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MC not to bow to union pressure
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 20
In the wake of the agitation by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, affiliated to the BJP, against the suspension of “delinquent’’ employees of the municipal corporation, the top brass of the civic body has decided to act tough and not bow to any pressure.

Even as activists of the Municipal Workers Union and the Municipal Safai Mazdoor Union held a protest rally here today, terming the suspension of 10 workers as unjustified, the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, garnered the support of leaders of the BJP, SAD and SAD (Amritsar), making it clear that the MC would continue to crack the whip against those employees who failed to perform their duty diligently.

The finance and contracts committee of the MC which met here on Thursday endorsed the action against the employees of the horticulture and sanitation wings. Later, the Mayor invited Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, Mr Parveen Bansal, leaders of the SAD and BJP councillors, respectively, and councillors Sushil Raju Thapar(Congress), Gurdeep Singh Neetu(BJP) and Simarjit Singh Mann(SAD-A) for a discussion on the issue.

The councillors assured the Mayor of their support in taking a stand against the erring employees who, they maintained, were not only bringing a bad name to the MC, but also causing resentment among the public over the quality of civic services. The councillors also took exception to ultimatums of strike and dharnas by trade unions on this matter.

According to Mr Gill, the councillors, accompanied by senior officers of the MC, also carried out an inspection of Rose Garden to see the poor maintenance of one of the most popular spots in the city. The councillors noted that despite deployment of a large number of workers, the park was in a state of utter neglect with no satisfactory explanation coming from the staff of the horticulture wing.

The Mayor said directions had been issued to supervisory officers of the horticulture wing to initiate action against the employees responsible for the upkeep of the garden. 

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CM mourns death of Johar’s wife
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, today expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Mrs Leela Wati, wife of Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, Punjab, who died last night at the PGI, Chandigarh, after a brief illness. She was 70 and is survived by two sons and two daughters.

In a condolence message, Captain Amarinder Singh expressed his heart-felt sympathies with members of the bereaved family and prayed to the Almighty to give the family strength and courage to bear the loss.

Earlier, the Chief Minister accompanied by Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhathal, Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, and Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, called on Mr Johar at his residence to console him and his family members in the hour of crisis.

Later, she was cremated at the Model Town Extension cremation ground. People from different walks of life in large number attended the cremation. Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, Mr Hans Raj Joshan, State Minister for Forests, Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, State Minister for Social Security and Child Welfare, Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, former minister, Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, and Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner placed wreaths on the body.

Prominent among others who attended the cremation included Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, Mr Ashok Garcha, Mr Susheel Gupta, Deputy Mayor, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa and Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, ex-minister.

A condolence meeting was also held at the LRDAV College, Jagraon, where Principal Satish Sharma and his colleagues passed a resolution condoling the death of Mrs Johar.

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Tantrik, woman sentenced to life imprisonment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
A city court has sentenced a woman, a tantrik and their accomplice to rigorous life imprisonment for the murder of a five-year-old boy, who was hacked to death by the tantrik in connivance with the other accused. Following the gruesome incident, the tantrik had made the woman drink the slain child’s blood by making her believe that this would bear her a male child. The woman had three female children.

While the orders had been pronounced a few days ago by Mr DR Arora, Additional Sessions Judge, the exact contents of the case became known today after Ludhiana Tribune procured a copy of the judgement.

The convicts are Tara, Om Parkash (tantrik) and Shankar, all hailing from Katani Kalan village, Ludhiana. Keeping in view the gravity of the offence, Mr Arora declined the plea of leniency by the accused. The accused had been booked on the charge of murdering five-year-old Deepa of Katani Kalan in July 2000.

The FIR was registered against them under Sections 302, 364, 120-B and 34 of the IPC on July 2, 2000, at Sahnewal police station following the statement of Mr Ram Sarup, father of the slain child. The police had swung into action and arrested one accused, Shankar, on the same day and the others later.

The complainant had stated to the police that he was residing in the ‘jhuggis’ at Katani Kalan along with his family. On the night of the incident, he had gone to the house of his brother, Lakhan, to watch a movie on television in the vicnity. His son was also with him. After sometime, his son went outside to attend to the call of nature.

They were all busy watching TV and failed to notice that Deepa had not come back. At about 12 pm, after watching the movie, it came to notice that Deepa was not there. They searched for the child but failed to find him. The complainant had alleged that he had firm belief that the accused had kidnapped his son with the intention to kill him.

“The tantrik had come to our area and he used to tell Tara that if she wanted a male child, she would have to drink the blood of a male child after killing him,” said the father of the deceased.

During interrogation, Shankar had disclosed to the police that when the boy came out of the house, they lured him and took to the fields. There the tantrik inflicted a blow with a sharp-edged weapon on the neck of the child and Tara collected the blood of the boy oozing from the neck and drank the same.

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Red Cross to fund treatment of accident victims
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 20
The treatment of those who were injured when a truck in which nearly 36 persons of Jalaldiwal and surrounding villages were travelling had overturned near Rurka village yesterday would be supplemented by the District Red Cross Society, Ludhiana, sources in the district administration have claimed. Five persons had died on the spot and 10 injured seriously in the accident. The bodies have been handed over to the families of the deceased after a post-mortem examination.

Mr Prem Chand, SDM, Ludhiana, who visited the spot and the Dehlon Civil Hospital last night, said he had asked doctors to withdraw funds from the District Red Cross Society if required. "We have tried to give the best treatment to the injured. The team of doctors at the Civil Hospital and staff at private nursing homes have also extended their cooperation," he said.

Referring to information gathered from eyewitnesses, he said the accident occurred due to the negligence of the driver. "His greed to pocket extra income by loading a stone-crusher in the truck proved fatal for five persons and many more could have died if residents of Butahri, Rurka, Nangalan and Dehlon had not helped the police in rescue operations," he said. One of the passersby had sought help from the public by making an appeal on a public announcement system at a religious place.

Asked if the administration would take notice of the incident and recommend a ban on carrying passengers in vehicles meant for carrying goods, he said it was not under the purview of his department. However, a case under Section 304-A, IPC, had been registered against Paramjit Singh, driver of the truck, who had been shifted to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, said the bodies of Binder Kaur, Gabbar, Gurtej Singh, Jasbir Kaur and Gaganpreet had been handed over to their relatives after a post-mortem examination. The cremation took place at Jalaldiwal, the native village of the deceased.

The police has impounded the truck but the accused is yet to be arrested as he is admitted to the hospital.

The truck had overturned at a link road near Rurka village on Thursday. The accident took place when the driver of the truck failed to negotiate a curve after he was blinded by the headlights of a four-wheeler coming from the opposite direction. Five persons, including two women and two children, had died on the spot.

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Two killed in factory blast
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 20
Two persons were killed on the spot when a sudden blast occurred in Bhiwani Casting at Ambey Majra village, 2 km from here, today. A police party led by Mr Hans Raj, SHO, reached the place and registered a case under Section 174 CrPC.

According to the police, two factory workers, Raju Yadav (24) of Banaras and Santosh Ram (25) of Ajneri (Bihar), were working on a furnace when a sudden blast took place in it and they were killed. The bodies were sent to the local civil hospital for postmortem.

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Capt recalls time spent with Rajiv in school
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today fondly recalled the times he spent with a former Prime Minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi, as his classmate in Doon School in the early 1950s. The Chief Minister was speaking at a state-level function to observe the 60th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

The Chief Minister said for a very long time, no one in the school knew that Rajiv was the grandson of the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. He was a down-to-earth person and was known for his smile that mesmerised everyone. He drew parallels between former US President John F. Kennedy, Alexander the Great and other world leaders with Rajiv Gandhi as they all had achieved a lot early in life.

Capt Amarinder Singh said having studied and lived in close proximity with Rajiv Gandhi, his feelings were very different from those of others who had seen him as a political leader.

Barely an hour in the city, the Chief Minister managed to pack in a lot during his short visit here. He went to the residence of Punjab Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar to pay condolences over the death of Mr Johar's wife, who died earlier in the day in Chandigarh.

He also visited a blood donation camp where young Congress workers donated blood to commemorate Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary. He then went to see an exhibition of paintings.

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Rajiv-Longowal accord a fraud, says Dal Khalsa
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
The Dal Khalsa today termed the Rajiv-Longowal accord signed two decades ago as a "fraud and a sham."
A function was organised to release a document published by the Dal Khalsa highlighting the “dubious role” as well as “misdeeds” of the past and present Punjab leadership here today. The document blamed the late Partap Singh Kairon, Giani Zail Singh, Darbara Singh (all Congressmen) and Sant Longowal, Balwant Singh and Surjit Singh Barnala for helping successive Central Governments to rob Punjab of its river waters, which is the only natural resource of the state.

Various leaders and intellectuals, addressing a gathering, condemned the Shiromani Akali Dal and SAD (Longowal) besides the Congress for observing the death anniversary of Sant Longowal today.

They said the Akalis were merely fooling people by politicising the river water problem. "They were and never will be serious about Punjab and its interests," said Dal Khalsa president H.S. Dhami, who presided over the function.

Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli, member, SGPC, Mr D.S. Gill, Chairman, IHRO, and Dal Khalsa general secretary Kanwar Pal Singh justified the act of assassinating Sant Longowal and Rajiv Gandhi.

The released document has been written by Sarbjit Singh Ghuman and presents a detailed case of the river waters dispute.

The gathering lauded the courage shown by Capt Amarinder Singh for passing the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004. The leaders urged him to stop the present flow of waters to non-riparian states, specially Rajasthan and Haryana.

Later, a memorandum addressed to the Punjab Chief Minister, urging the state government to ask for royalty from Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi (all non-riparian states) for using the state’s river waters since 1955, was submitted in the office of the local SDM.

Those present resolved to observe the 12 death anniversary of Balwinder Singh Jatana and Charanjit Singh Channa, leaders of the Babbar Khalsa, on September 4 at Chamkaur Sahib.

Jatana and his colleagues had gunned down the Chief Engineer of the SYL Canal in 1990 in Chandigarh. It was after this that the construction was stopped.

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Longowal remembered

Kaunke Kalan, August 20
Akali workers of the Amloh area, led by a former minister, Mr Dalip Singh Pandhi, took part in a function to mark the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Pandhi said Sant Harchand Singh Longowal had sacrificed his life for peace and communal harmony. He criticised the Congress for not implementing the Rajiv-Longowal accord. OC

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Mithu confesses to crime 
Tribune News Service

Kaunke Kalan, August 20
While Sukhwinder Singh alias Mithu has been claiming innocence in a recent rape case registered against him, the Jagraon police today claimed that he had confessed to his crime in the police custody.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, said Mithu had confessed to the crime in the police custody but it had no legal binding. Mithu had, however, denied the allegation in the court as well as to mediapersons.

Meanwhile, Mohinder Kaur, mother of Mithu, has sought help from the Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh in the case. She was inconsolable when a team of The Tribune met her at her house, ‘‘ We are paying the price for fighting for justice in this country. My son and I have spurned offers of even Rs 1 crore to settle the Jassi murder case and this is what we get in return’’

She alleged that Mithu had been falsely implicated in the case, ‘‘ He was trapped by his enemies who live here and Canada. The trial in the murder case is near completion and we are hoping that justice will be done. The accused have now framed up my son,’’ she alleged.

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Corruption in PSEB highlighted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
A meeting of the executive committee of the Samrala block unit of the BKU (Lakhowal) was held at the grain market here under the presidentship of Mr Jagir Chabilan.
Mr Sher Singh Mushkabad, member of the committee, drew the attention of the members towards corruption in the PSEB.

He told the members that on account of a complaint lodged by the BKU and report of the investigating officer deputed by the Chairman, PSEB, three employees of the board were transferred.

The members appreciated the Chairman for the action and demanded that movable and immovable properties of the employees be investigated by the vigilance authority.

Duties were assigned to prepare the list of properties of corrupt employees of the PSEB and Revenue  Department.

Mr Perminder Singh Palmajra, Mr Karnail Singh, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Hardial Singh, Mr Kesar Singh, Mr Harbans Singh, Mr Naib Singh, Mr Gurnam Singh and Mr Gurdial Singh attended the meeting.

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Villagers to pay tributes to Flying Officer Johal today
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Saharan Majra, (Ludhiana) August 20
It was 34 years ago when a Flying Officer had embraced death to save Saharan Majra village. All these years gone by, the grateful villagers of this small hamlet near Mandi Ahmedgarh have never forgotten their hero-Flying Officer Shaheed Kuldip Singh Johal, who had laid down his life to save the villagers. Tomorrow will be the day when the residents of this village would be paying tributes to their hero, on his 34th death anniversary.

Flying Officer Johal laid down his life while protecting the residents of this village in 1970. Relatives and friends of the martyr, who hail from Johal village in Jalandhar district, would also participate in the function.

He sacrificed his life 34 years ago protecting the villagers on a day which was incidentally Raksha Bandhan day that year. That fateful day he left his home after her sister Satwinder Kaur had tied rakhi on his wrist. He then took off for a routine sortie from Halwara air base. His plane developed a technical snag when it was flying over the Saharan Majra village.

Dr Jaswinder Singh of the village recall that the flying officer di have an opportunity to bale out of the cockpit but he did not do so because he was flying over the residential area and he wanted to save the villagers. He ultimately succeeded in his mission, but by the time, a blast occurred in the plane and destiny had death in store for him.

Since then the villagers, as a thanks giving and to make their children aware of the contribution of this hero, commemorate the great sacrifice of this martyr, by organising an akhand path on his death anniversary. They said that the sublime heroism, supreme gallantry, flying skill and determination above and beyond the call of duty displayed by Flying Officer Johal in the face of death had set new heights in the traditions of the Air Force.

Flying Officer Johal was born on July 15, 1948, in Johal village of Jalandhar district in the house of a farmer Sagar Singh and his wife Karam Kaur. Since childhood he was a keen student and an all-rounder.

According to Dr Jaswinder Singh , now every villager wanted that he should send at least one member of his family to the defence services. “So that we remember this hero every year in the village and encourage the children to study and join the services.” 

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Rakhis get trendier, costlier
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
All bazars in the city, whether it's the old city bazaar, Chaura Bazar or other big air conditioned stores, are displaying the latest and humongous variety of rakhis and associated things required for this North Indian festival.

Raksha Bandhan signifies strong bond between sisters and brothers. Due to commercialisation, this festival has been becoming more and more lavish, the gifts more expensive and the variety of rakhis mind boggling.

Sushma, a housewife says, “The rakhis this year offer a very wide variety. I really had to spend a long time choosing rakhis for my brothers. There are rakhis made by stringing pearls that looked flashy and were expensive too.

Then sandalwood, beaded rakhis, string rakhis, rakhis with gifts attached, big bright rakhis offer so much variety that one does get confused.

The shops are stuffed with gifts which both the brothers and sisters can give each other as it is customary to give presents on the occasion.”

The Postal Department is going to facilitate sending of rakhis as it has kept one box specially for putting in rakhis. The department will see that rakhis reach their destination within two to four days.

Radhika said, “I really appreciate this gesture and hope that my rakhi would reach my brother before the festival on August 30. I cannot afford to courier rakhis to my six brothers living in different cities. Earlier I used to send them rakhis many days in advance but never did all my brothers receive rakhis on or before the Raksha Bandhan day.”

Rakhis for women are also available. When a girl sends a rakhi to her brother, if he is married, then she has to send a rakhi to her sister-in-law too.

These rakhis are different and delicate. Shamyla says, “These rakhis are tied on the bangles, and they dangle from the bangle. It is necessary for us to send it to our bhabhis along with a gift.”

Clothes shops are full of latest fabrics and designs as women love to look their best and are buying clothes with abandon.

Deepak , a jeweller, says that they become rather busy as the brothers give gifts, specially to newly married sisters, some piece of jewellery.

He says, “Gift in gold and diamonds depends on the status of a family. So they order accordingly. People prefer rings for the unmarried sisters and small sets for the married sisters.”

The sweets are also being readied. The prices of fruits are going up. The city is gearing up to met the increasing demands of the festival.

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Step up tax collection, IT Dept told
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
The Department of Income Tax has been directed by the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, to step up the collection of tax and at the same time accord priority to the recovery of arrears of income tax, which have mounted to a whopping Rs 87,000 crore. The income tax authorities has fixed a target of a minimum recovery of Rs 10,000 crore during the current financial year. In addition, the department will also endeavour to bring those involved in high-value transactions, travelling abroad and possessing luxurious items, including branded watches, under the tax net.

According to Mr Ashok Kumar Juneja, chairman, Punjab Tax Bar Association, and Mr Ajay Choudhary, president, Taxation Bar Association, these observations were made by Ms Sudha Sharma, Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, at a joint meeting of the two bodies. The office-bearers of the PTBA and the TBA, as well as senior officers of the Income Tax Department, including Mr Sat Paul, Mr M.N.A. Chaudhary and Mr A.K. Mehrish, Commissioners, and Mr Anil Kumar and Dr Balwan, Additional Commissioners, were present at the meeting.

During the interaction with members of the taxation bar, Ms Sharma exchanged views freely for bringing about further improvements in the working of the department. She said tax-friendly and persuasive policies of the department had been well-received.

The assessees in the region had responded in a positive manner, which had led to significant improvement in tax collection. "In Ludhiana and Jalandhar, the revenue collection has touched Rs 627 crore during the financial year 2003-04 as compared to Rs 517 crore during the preceding year. The revenue target for these regions has been fixed at Rs 780 crore for the current year." Ms Sharma claimed that at the same time, the department had issued as many as 71,000 refund orders of Rs 188 crore and was fulfilling the assurance of speedy refunds.

Mr Juneja and Mr Choudhary said the Chief Commissioner sought the co-operation of the public in creating a friendly and congenial atmosphere for taxpayers and achieving the target of revenue collection.

The members of the bar also agreed with IT officials that all persons, whether salaried or self-employed, should disclose their true income in their annual returns and pay taxes scrupulously. Moreover, those in the tax bracket and liable to file returns, must do the same voluntarily and fearlessly as a part of their duty towards the nation.

On the part of the department, Ms Sharma assured that there would be no harassment to any assessee from the side of the officials.

She said the officials concerned had been directed to resolve grievances of assesses immediately and to dispose of pending matters without delay.

Mr B.R. Kaushal, vice-president, and Mr Raj Paul Gupta, finance secretary, highlighted the difficulties regarding PAN and TAN to be issued by the UTI and relating to completion of records before issuing recovery of penalty notices.

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SBP employees stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
The local unit of the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation staged a dharna in support of its demands in front of the regional office of the bank in Miller Ganj here today.

Addressing the protesters, Mr N K Gaur, general secretary of the federation, said the dharna was held against the rigid attitude of the bank management and compassionate appointment of the dependents of deceased. No new appointments had been made despite numerous assurances given by the management.

Despite discussions on the issue, the management had done a volte face forcing the federation to adopt an agitational path.

He said the bank had taken unilateral decisions in introduction of cross selling of SBI-Life, Mutual Fund and UIGIS, which was a change in the service conditions of the employees and against the spirit of the bipartite settlements.

"The employees are totally opposed to this cross selling of these products without proper discussions with the federation and we are within our own rights not to perform duties unless any agreement is evolved between the federation and the management," he added.

The agitators also expressed concern over the acute shortage of the staff in the banks. After the VRS, more than 1,050 posts of clerical staff and 450 posts of subordinate staff were short in the bank.

Despite protests, no steps have been taken in this regard. Some of the decisions taken at a Head Office Welfare Committee meeting and JCC meeting have not been implemented. Dilly-dallying tactics adopted by the management at the JCC meeting have caused resentment among the employees. 

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Railway employees hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
The first phase of five days agitation by railway workers to press for acceptance of their demands and cut wasteful expenditure concluded here today with the workers holding a protest rally and observing indefinite fast.

The Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union (URMU) announced that next course of action would chalked out soon depending on the response of the railway authorities.

Addressing the workers, URMU activists, including Mr Manohar Parashar, Mr Bhajneek Singh and Mr Amrit Lal Ahuja, criticised the railway authorities for adopting an indifferent attitude to their pending demands called for immediate settlement of issues.

Prominent among others who addressed the rally were Mr M.K. Trikha, Mr Ajaib Singh, Mr Sudesh Gharu, Mr Rajendra Sharma, Mr Biren Singh, Mr Raman Malhotra and Mr Sukhjinder Singh. 

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Boy sodomised, killed by dhaba owner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 20
A dhaba owner has been booked by the police for allegedly sodomising and brutally murdering a 15-year-old boy, belonging to Nepal. The decomposed body of Raja Bahadur, victim and employee at the dhaba, was found today by the police. The dhaba had been closed for the past two days and foul smell was emanating from it.

The police opened the doors and found the body of the boy. A case has been registered against dhaba owner Sushil Kant. He is absconding.

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Auto parts manufacturers for check on steel prices
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 20
The auto part manufacturers here have called for immediate step to bring the sky-rocketing prices of iron and steel under check and setting up of an effective mechanism like steel prices regulatory authority to curb the arbitrary pricing policy of major producers.

In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association (LMPA) has explained in detail the problems being faced by the light engineering industry, in general, and the auto parts industry, in particular.

It said the situation was going from bad to worse due to the prices of raw material increasing to a level of becoming economically unviable for the industry.

Mr G.S. Kahlon, president, and Mr Charan Singh Kohli, secretary, of the LMPA, appreciated the initiative taken by members of Parliament from Punjab, who had recently met the Prime Minister, demanding some sort of control over the price structure of iron and steel material.

They expressed gratitude to the member of the Lok Sabha from Ludhiana, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, who was instrumental in arranging the meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh.

The LMPA functionaries impressed upon the government to act without any further delay to bring the steel prices under control and to 'discipline' the major producers of steel lest the industry, especially the small scale and tiny sector, should reach a point of no return and the industrial economy suffered a massive loss.

The association urged the government that all facilities under the DEPB scheme, introduced for the benefit of exporters of steel, should be withdrawn. Moreover, the central excise duty raised from 8 to12 per cent in the current Budget should also be brought back to the previous level.

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