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Bank staff protest against privatisation
Tribune News Service

Mr N.K. Gaur, general secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation, addresses federation members in Ludhiana
Mr N.K. Gaur, general secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation, addresses federation members in Ludhiana on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, April 18
As part of the nationwide campaign against privatisation of public sector banks, the employees today held a rally at the Rotary Club, Ludhiana, to decide the role of bank employees in the coming General Election. The rally was addressed by Mr N. K. Gaur, general secretary, Mr Davinder Singh, president, All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, Mr Sushil Gautam, general secretary, State Bank of Patiala Employees Union Punjab, Mr Sudesh Kumar, chairman, Punjab Bank Employees’ Federation and Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister for Printing and Stationery.

While addressing the rally, Mr Pandey assured on behalf of the Congress for not supporting the Bill on privatisation of banks. Mr Gaur, said the AIBEA was fighting against privatisation of the banks since 1991. The AIBEA feels that nationalised banking created the national resources and these resources should be utilised for the benefit of the public.

He said the NDA government has introduced a Bill in Parliament for reduction of government stake in public sector banks from 51 per cent to 33 per cent, which means privatisation of the banks. Bank employees described the privatisation move as an anti-labour policy of the government.

They said while the bank employees protested outside Parliament and within Parliament, a number of political parties including Congress and others parties opposed this Bill, as a result of which, this Bill was lying in cold storage but danger of privatisation of banks were still on. Recently the Central Government has allowed foreign capital investment in public sector banks upto 74 per cent which means that the banks would be handed over to foreigners.

They warned that once the Bill was approved in Parliament and public sector banks were privatised, total deposits which were today estimated at Rs 14,00,000 crore would be handed over to foreigners. The bank employees protested against the government decision to permit foreign direct investment in banks upto 74 per cent. They termed it as the most retrograde and dangerous. Besides, they demanded that names of all bank loan defaulters who were contesting the elections should be declared. Bank employees have also decided to support candidates of the left front and Congress who stand in favour of public sector banks and oppose this Bill in Parliament.

The bank employees also felt that deposit rates have come down from 13 per cent to 5.5 per cent while living standard of large number of people who were dependent upon bank interest has gone up. The bank employees demanded increase in small savings interest. They said, while corporates were getting advances from the banks at 18 to 19 per cent prior to these economic reforms, now, they are enjoying credit from the banks at 6-7 per cent.



Farmers make hay in absence of ban
Use straw reapers amid harvesting 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
Even as harvesting operations started in the district 20 days ago, 80 per cent of which is now over, the district administration is yet to ban the operation of straw reaper, a machine that has gained notoriety in the past for causing fire in fields.

While the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Verma, had banned the combine operations at night in the district keeping in view apprehensions of fire, no orders had been issued on straw reapers. Every year, orders banning the use of reapers are passed when harvesting begins and the ban is lifted after the operations are over.

The orders allow farmers to operate the machine after harvesting so that they are able to prepare straw for their cattle. In the absence of any ban orders, farmers are resorting to preparing the straw with the help of reaper in almost all villages of the district. Soon after the crop is harvested with combines, farmers start preparing straw without bothering about the ban orders.

A Ludhiana Tribune team today witnessed the machine operations in at least a dozen villages of the district, including Mattewara, Miani, Salempura, Chaunta, and Garcha. While talking to the TNS, farmers said they were not aware of a ban on the machine though they knew it caused fire in the fields due to sparking.

Mr Charna Singh, a farmer who was preparing straw in his fields with the help of the machine, expressed his surprise over the issue.

“We know we are not supposed to burn straw as it is not good for environment as well as soil. But nobody has told us anything about it. Had I known about it, I would have waited for harvesting to be over.” A part of straw reaper causes sparks that set the standing wheat crop in surrounding fields ablaze causing financial losses to farmers. Since the entire crop is dry during this season, it becomes highly combustible and catches fire with a single spark. Sometimes hundreds of acres of crop is reduced to ashes within minutes. So farmers are advised by experts to postpone their straw making operations till the harvesting is completed in their vicinity.

Farmers are aware of the fact that the machine can cause fire but once their crop is harvested they throw all the caution to the winds. “A ball bearing in the machine often causes a spark leading to fire incidents. But what can we do? We have to prepare the field for the next crop also. So we have to finish with this crop as soon as possible,” a farmer contended.



Goods worth crores destroyed in fires
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
Property worth crores of rupees was gutted in two fire incidents that devastated a plastic manufacturing factory and a yarn manufacturing unit here late last evening.
Though no loss of life has been reported, the yarn factory, Anshupati Fiber Private Limited, in Focal Point was gutted and yarn, both manufactured and raw, was reduced to ashes. Short circuit is suspected to be the cause of the fire that spread quickly due to the presence of highly combustible material.

As many as 49 fire tenders worked for nearly six hours to quell the raging flames that threatened to engulf adjoining factories and other buildings, including some residential quarters of labourers.

According to Mr Akhil Malhotra, factory owner, loss worth crores of rupees was suffered by him in the fire. Sources said some labourers spotted smoke billowing from a room and tried to control the fire, but it spread so fast that they had to escape out of the premises.

Fire tenders from the Industrial Area fire station were the first to reach the spot but were overwhelmed by the blaze. Soon fire tenders from all over the city were requestioned to fight the blaze.

The Industrial Area DSP, Mr R.K. Bakshi, visited the scene with large police force to assist the fire fighters.

Earlier in the evening, a fire broke out in Aman Plastic Factory located in Kot Mangal Singh Colony. The flames were doused after several hours. People in the vicinity complained of breathlessness as pungent smoke from the burning plastic engulfed the area.

Short circuit is stated to be the cause of the fire. The flames also damaged power supply wires causing disruption in the power supply for several hours. Fire tenders and fire fighters had a torrid time fighting the flames. Due to narrow approach area to the factory, the fire tenders could not reach close to the factory.



Dhillon woos traders, industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
The problems faced by the industrialists and traders would be solved after consulting prominent businessmen if the NDA came to power, said the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, here today.

He was addressing entrepreneurs at a function organised by the Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association. Prominent among those present were Mr Gurpargat Singh Kahlon, Mr Charan Singh Kohli of Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Surinder Singh of G.S. Auto, Mr S.C. Ralhan, regional chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council, Mr Joga Singh, chairman, Focal Point Industrial Association, Mr Prem Sagar Aggarwal, Mr Om Prakash Kapoor, Mr Jagtar Singh general secretary, Ramgharia Educational Council, Mr Parshotam Mittal, Mr Gurpreet Singh Kahlon, Mr Gurmit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh, Mr M P Handa, Mr Jashandip Singh, Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Jagdish Singh, joint secretary, Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Mr Dhillon assured the traders that their problems would be solved by the Central Government. While answering queries by industrialists, he said being a local resident, he fully understood the problems faced by them. He said he had taken up these issues with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who assured him that the same had been taken up with the Central leadership.

Mr Hira Singh Gabria, a former MLA, also sought votes and support for Mr Dhillon. Others who spoke on the occasion included Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) and Youth Akali Dal (Rural) president Inder Mohan Singh Kadian.



Congress candidate weighed against coins
Our Correspondent

Amloh, April 18
The Congress candidate from the Ropar parliamentary (reserved) constituency, Mr Samsher Singh Dullo, addressed 50 meetings in different villages of the Amloh Assembly segment. These included Galwaddi, Naraingarh, Kanjar, Dewa Gandhuan, Bhatton and Alipur villages. He was weighed against coins in 12 villages. Mr Pakhar Singh, a former BSP leader at Ghutind village, joined the Congress.

Speaking on the performance of the Congress after 1950, he said it had brought remarkable development in the fields of agriculture, industry and power generation.

Making a scathing attack on the previous SAD government in the state, Mr Dullo said 15 ministers of the Badal government were facing trials in corruption cases.

Mr Dullo said the BSP candidates contesting elections in Punjab were agents of SAD, having one-point agenda to cause loss to the Congress.

Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA, claimed that the Punjab Government had purchased power worth Rs 6,000 crore from Orissa and MP to save the state farmers from drought-like conditions. He said the government had also made adequate arrangements for the procurement of wheat and paddy. The PPCC, secretary Dr Swatantar Karkara, said the Punjab Government had promised to give transparent and clean governance.



Tiwari to file papers on April 21
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
The Congress candidate from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, Mr Munish Tiwari, will file his nomination papers on April 21 in the presence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

A spokesman for the party said here today that besides the Chief Minister, the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, will also be present at the time of his filing of nomination papers. Senior Congress leaders, ministers and legislators will also be present.

Mr Tiwari will be taken out in a procession of vehicles. The procession will leave for the Mini Secretariat from the party office on the Ferozepore Road. 



Gosain writes to PM over demolitions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 18
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and a former Deputy Speaker, Satpal Gosain has written to the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee seeking his intervention to ‘save’ Christian Medical College (CMC) from the wrath of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, copies of which were released to the press here today, Mr Gosain alleged that the officials of the corporation were threatening to demolish some of the buildings of this oldest medical institution of the city. Mr Gosain said the institution has always served the people in the region.

Giving details, he said the Punjab Government was supposed to pay about Rs 1 crore to the institution which was still pending. He said a major fire broke out in the congested Khud Mohalla area in Ludhiana in May, 2003. Over 100 persons suffered major burn injuries and they were all rushed to the CMC. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had announced that the Punjab Government would bear the entire cost of the medical treatment of all those injured in the tragedy. But so far no money has been paid to the institution.

Mr Gosain also brought to the notice of the PM the callous attitude of the corporation. He said the MC which was responsible for ensuring smooth roads, flow of traffic, proper drainage and cleanliness in the vicinity of the hospital complex, has totally failed to redress the grievances of the institution, which were primarily related to patient welfare. On the other hand, Mr Gosain added, the MC is adamant on pulling down certain buildings of the institution on some flimsy ground with the intent of causing grievous harm to the basic identity to the edifice.

The former Deputy Speaker urged the Prime Minister to provide suitable relief to this institution as the state government had completely failed in its duty.



Library for senior citizens 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
“Senior citizens should not think they cannot contribute towards society after their retirement. They can still involve themselves in useful social welfare programmes. This will be mutually beneficial for them as it will give them a purpose for their lives and to the society as well,” said Mr Gursewak Madhok, chairman of the Manav Nishkam Sewa Kendra (MNSK), at a function held at the kendra today to launch welfare schemes for senior citizens.

The function was presided over by Dr S.S. Johl, vice-chairman, Planning Board, Punjab. Representatives of a number of local social welfare organisations were present on the occasion.

Welcoming the chief guest and other invitees, Mr Madhok pointed out that the kendra had resolved to serve senior citizens, needy widows, economically poor women, and children. Dr S.N. Sewak explained the aims and objectives of the kendra and urged senior citizens to involve themselves in social welfare programmes.

Dr S.S. Johl inaugurated a senior citizens’ library and a sewing and embroidery class at the Nishkam Sewa Complex. Monthly ration packets were distributed among 20 needy widows. The complex is already being used as daycare centre for senior citizens. Three welfare programmes were added to its activities today.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Shravan Kumar of Nishkam Sewa Ashram appreciated Mr Madhok for his work and urged members to try to make the deprived women self-reliant by giving them suitable aid and training. Mr Jagdish Bajaj of Gyan Sthal Mandir said they were helping 651 needy widows in the same manner. Mr Kanwardeep Singh, advocate, lauded the efforts of the organisers. Mr V.M. Bhandari, general secretary of the NSMK, promised more social welfare programmes in the near future. Swami Nishtha Ji Maharaj of Geeta Ashram and Kumari Purnima of Brahmkumaris also blessed workers for their dedication.

In his presidential remarks, Dr S.S. Johl welcomed private efforts in social welfare programmes and called upon senior citizens not to retire from life. He felt only socially sensitive people could do the job and pledged all support to organisers in their mission.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dhillon proposed the vote of thanks and promised cooperation to the MNSK in its activities.



City youngsters go in for trendy shades
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 18
“Sunglasses not only protect your eyes from harsh sunlight, but also make you appear cool and trendy”, say Monica and her friend. The girls say they never step out of their house without shades as it becomes very difficult to drive a two-wheeler without these. “Moreover, they protect you from the gaze of people, giving you full freedom to gaze at others,” they add.

The owner of a goggles showroom here says: “The trendy people go for only designer glasses of established brands like Ray-Bans, Police,Christian Dior etc. But these kinds of glasses are beyond the reach of most people. So we stock goggles that are affordable. College students like to buy such shades. These are getting trendier by the day. There is a wide variety in colours, ranging from light-tinted glasses to darker ones. The sale is brisk since people are getting more aware about the harmful effects of sun’s rays.”

Another city girl Rita says she has more than three pairs of sunglasses to match her dresses. “Since the sunglasses can make or mar your appearance, I choose mine with great care, keeping in mind the frame, the shade and whether it will go with my dress.”

Since the film stars wear fancy sunglasses, their admirers also want to wear those kinds. The enterprising manufacturers, aware of the demand for these sunglasses, bring into the market replicas of such models.

Mr Ram Sahay who sells sunglasses on a footpath on the GT Road, says: “Since we stock glasses priced at Rs 30 onwards, we make a brisk sale. We have the latest kinds of models of glasses worn by heroes and heroines in the latest movies. Our buyers are mostly daily-wagers, and employees.”

Yet, due to their desire to look smart, people go in for cheap fancy glasses. But these are very harmful.

An eye specialist says such glasses should be avoided as these can cause damage to the eyes.



1,000 attend yoga camp
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 18
The Bhartiya Yog Sansthan celebrated its 38th founder’s day at Gol Park, Model Town, by organising a yoga camp here today. More than 1,000 persons attended the camp.

Mr N.P. Singh, SSP, Ludhiana, was the chief guest. Four yoga experts namely Mr Hoshiar Singh, Mr Devi Sahay Tandon, Mr Parveen Sharma and Mahavir demonstrated different kinds of exercises. Mr Virinder Kumar told the gathering about several exercises and their benefits. Mr Krishan Gupta, president, Bhartiya Yog Sansthan, said the sansthan was organising free yoga classes.

The SSP said in modern life every person should perform yoga and the sansthan was helping the residents by holding classes. The centre has 59 branches. After the camp, a free medical camp was organised.


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