Friday, November 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Rs 40 lakh fraud detected in marketing board
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
A number of officials of the state marketing board and co-operative banks, posted presently at Ludhiana district offices, or have worked here sometime between 1990 and November, 2001, are in for a trouble as the local Vigilance Bureau has unearthed an embezzlement of about Rs 40 lakh, allegedly committed by the accused officials through theft of market fee and Rural Development Fund (RDF) fee.

In one of the major scandals rocking the department, it has been established in the inquiry that the officials, five identified and several others yet to be identified, have been duping the public exchequer for the last over 10 years through fake receipts and fictitious purchases. What was shocking was that the fee taken under RDF was meant for development works in the villages falling under the market concerned. Instead, the money was falling into private hands.

Verification of accounts till date put the embezzled money to be almost Rs 40 lakh, but according to vigilance sources a perusal of other accounts may swell the figure to a crore or more. The surprising aspect of the fraud under scrutiny now was that how the fraud continued all these years without the knowledge of the senior officers. Thus, the involvement of a senior officer in the scandal was not being ruled out.

A fee of 2 per cent each as market fee and RDF fee is charged on each purchase by the Marketing Board. However, the accused officials defrauded the government by pocketing a substantial amount. Documentary evidences of a number of purchases pocketed by the accused officials through fake receipts and fictitious expenses have also been recovered by the Vigilance Bureau. Sources revealed that the involvement of five officials of the marketing board as well as certain officials of the co-operative bank has been proved in the inquiry as without their knowledge the fake purchases would not have taken place.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, SP (Vigilance), confirming the findings said the inquiry report was being sent to the state government for further action. He said a criminal case would be registered against the accused officials. According to him, the inquiry report has recommended action against former secretary, local marketing board, Mr Harminder Singh Dhingra, now posted at Sunam, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Kuljit Singh, Ms Manjit Kaur and Mr Amarjit Singh.

Revealing the modus operandi of the accused officials in committing the fraud, vigilance sources revealed that the market board takes market fee in cattlle mandis, sabzi mandis and during procurement process of wheat and paddy. Another 2 per cent of the fee is charged under RDF. All this money is sent to the state government. The money under RDF is of utmost importance for the villagers as the amount is used for the development of the villages.

The sources said the accused officials received the amount but deposited only a small portion of it. The major portion was pocketed and shared by the involved officials. Quoting some examples, the sources said the officials in one case received an amount of Rs 1,27,456 but deposited Rs 27,456 only. In another case, instead of the received amount of Rs 2,05,500, only Rs 5,200 was deposited. Sources said this was the general modus operandi of the accused. There were some discrepancies in the interest received on the deposits also. Sources said the inquiry was ordered by the state government after it received complaints of financial irregularities.



MC bound to face severe resource crunch
Several projects likely to be hit
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 27
With the expected decision on abolition of octroi taking effect on Dec 1, the Municipal Corporation here, known as one of the richest local bodies in the state, would be facing a severe resource crunch and the development works, both on going and in the pipeline, are bound to become the first casualty.

There was virtually an atmosphere of panic and apprehension in the civic body today. Although no one said this in so many words, one could sense from the general mood as if something terrible had happened. Several MC officials, who were busy in the preparation of various details and data to be discussed in a meeting, convened by the MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, later in the day to discuss the situation arriving from abolition of octroi, refused to make any comment on the failure of the state government to announce the modalities for generation of revenue to make up the loss of income from octroi, as had been directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while vacating the stay order on a civil writ petition opposing the government move.

As is well known, the income from octroi, projected at Rs 130 crore for the current financial year, comprised almost 50 per cent of the total expected revenue of Rs 262 crore in the annual budget. However, the actual performance till the end of last week revealed that the total receipt from octroi at Rs 70.81 crore was almost 57 percent of the total income of Rs 123.50 crore. Although the octroi collections till Nov 26 were a little higher (Rs 1.28 crore) in comparison to the corresponding period last year, it was well short of the budget projections (Rs 85.47 crore).

With a projected total income of Rs 262 crore in the budget for the current year, the MC had ample funds for development works, and according to rough estimates, anything like Rs 150 crore could be diverted for this purpose if the budget estimates were achieved. But that was not to be. With the main source of revenue about to dry up in the next couple of days, the situation could be described as precarious, if anything. Going by the average income from all other sources, except octroi, so far, the MC would do well if its total income during the year reached anywhere around Rs 150 crore.

In the absence of the state government coming out with a viable alternative source of income for the local bodies, which at the same time ensured ready availability of funds, the massive shortfall of over Rs 100 crore during the remaining four months of the current financial year, was in all probability bound to hit very hard the financial health of the civic body.

According to knowledgeable sources, the cash reserves of the MC were low and the revenue generated in an octroi-less regime would be far too less even for continuation of the ongoing projects. Works already committed for, those in the pipeline and part of the long-term plan, were sure to be put on the back burner, for the time being, that is.

A senior official of the MC, requesting not to be quoted, told Ludhiana Tribune that the civic body had to spend anything like Rs 6 to 7 crore every month for payment of salaries, operation and maintenance of essential services, electricity and fuel bill and other recurring expenses. With octroi receipts drying up, the total monthly income of the MC would not even be sufficient to sustain the wage bill and other unavoidable expenses. As a result, the development works, both ongoing and those planned to be taken up, will be directly linked to the availability of funds from alternative resource generation.

With the state government setting up a high level committee to find out alternative ways and means to generate funds to make up for the loss of income from octroi, the exercise would be a time consuming process, if past experience was any indication. However, the civic elections being just a few months away, the MC administration would be under tremendous pressure from councillors once the development works were affected, simply for want of funds. In the prevailing circumstances, the MC top brass has a tough time ahead and a lot of tight rope walking seemed to be in store for them.



PAU terminates services of professor
Move stirs up controversy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
In a controversial decision Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has terminated the services of a professor with effect from today on the grounds that the scheme under which he was working had expired and the university had no other vacancy to adjust him.

The marching orders of Dr A.S. Grewal, professor of veterinary immunology, Tick Borne Diseases Centre, PAU, were delivered to him yesterday with the authorities writing to him that there was no position in PAU where he could be adjusted and his qualifications were not suitable to give him any other post.

The decision has stirred up a major controversy with allegations and counter-allegations marking the development. While one group of teachers is maintaining that it was out of the personal grudges that the Vice-Chancellor terminated the services of the professor, and the other group stating that the reason already given in the termination letter was the genuine one and the Vice-Chancellor was not really able to adjust him anywhere.

It is further mentioned in the letter that the university had to take this decision as the Animal Husbandry Department of the state had written to PAU that the department should be closed down and the building should be transferred to the National Vaccine Testing Laboratory which is being set up here.

The allegations surfacing on the campus are that it is for the first time that the services of a professor have been terminated because of the expiring of a scheme and the VC, Dr K.S. Aulakh had to settle a score with Dr Grewal as he had challenged his appointment as Pro-Vice Chancellor in the court.

Dr Grewal was a co-petitioner with Dr Balwant Singh, a former professor to file a writ against the appointment, stating that it was against the rules of the university as the post did not exist in the statutes of PAU. He had alleged that the post was specially created to adjust Dr Aulakh as the PVC. The university board of management had interestingly abolished the post of the PVC after Dr Aulakh was appointed as the Vice Chancellor.

Some members of the faculty are seeing the latest orders as a fallout of the controversy that had aroused at the time of the appointment of PVC.

It is also being alleged that while other professors working along with him in the scheme were transferred to other departments, he was the only one whose services were terminated. It is learnt that another professor who had been working with Dr Grewal in the same department was transferred to Veterinary Microbiology Department a month ago. Eyebrows are being raised over the fact that if one immunologist was transferred to another department then why not Dr Grewal also.



Rickshaw-puller gets life imprisonment
A Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
Mr A.K. Sharma, Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana has convicted a rickshaw-puller, Bhim Razak (29), of Bihar and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life, besides a fine of Rs 5000, on the charges of murdering a six-year-old child, Vijay Kumar of Mohalla Anand Nagar, Luxmi Nagar, Haibowal Kalan, Ludhiana, in March 1998.

“Considering the heinous crime perpetrated by him in making an innocent child a soft target in the murky episode, I do not think it to be a case to be dealt with leniently”, observed Mr Sharma, while declining the plea of leniency raised by the accused.

An FIR was registered against the accused on March 23, 1998, at the Sadar police station Ludiana, under Sections 32/364/201 of the IPC, on a statement of Billu, the father of the deceased.

The father of the boy had alleged in his statement that on March 16, 1998, at about 6.30 pm, he , his son Vijay and the accused had taken tea from the tea stall, where his wife Ram Dulari was also present.

After taking tea, he went to purchase a few articles from the market. On returning, he found that the accused had taken away his son, who never returned. Efforts were made to find him but in vain. Then he suspected the accused, as he had dispute with him over Rs 5000, which the accused had taken as a loan but not returned, alleged the complainant.

On the complaint of Billu, the police nabbed the accused . During interrogation, he admitted to have committed the murder of the child. The police recovered the body of Vijay on the disclosure statement of the accused.

However, the accused pleaded not guilty and pleaded false implication before court. But after appreciating the evidence adduced by prosecution by examining 11 witnesses, the judge held that the guilt of the accused had been established and awarded him punishment .



20 vets recruited on contract basis
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Department, Government of Punjab, has become the second government wing to introduce the contractual appointment system. The department has recruited 20 veterinary officers on a two-year contract system. The move had become necessary as the government required the staff in the newly opened specialised polyclinics immediately and recruitment through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) would have taken a lot of time.

Earlier, only the Department of Education had made contractual appointments. The ‘Sikhyarthi’ scheme was initiated to fill the vacant posts in the village schools and also aimed to providing employment. It proved a boon for the government as the appointee was given a small amount. The contractual appointments in the Animal Husbandry Department are also seen in these lines as well.

Talking to The Tribune Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Cabinet Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, said today that the department had appointed around 20 veterinary officers in four newly opened polyclinics in the state including Mukatsar, Mansa and Ferozepore. He said that these clinics were set up specially to provide special treatment to the cattle.

He said the salary structure of the specialised doctors appointed on a contract basis was better than those appointed on a permanent basis. He said that the duration of the contract was for two years.

Mr Ajnala said that the AH Department has decided to impart practical training to the veterinary students in PAU. He said that the programme would be supported by the Punjab government and all the students studying in Veterinary Colleges all over the state would be given training here.

Mr Ajnala also said that the government was all set to hand over the building meant for the national vaccine testing lab on Ferozepore road here to the Central government. The building, which was swapped by the government from PAU for another building, was being assessed and would be handed over within two months. He said the lab would be one of the prestigious institutes of the country.

The Regional Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar would be functional after some time from now. Mr Ajnala, while giving this information, said that funds were required for the starting of the lab and as soon as these arrived, the work would start on it.

While speaking at the state-level meeting of dairy farmers organised at PAU today, Mr Ajnala, admitting the fact that some private agencies were producing substandard animal feed, remarked that even some ISI brand feeds in the market were of lower grade. He called upon the dairy farmers of Punjab to join hands and form cooperative societies at district levels to overcome the problems of quality animal feed and marketing of milk.

He disclosed said that his department would provide semen of good quality bulls and appropriate equipment at subsidised prices to the progressive farmers of the state which will go a long way to produce high yielding dairy animals and the growth of dairy sector.



They feel proud to be selected for Republic Day camp
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, November 29
“We are proud that we will represent Punjab in the Republic Day camp. The selection was not so easy and we are much satisfied that we have made it.’’ This is what the 13 NCC cadets from various colleges of the city said as they narrated their story of being selected for their dream camp. The cadets who are currently busy with their duties at National Games, said they would move for a pre-RD camp to be organised at Mani Majra from December 18 to 30 and then to New Delhi for the Republic Day camp from January 1 till the end of the month.

The group include five girls, Sukhpreet Kaur Grewal, Sukhwinder Kaur and Sukhmani K. Bajwa from the Government College for Women, Jass Bhullar from the Khalsa College for Women and Rakhi from Government College for Men, Moga. Among boys are Jeet Singh, Tarandeep Singh Gill, Sukhjeet Pal Singh and Rohit Gunraj from SCD Government College, Sanjeev Kumar and Randeep from Arya College and Harpreet Singh from GGN Khalsa College.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Sukhpreet K. Grewal, who hails from Kila Raipur, said she had already attended seven camps since the past three years but she had always been eyeing on the Republic Day camp. ‘‘The selection was very difficult as nearly 300 girls were contesting for their selection at the Combined Annual Training Camp (CATC) at Abohar. I was one of the lucky 30 cadets who were screened for the Annual Training Camp (ATC) at Phillaur. Finally, at Chandigarh camp I was informed by the Directorate that I was selected for the camp and my excitement knew no limits,’’ she said.

Jass Bhullar, an MA I (Punjabi) student, said she too was much excited about the camp. She said after reaching Delhi, the cadets would be assigned various duties including participation in the Prime Minister Rally.

Sukhmani K Bajwa, a BA II student, said her biggest achievement till date was the participation in Youth Exchange Programme for which she was selected as the third best cadet among those from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. But participation in the RD camp would be a bigger achievement, she added.

Sukhmani said she could not have achieved it all without the guidance of Ms Narinderjeet Kaur Saini, NCC in charge at the Government College for Women, Col. D.J. Bahadur, Commanding Officer, and Col. P.S. Bal, Group Commander.

Tarandeep Singh Gill, who hails from Gurusar Sadhar, said he drew inspiration from his father, who is an Army officer at Srinagar. He said his greatest achievement till date was Army attachment with Sikh regiment at Ferozepore. He said that he was doing BCom II at SCD Government College and his inclination towards NCC made it difficult for him to devote time to studies. ‘‘But still I manage to spare some time especially in the evenings and at night for my studies,’’ he said.

Jeet Singh Bal, who belongs to Amritsar, said he joined NCC last year and had participated in five camps. He hoped that the RD camp would give him enough exposure and motivate him to reach ultimate aim of being an Army officer, he added.



Conference on female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
A conference on ‘Female-foeticide: update on its causes and prevention’ will be held in the D.D. Jain College of Education on December 1, 2001, in association with the Punjab Chapter of SEARB, Union for Health Promotion and Education, Paris, Ludhiana Citizens’ Health Council and the D.D. Jain College of Education for Women, Ludhiana.

Dr Chander Mohini, Principal of the D.D. Jain College of Education, in a press release said female foeticide was mushrooming everywhere in India especially in Punjab despite the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Regulation and Prevention Act enacted by the Government of India in 1994 and the same enforced by Government of Punjab in 1996.

The sex ratio of Punjab despite the best efforts of the government had declined from 882 in 1991 to 874 in 2001, the lowest sex ratio in the country.

Dr Mohini said the conference would bring out the people of Punjab out of their slumbers. The biggest task for the conference organising committees was to suggest ways with which women deprived of their basic rights and necessities could obtain them for themselves, added Dr Mohini.

Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Punjab, will be the chief guest on the occasion. 



Let him see me in office only’
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
It had all the elements of a comedy (of errors), with wit and humour resulting in lots of laughter during an otherwise serious business. The comedy was being enacted at the Bachat Bhavan in the Mini Secretariat complex here today, where Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Mr S.K. Sandhu was presiding over the weekly sangat darshan programme. An Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) wanted to see a complainant in his office only, despite the DC asking him the reasons.

Dhanvir Singh, a resident of Gill village, had complained that he had applied for the installation of an electric meter at his shop in the village. He had taken the shop on rent from Darshan Singh, a resident of Alamgir village. Dhanvir Singh alleged that the PSEB officials were deliberately delaying the installation of the electric meter at the instance of another Executive Engineer, who was in league with his landlord.

Dhanvir Singh is involved in litigation with his landlord, Darshan Singh, who wants him to vacate the shop. Dhanvir Singh has got a stay order against eviction from the court. He alleged that since Darshan Singh could not evict him through legal means, he was using his influence with an Executive Engineer, working with the enforcement wing of the PSEB to harass him. He claimed that Darshan Singh had got a case of theft fabricated against him.

After listening to the arguments of Dhanvir Singh, the DC asked the Executive Engineer, who had come to represent the PSEB, the reasons for the delay in the installation of the meter. The Executive Engineer had no explanation. First he said, Dhanvir Singh was in the queue for the installation of the meter. When asked, how long will it take to install the meter, the Executive Engineer, instantly put forth another reason that there was a theft case against the complainant.

When Dhanvir Singh agreed to all demands of the PSEB, the DC asked the Executive Engineer, to spell out when they will install the meter. The Executive Engineer, stuck to his original statement that “let him see me in the office”. The DC again asked the reasons. Without furnishing any reasons, he continued, “let him come to my office”. However, when the DC insisted that the Executive Engineer should till how long will it take the PSEB to install the meter, he said, “within 15 days”, but not without the condition that the complainant should see him in the office. The DC ordered, “let you take 3 weeks”. In a lighter vein he turned to the complainant, telling him, “do not forget to see the Executive Engineer sahib in the office, since he has asked it so many times”. 



Illegal water, sewerage connections to be regularised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
In pursuance of a resolution adopted at the General House meeting of Municipal Corporation, the civic body has decided to provide a last opportunity for regularisation of illegal water and sewerage connections in the city.

According to the MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, all such connections can be regularised on payment of a lump sum fee of Rs 600 per connection till January 31, 2002, after which no such request would be accepted.

Mr Kalsia said it was the last chance for the public, possessing illegal water and sewerage connections and no further opportunity would be given. The MC would launch a vigorous campaign after January, 2002, to detect illegal connections and heavy penalty would be imposed on the defaulters.



Gang of travel agents booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 29
The police here has registered a case under Sections 406,420 of the IPC against Sukhdev Singh, Paramjit Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Balwant Singh, Kuldip Singh, Jaspal Singh of Daudhar village Jagraon, Jalandhar. All these persons reportedly belonged to a gang which used to allure people to go abroad and extracted lakh of rupees from them.

Resham Singh of Daudhar village was one of the gang’s victims. According to the complaint, Sukhdev Singh took Resham Singh to the house of Bhupinder Singh at Jagraon where he was promised to be sent to Canada within four weeks and the deal was struck for Rs 9,50,000/-. Later on they took the complainant to a studio here and took his photographs. According to the allegation, the complainant paid them Rs 2 lakh on November 20, 2000, and on December 12, 2000, another sum of Rs 2 lakh was paid and they advised the complainant to be ready for his flight. Later they compelled him for more money The complainant paid another amount of Rs 85,000/. Bhupinder Singh, one of the accused took the complainant to Delhi in January this year and left him there in a hostel but did not arrange his travel. After spending 25 days, the complainant returned and despite persistent demands for his money did not get the amount back.

The police has also registered a case against some other members of the gang, including Surinder Kaur, on the complaint of Chamkaur Singh of Galib Ran Singh village whom they had duped of Rs 3 lakh and who also returned from Delhi after spending five days, but his visa was not managed.



One booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
The Koom Kalan police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Mohinder Singh of Malewal village, against Rajinder Singh of Rajour village. According to the FIR lodged on November 20,1996, Rajinder Singh took a loan of Rs 5,000 from a bank for which Mohinder Singh stood as the guarantor. But since Rajinder Singh failed to make payments of the loan amount and the interest there of, Rs 3 lakh were deducted from the account of the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.

Stolen bike recovered: The Division No. 2 police has registered a case under Section 411 of the IPC against Harjinder Singh alias Jinda of Sulaka village in Amritsar district and Avtar Singh alias Tari of Khuda village in Patiala district. A stolen motor cycle, Hero Splendour, was recovered from them which was stolen by the accused from Civil Lines, Amritsar.

Booked: The Division No. 5 police yesterday booked Davinder Pal, a resident of Brown road, for using a public address system fitted on his rehri without having obtained the necessary permission to do so. According to the FIR lodged, the accused was disturbing the general peace of the area .He has been booked under Sections 4 and 5 of the Noise Control Act.

Gamblers held: The Division No. 6 police arrested Gurnam Singh a resident of Daba road, Shimla Puri, Ludhiana, and Gurinder Kumar, a resident of Janak Puri, while they were gambling . A sum of Rs 395 was recovered from them. The accused have been booked under Section 13 of the Gambling Act.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |