L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


If only CM comes here more often!
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Commuters on the congested and filthy Domoria Bridge and Sabzi Mandi roads are wishing that the Punjab Chief Minister travels more often on these roads, going by the massive cleanliness drive undertaken today in view of his visit to the city.

As the Chief Minister had to reach Daresi Grounds to pay tributes to the late Joginder Pal Pandey, a former minister, on his death anniversary today, the route which was to be followed by him to reach the venue wore a new look. The Domoria Bridge and Sabzi Mandi areas, a boon for encroachers and a bane for commuters, virtually looked like roads leading to a model city. Neither was there any traffic jam, nor was the route dotted with litter. Encroachments were conspicuous by their absence.

All this had become routine, causing harassment to commuters. All pleas to the police and the municipal corporation authorities for regular maintenance of the road had fallen on deaf ears.

The roads were lined with lime powder and all encroachments were removed. The cleanliness and discipline were maintained till the time the Chief Minister was in the city. After that, encroachments and litter returned on the roads.

The roads were stark clean today and the berms were painted afresh overnight.

The central verge grills were painted anew. Heaps of garbage were removed overnight and the shopkeepers encroaching upon the already narrow road were restrained from their daily practice.

Beggars and drug addicts seen under the bridge were missing and vehicles were passing smoothly. The Joginder Pal Pandey Memorial Road was cleaned. The road berms were being painted, as were the central verge grills.

A few hours after the Chief Minister’s visit, encroachers returned on the roads, along with traffic jams. The rehriwalas as well as shopkeepers who were shooed away in the morning were allowed to occupy the roadsides.

A commuter said, “If they can check traffic on the roads by removing encroachers today, why can they not do it in routine? It shows that the will is really lacking.”


Police probe into copyright violation by cycle companies
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The district police has ordered a high-level probe into a controversial copyright violation of packaging material used by two cycle parts manufacturing companies in which the role of Division No 6 police has come under a cloud.

The Division No 6 police here is in a thick of controversy over the alleged copyright violation case involving two cycle parts manufacturing companies M/s R S Industries and M/s Bombay Metal Works in the city. The police has allegedly lodged an FIR (M/s R S Industries) despite the fact that matter was sub-judice. Both the parties are already locked in a legal battle over the issue in a court at Delhi.

The FIR was lodged on January 8 on the complaint of Mr Anil Kumar Mittal, Director, Bombay Metal Works against the Mr Rajwir Singh, Mr Kulwinder Singh and Mr Tara Singh of R S Industries under Sections 63, 64, 68A of the copy right Act and Sections 78, 79 Trade Mark Act and Sections 420, 486 of the IPC. The three were accused of marketing spare parts of cycles in packaging identical to the one made by the complainants, Bombay Metal Works.

However, Mr Kulwinder Singh has, in his counter-complaint to the city SSP, alleged that he was actually a victim in the case as the FIR had been lodged without any basis.

Accepting his plea, SSP Narinderpal Singh has ordered an inquiry. DSP (Industrial Area) R K Bakshi has been directed to conduct a probe into the matter.

Mr Bakshi told Ludhiana Tribune that the problem, if any in the case, was its sub-judice nature. He said he was verifying the entire case and would submit his report soon. He said the alleged victims (Kulwinder Singh and other two) were not able to furnish the documents of the court case at the registration of the Jan 8 FIR. “If the probe finds evidence in support of the alleged victims, then the FIR would be cancelled but the police cannot be blamed in any manner,’’ he said.

Interestingly, Kulwinder Singh has produced a document issued by the Government of India Trade Marks Registry dated July 19,2003, in which it has given a clean chit to the victim manufacturing the ‘Rajis’ product.

Mr S M Togrikar, Senior Examiner of Trade Marks has certified that a search had been made regarding the label‘ Rajis’ among the collections of pending marks as well as in the Register of Trade marks for the artistic work as a whole and that no trade mark identical to or deceptively similar to the said artistic work had been registered under the Trade and Merchandise marks Act, 1958.

Complainant Kulwinder Singh charged the police of conspiring with his rival (Bombay Metal Works) and ‘plundering’ huge quantity of the cycle parts manufactured by the complainant (Kulwinder Singh) that caused him loss of several lakhs of rupees.

Meanwhile, Mr M S Mahal, Additional Sessions Judge, has granted interim bail to the accused Tara Singh and Kulwinder Singh in the case. The bail orders significantly mentioned that Tara Singh, proprietor of R S Industries, had already filed a suit for restraining Bombay Metal Works from infringing the trade mark of his company. 


Chaos continues on old GT Road
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 19
With no traffic management worth the name and poor enforcement of regulations in congested areas of the city, particularly on the old G.T. Road (NH 1), passing through the city from Jagraon bridge to Jalandhar bypass, the entire stretch continues to be chaotic and nothing less than a nightmare for vehicular drivers. The area from the railway station to the old sabzi mandi being one of the busiest commercial centres in the city, the traders and shopkeepers are the worst sufferers.

As a result of the ongoing construction work on elevated road from Jagraon bridge to Chand cinema, the section of the road has become one of the most problematic spots not only for vehicles but for all other road users. Poor maintenance on the part of the civic authorities and proliferating encroachments, both permanent and temporary, by the shopkeepers, rehri and farri-walas, coupled with indiscriminate parking of three-wheelers and mini buses on both sides of the road have made matters worse.

A delegation of trader associations from commercial centres like Chaura Bazar, Mata Rani Chowk, Clock Tower Chowk, Raikhy Cinema chowk, Kesar Ganj, books market, Kamla Nehru market, Saban Bazar and other adjoining markets met the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, in his office to apprise him of the problems being faced by the traders and shopkeepers due to indifference on the part of the construction company on the elevated road project, traffic congestion and poor maintenance of the old G.T. Road.

According to Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, the delegation of trade representatives focussed on the pathetic situation prevailing on the old G.T. Road at all major intersections at Mata Rani Chowk, Clock Tower and Lakshmi Cinema chowk, which had to be seen to be believed. This section of road, providing access to more than one dozen major commercial centres and wholesale markets, with a heavy volume of slow moving traffic and light transport vehicles was lying in a state of utter disrepair. “Three-wheelers and mini buses are parked with impunity right in the middle of the road on both sides of Clock Tower Chowk and Lakshmi Cinema chowk to take or disembark passengers, thereby causing obstruction to the flow of traffic and leading to extended traffic jams.”

The shopkeepers further pointed out that the condition of the section of the road, particularly from Mata Rani Chowk to Jagraon bridge was beyond description. With no periodic maintenance and repairs worth the name, the top surface of the road had virtually disappeared and most of the NH 1 on this section was just a dusty strip, full of pot holes, depressions, loose stones and sand in the middle of the road.

With a sizeable portion of the road in the middle, having been cordoned off by the construction company along with choked or overflowing sewer and storm sewer lines, it was an experience in itself to traverse this section of the road on a vehicle or even on foot. The encroachments, on both sides of the road, especially from Clock Tower Chowk to Lakshmi cinema further made the movement on the almost impossible, the delegation pointed out.

The Commissioner assured the representatives of traders and shopkeepers that necessary steps would be taken soon for the repair of the old G.T. Road from Jagraon bridge to Salem Tabri. He said the construction firm working on the elevated road project would also be asked to speed up the work and to create least possible obstructions on the road. The traffic police would be directed to find out a solution to the problem of traffic congestion caused by mini buses and three-wheelers on this stretch, Mr Sharma said.


Mechanic gets life term in murder case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
A mechanic, Mohinder Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Nagar, Daba Road, has been sentenced to undergo rigorous life imprisonment for killing Darshan Singh of Guru Nanak Street, Shimlapuri, in November, 1999.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Baldev Singh, Sessions Judge, held that the prosecution had proved that the accused killed the person by inflicting injuries on the head simply on his asking that his jeep be repaired at the earliest. The judge also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000.

An FIR was registered against the accused under Section 302 of the IPC at the Focal Point police station on November 4, 1999. He was arrested on the same day by Inspector Paramjit Singh, the then SHO of the said police station and remained in custody throughout the trial period.

According to prosecution, the accused undertook the work of repairing the jeep of the deceased.

He dismantled the engine of the jeep but not completed the repair work, despite getting Rs 1,000 in advance. Then, Darshan Singh along with Gurdev Singh went to the house of accused to persuade him to resume repair work.

He insisted for the earliest repair of his jeep, which infuriated the accused. The accused took out an iron rod from his room and started inflicting injuries on the head of Darshan Singh.

Injured died on the spot and the accused fled away from the spot.

The prosecution examined as many as 13 witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused. On the other hand, accused pleaded not guilty and claimed false implication but not opted to lead any evidence.


Fire incident hero's wife gets job
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Five months after she was promised a job after losing her husband in Khud Mohalla fire incident, in which her husband sacrificed his life while saving the lives of others, the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, himself handed over the appointment letter to the hero's wife today.

Ms Jasbir Kaur, wife of Kartar Singh, alias Lucky, was given appointment of a clerk in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. The appointment letter was handed over to her today at city Mayor Nahar Singh Gill's house. She will join tomorrow.

Jasbir Kaur broke into tears while coming out of the Mayor's residence. She said she was proud of her husband, who had sacrificed his life while saving other people's lives. She said now she would be able to bring up her children well.

The Chief Minister had promised her a job in August last year after her husband's death in the CMC. Since then she had been making rounds of government offices to pursue her case. The family had been struggling to make both ends meet after Kartar Singh's death.

After his death, she had taken training in computer also. She was being helped financially by her brother, Mr Bhupinder Singh.

Ten persons died in the fire and over 100 were injured. Kartar Singh saved nearly 20 persons but was engulfed by flames and succumbed to the burn injuries in the CMC hospital.

Kartar Singh was recently given Red and White Bravery Award posthumously.


Rich tributes paid to Joginder Pal Pandey
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Cutting across political and social barriers, people from all walks of life paid rich tributes to Joginder Pal Pandey, a former minister, who laid down his life for the peace, unity and integrity of the country during the days of terrorism, at a ‘shraddhanjali samaroh’ to commemorate his 17th death anniversary here today.

Those who paid tributes to Pandey included Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal, Jails and Housing Minister Malkiat Singh Birmi, Printing and Stationery Minister Rakesh Pandey, MP Gurcharan Singh Galib, Mayor Nahar Singh Gill and MLAs Surinder Dawer and Amrik Singh Dhillon.

The Chief Minister said Joginder Pal Pandey was a great leader, who had, during the days of terrorism, relentlessly braved terrorists and strived hard to unite the secular forces for the unity and integrity of the country. He said Pandey had been in the forefront in the fight against the killers who had gunned down thousands of innocent persons in the state and himself had fallen prey to their bullets.

Describing Pandey as a multi-faceted personality, Capt Amarinder Singh said while struggling to ensure permanent peace in the state, he had mobilised the masses against terrorists. He added that it was our duty to carry forward his mission of peace, mutual brotherhood, unity and integrity of the country.

He announced that his government would provide the funds required to set up a memorial in Ludhiana and the land and funds would be provided to the Joginder Pal Pandey Memorial Trust. He said members of families of martyrs were the honour of the nation and proper respect and facilities they would be accorded by the government.

He appealed to the people to always remember these great sons of the country and follow their footsteps in safeguarding hard-earned freedom, peace and mutual brotherhood among different sections of society.

He earlier inaugurated a general medical camp organised in Pandey’s memory at Krishna Charitable Hospital. He also held a brief meeting with councillors and industrialists and discussed development projects for the city at the Mayor’s house.

Ms Bhattal said it was the Congress which had fought against terrorism and had made sacrifices for the unity and integrity of the country. She said a large number of senior leaders had laid down their lives during this struggle.

She said under the leadership of Beant Singh, the people of the state had braved bullets and had ensured lasting peace in the state. She said the people of Punjab would always remember Pandey’s great sacrifice. She exhorted the people to work hard for preserving the unity and amity of the country, which would be the real tribute to the great leader.

Mr Hanspal said the departed leader was a brave and far-sighted leader, who had always been working for the downtrodden and had laid his life to save the lives of the people. He said Pandey was not only the pride of Ludhiana city, but of the entire state.

Mr Birmi said Pandey had shown them the path of bravery and patriotism and exhorted the people to make a pledge on this day to carry forward his principles and ideology. Pandey’s son Rakesh Pandey thanked those present.

Others present on the occasion included Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma, Senior Superintendent of Police Narinder Pal Singh, Commissioner S.K. Sharma, Deputy Mayor Sushil Gupta and Mahila Congress general secretary Baljinder Kaur.


MCPI blasts BJP, Cong for being opportunists
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI), while reviewing the situation arising from early Lok Sabha elections, has castigated the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for their efforts to forge unprincipled and opportunistic poll alliances.

A meeting of the state committee of the party held here today under the presidentship of Mr Kirpal Singh Hans, observed that even after the elections, no single political party would be in a position to form the government on its own. As a result, electoral alliances and adjustments were being made without any regard to programmes and ideology to grab power by all means, it noted. The state of affairs reflected the bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie parliamentary system, in which there was no concern for the people, especially the downtrodden and the working classes, it rued.

Addressing the meeting, party general secretary Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri denounced sops, catchy slogans and steps of the Centre and state governments to befool the people and garner their votes. He said it was unfortunate that instead of policies and programmes, personalities were being made issues in the elections.

He said, “The BJP’s feel-good mood is only for big industrialists and traders, including NRIs, whereas the feel-bad mood is prevalent among a vast majority of the poor, unemployed and pauperised people of India, thanks to the policies of imperialist globalisation being pursued by the BJP and Congress-led combinations.”

Party state secretary Kuldip Singh said while dwelling on the international situation, the state committee had supported the cause of a world socialist forum, which was the result of discontent generated by the policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation being imposed by the US-led imperialist forces on the people of the world.

Discussing the Iraq issue, the MCPI noted that resistance against US occupation of Iraq was growing day by day. The USA would not be able to stay for long in the occupied land where untold miseries were being thrust upon the people of Iraq against their wishes, he said.

In another resolution, the state committee condemned the sharp increase in petrol and diesel prices. It observed that recent sops announced by the Centre did not have any concern for the common man, which was evident from the spurt in prices of various essential commodities. The party said the meeting welcomed the Indo-Pak composite dialogue and the initiative for Indo-China talks.


ICAR development project at Chappar village
Mahesh Sharma

Chappar ( Ahmedgarh), January 19
Observations by a group of scientists of Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana, working with an all-India coordinated research project, have revealed that drug addiction widely prevalent in villages and political interference and factionalism among the rural folk hampered the progress of development works undertaken by various organisations.

These observations were made during a project undertaken by the group of scientists as a part of research project being run by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), simultaneously in nine states.

Referring to the observations made at nearby Chhapar village, which had been adopted as a laboratory, Dr Kiranjot Sidhu, a scientist at PAU, said that drug addiction had been major cause of distress among rural people. She said,“ Despite having a handsome income through many sources they spend little on the education of the children and upkeep of their homes. Instead a major share was spent on drugs resulting in social and economic problems.”

Dr Sidhu stated that political interference and factionalism among villagers had hampered the progress of this development project. “Though we contacted all organisations in the village, before starting the project, only a few of them support the project. ”

She stated that development of a society could not be gauged by huge houses and sophistication of residents rather education and social behaviour should be considered as a criterion.

Dr Kiran claimed that her team had been working for two years so as to make the results of research reach the beneficiaries.

“After identification of social problems residents were inspired to participate actively in the project. Social organisations like Aas Kiran and Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle were involved in awareness campaigns against social evils. Food and nutrition, quality of life, health care, child development and upkeep of home were other avenues explored by the team.

Women of the village were imparted training in how to preserve foods, cloth and textile, stitching, bee-keeping, vermicompose, dairy cooperative and about use of various agricultural and allied byproducts.

Dr Kiran showed concern over the dying indigenous knowledge. She commented, “Though we had come here to impart them knowledge, we received a store house of indigenous knowledge regarding maternal, child and general health. Had we not compiled booklets based on knowledge achieved, expertise inherited through generations could have died along with the older generation.”

Ms Karnail Kaur, a social worker of the village, said extension team had virtually reformed the lifestyle of the villagers. She explained, “They taught us to replace synthetic products with natural ones. Now we have tested that the neem leaves work better than Celphos in wheat store and Phenyle balls in woolen”

She stated that self-employment group ‘Mahila Jagriti’ had been tested for sustenance. Village people had been taken to kisan melas and other exhibitions. Team of scientists visited the village every Thursday and illustrates various avenues of life at Katcha Darwaja.

Mr Ajaib Singh, sarpanch, said team had done a lot of good work for village. “The drug de-addiction campaign started recently, will benefit us the most,” he said.


Protest by industry workers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Hundreds of workers of Nova and Avon cycles who have been on strike for the past few days today went to meet the Chief Minister in Daresi Ground during his visit to the city, but they were not allowed to meet the CM due to security reasons.

The agitated workers raised slogans against the managements outside the venue. They were pacified by the Minister of Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, who said that the administration would try its level best to make both the parties reach a compromise.

Meanwhile, Nova Cycles remained locked for the third consecutive day today. Mr Ram Sahay, a union leader, said that they would not call off the strike till all their demands were met immediately.

He added that a meeting with the management was scheduled for tomorrow and the next course of action would be chalked out after that.


Jansangh doubts joint statement’s effectiveness
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The Akhil Bharatiya Jansangh has said it is doubtful whether the joint statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf after their meeting in Islamabad on January 6 will lead to lasting peace between the two nations.

Mr P. Rajpurohit, chief general secretary of the unit, has said it may lead to the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to them, but there are reasons for this skepticism. The real reason for Indo-Pak tensions is the two-nation ideology and Kashmir is not the root cause of the tensions, but only an excuse, he has stated.

It is naive on our part to think that Pakistan will change its attitude towards India even if it gets its pound of flesh in Kashmir, he has opined. Jihadi outfits in Pakistan have made it clear that they will continue their terrorist activities in spite of this accord, he has pointed out.

There are reasons for Pakistan to feel elated as it has succeeded in getting acceptance of the present Indian leadership of its stand that there is a dispute about Kashmir and that Pakistan is a party to it, he has said.

It has made a mockery of Kashmir’s lawful accession to India and is against the resolution of the Indian Parliament about the whole of Jammu and Kashmir being an inalienable part of India, he has asserted.


Book of poetry to be released on Jan 24
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
In the twilight of his life, Prof Sulekh Chander Kanwal has brought out ‘Aashiyan’, a Hindi transliteration of his Urdu nazms and ghazals.

This 73-year-old veteran belongs to the generation which loved Urdu poetry and used it extensively as a medium for expressing thoughts and feelings.

The book is a poetic journey of Prof Kanwal, which started as early as 1948 when the country and the society had just suffered the pangs of the Partition. Kanwal, like many other writers of that era, took to pen and gave vent to his feelings.

No wonder he conveys his sadness in nazms ‘Kuchh Seekh Ley’ and ‘Naseem-o-sarsar’. Besides turbulence and disturbances, the newly earned freedom of the nation had made everyone hopeful, but the disappointment set in very soon as the political leaders failed to deliver and come up to the expectations of the people. ‘Paigham-e-Amal’, ‘Salar-e-Qafila’, ‘Liaqat ali Se’ and ‘Yome-e-Azaddi’, convey the poet’s disappointments.

But the most moving are his nazms ‘Kisi Ki Ankh Mein Ansoo Dekh Kar’ and ‘Biwi ka Jawaab’, wherein he describes the mental agony of a couple as the husband loses his wife to a rich contractor because of his poverty.

Kanwal has his own vision of the world around which he shares with us through his poetry. His ghazals have the potential to reach out to the people for one more reason, that is, usage of easy and understandable Urdu words.

The book has been published by the known literary organisation, Adeeb International (Sahir Cultural Academy), Ludhiana, and is scheduled for release on January 24 at Punjabi Bhawan. 


Rs 2.4 lakh looted from petrol station
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, January 19
In an incident on the Samrala road in the broad daylight, two scooter-borne men wearing caps, snatched a bag containing Rs 2.40 lakh from an employee of Jain-Harmilap filling station at 12 noon while he was on his way to the bank. The bank and the police station are hardly 25 metres away from the petrol station.

According to information, neither the employee, Sanjeev Kumar, made any call for help nor did he note down the registration number of the scooter. A policeman deputed at the bank tried to chase the looters but in vain.

The police has registered a case.


Man found murdered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
The Salem Tabri police registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC following the discovery of an unidentified body in abandoned quarters in Karol Bagh Colony on the Jassian road yesterday.

The man, around 22 years of age, was killed by hitting his head with a heavy object. Mr Murli Dhar, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, who discovered the body, reported the murder to the police.

Couple injured

The Sadar police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 427 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Amrik Singh, a resident of Guru Nanak Colony, against a tractor driver who hit his scooter near Sangowal village and sped way after injuring him and his wife Ranjit Kaur who was riding pillion.

Both victims have been admitted to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital.


The Division No 4 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 323, 341, 506 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ripudaman, a resident of Subhash Nagar, against Monu and Balu, residents of the same locality, and Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Kalia Nagar. The complainant had alleged that the accused intercepted him on the road in Subhash Nagar on Saturday, beat him up and threatened him.

The Haibowal police registered a case under Sections 341, 323 and 506 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Sunil Kumar Gupta, a resident of Bawa Patti village, near Bagha Purana, in Moga district, against two persons who stopped him on the way , beat him up and threatened him yesterday.

Gamblers held

The Division No 2 police yesterday arrested Som Nath, Lal Chand and Tajinder Singh, residents of Islam Ganj, for gambling at a public place and booked them under the Gambling Act.

The police said today that a sum of Rs 720 was recovered from the accused who were later released on bail.

The Model Town police arrested Kaka Ram, a resident of Manohar Nagar and Parminder Singh, a resident of Lal Quarters, for gambling at a public place and recovered Rs 420 from them. They were booked under the Gambling Act.

Satta bookie held

The Division No 7 police yesterday arrested Arun Kumar, who lives on the Tajpur road, and booked him under the Gambling Act.

The police said today that the accused was indulging in booking “satta” and “darra” bets openly in the area and that a sum of Rs 290 was seized from him.


Cash stolen

Cash and pesticides were stolen from two shops at Ikolaha village on Sunday night by some thieves.

According to information, Mr Surinder Singh Rajewal, owner of M/s Nitin Agro Chemical, closed his shop on Sunday and went to his village. On Monday morning when he reached his shop he found the locks of the shop broken and Rs 2,600 in cash and pesticides worth Rs 3,000 stolen.


High prices of steel condemned
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
Reports have appeared in a sections of the Press that the Government of India has warned steel companies against the scarcity and high prices of iron. Unfortunately, steel has not been mentioned in the warning. This is a mere political statement similar to the one made in November, 2003.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a press statement today said that in November, 2003, a high-level committee headed by the Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, Mr S. Narayan, had warned the steel companies against hike in the prices of steel. The meeting was attended by the Finance Secretary, the Revenue Secretary, the Steel Secretary and other senior officials of the Government of India. The warning was specific to bring the prices down by the first week of December, failing which custom duty on steel would be reduced from 25 to 10 per cent. It was decided that this cut would be effective from January 1, 2004. But this proved to be a mere political statement.

Mr Sharma said at that time the election process of five state assemblies was on. Immediately after the voting took place on December 1, 2003, steel companies made a hefty hike in the steel prices once again. The government was silent on this commitment and no action whatsoever was taken.

He said that the Government of India was patting the steel producers like a bail-out package of around Rs 7,000 crore was given to just three steel companies in the private sector. Some of these directors were found to be in the RBI list of wilful defaulters, while some others mis-utilised the lending by financial institution.

The Finance Minister brought down the level of custom duty from 25 to 20 per cent as a calibrated measure imported coals used by steel companies got special favour from the Finance Minister by reducing custom duty on coal from 25 per cent to 10 per cent. However, steel remained under the 25 per cent custom duty level. It was surely a favour to steel companies at the cost of steel consumers.

When international prices of steel were very low, the government provided formidable protection to steel companies through tariff and non-tariff measures. No steel could be imported below $ 310 per ton when the global prices ruled around $ 200. After the global prices shot up, this protection continued. The steel companies exploited the steel consumers to the fullest extent.

Mr Sharma said that there was a lot of resentment in the steel and pig iron consuming industry and this resentment was deep and wide having vital effect on the economy. The high onion prices some times back quickly translated into political terms but it had no effect on the economy. Onion prices were again rising and the government was showing extra sensitivity on it but it was lukewarm on steel and pig iron.

The feel-good factor, which was being made the base for the early elections, was completely missing for the small-scale sector in particular and the pig iron and stele consuming industry in general. If measures were not taken to control the prices, positive repercussion shall be very wide.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Industrial of Commercial Undertaking submitted a memorandum to Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on the frequent hikes in steel prices which have adversely affected their business.

Mr T R Mishra, vice- president of the unit, said Ludhiana was the main industrial belt of small scale industries and 80 per cent of small scale units were engaged in manufacturing of agricultural machines, hand tools, cycle parts, sewing machines, auto parts and others.

The main raw material for the above mentioned items was steel and the balance was consumed in building and other construction activities.

In the past two to three months the steel prices had been raised quite high by about 90 per cent and it was going to touch the sky soon. Due to high hikes in steel prices 60 per cent of industrial units have closed and 40 per cent were facing crises and near to closing.

Steel was being exported to other countries even though steel was the main raw material of our industry in India. Due to export of steel our industries were closing and million of people in India may soon be unemployed.

The policy of steel export and raised prices would result in losses for the BJP in the parliamentary elections. The matter should be taken up seriously before parliamentary elections to save the industry and the country, Mr Mishra added.


LG Tinka for easy organ transplant
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
LG Electronics in a bid to facilitate greater accessibility to lifesaving organ transplant for people, who are in need of the same, has formed a group called Tinka. This group will offer assistance to ailing persons in need of a transplant and will also ensure that procedures followed for transplants for donors and receivers are safe and effective.

According to Mr Y.V. Verma, the group had initiated a drive to encourage people to donate organs with the Government of India joining in the noble cause. In a major step forward in this direction, the government had set up the Organ Retrieval and Banking Organisation (ORBO) in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, one of the premier hospitals of the country. Employees at LG Electronics were also encouraged to pledge their body organs to the ORBO.

The campaign, Mr Verma claimed, was a huge success as volunteers turned up in large numbers. In addition to 225 volunteers already registered at the camp, 29 members of a single joint family also pledged their organs. Participants spanned various age groups, backgrounds and orgnisations.

Maintaining that this was the first such initiative by a corporate, the company official said the endeavour had been honoured as the group (Tinka) had been nationally recognised as a community development intermediary by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The intense need for the campaign was felt as more and more people lost their lives due to the lack of suitable organs for transplant. “In recent years, living donation has been the fastest growing source of transplanted organs in the West. However, progress in creating awareness of the need for organ and their donation in our country has been rather slow. Moreover, thousands of opportunities to donate are missed each year, mainly because organ procurement institutes have not been able to identity potential donors.”

Giving details of the company operations, he said LG Electronics India was the fastest growing company in the consumer electronics, home appliances and computer peripherals industry today. The company had targeted a turnover of Rs 4,500 crore in India this year. Since its inception, LG India had charted a vision to become the No. 1 consumer electronics and home appliance brand in India by creating the best value for customers on marketing and product leadership. The company had managed to garner a sizeable market share in all its product categories despite being the youngest entrant in the market.

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