Friday, April 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ugly scenes at Bar general house
Tribune News Service

Mr Harish Dhanda, president of the District Bar Association
Mr Harish Dhanda, president of the District Bar Association, addresses the general house. — Photo Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, April 24
Ugly scenes, hooliganism and violence were witnessed at a meeting of the general house of the District Bar Association (DBA) held in the Bar room of the old courts complex here where the dissidence of two factions came to the fore.

Allegations and counter-allegations flowed freely over the withdrawal of voting rights to lawyers belonging to others cities, who were given this right when they had no Bar Association in their cities.

The meeting was adjourned by the president of the DBA after a chaotic situation developed due to violence. Some Press photographers were also manhandled when they tried to click photographs of the ruckus at the meeting.

While a faction led by Mr Sandeep Kapoor, joint secretary of the DBA, supported by the Young Lawyers' Association, claimed that the right to vote to outsiders should be withdrawn, the other faction led by Mr Harish Dhanda, president of the DBA, stated otherwise.

While Mr Kapoor claimed that the right was withdrawn in a general house meeting on April 16 under the chairmanship of Mr K.K. Jain, a senior lawyer, as per the provisions of the constitution of the DBA, Mr Dhanda said the meeting could not be recognised as it was held in his absence when he was away to Delhi to attend a function.

Mr Dhanda claimed that the other faction had even released minutes of the meeting on their own.

Mr Kapoor said around 250 members of the DBA had given representation to the president of the DBA to withdraw the voting rights of some lawyers and it was the duty of the president of DBA to call a general house within 48 hours as per the provisions of the constitution of the DBA.

But Mr Dhanda had failed to do so. So, he, along with other members, arranged for a General House meeting.

Mr Dhanda said he had called a meeting of the DBA executive in which he had invited Mr Kapoor. He claimed that at that time Mr Kapoor had expressed satisfaction over the issue.

However, Mr Kapoor has denied this claim.

Meanwhile, Mr Dhanda has expressed despair over the ruckus that had been created in the meeting.



Tribune lensman manhandled
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
Ludhiana Tribune lensman Inderjit Verma was manhandled by lawyers at the general house meeting of the DBA. Some lawyers abused the lensman and manhandled him while he was clicking photographs of the ruckus created by the lawyers at the meeting over the issue of voting rights.

His camera was also snatched and partially damaged. They demanded the negatives of the photographs from him failing which they threw his camera.

Meanwhile, the District Journalists Association has condemned the incident. Stating that it was an attack on the freedom of Press, Mr Virender Parmod, president of the association, said they would boycott the district Bar association unless a written apology was tendered to the Tribune lensman and compensation paid for the damage.



Tehelka-type expose rocks city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
The expose of a police-criminal nexus in Ludhiana through a video-cassette and VCDs prepared secretly by two alleged gamblers has rocked the city.
While police officials were huddled in the district police head office to take stock of the situation and initiate damage-control exercises, anxious residents of the city called up mediapersons to know more details about the disclosures.

The police launched a massive exercise to unearth the past criminal record of Subash Katty and Bittu Chawla, who had got the video-cassette and VCDs prepared. The camera used for the purpose was hidden in a flowerpot placed at a strategic spot in the single-room Santosh Agency of Katty situated near Shingar Cinema here.

Police sources said as many as 17 cases registered against Katty and Chawla at different police stations in the city had come to light. A list of the cases was being prepared, they added.

The police also summoned a number of persons who were either fighting cases against these two or had lodged complaints against them in the past. Sources said a number of murder cases, involving Bittu Chawla or Subash Katty, were being reopened and investigations launched under the new light.

A number of police officials called up Ludhiana Tribune to present their side of the story. They claimed that Katty was blackmailing them and when they did not succumb to his designs he took this step. Some cops, whose names had figured in the video-cassette, said their juniors might have taken money in their name, but they were not involved in the case in any manner.

There was a widespread panic among police personnel. Many cops called up mediapersons to verify if their names figured in the scandal or not.

Subash Katty and Bittu Chawla said they had given lakhs of rupees to cops in the past 10 years and now they were so fed up with the lifestyle that they decided to teach these cops a lesson. They said the cops used to take money from them on weekly and monthly basis.



Sarpanches rue communication gap
Ban on use of straw reapers 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
The orders of the District Magistrate imposing a ban on the use of straw reapers have been rendered in fructuous owing to communication gap between the farmers and the district administration.

While, on April 17, the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Agarwal, had passed the orders banning the use of straw reaper, a machine that poses a threat of fire to the standing wheat crop as it produces sparks, the orders have failed to reach village sarpanches in the district.

Enquiries by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that no sarpanch or patwari of any village had received any intimation about the ban thus they could not direct farmers to follow the orders. Sarpanches of various villages said they would have spared no effort to implement the orders had they been intimated about these.

The ban on the use of straw reapers ends tomorrow.

Mr Rajinder Singh Miani, sarpanch of Miani village in Bet area, expressed ignorance about the orders. Mr Rajinder Singh, who is also the president of the Sarpanches Association that represents 70 villages in the district, said the news about the orders was broken to him by this correspondent.

He said he had convened a meeting of all sarpanches and it was decided that they would be sending a representation to the District Magistrate to make sure that all such orders reached the farmers.

He said sometimes such orders did not reach the villagers due to several reasons. He said the Health Department always conveyed them about the pulse polio camp and they made sure that the message reached to every villager.

‘‘I myself have been doing it. Whenever there is a pulse polio camp, I direct some persons to keep making announcements at regular intervals.

We even visit people’s houses. Similarly, if it is conveyed to us that a machine is not to be used till a particular date, we can personally go to the farmer using the machine and stop him from doing so,” he said.

Meanwhile, an official of the district administration said the orders passed by the District Magistrate were sent to the heads of various departments.



Assets case against Inspector
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
The Vigilance Bureau has booked Inspector Paramjit Singh, a former SHO, Sadar police station, Ludhiana, on charges of amassing huge property and wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

This is the fresh case against the police official, who was booked last week on charges of manhandling a DSP and obstructing him in the course of his duty while he was conducting a raid on the house of a government doctor.

In a press note issued here this evening, Mr A.P. Pandey, Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, said Paramjit Singh offended the raiding party of the bureau on April 18, which was going to arrest Dr Amarjit Singh Grewal. The raid was conducted on the Ghumar Mandi residence of the doctor. He was posted at Government Hospital, Mehsanpur.

The bureau team was informed that Dr Grewal was running his clinic at Ghumar Mandi, thus violating the Civil Service rules.

The note said on the day of the raid, Parmjit Singh reached the spot and prevented the team for conducting the search of the house of Dr Grewal. A case under Sections 186, 332, 333, 353 and 220, IPC, was registered.

During the search, LIC policies, UTI bonds and NSCs were found in the name of Parmjit Singh and his family members amounting to Rs 4.41 lakh.

The vigilance chief said several documents relating to moveable and immovable properties were seized in his name and his family amounting to Rs 61.51 lakh. He further added that Parmjit Singh had a Gypsy, costing Rs 2.50 lakh, registered in his name.

He built a palatial house on a plot measuring 315 sq yards in Ghumar Mandi during 1994-98 at a cost of Rs 40 lakh. He bought this plot in 1992 at a cost of Rs 1,41,750 and another plot of one canal, two marla in Gobindgarh village costing Rs 1.76 lakh. The Inspector purchased another flat in the Improvement Trust, Amritsar, at a cost of Rs 10.50 lakh in the year 2001 and another plot measuring 500 sq yards at a cost of Rs 1.12 lakh in the name of his wife, Sukhjit Kaur. He purchased a ‘benami’ piece of land measuring one canal and 11 marlas at Gobindgarh village in Ludhiana district in 1999 at a cost of Rs 80,000.

Mr Pandey stated that the Inspector had been booked various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.



Encroachments galore in city parks
Disbanding of cell in MC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
With the disbanding of the park cell in the Municipal Corporation long time ago and the park management committees (PMCs), which were entrusted with the upkeep of the parks, also going defunct, more than 500 parks in different city localities have become nobody’s baby. The scene is no better in the colonies being maintained by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT).

The situation has gone from bad to worse over a period of time, and many of the parks have been literally converted into garbage dumps.

Going around city localities, it is a common sight to come across a number of parks which have a portion occupied either by jhuggis or the park being utilised by those living around for commercial purposes. In the industrial belt, including the Focal Point area, many units have been using stretches of green belt to dump raw material and building material in case some construction work is going on. “The enormity of the misuse of parks is so large that some places under illegal occupation no longer look like the places these are meant to be,” said a dejected resident of the Dugri Urban Estate.

Such encroachments exist on vast stretches of green belts in Rishi Nagar, Kitchlu Nagar, Kidwai Nagar, Miller Ganj, Model Town Extension, Green Field and many other localities.

Taking advantage of the prevailing situation, a number of residents in the Green Field colony on the Pakhowal road saw nothing wrong in making use of a big park as their own backyard. The residents, who have pulled down the boundary wall of the park more than once, opened up additional entry points to their houses from within the park and the public place is being used for every conceivable domestic purpose, besides throwing of garbage and disposal of waste water from adjoining houses.

An affected resident, Mr Vineet Monga, said the matter was brought to the notice of the MC Zonal Commissioner and other civic officials along with documentary proof in the form of photographs but no action had been taken so far against the guilty persons. Residents in many colonies said they would take up the matter of encroachments and steps for the proper maintenance of perks with the civic officials and the respective area councillors. “In the absence of positive response within a reasonable period, representative bodies of the city residents may knock at the door of judiciary, seeking directions to the MC and LIT to discharge their responsibility,” remarked office-bearers of residents welfare associations of some colonies.



Encroachment by hotel owner to be probed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau has initiated an inquiry into allegations of encroachment on government property by a hotel owner on the Ludhiana-Ferozepure road.

The inquiry has been launched to look specifically into allegations that the local Municipal Corporation had carried out selective demolitions on a portion of Hotel Batra that was built on an encroached piece of government land.

Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu (SSP), Vigilance, confirmed to TNS that the inquiry had been launched. He said the complainants name could not be disclosed at this juncture. He said some MC officials would also be questioned in this regard, besides the hotel owner.



‘Punjab not equipped to face SARS threat’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
Punjab, which boasts of the highest number of expatriates, is totally unprepared to handle severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that has a high probability of reaching the state through these non-resident Indians (NRIs). Over 10,000 persons arrive or leave the state daily and a majority of them are from Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts.

The Director Health Services, Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, has confirmed that the state is ill-equipped to handle any case of SARS in the absence of test kits. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune on telephone, he said,“We have prepared isolation wards in every district, but we are still not in a position to test and diagnose cases of SARS as we have no test kits. The Civil Surgeons of all districts have been issued guidelines to deal with the cases of SARS.”

Most of the local hospitals are also ill-equipped to deal with SARS threat. One of the doctors at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital said the hospital authorities had made provisions for isolation wards, but test kits were not available. “If any SARS case is reported, the authorities will have no other option but to send the samples to Virology Laboratory, Pune. Of course, it will take time to get the results,” he said. One of the doctors at Christian Medical College and Hospital said the hospital had not even made any arrangements for an isolation ward. “The hospital has provisions for conducting bacterial tests, but no kit is available to test SARS infection,” said the doctor.

A large number of Punjabis are settled in Canada and other South-East Asian Countries which are highly affected. More than 13 deaths have been reported from Canada so far, whereas, in China, more than 106 people have lost their lives due to the killer pneumonia.

Mr Santokh Singh, an NRI, who arrived here recently from Malaysia, said,“It is shocking that the tall claims of the Central Government regarding screening of each foreigner at the international airports remain on papers only. I was never screened anywhere by the authorities.”

Meanwhile, Dr S.N. Tiwari, Civil Surgeon, claimed that the department was ready to face the SARS threat.



Yuvraj Dada Sutlej Club general secretary 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
Mr Yuvraj Dada has been named the new general secretary of Sutlej Club by the president, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner. Mr Dada replaces Mr Sunil Jain, who was suspended last week on the charges of “indiscipline and misconduct” by the president.

Confirming the new appointment, Mr Anurag Aggarwal said that Mr Dada would hold the charge till March 31, 2004 when the present term of the executive committee expires.

It is learnt that Mr Yuvraj Dada had convened an informal meeting of the executive committee members here which was well attended by all office-bearers. The executive committee members and office-bearers have welcomed the appointment of Mr Dada.

Meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that some mediators had arranged a meeting of Mr Sunil Jain and some of the Congress leaders with Mr B.I.S.Chahal, media adviser, Punjab government, today at Chandigarh where a compromising formula is being worked out in which Mr Jain would withdraw his complaint from a local court and the Deputy Commissioner in return would restore Mr Sunil Jain's club membership.

Meanwhile, Lt Col (retd) Chanan Singh Dhillon, and some other members of the club, have said that the demand of seeking removal of ex-officio president was being resented not only by the officers of the defence forces but also the officers of the civilian cadre who had nursed the institution over many decades. He said that the club, known to be an epicenter of etiquette and social behaviour, had been highjacked by aggressive commercial culture since its membership had been opened to all who were prepared to pay the entry fee as demanded by the club management. 



Akalis condemn unity move of Badal, Tohra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
Cutting across party lines, senior Akalis have condemned the purported unity move between the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the SHSAD chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and said the unity should be among the entire community and not two individuals alone. They also flayed the recent utterances of the Akali Dal (A) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, wherein he had dubbed them as Congress agents.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a former SGPC chief, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, a former Speaker, Mr Jasbir Singh Rode of the Panthic Morcha and Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, chief of the SAD (Democratic), alleged that they were not against unity among the Akali forces but were against the unity which was reportedly being brought about by two individuals for their personal and political gains.

“We have asked Mr Tohra about the move and he has dismissed them as media speculations and stories planted by people with vested interests. We have great faith in the capabilities of a leader of a stature like Mr Tohra and would again meet him in the next couple of days to seek his views in this context again”, they added.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh said they had been stumped with the news about the move since Mr Tohra had made an ‘ardas’ at Akal Takht about not having any ties in the future with Mr Badal in the presence of a large gathering of people, besides Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, Mr Rode and himself.

Replying to a query, he said Mr Tohra was well versed with the ‘maryada’ of the Sikhs and would surely not take an ‘ardas’ performed at the highest temporal seat of the community so lightly. “If he goes ahead with the unity move, then we will be forced to take the issue before the people and make them aware about the character of their leaders”, he added.

Mr Wadala reiterated that they were for unity but not for a unity where the SAD with its rich history of struggles and sacrifices would be led by an unprincipled person like Mr Badal.

He had done more harm to the Sikh community. During his regime, ‘dera culture received a fillip and all anti-Sikh forces were allowed a free run in Punjab, he added.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh said Mr Badal had become superstitious and started taking the advice of astrologers.

Fielding a question about his secret parleys with Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Talwandi said there were all rumours which were being spread to ruin his reputation.

The leaders also denied that they had been pressurised by the Congress to launch an attack on Mr Badal and Mr Tohra.



BJP flays move on casinos
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The BJP has condemned the move of the Punjab Government to set up casinos in the state. The state general secretary of the party, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, criticised the decision on ethical, moral, economic and social ground. He ridiculed the Congress government on the plea that the casino culture would neither encourage tourism nor add much to the state exchequer. The enhanced revenue, as visualised by the Chief Minister by ill-gotten means, would be a matter of shame for the Congress leadership. Mr Bhandari remarked that the casino project reflected the bankruptcy of the Congress thinking.

“In fact, the casino culture envisaged by the government is aimed at diverting the attention of the Punjabis, particularly the youth, from the real issues. Drug addiction is already effecting the youth and now the malaise of casino will further impede their tirade against varied social evils. He called upon all political parties, socio-religious organisations, NGOs and intellectuals to oppose the move.



Recalling Balwant Gargi’s visit

WHEN a prominent person goes from this world, he becomes the history of the land. The moments spent with him stand out like crags in the sea of time. One recalls the warm handshake with him and the cosiness of the cup of hot tea shared with him. It so happened when Balwant Gargi visited the city to deliver a lecture to the Rotarians at the Rotary Bhawan. In the beginning, while exchanging pleasantries with the members in the chamber, he appeared to be ill at ease.

I stepped forward and introduced myself to Balwant Gargi. We were meeting after a pretty long time. He at once recalled my earlier meetings with him in Shimla, Chandigarh and Patiala. Even in the fifties I had met him in Amritsar when he was with Prof. Mohan Singh at a meeting of Lok Likhari Sabha. At that time I had found him a man of few words. Even now he seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. I tried to bring him out of his reverie by talking about his latest work. He listened to what I said with rapt attention, while a faint smile flickered on his lips. He warmed up in no time and then took keen notice of the other people around him.

So the Fellowship period was well spent in the company of Balwant Gargi over a cup of tea. In the lecture-hall he groped for a while for the subject of his talk. Then he settled down on his growth as a writer. The audience was spell-bound for more than an hour when the great dramatist traced his boyhood days in Bathinda, early youth in Lahore, youth in Delhi and manhood in USA and Chandigarh. The later years of his life were spent alternately in Delhi and Bombay. He spoke so well and so engagingly that the audience was a bit startled when he said, “I am now 75 years old.” He did not at all appear to be that old as he was quite jovial and spirited in his speech.

It is difficult to categorise him as a dramatist only as he was a good story-teller, a versatile delineator of pen-portraits of his contemporary writers and a renowned critic of Indian theatre. His novel ‘Kakka Reta’ (The golden sands) has a unique place in Punjabi fiction. He could start his career as a college lecturer after his M.A. in English at F.C. College, Lahore, but he preferred to be a free-lancer for a long time to come. Much later he taught Indian theatre at the University of Washington, from where he returned with his bride, Jeanie.

Later he established the Department of Indian Theatre at Panjab University, Chandigarh and produced memorable plays on the campus. His autobiography, The Purple Moonlight is read more like a novel than the account of his life. His loss to Punjabi literature cannot of course be recounted in words.

N.S. Tasneem



Much needs to be done at railway station
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 24
More than 50,000 passengers alight or board trains at the Ludhiana railway station every day. At the car park only, urinals emit a terrible stench. Truck, tempo and taxi operators’ unions are providing cold water from 7 am to 7 pm at the entrance to quench the thirst of people. Water is stored in huge tubs which get empty every 10 minutes. While one tub is covered with cloth, the other one is without a cover but, nonetheless, thirsty commuters drink that water without caring whether the ice used is made of safe water or not. Since the harvesting is over, labourers from UP and Bihar are leaving Ludhiana. One can see dozens of them sitting on bedsheets spread outside the hall that leads to the station.

“Welcome to the Ludhiana railway station,” says a hoarding. Hundreds of passengers are waiting endlessly for the trains that never seem to run on time. The tiles of the floors are broken. Torn papers and fruit peels abound everywhere. The passengers, oblivious of the flies and heat, are waiting patiently for the trains to arrive.

One pleasant change that is noticed is that the railway tracks of the VIP platform No.1 are clean and have no rubbish littered around. The Station Superintendent, Mr Ashok Kumar, has brought certain measures of cleanliness. He said: “We get the platform No.1 washed daily whereas the other platforms are washed on alternate days.

The contract for collecting rubbish has been given to a private contractor. He collects the garbage four times a day. We are trying to provide chilled water to commuters through the overhead pipes that come from a water chilling plant. It is managed by a private contractor, and if water supply fails, he is answerable.”

But according to some union members, the water chilling plant was installed 20 years ago and was not very dependable. Similarly, the contract of pest control was also given to a private contractor, but he has hardly made an appearance. Hence the platforms are plagued with flies and mosquitoes.

Mr Ashok Kumar feels that taps provided are enough but one wonders if for 50,000 commuters those 20 to 30 taps are enough. Similarly, there is shortage of toilets.

There is only one general toilet for both ladies and gents in the waiting room. Mr Ashok Kumar says the toilets are cleaned after every 2 hours. Even the platforms are swept every two hours. Yet they are littered with papers.

He says: “People also have to co-operate. They keep spitting everywhere. They blow their noses and throw the discharge on the floors. We have a machine that scrubs the floors and removes the ‘paan stained’ floors, but the people also have to cooperate and be basically civic minded.

The people keep littering the platforms. In spite of our regular announcements and boards telling the commuters to maintain cleanliness, the people are least bothered. Moreover, to leave one person, a large number of persons come to see him off, causing unnecessary congestion on the platforms.”

Another member the union, on condition of anonymity, said that the number of safai karamcharis is only 35 for eight platforms. Out of these, some are on rest while others are absent. So the workers present are not more than 25 each day. But Ludhianvis can hope for better facilities as new toilets and bathrooms on the basis of ‘pay and use’ are being constructed.



Dalits protest against remarks on Mayawati
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
Taking strong exception to derogatory remarks made by Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mr Amar Singh, against Ms Mayawati during their visit to the city on April 14, activists of several Dalit organisations today held a demonstration against the SP leaders, demanding stern action for defaming a Dalit woman Chief Minister.

Activists of the District Valmiki Sabha led the rally. A large number of workers of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bahujan Mazdoor Federation and Ambedkar Yuva Chetna Manch marched from Deepak Cinema road to Clock Tower chowk where effigies of the SP leaders were burnt.

Mr D.P. Khosla, senior vice-president of the BSP, said the SP leaders, including its President Mulayam Singh, were frustrated over mass support to development works being undertaken by Ms Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh.

"The derogatory and abusive language used by them against a Dalit woman Chief Minister shows that these leaders have lost their mental balance", he said.

The chief of the District Valmiki Sabha, Mr Babu Ram Nahar, and other speakers said while the Dalit community was fully prepared to give befitting reply to the tactics of the SP functionaries, total inaction on part of the government had also proved that it was anti-Dalit.

The BSP activists, Mr Om Parkash Chauhan and Mr Gurdial Chand, said the National Women Commission and the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had also been apprised of the situation.

Among those who attended the rally were Mr Hans Raj, Mr Ram Chander Yadav, Ms Kashmir Kaur, all councillors, Mr Ashok Kumar, a former councillor, Mr Jai Pal, Mr Manoj Bagga, Mr Jang Bahadur, Mr Baljit Singh Babbu, Mr Vijay Manchanda, Mr Kishan Lal Bhagnia, Mr Vijay Sahota, Mr Sat Pal, Mr Sooraj Moong, Mr Rakesh Ghai, Mr Avtar Singh Kamboj, Mr Chamkaur Singh Baghi, Ms kashmir Kaur, Ms Leela Wati, Ms Poonam Khosla, Ms Sujata Bangar and Ms Surjit Kaur.



Pensioners hail DA release
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
The Government Pensioners Association has welcomed the release of three per cent additional dearness allowance from January by the Punjab Government for its employees and pensioners.

According to Mr Yash Pal Ghai, its additional general secretary, in a communication sent to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has pointed out that the former MLAs drawing pension in Punjab had been allowed old-age allowance at the rate of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent of their basic pension on attaining the age of 65, 75 and 80, respectively. However, the Punjab Government pensioners were given this benefit only at two ages of 65 and 75. Even the Third Pay Commission had recommended a third stage. Yet they had all along been denied the benefit of the third stage which was unfair and discriminatory.

The association had urged the Punjab Government to extend the benefit to the government pensioners as well at the age of 80.



CII explores business prospects in Sharjah
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
Recognising challenges faced by private enterprises, Sharjah Airport International Free Zone (SAIF-Zone) has been set up to promote and enhance business in an atmosphere free of regulations and red-tape. Perfectly positioned, accessible through both the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean and the unbeatable logistical advantage of the ‘Sharjah Link’ makes the SAIF-Zone an ideal business hub.

This was stated by the Deputy Director-General, Sheikh Shaqir bin Rashid Al Qassemi, while addressing a seminar organised by the CII on Business Opportunities in SAIF-Zone, Sharjah, here recently.

With the modernisation of communications technology and the emergence of global trade blocks, business today has to be highly cohesive, he said.

Some of the Indian companies which have set up base in the SAIF- Zone include Infosys Technology Ltd, Godrej, Global Middle East, Zee Telefilms, DHL Worldwide Express, ICICI Infotech, Ashok Leyland and India Today Group.

The SAIF delegation members present at the seminar included Mr Ashok Verma, Commercial Director, Mr Humaid Al Khartri, Senior Sales Officer, and Mr Raghunandan Menon, Head of Marketing. The free zone management was keen to develop contacts with Indian businessmen wishing to seek opportunities in new and fast developing consumer markets. The delegation members will be visiting Delhi and Mumbai in the coming weeks.

Earlier, welcoming the participants, Mr S. K. Rai, Chairman, CII, and Punjab State Council and Managing Director (Works ), Hero Cycles Ltd, stated the seminar was part of the confederation’s initiative to strengthen economic and industrial cooperation in the Gulf region.

The CII was working in collaboration with the SAIF-Zone and had entered into an MoU with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he added. Over 100 delegates of industries in the region attended the seminar.



Vardhman clarifies stand on excise duty
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 24
Vardhman Spinning and General Mills today clarified that Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman, Vardhman Group of Industries, and his organisation had no role in imposing the Central excise duty on textile products as alleged by certain knitters and garment manufacturers.

Mr V.K. Goyal, Chief Executive and Mr D.L. Sharma, President and Executive Director, Vardhman Spinning and General Mills, in a joint statement said Mr Oswal had not played any role in his individual capacity in this regard.

“Whatever views have been expressed by Mr Oswal have been in capacity as an office-bearer of the CII, which is an institution of national repute. The views expressed by him are collective views of the CII and not Mr Oswal as an individual”, said Mr Goyal.

The members said in a section of the media, it was reported that Mr Oswal had got the Central excise duty imposed on all products in the entire textile chain. “We are unable to understand as to how an individual can influence the government. Mr Oswal represented the CII on the steering committee on ‘Growth and Investment in Textiles’ under the chairmanship of Mr N.K. Singh, member, Planning Commission, Government of India”, said Mr Sharma.

The steering committee consisted of 10 members, including Secretary, Revenue, Secretary, Textiles, Secretary, Chemical and Fertilisers, Director-General of Foreign Trade and representatives of the CII, FICCI and ICMF.



Frequent steel price hike irks industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 24
Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan and Mr Avtar Singh, president and general secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), respectively, have condemned the alleged indifference of the Union Steel Ministry over the ‘frequent and arbitrary hike’ in the prices of iron and steel products, including HR coils and CR coils, MS round and sheets, during the past one year.

They said the steep hike to the tune of Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per metric tonne, as compared to January 2002 had shattered the production and supply plan of the cycle and auto industry. Allied engineering industries had been also affected, they added.

They said the CICU had repeatedly urged the Union Ministry of Steel, the Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry to intervene into the matter so as to keep control on the frequent hikes effected by the major manufacturers in India like SAIL, Tata Steel and ESSR.

They said the prices of steel products like HR coils had seen a decreasing trend in the global market, but the prices of such steel items were still increasing in India. This had created panic in the engineering industry of the state, they added.

Mr Pardhan said the Central Government should rise to the occasion to protect the engineering industry of the state, including cycle industry, by controlling frequent hike in the prices of iron and steel products.


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