Sunday, March 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PWD gets show-cause notice from MC
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 1
In the wake of the construction of a flyover to replace the Lakkar Pul hanging fire for almost a year now, the Municipal Corporation has served yet another show cause notice on the Public Works Department (PWD), demanding an explanation for the delay. The MC has made it clear that if the department fails to commence work immediately, the contract will be cancelled and awarded to some other agency.

The urgency shown by the MC has been necessitated due to the pressure from the Northern Railways authorities for producing the drawings and general alignment plan of the project, so that, the construction of the portion of the flyover crossing the railway tracks could begin. The civic body has already deposited Rs 4 crore with the Railways for this purpose. In addition, Rs 2.38 crore was paid towards the cost of the Railways land for the project.

The PWD has deposited about 50 per cent of the funds received from the MC in the government treasury and the rest of the money has been diverted elsewhere. The contractor hired by the department is yet to receive any payment for the earth work done, so far. As a result, he was unable to procure detailed drawings from the consultant that the railways needed to commence work.

The proposed flyover, to be built at a cost of Rs 13.26 crore, is scheduled to be completed by December 2003. An advance payment of Rs 1.05 crore was paid by the MC to the PWD, for the project. The department has done work worth Rs 40 lakh only, from the Civil Lines side. The work was suspended a few months ago on the ground that the PWD had no funds to pay the contractors.

With the suspension of construction work, the completion of the project on schedule appears to be a remote possibility. Any delay in the construction of the flyover will also affect the elevated-road project, with which, the motorable flyover is proposed to be integrated.

After a review of all major development projects of the MC, the MC Commissioner Mr S.K. Sharma took a serious view of the stoppage. The PWD, having received Rs 1.05 crore, for the project from the civic body, had not made even a single payment to the contractor.

The project was, earlier, delayed because the amended alignment of the flyover, necessitated by the need to link it with the proposed elevated road over the Old GT Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema, did not meet the approval of the railways, as it was not prepared to make available additional land to suit the revised design.


Mixed response to Budget
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
The Union Budget for 2003-04 by the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, has evoked mixed response in this part of the region. On the one hand people have welcomed the budget by saying that it has not created any new problem, on the other some have strongly criticized it.

Mr Satish K. Dhanda, chairman Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC0), said the Union Budget had not addressed at all the issues raised by the council earlier. The introduction of self-assessment scheme both for imports and exports to reduce procedural hassles as also transaction cost was a welcome step. He complimented the Finance Minister for his all-round attempt to reduce transaction costs and hoped that the problems of export sector would also be addressed by him.

The reduction in customs duty of capital goods to a maximum of 25 per cent was a welcome move and would have an indirect catalytic effect in fostering export. A special provision for Capital Goods imports at the rate of 5 per cent import duty for the units exporting more than 50 per cent of their turnover would have been highly welcomed by the engineering exporting community.

The increase in the share capital of the ECGC by Rs 80 crore to foster Project Export was a move in the right direction, considering the present impediments faced by the project exporters and the inability of the banks to provide the necessary back up, he added.

The Indian National Trade Union Congress, however, condemned Mr Jaswant Singh for not enhancing the income tax limit from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh, which had been the main demand of all the trade unions for the last five years.

The Union leaders termed the Budget as pro-capitalist, anti-working class and anti-farmer, as most of the benefits in the shape of reduction in excise duty had been provided to benefit the big industrialists, who would never pass on the benefits to the actual consumers and public. The lowering of interest rates on the Small Saving Schemes, National Saving Certificates, Public Provident Fund Scheme, RBI tax-free bonds and bank’s savings and fixed deposit accounts by 1 per cent has also been criticised.

The Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has welcomed the Union Budget as it had not taken any harsh step for anyone especially for small-scale industrial sector. Terming it as a “populist” budget, Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association, said it had provided some relief to the income tax payers.

Mr Jagat Singh, president of the association, said the Budget had nothing to say about VAT system, which was going to be implemented from April 1, throughout India. It was suggested that as the industrialists were not in a position to follow it properly, it should be postponed by a few months.

Meanwhile, The Punjab Dry Cleaners and Dyers Association said though a lot of relaxation had been given to many sectors, drycleaning had been ignored. The increased service tax to 8 per cent came as a shock to the traders. The drycleaners were yet to adjust with the 5 per cent service tax, which it was increased by 3 per cent this year. It would have a negative impact on the trade, said Mr Santokh Singh Ahluwalia, president of the association.


Rain breaks 50-year record
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
Heavy rain that lashed the region last night has broken a 50-year-old record of the highest intensity of rain. As per the PAU Met Department, a record of 150 mm of rainfall was experienced last month.

Strong winds accompanied by hail storm in some parts of the district made farmers spend a sleepless night as the winds flattened the crop.

Wheat that was sown before mid-November had been flattened in some villages and fruit trees had to bear the brunt of the strong winds.

A survey of several villages in this district today revealed that wheat crop had been damaged. Most of the damage was suffered by those farmers who had irrigated the crop during the past two-three days. The strong wind and hailstorm had flattened the crop.

Panic prevailed among the farmers of these villages who said they would be ruined if the weather did not change. “We had a sleepless night yesterday. We were all praying for the safety of our crops. We have been suffering time and again due to the policies of the government but this time we were happy that at least this produce will not let us down,” a farmer of Hambran village said.

Damage to other crops has also been reported. Mustard crop which was nearing maturity had also been flattened. The damage to crops has been reported from Lalton, Pakhowal, Kila Raipur and Ghungrana villages.

According to Dr Sukhdev Singh Hundal, Professor at the Department of Agrometerology, PAU, the rain was caused due to an upper cyclonic movement in Punjab and measured 26 mm on the scale. He said during February alone, around 150 mm of rainfall was experienced that broke all records of 50 years. Last February, only 50 mm of rainfall was recorded.

Dr Paramjit Singh Sehra, another Professor at the PAU, said this untimely rain was bound to have an adverse effect on all crops as it was accompanied by strong winds. He said the velocity of the winds was so strong that it was capable of uprooting trees.


Shiv devotees throng temples
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
A large number of Shiv devotees were seen visiting temples in the wee hours to offer prayers. They bathed the Shivling with milk and offered “bel patra”. The air was rent with “Om Nama Shivaye”.

Thousands thronged the century-old Sangla Wala Shivala temple and other temples.

The Mahashivratri Utsav Committee took out a shobha yatra at Hargobind Nagar, in which thousands participated. The Lok Kalyan Social Welfare Society celebrated the occasion at Iqbalganj with fervour. Prayers, havan, yajnas and langar were organised and tableaux from life of Lord Shiva were presented.

Various religious, social organisations and clubs organised langar at several places in the city.


Reopening of case against Mann evokes protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) today said it would stage a demonstration outside Parliament on March 25 in protest against the reopening of TADA case against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and the death sentence to Devender Pal Singh Bhullar.

The party has also decided to submit a memorandum to the Punjab Governor on March 10. It would also submit a memorandum with 1,00,000 signatures to the Prime Minister on April 7. It would hold protest meetings at the district headquarters in Punjab, the dates of which would be announced soon.

These decisions were taken at a meeting of office-bearers, district presidents and members of the working committee at Gurdwara Akal Garh Sahib today.


Big match draws big crowds
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, March 1
Enthusiastic fans today made a beeline for all such arenas that showed the much-awaited cricket match between India and Pakistan live on big screens.

Though almost all matches of the World Cup are being shown at cinema hall, bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs, etc. the response to today’s match was overwhelming. Watching the “clash of titans” on a big screen amidst cricket-crazed fans lent an air of euphoria. Fans screamed as they saw the fall of the wickets in the Pakistan innings and booed as they saw them score boundaries.

Enthusiasm was so high that they did not mind paying Rs 500 for a ticket at Orient Cinema. The hall was packed with over 400 viewers. College girls and boys, young couples and even a few families had a nice day today.

Aditi, a student watching the match at the theatre, however, had a different reason for coming. She had come to the theatre since erratic power supply at her home had spoiled the India-England tie a few days ago. “I did not want to miss out on action just because of some household work or some guest. Here I am finding a much better atmosphere amidst my type of people,” she added.

At Sangeet Cinema, free tickets were given out on the first-come-first-serve basis. Mr Rajesh Lamba, manager and a cricket fan himself, said the response was extremely good and extra chairs had to be arranged in the hall on demand from the viewers.

At Hotel Taksonz, big screens had been set up. Three halls of the hotel had been decorated with nets, pads, cricket bats, balls and stumps, while the lobby had been converted into a stadium. The hotel had over 500 viewers for the match even before it had started, said Mr Rajiv Sharma, general manager.

Similarly, Park Plaza saw fans coming in for the match that was telecast live in the banquet. Ms Ritu, the business centre executive, said the response was tremendous. Even Dhodha House had over 100 people turn up to watch the proceedings of the match.

However, rain played spoilsport at Sutluj Club where the screen had been set up in the lawn. The match was, however, shown in the bar, which was preferred by many.


Congress failed on all fronts, says BJP
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has contested the claim of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of the Congress having successfully completed one year of rule in the state. Terming it a bundle of lies, the party said the government had no achievement worth the name.

The state general secretary of BJP, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, in a statement here yesterday said the Congress government had miserably failed on all fronts. All sections of society were feeling betrayed and disillusioned simply because none of its election promises had been fulfilled by the ruling party, he said. “The talk of providing a corruption-free, transparent and responsive governance is a misnomer. On the contrary, the Chief Minister has been blatantly misusing official machinery and the police to settle scores with his political opponents,” he said.

Mr Bhandari further charged the government with withdrawal of various progressive measures taken by the previous SAD-BJP government for the welfare of different sections of society. The facility of free power and water for farmers had been scrapped. While the power supply situation had gone from bad to worse, the consumers were made to shell out almost 50 per cent more by way of increased power tariff.

Focussing on the indifferent attitude of the government towards the weaker sections, backward classes and Scheduled Castes, the BJP activist observed that all promises made for the welfare of these sections had been forgotten. The provisions of providing job to at least one member of each family, bill for the implementation of 27 per cent reservation for them and distribution of surplus land among the landless still remained elusive. Not only this, the government had suspended other welfare schemes like old age and widow pension and ‘shagun’ scheme for the backward class girls.

According to Mr Bhandari, the worst affected was the farming community that had been completely neglected by the ruling party during its one year in power. The government had failed to provide uninterrupted power, adequate water supply to farm sector. Other promises like three lakh new tubewells, development funds to panchayats, agricultural insurance and additional subsidy also remained unfulfilled, he said.

He said the position of trade and industry was no better. The industry was reeling under the burden of hike in sales tax rates and power tariff. The government had forgotten its promise to abolish octroi and sales tax barriers, instead, the ‘inspector raj’ was being promoted. Similarly, the teaching community was feeling neglected since the government had failed to give effect to pension and gratuity scheme, despite being approved by the Cabinet.

The dubious activities of certain bureaucrats and senior functionaries of ruling party, coupled with instances of corruption and repression, had not only tarnished the name of the Congress, but also made every Punjabi to hang his head in shame, he said.


MLA inaugurates sewerage project
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
Congress MLA Surinder Dawar reiterated the commitment of the Congress government to step up the pace of development in the state while the civic body would continue its efforts to provide better quality civic services to city residents.

Mr Dawar, inaugurating a sewerage project in Ward No 49, assured the people that the government would try to fulfil its promises.

The councillor, Mr Rakesh Parashar, explained that the project would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 5.8 lakh and when operational. The widening of Shahpur Road, construction of manholes in Field Ganj and recarpeting road would be taken up soon.

Meanwhile, an estimate for the renovation of Chattar Singh Park in Model Town has been approved and work has been taken in hand under the supervision of Mr J.S. Bhola, councillor.


Aggarwals seek better treatment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
Even as the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, focussed on the rich contribution made by the Aggarwal community in various fields across the country, local leaders of the community were critical of the discriminatory treatment meted out to them by successive governments.

While presiding over the felicitation function organised by the Punjab Pardesh Aggarwal Sammelan for the Aggar Chetna and Sadbhavna Rath Yatra at Community Centre in Aggar Nagar last evening, Mr Aggarwal said the predominantly trading and industrial community had played a significant role in economic development of the country. He lauded the concept of the countrywide rath yatra, which would carry the message of goodwill and peace.

Other speakers, including the state president of Aggarwal Sammelan, Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, Mr Bal Krishan Aggarwal, Mr Radhey Shyam Goel, Mr Surinder K. Gupta, Mr Devinder Gupta and Mr Giri Raj Prasad Mittal, however, were sore at the callous attitude of the governments towards the community. They observed that the community was virtually ruling as far as the trade and industry were concerned. “The ‘vaish’ community is perhaps the highest tax payer in the country and provides employment to lakhs of people. But they have been at the receiving end in a persistent manner at the hands of the government, irrespective of the political party at the helm of affairs.”

Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal expressed confidence that the ongoing rath yatra would achieve its objective of creating awareness among the members of the community and spreading the message of goodwill among the people during its two-year-long tour all across the country.

Earlier, on the arrival of the rath yatra in the city on Friday morning, the members of Aggarwal community, functionaries of the Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan and the Aggarwal Sabha accorded a rousing welcome to the yatra, as it reached the Jagraon Bridge.

Led by Mr Bal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, All India Aggarwal Sammelan, Mr Amrit Lal Aggarwal, president, and Mr Surinder Gupta, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Aggarwal Sammelan, the yatra was later taken through several bazars in the city before reaching Sanglawala Shivala and Aggarwal Dharamshala where the sabha organised a felicitation function and also hosted a lunch for the visitors.

In the evening, the members of the yatra paid obeisance at the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir and Durgiana Mandir in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and later went round A and B blocks of Aggar Nagar locality before reaching its stopover venue of Maharaja Aggarsen Community Centre.


41 nominations finalised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
Nominations of 41 candidates for election to 15 seats of the local Municipal Council have been finalised after withdrawals by 31 candidates. Two Congress candidates have been declared elected, while the party ticket for one ward was transferred at the last moment.

Mr Rajnish Sharma, former OSD of the then Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhathal, and Ms Santosh Rani Superfine have been declared elected unopposed. In ward No. 2, the Congress ticket to Ms Raj Rani was denied at the last moment and given over to Ms Parso Devi. Baldev Dukhia, Kishan Lal Badhan, Bhag Singh Bhaga, Kalu Khan, Janak Dulari, Sham Sunder, Sapna, Avtar Krishan and Amrit Jolly are contesting the elections on the Congress ticket. Chiter Rekha Sharma (Principal Janta College), Kiran Bala I, Kiran Bala II, Surinder Vicky, Darbara Singh, Harpal Fauji, Darshan Kaur, Gora Singh, Kamla Rani, Aman, Gaffoor Khan, Jaswinder Sodhi, Ravinder Nath, Beeta Garg, Veena Puri, Rakesh Verma Happy, Hari Bhagwan Thapar, Anil Jain, Kishan Lal Verma, Jagwant Jaggie, Krishan Rajar, Naresh Sharma, Jaswinder Lali and Kuldip Karwal are the Independent candidates in the fray.


Cong councillor elected unopposed
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 1
A hundred candidates are in the fray for the civic poll in 19 wards of Mandi Gobindgarh after the withdrawal of nomination papers today. Out of 173 candidates, the papers of Ms Darshna Devi from Ward No. 17 were rejected during scrutiny yesterday for want of a caste certificate while 72 candidates, most of them covering candidates, withdrew their nominations today. The remaining were allotted symbols last evening.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Bawa, PPCC member, meanwhile has been declared elected unopposed from Ward No. 9 and the rebel candidate of Congress, Mr Narinder Singh Sekhon, has withdrawn his papers. The Congress is contesting on party symbol in the remaining 18 wards.


Sale rush attracts shoplifters
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 1
“We try to take precautions, yet clothes and watches keep disappearing from our shop regularly”, a shopkeeper of Ghumar Mandi said. Shoplifting is a problem faced by shopkeepers in different areas.

Currently sales are on the rise and a lot of stuff has piled up. Taking advantage of the rush, people walk away with clothes tucked inside their pullovers or putting them in a bag. They make a small purchase and make their exit.

A shopkeeper said generally the shoplifters arrived in large numbers. Some of them would picks up several T-shirts and trousers to try these on. “By the time we deal with the rest of the group they wear some shirts under their own shirt and wear a trouser on top of their trousers. We have become wiser, but the customers keep inventing new tricks”, he said.

A jeweller on condition of anonymity said in spite of being careful, they did get cheated. He said a woman known to them took a solitaire and with a tape hid it under the counter. She substituted it with a fake ring. Grocers said children and grown-ups often stole articles.


Sumo pushes car into ditch
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
Four persons travelling in a car had a miraculous escape after the vehicle fell into a 15-foot-deep ditch near Barewal on the Ludhiana-Jagraon road after colliding with a Tata Sumo early today.

The persons suffered only minor injuries, though the car had turned turtle in the ditch filled with rainwater. A large number of labourers present nearby proved to be the saviours for the family. The persons travelling in the car included three women.

The police said the driver of the Tata Sumo had been charged with rash driving. The accident took place at about 10.30 a.m., when the fast Tata Sumo, coming allegedly from the wrong direction, collided head- on with the car. The car skidded off the road and fell into the ditch.

The names of the injured could not be known, but the police has traced the Tata Sumo driver and detained him.


200 kg of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 1
The Jagraon police today claimed to have recovered 200 kg of poppy husk from three different places in the police district.

In the first case, the Raikot police acting on a tip off intercepted a gang of poppy husk smugglers near Lohatbaddi village and arrested Sukhdev Singh of Bhundri village Lohatbaddi and recovered 140kg of poppy husk. The drug was being smuggled into the region in a truck. The truck, no. PB-10U-9767, has been impounded.

An accomplice of the alleged smuggler, Sandeep Singh, from the same village managed to escape. The CIA staff, Jagraon, has also arrested Hari Singh of Buraj from near the village canal and recovered 30.5 kg of poppy husk.


Delhi firm to develop apparel park
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 1
The Federation of Knitwear, Textile and Allied Industries Associations (FEKTA) has entered into an agreement with a Delhi-based company for the establishment of Rs 85 crore apparel park for the promotion of knitwear and textile garments and their export.

Earlier this project was to come up with the help of the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) of the Punjab Government.

According to Mr Vinod Thapar, president, FEKTA and Mr Prem Sagar Jain, president, Readymade Garments Association, a special vehicle purpose (SVP) company known as Ludhiana Apparel Park Limited has been set up.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Delhi-based Pearl Fashion Academy. The Delhi company will develop the apparel park for the FEKTA.

Mr Prem Sagar Jain said here yesterday that the PSIEC had demanded 21 per cent as development charges, whereas the Delhi-based company would charge only 7 per cent.

According to Mr Jain, land for the apparel park would be purchase by the industry and as many as 165 acres of land had been identified between Bhatian and Kadian villages along the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway.

The land would cost about Rs 45 crore.

The Union Finance Minister had last year provided a sum of Rs 10 crore for the establishment of apparel parks in various states.

The apparel park would have a research and development college that would cost about Rs 2 crore. An exhibition hall and a common effluent treatment plant would cost around Rs 5 crore.

Ludhiana exports knitwear and hosiery goods worth over Rs 1,200 crore every year to various countries and the establishment of the park would help in further promoting the exports.

An endorsement for the establishment of the park would be needed from the Punjab Government and various departments, including the Industry Pollution Control Board, PUDA, Irrigation and the Municipal Corporation.

Meanwhile the FEKTA will organise a three-day exhibition known as ‘Knit Access’ from March 8 to 10 at Hotel Gulmohar here to acquaint the hosiery Industrialists with the latest innovations in the field knitwear yarns.

According to Mr Vinod Thapar representatives of all leading manufacturers of knitwear yarns and fabric, including Vardhman, Malwa, Nahar and Reliance would participate in the exhibition.

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