Thursday, June 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC scheme on public parks runs into trouble
Payments to PMCs withheld for several months
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 26
The ambitious scheme of the Municipal Corporation to entrust the upkeep and maintenance of public parks in the city to ‘park management committees (PMCs) has run into trouble and almost without exception, the payments to the PMCs, maintaining hundreds of parks, has been withheld for the past more than seven months due to objections raised by auditors of the Local Government Department and ambiguity in the government directions in this regard.

Of a little over 700 municipal parks in the city, 467 were handed over to some 125 PMCs for maintenance almost two years ago and payment was being made at the rate of Rs 1 per square metre of the total area of these parks. There were serious allegations of massive financial irregularities against several of the functionaries of PMCs as well as concerned area councillors and the officials of the horticulture wing of the MC, who were charged to be in league with each other to siphon off funds in the name of development of parks

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that in the wake of reports of unsatisfactory performance of quite a few PMCs, the MC administration had undertaken an exhaustive exercise to minutely inspect their working and as a follow-up action allotment of 11 PMCs with 56 parks was cancelled. Similarly, mandatory annual renewal of the agreement with another 16 PMCs with 57 parks was declined.

The civic body further found itself in the docks over the payment being made to the PMCs at the rate of Rs 1 per square metre which was approved by the then Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) of the MC way back in Sept 1999, and again ratified through another resolution in Feb 2002. However, the Local Government Department in its guidelines issued to all local bodies in Punjab in Feb, 2000, had directed that the expenditure incurred on development and maintenance of parks should be shared on 50 : 50 basis by the local body and the management committees, comprising residents of the area. It was further stipulated that the monthly expenditure on payment to each gardener should not exceed Rs 1000.

In the meantime, the state government had also stayed the F&CC resolution (No 6307 dated Feb 20, 2002) vide which payment at the rate of Rs 1 per sq metre was approved to be made to the PMCs in gross violation of the government directions. Although the exact amount of payments made to PMCs during last two years at double the rate than allowed by the government, was not known but sources disclosed that an estimated Rs 50 lakh were being paid for maintenance of city parks every year.

The MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, however, disagrees with the common impression sought to be created that PMCs had failed to serve the purpose and deliver. “As in all other walks of life, there are good and bad elements everywhere. We are in the process of evaluating the work done by PMCs and more than two dozen committees, which were either defunct or non-performing have already been shown the door. At the same time, there are several instances where PMCs, having prominent residents of the area as their members have done a commendable job.”

Justifying the revised rate of Rs 1 per sq metre being paid to the PMCs, he said for almost five years (1995 to 1999) when Rs 0.50 were being offered for maintenance of parks in the city, not even a single PMC volunteered to do the job as the payment was far too inadequate. However, since 1999, when the rates were revised by the MC general house and the F&CC, most of the municipal parks in the city were being managed by the committees of residents, with sizeable voluntary contribution also being made by the area residents at times for beautification and landscaping of the parks.

Mr Sharma did confirm that payments for PMCs were held up for some time due to the resolution of the F&CC having been stayed by the government. “We have taken up the matter with the Local Government Department and the decision was expected soon after which the pending payments will be released to the PMCs.”



Staff show ‘withdrawal’ symptoms
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 26
Government employees continue to criticise the Punjab Government for freezing the DA and the other allowances in the state Budget proposals.

Mr Pritpal Singh, senior vice-president of the Punjab Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation and head of the Government Primary Teachers Union of Punjab (affiliated to the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh), said the budget was anti-employee and harsh. “The government has reduced benefits and gone back on its election promises,” he said.

The trade-union activist said, while government employees had been hit by this “unimaginative” budget, the government had lost its credibility. He urged all trade unions to unite and launch a campaign against “the anti-employee policies” of the state government.

Mr Pritpal Singh urged the state government to review its decisions to freeze the DA, ban recruitment and promotions, abolish posts and withdraw employees’ benefits.

He said this would avert an agitation by government employees, for which, the PNGEO was prepared to cooperate with the other trade unions. An emergency meeting of the body has been called on June 30 in the local office of the BMS to review the situation.

JAGRAON: Punjab Roadways employees held a rally today in front of the SDM office here and later burnt copies of the state Budget. They termed it as anti-employees.

The rally was addressed by Mr Gurdip Singh Moti, convener of the Joint Action Committee. He termed the disinvestment policy of the government as anti-employees and anti-farmers. He said the government intended to close down 29 corporations and boards. He also criticised the freezing of DA, LTC and leave encashment of employees, handing over the schools to the panchayats, making education and medical facilities dearer and increase in petrol and diesel prices.

He said rallies were being organised in protest against Budget proposals and a state-level rally would be held at Chandigarh in which persons from all walks of life would participate.

Other leaders opposed the privatisation of Pepsu and the Punjab Roadways. They said crores were due towards the state government on account of allowing free or concessional services to the police personnel, physically challenged, old women and freedom fighter etc. They criticised the Akali government for non-payment of dues to the roadways for the buses hired at the time of the 300th anniversary of Khalsa and anniversary of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

“Though the AITUC has brought forth many scams and scandals, but no action against the erring officials has been taken so far” they said. They also mentioned that the plying of private buses without permits was causing loss of crores to the roadways. “The present Congress government has got votes for providing employments to the unemployed, but instead of providing employment it is bent on privatisation which will increase unemployment. The present government is, thus, trying to shrug off its responsibilities and backing out from the promises it has made,” they alleged.

They warned the government against privatisation. The local buses were to put to halt for two hours in the morning as mark of protest, causing inconvenience to the general public.

Fatehgarh Sahib: It was a day of protests in Fatehgarh Sahib. The various unions of government employees, teachers and doctors organised separate protest rallies against the Punjab Government.

Doctors from the district organised a gate rally at the local Civil Hospital. Addressing the rally, Dr Balwinder Singh, district president and regional secretary, criticised the government for taking anti-employee decision. He said that government had increased the user charges, freezed their DA and planning to terminate the services of 872 doctors who were recruited during the tenure of Mr Ravi Sidhu as PPSC chief. Later they burnt copies of the Budget. They warned that if the government did not concede the demands of the employees the medical and health services would be paralysed in the state.

Meanwhile, the employees belonging to the Mini Secretariat Staff Welfare Association, Joint Action Committee of Punjab and UT Employees, the Government Teachers Union and Class IV Government Employees Union jointly organised a protest rally in front of the district administrative complex. The speakers criticised the government for its anti-employee policies. They termed the Budget presented by the Finance Minister as anti-employees. They said that the government had increased the rates of other commodities and lowered their salaries. They also resented the Re 1 per litre cess on petrol. They said that the government should impose tax on luxury items and not on necessity items. They said that this was the first government in the history of the state which had annoyed the public in a short span of three months.



Man alleges bungling in records
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 26
Though the district administration officials say that their working is transparent, the charges of a 66-year-old man, Mr Bhajan Singh, belies this claim. This man of Santokh Nagar in Ganesh Puri here says that he has been chasing officials of the Revenue Department for the past two years to obtain an authentic copy of a revenue record of his land in Dhandra village. He says that the copy has never been given to him.

He has tried everything to get a copy of the land ‘farad’ and made countless visits to the administration office in pursuit of it. In an affidavit to the officials concerned, Mr Bhajan Singh, has said that, as per the revenue records, while ‘intakaal’ 219 of the agricultural land is in the name of five persons — Jaswant Kaur, Angrez Kaur, Naginder Kaur, Ram Singh and Chhinder Kaur — the owners of the land mentioned in a copy of the ‘farad’ are different (Ram Singh and Gurvinder Singh).

He has demanded an original copy of the ‘farad’. While, according to him, the original records and the ‘farad’ copy contain different names in the owners column, the officials concerned do not believe him. Mr A.K. Sinha, ADC (Development), when contacted, said he had studied the case and directed the officials concerned to redress the man’s grievance immediately. He said Bhajan’s opponents had moved court.

Mr Sinha said Mr Bhajan had been given copies of the ‘farad’ a hundred times, but he was not satisfied. “He claims that he has been given fake records, but how is that possible? He wants certain names in the owners column, but how can we put these there, when these do not belong to the original owners,” Mr Sinha said.

He said Mr Bhajan had been asked to submit his complaint in writing, but he had not turned up again. Meanwhile, Mr Bhajan Singh said he had submitted a copy of an affidavit to the officials concerned last week only, when some officials of the administration had “misbehaved” with him and told him not to enter the office again.



Industry awaits subsidy for revival
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 26
Hundreds of industrial units in Punjab are desperately awaiting the subsidy that is now overdue since 1996. According to rough estimates made available by various small and medium-scale industrial associations, the state government is supposed to pay about Rs 400-crore subsidy to the industrialists who set up their units from 1996 onwards. At that time they were assured that they would be paid financial subsidy. With the government seemingly not interested to pay this subsidy to them, these industrialists have been left in the lurch.

There are many industrialists who invested up to Rs 2 crore in industrial focal point on the assurance of the government. While eight years have passed they are yet to receive a penny. Most of them had invested with the borrowed money from banks and various other financial institutions. Quite a number of them are now unable to repay the loan instalments and the interest on it.

Mr Girish Kapoor of the LWS says while the government announced subsidy for the small and medium-scale industry way back in 1996 and prompted them to make huge investments, at the last minute it backed out.

He disclosed that he was to get about Rs 50 lakh from the government which was sanctioned as subsidy in 1996. Eight years past he still hopes to get the promised money.

Similarly, Mr Ashish Bhakoo, who runs a medium-scale industrial unit producing fabric and T-shirts, has to get Rs 3.25 lakh from the government. The subsidy was sanctioned in 1998.

There are hundreds of other industrialists who have not been paid the subsidy.

Both Mr Kapoor and Mr Bhakoo agree that the industry cannot survive on the government support alone, but at least it should get the promised due. Most of the small and medium-scale industry in Punjab has gone sick, mainly for the financial reasons. And denial of subsidy is one of the main reasons. Because, according to Mr Kapoor, the industrialists made investments hoping to get the subsidy as working capital. But when it was denied at a crucial time, they had to suffer huge losses.

The industrialists at the same time are appreciating the financial position of the state. They have already suggested issuing of transferable and tradable bonds instead of subsidy. Moreover, they suggest that in case the government is unable to pay subsidy in cash to the industry, it can adjust the sanctioned amount under various heads.

For example, Mr Kapoor suggests that the government can adjust the subsidy amount against the PSEB dues. Even it can adjust the loan amount of different industrialists against the subsidy amount. This way the government will not need to generate additional funds for providing subsidy. This is essential to save the industry in Punjab which is on the verge of collapse.

Mr Kapoor and Mr Bhakoo said the government should pay attention to the small and medium-scale industry also and not restrict itself to serving the interests of the big industrial houses only who hardly need any government support for their survival. 



New schedule for centralised admissions
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 26
In view of the non-declaration of the Class XII arts-stream results, the schedule for centralised admissions to the BCA, B.Com, M.Com and M.Sc (IT) courses to be held in the SDP College for Women here has been revised. The deadline for submitting applications for these courses was to expire today, but now, it has been extended to July 13.

Ms S. Verma, Principal of the college and coordinator of the admissions, said the merit list would be put up on the college notice board on July 16 and objections entertained in afternoon, following which, the revised list would be put up in evening.

She said the counselling session for the M.Com-course candidates of general and reserved categories would be on July 17. In the afternoon session on the same day, all M.Sc (IT) candidates would have their counselling. General-category candidates of the BCA course would have it on July 18 and 19, while students of the reserved category would have it on July 20. The unfilled reserved-category seats would be declared open in the afternoon session on the same day.

The counselling sessions of general-category candidates for the B.Com course would be held on July 21, 22 and 23. The reserved-category candidates would have their counselling session on July 24. The unfilled reserved-category seats would be declared open in the afternoon session on the same day. If needed, counselling to fill the unreserved seats would continue the next day.



Yatra began much before registration
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 26
While officially the registration for Amarnath Yatra began only yesterday, pilgrims have been visiting the shrine for over a month now.

According to some of the pilgrims, the yatra started about a month ago and on an average 25 to 30 pilgrims have been visiting the shrine daily via the Baltal route. These pilgrims said there were no arrangements for the yatris so far as officially the yatra would begin on July 21.

Although the Jammu and Kashmir Government has issued strict instructions not to allow pilgrims in advance, it is learnt that the local police and the administration are relatively lax since they do not want to return pilgrims from that point.

Several NGOs involved in providing various amenities to the pilgrims have, however, welcomed the move of allowing pilgrims in advance maintaining that this will reduce the pressure during the officially announced days of yatra. About one lakh pilgrims are expected to visit the holy cave this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajinder Sharma, president of the Shri Amarnath Yatra Welfare Board, said here today that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had agreed to several of the demands made by the board and other NGOs. He said the state government had assured them that 25 persons would be allowed for ‘langar’ every week. Earlier the government had said that only 20 persons would be allowed and they too would have to reach the site in a one go.

The government had also agreed not to charge Rs 2,000 tax per day on the buses, instead of the current Rs 300 per day, till the completion of the yatra. Organisers of langars would also be exempt from paying ground rent, which was charged from them by the government last year.

Mr Sharma said these assurances were given to a delegation of the board comprising besides him, Mr Amarpal Sharma, Mr Ravinder Sharma and Mr Vijay Thakur, by the adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr Ashok Jaitly, recently.



Flesh trade racket busted; kingpin, 6 held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 26
The division number five police yesterday trapped SAS Nagar-based Subhash Rana, kingpin of a flesh-trade racket, some of his clients and girls alleged to be prostitutes and booked them under Sections 3,4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic ( Prevention) Act of 1956. The other accused arrested, along with Subhash Rana, are Renu Bala, alias Daljit Kaur, wife of Satnam Singh, a resident of Khanna, Hinna, daughter of Alam, resident of Behlolpur village, Karamjit Kaur, daughter of Surinder Singh, a resident of Toderpur, Manjit Kaur, alias Money, daughter of Kartar Singh, a resident of Patiala, Amarjit Singh, alias Happy, son of Shadi Singh, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh and a driver named Shankar.

According to the police, the accused were running a high-profile, expensive call-girl racket with the help of mobile phones and vehicles. The middlemen and the prostitutes were enjoying an expensive life-style with some of the call girls charging Rs 20,000 per night, added the police. Mr Malkit Singh, DSP, is investigating.

Migrant held with poppy husk: The Civil Lines police nabbed a migrant from UP settled at Maherna Khurd village, falling under the Ahmadgarh police station in Sangrur district with 9 kg of poppy husk at the main bus stand here on Tuesday evening.

The accused, identified as Amrish Kumar Paswan, hailing from Lasora village in Fatehpur district of UP, was booked under Sections 15,61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Frauds alleged: A case of fraud under Section 406 of the IPC was registered at the Kochhar market police post on Tuesday on the statement of Mr Sahib Singh Bedi, a resident of Sant Nagar, against Ajit Singh, Gurpal Singh, Mandip Singh, sons of Ajit Singh, Amarjit Kaur, wife of Ajit Singh, resident of Friends Colony, Model Gram, Ludhiana, Charanjit Kaur, wife of Satinder Pal Singh, a resident of Sector 21-A, Chandigarh and Mandeep Kaur, resident of Shakti Nagar, Delhi. The complainant had alleged that the accused had bought a house from him and drove away a car belonging to him without his permission on October 23 last from his residence. The accused had not returned the car so far. No arrest has been made.

The Model Town police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Rulda Singh Jassi, a resident of Janta Nagar, against Sudesh Pana, who lives near the Dhuri railway crossing, Baldev Sharma, Raman Sharma, a resident of Shimla Puri now living in Amritsar. The complainant had alleged that the accused were running the business of ‘committees’ that involved plenty of cash. The complainant further stated that while he had deposited Rs 3,25,000 with the accused, another person Karnail Singh had deposited Rs 21,000 with them. The accused had committed a fraud on them by not returning their money, he added. No arrest has been mad.

Cases of beating: The division number three police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 341,323,506 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Joginder Pal Bhatia, a resident of Nawan Mohalla near Lakkar Bazaar, against Yashpal and Tarlok Chand, both residents of the same locality. The complainant had stated that the accused demanded money from him for drinking and when he refused to oblige them, they beat him up. No arrest has been made.

On the statement of Mr Darshan Lal, a resident of Bharat Nagar, the division number five police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 452,506 and 34 of the IPC against Harvinder Singh alias Kukku, Ajay Pal Singh, both residents of Model Town Extension. The complainant had alleged that the accused attacked him near the Durga Mata Mandir chowk on Tuesday night with hockey sticks. No arrest has been made.

The Haibowal police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 323,341,506 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Om Parkash, a resident of Dairy Complex, Haibowal Khurd, against Sher Singh and Mandeep Singh, both residents of the same complex. The complainant had alleged that the accused had beaten up him and his wife on the night of June 24. No arrest has been made.

Another case of beating was registered on Tuesday at the same police station on the statement of Ms Sunita Rani, wife of Mr Anil Kaushik, a resident of New Tagore Nagar, under Sections 323,342 and 506 of the IPC, against her husband . She had alleged that on the intervening night of June 24 and 25, the accused beat up her and her daughter before locking them in a room and running away. No arrest has been made.

The Salem Tabri police registered a case under Sections 341,323,506 and 34 of the IPC on Tuesday on the statement of Vicky, a resident of Ajit Nagar in Bhattian Colony, against Jatinder Sharma and Dharminder Sharma, both residing in the same locality. The complainant had alleged that the accused had intercepted him on June 23 evening, beaten him up and threatened him. No arrest has been made.

Another case , under the same sections, was registered at the same police station on Tuesday on the statement of Mr Davinder Kumar, a resident of Santokh Nagar, against Vicky, Happy, Sonu and Rinku. The complainant had alleged that the accused came to his house, called him outside, beat him up. No arrest has been made.

Accident causes death: The Focal Point police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 279,338,337,427 and 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Anrodh, a resident of Rajinder Singh Da Vehra in Shanti Nagar, Giaspura, against the driver of a car ( HR-12F-0566). The complainant had stated that while he and Parmodh Kumar were going on cycles on June 22 near a cycle manufacturing unit on the GT Road, the driver of the car hit them as a result of which both of them were admitted to the hospital where Parmodh Kumar died two days later. No arrest has been made.

Cases of theft: The division number three police on Tuesday registered a case under section 379, IPC, on a statement of Mr Sarwan Bhagat, a resident of Sant Nagar, Haibowal, against an unknown person, who stole his Bajaj Chetak scooter ( PB-10-B- 6634) from Saban Bazaar in the evening of June 24.

The Model Town police on Tuesday registered a case under Sections 379 and 411, IPC, on a statement of Mr Suresh, a resident of Dashmesh Nagar, against Vijay, alias Mangat Singh. The complainant had stated that his Vespa scooter, which had been stolen from Shastri Nagar on June 16, was spotted by him on Tuesday in the custody of the accused.

Chain snatched: The Haibowal police on Tuesday registered a case of theft under Sections 356 and 379, IPC, on a statement of Ms Suman Kapur, a resident of Kitchlu Nagar, against two clean-shaven motorcycle-borne youths. The accused had snatched the gold chain from around her neck while she was standing outside her house on Tuesday afternoon. No arrest has been made.

The Jodhewal police registered a case under Sections 379,341,447,424,115,506,148 and 149 of the IPC on Tuesday on a statement of Mr Didar Singh,a resident of New Kartar Nagar on the Bahadurke Road, against Mukhtiar Singh, Avtar Singh, Bachittar Singh, Karnail Singh, Bittu, Shashi, Billu, residents of Jamalpur Leli, Gurnam Singh, a resident of Azad Nagar, Ludhiana. The complainant had alleged that the accused went to his fields at Suzatwal and cut the trees there and tried to occupy the land. The accused, who also stole a cycle from the land, also issued threats to him, he added. No arrest has been made.

3 held: The division number three police arrested three persons and booked them under Section 283 of the IPC separately on a charge of parking their vehicles on the road and jamming the traffic. Those arrested were -Jagjit Singh, a resident of Tibba Colony, Mundian Khurd. He had parked his auto-rickshaw at Vaishno Devi chowk and jammed the traffic. Sadhu Singh, a resident of Kartar Nagar near the Tibba Road had parked his rehri near Ahata Sher Jang and jammed the traffic and Balbir Singh, a resident of Najibabad in UP, who had parked his Tata-407 truck at Madho Puri chowk and jammed the traffic.

Eve-teasers booked: The Civil Lines police on Tuesday arrested Balwant Singh, a resident of Fatehgarh Churian village in Gurdaspur district, Ashwini Kumar and Vishal Kumar, who reside near the Railway Lines and booked them separately under Section 294 of the IPC. The accused, at the time of their arrest, were allegedly teasing the girls passing by on the road.

Liquor seized:
The Payal police claims to have seized five bottles of liquor from Gulshan Kumar of Talwandi Chowdharian of Kapurthala, on Wednesday. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of Excise Act has been registered.

Gambler arrested: A gambler Tinko Sharma of Khanna was arrested by Head Constable Saroop Singh of Rauni police chowki and a case registered at Payal police station under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of Gambling Act on Wednesday. The gambling money worth Rs 410 was seized from him.



Probe into PSIEC functioning sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 26
Charging the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) with neglecting the interests of the small-scale industrial sector, the Focal Point Association (FPA) has urged the Punjab Government to order a vigilance inquiry into the working of the corporation with special reference to financial mismanagement and rampant corruption in the public sector undertaking.

Mr O.P. Jindal, president of the association, in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has charged the PSIEC top brass with ignoring the interests of small industrial units and passing off big chunk of industrial plots in Phase VIII of the Industrial Focal Point here to certain influential industrial houses at throwaway prices in 1993. While the claims of small units, that were prepared to pay the tentative reserve price of Rs 350 per sq yrd, were ignored, big industrial groups, in connivance with the then high officials of the PSIEC and the state government, had managed to corner most of the plots at Rs 126 per sq yrd.

According to Mr Jindal, in the wake of vehement protests by the small-scale industrial sector, the PSIEC management extended the area of the Focal Point Phase VIII and some plots were allotted to small industrialists at the revised rate of Rs 600 per sq yrd. “But the entire exercise undertaken in 1996 was an eyewash and a cruel joke on the entrepreneurs since most of the plots such allotted were not only completely undeveloped, but were either under litigation or under unlawful occupation.”

Moreover, the PSIEC failed to provide promised infrastructure much to the frustration of some units, which had struggled against heavy odds to commence operations on the plots provided to them in Phase VIII, he said.



Small business credit card
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 26
The State Bank of India has launched small business credit card for Small-scale industrial units, retail traders and self-employed professionals for credit facilities up to Rs 5 lakh. The cards were delivered to the customers by Mr S.K. Sinha, Chief General Manager, Chandigarh Circle, in a hotel here today.


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