Friday, March 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Budget disappoints middle class
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Mr Yashwant Sinha’s long term and growth-oriented Budget, as claimed by him, has totally disappointed the salaried middle class and small businessmen here. They were expecting an increase in income tax limit and some relaxation in excise duty to boost their sagging disposable incomes. Instead of providing any relief, they have been rather hit hard by the increase in LPG prices, introduction of service tax on small services such as cable and dry cleaning, among others, and above all cut in interest rate by half per cent.

Ms Moxi Sahi, an advocate, said: “This is a disappointing Budget from the perspective of middle and lower-middle classes. No concrete steps have been announced to address the problems that the country is facing today, which include decline in purchasing power of public, increase in unemployment and slump in the market. No relief has been provided in the income tax limit, with the result that we would have to shell out more tax. The LPG prices have been steeply increased by Rs 40 per cylinder”.

Commenting upon the impact on the farm sector, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, state president, BKU, said: “We would strongly oppose the increase in urea prices and government’s policy to dismantle import restrictions on milk products. Our experience regarding MNCs such as Pepsi’s investment in Punjab have been quite disappointing. They have simply exploited the market. Moreover, we have been demanding allocation of funds to the agriculture sector, according to population proportion. The government has not announced any move in this direction.”

However, Ms Jugnu Jagwant Sandhu feels that the Budget ‘is not so disappointing’. She said: “It is growth-oriented Budget and aims at globalisation. We must understand that the service tax in all developed countries is much higher and interest rates are relatively lower than in our country. However, had the government raised the limit for paying income tax, to some extent, the middle class would have reacted in a balanced manner.”

Interestingly, the people have reacted strongly on the increase in LPG prices and service tax. But they were sceptical about the implementations of other proposed schemes to boost growth. Ms Ranju Sharma, a lecturer in the Department of Economics, Arya College, here, said: “If we analyse the proposals made in previous Budgets, the government has often failed to achieve targets, including economic growth, fiscal deficit, tax collections and in other sectors. However, if it is able to implement its investment proposals of investments in education, health and infrastructure sectors it would help the economy.” She added that the government had also proposed to reduce petrol and diesel price by about Rs 1.50 per litre and more investment in telecommunication sector. A policy has also been announced to abolish about 12,000 posts in the Central Government.

Reacting at the proposed allocation of funds in employment guarantee schemes, Ms Kinneri Mehta, a commerce student, said the Budget had disappointed millions of educated unemployed youth. “The government seems to have become bankrupt as far as innovative policies to reduce unemployment are concerned. The government does not seem to be serious to put the country on the high economic growth rate,” she said.

Mr Tarvinder Dhingra, a leading capital market analyst, said: “The Budget has disappointed the capital market as tax dividend of 10 per cent, which used to be paid by the companies, has been abolished. It would hurt the small investors, who would have to pay tax on dividend. The market index fell down by more than 150 points today, which would further come down in the next few days. The 5 per cent surcharge on corporate tax would further affect the market. All major companies suffered badly in the share market today.”

Mr O.P. Mehta, secretary, CPI, lamented that the senior citizens who are dependent on interest income, would be affected by the decline in interest rates on small savings.



Tradition at its sporty best
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Kila Raipur (Ludhiana), February 28
Kila Raipur has carved out its own identity. The name has become synonymous with rural sports in India, drawing sportsmen and sports lovers from across the country. Some even from abroad. What used to be a small sports event, restricted to some neighbouring sports club of the rural areas, only a few years ago has rightly come to be identified with the Rural Olympics. For the first time in the 70-year-old history of the sports meet, sportsmen from four other states are also participating in the games that would be formally declared open here tomorrow by the Director General of Police, Punjab, Mr M.S. Bhullar.

Barring for two years, the games have been regularly held every year around this time of the year, when people in the countryside, mostly farmers, are relatively free. In 1998 and 1999 the games could not be held due to some controversy over managing of the games that has become a high profile job attracting a good number of sponsors. It may be a unique example in itself in the country when a sports meet being organised in a rural area has been drawing attention from big business houses. At least 20 big and small stalls have been set up by various business houses outside the sports stadium here. And the stalls are available only at a premium.

Mr Sukhbir Grewal, chief organiser of the games, who has been involved in the event for the last several years, the Grewal Sports Association, which organises the games, has been getting good response from the sponsors and sportsmen alike. “This is quite encouraging, as for the first time sponsors are coming for such events”, he observed, while pointing out it will go a long way in encouraging the interests for sports among athletes.

The competitions are held in senior and junior category. Prominent events include the bullockcart race, hockey, athletics, shooting, tug of war, kabaddi and other breathtaking performances by individuals, which are seen to be believed. However, the prime attraction remains the bullockcart race. According to Mr Grewal, there are 110 entries for this event for this year. And the racers are common people. And a pair of bullock is worth several lakhs. Such is the zeal for sports here, particularly about bullockcart races, that a farmer may not mind selling off his entire land to own a good pair of bulls which can compete well in the race. The bullockcart race also attracts betting at local level.

For the first time about a hundred athletes have come from Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Chhatisgarh to participate in the games. Mr Grewal disclosed that there were several other entries also, but these had to be restricted as the event has to be managed properly. In all about 3,000 sports persons are participating in these events that will continue for four days. And the events present a total pastoral ambience with sportsmen mostly dressed in traditional attire than the sports uniforms. And there are promising prizes. The winner of the bullock cart race will get Rs 51,000 in cash. Not a small amount for the people participating in them.



4 per cent excise duty stuns cycle units
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Thousands of bicycle and bicycle part units here have been stunned by 4 per cent excise duty proposed by the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, in the Budget today. The government has proposed 4 per cent excise duty, for the first time on the common man’s vehicle. Industry representatives say it would prove a last nail in the coffin of the industry.

Mr J R Singhal, MD, Eastman Group of Industries, said,‘‘ We could not even think that the government would take such a drastic step. Since the low-value added industry is already paying 16 per cent duty on raw material and local taxes, it would be very difficult to absorb additional burden, which has not been supposedly covered under Cenvat.’’ He added that more than 80 per cent of the parts and accessory units were located, and if the decline in custom duty was any indication, the Chinese firms would evade the domestic market, resulting in the closure of units.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, respectively, of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), have also condemned the move. Mr Pardhan said,‘‘The excise duty on cycle and cycle parts should be immediately withdrawn. We would not be able to survive if the government does not roll back its decision.’’

On the other hand, the hosiery units have welcomed the government’s decision to reduce excise duty on fabric and garments from 16 per cent to 12 per cent. Mr V K Goyal, CEO, Vardhman Spinning and General Mills, said,‘‘The government has taken a right decision. The SSI units have also been given an option to come under Cenvat net. It would prove helpful in the long run. However, the government should have cut down interest rate by at least 1 to 1.5 per cent in view of the low inflation rate to boost investment. ’’ 



Are doctors fleecing patients ?
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, February 28
There are growing number of complaints by patients, who after visiting the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here say that some doctors at the hospital are forcing them to undergo expensive treatment, while cheaper alternatives are available. This includes performing surgery while the patient could be treated without surgical intervention.

Though, the allegations cannot be substantiated as every doctor says that he knows best how to deal with a particular case, but the manner in which some cases have been handled suggest an ulterior motive since patients are invariably asked to come to the doctor’s private clinic for follow-up treatment. Officials at the DMCH deny these allegations, but say that some such isolated case may have taken place that have escaped the management’s attention for want of a complaint from the patient’s side.

Dr Sandeep Puri, Medical Superintendent, DMCH, when contacted, refuted any such allegations. He said: “People exaggerate things. In every case, logic has to be followed. We follow our professional ethics. Such allegations are absolutely baseless. Opinion of every doctor varies. No doctor would ever indulge in such unethical practice.”

However, recently a two-and-a-half year boy from Payal, Gagandeep, met with an accident and was admitted to the DMCH. His parents were told at the emergency that nothing serious had happened. But the parents were asked to deposit Rs 2,000 till the attending doctor suggested that the injury was serious and an emergency operation was required for which the parents were asked to deposit Rs 20,000.

In a dilemma, the parents decided to take a second opinion from their family doctor at Doraha. The doctor put stitches on the jaw and prescribed some medicine and sent the child home. “My son is absolutely normal. He can eat and there is no problem at all. I am surprised that how come the doctors at the DMCH referred operation and asked us to deposit Rs 20,000 when he could be treated without operation”, Mr Kartar Singh, boy’s father, questions.

In another case, Supriya (not her real name) has revealed that while she was expecting her first child, she consulted a gynaecologist working at the DMCH. She also made private visits to the doctor’s clinic every month for the routine check-ups. “Days prior to the due date, I was told that everything was normal. But when I got admitted to the hospital, doctors took a decision to perform a Caesarean section. When asked, the doctor told me that the baby could not breathe properly because the umbilical chord had stuck around the neck forcing her to take a quick decision,” says Supriya.

One of the doctors at the DMCH, on condition of anonymity, said such practice was prevalent in the hospital. “I agree that such things do happen and mostly the doctors refer the patients to their private clinics. On the other hand, there are some doctors who in order to show more income to the management and to remain in its good books recommend surgery. The more the operations, the more the share of doctors,” admitted the doctor.

However, the management suggests that if any patient has a complaint against any employee of the hospital, it should be brought to the notice of the officials and suitable action would be taken against the erring employee.



Girls’ hostels closing time extended
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
The authorities of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have finally extended the deadline of the girls’ hostels after students hold a dharna in front of the home science girls’ hostel last night.

They lifted the dharna at 10 am when the authorities promised them that the deadline of the hostels would be extended from 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm. The protests started late in the evening yesterday when a few hostellers were not allowed to enter the premises as they were a few minutes behind the deadline.

When they were not allowed to enter they raised slogans. They joined by 500 hostellers of other colleges.

Agitating students did not allow the performance of Pratibha Prahlad, who was scheduled to perform under the aegis of SPIC-MACAY at the Wheat auditorium of the PAU this morning. The organisers had to shift the venue to Khalsa College for Women.



City residents face parking blues
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 28
The increasing number of vehicles and unmanageable traffic in the mega city has created many related problems with acute scarcity of parking space and total lack of regulations and enforcement on the notified parking lots being the biggest of them all.

Charging more than stipulated parking fee for different kind of vehicles, misbehaving with those raising their voice against this malpractice besides damage and theft of accessories from the parked vehicles is a common complaint at many parking places. The aggrieved residents have no one to address to their grievances and they can just fume and fret and get resigned to a similar treatment next time they park their vehicles in a parking lot.

City residents and shopkeepers in commercial centres like Mata Rani Road, Partap Bazaar, Chaura Bazaar, Books Market, Old G.T. Road and Sabzi Mandi lamented that despite repeated complaints about over charging and rude behaviour by the attendants at the multi-storeyed parking complex of the Municipal Corporation and the Zila Parishad parking place in Books Market, the authorities had failed to take any action and fleecing of the vehicle owners continued unabated.

Contrary to the claims made by the MC administration, most of the city’s commercial areas lack proper parking places, forcing the people to park their vehicles on the roadside in a haphazard manner and affecting the flow of traffic. The problem assumed alarming proportions, particularly in the congested old city localities, which had been converted into commercial areas.

Although plans to provide adequate parking spots in different city localities and commercial centres had reportedly been drawn up, the delay caused by the MC authorities in putting these plans into effect had led to mushrooming of quite a few unauthorised parking places in the city, where again overcharging was routine rather than exception.

Interestingly, an employee of the Municipal Corporation, was reportedly running one such unauthorised parking place just next to Police Division No 6 in the Dholewal Chowk area. In addition to causing loss of revenue to the MC, the parking lot operator-cum-MC employee was also encroaching upon a part of the road and obstructing the traffic movement since all vehicles were parked on the roadside.

Inquiries by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that parking happened to be a ‘big business’ in the city which had attracted some influential and ‘politically connected’ persons to enter this racket. Insiders revealed that majority of the parking contractors in the city were either politicians themselves or enjoyed proximity to the erstwhile ruling party functionaries and as a result that they flouted all regulations with impunity and got away with it while the administration was reduced to the status of a mute spectator.

In any case, the MC administration had to address the parking problem to bring some semblance of order to the vehicular movement in the city with priority bering accorded to make available sufficient regulated parking space in all major commercial centres before cracking down against parking of vehicles on the roadside and impeding traffic movement.

Due to lack of proper parking lots in Ludhiana, several unauthorised parking places have mushroomed, where people are reportedly over charged. 



Land grab: villagers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 28
Residents of Salana Dulla Singh Wala village, 5 km from here, led by Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, a former minister, and Mr Surinder Singh, sarpanch of the village, staged a dharna in front of the SDM’s office here today in protest against the forced occupation of 9.5 acre common land.

A memorandum was submitted to the SDM in which it was alleged that after the announcement of the Amloh Assembly result in favour of the Congress, party activists held a meeting on February 24 and hatched a plan to take forcible possession of the land by ploughing the wheat crop sown by the lessees.

Mr Surinder Singh said the land was given on a lease by the panchayat to Mr Amar Singh Nambardar, Mr Sher Singh and Mr Bhagwant Singh in June last year. On the night of February 24, nearly 50 armed persons ploughed the crop. The villagers demanded Rs 1.5 lakh compensation for the crop damage.

The village is the home village of the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The sarpanch of the village belongs to the SAD, whereas the Amloh block Congress president belongs to Salana village.

Mr Shingara Singh Salana, block president of the Congress, showed a photocopy of the decision of Mr K.S. Cheema, Additional Civil Judge, Amloh. The court has restrained the defendant gram panchayat from lifting the earth from the land by way of auctioning the same except in due course of law.



Anti-riot squads in sensitive areas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Fearing any spillover in the city of the communal tension and rioting in Gujarat, the district police today posted anti-riot police squads in sensitive places, especially where the Muslim population was significant. In a late evening crackdown, the police detained an unspecified number of people, who could have instigated tension in the city.

Elaborate security arrangements were also being made for meeting any eventuality during the tomorrow’s bandh call made by various religious organisations.

The Punjab Police tightened the security in the city while the railway police intensified vigil at Railway station and along the tracks. The police was also keeping a close eye on the passengers and a number of trains were checked at random. The police was also frisking people at the railway station. A number of barricades have been erected at various places in the city and the police was doing thorough checking of vehicles and boarders.

An emergency meeting of the district police officers has also been called for finalising the security arrangements for the bandh call. A senior police official said there was no immediate threat but the police was not leaving anything to chance.



Spurt in car-stereo thefts outside PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Morning walkers at Punjab Agricultural University are a harassed lot these days due to the spurt in incidents of stereo theft from the cars parked outside the varsity gates. A large number of such incidents have taken place in the past few weeks, causing a sense of insecurity among the walkers and affecting the routine of the health freaks.

A number of walkers called up the Ludhiana Tribune office today and aired their grievance. They said they were shocked that one incident after the other was taking place but neither the security staff of PAU, posted 24 hours, on the gates, nor the Punjab Police personnel specially posted near the university for the morning hours have been able to check the crime.

Ms Preeti Grewal, one such victim, told Ludhiana Tribune that she had parked her car outside the gates today morning at about 6 but when she returned after some time, the stereo in her car was missing. The security staff said they had not seen anyone. Inderjit Singh, another such victim, told Ludhiana Tribune that a stereo from his car had also been stolen in similar fashion. In his case, the thieves had broken the windowpanes and stolen the stereo.

He said when he raised a hue and cry, a number of other morning walkers told him the stereos of their cars were also stolen in similar fashion. They said there was an urgent need to provide more police security at the place as the incidents were on the rise.

PAU is the most popular place in the city among morning walkers. Hundreds of city residents from different parts of the city converge on the PAU grounds daily morning. As the PAU authorities do not allow the vehicles inside the campus, people have to park it outside. A long row of cars, scooters and motor cycles can be seen parked outside the campus daily. The number is so high that it even causes traffic jams at times. The heavy rush gives a chance to the thieves to steal the accessories or even the vehciles. A number of such incidents had taken place earlier also due to which the district police had specially posted some constables for morning duty. However, with a fresh spurt in the crime, the police need to do more. The morning walkers have demanded that the police should appoint a sizeable number of constables at the place.



Kidnapped man rescued, four held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 28
The Model Town police has claimed to have rescued a kidnapped person and arrested the four alleged kidnappers after a raid in Grain market, Moga, and booked them under Sections 364 and 342 of the IPC.

Mr Kalu Ram, son of Mr Durga Ram, a resident of Fauji Mohalla, had been kidnapped by four persons on February 18. The bewildered family members went on looking for Kalu for about a week before a case was formally registered at the Atam Park police post on the directions of the SSP on February 26. Subsequently, a police party, headed by chowki in-charge Mr. Mukesh Kumar, raided a jhuggi near Grain Market at Moga yesterday and rescued the kidnapped man.

The four alleged kidnappers have been identified Bhanwar Lal, Jagdish Kumar, and Birbal, all sons of Bhagwan Dass and Gogna Ram , son of Moju Dass. The kidnappers, who are related to the victim, had kidnapped him to settle a domestic dispute.

Pregnant woman beaten up: Pregnant housewife Babli (28) was beaten up and injured by one of her neighbours on Tuesday evening while she was alone in her house in Hargobind Nagar. She has been admitted to the Civil Hospital here. It was around 5 pm when, in the absence of her husband Mr Sohanvir, accused Satish Kumar, forced his way into her house and beat her up. The Focal Point police has registered a case.

Labourer crushed: Brajesh Ram, a migrant labourer, was crushed to death while he was loading goods at the Sahnewal dry port on Tuesday. The container was being lifted by a crane. It broke loose from the crane and fell on Brajesh, who died on the spot.

Chain snatching bid: Ms Asha Gaba, a housewife, foiled the designs of two motorcycle-borne youths, who wanted to snatch her gold chain while she on a cycle-rickshaw in Model Town yesterday afternoon. The alleged snatchers pulled the chain twice, but she managed to hold on to the ornament.

Chain snatched: The Civil Lines police has registered a case under Sections 356,379 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Bhushan Kumar, a resident of Model Gram, against Sardul Singh, a property dealer.

The complainant had alleged that the accused was his partner in property business. The accused had not paid him his share of profit in a recently-concluded deal. He further alleged that the accused arrived at his shop on Tuesday and snatched away his gold chain.

Youth dies: A young man, who was sitting atop three-wheeler (PB 10 AE 9681) full of cloth bundles, accidentally fell down in Jain Nagar, Shiv Puri road, and died on the spot, here yesterday. The driver of the three-wheeler is absconding.

Accident victim dies: Mr Jang Singh (55), son of Mr Sucha Singh, a resident of Rajwana village, who had been injured in a road accident and admitted to the CMC Hospital breathed his last on Tuesday evening.

Injured: Ms Jeevta Devi, wife of Mr Ram Pravesh, a resident of Tajpur Road, was hit by a speeding scooter while she was going on foot near the Tajpur police post yesterday afternoon. She has been admitted to the Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case against the scooterist.

Migrants held: The Jodhewal police yesterday arrested two migrants residing in Subhash Nagar. Balbir Singh alias Rajan and Babu Singh have been booked under Section 380 of the IPC. A case against the accused has been registered on the statement of Mr Lovely Sharma of the same locality on February 21. The complainant, who rents out TVs and VCRs, had alleged that the accused had hired a TV and a VCR from him. He didn’t return the same.

Roof damaged, fire ignited: In a bizarre case of its kind, the division number six police has registered a case under Sections 436 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ashok Kumar, a resident of Urban Estate Phase II, Dugri, against certain persons who allegedly damaged the roof of his rented factory and set the goods lying in the hall on fire.

The complainant stated in his complaint that he had rented two halls from Surinder Singh, a resident of Dholewal, for 30 years. A case over the possession of the premises is in the court.

Kidnapped, cash snatched: The division number three police has registered a case on the statement of Mr Anish Malik, a resident of Baba Thaan Singh chowk, against Vinod Kumar, a resident of Industrial Area, Chandigarh, Munish Kumar, a resident of Sector- 20 A, Chandigarh, and Mian Pasha , a resident of Muzzaffar Nagar, under Sections 364, 382, 342, 506, 120-B and 34 of the IPC. The complainant had alleged that the accused arrived at his shop on Tuesday and kidnapped him. The accused took him to Sirhind in a car where they forced him to sign some blank papers and snatched Rs 27,000, which were on his person at that time. Later, the accused deserted him at Sirhind and fled away.

Shot dead: Mahant Parma Nand, alias Balvinder Singh of Udasi Dera at Chehalan village, 3 km from here was shot dead by two unidentified persons. He was going to fields when this incident took place. The dog squad was immediately brought to the site of incident but there is no clue till now. After the postmortem he was cremated. The local police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC and under the Arms Act but no arrest has been made, though some persons have been taken into custody for preliminary investigation.



2 held for looting youth, pistol seized
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 28
The Raikot police has arrested Chamkaur Singh and Malkiat Singh, both residents of Chhajawal village, in connection with a case registered against them under Sections 392, IPC, and 25, 54 and 59, Arms Act.

The case was registered on a statement by Daljit Singh, a student, of Tallewal village. He said the two had taken away Rs 550 at gunpoint while he was on his way to Kutba village. According to a press note, both were arrested on a tip off near Siloani village. The police has seized one .12 bore pistol and seven cartridges from their possession.

The police has registered another case under the Arms Act against them.


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