Sunday, June 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dual carriageway at cost of 70 trees
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — Development comes at a cost and this time it is some 70 eucalyptus, kikar and other trees on the Ludhiana-Habbowal road along the Punjab Agriculture University which will pay the price for it.

These trees are all set to be axed as the Municipal Corporation and the university have agreed in principle about the exchange of land along the road for the construction of the dual carriage-way. Under the agreement, the PAU will give land from its residential colony called Haathi Complex for the road while the MC would oblige by parting with equal area from Nehru Rose Garden to the PAU as compensation.

The agreement, not convenient to environmentalists, will definitely bring some cheer to scores of people travelling on the congested road as a number of accidents and traffic jams on this busy path would be avoided. The four-laning work of the road which was blocked due to the problem of the non-availability of land from gate no. 4 of PAU to the Ferozepore road would also commence at a better rate with this agreement.

However, how the morning and evening walkers to Rose Garden, famous as lungs of the city, would react to the agreement could not be ascertained at this juncture as the agreement has not been made public so far. It is expected that the university which also possesses the best green areas, besides Rose Garden would maintain the tradition on the land of the garden to be given to it.

Mr S. S. Sandhu, Commissioner, MC, confirmed the transfer of land deal. He said though no written agreement has been done so far, but the decision has been taken in principle. He said the Board of Directors of PAU has also cleared the transfer deal while the MC House had already done so.

Mr Sandhu also acknowledged that a few trees would have to be axed as they come in the path of the four-laning of the road. This line of trees was the only one worth mentioning left on the road as all the others had been axed for similar development reasons in the past.

With the population of the city increasing rapidly and this megapolis expanding in all directions, the pressure for creating space for roads and housing purposes has enhanced. Old timers of the city reveal that earlier, tracts of greenery were seen at several places of the city, but with development, it was making way for human inhabitation or other uses.


Maruti-Hyundai car war on
From A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — A car war has broken out between Maruti’s Zen and WagonR on one side and Hyundai’s Santro on the other, with both sides totting up figures to claim that theirs is the bestselling product in the region and accusing each other of falsifying figures to claim the number one position.

Hyundai Motor India Ltd (HMIL) has been known to be an aggressive market player. Not long ago, its rather abrasive advertisement campaign, extolling the virtues of Santro and running down its rival, Matiz and its parent company, Daewoo, which has been facing serious financial difficulties, ran into rough weather. The campaign was called off by the makers of Santro following objections from various quarters.

However, a somewhat similar aggressive streak was noticeable during the interaction Mr B.V.R. Subbu, Director, Marketing and Sales, HMIL, had with mediapersons here on Wednesday night. Besides claiming that Santro had now become the bestselling car in Punjab and Chandigarh region, he asserted that HMIL was the best managed car company in India. Mediamen surmised that Mr Subbu was perhaps implying that while Daewoo was in dire financial straits, Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL), in which the government of India holds a 50-50 share along with Suzuki of Japan, is not exactly a model of efficiency because of the red-tape generally associated with sarkari enterprises.

He also referred to the newspaper advertisement campaign by MUL, imploring customers to go in for the original (i.e. WagonR) rather than the copy (i.e. Santro), both of which are based on the Tall Boy concept. “If Santro is a copy of WagonR, then I think we are offering the latest product. WagonR was developed for the Japanese market years ago, whereas we made an India-specific car which incorporates all the latest features of a modern car. So our product is far superior. And zooming sales of Santro prove that customers also think the same,” Mr Subbu said.

He added that HMIL had grossed cumulative sales of 10,279 units of Santro and 678 units of Accent in the region of Punjab and Chandigarh since the beginning of national deliveries in October, 1998. “Thus, Santro has now become the topselling car in Punjab and Chandigarh since its launch. The cumulative figures for Santro sales in the region for January-May, 2000, stood at 3,785 units, an increase of 137.15 per cent over 1,596 units in corresponding period last year,” he said.

However, MUL asserts that the figures quoted by Mr Subbu are not correct and do not reflect the true situation in the car market. “We will not take these claims lying down,” said Mr Hardeep S. Brar, Senior Executive (Marketing and Sales), MUL, Chandigarh, and Mr Madhu Sudan, Executive (Marketing), MUL, New Delhi, in a talk with TNS here today. “We want to meet these claims and assertions head on. We will not allow these to go unchallenged,” they asserted. “Beginning today, we are throwing a WagonR challenge to rivals to prove that we are the best in this class. Anyone can walk into any of the WagonR challenge camps organised by the MUL to test drive WagonR and decide himself about the quality of the car,” they said. The first such two-day WagonR challenge opened today at Sarabha Nagar Market.

According to MUL, Zen continues to be its bestselling car in the region. “Zen is keeping up the momentum in the area of Punjab and Chandigarh in line with all-India sales and since the launch of its competitors in October, 1998, has sold approximately 13,527 vehicles in Punjab and Chandigarh alone, whereas the next competitor Santro could only sell approximately 10,729 cars in this area. The rest of the manufacturers are left far behind,” they claimed.

“MUL once again leads the B segment with sales of 8,737 units in the month of May, 2000. The Zen continues to tap its segment with 6,516 units sold and another 2,221 units of WagonR further consolidated MUL’s position in this segment. In the C segment, MUL sold 1,134 units, including 948 units of Esteem and 386 units of Baleno, and in the A segment, MUL sold 11,137 units of Maruti 800 and 4,557 units of Omni.”

“Despite production constraint on account of shifting to Euro-compliant technology for all its models and price increase effected on account of implementation of uniform sales tax (which varied from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 for different models), MUL sold 25,765 units in the month of May, 2000.” According to Mr Anil Malhotra and Dr Naresh Malhotra, Directors, Stan Autos, a leading MUL dealer of the North, WagonR has created history by selling 10,000 units within 100 days since its debut in the Indian market. To celebrate the occasion, Maruti has announced the WagonR spot the ideas contest, which will involve participants test driving the WagonR and identifying for themselves the top ten ideas that make the WagonR Japan’s largest selling car.


Kidwai Nagar parks: A study in contrast
From Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, June 17 — Municipal parks in the Kidwai Nagar locality present a study in contrast. If a couple of parks located in the Improvement Trust flats side are in a pathetic condition with heaps of garbage, waste material and debris thrown all over, those on the other side of the colony speak volumes of what a group of dedicated and determined citizens can achieve even if the administration offers little or no help.

According to Mr Kultar Singh, President of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Association, the maintenance of the parks was taken up by the association in December last year. "We had employed five persons to lay the grass cover, water the plants and prepare flower beds all over the parks. The result is there for everyone to see."

Mr Singh, who is also the General Secretary of the district Akali jatha of SAD(B) and a central delegate of the party, said with the initiative of the residents, supplemented by the civic body, a fountain has been constructed in the middle of the lush green parks, which would be formally inaugurated by Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on June 18.

Whereas the tree-lined stretch of parks, with rows of houses on both the sides, is a treat for the eyes, just around the corner lie two barren plots, with a narrow bylane between them, which the residents of that area say are 'municipal parks'. Nothing inside the plots suggests anything like that.

The 'parks' are just pieces of parched land, devoid of any vegetation which provide an easy dumping ground for house waste and garbage for the residents. Not only this, a sizeable portion of the bigger of the two parks has allegedly been encroached upon by a family living in a ramshackle structure raised just by bricks lined over each other, However, they claim that the land belongs to them, they have been living here for a long time and further maintain that they possess a stay order, refraining the municipal corporation from dispossessing them and that they would honour the court verdict whenever it was delivered.

Although there appears to be nothing common between the parks on the two sides of the locality, the residents at least agree on one thing that the area councillor, Mr Parveen Bansal, was not only neglecting the area but also creating unnecessary hurdles in the way of development.

If Mr Kultar Singh complained that the councillor, who was unhappy over the involvement of the residents in the maintenance of the parks and entrusted with the responsibility of disbursement of funds for this purpose, even went to the extent of refusing to sign the bills for reimbursement of the money spent by the welfare association or its members from their own resources. The General Secretary of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Society, Mr R.R. Katyal, was equally sore with the performance or rather non-performance of the councillor, who belongs to BJP. "It is not only the parks which have been neglected but the whole area in which Improvement Trust flats are located is like that. Road have not been repaired or re-laid since a long time. There is no provision for drainage of rain water and during rainy season, the overflowing sewage enters our houses."

The councillor, Mr Parveen Bansal, was not available for comments and all efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.


Changing images of Ludhiana

People like Amrita Pritam, Sahir and Imroze (Inderjeet of yesteryear) are not easy to find. It is rightly said that facts are stranger than fiction. Amrita wrote a long poem in the form of a letter (to Sahir) which won her the Sahitya Akademi Award. Amrita and Imroze are live-in friends, looking after Nagmani, besides the publication and illustration of books. Sahir's collection of poems Let Us Weave Dreams for Tomorrow required the title-cover design which Imroze was making. Amrita and Imroze were exchanging ideas and commenting upon Sahir's book, it's title and Sahir himself.

"When will Sahir translate his dream into reality?" This question cropped up.

In a second, the answer was heard, "He is from Ludhiana, he will weave only." Amrita has discussed it in her autobiography, Raseedi Ticket.

It is the wittiest and liveliest comment upon Sahir as well as Ludhiana. Perhaps, it may injure the sensibility of a few Ludhiana-worshippers. So is life, it is never logical, never mind.

Many things can be imbibed. Intelligence may be developed. It is wisdom, they say, that lingers. Let us not discuss wit and wisdom in absolute terms. Looking at the practical aspects, wit makes life lively, the wisdom turns one serious. I would prefer wit to wisdom even at my own cost as a Ludhianvi. We weave. We spin. Only the stuff is different with different persons.

In pre-Partition days, the cloth woven and spun at Khasa (Amritsar) was itself known as Khasa, that light grey militia stuff woven at Ludhiana was itself termed Ludhiana. An image of weaver/weaving/khadi was transposed upon the town. Hosiery goods strengthened it. Knittings of all kinds made this image stronger still. Image may be subtle but it has a powerful impact on mind through exhortation.

The image underwent a big change with the arrival of small-scale industry. An industrial coating was given to the city's face. The coating became thicker and darker in the days of Partap Singh Kairon; The Industrial Estate, Industrial Area-A, Industrial Area-B and several industrial sites bear testimony.

Government College put the city on the national academic map. Later, Punjab Agricultural University won the city an international recognition. The Green Revolution was conceived, seeded and extended with remarkable precision. This gave the city an image which it never had before. The Green Revolution symbolised agricultural technology on one side and the hard work of the Punjabi peasants on the other. The city acquired the image of a modern and a progressive one.

It is now becoming a City of Nursing Homes and Hospitals. More people die here than are born. This new image gladdens a few but saddens many.

As I look back at Ludhiana, it was once an integrated whole. It is now splitting. The railway station itself presents a scene of Kanpur, the bus stand looks as an index of life in villages. The public schools present to you bits of Dehra Dun, Pune, Bangalore and Kochi.

I suggest Ludhiana may additionally burn the effigy of Demon-Pollution along with Ravana with the rider that in so doing the air should not be loaded with poisonous gases and ear drums should be saved from the mega-decibel noise.

Ludhiana has projected 10 faces, I recognise. It is the eleventh face of Ravana, Demoniacal Pollution, I despise the most.


Messiahs who saved Pinky from death

SAHNEWAL (Ludhiana), June 17 — Mahesh Kumar and his family live in a labour colony at Jugiana village, nearly 10 km from Ludhiana. On Wednesday night when Mahesh was sleeping on the floor of his quarters along with his 14-year-old daughter, Pinky, and a son, a snake entered the room. It wrapped itself around the neck of the girl. Gasping for breath, the girl woke up from her sleep.

The members of her family and some neighbours removed the snake from around her neck and killed it. After this, for two hours, the girl remained normal and conversed with her family members. At about 3 am, Pinky's voice suddenly became choked and she fainted. Her condition worsened quickly, forcing Mahesh to rush her to DMC Hospital at Ludhiana.

Mahesh is not a man of sound financial means. He had to borrow money from his labourer friends which turned out to be hardly Rs 2,000, before rushing to the hospital to save her only daughter from the jaws of death. It was no great sum and did not last long in the big medical institute. Soon, Mahesh was left with no choice but to get her daughter discharged from the hospital.

As luck would have it, the bed adjoining Pinky's was occupied by Mr J.C. Gupta, a resident of Ludhiana, who had been admitted to the hospital after suffering a heart attack. After they came to know of the critical position of the girl, Mr Gupta and his wife came to her rescue. Mr Gupta's wife deposited Rs 5,000 immediately at the hospital counter. Besides this, she also gave the number of her mobile telephone to Mahesh, in case he needed more help.

After about 10 hours of long struggle, Pinky's condition began to improve and yesterday, she returned home safe and sound. A tearful Mahesh did not have enough words to thank Mr Gupta's family. He simply said, "Babuji Aur Bibiji Hamare Liye Messiah Ban Ke Aaye." (Mr and Ms Gupta proved to be Gods for us).

Ms Gupta said, "I felt as if my own daughter was struggling for life. With the blessings of Mahesh and his family, my husband is also recovering quickly."

— Loveleen Bains



Kerosene for Rs 20 a litre ?
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 17 — Kerosene, the poor man's kitchen fuel, is being sold at Rs 20 a litre in the city, it is reported.

Even at this rate, the kerosene buyers are having a tough time locating the right place for this essential commodity. Pandit, a middle-aged factory hand, said that he had been running from one locality to another in search of kerosene for the past four days but without any success.

When he approached his neighbour to borrow some, the neighbour did not oblige. However, he was kind enough to offer food. But kerosene? He won't part with under any circumstances.


Mangat elected Fellow of society
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17— Dr Naurang Singh Mangat has been elected Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, London, England. The council of the society, keeping in view his research contributions in the field of statistics at the international level, has conferred this honour on him.

He was nominated by Dr Briant Brian Francis, Director of the Centre for Applied Statistics, Lancaster University, England, and Dr Chris Skinner, Director, Department of Social Statistics, University of Sounthampton, England.

The Royal Statistical Society was founded in 1834. It publishes various international journals. It is a vigorous and committed organisations, meeting the needs of its readership and promoting the practice and development of a science vital to the well-being and understanding of the world.

Dr Mangat has worked for about 20 years in various capacities — as Research Associate, Assistant Statistician and Statistician — in the Department of Plant Breeding at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. He has also worked as a Visiting Scientist at the University at Windsor, Canada. These days he is working as senior statistician with a Calgory-based research company in Canada.

He has published about 60 research papers (theoretical and applied) in reputed international journals of the USA, Canada, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico and India. He has developed several new sampling strategies/models in the field of statistics. He has also acted as referee for several research papers published at the international level in the field of statistics.

Along with Dr Ravindra Singh (formerly Professor of Statistics in Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, and Washington State University, Pullman, USA), he has written a book, Elements of Sample Survey. This book has been published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, Netherlands. The price of the book is $ 200. The book will be competing in the world market with two similar books — one written jointly by three US scientists (Dr Sheaffer, Dr Mendenhall and Dr Ott, Professor of Statistics, University of Florida) and the other written by Dr Vic Barnett, Professor of Statistics, University of Nottingham, UK. This book will serve as a textbook for under-graduate and post-graduate students taking a course in sample survey. The book is also useful for the students and the scientists working in the fields of economics, econometrics, business management, operations research, extension education, medical sciences, social sciences etc. Besides, the book will be useful for the scientists and employees working in Statistics Canada US Bureau of Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Sample Survey (INDIA) and the other international survey organisations like Gallop which are involved in planning and conducting the surveys all over the world.


Drugs seized from 3 persons
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — A police party led by SI Jaswinder Singh, SHO of Police Station Model Town, has seized 20 kg of poppy husk during patrolling from near Shamshan Ghar T-point in Model Town Extension last night. The accused — Prem Chand, of Shiv Shakti Nagar — was arrested and booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

In another case, a police party led by CIA Incharge, B.S. Brar seized 2 kg of opium during patrolling from the same spot last evening from Subhash, of Giaspura and arrested him.

In a third incident, ASI Balbir Singh of CIA Headquarters seized 500 g of opium during patrolling from Ajmer Singh near Jassowal village and arrested him.

Dowry death: A woman is alleged to have been burnt to death by her husband Hoshiar Singh for being unable to get her husband’s dowry demands fulfilled. It is alleged that the accused poured kerosene oil over Mamta Rani and burnt her to death.

Held with liquor: The police seized around eight bottles of illicit liquor from Buta from the Aman Nagar area. The accused has been arrested.

Car stolen: A white Maruti car (PCL-1413), belonging to Anoop Kishan, was stolen from Soodan Mohalla on the night of June 13.

Woman attacked: A woman is alleged to have been attacked and injured by four persons — Baldev Singh, Darshan Singh, Kuldip Singh and Manjit Singh — on June 15 with sharp-edged weapons. A case under Sections 324 and 323 of the IPC has been registered. at Sadar Police Station.Back


Crime rate up; DYC blames govt
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 17 — The District Youth Congress (DYC) has decried the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and charged the state government with inaction and apathy. Presiding over a meeting of block no.11 here yesterday, the dyc president, Mr Pawan Diwan, said innocent children were being murdered, thefts, dacoities and rape had become order of the day and the government, as well as police administration were watching the situation like a mute spectator.

He further pointed out that the crime rate had shot from 9 per cent in 1997 to 29 per cent. The government had failed to undertake development works and tackle problems like unemployment and rising prices.

Among the others, DCC Vice-President, Mr Harbans Singh Dhir, Mr B.S.Bedi, Block Congress President, Mr Palvinder Singh Taggar, block youth congress president, Mr Harpal Singh Saini, and DYC vice-president, Mr Avtar Singh Kanda, addressed the party workers at this occasion.


Police sets up picket in Chowni Mohalla
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — Troubled by the recent spate in violence at the Chowni Mohalla area here over the past couple of days, the district police has set up a police picket in the locality.

Trouble has been brewing between members of a minority community and others in the area ever since one of the persons belonging to the latter group was attacked with sharp-edged weapons and seriously injured on June 13 by a group of over 20 persons in broad daylight at the Mata Rani Chowk even as a large number of people stood as spectators. The injured, Satish Kumar, was admitted to the Civil Hospital and later admitted to the D.M.C.

The police had then registered a case under Sections 308, 324, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC against seven persons of the minority community on June 14. But the irate residents of the area met the DSP City, Mr Sandeep Goel, last morning and alleged that the accused be booked under Section 307 of the IPC as they alleged that the motive behind the attack was to kill Satish Kumar, who had a few personal scores to settle with the alleged self styled leader of the minority community. However, the residents of the area were quite upset that no arrests had been made in this case.

Close on the heels of this, another person, Ajit Pal Singh was attacked by seven to eight persons, allegedly belonging to the minority community in the locality around 9p.m. on the night of June 15. The 19-year-old victim, who was returning home after making his business collections, was allegedly robbed of Rs 19,000 cash, a gold chain, a ring and a gold bangle. He was also attacked with sharp-edged weapons and received mutiple injuries on his head. He was admitted to the C.M.C. and is stated to be in a serious condition.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the Chowni Mohalla residents today staged a dharna in front of the office of the DSP City and demanded action and protection against the law-breakers who were allegedly having their way. The DSP, Mr Goel assured them that suitable action would be taken against the accused and ordered that the culprits in last nights attack on Ajit Pal Singh be booked under Sections 307,323, 325, 148,149 of the IPC.

But the residents of the area demanded immediate action in the area and the arrest of the accused. It was then that a police party was sent to the locality and the police arrested three of the five accused in the attack on Ajit Pal Singh. Those arrested included Heera, Dara and Soni.

The SSP, Mr Kuldeep Singh, informed that the police picket had been set up in the locality keeping in view the bad law and order situation in the area and said that the police was conducting a search for the accused in the two recent attacks on the residents.


‘Kidnapping’ keeps cops on toes
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — In a strange case, the city police was kept on the tenterhooks for almost two hours when a young girl went missing and a telephone call from the girl to her house indicated that she had been kidnapped.

According to information available from the police sources, the police was given a false alarm about the kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl, who was allegedly in some kind of a trance when she left her home in the Sherpur area this morning. After some time, the girl, Rachna, called up home and said that she was in some place where there was no light and there were three to four other girls with her.

The police was earlier informed and a party led by SP City II Parmod Ban rushed to the spot. The telephone at the victim's house was put under observation and after the phone call from Rachna, the police zeroed in on a house just a couple of yards away from her house. And as the police was about to enter the house, they found that the girl was being taken home by the owners of the house who were the parents of Rachna's friend, Neetu.

The entire drama unfolded when the police questioned the girl and she confessed that when she had left home, she was hallucinating that it was dark and she could see a figure beckoning her towards her friend's house.

She said that when she reached there, she found that her friend was not home and she could not even answer the queries made by her friend's parents. In a state of hallucination, she made a telephone call to her house.


Sweets go sour as health-conscious 
prefer namkeen
From Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — It is boom time for the namkeen as sweets are turning to be bitter for the health-conscious people. A random survey by TNS among different halwais revealed that the sale of sweets had come down by about 70 per cent. On the other hand, the sale of namkeen products has increased at almost the same rate.

The current slump in the sweet market was attributed to the summer season. According to Mr Charanjeet Singh, President of the Halwai Association, the market gets down during the summer months. Moreover, in May, June and July, there are no functions like marriages and other parties which require sweets. That is why there is little demand for sweets during these months. He added there was a decline in the demand for sweets as people prefer namkeen now.

His opinion was corroborated by Mr Sushil Kumar, another leading sweet maker of Ludhiana. Mr Kumar revealed that he had witnessed a systematic decline in the sale of sweets during the past four years. In fact, the sale of sweets had come down by about 70 per cent. He pointed out that now the people prefer namkeen. Even sweets are no longer the only thing people offer to greet people. Dry fruit packets and cold drink packets are also presented by people to each other on auspicious occasions.

In fact, the great demand for the namkeen has prompted Kays Lovely Marketing Company to extend its operations to the namkeen market. The company recently launched its namkeen product, Amrit. There are several varieties of the product which include bhujia, aloo bhujia, moong dal, khatta meetha etc.

Mr Narinder Pal Singh, in charge of marketing, revealed that the product had got a tremendous response from throughout the state. He said the products were available in packets of 40 grams, 100 grams and 200 grams, with the shelf life of about six months. He said, the packets were nitrogen flushed and all the inputs like oil and spices were specially tested by the food technologists.

The other leading manufacturers of namkeen products Kitty Food Products, selling their products in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh are also bullish about namkeen market. Earlier, they were manufacturing bread, biscuits, cakes and rusks only. Although in the food business for about 25 years, they have started manufacturing namkeen only recently. They also manufacture bhujia, aloo bhujia, moongdal, Bikanaeri bhujia and navrattan mixture which includes almonds and cashew nuts also.


SEBI’s decision a dampener for market
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 17 — Last week was marked by high volatility in the stock market. The LSE index showed bearish undertone. It opened at 143.17 on Monday and closed at 141.75 on Friday. The BSE sensex opened at 4795 and closed at 4764, after witnessing downswings during the week.

SEBI’s decision to disallow badla to naked short-seller has proved to be dampener on the market. Since, the naked short-seller has been deprived of badla, he is shying away from taking short sale positions, depriving the long purchaser to take positions in the market.

Whether naked short seller should get badla charges or not is a debatable question, with reasoning advanced by both sides. Those who are in favour of SEBI’s decision argue that if short seller is receiving badla charges, he should have deliverable securities with him. Those who are against the SEBI’s decision argue that denial of badla to the naked short seller will see the short sellers making an exit from the market. Whatever is the validity of the arguments from both sides, the truth is that trading volumes have decreased in the market.

Vardhman Spinning and General Mills Limited, flagship company of the Vardhman Group is already out with its audited results. The results are impressive, as shown in this column last week. The company has successfully completed one phase of forward integration by installation of a textile unit in the name of Auro Textiles, with the installed capacity of 30 million meters per annum. The company has incurred an expenditure of Rs 45 crore on this project, which has been met by loans and internal accruals.

The impact of the unit will be visible in the results of the company for the first quarter ending June, 2000. The quarterly net profits is expected to increase by 15 to 20 per cent. The scrip touched a low of Rs 45 in the NSE during the week. The scrip is an ideal investment in the medium to long term.

Reliance Industries opened at Rs 345 on Monday and closed at Rs.334 on Friday, showing the profit taking by speculators. However, the scrip has immense potential of appreciation in the short term. During the last year, the company successfully completed Rs 25,000 crore integrated Jamnagar complex, which has the world’s largest grass- root refinery, world’s largest paraxylene project and world’s largest polypropylene project. The company has also allocated Rs 1,100 crore for its buyback programme, which represent only 30 per cent of the cash profits for the last year. The buyback programme indicates confidence of the management in the fundamentals and intrinsic strength of the company.

The measure is likely to reduce volatility in the stock price. However, as per the company’s report, the successful completion of Jamnagar Complex is one more milestone in Reliance’s unending pursuit of profitable growth opportunities. The company also wants to be a key player in the hardware part of the IT sector and wants to build up world class, all optic, Internet protocol based, broad band network covering top 115 cities. There is a recommended buy in the scrip and the price is likely to flare up once the buyback is complete.

Indian Rayon Limited continued to trade in the range of Rs 61 to 64 during the week. The scrip has already touched a low of Rs 50 and there is a strong possibility of improvement in the scrip price in future.

During the year 1999 2000 the company incurred a loss of Rs 241 crore, which was because of the decision of the company to exit sea-water magnicia business due to which the company had to incur an extraordinary loss of Rs 299 crore. This resulted in the net loss of Rs 241 crore viz-a-viz a profit of Rs.106 crores reported for 1998-99. The exceptional loss was set off against reserves and the cash flow of the company remained healthy. The company has acquired Madura Garments with its well renowned brands viz. Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solley, Peter England, Byford and San Frisco. The branded apparels have a very bright future. With the company moving up in the value added chain, the operational margins are likely to improve in future translating into improvement in the scrip price.

During the week, sensex was unable to pierce the barrier of 4775. However, in spite of strong performance by the economy, the rising inflation rates continued to be the cause of concern. With SEBI embarking upon second phase of reforms with its firm but investor friendly decisions like, inclusion of A group scrips in rolling settlement, introduction of derivative trading, further tightening of IPOs norms, the market is expected to gain more depth in times to come. However, there is not much likelihood of market coming out of existing bear grip in this week.


Brick-kiln owners demand lump-sum ST
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — The Punjab Brick-Kiln Owners' Association today accused the Punjab Government of showing apathy towards their problems. Members of the association said they feared that most of the kilns might face closure as a result.

Addressing a conference of brick-kiln owners, the General Secretary of the association, Mr S.P. Bansal, said the Punjab Government had imposed a lump-sum sales tax on June 30, 1993 as most of the owners wanted it to be this way. He said, however, the Sales Tax Department was discouraging the lump-sum tax-payment system as it did not leave any scope for corruption.

He said since August 1998, the government had increased the sales tax several times and demanded that the arbitrary hike be withdrawn. He said owners might be forced to close down brick-kilns as the government had failed to keep its commitments.

Mr Sardool Singh Barundi, President of the association, said the Punjab Government had imposed a royalty tax since January 24 on bricks at a rate of Rs 45 per 1,000 bricks, which was "unjustified and uncalled for". He said, in Haryana, the same tax was charged on a lump-sum basis at a rate of Rs 8,000 per kiln per year. Mr Barundi said running the kilns had become uneconomical and it was not possible for the owners to operate under these circumstances.

Referring to the charges of bonded labour in these kilns, the President of the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation said the biggest challenge which the kiln industry faced was of labour and rigid labour laws. He said the issue of bonded labour was being raised by various non-government organisations and the media. He said the courts had ordered the closure of about 10,000 brick kilns in various parts of the country for this reason. He said, there was no bonded labour in the kilns. He said rather owners were bound when they advance loans to labourers.

Seeking a change in the opinion of the public about the brick-kiln owners, Mr Bansal said they were treated as villains and heavy penalty and punishment was imposed on them. He said the labourers involved in the industry worked on a contract basis worldwide, which was being called bonded labour by certain non-government organisations.

The Vice-President of the association, Mr Hardeep Singh, said brick-kiln owners of Punjab were paying more than the prescribed minimum wages to labourers. He said owing to the "authoritarian" behaviour of the administration, brick-kiln owners had decided not to advance any loans to labourers. Mr Ashok Mittal, who is also Vice-President of the association, said the Punjab Government should frame laws which would benefit both kiln owners and labourers.

Mr K.K. Khanduja, Vice-President of the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, said the government had fixed new emission norms for brick-kilns. According to these, every brick-kiln was required to have the chimneys-stack height from 22 m to 30 m. Besides this, owners were also required to have gravitational-setting chambers for arresting the particulate matter. The changeover to this system would cost every owner Rs 10 lakh to Rs 12 lakh. He said the government should advance soft loans for erecting chimneys with gravitational-setting chambers.Mr Ved Prakash Gupta and Mr R.K. Gupta, President and General Secretary, respectively, of the Haryana State Brick-Kiln Owners Association, also attended the conference.


Stir threat over power tariff hike
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 17 — The Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India today said it would launch a state-wide agitation along with the associations of other Industries if the Punjab State Electricity Board went ahead with its proposed 30 per cent hike in power tariff.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Joginder Kumar, President of the association, said there is strong resentment among the industrialists, especially the tiny and small business houses, as the power tariff would be big blow to their economy.

He said the gradual hikes in the power structure in the past few years had already crippled the recession-hit industry. He also challenged the power generation cost of Rs 3.53 claimed by the PSEB Chairman, Mr G. S. Sohal. He claimed that the generation cost calculated by proper scrutiny comes to be only Rs. 2.48 per unit only.

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