Saturday, May 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



DCs get stinker over arms licence extension
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The state government has taken a serious note of the rising number of recommendations sent to it for extending the jurisdiction of existing arms’ licence to the All-India level by the deputy commissioners of all districts in the state.

Principal Secretary Bikramjit Singh in a recent letter to all deputy commissioners, has expressed the government’s resentment over the increasing number of cases sent to it. The strong-worded letter has called upon all Deputy Commissioner’s to exercise maximum restraint in sending such recommendation. The letter also demands an explanation that why such a large number of recommendations were being sent.

According to the norms, the deputy commissioners were empowered to issue arms’ licences valid for the state only. However, for extending the state level jurisdiction to all-India level only the state government was empowered.

According to informed sources, of late there has been a spurt in the applications for extending the jurisdiction. This has not only increased the workload on the officials concerned but has also raised questions that why such a large number of people were seeking licences valid in the whole country.

Figures of such cases received and approved by the state government last year reveals that 1,390 recommendations were received by the Principal Secretary. Out of these 989 were approved while 401 were rejected.

The Ferozepore district tops the list of sending recommendations. As many as 458 application were received out of which 351 were approved. Amritsar is second with 214 applications and 197 approvals where as Ludhiana is third with 125 applications and 51 accepted ones.

Districts of Sangrur, Patiala and Ropar fall next in the series. The district sending the lowest number of applications was Nawanshahr which recommended only four cases all of which were accepted. The Kapurthala and Fatehgarh Sahib district are the joint second last with eight recommendations each.

The districts suffering maximum rejection of the applications included Jalandhar (92 per cent), Kapurthala (80 per cent), Moga and Hoshiarpur (75 per cent each ).

Justifying the recommendations sent from the district, Additional Deputy Commissioner S.R. Kaler said the district comprises mainly of businessmen and big landlords having land or trade in the other states. He said as they feel threat to life and property they request arm’s licence valid in the country. However, the administration in the reply has assured the Principal Secretary of exercising maximum restraint in sending such recommendations.


Death in custody: ‘price of silence’ paid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
There was no untoward incident in Haibowal here today during the cremation of Karnail Singh who had died in police custody on Wednesday. Karnail’s family and an action committee decided to drop objections after a Rs 3 lakh “compensation deal” was struck with the family.

The post-mortem, however, did not reveal any serious injury mark on the body. Sources said Karnail’s heart had been sent to Medical College at Patiala to test whether he had died of a heart attack. The viscera has been sent to a chemical laboratory at Patiala for tests. The post-mortem was conducted by a board of doctors, including Dr S.K. Sharma, Dr Manjit Deol and Dr Manjit Singh.

The police officials, who have been persuading protesters since Wednesday to call off their stir, have denied that any compensation deal has been struck. However, a member of the action committee, on the condition of anonymity, said the deal had indeed been struck.

A full payment was expected to be made by today evening, he said. He said, “The family has already lost its main earning member. It does not have enough money for even Karnail’s cremation, so, the committee is more interested in ensuring that the family gets a compensation than pursuing the case.”

He said a senior police official had opposed the compensation deal, saying that it was a dangerous trend to pay off “affected” families.

While the payment seems to have solved the immediate law-and-order problem in the area, it is still uncertain who will bear its cost.

According to the police sources, Inspector Warryam Singh, who had been suspended after being held morally responsible for the incident, has said that he is unable to pay such a huge amount. He says that he is innocent, as he was out of the police station on an assignment at the time of the incident.

Sources said the burden of the payment would most likely be borne by the persons against whom the case had been registered.

Yesterday, the police had included a person called Balbir Singh in the FIR of this case. It is perhaps the first time when a case has been registered against a civilian for a death in the police custody. The police had not registered any case of theft against Karnail and he had clearly been picked up illegally.

Sources said the effect of the payment on the case could be known only later. However, legal experts say that the family should still pursue the case. Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, an MLA, and Mr Surinder Dabur, President of the District Congress Committee (Urban), who are members of the action committee, said they would pursue the case.

Meanwhile, normalcy returned to Haibowal today and markets were opened. A large number of persons, including residents of Haibowal Kalan village and colony, political leaders and representatives of the administration, attended Karnail’s cremation.


Deteriorating law and order criticised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
The state unit of the Marxist Communist Party of India has taken strong notice of deterioration of the law and order situation in the state, particularly in Ludhiana city where the incidents of kidnapping, looting and death in police custody are taking place.

Mr Kuldip Singh, Secretary, Punjab state committee of the MCPI, in a press statement said that the recent death of Karnail Singh in police custody at Haibowal police station deserved strong condemnation by all concerned.

Holding the higher police officials responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation, the MCPI sought immediate transfer of the Ludhiana SSP “who had no control over his force”, they said.

To add to the woes of citizens and common people, politicians of the ruling Akali Dal were unduly interfering, shielding the corrupt and other sections of bureaucracy, Mr Kuldip Singh added.


Farmers resort to stubble burning
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
Posing a threat to environment and health of soil, farmers continue to burn the stubble of wheat despite being told not to indulge in this practice. The Agriculture Department and the scientists of Punjab Agricultural University have a number of times issued directions to the farmers to avoid the burning of the stubble.

A survey by Ludhiana Tribune in many villages on Pakhowal Road, Ludhiana-Khanna Road and many other villages revealed that the farmers had set many fields on fire causing pollution and affecting fertility of the soil.

The farmers who were burning the paddy straw were aware that the burning would cause harm to the top layer of the soil but they said that this was the method which was being followed for many years. A farmer said that the practice of removing of straw required manual labour and burning it was a simple solution.

The Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh, said that not many farmers were burning the straw these days. He said that this was actually a problem during the paddy harvesting season as the paddy straw was not used as animal fodder. He said that the farmers were so innovative that they had come up with a machine called reaper to remove the straw after harvesting the wheat with a combine.

Dr Aulakh further said that the farmers were not letting the straw go waste and selling it in the form of animal fodder. He said that the fodder was being sold at Rs 110 per quintal during this season when there was not much demand and it would be sold for even more after a few months. Dr Aulakh said that paddy stubble was a problem last year when 40 to 50 million tonnes of it was lying unused. So the farmers had went ahead to burn it. 


DFSC’s claim on lifting of wheat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
The District Food and Supplies Controller, Mr Parveen Vij, has claimed that lifting of wheat was being carried out round the clock in Khanna mandi and all possible means of transport were being put into service. There were reports of non-lifting of wheat stocks in the mandi, which he said was caused by heavy arrival during the past few days.

According to Mr Vij, over 18.5 lakh bags of wheat were purchased in Khanna mandi during the last 10 days and every day around 1.5 lakh bags were being shifted to storage places. However, with the arrivals in the mandi declining somewhat and the lifting of wheat being taken up vigorously, the situation would improve. He was confident that in the next two or three days, the whole stocks of wheat, purchased by government agencies, would be lifted and there was no need for the farmers to get panicky.

The DFSC asserted that the procurement agencies had also deployed the extra labour, available with the local arhtiyas to tide over the situation prevailing in the Khanna mandi. As a temporary measure, the district administration had also allowed the use of private tractor trollies of the farmers for the transportation of wheat stock from the mandi. Mr Vij added that the problem of lifting of wheat from the mandis was being blown out of proportion and being projected in an exaggerated form by some persons who wanted to draw political mileage even when the procurement work was going on smoothly.

Commenting on reports of delayed payment, Mr Vij maintained that sufficient funds were available for this purpose with the government agencies and payments were being cleared within 72 hours in accordance with the government instructions. However, in some cases the payments were delayed due to the late submission of bills by arhtiyas.


Lift wheat from mandis: BKU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has impressed upon the Punjab Government the need for immediate lifting of wheat procured by government agencies from the various grain markets because a tardy movement of wheat stocks had created a situation in which there was hardly any space available for fresh arrivals. It served an ultimatum on the government to take corrective measures within one week, failing which the BKU would mobilise farmers for an agitation.

The BKU Secretary-General, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, said in a statement here today that despite tall claims by the government to this effect, the procurement agencies had not been able to streamline the system of payments to the farmers for purchase of wheat. "In several mandis, the farmers, who sold their produce on April 23, were still waiting for the payments, whereas the government had stipulated that the payments be made within 72 hours positively."

Mr Kadian deplored the poor power supply in rural areas, saying the government should ensure continuous power supply for at least 12 hours for the rabi crops against three to four hours of erratic supply available for the tubewells at present. He held the Punjab State Electricity Board responsible for massive crop losses suffered by the farmers on account of loose power cables which lead to frequent electrical short circuits. The role of the Punjab Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, in this context was reprehensible because he had failed to take any action despite the fact that farmers had been making persistent complaints to the PSEB authorities.

The BKU has urged the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to intervene and direct the PSEB management to perform. The farmers should also be paid 100 per cent compensation for crop losses caused by electrical short circuits.

Meanwhile, the akali dal legislator from Dakha, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, has maintained that all promises made by the government with the farmers over the purchase of wheat have proved false and the farmers who had to suffer great hardship during the procurement of paddy were now feeling betrayed.

Mr Khalsa, who owes allegiance to a former SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said that the government was making false statements over the purchase of wheat. Instead of making adequate arrangements in time, the government was resorting to ad hoc measures. He said the government's claim that each and every grain of wheat will be purchased, had turned out to be a cruel joke and the sad story of paddy procurement was being repeated as far as purchase of wheat was concerned.

The akali dal legislator, who was accompanied by Mr Sukhwinderpal Singh Garcha, Secretary-General of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Youth Akali Dal, alleged that the farmers were being harassed in the mandis because the officials of procurement agencies were refusing to purchase wheat discoloured by unseasonal rain. There were many instances that the crop brought to the grain markets by the farmers before the rain was also damaged due to poor arrangements. They asked the government to take effective steps to ensure proper purchase of wheat and further to direct the government agencies, particularly the Food Corporation of India, to purchase the entire crop of wheat from the mandis.


Exporters seek abolition of octroi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The Engineers Exporters Association of India has submitted a memorandum to the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, demanding abolition of octroi on export material, power restrictions during peak hours and decrease in transport costs.

Mr Rajinder Jindal, president, Engineering Exporters Association, has pointed out they were facing severe threats from Chinese and other foreign manufacturers in the cycle and light engineering product manufacturing. But higher octroi duty on plastic components has further affected their competitiveness.

He said? “We have to pay 2 per cent of the total value as octroi duty on plastic components which are bought from Delhi and Gaziabad. The MC officials charge octroi duty on these components under the plastic goods category. Though these are cycle components on which octroi rate is Rs 24 per quintal, the state government should instruct the Municipal Corporation to charge octroi on these parts under the cycle components category.’’

“Was it not a paradox that the Delhi exporters can buy components from us without paying any octroi duty but we have to pay high duty even if we buy from Jalandhar manufacturers?” he asked. It may be mentioned that there are about 100 engineering export units that export cycle and other auto parts to the Gulf and African countries worth Rs 400 crore per annum.

Mr Jindal further said, “In fact there was no export policy in the state. The peak load power restrictions on export units were resulting in huge losses to them and even cancellation of orders. They were unable to fulfill their commitments. The government should provide exemption to the export-oriented units, which were registered with the Department of Industries. They should be granted 25 per cent ad hoc increase in contract demand and sanctioning of extra loads to fulfill the special orders’’

Mr Chaman Lal Tangri, general secretary of the association, said: “The government should also try to lower the rate of furnace oil, a major input for industry. The rate has increased from Rs 10.28 per litre to Rs 11 per litre over the past one month. There is no transparency in its price fixation.’’

The association has also raised the issue of high transport costs that were also affecting the flow of foreign investment in the state. The memorandum points out the exporters have to pay Rs 16,800 for 20 feet container and Rs 32,400 for 40 feet container to transport their material from Ludhiana to Mumbai port. The ocean freight from Mumbai to Singapore were approximately Rs 10,552 and Rs 15,242 respectively for the same material.

The association has urged the state government to compensate the transport costs to some extent to boost the exports from the state. The locational disadvantage was already affecting the investment in the state. 


DEO's Gypsy attached for ignoring court order
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
A district court today ordered the attachment of a Gypsy of the District Education Officer here due to the Education Department’s failure to execute an earlier court order directing it to pay over Rs 2 lakh to a former employee.

The Additional Civil Judge, Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur, ordered attachment of the Gypsy (PB-10S-1256) as the Education Department has not paid Rs 2,09,412 to Mr Charanpreet Singh, a retired headmaster, even though a district court had on August 19, 1999, ordered the Secretary, Education, and the DPI to pay the amount.

The petitioner had approached the court for execution of its orders of payment in January last year.

However, despite repeated summons the Secretary and the DPI did not appear in the court. The court ordered the attachment ex-parte.

The brief facts of the case were that the petitioner had retired as headmaster of a government school in 1992.

He claimed that the department had not paid him wages for about two years from 1990 to 1992 when he was suspended as the department had for strange reasons considered him on leave during that period.

He also pleaded that one of his annual increments was also not added to his salary.

All this later affected his pensionary benefits. Upholding his plea the court had ordered the department to pay the whole amount.

However, as the orders were not implemented the court today directed to attach the Gypsy of the department.


Siti Cable interfering with satellite TV signals
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
The Siti Cable, the local cable channel, is at it again and thousands of subscribers to the cable network in the city are at the receiving end. Much to the irritation of the TV viewers, an advertisement of “Face-N-Figure — The Grooming Workshop” is being indiscriminately beamed in between various popular programmes of Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony and other satellite channels for the last three days.

The advertisement, although shown by the local TV channel in between the ‘commercial breaks’ of almost all the popular TV serials, is thrust upon the viewers in such a crude and clumsy manner that many a times, the actual commercial break of the channel is over whereas the local cable channel continues to show the advertisement.

Several irate and upset TV lovers called Ludhiana Tribune office to complain about the interference in the satellite TV channel signals by the local cable network. Dr R. Chawla, a resident, asked, “How could the local cable network dictate its terms to the viewers, who subscribe to cable TV to watch their favourite programmes and serials.”

When contacted, the Siti Cable director, Mr Sunil Talwar, denied that any such advertisement was being shown on satellite channels. However, a spokesperson of Star Plus satellite channel, whom Ludhiana Tribune spoke on telephone, confirmed that the company had received complaints against Siti Cable. “We have told the local cable operator not to interfere with the signals in any manner and company will take a serious note of any such action in the future, he added.”


Two burn alive friend’s wife
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
In a gruesome incident, two persons burnt alive a woman and severely injured her husband in the Industrial Area of the city late last night.

Tappan, the injured man, hailing from Darjeeling, who was employed in a factory here, is under treatment at the civil hospital. On his statement, the police has booked his one-time close friends, Deepraj and Maharaj, on the charge of murdering his 20-year-old wife, Kusum.

According to the police, the incident took place around midnight last night. Tappan had recently shifted to the premises of Nobel Factory. His neighbour, Maharaj, and another friend, Deepraj, had visited his new house last night. After taking liquor the guests had gone upstairs to sleep.

However, later they come down and fought with Tappan accusing him of suspecting them to have illicit relations with his wife. According to Tappan, the matter was resolved but around midnight he got up hearing some noise and saw that his two friends were pouring kerosene on his wife.

He stated that before he could do anything the two torched his wife and then poured kerosene on him when he tried to save his wife. The two were yet to be arrested.


Surcharge on power supply opposed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
Industrial and domestic consumers here have strongly condemned the Punjab State Electricity Board’s decision to impose 10 per cent additional surcharge on commercial and domestic consumers whose bills are above Rs 2000 on actual power consumption.

The Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association (LSSMA) has criticised the move of the board to levy surcharge. At a meeting held here today, Mr Harish Khanna, president, Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, said, ‘‘The government has set up the State Regulatory Authority Commission, headed by Mr R.S. Maan, which is vested with powers to take effective decisions concerning any downward or upward revision in power tariff or levy of any other charges on the consumers after holding discussion with representatives of consumer organisations. The board has taken the decision unilaterally without taking the commission into confidence.’’

He added, “The board can at best recommend any revision in power tariff or for levy of any other charges, but the final decision in the matter vests in the above commission. We urge upon the commission to direct the board not only to withdraw the above surcharge on commercial and domestic consumers but also not to levy any such charge on the consumers without consulting and taking prior permission of the commission. If the above surcharge is not withdrawn immediately, the LSSMA will file a public interest litigation petition in this regard as the action of the board is illegal and unjustified.”

Incidentally, the board recently took a decision that in all disputed cases, entailing an amount of Rs 25 lakh and above, the chapter will be treated as closed if the consumers deposited 50 per cent of the disputed amount as settlement. But the small-scale entrepreneurs were left out. The association has demanded that the board should implement similar decision in the disputed cases of tiny and small-scale units, irrespective of the quantum of amount involved.

Mr Harish Kumar said that at a meeting held on February 2, 2000, with the Chairman, PSEB, the latter had taken a decision in principle not to levy any charge under the ‘System Sudhar Scheme’ especially in the case of small-scale manufacturers. But that has not been implemented.

He said the state was facing acute power shortage and there were unscheduled and scheduled power cuts which run for six hours at a stretch in a day. The industry was incurring heavy losses due to erratic power supply.”

He urged the government to conduct a thorough study on the defects and problems of the board to improve its efficiency. Remedial steps should be taken to improve the power supply in the state. 


Kiran Bedi to attend camp in jail on May 7
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
Dr Kiran Bedi will participate in a de-addiction camp and an awareness campaign of Dental Research Institute of Versatile Education (DRIVE) on May 7 in Central Jail here.

Dr Puneet Girdhar, President of DRIVE, in a press note issued here today, said DRIVE had been launched for creating dental-health awareness among patients, school children, teachers and other.

He said residents of Ludhiana needed dental-health awareness through check-up camps, demonstrations, seminars, discussions, audio-visual presentations, exhibitions, competitions, painting and essay-writing contests etc.

“The focus of the campaign will be on taking dental-health awareness to the poor and tribals as well. In the past three decades, incidence of oral diseases has increased due to a lack of awareness.

Oral diseases can begin in early childhood and in most cases, there is no pain to begin with. Most persons consult a dentist only when the damage has already been done,” Dr Girdhar said.


Noise pollution by pulverizer
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The walls are crumbling. The water in the bucket is spilling over. The land under your feet seems to be moving and the noise is so high that you can not hear your own voice. Do not worry you are not experiencing any earthquake! It is a man-made event, the impact of a pulverizer run by a person in the midst of the old city, Mandi Bagh Bute Shah, Kucha Parkash Puri to be precise for over past three years.

Neighbours say that one Mr Mohinder Pal had been running a flour mill for the past many years, but during 1997 he expanded his work and installed a pulverizer to mill basen, maize and other products on a large scale. Ancillary units were also installed to facilitate the process. Exhaust fans were put in the backyard, creating havoc for residents living in the lane.

Mr Y.P. Dosanj, living in that lane, alleges, “His daughter and a two-year child of a neighbour developed chronic asthma due to the dust coming out of the unit. The sound of pulverizer has made them virtually sick.”

His wife adds, “Initially they were promised that the unit would be shifted within six to seven months but it has not been shifted even after three years”. Mr Mohinder Pal, when contacted in this regard, strongly denied the charge. He said, “the charge is totally baseless. I have been working here for the past 40 years or so and no one has ever complained. Undoubtedly, we expanded our work and Mr Dosanj, being a retired person, has no work to do, so he is harassing us.”

He added, “The noise level is normal and we have got sanction to run the unit. Further we have a licence to run the unit in the commercial area.”

Mr Dosanj disclosed that unit was granted a licence only for a year in 1997 He says, “He is illegally using power connection from the electricity wires during night and even a tullu pump has been installed to get water supply from the main line against the law. According to the master plan, the area was declared a residential area where industries cannot be installed.”

Incidentally, the residents had forced a oil expeller unit to shift from the area a few years ago, but “this fellow has proved a hard nut to crack,” says neighbours. Mr Dosanj alleges, “Officials of the MC and other departments have been bribed and they are not ready to take any action. I appeared before the DC recently in Sangat Darshan, but no action has been taken so far.”


35 cases of octroi evasion detected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
During an intensive campaign against evasion of octroi, the enforcement staff of the Municipal Corporation has unearthed 35 cases of evasion and realised Rs 93,988 from the defaulters, according to Mr Tarlok Singh, Octroi Superintendent.


Robbers strike twice in one night
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
About five persons robbed two families near Johlan Rajgarh village near Raikot yesterday and decamped with about Rs 60,000 and some other valuable items. The Raikot police visited the spot, but no case was registered. The robbers struck at the house of a person called Uttam Chand and a nearby ‘dera’. The strikes were within 10 minutes of each other. The robbers, armed with sticks, rods and sharp-edged weapons, forcibly entered the house of Uttam Chand. After tying him and his wife, they broke open the locks of a cabinet. They took away about Rs 48,000 from the house.

Uttam Chand told the police that he had withdrawn money from his provident fund account on the day of the incident only. He said the robbers had specifically asked him about the money that he had brought home that day. These persons then robbed the head of a nearby ‘dera’ after a forcible entry and decamped with about Rs 7,000.Back


3 booked for assault
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
The Focal Point has booked three persons for assaulting and locking employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board who had gone to check the electric meter of a factory, Sikri Steel Ltd., in Dhandari Kalan.

According to the FIR, three persons, Raghbir Singh, Paramjit Singh and Harjit Singh, have been booked under Sections 332, 352, 186, 342, 467, 148, 149 and 323, IPC.


Minor girl abducted
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 4
Ms Mohinder Kaur, a widow residing in Bhadson village, in a complaint along with an affidavit to the Chief Minister of Punjab has alleged that her relative, Jasbir Kaur (16), and a resident of Dandrala village, near here, under Bhadson police station, was abducted by a person of the same village nearly two months ago.

In the affidavit attached with the complaint addressed to the Chief Minister, it was alleged that the police did not give her the copy of the police report and relatives of the girl had to pay Rs 10,000 to the police as raiding expenses and the amount was collected from relatives of the girl. She said the mother of the minor girl had died years ago. When contacted, the police said many raids had been conducted to trace the girl. 

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