L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


 

Gastro threat looms large as 36 mild cases reported
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 19
With more than three dozen residents, including women and children, falling victim to a mild attack of gastroenteritis in several localities in the old city since Monday, the claims of the civic body on the supply of safe drinking water, as well as near-total failure of the health administration to take timely preventive steps, stand exposed.

Most of the affected colonies are in Ward No 55 and surrounding areas that have been facing an epidemic-like situation of gastro attack for the past three years in succession and the culprit is once again the contaminated water.

The fact that sewerage has been partially laid in many localities from where cases of diarrhoea and vomiting were reported did not bring much relief to the residents as the water supply pipes still passed through open drains and the menace of illegal water connections that lead to leakage and mixing of sewer waste with drinking water, has not been effectively tackled, allege residents of these colonies.

On Monday and Tuesday, around 30 cases of gastroenteritis were reported and the spread of infection was attributed to an illegal water connection in Street No 2 of Amarpura Colony.

Even as teams of health officials and civic staff arrived in the affected areas and launched the damage control exercise, the actual site of water contamination could not be pinpointed.

Residents of several other colonies like Giaspura, Makkar Colony, Fauji Colony, Hargobind Nagar, Ram Nagar, New Subhash Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Maha Singh Nagar maintain that the situation was no better in these colonies which had been under gastro attack twice last year. The problem of water contamination prevailed like before and illegal water connections were still being taken with impunity.

The district epidemiologist, Dr Ajit Singh Chawla, and District Health Officer, Dr Rajinder Singh, who went round the affected colonies with field staff yesterday said most of the cases were of mild nature and did not warrant hospitalisation. Medicines were distributed to the patients by teams of doctors and supporting staff from the Civil Hospital and the people had been advised to consume boiled and chlorinated water to ward off infection. Water samples taken from these areas have been sent for analysis and the report would be available after two days.

The area councillor, Mr Gurdip Singh Neetu (BJP), was sore over the failure of the civic authorities to undertake cleaning of the open nullah, flowing from Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran to Field Ganj, due to the lone ditch cleaning machine with the MC being out of order.

Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Housing, Urban Development and Power, who represents the Ludhiana East assembly segment, also visited the affected colonies and spoke to the health and MC officials.

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Dairy farmers concerned over stray cattle
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Dairy farmers from across Punjab today expressed concern over the menace of stray cattle damaging their crops. They demanded legislative measures to check the entry of stray cattle into Punjab from neighbouring states.

These farmers, who met under the banner of the PAU Animal Husbandry Kisan Committee with Vice-Chancellor Dr K.S. Aulakh in the chair, demanded that to promote dairy farming the government should not charge commercial tariff on power, but should be billed on a par with other farmers in the agriculture sector. The farmers also felt that more stringent steps should be taken to check the supply of spurious milk and milk products, particularly cheese that had flooded the market, besides demanding the setting up of district-level laboratories to test spurious feed available for dairying. In the same breath the farmers wanted better fodder seed to raise milk production.

Echoing the sentiments expressed at the open house meeting of the dairy farmers, Dr Aulakh said the university had already moved the state government to set up feed testing laboratories in Bathinda, Patiala and Gurdaspur. The PAU would make available new technologies on raising fodder and feed at its Krishi Vigyan Kendras, which in addition had been asked to adopt a village each in their respective jurisdictions to liaison with the dairy farmers.

Dr Aulakh expressed deep concern over the menace of stray cattle and said neighbouring states were using Punjab as a “dumping ground” much to the chagrin of the Punjab farmers. He also called for stringent enforcement steps to check the flow of spurious milk, cheese and feed.

On the issue of remunerative price for raw milk to the dairy producers, he was very emphatic when he called upon Milkfed to reassess its finances and reduce overhead charges so as to give better prices to the farmers. The Vice-Chancellor felt that there had to be a separate formula to assess fat and the SNF (solid not fat) present in the buffalo and cow milk so as to give the farmers a fair price. He agreed with the suggestion from a farmer that the milk producers should be paid at least the minimum price at which the milk plant sold its “fat free milk”, that is Rs13 per litre. Whereas, farmers were getting far less a price for supplying milk. Dr Aulakh said economists at the PAU were now working on calculating the cost of production of milk on the same pattern as was in case of wheat and rice.

The university had also taken up the issue with the authorities concerned to provide direct subsidies to the dairy farmers. In fact, under the WTO regime there was a plenty of scope for the levy of maximum tariff on import of raw, processed and edible farm produce and farmers must become aware of the implications of WTO.

The farmers pointed out that since green fodder was the important component of food and feed of buffaloes and milch cattle, the university must ask its Farm Power and Machinery Section to come up with machines, which could “cut and load” green fodder into the tractor-trolleys as this would help cut down on labour cost and produce quality seed. On both these issues, Dr Aulakh said some work had been done on fodder cutting machines. Steps were on the anvil to innovate and modify the existing machinery, which could be made available to the dairy farmers at an affordable cost or through cooperative societies on custom hire basis. The university, he said, would make available foundation fodder seed, while the Department of Animal Husbandry would multiply the same for sale to the farmers.

The Director of Extension Education, Dr S.S. Gill, who conducted the meeting, articulated farmers’ concern over improving the breed of buffalos, working on technologies to generate power from gobar gas plants and on imparting training to the dairy farmers in artificial insemination.

Dr Gill said the university would take up the issue on mass vaccination of the livestock against Brucellosis just as was done in respect of “foot and mouth” and some other diseases.

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BSNL employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 19
Employees of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) organised a rally in front of the office of General Manager Telecom here today to protest against the non-refund of amount of the Central Government Employees Group Insurance Scheme (CGEGIS) and the failure of the administration to make recruitment of compassionate grounds.

Addressing the rally, Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary of the United Forum of BSNL Unions, said the government had not responded to repeated pleas for the refund of crores deducted under the CGEGIS after the scheme was unilaterally withdrawn by the government in March 2004.

This scheme was replaced by a new LIC-based group insurance scheme and all BSNL employees were covered under the new scheme.

Demanding the immediate refund of the money, union leaders remarked that there was no justification in the denial of refund for such a long time.

Mr Balbir Singh alleged that the denial of recruitment on compassionate grounds was injustice to dependants of at least 2,000 deceased BSNL employees, who were made to face numerous hardships.

He made a fervent plea for restoration of powers of recruitment to respective Chief General Managers, which were withdrawn for the last two years.

Speaking at the rally, Mr Balwinder Singh, district secretary of the BSNLEU, called upon workers to stand united against the wrong policies of the UPA government so that employees could continue their struggle for justice.

He criticised the policy of downsizing of public sector undertakings and the sacking of 1,300 group C and D employees by the MTNL yesterday.

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B. Com (II) question paper not as per pattern
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Second year students of B.Com, Panjab University, today complained that their business economics question paper was not according to the set pattern. The students since the paper, that was taken in the evening session, was not as per the prescribed pattern, they lost a lot of time and were unable to complete it.

They said Section B of the question paper, which should have had four questions of 15 marks each with an option to attempt two questions, had five questions of 10 marks each, with an option to attempt any three. A similar problem was faced in Section C.

The students said due to an increase in the number of questions, which is not according to the prescribed pattern, they were unable to complete the paper.

“We were shocked to see the question paper as it was not according to the pattern. I was unable to finish it and could not attempt at least 20 marks question,” said a student of Arya College.

Students said they apprised their teachers immediately of the problem, but since the question paper comes from the university, the teachers were helpless.

Demanding grace marks as they were not able to finish the paper, the students said such errors amounted to harassment and spoilt their hard work of the entire year.

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Six shops gutted
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, April 19
Six wooden shops on the Dehlon-Sahnewal road were gutted in fire last night, as a result of which the material stored in them was reduced to ashes.
The shops belonged to Harish Kumar, son of Jeevan Das, Yashpal, son of Ramdyal of Nandpur, Pankaj Kumar, son of Ved Parkash of Nandpur, Som Nath, son of Chanan Das of Nandpur, Mela Singh, son of Sataval Singh of Majara, and Ashok Kumar, son of Chanan Das of Nandpur. The shops contained fruits, tobacco, juices, cycle parts and repair instruments.

The reason for the spread of fire could not be ascertained. An FIR to this effect has, however, been registered at Sahnewal police station.

It was only after an hour that the people residing around could extinguish the fire with the help of buckets full of water.

Mr Jasminder Sandhu, Chairman, Market Committee, Sahnewal, who was among those engaged in extinguishing the fire, expressed resentment over the fact that fire engines failed to reach the spot in time.

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CM to attend Birmi’s rally on April 30
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Chief Parliamentary Secretary Malkiat Singh Birmi has informed that the conference that was to be held on April 16 at New Sabzi Mandi, Salem Tabri, and was cancelled at the last moment, would now be held on April 30 at the same venue.

He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had consented to be the chief guest and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, PPCC, would preside over the function. A meeting in this context was held at the Circuit House late last evening.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Birmi said now they had more time with them for the mobilisation of people for the conference. He informed that he had planned to organise a series of mass conduct meetings in different parts of the Ludhiana rural constituency to ensure the maximum mobilisation of people for the conference.

Referring to the development plans of the government, Mr Birmi claimed that the government was going to spend Rs 6,000 crore under various schemes to ensure development in the state during the current financial year.

Criticising the baseless and false propaganda of the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and other Akali leaders, he said sensing the response of the people towards the policies of the Congress government these leaders had become desperate and confused. He said Capt Amarinder Singh had empowered all MLAs to disburse grant of Rs 7 crore in their constituencies under the Punjab Nirman Programme.

Mr Birmi said he had already distributed cheques for Rs 1 crore and Rs 3 crore would be disbursed in the coming days. He said during the past four years around Rs 50 crore had been spent on various development projects in the constituency.

Others present on the occasion included Mr Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, president, Market Committee, Sahnewal, and Mr Ramesh Pappu, president, Municipal Committee, Sahnewal.

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Riot victims get cheques for Rs 90 lakh as relief
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 19
Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, today urged the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, who received compensation cheques from her, to focus on education of their wards. Assuring assistance on behalf of the civil administration, she solicited application regarding the materialisation of compensation payments.

While talking to Ludhiana Tribune after distributing cheques for Rs 90 lakh to the victims, Dr Indu claimed that she had ensured that the staff did not harass the beneficiaries. “I supervised the process of receiving applications and the service of intimation notices so that the victims who had suffered a lot already were not exploited by any agents or employees,” claimed the SDM.

Though no formal function was organised to distribute cheques for Rs 90 lakh, the beneficiaries, mostly farmers, acknowledged the cheques as grants given by the Congress government. A majority of the beneficiaries was ignorant about the Supreme Court orders or recommendations of any constitutional committees, including the Shankran Committee or the Nanavati Committee, which had enabled them to receive Rs 2 lakh each as compensation.

Mr Kirpal Singh, father of a riot victim, thanked God for the monetary help received by her family almost after 22 years of riots. “Though the amount paid to us is negligible in comparison to loss suffered by my son, we still thank God that the government did something for the victims. We do not know what made the present Congress government pay us Rs 2 lakh, while previous governments had been ignoring our demands,” said Mr Kirpal Singh.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, president, Municipal Council, claimed that the administration had made sufficient arrangements for the convenience of the riot victims. “The best thing the administration did was that the cheques were handed over to the riot victims only and not their representatives. This foiled the attempts of agents, who could have otherwise exploited them,” maintained Mr Bhola.

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Village forgets its saviour pilot
Promised memorial, road nowhere in sight 5 years later
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The Punjabi culture of remembering its heroes who have contributed in any manner in a part of the state has taken a beating in this village where the residents have not built a promised memorial for an Air Force pilot who had chosen to crash his MIG 21 in the fields and die in it than to eject and let the plane fall on the village four years ago.

The victim, Sq Ldr Ram Prakash of Hyderabad, was one of the several Indian Air Force pilots who have been killed in crashes while carrying out trainee sorties. The planes termed as flying coffins had roused such a public outrage that a film ‘Rang De Basanti’ was made on the issue and a massive signature campaign was launched against the use of MiG planes.

But as the plot in the movie, the deceased pilot and his parents were treated with disdain in real life not only by the government but by the public too in this case.

The hapless parents — Mr M. S. Prakasa Rao, an officer with the Indian Railways, and his wife Lakshmi Sulochna — had made a nostalgic trip to the crash site in 2004, four years after the crash, hoping that the villagers had constructed the promised memorial. They had broken into tears when the memorial was nowhere in sight and even the villagers kept away.

The pilot was the only son of the aged couple. He had left behind his wife and a seven-year-old son.

The parents remembered how the residents of three villagers had organised a massive function hailing the pilot as a hero who sacrificed his life to save the Birdhano village.

The dejected couple went back with a bagfull of soil from the crash site never to return again.

They would be dejected more today as the residents have till date not moved any way towards fulfilling the promise. To cap it, a foundation stone of a road to be named after the deceased pilot has also disappeared.

The pilot had sacrificed his life while saving this and the adjoining Bhumsi village on April 25, 2000. He was accorded the status of a hero by the villagers at a gala function held in May that year. Elected representatives of the state and senior Indian Air Force officials attended the function and acknowledged the pilot’s sacrifice.

He was praised for putting the safety of villagers above his own, as he could have easily bailed out long before the MiG-23 plane nose-dived into the fields. A memorial to be constructed in 1200 sq. yd was announced at the function besides the naming of a concrete road after the hero.

Village sources told The Tribune that a dispute over the land of the memorial and lack of any help from the state government had obstructed the memorial plan. The crash site spilled over in Birdhano (Patiala district) and Bhumsi (Sangrur district).

Not only the memorial, but also the promise of naming a road after the late Squadron Leader is also yet to be fulfilled. A foundation stone laid by Balwant Singh Shahpur, former MLA, Amloh, and Deputy Commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr B. S. Sudan has gone missing now, a visit by A Tribune team has revealed. 

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Transparency top priority for new DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The newly-appointed Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, today asserted that he would accord top priority to provide transparent, efficient and effective administration in the district.

He stated this during an introductory meeting with the mediapersons at the Mini Secretariat here today.

He said the Additional Deputy Commissioner would also give maximum time to listen to the public grievances daily and the complaints of serious nature would be looked into by the Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) while others would be sent to the officers concerned for early redressal. He said the complaints would be monitored on monthly basis.

Mr Gupta said to ensure transparency he had issued instructions to the officers of the different departments to hold meetings in the coming days.

Answering a question regarding the disbursement of compensation to the 1984-riot victim families, the DC said both SDMs of Ludhiana had been asked to clear such cases on top priority. He hoped that till Friday the final case for the approval from the state committee would be sent and by the end of next week the work of the disbursement of compensation would be completed.

He said the administration was dealing sympathetically with these cases and would ensure payment to each and every genuine claimant.

The DC informed that so far cheques of compensation had been disbursed among 2,517 claimants. A total of 4,315 claims were received by the administration while 3,466 had been cleared, he added.

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Mayor for weekly review of projects
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
Emphasising on the need for a strategic weekly review of various development projects being carried out in the municipal corporation wards, Mayor Nahar Singh Gill today announced a campaign under which he along with MC officials would personally visit all wards in the coming months.

He said under the campaign all councilors would be asked to prepare a detailed chart showing the status of various development projects that were initiated after the Congress assumed power in the state.

Following the survey, a review would be carried out and tangible efforts would be made to expedite the ongoing development projects, he added.

The Mayor said the campaign was aimed at making Ludhiana the best and reiterated that the exercise would be non-political. Equal importance would be given to the projects that had been hanging in fire in the wards represented by councilors affiliated to the opposition parties as well.

He said an urgent need for such a campaign was felt after he undertook a survey of several wards in the city during the past two months. It was found that several minor projects were facing delay due to petty reasons and could have been easily completed within a period of two months, he added.

Intensive exercises would be carried out to assess the need for area-specific development projects and area residents would be provided an open forum to discuss their needs and expectation from the civic body, he said.

It would be ensured that the problems being highlighted by them get sorted out on a priority basis and the officials would be made responsive and accountable. 

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Child having hole in heart needs financial help
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 19
Mr Bishnu Kumar and his wife Sangita, residents of Ram Nagar, Bhamian Kalan, Ludhiana district, are seeking the help of good Samaritans to come to the rescue of their six-year-old son Bikesh.

According to doctors, Bikesh has a hole in the heart and a blockage in the lungs, due to which growth is hampered.

There is danger that his heart and vital organs will sustain irreparable damage if early treatment is not done.

Dr Harinder Singh Bedi, cardiac surgeon, says Bikesh has been born with this defect.

The hole in the heart allows pure and impure blood to get mixed and leads to progressive damage to the heart, lungs and other organs.

According to Dr Bedi, the child’s body has been getting impure blood.

His growth has been hampered and he weighs only 14 kg, which is less than half the normal body weight at his age.

Though the hospital authorities and doctors have decided to waive hospital charges and operation fee, financial assistance is required because a heart-lung machine and imported equipment will be required.

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Marxists express solidarity with Nepalese people
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The Marxist Communist Party of India (United) has expressed solidarity with the democratic struggle being carried out by the people in Nepal. The MCPI (U) leaders in a statement here today said the world community should wake up to the aspirations of the Nepalese people who had risen against the monarchy in a mass struggle.

In a joint statement, Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri and Mr Kuldeep Singh condemned the dictatorial and repressive measures adopted by the King to curb the democratic movement. The leaders also expressed concern over the attitude of the Congress-led government which has turned a “blind eye” to the developments taking place in Nepal.

The party said the country being the largest democracy in the world should support the Nepalese demand for democracy.

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Brahmin Sabha alleges bias
Our Correspondent

Samrala, April 19
A meeting of the Punjab Brahmin Sabha was held at local Durga Mandir, which was presided over by Mr Devi Dayal Prashar, state president of the sabha.
In his address, Mr Prashar criticised the Punjab Government for neglecting the Brahmin community. He said the successive governments had done little for the community.

Even public holidays had been restricted in respect of Maha Shiv Ratri and Bhagwan Parsuram Jayanti while holidays had been declared on Mahavir Jayanti and Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 11 and April 14, respectively, he rued.

He said a state-level celebration of Bhagwan Parshuram Jayanti would be held on May 7 at Rampura Phool in Bathinda district. He also donated Rs 1,01,000 for the construction of a temple in Samrala.

Dr Ashok Sharma, advocate N.K. Sharma. advocate Surinder Vashist, Mr K.K. Sharma. Dr Yogesh Sharma, Mr Amarnath Saddi, Mr Sudesh Sharma and Mr Bihari Lal Saddi were among others who spoke on the occasion.

A resolution was also passed to shun dowry system and avoid costly marriage functions. 

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Heera’s book of drama released
Our Correspondent

Doraha, April19
A book of drama by Prof Sompal Heera entitled ‘Solo Natak Sompal Heera De’ was released at a function organised by the Punjabi Writers Association of Rampur at Guru Nanak National College, Doraha, recently.

A discussion on various aspects of the book followed the release. The programme, which was organised in the seminar hall of the college, was presided over by a renowned writer, Surjit Patar.

Prof Balwant Singh Pangali, general secretary, college management committee, in his introductory address congratulated the writers’ association for organising the literary programme. He said Rampur village was blessed with writers and saints who had earned renown with their intellectual capabilities.

Two papers were read on the dramatic theme related to Professor Heera’s book. Prof Jagdev Singh Grewal’s first paper threw light on the fact that solo performance of a multi-character play was gaining prominence and changing the concept of dramatic presentations.

Master Tarlochan Singh’s paper entitled ‘Sammvad Da Aagaz’ read that Punjabi drama had secured a respectable present and that would have a positive effect on its future prospects. “Even then,” he stressed, “We should never be self-satisfied and continue with persistent efforts in this regard.”

He said almost all the dramatic aspects in Sompal Heera’s book had been successfully covered and themes steadily achieved. The dramas written by Heera have the capacity to influence human psyche and conclusively force the readers to speak out their feelings and experiences.

Ms Kulwant, another noted writer, appreciated the efforts made by Professor Heera to earn a healthy recognition for the book. Mr Gulzar Pandher too said that a critical analysis of the content should be made keeping in view the social scenario from which the book has emerged.

Dr Charandeep Singh, Mr Pawan Kumar Kaushal, Mr Gurdial Dalal, Mr Tejwant Mangat, Mr Jasvir Jhajj, Mr Tarlok Singh Jaggi, Master Gurdas, Mr Harbans Malwa and Dr Narinder Singh too participated in the debate.

Mr Surinder Rampuri, while offering the vote of thanks, said the rebirth of a story or novel in the form of a dramatic presentation was a healthy literary effort. He gave a special thanks to the Youth Forum of Doraha. Dr Surjit Patar, too, said that drama was the need of the hour. Mr Harbans Mahra, Mr Jeevan Rampuri, Mr Gagandeep, Mr Labh Singh Mangat, Mr Harcharan Mangat, Mr Sawaran Palla, Mr Babu Singh Chauhan, Ms Kulwant, Mr K Sadhu Singh, Mr Gurnam Bawa, Mr Rupinder Ravan, Mr Jagdev Maksoodra, Mr Jagdev Singh Ghungrali and Mr Amarjit Mangat too shared their creative writings with the audience. 

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Majlis Ahrar holds rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The Majlis Ahrar, an organisation which has been preaching the concept of ‘khattam-i-nabwat’ (the end of prophethood in Islam), organised a rally here last night.

It was addressed, among others, by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Ludhiana, Maulana Habib-u-Rehman, Maulana Atiq-u-Rehman and Maulana Mansoor Bijnori.

They said there could not be any other prophet in Islam after Prophet Mohammad.

The Majlis Ahrar has been active in Punjab as the rival Qadian sect has also been active in Gurdaspur district.

The Ahrar party has organised several rallies during the past few weeks. The speakers demanded a ban on the activities of the Qadian sect as, they claimed, it was working against the basic tenets of Islam.

The party has been planning mass mobilisation on the issue involving hundreds of Muslims in its programme.

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Man attacks Naib Tehsildar
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 19
Machchiwara Naib Tehsildar Manjit Singh was hit with a sharp-edged weapon in his office by Devinder Singh of Aadiana village today. Devinder visited the office for the attestation of an affidavit and hit the Naib Tehsildar with a ‘gandasi’ after a tiff. Devinder fled and the police booked him under the IPC.

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1 held with opium

Khanna, April 19
CIA staff on Monday arrested Dinesh Kumar, a resident of Sakhtuli village in Madhya Pradesh, for possessing 1 kg of opium at T-point, Rahon. A case has been registered under the NDPS Act. OC

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‘Credit policy will make exports less competitive’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) credit policy has disappointed exporters who feel that a rise in ceiling on the interest rate on export credit will make Indian exports less competitive.

Mr O.P. Garg, president, , Federation of Indian Exporters Association, said: "While the fundamental rates, such as bank rate, reverse repo rate etc, are unchanged, the ceiling on the interest rate on export credit in foreign currency has been raised by 25 basis points further increasing the cost of credit to the export sector.

This would add to the transaction costs making Indian exports less competitive."

On the flow of credit to the export sector, he said while credit to industry as a whole had shown an increase from 11.3 per cent a year ago to 15.6 in 2005-06,the export sector continued to lag behind in the dispensation of credit at less than 12 per cent.

He elaborated that the export credit in foreign currency (as given by the RBI in the "Report of the Working Group to review Export Credit" ) increased from 5.22 per cent in June, 2002, to 26.58 per cent in June, 2003, and was 40.28 per cent in June, 2004, of the total export credit disbursed. An increase in the interest rate for foreign currency would, therefore, adversely affect the offtake of such loans.

The federation said though interest rates had been increased on foreign currency loans, it hoped that the banks would not levy any additional charges.

The federation said the policy had agreed to focus on credit quality and financial market conditions to support export and investment demand in the economy for maintaining macro-economic in particular, financial stability.

This would result in a more conducive environment to exports. Towards achieving this, the RBI had further delegated authority to authorised dealers (ADs) to extend the time limit for realisation of export proceeds beyond the prescribed 6 months up to an invoice value of US $ 1,00,000. "This would benefit a large number of exporters," said Mr Garg.

Other measures of liberalisation, he said, included remittance of initial and recurring expenses for branch offices opened abroad to the AD level, improvement in credit delivery mechanisms to agri and other priority sectors, revival of the banking ombudsman scheme, etc, he added.

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Thousands of Indians attend Chinese trade fair
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 19
A number of entrepreneurs from Ludhiana have gone to China to attend the biennial Chinese Trade Fair which is held every year in the months of April and October. The current fair is held between April 15 and 30 with a break of five days between April 21 to 24. These days are meant for sight-seeing.

According to Anish Dhawan, who has been visiting the fair regularly, "it includes everything on earth...from beauty products to heavy engineering products". He disclosed that quite a number of people have been visiting China. The special thing about the Chinese trade fair is that every sort of things is available there with a wide price brand.

The 99th Chinese Export Commodities Fair, held at Chinese Export Commodities Fair (Pazhou) Complex, Guangzhou, China, drew about 33,000 companies dealing in industrial products, textiles & garments, medicines and health products, consumer goods, beauty products and cosmetics and gifts from all over the world. Many traders and businessmen from Ludhiana went there to explore new avenues. The silent generators and textiles and garments remained centre of attraction among local buyers.

Mr Yogesh Bansal, dealing in batteries, who returned today after attending five-days fair at China, said that thousands of Indians had participated in the first phase of fair, held between April 15-20. "For a businessman, it is worthwhile going there. I have ordered about 150 sets of 5 KVA diesel silent generators, which are rarely available here. The cost of one generator comes out to be around Rs 60,000. Though the generators are yet to reach, we have already booked many orders", said Mr Bansal.

Another local trader, Mr Sunil Sharma, said that the lifestyle products, textile and garments remained favourite among Indians. He said that every deal depended on duty on the particular product. "Duties are heavy on some of the products. It is not advisable to get expensive items. But it true that our Industry cannot compete with them. They are so innovative. Their lifestyle products are not only excellent but very practical too. One does not mind spending a few thousand rupees to get worldwide experience. We can get the orders only after vising the fair. The electrical products, building material, raw material, chemicals etc are available at much reasonable prices as compare to India", said Mr Sharma.

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Gold prices skyrocket despite poor demand
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 19
As gold prices touched a new high today, retail consumers and jewellers remained a worried lot. According to retailers, there has been almost a 70 per cent decline in demand for the yellow metal in the past six months. Even marriage and festival seasons have failed to give a fillip to the market. A trend reversal, instead is being witnessed, wherein people are selling gold.

In the local market, the price for 10 grams today was Rs 9,360 for 24 carat and Rs 8,900 for 22 carat. This is an appreciation of more than Rs 1,300 since the beginning of this month. In the past 12 months, gold has gained 46 per cent and experts expect the rising trend to continue this year.

Stupendously rising prices are attributed to rise in international rates on account of active buying. “The rise is not due to demand from consumers, it is big players who are affecting demand. We are quite surprised to see the trend, it is the highest ever rate in the past 25-years,” said Mr Vineet Dhanda of the Ludhiana Jewellers Association.

Not only has demand remained low even during the marriage season, people are resorting to selling. “For marriages people are taking out their old gold and getting it exchanged. New purchase is very less. Only those who have to buy, as they have no existing stock are purchasing. An increasing number of people come to us to sell gold. For the last almost a year now demand has ebbed,” said Satish Kumar, a local jeweller.

What bothers the jewellers more is that the buyers are not even turning to other jewellery like diamonds and silver. During the initial phase of rise in prices, a few jewellers focused on silver ware and diamonds, but failed to evoke a satisfactory response.

“The current demand is coming from a very small section of people. For someone who had set a budget of say Rs 1 lakh, the quantity has reduced drastically. Such a customer is waiting for rates to decline. In the routine course, when prices are normal, people do not hesitate to expand their budget a little bit,” said Mr Dhanda.

For consumers too it is a tough time as prices continue fluctuating. “Every year I buy little gold as it is a good investment. However, this time I did not purchase anything, as prices are not stabilising. In fact, earlier I preferred giving light weight jewellery as gift on weddings and special occasions to my friends and relatives, but gold has become almost unaffordable now,” rued Ms Sushma Verma, a resident.

For returns-conscious investors, however, it is a good time. “There has been an increase in trading in the commodity market. Those who purchased the yellow metal in anticipation of a rise in rates are earning a lot,” said Mr Ashwani Kumar, an investment adviser. Market watchers say they are expecting yellow metal to touch Rs 10,000- Rs 12,000 by Divali this year.

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