L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dust storm wreaks havoc on power supply network
Many localities without electricity for the entire night
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 11
The dust storm that lashed the city for nearly two hours, and the light showers that followed, wreaked havoc on the power supply network in the mega city last night.

Most of the city localities went without power for nearly three hours, as supply to a large number of feeders remained cut off on the directions of senior officials of Punjab State Power Corporation (Powercom) to avoid damage to LT (low transmission) cables from high-velocity winds.

Even as the power supply was restored in most areas around midnight, some localities had to go "powerless" till this morning, giving residents a sleepless night.

Information gathered from Powercom officials revealed that certain areas under Aggar Nagar, Model Town, Sunder Nagar, CMC and Estate divisions remained without power till the wee hours and power supply could be restored only by late morning. With disruption in power supply, residents of the affected localities had to sweat it out and also had to go without water supply in the morning.

According to officials, in some city localities, either the LT cables were damaged or transformer fuses blown. "While minor faults were rectified immediately and supply restored in most of the areas, there were certain pockets which had to be isolated for rectification of cable faults or short circuits which is a time-consuming process. Moreover, certain technical snags or even snapped LT cables cannot be set right during the night," the officials added.

The storm not only disrupted the power supply but also brought down a large number of hoardings, sign-boards and uni-poles in several upmarket commercial areas like Sarabha Nagar, Model Town, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and Mall Road. The only saving grace was that there were no reports of anyone getting injured as several sign boards and hoardings came tumbling down in these otherwise busy markets during the day.

To add to the woes of people, the power supply to some half a dozen localities along Gill Road was also disrupted for more than six hours during the day after breakers at 66 KV Janta Nagar sub-station caught fire at around 9 AM. Two fire tenders had to be called in and the fire-fighters had to battle it out to douse
the flames.

The Powercom officials informed that the fire had damaged equipment worth Rs 25-30 lakh. "Power supply to some localities, including Janta Nagar, New Janta Nagar, Shimlapuri and Partap Nagar was affected. The burnt down breakers will be replaced by tomorrow and normal supply fully restored to areas fed from the Janta Nagar sub-station," the officials said.

The lashing winds and a drizzle which lasted till midnight brought the night temperature down by several notches and provided some relief to the people, especially in those areas where power supply had been cut off.

However, the sun was at its brightest once again this morning, with no significant variation in the minimum and maximum temperature recorded during the last couple of days.


Narrow escape for 2 as crane hook gives way
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Two workers had a narrow escape when the hook of a crane carrying a concrete slab weighing a tonne gave way at National Highway No. 1 here while the workers were on the job at Shivpuri Chowk this afternoon.

The workers jumped to safety when the slab came down with a thud. The crane’s periodic maintenance was due for a year. The casual attitude of the construction company could have cost workers their life.

Soma Isolex, a private company, was carrying out the work for the widening of the road from Phillaur to Doraha. At the time of the incident, the workers were transporting the slabs from Shivpuri chowk to Hotel Amaltas, where those were to be tested.

The cranes were to be tested regularly for wear and tear to avoid any untoward incident. The testing dates mentioned on the crane revealed the casual attitude of the construction company.

The crane was last tested on December 30, 2008, and the next testing was due on May 29, 2009. While the dates were mentioned on one side of the crane, those on the other side were smeared with black paint.

Mukhtiar Alam (36) and Asikul (21), both from Uttar Pradesh, were the two workers on the site when the incident occurred around 2 pm.

Narrating the incident, they said, “We just put the concrete slab on the hook. As soon as the crane lifted it, the hook gave way. We ran aside to save our lives,” they said. They had repaired the hook themselves.

When contacted, PK Mittal, project director, said he was not aware of any such incident. “I will enquire about the matter or visit the spot. It may be laxity on the part of the construction company,” he said.



Firm breaching road safety norms
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
The project to widen the National Highway-I from Phillaur to Doraha has become riddled with irregularities with the construction company awarded the contract flouting regulations at will, thereby posing risks to lives of the hundreds of thousands of commuters using this busy stretch every day.

Several lapses in construction came to the fore after a survey of the project was conducted, Kamalzit Soi, vice chairman of the Punjab police state apex committee for road safety and traffic management, said here today. He said he had brought the infractions of road safety norms to the notice of PK Mittal, the project director of the firm constructing the expressway, Soma Isolex.

Soi, who has launched a crusade against violations of traffic regulations, criticized the construction firm for endangering the lives of people “for the sake of saving a few lakhs of rupees”.

The survey began at about 11 am from the Phillaur toll plaza and a major shortcoming was immediately detected when no medical attendant was found at an ambulance stationed near the toll to provide speedy medical assistance to accident victims. Shockingly, the driver of the ambulance was said to be doubling up as a ‘medical attendant’.

It was also gleaned that during the entire year the ambulance had travelled only 4,300 km and there was no oxygen in the oxygen cylinder installed in the vehicle.

It was clearly mentioned in the project contract that the construction company would provide timely medical care to accident victims.

Soi also highlighted the problem caused by substandard delineators and fencing installed near Ladhowal. “These delineators are of no use and have outlived their lives. Instead of using a fluorescent net as fencing, which could help commuters at night, the construction firm is using ordinary rope as fencing,” he observed.

Work on widening the road project is being undertaken right next to the fencing.

According to Soi, if a driver fails to locate the fencing his or her vehicle would slip into a 10 feet deep slope where construction is in progress. “If such an accident takes place the injuries could be fatal”, he averred.

When members of the survey team arrived near Samrala Chowk and Sherpur Chowk, they were shocked to find diversion signs were missing at many places, causing serious traffic jams. Also, there were no warning signs on either side of the drains under construction at GT Road leading towards Doraha near Sahnewal. The team also saw iron rods protruding from various places, posing a serious danger to commuters.



Riot victims create ruckus outside SDM’s office
Groups level corruption against one another
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Riot victims, owing allegiance to two different factions, created ruckus outside the office of Sub Divisional Magistrate (West) here today when they openly confronted each other, used abusive language and levelled allegations and counter-allegations of corruption against each other.

The riot victims were called by SDM Prem Chand in the afternoon to collect cheques worth Rs 2 lakh each for 25 riot victims as part of the Centre's grant for them.

Members of two factions, led by Surjit Singh of the Danga Peerat Welfare Society, and Gurdev Singh of other organisation, respectively, almost came to blows with each other when the latter submitted a memorandum to the SDM, demanding an inquiry into the antecedents of the victims.

Gurdev Singh and his supporters alleged that Surjit Singh had prepared forged red cards and was trying to get ‘‘fake’’ riot victims compensated. He demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

On the other hand, Surjeet Singh accused Gurdev Singh of siding with people, who had nothing to do with 1984 riots. He alleged that Gurdev was demanding money from the victims if they wanted compensation and the fact that Surjeet's supporters were being compensated had angered him.

When both leaders were using choicest of abuses against each other, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Amarjeet Singh Bhatia also reached the spot and started supporting Gurdev's claims. Interestingly, all three leaders belong to SAD. Amidst allegations and counter-allegations, an ugly situation prevailed and the SDM had to call the police.

A police party led by Station House Officer, Division number 5, Dharampal reached the spot and pacified both the warring factions.

The SDM also postponed the distribution of cheques for today. Surjeet Singh and Gurdev Singh both submitted a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Ishwar Singh, demanding action against each other.

Meanwhile, in a communique later this evening, Amarjeet Singh Bhatia demanded a magisterial inquiry into the red cards got prepared by Surjeet Singh. He said the latter was behaving more like a commission agent and fleecing poor victims. ‘‘I have requested the Deputy Commissioner today to get an inquiry done into it. It is really sad that all the victims in other cities have been compensated but only because of people like him, those in Ludhiana are yet to get the money,’’ he said.

Surjit Singh said people like Bhatia had written to the Prime Minister levelling allegations of fraud against the victims. ‘‘He painted us all in bad light,’’ he said.



Census Duty: Relaxation for teachers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
In a major relief, government school teachers and other staff members put on census duty have been given relaxation in school working hours.

In a letter addressed to Ludhiana district education officer, the city census officer-cum zonal commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, requested that the teachers, who had been assigned the census duty, be exempted from attending school during the first two hours.

This, he further said, was to enable them to perform the census duty properly, as it required extra hours in the field after the school working hours.

The letter number 20/ CSO/ A, dated May 10, 2010, was issued here yesterday after a delegation of the Government School Teachers Union met census officer-cum-zonal commissioner MS Jaggi, with their grievance about the long working hours followed by field work for the census duty.



With no checks, hotels dish out spurious milk products
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
In a shocking admission, the health & family welfare department has stated it has not conducted any ‘raids’ or checks on any restaurant or hotel in the district in year 2009. The department has been delegated the responsibility of enforcing the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

The department’s lapse is in stark contrast to the raids its officials carried out on sweetmeat shops last year in which tons of spurious ‘khoya’ and ‘paneer’ were seized. A large number of these shops are selling their products derived from milk, used to prepare a variety of food items, to hotels and restaurants in the city.

Mukhtiar Singh Gill, president of the People's Forum for Transparency & Public Causes, a city-based NGO, had filed an application under the Right to Information Act to the Ludhiana civil surgeon’s office asking for details of hotels and restaurants checked by the health & family welfare department from April 2009 to November 2009. In his reply the office’s public information officer stated the department had not conducted checks on any hotel or restaurant during this period.

Accusing department officials of "corrupt practices", Gill said: "We’re going to file a public interest litigation against the health & family welfare department for having ignored its duty to check adulteration. Ludhiana has a large number of hotels and restaurants that are frequented by people from all sections of society. Giving them a free hand to serve bad quality food is unpardonable”.

He stated a large number of hotels were using substandard spices and adulterated raw materials to prepare food items. “They are also selling stale food items thereby playing havoc with people’s lives”, he added.

Large quantities of synthetic ‘milk’ prepared by dairies are sold at eating joints in and around the city. And, in the absence of any checks by health officials, the products prepared from spurious milk are consumed by the public including small children.

Synthetic milk is a well-designed combination of urea, sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate and vegetable oil. However, there have been recent reports of presence of DDT, lindane and even antibiotics in ‘milk’ and ‘milk products’, which is why it is mandatory to conduct stringent checks on adulteration of milk.

Dr DS Kochar, who recently took over as district health official, said: “I will ensure raids are conducted on all restaurants and hotels in a short span”.



Week after gang-rape, no case registered
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, May 11
The police seems reluctant to register a case even a week after the gang-rape of a Dalit woman of Changan village, near Humbran.

The victim said she hailed from Malakpur village, near Sidhwan Bet, and was married around eight years back. She had a seven-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter.

She said her husband left for Libya around a year back due to financial difficulties and since then, Gurpreet Singh of Chak Kalan, a neighbouring village, started bothering her.

She did not reciprocate and upset over her indifference, he tried to barge into her house in December last. She and a neighbour of hers complained to his parents.

According to her, Gurpreet’s parents felt sorry over his behaviour and assured her that such an incident would not be repeated.

She stated that Gurpreet Singh and two of his friends barged into her house on the night of May 3 and gang-raped her.

She told her relatives about the incident the next morning and they went to the police station. She said she was shocked when police officials dismissing her allegation.

She claimed that the officials said lower-caste women usually levelled charges against upper-caste men to blackmail them.

The police took no action after entering her complaint in the DDR. SHO Jangjit Singh said the the complaint was received and SI Swaran Singh was investigating the matter.

He said a medical examination could not be conducted without registering an FIR. He stated that panchayats of both villages had indicated that Gurpreet was innocent.

He maintained that in case the youth was found guilty, he would be dealt with strictly, but if the complaint turned out to be fake, the complainant would be booked.

He said it was likely that panchayats would work out a compromise. The police rounded up Gurpreet for questioning on Saturday, but an Akali leader took him away.

Ludhiana Rural SSP Harinder Singh Chahal, when contacted, said a DSP-level officer would inquire into the case and report in three days, after which action could be taken.



Ad panel meeting of MC fails to arrive at result
Erection of unipoles in city
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
No result came from yet another meeting of the committee on "advertising reforms" yesterday.

Members had called one of the contractors who has been given the contract for four years to erect unipoles in the city, and asked him to remove some of the unipoles from the main Sarabha Nagar market, as a lot of objections were being raised by councillors/social activists.

The contractor maintained that as per the agreement, he was to get space for 200 unipoles, but was given place to erect just 150 unipoles in the city. Still, he was being asked to remove about half a dozen unipoles from Sarabha Nagar, which was "unjust".

Talking to The Tribune, PS Cheema from Greenline Company said he was being made the scapegoat, as "advertising mafia" had failed to mint money due to transparency in the system. As per the contract on March 18, 2009, we were asked to erect 200 unipoles in city, but there was no clarity on the number of unipoles to be erected in various markets/places.

"We are paying handsome amount to the authorities on a regular basis. The revenue has been increased from the previous Rs 50 lakh to about Rs 5 crore. Still, we are suffering as the LMC has to provide the space for another 50 unipoles. Apart from this, 78 bus-shelters are to be given to me for advertising products/companies. Despite repeated requests, they have not given any serious thought to the issue. Ironically, yesterday they asked me to remove about half a dozen unipoles from Sarabha Nagar," said Cheema.

A top official of the LMC said the committee had "declined" to give us anything in writing. "We are not to be held responsible for any verbal conversation between company and committee members. If the decision of removal of unipoles has been taken, we must be given orders in written," said the official, adding that under the garb of unipoles/advertisements, people with vested interests were minting money previously. 



BSNL workers hit road to protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
The BSNL Casual and Contract Workers Union (AITUC), Ludhiana, took out a massive rally, near their office at Bharat Nagar Chowk here today.

A total of 400 workers and employees took part in the rally. The rally was addressed by various leaders of AITUC, Punjab Kisan Sabha and Moulders and Steel Workers’ Union.

They extended support to the protesting workers for their demands, such as wage, ESI coverage and other social security measures and re-instatement into work.

DP Maur, general secretary of the Joint Council of Trade Union, Ludhiana, said authorities concerned were not ensuring the implementation of the directions of the corporate office in New Delhi, as contained in letter dated November 5, 2008, and instead the DGM, BSNL, was protecting the contractors through media.

He further demanded a probe into the matter by some independent agency. Bharpur Singh, general secretary of the BSNL Casual and Contract Workers Union, Punjab, said if no decision was taken to re-instate the workers then meeting of the trade unions, Kisan unions, intellectuals and other mass organisations would be held on May 15 to chalk out future course of action.



Test to select cops on May 17
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Recruitment process for the posts of constables in Punjab Police and Punjab Armed Police (PAP) is scheduled to commence from May 17.

During a press conference here today, DCP (city) Parmod Ban, IPS, said the recruitment process was for those applicants who had submitted their application forms for the posts in March and received their roll numbers. The DCP further said the recruitment process would start on May 17 at Government College for Boys, Civil Lines, wherein the applicants' physical and endurance test trials would be held.

Applicants should appear on their date and time of recruitment mentioned against their roll numbers with their admit cards and roll numbers, at Rose Garden near Government College for Boys, Civil Lines, he added.

The DCP said applicants were also being informed through phone calls and letters. Only those with admit cards would be eligible, he added.



Rescued child labourers handed over to parents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
Eight of the 18 bonded child labourers, rescued on April 18, were yesterday handed over to their parents at Bal Sudhar Kendra.

The children's parents had come from different districts of Bihar yesterday to take their wards home after they were rescued by a police team and an NGO last month.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, SDM (east) Manpreet Chhatwal said, "The children's parents were informed as soon as they were rescued last month. But since they are poor people, they took a long time to come to the city from Bihar."

He added that late last night, the kids were handed over to their parents in the presence of the superintendent of Bal Sudhar Kendra. "After a detailed verification, I had ordered that the children be handed over to their respective parents," Chhatwal said.

The SDM further said the parents of rest of the rescued children had been informed and were expected to reach the city tomorrow.

On April 18, following information from the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO working for children's welfare, the district administration and a police party had rescued these children, working as bonded labourers in the city.



Tips to keep infection at bay
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 11
A unique initiative was taken by Satguru Partap Singh Apollo Hospital in order to educate children on "infection prevention” with the help of a bunny.

Learning became a fun activity as shaking hands with the white and pink bunny, each child promised to abide by the golden rule of washing hands with precision and also about cough etiquettes.

Enthusiasm prevailed among schoolchildren, as they answered questions like why should you wash hands? How to wash hands? What is bacteria, etc by experts at the end of the session.

The hospital authorities have initiated the movement against "hospital-acquired infections" inside the hospital as well as outside the hospital premises so as to educate people towards preventive measures. The doctors, nurses, other staff patients and their relatives at Satguru Partap Singh Apollo hospitals were also apprised about the problem.

Dr Muktanjali Arya, infection control officer at SPS Apollo Hospital, is carrying out the activity in various schools.

Having conducted special training sessions at Ryan International School and Saint GDS School, the team of experts from SPS Apollo Hospital today educated the students of Guru Harkrishan Public School, Doraha.

They were given attractive prizes in the form of watches and diaries that carried interesting messages like use masks for family members with cold, keep tissues in every room of the house and say no to handkerchiefs during cold, open windows for 10 minutes each day and clean toys/door knobs where common cold virus could survive for eight hours.



Translation Blunders
Students want grace marks
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, May 11
First-year BA students of physical education are disappointed over the Punjabi translation of paper B conducted by Panjab University.

They have claimed that blunders have been committed by the translator in units I and V of the paper. Physiology has been translated into ‘shareer kala vigyan’ and first-aid into ‘mudali sikhayay’.

They are frustrated to have attempted the two questions wrongly, but feel bad as they are not at fault. They have demanded 10 grace marks from the university.

According to a physical education teacher, students who study in the Punjabi medium will lose 10 marks, seriously affecting their percentage, as the meaning and concept have been altered in translation. 



Saplings planted at KCW

Jagraon, May 11
Students of Khalsa College for Women (KCW), Sidhwan Khurd, in an initiative to save environment, planted saplings on the college complex.

Inspired from efforts of “Climate Change Group” of GNE College, Ludhiana, principal Dr Paramjit Kaur motivated the students to save environment. Principal and staff members planted saplings and installed water pitchers, pots around the college campus for birds. — OC



Two killed, 1 seriously hurt in head-on collision
Gurminder Singh Grewal

Khamano, May 11
Two people were killed and one seriously injured in a road accident on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road close to Jatana Ucha village near here. According to reports, the driver of a Suzuki Dzire car with two others aboard, which was coming from Chandigarh, suddenly swerved when he noticed a fallen tree on the roadside as he neared Jatana Ucha.

In the meantime a Tata 409 pickup truck coming from the opposite direction collided head on with the car killing two of its occupants on the spot. The third car passenger received serious injuries. A highway police patrol team took the injured man to the Khamano Civil Hospital where he was referred to PGI, Chandigarh in a serious condition.

The dead were later identified as Hari Krishan Agarwal, 50 of Ganganagar, Rajasthan and his driver Sundar, 40. The injured man was identified as Mahavir Parshad of Kotkapura. After a postmortem was conducted on the deceased the bodies were handed over to their family members.

The police has registered a case against the pickup truck driver, who fled from the accident scene, under sections 279,337 & 304A of the IPC.

The occupants of the car were carrying about Rs 5 lakh in cash, which the cops later returned to the deceased’s relatives.



Former friend turns killer
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 11
Twentysix-year-old Gagandeep, a businessman residing at the Ram Nagar Mohalla here, was killed with a sharp-edged weapon here last night.

He had earlier been a friend of Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sikanderi. Some time back, Sikanderi was booked on charges of rape.

Sikanderi had named Gagandeep as co-accused in the case. Since then, relations between them had deteriorated.

Two groups of youths involved in a dispute were trying to work out a compromise at the Mohalla Dhumma ‘dharmshala’ last night.

Sikanderi and Gagandeep were representing the rival groups. The groups failed to compromise and the former friends had an altercation.

In a fit of rage, Sikanderi and his friends Amritpal Singh, alias Soni, alias Ronaldo, and Baggi attacked Gagandeep with a sharp-edged weapon, injuring him critically.

Friends took the profusely bleeding Gagandeep to the Jagraon civil hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The three accused fled the town. The Jagraon police registered a case against them under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC.

The police rounded up about a dozen persons for questioning over the whereabouts of the accused and raided the suspected hideouts of the accused.



One held for gambling
Tribune News Service

Khanna, May 11
The police arrested a man for gambling near bus stand at Rauni village. The police recovered Rs 820 from his possession and booked him under the Gambling Act.


Samrala: Narinder Singh, a resident of Machhiwara, lodged a complain with the police that some persons beat him up at his house.

The accused include Satpal Singh, Gurmeet Kaur, Lali, Goldy, Pappu and two others. He told the police that he was beaten up over some land dispute.

The accused have been booked under various Sections of the IPC.



2 killed, 4 injured in accidents
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 11
Two persons were killed in two different accidents, while four got injured yesterday. In first case, a makeshift vehicle (rehra) crushed two youths near the level crossing at Sherpura road.

The speeding vehicle owned by a tent house crushed the two youths, who used to sell ‘gol gappa’ in the market.

Gian Chand from UP died on the spot, while his accomplice got seriously injured. The driver of the vehicle managed to flee.

The injured was, however, taken to the Jagraon civil hospital for treatment.

In another case, a wall of the under construction AP refinery at Tappanhara village near here fell killing a labour on the spot, while three other sustained injuries. The deceased is identified as Bhajan Singh. The injured include Balwinder Singh, Khushi Mohammad and Manjit Kaur, alias Swarno, were taken to the Jagraon civil hospital for treatment.

The condition of all of them is said to be stable. The police proceeded under Section 174 of the CrPC on the statement of the son of Bhajan Singh.



Patwari held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Samrala, May 11
The vigilance bureau today arrested a patwari while accepting bribe from a resident of Utalan village.

The accused Vinod Kumar demanded Rs 5,000 from Kuldip Singh in lieu of some paper work for a piece of land.

In his complaint with the vigilance bureau, Kuldip alleged that patwari demanded a bribe of Rs 5,000 to register the stay order by Patiala commissioner. As per rule, stay order was sent to patwari’s office, however, complainant Kuldip himself went to get the orders registered.

The patwari demanded Rs 5,000 to register the stay order and with help of a middleman amount was settled to Rs 3,000.

Vinod was arrested today by a team of vigilance department, which was headed by a DSP from Ludhiana.

The patwari was arrested from near patwarkhana at Samrala. Vigilance officials said a case had been registered against the patwari and investigation was on.



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