L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Chaos, adjournment mark MC House meeting
Agenda approved ‘haphazardly’ in less than 10 minutes
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The much-awaited General House meeting of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) witnessed chaotic scenes today, with councillors of both parties bickering and levelling allegations against each other.

Proceedings had to be stalled by Mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura and Commissioner AK Sinha when councillors tried to turn it into a “political battlefield” rather than a platform for discussing vital issues concerning the city.

Despite time being provided for members to calm down, the general house was adjourned for about half an hour after which the agenda was approved “haphazardly” in not more than 10 minutes by one-third members (most of them belonging to SAD/BJP).

A few them were not even present at the meeting.

The meeting started on a positive note, with Akali councillor welcoming the newly appointed Leader of Opposition (Congress) Hem Raj Aggarwal. Everything went smoothly for about 45 minutes with both parties raising objections and difference of opinion. On many issues, both party councillors were of same opinion, which was appreciated by all.

As soon as senior Congress councillor Amrit Varsha Rampal started talking on illegal hoardings/unipoles at Sarabha Nagar Market (councillor’s area) and pointed out that the nine-member committee had done nothing for the removal of illegal hoardings, Akali councillor Gurdeep Singh Neetu and Harbhajan Singh Dang objected to Rampal’s allegations. Rampal said, “The committee has failed to bring desirable results till date. It should be dissolved”.

On the statement of councillor, Neetu and Harbhajan Singh Dang raised objections. Heated arguments were exchanged between both councillors on the particular issue. Situation went out of the control when another Congress councillor Rakesh Kumar, while trying to intervene, asked Akali councillors not to behave like “terrorists” and respect views put forth by the woman.

Infuriated to be termed as “terrorists”, Akali councillors raised their voice and asked particular councillor to go out of the meeting hall. They refused to continue with the proceedings till Rakesh Kumar felt “sorry”. The police had to intervene so as to prevent the situation from taking

an ugly turn. Leader of Opposition Hem Raj Aggarwal also tried to pacify Akali councillors but to no avail. On being pressurised by Congress councillors, Rakesh Kumar ultimately felt sorry.

Once again, the proceedings of the meeting started but the oldest Congress councillor Pritpal Singh “Ghayal” raised voice against Akali councillors over some issue to which Akalis raised objection in a rude manner. Again, there were arguments and seeing no positive outcome; the Mayor finally stalled the general house. Congress councillors walked out of the House. The agenda was, however, “approved” once meeting was resumed after 30 minutes.

New Road Names

  • Fountain Chowk Road will be called Jain Acharya Shrimad Vijay Vallabh Road
  • Fountain Chowk to Old Court Road will be called Lala Lajpat Rai Road
  • Sherpur road will be renamed Vidya Sagar Oswal Road
  • Road going from the UCPMA to Basant Park will now be called Shaheed Khushi Ram Sharma Road
  • Dandi Swami - DMC Road now becomes Mittersain Gupta Road
  • Ferozpur Road to Sarabha Nagar Durga Mata Mandir Road will be named Choudhary Sat Prakash Road


Boy ‘vanishes’ from police custody, residents protest
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Residents of the city’s Shivpuri area today staged a protest outside the division no 4 police station after an 11-year-old boy belonging to the locality “disappeared” from police custody under mysterious circumstances.

ASI Karnail Singh of the police station was suspended for illegally detaining Vikram following a complaint filed by the boy's employer, residing in Shivpuri.

A few days back the employer’s tenant, Hari Ram, had brutally beaten up Vikram after accusing him of having stolen the former’s mobile phone on April 7. Thereafter Vikram was handed over to the ASI who took the boy to the division no 4 police station.

Vikram’s relatives immediately went to the police station and requested the official on duty to release the boy but to no avail. However, the relatives were in for a shock when Karnail, whom they contacted on April 8, told them the boy had “fled” from police custody.

Vikram’s local guardian, Shatrudhan, immediately called up the former’s father, Rudal Rai, in his village, Sirsia Bazar, in Bihar.

Said Rai: “I’m a rickshaw puller in Jagadhari and had gone to Bihar to help in harvesting the crop. However, I immediately rushed to Ludhiana after getting the news of my son’s disappearance. Vikram’s mother has been inconsolable ever since she heard the news.”

“Vikram is a hard working and honest boy who had come to Ludhiana 25 days ago in order to earn money so that he could help in easing our family’s financial burden.

He will be found soon: Cops

ADCP Harsh Kumar Bansal assured the boy's father as well as the residents of Shivpuri locality that the boy would be recovered very soon. "We have already sent three search teams to look for the missing boy and have also issued an arrest warrant for Hari Ram, who beat up the boy.


Guardian smells a rat

Shatrudhan, Vikram’s local guardian, told The Tribune he was certain there was “something more” to the boy’s "disappearance". “He couldn't have run off on his own as he was new to the city. He would have definitely tried to contact me had he fled from police custody. The fact that he has not even reached his village makes the situation more worrisome," he said.


Party activists threaten stir

A delegation of the Bhartiya Communist Party led by DP Maur, Kuldip Singh Binder and Arun Mitra, called upon the police to find the missing boy at soon as possible. The party activists said if the boy was not recovered soon the party would initiate a protest.



PSEB Strike
Uninterrupted power supply maintained
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 16
On the second day of the two-day strike by the technical and non-technical employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) against the government’s decision of unbundling the board and replacing it with two companies, there was an eerie silence among agitating employees. The PSEB engineers and non-gazetted employees, who had not joined the strike, were, meanwhile, in high spirits.

Senior PSEB officials claimed that uninterrupted supply was maintained throughout the central zone, including the city, and there was no major snag in the transmission and distribution network.

Most complaint centres at the PSEB offices had skeletal staff, which had been hired from other government departments or licensed electrical contractors. Some cash counters, including those in the city (West) division (Civil Lines) and GT Road, were functional and a large number of consumers paid their energy bills despite regular staff being on strike.

According to the joint forum of the PSEB unions, a rally was also held at the city central division to oppose the government’s move. It was learnt that all prominent trade union leaders and functionaries of the forum were huddled in Chandigarh to chalk out the further course of action.

"Though the government has made a statement that there is no threat to employment, service conditions and monetary benefits to the employees of the now disbanded PSEB, we will not take this assurance at its face value. The employees will be reassured only after a tripartite agreement is signed among the government, the companies proposed to be set up and the employee unions regarding the continuation of the presently available benefits,” said a trade union leader.

The police was there at all the PSEB offices, sub-stations and other installations to keep miscreants at bay.



Board asks unit to restrict operation
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The zonal office of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) in its order dated April 5, 2010, has asked M/s Satguru Parshad Fabrications, Chander Vihar, Chander Nagar, to operate their unit from 8 am to 6 pm only as it was violating the provisions of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981 and was also operating from a residential area.

In its order No. 1603 issued on April 5 (a copy of which is with The Tribune), senior environmental engineer, on behalf of the PPCB chairman has further directed the unit not to operate DG set without providing a canopy with it. The board also mentioned it clearly that the particular industry had not applied for the “consent to operate” and was doing so “illegally”.

The action has been taken following a complaint lodged by Ashwani Kumar, a resident of Chander Nagar, that the particular embroidery unit was creating “intolerable” noise pollution in the

residential area and was disturbing those living nearby. As per information gathered under the RTI Act by Ashwani Kumar on January 12, 2010, the industry was operating without obtaining no-objection certificate (NOC)/consent of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB). The residents complained that round-the-clock noise pollution was not just disturbing their sleep but were causing irritation and headaches to the infants and elderly people in the area.

“The recent orders have come as a relief to nearby residents. At least we will be able to get a peaceful sleep during the night”, said Ashwani Kumar.



Record: 9,994 tonnes of wheat arrives in market
Tribune News Service

Khanna, April 16
The Khanna grain market today recorded the highest wheat arrival of the season at 9,994 tonnes. The grain market has received 57,033 tonnes of wheat hitherto, as compared to last year’s 62,500 tonnes of wheat. Market committee secretary Kuldip Singh said last year about 96,766 tonnes of wheat arrived till April 30 and this year, too, the same figure was expected.

While commission agents expect this figure to soar. Kuldip added that the grain market had the capacity to store nearly 15,000 tonnes of wheat.

Several reasons, including late sowing, shortage of labour and increased prices of wheat husk can be attributed to the late arrival of wheat this year.

People adopted the process of manual harvesting at large scale, as harvesting prices increased from Rs 300 to Rs 700 per quintal.

Shortage of migrant labourers has slowed down the pace of wheat lifting from the grain market, but still nearly 55.6 per cent of the total wheat has been lifted.

About 25,290 tonnes of wheat is still lying in the market.

Commission agents rued that the labour shortage had hit the process of lifting. “We are trying to woo truckers by offering them more money. But they have refused to lift the wheat, saying that in the absence of labour they are made to wait for 24 to 72 hours for loading and unloading of the wheat,” he said.

Commission agents added that last year, too, they had to face the same problem, albeit in a lesser quantum.



Missing Land File Case
Vigilance Bureau begins probe

Ludhiana, April 16
A team of officials from the Vigilance Cell, Punjab, led by Chief Vigilance Officer AK Prabahakar today started a probe into the case of missing file of 400 square yards in the posh Rajguru Nagar locality developed by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT).

Ludhiana Tribune was the first one to report the story on April 7 about the alleged execution of conveyance deed of the prime piece of land valued at more than Rs 1 crore, in violation of the rules, and then followed up with the demand for a vigilance inquiry into the muddle by a city-based NGO, Public Cause, on April 12.

LIT chairman Ashok Juneja, who maintained that he had not accorded any approval for registration of the sale deed of this plot, held a meeting with Punjab Minister for Local Bodies Manoranjan Kalia in Chandigarh on Thursday to apprise him about the case. It was after the minister’s orders that the vigilance team swung into action.

Prabhakar said on the face of it, the sale deed appeared to have been registered in an irregular manner, especially when the LIT chairman had not given his nod. Moreover, the disappearance of the file from the trust records also confirmed the doubt that there was something which certain people were trying to hide.

“We have obtained relevant records, copies of documents related to conveyance deed of the plot. The statements of officials concerned of the trust dealing with sale deeds have also been recorded. After scrutinising the records and analysis of the available evidence, the Vigilance Cell will submit its report to the state government for further action,” the CVO stated.— OC



HP entry tax a major relief for industry
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
With a double bonanza industry in the state is in high spirits after a long time. First it was the central government’s failure to extend the industrial package for Himachal Pradesh. Now, another relief has come in the form of a tax imposed on entry of goods in that state. This includes a tax of 4 per cent on steel and 7 per cent on furnace oil, which were directly affecting auto, engineering and bicycle units in Punjab.

Till now bogus ‘challans’ of raw materials were sent to the Himachal market and, against these challans, finished products were purchased from companies without paying any tax.

Sources close to the excise & taxation and income tax departments said many big production houses were indulging in this practice. "With the imposition of entry tax this practice is bound to come to an end," they added.

With entry tax in Himachal Pradesh, bogus entries on conversion sale between Punjab and Himachal will be stopped. Before this traders used to send materials on bogus challans at nil tax to HP for manufacturing. Later they brought back the finished products to Punjab without paying tax.

Industrialists used to issue bogus challans and the materials came from HP to Punjab against these fake challans. Finished products were purchased from companies without paying any tax.



Harsh weather claims soldier’s life
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, April 16
Harsh weather in Jammu and Kashmir claimed the life of a soldier on Wednesday. His body was brought to his native Jangpur village near here and was cremated with military honours.

Sukhdev Singh (27) had joined Engineering corps 18 months ago and was posted at Kupwara. He was hospitalised for sometime, but breathed his last on April 14.

His body was sent to Jangpur village today by a team of the Engineering corps lead by Subedar AK Aiwali. A party of 21 members of the Engineering crops paid tributes.

Sukhdev was survived by his father Harchand Singh (an ex-army man), mother Jaswant Kaur, sisters Jaswinder Kaur and Sarabjit Kaur and brother Rajinder Singh, besides, his wife Mandeep Kaur.



Fire plays havoc with farmers
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 16
With the wheat harvest season already on, the reports of fire in have also started pouring in. Yesterday, about 45 acres of standing wheat crop was destroyed in a fire that took place at Salempur village near Humbran.

Besides this, about 28 acre of standing wheat crop and 5 acre of wheat straw have reportedly been destroyed in a fire at Gidderwindi and Lodhiwal villages.

The farmers are facing huge losses for no fault of theirs.

Though they might be compensated for the losses suffered by them, they have to pass through different stages of harassments.

The services of the fire department is also negligible as there is no fire station in the entire region of Raikot, Mullanpur Dakha and Jagraon except for the services provided by the Air Force fire services but that, too, is of not much help. It usually takes more than two hours for the fire tenders to reach the spot. On numerous occasions the villagers by that time had already controlled the fire.

Dev Singh of Salempur village near Humbran suffered losses after crop on 15 acre gutted, Jagdev Singh lost the crop spread over 10 acre, Baldev Singh lost 8 acres, Parminder Singh Pappu lost wheat crop spread over 8 acre and Teja Singh lost crop spread over 6 acre.

The straw spread over 6 acre each of Balwinder Singh and Manmonhan Singh and two acre straw of Harjinder Singh also was destroyed in the fire. These farmers belonged to Issewal village and had taken the agriculture land at Salempur village on contract of Rs 35,000 per acre per annum.

The wheat crop belonging to Charan Singh of Gidderwindi village near Sidhwan Bet spread over 20 acre and that of Nachhater Singh and Manjinder Singh spread over 6 acre and 2 acre, respectively, was destroyed in the fire. The total loss is estimated to be around Rs 20 lakh.



PSEB Unbundling
Dharna continues on second day
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 16
The two days strike against the unbundling of the Punjab State Electricity Board continued for the second day today. Except for the case of snag at Lakha village yesterday, that rendered more than 24 villages powerless in the Hathoor belt, no untoward incident has been reported. However, the power supply was restored wit the help of retired PSEB technicians and labourers engaged by them. The strike was, however, total with more organisations coming in the support of the PSEB employees. Representatives and the supporters of 22 farmers’ and labour organisations seized the National Highway and staged a dharna just opposite the bus stand.

The cops had sealed all entry points of the town to prevent assembly of the supporters. The traffic on this route remained suspended for over two hours.

The CPM activists blocked the road near the Harshila Palace and raised anti-government for about 30 minutes.



8 held for poppy husk peddling
Two cops among those arrested
Our Correspondent

Raikot, April 16
The Raikot and Sudhar police today arrested six members of two gangs involved in peddling of poppy husk and opium among local. Among those arrested two were posted as cops in Moga.

In the first case, the Raikot police team led by ASI Harbans Singh stopped a youth identified as Amarjeet Singh of Kalal Majra near Mehal Kalan on the basis of a tip off of counter-intelligence police of sub- office Batala. He was nabbed and his motorcycle (PB 13 Q 0892) impounded while he was trying to deliver 200 grams of opium to a buyer from near the Barnala chowk. He tried to flee but was nabbed by the cops. During interrogation he confessed having committed the crime and gave a lead regarding other members of his gang. SI Mohan Dass, in charge, Jalaldiwal police picket, barricaded the bridge of Dadahoor village canal on the Barnala road. The police party intercepted an Uno car (MH 03 JA 5091) and arrested Balwinder Singh, alias Banti, and Amandeep Singh of Kalal Majra village. It also seized 35 kg poppy husk from their possession.

In another case, the Raikot police has arrested a constable who is under suspension and recovered 1 Kg opium from his possession. A few days the Moga police under the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act nabbed ago Kuldeep Singh when he was posted for the security of Moga courts. He was arrested from near the Barnala Chowk. During his interrogation, he revealed the name of his accomplices one of which again was a police cop. Acting on the tip given by Kuldeep Singh, the Sudhar police nabbed another constable Balwinder Singh from near the bridge over the Sudhar Canal. Balwinder Singh was presently posted with the DSP (City) of Moga as his driver. About 1-Kg opium was also seized from the Opel Astra car (CH 03 A 3100) he was driving. Initially, he tried to resist his arrest but surrendered once the contraband was seized. Later on, the police arrested their third accomplice Kunden Singh of Dewatpur village in Moga along with 1 Kg opium. The gang used to peddle opium among the local youth after procuring it from Kulu in Himachal Pradesh.

The accused have been booked under various sections of the NDPS Act and remanded in police custody.



Lok Adalat settles160 cases
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The labour Lok Adalat today settled 160 out of 249 cases by persuading the parties for amicable settlement. The Lok Adalat was presided over by GS Gill, presiding officer, Labour Court-cum-Additional Sessions Judge,Ludhiana.

Cases relating to disputes between labourers and their employers were placed before the Lok Adalat. With the settlement of 160 cases, the labourers would get compensation worth Rs 6.39 lakh in lieu of settlements. Gill urged litigants to resolve their disputes through Lok Adalats, as it not only saves the time but money also. He said it also reduces tension between different parties. Even no party can file appeal as the decision was taken as per the wishes of both parties.



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