Tuesday, October 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Gambling fever grips city residents

Ludhiana, October 6
In the busy Bhadaur House market, huddled in a verandah, is a motley group of men who are trying their luck with a dice. The dice-thrower looks around furtively as he shakes the white cube in a little glass tumbler before throwing it in the middle. The little tumbler and the dice changes hands quickly and so does money.

These gamblers know fully well that the law can catch them anytime but they carry on in spite of the odds.

They are small-time gamblers who cannot afford the luxury of a protected gambling den where there is no fear of the law.

By the side of a road near the Ghanta Ghar, well-dressed men are glued to a game of “sweep” with high stakes but with little risk of getting caught by policemen as no money is on display. The fact that money is involved in the game becomes known only when it changes hands.

In a public park infested with wild growth along the Metro Road in the Focal Point area, several autorickshaw drivers and rickshaw-pullers, in groups of four, enjoy rummy well-hidden by weeds and bushes. Money changes hands quickly. While the losers walk out of the game, those waiting in the wings join in to keep the show running.

With Divali approaching, the city is once again witnessing a boost in gambling activity, an annual feature over which the police has little or no control.

Though the city police rounds up some gamblers now and then following tip-offs by some losing and disgruntled gamblers, the action is not sufficient to discourage large-scale gambling that takes place in protected dens and high-profile clubs of the city.

Investigations by this reporter reveal that gambling involving crores takes place at a number of local hotels which are either owned by political figures or protected by them. Apart from these hotels, a number of professionals lease out their residential premises to cater to the seasonal demand of gamblers. Some of these seasonal money-makers also run gambling dens in their houses to get lucrative returns in the form of admission fee and a cut on every take which is known as “naal” in gambling circles.

As far as the police is concerned, it goes through the motions very year by picking up some small-time gamblers and booking them under the Gambling Act.

The police is always wary of raiding a big gambling den unless there is a specific tip-off. 



Banned shark fin soup available in city
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
Even as animal rights activists and various conservation groups are spearheading a campaign against the shark fin soup — a delicacy savoured in foreign countries, specially China — some restaurants in the city are offering the soup to customers.

The major constituent of the soup, the shark's fin has been held responsible for the gradual extinction of this species of fish and attracted opposition from animal lovers worldwide. But what would enrage environmentalists is the fact that some restaurants offering Chinese cuisine have the soup on their menus.

The Indian Government had listed the whale shark (Rhinocodon typus), known as the “gentle giant of the sea” for its immense size and docile character, on Schedule 1 of the country’s Wildlife Protection Act, the first fish species to receive this level of protection two years ago. But if the fin soup is available openly in the city, it is an indicator that its hunting is going on.

While reports indicate that the banned soup, which is prepared by boiling the fins with vinegar, starch and flavouring, is sold clandestinely in various countries for $ 200 or so, city restaurant owners are selling it for between Rs 75 to 100, which shows that the fins are available at a cheaper price.

An owner of a hotel offering the soup feigned ignorance about the ban on shark hunting. ‘‘We have never heard about it.’’ he said adding that he was buying tinned fins from Delhi.

‘‘There is not much demand here. Not many people ask for the soup. Those who know something about Chinese cuisine and delicacies come here to try it,’’ he added.

Shark species around the world have been the focus of several conservation efforts following an increase in threats to them. One of the major reasons is ‘finning’ – a process in which the dorsal fin of a shark is removed for the growing Asian shark fin trade. The fin is only used for making soup. Sharks account for just 1 per cent of all the species fished, but are slow to reproduce and take up to 14 years to mature.

Fish experts claim that the populations of various shark species have dropped by 80 per cent in just 10 years. Shark finning — the practice of cutting off a shark’s fin and throwing its carcass back into the ocean — increased 2,000 per cent between 1991 and 1998. Environmentalists claim that the sharks may vanish from the world unless their killing is brought under control.

Shark fins are big business, and restaurants pay up to $2,350 per kg, according to information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune. It is also worthwhile to mention here that Thai Airways International and Singapore Airlines have removed the soup from their first-class menus.



Punjab in ‘power full’ position
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, October 6
Even though the monsoons have withdrawn and the hydel power reservoirs have not touched the optimum water level, yet the power supply position in Punjab is quite comfortable and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has stopped buying power from the other states. The PSEB is looking for buyers of surplus power which it has at present.

Enquiries revealed that the PSEB had even stopped drawing the banking power from the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttaranchal and the power trading corporation. The demand for power supply in Punjab has fallen to 800 lakh units daily from 1200 lakh units last month and ‘‘we are managing the same from our own sources’’, says Mr Padamjit Singh, Chief Secretary, Systems Operations, PSEB.

Even two units of Ropar Thermal Plant and one unit of Bathinda Thermal Plant have been closed for maintenance and due to low demand. Both the units of Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant are generating power and power generation from Ranjit Sagar Dam has also been reduced to 25 lakh units per day. The water level in Gobind Sagar reservoir of Bhakra was 1669.19ft against 1655.04 ft during the corresponding period last year.

The optimum level of water in Gobind Sagar is 1680ft. Similarly the water level in Pong Dam was reported at 1365.42ft against 1339.83 ft last year.

The Bhakra and Beas Management Board has decided to reduce the release of water from the reservoirs to 16500 cusecs daily against 23500 cusecs of the last month. This has been done in view of the fall in demand for irrigation water. Release of water from Pong Dam has also been reduced to 10,000 cusecs.

The generation from the Punjab's own hydel power projects of Anandpur Sahib and Mukerian has also been cut drastically by closing one unit each.

The Bhakra power complex is generating as many as 167 lakh units out of which Punjab gets 67 lakh units and Dehar is generating 70 lakh units and Punjab gets 32 lakh units and Pong Dam 45 lakh units and Punjab's share comes to 11 lakh units, respectively.

According to Mr Padamjit Singh, the PSEB is negotiating with the power trading corporation to find out buyers for the surplus power of Punjab. Some states have sought power from Punjab in the morning and evening and the PSEB has not yet agreed for the same.

The PSEB is providing three-phase power supply to rural areas for six hours and for Basmati rice for seven hours daily. No power cut is being applied in the state.



Idols of Goddess Durga immersed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
Clay and straw idols of different shapes and sizes of Goddess Durga were carried reverentially by devotees to the banks of the Sutlej today and finally immersed into the waters. This is what the tradition tells the Durga devotees that idols crafted with so much labour and worshipped for 10 days have to be submitted to the waters for that is its final destination. Artistes had made icons of Durga in clay and used poster colours so as not to pollute the river waters. They had avoided chemical dyes.

Apart from members of the Bengali community, people hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also prayed to Goddess Durga before immersion. After leaving the images into water, the devotees hugged each other and wished each other a pleasant year.



Sangrur SSP asks city police to probe baby’s death
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
The Sangrur police has asked the Ludhiana police to conduct a probe into the allegations levelled against CMC Hospital here by a Sangrur-based family.
Taking note of a complaint lodged with the police by Sangrur-based Indu Bansal that her newly born baby died at CMC Hospital in July allegedly due to doctor’s negligence, Sangrur SSP A.S.Rai got her statement recorded.

However, as the area of the alleged crime fell in Ludhiana district, Mr Rai has through an official letter asked local SSP Narinderpal Singh to look into the matter. The communication was appended with the statement of the Ms Bansal recorded by ASI Sukhminder Singh.

Mr Rai told Ludhiana Tribune on telephone that he had received a complaint from the aggrieved family through registered post along with a news report. He added that he ordered an inquiry and a police officer was sent to the victim’s house to record her statement.

“We have special instructions that no case of negligence against a doctor be registered before a proper investigation. Thus we did not register a case,” he said.

As per the latest policy, the police has to take the opinion of the Civil Surgeon before registering a case.

Meanwhile, the CMC authorities here have already termed the charges as baseless. In a strong denial issued to this paper, Dr Rajeev Kapoor, Deputy Medical Superintendent, said the baby died at the hospital on July 14 because of serious complications, including heart failure, brain haemorrhage and large heart (cardiomegaly).

He also rubbished the allegation levelled by the victim that some para-medical had posed as a doctor and treated the baby. He said a senior female paediatrician had diagnosed the baby as suffering from septicaemia.

Mr Gaurav Bansal and Ms Indu Bansal had in an affidavit to Ludhiana Tribune and in the complaint to the Sangrur police alleged that their nine-day-old baby died in the paediatrics ward of the hospital as none of the doctors attended the baby properly.

The aggrieved mother narrating the sequence of events said her baby was born through a caesarean operation on July 11 at a hospital in Sangrur. On July 13 he developed some illness.

Her parents took him to the CMC on the night of July 13.

Ms Bansal said, "On seeing my son being bitten by mosquitoes when I enquired about the doctor a woman said she was on duty. She examined my son and said he was suffering from some infection and would be better soon. Next morning his condition deteriorated. My mother went to the doctor and we were shocked to find out that the doctor on duty was actually a male and some woman employee had posed as a doctor. The doctor came and gave my son an injection worth Rs 4,000 and left. That was the only day when the doctor actually gave him some treatment. After that day nobody bothered about my son.”

She further said the doctor came the next day and left after a few minutes. Later, some staff members came and took some blood samples of my son and did ECG also. “I was relieved that my son was getting some attention. But my happiness was shortlived as one of the technicians told me that they had performed tests on him by mistake and they had to perform these on a girl, Pooja. My son’s condition started worsening. On July 14 he became critical. I took him in my lap and went running to the doctor. He was shifted to the ICU where he breathed his last.”



Probe sought into farmer’s death 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
The Punjab state committee of the MCPI has alleged that the callous attitude of the district administration of Bathinda and the railway authorities resulted in the death of a farmer, Gurdev Singh, and injuries to others at the Bhai Bakhtaur railway crossing on September 30 during a statewide agitation.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary of the unit, the party has demanded a high-level judicial inquiry into the incidents of September 30 and October 1. The unit feels that an executive inquiry ordered by the District Magistrate would not be able to do justice to the farmers.

The unit also condemned the lathicharge on leaders and activists. “False and frivolous cases have been foisted on the leaders and activists of the farmers’ organisations to suppress and muzzle the democratic voice of the people”, the unit said.

The MCPI has lent support to the agitation to be held on October 10 in protest against the death of Gurdev Singh and other related incidents. The party has also demanded full compensation to the family of Gurdev Singh and those injured.



Six yards of elegance
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, October 6
Fashions may come and fashions may go, but the sari, like a diamond, is forever. This six-yard wonder remains the epitome of feminine grace and elegance, with other popular women’s dresses hardly posing any challenge to this peerless garment.

This phenomenon made its presence felt at the recently concluded Lakme India Fashion Week (LIFW) in Mumbai, where 60-70 per cent of the ensembles for women focused on the sari with individual ideas and fusions by designers.

Sari remains the only women’s wear that commands a universal appeal in the country from Kanya Kumari to Himachal Pradesh and from Gujarat to the North-East, even though each region has a distinct style of wearing it, in terms of accessories, length and shape of this wonderful garment.

Salwar-kameez and ghagra-choli are the other distinct ethnic Indian attires. However, with rising literacy rate and a media savvy citizenry, skirts and jeans are now passe in a majority of the Indian households.

But, the sari remains the ultimate in grace and beauty and has even become a symbol of “power dressing”, with top women politicians in the country expressly choosing the six-yard sari as their “political uniform”.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the TDP’s Renuka Chowdhary — all have a marked preference for the sari as their district dress code. Even Cheri Blair and the wife of former US Ambassador Robert Blackwell could not resist its charm.

Barring a few like former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, most women at the top echelons of the country have adopted the sari as an intrinsic part of their personality.

In the city, too, college principals drape saris. In certain institutes, too, sari is the dress code for teachers as it adds to sartorial elegance.

Ms Harmeet Kaur, Principal of Ramgarhia Girls College, says that the sari transcends regional identities and is the most popular form of dressing for women in India as it is steeped in tradition. It also offers unlimited scope for innovation and can be worn in many different ways with perfection.

Socialites enhance the power of the sari by wearing de'collete blouses. College students, too, prefer wearing colourful saris at parties and beauty competitions. 



Plan to develop infrastructure, says 
Gurcharan Singh Ghalib
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
The Congress government, headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, is committed to the overall development of the state and a comprehensive plan has been formulated for infrastructure development in all major towns in the state.

This was stated by Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, senior Congress leader and member of the Lok Sabha, while addressing a function in the Simlapuri locality in Ward No. 28 after laying the foundation stone of development works to be carried out at an estimated cost of Rs 80 lakh. He claimed it was only under the regime of successive Congress governments in Punjab and at the Centre that major development schemes were launched.

Congress legislator Malkiat Singh Dakha said residents of under-developed areas would be provided civic amenities on a par with posh areas in the city. He asked Mr Ghalib to allocate money from his constituency development fund for dharamshalas in Simlapuri and other under-developed colonies in the city.

The area councillor, Mr Palwinder Singh Taggar, claimed that almost 60 per cent of the total development works in the ward had been completed and the remaining works were in various stages of planning, approval and execution. He expressed his gratitude to senior party leaders as well as Mayor Nahar Singh Gill and MC Commissioner S.K. Sharma for extending their cooperation in the speedy execution of development works.

Mr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Satwinder Singh Jawaddi and Mr Amarjit Singh Matharoo, all councillors, Mr Mohinder Singh Seenh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bedi, Mr Parveen Kumar Sharma, Dr Sat Pal Bhanot, Mr Jarnail Singh Simlapuri, Mr Rajinder Singh Ghatore, Mr Avtar Singh Kanda and Mr Raj Kumar Bahadur were also present on the occasion.



Store paddy till Dec, says Rajewal
Our Correspondent

Samrala, October 6
“Farmers of Punjab should try to store their paddy produce till December when the rates will surely rise. It will be a good bargain that even after paying the interest to the arthiyas, this will be a paying proposition”. Stating this to newspersons here today, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, national general secretary of the Bharti Kisan Union, said rice producing and consuming states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were badly affected by continuous drought. In Orissa drought and floods had destroyed paddy crop and Bihar and Bengal were flood affected.

According to Mr Rajewal, in Andhra Pradesh paddy could not be sown in about 11 lakh hectares which is about half or 48 per cent of the area under paddy in Punjab. Karnataka is facing far worse conditions than Andhra Pradesh. Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandra Babu Naidu has written to the Prime Minister to immediately supply 15 lakh MT of rice and a cash support of Rs 9.6 crore to tide over the drought crisis. This will lead to a rise in the price of paddy from November.

Mr Rajewal appealed to the Punjab Government to immediately take up with the Centre the issue of enhancing the quota of levy rice to 100 per cent in Punjab. This will increase the paddy rates as private millers will rush for more purchase.

Mr Rajewal also appealed to the leadership of the SAD (B) to take up the levy rice issue immediately with their NDA partner and get 100 per cent levy announced immediately so that the farmers could benefit from the increased price of paddy. If it was delayed, only the millers would reap its benefits, he added.



Valmiki Sabha resents MC decision
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
Mr Shekar Sahota, general secretary, District Valmiki Sabha, has asked the state government to take appropriate action against those officers of the local Municipal Corporation who had allowed two organisations to take out their shobha yatras from the Daresi grounds on the same day as the eve of Lord Valmiki’s birth anniversary, which falls on October 10.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sahota said permission to the sabha had been granted on the basis of its past record as the organisation had been taking out a shobha yatra from the Daresi grounds for the past 42 years.

He said the corporation had ignored rules and regulations while granting permission to the other organisations to take out a shobha yatra from the same place and on the same day.

Mr Sahota said the decision of the corporation had also perplexed the district administration, which was at a loss as to which of the two organisations should be granted permission to take out the shobha yatra.

Mr Sahota said the sabha would take out the shobha yatra from the Daresi grounds on October 9, adding that mohalla-level meetings in this regard were taking place. The shobha yatra will be dedicated to Ram Parkash Gill, founder of the sabha, he said. 



Akali unity for personal gains, says Saholi
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 6
Mr Parmjit Singh Saholi, President, All-India Youth Akali Dal (Ravi Inder group), has alleged that the unity between Akali leaders Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Parkash Singh Badal is for personal gains and not for the betterment of the Sikh Panth, as claimed by these leaders.

Addressing a press conference at the local Chandan Plaza today, Mr Saholi said the previous Badal government had also failed to settle Sikh matters. He said the new Akali Dal would fight for the cause of the Sikhs and play a major role to save the youth of the state from drugs. 



Stone for memorial gate laid
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, October 6
The stone for a gate was laid by the council chief, Mr Joginder Pal Singla in memory of the sixth Guru Shri Hargobind Sahib on the G.T. Road crossing yesterday.
A function was organised on the occasion which was chaired by Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, vice-president of the council. Mr J.P. Sharma, president, steel chamber, Mr Lachman Singh Saini, executive officer, Mr Chaman Lal Matharu, industrialist, Mr Harinder Singh Bhambri, Mr Rajinder Kumar Tittu, Mr Jagdev Singh (all councillors) and Mr Shahbaz Dhillon, Congress leader were also present.

Mr Singla said while taking over as council chief, he had promised to raise a gate in memory of the Guru who had graced this land with his visit.

Mr Inder Singh, president of the local gurdwara committee, and Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, member, SGPC honoured Mr Singla with a siropa. Mr Sahota said the gate would be of 26 feet height and 36 feet width.



Plea to release DA instalments 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
Members of the Government Pensioners Association have urged the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, to release DA instalments, which is due from July, at the rate of 4 per cent. They have urged him to clear the DA arrears before Divali and pay DA in cash.

They claim that the Central Government has already sanctioned the DA instalment in an order dated September 10, 2003 for its employees and pensioners. The order states that DA arrears should be paid in cash and that too, before Divali.

In another communique to the Finance Minister, the association has asked him to disburse salary/pension for October before Divali this year.



4 held for quarrelling in public
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
The division No. 4 police yesterday arrested four persons and booked them under Section 160 of the IPC for quarrelling at a public place and disturbing peace in the area. Satish Kumar and Preet Kamal Singh, both residents of Chander Lok Colony on the Rahon road, were booked in one case while Shiv Kumar and Sanjeev Kumar, both residents of New Subhash Nagar on the Rahon Road were booked in another.

2 held for gambling: The division No. 3 police arrested Harjit Singh, a resident of Mohalla Taj Ganj, and Jasbir Singh on Sunday and booked them under the Gambling Act. The police said the accused were caught gambling and Rs 1,100 along with playing cards were seized from them. Later, the two were able to get bail, the police added.

Theft case registered: On the statement of Mr Raman Kumar, a resident of Mohalla Preet Nagar at Dugri , the Model Town police on Sunday registered a case under various sections of the IPC against Babu, a resident of Nirmal- nagar and two boys accompanying him.

The complainant, who runs a shop in Preet Nagar, had alleged that the accused forced their way into his shop on Sunday night and beat him up. Before going away, the accused took away cash, the complainant added.

Eve-teaser held: The division No. 4 police on Sunday arrested Bablu Khattri, a migrant from Rajasthan now living in Islam Ganj near Gopal Mandir, and booked him under Section 294 of the IPC. The police said on Monday that the accused was teasing girls near the Daresi grounds.

Illicit liquor seized: The Model Town police on Sunday night arrested Varinder Singh, a resident of Baba Deep Singh Nagar, opposite Guru Nanak Engineering College, and booked him under the Excise Act. The police said on Monday that the accused was stopped at the chowk of the locality and 20 bottles of whisky were recovered from his Maruti car.

The division No. 6 police arrested Rakesh Singh, a migrant from Uttranchal now living in Janakpuri, recovered 20 bottles of illicit liquor and booked him under the Excise Act.

Woman drowned: A married woman of Dalla village was drowned recently. According to information, she had come to pay obeisance near a canal when she slipped accidently and drowned. She was the daughter of Ranjit Singh Lambardar of Dalla village.

Poppy husk seized: Mr Raminder Singh Kahlon of police station, Gurusar Sudhar, during a nakabandi arrested Buta Singh of Bhoda and seized poppy husk from his scooter, which has also been impounded. He has been booked under Sections 15/61 of the NDPS Act.



Excisable goods’ return process made easy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
The Central Excise has simplified the procedure of filing indirect monthly and quarterly tax return by manufacturers of excisable goods. The declaration has been reduced to a unified, single and easy one-page return.

Mr H.K. Mittal, Commissioner, Central Excise, Ludhiana, said the return format had been made less rigorous by substantially reducing the number of details required to be furnished in the return. Further, in the new format, details of information about excisable goods manufactured by an assessee is required to be furnished based on the six digits sub-heading level of the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985, and not on the description of goods.

This will also facilitate online filing of returns and the use of automation for collection, compilation and analysis of trade statistics. A note regarding the introduction of the new format w.e.f. October 1, 2003, has been issued, he added.

Presently, manufacturers of excisable goods registered with the Central Excise Department are required to file two returns, one for production and clearance of manufactured goods and another for availing of CENVAT. It has now been decided to reduce the number of returns filed by an assessee to a single return.

Certain other changes in the Central Excise Rules, 2002, and CENVAT Credit Rules, 2002, have also been carried out. Full CENVAT credit of the duty paid on moulds and dies will now be available to the manufacturer in the first year of acquisition itself. However, credit on the moulds and dies received in the factory already before this amendment will be allowed as per the provisions existing earlier.

Export-oriented units will also be required to give details of the goods manufactured and exported under bond as well as the inputs and capital goods received without payment of duty in the monthly return filed by them, Mr Mittal added.



Council for less paperwork on freight
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 6
The Engineering Export Promotion Council has welcomed the decision of the Punjab Government to neutralise the freight up to a seaport for exports to the extent of 1 per cent of the FOB value, subject to the maximum of Rs 50 lakh per unit every year.

Mr S.C.Ralhan, chairman of the council, said presently the facility was for light engineering industries such as hand tool, machine tool, cycle and auto-parts, textile, hosiery and knitwears, sports goods, agro-products.

To claim the freight assistance, a number of documents will have to be attached with the application. To simplify the procedure and cut the paperwork the matter is being taken up with the Punjab Government 



Jammu Colony body to back Chawla group
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 6
Members of the Jammu Colony Small Scale Manufacturers Association ( JCSSMA) vowed to support the Chawla group in the elections of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association scheduled to be held on October 8.

This declaration was made by the secretary of the association, Mr Avtar Singh, in an election meeting held today morning in the Jammu Colony area.

He also brought to the notice of his supporters the wrong deeds of his rival group and its undemocratic style of campaigning by using caste and religion in the industrial election campaign .

Harcharan Singh Golwaria, Sudarshan Gosain, Pardeep Wadhawan, Rupak Sood, Badish Jindal, Kulwinder Singh Matharoo, Lalit Behl, Swaran Singh Mohali, Pradeep Jain, Satish Mangal, Manjit Singh Arneja, Balwinder Singh Panesar, Hira Singh, Narpinder Singh, Sohan Singh, Rajinder Kundra, Pritam Singh Sikri, Jaswant Singh and Ravinder Singh were also present on the occasion.


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