L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


10 hurt in group clash in Daad village
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Ten people including a woman were injured following a clash between two groups in Daad village near here today. The incident took pace in the afternoon when as two neighbours, Sikander Kumar and Vijay Kumar, fought over the installation of a gate, which led to supporters of both exchanging blows over the issue.

Sikander stated he had opposed the plan to erect a gate at the house of Vijay, who lives on the same street in the village. The dispute had led to personal enmity between the two for some time. "The gate was opening towards the street due to which we were facing a lot of inconvenience”, Sikander claimed.

Though the matter was resolved today by the village ‘panchayat’, supporters of both neighbours began hurling abuses at each other. Soon after the panchayat members left the scene they exchanged blows and started hitting each other. A sharp edged weapon was also used in the clash.

The injured have been identified as Baldev Singh, Surjit Singh, Jeet Ram, Mohan Lal, Hardev Singh, Vijay Kumar and Dhiri, Surjit’s wife. Members of the other group, including Sikander, Prem Kumar and Surjit Kumar, all said to be in their mid-30s, also sustainedinjuries in the clash.

Sikander complained the men led by Surjit broke his jaw and even threatened to kill him.

All the injured have been admitted to the Civil Hospital where, later, they reportedly picked up a fight in the premises also. They, however, exercised restraint.

The police is yet to file a case in the incident but investigations are on.


Class X students continue to suffer pre-board blues
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
While Class X students of CBSE schools have been relieved from the formidable board examinations from this academic session, city schools continue to harass their students in the name of pre-board exams.

Not only this, they have even been found to be scaring their students of "very tough" question papers in the pre-board exams, clearing which is mandatory.

This, despite the fact that the CBSE, had, at the onset of the current academic session, issued an advisory to schools that they do away with multiple mock board exams, popularly known as the pre-boards.

While on one hand, this practice of the schools has left students over-stressed and confused; on the other hand, it has thwarted the very purpose of the CBSE behind doing away with the dreaded Class X board and pre-board examinations.

"Our class teacher has warned us in clear terms that we re going to get very tough questions in our pre-boards slated to start in the last week of January. I am very tensed and at the same time, I am wondering that when board exams have been done away with, where is the need to hold pre-boards?" rued Sahil, a student.

Sarika Khanna, a parent, questioned, "My child is very stressed and overburdened. He is tired of preparing for the series of pre-boards. While there will be no board exams, why is the school holding pre-boards?"

While students and parents have their own doubts, school authorities say they have to hold the pre-boards in order to prepare the students for the tough competition.

"There is no harm in testing children. Holding multiple tests is the only way to ensure that they get serious about their studies," remarked a school head.

In fact, he claimed that bringing down the number of pre-boards may impair the performance of students, besides making parents anxious. For parents, how well the student does in these pre-boards is the only way to gauge his or her preparation, he said.

Another principal added, "One of the reasons for my school doing so well is that we hold two pre-boards. The first one is like a test-run, where students get to know where they lag. The two tests are preparation for the forthcoming boards."

However, some school heads belong to the other school of thought. "We should not hold any pre-board exams simply because it beats the entire purpose of de-stressing the students," remarked Paramjit Kaur, principal, BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School.

Helping students

Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Kapil Sibal had made Class X exams of the CBSE optional from the current academic session in order to provide relief to students from the intense competition and overburden of studies. Students now have the option of either writing the board exams or appearing for exams conducted by the school. The HRD ministry has also introduced the concept of grading from the current academic session. With the introduction of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) scheme, students can now choose to revise half the syllabus for the March examination. They have already completed a system of evaluation for the other half. CCE requires students to go through evaluation processes periodically. There are formative assessment (FA) tests, and end-of-term summative assessment procedures (SA). There are thus tests spread out across the academic calendar offering students a relief from the annual board examination of the CBSE.

CBSE advisory

The CBSE has issued an advisory to all schools to do away with multiple mock board exams, popularly known as the pre-boards.

On April 20, 2010, Ludhiana Sahodaya School principals had at a meeting unanimously decided to opt out of the CBSE board exams for Class X
Although there was widespread apprehension among parents with regard to optional board exams, the number of students who opted out of the same shows that students have backed CCE to the hilt. In the very first year, almost 98 per cent of the city's Class X students have chosen to take school based exams instead of the board examination



Future of 40 schoolchildren hangs in balance
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Black clouds are hovering over the future of students of a primary school as the municipal corporation authorities, under the political pressure, are planning to give 1,599 square yards of its prime land to a politically affluent college, the agenda for which has been added in that of the meeting of general house.

According to information, on the request of a college management the CM office had forwarded a letter to Mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura for transferring 1,599 square yards of its prime land adjoining its A-zone office to the college.

Fearing a strong opposition to this “request” the MC authorities have deliberately not put it in the main agenda of the general house meet. However, it has been added in the supplementary agenda, which has evoked a sharp criticism from the Congress councillors, who have alleged that the MC authorities were using the property of the people for personal gains.

Commenting on it Congress councillor Parminder Mehta said it would never be allowed as it is not according to the law. He said, “If the state government is so generous in giving away the land to the college then it should give its own land instead of asking the MC to transfer it.” He added that, “What will be the future of poor children studying in the school and where will the poor families residing on the land go?”

The piece of land which is to be transferred to the college is very important as it houses many important buildings.

It has a government primary school where about 40 children from the poor section of society are getting education. An office of the block education officer is also built on the land, along with a number of houses for the staff of the MC. A tubewell has also been installed on the land from which water is supplied to many areas. Besides, this piece of land also has a junk yard of the MC.

The Mayor was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

Letter on land transfer

Following a request by the college management, the Punjab Chief Minister’s office had forwarded a letter to Mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura for transferring 1,599 square yards of prime land adjoining the A-zone office to the college. This land has a government primary school where about 40 children from the economically weaker section of society are getting education. An office of the block education officer is also built on the land along with a number of houses for the staff of the MC. A tubewell has also been installed on the land from which water is supplied to many areas. Besides, this piece of land also has a junk yard of the MC



NRI’s house, temple burgled

Ludhiana, January 17
Cocking a snook at the city police's security arrangements, thieves struck at the house of an NRI located on the busy Pakhowal road and decamped with cash, clothes, gold ornaments worth lakhs of rupees here today.

The incident came to light this afternoon, when Inderjit Singh, a resident of Phullanwal, who is looking after the property in the absence of the owner Naseeb Kaur, arrived at the house and found it ransacked.

"Naseeb Kaur is in New York to meet her children. I was taking care of her property in her absence. I came to the house this morning and was shocked to find house ransacked. Wasting no time, I called the police and informed it about the theft," said Inderjit Singh.

He said he was visiting the house thrice a week. The police is suspecting that the theft might have taken place a couple of days ago and the thieves were fully aware that the occupant was not in the house.

"The thieves committed the theft with ease. Taps were removed and cupboards were broken. We cannot make any estimate, yet the exact figure of loss would be know only after the arrival of the owner of the house," said the investigating officer. A close relative of the woman claimed that the loss could run into lakhs of rupees.

In the meantime police has registered the case and started the investigation.

Meanwhile, thieves lay their hands on a donation box of Shiv Puran temple located in Himmat Singh Nagar near the Dugri area and fled with uncounted cash.

The matter came to light when the priest of the temple told the devotes about the incident. Vishal Nagar, a resident of Himmat Singh Nagar, informed the police about the theft.

"I visited the temple and found the donation box broken. On being asked, the priest told me that thieves had decamped with the donation amount by breaking the donation box," said Vishal.

It was not the first incident of theft at the temple earlier too the thieves had struck at the same temple and fled with donation amount. — TNS



Cycle prices to increase from Feb 1
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Poor man's cycle will cost more as cycle manufacturers have announced to raise prices by 5 to 7 per cent from February. With the rise in the input cost, manufacturers are left with no option but to raise the cost of the finished product.

"The cost of steel, rubber, nickel, zinc and copper has increased which has led to the increase in the input cost by nearly Rs 100 per bicycle. We do not want to burden the customer by increasing the prices in one go, so we will be doing it in two parts. From February 1, the price of the cycle will be increased by Rs 65 and by February 15, there will be another increase of Rs 35," said Onkar Singh Pahwa, chairman of Avon Cycles.

Hero Cycles is also working out the amount of price to be increased. "Since there is an increase in the input cost, there will definitely be an increase in the prices of bicycles. We are still calculating on the amount to be passed on to customers," said Director of Hero Cycles SK Rai.

There has been an unimaginable increase in input prices like steel, rubber, zinc and copper. "We have to pass on the price to the customers. "The first increase will be by February 1 and prices will be increased again by February 15," said KK Seth, MD, Neelam Cycles.

"On February 1, we will be increasing the prices by Rs 65, while on February 15, there will be another increase by Rs 40-50. The prices of steel, which is a key input in bicycle making, has shot up by Rs 32 to Rs 35 per kg in the last one month. Natural rubber prices have jumped by almost 25 per cent in the past three months to Rs 210 per kg. In the present scenario, we have to raise the price," added Seth.

The basic model, which costs around Rs 2,400, will now be available at Rs 2,475, including VAT, while by February 15, the prices will be increased by another Rs 40-50.



Small industries hit hard
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The rising prices of steel are hitting the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) hard. MSMEs, which are the mainstay of the industrial economy, have been contributing significantly towards the gross domestic product and employment-generation avenues. While the need of the hour is to strengthen this sector so that it can face challenges boldly, the rising steel prices have become a cause of concern, which have eroded profit margins, thereby reducing incentives for expanding industrial activity in this sector.

"The fall in the industrial growth numbers indicates the impending slowdown of industrial activity. The Central government should announce corrective measures to curb rising steel prices immediately, said Avtar Singh, general secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings.

During the last one month, there has been an unprecedented hike in the prices of steel products shown as under:

The hike has given latitude to unauthorised holdings and created artificial scarcity in the domestic market. This has put the MSME sector at stake by eating away their sizable working capital funds. Exporters, which have been hit hard, are unable to keep their commitment with foreign buyers.

Future trading of steel products in the stock exchange should be stopped. In addition, customs and excise duty on steel should be bare minimum for a short span of two-three months for facilitating the import of steel at lower prices, he added.



When stem cell therapy worked wonders
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Thanks to the stem cell therapy, there is now a reason behind the unmistakable gleam in the eyes of 39-year-old Suraj Bahadur, a Home Guard from Jalandhar, suffering from severe Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD).

Suraj Bahadur is the first case in Punjab, who was successfully treated with stem cell therapy at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH).

Having undergone treatment and angiography at a number of medical institutes of Punjab, Suraj Bahadur was in great pain due to his non-healing ischemic ulcer. But the worst came when he was advised amputation by many experts in the field.

Thereafter, he consulted Dr Harinder Singh Bedi, head, Cardio Vascular & Thoracic Surgery at the CMCH, who immediately admitted Suraj Bahadur and performed the procedure on both his legs on January 7 and 8.

Speaking to The Tribune, Suraj said, " I was diagnosed with the PVD two years ago and ever since I had been going from one cardiac expert to another. Lately, I had lost the ability to walk and was under immense pain. But, I regained my lost confidence after speaking to Dr HS Bedi who assured me that I would be able to walk again and play with my children," said Suraj Bahadur.

Dr Bedi, while emphasising upon the procedure, said the CD34 stem cells used in Suraj's treatment are nature's blank slates or primitive cells with an extensive capacity for self-renewal and the ability to differentiate into multiple cell types. They have the potential to become blood vessels or 200 other types of specialised cells, including heart cells, nerve cells, liver cells, skin cells and pancreatic cells. They are one of the most tantalising mysteries in medicine, which are already giving results.

Suraj is now back home with his family and improving with every passing day.

Dr A Joseph, Dr A Gupta, Dr V Thomas, Dr V Bhasker, Dr P Gupta, Dr A Bhardwaj and Dr Simi were the other members of the team that worked on the stem cell therapy.

A boon for patients

About 15 per cent of Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD) cases in India have A-type of diffuse disease for which no treatment is possible. Aputating the leg is hence considered the only option. However, the stem cell therapy introduced at the CMCH is a boon for PVD patients. The patients’ own stem cells are taken from the bone marrow, prepared in a very hi-tech special machine called 'Harvest Life Cell' and after processing, injected into the muscles of the leg. The stem cells induce angiogenesis or new blood vessel formation, thereby saving the leg.



Narrow escape for bus passengers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Nearly 40 passengers travelling in a bus had a miraculous escape today morning after their bus caught fire following a collision with a motorcycle on the Chandigarh road near Nich Mangli village.

The motorcyclist, later identified as Sameer Kumar, sustained serious injuries and was rushed to hospital, where his condition is stated to be critical. Though none of the passengers suffered burns eight of them sustained minor injures after the fire caused a stampede in the bus. The incident took place at about 8 am when the bus (registration no: PB65 F0244) coming from Fazilka was headed for Chandigarh. According to an eyewitness, the collision took place when Sameer was crossing the road on his bike to reach his factory in Nichi Mangli.

According to the police, Jasvir Singh, the driver of the bus, which was traveling at high speed, lost control over the wheels and ran over the motorcyclist. His bike was badly damaged.

The sudden collision resulted in the motorbike’s fuel tank bursting. Within a few minutes the bus caught fire and was enveloped in flames, leading and created to panic among the passengers who scrambled to get out of the bus.

Jasvir fled the scene even as passengers and passersby tried to douse the fire and is yet to be apprehended. Meanwhile, the police has filed a case against him under sections 279, 337, 338 & 427 of the IPC on charges of rash driving.



200 cops for city of 40 lakh people
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
With the city’s population touching almost 40 lakh, 200 traffic personnel are not enough to manage the huge volume of traffic. Residents cite the example of Chandigarh with regard to rules being “strictly imposed” by the traffic police, but they themselves do not miss an opportunity to call influential persons for help if a traffic police stops them for violating rules.

10 lakh vehicles

“Approximately 10 lakh vehicles are registered with the department. Out of these, 65 per cent are two-wheelers.

— Ashwani Sharma, District Transport Officer

A police official said there was much political interference in the city. “Sons and relatives of politicians, leading industrialists, and a few officials violate traffic rules the most. A majority of defaulters are well connected and don’t care about traffic regulations. We find it difficult when leaders or their personal assistants themselves make a phone call for getting the defaulters exempted from paying fine,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, to ease traffic congestion near Preet Palace here, the Model Town police has closed all dividers on the main road connecting the two flyovers.

SHO Model Town Manjinder Singh said the department had to manage with limited staff. “As an experiment, we have closed all dividers on a small stretch of 400 meter,” he said, adding that more jams were caused due to the two traffic lights installed there. For now, the lights had been switched off to see if there was any improvement in the flow of traffic.

“For the past two days, there has been no jam in the area. Though residents had initially objected to it, they are now cooperating with us,” the SHO said.



Laying of sewerage system under JNNURM
BJP to oppose SAD MLA’s move today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The battle lines have been drawn between ruling SAD and the BJP alliance ahead of the crucial municipal corporation’s general house meeting. BJP councillors have decided to vehemently oppose the SAD MLA’s move to get sewerage lines laid under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in villages and colonies outside the city.

Decision regarding this was taken in BJP councillors’ meeting, which was called for chalking out strategy for the general house meeting scheduled for tomorrow. The meeting was presided over by president of the district unit of the BJP, Rajiv Katna, senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal and leader of the BJP councillors’ group, Gurdeep Singh Neetu. They unanimously opposed Akali MLA Darshan Singh Shivalik’s move to get sewerage connections for areas outside the city.

BJP councillors, who took it as a threat to their vote bank, said this could not be tolerated, as it would put more pressure on the sewerage system. The sewerage system of the city is not capable of carrying the waste, they added. However, they said if the sewerage of JNNURM was also connected with the villages then the situation would worsen further. They said it would ultimately go against the interest of the city residents.

This forced the councillors to vehemently oppose any such move by the MLA in particular. They said even if the agenda, passed by the finance and contract committee, was put up for the general house approval then also they would oppose it. Neetu said residents were facing hardships due to the choked sewerage system. Thus, they won’t allow anyone to take connections from this sewerage, he added.

The finance and contract committee of the municipal corporation had passed this a few day after being pressurised by the Akali MLA despite being opposed by senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal.

BJP to oppose move

The BJP has decided to oppose the SAD MLA’s move to get sewerage lines laid under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in villages and colonies during crucial general house meeting of the corporation scheduled for tomorrow.



PAU Notes
Official honoured

LUDHIANA: Satvir Singh, working as welfare officer (contractual) with Punjab Agricultural University, has been awarded achievers’ award carrying a trophy and citation during a seminar organised by Punjab Technical University at Ludhiana. Satvir, looking after the cultural activities of the students, has earlier represented the PTU in bhangra during various inter-university competitions.

The PAU director of students’ welfare, Dr PPS Lubana, and deputy director (PR) and coordinator of cultural activities Dr Nirmal Jaura have congratulated Satvir Singh for this recognition.

Training on hi-tech cultivation

The directorate of extension education of the PAU will organise a two-day training course on the hi-tech cultivation of vegetables from January 18-19 at Kairon Kisan Ghar. Director of extension education Dr MS Gill said the participating farmers and farm women would be provided know-how on the importance of hi-tech vegetable growing, net-house cultivation of tomato, capsicum and brinjal besides explaining scientific nursery raising and growing vegetables in low tunnel etc. The subject-matter specialists of the PAU will explain drip irrigation, hybrid seed production, management of pests and diseases in vegetable crops. The event will be coordinated by Dr TS Dhillon and Dr JS Bhalla.

Almond growers meet VC

A group of three almond growers from Famoso Nut Company, Bakersfield, California, comprising Bruce L Beretta, ED Kuykendall and Paramjit S Dosanjh visited Punjab Agricultural University on Monday. They held interaction with Dr Manjit Singh Kang, Vice-Chancellor, on various aspects of Punjab agriculture in general and grapes and almond growing in particular.

Dr Kang said the NRI farmers have made India proud by their excellence in farming and related activities across the world. Due to their hard work and dedicated efforts, different areas have been identified with specific crops, he said.

India had made tremendous growth on economic front, but the investment in agricultural research and development had not been very much for many years, observed Dr Kang.

Tracing the history of agricultural development in India, Dr Kang said priority funding of seven agricultural Universities led to the ushering in of the green revolution in India that made the country self-sufficient on food front. Referring to the contribution that rice and wheat had made towards making India food secure, Dr Kang said there had been an aftermath of green revolution in terms of natural resource base decline, such as deteriorating soil health and declining underground water.

Paramjit S Dosanjh said that mechanised harvesting of grapes had been adopted by many farmers. He remarked that of the total production in the tune of 20 million pounds of almond in Bakersfield, a bigger share was exported to Asian countries, including India.

The NRI community of farmers hold PAU in great esteem for its contribution towards agriculture. Discussing about the transfer of technology mechanism of the PAU, Dosanjh said Kisan melas were great events where NRIs were keen to participate. He added that NRIs were also eager to subscribe PAU farm magazines, Changi Kheti and Progressive Farming in their native villages.

Bruce Beretta discussed about the cost effectiveness of technologies that were recommended to the farmers. Dr Kang responded that PAU had worked out the economics of different production systems, allied agricultural ventures and recommends only those technologies which were cost effective and help the farmers to harness profits from agriculture.

Kisan Committee meeting

A meeting of the Kisan Committee of Punjab Agricultural University was held here on Monday under the chairmanship of PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang, where the queries of the participating farmers were responded by the subject experts of the university.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Kang called upon the farmers to come out with their suggestions for the future agriculture programme so that the university can devise its research programmes accordingly.

Referring to the farmers as stakeholders, he added that the country would need as many as 276 million tonnes of food grains during the next 10 years and the university and the farmers of Punjab would have a major role to play in achieving this target.

As the farmers repose full faith in the academic research and extension activities of the PAU, Dr Kang assured them that the university would continue to provide them with need-based technical know-how in future as well.

Dr MS Gill, director of extension education, PAU, while welcoming the farmers highlighted the extension programmes and activities of the university in solving the farm problems of the farmers and added that the PAU had a close relationship with the farming community.

He informed that the agricultural scientists from Orissa were also participating in this meeting to acquaint themselves with the extension activities of the PAU.

The participating farmers, echoing the problems faced by them, complained that the pollutants were coming to their fields with the canal water and they were facing problems in raising their crops.



From Schools
Interactive session

LUDHIANA: Students of Ryan International School were in for a pleasant surprise when Love Ablish, Ranji cricketer and member of Kings XI Punjab of the IPL, visited the school on Monday. The cricketer interacted with the students and shared his experiences with them.

The cricketer was given a formal welcome during a special assembly. The Ryanites were highly motivated as he talked about the hardships he faced before achieving the present status. Ablish also guided the budding players about career avenues in the field of cricket.

Highlight of the day, however, was when Ablish got to the school cricket ground and played with the students. The session proved to be very fruitful and interactive as the young cricketers got satisfactory answers to all their queries by the expert himself.

Annual fete

New Senior Secondary School held its annual fete and prize distribution function here today. A colourful cultural programme was also presented by students. The chief guest honoured the meritorious students of the last academic session. A vote of thanks was proposed by the principal.


Students of Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, bagged the running trophy in a declamation contest held on January 10 at Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran. The contest was organised by the gurdwara committee.

The contest was held in two groups -- A and B -- in which around 23 students in each category participated from 18 schools of the city.

Vanshika Aggarwal of Class III was declared the winner in group A while Himanshu of Class IX bagged the third prize in group B. The committee president gave away prizes to the winners which included Rs 100 as cash reward and a running trophy. — TNS



MC officials told to explain absence at key meet
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Irked by the absence of officials of the municipal corporation’s operations & maintenance (O&M) and buildings & roads (B&R) branches at a crucial meeting to discuss audit objections raised by the state finance department, the MC top brass has sought a written explanation from them.

The civic body has been under continuous pressure from the finance department as well as the state assembly to clear the pending audit objections regarding its records. MC additional commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar, who heads the civic body’s audit branch, had called a meeting of all branches to review the status on filing a reply to the objections. However in the meeting no officer from the building branch and from that of workshop was present despite of the fact that a sizeable number of objections are pending against both these crucial branches.

Much to Brar’s ire officers of both branches did not also bother to inform they would not be attending the meeting. He has now asked them to submit a written explanation on their “negligence”.

Sources added Brar also chided officials of the MC’s operations & maintenance and buildings & roads branches for their laxity in filing the replies regarding the objections. She asked all the present officers to ensure that the replies of the queries are given at proper time so that the record of the civic body could be maintained in a proper manner.

Confirming the development, Brar said: “This sort of indiscipline by senior officials won’t be tolerated and hence an explanation has been sought from them" she added.

A reply to the audit objections, involving an expenditure of over Rs 150 crore incurred by the civic body, has been pending due to which the audit branch and the state assembly has been continuously issuing reminders to the MC. Even some of the objections were more then three decades back but the civic officers have not bothered to reply them due to which they have been carrying on.



Rising prices fuel protests by SAD, trade unions
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Unprecedented hike in prices of food items, coupled with repeated hike in petrol prices, have evoked strong protests from political parties, trade unions and other groups. Activists of the SAD, the Lok Sangharsh Committee and New Trade Unions Initiative burnt effigies of the UPA government in various parts of the city, while Shiv Sena Rashtravadi workers burnt an effigy of the Union petroleum minister.

Led by party’s chief advisor, Rajinder Singh Bhatia, the activists of the Youth Akali Dal and the Ek Noor Welfare Society burnt an effigy of the UPA government to protest against rising prices of essential commodities and increase in petrol prices which had been effected twice in the past one month.

Launching attack on the wrong economic policies of the Congress-led UPA government, Bhatia said the Central government had completely failed to curb the prices of essential commodities. Due to this, survival of common man was under threat. The hoarders and profiteers were holding the entire population to ransom while the government was helplessly watching the situation.

The Akhil Bhartiya Shiv Sena Rashtravadi burnt an effigy of Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora at a protest organised at the Clock Tower Chowk against repeated hike in petrol prices. Its senior vice-president, Sharanjit Singh Chahal, who led the protest, said petrol prices had been jacked up five times in the past one year which had crushed the hope of masses who were already reeling unprecedented hike in the prices of food items.

The increase in prices of petrol and diesel had a cascading effect on the entire price structure of items of daily use and those with limited resources will be worst affected, he added.

Both SAD-BJP government in Punjab and the UPA government in the Centre came under sharp attacks at the “Bharat Nirman rally” organised jointly by the Lok Sangharsh Committee, Punjab, and the New Trade Unions Initiative (NTUI) at Aggar Nagar. Its general secretary, Chander Shekhar, and trade union leader, Tarsem Jodhan, said on one hand prices of essential items were going through the roof while on the other, the state government had filed to ensure implementation of labour laws, extend benefits of public distribution system to the poor workers and give effect to the legislation for construction workers.



Upset middle-class budget
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 17
Upset over frequent increase in petrol prices, middle class families have restricted the use of scooters and motorcycles for commuting between their residence and the place of work. Those using cars have started pooling vehicles with friends and relatives. Families, which once used to send their wards to educational institutes located in other towns and cities in their own vehicles, have started sharing expenses of taxis even.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that frequent increase in petrol prices during the past several years had subsequently affected the lifestyle of middle class families.

Students and employees, who earlier used to commute in private vehicles, have started travelling on public transport.

Lower middle class families, who earlier used to commute on scooters and motorcycles, have switched to bicycles for the purpose.

Charanjit Singh of Walaitpura village, an accountant with a local commission agent, said he had decided to use bicycle instead of motorcycle after the hike in petrol prices.

“As prices of petrol have increased by more than 30 per cent during the past one year it has become difficult for me to continue using motorcycle for commuting between my village and the shop situated here. I have, now, purchased a bicycle, which besides saving money will keep me fit also,” said Charanjit Singh.

Rajinder Bhardwaj, a businessman of the local Galla Mandi, said he had advised his employees not to misuse a scooter and a motorcycle meant for visiting various clients of his organisation.

Tarsem Garg, an office-bearer of the shopkeepers’ association, said members of the union had been asked to stop bringing their vehicles to their shops in routine. This besides compensating rise in petrol prices would also help in solving the traffic problem in market.

Regretting that they are forced to spent major part of their pocket money on the fuel, Savi Puri and Harvinder Dhillon, studying at Government College, Karamsar, said they had decided to share their bikes with other students.

Privileged Few

Despite hue and cry, officials of a few departments, including commercial banks are unconcerned about the hike in petrol prices. They are paid for the fuel consumed by them on a monthly basis according to their rank and official duty performed. Members of award staff of all nationalised banks were entitled to receive 15 liters of petrol, whereas those performing duty as JMGS 1, 2 and 3 were entitled to get 65, 80 and 90 liters of petrol, provided they own a four- wheeler.



Outreach workers up in arms against AIDS panel
Threaten to sit on chain fast
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Eight outreach workers, who were recently “reinstated” in Dr DN Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital, are up in arms over the corrupt Punjab State AIDS Control Society (PSACS) authorities.

These outreach workers, who were employed by the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) under the programme undertaken by the society under the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), were sacked on March 31, 2010.

I will not join Dr DN Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital. If the society fails to appoint us under the Punjab Networking of Positive People’s Society, we will sit on chain fast on January 26.

— Mehar Singh, president, Punjab Networking of Positive People’s Society

No official role

The state plays no role in the appointment of outreach workers.The National Aids Control Society (NACO) has shortlisted a few NGOs for the project as per outreach workers work profile. Dr DN Kotnis has been given two more districts by the NGO and will only pay them, whereas the society will be looking after the administrative part. If any outreach worker faces problem, he can come to us and we will forward his grievances to authorities.

— Dr NM Sharma, Additional Project Director, PSACS.

The workers were instrumental in educating families of HIV/AIDS patients to get them tested for the disease and treated.

But after their ouster these outreach workers had threatened to go on chain fast. Thus, the society instead of handing over the written orders verbally asked them to join Dr DN Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital.

Objecting to their “verbal appointment”, Jagjit Singh Mann, founder chairman, Punjab Networking of Positive People’s Society, an NGO working for HIV/AIDS patients, said, “The appointment of eight outreach workers at Dr DN Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital defeats the purpose of their employment, as the NGO members have not worked with HIV/AIDS patients. On the contrary, Dr DN Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital is a ‘de-addiction centre,’ which in no way is suitable for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.”

He said the society was interested in facilitating the hospital with the project and called upon the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, to initiate an inquiry into the matter.



Farmers blame policies of govt for urea shortage
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Farmers in the region are worried over what according to them is an “artificially created” shortage of urea in the markets. Though a few of them have already applied the second dose of urea in their fields with others still doing so, they have been facing a lot of problems in procuring the required amount of urea and other fertilisers from the market.

Condemning what they called the skewed policies of the Central government, farmers accused the latter of allotting Punjab's share of fertiliser supply to companies outside the state. "Heavy transportation costs were incurred in getting the fertilisers back to Punjab. The state’s share must be allotted directly to it,” the farmers averred.

Talking to The Tribune, Bharati Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said Punjab farmers were facing an acute shortage of urea for the past month. “Though they keep on complaining about the shortage nothing has been done so far. We contacted the agriculture director in Chandigarh who said the shortage was due to the Gujjar agitation in Rajasthan. The urea comes from Mumbai and Kandla ports but, due to the stir, movement of trains was disrupted, which led to the shortage. However, the situation has improved since the past 10 to 15 days”, he added.

Farmers need to apply one bag of urea weighing 50 kg on one acre. The first application is done at the time of sowing wheat seeds while the second is applied in the winter (late December or January). A quintal of urea costs about Rs 700.

At times of shortage many fertiliser dealers take advantage of the farmers' helplessness, forcing them to take additional products with urea. With no other option farmers comply after paying hefty prices.

BKU (Ludhiana) general secretary Jagdish Singh Sadarpura said though in Punjab wheat was produced on 3.5 million hectares and the state’s farmers were the country’s largest consumers of urea, the latter faces fertiliser shortages every year.

“At times there can be shortage but most of the times it is created. In an attempt to sell it on the black market, the panic is created. If the Central government takes stern action against black-marketers, there will be no shortage. But government officials, too, are involved in the network, so we continue to face the problem. As far as purchasing of additional products is concerned, majority of farmers prefer to remain tight-lipped or they will face music at the hands of fertiliser-dealers and government officials involved,” said Sadarpura.



Denial of flats to 1984 riot victims
Sikh migrants threaten to boycott assembly poll
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Upset over dilly-dallying attitude of the state government and district authorities in providing relief, specifically allotment of promised residential flats to eligible families of the anti-Sikh riots here, the Ludhiana Sikh Migrants Welfare Board has threatened the SAD-BJP coalition government that more than 40,000 families of Sikh migrants will boycott the ruling alliance in the forthcoming SGPC and Punjab Assembly elections.

Elaborating on the step-motherly treatment being meted out to the Sikh migrants, chairman of the board Kartar Singh Patna said the Greater Ludhiana Development Authority (GLADA) had sought applications from 1,700 eligible families for allotment of MIG and LIG flats in 2000. Even though adequate number of flats was available with GLADA for allotment, and the state cabinet had also accorded its formal approval to the move, the majority of applicants were still waiting for their flats.

“It was on the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that 502 MIG/LIG flats were allotted through a draw of lots by GLADA on October 12, 2010. But once again, 245 affected families, who had opted for MIG flats were allotted LIG flats whereas the authorities were not empowered to change the category of flats,” he asserted.

Lambasting the district administration and GLADA authorities, Patna said more than 1,200 LIG/MIG flats were lying vacant in different parts of the city for the past 10 years but due to sheer apathy on the part of the government, some unscrupulous persons, including self-styled leaders of Sikh migrants, were unlawfully taking possessions of vacant flats. “Not only this, the so called “kabza mafia” was passing off such unlawful possession of government flats to ineligible persons against hefty consideration,” he alleged. Sikh migrants threaten to boycott assembly poll

More than 1,200 LIG/MIG flats were lying vacant in different parts of the city for the past 10 years. But due to official apathy, a few unscrupulous persons, including self-styled leaders of Sikh migrants, were unlawfully taking possession of vacant flats

— Kartar Singh Patna, chairman, Ludhiana Sikh Migrants Welfare Board



Unions remain defiant, want all to be included
MC to regularise 445 sanitation workers
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Under pressure from the Punjab government and employees unions, the municipal corporation is set to begin the process for regularizing the jobs of 445 of the total 3,000 sanitation workers in the first phase. However, the unions continue to insist all of them should be appointed on regular basis.

The issue was one of the main poll planks of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance governing the state in the 2007 assembly elections. Subsequently, about three years ago local bodies minister Manoranjan Kalia announced the MC’s ‘mohalla’ sanitation committees would be disbanded and the jobs of all sanitations workers would be regularized. However the government said this would be done only if the civic body bore the additional financial burden incurred in the process.

The upshot was that MC officials developed cold feet and were reluctant to regularize the jobs of the 3,000 odd sanitation workers employed by the civic body. The workers unions then went on the warpath.

However, after some arm twisting by the unions and the government, the MC discreetly agreed to regularize only 445 sanitary workers.

Confirming the development, MC joint commissioner AS Sekhon said the process to regularize the workers would be completed soon. “In the first phase 400 sanitary workers from the ‘mohalla’ sanitation committees and 45 employed on daily wages would be regularized and later as the vacancies would be created they would be employed on a regular basis”, he added.

Though the agitating workers have largely accepted the MC offer they are insisting the jobs of all sanitation workers be regularized. "We won’t accept anything less," averred Vijay Danav, leader of the Punjab State Municipal Karamchari Dal. In a similar vein, Surinder Kalyan, another union leader, said: “It’s a tactical move on the part of MC officials who want to divide the workers. Their exploitation will end only after all are appointed on a regular basis”.

“Nothing less than regularizing the jobs of all the employees is acceptable”, asserted Lovely Pal Dishawar, a leader of the ‘sangharsh’ committee of the sanitation workers.



Farm workers stage dharna
Seek waiver of power bills
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Led by functionaries of Left parties, trade unions and farmers’ organisations, a large number of farm workers and people from economically weaker sections staged a dharna outside the central zone headquarters of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited demanding waiver of power bills on the pattern of relief provided by the government to farmers.

The protesters urged the state government to provide free power up to 200 units to landless farm workers and other poor people. They also sought waiver of energy bills, under this category, up to 200 units and payment already deposited by them be adjusted in the next bills.

Speakers at the rally asked the government to set up a committee to study the demand and consumption pattern of farm workers and other weaker sections household and make time-bound recommendations for providing relief to these sections.

They also demanded round-the-clock deployment of staff at complaint offices of PSPCL at villages to ensure uninterrupted power supply to rural consumers and cycle-wise energy bills to meters installed under the BPL scheme.


Farm workers and members of economically weaker sections were demanding round-the-clock deployment of staff at PSPCL centres and cycle-wise energy bills for meters installed under the BPL scheme.



PAU to hold 5 kisan melas in March
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Punjab Agricultural University will be holding five kisan melas in March. The director of extension education, Dr MS Gill, has informed that the series would start with a regional kisan mela at Rauni (Patiala) on March 8 and will be followed by a regional kisan mela at Ballowal Saunkhri (near Balachaur) on March 11.

At Bathinda, mela will be held on March 14 while it will be on the PAU campus in Ludhiana on March 17-18. In Gurdaspur, mela will be held on March 22.

The melas will be occasions for the farmers and farm women to learn about the new technologies for scientific crop production, crop protection, post harvest handling etc and to interact with the experts. These would provide them with the latest know-how about progressive farming and to purchase planting material, farm literature, etc, said Dr Gill while appealing farmers and farm women to participate in large numbers.



5.80 lakh kids to be given polio drops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
At least 5.80 lakh children living in rural and urban areas of the city will be administered polio drops during a special “polio eradication campaign” to be carried out in the district from January 23 to 27.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Pradeep Aggarwal, while addressing the meeting of the district task force at Bachat Bhawan stated that 2,400 teams formed by the department of health and family welfare would take part in the campaign.

The teams will cover houses in Ludhiana urban, Kumkalan and Sahnewal blocks from January 23 to 27. The children in Payal, Jagraon, Khanna, Samrala, Raikot, Machchiwara, Malaud, Sudhar, Pakhowal, Hathur and Sidhwan Bet will be administered polio drops on booths on January 23 while door-to-door campaign will be carried out on January 24 and 25.



BCM student wins laurels
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Vineet Singla, a student of Class XII (non-medical) of BCM Arya, has brought laurels to his alma mater by bagging a place in the merit list of CBSE Group Mathematics Olympiad.

The competition was held at selected venues in different parts of the country and aims at identifying, promoting and nurturing talent in mathematics.

Vineet will now appear in Indian National Mathematics Olympiad (INMO) as a member of the CBSE Group and will showcase his mathematical ability there.

“We are very happy to see the achievement of our student and wish to see him among the top scorers in INMO,” said Paramjit Kaur, principal of the school.



Pharmaceutical journal released
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
PCTE Institute of Pharmacy released peer-reviewed Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (JPER) here recently. The institute was established in 2007 and currently runs B-pharmacy (four year degree programme). The Institute is the only pharmacy institute under the Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, affiliated colleges that has launched pharmacy journal with its website www.pcte.edu.in/jper.

This journal is launched under the guidance of Dr KNS Kang, director general (chief patron) and Dr BS Sekhon, dean, pharmacy, (editor-in-chief).

Members of editorial board of this journal include eminent scientist from India and abroad. Abstracting and indexing of this journal is covered by leading databases.



City girl clears HCS exams
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
City girl Sharnam Sharma has become the first woman traffic manager in the Haryana Transport. She joined her training today at Karnal after successfully clearing the Haryana Civil Services exams.

A student of KVM, Sharnam completed her BSc from Khalsa College for Women and then went to Jalandhar to do MSc. Talking to The Tribune from Karnal, Sharnam said she was thrilled.

On asking whether she liked the new job, Sharnam said it was too early to say anything as she was to get familiarised to the nature of job. She said she would also take main exams of the Punjab Civil Services.



7-year jail in rape case
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 17
Sessions Judge SP Bangarh has convicted Kamaljeet Singh of Maddepur village, Jagraon, on the charges of raping a girl of the same village. He was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for seven years.

The court held that the prosecution has successfully proved the allegations levelled against the accused. Declining the plea of leniency raised by the accused, the court also ordered him to pay fine of Rs 5,000. A case was registered against the accused at Sidhwan Bet police station on April 3, 2008, following the statement of the victim.

In her statement made to the police, she had stated that the accused raped her by administering intoxicants on March 22, 2008, when she had gone to his house for handing over some articles. She did not disclose the same to anybody due to fear. Then the accused promised to marry her, but failed to keep his promise.



Canada-America Kabaddi Cup
Dashmesh Club emerge champions
Anil Datt

Gurdas Mann performs during the concluding ceremony the match
Gurdas Mann performs during the
concluding ceremony the match
A frenzied spectator jumps over the fencing during Gurdas Mann’s performance in Ludhiana on Monday
A frenzied spectator jumps over the fencing during Gurdas Mann’s performance in Ludhiana on Monday.

Ludhiana, January 17
Dashmesh Club of Nakodar survived a scare before emerging winners in the annual Canada-America Kabaddi Cup organised at Guru Nanak Stadium here today. Total eight teams competed in this one-day tournament in which some international kabaddi stars were also seen in action.

In the final, Dashmesh Club managed to squeeze past their spirited opponents from Azad Club of Phagwara 32-28. The winners pocketed a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh while the runners up received a cash prize of Rs 75,000 besides trophies. Director General of Police, Punjab, PS Gill was the chief guest at the prize distribution function.

Noted Punjab singer and actor Gurdas Mann entertained the spectators after the final encounter between Dashmesh Club and Azad Club. The stage for the artiste was set up at the stairs in the C Block of stadium near the Shastri Badminton Hall.

Though the police had made strict arrangements and deployed sufficient force in the stadium so that the frenzied spectators could not jump over the fencing as was witnessed in the past during such events, some youths tried to scale over the railings but were prevented to reach near the stage.

During the performance, Gurdas Mann requested the organisers to allow the spectators to come in front of the stage, but the latter expressed their helplessness. Ultimately, the artiste announced that if arrangements would be made like this next year, he would not come here to perform.

Thin attendance: A small number of spectators turned up to watch the kabaddi cup and the live performance by the popular Punjabi artiste, Gurdas Mann, as compared to the attendance at such events in recent years.

In view of the kabaddi tournament and musical show by Gurdas Mann, the daily commuters faced lot of hardship today as the police diverted vehicular traffic at number of points near Guru Nanak Stadium forcing them to reach their destinations late.



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