L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Sales tax evasion continues unabated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
With the hosiery season at its peak in the city, sales tax and octroi duty evasion worth lakhs of rupees goes on unabated in the city. Officials of State Taxation Department, who are supposed to meet big targets here, are having a tough time to detect the evasion.

Though tax evasion became very difficult after the setting up of a check post outside the railway station two years ago, ‘‘smart’’ evaders have adopted all possible ways and means to evade tax.

While hosiery manufacturers are trying to evade tax, the main players of the process of evasion are the owners of auto-rickshaws and horse-carts, who charge anything between Rs 100 to Rs 500 to carry goods to the railway registration office by hoodwinking tax officials.

Besides following various routes, they are also making use of some trolleys of the Railways Department itself to smoothly smuggle out huge parcels. A visit to Purana Bazara and Madho Puri, areas which are known for maximum number of hosieries, is enough to understand the modus operandi of the vehicle owners who transport goods to the railway station, from where these are sent to various destinations through parcels.

There are some particular auto-rickshaw drivers and horse-cart owners who are employed by the hosiery owners every season. They are told to smuggle out goods in a coded language and a “promising nod” by drivers is enough for industrialists, who prefer paying them anything.

Over the years, these drivers have formed “success” stories by making money besides becoming a source of envy for their counterparts, who despite working overtime, have earned peanuts. A horse-cart owner in Maya Puri is known for having built a palatial house, but continues riding his cart.

These people follow various routes to give a slip to the officials concerned. These include the VIP gates of the railway station, railway tracks near Lakkar Bridge and tracks near Vishwakarma Chowk.

They smuggle out goods by crossing the unmanned gates at various places. Interestingly, at places where the gates were totally closed and crossing was not possible at all, the goods were handed over to a man posted outside the gate by another man who got delivery from the parcel office of the Railways. The second best route is the railway track near the Lakkar Bridge. The third route is near the Ludhiana-Delhi rail tracks near the Vishwakarma Chowk.

The sales tax evasion at the railway station is quite rampant, as the traders after speeding their vehicles enter the railway station, and the railway authorities protect them on the plea that the ST Department cannot nab them from the railway station, as it becomes a ase of trespass. There have been confrontations between the two departments over this issue. Some time ago, the Railway officials had even got a case of trespass registered against some ST officials, which was later cancelled after the persuasion at the top level.

Officials of the Sales Tax Department claim that they were having a tough time as the tax evaders were being let off allegedly with the connivance of railway employees on the plea that Sales Tax officials could not conduct raids inside the station premises as per the rules of the Railways under which they can do so only after taking the permission of the Ministry of Railways.

On the other hand, the Railways officials say the Sales Tax Department was only causing harassment, which adversely affected the revenue of the Railways collected from the booking offices.

Sources in the Sale Tax Department told Ludhiana Tribune that local traders were successfully evading tax by following VIP route of the station to transport their goods and hoodwink the ST officials posted at the exit of the station. While the gates of the route were most of the times locked and opened only for VIP vehicles, traders were allowed to move out of the gates without any hiccups.

Moreover, the Railways officials do not allow the ST men to raid the goods even after the packets are delivered to the traders. They claim that it is their responsibility to save their customer from unnecessary harassment.



BKU gears up for farmers’ panchayat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) is making hectic preparation for the national-level farmers’ panchayat in Delhi on December 23, the birthday of Chaudhary Charan Singh.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Qadian, president and secretary general of the unit, said workers are doing their best to mobilise the farmers to attend the event where the long pending demands and the problems of farmers will be discussed and a strategy planned for their redressal.

They said they have so far visited Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore and the response from the people have been overwhelming. The people have been asked to convene panchayats at their own level so that the maximum number of farmers could be contacted in the coming days. They will personally visit villages in Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and other districts as well in the next few days.

The kisan leaders said the major issues to be discussed include the freezing of the MSP of various foodgrains, proposals to do away with the official procurement policies, lowering the rate of interest on borrowings of farmers to 4 per cent and linking the prices of foodgrains with the price index.

They pointed out that the condition of the farmers was deplorable and the condition of the community will further worsen after the WTO proposals come into effect. The landholdings are shrinking and the farmers are finding it hard to pay their debt instalments. Suicides among farmers are on the rise but the government has failed to pay heed to their warnings and recommendations to stem the slide, they added.

Besides this, the prices of fertilisers, insecticides and diesel have increased making agriculture a losing proposition. The youngsters are loath to turn to tend their family holdings and are opting for blue collar jobs and this is a serious indication of the ground realities and does not augur well for an agrarian economy like India, they added.

In case the government does not take a serious view of the recommendations of their panchayat, they would be forced to start a nation-wide agitation.



PAU student bodies’ plea to fill vacant posts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
The PAU Students Association and the Researchers Association have urged the government to fill hundreds of vacant posts in various departments and extension posts of the university at the earliest.

Mr Sandip Mann and Mr Kanwaljit Sandhu, presidents of the student bodies, pointed out that unemployment had led to mental harassment apart from shifting of professionals from their parent discipline of working to sales and marketing division in private companies and firms, where they get only meagre salaries. Some of them are left with no option but to immigrate to alien shores. This results in a huge loss to the country as well as the state because lakhs are spent on preparing such professionals.

It was mentioned that presently more than 250 posts of ADO, 40 posts of Horticulture Development Officer and hundreds of allied posts in organisations like the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, PUNSUP, Punjab Agro, etc. are lying vacant. Many teaching, research and extension posts in PAU and its research stations are lying vacant, some of which are being abolished by the varsity. Also, there is a need to create posts of teacher in agriculture subject in schools of the state.

Some MSc. and Ph.D degree holders in agriculture are offered temporary arrangement for a few months under different research projects schemes funded by different agencies, including the World Bank by the university. But this is not a solution to the problem of unemployment as after the termination of the projects, they are again unemployed. In many cases they have crossed the eligibility limits for Assistant Professor or equivalent posts, it was mentioned.



Octroi contract fetches Rs 12.30 cr
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, December 7
The octroi contract fetches Rs 12.30 crore and has been given to Jassar & Co. for one year with effect from December 15, said council chief Joginder Pal Singla to the mediapersons here yesterday.

According to the auction conditions, penalty cases on octroi will be settled by the president/executive officer of the council and the duty staff will be in the uniform and will be provided with identity cards.

The council has passed a budget of Rs 10.25 crore for development works. Sanitation work for residents of the Amloh road has been allotted from January 1 next year for Rs 8.76 lakh for six months to Mr Gurjot Singh, a contractor from Patiala.



Feud in District Cong Committee
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 7
The ongoing feud within the District Congress Committee (DCC) over the possession of the office refuses to die down with the president of the women wing of the DCC, Ms Usha Malhotra, complaining to the police that she was being threatened on behalf of the DCC president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma.

The controversy dates back to a recent incident when Ms Malhotra alleged that she was refused access to the office. She had staged a dharna in protest against the alleged high-handedness of Mr Sharma.

She had alleged that Mr Sharma, who has the control over the office, was not allowing her to meet workers or hold meetings. She staged a demonstration with some workers of the Mahila Congress to register her protest and also complained to the PCC president. On the other hand, Mr Sharma has been denying the charges. He also denied that she was threatened on his behalf.

The party sources have been maintaining that there is more to it than the simple issue of use of the office premises. Mr Sharma and Ms Malhotra owe allegiance to different factions of the DCC. Supporters of Mr Sharma have been alleging that Ms Malhotra is being misled by his (Mr Sharma’s) rivals as they do not want him to succeed. 



Delay in tubewell connections irks BKU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 7
Taking strong note of the failure of the PSEB management to provide power connections for tubewells to farmers strictly on merit and without delay despite clear directions from the Supreme Court the BKU has threatened to gherao board officials and adopt other methods to secure justice.

In a statement, Mr Joginder Singh Acharwal, general secretary (press) of the BKU, and several other functionaries said thousands of farmers, having paid more than Rs 16,000 each during 1986 to 1992 in the Raikot subdivision of the PSEB, were still to get power connections for the tubewells. While more than 4,000 applications were still pending in the general category, a tatkal scheme was launched for the immediate release of connections against hefty deposits.

Upset over the injustice, 10 farmers had moved the District Forum for Redress of Grievances which had awarded a compensation of Rs 5,000 each to the complainants and had also directed the PSEB to release the connections within a month. In a similar petition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also ruled in favour of the farmers. On an appeal preferred by the PSEB before the apex court, it directed the PSEB to allow 12 per cent interest to the farmers on security and advance deposits and to release the connections within six weeks.

Mr Acharwal said the PSEB management seemed to be in no mood for providing connections within the stipulated period in accordance with seniority. He said the BKU would be forced to launch an agitation if the PSEB didn’t do anything in this regard. 



Truck rams into toll tax booth
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 7
Booth number 6 of Toll Plaza near Doraha was damaged after a speeding truck (HR-38-G-8233) coming from Ludhiana rammed into it here today.
According to Mr Munish Dubey, an official posted at the Toll Plaza, said Sandeep Wadhawan, an employee who was inside that booth at that time, was injured in the incident and had to be taken to Sidhu Hospital, Doraha. The driver of the truck, Lal Singh, has been arrested by the police. 


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