L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bus rams into scooter, killing two 
Close shave for passengers
Mahesh Sharma

Dehlon, February 23
Two scooterists were killed and a cyclist injured when the driver of a Ludhiana-bound PRTC bus, in a bid to save the cyclist, lost control and hit the scooterists on the Dehlon bridge this afternoon.

The passengers of the bus, however, escaped unhurt as the bus stopped right at the guardrail of the Kaind bridge, preventing it from falling into the canal.

The scooter was badly crushed and the two riders fell into the canal. Their bodies were later recovered from the canal.

The two have been identified as Kulwant Singh, a member of panchayat of Dhode village, and Hakam Singh of Gurma village, near Dehlon. The cyclist, Sinderpal Singh, also fall into the canal but was rescued and admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Eyewitnesses said the PRTC bus (PB 11 P 9706), going towards Ludhiana, was crossing the new Kaind bridge when a cyclist came in front.

The driver of the bus, in his bid to save the cyclist, swerved the bus to the right where the scooterists were coming. The bus hit the scooter, throwing the scooterists into the canal. However, the bus came to a halt.

Villagers blamed a blind turn at the bridge for the accident. They said the new bridge was frequently used by motorists travelling from Ludhiana to Mandi Ahmedgarh, while those from Mandi Ahmedgarh used the old bridge to reach Ludhiana. They said the driver of the bus today chose the new bridge and could not see the scooterists coming from the opposite direction.

Ajaib Singh, the driver of the bus, was arrested from the scene. A case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337, 338 and 427, IPC, has been registered against him.

A similar accident had taken place on March 18, 2002, in which five members of a Panchkula-based family had died after their car had fallen into the canal.

Villagers said they had requested the police and civil administration to install glow signs or reflectors at the bridge, but to no avail.



Diesel Scam
MC clerk’s house search yields Rs 7.88 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today conducted search operations on the house of a Municipal Corporation clerk who has additional charge as diesel petrol attendant. He is the main accused in the diesel scandal.

The search yielded a cash of Rs 7.88 lakh from his house and documents pertaining to properties worth lakhs of rupees. According to the DSP Vigilance, Mr Narinderpal Singh, the four wads of Rs 10,000 each bear the stamp of Highway Service Station, employees of which are also allegedly involved in the scam.

According to the DSP, Krishan Lal had purchased a house in the Model Town area of the city for Rs 35 lakh. He had also purchased two houses and a shop in the Jawahar Nagar Camp area for Rs 10 lakh. Besides, he had bought 21 acres of land at the rate of Rs 1.5 lakh per acre in Sirsa. The land is in the name of his father-in-law.

Vigilance officials said a market in Panipat was found to be in the name of the clerk’s son and its value was yet to be evaluated. They said the scandal was pegged at crores of rupees as the clerk had allegedly amassed property beyond his known sources of income.

They alleged that some higher officials of the A, B and C zones of the MC were also under the Vigilance scanner. The Vigilance is also in search of some officials, for their alleged involvement in the case. These include Dr G.S. Grewal, Medical Officer, MC, Ashwini Sahota, Chief Sanitary Inspector, Deepak, Inspector, Som Nath, helper, and Shiv Kumar, driver.

The Vigilance officials said the accused had absconded. They allegedly used to sell diesel and petrol to various filling stations.



Breeders to resume chick production today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Chick breeders of the northern region have decided to resume production tomorrow. The production of chicks had been stopped in the past 12 days in view of the fall in demand of poultry products due to the bird flu scare.
A-day-old chick would be available in the market from tomorrow.

According to Mr Surinder Verma, Area Sales Manager of Venkies India Limited, the decision to resume production was taken at a meeting of breeders from Punjab, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir held in Chandigarh yesterday.

The breeders supply a-day-old chicks to the poultry farmers who rear it as broilers.

He said the decision had to be taken as they could not keep the production suspended for long.

He said that they had received some fresh orders from the poultry farmers who were earlier not buying the chicks because there was no demand of broilers in the market.

While the breeders have decided to resume production, most of the poultry farmers seem to be in no mood to buy new chicks as they are yet to sell their old ones.

Talking to The Tribune, poultry farmers said they were facing a glut situation as their broilers had become 4.5 kg but there were no takers for them.

Ideally, a broiler weighing 600-800 g is preferred and as the weight goes up there are not many takers. Moreover, it becomes uneconomical as after 55 days of its birth it starts consuming much more.

Mr Sanjiv Bassi, local poultry farmer, said he was not willing to buy any new chicks as it was difficult for him to get rid of the ones already reared by him. He said that a broiler was sold for Rs 11 to 13 per kg today and eggs for Rs 80 to 85 per hundred.

He said it was less than half of its original price. However, admitted that there was a rising trend in the rates.

The period between January 15 and April 15 is considered the peak time by layers, who rear hens to take eggs from them.

This is the time when the egg is sold at the maximum price during the year. But this time even the layers are sitting back and not buying any chicks as there is no demand of eggs.

Mr Bassi said he had purchased layer chicks for Rs 30,000 on January 17 when there was no flu scare. Later, he did not buy a single chick. And he is finding it difficult to sell the eggs produced by already bought chicks.

Expressing concern at the fall in the demand, the poultry farmers said they failed to understand why the people were not consuming poultry products.

They said that even the World Health Organisation (WHO) had clarified that there was not a single case of bird flu in India.



PSEB workers to stay away from strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Workers Federation, affiliated to Intuc, has decided to not participate in the proposed strike on February 24. This decision was taken at a meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Swaran Singh, state president of the body here yesterday.

It was resolved that the affiliated units of the federation would also not join the strike keeping in view the dissolution of Parliament from February 6 as a protest at this juncture would not prove beneficial to the workers.

In another resolution, the decision of the Punjab Government to convert the PSEB into a corporation was criticised because the board had made turned around the loss of Rs 1860 crore and had come out of the red with a profit of Rs 50 crore. “Privatisation of the PSEB will not be in the interest of the people,” he said.

The meeting deplored the PSEB management for its failure to implement the decision taken at the meeting of Employees Forum. 



4 hurt as jeep rams into trees
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Four persons, including two children, were critically injured when a jeep, in which they were travelling, rammed into trees on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana road near Amaltas Resorts here today.

The four were taken to the local CMC hospital where their condition was said to be critical. The injured could not be identified as they were unconscious.

The four were coming towards Ludhiana from Jalandhar when the driver lost control and the jeep rammed into some trees in front of Amaltas Resorts. A policeman, who was an eyewitness to the incident, said the impact of the collision was so much that the four occupants of the jeep fell on the road.

A boy, who was also travelling in the jeep, was found after 10 minutes of the incident. He was found lying in the bushes by the policeman.



PSEB customers left in the lurch
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Thousands of customers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have been left in the lurch, thanks to a faulty delivery system of the bills. Although the PSEB officials tried to issue duplicate bills today, however there were so many who could not get these despite the fact that today was the last day for depositing the bills by cheque.

Right from the morning, the PSEB office witnessed a huge rush of customers from the Civil Lines, Salem Tabri, and other areas as people came there to collect the duplicate bills. Mr Om Prakash, a resident of the Salem Tabri area, said he learnt from his neighbour that today was the last date for depositing the bill by cheque. The bill had not been delivered to him.

He said he had to wait for a full day to get a duplicate copy of the bill lest he may have to pay the penalty. But there were thousands of others who were not as lucky as Mr Om Prakash as they could not get the duplicate bills from the PSEB office. They said they would ultimately be asked to pay the penalty as the board did not entertain any arguments or admitted its own faults.

A PSEB official admitted that there was some problem in the delivery of bills. However, he maintained that there were only a few hundred subscribers who could not receive the bills on time. And most of them, he added, were issued the duplicate bills today only and they would not need to pay any penalty. He was, however, non-committal about those who could not receive the duplicate bills today even as the last date for depositing the bills passed.

The customers who could not get the duplicate bills today expressed their helplessness since they have been told that there is no provision for waiving the penalty. Mr Satish Singal, a resident of the Civil Lines area pointed out that PSEB customers would have to pay a penalty worth thousands of rupees for no fault of theirs.

Most of the subscribers are in the commercial and medium categories with average bills running into thousands of rupees. On an average, each customer will have to pay a penalty of Rs 1,000 to the PSEB.

A PSEB official said as of now they did not have any system to waive the penalty as the system is computerised and the programme could not be changed. He said the bill had to be paid on the due date only, after which the customer would be charged the penalty. However, subscribers like Mr Singal said they may even think of approaching the consumer court if they were forced to deposit the penalty also.



Bar association gets Rs 50 lakh grant
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
The president of the District Bar Association, Mr B.K.Goel, today claimed at a press conference that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had acceded to almost all demands of the association. A delegation of 21 lawyers met the Chief Minister and Mr H.S.Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, at Chandigarh yesterday.

Giving details, Mr Goel said the Chief Minister announced a grant of  Rs 50 lakh for the association and directed the Secretary, PWD (B&R), to credit the amount to the account of the association. The Chief Minister also promised to release a grant of another Rs 50 lakh to the association in July.

Claiming to have sorted out the most controversial issue regarding the nature of possession of chambers of lawyers and monthly payment by the lawyers to the administration, Mr Goel said the Chief Minster directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, to get the agreement of January 3, 2001, signed and act it.

Mr Goel said according to the agreement, the government was to hand over the chambers to the association on 99 years’ lease with a token amount of Rs 100 per year as lease money. The maintenance of the chambers complex was to be done by the administration. Mr Goel said the problems being faced by young lawyers would also be solved soon. 



Ruhani satsang held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
“There is no need to abandon caste, creed or religion. Man becomes human when he adopts love”. Spiritual head of Ruhani Satsang Prem Samaj Maharaj Kamal Bir ji said this during a two-day spiritual congregation held in the memory of Maharaj Bir ji, founder of Ruhani Satsang Prem Samaj, at Ladowal, near Ludhiana, yesterday.

A large number of followers from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and other places attended the satsang.



Robbers’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 23
The Sangrur police has busted a gang of robbers reportedly been involved in several robberies that occurred in this area in the past two years. Six members of the gang were nabbed by a joint police party of the local police and the CIA, Sangrur, near Kanganwal village on Saturday night when they were conspiring to strike at a petrol station.

Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, Senior Superintendent of Police, told Ludhiana Tribune that Mr Darshan Singh Mann, DSP, Malerkotla, had deployed Mr Hardip Singh, SHO, Sadar, at the Jandali bridge to keep a vigil on bad elements on Saturday night.

An informer told the cops at a naka that he had noticed a group of armed persons at a deserted place near Kanganwal bridge on the Bathinda canal.

Reacting promptly, a joint team of the local police and the CIA staff headed by Inspector Jasmel Singh raided the place and nabbed six gangsters. They were later identified as Angrej Khan, Hardeep Singh, Jagrup Singh, Harkirat Singh, Gurmeet Singh (all residents Chhapar village) and Dilawar Khan. Two pistols a .12 bore and two revolvers of .315 bore along with live cartridges were seized from the suspects.

“The gangsters had been evading arrest because they used to hide in their homes after robberies at inter-district boundaries.” The town was situated at the periphery of the Sangrur police district and the gangsters would cross to the area under the Jagraon police district immediately after committing the crime.

Sources revealed that Angrej Khan, kingpin of the gang, had earlier been arrested by the Sangrur police in connection with anti-social acts during the days of terrorism. He reconstituted his gang two years back. Hardip Singh, second in command, ran a shop at the local Raekote bus stop.



Fiancee booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 23
A man, who refused to marry his fiancee, was booked for rape under Section 376 of the IPC by the division No. 2 police yesterday.
The woman in question, Anita Devi, a migrant woman from Bihar living at Mushtaqganj Mohalla, had complained to the police that Jai Parkash Gupta, also a migrant from Uttar Pradesh, who worked with her in a mill, had promised to marry her after an engagement ceremony.

The complainant stated that after the engagement he started taking her to different places where he allegedly raped her. But when she started pressurising him for an early marriage, the suspect refused to do so, added the complainant.

Factory worker dies: The focal point police on Sunday registered a case under Section 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Mr Vijay Kumar, a Bihari migrant living in Mithu da Vehra at Gobindgarh village, against the owner of a factory located in the same village.

The complainant had stated that he and his brother worked in the factory and the latter fell into a drum containing some chemical while on duty. He was pulled out of the drum and taken to a hospital where he died. No arrest has been made so far.

Held with poppy husk: Des Raj, a resident of Tajpur Road, was arrested on Sunday by the Civil Lines police following the recovery of 10 kg of poppy husk from him. The police said on Monday that Des Raj, who was intercepted near the telephone exchange at the Bharat Nagar chowk, had been booked under Sections 15,61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Forgery alleged: The Civil Lines police on Sunday registered a case under various sections of the IPC on the statement of Mr Parkash, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, against Satpal Kumar, who lives in street No. 4 of Guru Angad Dev Colony.

The complainant had stated that the above said had got his plot transferred in his name on the basis of a forged power of attorney.

Beaten up: The Koom Kalan police registered a case under various sections of the IPC on the statement of Mr Baldev Singh of Jandiali village falling under the Sahnewal police station, against Joginderpal, Anant Ram and Satnam Singh, residents of Machhian Khurd village. The complainant alleged that while passing through Machhian Khurd village on Sunday afternoon the three intercepted him and beat him up.

Meanwhile, the focal point police on Sunday registered a case under various sections of the IPC on the statement of Mr Malkit Singh, a resident of New Gagan Nagar in Giaspura, against Laddu Sharma, a resident of Dhandari Kalan. He stated that the accused hit him near the Giaspura chowk on Saturday evening, injuring him.

Liquor seized: The Sadar police on Sunday arrested Darbara Singh, a resident of Majra Kalan village, and seized nine bottles of illicit liquor from him. He was booked under the Excise Act. According to the police, he was intercepted near Laddowal village on Sunday evening.



Man held with firearms

Khanna, February 23
The Khanna police last night arrested a man, Mukhtiar Singh, for carrying two pistols and eight live cartridges. Mukhtiar Singh had planned to rob some traders of Mandi Gobindgarh.

In a press note issued here today, the SSP, Mr Parmod Ban, said under a drive launched against anti-social elements, the police had set up a roadblock under the supervision of DSP Rajeshwar Singh. Last night, CIA in charge Kulwant Singh signalled a man to stop, but he tried to flee. The man was later overpowered by the police and two pistols and eight cartridges were seized from his possession.

The SSP said the man, a resident of Khanna Khurd village, worked in a factory at Mandi Gobindgarh and had intentions to rob some traders.



Price hike threatens sheet metal industry
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 23
An unexpected hike in the prices of all kinds of steel sheets like black pane (BP) sheets, galvanised plain (GP) sheets and hot rolled (HR) sheets has put the sheet metal industry in a spot, especially the small rural units. The prices of the sheets had been hiked by more than 100 per cent during the past one year.

The price of the main raw material for the production of HR sheets has gone up to Rs 33,000 per metric tonne from Rs 16,000 per metric tonne. All types of thin sheets like GP sheets, BP sheets and GC sheets are made from the HR sheet. The thin sheets are used mainly in manufacturing steel furniture, including steel almirahs, storage racks, storage bins, air coolers, and many other items.

There are hundreds of steel sheet units in the rural sector. These units are mostly run by self-employed persons with limited resources.

But due to a big hike in the price of the main raw material, it has become difficult to run these units. Mr Manjeet Singh, owner of a steel almirah manufacturing unit in Barwali village said he had closed his shop due to the price hike. He said last year he purchased GP sheets at Rs 18,500 per metric tonne to Rs 21,000 per metric tonne depending on the variety of the sheets. But nowadays the price ranged from Rs 34,000 per metric tonne to Rs 40,000 per metric tonne for GP sheets and Rs 33,000 per metric tonne to Rs 35,000 per metric tonne for BP sheets. The prices of these sheets started to go up in May last year.

The price of GP sheets in December 2002 was Rs 18,000 thousand per metric tonne which was gone up to Rs 22,000 per metric tonne in February this year and Rs 30,000 in March. A fall was noted in the price of steel sheets in March, April, May and June last year.

A shopkeeper of Mandi Gobindgarh, Mr Ajit Singh, said if the price of these sheets did not fall, then he would have to close his shop. He said his sales had fallen by 50 per cent due to the high prices.

Another unit at Kheri Nodh Singh has been closed as the customers were not ready to purchase steel sheets at such high prices.



Jaitley assures relief to steel consumers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
The Union Minister for Commerce and Law, Mr Arun Jaitely, today assured steel consumers of Punjab that he would take up the issue of rising steel prices and the cut in import duty on steel with the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh. According to Mr PD Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a delegation met Mr Jaitley at Phagwara today, where he was briefed about the problems of the industry in Ludhiana, particularly the small-scale sector like the cycle and autoparts, the machine tools and sewing machines.

Mr Sharma said Mr Jaitley, hinted that some relief may be given to the steel consumers after he meets the Union Finance Minister in a couple of days.

The delegation told the minister that against the ‘feel good’ factor the steel and pig iron-based industry in Punjab and elsewhere was facing a severe crisis. It observed, “It appears that there is no law for iron and steel producers and wholesale distributors”. The delegation presented details of the phenomenal price rise witnessed during the past one year, which had spelled doom for the small-scale industry in the country.

The delegation made special mention of Punjab industry. It pointed out the bicycle industry was the mainstay of the state economy. The input cost per bicycle had risen by over Rs 200, which was beyond the purchasing power of the common man.

Besides cutting the import duty on steel, the delegation suggested that export duty be imposed on the US pattern where the government had imposed an export duty of 30 per cent to check the export of steel scrap from the country. 



Sewing machine industry observes strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 23
Over 500 sewing machine manufacturing units, dealers and traders today observed strike to protest against the rising input costs. The call was given by the Sewing Machine Dealers and Assemblers Association, Ludhiana.

A spokesman of the association stated that the sewing machine industry was on the verge of closure due to hike in the prices of raw material like steel, pig iron, sheet metal, wire, nickel and coal. He pointed out that the prices of pig iron had risen from Rs 11,000 per tonne in July, 2003, to Rs 25,000 per tonne in February, 2004.

He said due to the increasing prices it was difficult to sell the sewing machines. This had led to the fall in the production and closure of many units. A number of workers had already been rendered jobless. The association demanded that the government should control the steel prices to save the small-scale industry. 


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