L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Of tragedy & insensitive politicians
15-yr-old girl killed in accident; MP, Senior Dy Mayor drive past scene
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, November 14
The death of a 15-year-old girl in a road accident snowballed into a major controversy, with Kamaljit Soi, vice-president of the Punjab Road Safety Organisation, accusing Member of Parliament Manish Tiwari and senior deputy mayor Parveen Bansal of showing absolute insensitivity towards the dead and not stopping their vehicle to take stock of the situation here today.

The incident took place this morning when an auto-rickshaw ferrying three women reportedly overturned near Canal Chowk on the Pakhowal road.

The victim, who appeared to be 15 years old, died on the spot. According to eyewitnesses, the girl, who was apparently seated in the corner of the seat, fell as the auto-rickshaw overturned and smashed her head against the road, resulting in her death. The driver and two other passengers fled the scene soon after the accident.

I admit that some accident took place on Pakhowal road but I had no clue that it was a fatal one. Had the victim needed medical help, I would have offered it

— Manish Tiwari, Member of Parliament

I did not know about the girl’s death in the accident.

— Parveen Bansal, senior deputy mayor 

I called up the MP’s close associate, Pawan Diwan, and told him that a girl had died in an accident

— Kamaljit Soi, vice-president, Punjab Road Safety Organisation

Soi, who was passing by, stopped his vehicle and went to check the scene of the accident. The police also reached the scene and started the investigation.

Soi claimed that MP Manish Tiwari’s vehicle went past the scene of the accident with scant regard for the dead. Similarly, senior deputy mayor Parveen Bansal’s vehicle passed by without stopping at the scene. The girl could not be identified yet. ASI Gurdial Singh, in-charge of the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar police post, said the girl was not carrying a mobile.

“We found nothing that could help us locate her relatives. We are coordinating with other police station in the city to find out if any missing person’s complaint pertaining to a girl has been registered,” said Gurdial.

On the other hand, MP Manish Tiwari termed the allegation baseless, saying: “I admit that some accident took place on the Pakhowal road but I had no clue that the accident was so fatal that a girl died in it. If an accident victim needed medical help, I would have offered help. But I simply did not know about the goings-on. Further, the police was at the scene. As a crowd had gathered at the scene, I thought my presence would have added to the chaos.”

Parveen Bansal also denied having information about the death of the girl in an accident.

Soi claimed that he had informed both politicians about the death. “I called up an MP’s close associate, Pawan Diwan, and told him that a girl had died in the accident,” claimed Soi. However, both leaders denied having received any phone call.


Pressure tactics by babus
MC letting encroachers breathe easy
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Under pressure from senior babus, the municipal corporation is apparently reluctant to act against encroachers in the Transport Nagar locality. This despite the fact that social activists have been picking apart the civic body authorities for turning a blind eye to one of the highly encroached areas of the city.

The issue of inaction on part of the civic body in the area was recently raised at a meeting of the monitoring committee for illegal encroachments, set up on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

During the meeting, non-official members, including Rohit Sabharwal, Pran Nath Bhatia, Colonel Jagdeesh Brar and Darshan Arora, had taken up the matter with the officers of the civic body and asked them to remove the widespread encroachments in the area.

The officers had assured that action would be taken soon but even after the passage of a week, encroachments continue to flourish.

Sources in the MC’s building branch say though they have asked high-ups for permission to remove encroachments in the locality numerous times, pressure from a senior officer of the civic body has ensured that action is delayed. Sources add that the matter has also been brought to the notice of the top brass of the civic body but the permission regarding the drive is still awaited.

Accusing the MC officers of hobnobbing with encroachers, Rohit Sabharwal said in spite of a complaint and three reminders regarding encroachments within the past four months, MC officials had not bothered to take any action.

He said MC apathy could be gauged from the fact that the corporation had no record of illegal encroachments in the area.

“A senior officer of the corporation is delaying action in the area,” he further alleged. MC Additional Commissioner Kuldeep Singh, who is also the in-charge of the building branch, refuted the allegations of pressure from any officer. He said the corporation was all set to start a drive from Monday.



GLADA, too, in the same league
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 14
Strange are the ways of the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA), which has been acting in a selective manner to remove encroachments on green belts in the Housing Board Colony on the Ferozepur Road here.

While two structures (extensions of houses in green belt) were demolished way back in 2004, over 50 other violators in the same colony are still to be proceeded against.

Whether it was sheer coincidence or deliberate act that part of the structures (claimed to be kitchen garden and flower beds) demolished by GLADA six years ago belonged to families of ex-servicemen, needs an answer from the regulatory and enforcement staff of GLADA.

Charging the GLADA authorities with adopting a partisan and discriminatory attitude in clearance of encroachments even after explicit directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Paramjit Walia, widow of ex-subedar Yash Pal Walia, and Paramjit Kaur, daughter-in-law of ex-subedar Sohan Singh, have alleged that other residents, who had also encroached upon the green belt in the colony, had evaded action because of their clout.

Information provided by the Estate Officer of GLADA under the Right to Information Act to the affected residents on August 18, 2010 clearly says that residents of house Nos. HJ 297 to HJ 306 as well as HJ 1 to HJ 32 have been in illegal possession of parts of green belt for the past over 20 years.

That GLADA authorities had not moved even an inch towards carrying out their assigned task during the past five years is evident from a similar bit of information provided by them way back in November, 2005 to another resident of the colony.

The information given under the RTI Act was also on similar lines, saying residents of HJ 297 to HJ 306 had unlawfully occupied government land.

Interestingly, while responding to applications filed under the RTI Act in November, 2005 and again in August, 2010, GLADA authorities had taken a stand that notices were issued to the violators and “further action was in progress”.

Dependents of ex-servicemen, residing in the colony, as well as other area residents have once again made a plea with the district authorities and the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, to move GLADA officials into action and get the entire chunk of green belt and other government land cleared of all kinds of encroachment without fear or favour.



Illegal colonies may get sewage lines soon
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Even though the municipal corporation’s has failed to provide an efficient sewage system to city residents, to oblige politicians and builders the civic body along with the Punjab Water Supply Sewerage Board (PWSSB) has now begun studying the viability of laying down sewerage limes to unauthorized colonies and villages located outside the municipal limits.

After a Rs 248 crore sewage project under the JNNURM scheme was launched in December 2009 builders, viewing it as an opportunity to get legal connections in their colonies, have begun put pressure on the MC and PWSSB to install a network there. Similarly, to strengthen their vote bank, some leaders of the governing SAD-BJP alliance are also goading civic officials to provide connections to villages in which the pipes are being laid to connect them to the sewage treatment plants in Bhattian and Balloke.

Sources said the matter was raised by a leader of the ruling alliance at a meeting of the MJC’s high powered finance & contract committee held a few days ago. However the panel’s BJP members vehemently opposed the proposal by asserting that the sludge from villages would hamper the smooth flow of water in the sewerage system, added the sources.

The sources added despite the opposition being under pressure of the ruling alliance leaders, MC officials asked both departments to look into the viability of the project. Similarly a team comprising the superintendent engineers of the PWSSB and the MC's operation & maintenance branch was also set up to conduct a survey on the total discharge of water.

When asked to comment on the matter, senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal said: “No benefits will be extended to anybody. A policy on sewage connections for some villages and colonies has not yet been framed. A decision on this issue will be taken for the whole of the city”. "To watch the interests of the city residents would be our priority" he added.



Adamant villagers force deferment
Detonation exercise from today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Buckling under pressure from village residents who are opposing the administration order to evacuate Haider Nagar, Sekhewal and Kalewal villages for detonating scrap bombs in their forest areas, the district administration today postponed the process for a day.

The exercise will now be now be conducted tomorrow following long negotiations. Village residents have agreed to shift en masse on the condition that the administration provide them with shelter, food and fodder tomorrow.

Residents of Haider Nagar would now be evacuated and sent to Selkiana village where the administration will make food and shelter arrangements for the day.

Similarly, residents of Sekhewal and Kalewal would be asked to shift to the Sutlej river bed and Borreh village, respectively. Residents of all villages will leave their houses alongwith their cattle at 6 a.m. tomorrow and return after 6 p.m. once a special team certifies that their house were safe. The administration will compensate for any damage caused to he houses.

Kalewal village sarpanch Avtar Singh said since they would be camping at Borreh village, they have asked the administration to provide them with tents, food and fodder for their cattle. ‘‘Finally the administration has agreed and the process would continue,’’ he said.

Today, the administration and Army personnel conducted a mock drill at Mattewara village. The decision of postponing the programme was taken following a meeting between Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari and Army officers. The Army has already transported five containers worth of explosives to carry out the detonation of the scrap bombs which was part of iron scrap imported from Gulf countries by steel rolling mills in Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh.



Tension as mob attacks man, priest
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, November 14
Tension gripped the Moti Nagar area here this morning when an irate mob allegedly attacked a man who had recently changed his religion. The attackers later went to the nearby Arya Colony where they thrashed a priest and shut down the place from where he was allegedly carrying out the conversion exercise.

Bindeshwar, who was assaulted by the mob, approached the Focal Point police seeking registration of a case against leaders of a local religious organisation for causing him injuries.

However, one of the alleged assaulters, Munna, lodged a counter-complaint saying Bindeshwar had inflicted injuries on himself to falsely implicate him. Munna said he was being wrongly implicated in the case, as he had refused to be converted. He alleged that he was offered Rs 10,000 and a permanent job for converting to Christianity.

Sensing trouble, Focal Point SHO Sandeep Wadhera along with a team of officers reached the scene and cordoned off the Arya Colony area.

Later, ADCP (Headquarters) summoned both groups to the Focal Point area. The police was in the process of recording statements of the rival group.

The Moti Nagar area, which houses 15 Hindu temples and an equal number of gurdwaras, mosques and and small churches, has been an apostle of universal brotherhood.

Communal tension has never been reported in this area in the past. Recently when a church in Malerkotla was vandalised, the strong Christian community had showed great composure and not taken the law into their own hand.



Mad rush for nursery admissions begins
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Come November and the city's nursery schools are deluged with a frenzied rush of anxious parents waiting in long lines to buy admission forms. Parents of first-time schoolers are leaving no stone unturned to ensure their wards gain entry into the most sought after school, flitting from one school to another to procure forms lest they miss out on any.

This frantic race is weighing heavy on the parents' pockets as they have to shell out anything from Rs 750 to Rs 25,000 as registration fee for each school, which is nonrefundable. However they are not complaining - after all, the best of anything comes at a cost. And in this case it is their child's future.

Says Preeti Uppal: "When I pay Rs 5,000 for a form I’m not complaining because this is the best way to screen out the large number of kids who would like to secure admission. The form is filled out and submitted after which the wait begins. If one is called the first hurdle is cleared."

Not only this, the parents are also pulling strings to establish "influential" contacts or dig out one from among their relatives and friends. The city, which is the state’s industrial, is host to a large number of bureaucrats and ministers. And this reflects in admissions for nursery schools every year.

This despite the fact that officials of elite primary schools in the city assert they grant admission purely on merit. The parents' misery does not end here. Every school has a different requirement for the child's date of birth, and a different testing pattern and the age requirement could change suddenly.

Some schools distribute printed forms in lieu of cash and the queue could begin early in the morning. Test patterns vary, but the usual routine is two interviews - one of the parents and one of the kids.

Thus, harried parents not only have to train their wards for the great scare called “admission interview” but also dedicate hours to studies, counselling and preparing themselves to withstand the preadmission blues.

With the great admission campaign at hand, many parents are willing to bunk office even as others are already at it. "Every evening after office I sit down with my two-and-a-half years-old son for an hour and prepare him with likely questions in the interview. I’m glad he is picking up fast. At night I search the Net for assistance on parents' interviews at admission time," says Arpita Sharma, adding all this is taking a toll on her professional work. While the parents are having sleepless nights, tiny tots who are usually found busy playing and jumping around homes, gardens and parks are a bewildered lot with the hullabaloo about admissions around them.

With most of the city’s elite pre-schools desirous of "seeing the child" before handing out an admission form to the parents, the harried kids are seen making rounds of various schools, cribbing and crying, throwing tantrums even as their parents are guiding and directing them on how to conduct themselves.

While these children appear to be unaware of the new life they are about to enter, their parents, on the other hand, are found to be under extreme stress. Obviously, they want to provide the best of education to their kids and are leaving no stone unturned towards their singular goal.

Debate over admission age

The age for admission to pre-school has been a debatable issue since long. Earlier this year, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal had said children should not be allowed to attend pre-school if they are less than four years old while children aged six could be admitted to class I.

“The present system of admissions is traumatic for children. It becomes impossible for three year-olds to seek admission to school. There are several incidents of children stammering due to stress. When a child witnesses the competitive environment in school, he or she is traumatized,” Sibal had said during an interaction with principals of various schools in Delhi.

Experts and doctors, too, have been crying hoarse that children below three are too young to deal with the pressures of a pre-school. However, city schools have remained aloof and indifferent to the world view and are found admitting toddlers as young as two years.



Social activist falls prey to road rage
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Virinder Bhakoo, a social activist, fell victim to road rage last night when three motorcycle-borne youths intercepted and assaulted him near Chhawni Mohalla. The incident took place around 9.30 pm when 70-year-old Bhakoo was returning home after closing his shop. “I was driving home in a car and got stuck in traffic jam at Domoria Bridge, near Chhawni Mohalla. In the meantime, three youths riding a motorcycle collided with my vehicle and started abusing me.

I told them that I was not at fault as I was just following the queue. The three parked their vehicle and assaulted me. They told me that they were residents of Chhawni Mohalla and had not fear law,” claimed Bhakoo.

He said he could not trace the registration number the vehicle used by the youths. “I am not aware of their identity but can recognise them if I see them again,” said Bhakoo.

Bhakoo, however, complained that policemen deployed at the Division No. 4 police station told him to lodge a complaint at the Kotwali police station as the area where the incident took place fell under its jurisdiction.

SHO Davinder Kumar came to his rescue after he spotted Bhakoo while he was heading towards the Kotwali police station and ordered the police officials to lodge the complaint. The police later registered a case and stated the investigation.



Jail inmate sodomised
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
An inmate was allegedly sodomised by another at the Central Jail on the Tajpur road here last night.

The incident came to light when the inmate was rushed to the Civil Hospital for treatment this morning.

According to sources, the accused took the victim to the bathroom in the jail and reportedly sodomised him.

The victim, Ajay Kumar, was undergoing a jail term in a theft case while the accused, Ramesh Kumar, was serving a life term in a sodomy and murder case.

The jail authorities received the complaint of the victim, following which a case was registered at the Division No. 7 police station.



Zero discharge in Buddha Nullah
MC asks sewerage board to prepare estimate
Plans to plug 12 disposal points
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
In an effort to ensure zero discharge of contaminated water into the polluted Buddha Nullah as per orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Municipal Corporation authorities have asked the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) to prepare an estimate for plugging all disposal points out of which the sewerage water of the city currently flows into the nullah.

In a letter written to the board, the operation and maintenance branch of the civic body has asked the former to prepare estimates to plug at least 12 such disposal points from where sewerage water from the city flows into the Buddha Nullah. Officers of this branch and the state sewerage board had jointly visited the Buddha Nullah to examine the feasibility of commencing of plugging the discharge points earlier this week. Sources further said it was decided following the visit that the disposal points would be plugged and the sewerage water diverted into a different set of pipes, which would be laid by the board.

It was also decided that the Municipal Corporation would desilt the existing sewerage lines so that a smoother flow could be ensured. The sources said the O&M branch had written to the board since the state government wanted that the work should begin at the earliest.

Confirming that they had written such a letter, O&M branch superintendent engineer VP Singh said they had asked the board officials to prepare an estimate for plugging the disposal points. He said they had already plugged three disposal points at Chand Cinema, Jamalpur and Haibowal and were in the process of chalking out a plan to plug 11 other disposal points. He claimed that now only 50 mld (million litres daily) wastewater was being discharged into the nullah which, he promised, would also stop by March 31, 2012, as per the deadline set by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The 11 disposal points through which sewerage water is currently being discharged are located at Shingaar cinema, Transport Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, Ganesh Nagar, Tajpur Road, Tibba Road, Bhagwan Nagar, Sunder Nagar, Kundan Puri, Pavitar Nagar and Gau Ghat.



Foundation stones for Rs 30-cr projects laid
Mahesh Sharma

Mullanpur/Payal/Ahmedgarh, November 14
In an effort to harness support for prospective candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) from various assembly segments falling under Ludhiana, Fatehgarh and Sangrur parliamentary constituencies, party president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal went on a foundation stone laying spree here recently.

Badal laid the foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 30 crore at Mullanpur, Malaudh and Payal. Similar projects worth over Rs 20 crore were launched in the Amargarh assembly constituency.

Residents, dominantly activists of the party, were delighted when the Deputy Chief Minister directed the rank and file in the administration to ensure that all development projects were completed within the scheduled period of their commissioning.

The Deputy Chief Minister pointed out that maximum grants had been granted for the region, as it had remained ignored during earlier governments.

Claiming that the development works worth crore were already going on in the villages of the region, Manpreet Ayali, chairman Zila Parishad, said all projects would be completed within one year.

Residents will start availing pure drinking water with the completion of Rs 12 crore sewerage and waterworks project, foundation of which was laid recently. He said out of 908 villages of the district, work on water supply projects were going at a fast pace in 250 villages. This is probably first time that the district will witness a plethora of development schemes taking final shape.

Sukhbir Badal later laid foundation stones of sewerage and waterworks projects at Malaudh and Payal. He said funds for completion of ` 19 crore projects had already been released and people would soon start availing the facilities.

Responding to the appeal made by SAD incharge and former minister Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Badal said he had coordinated with the Union government regarding the proposed Advance Technology Training Institute at Araichan village under Payal subdivision. Work on the Rs 123 crore project will start immediately after removal of encroachment of a part of panchayat land, claimed the Deputy Chief Minister.

Sukhbir Badal inaugurated the four-day Rural Sports Fair being organised by the Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Sports Club at Sarabha village. Avtar Singh, chairman of the trust, presided over the inaugural function.



45 get prosthetics, wheelchairs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 14
Around 45 differently abled persons were given callipers, prosthetics, wheelchairs, tri-cycles and hearing aids at a free camp organised by the Bharat Vikas Parishad at Viklang Sahayta Kendra in Rishi Nagar here today.

Chief guest Tushar Chawla and guest of honour Inderpreet Kaur, district social security officer, lauded the initiative of the NGO and assured their full cooperation towards the welfare of differently abled persons.

BVP president Dr Kuldip said till date around 839 free camps for distribution of prosthetics and other devices had been held and some 33,500 persons had benefited.

In addition, free corrective surgical procedures had been performed on 1,287 polio-afflicted persons, he added.

Children from slum areas were rewarded and a cultural programme was presented by kids on Children’s Day.

Among others present at the function included Dr RP Gupta, Dr JR Kaushal, Suraj Jyoti, Neelam Gupta, Dr Vijay Laxmi Kapoor, Pankaj Jindal and Narinder Mittal.



Children’s Day
Reaching out to thalassaemic kids
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 14
Salaam Zindagi Foundation, an NGO, celebrated Children’s Day at Government College for Boys here today with 40 thalassaemic children. College principal Jasbir Kaur Makkar appreciated the efforts of the NGO for serving thalassaemic children of the city and adding a new dimension to the life of their families by providing them blood, blood transfusion charges, medicines and household items.

Guests like Ashok Dawar and Nishant Arora and others announced their support to the initiative by contributing towards the expenses of blood transfusion charges on behalf of the Youth Chemists Welfare Club.

Similarly, Tikka Dalip Singh, president and Surain Singh, secretary of the Ludhiana District Chemists Association, also offered to give monthly dosage of life saving medicine to the sponsored children.

A city businessman Mukesh Sahni, volunteered to sponsor 10 more thalassaemic children for blood transfusion charges, which takes the tally of sponsored children to 50, while Ashok Marwaha, came out with the offer of woolens to the children.

Manjit Saini, president, and Aseem Joshi, vice-chairman of the NGO have appealed to the people to come forward and support the noble cause.

Others present on the occasion were Gurpreet Singh Winkle, Balram Mehta, Atul Kumar, Bimal Kumar, Sachin, Ashish Dhanda, Rajesh Kapoor, Vikas Wadhawan, Anurag Sharma, GS Puri, JP Singh, Kirandeep, Gurvinder, Kulwinder, Shailender, Manoj Gautam, Balkar Singh, TP Singh and Anand Jha.



World Diabetes Day
Residents walk the extra mile
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 14
To mark the World Diabetes Day, Ludhiana Mediciti Hospital today organised a "diabetes walk" from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to the hospital on the Ferozepur road here. Chief guest Dr MS Kang, Vice-Chancellor of the PAU, flagged off the walk.

The keen participation of a large number of people highlighted the rising prevalence of diabetes in India while emphasising the early diagnosis to reduce complications.

Managing director of the hospital Dr BS Sekhon said the institution had partnered with Verka Milk Plant, Westend Mall, Punjab National Bank, Eli Lilly Pharma, Ace Healthways, Aurobindo College, Mandiani Primary School and Kendriya School Baddowal Trust to walk that extra mile to ensure that awareness among victims could be heightened.

Dr Sekhon announced at the occasion that consultation from endocrinologist at the hospital for one week after the registration would be free of cost.

Noted endocrinologist at the hospital Dr Rakesh Goyal observed that India had an estimated 41 million people suffering from diabetes, and the number was expected to go up to 79 million by 2030. "With one person dying every 10 seconds from diabetes-related complications, the diabetes walk has been organised as a step to raise the bar in the fight against diabetes."

He further cautioned that changing lifestyles, increasing stress levels, a genetic pre-disposition, and most seriously, neglect of timely screening and treatment have resulted in a pandemic that has earned diabetes the title of "silent killer" in India.

Dr Navdeep Singh Khaira, senior nephrologist said chronic kidney disease (CKD) was one of the most serious complications of diabetes.

About 50 per cent of diabetics will have CKD, which may require dialysis or kidney transplantation. It is, therefore, recommended that regular tests of urine and blood should be carried out in all diabetics so that kidney disease could be detected and managed at an early stage.

Health Notes

Ludhiana: DMCH yesterday celebrated “World Diabetes Day” by organising a free check-up camp at the OPD block of the hospital from 10 am to 1 pm. Around 400 patients were examined during the camp. Free counselling by specialists of diabetes and endocrinology department Dr Naveen Mittal and Dr Manikant Singla was given. Various stalls were put up at the OPD block and a skit was presented by students.

Free body mass and fat analysis tests were done. DMCH managing society president Prem Kumar Gupta gave away prizes to winners.

Dr Daljit Singh, principal and professor, pediatrics, Dr J Whig, vice-principal, Dr Balbir Singh Shah, Dr Rajoo Singh, Dr Sandeep Puri and Dr Parminder Singh attended the inaugural ceremony of the camp.



Fake Bill Scam
Indicted officials try to forestall fresh probe
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
After having failed to back up their statements on their roles in the ‘fake bill scam’, 11 of the 13 indicted officials of the municipal corporation’s buildings & roads branch have begun playing political games to prevent the inquiry into the fraud being handed over to an independent investigative agency.

The officials submitted a two-page letter opposing any further action in the case to mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura following reports that the Punjab government was contemplating a move to ask the state vigilance bureau to probe the scam.

In their representation the indicted officials argued since the MC had not incurred any loss of funds in the scam and as they been reinstated after being suspended for six months, it would not be in the government’s interest to hand over the probe to an agency other than the civic body or the local bodies department.

The letter said in case the inquiry was entrusted to some other agency the might get a chance to use the issue against the government.

Sources said the officials are in any case likely to face further punishment after MC additional commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar severely castigated them.

When asked to comment about the matter, Rohit Sabharwal, a local “social activist” said: “The letter written by the indicted officials has confirmed that a nexus exists between corrupt officials, contractors and politicians. The latter do not wish to work for the welfare of the people. Rather they end up covering the misdeeds of their brethren, he added while demanding stern action against officers who indulge in such type of political gambits”.

Kuldeep Singh Khaira, an RTI activist, said the state exchequer had incurred a loss because the indicted officials had “blindly followed instructions given by the politicians in power”. “The only solution for this problem is to sack such officials," he added.



Ludhiana Calling
Congress men make beeline for Captain’s ‘coronation’

Congress activists of all hues appeared to be bound for Chandigarh last Friday to attend the “coronation” ceremony of newly appointed Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Amarinder Singh. Sensing the occasion would turn out to be a show of strength for his supporters, local Congress leaders gathered party workers and left in a number of cavalcades for the PPCC office in the state capital to “mark their presence” at the ceremony. However it is another story that, following the heavy turnout of party leaders and ranks from all over Punjab, most of them could not make it to the function and had to turn back in Kharar or Mohali. A few others who could not afford taking along a sizeable number of activists or vehicles were seen distributing sweets in various localities in the city to “hail” the new party president.

— Kuldip Bhatia

No end to commuters’ woes

It appears there is going to be no respite from the hassles faced by commuters who have to come towards Bhadaur House at Mata Rani chowk with neither the civic body nor the police addressing the problem. Commuters have a tough time negotiating this stretch with traffic jams frequently lasting 20 to 30 minutes. The other day a man travelling in an autorickshaw, which was stuck in a snarlup, felt hungry, alighted from the vehicle, bought a ‘kulcha’ ((bun) and ate it while looking at other commuters fighting and abusing each other to get through the jam. In a lighter vein he told the auto driver, "It’s a daily affair here. You can’t move the auto for another 15 minutes and if you also want a ‘kulcha' I’ll get you one too”.

— Shivani Bhakoo

Keeping foes guessing

It seems evident mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura has learnt how to tackle his opponents deftly. The man, known for his good links with politicians across party lines, once again displayed his acumen at a recent meeting of the municipal corporation’s core committee in which councillors belonging to all parties extended their support to him after he was overlooked by the state local bodies minister. Keeping in mind the funds that the mayor could sanction for development projects in their wards, every councillor who participated in the meeting backed Giaspura and effusively praised him. Even the BJP councillors, who leave no stone unturned to criticize their alliance partners, also stood solidly behind the mayor, much to the annoyance of the minister who belongs to their party. In the words of an Akali councillor the reason was clear - the councilors have to seek funds for the projects from the mayor, not from the minister.

— Manvinder Singh

Blind faith

Rural folks came in large number to listen to ‘Art of Living’ guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar during his recent visit to a village adjoining the city. However, strangely many of the villagers were unaware of his “values” and beliefs. They took him as one of the usual "babas" who engage in religious discourses. "Some well-known ‘babaji’ has arrived in the village, let's go and listen to him," said a group of village women. One woman came with her nine-year-old girl suffering from some disease and requested Shankar to put his hand on her head so that she could be “cured” of her illness. To the villagers’ utter astonishment after every few minutes some or the other person from the gathering stood up and raised the cry "Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal". Every villager present took Shankar as a “guru". That the rural population follows "babas" mindlessly without even knowing actually knowing about them was proved true that day.

— Manav Mander

Letting out the ‘family secret’

With their ready wit children can sometimes cause immense embarrassment to their parents, especially when it is a "family's secret" that is made public within no time. As it happened, a seven year old wanted to watch a movie with his friends as was planned by their parents during a get-together. However, the programme did not materialize and the little one's parents took him for the movie on their own requesting him not to tell it to others in their group. Unable to hold on to the secret the boy, after meeting his friends the next day, was shouting at the top of his voice: "We went to see the movie ‘Gol Mal 3’ yesterday and, you know, mom and dad had asked me not to share this with anyone as this is the family's top secret." The poor parents had no words but to apologize to their friends and the bunch of kids!”

— Anshu Seth



Turning her weakness into strength
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Sheela Charles

Ludhiana, November 14
Being visually impaired has never been her disability. Sheela Charles has always taken things in her stride. The septuagenarian not only earns her own living, but also helps others like her, regain confidence and work towards a better tomorrow.

Amazingly, despite severe hardships in life, Sheela is not bitter. Even more amazing is the way she has successfully managed all her struggles in life, including social ostracism, discrimination, rehabilitation, desperate need to earn a living, endless training sessions, work pressures, a malevolent family and loneliness.

And unlike others in her situation, this gutsy woman is jolly, friendly, sociable and independent.

Sheela works at a workshop of the Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre for Disabled. She makes mops and dusters which are supplied to educational institutions and offices.

“I love working. It feels nice when someone tells me that I have created a fine duster,” chuckles the cheerful woman.

Not only this, Sheela also helps fresh entrants learn the tricks of working the handloom. Though not a teacher, she lovingly and dexterously teaches them how to make “perfect dusters”.

“I like interacting with my co-workers in free time and share notes,” she smiles.

Apart from giving her co-workers important professional tips, Sheela gives them courage to stand up for themselves and fight the odds.

“She is a great inspiration. Considering the oddities that she has faced in life, she is an undisputed winner,” adds Pooja, a student of VRTC.

A winner she is. She has not only fought her disability, which struck her at the tender age of seven months, but has managed to live on her own terms.

“I came here over three decades ago from Dehradun to take training in handloom work and did not feel like going back. It is my home now,” says Sheela, who got employment at the VRTC after the completion of her training.

Sheela earns Rs 2,500 per month and the centre takes care of her food, boarding and lodging necessities. She knows the place well and can move around without much assistance.

Sheela does not go home. “After the death of my parents, I did not want to live with my brother and sister-in-law as they demanded money from me,” she tells you without a trace of emotion in her voice, adding that none of her relatives come to visit her.

Ask her about marriage and the 76-year-“young” woman blushes. “I did not get married because I did not feel the need for it,” she says coyly, hastily adding, “Well, because I did not get anyone I wanted to spend my life with.”

“I am happy here (at the centre). Though my speed to make dusters has gone down considerably due to old age, people here love me a lot. I have no regrets,” she says with a warm smile. Sheela has been an inspiration for not only the students and her co-workers at the centre, but also for the staff members.

“The confidence that she exudes is infectious. She inspires us all to move on in life and face challenges,” says Sarah Johnson, executive director, VRTC.



Stress on preserving gaushalas
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 14
Office-bearers of various religious and social organisations called upon people to come to the rescue of “gaushalas” here today. While cows provided milk, oxen sustained cultivation of fields, maintained the crusaders.

They were addressing a gathering of office-bearers and activists of some social and religious organisations during Gopashtmi celebrations at Shri Radha Krishan Gaushala, formerly Seth Gobindmal Chanan Ram Parmapati Gaushala, at Kaind village, near here.

Claiming that rearing of cows, both indigenous and exotic varieties, had proven beneficial for sustenance of agrarian economy, the speakers regretted that people had forgotten the role of cattle in strengthening the agrarian society.

“Studies have established that even cow dung and urine contain certain chemicals that have medicinal value,” maintained speakers.

Appreciating the committee led by councillor Bimal Kumar Sharma for providing facilities for cattle in the “gaushala”, Swami Krishana Nand, chief of the All-India Gau Sewa Sangh, called upon the organisers to involve more peasants in the service of cattle.

Religious leaders, including Swami Ram Tirath and Raj Kumar, said worship and rearing of cows was important for saving the humanity from fatal diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular ailments. Organisers also organised a community kitchen for the devotees. Organisers of various gaushalas were also felicitated.



Fruits, veggies waste an excellent feed for animals
Shivani Bhakoo/TNS

Ludhiana, November 14
Next time you throw the peels of veggies or fruits think twice as animals relish the fruits and vegetables waste mostly because they are palatable and nutritious. This has recently been researched by the nutritionists of Guru Angad Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU).

Out of 2.8 metric tonnes of vegetables and 1.06 metric tonnes of fruits, state produces 1.16 metric tonnes of Fruits and Vegetables Waste (FVW) annually. With the mushrooming of processing plants in organised sector, huge quantity of FVW is not only difficult to dispose but also poses threat to the environment.

Mostly FVW has excellent potential as alternative feed resource for livestock and poultry. The only drawback is that the waste has short shelf life (because of high moisture and sugar content). If dried under sun/solar drying or ensiled with wheat/rice straw in 70:30 ratio, the nutrients in these wastes can be conserved.

Dr MPS Bakshi from the Nutrition department of GADVASU said the effective solar dries should be instaled or silo pits should be made in the vicinity of the fruits and vegetables processing plants and the processed FVW can be fed to animals. The peels of baby-corn cob called baby-corn husk, sarson saag waste, pea-pods, tomato pomaces, cauliflower leaves, fruit juice waste and many other things, if conserved wisely, can provide good nutritional value to animals. Dr Bakshi said apart from FVW, new technology calcium salts of long chain fatty acid (LCFA-Ca) developed in GADVASU can be prepared by fusion method, which requires boiling of rice bran fatty acid oil with the solution of good quality technical grade calcium hydroxide for 30 minutes using sulphuric acid as catalyst.



Political Rallies: Non-availability of officials stalls work
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 14
With a majority of Congress and SAD leaders busy mobilising activists of their respective parties for political functions and rallies, residents of the town and surrounding villages have been forced to put off their important official work.

Opening of new bank accounts, registration of title deeds, signing power of attorneys and filing of affidavits are some of the routine chores that have been affected substantially.

Most local leaders, including elected members of the civic body, were busy making arrangements for various functions.

While SAD and BJP leaders were busy wooing supporters for Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s rallies at Mullanpur, Malaudh, Payal and Amargarh, the Congress leaders were all out to show their strength during the oath-taking ceremony of recently appointed president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Capt Amarinder Singh.

“I had to submit an affidavit in order to get an account opened at one of the nationalised banks, but could not get it attested. I will have to wait till Monday as government offices remain closed on Saturday,” said Manjider Singh of Pohir village.

A deed writer said the number of documents registered at the office of local sub-registrar plummeted.

Non-availability of councillors and witnesses was the reason behind the trend.

Acknowledging the tendency during politically active days, office-bearers of some civic bodies argued that they had to spend time with senior leaders, as grants for development works could not be fetched without their recommendation.



Madras Chamber Orchestra performs in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Madras Chamber Orchestra, the group that recorded AR Rehman’s Oscar winning soundtrack for “Slumdog Millionaire”, gave a performance at Guru Nanak Dev Bhawan last evening.

The group, which consisted of stalwarts Malcolm Ranjore, George Samuel, Desmond J Xavier and Jerry Fernandes, began practising Mozart’s quartets together and in 1969, Madras Chamber Orchestra officially came into existence. The group was revived in April 2009 after nearly two decades.

“We have performed before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama,” said Lalit Verma, one of the group members. Organised under the aegis of Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam, the performance was well received by audience. “When we were asked to perform in the city, I was more than happy to be here, as it is my birthplace,” he said.



Attacks on RSS offices condemned

Phillaur, November 14
BJP Leader and vice-chairman of the Youth Development Board, Punjab, Tarun Chugh has condemned the alleged attacks on RSS offices by youth activists at several places in the country.

Chugh said though peaceful demonstrations were rights of each and every citizen, but the violent attacks could not be tolerated at any cost.

While replying to a question about controversial statement of Stalwart Sudarshan about UPA chairperson and demand of the Congress party for public apology by RSS, Chugh said if Congress wanted it should apologise for weak policies adopted by the Congress led Union Government. — TNS



Onion prices go up
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 14
Onion becomes dearer this week, while winter fruits like grapes and pears have started arriving in the market.

Onion prices have gone up from `25 to `35 per kg. Grapes are priced at `250, while pears are being sold at `200 per kg. Since cauliflower has started arriving in the local market, it is priced at `25 per kg, which was available at `40 per kg last week.



Students told about traffic rules
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, November 14
Desh Bhagat Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Mandi Gobindgarh, in coordination with district traffic police, Fatehgarh Sahib, organised a drug abuse and traffic awareness programme for the benefit of students on Friday.

A film show on different types of drug abuse in the society and its affects was shown to the students.

Inspector Vikas Sabharwal, district in charge, traffic police, sub-inspector Hari Chand, traffic police, and Rajesh Kumar, sub-inspector, traffic education cell briefed the students about traffic rules and road ethics.



Students felicitated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 14
Children’s Day was celebrated at Victoria Public High School, Lehra, today. Around 100 students were felicitated on the day. Dev Raj Sofat, former ADM, Punjab Roadways, presided over the function, while Raj Kumar Bhagat, branch manager, State Bank of India, Dehlon, was the chief guest.

Khushi Mittal, Harsimrat, Isha, Dhawyan Jain, Arash Noor, Aditya and Manjot were felicitated.

The programme started with shabads presented by students. Patriotic songs, educative skits and choreographies on social evils were appreciated by all.

Bhagat announced to adopt the institute for expansion and talent-promotion projects.



27 schools take part in cultural fest

Mandi Gobindgarh, November 14
Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Sciences, Mandi Gobindgarh, organised "Rainbow Fiesta", a one-day mega cultural festival for senior school students. Various competitions included singing, dancing, acting, modelling, painting, cartoon-making, collage-making, clay-modelling and creative writing.

Teams from 27 senior secondary schools of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh participated.

Over 300 budding artists enthraled the audience with their performance. Events like bhangra, giddha, western dance and modelling remained the main attraction.

The competition depicting use of waste material for useful purposes was particularly appreciated. Amloh SDM Poonamdeep Kaur gave away prizes to the winners. She said such programmes were essential for the all-round development of the personalities of the students. — OC



Rural Games
Harmilan strikes gold in 800m
Anil Datt

Ludhiana, November 14
Harmilan Kaur of Hoshipaur finished well ahead of others in the 800m race to bag the first gold medal in the Punjab State Rural Games for Girls U-16 being jointly organised by the Punjab sports department and Sports Authority of India under the Central govenment’s scheme Panchayat Yuva Karida Aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) which began at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

She clocked 2:26.12 sec to wrap up the top honours, while Kuljit Kaur of Tarn Taran took 2:27.72 sec to secure a silver medal. Sandeep Kaur from Patiala finished at third place with timing of 2:31.80 sec.

Earlier, Punjab Cabinet Minister Hira Singh Gabria inaugurated the games, in which more than 2,000 players drawn from all districts from all over the state are taking part in 13 disciplines-athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, hockey, handball, judo, kho-kho, kabaddi, table tennis, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling.

The chief guest took salute at an impressive march past. Colourful balloons were released to mark the opening of this four-day sports extravaganza. He wished the participants a comfortable stay and good luck for the games.

Trainees of coach Manmohan Kaur Chopra gave a fine gymnastics performance. They presented somersault and aerobics which was applauded by the gathering. The Minister appreciated gymnasts' performance and announced cash prizes for them.

Star sportswomen Paramjit Kaur (kho-kho), Jasmine Kaur (athletics), Kiranjit Kaur (basketball) and Pushpinder Kaur (hockey) carried the games torch around the stadium. National athlete Tandeep Kaur took oath on behalf of the participants to play in the true spirit of sports.

Pargat Singh, director, sports, Punjab, SL Lotey, assistant director, sports, Punjab, Harpal Singh Kanwar and Hazari Lal Harma, deputy directors, sports, Patiala division and Jalandhar division, respectively, Sat Pal Singh, district sports officer, Ludhiana, and coaches of the Punjab sports department were also present.


Basketball (first round): Mohali bt Ludhiana 26-10; Sangrur bt Ferozepur 20-11; Mansa bt Hoshiarpur 47-15 and Bathinda bt Fatehgarh Sahib 31-22; kho-kho (first round): Patiala bt Mohali 10-2; Bathinda bt Barnala 13 points one turn; boxing (quarterfinals) 46kg: Rajia Kumari (Sangrur) bt Gurpreet Kaur (Moga); Muskan Sidhu (Ludhiana) bt Vimaljit Kaur (Bathinda); Rajwant Kaur (Gurdaspur) bt Muskan Anand (Amritsar); 48kg: Priyanka Rani (Sangrur) bt Khushdeep Kaur (Tarn Taran); Sumanjit Kaur (Ludhiana) bt Amandeep Kaur (Ludhiana); Kirandeep Kaur (Gurdaspur) bt Surbhi (Amritsar); volleyball (first round): Sangrur bt Fateshgarh Sahib 2-0; Ludhiana bt Ferozepur 2-0; Mansa bt Patiala 2-0; Moga bt Gurdaspur 2-0 and Jalandhar bt Barnala 2-0; handball (first round): Jalandhar bt Mohali 10-5 and Kapurthala bt Fatehgarh Sahib 10-4; hockey (first round): Fatehgarh Sahib bt Patiala 2-1 and Ludhiana bt Mansa 5-0.



19-yr-old city girl set to make it big in cricket
Our Sports Reporter

Parveen Khan

Ludhiana, November 14
Parveen Khan, an upcoming cricketer from Ferozepur, would soon be seen in Indian Women's Cricket Team. 19-year-old student of Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, Parveen has already carved a niche for herself with her stupendous performances recently.

Popularly known as “black diamond” among her fellow players, Parveen is an all-rounder. She is an opening batsman, wicket-keeper and an excellent off spin bowler.

Parveen started playing cricket three years ago at Gyan Jyoti Academy, Ferozepur, under the guidance of coach Yadvinder Singh Sodhi and was immediately selected to lead the Punjab squad to represent the state in the National School Games, held in Indore where the team finished runners-up.

Last year, Parveen took part in the All-India Women's Cricket Championship (U-19), organised by the BCCI. She took five wickets in the match against Himachal Pradesh and scored 45 runs against Delhi.

Same year, in the T20 Cricket Meet held in Delhi, Parveen created a record when she scalped four victims after conceding just five runs against Delhi.

She represented Khalsa College, Ludhiana in the Panjab University Inter-College Cricket Tournament held last week in Chandigarh and played the pivot role to anchor her college to emerge champions.

In the semifinal, Parveen scored 77 runs against MCM DAV College, Chandigarh, to enable Khalsa College to secure a berth in the final match. In the final against Panjab University Campus, Chandigarh, she again excelled with the bat chipping in with 27 runs and remained unconquered to fashion her team's victory by eight wickets.

On the basis of her performance in Chandigarh, Parveen has been chosen as probable for the camp for the PU team for the All-India Inter-University Cricket Tournament scheduled for this month in Delhi.



Khalsa eves selected for cricket camp
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, November 14
Nine players of Khalsa College for Women, Civil Lines, Ludhiana, have been selected to attend the preparatory camp for the forthcoming All-India Inter-Varsity Cricket Championship for Women slated to be held in New Delhi from November 25 onwards.

This camp is being held in Chandigarh. These girls have been chosen on the basis of their performance in the Panjab University Inter-College Cricket Tournament held in Chandigarh recently. In the final, Khalsa College for Women had defeated Panjab University Campus, Chandigarh, convincingly by eight wickets and lifted the winner’s trophy after a gap of 10 years.

The selected players are Parveen Khan, Baljinder Kaur, Preeti, Manjinder Kaur, Jagdeep Kaur, Baldeep Kaur, Mandeep Kaur, Simarjit Kaur and Swarn Kaur.



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