Tuesday, February 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Take us into confidence: industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Hailing the victory of the Congress, industry and trade associations here have urged the new government to prepare a blueprint to boost industrialisation in the state. Since the growth in the agriculture sector has already plateaued, they say, only aggressive development in the industrial and service sector can address the problems of unemployment, state debt and stagnation in the economy.

Expressing his wish list, Prof M.A. Zaheer, Dean, College of Basic Sciences, PAU, says,: “The state, which has locational disadvantage in other industries, is most suitable for the development of information technology sector. The government can attract big players by providing necessary infrastructure and incentives. It should concentrate on improving the competitiveness of each sector through appropriate policies. The cost of production whether in SSI units in the hosiery and light-engineering sector, which are on the verge of closure, need oxygen; or agriculture would require government’s immediate attention.”

The state can experiment in corporate farming to improve quality of produce and cut down costs, he adds.

Mr S.K. Rai, Managing Director, Hero Cycles, simply wants clean and environment-friendly government. He points out that despite locational disadvantage, the state’s core competitiveness lies in the hosiery and light engineering industry. Besides IT industry, the government should announce package for them at the earliest.

Expressing his concern about the delay in the state exim policy, Mr Satish Dhanda, vice-chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council, says: “The state exim policy, which has been already prepared by the Industry Department, should be announced by the new government as early as possible. In fact, the Union Ministry of Commerce has made a provision of Rs 100 crore to share expenses on market access initiatives to tap new markets. The states which have announced their exim policies are preference under the scheme. Further, the exporters would like that instead of wasting money in developing Special Export Processing Zones, the government should provide better facilities in the clusters of hosiery, cycle and cycle parts, hand and machine tools here. They may be granted the status of special export zones, it would entitle the ancillary units, working for export units, to avail benefits like low interest rate, preference in loans and power connections. The Centre has also a provision of Rs 1000 crore to assist in the development of these zones.”

Referring to the Planning Commission’s report on states performance, Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking, says: “It has released a list of six states, including Rajasthan and Gujarat, where growth rate is expected to be around 8 per cent during the current fiscal year. Due to the wrong policies of the state government, Punjab stands nowhere in the list. We hope that the better sense would prevail upon the government and momentum of growth would pick up.”

Mr Vinod Kumar Thapar, president, Federation of Knitwear, Textile and Allied Industries Association, says: “The Congress government should now concentrate on fulfillment of its promises committed in the manifesto, which include end of inspector raj and corruption and to increase investment in infrastructure such as power and technological up-gradation.”

Mr S.C. Rahlon, president, Engineering Export Promotion Council, NR, opines: “We are looking forward now to the solution of our long-pending demands, including the implementation of state exim policy and refund of sales tax to exporters.”

Industry representatives say the government can send right signals to the investors by appointing someone having expertise in financial matters as a finance minister.

Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, CICU, says: “The next government should take industrial associations into confidence to enact new policies for the revival of economy. We expect to see at least one export park at the international level in the city to be developed with the active role of government.” 



Soul-searching time for BJP
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
The election results declared on Sunday have come as a severe shock for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the party being wiped out from Ludhiana, the political and commercial capital of the state. It could not even count on its safest bet, Ludhiana East, from where its candidate and the Deputy Speaker in Punjab Assembly, Mr Satpal Gosain, lost to Mr Surinder Dawer of the Congress.

The second BJP candidate, Mr Pran Bhatia, from Ludhiana North lost to Mr Rakesh Pandey by over 22,000 votes. Notwithstanding the charges of Mr Bhatia against Mr Sunil Mehra, blaming him for his defeat, the fact was that the entire rank and file of the BJP at the grassroot level was not happy with his nomination from here.

While the defeat has been a great setback to the party, the margin of defeat of its candidates has come as a shock to the party leadership here. The local leaders are finding it difficult to explain the poor performance of its candidates. Most of the workers are not prepared to buy the argument that one single person could cause sabotage to the extent that the party would go down by such a huge margin. One of the senior RSS leaders pointed out, if he (Mr Mehra) could cause such a massive damage, that means he is so powerful and influential and could have won himself. “Then why was he denied the ticket,” he asked.

The poor performance is likely to aggravate the discontent prevailing in the rank and file of the party over the allotment of tickets. The party dissidents who have been questioning the credentials of the local leadership will further get emboldened .

The party insiders revealed that the decision to get Mr Sunil Mehra expelled from the party much in advance of the results was carefully conceived to make him a scapegoat. He said, “If the current BJP leadership in the district is left with any moral courage it should accept the defeat gracefully and quit of its own rather than being kicked out.” However, he added, “None of them (the leaders) would resign unless they would be made to, as they would stand nowhere without the party posts for they had no grassroot support.”

However, a senior party leader said, “No single person should be blamed for the defeat.” He pointed out, it had been a statewide phenomenon where senior leaders had also lost. “However, this does not exonerate some people who resorted to indiscipline from their omission and commissions,” he said about Mr Mehra, when asked as why he was expelled. Admitting the party performance, he claimed, the good work done by the party like the abolition of octroi, sanctioning of the various projects by the Centre and other developmental works were not properly projected. He also agreed that the Akali votes could not be transferred this time which led to the party’s defeat.



Experts favour funds for diversification
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Agriculture experts and economists have high hopes from the soon-to-be-formed government. Most experts favour allocation of funds for encouraging diversification under a different head in the budgetary allocation for the farm sector. They lay stress on investment in research and development of infrastructure.

Dr S.S. Johal, an economist and former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, maintained that private investment should be encouraged and increased in the sector, especially in cultivation of oilseeds and pulses. That would prove a good alternative to the existing cropping pattern. He opined that the government should invest in research if the country wanted its farmers to compete internationally. He suggested that the minimum support price should be converted into procurement price so that the government was not be too burdened after procurement.

Dr Sucha Singh Gill, an economist at Punjabi University, Patiala, was for strong efforts to tide over the agriculture crisis in the form of surplus grains to the tune of 62 million tonnes per year.

He called for efforts at the Central level as the state government did not have financial resources and expertise to do something about this. He also advised increase in customs duty on milk and dairy products.

He felt that funds should be allocated under a diversification head in the Budget that would ensure subsidies at the introduction of new crop.

Dr Gill was for introduction of the minimum support price on new crops as this was the only security for farmers. Such subsidies were allowed under the WTO, he said. Stating that major investments at the government level should be on marketing and logistic support, research and development of agriculture and investment at the farm level, he said farmers should be provided with proper storage and processing facilities. As perishable crops required a chain of cold stores and transport with refrigeration systems, investments were required, he added. Dr Govinder Singh Nanda, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, was for more allocation to agricultural research. He said funds should trickle down if the agricultural scenario in the country was to be equated with international standards.

He said the minimum support price for some crops should be continued for some time and farmers should be given some time for adjustment before it was withdrawn.

Dr Amarjit Singh Bhullar, an economist at Punjab Agricultural University, called for a strong exim policy and said agricultural export zones should be identified and provided with funds to create infrastructure. He expressed the need for modernisation and maintenance of rural infrastructure, besides emphasising setting up of cold stores and other infrastructure for post-harvest technology.

He was of the opinion that the government should impose heavy taxes on social expenditure like marriage parties and the revenue generated should be diverted to the development of infrastructure.



Professional for a decent life
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, February 25
City residents, who have voted the Congress to power with a huge margin, have many expectations from the new government. Though these expectations are not new or high, the residents feel, unlike the previous government there should not be any biases in framing policies for the rural and urban population and both should be treated equally.

They want industrial development so as more jobs could be generated. They also want basic facilities for the industry like better power and water supply. The common man, too, wants, that basic amenities should be provided in a proper manner. Education should be affordable, so should be health facilities. Traffic chaos is another major problem. All residents have voiced concern about it.And they feel a clean and fair corruption-free administration should be able to provide all this.

A small-scale industrialist, Mr Jeevan Dhawan, says that this government should not favour one segment of the state for the sake of their vote banks. He said the SAD-BJP government only concentrated in the rural area and ignored the urban population. It resulted in its defeat.

Mr Dhawan feels that the during the past five years, the industry in the state has been badly affected by the poor water and electricity supply. But at the same time farmers have been provided free electricity with the assurance that whatever they would produce, will be bought by the government irrespective of quality.

Mr Dhawan says that the commoner will have employment only if the industry in the state flourishes and that will happen only when the business is not given a cold shoulder by the government.

A professional, Ms Rosy Sapra, is of the view that the commoners do not demand luxuries, but they want to live decently and the new government should work according to the expectations of the people.

She says that now the people who will come to power, should work for providing free water, round-the-clock electricity supply, effective sewerage and drainage system, health and education facilities.

Ms Rosy thinks that too much of commercialisation of the education and health will lead to a chaotic situation and the government should do something to make education affordable.

Mr Kamal Sharma says that whoever forms the government, the common man just wants and desires a quality life. But that is possible only when we have a clean and fair administration which will work for the betterment of the commoners and not for the politicians.

He says that as far as the city is concerned, traffic chaos and poor basic amenities are the major problems. If the government should work to solve these problems, so as to provide a comfortable living.

An undergraduate commerce student, Ms Sweta, says that the major problem of the city is traffic. She is of the view that the city and state roads need a lot of improvement and development. She thinks that the government should undertake a lot of time-bound fly-over, elevated roads and over-bridge projects for ensuring a smooth flow of traffic. But this is very necessary that the projects are time-bound otherwise the development will have no meaning. 



BJP East Mandal chief resigns
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
Owing moral responsibility for the defeat of the party candidate and Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, from Ludhiana East Assembly segment, the BJP East Mandal chief, Dr Subhash Verma, has resigned from his post.

In his resignation letter, addressed to the District Party Chief, Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, Dr Verma said he accepted the verdict of the voters.

He stated that he had decided to quit his post to make way for a more suitable person.



Party time for Cong workers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
The Congress and Youth Congress activists celebrated the victory of their party in the Assembly poll in Punjab and Uttaranchal. Party workers danced to the tunes of dhol, took out processions and distributed ‘laddoos’ at several places in the city.

At a meeting organised by the DCC (Urban) under the presidentship of Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, party ranks congratulated AICC President Ms Sonia Gandhi, PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh and other senior party leaders, including Mr Moti Lal Vora and Ms Ambika Soni, for the party’s victory in the state.

The DYC President, Mr Parminder Mehta, and Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa spoke on the occasion. Among others, Mr Sarbjit Singh Bunty, Mr Narinder Makkar, Mr G.S. Arora, Mr H.S. Thukral, Mr Ashok Arora, Mr Arun Joshi, Mr Raj Kumar Kashyap, Mr Inderjit Makkar, Mr Jagdeep Singh, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Anil Kanojia, Mr Arvind Sachdeva, Mr Arun Bedi and Mr Arvinder Arora were also present.

The District Chairman of the PPCC Minority Cell, Mr Mohammed Naseem Ansari, along with several key functionaries—Mr Shamsheer Alam, Ms Sandhya James, Ms Nirmala Rani, Mr Mohammed Ali, Mr Mohammed Mumtaz, Mr Mohammed Shakeel, Mr M. Feroze and Dr Rehman—celebrated the victory of the Congress candidate from Ludhiana North, Mr Rakesh Pandey, in New Kundan Puri locality.



PSEB revenue rises by Rs 325 crore
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Despite free supply of power to the agriculture sector and no increase in its tariff in the recent past, the PSEB has succeeded in improving its bottom line by launching a successful campaign against power theft in the state. The revenue from the sale of power in the state, during April-November, 2001, has increased by more than Rs 300 crore as compared to the corresponding period during the previous year.

According to PSEB officials at Patiala, and the district office here, the Ludhiana centre zone has shown the maximum increase in revenue (Rs 125 crore) during the period followed by the South zone (Rs 96.44 crore) and the North zone (Rs 48.80 crore). According to a senior official, the board has sold 95,373.07 lakh units of electricity during April-November, 2001, as against 93,034.25 lakh units during the same period in 2000 registering an increase of 2.51 per cent.

The officials attribute the increase in revenue to the stringent measures taken by the board management to curb the menace of power theft and install electronic meters in the state. One of the officials, who did not wish to be quoted, said, “The power availability during April-November, 2001, in the state was 19,212.325 million units as against 19,025.176 million units during the corresponding period in the previous year; an increase of just 0.98 per cent. Moreover, under political pressure we released hundreds of tubewell connections under the free power supply scheme to the agriculture sector. So the increase in revenue is solely due to better collections and efficiency of the field staff.”

According to the MIR report recently issued by the Board, the revenue from the sale of power during April-December, 2001, has increased to Rs 2,894.73 crore as against Rs 2,569.03 crore during the corresponding period in the previous year, registering an increase of Rs 325.70 crore.

The officials said during the first three quarters of the current fiscal, the Board had recovered about Rs 45 crore as penalty, including the operation wing’s recovery of Rs 22.52 crore and the collection of Rs 23.86 crore by the enforcement staff as fine from those found involved in power theft. They said the field staff had been fully geared up to stop the menace of power theft in the state. After the formation of the next government, the board expected to start its vigilance drive again, they added.



MC head’s certificate fake: Welfare Dept
Bhushan Sood

Amloh, February 25
In a significant decision, the Welfare Department Punjab, has declared as fake the Backward Caste (BC) certificate of Mr Baldev Sedha, who was elected as President of the Municipal Council, Amloh, reserved for BC candidate.

In compliance with the decision conveyed to Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, on December 5, last year Mr Rajesh Tripathi, Tehsildar, Amloh, has cancelled the certificate (number 626) issued from his office on November 20,1997. The certificate was utilised by Mr Baldev Sedha on June 17,2000, to get himself elected from a reserved seat. He has for asked to immediately surrender the certificate.

Mr Baldev Singh Aulukh, who was the only BC councillor, elected from ward No. 2 reserved for BC candidates and a claimant for the post of President, had challenged the fake BC certificate of Mr Sedha.

Thereafter, the Presiding Officer, Ms Raghbir Kaur Khehra, SDM, Bassi Pathana, who was specially deputed to conduct the election as Mr R. S. Jangoo, SDM, Amloh, was on leave, laid down in the proceedings of the meeting that legal action would be taken in case the BC certificate produced by Mr Sedha was found to be false.

Mr Baldev Sedha has got a certificate of Soni Rajput caste which he claimed comes under the schedule of Backward castes. Contrary to it, the Welfare Department, on the basis of revenue records, school admission certificate, death certificate of his father and loan forms etc declared that he belonged to the Suniar/Swarankar caste which has not been entered in the schedule of BC by the state government.

According to Mr Aulukh the Welfare Department had delayed the implementation of the decision taken almost a year ago allegedly due to political pressure, as the Principal Secretary has asked the Director and vice-versa to take action this matter. He further stated that the certificate had been cancelled but no action had been taken to remove the President from his post and to register a case against the persons involved in the conspiracy.

When contacted Mr Sedha, said Soni Rajput and Swarankar/Suniar castes were one and the same thing. Mr Sedha admitted that his petition against the order of Social Welfare Department was dismissed from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. But his appeal against the High Court decision was not dismissed from the Supreme court whereas it had been withdrawn by him.

How justice is delayed by the persons entrusted with the powers to impart justice to the aggrieved is evident from this case said Mr Aulukh and urged the government not to delay the matter any more as a period of almost two years had already passed in this.



Last date for filing IT returns March 31
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
In a move to increase the income tax assessee base, the Income Tax Department has once again extended the last date for filing returns to March 31. The date had earlier been extended in October to November 31.

Mr Des Raj Kondal, Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, in a press note issued here today, informed that the date had been extended to March 31. He disclosed that the department was holding special camps for the public to file returns through Form 2-C. The camps would be held at Baba Gajananad Dharmshala, Sunder Nagar, Chandigarh Road, and Field Ganj on February 26, at Moti Nagar on February 27 and at Civil Lines on Bindraban Road, Salem Tabri and Shiv Mandir, Dhelon, on February 28.



Shobha yatra on March 11
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
A shobha yatra in connection with the Shivaratri festival will be taken out from the Daresi grounds on March 11 at 11 am by the Shivaratri Mahotsav Committee, according to a press release.

Mr Charanjit Bhargove, general secretary of the committee, said the main attraction of the shobha yatra would be the divine Shiva rath on which the whole Shiva family and the linga of Eklinga Mahadev, made of pure silver, would be on display. Before the start of the shobha yatra, Ganesh-poojan would be performed at the Gau Ghat Shiv mandir. After the poojan ceremony, the Shiv rath would be dragged by 251 bare-footed Shiva devotees to the Daresi grounds.

He further said that it would be for the first time that more than 100 social, religious, cultural and business organisations would perform Maha aarti of the Shiva rath on the yatra route. Already 121 organisations have sought permission to perform the aarti, he added.

The yatra, comprising 450 tableaux and a large number of school bands, would pass by Ved Mandir, Gita Mandir Chowk, Partap Bazar, Mina Bazar, Chowk Mata Rani, Ghanta Ghar Chowk, Girja Ghar Chowk, Chaura Bazar, Ghaas Mandi, Vaishno Devi Chowk, Khwaja Chowk, Iqbal Ganj Chowk, Shivala Sanglan Wala, Chauri Sarak and the Gaushala road.



Stray dog menace
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
Residents of Nanak Nagar and some adjoining localities in the Salem Tabri area fear reports of some rabid dogs biting other stray dogs and pigs.

According to Mr B.S. Jassi, president, Mohalla Sudhar Sabha, two stray dogs had turned mad last week. Residents killed both of them. The residents, added Mr Jassi, had approached Health officials of the Municipal Corporation. 



25 kg poppy husk seized, two held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
The Sadar police on Saturday arrested Naginder Singh alias Bhola and Mangat Ram, both residents of Rangian village, and seized 25 kg of poppy husk from them. A case under Sections 15,61 and 85, NDPS Act, has been registered.

Spurious kerosene: The Basti Jodhewal police on Saturday arrested Prem Kumar, a resident of Maya Puri, on the Tibba road, and seized 800 litres of spurious kerosene from him. According to the police, the accused was nabbed for allegedly selling spurious kerosene in the black market. A case under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act has been registered.

Child molestation: The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case under Section 354, IPC, on the statement by Ms Gurmeet Kaur, a resident of New Subhash Nagar, against Modi of the same locality. The complainant had alleged that the accused forcibly took her 7-yr-old daughter, Jyoti, while she was playing outside her house, to his house. The accused allegedly molested the girl. No arrest has been made so far.

Fraud alleged: The Focal Point police has registered a case of alleged fraud under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC on the statement by Mr Ram Parsad, Manager, Oswal Spinning Mills Limited, GT Road, against Mr Vikram Thakur and Mr S.P.Thakur, owners of Fashion Blouses, Gautam Buddh Nagar, UP. The complainant had alleged that the two had purchased goods worth Rs 7.59 lakh from his firm and submitted a bank cheque as the payment. But the cheque was dishonoured by the bank concerned.

Dowry case: The Shimla Puri police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 498-A of the IPC on the statement by Ms Sandip Kaur, a resident of Dhaba Road, Shimla Puri, against her husband and some other members of her in-laws. She had alleged that they were mentally and physically harassing her and pestering her to bring more dowry. The complaint was filed against husband Daljit Singh, Ajit Singh, father-in-law Raghubir Singh, mother-in-law Rajinder Kaur, Palwinder Kaur and Surjit Kaur, all residents of Madhya Pradesh.

Threatened: The Sadar police has registered a case under Sections 341 and 506 of the IPC on the statement by two students of Guru Nanak Engineering College, Jaspreet Singh Gill and Pawan Preet Singh Dhillon, against around 15 unknown armed persons who allegedly intercepted them and intimidated them on Saturday.

Woman killed: At Majali Kalan village, 7 km from here, Mohinder Kaur (68) was killed in a dispute on Monday. According to information, the dispute was between Congress activists and Akali activists over some issue. They threw bricks and stones at one other. A brick hit Mohinder Kaur on her chest and she became unconscious. She died on way to a hospital. The local police has registered a case and arrested Prem Singh. The other accused, Amarjit Singh, has been admitted to a hospital.


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