Friday, January 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Badal announces more land for Ladhowal project
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, appeared to be in a generous mood while interacting with captains of the industry at the committee room of Thapar Hall on the Punjab Agricultural University campus here late last evening. While discussing the proposed Industrial Focal Point at Ladhowal, on the outskirts of the city, he accepted almost all major demands and suggestions put forth by prominent members of the industry and representatives of various industrial associations, who attended the meeting.

Mr Badal issued instructions that industrial plots would be allotted on a free-hold basis and further that another 250 acre, earlier held in reserve, would also be added to the 1250 acre, earmarked for the industrial complex. Responding to the complaint that the offer-price of land in the complex was on the higher side, the Chief Minister asked members of industry to take up the matter at another high level meeting to be held later this month with Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Secretary, Department of Industries, Punjab, here.

The Chief Minister also responded positively to the suggestion that the municipal limits of the city be extended to cover the proposed industrial focal point. The development of the complex was entrusted to the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Ltd (PSIEC) but Mr Badal made it clear that he was not averse to the idea of private participation in the process of infrastructure development.

Prominent among those present at the meeting were Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Secretary, Industries, Mr D.S. Guru, Director of Industries, Ms Surjit Kaur Sandhu, Managing Director, PSIEC, Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, Dr S.S.Sandhu, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation and representatives of the industry including Mr S. P. Oswal, Mr S.C.Ralhan, Mr V.P. Chopra, Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, Mr D.S.Chawla, Mr K.K. Seth, Mr Brahm Dutt Sharda, Mr. Vinod Thapar, Mr T.R. Mishra and Mr Joginder Kumar.

Addressing an impressive function earlier, after laying the foundation earlier stone of the Rs 8 crore nine- storeyed Lawyers’ Chambers Block at the New Judicial Complex here the Chief Minister said that all districts in the state would have modern administrative and judicial complexes within the next one year and the government would spend an amount of Rs 150 crore for this purpose. He informed that work had already been taken up at Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Patiala, while it was already progressing fast in Ludhiana.

Mr Badal disclosed that the Punjab Cabinet had approved the draft for Advocates Welfare Fund Act and steps were being taken to enact the same in near future. Mr Badal also responded positively to the demand for providing land at a reserve price for a residential colony for lawyers in the city.

The Chief Minister reiterated the commitment of his government for development of infrastructural facilities in Punjab in a big way. He said the state government had earmarked about 1,600 land near Ladhowal, on the outskirts of the city, for setting up an ultra-modern industrial focal point. The proposed industrial township would provide state-of the-art facilities to entrepreneurs and industry would be involved in the project to the extent of development and monitoring of all facilities.

The Finance Minister, Captain Kanwaljit Singh, outlined the new strategy for infrastructural development. The government would encourage the policy of self-motivation, along with its participation in the gigantic task. Calling upon the lawyers’ community to provide direction to the society for proper implementation and enforcement of the law of the land, he said the touchstone of a democratic system was legal, economic and social justice for the common man.

Giving details of the proposed complex for lawyers’ chambers, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, president of District Bar Association, informed that perhaps for the first time in history, lawyers had made a matching contribution for the construction of the chambers at the judicial complex. The complex would have 542 chambers, in addition to a bar room, a library, a canteen, accommodation for petition writers and other public utilities.

The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal; Minister for Law and Justice; Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr H.S.Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab, Mr R.P.S.Pawar, Additional Secretary, Home Affairs, Mr S.K.Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner were prominent among those who addressed the function.

Mr Mattewal, who is also the Chairman of Bar Council, Punjab and Chandigarh, presented a cheque for Rs 2 crore, being the first installment of lawyers’ contribution towards the cost of the chambers to the Chief Minister at this occasion.


Midnight robbery near Tiger Safari
From Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

BHATTIAN (Ludhiana), Jan 4 — In a major robbery, masked and armed robbers struck at the house of Rajinder Kaur just after midnight at this village near Tiger Safari. Not only did they decamp with cash and jewellery worth lakhs, but also beat up the widow, her young son and daughter and their two servants. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, with fractured arms and legs and head injuries.

The family’s harrowing experience continued for more than three hours. Still reeling under shock, Tarunpreet Kaur, Rajinder Kaur’s daughter, told Ludhiana Tribune from her Civil Hospital bed, that more than five robbers armed with two guns, one pistol and iron rods forcibly entered their home just after midnight.

She, along with her brother and mother, were sleeping when they heard a noise. Soon there was a loud bang on the door and before they could do anything, the robbers literally broke the door.

Immediately afterwards, they herded the three family members and their two servants into the drawing room and began beating them till they handed over the keys. The robbers then locked all of them in a bathroom, where they remained till about 5 a.m. The family came out by breaking the door, after they did not hear any noise from the other rooms for some time. Interestingly, the robbers showed some mercy. They gave quilts to the family members before locking them in the bathroom.

Robbers did not leave a single corner unsearched. Clothes were scattered everywhere. The main door of the house was completely broken, while the inner ones were opened after the robbers made big holes in them with iron rods.

The robbers, were apparently migrant labourers. They spoke in a Hindi dialect which the family didn’t understand. It also seemed that they knew the place quite well as they cut the telephone wire going to the house. And left others untouched. They took away gold jewellery and left the artificial one.

The robbers asked them several times about the householder, i.e. Ms Rajinder Kaur’s husband. Ms Rajinder Kaur, a widow, lives with her 17-year-old-son Manjot Singh, daughter Tarunpreet Kaur and an old servant, Amma. Shyam, the son of help had come to stay here just a couple of days ago. The woman’s husband had died about seven years ago. The daughter is doing a course through correspondence, while the son is studying at Government Khalsa College for Boys.

The house is located near the factory which produces cattle-feed. The factory belongs to the family. Though there were more than 30 migrant labourers sleeping on the factory premises, yet no one seemed to have heard the noise.

Mr Narinder Bedi, Inspector, CIA, said the robbery was similar to the one that took place in Krishna Nagar last month.

Rajinder Kaur scared away the robbers by claiming that she had rung up the police through her mobile phone. The robbers began to search for the mobile set, when did not find it they beat up Rajinder Kaur. It was only when the robbers threatened to hang her son, that she revealed that she didn’t have one.

The police registered a case of dacoity under Section 395 against unknown persons along with Sections 24, 54, 59 of the Arms Act in the afternoon.


FM sees room for subsidy to farmers
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — There was enough scope for giving subsidies to farmers after the full implementation of WTO. However, these subsidies had to be provided under the Green Box and Blue Box categories. The indirect subsidies, at present, provided to them were gobbled up by middlemen and officials working in inefficient organisations like the FCI and state electricity boards (SEBs).

The Central government can serve the interests of farmers as well as consumers in a better manner by providing lower rates to the farmers for their produce and compensating them by giving cash bonus to them. That amount can be easily arranged by terminating subsidies to the fertiliser industry, the electricity boards and procurement agencies like the FCI.

These views were expressed by the Finance Minister of Punjab, Capt Kanwaljeet Singh. He was speaking at a convention of agricultural experts and progressive farmers held here today. The convention was organised by the Extension Education department of PAU to discuss the Political economy of WTO and its impact on Punjab Agriculture.

While inaugurating the convention, Dr G.S. Kalkat, Vice Chancellor, PAU, expressed the need for assuring minimum and remunerative prices for encouraging farmers towards diversifying cultivation. Farmers should control consumption of water, fertilisers and other natural resources to safegurad the future of agriculture in Punjab. If anti-dumping duties were not imposed on palm oil, wheat, dairy products and other agricultural produces, the peasantry would be ruined.

Prof Joginder Singh, Head, Department of Economics and Sociology, said,‘‘ Punjab agriculture was passing through a crisis not of surplus, but of lack of quality products and high costs of production. While the production of wheat and paddy had grown in other states at a much higher rate, but in Punjab between 1991 and 1999 the growth rate of wheat and paddy was 2.52 and 2.51 per cent, respectively. The increasing costs of marketing and inputs in the past decade have blunted the competitive edge of Punjab.’’

He suggested that there was a need to undertake specific policy measures to save farming, such as investment in agriculture and research, exploration of foreign markets, development of cool chains for exporting perishable commodities and development of cash crops on a commercial basis.

Prof Karam Singh, senior economist of the same department, made a strong presentation in favour of providing target-oriented subsidies to farmers. He disclosed that international prices of foodgrains had a tendency to fluctuate. It was not right to leave farmers at the mercy of the international market. Even today, we have a deficit in the production of foodgrains. More than 30 crore of people in India were forced to sleep without proper meals. The need was to enhance subsidies. After signing the GATT agreement, the USA and the EU had enhanced agriculture subsidies, but by transferring them in the green box and blue box garbs.

While explaining the political economy of WTO, Dr Pramod Kumar, Director, Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh, pointed out that the WTO was not a final document. No doubt, it was going to benefit some developed countries at the cost of developing countries, but we could mobilise dissenting voices in the WTO for our benefit. We must ask for voting in the WTO, instead of a consensus approach, he suggested.

He further said, there was a need to build a rolling fund to provide help to farmers against market risks. Political and research organisations should come forward when the country was shifting from command economy to market economy.

A number of farmers participated in the discussion. The finance minister assured the gathering that efforts would be made to convince the Centre to plead for a tough bargain in the next round of talks. A task force of major states would be formed to convince the government to provide direct subsidies to farmers.


Move on encroachments criticised
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — The change in the policy of the government as far as encroachments are concerned has shocked the people but this has given a good new year gift to the encroachers. Certain encroachments have been legalised on payment of a certain fee which is much lower than the market price of the land.

This decision of the government has evoked a mixed reaction among the public. Ludhiana Tribune spoke to a number of persons for their reaction to this policy.

Mr Parveen Kumar, a clerk in PAU said: “The encroachers must be happy. Maybe it is a play to win the next elections. But I am not happy at the terms offered to the illegal occupants. The encroachers are eating the cake and having it too.”

The sarpanch of Kulal, Mr Jagir Singh Mangat, said: “The illegal owners will become richer for they will now become the owners of the land. It shows the weakness of the government. The government should get rid of the encroachers. This is purely an election stunt. This will encourage further encroachments.”

Mr Charanjit, a cloth merchant, said: “The time limit should have been 10-15 years. Five years is too small a period. The land should have been given at the market price.”

Mr Om Parkash, a retired employee of Indian Overseas Bank, said: “The encroacher only gives Rs 50 to the corporation. Once he becomes the owner, he will have to pay more taxes to the municipality. So the municipal corporation will also gain. After this, the encroachers will not find any land in Ludhiana to encroach upon, as the city is so densely populated.”

Naveen, a student of B.C. II said: “The government should not make them legal owners. It will set a wrong precedent. The government has no moral right to legalise encroachments even after charging a fee.”

A retired PSEB engineer, Mr I.S. Chawla, was dismayed at this policy of the government. He said: “How could the government encourage the encroachers in this manner? This has set a bad precedent. This will encourage future encroachers. It is clear that the government is trying to earn the goodwill of the people in view of the coming elections.”

Mr Jiwan Dhawan, a businessman said: “The government has exposed itself and shown that this policy is aimed at winning votes. It is an election stunt.” He alleged that many influential persons, even ministers, had vested interests in land encroachment. He quoted the case of a minister who had encroached on public land in Patiala. He says: “This shows the weakness of the government in dealing with the encroachers. It is a wrong signal to the people.”

Similar views were expressed by Mr Narinder Kalra, another businessman. “I am astounded at this policy. I think some people should file public interest litigation in the High Court against this decision of the government. Many people have encroached on parks also. How can that be legalised. The parks are the lungs of the city.”

Soldier cremated
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — Sepoy Lamber Singh of 17 Sikh Regiment was cremated with full military honours at his native village, Sherpur Kallan, 40 km from here, yesterday.

Sepoy Lamber Singh (23) a son of Bikker Singh, died in the Naushera area of Jammu and Kashmir in firing on January 1. He is survived by his widow, Harjinder Kaur, mother Chiranjit Kaur, and three brothers.

Senior military and government officials attended the funeral. They were followed by villagers. The entire village plunged into gloom when the body reached there. His father lit the pyre.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler, laid a wreath on behalf of the Chief Minister. Among others present on the occasion were Col Toor from the station headquarters, Yashpal Sharma, Assistant District Sainik Welfare Officer, besides several local people.


Everybody’s talking about the chill
From Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, Jan 4 — The city is in the grip of a cold wave since the New Year eve.

The rain on the New Year eve might have warmed the hearts of farmers and hosiery manufacturers, but it has dampened the spirits of residents. The icy north winds that started sweeping the city on Monday morning have only gained intensity over the past couple of days. The city had to experience a foggy day after the rain. It was only yesterday that the city had a bit of sunshine after five days. However, it was cloudy again today. With no let up in the fury of the icy winds even today, bonfires were seen all over the town. People were seen huddled together and talking about only the weather.

There was a huge rush of buyers of woollen clothes in Chaura Bazaar here this afternoon, but the severe cold has reduced the number of regular shoppers. Buses and trains were delayed due to the dense fog in the morning. The power breakdown due to the failure of the nothern grid made the situation worse. The water supply was also affected. At some places, the Municipal Corporation had pressed water tankers into service.


Defamation suit, eight get bail
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — Mr Ashok Kapoor, Judicial Magistrate, First Class, has accepted bail bonds furnished by eight of the 11 accused in a defamation suit filed by Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, President, Ludhiana Aggarwala Cooperative House Building Society, which manages the affairs of Aggar Nagar in the city.

In a complaint filed before the court under sections 500/501/120-B of the IPC, the complainant averred that all the accused entered in a conspiracy and got a false case registered against him, levelling defamatory and baseless allegations. Subsequently, the case was dismissed and the Sessions Court also upheld the decision of the lower court.

Out of the 11 accused persons in the case, Mr Abhay Kumar, Mr Bimal Jain, Mrs Neeta Rajput, Mrs D. Narang, Mr Vijay Kumar Gupta, Mrs Usha Gupta, Mrs. Ranjit Kaur and Mrs Harminder Kaur furnished bail bonds in the court.


Study shows rise in drug abuse 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — About 30 per cent of youngsters under the age of 20 are drug addicts. The menace is spreading evenly in rural and urban areas. However, the situation is much worse here.

These are the findings of a recent study on the Trends of Drug Abuse in Central Punjab conducted by Kamaljit Kaur under the guidance of Mr Sarabjit Singh of the PAU Department of Agricultural Journalism, Languages and Culture. The study was conducted among the drug addicts of Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mansa, Chandigarh, Ferozepore, Moga, Patiala and Sangrur.

The study comprised 256 patients who received treatment at Aas Kiran, a local de-addiction-cum-rehabilitation centre, from December 1999 to November 2000. Most of the patients belonged to rural areas.

It was found that school students were getting hooked on to various types of synthetic drugs and this was not being noticed by parents and teachers. Most of the drug abusers were either illiterate or school dropouts.

It is generally presumed that drug abuse is popular among college students, but they fear being exposed and prefer to get themselves registered in private hospitals or clinics.

Drug addiction in the state had assumed alarming proportions in the past decade. People of the state were in a grip of not only alcohol and tobacco, but also opium, poppy husk and synthetic drugs. They were taking sedatives, painkillers, tranquilisers and cannabis.

Most of the patients who belonged to the Ludhiana district were residents of Barewal, Rakaba, Dhandran, Jawaddi and Dugri villages.

Most of the drug addicts were in the age group of 15 to 35. They had become drug addicts due to peer pressure, unemployment and disturbed marital life.

About 40 per cent of the patients were either agricultural labourers or daily-wagers. These persons believed that they could work more and earn more by using drugs. They generally worked overtime and started taking drugs to beat the work-related stress. They were followed by businessmen and drivers.

More than half of the patients had started taking drugs in the past eight years and 9 per cent had become addicts only a year ago.

The patients said the four major reasons why they became addicts were peer pressure, the need to work more, tension in the family and curiosity. Some of the other reasons were morbid personality, loneliness, failure in love and a lot of money to waste. Some of the patients were put on synthetic drugs by doctors when the patients approached them for treatment of various diseases.

Most of these drug addicts were opiates who used synthetic drugs like norphine, avil 50 and lomotil capsules. The second most popular drug was nicotine, followed by tobacco, gutkha, zarda and bhuk.

Mr Sarabjit Singh, Professor of the PAU Department of Agricultural Journalism, stressed the need for a collective action by village sarpanches, college and school authorities and social workers to eradicate this menace from society. Mr Singh said the activities of illicit drug traffickers should be neutralised to restrict the availability of drugs. There should be simultaneous efforts to reduce the demand and supply of drugs.


‘Foodgrain buffer stock overflowing’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — India has now a foodgrains buffer stock which is three times the required quantity, Chairman, Food Corporation of India (FCI), Bhure Lal, said here today.

As against the required buffer stock of 11 million metric tonne (110 lakh tonne), the government had a stock of 27 million mt 9270 lakh mt) with it, he told reporters.

A quantity of 3.5 lakh tonne of wheat had been exported in December and 20 lakh tonne more would be exported by March next, he added.

Lal said that main buyers of the Indian wheat were Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq and Oman.

Stocks for export requirements were being lifted from Punjab as well as from other parts of the country, he said.

Lal also assured farmers that they would have no problems in selling wheat to the agencies in the coming procurement season.


Lohri Mela on Jan 11
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — A Lohri Mela will be organised by the Joint Malwa Sabhyacarak Manch on Januray 11 in Punjabi Bhavan. The President of the manch, Mr Krishen Kumar Bawa said the programme would include a seminar on the Future of Melas in the Times of Globalisation and Liberalisation.

The chief of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amrinder Singh, will be the chief guest on the occasion. The local MP, Mr Gurcharan Ghalib, will also attend the function. Ms Rama Pilot, MP, and CLP leader Jagjit Singh will also be there.

The cultural programme will include performances by popular Punjabi singers like Hans Raj Hans, Sardool Sikander, Kuldep Manak, Bhagwant Man, Surinder Chinda, Suman Dutta, Karnail Gill and the others.


CICU seeks circuit Bench of excise tribunal
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 4 — The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has urged the Centre to set up a circuit bench of the Central Excise and Gold Control Act Tribunal (CEGAT) at Chandigarh. Presently the assessees have to file appeals in New Delhi.

In many cases, it urged, the amount involved is very small. The appealing units have to incur heavy expenses to fight the cases in New Delhi.

In its pre-Budget proposals for the 2001-2002 Budget, the CICU has asked the Centre to review the provisions of the payment of excise duty as per rule 173-G of the Central Excise Rules, 1944. Currently, in the case of delay in payment of duty up to the specified dates, the scheme of deferred payment is forfeited. In such a situation the assessee will be liable to pay outstanding payment along with 24 per cent interest rate and the scheme will be suspended for two months. During that period they have to pay the excise duty for each consignment by debit to their current account.

The CICU has asked the government to dilute such harsh punishment to the defaulters. The units should be allowed to make payments during that period from the CENVET credit as well current account of the firm for these two months.

It has also urged the government to review and simplify the conditions for abatement of excise duty on independent textile processors. There are number of independent textile processor units in Ludhiana which are engaged in the processing of fabrics with the help of stentor machines. A facility of abatement of excise duty had been granted to these units if the stentor machine remained closed for 15 days or more. But many times the assessees have to close the stentor for less than 15 days due to technical problems or maintenance purpose and they have to pay the duty even if there was no production. It is not justified to pay the duty for that period.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president, CICU, has requested to reduce the period to seven days so that assessees can take the benefit of abatement facility properly.

Members of the chamber have also asked the government to make a proper classification of corrugated and duplex boxes for tariff purposes.

The chamber has requested reviewal and necessary amendment of the valuation under Section 4 of the Central Excise Act, 1944. 

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