L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


18 hurt as employees clash at Avon Cycles
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
Eighteen persons were injured today in a clash between two groups of employees of Avon Cycles, even as most of the employees went on strike seeking the reinstatement of three of their colleagues.

The agitating employees alleged that the management had arbitrarily sacked their colleagues. They asserted that unless their colleagues were reinstated, they would not allow any work to be done in the factory.

Some of the employees also resorted to stone-throwing, forcing the management to seek police aid. A posse of about 50 policemen was deployed at the factory premises to prevent any untoward incident. Most members of the management, including the chairman of the group, Mr Omkar Singh Pahwa, were stuck inside the factory.

The legal adviser of the company, Mr B.D. Arora, denied the charges of the agitating employees. He told The Tribune that three employees had voluntarily resigned. They were provided all their dues by the company and their accounts were amicably settled, Mr Arora claimed.

He said the company had not forced anyone to resign. Mr Arora said there was no question of taking back employees under compulsion. “Nobody can force us to take back employees who have resigned,” he said.

Mr Arora alleged that most of the employees were being instigated by a trade union leader who had a score to settle with the companies. He maintained that the employees were being misled and they had no agenda. “They did not give us any advance notice or a charter of demands,” he said.

The legal adviser alleged that the agitating employees had indulged in rioting and damaged property belonging to the company. “They smashed windowpanes, airconditioners and even vehicles of employees,” Mr Arora said.

He stated that the company had sought police assistance as the employees were trying to hold the management to ransom. He said members of the management would also meet the Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police Ludhiana to ensure that “goondaism” was not allowed to go on.

The agitating employees refuted the claims of Mr Arora that the employees had voluntarily resigned. They maintained that the three “sacked” employees were working with the company for the past several years. They were forcibly made to resign, the employees claimed.

“Had they resigned voluntarily, why would they seek re-employment?,” asked Mr Sarbjit Singh Sarhali, the youth wing president of the state unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress.

Reacting to Mr Arora’s charge that the employees had not served any advance notice or submitted any charter of demands, he said they had been not given any time to do so. “Our only demand is that our colleagues must be reinstated,” he said.

Mr Sarhali blamed Mr Arora for the problems and claimed that he was making it a prestige issue. He also alleged that the management had hired goons. He identified Makhan Singh, who, he alleged, had assaulted some employees who refused to join duty.



Ex-sarpanch indicted for embezzling funds
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
The district administration has asked the district police chief to register a case of cheating against Ms Manso Devi, a former sarpanch of Fatehgarh Gujjran village, for allegedly embezzling Rs 2.15 lakh. The administration is also contemplating an inquiry against the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) concerned for dereliction of duty.

Ms Manso Devi was accused of embezzling the panchayat funds and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, had ordered an inquiry into the case. The inquiry report indicted her and the Deputy Commissioner today asked the SSP to book her under Sections 409 and 201, IPC.

The inquiry was ordered after the present sarpanch, Mr Harbilas, had submitted a complaint against her for not handing over the charge of the panchayat to him and allegedly embezzling the panchayat funds. The inquiry was assigned to the District Development and Panchayat Officer(DDPO) on December 1.

The DDPO in his report substantiated the charges and said she had not handed over the panchayat records from 1998 to 2003 after the elections. He said the former sarpanch had also not given the records pertaining to the accounts of the annual auction returns of around 39 acres of panchayat land worth Rs 2.15 lakh.

As per the report, Mr Shingara Ram, resident of the village, had alleged that Ms Manso Devi had received Rs 8,000 from him on account of “chakota” of the gram panchayat land but she had not issued any receipt. Mr Nirmal Singh also stated that she had taken Rs 55,000 from him regarding the “chakota” and had not given him a receipt.

Gram sewak Manjit Singh said in May the gram panchayat had given some of its land on lease for over Rs 1.35 lakh but it did not auction the remaining land measuring 27 acres and it continued to be in the possession of previous tenants. The accused allegedly collected the rent from the tenants but did not deposit the same with the panchayat or in the account of the panchayat in the bank. Later she deposited Rs 20,000 only.

Mr Verma said the legal opinion from the Joint Director, Prosecution and Litigation, Ludhiana, had been taken and he had recommended the registration of a case against her. He had also recommended the initiation of departmental action against the BDPO for dereliction of duty after conducting an inquiry.



Advani, Capt to share dais
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani will share the dais with the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh here on Sunday. While Mr Advani will be the chief guest, Capt Amarinder will preside over the function to mark the launching of Hindi vernacular Dainik Jagaran from

Union Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh, Law and Commerce Minister, Arun Jaitly, Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy will be special guests at the function.

Preparations are on in the wake of the DPM’s visit to the city. Mr Advani is learnt to have already confirmed his presence on the launching day of the vernacular in Ludhiana.

The function would be held at the Kisan Mela ground of the Punjab Agricultural University here. The Chief Minister has also confirmed his participation in the launching ceremony.

The district and police administration has already started preparations for the visit of the VIPs, particularly the DPM and the Chief Minister. Security measures are being finalised.

It would be Mr Advani’s second visit to Ludhiana after the National Democratic Alliance government took over at the centre.

Earlier, he visited Ludhiana in 2000 to lay the foundation stone of Apollo Hospital. However, at that time Mr Advani was only the Home Minister and he had not been designated as the DPM. Moreover, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister of the state at that time.

Given the nature of strained relationships between the state and the centre over the trial of Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the alleged corruption cases, the organisers of the function are trying to keep it “absolutely apolitical”.

Mr Advani had criticised Capt Amarinder and accused him of resorting to political vendetta against Mr Badal, who happens to be an important leader of the NDA.

However, both Mr Advani and Capt Amarinder are known for their sober and mature way of handling situations. People associated with the function maintained that it would simply be a Deputy Prime Minister of the country and the Chief Minister of the state who will share the dais along with other colleagues. There is not going to be any politics at the function.



5-year RI for abetting wife to commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
A local court has sentenced Vikas Garg of Shastri Nagar, Jagraon to undergo five years’ rigorous imprisonment on the charge of abetting his wife, Vandana Gupta, to commit suicide.

Delivering the verdict, Mr J.S.Bhatia, Additional Sessions Judge, held that the relations between the accused and his wife were strained and he suspected the fidelity of his wife, which forced her to commit suicide.

The accused and his parents had been booked under Section 304-B (dowry death) of the IPC. But the judge held that no offence was made out under the said Section and convicted the accused under Section 306 (abetting to commit suicide) of the IPC.

The court acquitted Ms Satish Garg, mother-in-law and Mr Mohinder Partap Garg, father-in-law of the accused, finding no evidence against them.

They were booked on June 13, 2001 at the Jagraon police station following a complaint lodged by Mr Sudarshan Kumar, the father of the deceased.

The complainant had alleged that he had given sufficient dowry at the time of marriage of his daughter but her in-laws were not satisfied.

He said they started harassing and maltreating his daughter on this account.

On the other hand, the accused pleaded not guilty and stated that Vandana had not been forced to commit suicide. 



Dial 131 for no response
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
Ever tried phone No. 131, the all-important number of railway enquiry? If you have not done so, don’t ever try it. Those who have dialled it have always found it “ busy”.
Even if it is not busy, the phone keeps on ringing but nobody picks it up. One has no option but to go to the railway station to get information.

At a time when trains are running behind schedule due to fog in the region, No. 131 is perhaps the most-dialled number. But much to the disappointment of people, it remains either busy or unattended.

Over 100 trains pass through the local railway station everyday, with thousands of enquiries being made daily. Residents say that they never expect to get any response from the railway enquiry. “You have to go to the railway station and inquire from there whether the train is on time or behind schedule,” laments Prem Lata, a resident of Gurdev Nagar.

Even the computerised railway inquiry number invariably remains “busy” or the information announced through it is never accurate. Mr Gurpreet Singh of Mullanpur was scheduled to go to Uttaranchal.

When he inquired from the computerised enquiry, he was “informed” that the train was on time. But when he reached the station, he was told that the train was running late by four hours.

When he pointed out that the computerised announcement had said that the train was on time, he was curtly told that the computer was out of order for the past several days. Actually, the information had not been updated. Even on-the-spot announcements about arrivals and departures are seldom made. The announcements are only about “trains on a particular platform and possibility of their leaving at a particular time.” The announcement is made only after a train reaches the platform.

A senior official of the Railways admitted that No. 131 was not usually answered. “Even when we try it ourselves from outside, there is no response,” he said, adding that “there is shortage of manpower.” For quite some time, there have not been recruitments. Usually, there are two persons at the enquiry — one to answer the phone and other at the counter. But sometimes one is on leave or has his day off.

It is learnt that several employees at the enquiry have been asked to explain. In some cases, punitive measures have also been taken. The railway authorities admit that enquiry is the most-complained about section, but they are silent on the remedial measures.



Harpreet Sandhu promoted as Addl Advocate General
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
A city lawyer and Punjab's Deputy Advocate General, Mr Harpreet Sandhu, has been promoted as Additional Advocate General of Punjab. The orders to this effect were issued by the Additional Secretary Home Department Punjab, Mr R.L.Mehta and conveyed to Mr Sandhu here today.

Mr Sandhu becomes the youngest member of the District Bar Association, to be elevated to this prestigious position.

He was appointed as Assistant Advocate General by the Punjab Government after the Congress government came to power. Thereafter, he was promoted to the post of Deputy Advocate General, Punjab, where he was serving from the past one year.

Mr Sandu started practising in the local courts in the year 1997. Being a law student, he represented the country as Ambassador of Goodwill to France in group study exchange team (1993). 



Sops by Cong an eyewash, says BJP 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
The BJP has termed various concessions and sops announced by the Punjab Government for the people of the state as just an eye wash and devoid of any benefit to the common man. "The promises made to different categories of people are vague, inadequate and selective."

In a statement here today, the state general secretary of the party, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, while commenting on the recent announcement of a relief package by the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, observed that the government was still to fulfil even a single poll promise and the belated relief measures were, at best, a slight reversal of the anti-people policies of the Congress government. He claimed that the infrastructure development was an ongoing process, which had been initiated by the previous SAD-BJP government and there had been no spectacular achievement on that count under the new regime.

Mr Bhandari maintained that much hyped 24 hour power supply to villages had turned out to be a farce and the overall power scenario in the whole state was dismal, to say the least. The economic growth had been stunted and people from all the sections of society were feeling the pinch. "The ruling party has lost its credibility and consistency as none of the commitments made to the people have seen the light of the day."

Taking a dig at the ruling Congress for the intense infighting and the threat being posed by the dissidents to the leadership, the BJP functionary said the extended rumblings had crippled the working of the government to the extent of uncertainty. How could a government function effectively if its leader was uncertain about his own future, he wondered. Mr Bhandari asserted that the future of the Punjab state laid only in the exit of Congress party and earlier the people got rid of the present government, the better it would be for the state and the people.

Meanwhile, the district president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, has announced the nomination of office- bearers and executive committee of the party. Among the three vice- presidents were Mr Bharat Bhushan Sharma, Mr Ramesh Bangar and Mr Sanjeev Malhotra while Mr Kewal Gupta would be the general secretary.

The other office-bearers are:Mr Rajneesh Dhiman (organising secretary), Mr Vikram Datt Kapoor, Mr Satish Nagar, Mr Rakesh Kumar (secretaries), Mr Rajesh Sharma Mintu (treasurer) and Mr Sanjeev Malhotra (media incharge). Mr Rajiv Sharma, Mr Hira Lal Chauhan, Mr Gulshan Kumar Titoo, Mr Vipin Jain, Mr Lalit Sharma, Mr Ashok Sachdeva, Mr Ramesh Khurana, Mr Avinash Sharma, Mr Balwinder Singh, Mr Pardeep Parikh, Mr Ravinder Verma, Mr Rohit Wadhera and Mr Karnail Singh would be the members of executive committee.



Traders welcome sops
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, President, Punjab Beopar Mandal on Tuesday welcomed the sops announced by the Punjab Chief Minister for the urban areas and the industry and trade.

Mr Jaitwani said that the introduction of exim forms was unnecessary and the same had not resulted in any increase in the revenue.

He also hailed the decision of the Chief Minister in raising the limit of self-assessment of salestax to Rs 75 lakh and said that this would provide great relief to the traders.

Mr Jaitwani called upon the Chief Minister to discard the idea of implementing VAT as the same would not help in checking the evasion and raising the revenue.



Akali factions gear up for elections
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, January 16
The SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal is trying to position itself as the major contender for the Lok Sabha poll. The party has benefited with the merger with the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Mr Tohra was the one who pointed out that the BJP was inappropriately demanding five lok sabha seats out of the 13 seats from the akali dal. He knew that the alliance between the SAD and the BJP would continue but he tried to avoid pressure on the akali dal by the BJP leadership. He made the BJP understand that the Akali Dal was a regional party and primarily represented the sikh community.

the BJP reconciled to three seats in Punjab.

Political observers are of the view that the utterances by Mr Tohra were meant to favour Mr Badal and he should not have rushed to give clarifications over the statement of the SGPC chief.

For Mr Badal, the lok sabha elections are a do or die affair since the Badals are involved in a direct confrontation with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh over the registration of cases against them.

Mr Badal has strengthened his position in the party with the support of Mr Tohra and other leaders during the detention of the Badals. The “jabar virodhi” morcha received the support of the rank and file of the party.

Since Capt Amarinder Singh has got a breather with the help of the Congress high command, he will not leave any stone unturned to keep the Badals busy in the cases.

For Capt Amarinder Singh too, the elections would be fight for political survival.

the akali dal does not have any major issue against the Punjab Government and will have to come up with a poll plank.

Mr Badal has to understand the influence of the various akali factions. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) has repeatedly said he was prepared to have an adjustment of seats with the SAD. However, Mr Badal is not open to the idea.

Members belonging to the SAD in the lok sabha have accepted Mr Mann as their leader on certain issues and he has represented Akali factions on several occasions.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh's faction is also drawing supporters in various parts of Punjab. He is a close relative of Mr Badal and remained loyal to the Akali Dal. 



Icy winds sweep city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
After a pleasant week-long spell of clear and sunny weather, city residents woke up to a cloudy and windy morning today.
In fact, after a bright sunny Lohri , hopes of having a pleasant weather ahead were running quite high but these were dashed this morning as icy winds swept across the city causing a sharp decline in the temperature once again. Outdoor activities were restrained and business, which had just begin to pick up, was affected due to the chill.

Heat convectors were again in operation in homes and offices. However, weather observers were optimistic of having a short rainfall and a clear and sunny weather thereafter.



Most trains running late
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
Hundreds of train passengers had a harrowing experience with most trains running late. The delay in the arrival and departure of trains varied from a few hours to over an indefinite period.

Some of the affected trains that have caused a lot of hardship to Ludhiana residents are Howrah Mail that has been delayed indefinitely. Kissan Mail between Ferozepore and Dhanbad suffers the same fate. Shan-e-Punjab between Delhi to Amritsar and Sheed Express were running seven hours late.

Passengers at the railway station said that they were not being attended to by the railway authorities who were not giving them any information about the arrival and departure of the trains.

However, railway booking clerk said that Duplicate Howrah Mail had been cancelled and the Jan Nayak Express was running seven hours late. The Jan Sewa Express running between Barauni and Amritsar was four hours late. The Flying Mail, known for its speed in the days of yore, was running 27 hours late.

Mr Atul Kanojia, a passenger waiting for relatives from Calcutta, said that he was totally ignorant about the arrival of his relatives at Ludhiana who had started from Calcutta two days ago.

Similarly, Master Suneet, who had come to the station with his mother to receive his father returning from overseas, was disappointed. His mother, Mrs Kusum, said that they were unhappy with the manner in which the railway authorities were divulging information after the trains. Most trains have been delayed due to heavy fog.



Residents’ pleas fall on deaf ears
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
Residents of Model Town Extension are sore at the “indifferent” attitude of the civic administration.
Some of the transport companies, dealing in building material, have made the matters worse. In addition to dirty water from the Gurdwara, here, the residents have to live with flying dust.

Mr Jagdev Singh Grewal, a resident of the area, said repeated pleas made by a deputation of residents through representations and personal meetings with senior MC officials, had failed to evoke any response.

On June 27, 2002, the Commissioner (D-Zone) had passed an order for the removal of encroachments vide a letter but no action had been taken. The MC employees had also cut some trees in a park here causing resentment among the residents.

Building material like sand kept in the open flew with the wind to houses. The transport company, located in the area use open spaces, foot-paths and even part of the main road for the purpose.

Mr Grewal was critical of the management of Gurdwara Singh Sabha for having failed to make proper arrangements for the disposal of dirty water which flooded the nearby streets and lanes. “We have respect for the place of worship but at the same time, the management is duty-bound to be responsible,” he said.

According to the local Welfare Society, the officials of the MC have been visiting the locality but no follow-up action had been taken.



Indians have attitude problem, feels NRI
Our Correspondent

Dr Avinash SharmaLudhiana, January 16
The country has still not developed after so many years of Independence because people here are facing an attitude problem. Politicians, bureaucrats and higher officials are not accessible to the common man, thus a majority of the problems remain unresolved, said Dr Avinash Sharma, a psychotherapist who worked for more than 25 years in Canada, here today. He is in the city to look after his aged mother. Recently he attended a three-day Pravasi Bhartiya Divas organised by the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi. He was also invited by the President of India to share his views about the growth and prosperity of the country.

“It was a wonderful experience. There were live performances by Bollywood personalities like Sonu Nigam, Anu Malik, Hariharan and Sunidhi Chauhan. Shringar, a cultural programme, was the best in which 26 best singers and dancers from Karnataka performed, said Dr Sharma.

When asked about the motive of the conference, Dr Sharma said the Indian Government wanted them to come back and invest in the country. “It was nice when the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said the government not only wanted our riches but also our rich experiences,” expressed Dr Sharma.

The NRI said: “There is a need to understand the emotions of the younger generation in the country because they are the future. It is time for action and not for theoretical work. Today, the youth are abusing drugs, cases of AIDS are increasing and endless unemployment is there. Who is at fault? At least not the youth. They are frustrated and sufferers. We need look through their vision”.



Delegates to participate in world forum
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
A four-member delegation of the Bharat Jan Gyan Vigyan Jatha (BJGVJ) has gone to Mumbai to participate in the World Social Forum which is being held from January 16 to January 21, 2004, on the theme ‘Another World is Possible — which is without wars’, in which all nations and all people shall have equal opportunities to develop with no bias based on gender, religion, caste or creed.

The delegation includes Mr Pardeep Sharma, Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Darshan Singh and youth leader Mr Kuldip Singh Binder. They will make presentations on the concept of innovative and integrated farming based on the experiments of an ordinary farmer Darshan Singh from Hyatpura village, near Machhiwara which can be the basis of agriculture developmental needs of a poor country like India instead of market-oriented agriculture as propagated by the multinational corporations, onslaught on national culture by the West in the name of globalisation and the devaluation of our literature by the imperialist culture.



Flowers showered on temple
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
Devotees of Lord Ayyappa celebrated Makar Sankranti here on Wednesday with religious fervour and special puja, besides cultural programmes.
Thousands of people from various walks of life participated. The procession started in the evening with a shoba yatra which was inaugurated by Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor.

The main attraction was the showering of flowers by a helicopter above the temple premises and the residential area. Other programmes included “Chenda Melam” and “Amman Kudam,” performed by artistes from Kerala. “Thalapolic” was performed by women which was followed by an elephant tableau. Langar was distributed at various places.



Nabard workshop for self-help groups
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 16
Nabard yesterday organised a pre-linkage workshop for unlinked self-help groups (SHGs) in Amloh block of Fatehgarh Sahib district at the local dharamshala in coordination with the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), Amloh.

The workshop was attended by branch managers of various banks, besides representatives and members of NGOs and SHGs. The training workshop was conducted by Mr Ashwani Kumar, Assistant General Manager, Nabard (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr M.L. Guru, Lead District Manager, and Mr Satish Kumar, CDPO, Amloh.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ashwani Kumar said the district had taken the lead in the state with the formation of 540 groups and credit linkage of 300 groups. The loans are being utilised for various income-generating activities, like the purchase of machines for stitching of clothes. Mr Satish Kumar and Mr Guru also addressed the workshop.



Case against firm for selling substandard oil
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
The Legal Metrology Department has registered a case against a refined oil manufacturing firm for selling oil unfit for human consumption. A complaint in the case had been received by the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

Sources said the DC forwarded the compliant to SDM (E) Prem Chand, who got the matter probed by through the Inspector, Legal Metrology (Weight and Measures), Ludhiana II and established that the allegations were true. Following this, a case under Sections 39 (2) 1, 2 and 33/51 of the Standard Weights and Measures Act, 1985, was registered against Supertek Agro Oils Private Ltd., Rural Focal Point, Jandali,

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said a complaint was received from Mr Vivek Bakshi of Phullanwal, Pakhowal road, in which he stated that he had purchased a one-litre pack (910 gm) of Savera refined oil manufactured by the company. He alleged that on weighing the packet it was found that it weighed only 800 gms and emitted a bad odour. The manufacturing date on the packet was February 27, 2002. The Deputy Commissioner said the Weights and Measures Department was also taking action against the firm. 



Couple injured
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
The Haibowal police registered a case under Sections 279,337,338 and 427 of the IPC yesterday on the statement of Ms Shashi Kant Babbal, a resident of Rishi Nagar, against Aman Kumar, who allegedly rammed his car into the scooter being driven by the complainant’s husband Dr Purab Dass on Thursday at Rajpura chowk and injured him. The complainant further stated that since she was also on the scooter pillion, she also suffered injuries due to the impact. The police said today that no arrest had been made so far.

Held for over speeding: The Sahnewal police yesterday arrested Raju, a resident of Anna Khera village in Kanpur district of UP and booked him under Section 279 of the IPC on the complaint of Head Constable Ranjeet Singh who stated that while he was on duty at Sahnewal chowk on Thursday afternoon , the accused tried to drive past him his truck at a reckless speed.

Knife seized: The division number 76 police yesterday arrested Arjan Singh, a resident of Puja Colony at Pehowa in Kaithal district of Haryana, recovered a ‘kamanidar’ knife from him and booked him under the Arms Act.

Cash, gold stolen:
Some unidentified persons stole cash amounting to Rs 50,000, two gold rings and a wrist watch from the house of Harnam Kaur, a resident of Amloh road, here.

According to information Harnam Kaur had gone to the house of her daughter, a staff nurse in Civil Hospital. After four days when she returned she found that the grill of the house was broken and cash totalling Rs 55,000 and gold rings lying in the house were missing. A report has been registered under Sections 380 and 457 at the city police station.

Three booked: The Khanna police has booked three residents on the charges of purchasing stolen goods. According to information Satpal Singh, Kulwant Singh and Lala, all residents of Khanna were involved in the business of purchasing stolen goods from thieves. A case under Sections 379 and 411 has been registered.



Cable firms, operators at loggerheads
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 16
Even as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has fixed the monthly subscription being charged by cable operators all over the country at the rates prevailing on December 26, 2003, a battle is on between local cable network companies and cable operators.

Taking the plea that all pay channels of satellite networks had raised their monthly charges per cable connection, cable network companies have been prevailing upon operators to hike the monthly payment proportionately and collect a higher subscription from users. However, in the wake of stiff opposition from cable subscribers, the operators had taken a policy decision to bring into effect any further increase in the monthly charges with the approval of the district administration.

The cable operators being fed by two local cable networks, Win Cable and Siti Cable, at their meetings held on January 14 and January 12, respectively, had decided that the monthly charges or any revision would be finalised only after the meeting to be convened by the SDM Mr Kuldip Singh, on January 20 on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner. Most of the cable operators had deferred the collection of the monthly charges for the current month even at the prevailing rates, fearing that they would not be able to recover the difference if any increase in the charges was allowed at a later date.

A large number of cable users in the city, however, strongly felt that no further increase in the monthly charges was called for because these were already on the higher side. On the contrary, the authorities and the TRAI should effectively intervene to slash monthly subscription for cable connections to a reasonable level and bring about uniformity in cable charges.

Mr Kamlesh Bhardwaj, chairman, and Mr Raman Maini, president of the New Ludhiana Cable Operators Association, taking exception to the alleged high-handedness of cable network companies, made it clear that the operators would not put any more burden on the users. If the situation demanded, they might even resort to boycott of pay channels for an indefinite period, they said. They refuted the allegation of cable network companies that a majority of the cable operators were paying only about 20 per cent of their total connectivity by fudging records.



Parliamentary panel invites SSI team
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 16
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Industry has invited representatives of Small Scale Industry (SSI) for evidence on key concern areas of SSI sector credit flow and procurement of raw material. Besides this, other main issues will also be taken up. The committee has also invited Secretary, Ministry of Small Scale Industry and Secretary, Steel, for discussions.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the APEX Chamber of Commerce and Indiustry, said besides himself, six other persons have been invited to come to Delhi on January 21. They are Mr K.K. Seth, vice president of the chanmber, Mr Rajneesh Ahuja and Mr G.P.S. Sambhi, president and general secretary, Focal Point Sheds Association, Mr S.P. Sharma and Mr Manohar Dhawan from the All India Valves and Cocks Manufacturing Association, Jalandhar, and Mr Sukhdev Raj, president, Focal Point Hand Tool Manufacturing Association.

He said apart from the above, two representatives from the Tamil Nadu tiny industries and Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertaking of Ludhiana have also been invited. The chamber will lay stress on the reduction of prices of pig iron and steel and explain to the committee how the steel producers are fleecing the steel consumers through cartelisation. The high cost of bank credit to small scale industry and restricted flow of credit to this sector will also be taken up.

The steel industry will press for banning steel export on the one hand and to reduce custom duty on steel to the maximum of 10 per cent on the other. The SSI sector meets its steel requirements from secondary producers of steel. This sector is highly handicapped due to shortage of sponge iron and steel scrap. Export of sponge iron should be totally banned and import duty on steel scrap should be scrapped in the prevailing emergent situation. It will also be pointed out that many items enjoy zero custom duty in view of their importance.

The Minister for small scale industry had declared in December last year that banks will charge rate of interest from small scale industry sector at PLR level from January, 2004. Despite this specific declaration by the minister, banks are still charging at old rates, he added.



Hoteliers meet Virbhadra

Ludhiana, January 16
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab has appealed to the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister to initiate some measures jointly with the Punjab Government for the development of tourism in both states.

Mr N.S. Nanda, president of the association, said he requested Mr Virbhadra Singh to take up the issue with his counterpart and emphasis should be laid on certain areas listed by them. Mr Virbhadra Singh was informed that a ropeway linking Anandpur Sahib-Naina Devi should be jointly set up in order to boost tourist inflow.

“A joint pilgrimage package between Anandpur Sahib, Chintpurni, Jawalaji, Naina Devi and Baba Balak Nath should be introduced. A new tourist circuit linking Amritsar, Pathankot, Dalhousie, Chamba, McLeodganj, and Dharamsala may be created and joint marketing of all festivals and cuisines may be highlighted”.

Mr Nanda said Himachal Pradesh should be promoted as an adventure sports state. He also presented a copy of Punjab Tourist Guide to Mr Virbhadra Singh.

A delegation of the association also met the Tourism Minister. TNS



Octroi on finished goods resented
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 16
Mr Joy Kutti, General Secretary, Gobindgarh Steel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a representation to the executive officer, municipal council, has sought his intervention in stopping the octroi contractor of Mandi Gobindgarh from charging octroi on finished goods brought from outside the octroi limits of Mandi Gobindgarh for exports to other stations.

This tradition of not charging octroi on such goods had been there for the past 50 years. But the present private contractor had started charging octroi on the finished goods brought to this town.



Bank profit up by 210 pc
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 16
IndusInd Bank today announced a robust third quarter results for the period ended December 31, 2003. It posted a net profit of Rs 77.09 crore in the third quarter of the financial year, registering a whopping 210 per cent increase over its net profit of Rs 24.83 crore for the same period the previous year.

Mr Bhaskar Ghose, Managing Director of the bank, said the net profit for the first nine months of this financial year had shot up to Rs 177.96 crore as compared to Rs 67.69 crore for the corresponding period last year.


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