|Thursday, February 17, 2000,
goes to polls today
to Green Revolution on cards
disfavours Registrar's reappointment
town of dirty drains
SC girls receive shagun
oppose BJP proposal
seek Akal Takht help
bans sale of book
|Arya Samaj leader cremated
HOSHIARPUR, Feb 16 BJP and Arya Samaj leader Ramesh Kapila, who died at Jammu yesterday, was cremated at his native Hariana town today.
people deprived of pension
booked for land-grab bid
shrouds hospital death
gangs of thieves busted
overturns, 18 hurt
awaits PF, gratuity
on vector-borne diseases
growers flay cheap imports
weighbridge firms fined
Nawanshahr goes to polls today
JALANDHAR, Feb 16 The Nawanshahr Assembly byelection has turned out to be a fight between the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh as both the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress have thrown everything into this prestigious electoral battle, polling for which begins tomorrow morning.
The SAD supremo, Mr Badal, who personally led campaigning toured the entire constituency of 129 villages and two towns of Nawanshahr and Rahon twice during the intensive and exhaustive campaigning, considered to be a traditional Congress bastion.
The Congress stalwart, Capt Amarinder Singh, led his relatively younger brigade, which made demonstration of strength by taking out a scooter rally in the constituency to counter the respectable show of unity mobilised by the SAD what can be termed as the first mass rally held in Nawanshahr at the close of campaigning yesterday.
Hoping to again cash in the legacy of late Dilbagh Singh, who held the constituency for the Congress for three decades since 1968 except in 1977 when the present SAD candidate, Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha won during the anti-Congress wave in the northern region, the Congress has fielded late stalwart's nephew, Mr Parkash Singh. Mr Dilbagh Singh's son Charnjit Singh Channi was able to cash the legacy of his father by winning as an Independent from Nawanshahr in the February, 1997, Assembly elections. He had defeated Mr Kariha by 2,991 votes in spite of the presence of official Congress candidate, Mrs Amar Kaur, his mother, who had polled just 1,449 votes.
Mr Dilbagh Singh had also won the seat as an Independent candidate like his son in 1980 by defeating Rana Moti Singh, the official Congress candidate. He was also credited with carving out Nawanshahr revenue district out of Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur during the Beant Singh regime.
Mr Parkash Singh suffers the stigma of being an outsider who runs his transport business at Amritsar. In terms of his presence he has been compared to Akali candidate Dalbir Singh Dhirowal in the Adampur Assembly byelection in November, 1998. In addition to this the voters seem to be nursing a grouse against Channi who, they said, did not take care of them like his father used to do. Channis election to the 13th Lok Sabha from Hoshiarpur on Congress ticket necessitated the Nawanshahr byelection.
Congress campaigners this time did not exhibit the same enthusiasm they had demonstrated in Adampur under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh as a united house. Even as Nawanshahr is one of the nine Assembly constituencies of the Phillaur Lok Sabha constituency party MP representing the segment Mrs Santosh Chaudhary remained elusive most of the time, which could send a wrong signal to 55,000 Dalit voters out of a total of 1.51 lakh electorate, on whom the Congress is mainly banking. The rival SAD is mainly pinning its hopes on about 42,000 Jat Sikh voters as its candidate Mr Jatinder Singh Kariha is a Jat Sikh himself, who had lost the 1997 and 1985 Assembly elections. While the BJP leaders, including two ministers, are focussing on Nawanshahr and Rahon, Akali leaders are trying to woo the voters in rural areas.
Both the SAD and the Congress are keeping their fingers crossed as to which way the Dalit voters would go notwithstanding the presence of the Bahujan Samaj Party candidate, Mr Darshan Lal Jethumajara, who had polled 25,643 votes in 1997. Political pundits feel that if the BSPs share went down further it could benefit the Congress but if Mr Jethumajara was able to get anything around 15,000 votes it could turn out to be anybodys game.
Meanwhile, the district
civil and police authorities have made elaborate security
arrangements to ensure free and fair poll in the
constituency with no history of major poll-related
violence. According to the SSP, the constituency has been
divided into 14 sectors, each of which will be headed by
DSP, having two patrolling parties. Each of the 108
polling stations would be manned by an NGO not below the
rank of an ASI. A total of 2,089 police personnel,
including 108 NGOs, 108 head constables, 131 constables
have been deputed by the authorities besides keeping the
CRPF ready for sensitive booths.
Preparing the Budget-Part II
CHANDIGARH, Feb 16 It is well understood that more stress will be laid on agriculture in the next years annual plan and Budget. The Finance Minister is personally committed and is keen on giving a push to the Green Revolution by substantially raising allocation for this. After all in Panjab key to economic prosperity lies with agriculture.
May that be so. What worries the government at present are the factors contributing to the financial sickness. Besides other factors, public sector undertakings are also listed. This is sought to be explained away as a historical phenomenon, rather than the creation of the present government. Out of 35 PSUs (public sector undertakings) only 17 make profit, while 18 incur losses, the net losses logged being Rs 610 crore for 1997-98. On the other hand, due to the poor financial health, investment made in them to the tune of Rs 3393.26 crore at the end of March, 1999, yielded only a meagre return of 0.04 per cent.
But Mr Finance Minister, one would like to ask him, has any accountability been ever fixed on those who manage(d) these loss-making PSUs? Bureaucrats wrangle for heading boards and corporations. Does he propose to impress upon his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to also introduce an accountability clause and punish those under whose regime the PSUs went into the red? Why not recover the cost from those who are wont to head these or have already had their stint? The Comptroller and Auditor-Generals reports should be made a basis for lodging FIRs (first information report) against those who run these PSUs.
The same way as the PSUs, even the social and economic services are historically heavily subsidised. Even in 1993-94, when Akalis and the BJP were not in power, the cost recovery for social services was a mere 2 per cent while, it was 11 per cent for economic services, except irrigation and power. The fact-paper mentions that introduction of the principle of full cost recovery in case of social and economic services can be only selective and gradual. Till then the states fiscal has to carry this onerous burden.
Going by the existing broad strategy around which the fiscal management revolves, it seems the Finance Minister will deliver the Budget which will be sugar-coated. The seven guiding strategies are, namely, 1) drastically reducing non-productive expenditure; 2) productive use of governments manpower sources through re-deployment and re-location; 3) eliminate losses in transport sector; 4) smarting tax administration and improving realisation of taxes; 5) review explicit and implicit subsidies and to eliminate and reduce non-merited among them; 6) attune the state to the regime of liberalisation, globalisation and attract private investment for infrastructural development; and 7) total revamp of the PSUs to improve returns on investment.
The state, seemingly, is serious about mobilising additional resources to meet its own part in the Annual Plan. There is not much increase in the next years Annual Plan. The current years Plan is Rs 2680 crore. The next one may be around Rs 2700 crore or so, say sources.
Nevertheless, it is seen since 1981 onwards, several outdated schemes which must have been discontinued, continue. The Plan is also not any good indicator of signs of development. There are several other sources of finance which the state avails of for development and other services.
Punjab hopes that introduction of a uniform sales tax at the behest of New Delhi will help the state mop up at least Rs 500 crore annually. The uniform rates have become effective. Its economic or austerity measures are also expected to yield Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore, per year, and an equal amount is expected from the infrastructure development, education and other types of proposed cess. These are all in the realm of hope!
How the Budget will bridge the ever widening mismatch between revenue inflow and outflow is a major task. The Budget proposals will have to take into account the salary and pension bill. For the current year itself the additional liability is around Rs 1995 crore, this is without taking into account the effect of time scale after 4, 9 and 14 years of service recommended for PCS, doctors, engineers, architects and DSPs etc; a big increase in liability is also there on account of a sharp hike in dearness allowance, pay arrears and pension arrears; and no liability of increase in medical allowance has been taken.
At present expenditure on salary as percentage of revenue expenditure (Plan and non-Plan) is 75.49; for every Rs 100 the state spends, Rs 75.49 go into salary component.
The task of making a
Budget which does not pinch the public allows cash inflow
into the state kitty, improves efficiency of the
government without incurring extra cost, and introduces
accountability is all that the Finance Minister has to
do. Doing so is not easy. It is difficult. Budget and
Budget speeches are usually a jugglery of words and
statistics, where the hidden agenda is more crucial than
the figurative work put out with cosmetic touch. Concluded
PUTA disfavours Registrar's
PATIALA, Feb 16 The issue of the appointment of the new Registrar took a new turn today with the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) expressing apprehension that the incumbent, Dr Ranbir Singh Sarao, might be reappointed, and urging the Vice-Chancellor not to reappoint him in any capacity in the university.
The PUTA urged the Vice-Chancellor to stick to his earlier policy of not giving extension to any superannuated teacher despite pressure. It hoped that the Vice-Chancellor would follow the same approach in filling the post of Registrar.
There are strong indications that a PCS officer may be appointed Registrar of the university and the PUTA may be raising the issue of reappointment of Dr Sarao to ensure the latter is not adjusted through contractual appointment. This is because rule 9 (B) of the University Act states that Registrar cannot continue in office beyond 60 years of age.
Though the University Act will have to be amended through an ordinance if Dr Sarao is to be reappointed, he can still be adjusted in the university through contractual appointment. It is this that his adversaries do not want as Dr Sarao is purportedly close to the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said the issue would be clinched in the February 23 meeting of the Syndicate. He said he had asked for the file and he would start necessary formalities for deciding upon appointment of new Registrar immediately. Asked about PUTA demand, he said he would consider it sympathetically.
Dr Hari Singh Boparai, Secretary of the PUTA, in a request to the Vice-Chancellor, cited the case of Dr S.L. Singla , a PUTA leader who was not reappointed or given extension after retirement. The communication said the PUTA did not show any resentment on this account as it appreciated the principled stand of the Vice-Chancellor. He said the PUTA appreciated that even ad hoc appointments of teaching staff were not made without due screening and selection process.
The main contenders are
director, student welfare, Dr Daljit Singh, dean,
students, Dr D.S. Dhillon, and reader coordinator, IAS
Training Centre, Dr Baltej Singh Mann. Sources said the
post could also go to a PCS officer. The coming days are
likely to see hectic lobbying as the post may be approved
at the highest level. The Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr
Parkash Singh Badal, will be free after the Nawanshahr
election tomorrow. A decision has to be taken before the
Syndicate meeting is held.
Promoted after retirement
AMRITSAR, Feb 16 The Punjab Government has promoted 10 inspectors of cooperative societies to the rank of assistant registrar with effect from July 20, 1993 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Interestingly, all the inspectors had already retired around six years ago.
Mr Sarup Singh of Hoshiarpur retired on August 1, 1993 as inspector, Mr Parkash Chand, Mr Gian Singh and Mr Ratansen retired in 1994, Mr Mota Singh, Mr Dhanna Ram, Mr Bhagwant Singh, Mr Ajit Singh, Mr Inderjit Singh and Mr Iqbal Singh (all inspectors) had retired in 1995, 1996 and 1997.
As per official orders of the Financial Commissioner, Cooperative Societies the ten (now retired inspectors) have been promoted as assistant registrar on the basis of the decision of the High Court.
Twentyeight promotee inspectors had challenged the seniority list in the year 1974. Though the single bench of the court rejected the petition in 1984, they filed an LPA in the High Court in the same year. The double bench then decided in favour of the petitioners by setting aside the decision of the single bench in 1997. The State Government, however, took another two years to implement the orders. By then the petitioners, had been retired around six years ago. They received the orders only last week.
All the promotee inspectors had pleaded that they were not sent for training in time by the department. With the result that 115 inspectors recruited in 1971 and 1974 became senior to them. All the directly recruited inspectors were sent for training by the department immediately after they joined service.
The state government has now brought down the seniority of 115 directly recruited inspectors while the seniority to ten promotee inspectors has been given with retrospective effect, i.e. from July seven, 1993.
But the state government has refused to settle the dues of the petitioners on the pretext that settled service rules read that there has to be no pay for no work i.e., a person will not be entitled to any pay and allowances during the period which he did not perform the duties of a higher post. So the petitioners are not entitled for any benefit retrospectively. At the most they would be entitled to relaxation of their present salary on the basis of the notional seniority granted to them.
However, the 10
inspectors (now retired) who got notional promotion by
the state government have pleaded that the implementation
by the state government was not in accordance with the
court orders. They said they were entitled to all the
financial benefits as the rule of no work no
pay did not apply to them as they were not on
strike at that time.
A town of dirty drains
HOSHIARPUR: On account of sanitary staff shortage and absence of mohalla committees to maintain cleanliness of Hoshiarpur once known for its neat and clean environment, has now become a town of dirt.
Localities in and around the city have become the dirtiest causing a threat to the public health and inconvenience to residents. Heaps of garbage can be seen in almost all localities and mohallas. Garbage dumps have been set up next to schools and religious places. Almost all drains in bazars and lanes remain choked due to non-lifting of garbage. This has resulted in the over-flowing of sullage.
The Ganda Nullah, which passes through the main bazars and localities and is cleaned only once a year, emits a stink. The public toilets at various localities are in a run-down condition. The toilet blocks at Una Road, Railway Road, District Courts Complex and Shimla Pahari Chowk are totally neglected. Sewerage in various localities also remains choked in most mohallas causing a serious problem to residents.
Mr H.S. Randhawa, Executive Officer of the towns Municipal Council, told this correspondent that the council had 256 safai sewaks which was totally inadequate to ensure cleanliness of the towns 37 sq km of roads and lanes. He said in addition, at least 150 more safai sewaks were required. The state government had imposed a ban on the recruitment of employees. The Local Bodies Department did not allow the council to even fill vacancies of those employees who had died or retired.
He said the Local Bodies Department had recently introduced a scheme to form mohalla committees for the cleanliness of their respective areas by appointing safai sewaks at their own level. The council had to pay Rs 900 as monthly salary to each safai sewak appointed by these committees at their respective areas and the remaining salary had to be arranged by the committees through its own sources. He said the councils Safai Karamchari Union did not allow constitution of mohalla committees which affected sanitation of the town. He said out of the annual budget of Rs 12.20 crore, Rs 843.65 lakh was being spent on the establishment only. The committee had yet to provide sewerage and water supply facilities in even 30 per cent of the towns areas.
It is worth mentioning here that the council has recently laid concrete slabs in many of the bazars and lanes by replacing the bitumen carpets there. The reason for this replacement is known to the municipal authorities . This replacement has raised the level of these roads and lanes from the level of shops and houses. Owing to the use of sub-standard material, these slabs have developed potholes. The situation has been further aggravated with the construction of ducts in various localities by the Telecom Department. Telecom contractors have dug up most roads in bazars. The recent rains have made these localities slippery causing frequent accidents. Though the Telecom Department has already deposited payment for digging up roads with the Municipal Council but the council has not repaired it so far.
A senior councillor who
sought anonymity told this correspondent that three
vacancies of firemen were lying vacant. The interview for
the selection had been conducted. He alleged that
bargaining for the selection of these firemen was being
done. He would not allow any member of the selection
committee to take gratification for these appointments.
2,725 SC girls receive
ROPAR, Feb 16 The Punjab Government has given a shagun of Rs 5,100 each to 2,725 Scheduled Caste girls on the occasion of their marriage in the district during the past three years, while it has also handed over houses free of cost to 375 Scheduled Caste people.
According to a spokesman the district administration has distributed Rs 1.39 crore so far under the shagun scheme through the SDMs.
A Budget of Rs 56 lakh had been made available to the administration out of which Rs 18.70 lakh had already been released for giving shagun to the SC girls on their marriages, he added.
The administration has also handed over houses to 375 Scheduled Caste persons in the past three years under the Punjab Governments houses for homeless SCs scheme. Each house has been built in an area of 125 sq ft at a cost of Rs 50,000.
Besides this, under the Scheduled Caste Welfare Schemes the administration has distributed text books among 44,991 students studying in 1st to 10th standard. An amount of Rs 49.70 lakh has been spent on the books.
The spokesman said the government had also been running a attendance scholarship scheme to inspire the Scheduled Caste families to send their wards in primary schools.
Farmers oppose BJP proposal
CHANDIGARH, Feb 16 Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, president of the Young Farmers Association, Punjab and Haryana, has ridiculed the BJP for proposal to tax the rich farmers.
He said under land ceiling laws there was hardly any farmer who could be termed rich. "Remove land ceiling first and give the farmers a chance to become rich,"Mr Cheema said in a statement here today.
Christians seek Akal Takht help
JALANDHAR, Feb16 (PTI) A leading forum of Christians in Punjab, Masihi Chetna Manch has appealed to Akal Takht Jathedar Puran Singh to summon Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to the top temporal seat and instruct him to guarantee the safety of Christians in the state.
The Chief Minister is playing into the hands of anti-Christian forces and is thus violating the high ideals of Sikhism which include safeguarding the minorities, Mr Freddie Loseph, convenor of the manch said in the letter written to the Akal Takht Jathedar.
He said the Akali Dal was formed under the aegis of Akal Takht with the specific aim to uphold the panthic traditions and it was incumbent upon it to ensure safety of the minorities and the seek an ideal of Sikhism. He claimed that Christians were at the receiving end in Punjab under the SAD-BJP regime and over 30 Christian congregations were disrupted by hooligans recently but no action was taken by the authorities despite state wide protests.
We have been left with no other alternative than to approach the Akal Takht Jathedar who should summon and remind Mr Badal about his duties towards the minorities as head of the Akali Dal, the letter said.
Punjab bans sale of book
CHANDIGARH, Feb 16 The Punjab government has banned the publication, sale, possession of the 19th edition of Punjabi book, "Gur Bhagat Maal Steek" written by Narain Singh Giani and published by Bhai Chatar Singh and Jiwan Singh, Bazar Mai Sewan, Amritsar.
Arya Samaj leader cremated
HOSHIARPUR, Feb 16 (UNI) BJP and Arya Samaj leader Ramesh Kapila, who died at Jammu yesterday, was cremated at his native Hariana town today.
Mr Kapila, 72, who remained president of the Hariana Municipal Council for more than 12 years, is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
His pyre was lit by his elder son Rajiv, a councillor.
deprived of pension
FARIDKOT, Feb 16 Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the SDO (Civil), Jaitu, to identify at the earliest those pensioners whether the aged, widows, and handicapped who have been deprived of their benefits in this districts so far.
He was addressing a sangat darshan programme at Ramiana village about 30 km from here in this district yesterday.
Panches of seven villages, including Bishnandi, Delanwali, Kasambhatti, Khachhran, Ramaina, Ramuwala and Rorikapura, met the Deputy Commissioner and put before him various demands regarding the development of their respective areas.
Officer booked for land-grab bid
MALERKOTLA, Feb 16 Ram Parkash Verma, Assistant Audit Officer, in the office of Accountant-General Punjab (Audit), Chandigarh, has been arrested for allegedly trying to forcibly occupy land belonging to Mr Ashok Kumar Verma.
According to a report registered with the Sadar Police here, the accused, along with other persons, allegedly forcibly entered the land and destroyed the wheat crop and guava trees belonging to Mr Ashok Verma at Damam Mehli village (Rajinder Nagar), near Malerkotla, causing a huge loss to the owner.
The district police chief, Mr Arpit Shukla, directed the local Sadar SHO to register a case under Sections 427, 447, 379, 506 and 120-B of the IPC against the audit officer, who was arrested from the local Jarg Chowk.
On the completion of the four-day police and judicial remand granted by Ms Kiran Bala Goyal, JMIC, he has been given bail by Mr S.K. Sachdeva, SDJM.
Mystery shrouds hospital death
BATHINDA, Feb 16 The death of Thana Singh, an accused in number of robbery cases in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan at the local Civil Hospital on the night of February 14 has generated a controversy.
Mr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said that Thana Singh, who sustained a gun shot wound in an altercation with one of his victims while committing a robbery had been lodged in judicial custody before being transferred to the hospital. But Superintendent, Jail Mr Bhupinder Singh Gill, when contacted, said Thana Singh was never in judicial custody.
He said every person remanded to judicial custody was sent to jail. But no person named Thana Singh, had been lodged in jail.
Thana Singh, kingpin of an inter-state gang of robbers, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital by his relatives February 6 with gun shot injuries in his right thigh. He was later, arrested by the Talwandi Sabo police.
Foreign currency seized
MALERKOTLA, Feb 16 The local police has seized US currency worth $ 10 million (Rs 4.3 crore).
According to sources,
the police seized the currency notes from a resident of
Bhogiwal village, 4 km from here, on a clue provided by
his companion. The police has arrested Gurdeep Singh, a
resident of Gopalpur, who was trying to sell it. A case
has been registered in this regard.
2 gangs of thieves busted
JALANDHAR, Feb 16 The district police has busted two gangs of thieves and seized cable wires worth Rs 2 lakh, one Maruti car, two scooters and 11 cycles from their possession.
Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said Kala Singh, a resident of Khabbe village in Amritsar district, and Mukhtiar Masih, a resident of Qadian, were arrested from the Ravi Dass chowk and cables wires were seized from them.
Similarly, Vijay Kumar,
alias Ghulami, a resident of Udopur village near Lambra,
was arrested by Police Division No 6 and a Maruti car and
a scooter were seized from him. The car was stolen by the
accused from Model town. Further interrogation led to the
recovery of 11 bicycles.
PATHANKOT, Feb 16 The town is turning into a gambling den with residents betting on cricket matches and buying lottery tickets, especially hourly tickets.
The three main areas
from where the lottery sellers operate are all near
police posts. This type of gambling does not cover under
the provisions of the Gambling Act. The police therefore
cannot take action against people buying lottery tickets
or the lottery sellers.
Bus overturns, 18 hurt
BATALA, Feb 16 (UNI) Eighteen people, including 16 mourners, were wounded when a mini bus from Jammu overturned near Dayalgarh on the Batala-Gurdaspur road today, the police said.
All the wounded, including 15 women and the driver and the conductor, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. One of them, Ramo Devi, 16, was referred to the Jalandhar Civil Hospital.
Principal awaits PF, gratuity
AMRITSAR, Feb 16 Mr Ashok Kumar, who retired as Principal of Government College, Bhulath, after 34 years of service, has been awaiting his terminal benefits for the past eight months.
Seminar on vector-borne diseases
PATIALA, Feb 16 Speakers at the first day of the fifth international symposium on vectors and vector-borne diseases, held at Punjabi University here today, cautioned people against the spread of several dreadful diseases like dengue, kala azar and malaria and called upon the government to grant more funds and take up the issue on a priority basis.
The symposium, organised by the Department of Zoology, is a three-day affair. It is being held under the multi-faculty millennium series by the university in connection with the 300 years of the Khalsa birth. A large number of scientists from the country and abroad are participating in the symposium.
In his key note address Padamshri Dr V.P. Sharma, President of the National Academy of Vector-borne Diseases, said dreadful diseases like malaria, dengue and kala azar are rearing their ugly head at a much faster rate.
Referring to the malaria situation in India, he said that economic loss to India every year due to malaria exceeds Rs 5,000 crore. Malaria epidemics have become commonplace. Mono and multi-drug resistance is growing in malaria parasites. Chemical vector control has started producing diminishing returns. Malaria is entering new areas, which have been so far free from the disease. Environment is being altered in favour of vector proliferation. Climate change is adding fuel to the fire of malaria.
Punjab Finance Minister Captain Kanwaljit Singh while inaugurating the symposium said diseases like malaria, dengue, filaria etc could be tackled only with the help of enlightened masses. He emphasised the role of scientists, educationists and government agencies in this context. He said instead of spending huge amounts on treating people, it was cheaper to take care of ponds, which were the breeding grounds for the mosquitoes.
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, said the symposium had been organised to orient university education and research to be socially relevant. He said to fight vector-borne diseases, which are caused by disturbing ecological balance and ruthless exploitation of nature, necessary awareness has to be created among the people.
Earlier, Dr Dalbinder Singh Sidhu, Director of the symposium, introduced the subject.
Cotton growers flay cheap imports
BATHINDA, Feb 16 The Ministry of Textiles has moved the import of cotton to the open general licence (OGL) category while retaining its control over export of cotton.
While the Ministry allows textile mill owners and traders to import the cotton from any country except Pakistan. Few government agencies have been given an export quota on the plea that the domestic price of cotton is higher than the international price.
But cheap imports have meant that cotton growers are not getting a remunerative price despite input costs having increased manifold.
Instead opening of imports had reduced the number of buyers from Mumbai and south Indian textile mills in local markets.
Trade sources said at present prices of Narma has been ranging between Rs 1750 to Rs 1950 as compared to between Rs 1950 to Rs 2100 in the corresponding period last year. Similarly, prices of the Desi variety ranges from Rs 1350 to Rs 1450 as compared to between Rs 1800 to Rs 1900 in the corresponding period last year.
Sources said after the ban on imports of Pakistani cotton recently the prices of Narma and Desi varieties had started picking up and in December 1999 Narma touched Rs 2000 and Desi cotton touched 1550. But the increase in price was temporary and prices have been falling since.
Mr Kattar Singh Jeeda, President, Northern India Cotton Growers Association, said the government should formulate a permanent policy for cotton and make efforts to decrease the cost of farmers inputs. The stress should be on exports by improving the quality of cotton.
Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, president, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, alleged that the central government had always followed a policy favourable to textile mill owners and traders. He pointed out that whenever the prices of cotton went up in the domestic market, it allowed the traders and textile mill owners to import it, but fixed the export quota for cotton only after farmers had already sold their produce.
Mr Ashok Kapur, Director, Export Panel, North India Cotton Association, said the government should announce its policy on cotton before the beginning of arrivals. He said if cotton growers were not benefited, production would be hit.
Meanwhile, around 22 lakh bales of cotton have arrived in the markets of Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana so far. According to an estimate by the North India Cotton Association, the production of cotton in the region will be about 28.50 lakh bales as compared to the 19.74 lakh bales last year.
Sources said that six lakh bales had arrived in Punjab markets against 4.86 lakh bales last year.
23 weighbridge firms fined
FATEHGARH SAHIB, Feb 16 On the directions of the Deputy Commissioner, Inspector Weight and Measure, along with the SDM raided the premises and weighbridge firms today. The weight and measure instruments of 23 firms were found to be underweight and these firms were fined.
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