P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Kapurthala set to witness fierce battle
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, October 3
With two giants of Punjab politics — Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal, and Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh — putting everything at stake here, this high profile constituency is all set to witness one of the fiercest political battle for electoral supremacy.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal had made it clear that the Kapurthala electoral battle was not between the official nominees of the two major political parties but between their leaders. “I shall not leave Kapurthala till this battle is won,” he repeatedly announces here.

“I shall love to accept his challenge,” retaliates Capt Amarinder Singh holding that the ruling Congress would win this seat with a bigger margin than it did in the 2002 Assembly elections.

This erstwhile princely town, painted green, kesri, red and yellow with polythene buntings and flags everywhere, has been a beehive of political activity with the top political leadership of the state camping here for the past several days.

Both Captain Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, camping here, are addressing a series of meetings in both rural and urban areas, to garner support for their respective candidates.

It is not only the entire Akali Dal leadership which has fanned out in this constituency of 1.20 lakh electorates, but even the ruling Congress party has activated its entire legislature party besides making full use of its frontal organisations to campaign here.

Besides the Chief Minister, other senior members of his Council of Ministers, including Mr Lal Singh and Mr Avtar Henry, besides Mr Hans Raj Joshan, Dr Mohinder Rinwa have been campaigning here. The Punjab Congress has also drafted in its campaign machinery its General Secretary, Mr Parminder Singh, and others to make sure that nothing goes amiss during the campaign.

“We are focusing on development issues. We are telling people that what we have achieved in a two and a half years, the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party Government could not do even in five years. We have got Rs 1600 crore from the World Bank for various public health schemes in the State. Besides we are launching other schemes on infrastructure development, besides promising 24-hour supply to more than 6000 villages by December 31 this year,” announces the Chief Minister at his rallies.

“We have done more for our farmers than any of the previous Akali-BJP governments. We passed a Bill annulling all previous river water agreements as we realised we do not have even a drop of water to spare. Rather, we are facing water shortage. We are giving farmers uninterrupted power for eight hours,” he claims holding that during the present Congress no farmer faced any problem with regard to procurement of foodgrains.

Unlike the past, the Chief Minister dwells more on development issues rather than talking about his government’s ongoing battle against corruption of the previous SAD-BJP government. “We can certainly give much better governance than our rivals,” he reiterates at poll rallies and promises all round development of both urban and rural areas.

Talking to The Tribune he said the position of the Congress has improved considerably in rural areas. Results will show that “Congress will get more votes in what Akalis had been claiming to be their stronghold, the rural areas.

On the other hand, Mr Parkash Singh Badal does not spare a chance to lash out at the present government saying that it was a “failure on all fronts”. He dumps the Congress as “anti-farmer and anti-Punjab” saying that all sections of society, including farmers, employees and businessmen, were unhappy because of its failure to control the price line as well as undertake any developmental works.

Claiming itself to be the champion of farmers and their causes, he says that while the SAD-BJP Government had given free power and water to farmers, the present government not only withdrew those facilities but even power and water supply had deteriorated in the State. The prices of farm inputs, including diesel and petrol, have gone up while the minimum support prices have remained unchanged. Various welfare schemes for old, weaker sections and poor have been discontinued.

The Dal leadership also does not miss an opportunity to criticise Rana Gurjit Singh, MP, and his family, accusing them of letting loose a reign of terror in the constituency. The Dal also prides itself in getting the Returning Officer shifted, saying that he was hand in glove with the government in registering bogus voters.


What is left unsaid in two byelections
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
Open electioneering in the two Assembly constituencies, Kapurthala and Garhshankar, will be at its feverish pitch with Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal virtually campaigning there. And so will be competitive politics in the upcoming week. Polling is on October 13.

Both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) will be seen trying to make a common cause with the voter, as will money and muscle power. Neither political party has anything new to offer or say, except enough of old political sleaze to spew. Political populism will be showcased.

Incidentally, the byelection is being held in that part of Punjab which has earned notoriety in human-trafficking. Though there is a worldwide surge in this racket, foreign governments are taking appropriate steps to deal with this global menace.

And the contribution of the Doaba region is not insignificant in any manner in this aspect. The operators of human-trafficking fully exploit youths, who coerce their parents to arrange huge sums of money so that they can go abroad by any illegal means.

Yet, on scanning newspaper reports on campaign trails and going through the talking points of the politicians, one fails to find any mention of what politicians propose to do to check illegal migration. Even the ruling Congress has not addressed this issue at all, despite scores of youths who have lost their lives or are languishing in foreign jails.

There are many factors that are driving youths out of Punjab, including lack of job opportunities or avenues for economic sustenance or to make quick money etc. There is recession in agriculture and industry in the state. The boom of the 1960s and ‘70s, the downfall which started in the 80s and the bust in the ‘90s have all led to despair and despondence among the youth.

Besides human-trafficking, there are more unsaid issues on which the political campaigners are maintaining a stony silence, either by accident or design. These are administrative and socio-economic issues that touch the life of the voter. These are education, health, good governance, effective, and transparent administration, setting up projects and building infrastructure to create job opportunities, providing technical and professional skills to school dropouts to enable them to become self-employed, ensuring easy loans, providing unemployment allowance etc.

The Congress government has crossed half-mark of its five-year term. This is the time, when it should have been talking to the voter about its achievements. Yet, what is being talked about is on the same beaten political path — showing a mirage to the people or blaming the SAD for all ills that beset the state!

The Chief Minister and his ever-divided council of ministers having whipped the Akalis with their “anti-corruption” drive could have also worked for galvanising the above-mentioned socio-economic issues.

The government knows that in the common man’s perception, its overall performance and governance is “bad”. The police is a law unto itself. Revenue collection is woefully low. Implementation of reforms is tardy.

Numerous plans, reports and even Acts are in deep freeze. All these are aimed to restructure the finances, administration and loss-making public sector undertakings, revitalise agriculture, re-invent industry, discipline the bureaucracy, improve attendance of teachers and doctors etc.

Punjab, please wait, as politicians slug it out!


SAD-BJP will win both seats, claims Tandon
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 3
Former Punjab Local Bodies Minister and chairman of the Punjab BJP Advisory Board Balramji Dass Tandon said here today that the Congress was set to lose Kapurthala and Garhshankar byelection to be held on October 13.

He said there was an anti-Congress wave in the state. The ruling party had failed miserably on all fronts, he said. The SAD-BJP combine would win both seats with huge margin, he asserted.

Apprehending rigging by the Congress, he demanded deployment of more observers and forces for ensuring transparent, free and fair poll. The SAD-BJP combine would win both seats despite all irregularities, he said.


Finance Minister criticises Dayal’s statement
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 3
Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, today criticised Mr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, for his alleged statement that the SAD-BJP alliance was emerging as victorious in the current byelection in Garhshankar Assembly constituency.

Talking to mediapersons at the Sant Harchand Singh Longowal Central Institute of Engineering and Technology at Longowal, about 20 km from here, today, Mr Singla said whenever the Congress allotted the Garhshankar seat to the CPI or the CPM, they lost it to the rival candidates. He said historically, Garhshankar seat belonged to the Congress as the party, except for once, had won this seat always. This time also, the Congress would win the Garhshankar seat, he added.

Mr Singla also alleged that the CPI, the CPM and the BSP had no base in Garhshankar areas. Besides, voters were also fed up with these parties.


Plan to widen income tax net
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 3
The Union Finance Ministry is tightening its noose on income tax evaders and has decided to carry out scrutiny of the income tax returns from onwards, the scrutiny of the income tax returns will be undertaken on a large scale.

The Income Tax Department has been undertaking the scrutiny of the returns through computers and human intervention is just negligible. Now the officers of the Income Tax Departments have been authorised to select cases for scrutiny.

Income Tax Department officials have also been undertaking search and seizure operations and the survey operations to unearth concealed income. Despite these operations, the evasion of the income tax has been on the increase according to sources in the department.

The income tax assessees have also been depositing the advance tax more than the required limit and have been getting refund with heavy rate of interest, allege the officials.

By doing so, the assessees have been indulging in ‘parking of funds’. The rate of interest paid by the Income Tax Department is higher than the rate of interest paid by the banks on the fixed deposit. The Central Board of Direct Taxes has directed the department officers to undertake the scrutiny of the corporate and non-corporate cases and assessees during the year 2004-2005.

The board has directed the officers that the process of selection of cases for scrutiny of returns filed on March 31, 2004 must be completed by October 15 and for returns filed during the current financial 2004-2005, the selection of cases for scrutiny will have to be completed within three months of the date of the filing of return. All returns filed in response to notice issued U/S 148 of the IT Act will be selected for scrutiny.

The board has further directed that all assessments pertaining to search and seizure and all assessments pertaining to survey conducted U/S 133A shall be compulsorily scrutinised. Besides, all returns where deductions claimed under chapter VI A of the Income Tax Act is Rs 25 lakh or above in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad and Rs 20 lakh or above in other places.

All cases wherein addition/disallowance has been sustained by the Commissioner, Income Tax (Appeal) in any of three preceding years amounting to Rs 10 lakh and above in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Ahmedabad and Rs 5 lakh or above in other places.

All banks and public sector undertakings, all companies-500 listed with the NSE and BSE-A group of companies as on August 31, 2004 listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Further scrutiny of all cases of companies liable to pay tax under Section 115 B with book profit exceeding Rs 50 lakh and all cases where income exceeding Rs 10 lakh has been claimed as exempt and cases where value of international transactions (as defined U/S 92 B of the IT Act exceeds Rs 5 crore) will also be taken up for scrutiny.

All cases of non-residents where returns have been filed disclosing income less than that determined under Section 195 or 197 as the case may be and all non-banking financial corporations and investment companies having a paid-up capital of more than Rs 10 crore will face scrutiny. The cases of brokers and sub-brokers of the stock exchanges where gross brokerage disclosed is Rs 1 crore and above and income declared is less than 10 per cent of gross brokerage. All cases of stock brokers including sub-brokers with claim of bad debt of Rs 10 lakh or above and all cases of deduction U/S 10 A or 10 B of the IT Act with export turnover exceeding Rs 10 crore will undergo scrutiny.

All cases of contractors whose gross contract receipts exceed Rs 5 crore and net income declared is less than 5 per cent of gross contract receipts will also be scrutinised compulsorily.

Similar instructions have been issued for the non-corporate sector returns and cases for scrutiny.


Baby girl shot dead by father
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 3
A man shot dead his barely one-month-old daughter and buried the body in the surrounding fields in Kauli village, near here, in what appears to be a case of female foeticide.

The baby was shot by her father, Kanwaljit Singh, on the night of September 24 and the body was exhumed by the police and villagers late last evening. A complaint was lodged by the mother of the infant, Mrs Dupinder Kaur, on the basis on which the police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC and Section 27 of the arms Act at the Sadar police station.

Police sources say the father had fired from his licensed .12 bore rifle at point-blank range when the baby, who was yet to be given a name after her birth, was asleep.

It has also been revealed that ever since the couple had their first child, a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Kanwaljit Singh used to openly say that if his wife gave birth to another female child, he would do away with the baby.

The incident happened when a relative of Kanwaljit Singh was recuperating at a hospital and his parents along with his brother had gone to visit him.


Tribune Impact
Widow’s ‘sale’: police finally registers FIR
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
The case involving the "sale" of Sarabjeet Kaur, a young widow from Jalandhar, is finally heading in the desired direction.

About a fortnight ago after Sarabjeet Kaur approached the Jalandhar police alleging that she had been sold by her in-laws for a meager sum of Rs 25,000, cops finally registered a case against the accused today.

The police will raid the residence of Sarabjeet's in-laws at Nakodar and Basti Mithu tomorrow to make the arrests. The search conducted today yielded no result as the accused are already at large.

Significantly, police action in the case comes soon after The Tribune highlighted the plight of Sarabjeet Kaur who was forcibly married to an Amritsar-based agriculturist Nihal Singh.

Severity of the crime increases in view of the fact that Sarabjeet was married in a state of intoxication. She does not even remember the house at Jandiala where her "buyer" Nihal Singh took her after the marriage ceremony on September 5.

Despite such grave charges against the accused, thepolice dilly dallied on the matter for long before registering an FIR today against Sarabjeet Kaur's mother-in-law Mukhtar Kaur and sister-in-law Bhajji today.

The police has also booked Raj who allegedly got the deal struck; she benefited to the tune of Rs 5100 from it. The case has been registered at police station division number 4, Jalandhar, which holds the jurisdiction of theJyoti Chowk area where Sarabjeet Kaur's "alleged" marriage was solemnized.

Earlier, the police was trying to wriggle out of the situation by citing problems of jurisdiction in the case. Talking to The Tribune today, SHO, police division number 4 Mr Gurmeet Singh said SSP, Jalandhar, had earlier marked Sarabjeet Kaur's complaint to police division number 7 which forwarded the same to division 4.

"We received the complaint today and registered a case soon after. We will now arrest the accused and begin investigation by tomorrow."

For now, the police has booked the accused only for cheating. Although Sarabjeet Kaur has also charged Nihal Singh with rape, police officers say they can register a case for rape only after getting a medical examination of the complainant.

Mr Gurmeet Singh said, "We will take Sarabjeet Kaur for a medical test tomorrow. Meanwhile, we are also planning raids at Jandiala in Amritsar where she was allegedly taken after her marriage."

With registration of the case, Sarabjeet Kaur is finally heaving a sigh of relief. She told The Tribune today, "I had lost all hopes, but God had rekindled them again."

Sarabjeet is, however, still worried about the fate of her three-year-old son who is in the custody of her mother-in-law. Although she has appealed for his custody before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, she fears that slow investigation might delay the process.


Skeleton exhumed to unravel 12-yr-old murder
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 3
In a major success at solving a 12-yr-old murder case, Phillaur police led by DSP Kamaljit Singh Dhillon, exhumed a decomposed skeleton of a young adharmi woman, Sukhwinder Kaur, allegedly murdered 12 years back, from the cremation ground at Nawan Pind Naicha village in Phillaur sub division in the presence of Tehsildar Kulwant Singh and Medical Officer Dr J.S. Baath yesterday afternoon.

The dead body of the woman was allegedly buried by three brothers, Surinder Paul (her husband), Nasib Chand and Karnail Chand (both brothers-in-law) after strangulating her in June 1992.

DSP Dhillon said the police had arrested Karnail Chand under Sections 302/201 IPC and he had admitted his crime. He was produced before the Judicial Magistrate, Phillaur, who sent the accused to the police custody for three days.

Mr Dhillon said the accused was nabbed by the CIA staff of Phillaur and he gave vital information about the murder and disclosed the place where the dead body of young woman was buried.

Mr Dhillon said though Sukhwinder Kaur was a divorcee of Surinder Pal but both compromised later and she started living with her husband.

Surinder Paul was suspicious about his wife’s character and discussed the issue with his brothers, who jointly planned to kill her. Mr Dhillon said three brothers, including her husband, called her to a room in June 1992 and strangulated her. The dead body was kept in a sugar sack. The accused, later buried the dead body at cremation ground of the village after throwing acid upon the dead body.

It was learnt that arrested Karnail Chand was Lambardar of the village. Surinder Paul, deceased’s husband, had also been taken into custody, reliable sources revealed.

While the third culprit breathed his last only 15 days after the crime

DSP Dhillon said the damaged and decomposed skeleton would soon be sent to laboratory for chemical examination.


Reforms in real estate sector needed, says property owners' body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
A call for comprehensive reforms in the real estate sector in Punjab aimed at safeguarding the interests of the common man as well as the real estate agents was made at a meeting of the Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA) held here today.

It was emphasised that despite being the second largest employment generation sector after agriculture that has vast potential to contribute tremendously in the national growth, subject to revamping of existing policies, real estate is the most unorganized sector in India.

Be it the trading or the colonization segment, the obsolete provisions of the outdated acts and regulations governing the sector are hampering its natural growth and need to be revamped.

Mr. R.P Malhotra, general secretary of the association, citing figures from census 2001, stated that the urban population in India had crossed the 285-million-mark, more than the total population of the United States.

The number of cities with more than one million of population had increased from 23 in 1991 to 35 in 2001. India, during the past 50 years, had, on an average, added about five to six million people to its cities and towns.

Large-scale migration of population from villages to cities and towns resulting in rapid urbanization during the past decade registered an apparent effect on real estate sector vis-à-vis its trading. No more an immovable asset, the real estate had now become more of a trading commodity and acquired the status of a full-fledged trade.

Expressing concern over the existing laws and regulations, adopted from the erstwhile colonial rule, Mr Malhotra emphasized that these were only provisioned to facilitate the transfer of title of a piece of property.

There was no provision for frequent trading of a piece of real estate. Cumbersome documentation compelled the investor to circumvent the policies resulting in insecure investments and frequent frauds.

In general, all other commodities were governed by certain provisions of law with the tax burden to be either borne by the end-user or imposed at first stage.

In no other case, the tax structure was compounded i.e., levied on each subsequent sale as in real estate. Trading in stocks till recently was free from any stamp duty or any other levy; however, the stamp duty was applicable on end-user.

A proposal for imposing a transaction fee/tax in the current budget drew lot of flak from the brokers and the Finance Minister had to relax certain conditions.

Then why the real estate trading has to go through all the legalities of a purchaser before passing on the piece of property to the subsequent purchaser and so on? The process of indirect sale documents such as GPA, WILL etc besides being termed as "misuse" designed to evade stamp duty, led to litigation in many cases, thus making the investment risky.

Another member, Mr Balwant Singh, a retired Tehsildar of UT, Chandigarh, referred to yet another aspect of the real estate sector and said a transaction was not possible without the help of an expert/agent because of the highly cumbersome documentation.

A gloomy side of the story was that the business involving voluminous transactions had no regulatory act. Therefore, a very technical field involving huge investments had since been infiltrated by quacks and people of shady character who are illiterate in many cases.

Following stereotyped documentations prepared by professional typists, knowing little about the specific nature and requirement of the deal, these agents were only concerned about their service charges.

Frequent incidents of fleecing innocent clients through unfair, unethical and manipulative tactics went unreported.

In many cases genuine agents too got cheated and were denied their genuine service charges by clients in the absence of an effective policy.

Mr Amrik Singh Sekhon, a colonizer, referred to the state governments’ role in providing a conducive atmosphere for developing quality housing projects. Not only was it unable to meet the enormous housing demand, the state governments or its agencies were least inclined to offer and devise cohesive policies to enable the private sector to share the burden.

Process of project approval, right from the change of land use to the final approval, was highly cumbersome and full of hassles.

Instead of acting as a facilitator, the government sponsored agencies were acting as obstructions, for the private sector, resulting in unprecedented price rise in real estate and putting the housing accommodation in the cities and towns out of reach of the common man.

Mr Karnail Sigh Doad, ex-MLA and an advocate, opined that irrational and non-uniform structure of stamp duty was another big hurdle in the way of natural growth of the sector.

As per media reports, policy of replacing of stamp duty and other taxes with GST (goods and service tax) to the tune of 12 per cent as suggested by the experts was on the anvil.

Higher rate of one-time tax shall attract evasion and in turn create inflation through black money generation. For better compliance, rationalised and minimal user charges levied at different stages should be implemented.

In the wake of highly escalated value of real estate percentage of stamp duty should not exceed 2 per cent that too with fixation of an upper limit.

Some suggestions

  • A streamlined trading policy for the sector i.e., direct transfer of title of the property for a fixed tenure with a nominal transaction fee.
  • A streamlined policy for agents/brokers describing the rights and obligations-safeguarding the interests of clients as well as agents. Effective implementation of stipulations subsequently.
  • Crash courses for training the real estate agents with government authorized certification, mandatory for subsequent registration for professional practice, should be started.
  • Simplified procedure for registration of agents with stringent qualifying conditions.
  • Simplified procedure for change of land use and approval of projects for developing housing colonies.
  • Government agencies such as PUDA, HUDA etc., should concentrate on infrastructural development and should act as facilitator for urban development and only be entrusted with the task of a supervising agency for getting best out of the private colonisers; rather than promoting own projects in competition with the private sector.
  • Government sponsored agencies and the private sector be given level playing field e.g., if PUDA has the right to acquire agricultural land violating the New Punjab Periphery Act 1952 then why not the private developers are allowed to buy and develop colonies in such pockets?
  • Policy to bring down the tax structure viz., stamp duty, house tax etc., to rationalized level.


Sarpanches not happy with more powers
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
The Punjab Government had announced the implementation of the Panchayati Raj Act a year ago with much fanfare, but the government’s move to empower village panchayats is yet to benefit the rural populace of the state.

Talking to The Tribune, the president of the Sarpanch Union, Mr Jarnail Singh, said their grievances were not heard in the corridors of power and the police officials instead of listening to their complaints demanded bribe. The district administration had handed over 96 waterworks to villages, but they were ill-equipped to maintain them. Many of these waterworks were in a shambles.

When the sarpanch of Rampura village, Harjiwan Singh denied taking the charge of the waterworks the Public Health Department issued a notice saying that if the panchayat did not take charge they would lock it. He said people were not paying water tax amounting to about Rs 1.5 lakh to the village panchayat. He said the panchayat didnot even have resources to deposit the power bill of the waterworks. The sarpanch of Pitho village, Jaj Singh, said termed more power as “headache”. He said some persons had illegally occupied the village school ground. To get the ground vacated they had approached the administration, but nobody listened to them. He said though the government had given charge of the waterworks, no funds were allotted to the panchayat, which was running it by collecting money from villagers.

The panchayat of Gumti village said public health officials were not giving them the records after they were handed over the charge of the waterworks. Mahema village sarpanch Lakhwinder Singh said there was no advantage of more rights and they were getting their works done on their own. The vice-chairman of Zila Parishad, said it had not made any difference and the officials didn’t listen to them. 


Punjab’s ‘spirited’ homage to Mahatma Gandhi
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 3
Punjabis have novel way of paying their tributes to their national heroes. Unlike the rest of the country, they celebrated the birth anniversaries of both Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri by paying them “spirited” homage yesterday.

Though the state had ordered that all liquor vends and bars would remain closed on Gandhi Jayanti (October 2), all vends, both of country liquor and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL), were open in Ropar, Nawanshahr, Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts.

A Tribune team, which travelled from Chandigarh to Kapurthala last evening found not only were vends open but also at most of the places, the adjoining “ahatas” — officially permitted places for drinking — functioning as normal.

“We followed the government instructions and remained closed during the day,” remarked a salesman of one of the vends holding that he “opened his shop only in the evening.”

Only at a few places, including certain places in Mohali and Kharar, the vends were locked. Their salesmen were, however, sitting outside and were seen fetching bottles of liquor for the buyers.

There was probably no enforcement by the Excise Department to ensure that vends remain closed on this important national day. Normally, on “official dry days”, the vends are locked jointly by both the Excise Department and the vendor to prevent any violation of the order as envisaged in the excise policy.

At a couple of places, including in Nawanshahr, Banga and Phagwara, the sale was brisk.

At Asron, the liquor vends and the adjoining ahata had a good rush of consumers. The situation was no different at a number of other vends along the Chandigarh-Nawanshahr road.

In Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur district, the violation was serious as both Kapurthala and Garhshankar have byelections to the State Assembly on October 13 and keeping vends open on a dry day tantamount to a severe violation of the rules framed to ensure conduct of a free and fair poll.

Officials of the Excise Department were not available for comment.

A spokesman of the department, however, maintained that some checkings were made during the day and no vend was found open at that time.


Front plans memo to SGPC on Dalit issue
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 3
To lodge its protest against a strange incident of not allowing Dalits to take part in a langar at a “dera” at Roomiwala village of Bathinda district, the Dalit Jabar Virodhi Front has decided to give a memorandum to SGPC members on October 20 and to the Punjab Governor on October 20.

Mr Satnam Kainth, former MP and convener of the front, alleged that even the utensils used for langar to Dalits are earmarked and offerings at the sanctum sanctorum were not accepted at the dera, which was against the very basic principles of Sikhism.

Mr Kainth, who has written a letter in this regard to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, said that nothing was done by the SGPC or any other Sikh religious organisation in this regard.

Mr Ramesh Chokan, a senior leader of the front, questioned whether Sikh psyche could tolerate such a gross act of discrimination and untouchability exercised at the dera. He said the situation was very explosive.


PUDA to start new ‘response system’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
PUDA is in the process of introducing ‘Interactive Voice Response System’ (IVRS) being installed at its headquarters, PUDA Bhawan, at Mohali.

The system is being introduced for the registration of complaints while sitting at home, thereby providing hassle-free redressal/removal of the complaints/ grievances of the general public.

According to Mr A.S.Chhatwal, Chief Administrator, PUDA, two telephone lines have been dedicated to this system.

The phone numbers of these two lines would be easy to remember. Concerned over the public grievances Mr. Chhatwal said that facility for removal of grievances/complaints over telephone had been introduced for the convenience of the public who would now need not come to the PUDA office, look for parking space, waste their time and petrol and stand in long queues.

Earlier, PUDA had organised a ‘Public Contact Programmes’ to listen to the problems /grievances of public all over the State. Under this programme a team of senior officers from PUDA went to all PUDA offices in the state and listened to the problems being faced by the public.

Complainants, on dialing any of the two phone numbers dedicated to IVRS, would listen to the recorded introduction to the system. The introduction is as under:-

“PUDA de lok sampark kender vich aap ji da swagat hai. Ethay aap ji di shikayat recard kitti javaygi. Kirpa karkay lambi beep de baad aapna naam, patta, telephone number jey koi hovay taan recard karvaow.

PUDA da samapark adhikari aap ji naal sampark karayga." The complaints registered would be taken out from the system every morning and each complaint would be recorded on a form devised for this purpose.

These complaints would be sent to the relevant branches in PUDA and dealing officer/official would be asked to find out a solution within the stipulated time. The complainants would be informed about the action taken on the complaints within 15-20 days from the registration of complaint through IVRS.


Buses to Nankana Sahib from Amritsar soon
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 3
Accepting the long-standing demand of the Sikh devotees, the Indian and Pakistani Governments have decided, in principle, to shortly ply six special buses a month between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib/ Kartarpur Sahib.

This was disclosed by the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, while interacting with mediapersons here today .

He said four buses would ply between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib,while two buses would run between Amritsar and Kartarpur Sahib .

Nankana Sahib is the birth place of Guru Nanak and Kartarpur Sahib

( Pakistan ) is the place where first Sikh Guru breathed his last.

The Chief Minister added that the schedule and dates for the special buses would be decided soon .

Replying to a question, the Chief Minister expressed hope that the Central Government might withdraw the declaration which had dubbed Punjab as ‘disturbed area’.

He said the ongoing peace talks between India and Pakistan might lead to relaxation of visa restrictions to boost economy of both the countries.

The Chief Minister said the state government was finalising the Special Zone Project for Amritsar which would encourage Rs 1100-crore investment by the private parties , as declared by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark quadricentennial celebrations of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said the launching of the direct Singapore flight from the city would give much needed boost to the economy of Amritsar. He added that with the launching of more flights, there would be a dire need for the expansion of Rajasansi airport.

He said he would take up the matter with the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Captain Amarinder Singh said his government would give clearance for the multiplexes in big cities of the state. He said the big projects were being cleared on top-priority basis.


Holy book abandoned following police swoop
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib Balwant Singh Nandgarh has taken a strong notice of “exploitation” of Guru Granth Sahib in a property dispute case.

He said strict action would be taken against those exploiting “bir” for occupying land.

Mr Nandgarh said a team of campaigners from the Takht would visit the site on the Narwana road where “sehaj path” was organised on a vacant plot.

The “path” was in progress at the plot when the police reached the spot and the organisers fled. The “granthi” performing the “path” also fled.

When The Tribune visited the spot, Guru Granth Sahib was lying unattended under the tent erected for the “path”.

Gurtej Singh of Behman village said he had been looking after the plot, which belonged to Rajwinder Kaur, as he had the power of attorney.

Rajwinder Kaur had bought the plot from Maina Devi of Bathinda in October, 2000. The plot had a boundary wall and a room.

He said they had organised the “path”, as they wanted to build a house on it.

He alleged that Kishori Lal, Jeet Singh and Bant Singh, all residents of Bathinda, wanted to occupy the plot, for which they had procured a stay order from the court.

He alleged that the police was encouraging illegal occupation of the plot.

Sources said both parties were claiming their ownership of the plot, as both had registries of the plot.

The other party alleged that the plot belonged to them and Gurtej Singh was holding “path” to occupy the same.

The SHO of Kotwali police station said both parties had agreed to reach a compromise and Gurtej had been asked for “bhog” of “sehaj path”. He said the police had intervened in the matter fearing confrontation between the two parties.


Guru Ram Das’ birth place in Pak to be preserved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 3
The Government of Pakistan has decided to preserve the old building of ‘janamasthan’ of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru, situated at Chuna Mandi, Lahore, while the roofs and dilapidated portions would be renovated through kar seva.

This was disclosed by Baba Amrik Singh, Kar Sevawale, who returned from Pakistan on Friday. He said kar seva had been entrusted to the Shiromani Akali Dal, New Delhi, led by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna. The design and drawings of the domes and parking place were being finalised with the help of experts.

Earlier, there was a proposal to demolish the entire building. However, heritage lovers in Pakistan suggested that it should be preserved. It may be mentioned here that many Sikh heritage buildings in India, especially in Punjab, were re-constructed by demolishing the old buildings.


Wish of Mardana’s descendent may not be fulfilled
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 3
Ghulam Mohammad Chaand (70), a Muslim rababi, who is a descendent of Bhai Mardana, a life-time companion of Guru Nanak Dev, is unlikely to get permission from the SGPC to perform ‘kirtan’ in the Golden Temple.

He visited Amritsar — his birthplace — for the first time after Partition. Immediately after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple, he expressed desire to perform ‘kirtan’ there. However, he was told that this was not possible due to change of ‘maryada’.

As per the new ‘maryada’ rules, the SGPC has mentioned particular dress code for the ‘raagis’. His uncle, Bhai Gyan Chaand, was the last Muslim rababi who performed ‘kirtan’ at Darbar Sahib.

According to new norms, only baptised Sikhs can perform ‘kirtan’ in the Golden Temple. Before Partition of the country, Muslim rababis were given special permission to perform ‘kirtan’ there.

Talking to TNS here today, Ghulam Mohammad Chaand said it was his last wish to perform ‘kirtan’ in the Golden Temple like his uncle. He would be performing ‘kirtan’ at the gurdwara of Sector 34, Chandigarh, on October 8.

He said there should ne no such restriction on Muslim rababis who remained with Gurus (till Guru Teg Bahadur) and enthralled the Sikh Sangat with ‘kirtan’.

He said he had been performing ‘kirtan’ in Nankana Sahib and Dehra Sahib Gurdwara, Lahore, without any restriction.

He visited Gali Rababian where more than 200 families of Muslim rababis used to live before Partition. They migrated to Pakistan after Partition.

However, he felt sad to see that there was no trace of his ancestral house following expansion of Gurdwara Guru Ke Mahal.

He said the well of the house that could have been preserved was also filled with earth.

He is accompanied by his nephews, Amzad and Ryaz. They are visiting India on the invitation of Ms Shumita of United Colours of Punjab.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, has promised to arrange Ghulam Mohammad Chaand’s performances on the university campus and in affiliated colleges of the university.


Sinha has gone on leave, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that Principal Secretary, Home, Mr Sanjit Kumar Sinha, had proceeded on ex-India leave to get his wife treated in England.

The Chief Minister said there was no truth in media reports that Mr Sinha had been asked to proceed on leave. “He is an intelligent and loyal officer. His wife has been sick for a long time. Since one of his uncles is a specialist doctor in the area of her sickness, he has taken her there for treatment,” he said.

In his absence Mr Sukhpal Singh Gill, who is Secretary, Home, will look after the work of Mr Sinha. It is the second time in less than a year that Mr Sinha has proceeded on ex-India leave to England.

Talking about complaints about irregularities committed in appointment of law officers, the Chief Minister said he would personally look into them.

“How you can leave out someone who has been working as law officer for 12 years. I shall personally look into these appointments after these byelections,” he said hinting that all these appointments would be reviewed.

There has been some resentment over dropping of certain law officers when the appointments were renewed some weeks ago.


PSEB sets up grievance cell
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 3
The PSEB has established a grievance cell at its headquarters to provide “instant” relief to the power consumers who have been served with inflated electricity consumption bills. The cell will comprise Member (Distribution), Chief Engineer SE (Operations) and Chief Accounts Officer (Revenue). The aggrieved consumers are advised to file other complaints with this cell for the redressal of their grievances.

The Chairman, PSEB, Mr Y.S. Ratra, instructed the field officers not to include the arrears in the current electricity bills to avoid undue harassment of the power consumers. No disconnection shall be made during the pendency of such a complaint with the grievances cell.

The Chairman, speaking on the power position in the state, said the position was now comfortable and it had been decided not to impose any compulsory weekly day offs on the industrial consumers. The one mandatory day off had also been withdrawn with immediate effect. Earlier the board had decided to do away with one of the two weekly day offs.

Due to late monsoon towards the end of last month, late sowing of paddy and also taking into consideration irrigation requirement of the basmati, sugarcane and potato crops, eight hours’ uninterrputed power supply shall be ensured to the agricultural sector in the state.


Conference of bank employees ends
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 3
The two-day 19th Conference of All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation concluded here today. The general body meeting was attended by more than 2,000 delegates from all over the country. The delegates deliberated on ways and means to strengthen the unity of bank employees to defend the interests of public sector banks.

They welcomed the declaration of the UPA Government that the public sector institutious would not be privatised. They demanded an increase in the rate of interest on special deposit schemes. They also demanded re-examining the decision on reduction in the rate of interest in EPF, PPF and GPF which was reduced from 12 per cent to 8 per cent.

They also demanded compassionate appointment to the dependents of deceased employees and also disapproved the recent guidelines issued by the Government of India to grant compensation in lieu of compassionate appointments. The general secretary of the federation, Mr N.K Gaur, said strong public sector banks were needed for overall national economic development.


Rs 9 lakh embezzled in DTO office
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 3
A case of misappropriation of Rs 9 lakh has come to light at the District Transport Office here. The DTO staff had not deposited the amount, which was collected for passing of vehicles, in the treasury.

The embezzlement came to light when an audit team checked the office records. Sources said that when the employees concerned came to know about it, they immediately deposited the amount with the government exchequer.

The Transport Department had been facing allegations of corruption for long and recently a Vigilance team had arrested District Transport Officer Surinder Singh Sidhu while accepting bribe.

According to sources, the Motor Vehicle Inspector does the passing of commercial vehicles thrice in a week. Last year the vehicle owners were given the receipts of passing their vehicles, but the amount was not deposited in the exchequer.


167 patients examined at camp
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 3
The local unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad organised a free heart check-up camp in the Mata Naina Devi Mandir complex here today.

Mr Lalit Kumar Garg, general secretary of the local unit of the parishad, said a team of doctors from Ludhiana examined 167 patients for various heart diseases at the camp.

He further said ECG and other tests of the patients were conducted free of cost. Medicines were given free of cost to the needy patients.


220 women examined
Our Correspondent

Doraha, October 3
As many as 220 women have been examined at a two-day free medical check-up camp organised at Sidhu Hospital, here.

Thirty patients were referred for surgery.

Dr Harjot Kaur Sidhu, director and chief of the gynaecology department, said a public awareness programme was also organised. She said: “Excessive bleeding is the most common problem among women.


Farmers, creditors on warpath over land auction
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
Farmers and moneylenders of Chathewala village are at loggerhead over the auction of a farmer’s land. Farmers are in the state of panic in the wake of the continuous police raids.

On a petition filed by an arhtiya of Rama Mandi, the court had ordered auction of a farmer’s land.

On June 16, when the Tehsildar of Talwandi Sabo along with police force and moneylenders reached the village to auction the land, some Bharatiya Kisan Union activists had a scuffle with him.

Moneylenders accused farmers of attacking them and snatching their goods. On the basis of their complaint, the police registered a case against 16 farmers, including an electricity board employee, Harpal Singh.

Later, the moneylenders demanded the arrest of farmers, following which the police conducted raids to arrest farmers.

Now, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has said that it would not allow the auction of the land, while the police and the administration seem determined to go ahead with their plan.

The village panchayat members, Najar Singh and Jangir Kaur, have already resigned on the issue saying that the administration was not listening to their side of the story.

The block BKU (Ugraha) chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Lalewala, alleged that the police had created so much terror in the village that farmers were being forced to stay elsewhere at night.

He said though villagers wanted to avoid any untoward incident, the police was bent on choosing the path of confrontation.

On the other hand, the vice-president of District Arhtiya Association, Mr Jaswant Rai, said they would support the moneylender concerned during the land auction.

When contacted, the SHO of Kotphatta police station said the court had ordered the auction of land and they were not harassing farmers.

Sources said the police was planning to arrest BKU activists to avoid confrontation on October 11, when the land would be auctioned.


Farmers rough up cops on extortion spree
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 3
A large number of farmers, hailing from Rama village, today gheraoed and manhandled two policemen who were allegedly forcing entry into villagers’ homes under the pretext of seizing illicit liquor.

The villagers were also being allegedly threatened with the imposition of false cases against them and money was extorted from them

An employee of a wine contractor was also accompanying these policemen. The farmers gheraoed them when they were trying to forcibly enter a villager’s home.

The angry farmers manhandled the cops and raised slogans against wine contractors. Sources said these cops had made a villager pay them Rs 8,500 yesterday by threatening to trap him in a false case of possessing illicit liquor.

The villagers alleged that these policemen were “harassing” them in this way for the past many months.

Bharatiya Kisan Union Ekta leaders also got to know about the matter yesterday and planned to gherao the cops.

When the policemen reached the village today, all the villagers gathered around them and hundreds of farmers led by the district union chief Trilok Singh Himmatpura also reached there. Mr Himmatpura said they had recovered illicit liquor from the vehicle of the wine contractor parked in the village.

He alleged that if no illicit liquor was found during raids, the cops used to place liquor bottles brought with them in villagers’ homes and threaten them of false cases.

He further alleged that these policemen were conducting raids on their own and they had not been given any orders in this regard.

A police party soon reached the spot and sorted out the matter with the cops and the wine contractor employee apologising to the villagers.

They also promised to return Rs 8,500 taken from a farmer.


Clash over Rs 500 claims one life
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), October 3
A clash which took place over the non-payment of mere Rs 500 claimed one human life and seriously injured two.

Buta Singh of Gurusar village was killed in the clash over a piece of land while Jagdeep Singh and Mithu Singh were seriously injured. Mr Jagdeep Singh, son of the deceased, has been referred to the DMC, Ludhiana, while Mithu Singh of the same village was under treatment at the local Civil Hospital.

Sources said a few months ago a piece of land along with some extra amount of money was exchanged between Buta Singh and Bachhittar Singh, also of the same village. About one and half month ago Buta Singh paid back some of the amount while only Rs 500 remained unpaid.

For the settlement both parties went to the village sarpanch, who persuaded them to return to their houses. On their way back both had a clash in which they used lathis and sharpedged weapons.

Buta Singh succumbed to his injuries at the Civil Hospital. The local police has registered a case against Mithu Singh, Madan Singh, Bachhittar Singh and Kala Singh (son of Mithu Singh) under Sections 302, 324, 323 and 34 of the IPC.


Inspector held for ‘helping’ drug smugglers
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 3
A Vigilance team led by the DSP Raminder Singh has arrested Surinder Kumar an Inspector, posted at the office of the SSP, for letting off some drugs smugglers by taking bribe.

Sources said the Excise Department had set up a check post near Mehrajwala village on July 22, 2002, to curb smuggling of drugs and seized 45 kg poppy husk from a car, but the two accused succeeded in giving them the slip.

A case was registered at the Sadar police station and Surinder Kumar was its in charge.

He reportedly took bribe to cover up the case and also returned the poppy husk.

The Vigilance Bureau found the allegations levelled against him true and registered a case against him.


14 quintals of poppy husk seized, one arrested
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 3
The police has seized 40 bags of poppy husk worth
about Rs 5 lakh at a checkpost in Dalla village here.

Mukhtiar Singh has been arrested in this connection.

Sources said that a CIA staff team led by its in charge Mr Tehal Singh, had set up a checkpost on the link road in Dalla village. They received a tip-off that a truck laden with poppy husk was going to pass through that road.

They laid a trap and nabbed the accused with 14 quintals of poppy husk packed in 40 bags. Sources said that the accused used to procure poppy husk from Rajasthan and sell it in Punjab.

A case has been registered against him under Section 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.


Infant’s body found
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 3
The local police has sought the cooperation of the public in solving the case of the body of a newborn female child that was found in a canal near here.

According to the FIR registered at a local police station, the body was found in a branch of the Sirhind Canal three days ago.

The body was wrapped in an embroidered suit, which was probably worn by the mother of the child at the time of childbirth. The placenta and other body waste was packed in three polythene bags.


Studying in perpetual stench
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
In spite of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission’s (PSHRC) orders to the authorities to take appropriate action, students and staff of Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology continue to breathe the stench emanating from a carcass dump nearby.

The dump is about 500 metres from the college campus, which also houses students’ hostel and staff colony.

The dump has made it difficult for the staff and students to stay on the campus and has forced many of them to leave the campus.

The dump also attracts a number of stray dogs, leading to a surge in cases of dog bite in the colony, which has over 150 houses, sources added.

Sources said there had been a move to shift the dump to Narwana village, but villagers were alerted and they constructed a gurdwara near the proposed site.

Taking initiative to get the dump shifted, students of the college’s computer department wrote to the PSHRC last year complaining that the stench from the dump polluted the air and was a potential health hazard.

Following this, the human rights commission asked the Director, Local Govt, Punjab, to look into the matter and send a report to it before the next date of hearing.

But even after over 11 months of the order, nothing had been done in this regard.

When contacted, the Municipal Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari, said following the PSHRC orders, a boundary wall was constructed and a gate was erected around the dump, which had solved the problem to some extent.

He said the MC was trying to tie up with some villages for a common carcass dump on panchayat land.

He said the corporation did not have land for the purpose and they had written to some panchayats for the same.

The college Principal, Mr P.K. Bansal, could not be contacted for his comments.


Schedule for matric, plus two students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) has released the schedule for filling the forms for matric and plus II examinations to be conducted in 2005.

According to the schedule released by PSEB Controller of Examinations Sukhvinder Kaur Saroya, regular matric students can fill the forms without late fee till November 3 and with Rs 200 as late fee till November 17.

Regular plus II students can fill the forms without late fee till November 5 and with Rs 200 as late fee till November 17.

Private candidates appearing in matric examination can fill the forms without late fee till October 21 and with Rs 500 as late fee till November 3. They will have to pay Rs 1,000 as late fee till November 23 and Rs 1,500 till December 8. The last date with Rs 2,000 as late fee is December 22.

Those appearing in plus II examinations as private candidates can fill the forms without late fee till October 26. They can fill the forms with Rs 500 as late fee till November 5, Rs 1,000 till November 30 and Rs 1,500 till December 15. The last date with Rs 2,000 as late fee is December 31.

The Board has also released prospectus-cum-examination forms for matric and plus II examinations.These can be purchased by students from book depots all over the state at a price of Rs 30.


Techfest-2004 begins at Longowal
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sangrur), October 3
India will be a global power by 2025 as the country is moving fast to achieve this goal by way of progressing on economic and technology fronts.

This was stated by Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister, while addressing a function after inaugurating Techfest-2004, a national-level technical festival, at Sant Harchand Singh Longowal Central Institute of Engineering and Technology (SHSLCIET) here today.

Mr Singla further said some people opposed change but the country would have to change itself at a fast note, especially on the science and technology front, because technological change was the prime mover with regard to becoming a world power.

Giving stress on quality education, Mr Singla said merely passage of resolutions and framing of policies with regard to science and technology were not enough to change society. He said a lot of progress was yet to be done in the science and technology field which could be done only by changing the mindset of the people.

The Finance Minister said the country men should not afraid of multi-national companies because Indians had such a brain power which could innovate anything anywhere. Citing example, he said the American companies were now afraiding of Indians and were asking their government to prevent the entry of Indians, especially scientists, on the plea that Indians could capture their market.

Mr Singla also emphasised on research and development in the agriculture field. He said Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, had no sufficient funds for research as most of the PAU’s budget was being spent on the salaries of the employees and other such expenditures.

Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SHSLCIET, Longowal; Dr S.C. Saxena, Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala; and Dr M.B. Bera, Dean, Academic, SHSLCIET, Longowal, also addressed the function.

Mr Singla released a souvenir on regarding Techfest-2004 on the occasion.

In this technical festival, about 400 participants from engineering institutes, situated outside Punjab, and about 2500 students of the SHSLCIET, Longowal, are taking part. In this three-day festival, about 300 research papers will be presented, while about 175 models are being displayed.


10-day NSS camp begins
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa Girl College organised a 10-day NSS camp during which the volunteers of its NSS unit participate in various activities like plantation and social welfare works.

The SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, inaugurated the camp. The college principal, Mrs D.K. Mann, and other staff members were present on the occasion.

The camp began with the programme officers chalking out a plan to hold plantation and a programme highlighting the Punjabi culture.

The volunteers were briefed on the traffic rules in the next session. They would be given information on first aid during their first session on October 4. They would also visit a school of deaf and dumb children.

The volunteers would undertake a literacy programme in slum areas.


Navpreet wins declamation contest
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 3
Navpreet Kaur of B.Com (Part III) and Harmandeep Kaur of B.Sc. (Biotechnology Part-I) won the first and second prize respectively, in a declamation contest organised by the local Commerce Association of Mata Gujri College. The contest was dedicated to the 400th anniversary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Dharminder Singh, Head, PG Department of Commerce, said students must inculcate positive values to be successful in life. Guru Granth Sahib is an ocean of knowledge from which we can derive a lot of moral values.

Prof Kashmir Singh, coordinator of the association, said the students must participate in such programmes. Ms Harjit Kaur, student of M.Com and president of the association, conducted the stage. Prof B.S. Sandhu, Prof Ramanjit Kaur, Prof Navdeep Kaur and Prof Shallu Jain were among others who attended the function.


Big players enter used car market in Doaba
Varinder Singh

The recent entry of big players in the second-hand car market has created a flutter among second-hand car dealers in Jalandhar, even as they are trying to bank upon their USP - "low" prices offered by them.

The entry of big players like Maruti and other companies, and dealers like Cargo Motors, Dada Motors and even some finance companies in the second-hand car sale market in this region has disturbed the calculations of those selling second-hand cars and other vehicles on the basis of commission. These sellers used to earn handsome profits.

The entry of finance companies and the subsequent competition among them to offer vehicle loans at the lowest rates has further boosted the business of second-hand cars. Changing cars has, of late, become a fashion, particularly among young professionals and businessmen.

"Yes, it has made a difference to the business and affected our margins drastically. Now, pricing has become more competitive. The only solace is the relatively 'higher' pricing of second-hand cars sold by the big players," admitted a second-hand car dealer, requesting anonymity.

On the other hand, the easy availability of loans even for second-hand cars has encouraged businessmen based in the city and its satellite townships, including Goraya, Phagwara, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Nakodar, to adopt the still-profitable second-hand car sale business.

"The entry of big players in the second-hand car market has started affecting the traditional roadside commission agents. In my view, with increasing awareness about the importance of buying a second-hand car from a reliable source, people would be buying the cars from the big players only.

The big players, who have already started setting up showrooms of second-hand cars, have much to look forward to. One thing is certain — the Doaba region would have exclusive second-hand car showrooms soon and these would be run by reputed companies that would sell reliable second-hand vehicles and not the shoddily reconditioned vehicles as is being done by the roadside commission agents. In that case, the roadside commission agents would have no say in the market," observed Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, General Manager of the Cargo Motors, Jalandhar.

Mr Anil, a commission agent from Goraya, feels the entry of big players has already started affecting the business of traditional second-hand car sellers. At the same time, he maintains that young businessmen of Kapurthala, Nakodar, Goraya, Phillaur and Phagwara are taking to the business of second-hand cars, as it has still not lost its sheen completely.

Mr Anil informs that people still prefer second-hand cars from Punjab as compared to those from Delhi, UP and Haryana. This is in spite of the fact that cheaper vehicles are available in these states. "Vehicles registered in Punjab still command a better price when compared to those registered in Haryana, Delhi, UP and Rajasthan, where second-hand vehicles are cheaper. The reason is the assurance about the veracity of documents which comes with a Punjab-based vehicle," he adds.

Market sources reveal that if purchased from Delhi, vehicles like Tata Sumo, Indica, Tempo Traveller, Santro were cheaper by Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000. However, there was almost no difference in the price of vehicles like Maruti 800, Zen and Esteem. TNS


‘Apni mandis’ lose relevance in Jalandhar
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 3
The very concept of “apni mandis” is in peril in Jalandhar where over 90 per cent of the sellers are not farmers, but “phariwalas” who fleece gullible consumers as Mandi Board official choose to look the other way on the pretext that they don’t have the requisite staff to run the “apni mandis” efficiently.

In Jalandhar, it seems, “apni mandis” have virtually lost their relevance. “Apni mandis” in the city are virtually bereft of farmers and are rather run by “phariwalas”. The first casual glance at these mandis leave an impression that these are being used as platforms for the convenience of “phariwalas” and commission agents and not for the benefit of either the farmers or the consumers.

More interestingly, the fact that the “apni mandis” are nowadays dominated by “phariwalas” was admitted by Punjab Mandi Board official V.K. Gupta, who was seen supervising the “apni mandi” near Model Town today. He had a strange explanation to give. “What can we do? Farmers are not coming to the mandis. We have written to our superiors a number of times above this.”

When asked as to why the prices were not regulated as per norms and why prices fixed by the Mandi Board authorities were not implemented, Mr Gupta explained, “No no, prices are right. How can two of us (Gupta and another official) keep a watch on about 190 ‘phariwalas’. We don’t have enough staff. Moreover, it is election time, you know?”

Enquiries with “phariwalas”, who were selling vegetables in the mandi, revealed that almost none of them was carrying the mandatory identity card issued by the board authorities to come to the mandi for selling their produce. “I have left my card at my home. I have the ‘parchi’ provided by the official. Moreover, why should I show my card when I have already paid Rs 200 for sitting here for the whole day,” said a person who looked like a migrant labourer but claimed that he was a farmer.

“What is the use of holding apni mandis if the officials cannot implement the fixed prices. A lot many people, who don’t know the concept of apni mandi, are being fleeced in these mandis. Sometimes, no official is present here,” said Raminder Kumar Sharma, a buyer.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |