Monday, January 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Forest land villagers "won’t return"
Tension along the Sutlej
Tribune Reporters

Machhiwara, January 5
The forest department order to dispossess cultivators from 750 acres in the villages of Mand Jodhewal, Rurewal, Mand Chauradhi, Daulatpur, Milkwal, Sensowal Khurd and Jodhwal, located along the Sutlej, have put in jeopardy the future of more than 500 families living here. Those affected say that they will lose their lands the second time, after the Partition. A law-and-order problem is likely to arise once the process begins in a few days.

Anxiety was writ large on the face of everyone in Jodhwal village today. This village has the largest area — 250 acres — out of all land in question. The affected families had gathered in the village gurdwara to chalk out the future course of action.

A former sarpanch of the village, Mr Deva Singh Ishapur, said the villagers had settled here after the Partition. The land was a desert at that time and nothing grew here. Water, too, was scarce and the crop was at the mercy of rains. “Our suffering had made the then Partap Singh Kairon government allow the refugees to plough the fallow land.

The green fields you see today are a result of back-breaking labour. In view of the hard work put in by us, the land was leased to us for 10 years. We used to pay the government six times the prevalent land revenue. Subsequently, the government launched a scheme to sell the land and many bought it. However, most of us were poor and could afford to pay, only the revenue,” he said.

“Later, this land owned by the Centre was transferred to the state government by the Rehabilitation and Consolidation Department, but the cultivators continued to pay the revenue,” he said.

Statements of land records shown by Mr Ravel Singh, a villager, prove that the settlers were authorised cultivators in the year 1961-62 and 1978-79.

About 500 families, that are likely to be affected by this allegedly arbitrary and hasty decision of the department face a bleak future. The victims said the department had sought the help of the local police to secure possession of the land.

Sarpanch Waryam Singh, Nambardar Bhupinder Singh, and farmers Fateh Singh and Dilbag Singh said the department’s decision of planting saplings on the land had jeopardised the future of their houses and crops. “We will resist all attempts to dispossess us from the land,” they said.

Others said the afforestation scheme had also been under-taken by the department in 1984, but it had to be scrapped in face of a strong resistance by the cultivators. They said 70 families would have to live without any shelter after the dispossession.

A villager said: “Instead of providing us with livelihood and basic amenities in the past 53 years, the government is uprooting us for the second time after the Partition.”

The move of the Divisional Forest Department to take over hundreds of acres along the Sutlej had taken a violent turn sometime ago, resulting in injuries to three forest guards at Kot Umra village.

The death of a farmer allegedly due to the shock of having to lose his land had triggered tension in Gaursianh Khan Mohammad village as well. The move was aimed at wresting hundreds of acres from the alleged illegal possession of a former agriculture minister, Gurdev Singh Badal. Seizing the opportunity, the Forest Department had extended the drive to wrest possession of hundreds of acres of its land from the Rai Sikhs living in the Bet belt.



Cheating case: ex-vice chief of Bar panel booked 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The Model Town police has registered a case against a hotel owner and former vice-president of the District Bar Association, Ludhiana for allegedly encroaching upon a piece of land meant for a park belonging to the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) in the Dugri area. The accused constructed a well-known hotel on the piece of land.

The case has been registered on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the SP City-II, Mr Naunihal Singh. While recommending registration of the case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, the inquiry officer has come down heavily on some employees of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust and Municipal Corporation, who reportedly helped the hotel owner.

The recommendation, however, has not specified the names or ranks of the employees.

Police sources said the names would be incorporated in the FIR after further investigation. The Senior Superintendent of Police has ordered the DSP city II to investigate the case.

The inquiry was conducted following a complaint by Mr Dalip Garg that the accused had grabbed the land in connivance with some officials of the LIT and the MC. The inquiry prima facie found the allegation levelled against the advocate to be true.

The advocate could not be contacted for comments. But he had denied the charges in his statement before the inquiry officer. He had maintained that the allegations were false and he was begin falsely implicated.

The FIR stated that in 1970, the Improvement Trust had acquired some land from some farmers of Jawadi village for a 400-acre Model Town extension scheme. A piece of land measuring 700 sq yards was marked for the purpose of a public park in this scheme.

A provision was made that the park land should never be sold. The accused allegedly showed himself to be the president and honorary secretary of the society and formulated a fictitious club. With the help of some employees and forged documents he managed to get the land. However, the trust directed that the land could be used by the club but only a boundary wall could be constructed. But today a big hotel stands there.



Killing polio drop by drop
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
As many as 4.75 lakh children in the age group 0-5 in the district were vaccinated against polio during the first phase of the National Pulse Polio Programme today. The Health Department had set up more than 1,963 booths in the district for the purpose.

Mr Gurcharan Ghalib, Member Parliament, inaugurated the district- level Pulse Polio Campaign at Revamping Centre, Haibowal Kalan, by giving polio drops to a small child. He was accompanied by Dr S.N.Tiwari, Civil Surgeon.

Mr Ghalib also inaugurated the newly constructed building of Civil Dispensary in Bridh Ashram and announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the construction of the building of the dispensary.

Mr A.K.Sharma, Superintendent of Customs and Central Excise, inaugurated the campaign in Bhagwan Nagar. He appreciated the efforts of organisers in making the campaign successful. “For complete protection, children up to five years of age should again be vaccinated on February 9,” he urged.

The district branch of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics observed the day by organising a camp at Canal Dispensary. The camp was inaugurated by Dr A.S.Chawla, president of the district branch of the IAP. He said it was mandatory to cover all children in the specified age group for the complete eradication of polio from the country.

Dr B.R.Ambedkar Youth Services Club, Jain Nagar, organised a camp at Shivpuri. The camp was inaugurated by Ms Geeta Pruthi. According to a press note, more than 500 children were given polio drops on this occasion. The NSS unit of Government Multipurpose Senior Secondary School also held a camp at its premises. More than 400 children were vaccinated against the disease at the camp.

The Health Department had made elaborate arrangements in all parts of the district to administrate polio drops to all children below the age of five. The Rotary Club of Ludhiana, NGOs and other social, religious and educational organisations extended their full cooperation to the department.

Giving details of the programme, Dr Tiwari said the department had organised 100 static polio posts in the city. As many as 96 mobile medical teams were pressed into service to cover other points in the district. Besides this, a number of transit posts were set up at bus stands and railway stations to give polio drops to children travelling with their parents. Of the total 4.75 lakh children vaccinated, 2.78 lakh belonged to the urban areas.

AMLOH:  As many as 1,840 children were administered polio drops in nine booths, including a mobile booth, here today. Besides this, a door-to-door campaign was also carried out.

Employees from various departments took part in the programme, said Dr Mahesh Jindal, Medical Officer. Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, also visited the booths.


Jail guards unguarded against cold
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
While the entire northern region is shivering due to the persistent cold wave, jail guards in the state are discharging their duties without the comfort of winter uniforms. They have not been provided the winter uniforms for the past five years by the authorities.

“We have not been provided the winter kit and uniforms for the past two years. The guards mostly belong to the lower income group of the society and are paid low salaries and cannot afford to buy good quality woollens on their own. So we look forward to the government providing us with the winter uniforms as it had done for the past many years,” said Mr Gurdeep Singh Uppal, local president of the Punjab Jail Guard Association.

He added that whenever they have demanded the uniforms from the authorities concerned, their requests went unheeded. Annoyed with the attitude of the authorities, the guards in the state have now decided to demonstrate outside the jails in Punjab on January 29.

Mr Uppal said the association had decided to hold a meeting with the ADGP, Jails, Mr R.S. Chalia, to apprise him of the problems faced by the guards and urge him to direct the department to provide them with the winter uniforms.

“But when we tried to contact him in Chandigarh, we were told that he did not want to meet us. It was also conveyed that if any guard goes to him to ask for the uniform he would be suspended,” he said 



Local girl brings laurels
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 5
A student of the local A.S. College for Women , Simmi Batta, has brought laurels for the college as well as the city by winning a gold medal in the 7th National Karate Championship organised at Gaziabad from December 26 to 28.

She represented Punjab in the Senior (open) category. The championship was organised by the Gaziabad District Karate Association under the aegis of Karate Sangh. She also represented India in the 16th Commonwealth Karate Championship organised by the Gaziabad District Karate Association from December 28- 29.

She thanked the coach, Mr Rajesh Joshi, and the college Principal ,Mrs Rekha Bhardwaj for their cooperation.



J&K officials study local MC working
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
A team of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, comprising the Chairman and the Secretary of the state Finance Commission and the Financial Adviser to the state government, was in the city to study in detail the functioning of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation so that its salient features could form the basis of the civic set up in Jammu and Srinagar. Both cities will have Municipal Corporations soon.

According to Mr S.K. Sharma, MC Commissioner, during their two-day stay, the team studied the working of various departments, including octroi, health and sanitation. The expenditure pattern, rates of taxes, realisation of civic charges and delivery of civic services were also studied. They also evinced keen interest in the major ongoing projects like flyovers and elevated road.

During interaction with the J and K officials, Mr Sharma told them that the corporation had computerised most of its departments, including those dealing with house tax, water rate, cash collection, octroi, rents and lease, purchase monitoring, store counting, licensing and mail monitoring. In order to bring more efficiency in the working, the civic body was also among the first in the state to start computerisation way back in 1994-95 when water billing and record of payment was put on computers.

“Almost three lakh bills of water and sewerage charges are annually prepared on computers and accounts maintained on computer. Similarly, the entire billing for house tax of nearly 80,000 properties in the city and relevant records have been computerised”, the Commissioner informed the visitors.



New roads develop big potholes
Our correspondent

Khanna, January 5
Roads in Khanna area , specially in the Municipal Limits , are in a pitiable condition, resulting in inconvenience to residents and cause of accidents. but the council is least concerned.

A number of roads were constructed recently. Due to the utilisation of sub-standard material, their condition has deteriorated within a few months.

The Khanna Municipal Council has a budget of Rs 13 crore out of which Rs 6 crore is being spent on development works every year. A big part of the development amount is used for the construction of new roads and improvement of old ones .Despite all this, there are a number of potholes on the newly constructed roads.

During rainy days it is practically impossible to use these roads. It is reported that due to bad conditions of the roads, a number of vehicles have been damaged.

Some important roads constructed with CC flooring at Court Road and Samadhi Road last year, at a cost of more than Rs 15 lakh ,are in a deteriorated condition. The Chandigarh road, which was also constructed last year, has broken at various places. Other roads, including the Gaoshala road, Gurdwara road and Billan Wali Chhappri are also in bad shape.



Jain sadhvi felicitated
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 5
Tapochakeshwari Shubh Ji Maharaj, a Jain sadhvi, was felicitated by the S.S. Jain Sabha, at a function organised at the local Grain Market today, in which a large number of Jain devotees from North India participated.

Despite fog and chilly weather, devotees started pouring in early in the morning. Students of M.G.M.N. Senior Secondary School, Jain Muni Shri Kundan Kanya Mahavidyalya, Sanatan Vidya Mandir High School, DAV High School and Government High School Jandali marched through the local bazars and streets, along with devotees, to pay obedience to the saint.

The shoba yatra terminated at the Grain Market. Discourses were presented by Acharya Shri Shiv Muni Ji Maharaj and Maha Sadhvi Sunita Ji Maharaj. Students presented shabads and hymns in the honour of the sadhvi.

Shub Ji Maharaj, who propagates the message of global peace has been on fast for the past 176 days. She had gone on fast earlier for 28, 31, 62, 131, 265, 193, 165 and 157 days. She survives on boiled water only while on fast.

Various the social and religious organisations also felicitated her. Mr Anil Kumar Jain, Mr Prem Chand Jain, Mr Rakesh Kumar Jain, Mr Satish Jain, Mr Abhey Jain and presidents of various units of Jain sabhas spoke on the occasion.



Cold wave continues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
It is extremely intense cold prevailing in Ludhiana for last five days with the day temperature touching all time low at 11. 4° C yesterday and today and the night temperature also remaining at 3.6°C. Even the mild sunshine during the day did not bring any relief from the cold.

The weather experts stated that the extreme conditions were likely to prevail as the western disturbances, which had earlier moved across the Himalayan region, have once again started moving towards this region.

And the cold conditions also made their impact on the day to day life in the city. Some of the markets of Ludhiana like Chaura Bazar, where there is huge rush on Sundays, wore a deserted look today. 



Badal claim on loan waiver ‘stunt’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 5
A water treatment plant will come up at Ludhiana on January 17 at a cost of Rs 85 crore under the Sutlej Action Plan while a solid waste project will be set up at Jalandhar at a cost of Rs 8 crore, benefiting a 60-km-radius belt.

This was stated by Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Punjab Local Bodies Minister, while addressing a gathering at Soonda village. He dismissed as mere “stunt” the claims of Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal that the Centre had waived a loan of Rs 58,000 crore which the state had incurred on its fight against terrorism.



Thugs target Armymen
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
Thugs, who deprive people of their belongings after drugging them, are operating freely on trains, buses and taxis running between Ludhiana and Delhi.
Even though announcements are frequently made on the public address system at the local railway station warning the passengers against accepting any eatables or drinks from strangers, incidents involving drugged passengers at various railway stations of the region continue unabated.

According to knowledgeable sources, until a couple of years ago, the modus operandi of giving drug-laced tea or biscuits to people was being practised by criminals from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar who used to target only those migrants who were returning home with their hard-earned money. They would pretend to be travelling by the same train and to the same destination and in no time win the confidence of their victims. But at the first available opportunity they would drug the gullible migrants and escape with their money and belongings.

But incidents taking place over the past two months suggest a shift in the working of such thugs, who operate both individually and as members of a gang. Now these thugs have started targeting Army men going to their homes on vacation. They have now extended their operations from mail and express trains to passenger trains running on the Ludhiana-Ferozepur and Ludhiana-Jakhal sections as well. Two Army men, who had boarded a passenger train to Hisar about a week ago, were found unconscious sans their belongings by the railway authorities at Hisar.

Cases where drugged men were found by the local railway police have was reported in the recent past. The fact that the police prefers to ignore such cases on the plea that the victim was poisoned in a running train miles away from their jurisdiction, comes to the aid of these thugs and they continue to shuttle between the two stations at will. Knowledgeable sources at the railway station, however, point out that the TTEs and policemen who travel as security guards are allegedly hand in glove with such elements.

Not only the rail, travelling by the road to Delhi has also become fraught with dangers of such kind. About a week ago, a city trader carrying about Rs 40,000 on his person, had to go to Delhi for making some purchases. Instead of travelling by bus, he opted to avail the services of a an authorised taxi only to be dropped unconscious near Sirhind sans his wallet.

Another businessman travelling by bus from Delhi to Ludhiana was given a drug-laced cold drink on the way by a well-dressed young man sitting next to him. As the businessman fell ‘asleep’ after drinking the drug-laced drink, the youth slipped away with his briefcase containing plenty of money.

According to sources, these thugs wear expensive, good looking clothes and are extremely polite in their behaviour with their query. The quantity of the drug, which they administer to their victims, is carefully calculated but is not lowered below a certain level to ensure the success of their operation. The sources also confided that the sedating drug being used by these thugs was nothing but a tranquilliser called “ 81”. 



Small-scale units appeal for cut in interest rates
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 5
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Punjab) has complained to the Secretary, Small-Scale Industry, Union Government, Mr S.K. Tuteja, that the banks were charging higher rate of interest, up to 15 per cent, from small-scale units against the PLR of 10.5 to 11 per cent. Contrary to this, the banks were lending money to the large scale units at the rate of 7 per cent forcing the small-scale units to become sick.

A deputation of the chamber led by its president, Mr D. Sharma, met Mr Tuteja in Delhi and apprised him of the plight of the small-scale industries with particular reference to the discriminatory attitude of the banks towards the small-scale sector.

Mr Sharma said the chamber had already started a campaign against banks and was in touch with the Ministry of Small-Scale Industries, Ministry of Finance, Chairman Planning Commission and Reserve Bank of India.

Mr Tuteja told the deputation that a high-level meeting would be held with the banks on January 16 to discuss problems of the small-scale sector with regards to the bank finances. The Deputy Chairman Planing Commission had held a meeting with the banks on December 10. The Deputy Chairman Planning Commission had told the banks to reduce the rate of interest for the small-scale industries and increase the same for the large-scale units to keep the level playing field. The risk perception of the banks with regards to the small-scale industry was totally wrong, Mr Sharma observed.

Mr Tuteja was also informed that the banks were violating the RBI guidelines by debarring the relatives of the family from bank finances in case a unit goes sick.

Mr Sharma maintained that as per the RBI guidelines, even willful defaulters were eligible for fresh bank finance after five years from the date of publication of their name. For non-wilful defaulters there was no bar in getting the bank finance.

Mr Tuteja was told that if the practice was not checked, a sizeable number of small-scale units would be wiped out leading to a large-scale unemployment.

The deputation further urged the secretary to have the central excise liability waived off on manufacturers of cycle parts. Excise duty was withdrawn on April 26, 2002 on cycle parts after levying it in the budget. The intervening period from March 1, 2002 to April 26, 2002 remains a gray area.

The Finance Ministry has already decided to waive duty for this period as well but written instructions were awaited. The Central Excise officers were pressurising the manufacturers of the small-scale units to deposit the duty for this period.

Mr Tuteja was also urged to press the Finance Ministry to withdraw the central excise duty from cycles, as the bicycle industry was already facing slump.

The cycle industry was the hub of the economy of the state. Mr Tuteja promised to take up the matter with the Finance Minister.



Punjab losing crores
Delay in online lottery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
Punjab has been losing crores of rupees for its delay in taking a final decision about the introduction of online lottery in the state. Other states like Sikkim, Karnataka and Maharashtra are learnt to have already earned crores by introducing it ahead of others.

The Punjab Government is learnt to have invited bids for it. It will take some time more for the state to allot the contract. Earlier, the contract was cancelled as it was learnt that the party which had been allotted the contract had furnished the fictitious bank guarantees.

According to Mr Kulbir Ahuja, vice-president, Playwin Infravest Pvt Limited, the licensee for the Sikkim Government had already paid Rs 50 crore to the government in nine months against a minimum guarantee of Rs 35 crore for the first year. The amount is to increased in cumulative terms over the period for which the contract had been allotted.

Interestingly, the Sikkim, Maharashtra and Karnataka Governments have reserved the money earned from the lottery bidding for the developmental projects. The Sikkim Government has reserved the money for providing education and better health care to the people and also creating the infrastructure in the state. The governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra have made similar provisions for their states making it mandatory that the money earned from the lottery business would be utilised only for welfare schemes and developmental activities.

On the other hand, the Punjab Government is still lagging behind while the lotteries approved and licensed by the governments of other states. Financial experts pointed out that even if the revenue earned were equal to that of Sikkim only, Punjab could have earned at least Rs 50 crore. But now it is likely to lose in the race to the other states as the revenue earned now would be shared between different states.



PNB begins acquiring defaulters’ property 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
Armed with the latest legislation on debt recovery, Punjab National Bank (PNB) yesterday started the process of acquiring the property of defaulting units. In this connection, the PNB took over the possession of the property mortgaged in the account of M/s Chincky Garments, dealing with branch office Basti Jodhewal, Ludhiana.

A PNB spokesman disclosed that the property was acquired after giving notice to the party under the Securitisation Act-2002, passed by Parliament last year. The decision has sent shivers across the industrial circles as hundreds of units, big and small, owe crores of rupees to various banks.

The banking sources said it was only a beginning and other banks were likely to follow suit to recover the bad debts. Some of the defaulters are learned to have already come forward for the resettlement of their dues after notices were served on them.

The party was having a liability of over Rs 18 lakh towards the bank. The amount was reportedly pending with the defaulter for a long time and after all legal ways were exhausted the bank decided to acquire the proper under the new Act. This is a first case in Punjab zone where the PNB has enforced possession under the Act. This was stated by Mr U.S. Bhargava, General Manager, Punjab, here today.

Punjab National Bank has till now issued notices to 116 defaulters with the defaulting amount totalling Rs 942.95 lakh in its branches in Punjab under Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Bill passed by Parliament. It has been further stated that the bank will issue 165 more notices under the Act shortly.

Mr Bhargava said with the issuing of notices, many defaulters have come forward for resettlement of their accounts. So far, 46 defaulters have turned up for the settlement of their dues. The bank has been able to recover Rs 38.91 lakh in 30 accounts where notices have been issued to the defaulters.

The move has already been opposed by various industrial associations. However, the banking sources maintained that opposition notwithstanding, other banks we likely to initiate similar measures. But in most of the cases, the property acquired or to be acquired falls far short of the outstanding amount pending against the defaulters. But this is unlikely to deter the banks as they can acquire something at least, even if it is too less.



Yarn traders sore at taxes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The Punjab Pradesh Beopal Mandal said here today that the state government had not fulfilled any of its promises, so far.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, the general secretary of the mandal, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, said there had been no improvement in the trade and industry scenario in the state. He urged the Chief Minister to revise its trade and industry policy.

Mr Aggarwal said trade and industry had been adversely hit under the Congress regime, as its policies were erratic. He said: “It seems that the state government has neither any policy nor any expert who could guide it in matters of trade and industry”.

Taxation in the state was probably the highest in the country. There was interference and harassment by the sales tax officials in the functioning of traders and industrialists. This was far from the inspector-free raj that the Chief Minister had promised after assuming power.

He said the state government had levied a 4 per cent tax on yarn entering Punjab. This measure provided relief only to those who produced yarn in states having tax holidays and sold it to the Punjab traders and industrialists.

The Punjab traders and industrialists had to pay a 4.4 per cent tax, with the result that the yarn brought from other states had become cheaper than the yarn produced in the state, which had adversely hit the local yarn industry.



LMA organises seminar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
“We have already paid a price of being a protected economy for longer than was warranted. Our share of world trade has reduced form 5 per cent in 1947 to 0.5 per cent today. We have over 2,000 brands in India, the largest in Asia after Japan. And yet we have the dubious distinction of not having a single brand that is truly ‘international’.” These were the views of Mr Walter Vieira, a certified Management Consultant, who was addressing the members of the Ludhiana Management Association here on Friday.

Talking on “The long road for India to being a global player”, Mr Walter Vieira, president of the Marketing Advisory Services Group, Mumbai, said: “We need to spend less time on the management of politics and more time on the management of the economy”.

On China, he said: “China has already formed a pact with 10 Asian countries to usher in the world’s largest free-trade zone by 2008. It will have 1.7 billion consumers and a combined economy of $ 2 trillion.


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