Wednesday, October 31, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Govt’s no to CBI probe into PAU land scandal
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 30
The hopes of a probe by the CBI into the multi-crore land scandal in the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have dashed to the ground as the Punjab government is learnt to have rejected the university’s recommendation for a CBI inquiry.

Although Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal has not communicated to the university in writing, he is believed to have conveyed to the authorities that this probe was not possible at the moment as the CBI was only taking very serious cases and this case could not be handed over to the CBI.

Sources in the university revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that the Chief Minister had called up the authorities to convey this after the university had sent a reminder to the government urging it to hand over the inquiry into the infamous multi-crore land scandal, allegedly involving a former Vice-Chancellor and a leading industrialist, to an independent agency as recommended by a senior bureaucrat who had inquired into the case.

Sources also revealed that after the communication, certain senior officials of the university were also called by the Finance Commissioner (Development) for a meeting at Chandigarh where he had discussed the unwillingness of the Chief Minister for a CBI probe into the case.

With the latest development, the hopes of the university for a headway into the scandal have been dashed and the PAU is yet to decide about the next move. The PAU Board of Management had, on August 17, decided to recommend CBI inquiry after waiting for the report of the inquiry that was assigned to a senior bureaucrat.

The PAU had also sent a fresh reminder to the state government for ordering an inquiry as valuable time was being lost and no headway was being made into the scandal. The PAU had asked the state government to follow the recommendations of Mr R.N. Gupta, a former senior bureaucrat, who had suggested an inquiry into the matter by an independent agency.

The controversy had started some 10 years ago when the then vice-chancellor of the PAU was being accused of allegedly transferring more than 2 acres of the university’s prime land in Kitchlu Nagar to the Punjab Wakf Board. The Wakf board had later leased out the land to a leading industrial house for an amount much less than the market price.

The investigation conducted by Mr R. N. Gupta, the then Financial Commissioner Development (FCD), Punjab, had established that there were glaring irregularities in the exchange deal signed between the PAU and the Punjab Wakf Board authorities on March 14, 1995. The khasra numbers, which were envisaged by the Board of Management for exchange of area on 24-7-90, were changed to give the private builder access to the area from Kitchlu Nagar through a 60-foot wide road. Besides, the area transferred was 18 marlas in excess of the agreed area of 16 kanals. In addition, nearly 700 trees standing on the piece of land were felled without seeking permission of the forest and environment department authorities of the State and Central government . Mr Gupta had also revealed that the trees which could have fetched a better return through auction were sold off to the builder for just Rs 87,000.

According to sources, Mr Gupta had categorically recommended in his inquiry report that the CBI should be asked to investigate the scam further and determine the criminal liability of the officials of the PAU and the Wakf board involved in it. Even, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Justice K. Sridharan and Justice Swatantar Kumar, while disposing of writ petition (No, 5650/96(PAUTA v/s Dr A S Khehra) in August, 1997, had ordered that upon and others) recommendations of the competent authorities a “case would be registered against erring persons, including respondent no. 4”, i.e. , Dr A S Khehra, the then Vice-Chancellor. 



Shops selling pirated CDs sealed
A Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
A number of pirated audio and video cassettes were seized from the Bahadaur House market in a raid by the police here today. The seized cassettes included those of the newly released movie ‘‘Indian’’.

The raid was conducted after the owner of a cinema hall complained to the Sarabha Nagar police that his business was affected as the pirated cassettes were available in the market in violation of the Copy Right Act.

Unruly scenes took place in the market when the police was conducting the raids. Shopkeepers protested against the raid, saying that the police was falsely implicating them by planting pirated cassettes in their shops.

The police is learnt to have sealed a number of shops while some shopkeepers closed their premises on their own to protest against the raids.

A traffic jam was also caused due to the presence of a heavy police force and the shopkeepers as well as onlookers. As the police was checking the shops people started gathering on the busy road in front of the shops leading to the traffic blockade. The traffic remained suspended for about an hour.

The shopkeepers claimed that they were not selling any such CDs. One of the shopkeepers claimed that the distributors were supplying these CDs to them and they were not able to judge whether these were pirated or original.

A shopkeeper also suffered minor injuries in the scuffle.

The shopkeepers said that neither the police was having any search warrants nor did they have any evidence. Policemen were standing outside the shops till the evening and the shopkeepers were not allowed to open their shops.


Catch that fell in some other net
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 30
The image of the Ludhiana police has suffered a blow with the Kapurthala police taking away a wanted criminal from under its nose. The local police had been searching for this criminal for the past more than a month.

Teams of the local police, working on the directions of a senior official, had been laying special checkpoints here since mid-September. A red alert had also been sounded after a senior police official learnt that Sukha Fauji, the criminal, wanted for alleged contract killings, robbery, snatching and car-thefts in several police districts of Punjab and Maharashtra, was living in the city. The police teams were told to look for a white Santro car with a red light on top.

With the confirmation of the news of the incident from the police sources of Kapurthala and Ludhiana, the mystery surrounding a shootout incident of October 18 is over. The shootout, reportedly, took place between Sukha Fauji, some co-accused and a squad of the Kapurthala police.

While the local police has been denying this, the Kapurthala police has mentioned in its the records that the accused and his accomplices had been taken to Ludhiana for recovery. Records show that they were arrested from a place near Kapurthala. Sources said the accused had been in Sarabha Nagar here when the Ludhiana police was looking for him.

An official of the Kapurthala police said, so far, the involvement of Sukha Fauji in any contract killing had not been established. However, the police has got evidence that the accused and his accomplices robbed an ‘arhtiya’, Jaswant Singh of Ajnala, of Rs 10 lakh in June. Officials said the accused had also been involved in another robbery at Nagpur in Maharashtra, where he had looted 30,000 cash and jewellery from a businessman. A number of cars like a Tata Sumo stolen from Gurgaon, a Maruti Zen stolen from Bilga and a Matiz stolen from Zira have been recovered. A Tata Safari has also been recovered, but the whereabouts of its owner are yet to be ascertained.

The Kapurthala police has not established the link of the accused with an incident of snatching of Rs 10 lakh at Batala early this year. He was also named in a number of cases of contract killing, but his involvement was yet to be proved. The accused has, reportedly, denied his involvement in any contract killing.

According to a local police official, Sukha Fauji is one of the most wanted contract killer in Punjab and the other states. The official said Sukha belonged to Katraikalan village in the Majitha police district and also had a place on the outskirts of Mumbai where he ran a roadside ‘dhaba’.



Inter-state gang of robbers busted, seven arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 30
The Ludhiana police today claimed to have achieved a major success with the arrest of seven members of an inter-state gang of robbers, notorious as the “Kale-kachewala gang’. An equal number of gang members are, however, at large. The gang was reportedly involved in several robberies in Ludhiana, Khanna, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Batala and Amritsar.

According to a police press release, the gang was busted by a team of the CIA wing, headed by Inspector Wazir Singh. With these arrests, at least seven major cases of robbery in the local police district have been solved. Some of the cases were of heinous nature as the accused had mercilessly murdered some persons before committing robberies. Two such incident took place at Sahnewal and Humayunpur last year.

The gang members were reportedly active in West Bengal couple of years ago and had recently shifted to this state. The police said the gang members had a set modus operandi. Some members of the gang used to move around as vendors in cities, towns and villages. These members selected victims or targets and gathered information about the place.

Other members who effected robbery joined them later. The robberies were committed in a series. After completing the robberies, the gang used to vanish from the place and even remained dormant for several months and spent this time in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh.

The police has recovered a large number of stolen goods, jewellery and arms from the accused. 



Festival of ghosts is celebrated with spirit
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 30
Americans usually enjoy a good scare on Halloween, but, after the September 11 attacks, the people are looking for treats and not tricks. They are too scared to visit shopping malls. Most constume sellers are not stocking costumes and there are even rumours on the Internet that terrorists have threatened the US citizens to stay away from shopping malls, though the FBI has refuted such claims.

In some countries, malls have stopped the distribution of candies in view of the anthrax scare, but, in Ludhiana, people are all set to celebrate Halloween, even though this is not an Indian festival.

A few years ago, only the Indians who were in America on October 31 when the festival is celebrated knew what Halloween was and why was it celebrated. This is a festival of excitement for children of North America as they wear ghoulish dresses to have fun on this day. In spite of being an alien festival in India, Halloween is becoming popular in Ludhiana and the metros.

Nipun Vij of a hotel here says, “We are organising a Halloween party, where the ambience shall be scary with a few suspended skeletons and horror films. Waiters shall be in ghoulish costumes to add to the spirit of festivities.” Many private Halloween parties have also been planned. Ms Sona, organiser of one such party, says, “Last year, I had arranged a Halloween party, where everyone was supposed to be in a scary dress, but few guests compiled with the request. This year, I have sent out invitations on a card shaped like a skeleton and instructed all prospective guests that the dress code is to be strictly followed. It is fun to scream in the dark when suddenly a monstrous figure appears on the screen.”

Halloween is the second most popular festival in America after Christmas. During Halloween, stores and houses are decorated to give these a scary look with suspended artificial skeletons and ghosts. This festival is like Lohri where children go door-to-door for trick-or-treat with rhymes like: “Trick-or Treat, smell my feet; Give me something good to eat; Not too big, not too small; Just the size of Montreal.” In schools, too, teachers and children have Halloween parties. Children cut pumpkins in Jack-O lantern shapes and light candles in these. There are special dinners, where people eat pumpkin pies. Children watch scary movies on video or television on this day.

The tradition of Halloween began thousands of years ago when there were tribes of people called Celts (pronounced Kelts). The Celts were farmers who lived in many parts of Europe. They knew that sunshine helped their crops grow. Every autumn, the sunshine began to fade and the Celts believed that the Sun would be winter’s prisoner for six months or never return. To make sure it returned, they held a festival on October 31 to pray to the Sun to return safely in summer. On this day, all cooking fires were put out, after which villagers lit huge bonfire on hillsides for prayers to the Sun. People started wearing costumes of animal skins, believing that this would protect them from bad luck.

Many people believed that ghosts walked on earth on Halloween and fairies and ghouls played tricks on human beings. To fool the spirits, the people used to put on funny costumes of Dracula, snakes, toads and ugly creatures.

People also believe that a day after Halloween, souls of the dead return to earth to visit their families, so November 1 is called a holy or hallowed day.



Bonded labourer’s fight for last rites
A correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
Satnam Singh, a “bonded” labourer of Patiala, is fighting for performing the last rites of his father-in-law. He was prevented from doing so because he could not repay the money he owed to his masters.

Satnam of Rajgarh village had been working as ‘siri’, an agricultural labourer, in a village since 1995. His “masters” used to beat and ill-treat him. A few days ago, he managed to run away from the bondage and approached the People’s Vigilance Committee at Phillaur and the committee forwarded the case to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in New Delhi.

The NHRC ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala to investigate the case and submit the report within two weeks. However, no report has been submitted, so far. On October 26, when Satnam went to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, his masters recognised him and threatened him with dire consequences if he did not return to work.

The landlords even stopped Satnam and his wife from going to Hardwar to immerse the ashes of the Satnam’s father-in-law. Satnam and his wife somehow managed to run away from there at night and again approached the People’s Vigilance Committee.

Satnam, who is staying in a centre run by the committee for the past two months, said his masters were forcing him to repay the debt before performing the last rites of his father-in-law. According to Ms Prabhjot of the committee, the “masters” of Satnam can be punished for paying advance to the labourer because it is prohibited according to the Prevention of Bonded Labour Act. Satnam’s wife, Soni, was also working for the same “masters” before coming to Phillaur. Soni said, when two months ago her husband had run away from the village, the “masters” had started harassing her. Ms Prabhjot said some person had brought Soni in a pitiable condition to the committee centre. When Soni came here, her clothes were torn and she bore the bruises she had apparently suffered when she was beaten up by the landlords



Murder case solved, two arrested
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
The Focal Point police today claimed to have solved the murder of an old woman, Uma Devi, in Sherpur locality on September 5 with the arrest of two migrants from Bihar, Arun Kumar alias Bhangaru and Ranjit Kumar. The alleged culprits had absconded with Rs 10,000 and some garments after committing the crime.

According to a press note by the police here today, the accused had been arrested on October 19, whose interrogation was conducted during these days. Some of the items that had been stolen were also recovered from them.

The press note further stated that during the interrogation, the accused confessed to a theft in Moga Colony at Mundian Khurd on September 21 and a couple of other thefts committed in the area. Among the goods recovered from the accused were three blankets, five ladies suits, one watch, a cycle, a stereo and some general store goods, like powder, creams and under garments.




The weather, to say the least, is getting pleasant. Days are getting shorter and winters are in the offing. It is nice to have a morning walk over the dew-laden grass in the Rose Garden or in the parks of various residential colonies of the city . The exercise is said to be good for the eyes and the brain as well. There is a definite nip in the morning and evening airs. Winter enthusiasts in the city are eagerly looking forward to the season. People connected with the hosiery trade are also warming up to meet the seasonal demand ahead.

Festive colours

With festival season already having dawned everything seems to be full of colour. The religious places, market places and even residential houses have already been illuminated with bright and colourful lights. However, the gurdwaras and the temples seem to shine the most, particularly during the nights. Although some people may have some reservations over the “extravagant” use of electricity, yet it remains a beautiful scene to watch. (see accompanying picture)

Traffic hazards

Don’t mind if anyone smashes your vehicle from back while stopping to wait for a green signal at any traffic lights on the Ferozepore road. This often happens at this busiest road of the city because the traffic cones dividing the road are not there. The traffic cone divides the road in two way. The right side is used to turn right and for the turn the commuters has to follow the traffic lights. But for going straight, there is no need to follow traffic lights as one can go through left side of the road. The commuters are used to follow this system. Now they are habitual to this system. Now in the absence of traffic cones when there is no left and right way, some people presume that they have follow traffic lights while others want to follow the system who often drive vehicle at high speed on the road and while trying to cross the lights from left side, hit another vehicle.

Impurity in gold

With the festival and wedding season approaching, many women would be going for shopping for gold ornaments from their trusted jewellers. They will be pleased as punch showing their designer jewellery and winning admiring glances till they happen to go to a jeweller who has a meter to test the purity of gold. Then to one’s horror, one discovers that so called 22 carat jewellery for which one had paid through the nose turns out to be much less than 22 carats. One must insist that one’s jeweller installs gold purity meter. A few jewellery shops have installed computerised meter that tells the purity of gold. Actually this meter should be installed at every jeweller’s shop so that the customer is satisfied and the Gold Council of India should make it mandatory for the big jewellers who have inventory of crores to install such meters.

Welcome, Mr Kalsia

Mr R.L.Kalsia who has taken over as Commissioner of the local Municipal Corporation after the unceremonious exit of Dr S.S.Sandhu, has had an administrative experience of about 20 years.When he was SDM (Civil) at Ropar in the early 80s, he dispensed justice to the best of his ability. His sheer dedication saw him holding the office of the Deputy Commissioner at two newly created district headquarters and later the office of Director, Social Welfare, Punjab, at Chandigarh. The new assignment as Corporation Commissioner of the most populous city of the state is surely not going to be a bed of roses for the seasoned administrator. For Ludhiana , as a city, has a number of chronic problems which his predecessors have failed to remedy. For instance, traffic congestion- which must be put on the top of the list of ailments afflicting the busy town. Sentinel wishes Mr Kalsia all success in his endeavours to make the city a better place to live in.

Nuisance at crossroads

The city drivers have a nightmarish time at the main crossroads when the signal turns red. A lot of cars , scooters rickshaws stop for the traffic lights to change. In this chaotic situation three types of persons threading in and around the vehicles. The first kind are those small-time sellers of knick- knacks like masks, handpumping water sets, remote covers, and feather dusters. The second ones dress up as ‘kali matas’ blackening their faces, embellishing their dresses with cheap gee gaws. When asked why do they dress up as ‘kali mata’ they don’t answer. They wear a golden crown and have arrows slung at the back. The third types are those who have a dirty rag and start cleaning the bonnet of the car. The motive is to get money from the motorists. The situation becomes dicey as when the lights turn green, everyone surges forward and so many of these tiny beings are around the cars with possibility of running them over.

— Sentinel



Ghungrana to stake claim to Kila Raipur Assembly seat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
In the wake of Assembly elections in Punjab being round the corner, senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Chairman of Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana, made his intentions clear to stake claim to the Kila Raipur assembly seat, falling in this district, which was now being represented by Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education.

Mr Ghungrana had to forgo his claim in 1997 Assembly elections in favour of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who contested and won but later vacated the seat, which has subsequently contested by Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha.

At a meeting with his close supporters, many of them coming from villages falling under Kila Raipur assembly constituency, Mr Ghungrana said he would not allow the story of 1997 to be repeated. Many of those present at the meeting were critical of Mr Garcha, who they alleged had shown utter disregard for the party workers during his tenure as a member of the Cabinet.

The SAD activists further charged the Garcha family with creating dissensions between the party cadres and pushing the people away from the ruling party through their various acts of omission and commission since the last elections took place.

However, Mr Ghungrana went all out to focus on the development activities of the Punjab Government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. “The SAD-BJP government had achieved the herculean task of overall development, particularly in the rural areas, which had not taken place during almost five decades of Congress rule.” As against a repressive rule or ‘inspector raj’ set up by the Congress, the ruling combine had taken the governance to the door step of the people through sangat darshan programmes, he added.



Goraya tailor to feature in Limca Book of Records
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
The name of Pawan Kumar Kailey (32), a Goraya-based tailor, will be appearing in the next edition of the Limca Book of Records for his achievement of designing and stitching a trouser that can be worn in 10 different ways and a set of 35 jackets that can be worn in 9,800 different ways.

While talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Pawan claimed that he had received a letter from Mr M.K.Jos of VG Communications — the consultants for the Limca Book of Records — on October 22, which said his unique achievement would be included in its next edition.

The new garment for which Pawan’s name would be entered in the book, can be used for ten different purposes. It can be used as a full pant, full-sleeve shirt, six different types of jackets, half-sleeve shirt and bermudas.

The set of 35 jackets can be worn 9,800 times with different combinations. Pawan claims that a person having this set can wear these jackets for 27 years and with any trouser.

Pawan said his main aim was to register his feat in the Guinness Book of World Records. He said people wanted to buy this set of jackets but he politely declined. He said, “I like to do such things. These are my creations and I don’t want to sell my creativity”.

These set of jackets have 49,000 buttons and to put them together, it takes around 49 days. He said that if the cloth required for these 9,800 jackets was spread it would cover a distance of around 27 km.

Pawan’s family deals in transport business. “I stitch clothes for fun. I always intended to do something creative and unique. I get a lot of encouragement and appreciation from my friends and family members”, he said.

Pawan keeps getting orders from customers and a majority of them are NRIs. “One of the NRIs offered me to accompany him abroad but I wanted to do something proud to my country. I don’t believe in selling my talent and creativity abroad”, he added.



Revision ‘not implemented’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
Lieut-Col C.S.Dhillon (retd), president of the Indian Ex-Services League ( Punjab and Chandigarh), stated in a press release here today that it had come to the notice of the IESL (P&C) that revision of special family pension and all other related revisions had not been implemented by the Defense Pension Disbursing Officers despite the circular issued on August 6, 2001. Colonel Dhillon urged the DPDOs all over Punjab and Chandigarh to revise and make payment of the PBOR by November 30, 2001.



Accused not arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana. October 30
Dalbir Singh, a son of Ms Jagdish Kaur Sawaddi, president women wing of the SAD(Amritsar), is battling for life for the past one week in a city hospital even as the police has failed to arrest the alleged attackers.

According to available information, the victim was attacked by about six youths armed with rods, lathis and sharpedged weapons at Sarabha Nagar where he had gone to meet a friend. The seriously injured youth was rushed to a hospital by his friend who was also injured in the attack.

However, even though the victims had identified the attackers, the police was yet to arrest them.



Rally against DET
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
A procession, led by Ms Usha Malhotra, Ms Balwinder Kaur and Ms Krishna Devi, presidents of the mahila mandals of Ludhiana, Raikot and Mullanpur respectively, alongwith hundreds of men and women, was taken out from Municipal Park which ultimately took the shape of a rally near the SDM’s office against the attitude of Mr M.S. Dhaliwal, DET, who allegedly humiliated Mr Darshan Singh, SDO, and against whom a case was registered under the SC/ST(POA) Atrocities Act, 1989, on October 27 at the instance of Ms Manpreet Kaur, wife of the said SDO.



Seven arrested for conspiring robbery
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
The city police yesterday nabbed a gang of seven persons while they were “conspiring and hatching a plan to commit robbery somewhere”, according to a police information communique released here today.

According to the police, Inspector Vazir Singh along with his police party got a tip-off regarding the presence of some unscrupulous persons at a Ladhowal hotel. The police said the men were armed.

Those arrested are Rehmat, a slum resident of Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur district; Salim; alias Rajan, also a resident of Gurdaspur; Foga alias Kodu, a resident of Dagora village in Sujanpur district of Uttar Pradesh; Dharma Pal alias Baba, a resident of Ambedkar Nagar, Jallandhar; Jamira, a slum resident of Pathankot; and Bola, a resident of Makdudpur village in Amritsar district.

Three of the arrested persons, Rehmat, Rajan and Foga, have been booked under Sections 399 and 402, IPC, and Sections 25, 54 and 59, Arms Act. One .12 bore country-made pistol and some live cartridges were seized from their possession, according to the police.

However, three separate cases under the same FIR (no. 530) have been registered against the accused as three ASIs, Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Amrik Singh and Mr Satnam Singh, have been assigned these cases.

Dowry case: The Salem Tabri police has registered a case of dowry, harassment and threat to life on the statement by Ms Parveen, wife of Balwinder Singh alias Bittu, a resident of Bharti Colony, Salem Tabri, against her husband, (sister-in-law), Ranjit Kaur and brother of the husband, Pappu. According to the complainant, the accused started harassing and intimidating her after the marriage for dowry. No arrest has been made so far.

Poppy husk seized:
A case under Sections 15, 61, and 85 of the NDPS Act was registered at Sahnewal police station on Monday.

According to reports, Inspector Niranjan Singh, SHO, Koomkalan, seized 11 sacks full of poppy husk from Tarlochan Singh of Julaha Majra in Rahon at Bhawan Khurd.



Woman tortured, goods stolen
Our Correspondent

Doraha, October 30
A woman was reported to be threatened, beaten up and abused by her in-laws. On the other hand, the woman complained of theft in the house by here in-laws on Monday.

In a case registered under sections 454 and 379 of the IPC at Payal police station, Jasmail Kaur, wife of Mohinder Singh, has complained that her father-in-law Bhagwan Singh, mother-in-law Kirtan Kaur, brothers-in-law Amar Singh and Dhanwant Singh, sister-in-law Harjit Kaur, their sons Paramjit Singh and Charanjit Channi, stole bricks, cement and m.s. bars from her house as she lived separately. About 30 kg of M.S. bars, 500 bricks and a main gate were taken away forcibly during day time without her consent.

Jasmail Kaur was married to truck driver Mohinder Singh of Gidri village and has small children. She has been allegedly forced by her in-laws to vacate the place where she is staying at present and thus tortured and abused time and again. As Mohinder Singh mostly stays out, she has to suffer the abuse of her in-laws.



VSP wants relief for small industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 30
The Vishwakarma Samaj Party (VSP), while expressing serious concern over the precarious financial condition of the small and tiny sector of industry, has urged the state and the central governments to come to their rescue.

In a statement here today, Mr Kulwinder Singh Virdi, president of the VSP, said that a grave financial crunch was facing the small and tiny industrial units, most of which were on the verge of closure. Both the state government and the Centre, except for paying lip service to the ailing industry, had done precious little to enable them modernise and cope with the global challenges in the wake of WTO regime.

Mr Virdi pointed out that on the top of the resource crunch and liquidity crisis, the small and tiny sector, had to bear the burden of higher rates of interest as compared to those prevalent in countries like Japan, the USA, China and most of the European countries, Which went on to put them at a disadvantage in the international market. “Even the recent cut in the interest rates, ordered by the Resreve Bank of India is far below the reasonable level and the expectations of the industry.”

The VSP made a fervent plea for a comprehensive financial package for the small and tiny industry on the pattern of the farm sector. The package should include long-term financial assistance at lower rates of interest and adequate compensation provisions for the industrial units which were forced to close down due to natural calamities or other such circumstances like unfair competition.


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