L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Closure of level crossing
Angry residents halt train, hold passengers to ransom
Kuldip Bhatia

Not for the first time

Infuriated over their demand being ignored, residents of about a dozen city localities blocked rail tracks and stopped a passenger train for over two hours on January 16 this year. At that time, district administration officials had taken up the issue with Northern Railway officials who gave an assurance that the issue of providing an alternative railroad crossing in the vicinity had been taken up. However, it is yet to materialise.

Apathetic administration

Even as hundreds of passengers travelling to different places on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur rail section faced a harrowing time after being stuck on the stationary train for hours, district administration officials remained indifferent to their plight. It was only after some four hours that ADC (D) Pradeep Aggarwal arrive on the scene and talked to the protesting residents. The blockade had, however, not been lifted till the timeof filing of this report.

Ludhiana, April 11
Facing huge inconvenience due to the closure of the manned railroad crossing on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur line near Lodhi Club Road due to the ongoing construction of a rail underbridge, irate residents of about a dozen localities in the city stopped a passenger train and held its passengers to ransom for nearly four hours on Monday.

Sensing the mood of the protesters, Northern Railway cancelled the 5LF Ludhiana-Ferozepur DMU train and recalled it back to the city train station at 5:30 pm. Rail traffic on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur section remained suspended till the time this report was filed.

Hundreds of passengers aboard the train were stranded as the protesting residents blocked the tracks and did not let the train move ahead soon after it had departed from the station at 1:45 pm.

Affected residents of BRS Nagar, Rajguru Nagar and several adjoining localities along Ferozepur Road accused senior Northern Railway officials of being indifferent to their plight. "We’ve been holding protests for the past three months and even after a categorical assurance by Northern Railway and the district administration in January, an abandoned railroad crossing, located only about 400 metres away, has not been made functional till now," the agitated residents said.

Passengers in the train had no idea why the protesters had halted the train and blocked the tracks. It appeared there was no end to their ordeal in sight as well as no satisfactory explanation forthcoming from Northern Railway and police officials, who were busy reasoning with the protesters in an effort to disperse them and let the train continue to its destination.

Many of the passengers aboard the train were quite upset at being held virtually like hostages by the protesting residents to exert pressure on the authorities. "Holding up road and train traffic and causing inconvenience to the public seems to have become a favourite pastime of certain elements who resort to such acts at the slightest pretext. The authorities ought to deal with mischief mongers with firm hands," averred one of the passengers.

Officials of the Railway Police Force and Government Railway Police had a tough time dealing with the protesters and harassed train passengers. Ludhiana station superintendent RK Sharma, who arrived at the scene after the protesters persisted, failed to persuade them to clear the tracks and let the train move ahead.


Underage driving in top gear
Anil Kumar


  • Teenage drivers aged between 16-19 are more likely than older drivers to crash
  • Compared to older drivers, tenagers are more likely to speed, jump red lights, make illegal turns and ride with an intoxicated driver
  • The presence of teenage passengers increases the risk of accidents by underage drivers - and the more the passengers, the higher the risk
  • Teenagers have a sense that they can get away with transgressions, a feeling of bravado: "I can get away with anything"

Ludhiana, April 11
With a large number of schoolchildren below the age of 18 openly violating the Motor Vehicles Act, the menace of underage driving is growing manifold in the city. Senior students of city schools can be seen driving vehicles at high speed on the busy roads, but neither traffic cops nor officials from the district transport office have bothered to take into account the violation.

Teenage drivers are a threat not only to themselves but also to other commuters on roads. Usually, they do not obey traffic rules and don't even follow the basics of safe driving.

Interestingly, the authorities concerned, after getting complaints from different quarters, had asked the school managements to restrict the minor students from bringing vehicles to their respective schools. As a result, various schools have sternly asked the minor students not to bring vehicles to school. However, the students have started parking vehicles outside the school at their own risk. The school authorities claim to have done their duty.

Amanveer Singh, a 16-year-old school student, said: "I live in Mullanpur. My parents do not have the time to drop me to the school. Now I come on my own bullet motorcycle. Two of my class mate friends also get a ride from me everyday."

Another student of a private school Mohit, who drives a motorcycle, said: "Those who drive bikes at low speed are cowards. I drive two-wheelers at top speed. I can never lose my control."

"My father has good contacts with police officials. I do not fear traffic police. I do not care about wearing helmet, and carrying papers of the vehicle," Mohit added.

When it comes to underage driving, girl students too have their share of "violations", as Sania, a student of class IX, claims that she does not like coming to school in bus, and prefers her scooter for the purpose. "One of my class mates accompanies me on activa scooter while coming to the school. We also go for the tuitions together," said Sania, adding that she does not possess a driving licence.

Gurjot Kaur, a woman who broke her ankle after colliding with school students’ motorcycle last week, said: "Children and teenagers are not mature enough to understand the consequences of driving vehicles. For them, driving is all about thrill. Students make so much fun while being away from their parents’ eyes. Sometimes they drive overloaded that panics other commuters on the road." A private school's principal opined that minor students should avoid driving vehicles as their reflexes are not as sharp as the reflexes of adults.

"The parents should discourage children from learning driving vehicles till they reach the right age," opines Kanwaljeet Kaur, who is a counsellor in a private school. She advised the parents to keep an eye on their children and their friends.



HC order leaves used car dealers in lurch
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
The Punjab & Haryana High Court’s order prohibiting the holding of a "car bazar" at the city’s Feroze Gandhi market has sealed the fate of used car dealers who were organizing a used car market every Sunday.

While showroom owners in the market block, who had filed a writ petition against the bazar in the high court, rejoicing in their victory, over 40 used car dealers who have lost their source of income find themselves in a Catch-22 situation.

On Monday deputy commissioner Rahul Tewari, in his capacity as district magistrate, called upon the organizers of the ‘car bazar’ to comply with the court order. Expecting protests by the latter, he asked city police commissioner Ishwar Singh to deploy cops in the Feroze Gandhi market on April 17 (next Sunday) to avert any law and order problem.

The second-hand car bazaar, being held at the market for the past two decades, had become a nuisance for shopkeepers in the area as well as for those coming to the market for shopping.

Complainants had alleged some used car dealers were also carrying on with their business on weekdays, which they said disturbed work at some government and private offices located at the market.

Tarlochan Singh Safri, chairman of the Feroze Gandhi Car Dealers Association, said members would comply with the court order. "43 used car dealers are now suffering on account of the shortsightedness of the municipal corporation, which gave permission for construction of multistory shops cum offices in the area. This resulted in parking chaos in the market block”, he added.

Another car dealer stated he was not in a position to buy land at any other place to run his business.



Police chief does an Anna
Launches helplines to tackle graft
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

The Helplines

Bribery: 95929-14700 and 98761-67900

Traffic: 1073

Crime: 100, 1090

Woman helpline: 0161-2414933, 1021.

Ludhiana, April 11
Taking a cue from Anna Hazare's hunger strike against corruption, which led the UPA government to bow before the demand of 73-year-old Gandhian on the issue of the Lokpal Bill to tackle corruption in public offices, Commissioner of Police Ishwar Singh has launched two helplines to register complaints against cops who ask for bribe to get various works done.

According to sources, the Commissioner of police was perturbed over the increasing complaints of corruption against cops, which led to the launching of the helplines.

In an appeal tothe residents to eradicate the menace of bribery, the Commissioner has stated that the department will take serious action against any cop who asks for money for doing jobs of the public.

The persons who fall prey to corrupt cops can contact helpline numbers 95929-14700 and 98761-67900.

"Let us join hands to end this social evil to provide an effective and efficient policing to the residents of the city," said the Commissioner.

Commenting on the ongoing process of constable recruitment, the interviews of which are currently under process, he appealed to the candidates not to fall prey to any middleman.

He reiterated that the candidates should not give money to any middleman, who promises them a job in the police.

The recruitment process was totally transparent and was conducted under the able supervision of senior police officials, including DCP Yurinder Singh and ADCP-I Harsh Bansal. Any candidate looking for backdoor entry would be strictly dealt with, added the Commissioner.



MC splurges Rs 50 lakh on fogging machines
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
In another example of extravagant waste of taxpayers’ money, the cash-starved municipal corporation has spent a whopping Rs 50 lakh on purchasing new fogging machines even though those purchased earlier have been lying largely unused.

About a year ago civic officials provided the machines to all councillors to conduct fogging operations against mosquitoes in their respective wards. However the officials forgot to give them the chemicals to spray as well as necessary manpower to operate these machines, as a result of which they have been gathering dust.

Though the councilors have complained about the matter to MC officials, the latter - instead of putting the existing fogging machines to use - decided to go in for another 75 fogging machines.

A “trial run” for the new machines was conducted here on Monday during which city mayor Hakam Singh Giaspura, senior deputy mayor Praveen Bansal, additional commissioner Kuldeep Singh and other officials were present. The machines, which will run on fuel, would be operated by workers who would be trained by the MC staff.

Commenting on the purchase of new fogging machines, Congress party councillor Rakesh Prashar said: “It’s not correct as MC must have spend the money in optimum manner so as to facilitate the residents. He said that in past also machines purchased by MC has not been utilized adding that fate of new machines would also be the same”.

In a similar vein another councillor, Sanjay Talwar, accused MC officials of wasting public funds. “Instead of spending taxpayers money on buying new machines the civic body should have made optimum use of scare funds”.

On the other hand Bansal asserted the machines bought earlier had been used effectively. “We had provided the chemicals as well as the manpower for operating these machines”, he claimed.



Two dead, 3 hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, April 11
Two persons died and three sustained serious injuries after four vehicles- Punjab Roadways bus, a Tata Indigo Manza car, a Hundai Verna car and a two-wheeler-collided near Shekhupura village on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur highway today afternoon.

The accident took place after a speeding Punjab Roadways bus (PB 10 BY 9402) coming from the Ludhiana side collided with a Tata Indigo Manza car (PB 10 DA 6988) while trying to overtake a Hundai Verna car (PB-10 CP 1238). The bus driver lost the control over the vehicle and hit the Hundai Verna car. A two-wheeler coming behind the bus also rammed into the bus.

The deceased have been identified as Raj Kumar of Baddowal and Gumukh Singh of Gayaspura village near Ludhiana. Both of them were travelling in the ill-fated cars. Three persons also sustained serious injuries in the accident. The injured have been identified as Paramdeep Singh and Dr Davinder Kohli of Ludhiana and a two-wheeler rider as Sukhwinder Singh of Chaunkiman village near Jagraon.

One of the deceased Raj Kumar was an employee of Dr Davinder Kohli.

A team from the Dakha police station reached the spot and pulled out the victims with the help of a few locals. The injured were rushed to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana.

All injured were admitted to the DMCH where the doctors one of the injured brought dead. Another succumbed to injuries after a while. Others are being treated and are stated to be stable.

A case has been registered at the Mullanpur Dakha police station in this regard. The bus driver is absconding.



Little girls have a blast on last day of Navratri
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
Gone are the days when young girls were fed traditional Indian ‘chane-poori’ with ‘halwa’ and gifted Rs 5-10 after the ‘kanjak ashtmi puja’ ritual on the last day of the Hindu festival of ‘Navratri’. This is the time to savour yummy flavoured food and cherish chocolate packs, fancy pencil boxes, Hannah Montana water bottles and dainty accessories as gifts which little girls eagerly look forward to.

The city’s little girls had a feast on Monday, quite literally, on the occasion of ‘kanjak puja’ as they received pretty gifts from all quarters. Dressed in their best, the young girls, who were in great “demand” since early morning, could be seen visiting the homes of their relatives, family friends and neighbours to be feted and sent back with big smiles on their happy faces and lovely gifts in their tiny hands.

"I got a Hannah Montana style dress from my mom while my grandmother gave me a beautiful pair of silver anklets after the ‘puja’ today morning. I’m super excited," exclaimed 5-year-old Tisha.

Another little ‘kanjak’ could be seen jumping with joy when she opened the gift given by her father after the ‘puja’. "I’ve got my favourite set of watches that I’d wanted since long. One of them is pink with a tiny star in the middle and the other one is blue and has a beautiful butterfly on the strap," remarked Amrit Bani, a class 2 student.

Just like Amrit, her younger sister Saachi too smiled as she pointed towards the gifts in her hands. "The gift in my left hand is a double-decker push button pencil box and the one in the right is a box of chocolates. I’m looking forward to more gifts from my ‘nani’ (maternal grandmother) whom I’m going to visit after the ‘puja’ at my home," she said.

Besides the gifts the young girls were also treated to mouth watering delicacies that are considered to be an important part of ‘kanjak puja’.

While the traditional ‘chana-poori-halwa’ was made and savoured in almost every Hindu home on the occasion of ‘asthmi’ today, many prepared special delicacies to be relished by their “little goddesses”.

"Every year I prepare ‘chana-poori-halwa’ but kids tend to leave all of it. So this year, along with the traditional ‘kanjaka’ food, I also prepared cup cakes and apple ‘kheer’ that are the favourite of all children. Needless to say, the girls were delighted to be treated to a ‘different’ feast at my home," remarked Anuradha Chahal, a housewife.

Another homemaker, Rinku Bhasin, too, prepared special ‘kanjaka’ food for the girls. "Along with yellow, red and green 'pooris' I made papaya ‘halwa’, fruit cake and chocolate raisin pudding. The kids had a blast," she said with a smile.



BUDDA NULLAH: The city’s toxic vein

Budda Nullah is aptly described as the ‘River of Sorrows’. For the residents living alongside the nullah, it is synonymous with death and diseases. Scores have died due to water-borne diseases caused by the polluted water of the nullah and several are living with diseases like Hepatitis B, jaundice, respiratory and skin ailments. Tribune Principal Correspondent Kanchan Vasdev describes their plight and tale of miseries

Virtually damned: A woman is exposed to the hazardous waste as she sits near the nullah in the new Kundan Puri
Virtually damned
: A woman is exposed to the hazardous waste as she sits near the nullah in the new Kundan Puri. Tribune photos: Himanshu Mahajan

She is yet to complete three decades of her life. But she has lived through the curse. In the 28th year of her life, Gurminderjit Kaur of Gaunspur village on the bank of Budda Nullah is left alone, to bring up her two-year-old daughter single-handedly as seven of her family members, including her husband, were consumed by deadly Hepatitis B caused by the polluted water of Budda Nullah.

‘‘It is actually a river of sorrows for me. I wake up crying in the morning and go to sleep with tears in my eyes. This nullah has consumed my family and given me grief for life, ’’ she says.

The nullah flows quietly near her village, lining 168 villages like hers, carrying toxic industrial effluents and sewage, and contaminates underground drinking water.

Gurminder has been one of the worst sufferer of Nullah’s curse till date. Sant Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal of Kali Bein fame too had visited her after being moved by her plight. But she is fighting it out all alone and looks up to the government to help clean the nullah so that she and her daughter do not meet the same fate as their relatives.

There are several who have lost their family members, or they are seeing several withering away in front of their eyes and some fighting the disease. ‘‘But nobody has lost seven to Hepatitis B.’’ she says. Her husband Gurpal Singh, his sister Manjeet Kaur (25), brother Ajmer Singh (27), her parents-in-law Avtar Kaur and Jagjit Singh, her husband’s aunt, Kulwant Kaur and uncle Malkiat Singh died of the deadly disease. Wallipur village where the nullah empties into Sutlej river, has lost nearly two dozen residents to water borne diseases over the last couple of years.

Same story of death, disease

BLOT ON CITY: Garbage littered in Budda Nullah near Pavitar Nagar in Ludhiana
Garbage littered in Budda Nullah near Pavitar Nagar in Ludhiana.

As the tale of death and disease seems to be never ending in these villages, Jagjit Singh Lambran, former sarpanch of Burj Lambran village, recounts how he was a witness to death knocking at several doors in his village.

‘‘Many residents have died with diseases like cancer, jaundice, kidney failure, stones and osteoporosis. The worst hit are include Wallipur, Phaagla, Salempur, Basaimi and Burj Lambran. Nobody seems to care for the precious human lives being lost for inaction of the government, ’’ he adds.

Among the several victims who had died in the recent past due to liver and kidney ailments included former sarpanches of Phaagla, Salempur and Basaimi villages, Manjit Singh, Ajit Singh and Charan Singh, respectively, and the lambardars of Ballipur and Burj Lambran villages, Harbans Singh and Raghbir Singh.

Bhagwan Dass, another resident of Wallipur, while showing his hands ridden with allergy due to the use of toxic water of nullah said he is suffering but nobody seems to be listening.

Respiratory disorders due to the smell from the nullah are common among the children in these villages.

“Some children are born with congenital defects, which the doctors say is caused due to pollution,” said Manpreet Singh, a resident of Gaunspur.

While most of the village residents have installed water purifiers, there are several who cannot afford the costly machines. It is anybody’s guess that the underground water has been left polluted by the nullah.

Villagers rue inaction

NOT A BREATHER: Garbage dumps and effluents from industry flows freely in Budda Nullah near Gurunanak Pura in Ludhiana
Garbage dumps and effluents from industry flows freely in Budda Nullah near Gurunanak Pura in Ludhiana.

Just a trip alongside the water body through the sleepy villages of the district is enough to feel the suffering of humanity due to polluted water body. Listening to the hair-raising stories of suffering from the villagers, one can feel the anger of people brewing against the inaction of government.

Ruing how the government has turned a blind eye to problem that had ruined innocent people physically and economically, the residents living in these villages complained, ‘‘No body from the government has ever visited us. It seems we live on no man’s land. Why doesn’t the Chief Minister come and drink a glassfull from here. We can spare the elderly Badal. Why cant the junior Badal come and listen to our plight?” asks Kehar Singh, a labourer of Talwandi village.

“Its not only in these villages. The entire Cancer belt of Malwa derives its name due to Budda Nullah,” he adds exhibiting his rustic intelligence.

He added that the water of nullah continues to get polluted but nobody cared to clear the muck. There were only tall claims and promises. Kehar said that the real problem is for the poor people who find it difficult to get clean water in land of five rivers. “The hand pumps in the area pump out polluted water the odour of which is so strong that nobody can store it in the house,” he added.

Manjinder Singh, a youth of Wallipur village, is worried because the number of deaths in his village due to Hepatitis B is increasing day by day, the reason is polluted water of Budha Nullah that is being consumed by the residents.

“It is the darkest era, ’’ he says with disgust. Manjinder asserts the problem is compounded due to huge cost of treatment.

Parmanand, an octogenarian, who has been cultivating his land along with the nullah since independence recalls how they used the water of nullah for bathing and washing clothes but said that now it is unimaginable to even think about it.

He said that as the toxic chemicals, polythenes and all sort of harmful waste material come in nullah daily so the trees have dried up and the harvest has also gone down. “The government must wake up for helping the people of the area else they are dying a slow death” he added.


PERVADING STENCH: A boy covers his nose on his way to school near Kundan Puri
A boy covers his nose on his way to school near Kundan Puri.

Scientists of Punjab Agricultural University have studies to prove that some ‘commonly consumed’ species have become extinct in the process. Two studies conducted under the guidance of former department of fisheries head, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Dr P K Sexena state that the indiscriminate throwing of industrial effluents into the river since 1986 is the reason for the extinction of these species.

The sewage and industrial waste of Ludhiana makes its way into the Budda nullah in the form of untreated composite mixture. It has contaminated the water of this nullah to such an extent that no fish species exist in it. Since it finally joins the river Sutlej, it is now posing a serious threat to aquatic bio-diversity of the river. Dr Sexena equated the present situation as semi-septic, hence the need to save Sutlej water on a war footing.

His study goes on to say that there were about 33 species of fishes in three-kilometre upstream region before the confluence of Budda Nullah and Satluj River in 1986. While in the same distance downstream 23 species had existed. But the present situation is alarming.

The subsequent study on the impact of pollution in Budda Nalah on the occurrence of fish in river Sutlej revealed that no fish existed in 35-40 kilometre downstream area of the river from the point of confluence. The study showed that seven species had disappeared while the number of as many as eight species declined drastically.

Intriguingly, a comparison of heavy metal concentration was reportedly more in species down stream area. While the concentration of mercury was noted to be 13 times higher than those fish found in the upstream area, the presence of heavy metals like nickel, cadmium, arsenic and cobalt are likely to affect the health of consumers, it was noted.

Even during the study the villagers of the area told the scientists that cooked fish gave foul smell, Dr Saxena said. Besides affecting flesh quality, the study warned of a decline in reproductive potential of fish collected downstream.

Residents of Ludhiana city and at least of 40 villages in the district are forced to consume contaminated vegetables and drink unsafe water, thus exposing themselves to water-borne diseases. The villages are situated along Budha Nullah, which carries Ludhiana’s untreated industrial waste into Sutlej, making the river water almost black at the point of confluence.

Residents of these villages using the river water for drinking and irrigation are getting affected.

Every year with the onset of summer, water-borne diseases strike the area. Villagers now have to dig deeper for safe drinking water as the underground water is getting increasingly polluted. Experts warn that unless corrective measures are initiated immediately, the situation may go out of control.

Experts warn that the situation has come to such a pass that the entire groundwater would start having toxic metals due to percolation. If the practice of dumping effluents was not stopped people would face an epidemic of diseases like gastro, cancer due to regular intake of heavy metals with water.

The residents of villages like Basaimi, Phagra, Birmi, Malakpur, Salempur, Gonspur, Baranhara and Hambran are the worst hit. Several other villages like Issewal, Mohi, Chak and Dakha also face the threat. Sukhpal Singh, a resident of Issewal says water in their village is also becoming polluted. Upset at the development, he said the villages were paying for the dumping of Ludhiana’s waste. Not only the water directly but the vegetables irrigated with the polluted water have shown concentration of heavy metals.

Dr GS Dhaliwal, an ecologist of the Punjab Agricultural University, says: “a number of pollutants and toxic elements like cadmium, nickel and chromium and other heavy metals get concentrated in vegetables which eventually are consumed by humans.”


Near Salam Tapri

There is hope for Budda Nullah now, as the bioremedial project would soon be taken up. The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation has already paid Rs 2.5 crores to the Government of India for the project that has been sanctioned. The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) that will treat discharges from Dyeing Industry is being set up and a Detailed Project Report had been prepared. It is in the tender inviting stage.

— Rahul Tewari, Deputy Commissioner

The MC is being wrongly blamed for the mess in the nullah. We have already three STPs in place with a capacity of 111 MLD at Bhattian Bet whose capacity would be augmented by 50 MLD, 152 MLD at Balloke village, whose capacity is being increased by 105 MLD and 48 MLD at Jamalpur. With the augmentation, there would be no sewage flow into the nullah.

— Parveen Bansal, Senior Deputy Mayor

The nullah gets polluted due to sewage as well as industrial discharge. But we have taken care of the discharge from electroplating unit by making all the small units members of Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP). Their effluent is being treated and a zero discharge is being ensured. We are going to ensure similar standards for Dyeing industry also and with the setting up of CETP for dyeing effluents, this would be taken care of. We have taken samples from Budda Nullah recently and these have proved that the water quality has become better with strict measures taken by us. — Karunesh Garg, Superintending Engineer, Punjab Pollution Control Board


Many announcements, many plans but nullah continues to be polluted.

CLEANING OPERATION IN 1970: The first nullah cleaning operation was launched by the then government in 1970. ‘‘It was cleaned to quite an extent. I did not see any effective cleaning operation after that, ’’ says Jagjit Singh Lambran, former Sarpanch of Burj Lambran.

SATLUJ ACTION PLAN OCTOBER 1996: The Sutlej Action Plan was launched in October 1996. Under the plan, the sewage was not to be discharged directly into the Budda Nullah. The plan was to set up three Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) at Jamalpur, Bhattian and Balloke villages. The three STPs came up during the last four years but their capacity is much less than the total sewage generated by the city.

PSHRC TAKES UP CASE, April 16, 2002: The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) took up the case of Budda Nullah after news reports in Tribune describing the plight of residents living alongside. The commission directed the state government to get the water body cleaned but to no avail.

PUNJAB AND HARYANA HIGH COURT: September 6, 2006: Taking a strong note of the continuing discharge of pollutants, including raw sullage and remains of dead animals into the Budda Nullah, the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the state government to take action. The state government constituted a committee to get some work done on the ground. It failed to provide desired results.

KAR SEWA, December 5, 2006: Baba Jaspal Singh Baddowal, a local Godman, started Kar Sewa with 5,000 followers on December 5, 2006. A debt of Rs 50 lakhs was mounted on him for a project that did not yield anything, thanks to bureaucratic wrangling and lack of political will to carry on with the cleaning despite High Court orders. He completed the process of widening and cleaning 10-km stretch of the nullah from Kum Kalan to Karaur village. After that the work came to an end.

Rs 50 CRORE FOR BUDDA NULLAH, July 7, 2009: The Centre announced a grant of Rs 50 crore for the cleaning of water body, which the state government claimed it never received it. Ludhiana Member Parliament, Manish Tewari, who is also spokesman of the AICC has been claiming the grant came. But state government always denied it.

RIVER GREEN BRIDGES SYSTEM, August 3, 2010: The state government announced River Green Bridges System — allotted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2010 claiming the nullah would be cleaned within one and a half years. The work is to start yet.

Alarming impurities

When Seechewal visited Gaunspur two months ago, he examined a sample of the water taken from a village Gurdwara with a portable tester and found the level of ‘Total Dissolved Solids’ at 1,200 against the permissible limit of 500.

After the deaths that shook these villages, the residents started boring deep into the earth to get comparatively cleaner water. “But doctors tell us that it will not help much,” added Jagjit.

Several villagers had bought water electronisers to test the purity of water. ‘‘The results are scary. One can never drink this water, ’’ says Balbir Singh, Sarpanch of Hujra village, who bought an electroniser two years ago. Showing a glassful of water with blackish precipitates settling at the bottom, he asked: “Can you drink it?”


  • MC is held responsible for 95 per cent of the total waste discharged into the nullah, say Pollution Board authorities. They say it is not only the question of nullah but of the 12 municipal committees throwing waste into river Sutlej in Punjab, Ludhiana MC is contributing the maximum to pollution load of the river - a whopping 20,048 kg a day.
  • Ludhiana’s hosiery, machine parts, electroplating, heat treatment, cycle manufacturing, dyeing units and chemical industry were discharging effluents into the nullah. More than 20 sullage drains from colonies like Islam Gunj, New Madhopuri, Jamalpur, Gau Ghat Gaushala and Balmiki Mohalla flow into the nullah that finally empties into Sutlej river.
  • The point at which the industrial effluent falls into Budda Nullah at Jamalpur is to seen to be believed. A tar like liquid, emanating pungent smell and fumes, falls into the nullah.
  • Interestingly, most of the industries that throw effluents into the nullah are located on its banks as it passes through the city at various places. It is not that these units have not installed their personal treatment plants but they do not treat the water before throwing it into it. The toxic water is openly thrown allegedly in connivance with the Punjab Pollution Control Board authorities.
  • When the PPCB is questioned on the issue, it passes the blame on the Municipal Corporation stating it should be penalized for dumping its untreated domestic sewage into the nullah. A number of times they have issued notices to these polluting units but nothing has come of it.
  • Earlier not many units came up for membership. When they came, the office bearers of the SPV have now announced that they would not treat the effluents of Wire drawing units, whose effluents had toxic metals even after treatment. Now the authorities concerned have yet to find a solution to the problem.
  • The sewage and industrial waste of Ludhiana makes its way into the Budda nullah in the form of untreated composite mixture. It has contaminated the water of this nullah to such an extent that no fish species exist in it. Since it finally joins the river Sutlej, it is now posing a serious threat to aquatic bio-diversity of the river.


From a clean water channel just four decades ago, along whose bank the city flourished in the late 19th century, it has today turned into a slow moving stream carrying black coloured and foul-smelling toxic elements from the city to Sutlej river.

The nullah has a golden past. There is substantial evidence that the nullah was the sub channel of erstwhile Sutlej river. The Lodhi Fort, according to historians and Ludhiana Gazetteer was constructed in the 17th century on its bank.

Originating from several streams coming from a hillock near Ropar, the nullah, which was earlier known as Budda Dariya, takes proper shape near Macchiwara. It then passes through the city and then joins Sutlej in the Bet area. Though Sutlej changed its path, the streams continued to feed the Budda Dariya.

Dr Ravindra Vatsayan, an old timer revealed that till the 1960s, the water of the nullah was substantially clear. His assertion is backed by the study reports of the Punjab Pollution Control Board about the pollution level of the nullah. While mentioning the level of pollution, a study report done in 1993 specifically states that the nullah which was then called Budda Dariya had as many as 56 types of fishes prior to 1964. It says that the nullah is having none at present due to the high levels of toxicity in the water.

After the 1960s the clean Buddha Dariya began changing form as a number of industries especially the dyeing, electroplating and acidic, began depositing effluents in it. Even a number of hospitals in the city began throwing trucks load of medical waste into it.


The Union Environment Ministry has now approved the “bio-remediation” project for cleaning up of nullah. The multi-crore project will be completely funded by the Government of India. The revolutionary method (bio-remediation), which had been used with great success worldwide, employs the use of microbes to eat away the waste component of effluents that were discharged into the water. It remains to be seen whether it would ever see the light of the day.



Finally, MC to remove trees, pillars from roads in phases
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 11
Authorities of the Municipal Corporation have finally decided to remove trees and pillars from the middle of the road in a phased manner. Municipal authorities had in a report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner stated that about 2,000 trees and pillars in the middle of the road were hindering the smooth flow of the traffic.

Additional Commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar conducted the survey. He had pointed out that about 1,500 electricity poles, 200 telephone poles and 300 trees were standing right in the middle of various roads and creating hurdles in the smooth flow of the traffic.

The Additional Commissioner had conducted the survey because people were facing lot of problem commuting on the city roads. Municipal officials after several meetings decided to go ahead with the drive. The Deputy Commissioner had in the past asked officials of POWERCOM to submit an estimate for removing pillars from various roads. Similarly, the forest department was also asked to submit detailed estimate regarding it so that process of removing the trees could be started.

Subsequently, the Municipal Corporation had in an estimate submitted to POWERCOM authorities demanded Rs 58 crore for removing the poles. Municipal authorities were, however, not willing to pay the entire amount due to financial crunch. Thus, the municipal authorities asked POWERCOM officials to give estimates of the roads in installments.

Now, municipal authorities have in the first phase decided to give priority to three to four roads that were visited by the Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner of Police and Municipal Commissioner in past, sources added.

Kanwalpreet Brar while confirming the report said they had sought brake wise estimate of the key roads from POWERCOM.



EET students submit memo to CM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
ETT students studying in private colleges submitted a memorandum to the the Deputy Commissioner today. The memorandum is to be handed over to the Chief Minister. The students alleged that they had deposited considerable amount to get admissions in private colleges. Now, these colleges were conducting examinations on their own.

Most of the students demanded that the private colleges should get affiliated to SCERT and conduct examinations. These college should also be charged for deceiving them and told to compensate the students with Rs 10 lakh each.

Arun Kumar, a PSU member, under which banner students handed over memorandum said, “These students are being exploited by colleges as they had deposited huge amount for getting admission.”



Property Dealer’s Murder
Residents seek arrest of accused
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, April 11
Family members and residents of Rishi Nagar have flayed the police for not making any headway in the alleged murder case of Chandan Kumar, a property dealer and resident of Rishi Nagar. Chandan was allegedly murdered and poisoned by three persons on March 12.

Suresh Sharma, victim’s uncle, said armed assailants led by Shivraj had killed Chandan about a month ago, but the accused were roaming freely. The residents demanded that the girl, who allegedly provoked Shivraj to commit the crime, should also be booked for murder. Chandan was found dead near a school located in Rishi Nagar on the Hambran road.

Eyewitnesses said Shivraj and his men had attacked him with swords. The victim bled to death. However, the matter took a new turn when sulphas tablets were found from the victim’s pocket.

One of family members of the victim said Chandan was in love with a girl who, latter, got engaged to Shivraj.

Chandan’s parents were not in favour of reviving the relationship with the girl as she was already engaged.

“But Chandan refused to listen to us. Instead, he left home and began living with his grandfather in Rishi Nagar,” family members added.

Today, a large number of residents, including members of the Rishi Nagar property dealers association, sought arrest of the accused.

“We are only demanding arrest of the accused who killed our son. At least, the police could lessen their trauma by arresting the accused,” Chandan’s uncle, Suresh Sharma, vice-president, District Congress Committee said.



Tailor stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
The Sadar police has booked two persons for stabbing a 55-year-old tailor to death in Chhabra Nagar. The victim has been identified Sham Lal, a tailor by profession.

The police said the accused- Prem and Ravi- both migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh, stabbed Sham Lal with scissor following a scuffle.The incident took place on Friday night while they were consuming liquor.

Ravi and Prem fought with Sham Lal and in a fit of rage stabbed him to death.

The Sarad police has registered a case against the duo under section 302 of the IPC.



District Cricket Tourney
32 probables shortlisted
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, April 11
As many as 72 aspirants attended the trials conducted by the Ludhiana District Cricket Association (LDCA) to select the probables (U-19) to enroll them for the Regional Coaching Centre being run by the association here at Arya College ground.

The selection panel constituted by the LDCA shortlisted 32 players for the centre and advised them to report to the coach- Kumarnan K on April 14 at 5 pm at the same venue.

The Ludhiana district squad for the upcoming Punjab State Inter-District Cricket Championship (U-19) for the Dhruv Pandove Trophy to be organised by the Punjab Cricket Association in the third week of May will be finalised from these probables.

The names of the selected probables are: Sunny Pandey, Harjit Singh, Abhinav Bhatia, Sumit Arora, Gursharan Singh, Parul Kapoor, Abhishek Talwar, Vinay Kapoor, Chirag Maria, Devender Sidhu, Sandeep Singh, Rahul Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Nitish Malhotra, Parampreet Singh, Sumit, Shivam Sood, Mrinal Partap, Gurjot Singh, Subodh Mishra, Ajay Mehra, Lovjot Singh, Rajat Verma, Paras Bhardwaj, Kunal Partap, Lovish Saini, Abhijit Randhawa, Adarshpreet Singh, Amritpal Singh, Hardeep Singh, Sahil Sood and Satnam Singh.



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