L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC cracks down on encroachers
Akalgarh Market area, parts of Chaura Bazar cleared of encroachments
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
In a much-awaited move, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation carried out a massive anti-encroachment drive amid some resistance in the Akalgarh Market area, near Chaura Bazar, today. The drive, which started at 11.30 am, continued till late evening and the MC officials confiscated a large quantity of goods.

This anti-encroachment drive was carried out on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to the information, some of the shopkeepers in the Akalgarh market had rented out space in front of their shops to other people, which left very less space for passers-by. Also, some other shopkeepers were displaying their goods outside their shops, causing congestion in the entire market.

In the morning, the MC had asked the police department to provide them with adequate force so that the drive could be carried out smoothly, following which 50 or 60 police personnel had gathered at the Zone A office of the MC.

Ironically, all these years, the MC officials had failed to take any corrective measures in the market, despite the fact that it was hardly 100 metres from the MC building, where the MC Commissioner as well as the Mayor have their offices. The MC officials came out of slumber only after a shopkeeper approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding this menace and it was today, that the MC carried out this drive.

When the MC officials, led by Joint Commissioner AS Sekhon, reached the Akalgarh Market at around 11.30 am, the shopkeepers of the area objected to the drive and argued with the officials. The shopkeepers complained that they were neither given any notice nor were informed in advance about the drive.

But as the MC officials were accompanied by a large number of police personnel, and equipped with the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders, they relent and the MC officials managed to clear the Akalgarh Market and some areas of Chaura Bazar of encroachments.

MC Commissioner Malwinder Singh Jaggi said in the coming days, all such encroachments would be removed from other markets of the city as well. “Soon, we would conduct similar drives in Ghumar Mandi, Model Town Market, Sarabha Nagar Market, besides other prominent markets of the city,” he said.

Drive to continue

Soon, we would conduct similar drives in Ghumar Mandi, Model Town Market, Sarabha Nagar Market, besides other prominent markets of the city — MS Jaggi, MC Commissioner 

Loose power cables

Joint Commissioner of the MC AS Sekhon (in pink turban) looks at loose wiresThe market is poorly maintained by the market association. At several places, the power cables are hanging loosely and if these are not maintained properly, it could lead to an untoward incident. I would ask the fire brigade department to serve a notice on them so that this problem could be taken care of — AS Sekhon, Joint Commissioner 
Joint Commissioner of the MC AS Sekhon (in pink turban) looks at loose wires. Photos: Inderjeet Verma


Pressure tactics by cable service provider alleged
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
After monopolising the cable network industry of the state, cable service provider Fast-Way (FW), which has the backing
of certain leaders, is again in the news.

The alleged pressurising of subscribers to install set-top boxes, by snapping cable operations at hundreds of houses across the city has snowballed into a political issue.

The move of installing set-top boxes was taken soon after the Assembly elections were over.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Congress are considering it as a shot in the arm for them. "It is an indication that the government is set to change. The the SAD-BJP alliance backed FW authorities have sensed defeat and that is perhaps the reason they are trying to sell as many boxes before the counting of votes," said Congress worker Amarjit Singh Tikka.

The matter came to the fore following complaints that the cable network company was allegedly harassing the subscribers by snapping signals and creating inconveniences to subscribers.

There have been complaints from various parts of the city that the network company disconnects the analog signals completely, which put TV buffs in a quandary.

Recently, a city-based NGO, the Anti-Corruption Council of India, took stand against Fast-Way. It had complained to the Deputy Commissioner about irregularities in the service provided by the cable network.

Abhishek Kumar, a businessman said: "Fast-Way stops transmission in any area of the city as per their will. We agree that the Central Government gave a deadline of digitalisation, but snapping connection is not the right way of doing things."

Aggravating the agony of subscribers, the sub-operators pressurise them to get the digital set-top box installed. When people make a complaint at the Fast-Way office, they blame the sub-operators for the disconnection.

The Central Government has set a target to digitalise the cable connection in cities till March 3, 2013, and in rural areas till September 31, 2013.

Meanwhile, Rajdeep, operation head, Fast-Way rebuffed the allegation levelled by Tikka. He said, "According to the government guidelines to digitalise the cable network, we are in process of installing set-top box in Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Bathinda in the first phase. Every set- top box costs us Rs 2,200 and we are selling it for Rs 500. We are bearing losses but some handful of mischievous elements are trying to scuttle our sincere efforts."



EC relief for corporation
Allows calling of bids, their finalisations and award of contracts 
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Relaxation by the Election Commission for allowing calling of bids, their evaluation and finalisations and award of contracts has come as a relief for the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. With the model code of conduct coming into force on December 24, several tenders that were either in the process of getting finalised or were to be floated, had to be delayed.

But after Kusumjit Sidhu, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Punjab, issued a clarification regarding the applicability of the model code of conduct in Punjab, as the voting process has already completed, the MC officials are a happy lot.

A senior MC official said there were several tenders, which were in the process of getting finalised. “In some cases, contractors have already applied for tenders, but after the model code of conduct was imposed, such tenders could not be opened or evaluated,” said the official.

Now that the CEO has allowed calling for bids, their evaluation and finalisation and award or contracts, the MC would now be floating tenders worth about Rs 50 crore for development works and would be finalising bids of other works related to revenue generation from Monday.

Commissioner, MC, Malwinder Singh Jaggi told The Tribune that tenders for 50 advertising unipoles, for which the contractors have already applied, would now be evaluated and awarded.

“Owing to the model code of conduct, these tenders had to be delayed. Now that we have suffered revenue loss for around one and a half months because of this delay, this tender would be expedited. Besides, we will also hold an auction of some of our cycle stands, float tenders for some works at the indoor stadium on the Pakhowal Road, process the tender related to purchasing another fleet of buses for the City Bus Service project, etc. We are thankful to the Election Commission of India that has allowed us to carry out development in the city,” said Malwinder Singh Jaggi.

The Election Commission of India has also allowed tours of ministers to districts and accompaniment of officers on such tours.



Father seeks thorough probe into DSP killing
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Hundreds of residents, including top cops, politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists, today attended the bhog to pay tributes to Moga DSP Balraj Singh Gill who was found murdered along with a woman, Monica Kapila, in a farm house on the Hambran road on Wednesday.

The bhog was held in Mahavir Bhawan, near Fountain Chowk. The anger was writ large on his relatives’ faces who were annoyed at the police theory that the DSP had links with the woman.

The police commissioner, Ishwar Chander Sharma, was conspicuous by his absence at the bhog. It was alleged that he probably wanted to avoid the embarrassing situation as the police could not make any headway in the double murder case.

Kashmir Singh Gill, Balraj Singh’s father, today demanded a thorough inquiry into the murder case.

Gill, a retired Commandant of the BSF, said his son was a brave police officer who had won many national and state-level police medals or awards.

He was of the opinion that the involvement of a woman Monica Kapila shown in the case appeared to be a part of some major conspiracy meant to kill his son and to tarnish his family’s image.

It could also be a ploy to divert the line of investigation of the police in this case, he added .

"Gill used to follow the principle of simple living and high thinking. At the time when inspector-level officers have constructed palatial houses, Gill was living in a simple house at Kitchlu Nagar. In his whole career no one could ever cast aspersions on his honesty and integrity," said Sham Singh Harike, Balraj Singh’s uncle.

Balraj was a teetotaler and staunch vegetarian, rare qualities to find in the personnel of the Punjab Police.

He was a familiar face among the morning walkers of the area and used to spend quite evenings with his wife Harinder Kaur. "Throughout his life he earned fame for his honesty and upright image," said a senior police officer while attending the bhog.

Balraj Singh was awarded President’s Medal for his services on August 14, 2010, when he was posted as ACP, Sahnewal. He had commanded the Republic Day parade at Moga last week.



City bazars Part III
Basati Bazar, women’s favourite destination
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
The century-old Basati Bazar is still a woman shopper’s paradise. A small square of about 30 shops is located adjacent to Sarafa Bazar. Shops in this bazaar sell cosmetics, bindis, bangles, churas, artificial jewellery, purses and parandis. It can be approached either from the Chaura Bazar side or from Sarafa Bazar.

Customers visiting this bazaar have undergone a sea change. People from the city have stopped visiting Basati Bazar after the shops came up at Ghumar Mandi and Model Town, but NRIs and women from periphery areas still throng this bazar.

A lot of changes have crept into this bazar. There used to be a well in the middle of the square, which is now covered and eatery stalls have come up in the middle of the square. Stalls selling chhole bhature, gol gappe, tikki, samose and chaat are located in the middle of the bazaar to slake the appetite of women shoppers.

One will find small shops of barely square feet selling knick-knacks, which every woman desire for. Shops dealing exclusively with bindis or parandis can be found here.

“It is difficult to choose bindis from such a large variety. This shop sells only bindis and with so many choices available I always get confused. One will find endless variety of bindis in this shop,” quips Navneet Kaur from Raikot, who along with her friends came here for shopping.

Seventy-five-year-old Kundan Lal, who owns a shop at Basati Bazar, has seen its hay days when people from the city, especially college girls and those getting married, used to visit the bazar.

“Bride’s shopping was considered incomplete without buying stuff from Basati Bazar. Girls used to buy suhaag chura, parandis and make-up boxes from here. Whenever there was a wedding in the family, girls use to rush to Basati Bazar for buying matching bangles, jewellery and parandis with their outfits. Though the number of customers we are receiving have not gone down, but the type of customers has changed now,” said Kundan Lal. A lot of NRIs visit this bazaar and are thrilled with the variety of things offered by the shopkeepers. The women from neighbouring districts like Moga, Raikot, Mullanpur Faridkot and Jagraon also visit this market for shopping.

Congested market

Basati Bazar is a congested market with narrow lanes leading to the square. One can only walk down to this bazaar and if ever fire breaks into this bazaar, fire extinguishing vans would not be able to get in there.



Jagraon city stinks
MC chief blames Assembly polls for insanitary conditions
Jaswant Shetra

Jagraon, February 4
The entire city is fast turning into a garbage dump due to non-lifting of garbage on a regular basis by the sanitation staff of the Municipal Council (MC). The heaps of garbage, lying in every nook and corner of the city, have irked the residents who have blamed the apathy of the MC officials towards regular lifting of garbage for the problem.

These heaps of garbage not only present a bad look but also emit foul smell thus making the lives of the locals difficult. There is not even a single area of the city where the heaps of garbage are not present.

"One can easily gauge the effectiveness of the MC working by seeing huge heaps of garbage lying alongside the boundary wall of Sanmati Vimal Jain Senior Secondary School situated just a stone’s throw from the local MC office. If the situation is such bad in front of the MC office, what to talk of the other localities of the city," said Atul Kumar, a local resident.

It is pertinent to mention here that a large number of MC officials pass from this place everyday while going to office but it seems as these heaps of garbage are not visible to them that is why these heaps of garbage are not lifted since last many days.

The same is the situation on Raikot Road, Sadan Market, Shubash Gate, Disposal Road, College Road and near bus stand.

According to city residents, though they have reminded the MC officials about the problem a number of times, nothing has been done in this regard so far.

"It is not that the MC is running short of resources to handle a situation like this. There are two tractor-trailers and a huge man force available with the MC for lifting garbage. It is the lack of willingness among the safai karamcharis with the MC and an apathetic approach of the MC, which has lead to the problem," said Iqbal Singh, a shopkeeper, whose shop is located near the MC office.

Municipal Council President Telu Ram claimed that the MC workers are lifting garbage on a regular basis. But when confronted with the fact that heaps of garbage are lying in front of the MC office, he said: "There might be garbage lying at some places which was not lifted because we were busy making arrangements for the Assembly elections," he added.

He asserted the work to lift the garbage will be started with immediate effect.



Met office predicts rain in next 24 hrs
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Similar weather conditions will prevail in the region with minor rainfall or hailstorm expected in certain parts of the region in the next 24 hours.

Weathermen at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) predicted that the sky would remain cloudy and weather would be cleared by Monday.

Though there is a little dip in the maximum temperature, which was hovering around 17.4 degrees Celsius (19-20 degrees Celsius is normal), the minimum temperature is about five degrees higher than the normal. The minimum recorded temperature is 10.6 degrees Celsius, while the normal is about 5 degrees Celsius.

Dr KK Gill, an agro-meteorologist at PAU, said February in 2008 was cooler, while for the next three years from 2009-11, it was warmer, but now again in 2012, February is slightly cooler (till date).

“In 2008, the minimum temperature in February had gone down to 1.5 degrees Celsius. February 2009, 2010 and 2011 were warmer when temperature hovered around 12-13 degrees Celsius,” said Dr Gill, adding that the prevalent weather conditions were favourable for all vegetables and wheat crop.

Parminder Singh, a senior citizen, said the last three to four days were bright when residents basked under the sun. “But due to the sky being cloudy, the residents preferred to remain indoors today. The clouds and foggy weather give an impression as if it is more cold but it is more psychological,” said Singh.



Payments to brick-kiln owners delayed
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Though the Assembly elections are over in Punjab, owing to the imposition of the model code of conduct, owners of the local brick-kilns are finding it difficult to get their payments from banks against the material supplied to various government agencies even before the code was imposed in the state.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, Sarabjit Singh Dhillon, general secretary of the Ludhiana Brick-kiln Owners Association, said his three cheques for about Rs 5 lakh had not been cleared by banks on the pretext that "there was model code of conduct".

"In fact, the bricks were supplied to various government agencies before the imposition of the election code in Punjab. And the cheques, too, were issued before the code. But, now I am making rounds at the banks. My cheques are not being cleared. The bank officials say since the code of conduct has not been lifted, the payments can not be made. Three cheques are pending with a private bank in Sudhar while another is with Cooperative Bank in Ludhiana," said Dhillon, adding that it was becoming too difficult to run the business without cash in hand.

Another owner, on condition of anonymity, disclosed that even two of his cheques were pending with banks. He said: "The bricks were supplied about three months ago but we have not been able to get the payments against the same till date. Clear instructions must be given to the offices and banks concerned so that people do not suffer".

Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tewari said instructions had already been given to the departments concerned for making payments. "Payments can be made for the works which were started before the implementation of the code of conduct. If material was supplied and work could not be started due to the code then payments will be made after the code is lifted," said Tewari.



Hospitality courses likely from next session
Gurvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
The hospitality diploma courses are likely to be started at SCD Government College from the next session. The commencement of three diploma courses, including food and beverages, food production and bakery and confectionery, is on the anvil. The blueprint for the year-and-a-half courses is ready.

The hospitality courses would be started under the aegis of Ministry of Tourism of the state. “Ours is the only college that would offer these courses under Panjab University,” said Jasbir Kaur Makkar, principal, SCD Government College.

“There are a few formalities left and I hope that before my term comes to an end this year, these courses get started in the college,” said the principal.

A professor informed that the government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 1.35 crore for the purpose and the college has already received Rs 10 lakh grant.



40 get placed
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, February 4
Two engineering companies held a placement drive at the RIMT campus here today. One of the companies selected 28 students of BTech (mechanical and ECE) at the annual package of Rs 2.4 lakh. These students would be based in Delhi. Another company selected 12 students of BTech (mechanical), said RIMT director, Dr Harsh Sadawarti.

RIMT vice-chairman Vijayant Bansal congratulated the students on getting job offers.



MSMEs cry over hike in lending rates
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Repeated hike in lending rates by almost all banks has impacted the smooth running and growth of micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Punjab.

The Central government introduced the MSME Development Act, 2006, and it got operational from October 2, 2006, for recognition of the concept of MSME sector of the industry. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued favourable guidelines to all banks to be liberal in advancing industrial loans to the MSME and for charging the lowest rate of lending to keep them alive and competitive in the local as well as in foreign market.

Avtar Singh, general secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking (CICU), after taking stock of the financial position of the MSME has urged the Governor of RBI and Union Finance Minister, New Delhi, to control bottlenecks being faced by the MSME, mainly due to high lending rates charged from such units, which had financially strangulated their working and were being compelled to put their shutter down.

“The high lending rate is not only effecting the economic growth of small scale industry in Punjab but also losing business in the international market,” said Avtar Singh.

He further apprised the RBI and Union Finance Minister that about 40 per cent of the export made by the country were contributed by the MSME sector.

To keep this sector alive and work consistently, the lending rate by the banks should be liberal in advancing cheaper industrial loans to this sector to avoid their further perishing, said the CICU general secretary.



80 examined at medical camp
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
The IMA Ludhiana observed the World Cancer Awareness Day at Apollo Hospital today by holding a free medical check-up camp at the oncology department of the hospital.

Dr DP Singh Arora, president IMA Ludhiana, said this year’s theme of the awareness day was “Together it is Possible”. So, IMA Ludhiana in collaboration with big hospitals of the city has started a drive towards early diagnosis and prevention of cancer.

Dr Narjit Kaur, secretary IMA Ludhiana, said cancer was curable if diagnosed early and treated properly.

Dr Amit Dhiman, cancer and bone marrow transplant specialist, said, “New independent evidence confirms that increasing global trend of unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle is responsible for putting millions at an unnecessary high risk of cancer.”

The experts examined around 80 patients. The doctors said good lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and taking regular physical activity could reduce the risk of cancer.



Thieves decamp with tools worth Rs 10 lakh
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 4
Thieves struck at an industrial unit in the Kanganwal area and decamped with iron and forging tools worth Rs 10 lakh.

The incident came to light here this morning when Amar Jain, owner of Raj Amar Sugar Chain Pvt Ltd, arrived at the factory unit. He was shocked to find the forging material worth lakhs of rupees stolen.

The thieves gained entry into the factory by creating a hole of around three feet on the wall. "On entering the premises the thieves disconnected a CCTV camera and stole costly forging tools," said Amar Jain.

The investigating officer said the theft might have taken place at midnight. He has also not ruled out the involvement of an insider.

“Even I suspect the involvement of an insider as the thieves were aware that the factory was closed and knew well that CCTV cameras were installed on the premises of the factory,” said Jain. 



SAI trials: Experts recommend names of 122 players for induction
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, February 4
As the three-day selection trials conducted by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) concluded today, a panel of experts recommended names of as many as 122 boys and girls for induction into SAI training centre for the session 2012-13.

These trials were organised by SAI under its residential as well as non-residential scheme to enroll players between the age group of 14 to 18 years.

The aspirants who have already proved their mettle in various competitions at the state and national-level tournaments and secured first three positions in such meets were eligible under SAI’s selection norms.

These talented, promising and upcoming players were put to strenuous tests to ascertain motor ability qualities such as speed, strength, flexibility, agility and endurance.

Expressing satisfaction over the selection process, Harbans Singh, in charge of local SAI centre, said the players who attended the trials were good.

“Today, the players were medically examined by a team of doctors, followed by an interview by Rittu Pathic, assistant director, northern centre, Chandigarh,” said the in charge.

The age verification tests of these players will also be done at the Civil Hospital before the executive director, SAI northern centre, Chandigarh, releases the final list by the end of next month, added Harbans Singh.

He further said SAI coaches of different disciplines, assisted by former international players, namely Nirmal Singh Grewal (athletics), Parminder Singh (football), Surinder Singh (judo), Gagan Saggar (volleyball) and Gurmeet Singh (weightlifting) helped the assistant director in pruning down players’ list.

Harbans Singh announced that the list of recommended players include athletics- 10 under residential scheme and nine under non-residential scheme; basketball- nine under residential and seven under non-residential scheme; handball- seven under residential and 12 under non-residential scheme; judo- nine under residential and 12 under non-residential scheme; volleyball- eight under residential and 13 under non-residential scheme; weightlifting- four under non-residential scheme; football- 15 under residential and seven under non-residential scheme.

The selected players in the residential scheme will be provided with free of cost facilities such as boarding and lodging, sports kit, competition exposure, medical allowance, education allowance in addition to insurance coverage and training by expert coaches, while those chosen under the non-residential scheme shall be given facilities as per the norms of SAI like stipends, sports kit, insurance coverage, sports equipment and training by the expert coaches.



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