L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Villagers panic as water level in Sutlej rises
Water below danger mark, says administration
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
With a rise in the water level of the Sutlej after the release of water from the Ropar headworks, panic has gripped villagers living along the Dhussi bundh. The district administration has allayed their fears, saying the water is flowing much below the danger mark and no damage to the bundh has been reported from any part of the district.

The water level started rising in the district last evening. The news of the release of water spread like wildfire among the villagers, who stepped up vigil on weak points along the bundh. A Ludhiana Tribune team found that residents of Bholewal, Bonker Dogran, Khaira Bet, Gor Sianh Hakam Rai, Kharak and Chaar villages had started praying that there was no more rain. Villagers of Gor Sianh Hakam Rai rued the lack of maintenance of spurs and studs, constructed to contain strong water current. “The bundh lining our village is weak and can be washed away by a strong current,” said Mr Gurbachan Singh.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, visited Khaira Bet village today. The villagers told their problems to the Deputy Commissioner, who assured them that he would redress their grievances. They said the water level had started receding. A farmer from Bonker Dogran village said, “A stud on the side of the village was more than 100 yards. Floods reduced it to 10 yards some years ago. No repair work has been taken up all these years.”

Villagers of Nurpur Bet, Bagge Kalam, Bagge Khurd and Bonkar Shole said they could not sleep last night after they heard that water was being released from the Ropar headworks. They said they went to the bundh every half an hour to monitor the situation. Villagers of Dhulewal, termed very vulnerable by the district administration, said after the flood in 1988, the government had spent crores on constructing spurs and studs, but no satisfactory maintenance or repair work had been carried out after that.

They said they feared rain as the monsoon meant shifting from the village. “We move our household items almost every year. The only attraction here is our agricultural land. Most villagers have not constructed pucca houses as they fear that floods can damage their property,” said Mr Gurminder Singh. The villagers said the bundh from RD 76900 to 76800 was built of sand and water was flowing close to the bundh, which could harm it if more water was released. They demanded a constant vigil on the site. They said they kept a thikri pehra along the bundh last night.

The Deputy Commissioner urged the residents not to panic as the situation was not alarming. He advised them not to pay heed to rumours, adding that strict action would be taken against rumour mongers in this regard. The Deputy Commissioner said 87,000 cusecs of water was released from the Ropar headworks into the Sutlej early this morning, which reached Ludhiana district around 10 am and 80 per cent of the water passed without causing harm to the bundh by 2 pm.


Remain alert, says DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The Deputy Commissioner along with senior officers of the administration today monitored the flood control measures following the higher flow of water in the Sutlej.

The DC visited the Dhusi Bandh and inspected all vulnerable points from Khaira Bet to Madhepur. He was accompanied by Mr M. S. Jaggi, SDM (W), Mr Gurmit Singh, SDM, Jagroan and XEN, Drainage Department.

During his visit, he listened to the problems of the people belonging to the villages situated near the bandh. He also asked the people to keep an eye on the bandh in their areas and in case they notice any kind of erosion, they should inform officials of the Revenue or Drainage Department.

At Khaira Bet, officials of the Revenue and Drainage Department who were deputed for supervision of the bandh, informed the Deputy Commissioner that the water with highest intensity have crossed from the Khera Bet and the water have receded about one feet at this point. At Madhepur, which is the last point on the bandh in the district, the water level was also receding. Mr Gurmit Singh, SDM, Jagraon, Tehsildar and other officials of the Drainage and Revenue Departments were keeping a continuous vigil at Madhepur where the river takes a turn. The DC directed the concerned officers to be on the move on all points from Dhulewal to Madhepur, about 100 km stretch of Dhusi bandh, till the water flow comes to normal.


Marginal fall in steel prices
Not enough, say industrialists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Steel prices have shown a marginal fall during the past few days, apparently after the state government withdrew the mandatory two-day shutdown and the daily power cuts.

The prices of MS rounds and ingots have fallen by about Rs 1,000.

However, the industry still feels that the fall is too little as the prices have gone up substantially during the past few weeks.

According to sources in the industry, the prices of steel ingots have come down to Rs 23,000 from Rs 24,500. Similarly, the prices of MS rounds have also fallen from Rs 28,000 to Rs 26,000. The industry hoping that with improvement in the power situation the prices might come down further.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has been campaigning against the rising steel prices, pointed out that there was no significant fall in the prices. He observed that the steel producers were simply trying to manipulate the figures.

He said the prices of scrap had already increased by about Rs 1,000 per tonne and the prices of hot-rolled coils had also increased by the same amount.

He alleged that earlier the steel producers had been trying to exploit the helplessness of the engineering industry by claiming shortage in production due to the power cuts.

However, with the improvement in the power situation there had been no relief, he said.

The steel-consuming industry has been maintaining that there needs to be permanent check and monitoring of the steel-producing industry in the shape of some regulatory authority.


Smoking main cause of respiratory diseases
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 4
Despite the availability of a number of effective drugs and both diagnostic and curative equipment for managing bronchial asthma, the control over the disease has not been up to the desired level.

The conclusion was drawn at a continued medical education (CME) programme on chest diseases held at Guwahati Medical College, Guwahati, on August 1. Noted chest specialists from many parts of the country along with members of the Assam unit of the Indian Medical Association and medical teachers from all three medical colleges of Assam attended the CME programme.

A physician from Ludhiana, Dr R.S. Bhatia, who attended the CME programme and was one of the members of the chest faculty, said the participants discussed the management and treatment of bronchial asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases and sleep apnoea syndrome with special focus on the latest advances in the field.

It was felt that in the case of bronchial asthma, a communication gap between the attending physician and the patient stood in the way of the proper management of the disease.

Patients lacked education about their ailment and physicians were hard pressed for time to devote to the patients.

These were the main factors for incomplete compliance and inadequate response of therapy in most of the cases of bronchial asthma.

As a result of inadequate interaction between the patient and the physician, the high-tech equipment like dry powder rotaliators, MDI inhalers and even nebulisers left much to be desired.

The specialists in respiratory diseases further observed that in case of chronic obstructive lung diseases, the presence of irreversible obstruction in the air passage made the management and treatment of the disease difficult.

At times, the cost of treatment and the follow-up management proved to be prohibitive in cases where the patients belonged to the lower or the middle class families. The general consensus, therefore, was to promote preventive pulmonology which laid stress on motivating the victims to stop smoking which was a major causative factor in almost 90 per cent of the cases. Besides, other patients, afflicted due to occupational, environmental, toxic and polluted conditions, also needed to be educated to avoid aggravating factors.

According to Dr Bhatia, the advantages of oxygen therapy at home for the patients of obstructive respiratory diseases were also discussed, but most of the participants agreed that the high cost of the therapy was a big restraint. Other common pulmonary diseases included constrictive sleep apnoea and multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis.

The participants in the CRE programme were of the view that in the first place MDR tuberculosis should not be allowed to develop among the tuberculosis patients and the key to prevent it was to use drugs in full doses for an adequate duration and management of the disease in a comprehensive manner.


Chaura Bazar businessman, kin booked in dowry case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
In a unique dowry harassment case registered more than 11 years after marriage, the Moga district police today booked several members of one of the leading business families owning Naveen Bharat Store in the local Chaura Bazar today.

Takht Singh, owner of the store having a flourishing business of curtains and other home accessories in Chaura Bazar, his wife, Jaswant Kaur, son Charanjit Singh, and daughters Amarjit Kaur and Paramjit Kaur have been booked under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 498 (dowry harassment) and Sections 3/4 of the Dowry Act on the complaint of Charanjit's wife Sonia.

The complainant is a resident of Moga town and has alleged that she was kicked out of the house for allegedly not acceding to the increasing demands for dowry of her in-laws. She alleged that she was beaten black and blue by the accused. Her medical examination was conducted at the Civil Hospital, Moga, after which the police registered a case.

Mr M S Chhina, SSP, Moga, told Ludhiana Tribune that the case had been registered after taking legal opinion. He said the woman was a mother of two children and had allegedly suffered such harassment for years.

While the accused could not be contacted, Suirnder Singh, another son of Takht Singh, claimed that there was no dowry harassment of the complainant. He said there was a minor misunderstanding between the complainant and his husband, Charanjit, which was being sorted out by common relatives of the two families.

The FIR lodged at Moga city police station stated that Sonia was married to Charanjit Singh in 1993 and a huge dowry was given to the boy's family at the time of the marriage. However, Sonia's in-laws allegedly kept on demanding more and more. Sonia's father, Rajinder Singh, allegedly met a lot of these dowry demands but things came to a boil when the in-laws started demanding Rs 5 lakh and an Esteem car this year.

Sonia's family expressed its inability to do so. However, after the intervention of some relatives, the issue was sorted out, but the in-laws allegedly mistreated Sonia and threw her out of the house.


Liquor smuggling hurts contractors
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Despite massive checking by officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, cheap liquor continues to flow into Ludhiana. The contractors have been maintaining that they were suffering huge losses on this account. They said they had already brought the issue to the notice of the authorities. Despite the efforts of the department, the contractors claimed, the liquor continued to be smuggled into the city not in crates but truckloads. In the past four months, the Excise officials have registered 199 cases of liquor smuggling.

The contractors revealed that the liquor was mainly being smuggled in from Chandigarh, where it was quite cheap as compared to Punjab. They said the liquor was even smuggled from Haryana. But the quantity of liquor smuggled in from Chandigarh was more than that from Haryana.

The Excise officials admitted that the smuggling was taking place despite all efforts by the department. The Excise sources said 200 cases within four months was a substantial achievement and was proving to be a deterrent against smuggling.

The sources said the local contractors were also to be blamed for the large-scale smuggling. In some cases the difference in the prices between Punjab and Chandigarh was quite phenomenal.

They said the ordinary brands which sell for about Rs 2500 a create here, are available for Rs 1,000 in Chandigarh. “With such allurements and temptation, a number of people particularly the taxi drivers, fall prey to it and resort to smuggling”, said a source.

With so many exit and escape routes available to the smugglers, the Excise officials also find it difficult to block all loopholes. But it is quite possible that some smugglers might be slipping out, they said.


Bank employees hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 4
On a call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, activists of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation today held a rally in front of the Bharat Nagar branch of Canara Bank here. They were protesting against the attitude of the Indian Bank Association (IBA) with regard to revision of pay scales.

Addressing the rally, union activists, including Mr Sudesh Kumar and Mr P.R. Mehta, chairman and general secretary, respectively, of the state unit of the federation, and Mr Ashok Awasthy and Mr Naresh Gaur, president and secretary, respectively, of the district unit of the federation, said wages and service conditions of the employees and officers were last revised on November 1, 1997, and the term of that particular settlement had expired in October 2002. Even though the next wage revision had fallen due from November 2002 and the unions had submitted a joint charter of demands in June 2002, the IBA, representing the bank managements, had failed to initiate the action.

Charging the bank managements with deliberate delaying tactics, the federation functionaries said negotiations on the charter of demands had commenced in October 2002 and in the periodic discussions since then, the IBA had raised several issues related to the managements and expressing the desire for their settlement along with the wage revision.

“Realising the genuine requirements of the management towards improvement in the banking services, the unions had offered a positive solution to all relevant issues, but still the IBA has been maintaining a rigid position regarding revision of pay scales,” said the leaders.

They claimed that during the recent years, the profit of all banks had gone up substantially and the dividend pay out had also been quite huge. In the absence of any fresh recruitment in the banks and a substantial increase in the volume of business, the work load on the employees and the officers had also increased. In view of these facts, the IBA was behaving in a most unreasonable manner, which had given rise to widespread resentment among the employees.

The leaders said employees’ unions would hold a state-level dharna in Chandigarh on August 12 which would be followed by a nation-wide strike on August 24.


Book studies barbarism of Partition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
PAU Vice-Chancellor Kirpal Singh Aulakh yesterday released a book titled “Desh Vand te Nari Vedna”, authored by Dr Amarjeet Kaur Khokhar, Assistant Professor of Punjabi, Centre for Communication, Languages and Culture, PAU.

Dr Aulakh said the book shed light on the psychology during Partition when inhuman behaviour ruled the roost and infliction of misery gave pleasure to many. The book had a vast scope due to the inclusion of Punjabi, Urdu and English novels by women writers and presents a consummate comparative analysis. He congratulated the author for capturing the pain and exploitation of women in the right perspective in her book.

Prior to releasing the book, Dr Khokhar gave a brief background of her book in which she has analysed novels with their plot set during the Partition days. She outlined the aspects of loss, violence and rehabilitation that can be identified with Partition. While men faced loss mostly in economic and social terms, women experienced it in the context of painful parting from near and dear ones.

Infliction of violence on women included rape, molestation, amputation of organs, stripping and forced marriages. In some cases, daughters were offered to opponents to save the sons of the house. Women were treated as material property that could be seized to cause loss and dishonour.

According to Dr Khokhar, rehabilitation had its own problems. Some of those, who had been married forcibly, and had children too, were again forced to come back.

Mr Gurbhajan Gill coordinated the event and said the book was an indicator of inhuman behaviour and barbarism in human history.

Dr J.S. Nirala of the Centre for Communication, Languages and Culture, proposed a vote of thanks.


Tewari ridicules Dhillon’s claims on airport
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The All-India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary, Mr Manish Tewari today ridiculed the claims of the local MP, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, that the airport for Ludhiana was sanctioned during the previous NDA regime. In a statement issued from Delhi and released here yesterday, Mr Tewari said Mr Dhillon was trying to misguide people and claiming the credit for a thing about which he knew nothing.

Mr Tewari maintained that it was at the behest of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and his efforts that the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel initiated the project. He said since the issue was of urgent importance and the Chief Minister prevailed upon him, the implementation of the project was expedited.


Appeal to buy SOS rakhis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 4
The SOS Children’s Villages of India provides home-like care to the orphaned children. The SOS has set up homes in 84 villages and has 122 allied projects running all over India. It gives direct or indirect help to more than two lakh children. A SOS centre has been set up at Rajpura.

People working for the SOS are selling rakhis to collect money for running SOS homes. The SOS has appealed to the corporate houses and philanthropist, to buy rakhis from these people to do their bit for these children.


Petrol pump sealed
Our Correspondent

Samrala, August 4
Tehsildar Surinder Singh Chana and District Food and Civil Supplies Officer Subhash Modi today sealed the newly opened petrol pump at Rajewal village, near here, following complaints of adulteration. They also got six samples of diesel and petrol.

Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, national general secretary, BKU (Rajewal), asked the administration to register a case against the owner of the petrol pump.


Robbers kill woman, take away valuables
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 4
A 35-year-old woman, was killed by robbers with sharp-edged weapons in Shastri Nagar here yesterday.

Her cremation, which was held today, was attended among others by Mr Sadu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr S.K. Alhuwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, and council chief Joginderpal Singh.

The crime was discovered when the children returned from school.

District police chief Shiv Kumar, DSP, Amloh, Daljeet Singh Rana and SHO Hansraj visited the site, but no clue was found.

According to Mr Ashok Kumar Garg, husband of the victim, he was at his industrial unit here and his son and daughter were at school when the attack took place. Suman was alone in the house.

Robbers are suspected to have entered the house after 1 p.m. and killed her with sharp-edged weapons.

Valuables in the house were missing and household articles were found lying scattered.

The locks of the store and an almirah were broken. The police has registered a case.


Man held on rape charge
Our Correspondents

Ludhiana, August 4
The Basti Jodhewal police has arrested Mumtaz Khan, a native of Saharanpur in UP, and registered a case against him for allegedly abducting, raping and intimidating a girl living in the Shakti Nagar of the area.

The mother of the abducted girl had complained to the police that the accused, who had started living in her neighbourhood about eight months ago, had succeeded in establishing illicit relations with her elder daughter, who also kept the affair a secret.

In March last, the accused took her daughter to his home in Saharanpur on the pretext of marrying her. But on reaching Saharanpur, he confined the girl to a room and subjected her to repeated rape for more than a week. Instead of marrying her, Mumtaz Khan threatened the girl that if she told anybody about the episode, he would kill her and forced her to leave his house. The girl returned home and told her mother about the incident. The complainant also told the police that as a result of the rape, her daughter had become pregnant.

4 killed in mishaps

Mr Karamjit Singh of Baba Deep Singh Nagar here complained to the police that a Tata-407 hit his father Gurmel Singh’s scooter at Jeevan Nagar Chowk on Tuesday. He was taken to the Cancer Hospital, where he died. Azal Anwar Sufi of Srinagar was arrested in this connection. The police registered a case under Sections 279, 427 and 304-A of the IPC.

A vehicle hit an unidentified man at Kara Bara Road here on Tuesday. The victim died on the spot. Another vehicle hit an unidentified man at Malhar Road here on Tuesday. The victim succumbed to his injuries on the spot. The police registered cases in this regard.

Mr Nachhattar Singh of Baddowal village complained that a Scorpio car hit the moped he was riding on with Darshan Singh near Baba Jaharballi Chowk on the GT Road. They were admitted to Gurdev Hospital, where Darshan Singh succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday morning. The police registered a case under Sections 279, 304-A, 337 and 338 of the IPC against Jaswinder Singh of Dakha village.

Liquor seized

The police arrested Rajesh Kumar of Heera Nagar and recovered 24 bottles of whisky from his possession on Tuesday. A case under the Excise Act was registered. The police arrested Sohan Lal of Talwandi Kalan village and recovered 20 kg of ‘lahan’ from his possession on Tuesday. He was booked under the Excise Act.

Knife seized

The police arrested Dhanjay Dube of Uttar Pradesh and recovered a ‘kamanidar’ knife from his possession on Tuesday. He was booked under the Arms Act. The police said he was moving about in a suspicious manner at Urban Estate in Dugri.

Challan against SAD workers

Jagraon: The police today presented challan in the court of Ms Jitinder Walia, SDJM, Jagraon, under Sections 341, 342 and 149 of the IPC against eight Shiromani Akali Dal workers — Tara Singh, former sarpanch Chowkiman, Sukhdev Singh, former sarpanch of Sohian, Ujjagar Singh, former sarpanch of Bhundri, Surjit Singh Bhundri, Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president, All-India Sikh Students Federation, Bikrambir Singh, Mandip Singh and Sukhdip Singh. They along with many others held dharna on November 23, 2003 from 11 am to 2.30 pm at the GT road, Chowkiman, and disrupted the traffic and raised anti-government slogans on the call given by Mr Parkash Singh Badal against the acts of the state government.


Service tax will be the last straw, say tent dealers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The Punjab Tent Dealers Association has opposed the imposition of 10 per cent service tax on them by the Union Government in the last Budget. The association maintained that the service tax would spell doom for their sinking business which had already been hit because of other factors.

Addressing a press conference here today, leaders of the association, including Mr Jasbir Singh, Mr Ramesh Kapoor, Mr Khushwinder Singh and others, claimed that the tent house dealers were suffering huge losses as most people now preferred to organise marriages and other functions in marriage palaces or hotels. Most of them have either wound up their businesses or were suffering huge losses, they claimed, adding that the imposition of the service tax would prove to be the last straw on the camel's back.

The tent dealers said they had made a representation to the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, seeking her intervention to prevail on the Finance Minister to withdraw the service tax on the tent dealers. They claimed that most of them were illiterate and were not in a position to maintain their accounts. They said this would add to their expenses and lead to further losses for them.

The dealers said they were providing employment to a lot of people and in case the service tax was imposed on them, they would be forced to close their business leading to massive unemployment. They, however, denied that they were deliberately not maintaining their records for the reason that they did not want to bring their turnover on record which would mean that they would have to show their income in the income tax returns, thus making tax evasion impossible.


Dyeing industry lists woes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
A delegation of the Ludhiana Dyeing Association (Cotton and Processing wing) met Mr Manish Tiwari, Secretary, AICC, here recently regarding the recovery proceedings initiated by the Central Excise Department against the dyeing and processing industry.

The delegation told Mr Tewari that the dyeing and processing industry was paying duty at the rate of 12 per cent on processed knitted man-made fabrics and no duty on processed knitted cotton fabrics as per the provisions of notification No. 14/2002-CE during the financial year 2002-03 all over the country. The department has issued the show-cause notices to industry located at Ludhiana based on board’s circular dated 26-9-2002 issued on the basis of the Supreme Court of India decision in the case of Dhiren Chemical Industries denying the benefit of above notification.

A spokesman of the association said it had approached various authorities in this regard. Moreover, the department has never objected to paying of duty at concessional rate during the relevant period. The Central Excise Commissionerate, Ludhiana, has informed vide their letter date 5.4.04 that the board has floated the survey under section 11C of the Central Excise Act, 1944 in this case to exempt the duty demanded vide these show-cause notices. The department has also in the “minutes of meeting” of textile consultative committed circulated on 31-5-04 clarified that since in this case, survey has been floated, they will not do the recovery by following the Board’s Circular dt 26-12-2002.

The delegation alleged that even after this assurance, the department is hearing the cases or appeals etc filed by the assessees in these matters. Moreover, on one side, the Commissioner has assured that no recovery would be done and on the other hand, the lower formations are visiting the dyeing and processing units to recover the dues of these cases and were threating the industry to attach their stocks or machines in case dues were not paid.


Company takes action against sale of duplicate products
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Following reports of the sale of duplicate products of their brand, Metapowder-10, Pune-based global manufacturers and suppliers, Ajay Meta Chem, has initiated legal proceedings against the culprits. A company spokesman claimed here yesterday that a number of culprits had been identified who were accused of supplying duplicate products.

The spokesman said the issue was taken up at an emergency meeting of the management of the company which decided that penal action would be taken against the culprits. It was decided that the General Manager (Sales), Mr Shyam Kulkarni, would investigate into the matter.

Mr Kulkarni would conduct an in-depth probe along with Mr S P Singh Chadha, local distributor, and take all precautionary steps. Mr Chadha claimed that the company was well recognised in the international market. He said the company would not let anyone misuse its name on duplicate products.

Mr Chadha said although all culprits had been identified, their names were not being disclosed so that further investigations were not hampered. He said the company would soon expose all these persons, adding that action would be taken against them under the law.

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