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Trees dying due to dumping
of effluents near Khanna

Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

A number of trees that have dried on forest area along the GT Road in Khanna on Tuesday
A number of trees that have dried on forest area along the GT Road in Khanna on Tuesday. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

Khanna, March 28
The waste water management by industrial units of this township as well as in other areas in Ludhiana district has come under a scanner with the alleged dumping of chemical-laced water in the forest area alongside the GT Road in Khanna. The dumping of polluted water has caused severe damage to many trees in the area.

At least 100 trees have dried up while several others are struggling for survival as the water mixed with some hazardous chemicals from industries is being dumped in the area in violation of the norms. Unfortunately the blatant violations seem to have not bothered the Punjab Pollution Control Board and Forest authorities.

This is happening close on the heels of the PPCB issuing notices to 60 industrial units in Ludhiana and another unit in Kohara for dumping waste water in violation of Hazardous Waste Management Rules at a village near Kohara.

Almost all kikar and eucalyptus trees on the 2 km-long-stretch of road near Dera Satkartar have either dried up or fallen on ground. While the officials concerned of Khanna were not aware of the exact cause of ‘‘death’’ of the trees, some residents living nearby claimed they had seen a number of tankers throwing water in the forest area.

Nathu Ram, a tea vendor on the outskirts of Khanna town, said he had seen a number of such tankers dumping water in the area week after week. ‘‘The tankers are parked on the road and the water is discharged. We do not know what do they throw here but it seems that there is some industrial waste,’’ he added.

Residents of the area claimed that this activity had been going on for more than a year. Initially, they thought that water was being brought from some flooded ponds in villages (as they were told by the drivers). But when this activity continued during winters also then they realised that it was not flood water.

‘‘Now we are seeing that trees are dying. Only soil testing can reveal the reason behind the damage to the trees. It seems that the underground water has also got polluted as the practice of dumping waste water has been going on for such a long time, ’’ said the residents.

Inquiries by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed that a number of industrial units in Ludhiana and around the city preferred to dump the waste generated in their units in the surrounding villages as the cost of treating waste was very high. So most of these units tied up with some other units to transport the effluent to some far away place to avoid official hassles.

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Liquor vend auction fetches Rs 237.3 crore
No takers for 6 vends; revenue target achieved
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 28
Even as six unit liquor vends in the district had no takers after the completion of the draw of lots for the 16 unallotted vends at Casa la Baron marriage palace here today, the revised excise policy of allotment of vends on licence system appeared to have achieved the desired purpose if the revenue collection was any indication.

The total collection by way of licence fee from the allotment of liquor vends through draw of lots in this district for the next financial year was Rs 237.30 crore as against Rs 236.06 crore collected from the auction of vends last year, informed Mr D.K Verma, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner. The revenue earned from excise district Ludhiana I was Rs 71.85 crore, Ludhiana II had yielded Rs 100.50 crore and Ludhiana III another Rs 64.95 crore.

Out of the 16 unit vends, comprising one vend each of country-made liquor and Indian made foreign liquor, for which there were no applicants when the draw of lots was taken out on March 25, 10 were allotted today against valid applications received by the Excise and Taxation Department yesterday.

The case of the six vends at Talwara, Janetpura, Madarpura, Sadarpura, Balipur Khurd and Gurusar Kaonke in the bet area, which still remain unallotted, would be submitted to the state government for further necessary action and disposal, Mr Verma told Ludhiana Tribune.

Meanwhile, according to sources in the liquor trade here, hectic parleys were on to forge some kind of an understanding between different groups of liquor traders who had succeeded in seeking licences for the next year. But as of now, it seemed extremely difficult, if not impossible, to form a cartel which could dictate its terms and enable liquor baron Ponty Chadha to retain his monopoly in liquor trade in the district.

Although the prime objective of scrapping the auction regime in favour of the licensing system for the allotment of liquor vends was to put an end to the monopoly and consequent exploitation of consumers, sources revealed that Ponty Chadha group had still managed to retain its control on nearly one third of the total vends in Ludhiana district. The Malhotra and Chhabra groups had secured 50 odd unit vends each, some 78 vends had gone to the group headed by Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Samrala, while the Garcha group has been allotted 28 vends.

While Chhabra and Dhillon groups were reportedly not averse to joining hands with Ponty Chadha, since they had been working together during the last two years, the Malhotra group was keeping its cards close to its chest for the time being. The biggest hurdle in the way of recreation of the cartel was proving to be the Garcha group, which was brutally marginalised, owing to its political affiliation with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), ever since the Congress government offered the entire liquor trade in Punjab to Chadha on a platter.

Whether of not the licensing policy for the allotment of liquor vends would achieve its desired purpose of generating a healthy competition will only be known during the next couple of days when the new licensees commenced their operations and new vends became functional on April 1.

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Oswal takes back 1,500 absent workers
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
The 12-day impasse between workers and management of Oswal Woollen Mills ended today as the company agreed to take back more than 1,500 workers "absent from duty" between March 16 and March 28.

The two parties arrived at the agreement at a meeting of representatives of both sides held in the presence of labour inspector, Mr Labh Singh, at Labour Office here today.

Workers of Oswal were agitated following the retrenchment of nine workers at the beginning of this month and registration of cases against a few. On the morning of March 16, when labourers found the factory closed, they resorted to agitation. A clash between labourers and police personnel took place outside the factory at Sherpur Kalan Chowk, leaving 40 persons injured. More than 1,500 workers had been "absent from duty" since then.

As per the consensus that the two parties arrived at, barring the workers against whom cases have been registered, other workers can report on duty. "We have asked them to report before April 8, otherwise we hold the right to suspend them. There would be no work no pay for the period of absence," said Mr B.D. Arora, legal representative of the company.

After one week, both the parties would hold a meeting again to take a decision about workers against whom cases have been lodged .

Workers too were happy with the agreement and held a 'Jeet Rally' (rally to celebrate victory) outside the labour office. "Though workers' struggle never ends, we are happy that the ones who were unemployed all these days have got their jobs back," said Mr Raghunath Singh, vice-president, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Mr Singh also said the union would not assert on pay for days when workers did not work. 

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350 absent Avon employees report for work
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
As many as 350 workers of Avon Cycles, who remained "absent from duty" between January 2 and March 27, 2006, reported for work this morning in compliance with the Labour Commissioner's decision.

Apart from the direction of 'no work no pay', a penalty equal to eight days pay would be levied on the workers.

The Labour Commissioner, in a landmark decision, ordered 'no work no pay' for workers of Avon Cycles "absent from duty" between January 2 and March 27, 2006. The Commissioner, who directed 431 workers absent during this period, to report for duty within a week, also said that eight days penalty for absence would be levied on these workers.

The decision was taken after a meeting of the Labour Commissioner, Mr Som Prakash, with the representatives of the company management and workers at Chandigarh yesterday.

"Following the dismissal of one worker and suspension of 12 workers, as many as 431 workers went on strike which caused heavy losses to the company. We are happy with this decision as the union leaders would now know that they cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility and would not be given any pay if they do not work," said Mr B.D. Arora, legal representative of the company.

He said the decision would help improve working environment in industry here "which was deteriorating due to labour unrest and unionism".

As per the order of the Labour Commissioner, all workers, barring the one dismissed and 12 suspended, will have to report on duty by April 3, 2006, and the management holds the right to turn those workers out who do not report during this period. The workers shall report for morning shift in the presence of a representative of the Labour Department.

The Commissioner also said that adjustments of the eight days penalty would be made from the workers salaries that would be due for the month of April, 2006. The workers can appeal against this penalty under Payment of Wages Act, 1936, he said.

Workers representatives also agreed that they would cooperate towards promoting a healthy working environment and would accept the duties that they are given. The management would not act vindictively, the Commissioner directed.

Expressing happiness that "workers have been taken back", the joint secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Punjab, Mr Jagdish Chand, said: "We had no demand except that workers be taken back. However, we would appeal against the penalty and no pay as we were not on strike."

Company management said that it expected the remaining workers too to join soon.

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Fearing police action, youths go in hiding
Assault on ASI in Naali Mohalla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
Males, especially youths have virtually disappeared from the Naali Mohalla, as the police today stepped up a counter action against a group of youths who had beaten up an ASI of Kotwali Police Station in Bhadaur House yesterday afternoon.

However, none of the accused youths has been arrested so far even as tension prevailed in the area over the police presence.

The police has interestingly swung into action only when one of its men was manhandled. A rowdy group of youths in the area had allegedly been causing a lot of harassment to traders and the staff of different offices by their bullying.

Two restaurants in the market have already closed down after an alleged dispute with a group of anti-social elements. Bitter arguments of this group with security guards at the parking lots was also a routine event.

Different teams of the police stayed in the colony and occasionally took a trip through the different streets to step up pressure on the youths to surrender. SHO of Division No. 8 Inspector Gurpreet Kaur Purewal and SHO, Haibowal, SI Gurpreet Singh led the police counter-action.

The police, however, did not carry house-to-house search and also did not enquire openly about the whereabouts of the youths. The police had already identified the youths who had allegedly launched a murderous attack on ASI Hira Singh.

The police made optimum use of mobile phone technology as they were armed with the pictures of some of the accused youths stored in their hi-fi mobile phone sets. The police, however, did not disclose the source of the pictures.

According to the FIR registered at the Kotwali police station the accused had been identified as Mota, Santy, Kali, Loly, Keshav and Neeraj. The ASI had allegedly questioned some of the youths who were seen loitering in the area.

The youths, however, allegedly abused the police official and manhandled him. The FIR stated that the youths also allegedly tried to snatch his revolver and tore his uniform too.

A police team had been deployed in the colony since yesterday afternoon. Special police nakas had remained in the area throughout the day today.

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Income tax laws need to be simplified: experts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 28
While highlighting salient features of the Budget on income tax-related issues and new amendments, taxation expert Girish Ahuja made a plea for the simplification of income tax laws to improve compliance and effectively tackle evasion of taxes.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Union Budget — 2006” organised by the Taxation Bar Association here recently. Mr R.S. Mathoda, Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, was the chief guest.

M.N.A. Chaudhary, Roshan Sahay, Kiran Babu and Ramninder Kaushal, all Income Tax officials, were present, among others.

In the seminar, Mr Ahuja answered queries raised by association members. He wanted the fringe benefit tax which was just another name of expenditure tax abolished since it put an additional burden on trade and industry.

Mr Ashok Juneja, president of the association, said a new Section 139-B had been introduced in the Budget to provide a scheme for filing of income tax returns by a specified class of persons through a tax return prepare. He said this particular provision was not required because it would adversely affect the interest of existing tax professionals as well as tax advisers who were already providing best services to the assessees throughout the country.

The chief guest, Mr Mathoda, appreciated the taxation expert for effectively highlighting all budgetary provisions. He observed that Bar and Bench were the two arms of the same machinery and the bar members commanded due respect and high dignity in the eyes of the income tax officials. He assured that all grievances and difficulties of the taxation Bar would be solved on priority.

Office-bearers and executive members of the association, including Ajay Paul Singh, Ravinder Garg, Bipen Jangra, Saurabh Beri, Jagjit Singh, C.P. Bhardwaj, Deepak Chopra, Sandeep Sharma and Balwinder Singh expressed their views. Besides, B.R. Kaushal, Harish Rai Dhanda, chairman, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Naval Kishore Chhiber, president, District Bar Association, Bal Krishan Gupta, District Taxation Bar Association (Sales Tax), and P.C. Garg took part in the deliberations.

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Chawla vice-chief of Sutlej Club
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 28
Mr Ajit Singh Chawla and Mr Sanjay Arora were elected vice-president and secretary, respectively, of Sutlej Club on Sunday.
As many as 1,861 of the 2,600 members exercised their right to vote, said the returning officer, Mr Prem Chand.

The post of cultural secretary was retained by Mr Sanjeev Dhanda, who defeated Mr Sarbjeet Singh Tunnu by a margin of 460 votes.

Mr Chawla defeated Mr Raju Sharma by a margin of 129 votes, while Mr Sanjeev Thapar got 499 votes.

The secretary, Mr Arora, polled 685 votes, while Mr Varinder Goyal 544, Mr Ashok Kumar Soni 371 and Mr Jiwan Mohan Dhawan 255 votes. Mr Tribhuvan Singh Thapar was elected joint secretary unopposed.

Prof Arvind Kumar Malhotra was elected treasurer by defeating Mr Jatinder Marwaha with a margin of 590 votes, while Mr Simarjit Nota elected sports secretary by defeating Dr Vaneet Gilhotra with a margin of 330 votes.

Mr Amardeep Singla and Mr Kavinder Pal Singh Bains will be the bar secretary and mess secretary, respectively. Mr Singla emerged victorious against Mr Navtej Singh Natt with a margin of 330 votes in a straight contest. Mr Bains defeated Rajesh Bhambi by 98 votes in a four-cornered contest.

Mr Deepak Singal (573) and Mr Rakesh Kapoor (493) were elected to the executive in addition to Dr Sumita Sofat, who was earlier elected unopposed on a seat reserved for women.

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Jeweller held for hand in highway robberies
Gang members used to pose as cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
A jeweller having a shop in Ghumar Mandi along with two other accomplices, including a woman, was allegedly part of a unique gang of ‘‘highway robbers’’ who masqueraded as police officials and waylaid several residents of the city. The gang usually struck at around midnight, on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar stretch of the G T road.

The Salem Tabri police has managed to arrest the jeweller, identified as Harpal Singh, and his accomplice Sandeep Singh, who posed as Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector of the Punjab Police and forced people to part with money and jewellery after threatening to implicate them in criminal cases.

The police was now on the look out for a woman member of the gang, who had posed as Inspector of the Basti Jodhewal police station.

The SHO of Salem Tabri police Station, Sub-Inspector Gurpreet Singh Bains, told Ludhiana Tribune that investigations had revealed that the woman was a hired criminal. ‘‘The two arrested accused have confessed that they had hired the woman to help them in the robberies.’’ They, however, claimed they knew only her mobile telephone number and had no idea of her address or whereabouts.

The SHO revealed that the gang had looted one Mr Ashu Bawa of Vishnupuri here on March 26. He was stopped at Sutluj bridge. They allegedly threw Ashu in their car and beat him up for not dishing out money. They snatched his purse and a gold chain also. The victim approached the police later. Mr Bains said they had earlier also received some complaints of similar nature but the victims had not pressed for the registration of an FIR.

He said the gang members were allegedly involved in a number of such incidents. The police has requested the victims to come forward and report any such matter to the police immediately.

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Three assaulted

Jagraon: Karam Singh, Balbir Singh, their mother, Naseeb Kaur along with Jaspreet Singh of Dangian allegedly assaulted Karnail Singh, Joginder Singh and Harbans Singh of the village with a 'toki' and sticks after the four intercepted them on the way. The Jagraon police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 341, 506 and 34 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far. — OC

14 booked

Hari Singh, Nirmal Singh and Dev Singh, all brothers, Aman Singh of Galib Ransingh along with 10 unidentified persons illegally trespassed into the house of Shamlal Sharma of their village. They allegedly broke open the door, stole gold ornaments worth 50 gm , cash Rs 43,000 and damaged the house hold goods . They occupied the house forcibly. The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections 447, 448, 451,427, 452, 379, 149 and 148 of the IPC and Section 3 of the SC,ST Act. No arrest has been made so far. — OC

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MBD Neopolis tie-up with Debenhams
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 28
MBD Neopolis, which is coming up with a three-in-one mixed-use mall, today announced its tie-up with UK's popular department store, Debenhams, as its anchor department store.

The store, that comes from the 2 billion pound group, would offer a diverse range of international brands.

"Debenhams as the anchor department aims to cater to the segment of customers that have high level of brand consciousness. The idea is to bring international standards and trends in hospitality, retail and entertainment to Punjab," said Mr Ashok Kumar Malhotra, chairman and managing director MBD Group.

Debenhams, said the company, views it as a conscious decision to tap the growing retail market in India. "The tie-up will help both companies build synergies and tap the market that has a huge potential," said Mr Arun Bhardwaj, Managing Director, Planet Retail Holdings Private Limited, which is the master franchisee for Debenhams in India.

Debenhams is planning to launch with an average store size of 25,000 square feet with MBD Neopolis, Ludhiana.

The anchor store will offer international brands in apparels, cosmetics, fragrances and skin care category of products. 

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