Sunday, September 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


City’s stinking corridors of power
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — The mini-secretariat which serves as the seat of the district administration and is visited by thousands of people every day from all over the state may well qualify to be the dirtiest administrative block in the region, thanks to the couldn’t-care-less attitude of those charged with the task of keeping it clean.

And if the Deputy Commissioner and the rest of the administrative staff operating from the mini-secretariat are worried about it, they seem to have done precious little to remedy the situation. It seems that like an average resident of the city, they too have resigned themselves to their fate of living with stink, dirt, shoddy maintenance and smelly bathrooms. Perhaps it aptly mirrors the ground realities of the city.

Surprisingly, the mini-secretariat building houses not only the Deputy Commissioner’s office but also the offices of the SDM, the CIA staff, the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, the Election Commissioner, the District Education Officer, the Town Planner and so on. The first thing that hits a visitor to the offices in the west wing is the stink emanating from the urinals. Without even knowing the topography of the place, one can smell one, way to the toilets. As one goes down the cracked stairs into the basement, one can see the sordid conditions in the big hall where the all-important work of land registration is done.

About 10,000 persons visit the building every day for one reason or the other. Yet there are only five water coolers and only a few toilets for their use.

The floors are covered with dust as if they have not been swept for years.

Lambardar Surjit said, “Yes, we know it is dirty. What can we do? All the toilets in the basement are closed as the sewerage is choked.”

Mr Bhagwant Sandhu, a lawyer, said, “During the rains, the whole place gets inundated and no one can enter till the water is removed. We do not have proper facilities for removing the water. It is drained out with the help of buckets. Obviously, all work comes to a standstill.”

One is shocked to see naked electric wires hanging everywhere. In the hall is located the Civil Defence office. One has to see for oneself the run-down condition of the ‘central room’ to believe it. This room also contains the hotline that will notify when an enemy attacks us. The chairs are broken buckets to scoop out water when the area if flooded are also kept here.

Chaman Lal, who works in the office, said, “Water comes in and floods the room. We have conveyed our plight to the Deputy Commissioner many a time, but no one pays heed. Even registration of property has to be stopped due to flooding. The grant of money that we get is no sufficient to maintain this building”. Mr Amrik Singh Bedi, who scan property documents, had tied a plastic string between two computers. “It is to ward off people”, he says nonchalantly. “It is morning time, so it is not crowded, but in the afternoon, there is great rush”.

During this hot and humid weather, without any water coolers and toilets, the ordeal of the people waiting in the crowded hall for their turn, is beyond description. They have little choice for they to have to get their land deeds registered and their powers of attorney signed. The only sign of modernity are the computers.

Mr Joginder Singh, sub-registrar on duty, said, “We know people are inconvenienced in such conditions. We generate a revenue of Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore every month through the sale of revenue stamps and other fees. We have requested the Deputy Commissioner many a time to sanction more funds. But every time we are told that the state is facing a financial crunch. The use of computers has brought transparency in the work. There are fewer frauds in registration of property”.


PCO owners fleecing users
By Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — A number of PCO owners in the city have been fleecing customers by programming their electronic telephone meters in such a manner that the billing of STD calls starts from Rs 4.26 instead of the mandatory Rs 3.26 for a successive call.

Their job has been made easy by the erratic functioning of the telephone exchanges of the city. The meters of the PCOs, connected with the exchanges, run on 16 KHz current but due to one or the other fault, at times, does not give the bill amount or displays exorbitant figure, commonly known as jumping in the telephone parlance.

It has been alleged by several STD-PCO users in the city that when they object to the higher billing, PCO owners said that it was the fault of the exchange and not due to any tampering on their part.

Investigations carried by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that though the exchange does play truant and causes variation or jumping in the bill amount yet it does not affect in any manner the initial bill amount of Rs 3.26.

Incidentally, this correspondent also witnessed one such faulty electronic meter installed in a PCO on the old DMC road. When pointed out, the owner immediately said that this was due to the fault of the exchange.

Though he claimed that the excess amount goes to the Telephone Department and there was no benefit for him, an official of the department, on condition of anonymity, said a fault in the exchange could cause jumping or other problem but definitely not the one claimed by the PCO owner.

The official said the vigilance wing of the department regularly raids the PCO owners for such irregularities but somehow the practice goes on.Back


1200 kg poppy husk seized; two arrested
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — The local police has achieved a major breakthrough with the arrest of two drug smugglers and has recovered the largest consignment of drugs during the past one year from them.

According to the information available, the police has arrested Balwinder Singh of Seomajra village in Kaithal and Jagir Singh of Tribri village in Karnal and recovered 1200 kg of poppy husk from them. It is learnt that Inspector Paramjit Singh and ASI Waryam Singh had laid a naka near the level crossing near Dhandari Kalan when they spotted a truck coming from the opposite direction.

On checking the truck, the police found 30 bags of poppy husk in the truck. There were four persons in the truck, but two of the accused, Jaswant Singh of Dabbankheri and Prem of Seomajra, managed to escape.

The accused had revealed during their interrogation that this consignment of drugs had been purchased from Uttar Pradesh and was meant to be distributed in Ludhiana and other areas in Doaba. A case under sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against the accused.Back



Taxi driver murdered
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — A taxi driver was murdered, allegedly by a commuter after a dispute over some matter.

It is learnt that the taxi driver, Tilak Raj, was shot dead last night. The reason for provocation was that the driver had reportedly abused the religious leader of the accused, while in an inebriated condition. The accused, Nirbhay Singh, took offence at this and lifted the pistol to threaten Tilak Raj, but accidentally he fired at him.

The accused, a resident of Barewal, reportedly hired a taxi from the Aggar Nagar taxi stand on September 13. The taxi (PB-10 R- 1937) belongs to Mr Anil Kumar Singla and Tilak Raj was the driver.

Nirbhay Singh had first taken the taxi to Rampur village, near Doraha. They then set off for Delhi as the accused had to fetch someone from there. However, the person who was supposed to come with them did not turn up and they decided to return.

It is learnt on September 15 when the duo reached home, they had an altercation over the religious leader. It was then that the accused fired at Tilak in front of his wife and his 14-year-old son. He also threatened his family members not to report the matter to anybody and threw the body in the Sidhwan canal.

The accused then taken the taxi to Moga and got it repainted. He was arrested today by the police party led by the SHO Sarabha Nagar, Mr B.S.Sekhon, and the in charge, CIA, Mr Maninder Bedi.Back



PG admissions amidst chaos
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — Chaos ruled at the Government Polytechnic for Women here today where more than 1000 candidates from all over the state had come for counselling for taking admission to the one-year post-graduate diploma course to be jointly conducted by Punjab Technical University and Aptech Limited.

Even though the candidates were told that the counselling will start by 10 p.m. yet it began only in the afternoon. The merit lists were displayed at about 2.00 p.m. and the long wait caused undue harassment to the candidates and their parents. When finally the lists were displayed all hell broke loose in the institute. There was a mad rush of the candidates to see their roll numbers. In the ensuing struggle, the lists got torn and few could know about their number .

The mismanagement was evident in the preparation of the lists also. There was a case of a girl who had secured 63 per cent marks while the list produced at the time of admission displayed it as 55 per cent. She lamented, ‘‘My friends who secured less marks have already got admission. But owing to carelessness of the authorities, I am still waiting for the errors to be rectified.” Her parents were fighting her case till the writing of this report.

Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, was here today to monitor the admission process. Giving reasons for mismanagement, he said, ‘‘In the morning, two hours were spent just on filling of a one-page form as the number of candidates was high. We had 47 per cent reservation and we had to prepare a list of total number of reserved candidates and convert the vacant reserved seats into general category.”

Five colleges to which the admissions were made were Government Polytechnic for Women, ITI, Ludhiana, ITI, Samrala, ITI, Gujarwal and ITI, Jagraon. Each of these colleges have been given 120 seats. The classes will commence on October 3. Of the total, 47 per cent seats were for the reserved candidates, which had nine categories, including Scheduled Castes and backward tribes, border area, riot-affected and handicapped. The candidates belonging to rural, unemployed category were given 10 per cent extra marks. Back


GNPS dispute resolved
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — Normalcy is expected to return to Guru Nanak Public School here from the next week as the warring parties headed by Mr Ranjit Singh Bhai and by Mr R. S. Gill, who had been declared as Acting Principal by an association of the teachers and parents of the students, reached an agreement to run the affairs of the school today.

The truce in the battle for supremacy was called by the two parties at a meeting with the SDM (West), Mr Manjit Singh Brar. As part of the agreement Mr Gill, who had been working as Vice-Principal in the school, shall look after the academic matters of the school while Mr Bhail, who is also the general secretary of the trust, will have control the Finance Department.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Bhail said the school would soon have a permanent Principal. The appointment would be done through open recruitment and the advertisement for the same shall be issued shortly.

He also sought to end the fear of the teachers of the school that he would take some disciplinary action against them by announcing that according to the agreement Mr Gill would first inquire into charges, if any, levelled against any teacher.

Mr Bhail conceded that the examination had to be rescheduled and the new dates shall be announced after the school was opened. Mr Gill, the new Principal, was not available for comments.Back



Infighting in Cong comes to fore
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — The infighting among various groups of the local unit of the Congress owing allegiance to different leaders has again come to the fore with the appointment of Mr Parminder Mehta as president, District Youth Congress, Ludhiana, in place of Mr Pawan Dewan, who has been promoted as chairperson, urban development cell of the IYC.

Mr Narinder Singh Makkar, a former vice-chairman of the Congress(I) business cell, yesterday, opposed the appointment of Mr Mehta on the ground that he was “not an upright Congressman.” He even accused Mr Mehta of “sowing the seeds of communalism in the party because of his Shiv Sena background” and appealed to the party high command to appoint some “honest and hard working person in his place”.

In a strong retaliation today, two leaders of the District Congress Committee (urban), namely the secretary, Mr Ravinder Syan, and senior YC leader, Mr Sarabjit Bunty, accused Mr Makkar of hobnobbing with the Akalis in a bid to defame the party.

In a joint press statement which was attached with photo copies of an FIR against Mr Makkar of an old police case relating to “dowry-connected torture” and an affidavit by Mr Makkar’s parents “disowning their son”, the leaders said that Mr Makkar should have taken a look at his own past before saying anything against any office-bearer of the party.

Both leaders stated that the appointment of Mr Mehta was the need of the hour and the high command had given a lot of time and thought to the issue before finalising Mr Mehta’s name.

They said that Mr Mehta had successfully served the party in the past as president of the District Youth Congress, as secretary of Pardesh Congress and as senior vice-president of the Pardesh Youth Congress and was now serving the party as member of the PPCC as well.

The two leaders appealed to the party workers to put up a united front in view of the coming Sunam byelection and work for the success of the party.

Mr Pawan Dewan told Ludhiana Tribune on telephone that he was happy with his new posting at New Delhi as chairperson of the urban development cell of the IYC and was looking forward to his new assignment which he hoped to undertake anytime after the Sunam byelection. He declined to say anything about the current tussle between Mr Mehta and Mr Makkar, saying it was their mutual affair and as such he did not want to have anything to do with it.Back


MC employees submit memo
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — In response to a call given by the Punjab Municipal Karamchari Sangathan, civic body employees organised a protest rally and submitted a memorandum to the authorities and threatened to launch an agitation in case their demands were not accepted within 15 days.

Addressing the rally, Mr Hans Raj Gagat, president of the sangathan, deplored the government for non-payment of bonus and continuing the policy of contract workers in the civic bodies. He said the staff strength in the municipal bodies was disproportionate with the population levels in all towns and demanded immediate withdrawal of ban on fresh recruitment.

The memorandum submitted to the MC authorities listed, among others, the demand for providing service to one family member of the employees who died during service and payment of all arrears and dues.Back


‘Women should be free to choose a career’

A Few centuries ago the socio-economic condition of women in the world was not what it is today, thanks to the social reformers who have done commendable work to uplift the status of women. The role played by women’s liberation movements is no less significant. Change is the law of nature.

The woman of the new millennium does not want to confine herself to the four walls of the house. She is ambitious, educated, dynamic and enterprising. She wants to earn more and improve her standard of living. This should be welcome.

Women have made their presence felt in every sphere of life. Every job sets certain pre-conditions for the aspirants. And modelling also sets its pre-conditions. Beauty and brains are the main conditions for this profession.

However, there should be a dress code for the models. Sometimes it is really shocking to watch scantily clad models.

Modelling like other careers, besides giving economic freedom to women, also gives them a sense of pride and achievement. A financially sound woman can serve her family and society better. The Indian society is basically traditional in outlook, so models should respect the prevalent ethical values.
Karamjeet Singh, Dashmesh Nagar, Ludhiana

The multi-dimensional personality of a woman cannot be ignored. She can be compared with the seed in the soil which flourishes by losing its existence. How great she is! By virtue of her extraordinary qualities, she has found a place in every field.

In our male-dominated society, many areas were considered out of bounds for females. However, the woman proved her efficiency and has already stormed the male bastions.

If she has decided to adopt modelling as a career, it should be welcome. As for the choice of a career, everyone is free to select one according to his or her own preference.

Modelling takes us towards westernisation. Taking into consideration our economic and social set-up, we have to move towards modernisation, but it does not mean that one should not look beautiful. Beauty is the gift of nature and one should feel it one’s duty to maintain it. But following the beauty contests blindly or without knowing the motive does not seem reasonable.

Women should prove themselves as persons and a model for the others. Today’s woman must follow role models like Kiran Bedi, Bachendri Pal, Indira Gandhi, Margret Thetcher, Chandrika Kumaratunga and many others who have contributed to taking their nations forward.
—Veena Sharma, PCT, Economics Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Farour, (Fatehgarh Sahib)

Men and women lived a savage life. They did not know how to dress. The bark of trees was their main dress. From the bark of trees to the present-day dress has been a long march. Change is nature’s law. As everybody knows Indian culture is different from other countries. Old people are very strict about women taking up a profession. In the changed scenario, the new generation takes it lightly.

Nowadays models and other people are very much influenced by the Western style which is vulgar. Women participate in beauty contests forgetting their own culture. Our models should influence the world with their own culture.

There is an old saying, “beauty needs no ornament.” For a woman her intelligence, sociability, liveliness and politeness are her ornaments. Models should use these ornaments and influence the world. They should not go in for the mad race towards westernisation.
— Mayank Preet Singh Khanna

The position and status of woman has been changing from time to time. Under the influence of co-education, modern girls have thrown away old complexes and are now marching shoulder-to-shoulder with the boys in every field of life.

The modern woman is free. She is no longer dependent on others. Education has raised her status. She is keen on becoming self -supporting. She likes to enter some profession.

Today the woman is certainly on her way to the top. We have women legislators, women ministers, ambassadors, doctors, lawyers, teachers, officers and professional models. Growing affluence in the developed societies has generated among the people a restlessness for instant rewards. And modelling is a profession which provides such instant rewards.

In the modelling profession, there are many famous personalities, who have earned name and fame, and have done their parents and country proud like Sushmita Sen, Ashwarya Rai, Juhi Chawla, Zeenat Aman and several others.

No doubt the modelling profession provides the models with a livelihood, respect in society, name, fame and glory. Besides the models have to face problems. Some people look down upon them and the profession is not considered dignified. The solution lies in earnest work. Work alone is real worship.
— Gurvinder Singh Puniani, Principal, Guru Nanak Commerce College, Field Ganj, Ludhiana.

Undoubtedly, women are the real strength of the nation. Every woman plays a significant role in shaping the character of the coming generation. Though belated, yet society has realised that participation of women in every sphere of life is necessary. Thus the elevation of women to the status of good partners is the need of the day.

As a matter of fact life in the modern age is full of challenges which can be met with the active participation of women in every walk of life. But it does not mean that women should start behaving in a different way.

Modelling is an art and a part of the commercial world. There is nothing wrong if women adopt modelling as a profession with all nobility. Modelling means presentation of self for some cause.

To sum up, modelling as an art with all propriety and piety congenial to the needs of the business is not a sin but a noble deed.
— Sukhdev Singh, Bharat Nagar, Ludhiana.Back


‘Hindi can set right colonial psyche’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — Prof Suresh Chandra Vatsyayan, an eminent author and educationist, said, Hindi, with its deep-rooted Sanskrit base in linguistics, sciences and humanities had the potential to “set at naught the colonial psyche knit up by shrewd occidentalists like Lord Macaulay”

The noted professor was speaking at a function organised at the Khalsa College for Women on the eve of Hindi Day here today. In his hour-long address Prof Chandra quoted profusely to justify that despite handicaps caused by misinformation in education, and the colonial urban craze for English that had extended to rural India, Hindi had stood on its own true secular character, manifested in various Indian scripts apart from Devnagri, as the main medium of India’s heritage and humanism.

He also dwelt at length on Punjab’s Hindi literature in Gurmukhi script and underlined its role in relating the south to the north through the Bhakti movement during the medieval period.Back


City might house biggest solar project
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — Mr R.K. Vimal, Deputy Manager (SE) of India Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Limited, a Government of India enterprise, along with Dr Alex Zachariah, former Principal of CMC, met the Municipal Commissioner, Dr S.S. Sandhu, Mr Prem Nath Gupta, Secretary of Dayanand Medical College, and Dr Silas Charles, Director of Christian Medical College here the other day and had a detailed discussion on how IREDA could provide soft loans to them for various projects.

For DMC and CMC, according to Dr Zachariah, the soft loan is for procuring equipment for a solar water heating plant and for photo voltaic power production. For CMC, the estimated need is around 1 lakh litres of hot water every day. For DMC’s 1000 beds, over 1.5 to 2 lakhs litres of hot water may be required per day and if this is implemented, it will be world’s biggest solar water heating system.

Dr S.S. Sandhu, the Municipal Commissioner, is primarily looking forward to having solar traffic lights, solar traffic booths and solar street lights. An innovative scheme proposed by Dr Sandhu, is to have at least one solar powered light in each of the 5000 parks in Ludhiana city. This will be jointly managed by the recently formed Park Management Committee, consisting of local citizens. When this is implemented, Ludhiana will be the only city in India, where all the parks will be lit by solar powered lights also. Dr S.S. Sandhu has deputed a team to go to New Delhi next week for further discussion with IREDA, Central Energy Authority, BHEL, Tata-British Petroleum and other agencies related to solar energy, for speedily implementing these projects in a phased manner. The total budget for all three institutions may exceed Rs 10 crore.Back


UNIDO plans for Ludhiana knitwear units
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has undertaken preparation of a country service framework that would demarcate various priorities of the country as a whole and individual clusters.

This was stated by Mr George Assaf, regional representative, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), when he met representatives of the Knitwear Club during his visit to Ludhiana cluster, that is being supported by UNIDO for the past three years.

The focus of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of UNIDO programme going on in Ludhiana and to get feedback from the Knitwear Club regarding various future plans dedicated to the growth and development of knitwear industry in Ludhiana.

UNIDO, under its cluster development programme, has been supporting the Knitwear cluster of Ludhiana along with other clusters like cotton knitwear, Tirupur, hand-block printed cluster, food processing cluster, etc. Similarly, such programmes are operating in other countries.

Mr Assaf remarked that he is looking for linkages between various programmes that could be synergised for a more effective plan of action. He emphasised that UNIDO is a knowledge organisation and concentrates most of its efforts on sharing its experiences, thus making learning more effective and widespread. He said UNIDO’s experience in various knitwear clusters like Mauritius had brought out some important lessons which could be of help to Ludhiana also. These linkages for widespread learning could be provided by UNIDO.

UNIDO has supported various projects in Ludhiana and all these projects are done in cooperation with local partners. UNIDO supported other initiatives like providing an Italian designer to benchmark Ludhiana’s products. It supported exploratory delegations to various knitwear hubs of Europe, supported labour-training programmes, strengthened linkages of the industry with policy makers, held seminars and training programmes to spread the message of cooperation for competitiveness and many other initiatives for the general development of knitwear industry in Ludhiana. The efforts of UNIDO were appreciated by representatives of the industry in the meeting held with Mr Assaf.

Representatives of the industry informed Mr Assaf about the impending needs of the industry, for which UNIDO’ support is sought. These are as follows: Need of a training institute for training second-line managers and designers for the industry on the pattern of NIFT, Delhi. De-reservation of the knitwear industry from the small-scale industry reserved category. Total quality management for the knitwear units of Ludhiana. Exploratory visit to various successful textile and knitwear clusters for vision building and evaluating potential competition. Strengthe-ning meaningful linkages with State and central government. Suggestions by industry representatives were well taken by Mr Assaf, who assured them that all these would be pursued earnestly. The meeting was attended by representative of KNIDGRO, REHMA and KNITTERS Association also.Back


Magic of their hands enriches others
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — The people who have created magic with their hands are the most exploited ones. Though they toil day and night, yet they remain without due rewards. There are nearly 15,000 such handicraftsmen, who have opted the profession of kadhai and kashidakari and have been residing in this industrial city for more than 20 years. The rich cosmopolitan city has attracted people so much that they come and settle down here to try their luck. However, they seem to be unhappy.

Age being no bar, Raja (12), as well as Moin Ahmed , an octogenarian, have been skillfully involved in the profession. These workers sell their talent at throwaway prices. “They take Rs 1,600 for the same work from the customers, whereas we are paid just Rs 400 and that too in instalments which is really discouraging”, complained Rehman, who is adept at hand embroidery. He basically belongs to Barrielly and settled down here in the Kundanpuri area. He said, “My two wives and nephews are also involved in this work. We do hand embroidery on sarees, dupattas, suits and bedcovers too. There is about 10 per cent margin in this work”.

The young boys, Raja and Yasin, assist their chacha in this work. They continuously work for 12 hours and are paid Rs 150 each by their uncle. Rehman revealed,”I cannot afford to pay more than that. All the margin goes to showroom and boutique walas and we have to bear with it. They claim to be doing us a favour, while giving us work because if I do not do it, somebody else would do it for them. We will be the sufferers in that case”.

The workers do a variety of work which include — nali work, salma, dabka, dhaaga, sheesha, kundan, moti, nag, tilla and sippi work. They create whatever the customer demands. The fashion trends keep on changing and they walk parallel with the fashion trends. Raunak Ali, another craftsman, has been working for the famous boutiques for the past 10 years. He said,”I have been taking orders from the boutiques at Ghumar Mandi, Chaura Bazaar, Brindaban Road and Kailash Chowk. If I take Rs 500 for a work, they will charge at least Rs1,300 from the customer, but we have to keep our mouths shut, otherwise we will be out of the rat race”.

The season remains hot during the festival days. As Mobin Ali said,” There is lot of work during November to March. When there are marriages, we work during the nights also”. It usually takes two days with two persons to make a light and simple suit, whereas heavy suits require more time and more labour. If they make a single piece, they charge more but when they get order in dozens, they charge quite nominal. The worse part comes when they demand money for their labour, remarked Rehman”.


SBOP opens 15th branch in city
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 16 — State Bank of Patiala (SBOP) is gearing up to face the challenge posed by private banks. Inaugurating the 715th branch of the bank at Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, here, Mr A.K. Batra, Managing Director of the bank, said that public sector banks would have to improve their image by improving their work culture.

He emphasised on better customer service as a step to compete with the private sector banks. He announced that the bank intended to bring about in the current financial year, a 5 per cent cut in its non-performing assets (NPA) which at present stood at Rs 600 crore.

State Bank of Patiala, he said, was also making efforts to attract insurance business, for which it had joined hands with State Bank of India. “SBI is entering into an alliance with insurance companies and we will be a part of it”, he said.

Referring to the performance of the bank, Mr Batra said it was at present handling business worth Rs 16,000 crore. It had opened specialised branches such as a hosiery branch, an SSI branch, a hi-tech branch, an agriculture branch and an overseas branch to meet the specific requirements of each segment.

This 15th branch in the city, he said, was fully computerised and its working hours has been tailored to the needs of the locality. This would be the first branch of the bank in Ludhiana to remain open on Sundays.

Mr Batra revealed that the bank had a capital adequacy ratio of 12.60 per cent at the end of the last financial year (March 2000). Priority sector advances in Punjab, according to him, were 60 per cent, against a benchmark of 40 per cent.

State Bank of Patiala, he announced, was shouldering the responsibility of a lead bank in six districts of Punjab. The SBOP had proved that lending to the agricultural sector was profitable. He said that recovery from the farm sector was more than 86 per cent.

In the past one year, computerisation had progressed at a great pace, and he hoped that by the end of December, 2000, 70 per cent of the bank’s operation would be computerised.

He, however, opined that competition was intensifying with every passing day. Though he felt that public sector banking was still alive, it would have to come up to the expectations of the customers. 

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