L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC to beautify 5 roundabouts
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
The most polluted city of northern region will soon get a facelift with the Municipal Corporation (MC) deciding to install fountains and fancy lights on all traffic chowks here.

Giving details about the beautification move, MC Commissioner AK Sinha told The Tribune that for the time being they had identified five traffic chowks with roundabouts that would be given a facelift. These chowks include Aarti Chowk, Vishwakarma chowk, Fountain Chowk, Ambedkar Chowk and Sherpur Chowk.

He said the MC had roped in private promoters for the project and would not spend any amount of money on the uplift. It would instead allow them to put up small billboards.

“We will give credit to promoters for maintaining the roundabouts. The city belongs to all of us. We need to share responsibility to make it clean, green and beautiful. We are in constant touch with private promoters, including industrialists and other organisations, that are taking interest in bringing about this change, he said.

“The chowks will be maintained by the people from the society along with the MC. We have started with the beautification of Aarti chowk", said Sinha. Besides, other companies are being contacted by the MC to do the job.

Extending the beautification drive to the walled city this time, green-cover along with water-bodies and leisure lights will be extended on the CMC side - one of the most congested part of the city. “For this, we have roped in several area welfare societies, who will do the needful,” said Sinha.

Paramjit Singh Cheema, representing Greenline company that will maintain Aarti Chowk said the company would beautify the roundabout by installing fountain and fancy lights.

On Agenda

n Aarti Chowk
n Vishwakarma chowk
n Fountain Chowk
n Ambedkar Chowk
n Sherpur Chowk.


...Mohan Singh foundation protests
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
The beautification drive started by the Municipal Corporation at the Aarti chowk, also known as Prof Mohan Singh Chowk, however, has not gone down well with Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation that feels the bust in the middle of roundabout would be removed before the face lifting.

The members of foundation said they would oppose the Municipal Corporation’s move tooth and nail if the bust would be removed from the roundabout as the great writer had contributed immensely to the Punjabi literature.

Chairman of Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation, Ludhiana, Jagdev Singh Jassowal, said: “The Municipal Corporation intends to remove the statue of a person, who took the Punjabi literature to greater heights. Even if it is for a beautifying the area, they should have consulted the foundation members. Our emotions are attached with the great literary writer. What Rabindranath Tagore has done for the Bengla literature and Munshi Premchand for Hindi, Prof Mohan Singh has done for the Punjabi literature. It was after our protest that the Municipal Corporation decided against removing the statue.”

To lodge their protest against the move, the members today went to the roundabout, washed the bust with the milk and garlanded it in the morning. Municipal Commissioner AK Sinha, however, said the corporation would never indulge in such an act. “We are not going to remove the statue from the Aarti Chowk at all. There must be some miscommunication. Rather, we have ensured that no damage is done to statue by the fountain,” he added.



What’s in a name?
Councillors take pride in their nicknames
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
William Shakespeare once said: What’s in a name? But for our municipal councillors it’s their nicknames that make them stand apart from others. There are numerous interesting stories attached to their lovely names. These councillors enjoy when people publicly call them by their nicknames like Fenta, Ghayal, Gogi, Neetu, Ashu, Kaka, Gora and many more.

The Tribune talked to a few of these councillors who were more than excited to share the interesting stories attached to their names. Congress Councillor Pritpal Singh Ghayal, who is a septuagenarian, said starting from his father to his grandson, ‘ghayal’ was suffixed to everbody’s name. He said, “My father was a freedom fighter, who used to share his feelings for the nation with his friends and family alike. People used to call him ‘ghayal’ (wounded). From there, this nickname got attached with my name, then with my son and now with the grandson. Nobody is opposed to the nickname, rather we are identified in society with this only,” he said.

His father gave this nickname when the councillor was a toddler. Gogi said his father was a great fan of world-renowned magician Gogiya Patshah. “He used to watch this magician and was so impressed with his tricks that he started calling me ‘Gogiya’.” Slowly, everyone started calling me ‘Gogi’. I am so obsessed with this name now that I ask both my children not to call me papa or daddy, but ‘Gogi’. I feel proud when people call by this nickname,” he said.

Councillor of ward No. 22 Sunita Fenta, this unusual nickname got attached due to her husband Harbans Lal Fenta. “Our surname is Luthra, otherwise. As a kid, I used to drink lots of soft drinks. My father started calling me ‘Fenta’ kid. From there till date, the nickname has got attached with me. My wife, who is a councillor, is known in the social circles by this nickname and we simply love it,” said Harbans Lal Fenta, husband of Sunita.

For councillors like Gurdeep Singh Neetu, Sarabjit Singh Kaka, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Gurpreet Singh Gora, these nicknames have been given by their parents or grandparents and they all feel proud to be called so. Many of them feel as if they are still small children. “I personally feel as if I am still a baby. I love being called ‘Neetu’. If people call us lovingly by these nicknames who is going to feel bad about it,” Neetu asked?



Think twice before you drink
2 of 6 water samples fail test
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
Think twice before you drink water from the taps at Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar inter-state bus stand in Ludhiana as two out of six water samples taken from different taps have failed quality test. The district health authorities had collected water samples following a complaint by Arvind Sharma, a city-based social activist.

There are two water tanks, maintained by the public works department, which supply water at the inter-state bus stand. One of the tanks is uncovered and is full of algae, dust and insects. However, the authorities concerned have failed to take notice of this in the recent past.

The unclean water of this tank could be a cause of large number of diarrhoea and mild gastroenteritis cases, as people coming from middle and lower middle class can't afford to buy mineral water, making them depend on the tank water.

Learning little from their past experiences, the district administration has adopted a nonchalant attitude in terms of supplying "clean drinking" water to the people at public places, as is evident from the missing cleanliness in the water tanks supplying potable water to people.

Arvind Sharma has also forwarded a complaint to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) to take action against the public works department. "The PWD is playing with the lives of people as the 100 feet high water tank at the bus stand is without a lid for the past many months and the authorities concerned have neither bothered to cover it nor has exercised caution to chlorinate it.

Chlorination need of the hour

Studies conducted in recent years state that microbial contamination of water is on the rise in Ludhiana. It can be rectified only with proper chlorination. City residents are prone to diseases like gastroenteritis, typhoid, Hepatitis A and E, as the administration has failed to ensure clean drinking water supply.

Regular cleaning must: DC

When contacted, Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tewari said he would immediately issue a notice to the public works department to clean the water tanks and see to the supply of safe and clean drinking water to the people. "I will take up the issue of regular cleaning of the water tanks in the district in the water and sanitation committee meeting," the DC ensured.



Sale of commercial properties
GLADA nets Rs 20.54 crore
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 23
Sale of commercial properties through open auction conducted by the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority evoked a huge response here today with 15 booths and six shop-cum-offices (SCOs) in Dhandari Kalan, Phase II (Dashera Ground) selling for Rs 20.54 crore. Just one SCO (corner site) at this particular location remained unsold as the highest bid was considered to be below the expected price.

Other 14 commercial properties, including four shop-cum-flats and 10 booths in Dhandari Kalan, Phase II Market, were not sold due to the lack of response from the bidders, so were 18 residential plots---11 measuring 150 square yards each and seven measuring 125 square yards each---in the Urban Estate, Sector 32-A, on the Chandigarh road.

GLADA additional chief administrator Indu Malhotra, who conducted the auction along with estate officer Jeet Ram and superintending engineer RK Sharma, said the SCOs (121 square yards) commanded a highest price of Rs 1,72,500 per square yard as against the reserve price of Rs 81,964 while the lowest successful bid stood at Rs 1.52 lakh. The highest and lowest successful bid for booths (33.33 square yards) was Rs 2.42 lakh and Rs 1.25 lakh per square yard, respectively, as against the floor price of Rs 90,160 and Rs 81,694 per square yard, respectively.

“We have been able to sell 21 commercial sites out of 36 put under the hammer, and that, too, at more than double the reserve price which is a pretty good performance going by the prevailing trends in the real estate sector,” said Malhotra. In all 111 bidders participated in the auction for the commercial sites - each one of them having paid Rs 50,000 as the eligibility fee for booth and Rs 1 lakh for SCO/SCF. For residential plots, there were only four bidders who had paid an eligibility fee of Rs 50,000 each. Sources in the real estate market claimed that even though 18 residential plots put on the offer by GLADA were prime properties in fully-developed colony, but the reserve price of the land at Rs 29,200 per square yard seemed to be on a much higher side taking into consideration the prevailing market rate for similar plots in the same locality.

“In open market the going rate for residential plots in this colony is between Rs 18,000 and Rs 22,000 per square yard.



Panenza Vaccine
Docs shy away from getting injected
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
Showing reluctance to get a shot of “Panenza vaccine” (preventive vaccine against H1N1 Influenza), a few doctors from the city are giving a tough time to the department of health and family welfare, Punjab.

The department had sent 5,000 doses of preventive vaccines for the doctors, nursing staff, paramedical employees deputed at civil and private hospitals to attend the swine flu patients. Surprisingly, only 4,500 medical professionals have been administered the vaccines so far as a large number of doctors have shied away from getting it injected.

Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH), SPS Apollo Hospital, Oswal Cancer hospital and various other hospitals in the city have been given the “Panenza vaccine” by the health authorities.

Dr Deepak Bhatia, state nodal officer for the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, said, “We have instructed the civil surgeons in all districts to rejuvenate the campaign against the swine flu as we have to be cautious keeping in mind the resurfacing of the diseases in other parts of India. We just can not sit back and relax thinking that the weather is not conducive for the swine flu virus to survive as the first case of H1N1 in Punjab was reported in March, last year.”

Surprised over the “unwillingness” of doctors to get themselves vaccinated against swine flu, Dr Bhatia said they should understand the underlying implications as the state witnessed deaths of almost 12 doctors. “The doctors are constantly in touch with the patients, thus getting themselves protected against the disease is must for them. Plus, we have ample vaccines to cater to the doctors and staff at hospitals roped in by the department to control the swine flu,” he added.

The rapid response team (RRT) from the civil surgeon office will also be given the dose of the vaccine.

The department of health and family welfare, Punjab, has given clear instructions on the administration of the vaccine so as to avoid complications caused by allergic reaction. To avoid reaction of the vaccine with skin, central nervous system, neck stiffness, lungs/vessel inflammation and temporary reduction in blood platelets, it has been advised to give the shot in the hospital under the supervision of doctors.

A senior physician from the city, while pointing towards the “effectiveness” of the vaccine, said the vaccine, which had been manufactured in international market, might not prove effective on Indians, as there were chances of a mutation in the nature of virus here.

It ain’t swine flu

The swine-flu suspect, undergoing treatment at the DMCH here, has tested negative for the H1N1 influenza. The suspect, Roop Singh (40) of Mansa, was admitted to the hospital on June 18 with symptoms similar to those of swine flu and his samples taken yesterday. “The report received here this evening stated that he was not suffering from swine flu,” said Dr GP Mangla, district epidemiologist.



Rly employees, pensioners getting raw deal
No specialists at health unit yet to be upgraded
Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 23
Serving employees of the Northern Railway, pensioners and their dependents continue to get a raw deal as far as the medical and healthcare facilities available at the sub-divisional railway health unit (RHU) here are concerned.

Despite commitment by the divisional-level railway authorities, including the Chief Medical Superintendent (CMS), to complete the process of upgradation of the existing health units by end of March this year, the infrastructure and equipment provided for this purpose is of use in the absence of specialist doctors, who are yet to be posted. The formal inauguration of the health unit is also awaited.

Chairman of the Northern Railway Pensioners’ Welfare Association, Sher Singh, said the specialist doctors in medicine; surgery, orthopaedics and pathology were not available at the health unit due to which the diagnostic and therapeutic facilities were not being extended to the beneficiaries. “It is unfortunate to learn that even though the divisional authorities had taken steps to post specialists at the health unit here, the doctors are unwilling to take up the new postings,” he added.

It was in April this year that the Chief Medical Superintendent had intimated the association in writing that the process for upgradation of health unit had been started and the posting orders of specialist doctors issued, who were expected to join their duty in the next few days.

In his letter, the Chief Medical Superintendent had stated that the railway authorities had taken numerous other steps to provide better healthcare facilities to serving and retired employees. “The laboratories in the existing health units have been recognised for diagnostic investigations like ultrasound scan and lipid profile. Not only this, the preventive health check-up camps will now be organised at regular intervals at these units for timely diagnosis of undetected diseases, their treatment and follow-up.”

Sher Singh regretted that the railway employees and pensioners had once again been left in the lurch by the authorities as their expectations for better medical and healthcare had failed to materialise. He has sought the intervention of Union Railway Minister Mamta Banerji to make the available facilities and equipment functional at these health units as well as ensure posting of specialist doctors without any further delay.



Families seek funds for medical treatment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
Anjali, 17, a resident of Sahnewal, suffered multiple fractures when she fell down from the roof of her house last March and was operated upon at Dayanand Medical College & Hospital after. Doctors there said would have to undergo three separate surgical procedures.

Her family members had to spend Rs 1.75 lakh for the first operation but do not have enough money for the other two advised by the doctors.

A student of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Anjali was unable to appear for the matriculation exam this year. “I only want to get better soon so that I can take up my studies again. But I’m helpless as my parents don’t have enough funds to pay for my operations”.

The girl's father Madan Lal, who is a mechanic earns Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 a month. Her mother, Nirmal, said: "I’m a housewife and am unable help my suffering child. Hence, I’m requesting benevolent people in the city to come forward to our help”.

People interested in contacting the family can call up at cell no 99880-07393.

Diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, Raju, 15, is immobile. Yet he dreams of getting expert medical treatment so as to become self-sufficient. However, his father, Manmohan Singh, is unable to do much as he also has to take care of his ailing daughter, Rajni, and his wife Inderjit Kaur.

"My daughter needs to undergo plastic surgery as the fingers of her right hand are joined. As if this weren’t enough, my wife has a gallstone that too needs to be operated. But I’m only a worker in a small hosiery unit and my income is just sufficient to provide meals to my family," rued Manmohan.

Residing in New Raju Colony on Tibba Road, the family members are unable to afford medical treatment at a good hospital and are hence going to a doctor with a private practice in the area.

Unable to bear the mental and physical trauma of her children, Inderjit has called upon city philanthropists and the district administration to extend some financial help to her family.



MC in tizzy after protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
In a true Bollywood style, workers of the Bharatiya Valmiki Sewa Dal registered their protest against the state government and the civic body at the Zone C office of the Municipal Corporation here today. Carrying bottles of kerosene in their hands, a few of these protesters reached atop the building and threatened to self-immolate themselves if the state government failed to regularise their contractual employees. Ashwani Kumar, its press secretary, said at least 3,400 employees were working for the corporation under DC wages. “We have been requesting the authorities to regularise them but they don’t seem to be bothered. We had no other option but to register our protest like this. We have also submitted our memorandum to Joint Commissioner JS Sekhon. Officials have assured that they would take up the matter with higher authorities,” he added.



No check on waste being dumped into canal
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, June 23
With no preventive measures in place, warning signboards and cleanliness drives, launched from time to time, have failed to be effective in stopping polythene bags and other waste items from being dumped into the Sirhind canal.

Commuters as well as residents of all localities throwing polythene bags into the canal at Doraha bridge and beyond has become a common sight. Food wrappers, plastic and styrofoam cups, bottles and cans and other litter are discarded in the canal.

There has also been an increase in the practice of throwing polythene bags wrapped with “offerings to the river gods” into the canal. In addition bags containing ashes and flowers and, in some cases, even coins are also hurled into the canal water as “offerings.”

“On one hand the threat of plastic is devastating for the common man while on the other its indiscriminate usage by one and all, without any fear or fret, is nothing less than shame on humanity, which seems to be digging its own grave, without being least bothered about its future repercussions” rued an environmentalist.

“Does the cleaning of the canal or the written warnings displayed near the bridges hold any good, when in no time the litter and filth are going to stare us in our very face? If the environmental degradation goes on at such a rapid pace what will happen to our future generations and us cannot even survive in such an atmosphere. Without adopting stringent measures, this grave problem will continue to pose a big challenge for all times”, commented a daily commuter who sees people dumping litter into the canal every day.

The town’s residents complained the administration had imposed no viable ban on discarding of polythene bags and other waste material into the Sirhind canal as it appeared to be least bothered about the harm done to the canal’s water, soil as well as marine life.

An ecologist commented: “Plastic is one of the major pollutants of our time. Being a nonbiodegradable substance, composed of toxic chemicals, plastic pollutes the earth, air and water. It clogs the intestines of animals and sea creatures and leads to their slow starvation and ultimate death”.



‘Distance between man and nature growing’
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, June 23
“Unaware of the disastrous consequences of global warming, pollution of air and water, the survival of mankind has become insecure. In the name of development the distance between man and nature is growing day by day. To curve this menace, awareness should be created among the people to give prime importance to preserve healthy environment” were the views expressed by environmentalist Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal.

He was here to attend a function organised by Jathedar Baba Sohan Singh, in cooperation with the people of Salana village, to honour him for his crusade to stop polluting water of the Sutlej and Beas, which was used for drinking in the Malwa region of Punjab and Rajasthan from Hari Ke Pattan.

Seechewal also cited “Air is the guru, water is the father, earth is the great mother of all” from Guru Granth Sahib. The industrial and urban sewage flowing into river waters has caused pollution to such an extent that aquatic animals have disappeared from the rivers and people who use this water for drinking are suffering from chronic diseases.

He suggested that the industrial and town sewage after treatment should be used for irrigation, which will save the usage of fertilizers and maintain the under-ground water level. Seechewal said that initiative to keep the water resources clean should be taken by the people themselves.



Obscene posters continue to dot city
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
With a near total absence of any authority to keep a check on obscenity, posters of regional films that are smutty in words and visuals continue to dot city walls.

The presence of obscene posters in almost all the major junctions poses a traffic hazard, besides being a major source vulgarity.

The problem is especially prominent in areas which house old theatres like Domoria Bridge, Bhadaur House, Electrical Market, Partap Chowk, Cinema Road, Karimpura Road and Salem Tabri.

Reason: These out-of-business theatres screen only regional B/ C-grade films, especially Bhojpuri and Bihari language movies, besides several "A" rated Hindi movies, bordering on soft porn and use such posters to attract viewers.

Not only these, but numerous prominent market and public areas of the city, including College Road, Ghumar Mandi, Chaura Bazaar, Chandigarh-Ludhiana road, railway station and bus stand, too, are dotted by such sleazy posters. The situation is so grim that the walls of schools, colleges and even houses can be seen smothered with obscene posters and hoardings of regional films.

Over the years, such provocative posters have become a source of constant embarrassment to city residents besides being a major traffic hazard. There have been numerous instances of such billstickers distracting the attention of vehicle drivers leading to accidents.

Moreover, youths, especially migrants, tend to stop and stare at such suggestive promotional posters, further compounding the twin problems of traffic snarls and embarrassment to the right-thinking population.

"Theatre owners should understand their social responsibility and avoid pasting obscene posters across the street. In the evenings, it gets impossible for women and girls to cross the road with youths and cinema goers staring at the posters and passing lewd comments," complained a shop owner near Domoria Bridge.

Another area resident Ram Kumar argued, "The police and the administration should conduct raids and ban such posters in the city. If not, then the municipal corporation should cancel the permits of theatres indulging in pasting vulgar posters and screening cheap movies."

He added that a few years back, the administration had asked a cinema owners to remove obscene posters and a warning was issued that strict action would be taken against them. "The problem was curbed to a large extent. Similar action can again be initiated," he said. R Bhalla, another city resident, said, "Unless steps are taken to constitute a body with an overall control over the posters, the problem will not end."

However, theatre owners have their own reasons for promoting obscenity through the wall postings. "We are paying fees to the MC for pasting posters. As it is we are out of business due to coming up of multiplexes. If we do not use posters to attract viewers, who will come to watch the movies?" rued a theatre owner requesting anonymity.

Another added, "We paste the promotional posters which we get from the film distributors." These distributors, as obvious, are unconcerned about the text and content of the posters.

He admitted that some distributors, in association with exhibitors and producers, sometimes, prepared separate posters on their own, circumventing all checks to meet their commercial ends.

Sleazy ads

Scores of vulgar advertisement hoardings and posters have mushroomed at various places across the city, especially on Ferozepur Road, which happens to be the main road passing through the city's heart. Besides disturbing one's sensibilities, such posters are a major distraction for the moving traffic

What the law says

Under the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, there is a provision of punishment of imprisonment up to six months. Action can also be taken under Section 292 of the IPC, which prohibits circulation of obscene pamphlets and posters

Censor board responsible: Police

Police Commissioner Ishwar Singh said the responsibility to check obscenity in films lies with the censor board. "But if we get a specific complaint regarding any theatre violating the Cinematography Act, we will take action. However, till now, we have not received any complaint,” he added.



Third obscene MMS rocks Jagraon
Rakesh Gupta

Jagraon, June 23
The third obscene MMS in a row has rocked the town.

On June 11, a MMS of a couple began circulating in mobile phones of residents of the area and on June 12, another MMS surfaced in which a married woman is seen in an objectionable state with an unidentified man. Now the third MMS is circulating in the area is of more than seven minutes and only a girl is seen in an objectionable state.

The Jagraon police on the recommendation of the SSP Ludhiana Rural had registered a case under the Information Technology Act and initiated an investigation. SHO Jagraon Pawanjit said the boy in this MMS had been identified and was nabbed by the police while the girl was still at large. He told the police that some time ago when he was to sell his mobile phone, he got all clips of his mobile transferred on a CD through a mobile shop owner, who might have retained a copy of the same and circulated it in the market.

Interestingly, the accused is an employee of a telecom company. The police is claiming to have arrested him at a naka in Jagraon. The police has registered a case in only one obscene MMS case and it is yet to decide how to proceed in the other two cases.



A bicycle now with 25-year guarantee
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
Cutthroat competition in the bicycle industry has forced manufacturers to induct new technologies and offer lucrative deals to buyers. With Chinese made bicycles gobbling a major market share local manufacturers to adopt new tactics to lure people into purchasing their products.

Everyone has heard of a one or two year warranty for bicycles, but now city based company Hi Bird Cycles has come out with an offer of a 25-year guarantee for their newly launched bicycle, Bullpower.

However, the warranty would be available at an additional cost. Whereas a standard bicycle generally costs Rs 2,500-3,000, the Bullpower model with a 25-year guarantee is priced at Rs 4,000.

RD Sharma, chairman of Hi Bird Cycles, said: "This is the first time in the country that any bicycle maker has offered a 25-year warranty on a bicycle. We have done so to promote more durable bicycles in the market. The guarantee will be offered only on the frame and fork, which are the main constituents of a bicycle. In case of any defect in these parts during the warranty period we will replace the same. Usually the bicycle industry offers a warranty ranging between six months to a year”.

“Customers wouldn’t mind spending a few extra bucks for getting a 25-year warranty. The Bullpower is a standard bicycle model that is used by the rural and migrant workers. Since the latter rely on bicycles for moving around they do wouldn’t hesitate to shell out a few extra rupees for a 25-year warranty," added Sharma.

“The company has invested about Rs 5 lakh over the past two years on developing the new product. Raw materials used for this model are of special quality metal and its unique geometry has been designed to support heavy load bearing and to provide extreme strength on roads," Sharma stated, adding other critical parts have also been modified to provide comfort to the rider while ensuring safety and durability.



Fire at 66 KV sub-station
Equipment damaged, supply to some areas disrupted
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 23
A fire which broke out at the 66 KV Gill Road sub-station under the Janta Nagar division of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (Powercom) today morning damaged a 11 KV incoming breaker.

A fire tender was pressed into service and the blaze was controlled before it could damage the power station building and other equipment.

According to Kulbir Singh, senior executive engineer, the fire broke out at around 10.50 am and within minutes, the flames engulfed the 11 KV breaker. As a result, power supply to some half-a-dozen feeders was disrupted and an estimated 25 per cent of the localities fed from the substation were affected.

Officials of the grid maintenance division of Powercom told that the cause of fire could not be attributed to any single factor. "The equipment damaged in the fire is quite old and may be it has already outlived its average life span. A new 11 KV incoming breaker has already been requisitioned and work for its replacement will be taken up as soon as it arrives.

The replacement of equipment and restoration of normal supply might take a couple of hours and might even take the whole night," the officials said.

Rachpal Singh, deputy chief engineer, City West circle of Powercom, said the load of affected feeders would be shifted and power supply to the affected areas would be provided in rotation till the normal power supply was restored after replacement of the damaged equipment.

Meanwhile, another fire incident was reported from Circular Road where a garment unit was gutted in a fire caused by a short circuit late last night. Six fire tenders were pressed into service to douse flames.



Paddy transplantation yet to pick up
Demand of high wages, power cuts main culprits
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 23
Paddy transplantation is yet to pick up even after a fortnight in this region, not only for the want of labour, but also because of high rates being demanded by both migrant as well as the local labourers.

Frequent and unscheduled power cuts and grower’s intent to curtail the input expenses by avoiding the use of diesel pump for irrigation was cited to be another reason for the slow plantation.

While a few paddy growers are yet to prepare fields for transplanting saplings others are waiting for the labourers to start the process. Even deployment of the local labour does not seem to have yielded the desired results.

Long stretches of overgrowing saplings of paddy endorsed the observations. While growers were yet to uproot the mature saplings, there were no takers even.

Confrontation among office-bearers and activists of a few khet mazdoor outfits and kisan sabhas is also learnt to have affected pace of the transplantation drive. Though more migrant labourers are coming daily into the area, farmers find it difficult to convince them to work on old rates.

The frequent and unscheduled power cuts have also affected the pace of transplantation. Unlike earlier seasons, a majority of farmers instead of running their pump-sets with diesel engines and tractors have chosen to wait for the monsoon to arrive. This besides curtailing input expenses will improve the soil texture and fertility.

“How can we afford to shell out thousands on diesel when we have already deposited huge amounts with the power board as security? Now, when it is question of a few days, we will wait for the monsoon to arrive and then transplant the saplings,” said Hardial Singh of Chhappar village.

Jasbir Singh Sekhon, a botanist, claimed that the first rains would improve the soil fertility, as it would add essential nutrients like nitrogen and sulphur in sufficient quantities.



Kiln owners’ strike jacks up brick prices
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
With brick kiln owners all over Punjab on an indefinite strike, bricks have become much more expensive, severely affecting construction work in the city. Though stocks in the markets are adequate, the owners have jacked up prices. The kiln owners are protesting against the state’s government's order to use fly and pond ash while making bricks. They are of the view that the Mines & Minerals Act as well as the Bonded Labour Act is against their interests.

Surjit Singh, a member of Building & Construction Workers Welfare Board, said the situation was getting worse with each passing day. "Initially a truck loaded with 1,000 bricks was available for Rs 2,800 but now it costs Rs 3,500," he said.

Daljeet Kumar, another builder in the city, said bricks had become dearer due to the ongoing strike by kiln owners. "Prices have almost doubled.

At present the brick kiln owners have their stock due to which the bricks are still available but if they continue with their strike for few more weeks their stocks will exhaust and the situation will worsen," he added. Ashwani Sood, vice president of the Brick Kiln Owners Association, Ludhiana unit, said the kiln owners would continue with their strike till their demands are met. "Bricks are available in the market are we’re selling them at prices prevailing earlier”, he remarked.



Pending Demands
Powercom staff to hold dharna on July 7
Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 23
Employees of Powercom and Transcom will organise dharnas on July 7 at Khanna circle headquarters and on July 9 at suburban, east and west circles here, under the banner of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Joint Forum to press their pending demands.

These protests will be followed by a state-level dharna at Patiala on July 21.

Presiding over a meeting of thePSEB Joint Forum (central zone) here today, Swarn Singh regretted the deliberate delay on the part of the state government in arriving at a tripartite agreement on service conditions of employees after unbundling of the PSEB.

He also reiterated other pending demands of the employees, which include rate of annual increment at 3.5 per cent, continuation of grant of two increments with time scale, pay scale of Rs 1, 900 for employees under table II category and regular recruitment against vacant posts.

Among other speakers at the meeting, which was attended by activists of the Technical Services Union, PSEB Employees Federation, Indian National Trade Union Congress and All-India Trade Union Congress were Jagir Singh, Ramesh Kumar, Kuldeep Singh, Chote Lal, Jaswant Singh, Rajinder Singh, Kishore Chand, Jasbir Singh, Ganga Prasad, Rachpal Singh, Shingara Singh and Nirbhai Singh.



From Schools
Kids set stage on fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 23
A gala opening on the theme "Masti ki pathshala' was held today at Hotel Le Baron on the concluding day of the summer camp of Love Dale Montessori.

Participants set the stage on fire with their captivating performances and left the audience spellbound. Rajnit Sikand, pioneer of Montessori concept in India, was the chief guest. Sikand spoke on the importance of Montessori education and gave valuable tips on parenting. Various activities like salsa, western and Marathi dances, semi-classical, hip-hop and fusion dances along with a fashion show were held. Principal Preetima Behl appreciated the efforts of the students.

Summer camp ends

A 20-day summer camp concluded at Jesus Sacred Heart School, South City, here today. Students from various age groups participated in the camp which saw active participation from children from other schools as well. Various activities were organised among which swimming was the favourite among all kids. Students enjoyed beating the heat in the pool with cool water games. Free hand exercises and self-defence were taught to children. Students also enjoyed tapping their feet to hit numbers during dance activities. In art and craft class, they learnt cartoon drawing, painting, matchstick painting, word shapes and blow painting. The students' creative talent was at its best during the camp.

A spoken English class was also held for the students in which they learnt phonetics and pronunciation with the help of special software.

Chairperson Amarjit Kaur Sehgal and principal Anju Banga appreciated the staff and students for enthusiastic participation in the camp. Prizes were also given to excellent performers.

SDP Senior Secondary School, Hazuri Road, organised a summer camp for aesthetic and physical development of students. A number of activities like bhangra, western dance, computer courses, baseball, cricket and English communication were held.

Over 300 students participated in this camp and enjoyed the activities. SDP Sabha president Balraj Kumar Bhasin and school principal Jasvir Singh Chauhan inspired the students to participate actively in such events.



Five held for smuggling snakes

Ludhiana, June 23
A gang of snake smugglers was arrested here last night for smuggling rare varieties of snakes. Acting on a tip-off, the Forest and Wildlife Department arrested five persons, including a dentist, during a naka. Gopal Krishan, SHO of the Moti Nagar police station, said, “A Scorpio bearing registration number PB08AK-0067 was intercepted at the Chandigarh road last night. Five persons were held with two snakes, which they were taking from Sidhwan Bet to Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh for sale to a black magician (tantrik).”

Those arrested were Baljeet Singh (53) of Sidhwal Kalan, Jagraon, dentist Jagdish Singh (43) of Shimla Puri, Ludhiana, Gurpreet Singh (21) of Jagraon, Harcharan Singh (45) of Dashmesh Nagar, Ludhiana, and Hardeep Singh (34) of Talwandi Kalan, Ludhiana. Hardeep Singh was the driver of the vehicle.

“The arrested persons, other than the dentist, do not seem to be well educated and are engaged in small-time trades at their native places,” said the SHO. Giving details, Balwinder Singh, range officer, Forest and Wildlife Department, said, “These snakes are rare sand boas and their venom is expensive. Those arrested had plans to sell it to some tantrik in Uttar Pradesh for Rs 3 to 4 lakh.” “As of now, the accused have told us that one snake was caught from Sidhwan Bet and the other was claimed to have been bought from a tantrik. Since none of them is a snake charmer, we suspect that they were smuggling the reptiles. Their interrogation tomorrow may give us important leads in the case. The involvement of a bigger gang cannot be ruled out,” he said. Vishal Chauhan, District Forest Officer, Ludhiana, added that the five accused were booked under the Forest and Wildlife Act, 1972. — TNS



Medicines seized, shop owner booked
Tribune News Service

Samrala, June 23
A team of the Anti-Narcotics Cell today seized a huge cache of medicines from a chemist shop situated on Chawa road and also booked the shop owner for selling drugs without having any valid license.

The officials conducting the raids said that drugs were also recovered earlier from the same shop in a similar manner.

6,500 capsules, 3,400 pills and 34 cough syrup bottles were recovered from the shop.



Mahajan Masters enter final
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, June 23
Thanks to a fine all-round performance by Vishwanath and Deepin Chitkara, as the Mahajan Masters scored an authentic 147-run win over the Coaching Centre in the 15th Chaman Lal Malhotra Cricket Cup Tournament (U-14) being played at MGM Public School, Dugri, here, today. With this victory, Mahajan Masters have secured a berth in the final.

Batting first, Mahajan Masters hoisted a big score of 235 runs for the loss of three wickets in the stipulated 30 overs.

The main architects of the innings were Vishwanath and Deepin Chitkara who made 120 and 61 runs, respectively. For the Coaching Centre, Arshmeet and Nitin claimed one wicket each.

Chasing the target, the Coaching Centre were shot out for 88 runs in 25 overs. The notable contributors were Shivam and Nitin, who made 25 and 17 runs, respectively.



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