L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


400-mm rainfall in 12 hrs brings city to brink
Leaves 11 dead; dampens Rakhi celebrations; inundates govt offices, houses; brings traffic to a halt
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

An inundated office in the Ludhiana Mini Secretariat.
An inundated office in the Ludhiana Mini Secretariat. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, August 13
Rakhi festival turned sour for city residents when 11 persons, including two children and a pregnant woman, died in separate incidents as rain lashed the city last night.

After continuous rainfall in the city since Friday evening, residents faced a harrowing time on Saturday with rainwater having accumulated in virtually all areas throwing normal life out of gear.

Long queues of vehicles were witnessed near Salem Tabri.
Long queues of vehicles were witnessed near Salem Tabri. Tribune photos: Himanshu Mahajan

Long line of vehicles crawled along on the streets leading to interminable traffic jams that proved as a dampener to those celebrating the Raksha Bandhan festival. Many vehicles got stuck in the water leaving motorists stranded in the middle of the road. Most failed to get any assistance as practically auto workshops in city were closed due to the festival.

Many women had a tough time reaching the houses of their brothers to tie ‘rakhis’.

A car that was damaged after a portion of a wall fell on it on Hambran Road in the city.
A car that was damaged after a portion of a wall fell on it on Hambran Road in the city.

The rain began on Friday evening and continued till about 8:30 am on Saturday. 400 mm of rainfall was recorded during this period, causing power outages in most city areas, which in turn led to no water supply, leaving residents fuming.

Rainwater entered houses in several parts of the city, including Dugri, Gurdev Nagar, Bhagat Singh Nagar, Shivpuri, Qila Mohalla and Chaura Bazaar. Even the area adjacent to the municipal corporation’s zone A office was in knee deep water, with many shops and houses situated there inundated.

Senior deputy mayor Parveen Bansal said: “Many areas were waterlogged due to the heavy rain in all parts of Ludhiana district since Friday evening. Nevertheless we’re trying our best to manage the situation”. 


Half of city goes without power
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
The heavy spell of rain in city since Friday evening left virtually half of the city powerless. Most areas suffered a blackout with Punjab State Power Corp Ltd (PSPCL) officials admitting the incessant rainfall had affected about 50 per cent of the city on Saturday.

PSPCL chief engineer KL Sharma claimed the outages were due to rainwater entering some electricity substations and a few feeders tripping due to moisture.

“This time, there was no loss of our equipment or poles as there was no storm or strong winds at the time of rainfall. Till early morning today 50 per cent of the city was powerless, but we deputed all our officials on duty and by afternoon power supply was restored in most parts of the city. However, by 7 pm on Saurday only 5 to 7 per cent of the city area was powerless. Power supply will be restored in all parts of the city by night or early Sunday,” Sharma added.

Rainwater reportedly entered the power utility’s substations in Phase VIII in Focal Point, in Sarabha Nagar and some other areas. “We’re still in the process of pumping out water from our substation in the Focal Point area with the help of a motor. During the next few hours the sub station will start functioning and power supply will be restored in the entire area,” said Sharma.



Mudslide blocks national highway for hours
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
With a large quantity of mud and slime amassing on both sides of the GT Road after pillars of a small bridge under construction collapsed, thousands of commuters were stranded on the busy artery for hours since early in the morning on Saturday. Thousands of vehicles were stuck in huge jams near the Amaltas tourist resort after mud from the bridge slid on to the road, set off by the incessant rain.

Traffic virtually came to a standstill and within minutes there were long lines of vehicles on the national highway stretching up to Goraya in Jalandhar district, some 30 km from the city. Even the Delhi-Lahore bus of the Pakistan Tourist Development Corp had to be diverted from Jagraon Bridge towards Jagraon, from where it proceeded to Jalandhar.

Sukhwant Singh, who had come in his car along with his family from Batala, rued that it took him four hours from Goraya to reach his brother’s home in Randhir Singh Nagar. “Apart from the time wasted we had to go through mental agony as my three-year-old grandson was also travelling with me in the car. The jam began ahead of Goraya but none of the cops managing the traffic could tell us the reason. Then we had to enter the city via Haibowal as there we had to take a diversion from Ladhowal,” he added.

The extent of the traffic gridlock was such that many commuters who were travelling in buses preferred to walk on foot towards the Jalandhar bypass.

Rajinder Kaur, who was on a bus from Jalandhar, said she remained aboard for two hours before she made up her mind to get down and walk the rest of the way. “For two hours I kept sitting in the bus and after the rain stopped I decided to cover next around three kilometers on foot as the traffic was not moving even an inch,” she added.

District administration officials had a tough time getting the mud and slime on the road cleared by JCB machines.



Rakhi turns glum; boy, sister run over by vehicle
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
Rakhi celebrations turned into a tragedy for a family after a boy and his sister were crushed to death under a speeding tractor trailer on the Sua road near Gyaspura here this afternoon.

Param Hans Shukla, father of the victims, said his scooter skidded due to the rain and his daughter Tipsy (17) and son Saurabh (12) were run over by a tractor trailer after they fell from the scooter.

It was in the morning that Tipsy tied rakhi to Saurabh. “Both of them were happy and I bought them new cloths and gifts. It was raining heavily in the morning and I put off my visit to my sister’s house for Rakhi,” he said.

“In the afternoon, my children insisted on coming along. When we reached the Sua road, I lost control over the scooter and my children fell on the road. They were run over by a speeding tractor trailer,” said a broken Shukla.

They died on the spot. “I am the most unfortunate father. I have seen both my children being crushed and I could not do anything to save them. God has been so cruel to me. My world has come crashing down. I do not want to live. Whom should I live for?” Shukla said wiping his tears.

A pall of gloom has descended on his house. His wife fell unconscious when the news of her children’s death was broken to her. “Why did I let my children accompany my husband? Had I not let them go, they would have been alive,” she said crying inconsolably.



Govt cancels leave of all district officials
City split into 10 zones to tackle rain damage
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune New Service

Ludhiana, August 13
The Punjab government has cancelled leave of all its officials in Ludhiana district for the next four days. Principal secretary to Punjab chief minister, DS Guru, who was in the city on Saturday, stated: "All government officials in the district are supposed to be on duty as we’ve instructed them not to proceed on leave for the next four days in the wake of the alarming situation in the city due to incessant rainfall."

He said the city has been divided into ten sectors for the purpose of addressing complaints about rainwater entering homes, waterlogging and other problems. "A team of officials of various departments will visit all these ten sectors and interact with area residents in groups. This team includes an assistant commissioner of police, a magistrate and an official from the food & civil supplies, veterinary and health departments, the municipal corporation and the Punjab State Electricity Board. Their work will be supervised by a three-member team”, Guru added.

Residents in many areas faced difficulties after rainwater entered their houses, with the problem worst in low lying areas adjoining the Buddha Nullah. However, Guru said: "We’ve installed nine water pumps to remove the filth and I’ve been told by officials the accumulated rainwater has receded by a foot. Punjab financial commissioner (revenue) AR Talwar has given Rs 1 crore to the health department.

Expected rainfall

It is expected to be cloudy with showers in Ludhiana and surrounding areas during the next 48 hours. Northern and southeastern parts of Punjab are almost clear but rainfall has been predicted in the central area.

-- KK Gill, Assistant Agrometeorologist, PAU



Torrential rain showers chaos 0n city
Ludhiana residents go through a harrowing time as rainwater enters houses and damages roads. Tribune lensmen Himanshu Mahajan and Inderjeet Verma capture several such moments.

Passersby push a car out of a puddle near Tiger Safari in Ludhiana.
helping hand Passersby push a car out of a puddle near Tiger Safari in Ludhiana.
Rainwater enters a house at Dugri in Ludhiana.
Submerged Rainwater enters a house at Dugri in Ludhiana.
A view of the waterlogged District Courts Complex.
Under water A view of the waterlogged District Courts Complex.
A JCB clears a portion of the GT road in Ludhiana.
At work A JCB clears a portion of the GT road in Ludhiana.



Close shave for docs, staff
Short circuit in emergency ward of Civil Hospital
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune New Service

Tentative solution Buckets kept under a leaking roof at the trauma ward of Civil Hospital.
Tentative solution Buckets kept under a leaking roof at the trauma ward of Civil Hospital.

Ludhiana, August 13
Doctors and other employees of Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital had a close shave last night when heavy rainfall led to a short circuit in the emergency ward of the hospital. An employee said, “More than 16 hours have passed, but the electricity in not restored. When we called up Dr Subhash Batta, Senior Medical Officer, he did not respond.”

The emergency ward has been closed for the time being and the patients are being treated in the adjoining room.

The leaking roof of trauma ward has further worsened the situation. The staff had to keep buckets at different places to collect the rainwater.

Another employee said, “As more than 15 patients from Meharbaan area were admitted in the hospital, we had to shift patients from the trauma ward to general wards.”

Shiv Ram, chairman of Ann jal Sewa, an NGO, which provides free food to patients at the Civil Hospital said, “The hospital is badly stinking.”

y The employees complained that every rainy season they faced a similar problem at the trauma ward. When asked if he was doing something to get the leaking roof repaired, the SMO replied, “I did not know anything about the leaking roof as I am new to the hospital. But now it will be repaired at the earliest.” Talking about the poor condition of the hospital, he said, “I have informed the higher officials about the state of affairs here. We will terminate the contract of the old contractor and new safai karamcharis will be recruited.”



400-mm rainfall, the highest ever in a day
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
Over 400mm rainfall was recorded in the city since last evening. Experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) said such a high rate of rainfall in the city would have an adverse affect on crops such as paddy and maize. They, however, said it would replenish underground water.

Dr KK Gill from the department of agrimeterology, PAU, said the normal rainfall for August was 102mm. “But starting last evening and till 8.30 am today, the city has witnessed 400mm of rainfall, which is four times above normal. Besides, this rainfall was been witnessed in around 12 hours,” Dr Gill said, adding that for the entire monsoon season, the normal rainfall was 580-600mm. “This monsoon, the city has witnessed a lot of rainfall, with 350mm in June, 150mm in July and around 480mm in August to date. Such heavy rain will affect crops which are sown around this time,” she said.



A day of road cave-ins
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
The road near the Ludhiana City Centre caved in at three places due to the heavy rain here today. Roads also gave way in several other parts of the city, including Model Town Extension, Maharaj Nagar, Leisure Valley and near Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College.

Residents of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar area said there was no power and water supply since last evening as a large number of electricity poles and transformers got uprooted due to the massive road cave-ins in the area.

Arvind Sharma, a resident of E-Block, said: “The entire day has gone and not a single official from either the district administration, Ludhiana Improvement Trust or the sewerage board has visited the spot. We have been making calls to them since morning.”

A road in the A-Block of Model Town Extension also caved in. Surinder Singh, an office-bearer of the residents’ welfare society, lamented that though the area had a storm sewer, waterlogging was a routine affair. “In the evening, a huge portion of a road gave way. We have informed the MC about it,” he said.

Another road caved in near Leisure Valley in Sarabha Nagar. A road cave-in claimed the life of a driver when his truck fell into a crater created after a road caved in near Maharaj Nagar.

A tractor trailer carrying buffaloes also fell in a big pit in Hargobind Nagar on the GT Road. “The cave-in is so deep that we cannot carry out a rescue operation,” a resident stated.

Meanwhile, a car and a motorcycle were badly damaged when a portion of a wall collapsed this morning.

Fields flooded

Budha Nullah near Hambran village led to the flooding of fields. A drainage department official said they learnt about the incident on time and were able to strengthen the banks of the nullah. Water entered the fields, but no major loss was reported.



DC’s office 4 feet under
Charanjit Singh

Ludhiana, August 13
Public offices, especially those housed in the Mini Secretariat, were submerged. As the state government cancelled the leave of all employees and asked them to report to their respective offices, it was a difficult day for them as they had to wade through knee deep water.

The basement of Deputy Commissioner’s office was under four feet rainwater.

The Police Commissioner’s office looked like an island. The District Courts complex was also flooded. Cops had a tough time making a jail inmate wade through knee deep water to reach the court.

A narrow footpath was the only way for the employees and others to reach the courts complex. Vends of Notaries and surrounding parking places were also flooded.

“How can the authorities help residents when they themselves are helpless?” said Hardev, a local resident. Kamaldeep said, “It is a sad state of affairs. What is the government doing? ”

ADC (D) Pardip Agarwal refused to comment on the issue.



MC staff fail to deposit 53 G8 receipt books
Cause financial loss to civic body
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC) doesn’t seem to be serious when it comes to submission of G8 receipt books with a record keeper of the civic body.

In the RTI information procured by a city resident, it was found that MC employees have not deposited 53 such receipt books, causing financial loss to the civic body.

Even the MC has failed to take any action against these persons, despite the fact that all these officials were issued show-cause notices by the MC Commissioner last year. MC Commissioner AK Sinha had asked the officials to reply within 14-day time, but it seems that no action was taken later.

Rohit Sabharwal, president, Council of RTI Activists, informed that whenever an MC official issues a receipt of any cash collected or fine collected from someone, a slip from G8 receipt book is issued.

“But here, the MC officials have not even deposited 53 such books. And we really don’t know as to why the officials failed to deposit these books,” said Rohit Sabharwal.

A couple of months back, when audit department officials raised objections about disappearance of the G8 books, senior MC officials had claimed that the objections were raised only because the civic body officials didn’t get the record updated.

Based on this information, Sabharwal again filed an RTI application in which he sought as to what action has been taken against these officials. “They replied that show-cause notices were issued to all officials last year, but no action was taken, which is sad,” claimed Sabharwal.

MC Additional Commissioner MS Jaggi stated that he would have to look into the matter. “But if some official has not submitted the G8 receipt books with the MC, we would certainly take strict action against them,” claimed Jaggi.



No to overweight cops this I-Day!
Charanjit Singh Teja

Ludhiana, August 13
This Independence Day there is going to be a drastic change in the physical appearance of city cops. With fresh recruitments being done by the department, one will get to see physically fit cops doing a march past and saluting chief guest on August 15.

These cops, who have been picked up from Jahan Khela Police School, have been practising at SCD Government College.

Chief Drill Instructor ASI Mangal Singh said, “These jawans are physically fit.”

He said, “There are times when we have to stay without food for days together. As our duty timings are not fixed, we tend to put on weight.”

“Most of the policemen are fit and are doing a good job. It’s just that media exaggerates things,” said Harjit Singh, a constable.

“Cops have to be physically fit,” said Avatar Singh, a local resident. 



Regularise services of safai karamcharis, say councillors
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh,August 13
Residents of the town and surrounding localities heaved a sigh of relief when a group of councillors, favouring 57 temporary sweepers, rejected an earlier report submitted by a subcommittee constituted by the municipal council.

While the subcommittee had shown inability to regularise the employees due to financial constraints, these councillors held that they should be regularised by cutting down other miscellaneous expenses.

Trade unions of the municipal council had been demanding regularisation of services of sweepers.

Vide its communication number DSS 2011/13414-461/April 21, 2011, the Punjab government had left the decision on respective councils.

A subcommittee, constituting Manjit Devi, Avtar Singh Jassal, Baljit Kaur and Surinder Kumar, was formed to study the issue and give its recommendations within a stipulated period.

Sourced said the subcommittee had observed that financial position of the council did not allow the civic body to regularise all temporary employees.

It was after the recent meeting of the council that office-bearers of various trade unions approached the group of councillors led by Ravinder Puri and Dilshad Khan and demanded that observations of the subcommittee be rejected and regularisation of their services should be recommended.

Realising genuineness of the demand raised by the union and necessity of the cleanliness, the councillors proposed to reject the report. All members present at the meeting supported the move. 



Poor sanitation plagues Doraha
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, August 13
Poor sanitation is plaguing the town. Residents said the civic body had failed to maintain proper sanitary conditions in the town. They said water remained accumulated on roads for days together. “We have kept our problems before the authorities concerned a number of times, but nothing has been done so far,” lamented a resident of the town.

“One can see garbage strewn all around the town. Stink emanating from stagnant water makes the lives of residents miserable,” said another resident.

“This has not happened for the first time, we have been facing such problems for years now,” said one of the residents.

“The sewage not only floods streets, but also enters houses,” he added.

Moreover, the garbage is thrown on roads and streets. Residents said there was no dumping site in the town.

Those residing near Boparai, Railway road, college road, post office, Shere Punjab dhaba road and Park road have been going through a harrowing time.

While on the one hand, the Deputy Commissioner is busy arranging meetings with officials of the civic body, the officials concerned, on the other hand, seem to be paying no heed to the instructions issued by the former.

“Despite the government directing the officials to carry out health awareness and cleanliness drives, nothing has been done in this direction,” said a resident.

Balwinder Singh, EO, said he had constituted teams which would be sent to various areas in the town.

He said, “Residents’ problems would be solved on a priority basis.”



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