Tuesday, September 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PAN card forged to show dead man alive
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

The forged PAN card of Arun Kumar bearing his signatures
The forged PAN card of Arun Kumar bearing his signatures; and (below) a photograph of the accused, which was taken at the time of execution of the sale deed. Arun Kumar’s impersonator is also in the picture.

Ludhiana, September 1
Relatives of two orphan children allegedly forged a permanent account number (PAN) card of their deceased father and some other documents to show him alive and executed a sale deed of his property, which was the sole source of survival for the children.

The orphaned children, a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, were allegedly separated by the relatives. While the girl was with the accused relatives, who allegedly took her away with an eye on the property, her brother, helped by other relatives, is struggling hard to reunite with her.

The boy, Paras Puri, has written a letter to the President of India, who is scheduled to visit the city soon, seeking an appointment with him to tell him his tale of woes. He has been encouraged by news reports revealing how the President had come to the aid of needy children.

To add to his miseries is the attitude of the local police, which is not taking action against the accused although the SDM (West) had asked the Division No. 5 police to register a case against them.

Paras and his sister, Kangana, residents of Kucha Bihari Lal Saraf, lost their father, Arun Kumar Puri, an employee of the Municipal Corporation, in March, 1998, due to diabetes. Six months after his death, their mother, Renu Puri, also died of the same disease.

“While our relatives and friends had gone to cremate her, our maternal uncle took away the documents relating to the registry of our plot, our mother’s gold ornaments, Kisan Vikas Patras and some papers related to our father’s savings with the post office. We did not get to know anything about those things for quite some time. They also took away Kangana with them. I was left alone,” said Paras, a Class VI student of Rama Model School.

Their maternal uncle and some other relatives tried to get the KVPs encashed and withdraw money from their account in the post office after forging Arun’s signature. Alertness of Arun’s brother, Surinder Puri, helped and their request for withdrawal of money was turned down.

Things came to such a pass that their relatives prepared a false PAN card and showed Arun Puri alive. They produced this document before the Registrar (Sales) and executed a sale deed in the name of Arun Puri. A copy of the forged PAN card was attached with the sale deed. The person who posed as Arun Puri was also photographed and his picture was pasted on the sale deed.

Later, Surinder Puri filed a complaint about the case to the SDM (West). He showed him the death certificate of Arun Puri and also produced his original identity card issued by the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, and voter’s card. The SDM forwarded the case to the Division No. 5 SHO, Mr Anil Joshi, on August 8, but no case has been registered so far.

Mr Anil Joshi said he had completed the inquiry into the case and found out the real culprits. He said he had submitted the inquiry report to his seniors. However, he refused to divulge any more details about the case.



City gears up to welcome President
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 1
The city is witnessing hectic activities in connection with the preparations for the forthcoming visit of the President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on September 4.

The Municipal Corporation has been in the overdrive mode for the past many days to resurface some of the key and approach roads from the Chandigarh and Ambala side. Road dividers, tree-guards, traffic light poles, pathways and other structures on the roadside are being applied a fresh coat of paint.

A massive clean up operation has been launched on the entire stretch of the Ferozepore road, between Punjab Agricultural University and the mini secretariat. The road and service lanes on both sides along the highway are being made spick and span to give a pleasing look.

Although the President is scheduled to stay for most of the time on the PAU campus, he would go by road to Guru Nanak Bhawan, adjoining the mini secretariat, where he will interact with children and address a meeting of the Ludhiana Management Association.

A large number of VVIPs, including the Governor, the Chief Minister, the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, a number of ministers from Punjab and many dignitaries from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will be in the city on that day and most of them will be arriving by road. 



Preparing ‘parrots’ for Kalam’s visit
Deepkamal Kaur

Who will be the lucky artist?

All participating city schools have been told to get paintings on varied topics including ‘national integration’, ‘wonders of science’, ‘ecological balance’ and ‘beauty of nature’ in sheets of 22’’x22’’ size by tomorrow. All entries are going be screened by a panel of some top artists of the city. Of these the best 24 paintings would be exhibited on a display board to be kept on the back drop of the stage of Guru Nanak Dev Bhavan. The President would then take a view of all those paintings and sign the one which would appeal to him the most.

Ludhiana, September 1
Spontaneity would be amiss in the interaction between the schoolchildren and Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, scheduled to be held on September 4 at Guru Nanak Dev Bhavan here. Infact, the children are being made to learn those questions by rote which have been given to them by their teachers after being approved by the district administration.

In the first rehearsal that was held today at the same venue, all heads of 17 participating schools were given printed handouts by the administration officers. Four days back, the schools were told to send a list of 10 to 15 questions to the office of the DC which their children would be asking. These questions were then shortlisted and each school has been allotted a set of three to five questions that have to be asked.

The schools have even been directed to screen any three to five students who would ask those questions. The students have also been strictly told not to ask the President any question from his personal life or political approach. They have been told to add some humour to make the session interesting. The children, however, have been given the liberty to speak in any language as the administration has deputed two college lecturers as interpretators for Hindi as well as Punjabi speakers.

During the preparation, efforts were made to finalise the seating arrangement. First of all, the children of a common school were made to sit one behind the other in columns. Later, they were reshuffled and made to sit in rows. Both the arrangements were viewed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, but no final decision was taken even till the end of five-hour rehearsal.

Even the decision on the dress to be worn by the students was not taken, as there were two opinions. While one group suggested that all students should come in white dresses and look alike. The other group opined that the students should wear school uniforms and appear as an assembly from different institutions. In the hall, the DC also listened to the rehearsal of the National Anthem. In the beginning, the students of KVM sang the National Anthem and on the conclusion a team from BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School was selected to sing the National Anthem.

Outside the hall, dress rehearsals for the welcome of the President were held simultaneously. The boys from Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School rehearsed for the band and the girls from the same school wearing white suits and red ‘gharchola dupatta’ with flags in saffron, white or green colours geared themselves for acting as escorts for the President from the gates towards the hall. The girls from RS Model School in colourful suit dupattas carrying gharoli or jhajj on their heads would perform jago on the way. Boys of the same school dressed in traditional kurta dhotis would present bhangra before the President would make way inside the hall.

Others present on the occasion were Mr Kuldip Singh, SDM, Mr Bachitar Singh, District Education Officer (Secondary), Ms Sudhesh Bajaj, Deputy DEO (Secondary), Ms Paramjit Kaur, Principal of BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, Ms Neena Khanna, Principal of KVM, Sister Sobel, Principal of Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, BRS Nagar, and Mr O.P. Arora, Principal of Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School. 



Kalam’s visit a smooth ride for motorists
Tribune News Service

Halwara (Ludhiana), September 1
“We will be ensured of better roads and cleaner surroundings only if the First Citizen of our country visits us more often”, these words of Dr Devinder Ashok of Pakhowal, who travels regularly on Raikot-Mullanpur road, reflect the feelings of area residents who are surprised at the speed at which the administration is working on the recarpeting of the road and doing a major patchwork on the Raikot-Mullanpur-Ludhiana highway.

The stretch is being readied in case President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam needs to travel by road from Halwara to Ludhiana on September 4 on his maiden visit to the city. Though sources disclose that the President, in all probability, will fly in a helicopter from Halwara to Punjab Agricultural University, the administration is leaving nothing to chance. The chopper will not be able to fly in case of rough weather and as an alternate arrangement, the road has been given a fresh look for the VIP.

It is pertinent to mention here that the cries of residents of the area and even of the Halwara Air Force authorities regarding the poor condition of the road had fallen on deaf ears on earlier instances.

Within hours, the stretch from Halwara to Sudhar has been recarpeted and patchwork is under way from Sudhar to Ludhiana on the state highway. The administration, however, did not bother to listen to the plea of the area residents and commuters about the woes of travelling on the potholed roads.

So far paucity of funds had plagued the development. There was no urgency on part of the district administration to end the grievance of the area residents. So much so that the plea of the Halwara Air Force authorities regarding the need to maintain the sensitive “defence road” had also failed to wake the authorities from its slumber. Almost all newspapers of the region had highlighted the problem of the road a number of times but to no avail. A number of accidents have taken place on the road in the past.

Neither has any tender been floated for the recarpeting nor a special loan has come from Nabard, one of the reasons cited earlier as hindrance, yet around 100 labourers along with 10 machines have been working continuously for the past 24 hours under the supervision of the PWD officials.

Despite such urgency, some sluggishness is apparent. The administration had first done the patchwork of the Halwara-Sudhar road. But overnight rain washed away the freshly laid patches. This forced the authorities to order recarpeting of the stretch.

An old culvert on a seasonal rivulet near Sudhar, whose railing had been damaged years ago was being given a new look. A brick wall has replaced the old iron railing.

The labourers working on the road have also understood the sense of urgency. “I have never seen so many officers supervising the road work round the clock. I wish Rahstrapati Ji had seen all this”, commented Ram, a labourer.



Govt indifferent to bonded labour, allege Dalits
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, September 1
To get the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 implemented, the Dalit Dastan Virodhi Andolan, Phillaur, has initiated an agitation programme. A cycle rally consisting of more than 150 workers is moving throughout Punjab to mobilise public opinion and inform people about the objectives of the march.

A rally was organised in the city at Bhai Bala Chowk under the presidentship of Mr Jai Singh, National Coordinator, Dalit Dastan Virodhi Andolan here today. Mr Jai Singh said the evil of bonded labour was widespread in Punjab. The number of bonded labourers in the state was not less than 5 lakh. The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 was being flouted.

He alleged that the administration considered this Act of no significance. For instance, in Dalel Singhwala village in Mansa district there were more than 150 bonded labourers but the district administration had failed to get them freed, he said.

Ms Sangita, one of the workers in the organisation, said in India, bonded labour mostly belonged to the Scheduled Castes.

Members of the rally alleged that it was unfortunate that the officials in the administration connived with the guilty instead of doing justice to the aggrieved.

About the cycle rally, Mr Jai Singh said it was started from Mansa to awaken the state government from its slumber. If the march did not yield results, even after a memorandum to the President in the Capital, more drastic steps would be taken by the organisation.

“We will demand from the President that if the Act with regard to abolition of bonded labour and prevention of atrocities on Dalits was not implemented, it should be scrapped”, said Mr Jai Singh.

The members claimed Dr B.R.Ambedkar had advised the Dalits that if constitutional means failed to emancipate them free from bondage, they were at liberty to resort to violence.



I-Day gone, encroachments back

Ludhiana, September 1
The clutter of road-poachers around the Ghanta Ghar, selling a variety of goods, has become further congested because of the police crackdown on roadside vendors who were occupying the whole vacant lot in front of Guru Tegh Bahadur market or the lottery market.

The open space in front of the market had been under the possession of the encroachment mafia for so many years now. The place was got vacated by the police a couple of weeks before Independence Day. Rumours had it that the routed roadside sellers were biding their time. And that everything would be normal as usual once again after August 15. It had been happening for years like that.

Gone was August 15 but these displaced roadside sellers of food, cigarettes and so on keen on re-occupying their respective places were a disappointed lot when permission to do so was not granted by the police. What constituted a security risk in view of Independence Day celebrations was deemed to be a security risk from the point of view of the international terrorism being promoted by the Al-Qiada and its allied terrorist outfits. That was how the encroachment mafia suffered a minor defeat as far as occupation of the vacant lot in front of the lottery market was concerned.

As a result of the crackdown, some of the fast food sellers have moved their business to the adjoining periphery of the Ghanta Ghar, the 99-year-old monument and heritage of the city. The immediate periphery of the monument , which always remains cluttered with encroachments by a number of vendors, is now full of these. Heaps of garbage and litter is everywhere and the whole area is no better than a dirty slum. The periphery of Ghanta Ghar, particularly behind the Verka Milk Bar, remains cluttered with encroachments and men, who hang around the place waiting for lottery results. The police would do well to disperse the mob encircling the historic monument and get the long-pending beautification plan going which would give a new and clean look to the area. The plan, which was conceived by the Municipal Corporation, had been shelved after it was opposed by some shopkeepers of the area.

Encroachments in the area are on the rise. Even the road-divider in the square has been fully occupied by roadside shopkeepers. Since the place is a centrally located business centre of the city it attracts a large number of entrepreneur keen on making a fortune.

According to observers of the scene , roadside sellers in the immediate vicinity of Ghanta Ghar who have been selling ‘datuns’ since ages, should be allotted booths by the Municipal Corporation if and when the beautification plan for the Ghanta Ghar area is taken out of the archives for implementation.



Dullo embarrasses govt at Beant’s death anniversary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
Several questions are being raised in political circles in the aftermath of the state-level function organised on the eighth death anniversary of late Beant Singh, a former Chief Minister of Punjab, at Payal near here yesterday. Although the organisers of the function had done well to gather huge crowds, but the remarks of some of the speakers were quite disappointing, rather embarrassing for the organisers.

While Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, and the bete noir of the Chief Minister, did not court any controversy as he spoke straight and directed his anger at the Akalis only, it was former minister and now the Ropar MP, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who raised many a heckles with this uncomfortable remarks.

Mr Dullo observed that despite the aggressive campaign of the government, the corruption was still there. He said the level of corruption might have come down, but corruption still prevailed at the top as well as the lower levels. He said the corruption needed to be completely wiped out.

Putting up the case of the downtrodden and the Dalits, Mr Dullo said it was not people from the upper and affluent classes (for whom he used the term Rajwadas) who have voted Congress to power. In fact they never vote, he said. It is only the Dalits and lower strata of society who have voted Congress to power and the state should do something for these sections of people as they still feel ignored.

While the Chief Minister did not comment on the issue, in fact he agreed with Mr Dullo, saying, “I can never wipe out corruption completely as it is rooted so much deep in the system, but I have at least created a sense of fear among the corrupt”. But he said the campaign against corruption would continue and the results were before everybody.

It was, however, Ms Ambika Soni, AICC general secretary, who seemed to took cudgels for the Chief Minister. She seemed to make it clear in no ambiguous terms that Capt Amarinder was the best leader suited to the party. Singing paens to the CM, she observed, it was for the first time in the history of the country that a Chief Minister had staged a dharna in front of the residence of the Prime Minister, for getting the minimum support price of paddy raised. Not only that he had even courted arrest, she said.

She went further that the Capt Amarinder Singh had been declared as the second best Chief Minister in the country by an independent survey. Moreover, she added, the anti-corruption drive of the Chief Minister had become so popular that during a function organised in memory of the Tamil Congress leader, Mr Kamraj, people shouted that Capt Amarinder address them, as he had become so popular across the country.

The message appeared to be clear for everyone to take note of that the AICC high command appreciated and supported the Chief Minister. This seemed to be more than sufficient for the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who obviously would not have taken kindly to remarks like those made by Mr Dullo.



Mann wants package for Punjab too
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
SAD (A) chief and Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann has urged the Centre to announce an economic package for Punjab as announced for Jammu and Kashmir since both were border states deserved special attention.

Addressing an impressive rally on Gill Road, he argued if Jammu and Kashmir could be given such a package, why not Punjab. In addition to this I have been raising the issue of compensation to farmers whose lands were occupied by the Army during deployment along the standoff with Pakistan. The farmers have been receiving power bills even though they have not tilled the lands for a year.

Lauding the steps taken by the Vajpayee government to improve ties with Pakistan, Mr Mann said as both countries were nuclear powers, it was vital that peace prevailed. Making a case for opening the land route to Karachi, he said the interests of the Punjabi entrepreneurs would be served best by such a step since the Mumbai dockyard was far from Punjab.

He claimed he was lobbying with the Centre for early commissioning of the Bathinda refinery. “ Besides benefiting the industry, the refinery will provide employment to our educated and uneducated youths”

He criticised the state government for holding a state-level convention to mark the eighth death anniversary of former chief Minister Beant Singh. The Congress was wasting crores on such functions which could he used for developmental activities.

He was honoured by the people with a gold medal for taking up the issues of the people in Parliament. He announced that since the medal was a token of people's gratitude, it would be offered at the Golden Temple. The same went for another gold medal given to party councillor from Ward Number 24 Simarjit Singh Bains.

SAD (A) general secretary Charan Singh Lohara welcomed Mr Mann and said the government had no right to waste crores on the anniversaries of Beant Singh and Harchand Singh Longowal, who “did not do any good to the people of Punjab.”

He also came down heavily on Finance Minister Lal Singh for allegedly equating the Gandhi family with the sacrifices made by Guru Gobind Singh.



Relief for war hero after 25 years
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
A war hero will get the possession of his two plots after more than 25 years, public will get time to get their grievances redressed, displaced persons would be compensated and a number of schemes of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) that were in the cold storage would get a new lease of life. These were among the important decisions taken at the first meeting of the trustees held here today.

The corruption-infested trust is finally showing some signs of growth, if the outcome of the first meeting of its trustees, in which some public-friendly decisions were taken, is any indication. Continuing with his drive against corruption, Mr Ashok Singh Garcha, Chairman of the trust, has issued warnings to some staff members, who were known for their nexus with property dealers. He has warned them of strict action if they do not disassociate themselves from the dealers.

The clients of the trust are in for a good time as it has constituted a Grievances Redressal Committee, which will listen to the complaints of the public and forward their cases for early disposal.

Mr Garcha, while addressing mediapersons after the meeting, said the trustees were of the view that the Grievances Redressal Committee was the need of the hour as the complaints of the public were piling up. The committee, he said, would look into the complaints and help take action.

Stating that it would take another one or two months for the trust to clear the pending work, he said after that the public would have no problems as far as the pace of work was concerned.

The trust has also constituted a Locally Displaced Persons Committee to redress the grievances of persons whose land was acquired by the trust under its schemes, but they were not compensated. He said the trust owed an amount of Rs 11 crore to such persons and their dues would be paid soon.

He said the trust had decided to hand over the possession of two plots to a war hero, Air Cmdr, N.R. Chatrath, who had applied for the plots in 1972 under the defence quota. He had paid the dues till 1982, but was not given the possession till 1999. Now, he would be given possession of the plots in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar.

The scheme of the thrust under which industrial workers were to be given houses in Dhandari Kalan would get a new lease of life. The Chairman said a fresh plan was being chalked out to provide houses to the workers.

Mr Garcha said the trust would help its clients, who resorted to distress sale of their plots due to want of funds. He said the trust would tie up with some banks that would provide housing loans to these people. He said the trust would also redress the grievances of the residents of Kidwai Nagar Housing Society, who were not given the documents relating to the registry of their houses.



Urban Estate residents decry encroachments
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 1
Residents of Urban Estate in the Focal Point area are made to live in the worst kind of insanitary conditions, with unauthorised dairies operating in the locality and stray cattle, especially pigs wreaking havoc to public health and hygiene. To make matters worse, jhuggi dwellers have encroached upon a large portion of four-lane Metro Road, leading to Urban Estate Phase I to the extent that the work for surfacing of the road had to be left midway.

According to Mr Avtar Singh, Chairman, Urban Estate Residents Association, a meeting of the body held on Sunday, had expressed its serious concern over the deplorable condition of the locality due to persistent indifference on the part of the civic authorities. He said the unlawful occupants on the part of the road were holding the entire population to ransom and the residents were being denied the facility of a road link between Focal Point and Urban Estate Phase I, which did exist but could not be put to use.

Mr Basant Singh, president of the association, alleged that the unauthorised settlers in jhuggis had set up piggeries and dairies at the vacant sites. The animals move around in the colony in a totally unrestricted manner and besides causing unhygienic conditions, also damage plants and greenery in the parks and elsewhere. “In utter disregard for public health, many of the jhuggi dwellers ease themselves in the open creating a nuisance for the residents.”

The residents have, once again, called upon the administration to deal with the menace of encroachment with an iron hand and further to initiate effective steps to improve the sanitation level, lest the residents should fall prey to grave health hazards.



Fulfil promises, writers to govt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
The Kendriya Punjabi Lekhak Sabha has urged the government to strictly enforce the use of Punjabi in all government offices, besides making necessary amendments to the State Language Act. In addition to this, the sabha demanded conferring Shiromani awards on writers and redressing other demands of the sabha.

A meeting of the members was held under the presidentship of Jaswant Singh Kanwal at Punjabi Bhavan here today. They urged the Minister for Higher Education and Languages, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, to fulfil his assurance given five months ago about constructing a ‘bhasha’ bhavan at Patiala, besides sanctioning Rs 50 lakh for Shiromani writers in the state.

The members said the government should fulfil its commitments at the earliest following which they would be forced to launch an agitation. They alleged that the Director, Language Department, was not keen to get these demands met and was reportedly trying to sabotage the moves of the state in this context.

The gathering also took a serious note of the measures taken by the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor. The members felt that the harsh measures were uncalled for and had vitiated the academic atmosphere of the institute.

The members urged the government to remove the bureaucrat and appoint an academic personality as the Vice-Chancellor.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Dr Tejwant Mann, Basant Kumar Rattan, Darshan Singh, Sardul Singh Dard, Harbir Singh Bhanwar, Gulzar Singh Shaonki, Banarsi Dass, Baz Singh Mehloa, Harbhajan Singh, Amarjit Dodar, Pawan Harchandpuria, Surjit Singh Sandhu, Karamjit Singh, Kulwant Jagroan, Jai Kishen Goyal, Bikkar Singh Sidhu and Harbhajan Singh Neer.



Sans sewers, their life stinks
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, September 1
Residents of the new colony of Sahnewal are forced to live in unhygienic conditions as no outlet has been provided for sewers.
The residents are under an epidemic threat as the sewer water remains collected in front of their houses.

The colony was built in 1981-82 during the Badal regime. It is inhabited by the labour class that lives from hand to mouth. The colony was brought under the Nagar Council and is now part of Ward No. 9 of Sahnewal.

The residents of the colony complain: “Earlier the streets were not pucca and the water would flow down the fields. Now streets have been built and drains constructed obstructing free flow of water.

The residents have threatened the Nagar Panchayat and the Punjab Government that in case of any casualty the administration shall be responsible.

The councillor of Ward No. 9, Mr Swaran Singh, when contacted said: “I being the councillor of Ward No. 9 and Vice-President of the Nagar Council had passed a resolution concerning the problem at the first meeting of the council. In a day or two, we will start work on installing pipes and fitting these with a motor.

“I am trying my best to find a permanent solution to the problem as I know that the existing three wells do not have the capacity to absorb the water of the ever-increasing number of houses in the area. Hence the pipe system is to be introduced in a shot span of time.”



Jain sabha organises Sambatsari Utsav
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, September 1
Sambatsari Utsav was celebrated with enthusiasm by S.S. Jain Sabha, Machhiwara.
In a function organised here yesterday, school students presented a cultural programme. Bhajans, qawalis, choreographies and many other items based on the incidents pertaining to the life of Lord Mahavira were presented.

Addressing the devotees, Jain sadhvi Divya Maharaj spoke about the life of Lord Mahavira. She said the utsav inspired everyone to amicably sort out differences with one another and promote brotherhood.

‘Akhand jap’ has been in progress at the local Jain Apsara for the past seven days. Its bhog will be held tomorrow. Many Jain devotees have been observing fasts for the past many days. Sadhvi Darshana Maharaj was presented a shawl by the sabha. Kanchan Maharaj and Santa Maharaj, sadhvis, recited bhajans on the occasion.

The programme was anchored by Chinky Jain. Mr Satish Aggarwal, cashier of the sabha, thanked all for making the function successful.



Chaos, confusion on first day of exim regime
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
It was chaos and confusion on the first day of the exim regime in Ludhiana. Although the Pradesh Beopar Mandal and other trade and industry associations have called for the boycott of exim forms, panic stricken traders and industrialists made a beeline at the Excise and Taxation office in the Mini-Secretariat, leading to long queues. Despite the boycott by many trade bodies, about 1.5 lakh forms were sold in three excise districts of Ludhiana.

Senior excise officials said the exim forms were available in abundance and there was no shortage.

The officials disclosed that the government was planning to provide the facility of downloading the forms from the Internet also.

The technicalities were being worked out in this regard.

Maximum forms were sold in the excise district-I, which mostly includes the Industrial Area and the Focal Point. Mr M S Brar, AETC-I, stated that about 70,000 forms were sold on the first day. He said there was no shortage of forms and these were readily available. Since the district-I has maximum industries, the sale of forms was maximum here.

According to Mr Parampal Singh, AETC-II, about 50,000 forms were sold in the excise district-II, while 30,000 forms were sold in the excise district-III, headed by Mr TL Jindal. Mr Jindal maintained that the forms were sold whole day and there was no waiting or shortage.

However, representatives of trade and industry maintained that they had boycotted the exim forms and urged traders and industrialists not to purchase these.

The Pradesh Beopar Mandal, which is spearheading the campaign against the introduction of exim forms in the state, organised several “corner meetings” in various parts of the city “educating” traders against the problems that will arise after the introduction of the exim regime.

The Beopar Mandal general secretary, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, said the traders could not accept these forms as this would spell doom for trade and industry.

He claimed that the exim forms would lead to major problems for the traders, which they were not able to realise. He said the traders were told about the difficulties the exim forms would cause.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), the representative body of the trade and industry in Ludhiana, has also boycotted the exim forms and said it was not going to accept these.

The President of CICU, Mr Inderjeet Singh Pradhan, and general secretary, Mr Avtar Singh, said that CICU supported the Beopar Mandal boycott of the exim forms and was in full agreement with it in that it will only lead to problems and harassment to the trade and industry.

Both the Beopar Mandal and CICU maintained that although traders and industrialists were purchasing the forms, they were doing this out of compulsion as they had to transport the goods and fulfil delivery deadlines. In case they do not attach exim forms with their goods, they will face problems. All these traders have been exempted from the boycott.



Steel prices start falling
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 1
The steel prices have started falling here today, thanks to the pressure built-up by small scale manufacturers on the Centre. The steel prices have fallen by Rs 2,000 or Rs 3,000 per tonne.

The steel prices had been rising during the past few months and these recorded a rise of Rs 5,000 on average per tonne.

Irked by the unprecedented hike, the small scale manufacturers who were hit the most protested against the Union Steel Minister who visited Ludhiana on August 29 to preside over the meeting of the National Steel Consumers Forum.

A delegation of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan met the Prime Minister in Delhi last week and sought his intervention.

SAIL had to assure to the industry that adequate stock of steel billets would be rushed to Punjab.

Enquiries today show that MS round steel prices which had touched Rs 21500 per tonnes was sold for Rs 17,500 per tonne. Similarly, the prices of HR sheets and HR coil also fell by Rs 1,000 per tonne.

This was quoted at Rs 21,200 per tonne against Rs 22,700 per tonne. Wire rod was quoted at Rs 21,200 per tonne against Rs 23,500 per tonne.

The prices of sponge iron continue to be high and there is no decrease in it. About half a dozen steel plants owners of Punjab and Chandigarh have purchased land in Orissa and are setting up sponge-based steel plants there.

There are two units of Ludhiana whose construction is at advance stage and they plan to go into production by April next.



IndusInd-UTI bank tie-up on ATM service
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
The IndusInd and UTI Bank have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for mutual sharing of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in India. The agreement was signed by Mr Bhaskar Ghose, Managing Director, IndusInd Bank Ltd, and Dr P.J. Nayak, Chairman and Managing Director of UTI Bank, in Mumbai on Friday last. This was disclosed here today by a spokesperson of the bank. According to him, this arrangement is aimed at offering the customers of both banks the facility of using the combined network of ATMs, both existing and proposed, of the two banks across India.

In his message released here today, Mr Ghose, has said, “Our tie-up with UTI Bank for shared usage of the ATM network of the two banks enables us to meet such needs of our expanding customer base.”

While in his separate message, Dr Nayak said: “We feel that shared networks will be the future of the ATM industry, as this will minimise geographical overlap of ATMs and provide better coverage to customers. At the same time, network sharing helps the banks to develop economics of scale and minimise the cost of servicing their customers.”

Mr Jayanta K. Basu, executive vice-president, IndusInd Bank, has further stated that with the increased usage of ATMs and debit cards, the tie up with UTI bank will help his bank provide more cost-effective touch points to his banks customers nationwide. This tie-up is beneficial to both the banks as its offers one of the widest ATMs networks in India. Conceptualised by NRIs in 1994, IndusInd Bank is the first private sector bank to be awarded a banking licence in the era of liberalisation in India. It is the first Indian commercial bank to obtain certification for its ‘Entire Network of Branches’ under the ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Systems.

IndusInd Bank currently has a network of 141 outlets spread across the country, inclusive of 134 on-site and off-site ATMs. IndusInd Bank has posted a net profit of Rs 24.64 crore in the first quarter of the financial year 2003-04, recording an increase of 40.96 per cent over the Rs 17.48 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.

UTI Bank, with a network of 206 branches and extension counters and 950 ATMs, spread across 90 cities and towns, cover 23 states and Union Territories across the country. UTI Bank is the first of the new private sector banks in the country, set up in the 1990s. Amongst the fastest growing banks in the industry in recent years, the bank has deposits of Rs 15,340 crore and advances of Rs 7,279 crore (as on July 31, 2003). The profit figure of the bank for the financial year ended March 31, 2002-2003, was Rs 192.18 crore.



LIC celebrates 47th anniversary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 1
The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) today launched new citizen charter and Jeevan Shree-1 plan to mark the 47th anniversary. The policy was launched here by the Senior Divisional Manager, Mr P.K. Rath. The week-long celebrations will include donation of wheel chairs and water tanks to schools and plantation of trees.

Listing the achievements of the LIC, Mr Rath said after the computerisation the claim settlement on maturity was done 15 days in advance. Earlier it was done within three days of the date of maturity. He said similarly the premium of any policy could be paid anywhere in the country through the inter-linking of branches all over the country. He said the policy document could now be obtained on the spot through Green Channel.

Giving details of the Jeevan Shree-1, he said the policy guaranteed an additional Rs 50 per thousand sum assured per year for each completed year for the first five years and it would be paid along with the sum assured on maturity.


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