Monday, February 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ludhiana to have minibuses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
The district administration has announced that it will provide permits to 245 transporters for running minibuses on 20 routes in the city.
The transporters have been directed to run the buses on the routes within 2-3 months failing which their permits will be cancelled. This was stated today by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Agarwal.

He said the process of interviewing the candidates was completed only today. He said the Punjab Government recently delegated powers of the Regional Transport Authority to the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, for starting local bus service in the city.

The administration had already identified 20 routes and the applications were invited for permits. A total of 278 applications were received and 245 appeared for the interview. Mr Agarwal said all applicants who appeared for the interview and had basic qualification would be given permits.

The applicants would also be allowed to change the route for which they had applied within stipulated period. The only condition which the applicants would have to fulfil was that they had to ply the bus within 2-3 months, otherwise their permits would be cancelled.

The Deputy Commissioner said though the city had a population of more than 23 lakh and was the largest industrial city in North India, but it did not have a mass transport system and there were 25,000 diesel auto-rickshaws for the local transport. He said the auto-rickshaws not only added to traffic congestion but also were biggest source of air pollution in the city. Mr Agarwal claimed that the local bus service would not only provide comfortable, safe and cheap ride, but also reduce traffic congestion and air pollution in the city, as each bus would replace at least 50 auto-rickshaws.

A spokesperson for the administration said the plying of minibuses would have been started by now but the system to provide permits and fulfil other formalities was quite exhausting. He added that after getting the permits the transporters would be arranging for new buses with specific dimensions and seating capacities.



Bank staff body for hike in IT limit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
The Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC) has appealed the Finance Minister to enhance the income tax limit from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh. According to the association, the recommendations have also been made by the Kelkar Committee as well as the Rajnath Singh Committee.

In a pre-Budget memorandum submitted to the Union Finance Minister, the national president of INBEC, Mr K.R. Tripathi, and the deputy general secretary, Dr Shiv Gupta, said exemptions under the Income Tax Act such as standard deductions under Section 16 should be enhanced to Rs 50,000 and rebate under Section 88 for LIC Premium, ULIP, Provident Fund, Public Provident Fund, NSC, repayment of housing loans be enhanced up to Rs 1 lakh in view of inflation. This would also help to boost national savings which could be utilised for national industrial development.

The association also demanded that rebate under Section 80-L of the Income Tax Act should also be enhanced up to Rs 20,000 on income from dividends, interest from bank deposits, national savings certificate (NSC).

It said interest rates from banks deposits on fixed deposits, which had been reduced from 13 per cent to 6.25 per cent, must be enhanced. The office-bearers said the Central Government had allowed more rate of interest in post offices, the same pattern should be followed in banks also.

Mr Tripathi, also president of the national organisation of government employees (NOGE), said direct tax collections had increased from Rs 38,000 crore in 1997-98 to 90,000 crore in 2002-03, which were mostly contributed by the salaried class as it could not conceal its income, whereas businessmen, industrialists evaded taxes. Thus, more than Rs 1,00,000 crore had become non-performing assets of banks.

The body demanded that the interest and repayment on housing loans be exempted from income tax up to Rs 1.5 lakh for interest and Rs 50,000 for principal repayment thereof to boost cement, iron and steel and allied industry.

The association also sought for the restructuring of income tax rates which should be 10 per cent for income from 1 lakh to 4 lakh and 20 per cent from 4 lakh onwards.



Hosiery may shift to cosy, hills
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 23
Irked by the attitude of the Punjab Government towards the problems of the industry, local industrialists are thinking of shifting their units to the neighbouring states particularly Himachal Pradesh.

The temptation to move out to Himachal Pradesh has come about with the Centre’s announcement of benefits for three states — Himachal Pradesh, Uttrachanal and Jammu and Kashmir.

The incentives to Himachal Pradesh include exemption from paying income tax and central excise duties for 10 years and concessions in sales tax. Local industrialists, particularly hosiery manufacturers, have shown interest in establishing units in Himachal Pradesh and visited Baddi and Nalagarh in the state to hold discussions with the officials concerned.

Baddi has already come up as an industrial township close to Chandigarh. There are about 70 large-scale, medium-scale and small-scale industrial units in Baddi; and Nalagarh is also coming up. The units at Baddi are of textile and consumer goods.

According to Mr Prem Sagar Jain, president of the, Readymade Garments Association, about 15 industrialists of the knitting segment have purchased land in Baddi. Land prices in Baddi and Nalagarh have started rising, following the visit of the Ludhiana industrialists to these places. Mr Jain says the rise has been three-times.

Mr Jain says that knitting industry is no longer a seasonal industry and the knitting exports from Ludhiana have been to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore. The knitting industry has, now, been brought under the Union Textile Ministry.

“The Punjab Government is not sympathetic to the problems of the industry and the burden of taxes is heavier in Punjab than in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi and West Bengal. In Punjab, industrialists have to face three stages of taxation — first on yarn (4.4 per cent), garments (4 per cent) and entry tax (2 per cent). No state other than Punjab has levied entry tax. Besides, the labour in Punjab is costly and land prices in the state are also higher than those in the other states. However, the companies will keep original base in Ludhiana,” Mr Jain says.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, and Mr Avtar Singh, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking (Ludhiana), say that the state has not been able to formulate an industrial policy for the past one year.

Mr Avtar Singh says that induction-furnace owners have also visited Nalagarh to explore the possibility of setting up steel-furnace plants there.

The power-supply tariff in Himachal Pradesh is also cheaper than the tariff in Punjab. Electricity is available at Rs 2.65 paise per unit in the HP, whereas, in Punjab it is priced at Rs 3.75 paise per unit, which will rise to Rs 4.35 paise per unit in April. The PSEB has already given a representation to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, seeking a hike in the power-supply tariff.

Mr Avtar Singh says: “How serious is the Chief Minister Punjab about the fate of the industry in Punjab can be gauged from the fact that he spent only 20 minutes in meeting with industrialists to discuss the industrial policy, in Chandigarh last month. He left the meeting, saying that he would be back in two hours. He did return, but the industrialists gained nothing from the meeting.”

Another top industrialist of the state said the Chief Minister did not seem concerned about the future of industry in Punjab.

Mr S.P. Oswal, chairman of the Vardhaman group of industries that has its unit in Baddi, said the Central package for Himachal Pradesh was not on the pattern of the Jammu and Kashmir package. There were certain ambiguities, but the land prices in Baddi and Nalagarh had indeed shot up by more than 100 per cent. He could not say how many industrialists of Ludhiana had purchased land in Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Oswal praised the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission for rationalising the power-supply tariff in Himachal Pradesh.

Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Principal Secretary Finance and Industry (Punjab), when contacted, said the HP package had had no effect on the Punjab industries. Industry needed marketing, raw material and infrastructure, that were not available in the HP. He said Punjab’s industrial policy would be announced on March 1 and government was taking steps to revive sick industries.



Melons that water mouths
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
Mounds of watermelons dot a wide expanse along the GT Road these days. Sellers know how to attract passers-by. They cut watermelons in attractive shapes exposing the red and juicy part to attract customers.

Ms Kim says, “I am overjoyed to see watermelons. But at the same time I am surprised to see these in this month as usually these arrive in arid months. On enquiring, a seller told me that supply was coming from Bangalore. I am delighted as watermelons have more than 95 per cent water content and it helps me lose weight. Not only do they look good, but also taste fantastic.”

Mr Lalit says, “I avoid eating cut melons being sold at stalls as there is always a danger of catching infection. But now that watermelons have arrived, members of my family are delighted as we all love this fruit and can now eat to our fill.”



City firms to take part in 2-wheeler show
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Over 35 companies from the city will participate in Cymo India 2003, a two-wheeler show to be organised at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, from March 24 to 26. The show is being organised by Modern Multi-Media Marketing Company and is expected to attract about 100 manufacturers from the country and abroad.

Announcing this here today, Mr Gautam Mehta, Managing Director of the company, said usually, the automobile shows were dominated by four-wheelers. The two-wheelers, particularly bicycles, hardly receive any attention in these shows. He said the show would focus on the Indian two-wheeler industry in general and bicycles in particular.

From the city, Hero Cycles, Avon Cycles, Ralson and several others will participate in the show. Some manufacturers from Taiwan and China are also expected to take part in it. Mr Omkar Singh Pahwa, the Managing Director of Avon Cycles Ltd, said the show will provide an opportunity to the local cycle manufacturers to exhibit their products.

Mr D.S. Chawla, president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, said there was a great need of such exhibitions. He said though India was the second largest producer of bicycles, it was still far behind China and there was a need to enhance the production. He said such exhibitions helped in mutual interaction, besides providing an international platform to the manufacturers.

Mr Satish Dhanda, chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council, said at present, the bicycle exports were around Rs 950 per annum. He said the council had fixed the target of increasing the exports to Rs 2,100 crore in the next seven years. 



Mystery over child’s disappearance
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Mystery shrouds the case of a seven-year-old-child of Kheri village, near here, who disappeared for about three hours before being found in a market by the anxious parents last evening.

The child Neeraj(name changed on request), a student of a convent school in Dugri, claims that one of his teachers had forgotten to release after he was locked in a room by the teacher. Family sources said the child was still under shock for remaining confined in a room for about three hours. He was, however, not able to reveal how he came out and who rescued him.

Family sources said they would confront the school authorities tomorrow. They talked to the school principal yesterday when the child did not reach home even an hour after schedule.

The child, a student of third class, has claimed that a school teacher was upset with him over some mistake and locked him in a room. Family sources said the child was not making the exact statement about his whereabouts and they would verify it first with the school authorities before demanding any action against the teacher.



Clash in Golden Temple ‘unfortunate’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
“The youth of the state will be mobilised to tackle various issues before the country in general and Punjab in particular,” says Mr Jisvinder Singh Honey, president of the national unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Master Tara Singh Group). He was here today to meet activists of the party and shortlist candidates for the post of district chief of the party youth wing in the state.

He said the Congress had failed to live up to the expectations of the people, but made a lot of progress in its drive against corruption. It was in the process of finalising various big projects.

He said the sleaze campaign launched against the Congress ministers was an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to block the inroads being made by the party in Himachal Pradesh. However the Chief Minister should get the matter probed and sack the guilty, If there were any, he said.

On the clash between the SGPC task force and activists of the SKP in the Golden Temple complex over the ‘sewa’ issue, he said it was an unfortunate thing that had lowered the prestige of the community across the globe. “When the Gurus themselves had promoted equal status for women, no one has the authority to deny women their due? Various Panthic organisations should get together to redress the issue,” he said. 



Function on healthcare of girl child
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
A programme on healthcare of the girl child was today organised by the civil dispensary, Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana, Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, councillor of the area, was the chief guest and Dr Suchittra Kalia was the presiding officer at the function.

According to a scheme of the Punjab Government, a couple having two children, either one or two girls will be honoured by the Punjab Government by way of Rs 500 KVP to the first girl child and Rs 300 KVP to the second girl child. A competition for the healthy girl child was also held. Five girls were declared healthy babies. As many as five girls were awarded Rs 500 KVP and five girls declared runners up and awarded Rs 300 KVP each.

The function was attended by the staff of the dispensary and the Istry Health Sabha of this area. Among others who attended the function were Mr Harnam Singh Machhiwara and Mr Om Parkash Angresh, former councillors Mr B.K. Rampal, advocate and senior Congress leader, Mr Ravinder Sehgal, general secretary, District Congress, Mr S.P. Gogna, vice-president of the District Congress, Mr Vinod Bhathla, Mr D.R. Rampal and Mr B.S. Rampal, advocates, Mr Gulab Singh, president of the Sarabha Nagar ‘H’ Market and Mr Hardev Singh.

Ms Rampal emphasised on the equal ratio of male and female child for prosperity in the society. She further made an appeal to avoid ultrasound tests.

A sewing machines was also presented to a needy girl who was getting married today.



Aggarwals hold meeting
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
The Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan held a meeting under the chairmanship of Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, president of the association. He gave details of the Aggar Chetna and sadhbhavna ‘rath yatra’ to the office-bearers and members of the community and sought their cooperation to make it a success.

Mr Surinder Gupta, general secretary, further explained the route of the ‘rath yatra’. The yatra would begin on February 26 from Ropar and pass through Rajpura, Khanna, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Batala, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jira, Moga, Ferozepore, Kotkapura and reach Bathinda on March 3.

The president of Durga Mata Mandir, president, Laxmi Narayan Mandir, president of the Aggarwal Sabha, Shivala road, Mandri, and general secretary also offered cooperation.

Prof P.P. Kansal, Mr D.K. Gupta, Mr D.J. Jain, Mr Prem Gupta, Mr Kuldip Singla, Mr Rajinder Gupta, Mr Sanjay Gupta and other office-bearers assured cooperation. The ‘yatra’ would be welcomed at the Jagraon bridge from where it would reach Aggar Nagar, where it would be received at Maharaja Aggarsen Community Centre. Mr Anurag Aggarwal, IPS, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, would light the lamp.

Mr Gurvinder Singh Attwal, Parliamentary Secretary, Cooperation, Punjab, and Mr Rakesh Pande, State Minister, Punjab, would be the guests of honour.



Marxism a social science: Prof Gurdial
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
A two-day seminar, organised by the Punjabi Sahitya Akademi in association with the Delhi Akademy on Marxist Literature-Criticism and Contemporary Concerns, was inaugurated by Punjabi novelist and Gyanpeeth Award winner, Prof Gurdial Singh. Addressing writers who had come from all over India, he said the disintegration of the USSR was not the defeat of the Marxist philosophy, but a human error which had led to the collapse of the Communist regime.

Prof Gurdial Singh said, “Marxist thought is a social science and its main focus is to remove the exploitation of the people.”

Dr Sardara Singh Johal, Vice-Chairman of the Punjab Planning Board, said the loss of Soviet Union should not be equated with the failure of the Marxist thought. Dr Ramesh Kuntal Megh, former Head of the Hindi Department of Guru Nanak Dev University, said there were a number of challenges before the Marxists as there were a number of opposing forces working against it which were becoming even more powerful.

Dr Tej Singh and Dr J.P. Kardam spoke on the importance of the Dalit literature. They said the Dalit literature had great social significance as it wanted to fight against the existing casteism. Mr Gurbhajan Gill said there was segregation in politics among the Dalits and others. Similarly, the segregation in literature could prove to be counter-productive.

Beside Indian scholars, Parminder Singh Sodhi from Japan, Amrit Jyoti from Holland, Harjit Daudhria and Harinder Singh Hundal from Canada, Harbax Singh from England participated in the seminar.



Award constituted 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
As a tribute to the late Meesha Sidhu, an MBBS student and the only daughter of Dr Waheguru Pal Singh, Medical Superintendent, and Dr Harkanwal Sidhu, Head of Medicine Department, of Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, who died on February 19 at Jammu in a road accident, an award, a scholarship and trophies in her memory were announced on the occasion of her antim ardas at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town, here today.

The award will be a gold medal to be given by Acharya Sri Chand Medical College, Jammu, to the outstanding outgoing student every year. The scholarship will be given to outstanding students of the Nursing Institute of Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.


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