singh Wala village had reportedly mediated in the deal. The girl got admission to a course in Melbourne in 2008.

She had taken Harvinder along as her spouse, but he refused to pay an instalment of 4,500 dollars to her college recently.

Feeling cornered in a foreign country, she lodged a complaint against Harvinder at the Indian embassy in Australia.

Coming to the rescue of his daughter, her father had also lodged a complaint against the boy’s family at the local police station.

An application was later filed when Harbans gave an undertaking to deposit two instalments in Seema’s account at a foreign bank.

Maninder Singh of Malaudh village had migrated to Australia on the basis of a student-spouse visa, allegedly acquired after a fake marriage with an MBA student from Dhuri.

Living separately in Australia, Maninder and his wife had planned journeys to India in a manner that substantiated their marital relationship.



Blockage of Sewerage
Residents protest against MC authorities
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 14
Residents of ward Nos. 7 and 8 of the Agwar Lopon area today protested against the municipal council for its inability to properly manage the sewerage system.

Sewage had inundated streets of the wards after the sewerage system choked in the area.

Residents, especially students and women found it hard to move in and out of the inundated streets.

The ongoing traffic added to their problem as speeding vehicles smudged their clothes with dirty water on the street.

The protesters, largely comprising women of the area, raised slogans against municipal councillors Satish Kumar Pappu and Daljit Kaur and blocked traffic on the road for over two hours.

They also raised slogans against council president Baldev Krishan Dheer.

They rued that sewage had entered houses and the council had done nothing to mitigate their problem. Streets had become a breeding ground for mosquito larvae, they added.

Also, water supply to residences was getting contaminated and residents were suffering from many ailments, they added.

The residents alleged that at least three persons had died due to water contamination.

They said in spite of numerous complaints, no one had addressed their problem and the area remained neglected.

The sewage of the two wards is accumulated in a nearby pond but due to some obstruction in its path the flow of sewage had been obstructed.

Executive officer Bhushan Kumar Rana along with the president and other officials reached the area and pacified the agitators by assuring action. They later got the obstruction in the sewerage removed.

The MC president said they would take action against those responsible for raising obstructions in the sewerage and said appropriate action would be taken against the guilty.



Govt eyes chunks of prime LIT land
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 14
After virtually losing one of its big chunks of prime land (7.33 acre) on the Pakhowal Road, which the municipal corporation proposes to mortgage with the housing and urban development corporation to obtain a loan for expansion of water supply and sewerage network in the city, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) seems to have woken up to the idea of properly utilising or disposing of various pockets of vacant land in various trust colonies.

In fact, the state government has been eyeing several chunks of land belonging to the LIT for quite some time now, and some of the prime pockets of land have already been transferred to different departments or are in the process of being given away in gross violation of the Punjab Town Improvement Act.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that at 29 chunks of land with a total area of over 25 acre are lying vacant in different schemes of the trust.

If put to the purpose for which the land had been earmarked in the respective town planning (TP) schemes, the total land can yield around Rs 200 crore to the LIT. The amount thus generated can be well spent for better maintenance of existing schemes or carving out new residential and commercial schemes.

While most vacant pieces of land in different colonies of the LIT were meant to be used for community purposes and utilities like schools, health centres, petrol stations, hotels and commercial centres, neither the LIT officials nor the state government had bothered to initiate steps for proper and lawful disposal of these chunks of land.

Whenever the state government finds itself in need of land for any purpose, it chooses to get the trust land transferred for purposes other than those originally mentioned in the TP scheme.

During the past few years, the LIT was made to part with many chunks of land that had been transferred to the MC or PUDA.

A piece of land measuring 2.10 acre was in the process of being transferred to department of cultural affairs for setting up Ishmeet Memorial Music Academy while proposals were in the pipeline for providing three chunks of land to the Punjab police, which include 2.27 acre in Maharishi Balmiki Nagar for DIG residence, 5,382 sq yd in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar for construction of a police station and one acre in Model Town Extension Part II for police station.

LIT chairman Ashok Juneja said plans were afoot for utilisation and disposal of vacant or built-up properties of the trust very soon.

“We are in the process of issuing a public notice for open auction of 23 vacant or built-up commercial sites in Model Town Extension, Rajguru Nagar, Maharishi Balmiki Nagar and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar.”

Besides, process had been initiated for undertaking other projects for construction of residential flats, shop-cum-flats or shop-cum-offices at some other vacant pockets of land in the near future, he added.



20 villages pledge against female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 14
Panchayats of 20 villages, along with gurdwara committees and youth clubs of the respective villages, got together and pledged to fight against female foeticide and growing menace of drug addiction amongst youth during a seminar organised at Daad village here yesterday.

The seminar was orgnised by Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle at a gurdwara, in which 20 villages falling in the vicinity of Pakhowal took part.

The village panchayats also decided to boycott the “kudimaar” (girl killer) villages, if the sex ratio in these villages was found to be skewed.

They pledged that they would not marry their children in villages that killed female children in womb.

“We will not make matches with boys and girls of ‘girl killer’ villages. This is our resolve,” was the punch line of sarpanch Sukhdeep Singh.

He spoke about growing cases of female foeticide in the state. “Girls are our fortune. We need to understand that,” he said adding that the city and its surrounding towns were also contributing to the menace.

He added that panchayats should step in and discourage the sale of medical drugs that were sold by chemists unabatedly in villages.

He also said panchayats should take a pledge to fight against drug peddling.

DSP Sadar Narinder Singh said the society was running against time and timely actions were necessary to root out such evils from society.

Jails minister Hira Singh Gabria also spoke about the practice of killing female foetus.



Gravelly stretch harries motorists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
A small stretch on the RK road in Industrial Area demands a careful driving, as stones scattered on the road have become a major cause of inconvenience to motorists.

The dust raised by vehicular movement the road not only harries riders but also walkers.

Sheena Mehta, a passerby, rued, “For the past many days condition of the road is like this and I don't understand why the MC officials have turned a blind eye to the problem. Even after paying a huge sum to the civic body in form of taxes, we have to face inconvenience.”

Her husband Ramesh, who works in a bank, said, “One can be careful while driving during a day, but at night it becomes really risky. I often see scooters and bikes skidding on this stretch, but it seems no one is bothered. In fact, even the area municipal councillor is of no use.”

Naresh Uttam, a resident, said, “It's basically a commercial area and heavy vehicles like trailers often pass through so the condition of the roads is like this.” Lashing out at quality of roads, he said, “When normal roads are in bad conditions, how can one expect commercial areas to have good roads.”

He added that if the MC could not maintain the city’s infrastructure, then there was no requirement of the department.



Violence Fallout
Migrant workers head home; industry worried
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 14
The mob violence and police repression against migrant workers in the city, and consequent sense of insecurity among them, has sent hordes of migrants packing back home with the result that working and production of a large number of industrial units has been seriously hit.

Claiming that nearly half the skilled and unskilled migrant workforce has either gone back to their native places or is in the process of doing so, the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association (APMA) has called for effective steps to restore confidence and sense of security among migrant workers and their family members.

Gurpargat Singh Kahlon, president of the APMA, said unless migrant workers felt safe and secure, which was for the state government and the administration to ensure, the industrial units could not run smoothly.

“Any loss in production and hampering of operations due to non-availability of workers at this stage will cripple the industry, especially small and tiny units that are already reeling under the impact of global meltdown and recession.”

Condemning the senseless acts of violence and the role of the district and police administration, Ranjodh Singh, secretary of the association, suspected the hand of vested interest who wanted to disturb the peaceful atmosphere and working of industry in the state.

“Whoever is responsible for these unsavoury developments must be exposed and brought to book. At the same time, the administration, specifically the police, has to bring about a change in its attitude towards the migrant population.”

The APMA functionaries urged the state government and the police top brass to revamp the police bandobust in industrial belts of the city to effectively curb recurrence of such incidents in future and to inculcate a sense of security and safety among migrants.

“There is a dire need to intensify police patrolling, set up police pickets at different places and make the police responsive and sensitive to the problems of the city’s population, especially migrants.”



School managements flout board norms
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 14
Despite apparently strict attitude adopted by the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) authorities regarding payment of salary to their staff through account payee cheques, owners and management committees of these schools have invented novel ways of window-dressing to befool the authorities.

Though management committees of all private affiliated schools, barring 187 odd schools, affiliation of which has been withdrawn, have submitted affidavits confirming compliance of directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, large number of them was allegedly paying old emoluments to their staff.

The staff members, dominantly teachers, though disappointed over temporary tide of crisis from their employers, preferred to oblige their masters by facilitating the window-dressing. While some of the teachers were waiting for their appointments in governments schools, other felt insecure in case they opened mouth against their management committees.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that majority of owners and management committees of private unaided schools affiliated with the PSEB had allegedly befooled the authorities by adopting novel methods of window-dressing for paying salary to their employees.

Though almost all the employees shown on payroll were issued crossed account payee cheques for salary according to guidelines of the government, very few were being paid the actual amount.

“They do issue cheques for higher amount but do not allow us withdraw the amount from our accounts. Instead they take blank cheques signed on both sides for enabling our clerk withdraw money from our accounts,” said a teacher posted at private school at nearby town at Malaudh in Ludhiana district. He disclosed that staff members were paid salary between Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500 depending upon the experience and subject taught.

Teachers were not allowed to take their passbooks and chequebooks to their homes.

Acting still smarter, owners of some schools withdraw surplus amounts from accounts of members of their staff through ATM cards.

“We do not mind being paid lower than prescribed salary. But what pains us most is that our owners do not trust us that we will return extra amount being paid through cheque. Though we are proud holders of ATM cards of a nationalised bank, we are not allowed to keep them,” anguished a teacher. Sealed envelops containing their passwords were also opened by the owners of the school.

Pay bills of majority of these schools exceed the amount of fee collected on any month of the academic year except April, in which annual charges were collected. Donations by anonymous donors were also being shown in balance sheets.



Private affiliated schools closed today, tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 14
Terming the move of cancellation of affiliation of 187 schools by the Punjab School Education Board as a dictatorial one, a majority of private affiliated schools here have decided to keep schools closed on December 15 and 16 as a mark of protest.

The schools have come out in support of the protest being launched by the Recognised Affiliated Schools Association.

The local Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School is among the 187 schools whose affiliation has been cancelled by the school board.

Principal Manjushaw Vinayak, when contacted, said this was a blunder on the part of the board as it had submitted essential documents, adding that the school might have to pay heavily for the lapse on the part of the school board authorities.

“Earlier our school was a high school and had been affiliated since long. In 2006, we tried to get it upgraded it to the secondary level. Due to some problems, we decided to keep it till the higher secondary level.

“The school whose affiliation has been cancelled is no longer being run by us. We had completed the formalities and the school board had noted it down. We pay salaries to staff through cheque since 2007. How can there be any lapse from our side?

“We were astonished to find our name on the list. We immediately met the school board authorities in their regard. They assured us that that it was a mistake on their part and they would do the needful as early as possible,” she added.

On the other side, Jatinder Sharma, Shakti Public School principal, said the school would be closed to protest against the authoritative attitude of the school board.

He objected to the formation of a committee to look into the records maintained by schools at the time of examinations, terming it as undue interference which would hamper academic work.

He condemned the technical lapse on the part of the school board, which had failed to check the submission of documents by the school.

He warned that they would not tolerate the undue interference of the school board and face harassment.



Snag hits PAU’s weather monitor
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Punjab Agriculture University’s endeavour to provide latest weather updates to city residents round the clock seems to have failed miserably. The electronic weather monitor put up at gate number 2 of the university has stopped functioning in less than six months of it being installed.

Interestingly, the university, which has been facing severe fund crunch since a very long time and has no funds even to pay off the salaries and pensions of the staff, had provided Rs 2.75 lakh for the monitor which was procured from a Kerala-based private company. The funds for the same were given by the director (research), PAU.

The electronic panel was put by the agrometeorology department of the PAU for weather monitoring and to display the weather report round the clock, along with the details of the maximum as well as minimum temperatures, relative humidity and the amount of rainfall.

The initiative was the brainchild of head of the agrometeorology department Dr GS Bains, who had got the monitor installed at PAU gate number 2, which also happens to be the city centre, with an aim that maximum number of city residents and passers-by can take advantage from it and know the latest weather updates.

When contacted, the university officials expressed ignorance about the fact that the monitor had been non-functional for the past many days.



College echoes with verse
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
The campus of the alma mater one of the greatest poets of all time, Sahir Ludhianvi, reverberated with verses in Urdu, Sanskrit and Hindi this evening.

Poets from various parts of the country were present at the SD Government College for Men here to participate in a ‘kavi sammelan’.

The event, organised by the Hindi Sahitya Parishad, saw prominent names in poetry, including Buddhinath Mishra, Uday Bhanu Hans, Sardar Panchhi, Indu Verma, Lakshmi Shankar Vajpayee, Deepti Mishra, Shakuntala Srivastava and Ajit Parihar, sharing their experiences in the form of verses and ghazals with students and staff of the college.

The auditorium came alive as each poet, one after the other, took to stage and recited their spell-binding poetry.

Be it 83-year-old Hans or young and dynamic Deepti, who came from Mumbai to be a part of it, each poet cast a spell with beautiful poems, mesmerising those present.

Students of the college were overwhelmed.

The poets were honoured by the Hindi Sahitya Parishad. Dr Joshi, a former professor of Sanskrit, was also present.



From Schools & Colleges
Kids show talent at fun carnival
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Little Blossoms Pre School organised a Kids’ Fun Carnival in which kids from 0 to 15 years of age participated. More than 350 children took part in various competitions in different age groups. The logo at the carnival was “Kids Rule the World”.

Kids were provided with a stage to come forward and show their talent. There were different competitions like healthy baby contest (0 to 5 years in five age groups). Judges included Dr Lovi Lekhi, Lekhi Hospital, Dr Sanjeev Gupta, paediatric surgeon at Deep Hospital and Dr HS Saini, Deepak Hospital.

Other competitions included a dance and fancy dress competition, poem recitation, talent hunt, painting and colouring contest. In declamation contest, children gave a message on global warming and climate change.

The school arranged free rides for participants like elephant ride, horse ride, air bouncy, other fun rides like merry-go-round and helicopter. A magic show and a puppet show were also organised for the kids, along with a kids’ play zone where tiny tots had crafts and colouring fun.

CARNIVAL: Cherry Lane Play School organised a Carnival of Joy here today. It was an educative and a fun filled event. Various rooms were set up with different themes like Christmas room, doctor’s room, nature and environment room. Activities like dances, games, salad making were also held for kids.



‘India must maintain food quality’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
Ensuring safety of food is of paramount importance in North America and one has to pass through stringent quality tests, said Dr Prabal K Ghosh, senior scientist, Food Development Center (FDC), Manitoba, Canada, on his visit to Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) to explore possibilities of cooperation.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Ghosh said Canada had very high quality standards for food and they were even more stringent than the US. “A lot of care is given in maintaining hygiene in production and packaging,” he said, adding they had also clear guidelines about labelling of products. “If some laxity is found on quality, the company is supposed to call back whole lot from market.”

Talking on changes taking place in the market, Dr Ghosh said food industry was changing with demand and nature of customers. “Factors like growing population and shifting wealth to developing nations are affecting food industry.”

He said Indian food industry should also maintain high standards for ensuring quality at all stages of production. He revealed that FDC had already entered into various areas of cooperation with India by entering into a memorandum of understanding (MoU).

CIPHET director RT Patil said so far India was processing very less quantity of food. “But, we cannot copy western style of production as our requirements are different,” he said, adding that India had no shortage food.

“While India has 17 per cent of the world’s population, we have mostly 20 per cent of production share in fruits and vegetables of the world,” he added. Dr MR Manikantam, scientist, CIPHET, coordinated the talks.



New science block at school
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 14
The Punjab government is committed to the improvement of schooling in Punjab and the uplift of rural areas.

This was stated by Manpreet Singh Ayali, Ludhiana zila parishad chairman, yesterday while addressing a gathering at the Government Senior Secondary School at Bhundri.

He was here to inaugurate the medical and non-medical block of the school, developed at a cost of Rs 35 lakh.

Eight classrooms and state-of-the-art science laboratories had been built. Students of about 50 villages of the area would be benefitted.

He assured the starting of science classes from the next session and the filling up of vacant posts of teacher.

He said 175 villages in the district would be provided with potable water at a cost of Rs 55 crore.

Ayali announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for village development, besides the repairs of the village hospital and the strengthening of the road connecting Gorsian village.



Needy kids given woollens, shoes
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 14
A total of 100 needy students of the secondary school at Jatana village were given woollens and shoes by the Guru Amar Das Trust, Ludhiana, today.

Dr Naurang Singh Mangat, chief sevadar of the trust, said helping students incapable of fulfilling their needs due to penury was their moral responsibility and the trust had been helping them in its own way.

Principal Maya Devi and senior lecturer Jagdev Singh said the trust understood the requirements of the rural poor, who had been facing a lot of difficulties in sending their children to school. Sarpanch Bikramjit Singh Mangat and other villagers expressed their gratitude towards the members of the trust.



Health dept in action after 3 H1N1 deaths
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Khanna, December 14
Health officials swung into action and local residents started taking precautions after three deaths due to H1N1 influenza were reported in the town in the past few days.

Dentist Gautam Punj and his NRI mother Saroj died of swine flu in Ludhiana and Paramjit Kaur of the Amloh road died in Chandigarh this week.

Doctors at the civil hospital here said they were yet to receive any official communiqué to confirm Paramjit’s death due to swine flu.

Members of Paramjit’s family, almost all patients of the dentist and and members of the Punj family had been given medicines.

Efforts were on to trace more contacts of Paramjit so that medicines could be given to them. A nodal officer had been appointed to see cases of swine flu here.

A team of doctors had also been constituted to monitor cases of influenza in different urban and rural areas.

Health officials said the dentist could have came in contact with the virus through his mother, who had recently returned from England.

Paramjit belonged to a poor family and had been residing with her husband and two children. It was not clear how she came in contact with the virus.

Doctors said people were continuously being sensitised about the virus through advertisements and meetings.

Anyone having cough, body ache, cold or vomitting should get himself examined immediately at the local civil hospital and crowded public gatherings should be ignored as a precautionary measure.



Reporters' Diary
Despite dangers, track-crossing on the rise

Even though everyone is aware of the grave risks in crossing railway tracks people still do not think twice before taking such a dangerous shortcut that can cut their life short. Though crossing a rail track is an offence numerous people can be seen committing it unchecked despite the fact that many have lost their limbs and even their lives in the process. Occasionally the railway police books some violators but the practice continues and appears to have become even more prevalent.

Dealing with unwelcome calls

Mobile phones have become indispensable these days. However, to avoid unwanted calls people often store interesting names like ‘sirdard’ (headache), disprin and ‘bach-jao’ into their phones, which flash when these calls come in. Even more interesting is when spouses call up names like ‘darling’, ‘guggu’, ‘home-sweet-home’ and ‘janeman’ appear, which gives one an idea of the caller’s personality.

However, what came as a shock was that some men had stored names like ‘boring’, ‘tension’ and ‘ufff’ on their cellphones whenever they got calls from their wives. When asked about the reason, one such person clarified, "My wife doesn’t let me work in office. Even if there is a minor problem she’ll quickly ring me up on my mobile rather than trying to handle it herself. ‘Tension’ appears on my phone screen whenever I get a call from her, and she herself doesn’t object to this!” he said in a lighter vein.

Migrants’ exodus only due to panic?

The recent violence in the city was no doubt one of the major factors behind the widespread panic among migrant workers, which triggered their exodus. However, that is definitely not the sole reason why sizeable number of workers from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have opted to go back home. The city’s industrialists and businessmen, who are shedding crocodile tears and pleading for providing security to the migrants are more or less themselves to blame for the mess they now find themselves in.

In hiring migrant workers, they not only get cheap and reliable labour but also exploit them to the hilt. Payment of low wages, denial of healthcare, bonus and gratuity are rampant and the workers have no security net to fall back on. On top of it all, centrally sponsored schemes like NAREGA have generated a large number of employment opportunities for the rural population, which have made the migrants look towards their own states. Now the shoe is on the other foot!

Lure of Punjabi food strong

'Sarson-ka-sag' and 'makki-ki-roti' has emerged as delicacies not only among urbanites but rural inhabitants too. Specially organised Punjabi ‘dhabas’ set up at weddings and other social gatherings attract such a large number of guests that items prepared for dinner and lunch go waste in huge quantities. The temptation to eat traditional Punjabi dishes is so severe that very rarely people decline invitation for lunch or dinner in case the guest promises to serve ‘sag’ and ‘makki di roti’. The winter season has also promoted the trend of informal sharing of food without any prior invitation. In offices where colleagues take food sitting together, bowls containing ‘sag’ become empty before of all other containers.

This reporter could not stop writing this piece after he came to know that a police team searching a village house for contraband had taken away a cooking utensil carrying cooked ‘sag’ with them! The cops had to wait for another half an hour while female family members of the alleged drug peddler prepared some ‘makki ki rotis’ for them.

Infectiousness of weddings

Someone has rightly said "weddings are so warm that they make you feel like having one set for yourself". The saying was proved right recently when a diehard supporter of the single state and a staunch bachelor, who had been evading marriage for a long time despite the best efforts of his family, attended a series of weddings in his friend circle. The ambience, pre-wedding functions and rituals, family gatherings, all the songs and dances that precede an ostentatious Punjabi wedding, besides beautifully dressed girls, all decked up for the occasion, sent the not-so-young man into a sudden frenzy, making him rush to his mom and ask her to fix his wedding as soon as possible.

As expected, the mother was quick to grab the surprising but golden opportunity. Without wasting much time, she found a suitable girl for her son and, within what seemed like the blink of an eye, had him married. A week after his wedding the now happily married man was heard mumbling about the lavish wedding set up that led even a staunch bachelor like him to fall prey to matrimony. Such is the lure of the fat Indian wedding!

Pining for the chaos back home

Recently, my younger brother, who lives in New Zealand was talking to me over the phone and made a strange demand that took me by surprise: He told me to blow the horn of my vehicle. I asked him the reason for his odd request, to which he replied, "I’m sick of this country - everything here is so organised. People stand in queues and no one pushes other from behind and no one drops a name of a politician or influential politician to get work done."

My brother went on to say: "Ever since I arrived here I’ve not witnessed any road rage. Motorists don’t even honk! I come from a city in India, which is full of filth and where garbage is littered everywhere. Where people love dropping names, mentioning their political and police connections. Where people love to flaunt their money. A city of glaring contrast, where the majority of people work hard to ensure two square meals while, on the other hand, there are a few who organise big fat weddings on which they spend crores of rupees without a thought." He ended by saying there everything was organized there in New Zealand, which made that country a “boring” place. We had a hearty laugh.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev, Shivani Bhakoo, Kuldip Bhatia, Mahesh Sharma, Charu Chhibber, Mohit Khanna



Power board to gift CFLs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 14
The PSEB would gift four CFLs to all households in the state. This was stated by GS Sran, member generation, PSEB, who said power consumption was multiplying and if steps were not taken to check it, it would be disastrous by 2050.

He was addressing a seminar organised by the board in collaboration with the Punjab Energy Development Authority on the occasion of energy day at the PAU.

The director of PEDA, Balaur Singh, discussed ways of saving electricity. Prof Kirpal Singh, Punjab Youth Forum office-bearer, assured that his outfit would help the government in ensuring that CFLs were given to all houses by January-end.

Students from various schools presented skits on the conservation of energy.

The chairman of the PSEB stayed away from the seminar although he was the chief guest. Activists of the joint forum of employees of the PSEB were protesting against the privatisation of the board with black flags. They stood outside the PAU gate, anticipating the chairman’s arrival.



Four couples tie knot

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 14
A function was organised under the aegis of the Bose Society for the Blind and the Shree Ram Sharnam at the Shree Ram Mandi Dharamsala here yesterday.

Four couples from various sections of society tied the knot. Jagdish Singh Garcha, a former SAD minister, was the chief guest. Besides arranging a party, the organisers presented gifts to the couples. The gifts included jewellery, LPG cylinders, clothes and furniture. Among those present were Tarsem Sharma, Pardeep Sethi, Bimal Sharma, Ravinder Puri, Bhagwant Singh and Harinder Singh. — OC



Two held with psychotropic drugs
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, December 14
The Ludhiana rural police arrested two persons for possessing psychotropic drugs on Friday. In the first case, Devinder Singh, alias Bhinda, of Johalan Road, Raikot, was intercepted by a police team at the local Johalan Chowk.

During search, 29 bottles of Rexcof were seized from his possession.

In another case, the Dakha police arrested Kulwinder Singh of Mullanpur Mandi at the railway crossing and seized 20 capsules of Parvon and 24 capsules of Proxivon from his possession.

Cases under Sections 21, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act have been registerd.



CBSE Basketball Meet
BCM eves thrash Bathinda school
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 14
Hosts BCM Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh road, overwhelmed Police Public School, Bathinda, 46-12 to record their second victory in the girls’ (u-19) category of the ongoing CBSE National Basketball Championship played here today.

The main architects of BCM School’s win were Deepali and Vandna who chipped in with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

For the losing side, Ramandeep Kaur and Manpreet Kaur tried to wage a battle against the local girls but failed. They scored five and four baskets, respectively, only to reduce the victory margin.

In the second match, PSHBB School, Chennai, outclassed DPS, Numaligarh, 24-5.

Tanvi and Varsha netted four baskets each for the winners while Chenny with three points was the lone notable scorer.

In another match, New Way Senior Secondary School, Lucknow, had to toil to down Chirec Public School, Hyderabad, 40-31.

The main contributor for Lucknow outfit was Swarnima, who scored 27 points.

The fourth match of the day was played between Modern School, Kota (Rajasthan), and DAV School, Jharkhand, in which the former romped home winners 43-9 with main contributions from Saniji who scored 11points.

New Era Senior Secondary School, Vadodara, beat Amity International School, Noida, 39-20.

Dimpi with 18 points excelled for the winners, while Niduhsi Kocher secured eight points for Noida.

In the sixth encounter, Spring Dale Public School, Amritsar, survived some anxious moments against Daly College, Indore, before emerging victors 32-24.

Kawalpreet Kaur played the pivotal role for the winners with 20 points.

Apeejay School, Jalandhar, too faced resistance from SD Public School, Jagadhari, before coming out triumphant 51-35.

The main contributor in Jalandhar’s outfit victory was Harmanpreet Kaur who netted 19 baskets, while Aakeriti scored 18 points for the losing side.

New Way Senior Secondary School, Lucknow, faced a little challenge from rivals Police Public School, Bathinda, whom they drubbed 34-3.

Swarnima Singh chipped in with 13 points for the winners while the lone scorer for Bathinda was Ramanpreet who scored two points.

In another low-scoring match, Yugantar Public School, Jharkhand, beat Venkteshwar International School, Delhi, 27-13.

In yet another one-sided match, Moti Lal Nehru School, Sonipat, outwitted Indian High School, Dubai, 49-19. Banti scored 17 points for the winners.

In the penultimate match of the day, Chettinad Vidyashram, Chennai defeated DPS, Sharjah, 38-19.

Keerthana scored 12 points for Chennia and Shruthi K pressed hard with 16 points for the losing side.

Spring Dale Public School, Amritsar, registered second win of the day when they outplayed National Hill View School, Bangalore, 49-17.

The main contributor for the winners was Kawalpreet Kaur who netted 29 points.

Satyanand Munjal, co-chairman of Hero Cycles Limited, and MR Mehta, principal of BCM School, Focal Point branch, were the guests of honour today.



CBSE volleyball meet begins
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, December 14
The CBSE National Under-19 Volleyball Tournament began at Gobindgarh Public School grounds today. It was inaugurated by CBSE deputy secretary IS Wadhwa.

As many as 61 teams comprising boys and girls from all over India and four teams from Gulf states are participating in the tournament.

Participating teams, coaches, staff and students were present at the ceremony.

The sporting event is the first of its kind in the district. The finals will be held on December 18.

Results: Girls: SBS Mootha Girls Senior Secondary School, Chennai, beat St Xavier’s Senior Secondary School, Jaipur, 2-0; Thakur Dass Senior Secondary School, Hisar, beat Shri Ramswaroop Memorial Public School, Lucknow, 2-0; SGGS Collegiate Public School, Chandigarh, beat Delhi Public School, Assam 2-0; Green Field Public School, Ghaziabad, beat The Indian High School, Dubai, 2-0; St Joseph’s Convent Senior Secondary School, Bhopal, beat Apeejay School, Navi Mumbai, 2-0; Sant Isher Singh Ji Memorial Public School, Rara Sahib, Ludhiana, beat St John’s Higher Secondary School, Andhra Pradesh, 2-0.

Boys: SN Vidya Bhavan Senior Secondary School, Trissur, beat Indian Islahi Islamic School, Abu Dhabi, 2-0; Green Field Public School, Ghaziabad, beat Police DAV Public School, Police Lines, Amritsar, 2-1; Atomic Energy Central School, Indore, beat Guru Nanak Mission Public School, Paonta Sahib 2-0; Bokaro Ispat Vidyalaya, Bokaro, beat Ram Ratna Vidya Mandir, Thane, 2-1; Sharada Vidyalaya, Mangalore, beat Kola Saraswathi Vaishnav Senior Secondary School, Chennai, 2-0; Pooja Modern Public School, Pipli, beat Kaziranga English Academy, Guwahati, 2-0.



Badminton team felicitated

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 14
Members of the badminton team of Shanti Tara College that brought laurels to their institute by fetching third position in Inter-College Open Badminton Championship organised at Physical College of Education Bhagomajra were felicitated by the management committee yesterday. Jagdip Singh and Jatinder Singh were felicitated for being selected for an inter-varsity camp. Anil Kumar, Om Deep Singh, Mohammad Ashiq and Shahid Blak were also recognised. — OC



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