Friday, February 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC income up, but falls short of target
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
In spite of the stepped-up recovery operations of the Municipal Corporation in the last month, the total income of the civic body in almost 11 months of this financial year, though comparable to the figures of the last year, is still below the budget target.

A marginal deficit of Rs 15.86 lakh in total receipts till February 25, compared to the last year’s figures, would be more than offset, if the accrued additional excise duty of over Rs 20 crore, still to be received from the state government, is taken into account.

The income from octroi in this period, biggest source of revenue for the MC, stands at Rs 91.57 crore, Rs 2.69 crore more than the figure last year. However, the collection is way behind the budgeted income of Rs 118.79 crore, so far, and the annual target of Rs 131 crore appears to be difficult to achieve, going by the projected daily income of about Rs 35 lakh.

The MC income from building branch, including the application fee and the composition fee, continues to cause concern. The sale of property was another area that left much to be desired.

The receipts from the building application fee and the composition fee from April 2002 to February 2003 stood at Rs 1.32 crore and Rs 7.02 crore, respectively, showing a nominal shortfall of Rs 2.32 lakh and an increase of Rs 3.32 crore, respectively, against the last year’s figures. However, the total incomes under these heads was just about 50 per cent of the budget estimates of Rs 2.26 crore and Rs 13.60 crore, respectively.

The sale of property this year had failed to evoke much response from the public. Against an annual projected income of Rs 10 crore, the MC has been able to raise merely Rs 1.69 crore, so far, against the Rs 1.28 crore figure of the previous year.

In contrast, receipts from house tax, octroi on electricity, development charges, tehbazari and police fines went up than last year’s figures; in some cases, even beyond the budget estimates.

The income from house tax in this period was Rs 26.84 crore (up by Rs 1.29 crore). The other incomes were as follows: octroi on electricity — Rs 7.98 crore (up by Rs 69.71 lakh), development charges — Rs 1.40 crore (up by Rs 1.05 lakh) and tehbazari — Rs 1.13 crore (up by Rs 59.86 crore). The income from police fines has shot up to Rs 17.44 lakh (up by Rs 6.21 lakh) and already exceeded the target income of Rs 13.60 lakh, this year.

The civic body has not performed well where the realisation of water and sewerage charges is concerned, with the total income at Rs 13.65 crore (down by Rs 2.57 lakh), collection of rent on property at Rs 22.26 lakh (down by Rs 5.94 lakh) and license fee at Rs 65.22 lakh (down by Rs 22.81 lakh).

The MC’s income in about 11 months has been Rs 168.76 crore, against the budget estimates of Rs 268 crore. Though the MC had prepared an ambitious budget of Rs 296 crore for the year, the income from all heads, so far (marginally lower at Rs 15.86 lakh, against last year’s figures), show that achieving the budget targets is a distant dream. Going by the present trend, the MC may even fall short of the previous year’s achievement of a little more than 70 per cent of the budget estimates.

Sources in the MC attributed the failure to several factors. In the current quarter, the collection from water and sewerage charges, that used to be encouraging before, has gone down due to an MC resolution on interest-free payment of arrears. The decision has not been implemented, so far, because the mandatory approval from the government is still awaited. Having read about the concession in newspapers, citizens are “waiting for its implementation”.

The revenue from the composition fee, though up by about 100 per cent, would have been far better, if some big fishes had been caught, sources said. The MC officials, however, were optimistic; they said steps taken to improve the recovery in the remaining period of the financial year were expected to yield rich dividends.



Foreign subsidies must go: BKU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab has expressed concern over the subsidies provided to farmers of various countries and has urged the government to impress upon developed countries to withdraw the subsidies at the next meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Prof Manjit Singh Qadian, president and general secretary, respectively, of the union, at a meeting held here today said that if the rich nations did not withdraw the subsidies, the Indian farmer and the agricultural sector would be doomed.

They said the rich countries had divided their agriculture into three sectors — red, blue and purple — and had heavily subsidised agriculture in the blue and purple sectors. They said the subsidy amounted to almost 100 per cent of the total input.

Stating that these farmers were ready to sell their produce in the international market at throwaway prices as they were already compensated by way of subsidies, Mr Lakhowal said the practice was affecting the Indian farmer who was not able to sell his produce at competitive prices.

They urged upon the Indian Government to raise the issue of subsidies at the coming meeting of the WTO else the Indian farmer, who was facing various challenges, would suffer and the economy of the nation would be crippled.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesari, general secretary, said the government was not paying the dues of sugarcane farmers who had been forced to block the traffic. He said the common man was bearing the brunt of the situation and the government was “indifferent.”

He said the union would convene a meeting of the farmers in Ludhiana on March 1 where the farmers would be discussing sugarcane dues, the SYL issue and the MSP of crops in accordance with the price index, besides the bonus on paddy.



Jail  Superintendent told to appear in court
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
A District Court today directed Superintendent Central Jail, Ludhiana Gursharan Singh Sidhu, accused of cheating and embezzlement of government funds to the tune of more than Rs 50 lakh, to personally appear in the court tomorrow. The direction was given to the accused through his counsel.

Mr Inderjit Kaushik, Additional District and Sessions Judge, had yesterday directed the police to serve a two-day notice upon the accused, if it wanted to arrest him. Today the Additional Public Prosecutor, Mr Mitter Sain Goyal, moved an application before the court with the allegations that taking undue advantage of the orders of the court, the accused was avoiding service of the notice. He was not available on the address mentioned in his petition, it was said.

It was also averred in the application that a large sum of public money had been embezzled by the accused in connivance with other co-accused. He was an influential officer and could tamper with the records pertaining to the case, which could hamper the investigation. The prosecution should be allowed to serve the notice upon the accused through his counsel, added the government pleader.

The anticipatory bail applications filed by former Superintendent of the Central Jail, Ludhiana, Amarjit Singh, retired DIG (Prisons) and Dr Ravinder Kumar will also come up for hearing tomorrow. The court has issued notice to the prosecution for bringing the relevant records. The regular bail application of co-accused, Daya Shankar, will also be taken up tomorrow. He is in the custody. The Vigilance Bureau had claimed to have unearthed an embezzlement of government funds in the Central Jail, Ludhiana. It claimed the accused were found guilty of causing large-scale bungling and forging of documents relating to purchase of the special food, medicines and other items for the jail inmates.

Subsequently, the accused were booked under Sections 409, 420, 465, 467, 471 and120-B of the IPC and under Section 13(1), read with Sections 7 and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Since then, the accused have been evading arrest.



Railways to focus on customer satisfaction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The Railways has laid special focus on safety measures this year with regular staff counselling, technical update, random inspections and surprise checks. Disclosing this here today the newly appointed Area Traffic Manager (ATM), Mr N.S. Mann said, the customer satisfaction was the top priority of the railways.

Mr Mann said in this regard a meeting was held recently where the entire staff was briefed about various safety measures. He disclosed that such orientation programmes would be regularly organised and the staff would be made to update their skills and technical knowhow, besides the upgradation of the existing system.

The ATM pointed out that Ludhiana was one of the high-density railway stations in the region. As many as 109 trains passed through Ludhiana railway station every day. These excluded goods trains. This put extra burden on the machinery and the technical staff. However, he said, the staff was extra ordinarily cooperative despite the massive workload and pressure.

Referring to the railway inquiries, with a number of people complaining that the 131 and 132 numbers were not functioning properly, Mr Mann maintained that the system was being revived. He said, there were some technical problems in the communication network and it was being reactivated.



Case against Mann angers party
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The state body of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has condemned the levelling of TADA charges against the party chief and MP, Simranjeet Singh Mann, saying that it is an assault on minorities and part of a conspiracy to prevent him from contesting elections.

According to Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general secretary of the party, it is discriminatory that the charges have been framed after about 12 years of the alleged offence, when the situation in Punjab is normal. “I fail to understand the reason for the move, when far more serious charges against other Akalis have been dropped,” he said.

He said Mr Mann had been advocating normalisation of ties with Pakistan on foreign visits. He had also urged both countries for restraint during the year-long Army buildup along the International Border. “It was due to his efforts that the USA mounted pressure on both countries and a showdown was averted,” he said.

Mr Lohara said the NDA government was sore that Mr Mann was raising his voice against rising fundamentalism and communalism in the country. “While Prof Bhullar has been sentenced to death, even though no witness deposed in the blast case, all accused of the 1984 genocide have been acquitted,” he said.

The party would meet at Gurdwara Akalgarh Sahib on February 28 to decide its future course of action, he said.



Telecom firm achieves landmark
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
Bharti Teletech, a subsidiary of Bharti Enterprises and manufacturer of Beetel telephones, achieved a landmark today of manufacturing 3 million telephone sets. The company that is exporting the instruments across the world sent its latest consignment to Germany.

The consignment was flagged off by the vice-chairman of the group, Mr Rakesh Bharti Mittal, at Humbrah, parent unit of the company. On the occasion, Mr Mittal said: “Bharti Teletech is India’s leading telephone-instrument-manufacturing company and the largest outside China. The company’s manufacturing operations are spread across three plants — in Mapua (Goa), Gurgaon and Ludhiana — with an installed capacity of five million units per year.”

Regarding mobile services, Mr Mittal said the mobile industry was all set to grow in the country and the company would soon start manufacturing instruments for sending SMS signals through landline. He said, it would be possible to send even e-mails through landline instruments.



Nominations filed for civic poll
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, February 27
A total of 108 nominations have been filed for the elections in 19 wards of the Municipal Council, Jagraon. Many of the nominations have been filed in duplicate to avoid problems in case of the rejection of the papers. Out of 19 wards, seats in 10 wards are reserved either for SC/BC or women candidates. Nomination papers will be scrutinised on February 28 and withdrawals will be allowed on March 1.

AMLOH: As many as 171 candidates have filed their nomination papers for the civic poll of Mandi Gobindgarh Town. Today was the last day for filing nomination papers. The elections to 19 wards of the council would be held on March 9.

Among the prominent who filed the nominations today were Mr Jagmeet Singh Bawa, member of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr J.P. Sharma, secretary of the Steel Chamber, Mr Sohan Dhaliwal, president of the Natak Kala Sangam, Mr Rajinder Kumar Teetoo, Mr Rajinder Singh Bhangu and Mr Charanjeet Singh.

Mr Brij Lal Goel, state vice-president and chairman of the Candidates’ Selection Committee, Mr Sadhu Singh Dhramsot, MLA, Amloh, had earlier announced the names of Mr Rajinder Singh Bhangu, Ms Gulabo Devi, Mr Suresh Kumar Babli, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhaliwal, Ms Kamal, Mr Harinder Singh Bhambri, Mr Gurmeet Singh Mander, Ms Rita Garg, Mr Jagmeet Singh Bawa, Mr Joginder Paul, Ms Sudesh Kumari, Mr Kuldeep Singh Shatrana, Mr Chranjeet Singh, Ms Kavita Markahan, Mr Krishan Chand, Mr Bachittar Singh Chotu, Mr Parminder Kaur, Mr J.P. Sharma and Mr Prem Kumar as the Congress candidates from ward No. 1 to ward No. 19, respectively. Mr Sadhu Singh Dhramsot claimed the Congress candidates would win the elections with a thumping majority.

But with the announcement of Congress candidates, other aspirants of party ticket raised a banner of revolt against the decision and alleged the sincere and old party workers had been ignored. Among the rebel candidates, were, Mr Charan Das, Mr Shabaz Singh Dhillon, Mr Randhir Singh Happy, Ms Satya Rani, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Jassi, Mr Rajinder Bittu and Mr Narinder Singh Sekhon from ward Nos 1,19, 14, 12, 5, 16, 15 and 9 respectively. 



Protest against police torture
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
The Nepali Jan Adhikar Surakhaya Samiti, the Inqalab Render Punjab, the Lok Sangarh Manch, the Kirti Kisan Union, the Technical Services Union and the Employees Federation organised a rally in front of the SDM’s office in protest against police atrocities on Nepalese labourers.

According to a press note issued by these organisations here, the police seized a membership slip of the Surakhaya Samiti and some handbills from Tulsi Ram, a Nepali employed with the Senior Superintendent of Police. The CIA staff, then, tortured him and some other Nepalese men in illegal custody.



‘Missing businessman had apprehension’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The claims of relatives of a missing industrialist, Mr Ramesh Kumar, that he had gone to meet another influential industrialist’s family in the city before disappearing mysteriously were strengthened today when an office-bearer of the local Garment Machine Manufacturers and Buyers Association confirmed the claim in his deposition before the police.

Mr Kulwant Singh, PRO of the association, in a statement before Mr Snehdeep Sharma, DSP (Industrial Area), stated today that Mr Kumar had informed him before going to the premises of the accused at 2 p.m. on February 24 that he was feeling insecure while going there and was informing him in advance.

Police sources said they had called Mr Kulwant Singh as part of the investigation to trace the whereabouts of the Industrialist. The police has, failed to make any headway in the case.

Mr Ramesh Kumar has been missing from his house in the Sherpur area since February 24. He had gone to collect payment from an industrialist but did not return. His scooter was found parked near the industrialist’s house.

His family had lodged a complaint with the police against the industrialist. The case was lodged on the complaint of Ms Suman Sharma, wife of the missing industrialist.Back

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