Friday, September 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC plans to have a new building 
General house meeting today
By Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The general house of the municipal corporation, which is meeting tomorrow will discuss, among other things, to have a new, spacious and easily accessible building for the civic body since the present MC headquarters are ‘congested, inadequate for the visiting public and are located at a place which is a traffic bottleneck’, according to a large number of councillors and city legislators.

The agenda for the general house meeting, as in the past, has all ingredients of leading to stormy debate and resultant confrontation between councillors belonging to the ruling group and the opposition parties, including the Congress, as many controversial matters like the alleged unauthorised construction of 16 shops on encroached land by a councillor, the removal of temporary and permanent encroachments, the privatisation of octroi collection, the reversion of one of the additional commissioners, the construction of extended foot paths and reported irregularities committed by the management of Dr B.L. Kapoor Memorial Hospital are among the items listed for discussion.

As many as 48 councillor and 4 legislators, who are also ex-officio members of the general house, had submitted in writing to the civic body that the present MC building, constructed in 1979 was inadequate, both for the increased number of staff members and the visiting public. The building, in fact, was constructed as a market and later put to use as the administrative complex for the MC. According to experts, it was not possible to raise the height of the building since the foundations would not take any additional load.

The civic administration was keen to have a new building constructed which should be spacious, have easier access and located in a pollution free area. Another reason being cited for the need to have a new building was the congested conference room where general house meetings were convened. The present conference hall was inadequate for 70 councillors and the women councillors were provided only with chairs and no table facility during the general house meetings. As the number of councillors, in the next elections, was expected to go up to 100, a more spacious hall was required, the councillors plead.

However, knowledgeable circles in the MC maintain that the move to shift the MC complex to a new building had been engineered and signatures of many of the councillors had been obtained to strengthen the case. It is alleged that the prime land, along with the building, is to be passed on to certain religious and educational institution at the instance of the senior government functionaries but the MC commissioner Dr S.S.Sandhu denied the charge. He said the building could not be given to some body just like that and it was only the general house or the state government, which could take a decision on the matter.

The construction of 16 shops by a Congress councillor, allegedly on the MC land in an unauthorised manner was also expected to, once again, generate a lot of heat. It was the issue, which had led to angry exchanges, trading of charges between the councillors and ultimately adjournment of the last general house meeting, more than a month ago. The buildings and roads sub committee of the general house, under the chairmanship of Giani Baldev Singh had given a verdict that the shops were built on the portion of a 80 feet public road, falling under New Shiv Puri town planning scheme and has further recommended that action should be taken against MC employees, who had failed to check the unauthorised construction and others, who had finalised the house tax assessment process of the complex in a single day.

The MC general house meeting would also deliberate on the request for reversion of one of the Additional Commissioners of the civic body Mr Dalip Kumar, who, some of the councillors had alleged, was not good at public dealing. As manyas 20 councillors, cutting across the party lines and supported by the senior Deputy Mayor and the deputy mayor (both of BJP), have demanded that the official be sent back to the state government and his salary should be no longer allowed to be drawn from the MC.

Other important issues to be taken up in the meeting are the handing over collection of octroi to private contractors at a floor price of Rs 125.50 crore for the year, amendments in building by-laws to make provisions for mandatory requirement of water harvesting wells in industrial plots, marriage palaces, hotels, commercial complexes and multi-storey housing projects, permanent seizure of rehris and pharris (temporary structures) at designated road stretches in the city to improve traffic flow and taking over general bus stand and the industrial focal point in the city for development.


Man using fake VIP parking sticker caught
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The police has caught a local businessman for allegedly using a fake VIP parking sticker with the forged signatures of the Additional Director General Of Police, Security, Mr Bakshi Ram.

The arrest of this man has, probably for the first time, exposed a racket in the printing of these VIP stickers for vehicles, which can otherwise be issued only after a permission is obtained from the ADGP (Security).

According to the information available, the accused, Amandeep Singh, was driving in his silver colour Matiz car bearing the VIP sticker that also permits one to use a black film on the window and wind screens of the car. He was reportedly stopped by traffic police personnel near Bharat Nagar Chowk last evening for violating the high court order by sporting black film on his car.

It is learnt that upon examination, the police saw a discrepancy in the sticker where the validity of the sticker was mentioned as up to 19.5.2000. Upon repeated questioning by Inspector Santokh Singh, SHO Division No.5, the accused confessed that he had bought the sticker for Rs. 6300 from one of his customers, Ramandeep Singh of Dugri.

Police sources inform that the house of Ramandeep Singh was also raided last night, but he had absconded. 


Daughter’s wish costs her dear
By Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — Getting her only daughter married to the latter’s beau against the wishes of all village elders has cost a woman an unending separation from her husband and displacement from her home and land.

Ms Manjit Kaur, wife of a marginal farmer of Malsihal Bhaike village in Jagraon sub divisions owns around 15 acres. She has been facing a long ordeal ever since she agreed to let her only daughter have her way by getting her married to a son of a poor farmer of a nearby village. All the village elders objected to the alliance on account of an age-old custom that they had to pass through the village of the groom, Ramgarh Bhullar, with their heads bowed as a village daughter would be married there, each time they wanted to go to Jagraon. Manjit Kaur’s husband, Joginder Singh, is reportedly mentally challenged and her only son, Sarabjit Singh, is a drug addict.

Since the two women were virtually on their own, the villagers and a few relatives of Sarabjit Singh feared that a fourth part of the family’s land would go to Balwinder and her husband, Charanjit Singh. They allegedly connived with an NRI brother of Joginder Singh in order to first stalk the marriage of Balwinder and Charanjit. When they finally got married, they hatched a conspiracy of getting the registry of the family’s land transferred in the name of Joginder’s brother, Rajved Singh, allegedly through fraudulent means by kidnapping Joginder Singh.

Manjit Kaur’s daughter Balwinder Kaur, was studying in a college in Ramgarh Bhullar, barely 1.5 miles away from her village. She used to commute in an autorickshaw driven by Charanjit Singh of Ramgarh Bhullar. Over a period of time, the two fell in love and began a sordid affair late last year.

In the meantime, the families of the boy and girl got to know of the affair and decided to get them married. The elders of Malsihal Bhaike village raised objections, but Manjit Kaur went ahead with fixing the marriage date.” It was then that the in-laws of my son, Sarabjit’s influenced him against us and he, too, began opposing the marriage. On June 11, four days before the wedding, Sarabjit’s father-in-law, Gurnam Singh, the village sarpanch, Satwant Singh and a few others forcefully took away Balwinder from our house and kept her at the house of my sister-in-law in Kishanpura village in order to stop the marriage. I got to know about her whereabouts and got her back to Ramgarh Bhullar village on June 15. The marriage took place on June 16,” she said.

Manjit Kaur alleged that after the marriage was solemnized, the entire village of Malsihal Bhaike was up in arms against her and she was not allowed to enter the village. “ To make matters worse, my brother-in-law, Rajved Singh, who is settled in Canada, was asked by the village sarpanch to come to India and salvage the disgrace that had befallen on their family by marrying a daughter beneath them. He came to India on June 20 and two days later on June 22, Rajved Singh, sarpanch Satwant Singh, Sarabjit’s father- in-law, Gurnam Singh, two other relatives, Piara Singh and Amarjit Singh, Major Singh and Surinder Pal Singh forcibly picked up my husband from our home and since then his whereabouts are not known,”she alleges.

Manjit Kaur also alleged that all the accused also got two registries of their land done on June 30 (of 24karnals and 15 marlas and for Rs. 4.93 lakh) and another on July 3( for 23 kanals and one marla) transferred from the name of Joginder Singh in the name of Rajved Singh in the court of the Jagraon Civil Judge. “ Since my husband is mentally challenged, this new registry does not hold much substance,” she alleged. She then approached the Punjab and Harayana High Court on July 11 and a warrant officer was deputed to Dangian village on July 12, where she suspected that her husband had been kept, but to no avail.

“Since then, I have been looking for my husband and worrying how he would be managing without me. I am not even allowed to enter my own village. Our house has been locked by the sarpanch. I have been forced to live at the mercy of my daughter’s in-laws. All this is because of the false ego of the village elders and their age-old customs and beliefs,” she complained.


Several dist offices attached
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — After the attachment orders of several post offices of the city by a district court, it was the turn of several district administration offices here to follow suit.

A district court has ordered attachment of a number of such offices in lieu of inadequate compensation given to residents of Uchil Mangil village whose land was acquired by the Industries Department of the state.

Earlier, another district court had ordered attachment of six post offices in the city for inadequate compensation given to villagers whose land near Dholewal complex was acquired by the Department of Defence.

According to the recent orders, the departments whose offices were attached were of the Deputy Commissioner, SSP, District Transport, Education and Treasury office. The Industries Department had acquired the land in 1994, but the villagers were not satisfied with the compensation and had moved the court.The court decided in the villagers’ favour, but as the Industries Department failed to make the payment of over Rs 2 crore, the attachment orders were passed.


Telecom Dept told to pay compensation
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the General Manager, Telecom Circle, Ludhiana, to pay a compensation of Rs 8000 to a villager for delaying his telephone connection for more than two years.

The forum also ordered the Telecom Department to make the area in village Jamalpur Awana near here, where the said telephone connection was to be installed, feasible as early as possible and to install the telephone within 10 days of the feasibility.

According to a copy of the orders received here today, the Punjab Khapatkar Sangh on behalf of the complainant Manjit Singh of Jamalpur Awana village had demanded a compensation of Rs 10,000 for not providing him a telephone connection for which he had applied in May, 1997.

The complaint said the department had even issued a bulk advice notice to the applicant in June 1998 but the connection was still to be provided. The complaint further said the applicant met several officers of the department in this connection but he did not get telephone connection.

The Telecom Department in its reply said the connection could not be released because the area was not technically feasible. It also said the connection would be provided to the complainant as and when the area became feasible and according to the seniority of the applicant.

However, after hearing the two parties the forum found that the Telecom Department had not informed the applicant any time about the non-feasibility of the area. The complainant through its representative, Mr S S Sarna, even produced before the forum documents proving that the department had provided telephone connection to another person of the same area whose seniority was also below the applicant.

The forum said this act of the department amounted to clear deficiency in service . It said the department had also jumped seniority. Therefore , it should pay compensation of Rs 7500 along with Rs 500 as costs to the complainant.


Lurking danger on roads
By Rajeev Gupta

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — Thousands of boys and girls here leave their homes for school or for tuition every day and their mothers keep praying for their safe return.

Some go on foot, others use cycles, cycle-rickshaws, mopeds, auto-rickshaws and vans. The Lucky ones are those whose parents can afford the luxury of chauffeur-driven cars or can take the responsibility of transporting their children daily.

Only a few schools have their buses. A majority of the auto-rickshaws and vans plying in the city are in a dilapidated condition but continue to run unchecked by any authority.

Most of the mothers show symptoms of restlessness, anxiety and hypertension as they are aware of the innumerable accidents that occur on Ludhiana’s roads and are never reported.

These are accepted as a normal happening on the city’s roads. If the child does not get back in time, the mother misses a heart beat, and nervously telephones the school or her husband or other relatives.

When she sees the child emerging from the jampacked vehicle, she heaves a sigh of relief. ‘‘Beta, aap late kyon ho gaye? Mein kitni ghabra gai thee’’, she asks.

‘‘Mummy van raste me kharab ho gai thee’’ is the common reply of the child. The children are given a warm welcome home like heroes returning from war.

In any clinic of an orthopaedic surgeon, you will find a number of school-going children receiving treatment for injuries or fractures. Most of the schools in Ludhiana are situated on busy roads and the auto-rickshaws, cars, scooters, rickshaws and vans jam the roads outside the schools, making the spot a motorist’s nightmare.

You will never find a school employee or a traffic policeman trying to regulate the traffic. Some policemen seen on one side are there to escort VIP children.

Rehris selling ice cream, channa-bhatura or roasted ‘‘chhallis’’ add to the chaos outside the schools.

It is not uncommon to see dozens of children, packed like sardines in cycle-rickshaws, auto-rickshaws and vans. The most dangerous are the cycle-rickshaws because of their slippery seats and highly unstable build. The auto rickshaws are no better.

It is common to see four or five children sitting on the side of the auto driver, where there is hardly any space. This also hampers the driving capacity of the driver. Many children keep on hanging from the autos.

Using a bicycle or a moped on the congested city roads is another nightmarish experience. The fast vehicles hardly care for the traffic lights. The city’s rich try not to give two-wheelers to their children. They allow them to drive cars since a car is considered safe.

Every one accepts that Ludhiana city’s traffic is an index of the social norm that if you are rich, important and influential, you need not follow the rules. Following the rules will lower your social status.


PPCC president predicts snap poll in February
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Capt Amarinder Singh, today, predicted a snap poll in the state in February and said, his party was prepared to face the elections.

Talking to reporters before attending the bhog ceremony of late Beant Singh here today, the PPCC president listed several reasons for the probability of mid-term polls. He claimed, that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal could no longer provide free electricity to the farmers. In the next budget, the government would necessarily have to withdraw this facility. “Mr Badal is well aware of the outcome, so he will prefer to go for the elections before the budget”, he said.

Besides, the PPCC president claimed, there would be no procurement of wheat from the next season. He revealed that the procurement policy was being changed and the farmers may be left to their own fate. This would obviously be not tolerated by the people. Mr Badal would not like to go to the people after any such situation arose, he observed.

Referring to the Sunam byelections scheduled for next month, Capt Amarinder said, the candidate would be announced before Monday. He disclosed that a list of probable candidates had been referred to the Congress Parliamentary Board, which would select the suitable candidate, taking into account various factors.

Expressing confidence over the Congress prospects in Sunam he claimed it would be a referendum on the Badal government. He said, people had already rejected Badal as was obvious from the parliamentary election and three assembly byelections and also the local body polls.

The PPCC president apprehended that the government might use “armtwisting methods” in order to manipulate the outcome of the Sunam byelections. He urged the Election Commission to ensure that the model code of conduct was not violated as it was during the Nawanshahr byelections. He sought to clarify that he was not a candidate for the Sunam byelection. “My job is not to fight all the elections, but to make the party fight and win them”, he remarked to a question about his reported interest in Sunam. “I could have fought from Patiala parliamentary constituency on which I had a natural claim, but I did not”, he added.

About the organisational elections, Capt Amarinder said, these had been postponed on account of the Sunam elections, which the party did not want to take lightly. He hoped that the PPCC organisational elections will be completed before November 1.

Projecting himself as a strong candidate for the post of the PPCC president, Capt Amarinder claimed that he had led the party to phenomenal success in the parliamentary and local body elections. He claimed that PCC was never so strong as it is today. 


KBC help books swamp city
By Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, Aug 31— Kaun Banega Crorepati, Crorepati Baniye, Kheliye Aur Jitiye and Be a Millionaire by Winning TV Quiz Contests.

Sale of several books with such titles carrying objective type general knowledge questions is increasing with each passing day in the market. New books from various publication houses all over the country keep arriving in the bookshops here. Several bookshop owners have displayed these books right in the front rack of their shops and all of them believe that Ludhianvis are actually preparing themselves to be a winner in the teleserial.

The books are available in English, Hindi as well as in Punjabi. The prices range between Rs 20 and Rs 100. The most attractive feature of these books is their cover page which have been designed using logo of the serial, the set-up as is in the serial with a participant on the ‘‘hot chair’’, the three ‘‘lifelines’’ and the graph giving the audience poll results. Amitabh Bachchan’s picture is there on the title page of almost every book.

Interestingly, most of these books are very similar to other general knowledge books with the only difference in the title. ‘‘The books give objective type questions with four options and the questions in most of these books are unlike those asked in the teleserial. Most of the publishers are just trying to take the advantage of the time by merely making the titles attractive but even still people buy these,’’ remarked one bookshop owner on the condition of anonymity.

‘‘The books based on Kaun Banega Crorepati started arriving in the market in the last fortnight. Most of the buyers are businessmen aged between 25 to 40’’, says Mr Vipul Bhatija, owner of a well-known book- shop.‘‘With the increasing rage to be a crorepati winner through this teleserial, I have noticed an increase in the sales of other general knowledge books too’’, he further added.

Mr Satish Kumar, owner of another book- shop owner, however, said, ‘‘It is the school students from Classes VII to X who are buying the books based on the teleserial. Everyday several school students visit our shop and demand such books. On an average 25 such books are being sold daily.’’

A housewife who bought two such books said, ‘‘I have bought one book in Hindi for myself and the other in English for my son who is equally desperate.’’ When asked whether she had been called up, she replied, ‘‘No, not still. But we will start preparing myself. We are trying. Kya pata kab bari aa jaye’’.


Best time to plant evergreen trees
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 31— Dr Amrik Singh Sandhu, Head, Department of Horticulture, PAU, while speaking to mediapersons said it was optimum time for the planting of evergreen fruit plants like mango, sweet orange, lime , lemon, litchi, guava, and papaya as atmospheric temperature cools down considerably and there was enough moisture in the soil.

The newly planted fruit plants are very tender and therefore operations like irrigation, removal of stock sprouts, staking and plant protection measures should be undertaken with extreme care.

Dr Sandhu further said that September was the optimum time for checking pre-harvest fruit drop in citrus.

For this purpose one acre of citrus orchard should be sprayed with 6 gm of 2,4-D and 3 kg of zinc sulphate dissolved in 550 litres of water. For the control of pathological fruit drop in citrus, spraying the trees with 20gm of aureofungin in 500 litres of water or bavistin 500 g in 500 litres of water during this month.

In citrus, leaf miner and whitefly/psylla can be checked by spraying 625 ml of nuvacron 36 SL or 670 ml of rogor 30 EX in 500 litres of water per acre. To check withertip or die back and melanose or stemend rot diseases, spray the plants with bordeaux mixture 2:2:250 in mid-September for the control of downy mildew. Give one pinching to Anab-e-Shahi variety of grapes having luxurient growth during this month.

To ber plants, give first spray at flowering with karathane 50-80 ml in 100 litres of water for the control of powdery mildew.

To control lac insect in ber, spray 250 ml rogor in 250 litres of water during this month. For the control of leaf spot in ber, spray the trees with bordeaux mixture 2:2:250 or with 0.3% copper oxychloride.

If there is attack of mangoscab, the mango trees should be sprayed with 1.25 litres of basudin (diazinon) or 300 ml of methyl-parathion in 500 litres of water.

To full grown loquat trees apply 50 kg farmyard manure along with 2 kg superphosphate, 1.5kg muriate of potash in this month.


Measures to control bollworms and whitefly
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The surveillance and monitoring teams constituted by the PAU for assessing the incidence of pests and diseases have visited the cotton growing areas (Gurusar, Sahnewala, Gehributter, Dunewala, Bangi Deepa, Rama, Giana, Malkana, Talwandi Sabo and Jiwan Singh wala ) of Bathinda, Mansa, Moga, Faridkot, Ferozepore and Mukatsar Districts during the third week of August. As per their reports, the incidence of bollworms particularly the American bollworm is high in some pockets. The incidence of American bollworm in intact fruiting bodies varied from 0-72 per cent (average 16.8 per cent). The farmers are advised to be vigilant about its further multiplication and spread in cotton and to follow PAU recommendations for its management in cotton.

For the management of grown up larvae of American Bollworm (1.25cm long) it is preferable to use chlorpyriphos at the rate of 2 litres/ acre or accephate at 800 gm/acre or fenitrothion at 850 ml/acre in 125-150 litres of water.

The incidence of cotton whitefly is also on the increase in the region as the weather conditions are still favourable for its multiplication. Further increase in its population can not be ruled out. The farmers are further advised to keep a watch on the intensity of whitefly as well. The cotton leaves become sticky to touch because of the secretion of sugar substances by whitefly nymphs and adults. The leaves also show black sooty mould due to severe attack of this pest. To prevent the further spread of whitefly, the farmers must look for the population of whitefly on the undersurface of leaves. If its population reaches 6 to adults/cotton leaf in the upper canopy before 10 a m or honeydew secretion of insects is seen on 50 per cent plants in the field, the firmers should resort to pesticide sprays.

Since the cotton crop is in the reproductive stage, the farmers are advised to spray triazophos at 600 ml/acre or ethion at 800 ml/acre in 125-150 litres of water to control whitefly. These insecticides aqre also effective against cotton bollworms. If it rains within 24 hours after spraying, repeat the spraying immediately. Do not apply mixtures of pesticides to manage cotton pests. Discontinue the use of synthetic pyrethroids on cotton after mid September as their use beyond this stage would trigger the appearance of secondary pests and fungal foliar diseases.


At the cross roads
The gesture of a teacher

To be a teacher is to choose the path of renunciation. The mind is attuned to seeking knowledge and then disseminating it. Students listen spellbound to the voice that comes from the pulpit. There is a rapport between the teacher and the taught. The minds are shaped in a systematic manner. The impressions are ever-lasting and, with the passage of time, they are further ingrained. The process goes on and takes the form of a cavalcade.

In the twilight of his life, the teacher recedes into the backyards of time. He has dim memories of his students, some of them silhouetted against the screen of memory. Whenever he meets his students who have won laurels, his eyes light up. He feels proud and reassures himself of having been a good teacher. In this manner he regains his confidence which at times deserts him after his retirement. He reminisces about the days of his glory and dreams of the happy ending of the drama of life.

This is the idealistic view of the teacher-taught relationship. Yet there is nothing clear-cut that can serve as a model. It depends entirely upon the tempers of the persons concerned. Some teachers may be professional in their dealings with the younger generation. They brook no nonsense and deliver their lectures to the class and not to the individuals. Their eyes are focused on the pay-packets as well as the next promotion. They crave for a prominent position in the social hierarchy. They do not want to live in expectation of the charitable views of the people. Still there are some die-hards who cannot help being idealists.

Dr S. Radhakrishnan was one such teacher whose birthday on September 5 is celebrated as ‘ Teachers Day’ in India. This day reminds me of the teacher’s role in the present-day world. Should he always be self-effacing and lead his life incognito? Besides, he has responsibilities as a husband as well as a father. He may be happy to lead an austere life but his wife and children may demand all the comforts of life. This type of dichotomy sometimes fills a teacher with remorse. Generally he is self centred and wants others to appreciate his attitude to life. It is an admitted fact that a dedicated teacher cannot live in luxury amidst starvation and ignorance.

Such a predicament may at times lead to a paradox. The revised scales of pay in the colleges and universities have not attracted the aspirants for the posts of IAS, IPS or PCS. For them power is the sole criterion for their choosing a profession. The teaching profession does not invest anyone with the power to rule over the destiny of others. It simply appeals to the conscience of the people, individually and collectively.

Renunciation, I said in the beginning, is the hallmark of a teacher’s life. It is the attitude of dispensing to others what one can forgo in a selfless manner. Only the teacher in Dr S. Radhakrishnan could urge him to dedicate Rashtrapati Niwas (Viceregal Lodge) in Shimla to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study. The President of India could stay in a cottage during his brief sojourn there in the summer season. But the post-doctoral researchers should be provided with proper atmosphere for their advanced studies. None but a teacher has the heart to take such a singular step.


A clarification

Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, Member Parliament and Mr T. S. Chawla have been appointed members of the Telephone Advisory Committee of the local telecom division.

A report in Ludhiana Tribune dated August 26 had inadvertently mentioned the names as Mr Kirpal Singh Libra and Mr D. S.Chawla. The error is regretted.


Swindler arrested
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — The anti-fraud staff yesterday arrested Bhagwan Singh, accused of cheating at least six financial institutions of around Rs 11 lakh by taking loans after submitting fake financial statements.

He is learnt to have swindled LIC Housing Finance, Punjab National Bank, Shivpuri branch, and Punjab Financial Corporation. The DSP, Mr Satish Malhotra, said with the arrest of the accused, they were hopeful of nabbing a few other persons involved in preparing these fake financial statements.

Car stolen: A Maruti car (PB-10D-0804) has been allegedly stolen from outside the house of its owner, Mr Narinder Kumar, in Hargobindnagar. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Police Station Division Number 6.


Traders' mixed reaction to central sops
From D. B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, Aug 31 — There has been a mixed reaction in the local industrial circles to the sops announced by the by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for the small-scale industries at Delhi yesterday.

Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, CICU, welcoming the Prime Minister's announcement said raising of excise exemption from Rs 50 lakhs to Rs one crore would prove a boost for the small-scale industries. Similarly, the benefit of raised bank limit up to Rs 25 lakh was also praiseworthy. But he did not know how would the government be able to put an end to the prevailing inspector raj.

Mr Harish Khanna, president, Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, also welcomed the sops announced by the Prime Minister. The measures announced would certainly go a long way in giving a fillip to the production in the SS sector, he said. But at the same time, he was doubtful if the banks would grant loans and limits in compliance with the guidelines issued by the Reserve Bank of India and the Government of India. He said the banks generally preferred giving big loans to large-scale industries to granting the same amount in smaller loans to a number of small units.

According to Mr Khanna, the raising of excise exemption limit was a long-pending demand of the small scale sector.

But apart from these sops, the government had done little to protect the long-term interests of the small scale units in the country. He said that by contemplating to raise the foreign equity share from 24 per cent to 49 per cent, the government was likely to jeopardise the small sector.

Mr Khanna said by proposing to relax restrictions on the import of items reserved for the small-scale sector with no restrictions on the quantity of these exports, the government was adding to the woes of the small-scale sector.

Mr V.P. Chopra and Mr Inderjit Pradhan, two main leaders of the small-scale sector, were in Delhi and could not be contacted for their comments.

Mr Vinod Gupta, an industrialist of the focal point, did not think the sops announced by the Prime Minister would help the small-scale sector very much. He was especially skeptical about the removal of inspector raj.

About the increased bank limits, he said only time would tell if the banks follow the RBI instructions or not. It is worth mentioning that Panjab has nearly two lakh small-scale industrial units of which nearly 35,000 located in Ludhiana alone.

Meanwhile, the Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association thanked the Prime Minister for fulfilling the outstanding demand of the small-scale sector by raising the central excise exemption limit to Rs one crore.

Mr Charanjit Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association, in a press release here said that it was a great relief which would help the small-scale sector to grow and produce more which would also mean more earnings for the government in the form of taxes.

Mr Kohli appreciated the decision by the Prime Minister to review labour laws for the development of the small-scale sector because most of the provisions of the existing labour laws had become outdated.

He said with the new incentives, the small-scale sector would be in a position to undertake modernisation and technology upgradation and to compete globalisation under the WTO.

Regarding the removal of the inspector raj, Mr Kohli said it was a step in the right direction.

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