Thursday, April 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Sheds being converted into godowns
Tonnes of wheat rotting in open
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, April 18
Facing a shortage of space to store wheat and paddy, the state government has issued a directive to the Mandi Board to convert sheds in the mandis into godowns. The directive comes in the wake of the losses incurred by the state exchequer to the tune of crores of rupees due to a shortage of storing space with the Food Corporation of India, the Central foodgrain procurement agency.

Following the directive the Jagraon Market Committee has started work to convert two of its sheds into godowns. The godowns which will be ready by the end of this month will be handed over to the FCI for storage of grains at the cost of Rs 0. 30 per month per gunny bag.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the Jagraon Market Committee Chairman, Mr Baldev Singh, said with the conversion of sheds into godowns the market committee would earn revenue as the storage space would be given to the FCI upto September 30. He said the funds thereby generated would be utilised in improving the conditions at the mandi, besides, providing the storage space for the ratting foodgrains.

He said he was not sure whether similar practices were followed by other mandis of the state also.

It should be recalled here that the shortage of storing space with the FCI was all set to result in more than Rs 500 crore loss to the state exchequer as more than 56 lakh tonnes of wheat was rotting in open spaces due to lack of inadequate storage capacity.

The five employees’ unions, Food Supply Department, Markfed, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, Punsup and Punjab Agro, in a joint memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had even asked to intervene immediately saying that the government agencies would become permanently sick and the state would lose more than Rs 500 crore as most of the openly stored wheat had already rotten. The union leaders had said it was not even fit for animal consumption.

Interestingly, out of total 92 lakh tonnes wheat stored in the state by the five state procurement agencies, only 52 lakh tonnes have been stored under the covered area. According to the agriculture experts, the covered area was also nothing more than the transit stores where the foodgrains can be kept at the most for 3 to 4 months. Surprisingly, about 5 lakh and 25 lakh tonnes of wheat purchased in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, respectively, was rotting in the open. The agencies were forced to keep the wheat in the open that had been purchased even four to five years ago.

Mr Krishan Sangruri, President, Punjab Employees Union, Punsup, said the Punsup was paying Rs 5 crore as interest to the banks every month. The other agencies had also taken loans from the banks to procure the wheat from the farmers. He alleged that due to the discriminatory policy of the FCI officials, the wheat was rotting in the open spaces.

He said,‘‘ The wheat lying in the open since three to four years has been affected by the rains, heat and weevils. The over-usage of insecticides was further making it unfit for consumption. But the FCI officials were not allowing it’s transportation to the other states.’’Back



Arrangements for wheat procurement
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 18
“The Punjab Government has made arrangements for the procurement and storage of wheat amounting to 1.20 crore metric tonnes this season.” This was stated by food and Supply Minister Madan Mohan Mittal while talking to newsmen during his visit to the local grain market today.

The minister said the government made arrangements for more storage this season, which is 23 lakh metric tonnes more than last year. He said this year the government had opened 75 more purchasing centres in the state for smooth procurement. He said Punsup, Markfed, Punjab Agro, Punjab State Civil Supplies Corp and Punjab State Ware Housing Corporation would procure 67 per cent of wheat and the rest would be procured by the FCI.

Mr Mittal said the harvesting of wheat had been delayed due to rains. However, there had been no damage to wheat due to discolouring due to untimely rains. Meanwhile, a delegation from Canada also visited the Khanna grain market and also held a meeting with Mr Madan Mohan Mittal.Back


Woman murders father-in-law
Physical exploitation alleged
Tribune News Service

Jagraon (Ludhiana), April 18
In a shocking case, a middle-aged woman of Barundi village, near here, murdered her old father-in-law as she allegedly could not suffer physical exploitation at the hands of the deceased.

With her arrest today, the Jagraon police claims to have solved the month-old case that was thought to be suicide till date. The deceased, Naib Singh, an ex-sarpanch of Barundi village, was murdered by his daughter-in-law, Baldev Kaur, who has confessed to having killed her father-in-law from a point blank range.

Baldev Kaur, aged between 38 and 40, told the police that she shot her father-in-law dead as she could not tolerate her physical exploitation at his hands. According to Jagraon SSP Jaskaran Singh, the exploitation of the woman started just after the death of her first husband when she was forcibly married to her husband's younger brother. The marriage took place following the age-old custom of marrying off a widowed daughter-in-law to her brother-in-law.

According to him, Naib Singh (70) was found dead on March 16 under suspicious circumstances at his house. His body was found hanging from his bed. He had two bullet injuries on his chest. A revolver was found in his right hand. On the basis of the statement of the family members, the police registered a case of suicide. They were told that the old man was not keeping good health and wanted to die.

However, dissatisfied with the statements, the police continued its investigation. The SSP said that the manner in which the body was found and reports that there was some tension between the deceased and his daughter-in-law roused their suspicion. Later inquiries found that the deceased used to beat up his daughter-in-law and a similar incident had taken place on the day of his death.

According to the SSP, questioning of family members, relatives, scrutiny of telephone records and later breaking up of the woman during questioning finally helped the police in cracking the case.

The SSP said that Baldev Kaur was actually married to the elder son of the ex-sarpanch and had three children from him. However, about 10 year ago, she became widow. Despite her protests, the woman was married off to her late husband's younger brother who is employed as a junior engineer in the Telecom Department. She had a son from her second marriage also.

The woman in her statement to the police said that she was subjected to physical exploitation at the hands of her father-in-law for the past several years. She said her husband was not always at home due to his job requirements. Her mother-in-law had died long ago.

She said that on that fateful day, she was alone with her father-in-law. She was beaten up with a stick by the deceased as she refused to submit to his desire. She said she could not take it any longer and in a fit of rage killed him with the licensed revolver of her husband.


Municipal Corporation’s plan to sell shops to tenants fails to take off
Kudip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 18
The proposed plan of the Municipal Corporation to sell off its shops in various city localities to bona fide tenants has come a cropper with very few tenants coming forward to purchase these shops occupied by them till date.

The MC had made a provision in its annual budget for the previous financial year to raise at least Rs 10 crore from the sale of shops and other property in the city but the actual receipts fail to match the target and touched a mere Rs 1.50 crore till the end of March.

Various factors had dampened the enthusiasm of the tenants in the MC shops and the idea of becoming owner of the shops, occupied by them for the past many years, had failed to catch up with the tenants, say MC officials. “There are shops in several busy commercial areas of the city, which were rented out at a nominal rent years ago and most of the tenants found it was uneconomical to pay the cost of the shop in lump sum to the civic body.”

The prolonged slump in the real estate market in the last few years had also deterred the tenants in the MC shops to go in for making investment in the property, even though they themselves were occupying it. Particularly those, who were not doing very good in business, were sceptical for the simple reason that once they purchased the shops, they would be stuck with it. On the other hand, a tenant could always sub-let the shop and shift elsewhere.

The state government policy decision on regularisation of encroachments over the government land and property was another factor which created a feeling among the tenants in MC shops that they were being discriminated against. The Punjab Cabinet had taken a decision in January this year (which has not been notified as yet) that encroachments that were five years or more old should be regularised in favour of the occupants on payment of 20 per cent of the market price of the land or property.

“The government was not prepared to listen to the genuine problems of lawful tenants, who were paying rent for the past several years and were again required to pay between 40-50 per cent of the market price, whereas the unlawful occupants were being favoured and given ownership rights for pittance,” lamented a number of tenants in many city markets.

On the persistent complaint of the tenants in the MC shops that the market price fixed for their respective areas by the committee headed by Deputy Commissioner was on a higher side, the State Government had reconstituted the committee to involve the city Mayor in the process and the lawful occupants of the shops were required to pay 40 per cent of the market price, without the right to roof and 50 per cent with the roof rights. The government had also authorised the civic bodies to transfer tenancy rights upon the occupants in the cases of the shops being sub-let on payment of a sum equal to 10 years rent.

According to MC Zonal Commissioner Mr B. K. Gupta, the committee comprising the Deputy Commissioner and the City Mayor, besides other officials, had assessed the market price of 465 shops in various markets, located on Raikhy Cinema Road, Railway Road, Fountain Chowk, Laxmi Cinema Road, Sangeet Cinema Road, Domoria Bridge Road, Balmiki Ghati and Mochpura Bazar at around Rs 16 crore. However, till the end of the last financial year only 75 shops could be sold for a total consideration of about Rs 80 lakh.

There were two lines of thought over the disposal of MC shops to the tenants, which at the moment were yielding virtually nothing by way rent. While some officials were in favour of a hardline approach, including filing of cases under Public Premises Act for eviction of unauthorised occupants and giving a deadline to others to deposit the money with the MC, some others advocated a softer approach and favoured negotiations. “You can not just throw out a person, who is a tenant for a long time and carrying out his business or profession. Moreover, such drastic action could entail litigations and create more problems than it would solve.”


City boy goes missing
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
The disappearance of 14-year-old ‘Infant Jacob’ Micky, a student of St Thomas School here, has given rise to speculations that he has been kidnapped.

Ms Leena John, mother of the boy and a resident of Phase I of the Focal Point Urban Estate, said Micky had been getting ready for school at 7.10 am on Monday when suddenly he went missing along with his bicycle. Before disappearing, he had said his morning prayers along with his mother as usual. He did not leave any note.

The boy’s uncle and other relatives contacted all his friends and acquaintances, but when they failed to trace him, they approached the Focal Point police to register a case.

Ms Leena said Micky had been depressed after failing the mathematics test of the Class IX annual examinations. His family persuaded him to attend the school and the day he disappeared would have been his first day of the session.

Micky’s father, Mr Addison John, who is on a business tour to Mumbai for the past four months, has not been informed of his son’s disappearance.

The family has received a couple of bizarre telephone calls after the incident. Ms Leena said the man who had called her on Monday night sounded like a migrant. “The sound of a wooden object striking something could be heard in the background,” she said.

The boy’s uncle received a blank call at about 9 am today. However, he heard the same sound in the background that Ms Leena had heard.

Micky had been living with his mother’s parents at Ooty before coming to the city a year ago. His mother said he was not familiar with the city and had never gone anywhere besides his school. The school bus arrived every morning to pick up Micky and his younger sister, Nancy.

The police does not suspect this to be a case of kidnapping. The five-foot tall Micky was wearing blue trousers, grey shirt and glasses when he disappeared.


Refugees in their own land
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
“We have become refugees in our own land, where we have been living for the past 50 years. The Municipal Corporation demolished our pucca houses without any notice and claimed that it had demolished only some jhuggi structures,” say residents of the demolished colony of Sigligars and Dalits along railway tracks in Dhandari Khurd. About 50 families are struggling to live somehow after their houses were razed in October past year. They have braved a harsh winter and felt cold winds lash their makeshift tents. No alternative site has been proposed for their rehabilitation so far.

Members of the Sangharsh Samiti that has been formed after the demolition, have approached various political leaders, but no one has helped them. On the advice of Mr Hira Singh Gabria, an Akali Dal MLA, they have submitted a letter of appeal and an affidavit to the Chief Minister in this regard. Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Vice-President of the SAD (B), has persuaded the affected persons to remain at the same site till an alternative arrangement is made. Residents said, while Mr Parkash Singh Badal had promised to legalise all encroachments that had been there for the past five years, authorities had demolished their houses that had been there for more than four decades. One of the dispossessed girls could not recuperate from a cold that she had caught in winter and died.

Residents are ready to accept land on subsidised rates under an easy-instalment scheme. Some MC officials have advised them to pitch tents on a plot along fields on the other side of the railway tracks. The plot was once a pit, which has now been filled with fly ash and cannot support any construction.


She adds spice to the lives of people
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
From a housewife tending to her household duties and caring for her two daughters, Mrs Manju Rastogi has come a long way in the past three years. It was three years ago at 52 when she dared to enter into a new world — the world of business. The business required putting her skills of making pickles and squashes into practice on a large scale. Her venture has paid off as her products are in great demand. Her hard work and expertise have yielded rich dividends as she finds herself busy catering to the orders that people place with her.

Manju Rastogi has ventured into the business of making squashes, masalas, sauces, chutneys, namkeens at the age when people think of taking retirement. Manju hails from Uttar Pradesh and back home snacks, chaat-papadi, sweets, guniyas, namkeens, pickles, chutneys and puddings etc are made by housewives.

Manju says, “Cooking is in my blood. After my two daughters got married, I found time hanging on my hands. There was a vacancy for a pickle consultant. I was going to apply for the job when my family members urged me to start my own business of pickles, making bhel puri, papadi chat, etc. At the parties, my snacks were always appreciated. So I decided to venture out and got into business though I had no experience in marketing.”

Members of her family bought her books on food preservation and lent her great support. Having experience of four decades of food preservation in her kitty, she employed four women and went full steam into the production of all things dear to Indian households. She is using her own kitchen. Ms Rastogi says, “I am paranoid about adulterated colours and preservatives being used in commercial products. My sole aim is to provide fresh nutritive food to my customers. My namkeens are roasted and not fried, for I know fried snacks are enemies of good health.”

Ms Manjula Jain says that she finds Ms Rastogi’s namkeens excellent. Her “imli ki chutney” is mouth-watering. Ms Harbhajan Kaur, a teacher, says, “I am so lucky to have discovered Ms Rastogi. I buy masalas from her. My colleagues have started buying from her. After all who does not want to buy unadulterated products and that too at competitive rates.?”

The surprising thing is that her products have become popular even with NRIs. Ms Manju Rastogi says, “I am very satisfied that I am using my skills to give genuine products to Ludhianavis. I work for eight hours a day. I don’t think that age factor should deter anyone from starting a new venture.”

She buys fresh raw material daily and does not want to use stale stuff. Her rose syrup is made from fresh rose petals. During Divali she undertakes offers of supplying home-made sweets and ‘guyians’ a special delicacy of UP. She says, “women should not compromise as far as food products are concerned. They should be careful to check that good colours and preservatives are used. I have plans of expansion but not at the cost of quality. I want to use natural products and there should be nothing synthetic about them.”

She has never faced any problem marketing her products, for people are always keen to buy genuine products. She is happy for she feels she is giving people value for money.


Rs 50 lakh disbursed for development works
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Bikramjit Singh Khalsa assured that money will not be any restraint for development works in rural areas, and villages falling under the Dakha assembly segment would be provided all basic amenities.

Mr Khalsa, who owes allegiance to former SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, while technically being the member of SAD(B), remarked while addressing a rural gathering at Kailpur village, near Dakha in this district that his political affiliation often came in the way of release of funds by government departments for development works, but he said as elected representative of the masses, he was committed to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of his electorate.

Mr Khalsa disbursed a grant of Rs 50 lakh for development works in the village and promised to release another sum of Rs 75 lakh for the school building by next week. Mr Sukhwinderpal Singh Garcha, general secretary, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and member, of SGPC Mr Gurbaksh Singh Pudain, were guests of honour at the function.

Prominent among those present at the occasion were Mr Sukhwant Singh Chak Kalan, Mr Nirmal Singh, sarpanch, Mr Rur Singh, sarpanch, Mr Lal Singh Chak Kalan, Mr Manjit Singh, activist of All India Sikh Students Federation, Mr Nachhatar Singh, sarpanch and Mr Sadhu Singh, sarpanch.

Meanwhile, the SHSAD general secretary, Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh Garcha, has claimed in a statement here today that all factions of the Akali Dal, opposed to the ruling SAD(B) will bet together on a single platform after the party president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra came back from his foreign trip. The unification of all akali groups will materialise soon and the next assembly elections will be contested by the unified Akali Dal.

He said the party, in consultation with other Akali groups, will launch a ‘Punjab Bacaho Morcha’ (Save Punjab Front) to effectively check erosion in religious, political, economic and social field. The morcha, he added, would focus failures of the SAD(B)-BJP governments on all fronts and dejection of the electorate from the alliance government.

He flayed the government for deteriorating law and order, economic stagnation, unprecedented power crisis and exploitation of farmers.


TESA refutes AITEU’s allegations
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
The Telecom Engineering Services Association (TESA) have termed the allegations levelled by the All-India Telecom Employees Union (AITEU) against the SDE (Planning) as “baseless and concocted”.

Reacting to a news story published in Ludhiana Tribune on Wednesday, the association has said that it has already written to the General Manager, Telecom, stating that a regular mazdoor, Ram Samaj, entered the office of Mr R.M. Rai, SDE (Planning), in drunkard state, despite being on leave on April 11 and abused and manhandled the SDE.

Earlier, the AITEU had alleged Mr Rai of abusing and manhandling Ram Samaj on the same day.

Mr G.S Batra, Secretary of the TESA, in a signed statement claimed that soon after the incident the TESA had requested Mr G.R.Bodhan, Director General Manager (Planning), to get an FIR lodged against Ram Samaj and also to get him medically examined, but this was not done. After Ram Samaj was suspended, he levelled allegations against Mr Rai.

TESA denied involvement of any woman in the incident. TESA has also stated that Ram Samaj was a habitual drinker and often came to office in an inebeirated state. They demanded an inquiry into the matter.


Life is a balancing act
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
For five-year-old Sonu, life is not tight-rope walking, it is a balancing act as well. Symbolically and figuratively. Sonu has yet to be able to understand his worth, but his chacha, Titu, who is a madari does. Sonu is worth at least Rs 150 a day. He may earn even more, depending on the people who watch his acrobatics.

His day starts at nine in the morning, when he, along with his chacha and chachi roam around the city to set up show in some busy market or along the roadside. Wherever they see a group of people, they stop there, erecting two long bamboo sticks with a rope connecting them. Titu, the madari, beats the drum, exhorting people to see the acrobatics, a delicate performance of tight-rope walking and balancing act by Sonu, while his younger brother, one-year-old Mithu lies hanging with his back tied, apparently to make people part with a few bucks.

And people do stop to have a look. They may not be thrilled or amazed, since the act is not new. Yet they watch it. Titu, the madari narrates the tale of Sonu, who, he claims is better than others. Better than those who pick pockets or rob people. He takes the risk of walking on the rope to earn his living, Titu points out. As Sonu’s small delicate feet negotiate the rope, he keeps a long stick in his hand to provide a balance so that he may not fall down. Somehow he manages to walk along about four-metre of the long rope, inviting applause from the people. He does not do it bare foot alone. But also along with the bowl, which he keeps on moving along with his feet.

Subsequently, he comes down with the same bowl pleading for alms from the watching public. Invariably, most people come out with small change. Some are generous enough to offer Rs five as the performance is really impressive.

Sonu’s job is not without risk. At times Sonu falls from the rope while doing the walking and has suffered injuries also. He still carries the marks of an injury on his eyebrow. However, Titu claimed, it was not due to the fall from the rope, but due to an accident that he suffered when he was hit by a scooter.

Sonu has started doing the act about two years ago. This is a family avocation, Titu claimed. He said, they belonged to Bilaspur in Madhya Pradesh. The other family members were also spread out in different cities of the country.

Titu justified Sonu’s doing this risky job at quite a young age. “Is it not far better than begging or stealing?”, he asks while trying to explain that within a few years Sonu could act as an independent madari and earn his livelihood independently. 


Sathi Salana dead
Our Correspondent

Amloh, April 18
A renowned freedom fighter and CPM activist, Sahib Singh Salana (98), died at his village, Salana, 6 km from here, yesterday. He was given the honour of hoisting the flag at the foundation day celebrations of the Revolutionary Party at Desh Bhagat Hall, Jalandhar, on April 7.

Among those who attended the funeral were Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, MLA, Amloh, Ms Tara Sharma, President, Janwadi Istri Sabha, Punjab, Mr Joginder Singh Toor, President, All-India Lawyers Union, Chandigarh unit, Mr Baldev Sedha, President, Municipal Council, Amloh, Mr Balbir Singh Ghuman, President, Government Teachers Union, and panches and sarpanches of the area.

Mr Kahla Singh, nephew of the freedom fighter, lit the pyre. Bhog and antim ardas will be held at his residence on April 29.

Sahib Singh remained in exile for 25 years and had been in jail for more than 17 years. He participated in the Akali conference in 1922, and was jailed for six months along with a fine of Rs 500 by the Nabha state for organising an Akali conference in his village in 1923. In Riyasti Parja Mandali conference, which was held at Ludhiana in 1939, he was elected assistant secretary and was also elected secretary of the district Communist Party, Ludhiana, the same year. He was elected the first secretary of the Pepsu Communist Party after Independence.


Woman alleges cheating
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, April 18
The Sahnewal police has registered a case against the owner of a finance company for allegedly duping a woman by refusing to return an amount deposited with him.

According to an FIR registered under Sections 342 and 506 of the IPC on Tuesday, Baljit Kaur, wife of Jeet Singh of Raian village alleged that she had deposited some money with Kuldip Singh of Raian, owner of the BSB Finance Company at Sahnewal. 

She said she had deposited Rs 1 lakh on January 1, 1998, Rs 3 lakh on January 7, 1998 and Rs 25,000 on July 1, 1998, with Kuldip. 

When she learnt that the man was closing the company, she demanded her money back, at which, Kuldip abused her and locked her in a room.

Earlier, an application had been submitted to the SSP in this regard.


Seshadri's secret visit to city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
Mr H.V. Seshadri, sangh sarkaryavah (vice-president) and senior leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), today completed his five-day visit to the city. Although the visit was kept a closely guarded secret, the RSS sources disclosed that he held meetings with the local leaders and other frontal organisations, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Mr Seshadri, who is second in the sangh hierarchy after the RSS supremo, Mr K. Sudershan, spent five days in having feedback of the activities of the parivar. Significantly enough the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) mahila wing chief, Mrs Meena Bhat, was also in the city. The presence of the two leaders is said to be "not a mere coincidence".

The RSS sources claimed that there was no instant agenda about Mr Seshadri's tour. The visit had been planned about six months in advance, the sources said, while claiming that it was wrong to relate the visit to other developments in the state. They held that the visit was not related to the forthcoming elections in the state either.

The state BJP President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, and the General Secretary, Mr Ashwani Jaiswal, also had a one-hour meeting with the RSS leader.

Mr Seshadri addressed various shakhas (routine morning and evening meeting-cum-drills) of the RSS in the city where he laid emphasis on the traditional values and their importance in strengthening nationalism. He defended the swadeshi campaign and said it was in the best interest of the country.

The RSS leader stressed the need for the education of women, saying it was more important as only women can help in inculcating the traditional values among the new generation. He also cautioned against the ill effects of the western cultural influences which, he said, undermined the very foundations of the Indian culture.


Ownership rights for Dalit colonies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has issued instructions that henceforth the Dalit colonies would not be uprooted and the residents in such colonies be given ownership rights on liberal terms and easy instalments. Responding to a memorandum submitted by functionaries of the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharam Samaj (BVDS) here, Mr Badal further assured the deputation that work for completion of Dr Ambedkar Bhavan here would be speeded up.


Shopkeeper duped by salesmen
Our correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
In a major case of fraud some salesmen of a showroom allegedly sold electronic gadgets worth Rs 10 lakh and fled with the amount. The police has registered a case under sections 381/420 and 1208 of the IPC against Amit Kumar and Vanit Verma. The accused allegedly sold 48 television sets, 48 refrigerators, five microwave ovens and eight washing machines, costing about Rs 10,00,000.

A case of fraud has been registered against one Tushar P. Sanghvi on the complaint of V. Khosla, Director, Savdassi Karyalia, under Section 406/420 for allegedly defrauding the firm of Rs 5,45,000. No arrests have been made so far.

AC stolen
A case has been registered on the complaint of Manmohan Singh, an employee in Canara Bank on the Rajpura road. He reported to the police that his AC had been stolen.

Car stolen
A cherry colour Maruti car has reportedly been stolen. The car belonging to Lajvir Sharma was stolen on April 13. The car bears registration number PB-10-AP-0107. The police has registered a case. Back


Sewing machine industry struggling for survival
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
The sewing machine manufacturers in the city are passing through a critical stage fearing cheap imported machines and their inability to modernise their units. They feel that they have missed the bus to modernise the 120-year-old models of sewing machines that have now few takers in the domestic and international market. The days are not far when the cheap and better machines imported from China and Taiwan will flood the domestic market.

How can they compete with cheap imports when the raw material and labour costs are rising, is a cause of worry for industrial bigwigs. There are about 175 units in the country producing about 18 lakh machines worth Rs 150 crore for the domestic market. Machines and their parts worth Rs 5 crore are also exported to Bangladesh and some African countries.

At least 75 per cent of the total units in the country are concentrated in Ludhiana, Batala, Bassi Pathana and other small towns of Punjab. The other units are in Delhi, Kolkata and Jammu. The industry in the city alone is providing employment to more than 25,000 persons directly or indirectly.

The most famous 15 K model produced, is a hand operated machine, used mostly by the lower middle class in urban and rural areas. The machine is usually purchased by the household at the time of marriage. The tailors also use hand operated and electric motor operated machines for sewing clothes. The life span of the machine is anywhere between 10 to 15 years.

Regarding the present state of affairs, Mr D.S. Dhiman, Chairman, Punjab Sewing Machine Industries, says,‘‘ About 60 per cent of the market is served by the large-scale units such as Usha and Singer and the remaining share is mostly in the hands of small-scale units. The cost of production in the past few years has gone up affecting the profit margin and the cut-throat competition has forced them to keep the price at the lowest level, at about Rs 850 per piece.’’

Mr B.S. Sangha, General Manager, Research and Development Centre for Bicycle and Sewing Machine, says,‘‘ The industry has failed to modernise in the past decade though number of new models and methods have been developed by the centre. What the industry is trying today, should have been done a decade ago.’’

Mr Dhiman agrees that they have failed to built up any brand name by investing in modernisation like the cycle industry. He says,‘‘ Most of us are just working for the big units who are not ready to modernise.’’ The pressure from the MNCs may force them to improve the product.

The industry representatives also feel that the 8.8 per cent sale tax on the sewing machine should be reduced to 4.4 per cent as in the case of cycles. Mr Dhiman says,‘‘ We are also producing product meant for the poor people. The sales tax should be reduced to 4.4 per cent to save the industry”.

Mr Sangha says the industry has only one option to survive. It should modernise by importing the technology, besides, producing high cost quality machines. The experts in the readymade garment industry say there is lot of scope for the high quality stitching machines as the exports of readymade garments are increasing at a tremendous rate. The demand for them may go up after opening of the European market in 2005. It should prepare itself for that day. The demand can be anywhere between 25 to 30 lakh machines, he adds.

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