Wednesday, June 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Burglary at ex-MP’s house
Valuables worth Rs 7 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
The house of an Akali leader and former Member of Parliament, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bulara, was burgled by four robbers, including a cook, at Jugiana village, near Sahnewal, on the intervening night of June 21 and 22. The burglars committed the crime by drugging three servants present in the house.

Only servants were present in the house at the time of the crime, as Ms Bulara and her family members were away to Kasauli. The robbers also drugged a German Shepherd dog owned by the family.

The burglary came to light late last night when Ms Bulara returned home. The doors of the rooms of the house were found open and ransacked with valuables missing. The servants were living in servants’ quarters. They revealed that they had an unusually long sleep till late Saturday morning but never realised that the house had been burgled. They also said the cook had been missing since the night of the burglary.

The Focal Point police has registered a case against the cook, identified as Krishan Bahadur hailing from Nepal. He had earlier worked in some hotels in Chandigarh.

The outer doors of the house were found locked, while the locks of the inside doors were found broken. According to Mr Pawanpreet Singh, son of Ms Bulara: “When I tried to open the door of the lobby from outside, I found it bolted from inside. We broke into our own house. The house was completely ransacked. The store was in a state of complete mess. We have been robbed of jewellery and other valuables.”

The family had gone to Kasauli on Thursday leaving behind four servants, out of which three of them have been with them for some years. The fourth, Krishan Bahadur, had joined recently.

The three servants, Joginder, Ram Chand and Sukhwinder Singh, said: “Krishan Bahadur had gone to watch a movie last Friday. He returned with four persons. He then prepared a dish for us, which we ate and slept till late in the morning. He was in the house at that time. He told us that he was going to Sahnewal for shopping and would return soon. But he never returned.”

They did not suspect his intentions and learnt about the burglary only at the arrival of the family members.

Police sources said the accused might have mixed some intoxicant in the dish. The burglars entered the lobby through the service window of the kitchen, broke the lock of the bedroom door, entered the store and took away gold jewellery, diamond bangles, rings, ear-rings and watches, estimated at Rs 7 lakh. They also tried to pry open an almirah but failed and could not take away the cash lying in the safe. The dog was also intoxicated by the burglars.

Krishan Bahadur had joined them about three months ago. He had earlier worked at KC Mezban Hotel, Chandigarh, and another hotel in Mani Majra. He had also claimed to have worked at the house of Mr Kamal Chaudhary, former Member Parliament from Hoshiarpur, some years ago.

Ms Rajinder Kaur Bulara claimed that the incident was part of a conspiracy. She said: “The servant had been intentionally planted in my house.” She said she had been receiving threat calls for some time. She had met the DIG, DGP, ADGP, Security, IG, Police, IG Security and SSP, Ludhiana, in this regard but to no avail.



Garcha’s appointment creates ripples
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
The appointment of Mr Ashok Garcha as Chairman of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust has created ripples within the local Congress. A number of Congress leaders had been vying for this post ever since the Congress government took over in Punjab and the previous Chairman, Mr M.M. Vyas, resigned from this post.

What has taken most of the local Congress leaders by surprise is the fact that Mr Garcha, although considered to be an honest person, was never politically as active as others who were in the race. Moreover, most of them claimed too much proximity to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. These leaders feel that Mr Garcha was far too junior and ‘politically inactive’ and had never worked for the party.

However, there is a general feeling among the workers that Mr Garcha has clean credentials and is well educated. Besides, he is also young and the Chief Minister might have a lot of expectations from him. “That is why he was selectively picked up for this important job,” said a senior vice-president of the Pradesh Youth Congress, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka.

The appointment has come as a shock to the official group, so far considered to be loyal to Capt Amarinder Singh. The group was led by the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, and comprised MLAs, Mr Surinder Dawer and former District presidents of Ludhiana, Rural and Urban, Mr K.K. Bawa and Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran.

Mr Garcha is also a rival of Mr Gill in his Assembly segment, Ludhiana Rural. In fact, he had posed a tough challenge to Mr Gill during the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2002.

It was reportedly at his behest that Capt Amarinder, who was the Pradesh Congress Committee President at that time, cancelled a public rally at Sahnewal which was organised by Mr Gill.

It was for the rivalry between the two that Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi won the Ludhiana Rural seat.

Since Mr Gill became the Mayor, Mr Garcha reportedly started lobbying for some equal disposition in order to ensure that he does not go down in the political equations within the party.

Mr Garcha’s appointment has once again brought him in the political limelight as he had been pushed to oblivion for all these years.

Mr Garcha is the son of Mr Devinder Singh Garcha, who has served as an MP. Mr Devinder Garcha was an influential Congress leader till Operation Bluestar, but had parted ways with the party after the Army entered the Golden Temple. He later joined the Congress and also defeated Mr Beant Singh from the Payal segment in the 1985 Assembly elections, while contesting on Akali ticket.

Mr Ashok Garcha’s strong political pedigree will certainly help him to assume limelight in the district Congress which his father used to enjoy earlier.



BKU to fight for farmers’ rights
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Calling the decision of the Union government to freeze the minimum support price (MSP) of various crops as ‘‘anti-farmer’’, the Bharti Kisan Union, Punjab, today announced that it would launch a protest against the same in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the organisation, said the union had invited a delegation at Gurdwara Anandpur Sahib to chalk out a programme for initiating the agitation.

He said the government was asking farmers to diversify, but it had frozen the MSP of sugarcane four years ago, although sugarcane was proving to be a good crop in terms of diversification.

He said the farmers were already debt-ridden and they were getting no returns out of their crops. The high rates of interests charged by cooperatives and banks were forcing them to fall in the trap of loan sharks.

Prof. Manjit Singh Qadian, secretary-general of the BKU, said the farmers were spending huge amounts on agricultural inputs while they were not earning enough. He said a number of farmers had already committed suicides in the country and if the scenario did not change more such cases were likely.

He said debt-ridden farmers were forced to sell their land at throw-away prices and the day was not bar when most rural Punjabis would become unemployed.

He warned the government of dire consequences if it failed to do anything for the farmers.

He said in order to help the farmers tide over the crisis, the BKU had decided to launch an agitation to wake up the government. 



Youth drowned in Sutlej
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Two days after a 18-year-old-boy of the local Aman Nagar area drowned in the Sutlej, his body was retrieved by divers near Phillaur today.
Jagdish Bahadur, a son of a migrant from UP had gone to attend a fair on a samadh on Sunday morning along with six other boys. From there he had gone to take a dip in the Sutlej. He had been missing since then although his companions knew that he had drowned.

His drowning came to light only yesterday, when one of his friends, Sunny could not hide the accident from his father. He was not able to sleep that night and finally told his father that Jagdish was carried away by a water current. The information by the boy made the parents of Jagdish panicky and the search for the body began. It took more than 24 hours for the divers to find the body.

According to Sunny, when all of them were bathing, Jagdish was caught by a fast current of water. His companions tried to rescue him but in vain. When the boy became invisible his friends, scared of the accident, came out of river and decided that they would not tell anybody. Barring Sunny nobody told about the incident to anybody.

Mr Ram Sarup, Jagdish’s father said they had been looking for the boy everywhere. They checked up with his friends also but everybody said that he was not with him. “Had the boys raised the alarm at that time, maybe we could have done something and saved him. I don’t know what prompted them to act in this manner.” said his father.

The boy had returned from UP a few days ago after six months. His father said the boy did not know how to swim and had never gone to the river before. He added that the family only knew that he had gone to attend the fair.



Suicides on the rise in city
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, June 24
Unsuccessful love affairs, failure to repay loans, academic competition, peer pressure and easy availability of drugs have led to a sharp rise in suicides in the city over the past two years. The increase in the number of reported cases of suicides or attempts in the district has assumed alarming proportions, but at the same time several cases go unreported as families fear police harassment.

Ludhiana, which is fast emerging as a metropolitan city, has also brought the problems and pressures on its residents akin to those in big cities. What has complicated matters is the ever-increasing materialism associated with the free-flowing cash in the city. According to experts, the aspirations of people do not keep pace with reality, forcing them into a deep depression and subsequently, the extreme step of ending their lives.

According to data available on suicides with the office of the Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, 1,340 post-mortem examinations were conducted at Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital in 2001, of which 148 were cases of death due to poisoning. Most of the deceased were in the age group of 16 to 35 years. Men outnumbered women among those who took such a drastic step.

On the other hand, last year saw 1,322 post-mortem examinations in the same hospital, of which there were 133 cases of poisoning. Hospital officials admit that these figures do not depict the reality as many cases go unreported.

The cases of suicides in the city belie the claims that most suicides in the state are committed by farmers in debt. While the number of farmers whose bodies are brought here for a post-mortem examination can be counted on your fingers, it is people committing suicide for other reasons who comprise a majority of the victims. Economic reasons apart, social, physical or psychological problems force many people to take such an extreme step.

Dr R.L.Narang, former Professor and Head, Department of Psychiatry, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said, “The number of cases of suicide that are reported has increased as the authorities have now become more vigilant. The second reason could be the materialistic approach adopted by the youth. The younger generation wants to achieve everything in a hurry. The desire for material goods is gradually increasing and people become severely depressed if they fail to get what they desire.”

Dr Rajiv Gupta, a psychiatrist, says that a large number of suicide attempts among youngsters are reported due to unsuccessful love affairs, drug addiction, multiple pressures (academic, peer group, etc.) or undiagnosed depression. Another reason for suicidal tendencies is the communication gap among parents and children. “Youngsters are often reluctant to share their feelings with parents. Moreover, parents hardly notice any change in the behaviour of their wards because they have busy schedules,” he said.




FOR all those who thought that all incoming calls on the mobile phone were free may be in for a shock if they happen to travel beyond their local network. All incoming calls while a subscriber is in a roaming network are charged. They are not only charged, but heavily charged. Some subscribers have complained that they were shocked to see hefty bills from Spice, even though the company claims that it has alliance partners in other states, giving the impression that similar rules will apply to incoming and outgoing calls in the roaming network.

Auspicious cat

Indian mythology may not consider a cat to be a very auspicious animal, but for some animal lovers life in any form is valuable. Our lens man came across one such tea-stall owner, who not only nurtured a sick cat back to health, but also adopted it as a pet. Now the cat not only stays with the vendor, but keeps a check on the mice population at the stall.

Police transparency

Transparency is back in police functioning. The new SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, has restarted the system of daily briefing of the mediapersons. The system was abandoned two years ago. On earlier orders from the top the mediapersons had a torrid time in getting news or confirming some incident. SP(D) Gurpreet Singh has been designated as the Press liaison officer and would be available to the mediapersons from 3a.m. to 3.30p.m.

Tipsy cop

A gazetted police officer here created quite a furore in the police control room at the Police Lines here. He went to the control room in an inebriated state at midnight and started abusing those present there. The scene was prevented from taking an ugly turn with the intervention of some policemen present there.

Poles pose threat

Electric poles in the middle of many roads in the city pose a threat to the commuters on the road. Many accidents have taken place due to these poles. As the municipal corporation will have to pay a price to the Punjab State Electricity Board to shift it, the authorities concerned prefer to look on the other side. The other day a college girl on a scooter hit a pole in the middle of the road opposite Malhar cinema. Thankfully she was wearing a helmet and did not receive a serious injury.

River pollution

Superstitions are causing much harm to various canals and the Sutlej. Almost after every half an hour a person being affected by the position of planets reaches the water bodies and drops things as a solution to his problems. Most of the people throw lead to ward off something evil, little realising that lead is toxic. As the canal water is used for irrigating it can harm humans and animals. So wake up Ludhianvis!

Who cares

Even after two teenager boys drowned in canals near the city the tragedy has failed to dither scores of boys from taking a dip in the cool waters to beat the heat. Although the Irrigation Department has put up a warning, but who cares.

Pamphlet menace

Even as the local pullouts of all major newspapers are offering advertisement space at throwaway prices, the printing houses dealing in advertising products through pamphlets are doing a roaring business. Advertising through pamphlets in a specific area seems to be very popular gauging by the high number of pamphlets or leaflets one gets daily. The only problem is that these pamphlets litter houses and driveways. One such harassed reader called up The Tribune office demanding a ban on these.

Concrete pavement

More than a decade after the office of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police came into being near the district courts, the kutcha driveway leading to the main office has been transformed into a concrete floor. The earlier pavement presented a dirty look.


The selling of “unhealthy” fruit-bearing saplings to farmers is posing a threat to the healthy plants in the district. These plants have been brought into city by nursery owners from South India along with the ornamental plants, which are permitted to be brought into the state. Experts fear that if the practice continued it would affect fruit production in the state. The experts have advised the farmers to buy saplings after taking the advice of the experts.

‘Insane’ driving

If the traffic slogan “lane driving is sane driving” is applied in the city then most of the drivers can be called “insane”. Lane driving is something unheard of in the city. Most of the drivers manoeuvre through heavy traffic throwing the traffic rules to winds.

PCR’s new role

The new role assigned to the PCR cops of the city has been welcomed by one and all. They have been specifically asked to ensure that no vehicles or rehris hinder the smooth flow of traffic.

Traffic congestion , particularly in the old areas, has become a nightmare. One can witness long traffic jams and general chaos on roads. Where municipal corporation has failed we hope that the police succeeds. With policemen on 100 motorcycles making rounds of the city round-the-clock the overall scene may change soon.


People choose different ring tones for their mobiles. But Sentinel was quite amused when instead of hearing a tune it heard “O Bhai Sahab phone taan chak lo.” And that too in a very harsh voice.




MC plan to beautify entry points
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 24
The Municipal Corporation has drawn up an ambitious plan for the beautification of all entry points to the city to enhance its aesthetic looks and to give a better impression to the visitors to the city. Preliminary work on the project has already been completed and the first phase of the proposed beautification plan would be in place within three months.

Giving details, the MC Commissioner Mr S.K. Sharma told Ludhiana Tribune that in the first phase, work would be taken in hand for the beatification of entry points to the city from Chandigarh side, Ambala and Jalandhar side (both on G.T. Road) and the Ferozepore Road while entry points on Gill Road, Rajpura Road and Pakhowal Road would be taken up in the second phase. The estimated expenditure on different entry points would be Rs 6 lakh and Rs 5.50 lakh on Jalandhar and Ambala sides of the G.T. Road, respectively, Rs 6.11 lakh on the Ferozepore Road, Rs 1.90 lakh on the Chandigarh Road, Rs 5.60 lakh each on the Pakhowal Road and the Rajpura Road and Rs 1.57 lakh on the Gill Road.

Under the beautification plan, the entry points would be provided with a vast stretch of lush green ‘lay by’ with a minimum depth of 200 feet from the highways. These would be aesthetically landscaped with a mix of concrete, boulder stones, hedging, ornamental plants, shaded seats, water bodies and adequate lighting with convenient parking places for the vehicles. The surrounding areas of access to the entry points would also be properly maintained and developed to attract visitors.

Further, he said existing traffic lights at many busy crossings in the city would be replaced with digital traffic signals to ease out congestion and to provide safe passage to pedestrians, motorists and other road users. For the convenience of the visually challenged persons, new traffic signals would have a sound track and would also be equipped with power back up facility to operate in case of power failure.

He said after an exhaustive survey and physical inspection of all major traffic junctions in the city, seven crossings with heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic had been identified for the installation of digital traffic signals. The traffic junctions to have digital signals included the Bharat Nagar Chowk, Bhai Bala Chowk on the Pakhowal Road, the Jagraon Bridge, the Gill Road Chowk, the Noorwala Road Chowk, the Giapura and Samrala Bypass Chowk on the Chandigarh Road.

A notable feature of the digital traffic signal lights, the electronic sensors, which will automatically increase or decrease the halt time at the junctions in terms of the volume of the traffic at any given time. The pedestrians sensor signal will be an additional feature which will facilitate the road crossing at these junctions. The Municipal Corporation has already approved an expenditure of Rs 32 lakh for the new signals.

Effective steps had been initiated for the better maintenance of the existing traffic signals at 31 different junction in the city. “Zonal commissioners have been asked to constantly survey and monitor the movement of traffic in their area and to take all necessary measures. The field engineering staff and the street light staff in particular, have been directed to regularly check and periodically clean an paint all the traffic signals for proper regulation of the city traffic.”



Cycle patrolling to come to city, courtesy DIG
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Residents of the city would soon witness a unique way of policing in the form of cycle patrolling by policemen in narrow lanes and crowded bazaars of the old city. This was announced here today by the new DIG of Ludhiana police range, Mr Sidharth Chattopadhaya.

Cycle patrolling has already been introduced in some parts of the state, like Malerkotla. Mr Chattopadhaya also announced that the police would soon hold meetings with the public regularly and initiate a special interaction programme with school and college students.

Mr Chattopadhaya assumed office this morning. In an informal chat with mediapersons at his office, the DIG said he had many plans and ideas for the city and would be implementing them soon after consulting the SSPs of the four police districts under the police range—Ludhiana, Khanna, Jagraon and Ropar.

Mr Chattopadhaya said this was his fifth posting in Ludhiana. He had earlier served twice as SSP, besides as SP and DSP. He plans to introduce community policing in various police districts. He said his focus would be on the immediate redressal of grievances of children, women and the elderly.



‘Cable operators evading tax’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 24
Activists of the Cable Upbhokta Sangharsh Committee today charged the cable operators with massive evasion of service tax on monthly subscription charges and urged the Department of Central Excise to initiate necessary steps to check the loss to the government exchequer.

In a memorandum submitted to Mr H.K. Mittal, Commissioner, Central Excise and Customs, the members of the committee observed that there were around 500 cable operators in the city with an estimated strength of over 4 lakh connections. With an average monthly subscription of Rs 200, the total collection were to the extent of Rs 8 crore and a service tax of Rs 64 lakh should be accruing to the department every month and the annual tax collection should be around Rs 7.80 crore.

The members alleged that the operators were resorting to large-scale fudging of accounts. “The cable operators do not give proper receipts to the consumers and in turn they fail to discharge their liability of service tax.” Calling for stern action against the defaulting operators, the memorandum pointed out that the city residents were virtually being fleeced and held to ransom through repeated and exorbitant hike in monthly subscription, which had gone up to Rs 350 in many localities.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Mr Rajiv Tandon, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Sandeep Thapar, Mr Pawan Garg, Mr Sarbjit Singh Bunty, Mr Pawan Gaba, Mr Dharmendra Khera, Mr Rakesh Kalia and Mr Om Parkash Saini.



Club members averse to poll
Seek outcome of probe
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Members of the local Satluj Club have resented the announcement of election to the post of general secretary of the club by the district administration without holding an inquiry into the causes that led to the suspension of the former club general secretary from the post as well as the membership of the club. Members, some of whom have been active for over five decades, say by pushing things under the carpet the administration is trying to absolve itself of all responsibility.

The club president, Mr Anurag Verma, has set July 6 as the election date and appointed the SDM (West), Mr M.S. Jaggi, as the returning officer. The fact that the election has been announced without proper probe into the charges against the dismissed general secretary has drawn criticism. The club members are seeking the outcome of the probe into charges of “misconduct” and “indiscipline” levelled against Mr Sunil Jain in a show-cause notice served on him.

The members contend that if charges of “misconduct” and “indiscipline” have been found to be correct, Mr Jain should be debarred from contesting the election. Otherwise Mr Jain should be reinstated as general secretary and allowed to continue till the term of the elected office-bearers expires on March 31, 2004. An election at this juncture will put an extra burden on the club members, it is felt.

By announcing the election without probing the allegations against Mr Jain, the administration has given him a chance to recontest it. So far, not a single member has filed the nomination and it is expected that Mr Jain may win the election unopposed. Several members have started a campaign to express solidarity with Mr Jain and show resentment against “dictatorial attitude of the former club president, Mr Anurag Agarwal”. After Mr Jain was suspended, he also reportedly tendered his resignation as a face-saving measure.

Officer members of the club, on the other hand, are apprehensive of Mr Jain’s unanimous election, saying if that happens it will undermine the authority of the Deputy Commissioner-cum-president of the club.

It may be mentioned that Mr Agarwal had suspended Mr Jain on charges of “misconduct”, which apart from casting aspersions on his financial integrity was based on reports that some non-officer members were planning to get a resolution passed in the general house seeking the removal of the Deputy Commission as the president of the club and holding elections to the post in future.

Some members say if elections are to be held, these must be held for all elected posts, as the previously elected office-bearers were elected only for one year and their term was extended by another year by the previous club president. The team was being led by the general secretary, who was later suspended. “Once the team leader has failed to enjoy the confidence of the club president, the entire team must go”, it is argued.

The returning officer, Mr Jaggi, when contacted, said: “Mr Jain was free to file his nomination.” The club president said there was no point in holding fresh elections to all posts. Since, only the general secretary’s post had been lying vacant, election to it had been announced.



Efforts on to improve environment: Johar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Elaborate measures were being taken to improve environment in all localities of the city. The parks in every mohalla would be properly developed and beautified, so that people could use these for morning walks and other purposes, said Higher Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar.

He was speaking at a function after laying the foundation stone of a fountain, to be set up at a cost of Rs 4 lakh, in a park in Jawahar Nagar on Saturday evening.

He reiterated that the state government was committed to provide all basic amenities in urban areas. Another instalment of Rs 61 core had been released to different municipal corporations and municipal councils for undertaking these projects, he said.

A total amount of Rs 145 crore had been released for this purpose during the tenure of the Congress government, he added.

Mr Johar said the government was committed to wipe out corruption menace in the state.

He warned corrupt officials to fall in line themselves, otherwise, they would be dealt with sternly.

He said with the introduction of strict financial measures, the fiscal condition of the state had improved and the present year was being celebrated as development year.

He said arrangements would be made for the payment of power bills in Jawahar Nagar. The faulty water tank would be made functional soon and in case of some irreparable defects in the tank, strict action would be initiated against the guilty officials and the contractor. He also announced to get sufficient funds released for undertaking various development projects in the area.

Among others who addressed the function included Mr Hans Raj Gagat, Mr Raj Kumar Mehra, Ms Santosh Mehra, Mr Sham Sunder Malhotra and Mr Rakesh Prasher (all councillors) and block Congress leaders.



President to visit city in September

Ludhiana, June 24
The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, will visit Ludhiana in September. Dr Kalam will visit Punjab Agricultural University Kisan Mela on the invitation of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh. Dr Kalam had invited Dr Aulakh to Rashtarpati Bhavan at the time of crop cutting operations of herbal garden in the first week of this month. Dr Aulakh had briefed the President about the agricultural research at the PAU and its contribution to the national foodgrain production. During his visit to Rashtarpati Bhavan, the Vice-Chancellor had extended an invitation to the President to preside over the one-day kisan mela in the first week of September. OC



Two gangs busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
The local police has claimed to have busted a four-member gang of chain-purse snatchers, which was active in the city, especially in Civil Lines, Sarabha Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and Model Town colonies.

Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, said the gang members had been identified as Sunil Kumar, Anil Kumar, both residents of Prem Colony at the Rahon road, Vicky Sharma of Basant Vihar Colony and Sunny Dogra of Thakurdwara Nohiran Mal Colony.

The SSP said the police had also arrested five persons who were planning to commit a robbery. They have been identified as Salim Khan, Rafiq Mohammad, Ravinder Kumar, Rajinder Kumar and Ramesh Kumar. They are residents of the Kwality chowk, Shimla Puri.



Labourer killed in roof collapse

Samrala, June 24
One person was killed and 4 others received serious injuries when the roof of a tubewell collapsed at Ladhran village, 4 km from here, last night.

According to reports, 10 labourers went to the roof to sleep their but the roof collapsed due to poor construction material used. The police has registered a case under Section 304-A and 201 of the IPC against the land owner. OC



Proposed hike in steel prices worries industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
The proposal of major steel producing companies to increase the price of steel by Rs 500 to Rs 600 per tonne seems to have sent shivers down the spine of the industry, which is already reeling under recession and has been facing consistent price hike during the past one year.

It is learnt that domestic steel companies have decided to go for another across-the-board price hike from the next week. The price hike will be effective from Monday.

The industry in the city feels that the latest hike will further cripple the industry. Sources in the local industry point out that steel prices have registered a massive increase of around 60 per cent during the past one year only. This is in spite of the fact that the steel prices have been falling in the international market.

It is learnt that the domestic steel producers have been exporting steel to China in huge quantity.

The industry across the country has been crying for the past one year against the “steel cartel” formed by five steel producing companies — SAIL, Tata Steel, Essar Steel, Jindal Steel and Ispat Industries.

Since there is a massive anti-dumping duty on the import of steel in the country, the industry cannot directly import steel from the international market, where it is far too cheap.

While the prices of hot rolled (HR) steel coils has risen by around 60 per cent from Rs 13,000 to Rs 19,000, the same has fallen in the international market by around $100 per tonne.

The domestic steel majors have decided to enhance the price of steel following the announcement by Nippon Steel of Japan and China Steel of Taiwan, the main exporters to China, to increase the price of steel by around 10 per cent on hot rolled coils. Most of the Indian steel majors are exporting steel to China.

The prices of hot rolled (HR) coils were around Rs 13,000 per tonne last year, while this year the prices have already crossed Rs 19,000 per tonne. HR coils form the basic raw material for most of the industry, including bicycle, bicycle parts, motor parts and other engineering industry. Only during the past one year, the big industrial houses have registered a massive hike in the profits going up to over 300 per cent.

Along with HR coils, even mild steel (MS) has registered a sharp increase in the prices by around 35 to 40 per cent. The MS round, which is commonly used in Punjab is manufactured locally. It is mainly manufactured from scrap and sponge iron, a by product of iron ore.



LSE set to become corporate entity
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 24
The Board of Directors of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) has started taking effective steps for the demutualisation of the exchange and setting up a committee under the chairmanship of Mr Jaspal Kania, Committee President of the LSE.

Following a stock market crash on March 1, 2001, the then Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, had announced in the Lok Sabha that the Indian stock exchanges would be made into corporates and demutualised and the role of the then president of the Bombay Stock Exchange had come under criticism for triggering the crash, resulting in the security scam. SEBI had then appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Justice M.H. Kania.

The committee submitted its report on August 28, 2002. The major recommendations of the committee included effecting the transition of stock exchanges from a “non-profit voluntary entity” into a “profit corporate body”, and segregating trading rights and ownership rights of the members of stock exchanges, as is the case of National Stock Exchange (NSE). The committee also recommended that the concept of regional stock exchanges should be abolished in view of the nationwide automated trading on the NSE and the BSE.

SEBI has since accepted and approved this report. While the existing members will be entitled to shares in the new corporate stock exchange in lieu of the existing rights, the voting rights of brokers who hold shares would be determined by SEBI in consultation with the Government of India. The Finance Ministry, subsequently on the recommendations of SEBI, has made some provisions in the Finance Act-2003 whereby tax exemption has been given to demutualised stock exchanges and their members.

Beyond Delhi, the LSE is the only recognised stock exchange in this region. The Ludhiana Stock Exchange has initiated steps for demutualisation of the same. Besides setting up the committee under Mr Jaspal Singh, two other committees of professionals have been set up. One committee comprising company secretaries is headed by Mr R.C. Singal, a former president of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange.

The other members on this committee are Mr H.S. Sidhu, Mr R.P. Singh, Mr P.S. Dua. The committee will recommend changes in the memoranda and articles of association of the LSE and other bylaws, rules and regulations. The other committee consists of chartered accountants headed by Mr Rajinder Singhania, with other members being Mr Anoop Jain, Mr P.S. Goyal and Mr Ramjidas Khanna. The committee will evaluate the card value of the LSE based on reserved, surplus, liquid and other fixed assets.

The Ludhiana Stock Exchange is expected to submit its recommendation to SEBI in July.

It is learnt that the LSE would recommend adoption of “Indonext Model” as recommended by the Kania Committee on the pattern of “Euronext” of Europe. Under this, the LSE may ask SEBI to allow companies with a capital of Rs 25 crore or less to be dealt only on regional/small stock exchange through single-order book route and those above Rs 25 crore capital be traded on the NSE and the BSE.

This way, a daily turnover of around 800 crore to 1000 crore on these stock exchanges is expected. With demutualisation process being completed, there will be a complete transformation of capital markets in India.



Bank opens branch for SSI
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Mr N.K.Puri, Managing Director of the State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, today inaugurated a specialised branch for small-scale industry (SSI) on the GT Road. The branch, he said, had been opened up to promote small-scale industry and provide them with finance and other banking services.

The branch is equipped with the latest available banking mechanisation like the ATM with national connectivity, swift telex, fully computerised accounting and other modern facilities.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Puri maintained that the bank was committed to providing the best services to the customers.

Today's function was attended by senior officials of the bank and some of its leading customers, including some top industrialists and businessmen of the city.

The bank is situated at Dholewal opposite the military camp.

Meanwhile, Punjab and Sind Bank Master Tara Singh Memorial College branch organised a function here today to mark the 95th year of its foundation.

The function started with the performing of ardas Speaking on the occasion, Dr Madanjit Kaur Sahota , Principal, MTSM College for Women, congratulated Mr Narinder Singh Gujral, CMD, and all bank staff.



Hike in courier service rates in the offing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 24
Courier service is likely to become costlier in the country following the proposed hike by airlines on baggage. The sources said the courier companies were likely to increase the rates by about 35 per cent. This was likely to effect the industry, trade and commerce as most of the business is conducted through private courier companies only.

The total volume of courier business in the country is Rs 3,500 crore annually. Of this business worth Rs 1,000 crore comes from the organised sector and remaining from the unorganised sector.

The sources added that the proposed hike was the outcome of 60 per cent increase on baggage rates for on-board couriers.

The airlines have increased these rates from June 16. Earlier, these rates were raised by 7 per cent in January. Besides the hike in rates by the airlines, the courier companies’ service charges makes the effective rise between 35 to 45 per cent.

Business sources revealed that due to the fall in passenger traffic following the SARS scare it seems that the airlines are trying to compensate it by increasing the rates on baggage. Leading business organisations have appealed to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry to restrain airlines from doing so as their business was already under severe pressure and it could not absorb additional burden like this.

On the other hand airline companies have been maintaining that the freight on baggage is very nominal for the courier companies. But these companies charge exorbitant rates from consumers.

President, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, P.D. Sharma urged the Prime Minister to give directions for checking the fleecing of customers. 


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