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Seven-year-old abducted from house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
A child was abducted from the Tagore Nagar area, near the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, here last evening. The police is clueless while his relatives are inconsolable.

Seven-year-old Chirag, son of Mr Narinder Kumar, a cinema house owner, was abducted by four unidentified persons while he was skating along with his younger sister Charu in the frontyard of his house. Members of the family, quoting Charu, said three persons came out of a car while the person driving it stayed in the vehicle. They caught hold of Chirag, gagged and bundled him into the car and fled. By the time Charu went inside to tell members of the family, the kidnappers had left.

Two PCR policemen stationed in front of the university gate, opposite Udham Singh Nagar, did not follow the car even after they were told that a child had been abducted and was being taken away in the car. Members of the family said they were told by a doctor working with the hospital that he tried to chase the Maruti car (PB10W 2040) and told the two policemen about it. The doctor said they told him to inform the police control room instead of chasing the car and they could have easily chased the car and rescued the child if they had tried.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Narinderpal Singh, and the Ludhiana East MLA, Mr Surinder Dawer, visited the affected family and said efforts would be made to ensure the safe return of the child. The SSP later told The Tribune that the police had got details about the car. He said the police was working on various clues and theories and an early breakthrough was expected.

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Daytime crime up despite patrolling
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, July 21
Round-the-clock patrolling by 200-odd PCR motor cycles all over the city notwithstanding, daytime burglaries are becoming a routine here. Hardly a day passes when a theft does not take place in the city.

The latest daytime theft took place at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar yesterday. A woman running a small tailoring business from home locked her house at 11 am to go to the market to buy stitching material. When she returned after an hour, she found the locks of her house broken and the house ransacked. Thieves took away some cash, a colour television, a stereo, some gold ornaments and some expensive clothes of her customers. Her husband is a private security guard in a factory.

On July 10, the rented accommodation of Mr Arvind Bhardwaj, a marketing official with The Tribune, in Model Town was burgled after his wife and landlady went to the market for shopping after 12 noon. Thieves decamped with Rs 8,000 and gold jewellery valued at around Rs 1 lakh and other goods. The house is close to the police station.

On July 13, thieves struck before noon at the house of Mr Des Raj Sharma, working with Punjab Agricultural University, at Jagjit Nagar. Mr Sharma and his wife left for work and their children were away to school. The thieves took away cash and gold jewellery.

On July 18, the house of Mr Shashi Kapur at Upkar Nagar was burgled while he was away for a short time after locking his house around noon. He was back in time, only to see the back of the thieves, who were running away with the booty, including 25 tola of gold ornaments.

These daytime burglaries, apart from thefts committed at night, have created a scare in the city. Religious places are also being targeted by burglars. Criminals have struck in broad daylight even if a house is occupied. They enter the house on one pretext or the other. Housewives are fooled by them. Only a few have the courage to resist them.

Ms Asha Rani of Ram Nagar foiled a robbery bid shortly after 12 noon about a week ago. Three youngsters had entered her house on the pretext that that they knew her husband and had brought some sweets from a relative. When she went to prepare tea, they started ransacking the house. When she resisted their attempt, she was stabbed with a sharp-edged weapon. She managed to rush out of the house and raised the alarm, which forced the criminals to flee.

A couple of men, accompanied by as many women, came to a house in the Model Town area recently. When the housewife asked them the purpose of their visit at the gate, they said a fictitious man had given this address. One of them took out a mobile phone and one of the women, wearing her ‘salwar’ inside out, politely asked her if she could take it off and wear it properly in the house and the unsuspecting woman agreed. Other members of the gang gained entry into the house, tied her up and took away cash and gold ornaments.

Even if the spate of daytime burglaries and robberies has alerted the residents, the incidents are not likely to stop in the near future. The criminals continue to invent new excuses and evolve new strategies to accomplish their task, as a result of which the police is caught napping.

Stung by the rise in the crime graph in the city, the police has been trying to credit itself with achievements by cornering petty criminals. Persons alleged to be thieves are being paraded before mediapersons. In an attempt to exaggerate facts, the police yesterday issued a press note, claiming that it had busted an international gang of robbers. Two residents of Khanna, who had allegedly ‘graduated’ from chain snatching to car lifting, had been arrested.

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Six students found locked in school
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Tension gripped the Field Ganj area here as a large number of people staged a demonstration today to protest against the locking up of six students in Mohindra Model School for not doing their homework. The students were later released by the school principal, who claimed that it was a mistake and not a deliberate act. One of the students, Arti, had to be hospitalised as she fainted.

Parents of the students alleged that they had been locked inside the school as they had not done their homework. The six students, Arti, Manju, Shalu, Mukesh, Devinder and Kaka, all of the seventh standard, remained in the school while others were let out.

The father of one of the parents said he got worried when his daughter did not return in the afternoon. When he went to the school, he found the main gate locked. However, when heard some voices from inside, he raised the alarm. A number of people gathered outside the school, forcing the school authorities to open the gate. Six students were found inside, one of them unconscious. The parents demanded action against the teacher who locked them up and then forgot to release them when the school was closed.

Principal Dolly Sharma, claimed that this was a mistake as there was a power failure when the school was closed. She said the students did not raise the alarm themselves, and everybody left. She asserted that it was not for any punishment that the students were left inside. However, the parents were not convinced.

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Rail traffic blocked for three hours
Our Correspondent

Khanna, July 21
Rail traffic was blocked at the railway crossing on the Samrala road here by residents and traders of the area today in protest against the delay in the completion of the overbridge and the lack of a passage through the crossing. Thousands of passengers, including Amarnath pilgrims, were stranded at the Ludhiana, Sirhind, Khanna and Chawa railway stations for more than three hours due to the blockade.

The traffic was resumed after three hours when the SSP assured the protesters that a passage would be provided for two-wheelers immediately and the Deputy Chief Engineer would visit Khanna to listen to their problems. The SDM said he told the railway authorities two days ago that the delay in the construction and the lack of a passage might cause a law and order problem. The construction of the overbridge was scheduled to be completed in March 2002.

Residents of the area decided to convene a meeting this morning to chalk out an action plan. They had an altercation with the engineer of the railway construction company while they were moving about to get the agenda for the meeting signed. Taking a serious note of the behaviour of the engineer, the residents sat on a protest dharna at the railway crossing.

A police posse reached the spot along with the SDM. The SSP called the railway station superintendent and asked him to talk to his superiors on the issue. The SSP assured the residents that he would convene a meeting of railway officials and residents for July 23. Following this, the protesters lifted the dharna.

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Power shortage as monsoon fails
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The monsoon delay in Punjab has created serious conditions of power shortage in the state.

Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of PSEB Engineers Association, said power to the agricultural sector was being given as per schedule, despite serious system constraints. However, the supply to industrial and general consumers was restricted in view of shortfall in availability of energy from various sources. Effective contribution made by the thermal plants has saved the state, as all the three thermal plants are operating at 100 per cent efficiency.

The Ropar Thermal Plant, which has an installed capacity of 1260 MW is generating electricity to the tune of 300 LU per day, CHTP Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant with an installed capacity 420 MW is generating 100 LU per day. The GNDTP at Bathinda with an installed capacity of 440MW is generating 68 LU of power per day. The Plant Load Factor of RTP and GHTP is 99.07 and 99.69, respectively, and the performance of GNDTP is also outstanding, despite the fact that this plant is 30 years old and has spent its life, he added.

The plant engineers are operating these plants at optimum level despite serious constraints, as 25 per cent posts of AE/AEEs at GNDTP are lying vacant and a sizeable percentage of engineers is about to retire next one year. The hydro projects in the state — Mukerian Hydro Project with capacity of 207 MW, Anandpur Sahib Hydro Project with a capacity of 134 MW, Jogindernagar Hydro Project with capacity 110MW, UBDC with capacity 90MW and RSD with capacity 600 MW, are generating 140 LU per day.

All these are being operated at 100 percent efficiency and transmission system is also operating at the same reliability index. The present shortage conditions have arisen out of two major factors. The first and foremost being delay in clearance of new project of state-II Lehra Mohabbat for three years and allotment of Goindwal Thermal Project to a private company M/s GVK. The second factor is failure of monsoon and low level of reservoirs at Bhakra Dam during the depleting season.

He said privatisation had an adverse track record. In Rajasthan, due to the unbundling of the SEB, two thermal units : one at Kota and one at Suratgarh with installed capacity of 210 MW and 250 MW, respectively, have been shut down. Similarly, one unit of ONPARA Thermal Unit of 500 MW is under shutdown.

The association is strongly in favour of building up a generation capacity in public sector under SEBs, NHPC, NTPC and inter-state joint ventures. Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttaranchal have hydro potential of more than 20,000 MW and this needs to be harnessed at the earliest.

Mr Bajwa said the PSEB should strive for maximum share in the Kol Dam Project being executed by NTPC in Himachal Pradesh. Any move to corporatise and privatise the present form of integrated state electricity board would adversely affect the system operation and efficiency of generating plants and entire economy of the state would be put to great risk of uncertainty.

Hydro resources being renewable, are best suited to power generation of our country, but to build up generation capacity in the short span, the planning for new thermal plants and gas plants should also be considered simultaneously in public sector only, as the performance of private sector in the state and at the national level has been totally dismal. In the eighth Five Year Plan, the private sector installed power plants of 1260 MW capacity against planning of 15000 MW and in 9th Five Eear Plan, the private sector installed 5000 MW against 18000 MW.

The maximum demand recorded in PSEB on July 19 was 5559 MW against last year’s demand of 4718 MW and energy consumption is 1215 LU against 1040 LU last year.

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SCO fetches Rs 1.11 cr in PUDA auction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The Punjab Urban Development Agency (PUDA) today auctioned 61 commercial sites in Sector 32-A, Samrala road, and in Phase-I and II, Dugri road. The auction fetched a record revenue of Rs 1.11 crore for a shop-cum-office (SCO). The auction was conducted under the chairmanship of Ms Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, Additional Chief Administrator, Mr Tilak Raj Vyas, Estate Officer, and Mr Balraj Kumar, Superintending Engineer, PUDA, Ludhiana. Against the targeted amount of Rs 1319.57 lakh (reserve price), PUDA received an amount of Rs 2110.85 lakh, which is about 60 per cent above the reserve price with the highest bid pegged at over Rs 1 crore. Mr Vyas has asked the successful bidders to deposit 15 per cent price of the sites purchased within 30 days in addition to 10 per cent deposited at the fall of hammer. Bidders were also advised and guided to construct the sites as per the zoning plan and building plans approved by the Estate Office.

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Day of celebrations at Dr Manik’s home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
It was a matter of ultimate joy for Mr Amrit Lal, a retired teacher of Kundan Vidya Mandir, to learn that his son, Dr Manik Kumar, had led his team to win the prestigious space settlement competition in Florida beating seven American teams.

Dr Kumar is a doctorate in civil engineering and is working as Assistant Professor in the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala. It was a day of celebrations at his house in the Old City where people flocked to offer congratulations to Mr Amrit Lal and his wife, Ms Sudesh Kumari.

Dr Kumar’s brother, Yatish, who is a mechanical engineer, said Manik always had an insatiable passion to read. He was a good sportsman as well. He had a literary bent of mind and loved to read poetry.

After doing his schooling from Ludhiana, Manik did his engineering from Patiala followed by a masters and then a doctorate from the same institute. Manik’s wife Arti was also doing her PhD in Microbiology from the Thapar institute only.

Yatish said, the credit for Manik’s success should go to their parents who tried to utilise their modest means in the best possible manner. Their father, in particular, was instrumental in creating an academic atmosphere in the family. “He always encouraged us to go higher and higher and remains our guiding force”, said Yatish.

Dr Anil Kapoor, a close relative, told the Tribune that Manik was not a bookworm. He would maintain a balance between studies and fun. He was thorough and serious about his studies. But at the same time, he always remained cool. “I am sure while his success may have given him great joy, he is not the kind of person who will get carried away by it”, Dr Kapoor said.

While Manik remained busy at Patiala today, the family was celebrating his achievement here with a stream of relatives and friends continuing to drop in with flowers and sweets.

It was perhaps the greatest moment for Dr Kumar’s mother, Ms Sudesh Rani, who may not be able to understand what Manik has exactly achieved, but she knows that he has done something great that makes not only her, but the entire family proud.

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RJD announces office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
A meeting of the Punjab unit of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (U) was held under the chairmanship of Mr Rajinder Parsad Jaiswal, president of the dal, here yesterday. Addressing the meeting, Mr Jaiswal said their party would shortly launch a enrolment drive to strengthen the party in the state.

Welcoming newcomers to the party, he announced the office-bearers. These are Baba Avtar Singh Beparwah, state general secretary, Dr Gulshanjit Singh Brar, district president (Urban), Mrs Sukhpal Kaur Brar, state vice-president (women’s wing ), Mr Kamal Aggarwal, district general secretary (urban), and Rajinder Sharma, cashier.

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Free sewing training centre opened
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 21
With an intention to make poor and destitute women earn their livelihood, the management committee of the local unit of Shri Ram Sharnam Ashram has opened a free sewing training centre, which was inaugurated by Mr Prem Gupta, a renowned industrialist, and philanthropist.

While addressing the gathering, Mr Gupta, said that welfare schemes launched by the successive governments were not adequate and their benefits could not reach the people of the grassroot level. Emphasising on the need of self-employment, Mr Gupta said, “If you really wish to help the poor, provide them means of earning their livelihood instead of giving them food and clothes for a few days.”

He donated Rs 31,000 to the centre for initial management. A batch of around 20 women were enrolled at the centre yesterday.

Mr Rakha Ram Verma, patron of the centre, said the ashram would help the trainees find private jobs after completion of their training. “Even during training, they would be assisted in getting raw material. Members of the families of devotees would be inspired to get their clothes stitched from our trainees,” he said.

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BJP anti-Punjab, says Khalsa panchayat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The Khalsa panchayat has alleged that the BJP has worked against the interests of Punjab and the party’s stance against the abrogation of water accords by the state only reinforces that impression.

This was the consensus at a meeting of over 25 like-minded organisations held at Gurdwara Mastuana here today. Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, a national panch of the outfit, said the annulling of the water accords was a step in the right direction and should have been taken long ago. By taking such a bold stance, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earned the gratitude of the Punjabis, he added.

He wondered why a decision taken “within the parameters of the law” was being termed anti-national and a threat to the integrity of the country. Mr Channi said more than 10 lakh acres of land would become barren if any additional water was given to Haryana.

He said senior BJP leader Yagya Dutt Sharma had started an indefinite fast after the creation of Punjab was announced. Party cadres had also prevailed upon people to list Hindi as their mother tongue to keep certain areas out of the new state.

When Amritsar was accorded the status of a holy city, BJP leader Harbans Lal Khanna had led a protest rally against the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products and even damaged a portrait of the Golden Temple at the railway station.

Criticising the role of SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, he said he had always implemented the RSS-BJP agenda in the state at the cost of Sikh principles.

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Developing manufacturing sector crucial: Munjal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, has underlined the need for depoliticising the regulatory structures in the country. These need to be made transparent and accountable, he says.

Addressing a function organised by the Ludhiana Management Association here today to felicitate him, Mr Munjal said the country needed to reschedule its priorities with increased focus on the manufacturing sector. He regretted that the challenge of growth in manufacturing had not been accorded the right priority as it contributed only 22 per cent to the GDP. He felt growth in this sector was a pre-requisite for the service sector to grow, but India seemed to have taken the reverse route. He felt that the lack of infrastructure and inefficiency were the major cause of slow progress in the manufacturing sector.

Mr Munjal said growth in the rural sector was also very slow and that affected the industrial sector. He said 72 per cent of the Indian population depended on agriculture, whereas this sector had a share of only 21.8 per cent in the GDP.

He regretted human development in the country was poor. India ranked 122nd among 177 countries on the human development index. He felt that without faster human development it was almost impossible to have a vibrant economy.

Mr Munjal, however, expressed confidence that India had the potential to become one of the major players in the world economy. He felt that 54 per cent of the young population (below 25 years) was the biggest asset of the country. He said, “We need to emulate China to convert this resource into our core strength”. He added that by the year 2020, India was expected to be the youngest nation in the world and we should use this advantage to the fullest.

The CII president said it was unfortunate that India accounted for only 7.7 per cent of the world economy but had 16.5 per cent of the population. It had less than 1 per cent of the world trade and was among the countries with the lowest tele-density in Asia. Despite having established the world’s largest democracy against all odds, we still had a long way to go, mainly due to our inability to pursue our objectives with total commitment, he added.

Earlier, Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary of the LMA, said Mr Munjal had played a vital role in the growth of the LMA in various capacities.

In his address, Mr M.C. Munjal said the development of the economy was the responsibility of all. He added that while a lot had been done in the past two decades, it was not enough to make India one of the leading economies.

Among those who attended the meeting were BJP leader Lala Lajpat Rai, Mr O.P. Munjal, co-chairman of the Hero group of industries, other industrialists, academicians, professional managers, government officers and student members.

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Opposition to steel regulatory panel resented
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The small-scale industry appears to be peeved at the opposition to the constitution of a steel regulatory commission by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, here yesterday.

Reacting to the CII’s stand, Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said here today that steel consumers hit by high steel prices and high volatility in rates had been asking for the constitution of a steel regulatory commission. Making a strong case for the constitution for such a commission, he pointed out that the Petroleum Minister had only recently sought such a commission for the oil sector. He pointed out that such commissions existed for many other sectors like the power, the telecom and the insurance, while the SEBI took care of the capital market.

He said the CII had rejected this idea as it wanted the economy to operate under the market forces. He said, on the face of it, the idea seemed good, but in practice “cartelisation” was flourishing under its garb.

He asserted that the USA regulated export and import of commodities. Only recently it had slapped a heavy 30 per cent surcharge on the export of steel scrap. Earlier it raised the customs duty on the imported steel to a prohibitive level, though it had to withdraw under the WTO pressure.

Mr Sharma said steel prices varied many times during the day. This difference could be up to even Rs 3,000 or more per tonne. “Can the CII or, for that matter, any champion of market forces tell steel consumers how to fix the price of the product?”, he asked.

He said the champions of market forces should know that this concept worked only if the government was fair. The government made the playing field uneven either for the steel consumers or the steel producers. That was why a judicial element in the form of a regulatory commission was required.

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Bank employees hail govt stand
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation (Ludhiana) held a meeting to mark the 35th anniversary of the nationalisation of banks at the State Bank of Patiala, Miller Ganj branch, here on Monday.

Mr Naresh Gaur, Secretary, and Mr Ashok Awasthy, president, PBEF, said for members of the AIBEA, it is red letter day as it was on this historic that all the major banks in the country were nationalised and brought into the public sector. Many campaigns were launched by the AIBEA and bank employees to achieve this dream.

They said it was an occasion to hail and recall the achievements of the public sector banks. It also gives us an opportunity to renew our pledge to work for the success of public sector banking and continue our campaign and struggle against the various ills afflicting the banking industry today,” they said.

The union also welcomed the recent declaration of the UPA Government that public sector banks would not be privatised or de-nationalised. Bank employees had been fighting against privatisation moves bill in the past. Bank employees and officers went on strike in protest against the Privatisation Bill which was referred to the standing committee on finance. Now, the present government’s declaration that banks would not be privatised was a relief, they added.

However, the banking industry continued to be afflicted with multiple ills and was restrained from playing its desired role, for which the banks were nationalised. Talks are underway to dilute the government’s equity capital in the banks by going in for more disinvestment.

This will dilute and reduce the government’s ownership and control over the banks. Hence, the AIBEA central committee which met at Kolkata recently, decided that it will urge the government to continue with the present status and should desist from further diluting the capital. AIBEA has also decided that if the banks proceed with sale of shares in the market, it would be resisted through country-wide strikes.

Other demands of the association include 100 per cent government ownership of public sector banks, increase in rate of interest on people’s deposits tax incentives for interest on bank deposits, stopping entry of FDI in banks, stringent measures for recovery of NPAs /bad debts in banks, publishing list of loan defaulters, and utilisation of public money available in the banks on people’s welfare and development.

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Milk producers hold meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Milk Plant, Ludhiana, organised an annual general body meeting of members of the Ludhiana District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd, on its premises yesterday. The Joint Registrar., Cooperative Societies, Patiala Division. Mr Tejinder Singh Virdi was the chief guest and the function as presided over by Mr Raghbir Singh Saharan Majra, Chairman, Cooperative Milk Union, Ludhiana.

The general body unanimously passed the audited balance sheet for the year 2002-03 and distribution of profit for the year 2002-03. Speaking on the occasion Mr Tejinder Singh Virdi appreciated the role of all milk producers in making the union profitable. Mr Saharan disclosed that by selling ghee and milk powder Milk Plant, Ludhiana, earned Rs 6.80 crore in foreign currency. The Ludhiana Milk Plant was selling 1,52,800 liters of milk daily

The General Manager, Mr P.K. Verma, said as per the directions of the state government, Milk Plant, Ludhiana, had organised 75 women cooperative milk producer societies under the Punjab Women Dairy Project by enrolling 12,000 members. He also said the plant was maintaining high quality of milk products as various milk collection centers were automatic. He said Rs 94.00 lakh had been paid to the milk producers’ cooperative societies as profits. The representatives of the member milk producers’ cooperative societies also highlighted their day to day problems. They also demanded opening of the Dera Bassi meat plant for handling the problem of stray cattle.

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PNB to enhance rural credit by 30 pc
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Punjab National Bank, zonal office, Ludhiana, organised a seminar on rural credit here today. Branch managers of rural and semi-urban branches of Ludhiana district participated in the seminar. It was organised in pursuance with the announcements made by the Union Finance Minister for doubling of credit flow to agriculture and relief measures for the farmers affected by the natural calamities. Mr Harwant Singh, General Manager, Punjab National Bank, Punjab Zone, presided over the seminar.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Harwant Singh, said agriculture played an important role in the economy and the announcements made by the Finance Minister were in line with the role which the rural people play for development of the economy. He stressed the need for enhancing agricultural credit (fresh disbursements) at least by 30 per cent over the disbursements under farm credit during 2003-04 to ensure doubling of credit flow in three years.

He said, to achieve this objective, Punjab National Bank has fixed a target of fresh disbursal of 42.97 per cent instead of 30 per cent over 2003-04. Punjab National Bank in Punjab Zone will be making fresh disbursal of Rs 1046.59 crore during 2003-04 against disbursal of Rs 732.03 crore during last year under the agriculture sector. The bank will also add 36,400 new farmers’ accounts during the year, finance 1,092 investment proposals involving an amount of Rs 3,276 lakh and finance at least three such units in every district.

Mr R.K. Sharma, senior Regional Manager, said the Ludhiana region would be making advances to the tune of Rs 40 crore during 2003-04 against Rs 23.78 crore disbursed during past year and will be achieving the target of 68.21 per cent. He asked the branch managers to make all out efforts for the same.

Mr Chand Singh, Deputy Zonal Manager and Mr Anil Sama, Chief Manager, also spoke on the occasion.

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Banks to focus on farm finance
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
Punjab and Sind Bank has increased loan disbursement to the agricultural sector by about 30 per cent over the previous year. This was stated at a special standing committee meeting of all the banks and government agencies called by the lead bank office of the bank here yesterday. The meeting was presided over by Mr R.P. Jain, AGM-RBI Chandigarh. Giving details the lead District Manager, Mr Gurmit Singh, said in accordance with the directions of the Union Finance Minister, all the banks in Ludhiana had been asked to advance loans to the agriculture sector. In this context fresh enhanced target of Rs 1129 crores for agriculture finance has been set for the year 2004-2005.

It was decided that the financing of a minimum of 100 new farmers for rural and semi urban bank branches would be done at the district level. Kisan credit cards would be issued to all the remaining eligible farmers. Every rural and semi-urban branch of the bank in the district should advance at least 2-3 investment proposals of Rs 3-5 lakh.

Mr Jain said the banks had rescheduled the loans and other concessions to the farmers affected by natural calamities.

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CICU seeks relief for engineering industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
A delegation led by Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, met MPs from Punjab in New Delhi yesterday. The delegation was scheduled to meet the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. However, it could not meet him due to some last minute engagements of the Prime Minister.

Mr Pardhan said here today that the delegation presented “an exhaustive memorandum” to the MPs urging them to champion the cause of Punjab engineering industry which is in a serious trouble these days. The delegation hoped that the members will raise the issue in Parliament.

He said the plight of the engineering industry of Punjab which has become a victim of unprecedented hike in steel prices for the last one year and present Budget has further worsened the situation. To complicate the problem, the government increased the excise duty on steel products from eight to 12 per cent. The delegation urged the MPs to pressurise the UPA government and to restrict the exports of steel, withdraw steel export incentives and reduce the central excise duty from 12 to eight per cent.

Mr Pardhan said, all MPs having been convinced by the demands and suggestions of the memorandum assured that they would get the requisite relief to the Punjab industry.

Mr Pardhan again appealed to the Engineering Association of Ludhiana/Punjab to join the protest march and rally on July 29, starting from the office of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, Gill Road, Ludhiana, for Vishivkarma Chowk, Ludhiana.

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