L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Sihaar tense again, path not allowed
Jupinderjit Singh and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
Tension returned to the village following the attempt of the rival groups of the Nanaksar Thath to organise a Poornmashi path at Sant Meehan Singh Dera. The Khanna police reached the village with a heavy force to cool down tempers. The SSP, Mr Parmod Ban, also reached the village.

The police decided not to allow the path at the disputed site. Mr Ban told Ludhiana Tribune that the situation was completely under control and he was holding parleys with both parties in this regard.

On his persuasion both groups decided to organise the path separately and at different places.

Sources at the thath revealed that a group of followers comprising mostly residents of Sihaar village and led by Baba Mann Singh, son of late Sant Meehan Singh, came along with a large number of followers and demanded the keys of the dera from the sevadars.

The sevadars declined and said the akhand path would be started by a group led by Baba Harnek Singh. As the situation threatened to turn violent, Payal police officials called additional force from Khanna to prevent any untoward incident.

Mr Amrik Singh Minhas, Deputy Superintendent of Police, at Payal confirmed the incident and said, “We have asked both rival groups to refrain from any such activity which may disrupt peace. No group will be allowed to hold any congregation till a consensus is arrived at or a final decision is taken.” Mr Minhas said the group led by Baba Harnek Singh would be celebrating Pooranmashi at Dhaipayee Thath and that led by Baba Mann Singh may celebrate at the village gurdwara or any other public place.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh (husband of Ms Balwinder Kaur, sarpanch) said residents of Sihaar village had gone to the Thath in connection with the akhand path. He further said “When the police prohibited both groups from performing the religious ceremony no body should have a grudge against them.”

The religious place once again wore a cantonment like look today, two days after the bhog ceremony of Jeet Singh.

The police started barricading the entry to the religious place. Though supporters of both factions refrained from giving any statements, sources reveal that supporters of Baba Harnek Singh visited the office of the DIG, Ludhiana, and those supporting Baba Mann Singh rang up a senior Congress leader in Delhi to impress upon the Chief Minister to listen to their grievances.



ST evasion racket unearthed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
A special team of the Excise and Taxation Department has unearthed a major racket of a large-scale evasion of sales tax by some firms in connivance with a transport company.

The office of the transport company, M/s Om Carrying Corporation, was raided by the team comprising around 12 officers which included all three local Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioners. The team found highly incriminating documents unearthing a scandal involving huge evasion of sales tax by way of issuing fake bills and unauthorised use of statutory exim forms by the transport companies in connivance with some local firms.

The department said here today that the firms involved were M/s Kohinoor Knit India, M/s Diamond Knitters, M/s S. K. Enterprises, Shiv Shakti Wool Traders, M/s R. S. Woollen and Textile Traders and Arihant Traders, Ludhiana.

The exim forms issued to these firms were found in the illegal possession of the transport company which had been misusing those along with fake bills by causing a huge loss to the state exchequer.

A case has been registered against the transport company and conniving firms under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120 – B of the IPC. The department said vigil was being kept on such type of other unscrupulous elements and stern action would be taken against them.



Labourer’s body awaits cremation
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 6
Relatives of 19-year-old Babban, a migrant labourer from Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh), who had died in the Christian Medical College and Hospital on November 4, have been running from pillar to post for the past two days to get his body released from the hospital mortuary. It is alleged that the authorities have refused to hand over Babban’s body to his relatives, unless they cleared a bill of Rs 37,000. Babban had died of dengue.

According to Ram Bachan, brother-in-law of the deceased, “Suffering from high fever, Babban was brought to the hospital on October 28. Since he has got no other relative here, I, along with my friends, got him admitted here. An initial payment of Rs 17,550 was made to the hospital. We were informed that he was suffering from dengue. But his condition was serious. Babban’s blood was also transfused. However, on November 4, he died. The hospital authorities informed us that there was a standing bill of Rs 68,333 as many expensive tests were conducted and Babban was given many units of blood. When we reached the hospital mortuary to take his body, the hospital authorities refused to hand over the body. I told them that I was unable to pay such a huge amount. Even if I put together all my resources, I will not be able to clear the dues”, said Ram Bachan with tears rolling down his cheeks.

A daily wager, Ram Bachan told the authorities that he would not be able to clear the hospital bill. “Now they have told us to deposit at least Rs 37,000 to get Babban’s body. I do not have any savings. For the past one week, I have not been able to go to my work. I did not eat anything for the past two days”, he said.

Babban was a migrant labourer, working in a hosiery unit here. A resident of Bal Singh Nagar, Basti Jodhewal, Babban used to earn Rs 1,500 per month. He was married and his wife was in Azamgarh. “His wife has been informed about the death. But she is too young to handle the situation. I do not know what to do now as all relatives depend on me”, said Ram Bachan.

Dr John Abraham, Medical Superintendent, CMCH, when contacted, said, “His relatives alongwith a local councillor, had approached me day before yesterday.

I had given as much concession as I could, and they agreed to pay the amount. After that none of them came to me. The patient was given costly treatment and was given approximately 18 bottles of blood. I never refused to release the body, they should come to me and talk about their problem”.



Hosiery goods perish in major fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
A major fire broke out in a seven-storeyed hosiery factory on the Hazoori road this evening causing loss of about Rs 12 lakh. The flames engulfed some residential houses and caused damages to their wooden doors and window panes.

No loss of life was reported. In fact, alertness showed by labourers of the factory prevented the fire from spreading. The labourers even risked their lives and shifted a huge stock of hosiery products to a safer place.

Timely arrival of the fire brigade, despite being stuck up in a procession of Gurpurb celebrations in the Chaura Bazar prevented the fire from spreading to adjoining hosiery factory.

Short-circuit is being suspected as the cause of the fire, which broke out in the first storey of the building.

According to the factory owner, Makhan Singh, the fire broke out at about 4:00 pm. He said some labourers saw sparks in electric wires and raised an alarm, but the fire spread fast. He said despite immediate rescue measures, he suffered a loss of Rs 12 lakh. A large number of pullovers, cardigans and baby suits perished in the fire, he claimed.

Five fire engines controlled the flames in 45 minutes. The labourers and residents of the adjoining areas did a yeoman serivce by throwing buckets full of water to control the fire.



Residents sour over post office merger
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
The Dugri Urban Estate post office will be merged with the Model Town one. An order, dated October 30, issued by the Senior Superintendent of Post Office, Ludhiana, the Dugri Urban Estate post office was issued in this regard. This has led to frustration and resentment among area residents.

The post office of Dugri was set up five years ago. At that time it was seen that it should be 1 mile away from the post office of Model Town. For this purpose the society attained the necessary certificates from the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, Public Works Department and Revenue Department. It was opened to the public in 1999.

But with its merger the Urban Estate areas of Dugri will be deprived of post office services, which the residents had been enjoying for the past few years.

A deputation of the New Millennium Club, led by its president B.R. Kaushal met the authorities concerned.

The Chief Postmaster General, Mr Puri, said he had no knowledge of this. He assured them that he would look into the matter.

With colonies like Janta Enclave, Janta Flower Enclave, Basant Avenue, Phase III and many other localities coming up around Dugri village the post office here has become important old people, pensioners and retired officers are living in the area and it will be helpful if the post office is nearby.

The residents are ready to fulfil other formalities and provide suitable and sufficient space near the police chowki, Dugri Urban Estate.



Four more post offices face closure
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
The Department of Posts will also close four more post offices in the city located near Girson Mills Kidwai Nagar, general bus stand and on the G.T. Road (near Sherpur).

Public Cause, a social service body, has termed the decision to close down these post offices as unwarranted and unfortunate. Mr Yash Pal Ghai, director of the society, observed that the withdrawal of postal facilities to a large segment of the local population would create many problems and people would have to go to for off places to use postal facilities.

Mr Ghai claimed that if the government criteria for closure of post offices was lack of adequate business, then the case of the post office at Kidwai Nagar locality was certainly different. “Practically, the three employees working in this post office rather complain of being overburdened,” he added.

The acting Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, city division, Mr Chanan Singh Badhan, told the Ludhiana Tribune that the decision to close the post offices in the city was taken on the basis of norms fixed by the government and the exercise was in progress in the entire Punjab circle. These post offices were running in losses, he added.



Light diyas before Ganesha, get wish fulfilled
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 6
The rumour that if one lights five diyas filled with pure ghee before the image of Lord Ganesha one’s wishes will be fulfilled spread like wild fire not only in the city but also in different parts of the country here yesterday. No one knows from where the rumour originated but by the evening people could be seen standing in long queues with thalis having five diyas filled with pure ghee.

The one who received the message was told to pass on this message to five more persons or they will not reap the benefit. This message was passed on through the SMS facility and telephone, resulting in the lines getting jammed.

Satya Narain Temple in Chawani Mohalla witnessed a large rush of devotees eagerly waiting for their turn. Not caring of the cold night women draped in shawls were seen even after 9 p.m. awaiting their turn.

Sheetla Mandir in front of the Municipal Corporation office closed at its usual time. But so great was the faith of the people that they lighted diyas in front of the closed doors of the temple.

The oldest Shiva temple in the walled city, ‘sanglawala Shivalaya, had unprecedented rush of devotees. Many persons standing in the queue said,” We were unaware of the fact that we have to light the lamps, but our relatives called us from Jalandhar, Jaipur and Kota in this regard and so. Seeing the rush the temples were kept open for a longer time.

At the famous Shiv Temple on the Brinaban road people could be seen praying before the idol of Lord Ganesha after lighting lamps.

Many girls who could not go to temples lit diyas before the idols of Ganesha at their homes.



Akalis threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Mandi, Gobindgarh, November 5
Raids on properties of Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s family is poll stunt of Capt Amarinder Singh in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, Mr Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon, president All-India Youth Akali Dal, told mediapersons yesterday. He added if any member of this family was arrested, they would launch jail bharo andolan.

Mr Dhillon said after failing to get any proof of corruption against the Badal family the Chief Minister sent private parties for assessing the immovable properties of the former Chief Minister to continue campaign of propaganda, against the Akali leadership. The value of property held by the Badal family had been exaggerated to give an impression that their wealth was disproportionate to their known sources of income, he maintained.

Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, SGPC, state SAD general secretary, Ludhiana, Swaran Singh were also present.



MCPI flays erratic power supply
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 6
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has expressed concern over the erratic power supply to domestic consumers, both in the urban and rural areas. Extended power cuts, coupled with frequent break downs, have made the lives of common people miserable and unbearable. Despite sufficient rain this year, the power supply situation had become worse,said Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary of the Punjab State Committee of the party.

He said the Punjab Government, the minister concerned and even the Chief Minister were making tall claims of ensuring uninterrupted power supply to the consumers, especially with regard to covering all villages under 24-hour power supply scheme, but the reality was contrary to the claims. Most parts of the city and many of the surrounding towns and villages were facing unprecedented power cuts and that too at very sensitive hours.

The irregular power supply was affecting adversely students, whose examinations were drawing near he said. Due to repeated hike in power tariff, hefty bills had become beyond the reach of the common man.

Mr Kuldip Singh urged the government to intervene and ensure regular power supply to the domestic consumers and also rationalisation the power tariff.



Panel on encroachment regularisation soon
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, presides over the meeting of the District Planning and Development Board at the Bachat Bhavan
Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, presides over the meeting of the District Planning and Development Board at the Bachat Bhavan on Thursday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, November 6
Punjab is all set to make rapid strides on the development track and during the current financial year an outlay of Rs 3,200 crore has been provided in the annual plan for district- level developmental and welfare schemes as compared to Rs 2,428 crore spent during the last financial year, says Finance Minister Lal Singh.

He was presiding over a meeting of District Planning and Development Board in Bachat Bhavan here today. The minister said for the development in the rural and urban areas, the district development and planning boards had been reactivated and during the current financial year, funds amounting to Rs 662.03 crore were being spent through these boards for various development projects and welfare programme.

Referring to the funds being spent through the District Planning and Development Board in the district, the minister said during the current financial year, funds amounting to Rs 26.50 crore had been allotted for Ludhiana, out of which grants amounting to Rs 11.48 crore had been released to the different departments for development projects and welfare programmes and at the today’s meeting, grants totalling Rs 114.30 lakh were released to various departments.

Apart from this, untied funds worth Rs 1.3 crore had also been received for the completion of ongoing projects during this year. He said out of these untied funds, Rs 10 lakh each would be given for each Vidhan Sabha constituency. He asked all MLAs to submit the recommendations to the Deputy Commissioner in this connection in their constituencies at the earliest.

Mr Lal Singh said funds amounting to Rs 225.70 crore had been received as the Central Government’s share under the Swaran Jayanti Gram Self-Employment Yojna, the Indira Awas Yojna and the Sampuran Gram Rojgar Yojna, out of these 52.78 lakh had been released under these schemes.

He said to provide nutritious food to children of weaker sections, funds amounting to Rs 53.92 lakh were being spent by social security department in the districts through anganwaris and Rs 26.96 lakh have been released for this purpose .

Taking a serious note of long-pending utilisation certificates against some departments, the minister warned that strict disciplinary action would be initiated against the defaulting officers in case they failed to submit the same before the next meeting. On an inquiry report confirming the embezzlement of funds by Sarpanch of Bassian village, the District Planning and Development Board decided to register a case against the sarpanch and the Finance Minister asked the Deputy Commissioner to write to the SSP, Jagraon, for registering the case.

On a point raised by some members regarding the encroachments on the government land of various departments in urban areas, the minister said the government was going to regularise these encroachments, where the people had already constructed their houses and had been living since long time.

He said a state-level committee was being set up to prepare a uniform pattern for fixing amounts to be charged from the encroachers, so that government could receive the value of their properties. He asked the DC to conduct a survey of such encroachments in the urban areas, before next meeting of the board and submit report.

Others who attended the meeting included Lala Lajpat Rai, MP, Ms Harbans Kaur, Chairperson, Punjab Forest Development Corporation, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, Mr Surinder Dawar, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon (all MLAs), Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Isher Singh Meharban, Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Mr Harmohinder Singh, President, DCC, Rural, Mr Ramesh Joshi, and Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhaini.

Later, the Finance Minister presided over the first meeting of newly constituted District Grievances Removal Committee and directed the officers of all departments to redress complaints of people at their level, so that they should not have to make repeated visits to Chandigarh. He said the monthly meetings of the committee would be held regularly. 



City to have unit to monitor pollution
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
The Punjab Pollution Control Board has decided to set up the state's first-ever ambient air monitoring unit in the city to monitor the concentration of pollutants in the second most polluted city of the northern region after Delhi.

The digital device will be installed at the pedestrian overbridge at the local Vishawakarma Chowk, which will show the concentration of various pollutants including suspended particulate matter (SPM), oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and carbon monoxide (CO) compared with the permissible limits of the pollutants.

This was informed by Rana K.P. Singh, Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), while addressing mediapersons here today. He said the device, would be installed at a cost of Rs 1 lakh shortly. The city was going to be the first city in the state where such a unit was being installed.

Mr Rana said he had met industrialists of the city and had asked them to comply with the directions of the board to minimise the level of pollutants. He said the Zonal Office had given consents to 967 industrial units here and in Faridkot. This would come as a respite to the industrialists who had been complaining of slow pace of work in the board.

He said the board had issued directions to 12 cupola industries. Out of these, eight had already installed air pollution control devices and notices to the remaining industries were being sent to install such devices in specific time.

He said the board had decided to issue notices to the industries which were operating without an effluent treatment plant. Similarly the board was issuing show-cause notices to violators of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.

Mr Rana said the plants were being constructed by the Punjab Small Scale Industries and Export Corporation but the progress was very slow. He stated that he would take up the matter with the Industries Department to expedite the work.



Aashirwad for cerebral palsy patients
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 6
“If a baby does not cry at birth, the doctors know it is risky. But most of the doctors do not tell the parents about this. With the result that the parents only know that something is wrong when the child is unable to hold his/her head straight or utter any sound,” Puja, special educator with Aashirwad, said.

She said those children in whom cerebral palsy was detected early and were sent for orthopaedic and speech therapy, were able to cope with their problems and become independent.

Speech therapist Niranjan said they taught according to the needs of the children and this included babbling.

Aashirwad is the only institution catering to the needs of children with disabilities mainly cerebral palsy. Puja said mostly people had little knowledge about cerebral palsy

Dr Neelam Sodhi, who is running Aashirwad, said, "Cerebral palsy denotes a group of conditions characterised by motor dysfunction due to non-progressive brain damage early in life that interferes with the normal development of brain. Children with cerebral palsy are not able to control their muscles and move in a jerky way. These children may have some associated problems like hearing and visual impairment, seizures or epilepsy, speech problems, intellectual deficits and emotional problems.”

She further said for cerebral palsy, management was a more appropriate word than treatment. Management should be started as early as possible in order to help the child grow and develop as cerebral palsy was not curable.

At Aashirwad the focus is on improvement. No two children with cerebral palsy are alike. Sixty per cent of the affected children have normal or above average intelligence. Cerebral palsy is not progressive, contagious and inherited.

Aashirwad caters to around 250 children. Now under the Disability Act, normal school will have to admit 3 per cent disabled students.



Coming to the aid of physically challenged
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
The fact that Ludhiana, being an industrial hub of Punjab, was not providing job opportunities to physically challenged in the industry. Mr Jagdish P. Pandey forced to come to the city from Allahabad and take up their case with the local authorities.

Mr Pandey, president of the All-India Handicapped, Widow and Helpless Persons Association, is sore with industrialists for not complying with the Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation Act, 1995, which says that all industrial units are supposed to provide 5 per cent jobs to the physically challenged.

Talking to The Tribune here on Tuesday, this messiah of the underprivileged, who is himself a diabetic and physically challenged, said he was on a few days visit to various industrial houses in the city and was concerned that none of these units had employed physically challenged persons.

Having lost his right leg and also suffering from multiple fractures in the right arm after an accident in 1989, this 45-year-old decided to work for the welfare of the physically challenged and formed the association. Now he is all set to open a unit of the association in the city.

He said as per rough estimates, there were about 25,000 physically challenged persons in the city and most of them had no option but to beg in the absence of job opportunities. He said while going around in the city, he had seen many such persons seeking alms at traffic chowks, thus risking their lives.

He said after setting up a unit of the association in the city, he would be able to provide help to such persons. He said he was trying to meet the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for help in the matter.

Mr Pandey rued that owners of local industrial houses had a misconception that the physically challenged could not work efficiently because of their handicap. However, they could be employed as telephone attendants, gatekeepers and even for handling accounts, he added. He sought a national policy for the physically challenged.



When will PPSC hold interviews?

The Punjab Public Service Commission had invited applications in 1999 and 2001 for 272 and 276 posts of college lecturer. Interviews were held in January/February, 2002. Later, the selections were cancelled by the Punjab Government and the PPSC was directed to hold interviews afresh. But so far the PPSC has not announced the schedule for interviews. How much more time will it take to hold the interviews?

Sadly, more than 700 out of a total of 2192 posts of lecturer are lying vacant in government colleges in Punjab. There has been no recruitment of lecturers for the past seven years. A deplorable state of affairs, but is anyone listening ?

Prof. Sanjeev Ghai, Hoshiarpur

Revised pension formula unjust

More than 5 lakh Punjab Government employees and pensioners are up in arms against the revised pension commutation formula which has imposed a major cut in the commutation of pension of those retiring on or after July 31 this year. Nearly 2,000 employees retire every month in Punjab and this formula is unjust to the employees.

Under the new formula, a person who retires at the age of 58 will get commutation at the rate of 6.21 instead of 10.46 as it was provided under the old formula. It means that under the new rules, the retiree will get nearly Rs 60,000 instead of Rs 1,00,000 as it was provided under the old rules. Besides, the rate of interest chargeable on the commuted pension has been raised from 4.75 to 8 per cent under the new rules. It is again a minus point and anti employee at the most vulnerable time of the retiring employee.

Interestingly, the revised formula does not apply in the case of Punjab cadre IAS officers. They will get the commutation of pension at the higher rate than that of their employees. It is a case of sheer discrimination. Pensioners want the government to restore the old formula.

Why the double standards?, Yash Paul Ghai, Ludhiana

Well done, DC sahib

I, on behalf of Tagore Nagar Welfare Society, appreciate the decision and initiative taken by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma - regarding monitoring and controlling of Dengue in the city. The DC has also directed the Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, to keep track on the current situation and has assured the administration that his team visits the affected area frequently.

The imposition of fine to the guilty/defaulters who are providing breeding places for mosquitoes is admirable. In my opinion this decision should have been taken at least two/three months back to save the valuable lives of people who had died on account of dengue. On account of dengue people have spent a lot of money in hospitals apart from physical set back.

Actually, this has occurred on account of the negligency of the Sanitation Department of the Municipal Corporation which had not even anticipated the consequences of dengue. No doubt, there is also a lapse on the apart of the Health Department.

Had the Municipal Corporation deployed their fogging machines and sprayed every corner of the district since the beginning of the rainy season, the situation could have been saved.

It would not be out of place to mention that there is lack of coordination between the Health Department and the Municipal Corporation sanitation staff and as such they are putting the responsibility on the shoulders of each others.

Pawan Sood, Ludhiana

Gandhi Dham’s callous neglect

The Ludhiana Tribune report dated October 2, has again suitably covered the utter neglect of a place of historic importance at Phillaur — a place which is of important historical value but now almost deserted under the callous neglect of the administration. Gandhi Dham is known as a place where the urn of the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi was kept in 1948 after his assassination for immersion in the Sutlej — a river whose history is believed to be much more old than the Ganges.

It is a place which was also visited in the 60s by Vinova Bhave — an ardent follower of Gandhiji. It seems not far when people brought their charkhas (spinning wheels) from home and spun cotton to donate the yarn so spun in the evening to the Khadi mandal, which arranged such functions. I remember when we used to come with our teachers at Phillaur to see Gandhi Mela here which was an annual fair. The place is of historic importance from another angle also. It is the spot where the English forces made peace pact with Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Gandhi Dham situated on the picturesque surroundings can be a great attraction as a tourist spot since the imposing Maharaja Ranjit Singh Fort is nearby. The administration should take responsibility of maintaining it. A library-cum-reading room should be started immediately as a number of morning walkers from Phillaur come up to the Gandhi Dham site daily , but return with a deep sigh on seeing the state of utter neglect of this site .

B.B Goyal, Ludhiana

Ways to be a smart host

A party is a wonderful way to keep in touch with old friends and make some new ones. It is very important for you. How to be a smart host? Here are a few tips for the smart host.

— Send invitation by courier. Give your e-mail address, telephone and fax numbers in invitation.

— If the venue is hard to find, include a map.

— Be bold with your guest list. Invite people from different backgrounds. Invite more guests than you can handle. People always drop out.

— Always greet your guests personally. Separate partners — introduce them individually to other groups.

— Whatever the size of the party, put the start and finish time on the invitation. That way everyone known when you are going to stop food and drink.

— Once the party is in full swing, you can expect to be on the go continually. If there are two of you hosting, one can make sure the glasses are filled. If you are your own, recruit a friend to look after the drinks for you, shy people often find parties easier if they have a role to play.

— It is a friendly gesture when confirming your invitation to check whether there is something a guest cannot eat. And do try to accommodate guests who are on a diet.

— A relaxed host is an absolute must. Do not start panicking if things go wrong.

Dr Anil Dheer, Ludhiana



Cut basic custom duty to 10 pc: union
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
The Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association, while welcoming the move of the government to remove all steel items from the purview of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms has urged it to reduce the basic customs duty to 10 per cent from the present 25 per cent.

According to Mr V.P. Chopra and Mr Shakti Sharma, president and general secretary of the association, the benefits from the policy decision will not be fully reaped by entrepreneurs until the customs duty is brought down. This has been suggested by the Steel Ministry to the Finance Department and is in tune with the recommendations of the Kelkar Committee.

They claimed that if implemented it will help in the import of good-quality steel material in to the country at very competitive prices. It will also enable the local industrialists to sell their products in the global market on a par with foreign competitors. So far the Indian products were highly priced on account of the fluctuating rates of imported iron and steel.

Besides this, the imposition of central excise duty on ship breaking also needs to be withdrawn since it is not a manufacturing activity and hence should not attract provisions of central excise. This will result in more ships being brought to Indian ports for breaking and will help the domestic producers in getting a steady supply of raw material leading to the easing of the tight situation, they pointed out.

They added that the Indian industry had been hit hard by the increase in the prices of iron and steel being produced in the country for the past many years. This was due to the increase in the prices of raw material.


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