Sunday, September 10, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Computerised postal services to be inaugurated today
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — Union Minister of Communication Ram Vilas Paswan will inaugurate a fully computerised Head Post Office here tomorrow.

With this, the city office will become the first in the state to have fully computerised postal services. The development is aimed at speeding up the services and also to safeguard against any frauds possible in the manual system.

Mr Paswan will first inaugurate the Rajguru Nagar post office in the morning, dedicate the computerised postal services at head office to the nation immediately afterwards and then proceed to the railway station here for the inauguration of the computerised business office at R M S Bhavan. He will be accompanied by Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, Member Parliament, and Mr A. S. Grewal, Mayor of the local Municipal Corporation.

Mr Asis Paul, Chief Post Master General, Punjab, who was accompanied by Mr L. K. Puri, Deputy Director-General (technology), termed it a major leap towards providing better facilities to customers of the city.

He announced that the computerisation will be not only be user-friendly but will also prove beneficial for the employees. The first facility for the customer will be the starting of single window system at the post office. No longer shall the customer need to move from one counter to another for sending a registry or a money order.

‘‘All this will be done on single counter now’’, he said, adding that the procedure will save a lot of time of the customer and the employees. He also announced that in due course of time the department will extend the working hours by one hour for the acceptance of registries and money orders or other things.

The computerisation will benefit the employees as no longer shall they be required to maintain files and accounts and move papers from one counter.

The inauguration of computerised business office at railway station will also bring better facilities to the customers. Mr Paul said persons or business companies intending to send parcels will benefit immensely from the business office. He said at the post office at railway station, 200 to 300 parcels are booked annually and generate business of around Rs 50,000 a day. He said the new computerised office will have a central delivery system with the help of 16 speed postmen. The department will shortly introduce a separate window for the acceptance of bulk booking orders.Back


Indian postal services software becoming popular
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — ‘Meghdoot’, a postal services software, developed in-house by the Department of the Postal Services, is becoming popular in other countries, which are placing orders to get it installed .

This is being seen as a major boost for technology advancement in the country, as earlier various countries were looking towards the USA and Japan for buying technology.

Stating this in an exclusive interview to Ludhiana Tribune here today, Mr L.K. Puri, Deputy Director-General (Technology), Ministry of Communications, India, said underdeveloped countries and some developing ones had approached the Department for installing the Meghdoot software built by use for computerised postal service. He said the Indian system is being rated as one of the best in the world and teams have visited countries like Mauritus and Uzbekistan for the purpose. He said other countries had also shown interest in the software.

Other countries were also showing interest in getting training from computer labs in Indian post offices. He informed that 50 employees, two each from foreign countries will participate in a six-week training programme at Mysore from October 16 this year. The Ministry of External Affairs is funding the programme.

In another development , which will prove beneficial to migrant labourers of the city and bring more revenue to the Postal Department, Mr Puri informed that the government has decided to replace the first-generation of VSAT (Very Small Apparatus Terminal) used for sending money orders through satellite by the ultra-modern high-speed VSAT system.

He said the new system will provide speedy disposal of money orders as complaints, especially of labourers about late delivery of money orders, particularly in Bihar, were on the rise.

Unfolding the future plans of the department, he informed that all post offices in the country will be shortly interlinked and information released on the Internet. Even the sorting of letters and registries will be done by computers.

He informed that the department was in the final stage of developing the ‘track and trace’ software, which will enable the customers to know the latest about their letters or parcels through the Internet.


Precision farming can save crops
By Surbhi Bhalla

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — Scientists of Punjab Agricultural University here have stressed the need for precision farming for higher returns with less inputs. The Director Research, Dr M.S. Bajwa, said emphasis should be laid on major agronomic practices like seed rate, exact time and method of sowing, plantation and weed control for different crops.

Dr Bajwa and Dr G.S. Chahal, said sustaining growth in agricultural productivity and economic returns per unit of natural resources and applied inputs in the 21st century would require a shift from the first phase of Green Revolution. They said this would be achieved through the introduction of high-yielding verities and extensive use of inputs. They said precision farming was the need of the hour.

Dr Bajwa said current trends in the growth rates of population, food grain production and economic returns to the farmers indicated that the sustenance of adequate food supply to increasing population was at stake.

“Precision farming involves systems approach towards efficient crop and inputs management, besides scientific land and water use planning,” he said. Dr Bajwa also said farming was like any other industry where production was governed by resources and an efficient utilisation of these, besides market demand, cost of inputs, profitability and sustainability of the production system.

He said the foodgrain production in Punjab had increased manifold in the past several years. A high level of foodgrain production per unit area per unit time (about 3.4 and 4.2 tonnes per hectare of rice and wheat, respectively) in the state had been achieved through crop intensification. This involved the use of high-level inputs like seeds, fertilizers, irrigation, water, pesticides, farm power and machinery. There had also been an excessive exploitation of natural resources.

The present levels of crop intensity, consumption of nutrients, use of pesticides and other agrochemicals, irrigated area and use of energy were high. Under many farm situations, efficiencies of these inputs were low because these were not being used judiciously. All farmers grew high-yielding varieties of crops, but most of them still did not strictly follow the proper the soil-water ratio pattern and input crop-management practices. This caused reduction in productivity and economic returns.

Dr Bajwa says that judicious use of inputs and efficient conservation of natural resources will help sustain the agricultural production. He says that this will also improve economic returns of farmers.

A large-scale cultivation of a single-variety crop is not recommended because it can lead to serious pest outbreak, soil and water constraint and the other ecological problems. Inefficient management of soil, water, fertilizers and crop is posing a serious threat to the natural resources of the state. Here, the soil is generally light in texture, low in organic matter and poor in fertility. The soil, in many regions, has an excessive amount of salts and needs amelioration.

Exploitive agriculture on normal and marginal soils has resulted in multinutrient deficiencies in crops, deterioration of the physical properties of the soil, build up of salinity and pollution of soil and ground water. Judicious use of inputs has to be adopted to save the soil from depletion. Integrated use of chemical fertilizers, organic and green manures, besides crop residues, can help in the improvement of the soil.

Dr Bajwa and Dr Chahal said it was high time for farmers to adopt soil-test based methods of land use along with a judicious use of fertilizers and water.

The failure of the cotton crop and pesticide pollution in Punjab is mostly due to inadequate and inefficient adoption of recommended pest-management schedule by farmers. The adoption of integrated pest-management system with precision can effectively control these problems.

The two scientists said, at present, farmers who owned less than five acres were economically backward. Therefore, they need precision farming more than ever.


Vigilance Department rewards informers
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — Under the special scheme of the Punjab Government to give cash awards for helping the Vigilance Department in nabbing corrupt officials redhanded, an amount of Rs 3.5 lakhs was distributed among 14 persons.

According to a press release, 14 cheques, each amounting to Rs 25,000, were distributed by Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, S.P. (Vigilance), Ludhiana range. Those who received the cheques included, Mr Tarlochan Singh of Kamal Colony Samrala, Mr Harish Sood, Mr Rakesh Sharma of New Shakti Nagar, Mr Avtar Singh of village Lohara, Mr Likayat Ali of Sher Pur Chowk, Mr Sohan Singh of Aggar Nagar, Major Singh of Jagraon and Mr Surinder Singh of Saleem Tabri.

Giving details, Mr Bajwa informed that in this year till date in Ludhiana range, 16 officers and employees were arrested while accepting bribe. Out of these, 13 traps were laid in Ludhiana district and three in Ropar district. He called upon people to come forward to provide information regarding corrupt officials to the Vigilance Department so that the guilty could be punished. 


Extension of VDS sought
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — Mr Kirpal Singh Sagar and Mr Sukhdial Singh, General Secretary and President, respectively, of the Ludhiana Machine Tool Makers Association, have urged the Punjab State Electricity Board to extend the voluntary disclosure scheme at least for one month. The scheme closes on September 30.

They thanked the board for introducing the scheme, but said its time limit was so short that all the formalities could not be completed within it. They said September was a crucial time as most of the taxes were to be paid by October 30. “It will be difficult for consumers to declare unauthorised load due to financial constraints. By extending the time limit, consumers will benefit and the board will earn more revenue,” they said.

Mr Sagar said the condition of obtaining the NOCs from the Municipal Corporation and the Pollution Control Board was the biggest obstacle for sincere consumers who wished to regularise their load. Back


PYC joins Sunam election campaign
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — The Pradesh Youth Congress will depute its cadres at all the polling booths of the Sunam Assembly constituency to ensure that the ruling SAD-BJP coalition government does not resort to any foul play.

Addressing a press conference here today, the PYC President, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, alleged that the ruling coalition had resorted to electoral malpractices in the Nawanshahr byelection and misused official machinery. Having learnt a lesson there we will not allow them to repeat it in Sunam, he said.

Claiming that the position of Congress candidate Ms Parmeshwari Devi, the widow of the sitting MLA Mr Bhagwan Dass Arora, was quite strong as compared to others, particularly Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, the ruling coalition nominee and the son of the Union Minister for Sports, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

Mr Babbu said the family of late Mr Bhagwan Dass Arora had deep association with the people of Sunam as it had always remained associated with them unlike Mr Dhindsa who preferred to stay more in Chandigarh. He pointed out that despite a wave against the Congress in 1997 Punjab Assembly Elections, Mr Bhagwan Dass managed to win conveniently.

Ludhiana MP and Vice-President of the Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, said the ruling SAD-BJP coalition had nothing to their credit to claim the votes of people. He alleged that the government had miserably failed in coming up to the expectations of the people, particularly the farmers.

Mr Ghalib pointed out that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had promised so much to the farmers but had hardly delivered anything. He claimed every section of the society was fed up with the government. Whether it was the common man, the farmers, the traders or the industrialists, nobody was happy with the government as everyone was feeling betrayed.

Maintaining that the Badal government had lost the moral right to govern the state, the Congress MP pointed out that for the first time in the history of the state, Punjab was heading towards bankruptcy.

He said a prosperous state which occupied a place of pride had to go begging from Planning Commission and other central agencies for the aid.

Later Mr Babbu chaired a meeting of the Presidents of all the District Youth Congress Committees. The meeting besides discussing the formalities and strategy for the Sunam Assembly byelection, also assigned duties to all the District Presidents.

Besides Mr Ghalib and Mr Babbu, others present on the occasion included the PCC Vice-President Mr K.K. Bawa, the District Congress Committee President, Mr Pawan Dewan, and the President (rural), Mr Manjit Singh Hambra.


Cong observer for Sunam
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — The All-India Congress Committee President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, has appointed former Union Minister of State for Home, Mr Subodh Kant Sahay, as observer for the Sunam Assembly byelection.

Stating this here today, Vice-President of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Amarjeet Singh Tikka, informed that Mr Sahay will stay in the constituency all through the campaign period and will supervise all arrangements.Back


Focal Point a focus of neglect
By Manoj Kumar
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — While the Punjab Government has been wooing the big industrial houses and NRIs to invest in the state, local industrialists are treated shabbily by government agencies. In the Focal Point the visitor is greeted by traffic jams, potholes on the roads, and slush and foul smell.

Narrating the problems faced by industrialists in the area, Mr M.L. Kuplish, General Secretary, Association of Focal Point Industries, says, “Our biggest problem is the poor quality of roads. No work has been done for nearly four years except on one or two roads. Due to the bad roads, truckers and auto-rickshaw drivers think twice before going to the Focal Point. We pay Rs 12 per quintal for transporting goods to the city, while taking things from Ludhiana to Jalandhar costs just Rs 5 per quintal.”

The condition of the roads is such that no vehicle can move easily even in the normal times, leave aside the rainy season.

Explaining the causes of this problem, Mr Kuplish says, “The first five phases have been handed over by the Punjab Small industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) to the Municipal Corporation. No decision has been taken about phases 6, 7 and 8. Neither the PSIEC nor the Municipal Corporation is willing to maintain the roads and provide other facilities. The blocked sewer has aggravated the situation.

“A young industrialist, Mr Deepak Dhamija, says, “I have purchased a jeep since my Maruti 800 used to break down quite frequently in this area.”

There are about 800 industrial units in phases 6, 7 and 8, employing about 40,000 workers. These are mostly light engineering units manufacturing cycle, auto and sewing machine parts.

The attitude of PSIEC officials is rather casual. They are not willing to answer any questions on this issue. The effort is to pass the buck and nobody is willing to accept responsibility.

Recently about 100 industrial units were served with notices for having allowed small shopkeepers to operate from their premises. Consequently, the shops were closed. “Now to get a bolt worth two rupees, I have to spend one hour and Rs 20 on petrol to go the city. Why can’t we have these small shops here?”, asks one of the industrialists.

The other problem has been created by the container depot. Cranes engaged in loading and unloading the containers create this problem. “More than 100 trucks remain parked on the road. Sometimes we have to wait for hours before we can reach the main road”, says a motorist.

Traffic jams on the two sides of the railway crossings is a terrible experience for those going to the Focal Point. Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister of Punjab, recently laid the foundation stone of a flyover but when it becomes operational is anybody’s guess.

Mr Suraj Sharma, President, Association of Focal Point Industries, is thankful to the police for providing them with adequate security, but complains, “PSIEC officials treat us like criminals, who are always flouting the law. They are not ready even to ensure proper streetlights”.

The electricity supply is generally satisfactory. However, the units have to keep their generator sets ready, but feel harassed. “We have to pay high taxes on the generator sets. Further, we are asked to keep separate meters and a record of electricity drawn from the generator sets”, says an industrialist.

All this has led to widespread frustration among the industrialists. It is claimed that real estate prices have also fallen. Now the prevailing land price is about Rs 1,200 per square foot against Rs 2,000 a few years ago. Even the area marked as a green belt has been sold by the PSIEC. Interestingly, a school opened by the industry for the children of workers had to be shifted outside the Focal Point because the “area is meant for industrial units only”.

This area is due to be transferred to the Municipal Corporation in the near future and Dr S.S. Sandhu, Municipal Commissioner, says once the area is handed over to the corporation, they will take care of the problems.Back


An eco-dye house in your kitchen

TRADITIONALLY kitchen is a place which provides you with palatable delicacies but if you have probing eyes it also has a veritable dye house with a riot of mystic eco-friendly colours waiting to be splashed on your clothes like turmeric, tea, coffee, onion, carrot, beetroot, spinach, mint, fenugreek, etc. Many common flowers like flame of forest, marigold, dahlia, china rose, coral jasmine and safflower and fruits like pomegranate, mango, black plum, Indian gooseberry and black myrobalan are also the sources of rich dyes for your clothes. And you can dye them in your kitchen itself by impregnating your clothes with boiling aqueous concoctions of natural dyes and easily available dye-fixing mordants like alum, potassium dichromate or copper sulphate.

Until 1856, when the first synthetic dye “Mauveine” was first discovered accidentally by W.H. Perkin, all dyes were natural products obtained mostly from leaves, flowers, fruits, stems and roots of plants. The art of dyeing with natural dyes dates back to time immemorial. History times speaks of textiles dyed sky blue, purple and scarlet. herodatus states that the scarlet was dyed in China better than in any other country. The art of textile dyeing was known in India as early as Indus Valley periodic, around 3500 BC, to which belong the excavated cotton textiles dyed with red madder dye.

Propelled by the current eco-movement and the resultant yearning of the world for green fashion, there has been a revival of interest in eco-friendly natural dyes throughout the world and a large number of synthetic dyes (particularly azo dyes obtained from alpha arylamines) have been even banned by Germany and some other Europian countries due to there being toxic, carcinogenic and non-biodegradable. This is bound to reduce the present consumption of synthetic dyes which is one million tonnes per year and to increase that of natural dyes which is about 10,000 tonnes per year. Hence research work is being carried out in many laboratories of the world to optimise the dyeing conditions and mordanting processes of natural dyes so as to overcome their main drawback of poor fastness to washing and light.

The Department of Clothing and Textiles, PAU, Ludhiana, has conducted extensive research on natural dyes and has optimised the dyeing conditions and mordanting processes of 29 natural dyes grown in Punjab along with evaluation of their colourfastness. To strengthen this research effort, an All-India Coordinated Research Project on value addition of agro and animal based fibres through dyeing with natural dyes and other technologies has been allotted to the PAU, Ludhiana, and 8 other agricultural universities of India at Hissar, Palampur, Pantnagar, Udaipur, Parbhani, Hyderabad, Dharwad and Jorhat.

Under this project the dyeing conditions and mordanting processes of 36 other natural dyes grown in these states have been optimised so far in order to improve their colour fastness to washing, rubbing, perspiration and light which has been evaluated. A total of 4436 variegated shades of natural dyes have been developed under this project. The scientists working in this project in 9 states will be meeting on September 14-15,2000, at the Department of Clothing and Textiles, PAU, Ludhiana, to deliberate on the progress of the research work of the project and to formulate its future objectives and technical programme of work. — SBBack


Punjab’s renaissance man

MR Jagdev Singh Jassowal is recognised in Punjab as a person who has influenced the politics of Malwa, especially in the Ludhiana belt. Mr Jassowal did take to politics in his youth, contested elections and was elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1980. But politics, dominated by opportunism and self-interest, did not go well with him, and did not offer him enough opportunity to come up to the expectations of the people of his constituency.

A recently released book on Mr Jassowal, ‘Jagdev Singh Jassowal-Jeevan te Shakhsiyat’, brings out the fact that ‘for him the culture of Punjab is his turban and politics his shoes’. The comment of Mr Jassowal on politics, as recorded in the book, is expressive enough. He says: “Politics has lost its charm; all are concerned with their vested interests; no leader is worried about the plight of the people, society, the country, and to culture.”

Nearly a decade ago when Mr Jassowal met me at the Chandigarh Lake Club, he admitted that he had finally decided to quit politics to devote himself fully to the promotion of art, culture and literature of Punjab and to revive the cultural heritage of the state which was being threatened by the imported culture of the West. He was then accompanied by a number of rural musicians, folk singers, and stage-artistes who were proud of receiving his patronage. A sarangi-player said: Eh Jassowal tan sadde wastey farishta hai. A folk singer confided that under the patronage of Mr Jassowal, he would definitely make a mark in the field of Punjabi folk music. Similar sentiments were expressed by a dholaki player and a tumbi player.

For many years, Mr Jassowal has been holding Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Mela at Punjabi Bhawan, Ludhiana, where kavishars, dhadis, naqalchis, bhands, raasdhariyas and qawwals assemble to regale the audience with their performances. Besides, Punjab’s evergreen folk dances such as Bhangra, Gidda, Lok-Nach are also arranged. On the concluding day of the mela, outstanding artistes and men of letters are honoured. Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Mela, which was first held in 1979, continues to be an annual event. Now it has come to be known among the rural masses as ‘Jassowal da mela’. In view of the response from the folk artistes of Punjab, a number of government departments and non-government cultural and literary organisations have come forward to provide funds for the mela. The credit for all this goes to Mr Jassowal who has brought about a cultural renaissance in Punjab. The Punjabis settled abroad have also started organising such melas in countries like Denmark and Canada.

Several Punjabi artistes such as folk singers Harbhajan Mann and Kuldip Singh Paras, comedians Jaswinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma admit that they owe their success to “Jassowalji”. About his own attachment to Punjabi art and culture, Mr Jassowal says it is a relationship like:

Chann nal chakor da, patang nal dor da,
Been nal supp da, cha nal cup da.

Another invaluable contribution of Mr Jassowal to the state of Punjab is the spirit of communal amity, brotherhood and national solidarity he has propagated Sabhyacharak Manch of which he is the president.

Born in the village of Jassowal, 9 km from Ludhiana, on April 30, 1935, Mr Jagdev Singh is a law graduate from Aligarh Muslim University. He has permanently settled in Gurdev Nagar, Ludhiana, where he is visited by a large number of people. He is the founder-president of the Prof Mohan Singh Foundation and president of the Vishav Punjabi Sabhyacharak Manch. Recently, he visited Canada to participate in the 5th international Prof Mohan Singh Memorial Mela held in the city of Surrey, British Columbia. This mela is held there every year under the presidentship of Mr Gurinder Singh. Thousands of Punjabis, Canadians as well as Americans attended this mela. — J.S. Bedi


Kisan Mela at Bullowal
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 —The first Kisan Mela organised by PAU in September was held at the Regional Research Station Ballowal Saunkhri in Nawanshahr district yesterday. Mr C.L. Bains, Financial Commisioner (Development), Punjab, announced that the World Bank Project for the development of Kandi area has been extended for five years. During this period an amount of 224 crores will be spent for soil and water conservation providing vegetative cover to the slopes and afforestation.

Mr Bains further said that the progress of Punjab will be reflected by the progress of Kandi area which constitute 11per cent of the state area. Dr K.S. Aulakh, VC, PAU, said that a nursery for the propagation of fruit plants at the research station would be set up.

Mr Bains promised to provide finance for this purpose. Dr Aulakh also said that efforts would be made to preserve the bio-diversity of Kandi area by setting up indigenous gene bank,with the help of the World Bank. Dr J.S. Kolar, Director of Extension Education appealed to the farmers to purchase the farm literature published by the university. Dr Malwinder Singh Towana, Additional Director Research, gave an outline of the salient research findings of the research station.


‘Kaun Banega Khakhpati’
From Our Correspondent

SAMRALA, Sept 9 — After watching the impressive performance of Amitabh Bachchan in Kaun Banega Crorepati, Jaspal Bhatti, who is well known for his sense of humour and witty remarks, has decided to make a serial Kaun Banega Khakhpati.

Bhatti said he would convey this message through TV to all those who did not enjoy good sleep in spite of being carorepatis or arabpatis. He accepted that the serial hosted by Amitabh Bachchan was very interesting and people at large were crazy to watch it.

Bhatti said the serial he planned to make would criticise moral ineptitude and corrupt politicians. Above all, it will be a good source of entertainment.


2 held for making fake T-shirts
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — The Sahnewal police has arrested two persons on the charge of making fake branded T-shirts and selling these in Ludhiana markets and in other parts of the country.

The police told mediapersons here yesterday that on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mr Yudhistar Sharma, sales manager of Saubhagya Sales Ltd., a Sahnewal-based company engaged in the manufacture of Mentor brand T-shirts, a police party raided Diamond Hosiery, in Industrial Area, here and recovered a number of T-shirts bearing the brand name of Mentor. Cotton stickers bearing brandnames of some multinational companies were also seized.

The owner of the factory, Rakesh Kumar, and his father, Som Nath, were arrested and a case under Sections 487,488 and 420 IPC and section 63 of the Copyright Act and Trademark and Merchandise Act, was registered.

Interrogation by the police revealed that they were engaged in manufacturing fake T-shirts for the past about six months. Back



Knitwear industry hops on to web
Tribune news Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — The Knitwear Club and King Infotech Software Solutions Limited (developers of the portal signed an MoU to use information technology for the knitwear industry of Ludhiana. The signatories agreed to give various services to the other party.

In a press note issued here, Mr Vinod Kumar Thapar, President of the Knitwear Club, said, “The MoU is an important milestone for the knitwear industry. For small industries, the Internet means overcoming limitations while competing with bigger players. Whether it is a business to business, business to consumer or business to administration deal, e-business will create a level playing field for small corporate units. With the trade barriers falling rapidly, the Internet will enable even help even small third-world countries reach the global audience.”

“The industry in Ludhiana can now gain new consumers in the online world. They will have a global reach and close links with the end user. Geographical constraints will not exist anymore and manufacturers will know what consumers want,” said Mr Thapar.

He said was the biggest knitwear-industry portal in the world. He said the USP of the portal was a buying-house facility. As per the agreement, King Infotech will host, design and maintain the website of the club. The webside will include profile, objectives, contact details, members’ directory of the club and an online monthly newsletter Knitwear Club Update. Subscribers will have password-protected sample room. The web administrator will be able to upload sample pictures from the subscriber’s computers. It will provide consumers with more choice.

“The association of the two organisations will help in building a strong online presence of the knitwear industry of Ludhiana,” Mr Thapar said.


Industry welcomes lifting of ban
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 9 — The Union Petroleum Ministry has lifted the ban on the inter-state movement of furnace oil. This ban was imposed on furnace oil and high-speed oil.

This had adversely affected the Punjab industries in particular. However, under the pressure of bigger units, the ministry had lifted the ban on high-speed oil, but had continued the ban on furnace oil.

In a press note, Mr P.D. Sharma, President of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Punjab, said, “As a result of this ban, small units were suffering more than large units because of the tax difference. Furnace oil in Punjab had sales tax of 5 per cent, whereas, the inter-state movement of it attracted a sales tax of 4 per cent only. The industry was thus crushed under this additional burden.”

Mr Sharma said, “Except Punjab, almost all other states came to the rescue of industries using furnace oil. The other states charged only 4 per cent sales tax and in Uttar Pradesh, it was reduced to 2.5 per cent. There was also a flood of imported furnace oil at $ 170 (Rs 8,000) per ton. This was when companies were charging Rs 11,500 per ton of furnace oil, that too, without any credit. States near ports had an advantage due to this ban. Punjab was the only state that suffered. The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Punjab had launced a vigorous campaign against this ban.”

The industry uses about 50,000 kl of furnace oil and high-speed oil per month. “The loss of revenue due to the difference in sales tax would have been colossal,” said Mr Sharma.


LSE roundup

The markets remained overall bullish during the week. The LSE index opened at 133.15 on Monday and closed at 142.79 on Friday registering an increase of 9.64 points during the week. The BSE sensex opened at 4571.89 on Monday and closed at 4666.50 on Friday registering an increase of 94.61 points during the week. The improvement in market is indicating towards festive season ahead and the bulls have taken the lead.

Grasim Industries Limited - an Aditya Birla Group Company came out with audited balance sheet recently. Grasim Industry is the flagship Company of the Aditya Birla Group. The Company has major presence in Viscose Staple Fibre (VSF) and Cement. The gross turnover during the year ended March 2000 stood at Rs.4982 crore as compared to Rs.4325 crore during the previous year registering an increase of 15%. Gross profits increased from Rs.381 crore in the previous year to Rs.483 crore in the year ended March 2000. The net profits increased from Rs.164 crore in the previous year to Rs.233 crore for the year ended March 2000 reflecting an increase of Rs.69 crore.

The VSF and Cement together accounted for 76% of the gross turnover of the Company in the year 1999-2000 as compared to 72% in the previous year. The increase in contribution of VSF and Cement indicate the focus of the Company in its core areas. The VSF segment performed satisfactorily with improved capacity utilisation, higher sales volumes and revenues. The sales volume of VSF increased by 17% on year to year basis. However, the Company was not able to realise the benefits owing to cautious price strategy followed by the Company to induce a favourable change in blend ratio. Operating margins fell from 33% to 31%. Outlook for the VSF segment is positive predicted on the likely strong growth in export of VSF based yarns, fabrics and garments. The Company intends to increase its profitability from VSF segment by improving asset utilisation, cost cutting and its ability to pass on the increased cost of raw material to its consumers. The Company is the market leader in the VSF business with over 90% share in the domestic industry and is also among the lowest cost manufactures in the world. The increased demand of VSF in the domestic market on the back of economic growth is likely to benefit the Company.

The upturn in the economy and pick up in the housing and construction sector resulted into improved performance of the cement division. During the year 1999-2000, the Company acquired cement division of Indian Rayon and Industries. The Company reported a sharp rise in grey cement volumes from 60 lac tonne in 1998-99 to Rs.84 lac tonne in the year 1999-2000. During the year 1999-2000, the cement industry witnessed a consumption growth of 15% due to pick up of economic and industrial activity. During the year the trial commercial production started in the 9 lac TPA cement plant of the Company in Tamilnadu. Inspite of increase in power, fuel and freight charges, the Company was able to reduce its average cost of production of cement from Rs.963 per tonne in 1998-99 to Rs.934 per tonne in 1999-2000. The cement sector is likely to get fillip on the back of higher demand generated from the housing segment and renewed focus of the government in the infrastructure projects.

To prevent erosion in shareholder’s value, the Company has permanently closed its pulp and fibre plant at Kerala consequent to continuing problems of raw material availability and increasing dependence on heterogenous woods.

The scrip of the Company touched a high of Rs.542 in January ‘2000 and a low of Rs.102 in April ‘1999 during the year 1999-2000. The scrip is being quoted at Rs.235 in BSE. The Company has a very sharp focus in its core area viz. VSF and Cements and intends to use its focus to enhance its shareholder’s value through increased earnings. Recently, all the Aditya Birla Group Companies have undergone restructuring with the objective of enhancing the shareholders value. Grasim has also not been any exception and the Company has acquired cement division of Indian Rayon to enhance capacities and to bring down cost. Once the restructuring carried out by the Company start producing benefits, it would result into improved margins and increased shareholders value.

The economy is going steady with inflation rates under control and slide in the rupee value stopped for the time being. The Government intends to reduce import and excise duties to off-set any exponential increase in oil prices after domestic revision in these prices. However, the move would only shift the oil pool deficit to fiscal deficit, without any gain to the economy in the whole. But for the time being, the move would keep the domestic oil prices under control, keeping the inflation rates under check and reducing their effect in the overall economy. The BSE sensex has closed close to psychological barrier of 4700 points and once this barrier is breached, the markets are expected to surge ahead with renewed vigour. The outlook for the next week is stable and bullish market. — FOCBack


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