Saturday, November 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Scent of scam brings sleuths to grain markets
Arhtiyas charging illegal tax; big money
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 1
Though farmers and two arhtiyas of the Pakhowal grain market have given affidavits to vigilance officials that some arhtiyas and procurement inspectors are involved in a big scam, the Vigilance Bureau is silent on the issue.

Vigilance teams have been visiting the markets here for the past three days, but, so far, are not saying anything on record regarding the scam.

Farmers of the Pakhowal-Raikot belt say that arhtiyas, in collusion with the procurement inspectors, are fleecing farmers in Pakhowal and the surrounding grain markets by charging an illegal fee of Rs 5 to Rs 10 per quintal of paddy.

The scam may well involve crores of rupees, as at least 1 lakh quintals of paddy is procured every day in the grain market.

There have also been some meetings between the accused ahrtiyas and the raiding teams, but, the outcome of these is still unknown.

Sources say that there is resentment among farmers of the region on this issue, as they are being forced to pay this illegal tax to get the paddy procured.

However, farmers still have high hopes that this corruption will be uprooted.

Farmers have already faced enough adversity this season, with draught followed by no increase in the MSP and untimely rain. Procurement also began late. The illegal tax is, now, too much for farmers to bear.

The “scam” got exposed when two arhtiyas of Pakhowal gave sworn affidavits to the Vigilance Bureau that several arhtiyas were fleecing farmers by charging the illegal fee. It was alleged that the amount collected his way was shared between commission agents and the procurement inspectors.

When contacted, the two arhtiyas said a complaint had indeed been filed, but requested anonymity. While vigilance officials could not be contacted, the complainants said the scam was far bigger than any other unearthed, so far. The Jalandhar police had also booked an arhitya in Goraya for charging such an illegal tax.

The complainants said the investigations were almost complete and the guilty would soon be exposed.

When asked whether they were aware of the meetings between the accused and vigilance officials, they said they had faith in the bureau and suspected no hanky-panky.

When contacted, sources in the Vigilance Bureau said inspections had been done, following the complaint, but only senior officials could reveal the findings.


Potable water for all by March 
CM launches Rs 11-crore project
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
The city will soon attain a unique distinction of becoming the first city in the country to provide potable water to 100 per cent of its population as the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, launched a Rs 11 crore water supply project at a function in Sherpur locality today. The scheme, which will be completed by March, 2003, would provide safe drinking water to an additional 5 lakh people in the city.

The function, which also marked the Punjab Day, was attended by a host of senior Congress functionaries including the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Local Bodies Minister, Choudhry Jagjit Singh, the Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, party legislators besides the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister reiterated the commitment of the government to provide better civic amenities to the urban people. Although he inaugurated one or the other project almost everyday but the scheme that he had launched today in Ludhiana had brought him immense mental satisfaction because it would provide much needed safe drinking water to lakhs of the city residents, the CM added.

The city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, while extending welcome to the Chief Minister, his cabinet colleagues and other dignitaries, focussed on the development agenda of the civic body. He said area specific development schemes had been formulated and need-based distribution of funds would be made for these projects so that all city localities could have similar infrastructure and other facilities.

It may be mentioned here that as per the officials figures supplied by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, the administration of four metros of the country — Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai were merely covering 80, 80, 77.5 and 75 per cent of population, respectively, for supplying drinking water.

Similarly the other mega cities of the country such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Nagpur, Coimbatore etc. were able to cover between 40 and 75 per cent of the city population for potable water.


Abductor arrested, girl recovered
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 1
The Sidhwanbet police today arrested Inderjit Singh, son of Lal Singh of Patti Multani and recovered Navpreet Kaur, a minor girl of the same village, from a Maruti car (PB-10G-0647). The girl was abducted by Inderjit Singh and his brother, Avtar Singh, on September 20 and a case under Sections 363, 366-A and 34, IPC, registered on the statement of Inder Singh.

According to information, the complainant and his wife left their house on September 20 to attend the funeral of former sarpanch Mehar Singh and left their Navpreet (16) at the house, but on return they found her missing. A neighbour, Malkit Singh, informed them that Inderjit Singh had called Navpreet from the house and taken her in a white Maruti car being driven by Avtar, alias Tari.

The investigation was handed over to Inspector Charan Singh Atwal by Mr M.S. Chhina, SSP, and during investigation it was found that they were living in Gadal tehsil (Gujarat).

A police party went to bring them, but a day before they had left for Punjab. The police followed and intercepted the car near Nanaksar, 5 km from here, and arrested Inderjit Singh and recovered Navpreet Kaur. 


4 tonnes of adulterated khoya seized
Our correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
The district health authorities have seized four tonnes of adulterated khoya from the local railway station. The product was intended to be used for preparation of sweets during the Divali season. No arrest has been made in the case so far.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr S.N. Tiwari, said the department had the information that some adulterated food items were being brought to the city in trains from Uttar Pradesh. “We were on the lookout for this for the past three days. Our teams had made several surprise visits to the railway station to check various trains. Last night, we were told that a huge quantity of khoya had being sent to the city from UP. The District Health Officer, Dr R.C. Garg, the Government Food Inspector, Mr Manoj Khosla, and other health officials reached the station at 5 am. A large number of khoya packs were lying at the platform, but the culprits was not in sight,” said Dr Tiwari.

The health officials enquired about the adulterated food items from the Railways officials, who said some local agent was expected to collect the khoya from the station.

“After a few moments, a person with a delivery note came to the station to collect the food item. Our team took two samples from different packs,” he said. “Adulterated khoya is prepared by mashing blotting paper and toilet paper in milk. The market value of the seized khoya is in lakhs,” said the civil surgeon.

The health officials said they had collected more than 18 samples of spurious food items in the past 10 days. Dr Tiwari said, “Packs have been given code numbers. We have given three-day notice and in case nobody comes to claim these packs, we will destroy the adulterated food item,” he said.

The district administration has directed the district health officials to look into the matter. A round-the-clock surveillance is being maintained at the railway station to check the supply of adulterated food items to the city.


SHO, gunman caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, November 1
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested a Station House Officer (SHO) and his gunman on the charge of accepting Rs 60,000 in bribe from a transport consultant of Sangrur. According to Mr B. Das, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) at Patiala, Gurbinder Singh, SHO of Sadar Ahmedgarh, and his gunman, Balraj, were caught accepting the money from Mr Ajay Paul ‘Happy’ of Dhuri Road (Khalifa Bagh) at Sangrur.

Mr Happy had told the vigilance team that the SHO had demanded Rs 70,000 from him for releasing a man called Sukhdev Singh, who had been picked up from an office at Ahmedgarh Road Pohir near the office of the Truck Union. Though the area is under the jurisdiction of the Dehlon police, the Sadar police had taken him away. They also took away two books of pollution-control certificates. The police had been told that he prepared fake transport documents and pollution-control certificates.

Mr Paul said Sukhdev managed his transport consultancy at Pohir and had brought the books to the office to prepare accounts. He was able to “make the SHO reduce his price” after they had met at a dhaba near Kamla Resorts on the Malerkotla road near Jandali village. When the vigilance team approached the SHO and his gunman, they even tried to run away.

Mr Das showed reporters water that had turned pink after the policemen had washed their hands in it, a sign of having accepted marked notes. Besides the bribe money, a mobile telephone and Rs 8,000 were also seized from the accused.

Vigilance team was accompanied by Mr S.N. Bansal, SDO of Devigarh, and Mr Amarjit Singh Sandhu, SDO of Karhali, for witness. Gurbinder Singh refuted the charges and said Mr Paul had known him since long. He said they had met at the dhaba, where Paul had come with a friend, who, according to Paul, wanted to discuss a case with him. During the conversation, as soon as he had been given some documents, three men had attacked him. One of them had a revolver. “I tried to escape, but was caught by one of the men, who, later, said he was Mr Das, DSP Vigilance. The vigilance team has made up a false case to please a man who makes fake transport documents,” said the SHO.


Iron railings being fixed on NH-1
Our Correspondent

Doraha, November 1
The National Highway Authority of India, much debated and criticised for toll tax collection, has finally won applause by initiating the task of fixing iron railings on the central verge, fencing across the NH-1 and repairs and reconstructing the road.

The work has already begun on a war footing at Haryana, Sirhind and Ludhiana. A total distance of 3 km of the central verge has been covered by the iron railings.

According to Mr R.K. Gupta, Deputy Manager, NHAI, “The entire stretch, from Panipat to Jalandhar, is under consideration and with the work already in progress, we shall be able to complete the work by the month of November. We shall be giving priority to the urban stretches as they are more prone to accidents due to the density of population.”

“In the beginning it seemed almost impossible as the local residents were quite against the scheme of fixing the iron-railings on the central verge. Due to this we have fixed certain points of the entry and the exit on the road,” he added.

At Doraha town, the iron-railing have already been fixed and the work of polishing and colouring them is on. Apart from this saplings are being planted after clearing the thick vegetation. Along with this, the boundary line is being fenced with barbed wires.

A 50-km stretch would be covered shortly, Mr R.K. Gupta, Deputy Manager, NHAI, said and added that the road was being fenced with barbed wires in order to discourage unnecessary encroachments and check the free flow of stray animals.”

The road repair and construction plan has also been started. The entire stretch from the Doraha flyover has been reconstructed. At other places, the holes are being filled with mud and the roadsides evenly shaped.

Elaborating his achievements Mr Gupta said regular patrolling was being carried on at the National Highway and added that we were extending help to accident victims, removing dead animals and damaged vehicles from the road and providing mechanics to commuters whose vehicles breakdown.

The toll-tax collection scheme was started by the NHAI on the NH 1 on June 24. A number of people had resented the implementation of the scheme due to the exorbitant rates being charged by the authorities. They had termed it ‘highly illegal’ and ‘an open loot by the government’. Instead of paying the tax, the commuters had found alternate routes via Kanech Rampur or Rajgarh village.


Nuisance for residents
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
Several city residents living in the vicinity of the State Bank of India treasury branch in Civil Lines witness a hellish experience regularly due to frequent road blockades by chaotic parking by customers. The agony is aggravated during the beginning of the month when hundreds of pensioners and officials descend on the bank for pension and salaries.

A similar situation yesterday led to a road block for several hours with official vehicles forcing residents inside their houses. The residents complained that they were house arrested like this by the end and beginning of every month and were forced to indulge in unnecessary arguments and fights with bank customers. They said that they had also approached the authorities to find solution to the problem but to no avail.

Mr Avinash, a resident of the area, said, “people park their vehicles in front of our gates and if we tell them to remove, they start using abusive language. The bank has not provided any parking facility to its customers, so they park their vehicles haphazardly.”

Another area resident complained that women sit outside their main gates. “Some of them even demand chairs from us to sit. At times, we accommodate but we also get irritated by their behaviour,” said the resident.

Residents have demanded shifting of the State Bank treasury branch from the residential area to some commercial location.


True’ story of freedom struggle out
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
“The founder of the Namdhari sect was the one to introduce non-cooperation, economic independence and social self-dependence as ways of achieving political freedom,” said Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, at the release of a Punjabi book, ‘Gatha Sutantarta Sangram Di’, written by Sant Dalip Singh Namdhari, secretary of Namdhari Darbar of Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana), headquarters of the Namdharis.

Dr Aulakh said this concept had, later, been adopted by Mahatma Gandhi to lead India to independence. “The Namdharis have done a lot of work for the development of agriculture, particularly in the fields of animal breeding and seed production. The sect has fought evils like dowry, drug addiction and display of opulence at weddings — examples that should be emulated,” he said.

The VC said, to make India aware of the true history of the freedom movement, this book should be translated into English and Hindi. He also presented the first copies of the book to Mr J.S. Toor, Director Students Welfare of the PAU; Punjabi poet Dr Surjit Pattar, Harbhajan Singh and Mr Jagmohan Singh. Dr Surjit Pattar said the contribution of the Namdharis in the Indian freedom struggle had not received due recognition — something that this book aimed to change. He said Sant Dalip Singh had written an authentic book, based on historical documents and facts.

Dr Sarjit Singh Gill, Additional Director Extension Education (Communication Centre) of the PAU, said, by following the teachings of Baba Ram Singh Ji, Punjab could overcome its agricultural crisis. His doctrine of self-dependence could be used for making each village a self-dependent unit with respect to the production of pulses, fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and cattle feed. Punjab had the agro-climatic conditions to produce all this.

Prof Gurbhajan Singh Gill, Senior vice-president of the Ludhiana chapter of the Punjabi Sahit Akademi, introduced Sant Dalip Singh and said the Namdharis had done a lot to promote education and sport. The others present on the occasion included Prof Niranjan Singh Tasneem, Prof Ravinder Bhattal, Sarup Singh Alag, Nirmal Jaura, Janmeja Singh Johal and Dr Avtar Singh, Associate Director (Publications) of Communication Centre. Prof Mohinder Singh Cheema, proposed the vote of thanks.


Divali gift for ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 1
As part of welfare schemes for the ex-servicemen initiated by the Indian Army, a number of ex-servicemen were honoured and presented Divali gifts by 152 Gunners Medium Regiment and the district Sainik Welfare Board office on the latter’s premises today morning.

The function, however, lost much of its sheen as only 10 ex-servicemen out of 43 turned up for the function.

Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Wing Cdr M S Randhawa (retd.) said it was for the first time that the ex-servicemen were accorded such an honour. This district had, in fact, taken a lead over other districts in organising the function. While other districts were honouring the ex-servicemen after Divali, the local Sainik Welfare Board was organising it before the festival of lights.


A clarification
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 1
The Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh, has refuted the allegations levelled by a former employee in the recruitment of a Xen.

In a statement issued here today, Dr Aulakh said the application of Mr D.S. Sidhu was forwarded by the PWD (B and R) Department on the condition that his lien in the parent department would be maintained for two years and he would have to submit an affidavit — that in the event of any dues against him or department at action against him at any stage — he himself would be responsible. The Vice-Chancellor further said that the officer was not related to him.

The Chief Engineer, PWD (B and R), Patiala, in his letter to the Estate Officer-cum-Chief Engineer, PAU, has stated that no departmental enquiry is pending against him.


Man injured with sharp-edged weapons
Our Correspondent

Doraha, November 1
A native of Bair Khurd was attacked by nearly eight persons of the same village due to an ongoing controversy on Thursday evening.

The condition of the injured, Satpal Singh, is stable in Civil hospital, Maloud. Apart from Davinder Singh and Onkar Singh, nearly six unidentified persons have been registered as accused under Sections 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC. The attack was allegedly made with the help of sticks and sharp weapons.

Some dispute over maintaining the account of a sports meet held in the village is said to be the reason behind the attack. The accused are, however, reported to be at large.

Motorcyclist killed: A motorcyclist was crushed to death after colliding with a scooter near Kulvir Palace at Kaddon Chowk on last evening. The deceased has been identified as Parbhat Kumar who was going on his motor cycle towards Payal. The scooterist too was injured in the accident.

Councillor dead: Mr Sohan Lal Sharma, former president, Municipal Council, Doraha, and at present municipal councillor, died today.

He had been suffering from jaundice for the past 15 days and was kept under observation at the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. He is survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. He was made president of the Municipal Council in 1979.

Among those who expressed their sympathies with the bereaved members of his family were Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, president, Municipal Council, and Mr Bant Singh Daburjee, former chairman, Budhewal Sugar Mills. His cremation was largely attended.

Poppy husk seized: The police arrested Gurdev Singh of Kotli village from Bharowal Kalan and seized from his possession 45 kg of poppy husk and registered a case under Section 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Minister promises better deal for industry
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 1
The Punjab Government is totally responsive to the needs and problems of the industry and a comprehensive industrial policy, under formulation now, would be announced in next couple of days, said Mr Avtar Henry, Industry Minister, Punjab, in a statement here today.

Describing the news report appearing in a section of the press regarding step-motherly treatment being meted out to the industrial sector as highly irresponsible and baseless, he said the government contemplated effective measures on various fronts to bring the economy back on rails and also to make Punjab the ultimate investment destination.

Mr Henry claimed that immediately after taking over the reins of power in the state, the Chief Ministers had convened a representative meeting of members of trade and industry where the focus of discussion was strategy for industrial growth.

According to Mr Henry, a number of meetings with different sectors of industry and trade had been held at Patiala, Chandigarh and other places wherein problems being faced by the commission agents, dhabawala and representatives of yarn and pulp dealers were satisfactorily discussed. In accordance with the discussion with the trade and industrial associations, the provision for entry tax was being suitably revised to help, the trade and industry of the state.

Rebutting charges of disinterest or step-motherly treatment with any section of industrialists and traders, the minister pointed out that after having exhaustive discussion and meeting and highly rewarding interaction with the industry leaders, the government had directed the Industry Department to form new industrial policy for the state.

The new policy would further envisage setting up of a Board of Industrial Revival and Rehabilitation of sick small-scale units in the state. The main objective of the new industrial policy would be to make Punjab a prime investment-friendly destination for both domestic and outside industrialists so that the state regained its old position, Mr Henry added.

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