Thursday, September 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Police gives in to violent protesters
SAD, BJP men hold rally against govt
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
The district level protest march and dharna by SAD and BJP activists at the mini-secretariat here today turned out to be a battle of wits between the activists of the two parties and the heavy police force deployed at the district administrative complex with the police ultimately giving in to the aggressive postures of political functionaries.

The SAD and the BJP leadership had organised a march from five different places in the city towards the mini-secretariat where a dharna and a rally was to be held to focus on anti-people policies, being pursued by the Congress government, headed by Capt Amarinder Singh.

However, the first batch of protesters, headed by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, president, All India Youth Akali Dal, along with Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi and Mr Bhag Singh Malha, coming from the Ferozpore Road side, found much to their consternation that the main gates of the complex were closed and heavy police force was deployed behind the gates to stop entry inside.

While the protesters refused to be dictated by police officials to hold the protest outside the complex, the top brass of the police also showed total immaturity in dealing with the situation and letting the SAD and BJP ranks walk away with what they termed as a tactical victory.

As other senior leaders of the two parties, including Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA and former Cabinet minister, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, district (Urban) president, SAD, Mr Daya Singh, district (Rural) president, SAD, Mr Balramji Das Tandon, former minister, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, former Deputy Speaker, and Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, district president of the BJP, arrived on the spot, the restive workers managed to break the police barricade and enter the mini-secretariat. In the process, some policemen were seen brandishing their ‘lathis’ and there was utter confusion.

Speakers at the rally charged the Congress government with backtracking from its poll promises and reversing the process to the extent that several concessions and facilities granted to various sections of the people by the erstwhile government were being withdrawn. “All welfare schemes, including the shagun scheme and 100 units of free power to poor families, have been scrapped. The farming community has been inflicted a fatal blow in the form of withdrawal of free power at a time when it is facing the worst crisis due to drought-like situation. Other sections like employees, traders and industrialists are suffering at the hands of the government with the freezing of dearness allowance, denial of allowances, reimposition of octroi and imposition of new taxes and levies, they said.

The SAD and BJP leaders made a scathing attack on the government for its ‘anti-corruption’ drive which had now assumed scandalous proportions. It was not only being used as a tool to settle political scores and cause harassment and humiliation to SAD and BJP leaders but had also come handy to certain elements in the police and the Vigilance Bureau to run a notorious extortion racket under the threat of implicating political activists in corruption cases. In gross violation of democratic norms, the government had virtually politicised the police, the Vigilance Bureau and the administration, they added.

In a memorandum to the governor, handed over to the Deputy Commissioner, SAD and BJP activists demanded restoration of free power to farmers and Dalit families, payment of Rs 30 per quintal bonus on paddy crop, revival of ‘shagun’ scheme, provision of employment for one member of the ‘below poverty line’ families, increase in monthly pension amount to the aged, widows and handicapped persons, fulfillment of the poll promise of octroi abolition, scrapping the move to freeze dearness allowance and other allowances of government employees, restoration of rule of law and an end to vindictive action and police repression against political opponents.

Fatehgarh Sahib: The SAD has warned the state government to restore all those facilities and benefits accorded by its government to the people of the state and if they failed to do so the party would be forced to announce next phase of struggle peacefully and democratically.

This was announced by the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, while addressing a dharna organised in front of district administrative complex here today. The dharna was organised by Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, a senior Akali leader from Sirhind. A large number of people attended the dharna.

Lashing out at the Congress, the former minister said the SAD had decided to launch agitation against the repressive economic policies of the government. He said the Congress government had made 18 promises in their election manifesto, but had failed to fulfill any one of them. They imposed ban on promotions, cut on salaries and allowances of employees and started repression of Akalis.

He said ever since this government had assumed charge there was one after the other repressive decisions taken by the government. They had imposed taxes worth Rs 700 crore on farmers, Rs 100 crore on Dalits and introduced entry and octroi taxes. He said it had been admitted by the DGP that the law and order situation had worsened in the state during the past six months.

Mr Bhatti, in his address, criticised the government for its ‘anti-people’ policies. He said the government had failed on all fronts.

Mr Swarn Singh Chanarthal, president, district unit, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, president, youth wing, Mr Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli, a senior Akali leader, and Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, a former MLA, among others, also addressed the dharna.



Where touts rule the roost
D.B. Chopra

Ahmedgarh, September 11
Touts of various hues in connivance with the local police continue to rule the roost in this town by picking up poor and extorting money from them on one pretext or the other.

A 20-year-old boy, Sadiq, who belongs to a poor family of potters and sells fruit on a rehri, was allegedly beaten up by Afzal and his accomplices outside Chand Theatre on September 8 out of some old enmity. Sadiq instead of going straight to the police station tried to settle the score immediately thereafter and was beaten up again. Though on the face of it, the incident was ‘boy-stuff’, elders were dragged into the picture next morning when a posse of cops, accompanied by Abdul Gafoor, alias Kaka, a known police tout and father of Afzal, reached Sadiq’s house in a vehicle at around 8.15 am. Since both Sadiq and his father, Abdul Sattar, had left for work by then, the tout allegedly started abusing family members, including womenfolk, and asked the cops to ‘lift’ the women in the absence of men. Middle-aged Safi, an uncle of Sadiq, who was at home, told this correspondent last evening that when he asked Abdul Gafoor to stop using filthy language, he started beating him up in the presence of cops who also lent a hand in thrashing him. He was dragged into the vehicle and taken to the police station.

It was then that Sadiq’s family members came to know that a complaint had been lodged against the boy by Gafoor in which it had been alleged that the boy and his accomplices had attacked his house and damaged a wall and inflicted injuries on some members.

In the meantime, womenfolk in Sadiq’s house, as told by them, remained a terrified lot. Somebody had misinformed them that Gafoor was planning an attack.

Safi, the detained uncle of Sadiq, was released in the evening after a ‘compromise’ was effected between the two parties and which cost the poor potters’ family more than Rs 3,000.

When this reporter rang up the police station this morning to find whether a complaint had been registered against Sadiq and accomplices on September 8, an official manning the telephone said since the matter fell under the jurisdiction of the city branch he was not in a position to answer the query. He gave a telephone number (3646115) of the city branch. The number was dialled repeatedly only to have the answer that the number did not exist.



Ban on open sale of crackers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Keeping in view heavy loss to life and property in the past due to breaking out of fire in unauthorised stores of crackers in congested areas, the local District Magistrate, Ludhiana has imposed a complete ban on the open sale of crackers in Ludhiana city and earmarked five places for the purpose. These include the Government College for Women, Derasi Ground, Government Middle School, Haibowal, Dusehra Ground, Urban Estate, Dugri, and Industrial Focal Point (Dusehra Ground), where dealers can put up their shops after getting permission from the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

The Deputy Commissioner said that the sale of the crackers at all places earmarked would take place in the first week of October. Till then, all licence holders had been asked to acquire the permission by completing the formalities under the Explosives Act. These would also be a ban on the manufacture, sale and use of crackers generating noise level acceding 125 db (AI) or 145 db (C) pK 4 m from the point of bursting of the crackers.

The fire crackers would not be used at any time in silence zones. These include 100 m around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other area declared as such by the competent authority.

In case of any dealer found violating these directions, strict action would be taken. No dealer would be allowed to sell crackers without getting a proper licence and each dealer would have to submit an undertaking in the form of an affidavit not to sell crackers generating noise level above 125 db.



FIR in corporal punishment case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
At long last the police has registered an FIR against the Principal, Vice Principal and the class in charge of the Nauhriamal Jain Senior Secondary School in a case related to the corporal punishment of a class nine student Rajni Sharma, who has suffered partial paralysis.

According to Mr Ashok Sharma, father of the girl, it took a lot of efforts as they had to write to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and other senior police officers that the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Harpreet Sidhu, ordered the registration of an FIR against the three accused, including the Principal, Ms Prem Arora, the Vice Principal, Ms Hardeep Kaur and the teacher in charge, Ms Sukhminder Kaur.

Rajni Sharma had allegedly been kept standing in the class for not getting her detailed marks card with her. She was awarded the punishment allegedly by the Principal. Meanwhile, the Vice Principal allegedly made her take a few rounds of the school campus as further punishment. When she returned to the class she collapsed on the floor.

The doctors said she had suffered injury in her brain which led part of her body getting paralysed. She remained hospitalised for 22 days and according to doctors she will need to be treated for three years. Despite consistent efforts by Mr Sharma, the police was not taking any action against the accused. It was only yesterday that the SSP directed the Division Number 5 police station to register a case against the accused. The police has registered the FIR under section 335 of the IPC. No arrests have been made so far.



Ultrasound clinics inspected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
For the strict enforcement of the Supreme Court guidelines regarding the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test (PNDT) Act, a five-member team from the Centre, in coordination with the Appropriate Authority Civil Surgeon, inspected two ultrasound clinics here today.

Dr Mira Shiva, Director, Women Health and Development and Rational Drug Policy, New Delhi, who was one of the members of the team, said it was a routine exercise to check that the directions of the Supreme Court were being properly followed by the doctors.

The five-member team also included Ms Madhubala, Director, PNDT Act, Government of India, Dr Neena Puri, president, Family Planning Association of India, Dr V.K.Goyal, assistant director, in charge, PNDT cell, Chandigarh, and Ms J.K.Bawa, State Mass Media Officer, Chandigarh.

Asked about the criteria of choosing of the centres for inspection, Dr Shiva said the Civil Surgeon office had the list of all ultrasound clinics and the team had randomly picked a few names from the list. “We cannot do anything forcefully, but can create awareness. The emphasis is on educating people to shun this unethical practice. We visited the centres to check their records”, maintained Dr Shiva. She refused to give details regarding the inspection.

Asked as to why the clinics being run by lady doctors married to persons working with the Health Dept were spared, Dr Shiva replied that since it was her first visit in this part of the region as a member of the inspection team, she could not comment what had been going on earlier. Dr S.N.Tiwari, Civil Surgeon, said 180 centres in the city had been inspected till August, 2002, and 16 centres in Jagraon, 25 in Khanna, 21 in Samrala, 14 in Payal and 15 in Raikot tehsil had been raided.



Elderly woman hacked to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
In a gruesome incident, an elderly woman, Gurnam Kaur, was hacked to death by robbers at her residence in the Model Town area today. The incident reportedly occurred when she was alone in the house.

According to the police, the main purpose of the assailants appeared to be robbery as they decamped with Rs 16,000 and goods worth Rs 50,000.

The police said Gurnam Kaur was living in her house along with her daughter-in-law, who is working as a teacher in a school. She had gone to the school as also her grandchildren. The assailants reportedly entered the house at around 10 am.

Finding her alone, they used some sharp-edged weapons and hit her on the head. She was reportedly killed on the spot. The police has registered an FIR and started investigations. No arrests have been made so far.



MC kudos for Commissioner
Our Correspondent

The Mayor, accompanied by the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, addresses the general House meeting of the Municipal Corporation in Ludhiana
The Mayor, accompanied by the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, addresses the general House meeting of the Municipal Corporation in Ludhiana on Wednesday, and left a view of the meeting hall. — Photo Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, September 11
Excellent financial showing by the Municipal Corporation during the past four months, which had seen the civic body clearing pending liabilities worth around Rs 17 crore with surplus of more than Rs 6 crore, was under focus at the first business meeting of its general house held here today. Cutting across party lines, the councillors placed on record the deft financial management of the Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, ever since he took over the reins in May.

As the regular agenda was sought to be taken up by the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, who presided over the meeting, Mr Surjit Singh Dang and Mr Parveen Bansal, group leaders of the SAD and the BJP, respectively, raised objections and demanded that councillors should be given time to express their problems and grievances before regular business was taken up. At one time, most of the councillors belonging to the opposition came to the well of the house and surrounded the dais. Better sense prevailed and after being assured by Mr Gill that everyone would get a chance to speak, the councillors resumed their seats.

In his opening remarks, Mr Sharma outlined the two-pronged strategy adopted to improve the precarious financial health of the civic body, which as was evident, had paid rich dividends. “Several measures were given effect to mobilise resources, plug evasion of civic charges and levies, recover old arrears of house tax, composition fee and at the same time, cut down expenditure, wherever possible.” As against a Rs 24.30 crore spent on maintenance works during last year, only Rs 6.37 crore had been spent during the past four months.

He claimed that the civic body was the only local body which had achieved significant positive growth during the current financial year, whereas other municipal corporations in all the three major towns were still reeling under financial crises. With the availability of funds being no problem, the councillors’ were at liberty to get development works executed in their respective wards at will. He made it clear that while the councillors quota for development works was being retained at the previous level of Rs 15 lakh and Rs 30 lakh per annum, the situation would be reviewed in January next year and additional funds would be released on need basis.

Before transaction of routine business, the house observed two minutes’ silence to mourn the massive loss of human lives in the tragic accident of the Rajdhani Express on Monday.

As the agenda items were read out, Mr Parveen Bansal (BJP) intervened to point out that the proceedings of the Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) were earlier put before the house for approval whereas for the meeting in progress, the agenda said these were laid before the house ‘for information’. The Mayor and the MC Commissioner said the position would be got legally examined and till then, the items could be kept in abeyance.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang (SAD) assured the house that his party and its ally — the BJP, would function with a positive approach and extend all possible cooperation for the development of the city. He urged that the scheme for regularisation of illegal water and sewerage connections on payment of stipulated charges be revived and special camps be organised for this purpose in outer wards and elsewhere.

The house unanimously resolved for enhancement in the honorarium of the councillors and the issue being under the purview of the state government, a recommendation was made for hike of monthly allowance of councillors from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 and a proportionate increase in the honorarium for Mayor and his deputies. Mr Sat Pal Puri (Congress) pleaded that the councillors should be reimbursed for a minimum of 500 telephone calls per month.

Congress legislators Surinder Dawar and Malkiat Singh Dakha pleaded for launching a plantation drive in the city to combat the adverse effects of environment pollution and providing more funds to under developed wards on the periphery of the city. Mr Surjit Singh Ahluwalia, a member of the F&CC, wanted that the scheme for maintenance of the parks by the park management committees should be continued as it had brought a dramatic change in the condition of the parks.

Among others, Ms Asha Garg (Congress), Mr Satnam Ahuja (Ind), Mr Rajeev Katna (BJP), Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura, Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, and Ms Sushil Gupta, Deputy Mayor, participated in the deliberations.



Cong workers burn Jaya’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
Punjab Minister for Finance and Food and Civil Supplies Lal Singh today said all arrangements for the procurement of paddy in the state had been completed and all procurement agencies were prepared for the procurement. He assured that there would not be any difficulty to farmers to sell paddy.

Addressing a press conference before presiding over a meeting of local Congress leaders in connection with finalising the arrangements for the Chhapar mela being held on September 22, Mr Lal Singh asserted that the state government was committed to the uplift and welfare of farmers in the state.

He assured that all farmers would get due compensation for the losses due to drought. He said, for this reason, the state government had mooted a proposal for awarding the farmers a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal of paddy.

The Finance Minister criticised the previous government and claimed that the wrong policies and financial mismanagement by the Badal government had led the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to stop aid to the state. He pointed out that this had led to the abandoning of the projects.

Mr Lal Singh explained that the state had to seek the aid of private financial institutions like the International Financial Consortium, which was providing a Rs 5,000-crore loan to the state, which would help the state in meeting the financial crisis.

Later, the Congress workers, led by Mr Lal Singh, burnt an effigy of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa for her remarks against Ms Sonia Gandhi, claiming that Ms Jayalalithaa had no locus standi to raise this issue.

Prominent among those present were Mr Surinder Dawer, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, Mr K.K. Bawa, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, Mr Pawan Dewan and Mr Parminder Mehta.



BKU to hold protest on Sept 17
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
The BKU, while condemning the government’s decision to withdraw the facility of free power to the farm sector, has decided to intensify its stir to safeguard the interests of farmers.

BKU activists will stage a dharna at the mini-secretariat here on September 17 to protest against the reimposition of power charges and to press the demand for saving river waters of Punjab and the fixation of prices of farm produce on the basis of the price index.

This was stated here today by the district president of the BKU, Mr Sukhminder Singh, Sarpanch (Kadian) after an emergent meeting of the union, convened to take stock of the situation arising from slapping of power bills on the farmers. He said the withdrawal of free power facility would inflict a fatal blow on the agricultural sector, which was already reeling under a drought-like situation. The debt-ridden farmers, who were already hit hard due to massive crop losses due to the failure of the Monsoon and acute power shortage, were not in a position to pay the power bills.

The meeting further criticised the union government for its failure to announce the support price of paddy whereas the crop had already started arriving in the purchase centre. The farmers were in a dilemma since the cost of production had gone up due to heavy consumption of diesel in the wake of scanty rain and power shortage and there was still no indication of the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy crop. The BKU said the farmers would not settle for anything less than Rs 689 per quintal for coarse paddy, Rs 759 for the super-fine variety, which were based on the prevailing price index. Similarly, it demanded an MSP of Rs 3250 per quintal for cotton, Rs 2860 for oilseeds and Rs 143 for sugarcane.

Among others Mr Ajaib Singh Paharuwal, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Hari Singh Dhalian, Mr Harbans Singh, Mr Hardial Singh Bhoondri, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Joginder Singh Acharwal, Mr Gurmeet Singh and Mr Nirmal Singh Jassowal were present.



Ozone layer — value and challenges
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
For the last few years, the environmental balance has been disturbed due to increase in population, urbanisation and industrialisation. It has not only pushed our planet towards destruction, but has caused a serious threat to human health and existence.

Owing to the excessive utilisation and misuse of natural resources, environment pollution has extensively increased. A hole in the ozone layer has shaken the world. The seriousness of the matter can be imagined from the fact that in order to bring awareness among the people regarding the hole in ozone layer, September 16 is observed as Ozone Day throughout the world.

The attention of developed countries has been focused on environment crises since the hole in the ozone layer. They have blamed developing countries for this loss, though they are themselves responsible for causing maximum pollution. Air pollution cannot be bound by boundaries of states or countries. It affects the whole universe.

There is an ozone layer 20 km wide about 15 km above the earth which saves us from ultraviolet rays of the sun. It absorbs about 50 per cent of the heat of the sun. From this we can well imagine the importance of the ozone layer. Gases which release chlorine in the air have caused extensive damage to the ozone layer. Ultraviolet rays of the sun are directly passing on to us on earth, which has affected our health, food, agriculture and the eco-system. It has been proved by scientists that ultraviolet rays reaching the earth directly cause numerous eye and skin ailments, besides cancer.

It has been observed that the temperature of the universe is increasing day by day. The height of Mount Everest is decreasing due to heat. The existence of snow on the mountains is also decreasing.

It has been also observed that the sea level in the last century has increased by 10 to 15 cm. It is expected that by the end of the 21st century, the increase in sea level may reach 1m, which may cause the disappearance of a number of islands, including countries such as Egypt, Mauritius and Bangladesh.

Keeping in view this critical challenge, we shall check the use of chlorofluorocarbons, methane carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and other gases which cause damage to the ozone layer. We should strive for increase in oxygen in the atmosphere by expanding our existing forest cover and area under plantation.



Good Luck plants in vogue
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
Good Luck plants have arrived here from China recently. The art of Feng Shui recommends them as plants that can be kept everywhere as these symbolise good-luck. “These are basically different types of bamboo plants and are said to bring good fortune and prosperity to household, business or the people you care for. The plants come in containers and after arriving in Delhi are sent to all major cities. Many may find these a little costly. These are better option as a gift than a bouquet as they last for months and years,” said Nishu Jain, a florist, who has a large stock of these plants.

As per Feng Shui, Good Luck plants have the following spiritual meaning. These plants help in every field . For career, choose the climb-up the ladder (advancement) type of plant. The plant helps bring — success in business venture (prosperity), improves health, harmony and peaceful life (longevity). According to Feng Shui, these plants create positive energy in your environment.

There are different varieties in Good Luck plants. One is called ‘Dancing Bamboo’ (live growing sticks). These are half-inch thick green, 60 to 70cm long live growing sticks that are curled/spiral towards the top. These are not really bamboo but a lookalike called Drachma. They look striking in themselves in vases, making them ideal for corporate, hotels, restaurants, offices and homes. The other advantage is that they can be mixed with flower arrangements to enhance the overall beauty. Moreover, they are totally maintenance-free. The Good Luck plants are reportedly setting a new trend in the gift-giving circuit.

Other types of these plants have five layers, two layers, three layers, triangle, big knitted, small knitted. The cost depends on the amount of layers and the height of the plant. These plants adapt to any environment easily. Those are tough and do not need sunlight. These grow in shade and need plain water only when water is finished in the container. No fertilisers have to be added, only water needs to be changed weekly.



Harassment by cable operators

THE residents of Ludhiana are being held to ransom by the cable operators who are themselves divided into two groups. Besides manipulating to wash out the rival channels, these operators are trying to force only particular channels on the customers. A lot has been published in newspapers also and the administration does not seem to have taken any note of it. The people of Ludhiana have the right to have access to all channels on air for which they are paying exorbitant monthly rent, much more than paid in other cities of the state. Let us hope that the administration wakes up from its deep slumber and comes to the rescue of the people as they are made to watch only particular types of channels as desired by the cable operators.

Dalbir Singh, Gurdev Nagar

Guru’s lecture

This refers to your article on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s visit to Ludhiana published on September 9. The article presents only one-sided picture. I feel that the writer has not done due justice to the topic and to the Guru, who was so impressive. It must be noted that the jam-packed audience in the hall cheered repeatedly when he was speaking. The writer does not seem to have taken note of this aspect. It is possible that Sri Ravi Shankar may not be convincing for everyone, but that does not mean he is not convincing at all. Sri Ravi Shankar is a most respected Guru and enjoys following across the world. He moves around 30 countries in a year and delivers discourses. He has been described as one of the three wisest Indians. Your article could have been more balanced, while mentioning all these things.

Devinder Kumar, Civil Lines


This is in reference to an article on the lecture by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the head of the Art of Living Foundation. No matter how much publicity his followers may give him and try to present him in a different manner than others like him, the fact remains that Sri Ravi Shankar is like any other godman the country produces in every age. However, Sri Ravi Shankar remained less convincing in his arguments on the two days he gave his lectures. I had the chance to listen to him at both places but could not find anything superhuman about him. With deep and sincere regards for the Guru, I fail to understand how your newspaper provided so much coverage to him, while there are others like Bapu Asa Ram, Murari Bapu, Sudanshu Maharaj, who hardly find any mention in your newspaper. Is it only because Sri Ravi Shankar speaks in English and is followed mostly by the urban elite?

Hemraj Gupta, TagoreNagar

Encroachments on roads

Although the Municipal Corporation claims to have initiated a drive to clear encroachments from roads and streets, rampant encroachments on the footpath in front of my house in Jamalpur Colony remain untouched for quite some time now. Repeated representations and meetings with several officials including the Zonal, Commissioner (Zone B) in this respect have failed to elicit any response. While a number of vegetable vendors are holding my family and other neighbours to ransom, the place has also being frequented by anti-social elements, who have made our life miserable. Besides, rotten vegetables thrown by the vendors without any consideration to the residents, also pose a big health hazard. The MC officials should look into this problem and pull up the Tehbazari staff for its failure to act in this regard.

Virendra Gupta, HM-92, Jamalpur Colony, Ludhiana


There are widespread encroachments in Ludhiana along the main roads. Almost all roads in the city remain choked. After Mr S K Sharma took over as the Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, there have been great expectations among the people of the city that he would remove the encroachments. Some markets particularly, the Chaura Bazar, is the worst affected. Interestingly, not 50 yards away is the multi-storeyed parking complex of the MC, and still the shopkeepers prefer to park their vehicles in front of their shops only making the vehicular or pedestrian movement very difficult. It is hoped that the Commissioner will take note of it and remove all encroachments alongside the roads in main markets so that shopping becomes easy.

Arman Sharma, Chaura Bazar

Plight of teachers

Your newspaper was full of news reports on celebration of Teachers’ Day in various schools and colleges. Many tributes were paid to teachers. However, seeing the plight of teachers, one thinks that Teachers’ Day is a farce. The teachers of private colleges and schools have no job security and are at the mercy of the management. Shortsighted policies of the government regarding pension and promotion of college teachers often lead to protests. The teachers are really not a happy lot. If the so called national builders do not have job satisfaction, how can they perform their duties well?

Simranjit Kaur, Haibowal Kalan



Cinema halls going empty
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 11
Cinema halls here are proving to be white elephants for the owners due to high excise rates levied on tickets and falling audience. So as a last ditch attempt, the District Administration was asked by the cinema-owners to come to their aid by allowing them to slash the prices of tickets to attract more audience.

The cinema halls in the walled city and in the outer areas of the city like Society, Luxmi, Chand, Naulakha, Deepak, Nirmal, Swarn, Surjeet, Arora, Mini Arora received the permission from the Administration to lower the prices of cinema tickets. The price of balcony has come down to Rs 15 from Rs 25, Dress Circle to Rs 10 from Rs 15 and Reserve Class to Rs 8 instead of the earlier price of Rs10.

Due to the high rate of excise duty and lesser number of viewers coming to watch the movies, the cinema-owners were forced to ask the Administration to reduce the prices of the tickets. Ironically, the cinema-owners had earlier persuaded the Administration to hike the rates from Rs !5 to Rs 25.

Mr Bhupinder of Society Cinema says, “We had to take this drastic step due to high excise taxes and due to cable TV channels showing pirated movies earlier than these are released in the cinema halls or almost simultaneously. Moreover, the new movies fail to enthuse the audience. Hardly any movie celebrates a “silver jubliee”. If a movie completes 100 days, we think we are lucky.”

Mr Bhupinder says that they have made a representation to Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister , Punjab, to make the same tax structure for all cities of Punjab irrespective of their A, B or C status. Further the owners have asked to reduce the excise duty so that the cinema owners can survive.

Similarly, Mr Jasbir Nalwa of Naulakha cinema says that they are finding it very hard to run the cinemas. Unless the piracy stops, the cinema halls will be forced to close down. Moreover, these days hardly any movie does well. Some positive steps have to be taken by the Punjab Government to save the cinema-owners. He says,” For Rs 15, we provide three hours of entertainment whereas a bottle of soft drink costs that much in a cinema hall. What more can we do?



Hotel industry seeks package
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
A meeting of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab was held here under the chairmanship of its president, Mr N.S. Nanda. The meeting passed several resolutions concerning the hotel industry.

According to a press note, in the first resolution, the house thanked Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, for writing to the union government to declare the Golden Temple a “World Heritage Monument”. “This is a great achievement for all of us as the Golden Temple is an important heritage not only for the people of Punjab, but also for the entire mankind”, the resolution said.

Moreover, there was not even a single monument from Punjab in the list of 20 cultural sites as already declared by UNESCO and it would be a befitting honour on the occasion of the installation ceremony of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in 2004. The Chief Minister was also congratulated on the formation of the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board, which was constituted a few days ago headed by him. He was also requested to coopt a representative of HRAP in the said board.

Disclosing the other details of the proceeding of the meeting, Mr Nanda further informed that another resolution, the members also thanked Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural for making the development of tourism in Punjab. The house also requested the state government to open institutes for the training of cooks, waiters and house keepers as a majority of hotels had to employ the untrained staff, which left a bad impression upon the guests/customers. The government was also requested to provide the financial package to the hotel industry which had been badly hit and was in crisis. The other major problem regarding the electricity tariff was also discussed at length as the SPEB was still charging commercial tariff instead of industrial tariff, in spite of the fact that hotel and tourism was declared as a full-fledged industry way back in 1996. The house also condemned the increase of power tariff from 8 per cent to 11 per cent which would badly affect the hotel industry. 



‘Excise Dept creating problems’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry has alleged that Excise and Taxation Department, Punjab, is creating problems for industry and trade. In a statement, the president of the chamber, Mr P.D. Sharma said some time back the Punjab Government had identified a few iron and steel items for levying sales tax at first stage. This list included B.P. sheet and pipe and pipe fitting.

He said in the case of pipes, it was never mentioned as to which pipe was put in first stage sales tax. Cycle industry, for instance, used large volumes of pipes. The industry had to struggle hard to get clarifications as to whether pipes used in cycle were covered under this.

There were many types of pipes, including pipes used in cycles which were only intermediate products and could not be put under first stage levy of sales tax. Ultimately, the matter was got clarified at the meeting of the chamber with the Chief Minister.

He said the department had clarified that B.P. sheet included hot-rolled coils and cold-rolled sheets. This was a wrong interpretation of B.P. sheets. After the clarifications, industry and trade were in trouble and there was a lot of hue and cry over the issue. The sales tax paid on these items did not attract set-off in many cases. This levy, through wrong interpretation, would have an adverse effect on industry and trade, it added.


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