Thursday, May 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



CM’s sops for industrialists 
Comprehensive package of relief and concessions
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
In an apparent bid to woo industrialists before the assembly elections next year, Mr Parkash Singh Badal announced some sops for the state’s industry in general and the city’s in particular during his short visit to the city on Tuesday evening.

To begin with, peak- load- hour power restrictions on industries with connected load of up to 100 KW have been removed in the state. The occasion chosen to announce the ‘comprehensive’ package of relief and concessions for the industry and trade was the marathon sangat darshan program me exclusively organised to solve the problems of the industry on the initiative of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, here last evening, according to an official press release

The Chief Minister also announced the setting up of state, zone and circle level dispute settlement committees to settle the industrial consumers’ disputes relating to the PSEB in the state. The state-level committee would include two representatives of industry, whereas in the zonal and circle level committees three members each from the industry would be included.

Regarding the sale tax issues, after detailed discussions, Mr Badal announced the extension of the date of application for deemed assessment up to 30-9-2001 from the year 1997-98. The government has also decided to continue the exemption from sales tax to the units already availing this facility till the expiry of their concession period and pipeline units would also get this concession. Notifications regarding these exemptions from sales tax in respect of industries established in the rural focal points have been approved and the requisite notifications are being issued.

The Chief Minister also announced that R&D centres for bicycle and sewing machines and for auto parts will be strengthened and modernised, so that these could be helpful in enabling the industry to prepare for challenges posed by WTO agreement.

In what is claimed to be a ‘landmark decision’ , the Chief Minister declared that the new R&D centre for hosiery and electronic industry will also be set up at Ludhiana based on the latest available technology in the world, so that the regular up-gradation of these industries could be ensured. A high—level committee will be set up in the Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training to identify vocational courses as per need of the industry. In view of the long demand pending and of industry located in areas other than industrial areas to regularise power connections, it was decided to constitute to constitute a committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner and comprising Chief Town Planner, and the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation to study the whole issue in 11 days.

He said that state government will send a delegation of industrialists to China, Taiwan and Germany for exposure of industry to the new technology and new markets in the wake of the opportunities created by WTO. To remove the difficulties being faced by the local yarn traders, some sort of entry tax would be imposed on the yarn being imported from other states by the consumer directly.

With regard to the demand of the trade to exempt all the halwai goods manufactured locally, the Chief Minister directed the FC (T) to implement the decision of the cabinet to fully exempt halwai goods from sales tax. The Excise Department would also put up fresh proposal to the Cabinet to give relief to the small bakers. The Sales Tax Department would examine the proposal favorably to lower the rate of tax on cycle accessories. Regarding all other demands pertaining to the Excise and Taxation Department, the Chief Minister asked the industry to send their representations to the FC (T) within 15 days, who in turn would hold a meeting with the industry at Ludhiana to sort out all the related issues. The government has decided to allow 25 % increase in contract demand of power without NOC for green category industry to exporting units and other industries. Faulty meters will be replaced by the PSEB within two days of becoming defective. Installation of meters at nearest point from the gate within the premises of consumer will be permitted.

The Chief Minister said that instead of discouraging the use of generators, the PSEB should take steps to encourage their use in view of the strain on the power front, and on this the PSEB allowed the installation of generators up to 150% power of the connected load in the industrial units and other establishments.

In another major decision regarding the labour issues, it was informed that Labour Department has notified a special package for IT industry and other industries, under which IT industry has been declared as ‘public utility service’. There will be only one inspection in a year of an establishment under all the labour laws and only one challan could be done under one act.

Responding to the demands of industry with the Municipal Corporation regarding the development and proper facilities in the focal point and other industrial areas, the Chief Minister said that all the facilities, including roads, sewerage, lights and cleanliness of good quality would be provided by the Municipal Corporation at the earliest. Mr S.S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, informed that all the roads in the focal point were being strengthened and a bridge over the railway line near Dhandari Kalan was being constructed at a cost of about Rs 30 crore. The issues relating to monthly minimum charges and tariff etc. would be referred to the Tariff Regulatory Commission for settlement as agreed by the industrialists.

The Chief Minister asked the industrialists to come forward to get the plots in the new modern industrial focal point being developed at Ladowal by PSIEC, as, in case they did not avail this opportunity now, it would not be possible for the government to provide another focal point by acquiring land near Ludhiana in future. For this purpose, to work out the rates of the plot, the Chief Minister directed MD PSIEC, to hold a meeting with the representatives of industrial associations on May 31. He said that the state government was always ready to sort out the genuine problems of the industry. The Chief Minister also directed the concerned officers to immediately implement all the decisions taken in the sangat darshan programme, so that the industry in the state could grow.

The Chief Minister said that to maintain proper liaison with the industry and trade and plug the communication gap, the government would continue holding meetings which would also help in solving the routine problems cropping up from time to time in the industrial sector. Taking a serious view of the callous attitude of some officers towards the genuine and minor problems, the Chief Minister called for a major changes in the bureaucracy towards the problems of the people.

Among others who attended the meeting included Lala Lajpat Rai MP, Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Technical Education Minister, Mr Sat Pal Gosian, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Jagir Singh, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr G.S. Sohal, Chairman PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra FC(T), Dr. B.C. Gupta, Secretary Labor Department, Mr D.S. Guru, Director Industry , Mr Arun Goel, MD Punjab Warehousing Corporation, Mr Kulbir Singh MD PSIEC, Mr S. K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ajay Mahajan, Chairman Pollution Control Board, Mr S. S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr K.K. Seth, Mr P.D. Sharma, Mr Ajit Singh Kular, Mr M.S. Bhogal, and Mr Jagat Singh (all industrialists).


Badal’s industry darshan a stunt: industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Industrialists have alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal is trying to woo them for the ensuing election by providing small concessions. They are surprised how Mr Badal is accepting their demands all of a sudden. It is whether a decrease in the land price from Rs 700 to Rs 500 per square yard in the Ladowal industrial complex or the relaxations by the PSEB over power theft cases, Mr Badal really seems to be coming in support of the industry.

Mr P.D. Sharma, President, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab), says, “He is not so much interested in the industrialisation of the state as he is interested in ensuring the support of industrialists in the coming elections.”

Another industrialist who did not wish to be quoted, said Mr Badal was not talking about the real issues concerning the industry such as abolition or simplification of octroi, increasing cost of electricity or double taxation on hosiery. The hosiery and cycle industries were already losing their competitiveness due to high difference in transport costs and high octroi as compared to Delhi, UP and southern states. Why did not he try to resolve these issues? he asked.

While criticising the move of Mr Badal to woo industrialists through small meetings, Mr P.D. Sharma, said: “This is not the real concern for the industry but the coming elections that Mr Badal is worried about. Even the small decisions such as removal of power cuts and regularisation of unauthorised load are being announced by the Chief Minister.” Was not it a mere political stunt? he asked.

In this regard, Mr B.S. Dhillon, General Secretary, Punjab Electronics Association, said,‘‘ We have been demanding a multi-storyed complex for about 200 electronic goods manufacturers in the city for the past 10 years but without any result. Is not it amazing that the Chief Minister has to take small decisions that can be and should be taken by the officials of industry and other departments.”

Interestingly, the Chief Minister had called a meeting of industrialists here yesterday. Mr Ramesh Inder Singh, Principal Secretary to the CM, Mr D.S. Guru, Director, Department of Industries, the Chairman of the PSEB, the MD of the PSIEC and other officials met the industry associations and taken various decisions during day time. They have agreed to accept various demands. But these were surprisingly announced by the CM after meeting association representatives in the late evening. Even the press persons were not allowed to be present in these meetings.

The industrialists who participated in the meeting, claimed that the CM behaved as a landlord who was distributing alms to his labourers. Even those who were openly aligned to the opposition parties were reminded that their wishes were being fulfilled expecting “some political dividend in return.”

Mr Vinod Thapar, President, Knitwear Club, who met the CM, was also of the view that the hosiery industry had been raising the question of double taxation on hosiery, highhandedness of tax officials and lack of cooperation on the part of the state government to face the threat of global competition for the past four and half years. But the CM has never cared to solve these issues. Now at the time of elections he was trying to give whatever we demand, though only on paper.”

A large section of industrialists are not ready to buy the argument of the Chief Minister that he is doing all these things because he is determined to make the state a heaven. They ask if the state government had taken serious steps to solve the problems of the industry, the city industrial groups such as Heroes, Avon and others would not have migrated to Haryana and other states.

“The most worrying question for the industry even today is the free electricity supply to the agriculture sector. If the CM is really serious about the industry, he should abolish free electricity supply and create an industry-friendly environment, instead of industry darshans, which are a mere political stunt. It is an exercise to buy industry support by offering small soaps,” said another industrialist.


Good news for 181 CSSF employees
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Thanks to Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s visit to city here yesterday, 181 employees of the Centre State Seed Farm at Lodowal can hope to get their salary after more than a year. The faces of the delegation of State Farm Workers Union were glowing after they succeeded in crossing all the hurdles in their year long battle against the indifferent attitude of the state authorities.

Prof K.S. Aulakh, Vice Chancellor, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), agreed after the Chief Minister’s instructions and transfer of about 1250 acres of land to the university that the workers can join duty in the university from today. When contacted today he said,‘‘ I want to assure all the 181 workers today that we have got the papers of the transfer of land and they can mark their attendance at the university register tomorrow from May 17. The university would pay the salary from the day of joining and the remaining salary would be paid by the Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation.’’

The members of the union have thanked the VC and CM for ending their woes. Mr Shakti Varat, general secretary, State Farm Workers Union, said: ‘‘ We are thankful to the CM and VC for reinstating our services. We hope that the MD of the PLDRC would relieve us at the earliest.’’

Mr M.S. Dhaliwal, MD, PLDRC, could not be contacted to get the exact date when these workers would be relieved. It may be pointed out that lack of concern and indifference by the Punjab government had pushed nearly 200 families to the brink of starvation. Employees of the erstwhile Central State Farm, Ladowal, on the outskirts of the city have been without salaries for over a year, with the Central government washing their hands of all liability towards their former employees and the state government dilly-dallying over the issue.

Since last year about three persons had died, one after committing suicide due to financial strain. The crisis started after the twenty-year-old lease of the Central State Farm to the Central government expired and over 2700 acres of land was returned to the state government.

The state government had in turn distributed the land between the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation (PLDRC) and the Punjab Police, while retaining some of it with itself. As per agreement between the state and the Central governments, the liability of these workers now rested with the state government, which had in turn passed it on to the PAU and the PLDRC, who got major chunks of the farmland.

Dr K.S Aulakh was saying that the land was yet to be transferred to PAU on revenue records and till that was done, these Central State farm employees could not be treated as employees of the university. He had said that there was no allocation in the university budget for making payments to these people.


Punjab Lok Morcha constituted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Close on the heels of the announcement of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to form a joint panthic group, various other non-Congress political parties have formed the Punjab Lok Morcha to fight the “misdeeds” and “anti-people” policies of the Badal government.

This was disclosed by the leaders of the morcha at a joint press conference here today. A seven-member coordination committee has been constituted to chalk out the plan of action. The members include Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic), Mr Teja Singh Tiwana of the Samajwadi Party, Mr Kuldip Singh of the Marxist Communist Party of India, Mr Harish Khanna of the Janata Dal (Secular), Mr Darshan Singh Jeeda of the Samajwadi Janta Party, Mr Tarsem Jodhan of the Lok Sangharsh Committee and Mr Peshora Singh of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta).

The morhca leaders alleged that the both the ruling SAD-BJP alliance as well as the Congress, had not came upto the expectations of the people. They claimed that the corruption had reached its peak during the regime of Mr Badal who was indulging in favouritism and nepotism. They described the sanghat darshan programmes of the Chief Minister as a poll gimmick.

Listing the priorities of the morcha, they said, “Sensing the predicament of the people and the need for a new peoples’ movement to the redress of public grievances some of the non-Congress opposition political parties have decided to form a broad-based united front”. They declared that the morcha will fight and agitate to protect the rights of the farmers, guarantee of the purchase of their produce at the MSP, solving the problems of the small- scale industry and get rid of the “tyranny and corruption of the ruling elite”.

Mr Harish Khanna informed that senior leaders of the third front, who had recently constituted the People’s Front, will also be invited to address the morcha rallies. A state-level rally is scheduled to be held in the month of June which is expected to be addressed by the former Prime Minister Mr H.D. Deve Gowda and other senior leaders.


No business’ in declaring area residential
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 16
Owners of thousands of small industrial units of New Janta Nagar and Simlapuri on Gill Road here are miserable after the area has been declared ‘residential’ by the local Municipal Corporation (MC). After the decision, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is not allowing new power connections and load extension.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) or any other government departments is refusing to redress even genuine grievances of these industrialists. Officials say that these localities are not notified as industrial areas.

The MC had formulated six building schemes, besides a town-planning scheme, for these colonies between 1982 and 1985. These could not be implemented because, at that time, only about 40 per cent of the units that are here now, existed. An MC survey of the area in 1999 had shown that 47 per cent of the plots here had been used to set-up industries, 38 per cent had houses raised on these and 14 per cent were vacant.

The PSEB records of that period show that there were 45 large-scale, 362 medium-scale (MS) and 3,025 small-scale units in these localities then. The number had swelled to 65 large-scale units, 117 medium-scale units and 6,577 small-scale units by 1999. The MC had also adopted a resolution in May 1998 for not implementing the building and town planning schemes for Simlapuri and the other localities where about 90 percent of the construction work was already over. The MC had also decided to ask the state government to withdraw the schemes.

Mr Avtar Singh Azad, President of the United Small Industries Association, said, “Before 1997, the PSEB authorities used to issue industrial power connections without asking for no-objection certificates of the MC or the PPCB. However, later, it was made mandatory to produce these documents for seeking new power connections or load extension. The cases were referred to the MC, who refused to issue the NOCs, saying that the units were in a residential area.”

Industrialists of the area say that the residential colonies are close to notified main industrial areas of the city. The areas covered under the schemes were predominantly industrialised and in most cases, residents had converted their houses into industrial units after shifting their residences elsewhere.

Responding to the persistent demand of the industry to change the land-use pattern of these localities from residential to industrial, the MC had issued a public notice calling for suggestions and objections in this regard. Mr Azad said about 4,400 industrialists had filed affidavits to support the demand for converting the place to an industrial area. The MC had forwarded the proposal to the state government in November 2000, but no decision was taken in this regard.

Industrialists said the schemes were a big bottleneck in the way of their survival. They said, without the government’s intervention, the WTO regime would eat up their businesses here.


Police stations functioning from occupied land,
unsafe buildings
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Facing a serious resource crunch, a number of police stations in the city are functioning from illegally occupied land or from unsafe buildings. While the safety of the staff in condemned buildings is under threat, the police department is at loggerheads with the other departments over the issue of paying rent of the occupied land or to vacate it.

Barring four police stations — Sadar, Sarabha, Focal Point and the Division No. 2 police station — all the others are functioning from occupied land, rented buildings or unsafe police buildings. The condition of the police post is the worst.

The most controversial is Division No. 6 police station which, according to the Municipal Corporation, is constructed on a piece of land belonging to it. The police refuses to acknowledge claiming that the land was donated to the police by the Dholewal village panchayat.

The MC has in letters written to the Deputy Commissioner and senior police officials claimed that the Division No. 6 police station is situated on a piece of land which after the merger of the Dholewal village in the MC area three decades ago belonged to the MC. The letters have demanded rent of the three decades which runs in lakhs or immediate vacation of the land as it can be utilised for some development work by the MC.

SSP Kuldip Singh, however, claimed that the MC was no rightful owner of the land. The Salem Tabri police post, near the Jalandhar byepass chowk, is also mired in controversy. Situated on a piece of land belonging to the Punjab Agro Department, the police station continues to function even though the department is learnt to have requested the police to vacate it.

According to sources, the police station was also a makeshift police post two decades ago and was located at the same place. The police says that it could not get any proper land and thus in an understanding with the department had got constructed a temporary structure.

Apart from these controversial police stations , an interesting case is of the Model Town police station. It is almost the only one police station in the state which is housed on first floor in a rented building of the Improvement Trust. While the problem of payment of rent occurs off and on, the police faces problems of smooth discharge of the work due to its location.

The Jodhewal Basti police station is also housed in a building donated by a land lord. A stone declaring the donation is placed in a wall of the police station. However, according to the sources, land is yet to be officially transferred to the Police Department.

The Division No, 1, 3, 4 and 5 police stations are also housed in unsafe buildings. According to the SSP, the police has sent proposals to the state government for new construction of the unsafe police stations and to provide proper land to the one functioning from land not belonging to the police. 


CBI solves triple murder case
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 16
With the arrest of Gurvinder Singh of Rasulpur village in Amritsar district allegedly for killing the family of his in-laws, the Jammu branch of the CBI claims to have solved the mystery of the triple murder committed at Kotla Bajwara village in the district in 1996 in which all the three members of the family were killed. The case was handed over to the CBI on the directions of the Punjab & Haryana High Court as the police had failed to trace the killers.

In 1996 a prosperous family of Kotla Bajwara village, 2 km from here, consisting of a mother, a son and a daughter-in-law was found murdered in their residence. As usual in the morning the servant knocked at the door. As he got no response from inside, he informed villagers and suspecting some foul play they informed the police. After breaking the door open the police found that all three members were lying in a pool of blood and nothing was missing from the residence.

The incident had sent a shockwave in the area as the young son, Kanwar Mohinder Singh, was a social worker and enjoyed good reputation in the area. He was married to a girl of Chandigarh just six months ago.

His father had died earlier, leaving behind one son and two daughters. One of the daughters was married in Canada and the other was married to Gurvinder Singh, the accused. The family owns a farmhouse on 40 acres of prime land.

At the time of murder the role of the accused was doubted as the family had no enmity with anyone in the area. A large number of youths of Sirhind town belonging to different sections of society, who happened to be the friends of the deceased, were interrogated by the CBI and summoned to Jammu time and again. The accused dodged the district police. Even the father-in-law of Kanwar Mohinder Singh also suspected the role of Gurvinder Singh.

After the murder he took over the charge of the farmhouse and the property.

As the police failed to trace the real culprit in spite of the best efforts, the relatives knocked at the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which in 1999 entrusted the inquiry to the Jammu branch of the CBI.

Mr Ashok Kalra, investigation officer, registered a case against unidentified persons under the Arms Act and Section 302, IPC. He had mentioned in the report that on the night of April 10, 1996, some persons having sophisticated weapons shot dead Kanwar Mohinder Singh, alias Lali, his wife, Navjivan Kaur, and mother, Manjit Kaur, and fled. During the inquiry the CBI found that the 40-acre land went into the hands of Gurvinder Singh through his wife, Harkiran Kaur. After five years the CBI arrested the accused on April 25 and presented him in a court at Jammu which remanded him in police custody. Later he was presented in the CBI court at Patiala where he was remanded in judicial custody. CBI sources said that soon a detailed charge sheet would be presented in the CBI court.

Meanwhile, Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, said that though the CBI had solved the mystery of blind triple murder, the district police would seek the remand of the accused for further interrogation and to expose all those who were involved in the conspiracy.


Arhtia robbed of Rs 25,000
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
Two armed youths robbed an arhtia (commission agent) of Rs 25,000 at gunpoint in New Grain Market this afternoon. The Jagraon police has registered a case, but no arrest has been made.

According to the police, the commission agent, Mukundi Lal, was robbed by two clean-shaven youths who had come to his shop on a scooter which did not carry the registration number.

The youths entered his shop and said they had come to deposit some amount belonging to some Manuke Singh.

The agent said he did not know any such person. However, the youths said they wanted to talk further and the agent took them inside.

After managing to get inside, the youths immediately took out a revolver and forced the agent to pay them Rs 25,000.



The Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, has vowed to give up mass machhi and madira (meat, fish and liquor). The oath was taken at Bhaini Sahib, an important centre of the Namdhari sect, about 25 km from Ludhiana, after being “blessed” by the sect leader Baba Jagjit Singh. The PCC president was there to participate in a seminar on Namdhari history.

Elated and excited over the promise of power, the Captain took no time in reciprocating by announcing to become an ardent follower of the Guru. He took an instant pledge, saying he will follow the teachings of the Guru in letter and spirit. In excitement he also declared, “from today onwards I vow not to touch mass, machhi and madira (meat, fish and liquor)”.

A matter of faith

Ten golden rings studded with precious stones, a few bracelets dotted with diamonds and a neck full of lockets again all golden. This is no mannequin in a jeweller’s shop but the description of a young man, doing a prosperous business in the city. Partial interest in wearing jewellery and partially a little faith in the power of stones has made this businessman to invest lakhs in gold and stones. It not only makes a difference in the life but also the centre of attraction, when all gold and diamond glitters on the rings, the wrists and the neck.

Of the 10 rings worn by the youngman, each ring has different significance, ranging from business prospects to family welfare.

And he believes that wearing these rings, bracelets, chains and lockets has certainly made a difference to his life. Although he does not want to enter into any argument about the real utility and the result of putting on so much of gold and other precious gems worth lakhs of rupees, he believes that this has definitely been beneficial.

However, there is one thing, the gentleman will not like to argue about. Whether it is his financial position that allows him to afford such a luxury of wearing such a quantity of gold and other stones or is it because of wearing these things that he has prospered so much in business.

Although there is no scientific justification that by wearing such metals and stones there can by any change in the life of a person, thousands of people wear these things and the jewellers do a lucrative business by selling precious stones. So long as people have faith, they are bound to prosper. The argument runs that if you do not have the proof to prove them right, you do not have anything to prove them wrong.

Just married

In many college convocation functions held last week, one curious phenomenon was observed. A large number of girls receiving degrees sitting in front rows were wearing ‘suhag chooras’. The ‘chooras ‘ did tell a tale. The girls had graduated in order to get married for in the matrimonial market the girl has to be at least a graduate. The parents who have been on look-out for suitable boys are waiting for their girls to finish graduation and then arrange their nuptials. Sometimes it so happens that because of auspicious dates the girls get married before the examinations and attend college wearing “chooras” much to the amusement of the friends. The idea is just to get a graduate stamp. Who cares in which division the student has passed ? Needed a degree for marriage, is it not so?

Dog of the boss

It is not just bureaucrats or their family members alone who enjoy all the privileges the state could offer and can lay their hands on, but also their pets who receive as much, if not more, care and attention from their subordinates.

Recently the pet dog of a senior bureaucrat of the level of commissioner secretary in the Punjab government was operated upon by the veterinarians of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). An airconditioned room was booked in the local Circuit House.

Since the veterinary clinic in the PAU has no airconditioning facility, the vets were summoned to the Circuit House with the entire operating kit. They performed the operation in the Circuit House itself.

While the senior bureaucrat personally supervised the operation and the post-operation care, three junior-level officials of the department he heads, stayed in the Circuit House round the clock for four days, lest the condition of their boss, dog may deteriorate and they would be found missing. They were relieved of their special assignment only when the PAU vets certified that the dog was OK and could go home. During this entire period, the bureaucrat regularly visited Ludhiana.

Bada paper, Chhota paper

The pullouts started by almost all newspapers in the city are perhaps not liked much by those who want their news to be published. Journalists of late have to answer this question, “Bade paper mein aayegi ya chotte mein” (Whether it will be published in the main paper or in local supplement). Much to their surprise, they always want it to be published in the main paper. A student leader belonging to PAU asked a reporter, “Tusi main paper vich hi de dena, nahin ta koi faida nahin”. (Kindly publish it in the main paper otherwise there is no need.)

Police scores over admn

The police seems to have scored a point over the District Administration by beautifying the area around its office in the Mini-Secretariat where all government offices are situated. The other parts of the Mini-Secretariat remain as dirty as ever. The courtyard, in front of the district police headquarters and the offices of senior police officials inside have been given a new look. The usually dirty courtyard having haphazardly parked vehicles and the unkept lawns without a blade of grass, have become a thing of the past. This area has been replaced by a clean courtyard with lush green lawns and demarcated paths. The paths have been lined with brightly painted poles and chains. Even the offices have been spruced up. Beautiful flower pots with indoor plants have been placed in the corner. It seems that the Green Ludhiana scheme launched by the police last month has finally started showing results. The police may not have managed to make the city green but is determined to make a beginning from its office,

Brother cheats sister!

A city couple had recently gone to Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh for boating. The sun was almost setting. When they reached the counter for a ticket, a long queue was there and the cashier was going to close the counter in a few minutes. Suddenly a person with yellow turban and a rural outlook came forward and offered a ticket, saying,‘‘ I have purchased a ticket for Rs 60 but my friend has gone somewhere so please take it at whatever cost you want.’’ The couple was in dilemma and looked towards the line. The boy hesitatingly took the ticket and offered him two notes of Rs 50 each. He was told that he could take the ticket for just Rs 50. The girl took out a Rs 10 note out of her purse and tried to give him. The fellow pleaded with her,‘‘ Please keep it. You are my sister and I will not take it.” Interestingly, after taking the ticket when they reached near the boat, the attendant told them they had purchased a ticket from a drunkard who was not allowed boating. The actual cost of the ticket was just Rs 30 and Rs 30 was the security amount. ‘‘You will not get back the security amount as the half hour time limit for boating has already elapsed,’’ they were told.

Cruelty still haunts

Mr Y.P. Bhalla, a 65-year-old entrepreneur here, is one of the few persons in the city, who has seen his father, Mr Kashmira Singh, actively participating in a communal riot. He has kept a file of The Tribune newspaper of the 1947-48 period in which the memories of Partition and speeches of national leaders such as Gandhi and Nehru have been kept for the coming generations. He says,‘‘ Whenever I see these papers I feel like crying. I still fail to understand how neigbours living together became enemies and killed each other.’’Remembering those days, he says,‘‘ I used to read in the sixth standard at that time. I do not forget the scenes at the local railway station when the trains from Doraha and other towns had reached here with hundreds of persons killed in them. Blood was flowing like fountains from the compartments. The memory of that mad cruelty still haunts me. I wish such a bad period does not come again.’’

Addressing God

Religion is a matter of faith. No one has the right to question a neighbour’s faith even if it appears bizarre. Faith , which is generally a subjective term, is surely capable of accomplishing wonders for the believer.

A large number of city residents believe that if they hold a ‘jagrata’ in their homes every year, they would be blessed by one incarnation or the other of Durga Mata. Keeping awake whole night and singing hymns in praise of gods and goddesses might succeed in pleasing the gods but does this please the neighbours also who have to restlessly toss around in their beds on account of the amplified din next doors?

It is again a matter of faith for many who believe that God has eyes and ears everywhere, making him capable of hearing which is not even vocally uttered but muttered deep inside ourselves.

Different faiths considered, let us not create problems for the sound-sensitive fellow citizens by addressing God on a microphone attached with an amplifier.



‘Drug abuse rampant among school students’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
“Youngsters are experimenting with drugs because of peer pressure, easy availability of drugs in chemists’ shops and the frustration of unemployment,” said Ms Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary of the Department of Social Security and Welfare of Women and Children, at a press conference in the Salem Tabri Acupuncture Hospital here today.

She also said the drug de-addiction centre here was doing an excellent work. It was the only hospital where acupuncture was used to cure withdrawl symptoms.

Later, she had a meeting with representatives of 11 NGOs involved in de-addiction programmes. She said, “Media can help in creating awareness regarding drug abuse. Persons in the age group 20 to 35 are taking to drugs in a big way. They inject themselves with the drug dose or take capsules and hashish etc. They even buy drugs from chemists without prescriptions. Though we have asked the DCs and the Health Department to ban this practice, the rule has not been enforced so far. Either drug users manage to buy drugs from chemists at the higher rates, or get prescriptions from some fake doctors.”

The director of the department, Mr R.N. Kalsia, said 17 NGOs were working in Punjab and the government was spending about Rs 60 lakh on running day-care and de-addiction centers.

He said, “All medical colleges of Punjab have psychiatry and de-addiction wards where the patients are treated free of cost. Drug abuse is on the rise due to breaking up of joint families, unemployment, disintegration of religious values, parents’ isolation from children and a strong drug mafia. Initially, peddlers offer students drugs for free and when students get hooked on to these, they charge them heavily for these. The NGOs are making students aware of dangers of drug abuse by organising workshops, but religious institutions should also speak up against this.”

Dr Inderjit Singh, Medical Superintendent of Acupuncture Hospital, said, “We get a lot of threats from drug mafia, but we continue to do our job. Acupuncture can help an addict deal with the withdrawal symptoms easily. We keep such patients in the hospital for 15 days and then call them later for more check-ups. In the past three years, 1,058 addicts were treated here. Individual and family counselling are part of de-addiction programmes. Follow-ups ensure that society does not isolate patients.

There are a number of addicts in the wards here. One such person, Kuldeep Singh, began taking poppy husk under peer pressure. Initially, he used to feel good after taking the drug, but, after sometime, he developed a severe headache. His father brought him to the centre.

Another such man, Jatinder Ahuja, said his addiction to hashish had ruined his hotel business. Now, acupuncture has helped him deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Another addict, Sukhdeep Singh, took to taking pathedin and morphine injections under peer pressure after his girlfriend ditched him. After about 10 years of drug abuse, he decided to kick the habit.

In the room, patients can be seen lying on their stomachs, with long needles all over their body. Soon they will return to the way they used to live earlier. Even senior citizens fall prey to drug addiction after they are turned out of their houses.

Dr Pushpinder, who works for an NGO and visits schools to spot addicts, was shocked to find even students of Classes I and II addicted to gutkha. It is a wake-up call for parents, teachers and the government.


Meeting flays WTO pact 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
Representatives of different political parties held a meeting on the deteriorating scenario of the country and some specific issues and invited all secular and democratic elements in the state to join hands to build a powerful mass movement for redressal of the people’s grievances.

At a meeting of party representatives here yesterday at Punjabi Bhavan, it was observed that globalisation, liberlisation and privatisation had ruined the small scale industries and the agriculture sector.

The meeting condemned the signing of the WTO by the Congress without taking the people of the country into confidence and which was being vigorously pursued by the BJP-led coalition government. The removal of QRS on more than 1,429 articles affecting the small sector cottage industries was an example.

Expressing concern over the situation, the meeting observed that corruption was rampant in all spheres in which the ruling party politicians were directly involved. The state had been handed over to the police and the bureaucrats whose high-handed methods had become the order of the day. The Chief Minister, Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, had promised to hold investigations into corruption and high handedness of police and the bureaucracy. But during the past four years, Mr Badal had been shielding the accused in various corruption cases, the meeting added.

The meeting further observed that burning issues and problems facing the state including transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and the river waters dispute had been relegated to the background by Mr. Badal.


Workshop on modelling
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
“There has been a sea change in thinking among the people about modelling as a career. The profession that lacked dignity earlier has not only become respectable and is also hot favourite in our society today. More people are pushing their children towards this glamorous profession,” said Kanwal Toor, one of the five finalists for Femina Miss India-2001, who has come here, as a faculty member for the 2001 “Face-n-Figure” — the grooming workshop, which started today.

The five-day workshop has been organised that will provide training where the professionals from their respective fields will hold classes on various skills like personality development, communication, body language, fitness, beauty care, ramp walk, choreography, camera facing and media guidance to the budding models in the city.

“The participants will be given a chance to interact with the renowned models and grooming advisers to satisfy their enquiries,” said Manik Verma, a model from Delhi.


Dharna against police inaction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 16
A large number of angry residents of Barrewal village, near here, blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road for about an hour and staged a demonstration in front of Dehlon police station today in protest against the dowry death of a newly married woman and the alleged police inaction.

The dharna was lifted after senior police officials convinced them that proper action under the law was being taken in the case.

Baljinder Kaur died of burn injuries at the Civil Hospital this morning. She was allegedly burnt for dowry by some members of her in-laws’ family. According to complainant Charan Singh, she was married to Harpreet Singh in September last year but was constantly harassed for dowry.

The police has registered a case against Harpreet Singh, Shamsher Singh, Manjit Kaur, Kuldip Kaur. 


Trucks released, agitation over
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 16
Sixty trucks, which were impounded, were released after verifying their documents and the action committee has withdrawn the agitation.

Mr Om Parkash Gupta, spokesman of the action committee, said to mediapersons that the demands of industrialists and traders have been accepted by the government. While Mr Manglesh Sethi, ETO (enforcement), has been transferred to Patiala, and the director of enforcement has also been transferred.


‘Killer’ of daughter arrested
Our Correspondent

Khamano, May 16
Mohinder Singh of Panjkoha village, who is accused of killing his daughter, has been arrested by the Khamano police. The girl, Navroop Kaur Rupi, was allegedly strangulated to death by her parents on the night of May 11 and was cremated the same night. The girl, a student of Government Girls College of Patiala, had an affair with a youth of Chanarthal Kalan village in the Patiala district. The other accuses, girl’s mother and brother, have not been traced so far. 


Arms dealers demand relief
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 16
The Punjab Arms Dealers Association (PADA) has demanded reduction in the excise duty and octroi on arms and ammunition and has also urged the government to remove many other hurdels impeding their business.

A meeting of the governing body of the association held here under the presidentship of Mr Pritpal Singh Mahant, asked the state government to impress upon the Centre to reduce the excise duty on the sale of arms and ammunition, which was currently 32 per cent. High excise duty and hike in the octroi from 2 to 5 per cent had given a setback to the trade.

Giving details of the deliberations, Mr Mahant said the association had called for dispensing with the requirement of security certificate and coverage for bringing arms and ammunition from the airport to retail outlets for sale. The condition was imposed during the time of militancy and it had become superfluous and was causing avoidable inconvenience and financial burden on the dealers.

Further, the association has asked the government to increase the quantity of arms and ammunition on the dealers licences at par with adjoining states like Haryana and Delhi since the quantity allowed at present was very low. The arms dealers also emphasised the need to permit them for booking of NP bore small weapons, manufactured by the Government Ordinance Factory, which would bring sizeable revenue to the state government in the form of sales tax.

At present, these weapons were sold directly to the individuals who have to go in person to far-off places like Calcutta and Kanpur. 

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