L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


900 trees axed on altar of development
n Eight-laning of Ferozepur Road on the anvil n Widening project to cost Rs 40 cr
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

The thick green cover which will be axed to widen Ferozepur Road in Ludhiana.
GREEN NO MORE: The thick green cover which will be axed to widen Ferozepur Road in Ludhiana.

Ludhiana, May 15
About 900 trees are being axed for eight-laning the Ferozepur road on the altar of development. Work on the Rs 40-crore road project being undertaken by the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) began after the forest department granted its approval.

Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had laid the foundation stone for the eight-laning of the road last year. However, work got delayed after the forest department and the union environment ministry objected to the felling of 900 trees for the proposed widening of the road.

The ministry stipulated that the project would not go ahead until a land was provided to them to compensate for the axing of the trees by planting saplings on it.

RK Sharma, Superintendent Engineer, GLADA, had stated earlier that they had got the consent of the forest department and the environment ministry for carrying out the work on the project.

Mewa Singh, an official of the forest department, confirmed it and said the environment ministry had given its nod after the government completed the requisite guidelines.

He had stated that they would start widening the road after axing 900 trees. The road is of strategic importance as it joins the city with most parts of the Malwa region, including Mullahpur, Jagraon, Moga, Bathinda, Ferozepur, Faridkot and Muktsar.

There is heavy rush of vehicular traffic on this road. It has also witnessed some of the deadliest road accidents recently. The marriage palaces in Baddowal have also added to the chaos on this “killer stretch”.

Similarly, the road also leads to the Indo-Pak border at Hussainwala and even to Rajasthan.


Felling of trees on

n Felling of trees began near Westend Mall and district forest office. Nearly 100 trees, including that of peepal, have been axed in the first phase and digging work is also being carried out on the highway, an official of the Bathinda-based construction company, which has been awarded the contract, said.


Ludhiana’s loss is Ferozepur’s gain
GLADA axes trees in city, plants saplings in Gurdaspur
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
While the government is axing 898 trees for widening the “killer stretch” on the Ferozepore road, it has decided to plant saplings 150 km away (in Gurdaspur) from the city.

As the Greater Ludhiana Area Development Authority (GLADA) yesterday started axing 898 trees for winding the Ferozepore road, concern was evident on faces of environmentalists.

Though the work has started for the eight- laning of the road with an estimated cost Rs 40 crore, but the birds, which lost their habitats, and residents, who want to breath fresh air, would have to travel all the way to Gurdaspur district to do so.

GLADA has purchased 32 acre in Gurdaspur for planting saplings after spending Rs 1.92 crore, thus clearing the way for the project to start. It is learnt that the forest department and the union environment ministry had objected to the felling of around 900 trees for the proposed widening of the road.

Subsequently, the ministry stipulated that the project would not go ahead until land was provided to them to compensate for the felling by planting saplings on it.

But what appears to be a “deceiving tactic” of the forest department, it instead of buying land near the area from where the trees are being axed had purchased a land in the foothills of Gurdaspur. The residents are questioning the reasoning behind purchasing the land 150-km away.

“Are they - the government- testing our patience. Now we have to travel 150 km to breathe fresh air. The people in the city are struggling for oxygen. Every fourth child in the city is suffering from the breathing problem and the government is playing a cruel joke with us,” said Shiv Soni, a social activist.

Another resident also expressed shock over the bizarre basis upon which the environment ministry had given a nod to GLADA for widening the road.

“The environment ministry is equally responsible for the mess. Didn’t they know how far is Gurdaspur from Ludhiana? Tell me the logic behind greening an already afforested area by turning the city into a concrete jungle,” said Arvind Sharma, an RTI activist. 



Common man, industry hit equally
n Ninth hike in petrol prices since last June n Rs 25 jump in two years
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
Consumers have once again been burdened with a hike of Rs 5 per litre in petrol prices. There have been nine hikes since last June. In the last two years, the prices of petrol have been hiked by nearly Rs 25. In 2009, the price of petrol was Rs 44.74. Petrol also has 31.5 per cent VAT and other taxes. Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum have hiked the prices of petrol by Rs 4.99 to Rs 5.01 per litre.

Not only the common man, but also the industry will be affected. The worst hit will be the MSME. “The spiralling prices of raw material and petrol prices is spelling doom for us. We will have no choice, but to shut down our units,” said Jagdish Chand, a small unit owner.

“There is no end to the increase in the prices of petrol. Every month, I spend nearly Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 on petrol. My budget will go haywire,” said Ankush Sharma who works in a multi-national company.

Petrol prices should be regulated by the government. “It is getting very tough. Most of my salary is spent on petrol. I have switched to a two-wheeler, but this is not a solution. The government should intervene and regulate the prices of petrol,” Gagan Ahuja, a bank employee, stated.



BSF man being held POW in Pakistan
n Was declared dead in 1974 n Son pins hopes for his release on Pak govt
Anupam Bhagria
tribune news service

Ludhiana, May 15
Although Border Security Force constable Surjit Singh, who fought in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, was declared dead by the Indian government in 1974, he is now reported to be alive and incarcerated in a Pakistani jail as a prisoner of war. His only son, Amrik Singh, who along with his mother, Angrej Kaur, was conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Bravery Award by the All India Anti-Terrorist Front at the city’s Nehru Sidhant Kendra on Sunday, said: “I’ve pinned all my hopes about my father’s return on Pakistani minister for human rights, Ansar Burney, who has assured me he would be released within three months. I began communicating with him on April 24 and on April 27 he called me up at 11:30 pm to inform me my father is alive and is a POW in Pakistan. He asked for some documents and my father’s photographs, which I mailed him the very next day. After Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan the minister became busy. I’ll again communicate with him now as he is my last hope”.

Amrik, who was unable to graduate from high school due to the family’s poor financial condition, said: ''I was only a month old in 1971 when my father fought on the front. The Indian government declared him missing in 1971 itself. Three years later it declared him dead and began providing my mother a pension of Rs 120 a month. But she never believed her husband had died and always said he must be still alive."

Amrik got to know about his father in Pak jail about 15 years ago when Satish Kumar Marwaha, a Ferozepur resident was released from a Pakistani prison.

“Marwaha told me my father is alive and was being held as a prisoner of war in Pakistan. Then, in 2004, Pakistan released 36 prisoners and many of them told me my dad was lodged in a Pakistani jail. I met every one of them and finally talked to Gopal Dass, who was released a few days ago at the Wagha border. I took some guidance from him to probe my father's case, following which I sent an email to the Pakistani foreign minister about my father and succeeded in locating him”, said Amrik.'

Meanwhile, Angrej had to leave her husband’s village, Tehna and moved to her parent's home in Faridkot for food and shelter. “As the family circumstances were not good and everyone was illiterate in the family, so none was aware of the fact as how to locate Papa. Even I couldn’t complete my matriculation,” she stated. "

The process of relocating his father also became slow as Amrik faced another tragedy as his wife, Shinder Kaur, died of cancer after suffering for over five years. With tears in his eyes, he said, It now looks as if our troubles are finally about to be over." However a depressed Angrej was not able to talk.

Harassed widows of cops killed by terrorists

n Jasbeer Kaur, the widow of a Punjab police inspector who lives in Hasanpur village in Mohali district, said: “The terrorists shot dead my husband, Harpal Singh, along with my three young sons on October 8, 1991. Now I stay with my remaining son who got a job in the police department. I demand the government should give importance to families of terrorist victims. My husband three children were sacrificed for the state."

Another widow, Dharmender Kaur, who also resides in Mohali district said: ''My only son was killed by terrorists on August 24, 1992. I lost my husband two months ago. I have two daughters, one of them have got job of clerk in police department. The government should give jobs to our kids according to their qualification and in other departments also."

Said Najbeer Kaur, who lives in Bandala village in Tarn Taran district: "My husband, Ajit Singh, who was a police constable was killed by terrorists on July 27, 1989. I’ve one son who got a job in the police department. But I want he should be permanently posted in my home district.”



Patriot ‘Bhagat’ Singh snubbed
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
Not only did Jagdish Singh append “Bhagat” with his name but he changed his lifestyle as a “mark of respect” to the freedom fighter. However, on Sunday he was reportedly humiliated and not allowed to pay tributes to Shaheed Sukhdev at a function marking the latter’s birth anniversary in Naughara.

He has been attending functions concerning Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev for many years.

"So-called leaders and organisers want to give it a political colour. I came here from Panchkula to pay tributes. I did not bring along anyone to show my strength as I have nothing to gain," he said.

Ashok Thapar, an organiser, said they did not know who he was or what his motives were.

"Last year too he came to the function, got his pictures clicked and went away. If he is inspired by the martyrs, he must live for a cause,” he said.



Property dealer shot at
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
A 25-year-old property dealer was shot at by two unidentified motorcycle-borne youths in the Civil City area here today.

The property dealer identified as Ajay Kumar sustained two bullet shots and was rushed to the DMCH, where his condition is stated to be critical. The incident took place at 5 pm when Ajay was standing outside his office.

According to an eyewitness, two youths were wearing helmets arrived on a mobike and the youth sitting pillion fired two shots at Ajay before fleeing.

The police is suspecting personal enmity to be the reason behind the shooting. Police sources said Ajay had identified the accused who shot at him.



Abducted boy found in Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

Long wait Beeru’s father Sham Lal and mother Maya anxiously wait for their son in Ludhiana.
Long wait Beeru’s father Sham Lal and mother Maya anxiously wait for their son in Ludhiana. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, May 15
The six-year-old boy, Beeru, who was kidnapped outside his home in the city three days ago unexpectedly surfaced at the train station in Bharatpur in Rajasthan on Sunday and is reported to be unharmed. According to Railway Police Force officials he was spotted abandoned at the station in the morning.

"He (Beeru) was crying profusely and was asking for his mother. He told us some ‘bhai’ (elder relative) took him away when he was outside his home. We checked his pockets and found a slip on which two telephone numbers were written. We called up at those numbers and found one of them was that of Beeru's father, Sham Lal. We have informed him about the boy and told him to take the child from the Bharatpur rail station," an RPF official told The Tribune.

The boy was reportedly handed over to a relative identified as Uday Singh, who lives in Bharatpur.

In the meantime, the city police has heaved a sigh of relief and dispatched a team to Rajasthan to bring the boy home. "Thank God the boy is safe. Now we’ll go ahead with further investigations and nab the suspect who abducted the child," said the Dugri police station house officer.

The police suspects an “insider” was involved in the kidnapping. “The boy can’t speak properly and was unable to provide his father’s phone number. The fact that the kidnapper established contact with his family suggests he was an insider. The suspect must have been aware about our investigations into the abduction and perhaps realized we were zeroing on him. Due to the fear of being caught he must have left the child at the train station and fled”, said police officials.

Earlier today the kidnap suspect made a second phone call to the boy’s family and again asked for a ransom but did not say where the money was to be delivered. While the first call was made from cellphone in Rajasthan the second was made from a public call office in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Residents of the locality in Punjabi Bagh colony where the boy’s family lives burst into celebrations soon after Lal confirmed his missing child had been found in Bharatpur. Maya, the boy’s mother, broke into tears following the news that the boy was safe in police custody.

"I’ve not gone home for the past two days. He (Beeru) is my only son. I was very worried about him," said Lal. His daughters - Manu, 8, Surbhi, 5, Nandni, 4 and Parri, 3 - had not gone out of their home to play ever since their brother was kidnapped.


n May 12: Beeru abducted while playing with his sister on a street outside his home

n May 13: The kidnapper called boy’s father, Sham Lal, on the evening of May 13 and demanded a Rs 6 lakh ransom

n May 14: Lal, who ekes out a living by selling ice cream on a pushcart, had expressed his inability in coming up with the ransom money. Meanwhile, police set up teams to nab the suspect

n May 15: Boy found unharmed at Bharatpur train station in Rajasthan



Increase in petrol price, power tariff condemned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 15
The increase in the price of petrol by Rs 5 a litre by the Centre as well as hike in power tariff by the state government have come in for sharp criticism from the Marxist Communist Party of India-United and the Shiv Sena Hindustan, who have termed it backbreaking for the common man.

In a statement here today, MCPI state secretary Kuldip Singh said the increase in price of petrol by oil companies with the consent of the union government would inflict a fatal blow to the already burdened common man. He said prices of all essential commodities were going through the roof while the government was looking helplessly.

Attributing the trend of rising prices to policies of liberalisation and decontrol being pursued by the centre, the MCPI said it was shocking that in past 11 months, petrol prices had been jacked up nine times by the oil companies. It also asserted that hike in petrol prices would have a cascading effect on the overall price line and further fuel the inflation.

The Shiv Sena Hindustan burnt an effigies of central and state governments and slammed them for increasing the petrol prices and power tariff ,respectively.

Party’s state president Krishan Sharma said the government, be it the Centre or the SAD-BJP government in Punjab, were not making any apparent effort to provide relief to the common man.

“If the Centre had imposed further burden on the people by way of increase in price of petrol, the state government had inflicted yet another blow in the shape of higher power tariff.”

Demanding an immediate rollback of increase both in the prices of petrol and electricity, he said the party would soon launch an agitation in the state to focus on the plight of the poor and force the government withdraw the hike.



Forum seeks octroi, VAT waiver
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
The Lal Bahadur Shastri Social Forum has appealed to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to waive off octroi on petrol and diesel as was applicable in neighboring states of Haryana and Rajasthan to ease the prices of fuel in the state.

Forum president Sushil Malhotra and Dr General Secretary Shiv Kumar Gupta said the state government should also reduced VAT on petrol and diesel as these were higher in comparison with other states.

“Higher VAT in Punjab has forced the people of the state to pay higher prices for petrol and diesel as compared to other states,” they said.

The forum members added that certain petrol stations outside the octroi limits were selling fuel without paying the octroi.

The MC Commissioner should look into the anomaly, they added.



Medical camp

The IMA Ludhiana in association with Kulwant Heart and Vascular Centre organised a free medical check-up camp at Shiv Puri here on Sunday. During the camp, Dr Kulwant Singh and his team examined around 200 patients. At least 110 ECGs were carried out and blood sugar tests were done on a majority of patients. Dr Kulwant Singh delivered a lecture on health education and gave tips on diet for summer. He suggested intake of plenty of fluids and juices and shunning oily and fatty food. — TNS

Ludhiana scan
117 donate blood

All Christian Federation — The Warriors organised second blood donation camp at Kalvari Church basement here. As many as 117 persons donated blood. Teams from CMC Hospital, DMC Hospital and the Red Cross conducted the camp. Teams of lawyers and youth from Chandigarh also participated in it. The camp was inaugurated by Ramesh Bangarh. John Akbar Rahi started this camp with prayer. Varun Henry, president, Jatinder Pal, vice-president, William Prem, general secretary, Raj K Cheeda, secretary, Sunny John, sports secretarty were also present. — TNS

Hospital inaugurated

Chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda inaugurated Global Heart and Super-Speciality Hospital near the octroi post here on Sunday. Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari inaugurated the cardiac cath lab. Dakha MLA Darshan Singh Shiwalik and zila parishad chairman Manpreet Singh Ayali were present there as guests of honour. Dr Brajesh Badhan and Dr Anjali Shah highlighted the facilities at hospital. The department of surgery is headed by Dr Daljit Singh. In addition, departments of neuro-sciences, endocrinology, orthopaedics and pediatrics will start soon. — TNS

phillaur scan
Wheat crop destroyed in fire

Wheat crop on 12 acres and wheat husk stored in 12 temporary structures were destroyed in a fire that broke out in the fields of Gardawar Singh at Cheema Khurad village on Saturday. The cause of the fire was not known. — OC

Man held with stolen wheat bags

The police arrested a man, Gurnam Singh, with 10 bags of wheat that he had stolen from the godown of his employer Mohit Khosla here on Saturday night. — OC

Youth hurt in assault

A youth, Rinku, was seriously injured in an attack by two assailants armed with sharp-edged weapons here on Saturday night. The victim was admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case. — OC



Spare a thought for these helpless men in uniform

A traffic cop stops a car for jumping a red light.
stopped in its tracks: A traffic cop stops a car for jumping a red light.

n With a rolled up newspaper for a baton, poor traffic cops not only brave the heat but are usually seen running after violators who zoom past them after jumping a red light or while riding a motorbike without a helmet. With nearly 14 lakh vehicles plying daily on city roads, the traffic police with an effective strength of 150 is following archaic methods of nabbing traffic violators. Instead of using walkie-talkies, cops are still using the hide-and-seek modus operandi to nab traffic offenders. Many times the violators give them the slip leaving the cops helplessly looking at them. Mohit Khanna describes how challenging it is for a traffic cop to nab violators in the city and Tribune lensman Himanshu Mahajan captures some moments on the city roads.

Calling up a VIP

A violator hands a traffic cop his cell phone to talk to a VIP.
A phone call away: A violator hands a traffic cop his cell phone to talk to a VIP.

If offenders are caught for violating traffic rules, they make full use of the long list of VIPs, including politicians, bureaucrats, highly placed police officials and journalists. In normal circumstances, before the cop catches a traffic violator, the latter pulls out a cell phone and make the VIP speak to him and go scot-free.

This is the mantra followed by most of the traffic violators in the city as the poor cops are finding themselves helpless to handle the VIP menace. They can be seen on any of the traffic chowks, with a cell phone on their ear as the violators are seen basking in the glory of getting a cop browbeaten.During the time of introduction of commissionerate system in the city, the emphasis on checking traffic violations was increased manifold, but with the passage of time, political influence had an edge.

A cop on duty at the Bharat Nagar Chowk said, “The traffic violation by city residents is a reflection of their attitude. They have done everything by violating the law. They built a business establishment and a house by violating building bylaws. They have multiple LPG connections. They know that they can violate the law and get away by spending a few bucks.”

A cop said, “If I chase and stop 100 violators in a day, at least 70 make me speak on the cell phone and I am left with no option but to let them go. I get to hear big names on the other side. What can I do?”

The city has 75 councillors, four MLAs, an MP and several district and block leaders of various parties. “Everybody seems to know every violator. If we don’t listen to them, we have to face the music,” he added.

Since political interference continues, rules are flouted with impunity. A large number of scooterists drive without helmet and use cell phone. A cop peeved at the scenario said, “They know that they can escape easily. Why will they stick to rules?”

They are at risk

A violator in a car gives a traffic cop the slip.
Artful dodger: A violator in a car gives a traffic cop the slip.

Besides facing a threat to their lives by violators, who may hit them while giving them a slip, cops have no infrastructure to avoid such incidents. In the latest incident, Kotwali SHO Nirmal Singh sustained a fracture on his leg while he was
intercepting three motorcycle-borne youths who were PAU students.

Though the students were booked in a murderous assault case, the incident left much to be desired. Head constable Baldev Singh, who was bed-ridden for nearly two years and could not|
walk properly, was knocked down by an overspeeding autorickshaw.

Improving: ADCP

Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sajjan Singh Cheema has claimed that the traffic situation has improved a lot in the city and policemen have been tightening the noose around violators.

“Phones from VIPs give trouble, but on-the-spot challan of Rs 100 has lessened the pressure on cops. They manage to convince VIPs at the other end that they are not keeping documents and penalising traffic violators,” he said.

He said walkie-talkies were being used, but not frequently. “The trap formula is still quite successful. This morning, we challaned 25 traffic violators,” he said.

(Left)A traffic cop stops a violator after he turns on the wrong side to make an escape. (Right)In violation of the High Court’s orders, number plates on many vehicles, like this one, carry the designations of officials.
(L-R)wrong turn: A traffic cop stops a violator after he turns on the wrong side to make an escape. flaunting status: In violation of the High Court’s orders, number plates on many vehicles, like this one, carry the designations of officials.

Cubicles a far cry

Ultra-modern cubicles, fitted with all necessary equipment to help traffic cops to carry out their job effectively, are still a distant dream. Till now, traffic cops are operating either under the shade of trees or from an iron box, which becomes hot during the daytime. Sometimes they install a cooler or a fan with a ‘kundi’ connection, but most of the time they seek refuge in a shop located close to the iron cubicle. The condition of cops who are deployed at some of the major intersections of the city is pitiable as majority of them are suffering from respiratory and skin diseases due to overexposure to the sun and pollution.

“The cops are also to blame as they make moolah by pocketing money from traffic violators and refuse to switch their position with someone else,” said a traffic official. He added that a few traffic cops who enjoyed proximity to politicians managed to stall their transfer by using their political contacts. 



Knits and Wears 2011
Traders do brisk business on Day 2
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
The ongoing “Knits and Wears 2011” turned out to be a big draw among the industrial fraternity on the second day today. The meet is proving to be a good platform for both buyers and sellers.

Around 100 manufacturers are showcasing their hosiery items for the winter season. Latest trends, cuts and designs are being showcased for the winter season.

Manufacturers from garment centres like Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru are taking part in the exhibition to showcase their designs and garments.

Buyers not just from the city but also from neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal are coming to the exhibition.

An exhibitor said he was part of the exhibition last year as well and it helped him book a large number of orders for the coming winter season.

“Today is the second day and the response I have received is good. I hope to receive at least 60 per cent orders for the coming season from this exhibition,” he said.

Sudershan Jain, president of Knitwear and Apparel Manufacturers Association of Ludhiana, said the idea behind holding such a meet was to make city a hub of knitwear/textile products manufactured by reputed, experienced and innovative visionaries from this cluster.

A buyer from Himachal Pradesh, Lalit, said the exhibition was an excellent platform for them. “Ludhiana is a hub of hosiery industry and instead of going to manufactures individually, I can meet almost all of them here. This meet is a boon both for buyers and sellers,” he added.



Fire ravages hosiery unit
Machinery, huge stocks of raw material damaged
Kuldip Bhatia

Firefighters try to douse the blaze by pumping in water from a window.
smoke-screen: Firefighters try to douse the blaze by pumping in water from a window. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, May 15
Finished goods, huge stocks of raw material, machinery and a portion of a five-storeyed building of a hosiery unit in Bajwa Nagar were destroyed in a fire, apparently caused by a short-circuit, this morning. The loss is being estimated at over Rs 2.5 crore.

More than a dozen fire engines and some 35-40 persons, including a team of 15 firefighters, led by ADFO KL Kakkar, had to struggle for over four hours to douse the flames. The police kept onlookers at bay while the fire-fighting operation was being carried out.

Baldev Singh, managing director of Devinder Sandhu Impex Ltd, said the fire started at around 11.30 am on the first floor where sewing was being done. The flames spread and engulfed the third floor where raw material, finished products and machinery were kept.

Kakkar said given the limited number of fire-fighting staff and equipment, the fire brigade did a good job. “We assisted factory workers in salvaging some goods. The rear wall of the storeroom on the third floor had to be broken to provide entry to workers and take out finished and semi-finished stocks,” he said.

Poor availability of water caused a brief delay. But the main hose of a fire engine was connected to a submersible pump on the factory premises to carry out the operation.



State-level farmers’ conference in June
Our Correspondent

Doraha, May 15
The Kirti Kisan Sabha Punjab will organise a state-level delegates’ conference on June 4 and 5 at Kila Raipur. This was decided at a meeting of the sub-committee of the sabha, which was presided over by Surinder Singh Shehzad, here yesterday.

The issues to be discussed included increase in the cost of production and the MSP, free electricity and water, compensation and rehabilitation of uprooted farmers, and pro-farmer amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

Besides, unplanned and forceful acquisition of agricultural land, laying of gas pipeline by the corporate sector and meagre compensation to farmers for damage caused by floods in the Ghaggar in the adjoining villages would be taken up.

The demand of farm labourers and other workers for 10-marla plots for construction of houses, withdrawal of electricity bills imposed on labourers, strengthening of the public distribution system and other demands of farmers and labourers would also be part of the agenda.

The sub-committee also demanded the withdrawal of draconian laws that were meant to suppress the democratic movement of the working class in the state.

Tehsil and district-level kisan meetings and rallies would be held ahead of the conference.

The other members present at the meeting included sabha president Prem Singh Bhangu, general secretary Lakhwinder Singh Buani, Kuldeep Singh, Pawan Kumar Kaushal, Zora Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Sukhwinder Singh Sukhi, etc.



Martyr Sukhdev remembered
Eradication of social evils ‘real tribute’ to the hero
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 15
Punjab chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Harish Rai Dhanda today urged people to come forward to eradicate corruption, drug abuse, foeticide and illiteracy, which would be a real tribute to martyrs.

He was addressing a state-level function, organised in collaboration with the Amar Shaheed Welfare Society, to commemorate the 105th birth anniversary of martyr Sukhdev at Shaheed-e-Azam Sukhdev Thapar Government Girls Senior Secondary School here.

Earlier Dhanda, along with Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari, unveiled a statue of Sukhdev on the school premises.

Offering tributes to Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, Dhanda said they were the real heroes of the freedom movement and induced a spirit of sacrifice and patriotism among the youth. Freedom fighters and relatives of martyrs were felicitated on the occasion. A book by Dr Hardeep Singh on the life of Sukhdev was also released, besides the annual school magazine, Sat Sadhana, dedicated to martyrs.

Meanwhile, activists of the Inquilabi Kendra, Punjab, Lok Morcha Punjab, and other revolutionary bodies, walked till the ancestral house of Sukhdev in the Naughara locality.



Student faints
Our Correspondent

In safe hands The girl who fainted being rushed inside the school premises. Ludhiana, May 15
A student who was standing at the entrance to the “pandal” fainted during the function. Teachers carried her to a room.

The principal of the school, Kamaljit Kaur, said she was not aware of the incident and claimed that students were not made to stand outside. The “pandal” had adequate number of fans and water and soft drinks were offered to students, she said.

In safe hands The girl who fainted being rushed inside the school premises.



Poor show by girls at recruitment rally
Only 34 clear fitness test
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
Poor show marred the recruitment drive as only 34 girls could clear the physical fitness test in the two-day recruitment rally which ended at SCD Government College here today.

The girls performed badly. Only 13 girls out of 188 participants managed to clear the test on the second day. Poor physical fitness of the girls participating in the recruitment rally left officers disappointed as they could not fill their quota of 60 constables.

DCP Yurinder Singh said the performance was more or less the same as witnessed yesterday. “Out of 188 girls, only 13 could clear the trial on the second day,” he said.

Hot weather proved a major deterrent for participants as several girls were seen falling due to heat stroke.



Lakhs of trees axed in two years
Forest department has not yet released funds for planting saplings
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
In nearly two years, one lakh trees were axed and two lakh plants were cut for widening of the road into six lanes on NH-1 in the state, but the forest department is yet to release funds for planting saplings, which could lead to ecological crisis.

The city forest department has so far planted saplings in a 50-hectare area, out of the 537.228-hectare area, which was allotted to plant saplings in order to maintain the eco-balance.

It is learnt that initially, the Environment Ministry did not release the funds for nearly a year and now the state forest department was dilly-dallying in releasing nearly Rs 45 crore meant for forestation.

Sources in the ministry said the department had transferred 713.911 hectares of land to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), it had not got back an inch for reforestation as a compensation. The NHAI thus transferred Rs 45 crore in lieu of the land. It is also learnt that the state has not been able to acquire any land so far.

The forest department proposed several areas for new plantation, but perusal of records revealed that these were already dense forests. The sources in the department said no space was available in the proposed sites as a minimum gap of 8 feet was required for planting of another tree.

When the proposal was mooted out to widen the NH-1, it was decided that an equal number of trees and plants would be planted in other forest areas.

The District Forest Officer, Ludhiana Division, Daljit Singh Brar, said, "There is no space constraint and as soon as we receive funds, we will start the plantation work.”

It may be recalled here that the National Highway Authority of India in a letter written to DFOs of Patiala, Fathegarh Sahib, Ludhiana and Jalandhar had requested the transfer of land measuring 713.911 hectare in favour of their road project, following which nearly one lakh trees were axed.



Plantation of saplings only on paper 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
It’s been more than a year since 10,000 trees were axed for the construction of Rs 400-crore expressway on the southern bypass along Sidhwan Canal, but not even a single sapling has been planted to compensate the loss to the environment.

Ecologists are concerned regarding the indifferent attitude of the forest department, which is planting saplings only on paper.

Nearly 1,000 Neem and Eucalyptus trees along the Gill Road and in BRS Nagar were cut down.

Former IFS officer AS Channa said green cover, along the Sihdwan Canal, were removed for development sake. “That day is not far when people will visit zoo to see greener cover,” he said.

The felling trees had also earned ire of shopkeepers. “What was the use of axing so many trees? It has been over one year since construction of road on southern bypass along Sidhwan Canal is in progress and with the rate at which the road is being constructed, I don’t think the project will complete soon.”

Another mechanic rued: “During power cut, the shade of these trees was the only respite from scorching heat, but even that had been snatched from us in the name of development,” Rajinder Singh, a motor mechanic, said.



15,000 trees felled on PAU campus
Action against defaulters awaited
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

In the line The trees along the Ferozepur Road will soon be felled for widening.
In the line The trees along the Ferozepur Road will soon be felled for widening. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, May 15
It has been more than six years since Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) had allegedly axed about 15,000 trees on the sprawling 1,300-acre PAU campus without obtaining the mandatory permission of the state and Central government, but the issue has been hanging fire and the probe files pertaining to the matter were gathering dust in the forest department.

SP Shama, a former PAU academician, claimed that the saplings of these trees had been planted by founders of the university to maintain ecology and to protect crops in the research areas from elements of nature such as storms, strong winds, etc. The trees cut were sold in an open auction and the money was utilised for the university development. Moreover, an official disclosed that the university ensured that an equal number of trees were planted in place of those being cut, but not a single sapling has been planted to compensate the loss.

The PAU official has time and again maintained that the trees did not fall under the Forest or Environment Prevention Act and everything was done in a transparent manner and a legal procedure was followed.

“Following a complaint lodged by the joint action committee (JAC) of employees and teachers of PAU, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, had ordered an inquiry into the axing of a large number of trees on the main PAU campus, but no one knows what is the current status, as the district forest officer (DFO) is sitting quietly over the issue,” said SP Sharma.



Indefinite fast by PAU staff union chief from today
Seeks timely payment of salaries
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 15
Sore over the “delaying” tactics adopted by the state government in disbursing monthly salaries to PAU staff, PAU Employees Union president Harbans Singh Mundi will go on a fast-unto-death outside Thapar Hall from tomorrow.

The union members said it was high time such “exploitation” by the state government ended. Talking to the TNS, Mundi said: “Sixteen days have elapsed and we are yet to be paid our salaries for April. Politicians and policymakers may not need their salaries to run their homes but we are solely dependent on our salaries to get our daily bread.

Neither the PAU authorities nor the state government want to understand our situation. So, fast-unto-death remains the only option to convey our message to the authorities concerned.” The union members held a meeting recently and discussed the issue of delayed salaries. Mundi said the union had held several protests to find a permanent solution to the problem but to no avail.

“When we go to the finance department in Chandigarh, the clerical staff there misbehave with us. We feel helpless. Though they are not in a position to take a decision, their attitude perturbs us. Most of us are sole breadwinners of our families. We have to pay monthly bills and school fee but in the absence of salaries, we have to seek financial help from relatives and friends. This is quite disconcerting,” said Mundi, adding that he would not relent until the authorities gave an assurance in writing of paying their salaries by the first or second of every month. Earlier, too, the employees have held protests to get their monthly dues. The disbursement of salaries has been a problem at the cash-strapped university for some time.



Gang of robbers busted; 4 held
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 15
With the arrest of four persons, including two women, the local police claims to have busted a gang of robbers and recovered gold ornaments, including a chain, earrings and rings worth Rs 1 lakh, near Tehing in Phillaur sub-division.

SHO Harjinder Singh said following a tip off, a police team led by ASI Subhash Bath set up a checkpoint and arrested the gang members, identified as Binder Kaur, Manjit Kaur, Brinder Kaur and Anil Kumar. The police also impounded a Maruti car (PB 10 AU 1037) in which the four were travelling.

The police said the gang members first used to offer ride to women waiting for public transport by the roadside and then rob them midway. The four were produced before a judicial magistrate, who remanded them in police custody till Monday.



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