Saturday, December 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Beware... finance companies on the prowl
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — White collar crime is a lesser known evil in comparison to the incidents of petty theft, robbery and murder, in this city. Of late, not only has it assumed alarming proportions but has also become a major headache for the city police. It is the cause of serious concern for the public as well.

Money floats around easily in this city, thanks to the concentration of a large number of industries which subsequently provide high employment opportunities and chances for investors to make fast money. There are, however, several who, attracted by the money, go a little fast in making it and it is there that the legal limits are crossed.

With 166 cases in 1998, 190 in 1999 and the stage set to almost touch the 200 mark this year, the city police and especially the Economic Offences(EO) wing is bedeviled by the regular if not growing incidence of such crime. The pressure of dealing with such cases is so heavy that despite having a separate EO wing with sufficient staff, all the police stations in the city had been directed early this year to handle some of the load for speedy disposal of the complaints.

Though the success rate in the solution of such cases has, according to police claims, reached 60 to 65 per cent in comparison to a lower one in the previous years, the constant reporting of cheating and fraud calls for some major drive by the police to educate the public for the prevention of such incidents.

According to case studies of such offences, earlier it was the duping of the investors done by the finance companies that formed the majority of the cases. But now due to better awareness among the masses about such illegal companies, the crime involving them is on the decline. Their place has instead been taken collectively by travel agents, frauds in transaction of money through banks, cases of cheating through fake cheques and fake registries along with a few cases of postal frauds.

This is not to say that no finance company is defrauding people. According to the police, they had noticed that while earlier the companies were coming with the intention of duping people, in the cases coming up this year, the company owners have run away only after suffering losses. They, nevertheless, become cheaters as although they suffer losses from certain investors, they cause financial losses to others whose money they don’t return before running away.

Interestingly, most of the accused belong to middle class or lower middle class section of society. These mostly include young people having proficiency in economic matters. Not only employees of public sector or private companies have committed such crimes but even certain ‘greedy’ relatives have done so against near and dear ones. There were several cases where people have been robbed of money through preparation of fake registries of their property by some ‘close’ relatives. In few cases even parents and their children had accused each other of cheating.

The police has also registered several cases against persons who, acting as middlemen, claim of getting loans passed from the banks or companies. These persons then take a substantial amount from the person interested in taking loan as costs of paper work, insurance or security and then suddenly vanish leaving the person in lurch.

DSP Satish Malhotra, in-charge, Economic Offences wing, attributed the high number of such offences to the attraction of making fast money. He said there is no dearth of money in this city and resultantly a large number of people of other states come here and pose as directors of finance companies or agents helpful in getting loans for purchase of cars and construction of houses.

He said that the police was already concerned about the economic offences and it has been decided in principle that every four of the 10 new Inspectors recruited would be trained in handling the economic offences. He also called upon the public to get the credentials of a company or a person verified before entering into some business agreement with them.

He said under the rules the companies can be opened only after having a fixed deposit of over 30 lakh with the Reserve Bank of India. But as most of the people are not aware of this rule, the companies keep operating under fake names and cheat credulous people.


Problems dog fish farmers of Punjab
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — Though fish farming has become a popular vocation among the farmers in several parts of Punjab, several problems continue to dog farmers engaged in fish farming. More and more farmers across the state have taken to fish farming with a view to supplement their income.

The main problem, according to many fish farmers, is the low consumption of fish in the state and its neighbouring areas of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. Traditionally, people living in these states are not fish eating.

According to Dr Asha Dhawan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Fisheries, fish provides the best quality, easily digestible whole meat. In addition, it is very rich in protein content compared to eggs and meat of small animals. Besides, fish meat is rich in vitamins (A, D, B) and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus.

In spite of all the qualities of fish meat, the people in this region are not very fond of eating fish. It is for this reason, says Dr Asha Dhawan, that nearly 80 per cent of the fish caught from riverine sources and ponds of Punjab are exported to Delhi and Calcutta. The fish cultured in ponds chiefly constitutes the food of a select section of the people of Punjab, informed the scientist. It is necessary to educate people about the nutritive value of fish and develop their taste for it. “If carps are eaten and relished all over the country, these should be realised by the Punjabis, too”, argues Dr Bajwa.

Because of poor consumption of fish in the state, the fish farmers do not get adequately remunerative price of the fish they sell. The existing marketing system also needs improvement. At present, according to the scientists of the Department of Fisheries of PAU, there is no marketing infrastructure, such as cold storages, processing units and adequate transportation facilities. These scientists are of the view that such facilities need to the created so that fish farmers may be assured renumerative prices of their catch of fish.

Another major problem which the fish farmers are facing is the shortage of quality fish seed. The Punjab Government’s fish seeds farms, it is learnt, are not able to meet the growing demand for quality fish seed. As a result, says Dr Dhawan, some private agencies (mostly from Calcutta) supply seed to sikh farmers. This seed, apart from being of a poor quality, is usually found mixed with weed fishes. The seed of fresh water prawn, which is supplied by the coastal states of the country, is also of a poor quality. Farmers can approach the Department for Fisheries of PAU for quality seed of cuturalable fish.

Finally, scientists say that the staff required to transfer fish farming technology to the farmers is pathetically inadequate. Experts on fisheries need to be pressed into service to advise fish farmers on the management of fish farms.

Besides, the government should recognise fish farming on a par with agriculture and give facilities like cheap power and other subsidies which are given to agriculturists.


Polluting units making city hell
From Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — “Ludhiana has become the third most polluted city of the nation,” Mr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner of Municipal Corporation, said recently.

Officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board have talked a lot about removing polluting industries from residential areas, but have done little in this regard. While the people continue to suffer, officials are not ready to talk about the proposal to shift these industries to non-residential areas.

A few years ago, the board had prepared a list of polluting units in all major cities of the state for relocation of these to non-residential areas. Sources said the Punjab Industrial Department had not provided an adequate space for relocation. The board officials have repeatedly refused to comment on the issue.

There were protests in Delhi after the Supreme Court issued an order to shift the polluting industries to non-residential area. The Supreme Court said the people were suffering because of the presence of these polluting units in densely populated localities. The residents of Ludhiana, too, want the court to save them from industrial emissions.

The city has more than 2 lakh small-scale industrial units and dyeing units. Most of these units are located in the heavily populated areas like Daresi, Field Ganj, Tajpur Road, Basti Jodhewal, Prabhat Nagar, Miller Ganj Area, Ghas Mandi Chownk, Chand Cinema, Chander Nagar, Sunder Nagar to Brindaban Road, Deep Nagar, Shimla Puri and Civil Lines.

Mr Swaroop Singh (not his real name), a resident of Field Ganj, has neighbours who make spare parts for refrigerators. He says that he has to suffer noise pollution all through the day. He said, “In the day, the noise is bearable, but it makes my children wake up and cry in the night.”

Mr S.N. Bhatia, a resident at Deep Nagar area, said, “We are surrounded by so many hosiery units that our lane gets blocked by vehicles that transport things from here. If we try to argue with the drivers of these vehicles, we get dirty looks in return.”

Residents of Sunder Nagar are also tired of noise, air and water pollution. Satish Kumar has been living here for the past 25 years. He said, “Except the name Sunder Nagar, everything else is dirty here. Though the area is for residential colonies, many hosiery manufacturers have set up small units here. The area has more than 200 small-scale units now.”

Another resident of the area, Ms Asha, is tired of living in the area and is pressing her husband to shift from here. She said, “There is so much smoke here that I am unable to maintain my house properly. White clothes that are kept on the clothesline soon become dirty due to the smoke.”

Most of the sewerage pipes in the area are choked by plastic bags and stagnant water is all around. The roads of Sunder Nagar are in a bad shape and remain blocked by heavy vehicles. These vehicles often pull down telephone wires, because of which, telephones remain dead for days together.

There are a number of spare-part units in Prabhat Nagar behind Sangeet Cinema. Ram Singh has been living here for more than two decades and has become used to the noise. Residents of Miller Ganj area, Vishkarma Chownk, Ghas Mandi, Dal Bazaar say that social get-togethers are impossible to organise because of the congested roads. Vehicle keep the road blocked and people throw waste material like threads, polythene bags and cartons on roads.


Postal strike
Local traders suffer huge losses
From Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — With the ongoing strike of employees of the Postal Department, public, especially the business class of the city, has started feeling the heat of the strike. The traders of the city especially the dealers of hosiery goods, cloth merchants and garment manufacturers, here are bearing the brunt of the situation by suffering losses worth lakhs of rupees.

While the agitating employees are seen in no mood to call off the strike and the government remains adamant on its stand, anxiety among the public of facing more losses is increasing with every passing day.

The businessmen depend on the Postal Department for sending parcels containing their goods to all parts of the country. Their business reaches peak in the Christmas season as most of them send their products to north-eastern parts of the country as it becomes the largest trade centre of the country during the Christmas season.

Ludhiana Tribune spoke to many such owners of business houses who expressed their resentment about the postal strike and said that this would affect their business in the long term and possibility was there that they loose their customers in the years to come.

A disappointed owner, Mr B.M. Kalra of Rosy Knitwears, said that his company was suffering losses due to the postal strike. “My business is such that it requires a strong commitment towards the deadlines and strong delivery system. With the disruption of the postal services both the requirements have been severely hit. My clients will not understand my problems and will cancel my orders. Maybe in the next year they will not place the orders and find a new supplier.”

Mr Kalra had sent many parcels to Mizoram during the last 15 days time. Before the parcels could reach destination, the strike started. ‘‘ The goods had to reach before the mid of this month as the market starts there a fortnight before Christmas. I am faxing at the post offices at Calcutta and Mizoram but to no avail. They say that they cannot do anything because of the strike and my clients at Mizoram are sending me messages that if the parcels do not reach them in time, they cancel the orders. What will I do if my goods come back to me? I will suffer a loss of Rs 30 lakh in this season.’’ rued Mr Kalra.

Similar problems were aired by Mr Vipan Jain, an agent dealing in hosiery business. He said, ‘‘Not only me but all the firms dealing in hosiery business are suffering on account of the postal strike. Actually the strike came as a sudden blow to the business. Had we known that this was going to be the situation, we could have sent the material through the courier services. We can’t help anything but crib about the situation as the parcels cannot be located now. Those will only be found after the strike ends.’’

Mr Jain is anxious as his credentials as an agent will be at stake due to late delivery of the products. ‘‘Nobody will understand my position. My clients will say that I was not able to provide perfect services. At their end they can expect anything from me,’’ he said.

Another hosiery unit owner, Mr Ajay Jain of Mohan Industries, said that he was suffering because his payments were not reaching him as the cheques and drafts were bound to reach by registered post due to security reasons. ‘‘I am expecting a payment of lakhs of rupees. My clients who may not even have sent the money are claiming that they have sent it through the registered post. I have to spend that money for buying the raw material for my factory. Otherwise some other factory may buy it. It is affecting my business badly,’’ he said.


Retired DSP duped
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — A retired DSP has allegedly been duped of Rs 8 lakh by two persons who had taken the money as loan from him for running a tyre agency. However, the duo later vanished without returning the loan.

Later the DSP also found that certain cheques given to him by the two accused also bounced as the respective account had already been closed. Further investigations also revealed that the duo never opened a tyre agency, the pretext on which they had taken the loan.

A case has been registered against the two accused, Krishan Gopal and Indiwer, under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC.


Ghanta Ghar cleared of footpath vendors
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — The chaos created by footpath vendors near Ghanta Ghar has been cleared following two days of operation "footpath clearance" by cops of the regular police.

Nearly a dozen lathi wielding cops swooped on the area yesterday morning and chased all footpath vendors away from the scene.

The cops repeated their performance this morning too, when those vendors who had already put up their businesses, escaped with their wares at the sight of policemen.

Meanwhile, traffic on the Katchehri Road between Ghanta Ghar and the Lakkar Bridge continues to flow smoothly following push-back action by the traffic cops a couple of days ago, even though there are still a few irritants in the way.

Improved traffic conditions in Chaura Bazar in the wake of Ludhiana Tribune crusade against encroachments persist to a great extent as most of the phariwallas had been pushed to the wall. During a visit to the bazar today, this correspondent came across a number of footpath businessmen who were occupying a convenient space on the road. But the whole bazar was sans a rehri.


Gender sensitisation programme
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, has called upon the police to realise and overcome the cultural problems arising out of sex-based discrimination. He has asked the policemen to work as agents of social change and uproot this discrimination, even if, they are levelled 'Sympathisers' of women cause.

He gave this call while addressing the concluding ceremony of the three-day training programme on gender sensitisation for gazetted and non-gazetted police functionaries, organised at the Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur.

During the course, all aspects related to women problems, like dowry, child marriage, foeticide, rape, harassment, violation of human rights and women police were discussed.

A consensus was arrived at the end of the course that sex-based discrimination is still prevailing in society and empowerment of women should be stressed. It was also pointed out that police could play a very important role in bringing about a change in the status of women, provided they themselves understand the severity of the problem and become sensitive to it.


Killjoys at weddings

THE marriage season is on and the marriage palaces are heavily booked. One of the joyful duties of a marriage arrangement is to receive the near and dear ones who come from all over the world — the USA, Canada, the Far East, or from distant parts of India. With smiling faces and hearts full of joy, people make a beeline to the railway station to receive the guests.

And that is where the problem begins. Trains, even prestigious ones like the Shatabdi Express, are late. One checks with the Railway Enquiry — getting it after an effort of 30 or 40 minutes — and is told that the train is on time. At the station, one first hears that the train is 10 minutes late, then 20 minutes, and it keeps stretching.

The railway platform presents an ugly sight. A massive crowd with tins and gunny bags is sprawled all over the place. The vendors are frying puris in rancid oil, the fumes of which are enough to choke you. Beggars, some of them disabled and disfigured, evoke sympathy but the pathetic sight sickens you.

Time ticks and one thinks of the hundreds of odd jobs one has to attend to. The irritation increases as the waiting period stretches to an hour or even more. This exercise is sometimes repeated twice or thrice a day. A piquant situation arises, when the announcements are not clear and while you think that the train is yet to arrive, the guests have been waiting for you on another platform for quite some time.

After the wedding, when one is tired after a hectic time and is looking for a wink of sleep, groups of singers start thumping their drums and ringing the bell feverishly.

The singers start with a demand of Rs 1,000 for singing some songs wishing happiness to the bride and the bridegroom. After long negotiations, they settle for Rs 201. Then comes another group, followed by persons from the sewerage department, mirasis, and bahrupias. The stream is unending.

To placate these unwanted visitors is a tough task. After spending a good deal of money on the wedding, one would not mind a little more, but the way these people try to intimidate the family, takes away much of the joy of the happy occasion. 

— AA



Charas smugglers held
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — With the arrest of two persons from different areas of the city, the district police today claimed to have achieved a major success in busting a gang of charas smugglers active in the city for the last few months.

The Model town police in a press note said while Julkar Ali was arrested from Ghumar Mandi and about 3.7 kg of charas was recovered from him. The other accused, Avtar Singh, was caught from a naka in Jammu Colony.

The note stated that the two persons had been booked under relevant sections of the NDPS Act. 



No chill, no thrill in hosiery trade
From Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Dec 15 — Tax raids are not the only thing that is worrying local hosiery manufacturers and traders. Nature also seems to have turned against them as the winter here has been mild so far.

As days are still warm and the people do not feel like wearing heavy woollen clothes. With no chill in the air, the sale of woollen garments has reduced drastically.

The manufactures have invoked the rain gods, but their prayers have not been heard so far. Mr Vinodh Thapar, President of the local Knitwear Club, said, while a large number of hosiery units had reduced their production, some had already stopped manufacturing woollens. He said medium and small-scale units had been hit particularly hard because of this warm weather.

Most of the hosiery markets like Dal Bazar, Chawal Bazar and Hazori Market look deserted. Shopkeepers wait for customers all day. When a person enters a shop, a smile appears on shopkeeper’s face, but disappears soon after he learns that the person is from the Sales Tax Department.

Earlier, the sales used to pick up in October and continue till February. Now, even though it is the middle of December, the sales have not picked up.

The winter, this time, is less severe than before in Europe as well, so even the exports to Europe have been affected.

Mr Harish Chander Aggarwal, President of the Lalumal Street Shopkeepers Association, is among the disappointed traders. He says, “By this time every year, traders from UP, Bihar, Delhi and small towns of Punjab used to flood the wholesale market. However, this year, few persons have come here to purchase goods. Those who have come have placed small orders. Even the payments from retailers have been affected as the sales have not improved.”

Mr Thapar, President of the Knitwear Club, said, “Three factors determine the sale of woollens in this region — weather, marriages and the festival season. Divali onwards, people start buying clothes for winter. They stop buying these clothes if the temperature does not fall sufficiently.”

He said, “The total earning from the production of hosiery goods in Ludhiana was about Rs 10,000 crore past year. Out of this, earnings from exports were about Rs 2,500 crore. There is a 12 per cent increase in the production every year. However, this year, the production is expected to decline by 7 per cent.”

Mr Sunil Kumar Singhal, a wholesale dealer of thermo-inner garments, said, “The sale of these garments have declined by about 40 per cent. We have even slashed our prices, but the customers are still not coming.”

Mr Jivan Dhawan, a leading manufacturer of hosiery products, said, “If government can provide compensation to farmers after natural calamities, why can’t it announce a compensation package for us? We always contribute to the Prime Minister’s and Chief Minister’s Relief Funds. Now, when we are facing a crisis, shouldn’t we get some help?” he said.

Mr Thapar is, however, still hopes for the best. He said, “We hope that, by Lohri, the winter will be at its peak and sales will pick up. It is only after 1976 that the winter has been delayed. If this continues next year as well, manufacturers may have to think of alternatives.”

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |