Thursday, June 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Many heads may roll following probe
Demolitions around ammo depot
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
Many heads are likely to roll over the Baddowal ammunition depot controversy after the state Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, completes the inquiry on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Chief Secretary is supposed to file the action taken report in the court by September 9, 2001.

The inquiry follows the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a judgement delivered on March 19 regarding the demolition of marriage palaces around Baddowal ammunition depot. Making strong observations, the court said, “The district and police authorities have not only failed to perform their duties, but in the process have jeoparadised the safety and security of a very important defence installation and have compromised the national security and integrity as well”.

Adding further, the court observed, “In fact, we have a very strong suspicion that it is not merely a case of inaction, but could well be a case of active connivance of these authorities with the petitioners, which has enabled them to erect huge constructions in the prohibited area”.

It was in continuation of these observations that the court directed the Chief Secretary of Punjab “to inquire into the matter and fix responsibility of those responsible for this serious lapse in not taking preventive measures at the relevant time”. It added further, “After fixing the responsibility, suitable action should be taken against the erring officer/officials in accordance with the law. The inquiry must be completed within six months and action initiated thereafter”.

The court had observed that “the conduct of the district and police authorities leaves a lot to be desired. These authorities totally failed to take any action against the illegal constructions which had come up over a period of years and against which complaints were being made to them by the defence authorities from time to time. The file produced before us contains numerous letters from the defence authorities on this subject. On receipt of such letters, the district administration would write to the police authorities and that was the end of the matter”.

It pointed out, “the file does not show whether any follow-up action was taken by the district authorities. Inaction on the part of these authorities not only led to these huge unauthorised constructions to come up, but gave a handle to these petitioners to argue that since no objection had been raised during the period of construction, the authorities could not order demolition after the buildings had been completed”.

The Chief Secretary also visited Ludhiana on May 18. Although he claimed that it was a routine visit, he had come here in connection with the inquiry. The Chief Secretary had also visited Baddowal and talked to the local and defence authorities.

Meanwhile, the local administration has refuted the charges of the owners of demolished structures that the demolition was carried out on selective basis. Senior officials in the administration said they had followed a procedure and started with Megha Resorts and the Springfields, which were at the extreme end on both sides of the Ferozepur Road. Referring to two palaces which fall between the White Rock and Springfields, but were left out in yesterday’s demolition drive, the officials disclosed that it was on the direction of the High Court that the distance between these palaces and the outer fencing wall of the ammunition depot had to be measured. After measurement, it was found that these were also within the radius of 1000 yards and notices had been issued to them to demolish the structures within ten days, failing which similar action would be taken against them.

Referring to the authority of the Additional Deputy Commissioner to carry out the demolition, the officials quoted the High Court judgement. It had clearly specified that the ADC was fully authorised to carry out the demolition and it in no way went against the provisions of the Works of the Defence Act, 1903.

The officials said enough time had been given to the owners of the marriage palaces to carry out the demolition on their own. They pointed out, that according to the High Court judgement, no notices had to be given. Despite that, they were given one-month time to act on their own, which they did not. A senior official, not wanting to be identified, referred to the judgement, which said, “Any laxity or indulgence shown to the petitioners shall not only endanger the defence installations, but also would be a threat to the security of people living in Ludhiana. If a a similar incident were to happen in the ammunition depot at Baddowal, the loss of life and property would be many times more, keeping in view density of population there. Must the authorities wait for an event to happen before they decide to take any preventive steps”.


Dharna against demolitions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
Hundreds of residents of the Ayali Kallan and Baddowal villages, surrounding the Baddowal Ammunition depot, on Wednesday staged a dharna on the Ferozepore Road. They were protesting against the move of the administration to demolish unauthorised structures falling within the 1,000 yard radius of the ammunition depot.

Apprehending similar action against themselves, the villagers came on streets today to protest against any further action in this regard. They reportedly blocked the Ludhiana-Ferozepore road for some time. They said they would continue the dharna till they were assured that their houses would not be demolished.


Bald patches, heaps of rubbish,
stray dogs greet walkers
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 6
With unparalleled urban growth as a result of industrialisation, coupled with diminishing green cover, Ludhiana is fast turning into a concrete jungle with literally no lungs to breath with. Whatever minuscule area still remains under parks and plantations, is more or less under a state of utter neglect, poor maintenance or under encroachments.

The 700-odd parks or what passes off for green belts is at the most patches of greenery with bald areas, broken benches, worn out and damaged fences, weeds all around and unhedged plants, mocking the visitors in almost every city locality. Public parks, hardly being anybody’s baby, are among the easiest prey for land mafia and those looking to make a fast buck through fraudulent land deals. It is not uncommon to see several unauthorised structures and sheds, constructed in the parks, often by residents living in adjoining houses in a large number of parks.

Not only this, there have been several instances where certain unscrupulous persons have gone to the extent of selling away the parks or areas under green belt to gullible persons, on the basis of forged and fabricated documents and the authorities found lacking in enforcement, later have to go in for litigation which drag on for years.

Oval Ground in Rakh Bagh Complex, one of the most favourite places for morning walkers after Rose Garden, is a classic case of neglect, poor upkeep and the official apathy towards public grievances. Big bald patches of ground, unsowed grass, withered plants, scattered dry leaves, heaps of rubbish and stray dogs inside the ground greet the visitors, who come here looking for a whiff of fresh and clean air and soothing environment in which they could stroll, jog, play games or do a bit of yoga or exercise.

Many persons, some of them visiting the park for over two decades now, were sore at the indifferent and apathetic civic officials, whom they charged with caring two hoots for the public at large. “The place sans any amenities worth the name, the footpath all around is bumpy and broken at places, the park, spread over several acres has just one tap and no body to look after the lawns or the plants”, rued Mr Chopra, an old-timer.

According to Mr Jai Parkash, a councillor and a member of the Finance and Contracts Committee of the MC, who is among the regulars, revealed that the Horticulture Wing has deployed 33 employees, including gardeners and helpers, to maintain the park but a number of morning walkers, Mr Kuldip Vasudeva, Mr Sunder Khurana, Mr Chopra and Mr Mohni told Ludhiana Tribune that hardly any gardener or other MC employee is seen here for maintenance purposes.

Another common complaint of the people is lack of public utilities for the morning walkers in the park. A toilet block, they said, has been constructed along side the main entrance but it has not been made functional, allegedly due to pressure from certain residents, living near by, who apprehend that a public toilet in the park would become a permanent nuisance in the locality.

Dr J.S. Bilga, Executive Engineer (Horticulture), however, disagrees with the charges. He said under the given circumstances and available resources, the MC was doing its best. While there is always scope for improvement, it would be unjust to say that the civic body was doing nothing. The annual budget of the Horticulture Wing for maintenance of parks has been increased to Rs 45 lakh this year from the previous Rs 33 lakh. He also disclosed that a massive Rs 69 lakh plan for improvement of Rakh Bagh Complex was in the pipeline under which it was planned to take up landscaping, beautification and renovation at a big scale.

In a bid to improve the upkeep and maintenance of parks, the Municipal Corporation authorities here had gone in for a privatisation move with great fanfare some times back through participation of committees of the residents. But the plan failed to yield the desired results and there were a large number of complaints of the funds made available for improvement of the parks being misutilised and misappropriated. The plan, though scrapped for some time, has again been revived, albeit with certain modifications.

The MC has around 680 parks in the city area, which include those in the colonies, transferred to the civic body for maintenance by PUDA and the Improvement Trust, says Mr Raminder Singh, Additional Commissioner, MC. Out of these 387 parks stand handed over to 113 committees, which are responsible for maintenance against an MC grant of Re 1 per square metre per month. Providing infrastructure like boundary wall, major repairs, water supply, streetlights and fountains still remains the responsibility of the MC.

The MC administration, residents feel, would do well to keep the maintenance of parks and extension of green cover among its top priorities because in the wake of environmental pollution increasing in the city at an alarming rate and the green belts seem to be the only light at the end of long dark tunnel.


20-lakh grant for war museum
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Memorial Museum, awaiting inauguration and tourists ever since it came up on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway 10 years ago, has finally something to cheer. The managing committee of the museum has initiated a process to add new attractions to it after the approval of a Rs 20-lakh grant by the Union Government and the State Government for its development.

While the museum has received 10-lakh grant approved by the State Government, the Union Government has sent a grant of Rs 7. 5 lakh for the development work aimed at increasing the tourist inflow. The Centre would send the remaining amount after the war museum authorities submit the utilisation certificate of the first grant.

According to Wing Commander (retd) M.S. Randhawa , in charge of the museum management, the receipt of the grant has come as a shot in the arm for the museum. Giving details about the new project, he said three new galleries categorised according to different eras would come up shortly and the orders had been placed for them. The galleries would display memorials in the form of paintings, murals, portraits, artefacts and other memorials divided under the pre-Independence. the post-Independence and the creation of Bangladesh category.

The pre-Independence gallery would concenterate on heroes of the state who played a significant role in the freedom struggle and related things. The post-Independence gallery would concenterate on different wars and anti-insurgency operations. It would also have a special section of main events that had a far-reaching impact on the country.

The third section was kept specially for the creation of Bangladesh episode in 1971. Murals made from the pictures of the real scenes of the 1971 Indo-Pak war would be put up. Special display would be made of the signing treaty of the surrender of Pakistan between General Niazi of Pakistan and General J.S. Arora, GOC, Eastern Command, India. The section would also display various artifacts and memorials related to the war.

Wing Commander Randhawa said the work had started in the museum and various companies had been contacted for the required materials. He said the work would be completed within a month and the museum would be inaugurated after that.

The museum was awaiting inauguration since its inception in 1991. It was in early 1991 that the foundation stone of the museum was laid by Gen O.P. Malhotra, the then Governor of Punjab. It was announced that the museum was planned to commemorate the sacrifices made by people from Punjab in defending the country. Various defence battalions or regiments stationed in the state had common practice of making such museums, but they exhibited feats of their own. The museum aimed to present at one place almost all the feats of the defence personnel of the state.


The ‘goodwill’ bus moves on
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 6
The Deputy Commissioner has launched a “public welfare” bus service on every alternate Friday to different villages of the district—the aim is to redress the grievances of the people at their doorstep.

This “goodwill” bus has become the talk of the countryside. The vehicle carries not only the Deputy Commissioner but also the district heads of various departments. Villagers keenly wait for the bus. The brainchild of Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, the bus service has not only come as a pleasant surprise to the public but also helps save time, energy and money.

Mr Vikas Partap told The Tribune that on the directions of the Chief Minister, officials of the district go to the doorstep of people to redress their grievances and ensure speedy justice. Lok darbars, mobile revenue courts and “sangat darshan” programmes were being organised. He said the “goodwill” bus service had been introduced to ensure the presence of the officials concerned and one place. It also helped officials find out what work had to be done at the lok darbars.

On a recent trip to a village the bus left at 9 a.m. and reached the destination within half an hour. The villagers, who were expecting the officials to come in cars, did not take notice of the bus. Soon they came to know that the officials were in the bus and rushed towards it to accord them a warm reception. The Deputy Commissioner then addressed the gathering, stating that they had come on the directions of the Chief Minister. “Now you will not have to go to government offices to redress your grievances. Rather, officials will come to you to solve your problems. Our main aim is to serve the public.”

A large number of the people came forward with their complaints, grievances and revenue disputes. Most of the complaints related the delays in the receipt of different types of pensions, construction and repair of roads, sewage disposal, 24-hour power supply to villages, encroachment on panchayat land, delay in the sanctioning of loans by banks and youths seeking government jobs. Most of the grievances were redressed on the spot and the rest were referred to the departments concerned for the necessary action. A report was sought within 15 days.

Regarding the resolving of revenue disputes, the Deputy Commissioner said a mobile court system had been introduced. Under this scheme, revenue officials would visit villages and hold court there. The cases would primarily relate to uncontested mutations, corrections in girdawaris and demarcation.

He said till now people had to appear before the revenue court of the Collector to seek justice. He said repeated adjournments made the dispensation of justice costly and time consuming.

One of the features of the lok darbar on that day was the holding of a driving licence camp, a pension camp and free eye and dental camps. More than 120 learner’s driving licences were made and pensions sanctioned. More than 100 complaints were disposed of on the spot.

The bus carrying the officials left the village in the afternoon amidst cheers from villagers.


Infighting in SAD comes out in the open
Our Correspondent

Amloh, June 6
The meetings held at Naulakha village of Amloh constituency on Tuesday have brought infighting within the SAD on the surface.

According to information available from party workers, the SAD had planned to organise circle meetings of Akali workers to make the proposed sangat darshan programme of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal on June 26, a success. A meeting was organised in this context at Naulakha village under the presidentship of Jathedar Swaran Singh Chinarthal, the district president of SAD. As soon as Jathedar Mohinder Singh Bagrian, the all India vice-president of Youth Akali Dal, considered to be close to Jathedar Chinarthal, got up to address the meeting, the supporters of local MLA Balwant Singh Shahpur began interrupting him.

The supporters of the district Jathedar also disrupted the speech of Dilbagh Singh Bagha, a supporter of the MLA. The scuffle that ensued between the two factions saw many turbans being dislodged. A few also received minor injuries.

The Amloh circle meeting was held here on Wednesday. It was attended by workers from both the factions in good strength and was chaired by Mr Hari Singh Machhrai, the circle president. The police had made elaborate arrangements to avoid any untoward incident.

Mr Shahpur blamed the party’s opposite group for creating dissensions in the ranks of the party and defaming the government. Without naming anybody, he alleged that some persons, sitting in the meeting, had come after changing their party affiliations.

Mr Sherpur informed that an amount of Rs 20 lakh had been sanctioned for Amloh town out of the urban development fund, and added that laying of sewerage would be announced by the Chief Minister in the conference on June 26. He assured full support to any member, including Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, a former minister of Panjab, if the party allotted ticket to any other person. The MLA hailed the wisdom of Mr Parkash Singh Badal in allotting Rajya Sabha seat to a BJP candidate and getting a project worth Rs 500 crore project in lieu of it from the Central government. He also discussed the arrangements for bringing people from their villages in buses for participation in the conference.

Mr Pandhi criticised Mr Kanshi Ram, the supreme head of BSP, for announcing that if his party wins in Punjab, he would install Mr Ravi Inder Singh as Chief Minister of the state. He alleged that Mr Kanshi Ram was misguiding the poor, uneducated people.

In a meeting held at the historic gurdwara of Naulakha village on Wednesday, Jathedar Charnarthal expressed unhappiness over Tuesday’s incident. He praised the state government for undertaking development works worth Rs 45,000 crore in the past four years. He added that the corresponding figure during the Congress rule was Rs 14,000 crore.

Others who addressed the meeting included Mr Hari Chand Mittal, the president of SAD (urban unit), Mr Hari Singh, senior vice-president of party’s Fatehgarh Sahib unit, Mr Harbans Singh, a member of the district planning board, Mr Harvel Singh, the secretary general of Dalit Front, Punjab and Ms Harbhajan Kaur, the district vice-president of SAD (women wing).

Talking to mediapersons after the meeting, Mr Bagrian alleged that the supporters of MLA had attacked his house at night. Replying to a question, he said that a case had been registered against him at Mullepur police station.

Rival factions of SAD clash
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 6
A scuffle between two rival factions of SAD (B) led to a mudslinging match and minor clash on the Gurdwara premises here, during the meeting called by the District President SAD (B) at Mullenpur village today. The meeting was organised to mobilise party workers as part of the Chief Minister’s visit to the district on June 26. Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, a senior Akali leader of the district, came to the rescue of the workers. The district president announced the postponement of the meeting, but Mr Bhatti continued the meeting.

Later, addressing the meeting, Didar Singh Bhatti, Jathedar Amar Singh Nalini, senior Akali leaders and Dalip Singh Pandhi, former minister, strongly criticised the incident and said it was the handiwork of certain anti-party workers who had entered the organisation. They said by doing this, they themselves were weakening the party. The urged the party leaders and the workers to maintain unity. Back


Drive against power theft
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
Strong protests from the industrial and trade unions against a drive of the Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) enforcement wing to curb power theft in the city, has forced authorities to slow down the drive. According to board officials, power theft in Ludhiana city had already crossed Rs 200 crore per year. The PSEB officials are surprised at industrial organisations’ opposition to the board’s drive to curb power theft.

Recently some the board’s employees were badly beaten by the employees of a firm when they tried to disconnect the connection of the unit stealing power. The board employees unions held protest rallies against the firm and demanded strong action against the firm.

As part of the board’s new strategy to create awareness among the public and to build public opinion, the newly-appointed chief engineer, Mr G.S. Grewal, has decided to organise awareness programmes in the city. In the first phase, an awareness rally, ‘Run for Power’, will be organised on June 8. The flag of ceremony would be held at central zone office in Sarabha Nagar at 8 am. According to a press note of the board, the objective of the rally is to encourage the industrial and other consumers to refrain from power theft and to use electricity judiciously.

The drive had become important in view of the increasing use of air-conditioners in the city. The board had recently completed a drive to replace the faulty and burnt meters of those consumers using air conditioners, on a priority basis. 


Fulfil promises, demand villagers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 6
Resentment prevails among the six village panchayats of the district, as the promise made to them by the Chief Minister has not been fulfilled yet.

Impressed by the service rendered by villagers in helping the victims following the train accident near Jeonpura village last year, the Chief Minister not only lauded their services, but also promised a 50-bed hospital in the village and compensation to those farmers whose standing crops were damaged by the relief vans, VIP cars and the Chief Minister’s helicopter.

The repeated pleas of the panchayats of the six villages had fallen on deaf ears.

The sarpanches of the six village panchayats said they were looking forward to the visit of the Chief Minister on June 26 to apprise him of promises he had made to the villagers. They added that the village panchayat had not auctioned the six acres that had been earmarked for the hospital this year.

They further said the families whose standing crops were damaged had not yet received any compensation. They demanded that the promises made by the Chief Minister be fulfilled immediately. 


Id celebrated with fervour
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 6
Id-ul-Milad, the birthday of Mohammad Mustafa, the last Nabi of Islam, was celebrated with religious fervour here last evening.

A big procession was taken out in the afternoon from Sunni Noori Jama Masjid in Shivpuri, in which thousands of people took part. Many Maulanas of various mosques, namely Maulana Irshad Alam, Imam of Noori Jama Masjid; Maulana Yanoon from Sherpur; Maulana Alimuddin from Giaspura; Maulana K. Ansarul Haq from Meharban; Maulana Abdul Jalil from Kabir Nagar and Hafiz Sageer Ahmad from Mundian Khurd offered prayers to Mohammad Mustafa and for the welfare of the world at large. The procession passed through Madhopuri and Basti chowk before winding up at Kuldip Nagar.

Addressing the big congregation on the occasion, Maulana Farooq Alam said that everyone should remember the Almighty while sticking to one’s faith and earning a hard-earned living.

The Maulana called upon the Chief Minister to start Urdu academies at district headquarters and reserve 10 per cent of government jobs for the Muslims. He alleged that Muslims in Punjab were being sidelined as a minority.

The Indian Muslim Council, Punjab, also held a ‘Seerat’ conference on the occasion in which thousands of Muslims participated.

He said those who viewed Muslims with doubt must look at their own deeds because not a single Muslim has been involved in various scams plaguing the country. He cited the examples of scientist Abdul Kalam, who made the Atom bomb and the Agni missile. The sacrifice of captain Abdul Hamid in the 1965 war with Pakistan was also cited as an example of the community’s love for the country. 


Go vegetarian, says PFA
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 6
Emphasising the need to go vegetarian to be a truly ‘environment-friendly’ individual, the local chapter of the People For Animals, on the occasion of Environment Day, came up with some interesting facts and figures supporting the case.

Asserting that it was impossible for an individual to be a non-vegetarian and an environmentalist at the same time, it said that meat eating ‘leaves behind an environment toll’ which the coming generations would have to pay for heavily.

Building its case against the meat industry, the PFA under the sub-head of pollution in its press note, stated that the animals raised for food produce 130 times more of excreta than the entire human population on the planet, which is 86,600 pounds per second and that a typical pig farm generates raw waste equivalent to that produced by a city of 12,000 persons.

Land wise, while 20,000 pounds of potatoes can be grown in one acre, only 165 pounds of beef could be produced in the same space.

Quoting figures further, the PFA stated that while raising of animals for food consumes more than half of the water that is used in the USA. It takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat, while only 25 gallons of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat.

Coming to the impact of meat industry on the forest cover, the PFA stated that rain forests are being destroyed at a rate of 12,5000 square miles per year to create space to raise animals for food. Fiftyfive square feet of land are consumed for every quarter pound fast food burger made of beef.

Summing up the case against meat eating, the PFA exhorted the people that the best they could do for environment is to go vegetarian. Apart from being environmental — friendly, there are other advantages of vegetarianism as well. Among these are improved health, better resource conservation, environmental protection and above all alleviation of the animals’ sufferings.


Homage paid to martyr
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 6
A solemn function was organised to pay homage to Sepoy Harjinder Singh at his village, Turmuri, 21 km from here, yesterday. Hundreds of people with tearful eyes were present for the antim ardas.

Harjinder Singh had sacrificed his life on May 28 while serving in the Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The government had decided to rename the village school as well as the Turmuri-Panj Rukha-Rouni road after him.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha offered Rs 1 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 2.50 lakh, respectively, to the bereaved family.


Doctor commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 6
In a shocking incident, a young resident doctor, Ms Sheetal Franklin, of Christian Medical College (CMC), committed suicide under mysterious circumstances today afternoon. Ms Sheetal was a resident doctor posted as Emergency Medical Officer (EMO) in the Casuality Ward of CMC.

She is believed to have committed suicide by taking a cyanide injection in her hostel room. Speculations are rife about the cause of her suicide. All efforts to contact the Christian Medical College authorities regarding the cause of suicide proved futile. She is reported to have attempted suicide some years ago but had survived the attempt.

No information could be elicited from the Civil Hospital regarding the suicide as the telephones there have not been functioning for the past six months due to non-payment of telephone bills. Back


4 booked for beating up XEN
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 6
A case under Sections 353, 186, 452 and 506 of the IPC has been registered at the Division Number 6 police station on the statement of Mr Surinder Pal Singh, an Executive Engineer of the Punjab Mandi Board and a resident of Sarabha Nagar, against Surjit Singh and three other unknown persons for beating him up and abusing him in his office. No arrest in the case has been made so far.

Case registered
On the complaint of the Deputy Director, Dairy Department, a case has been registered at the Focal Point police station against Tilak Raj, a cattle feed manufacturer residing at Tajpur Road. According to the FIR, the accused was manufacturing cattle feed without any licence. The sample of the feed was found to be substandard in the laboratory.

Illicit liquor
A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered at the Focal Point police station against Ravinder Kumar of Taj Ganj and 24 bottles of illicit liquor were seized from him.

Job racket
The division number five police has registered a case under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC against Hira Singh, Harvinder Singh, Dulla Singh and Shiv Ram for running a fake job-racket and duping people of thousands of rupees in the name of procuring jobs for them

The police registered the case on the complaint of Mr Gaurav Sharma, son of Mr Sita Ram Sharma, resident of Awad Sindhuan under the Dharamkot police station in Moga district. The complainant stated that he had come in contact with Shiv Ram, who told him that that he was a partner in Deposit and Reduction Limited, based at Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, in which there were a number of vacant posts. If he wanted a job, he should deposit Rs 10,000. The complainant gave him Rs 10,000 on march 25 last near Sunder Hotel near the bus stand, but got a receipt for Rs 5,000 only. The receipt for the remaining Rs 5,000 was promised some time in the near future.

Mr Sharma was asked to wait for an appointment letter which was supposed to be delivered at his home. He waited for the appointment letter for some time before coming back to the city to inquire about the same. It was then that he came to know about the organised racket. Mr Avtar Singh, ASI, is investigating the case. The accused have not been apprehended as yet.

Police custody
Vijay Dhand, arrested on Monday following the registration of a case under Sections 420,467,468,471 and 448 of the IPC against him, was further remanded into three days’ police custody by a court today.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, told newsmen that as per the police inquiry, the accused had been running a money-lending racket with the help of his brother, Nirdosh Dhand, who was already lodged in jail in connection with a murder. Both of them had formed a gang.

Vijay Dhand used to get signatures of loan-seekers on plain stamp papers. On the basis of these signatures they forged power of attorney and got the properties registered in the names of the gang members which were later sold by them to unsuspecting customers.

The accused charged heavy interest on the money lent to the needy persons. The house of one Harbhajan Singh, who had borrowed Rs 20,000 from Vijay Dhand, was got registered in the name of one Surjit Singh. A workshop belonging to Harbhajan Singh was also located in the house. About six years ago, the accused along with his brother Nirdosh Dhand and about 30 other men forcibly took possession of the house. While some of the belongings of Harbhajan Singh were carried away by the goons, other items were just thrown out of the house.

More discoveries were likely to be made during intensive interrogation of the accused over the next three days, added the SSP.Back


Withdraw surcharge: industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India, in a press note has condemned the imposition of surcharge by the PSEB from April 15 on the industrial consumers.

He pointed out since the Regulatory Authority Commission had already came into existence, the board should take the matter before the commission, which would hear the views of traders, industrialists and the board before imposing any surcharge. The PSEB was flouting the authority of the commission. This issue was also discussed at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister at Ludhiana on May 15, he said.

He further said the PSEB had slapped a fuel surcharge at a rate of 5 paise per unit, which was against the interests of the industry. It appeared that the Chairman of the board was not aware of the locational disadvantages which the industry was facing and was harping on the plea that electricity here was cheaper than other states.

Mr Joginder Kumar said the tariff committee constituted by the Chief Minister last year had decided that cost of per unit of electricity came to Rs 2.48, including the transmission losses, which would have covered interest at the rate of 12 per cent on total cost and 3 per cent profit. The board must set its own house in order. It should minimise the transmission losses and curtail unnecessary expenditure by reducing the staff strength.

He urged the CM to direct the board to take back the surcharge and fuel surcharge of 5 paise per unit and refer the same to the regulatory authority. 


Arihant Cotysen workers threaten stir
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 6
About 300 workers of the Arihant Industries held a dharna in the factory premises here today, demanding the payment of their wages pending for the past three months. The workers have threatened to gherao Mr K.L. Jain, the Chariman and the Managing Director of the company, in case their salaries were not paid by tomorrow.

The company has not paid the salaries of workers for the past three months, despite the instructions of Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler, on June 1 to the company. The matter was also referred to the Labour Commissioner, who is also allegedly delaying action in the case for reasons best known to him.

Mr Ramesh Kumar Yadav, a representative of the workers, alleged that despite repeated pleas and representations to the management, no salaries had been paid to them till date.

A number of trade unions in the city warned the management to pay the salary at the earliest or they would be forced to come on the streets in support of workers. The workers pointed out, it did not amount to much and the management could afford to pay the salary to them as all the employees were being paid a monthly salary of less than Rs 2,000. They disclosed that they had asked the management that if it did not have the resources, it should close down the factory and settle the account of the employees.

Mr Yadav said, “The management is trying to sell the material that is lying on the premises of the factory. We may die while struggling but will never allow the company management to go scot free and deny our wages of labour”. Mr Yadav disclosed that they were being held to ransom by the management as they were not allowed to leave the job as the management would, in that cases refuse them all the benefits.

Some other workers claimed that they had accumulated huge debts as they had not received their salaries. The company has not paid minimum wages to most of the workers in the past also. “But how long can we manage on debts and ultimately we will be forced to starve along with our children”, one of the workers pointed out.

Mr Yadav regretted that the management was not prepared to follow the instructions of the ADC. It was unfortunate that the Labour Department had not challaned the company till then. He appealed to political parties, social organisations and share holders of the company to support their cause.

Another worker participating in the dharna said, ‘‘We have not had proper meals for the past three days. My two children have been forced to abandon their study in between due to non-payment of wages. Is their anybody to save the future of my children?’’

Mr K.L. Jain, MD of the company, however, assured, “Everything is under control. The company is passing through restructuring and the salaries would be paid in a day or two.’’ 

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