L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Health officials collect 6 samples
Food adulteration
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
In the wake of ongoing festival season, the drive by district health officials to check adulteration of food stuff continued. A team led by District Health Officer Dr V.K. Kakkar, took six samples from different eating joints and other commercial establishments.

Claiming this in a press note here today, the Civil Surgeon, Dr S.N. Tiwari, said that the officials conducted raids on sweet shops and eateries around the railway station and general bus stand and took samples of several food items, including cold drinks, milk and milk products and wheat flour. He said the health officials would maintain a close vigil against adulteration in sweets, edible oils and other food items.

Dr Tiwari cautioned the sweet sellers, owners of eating joints and confectioners to maintain quality of their products and desist from using sub-standard and inferior material failing which they would face penal action under the relevant laws. He also warned them to keep the work places, selling points and the surroundings clean.



City potters have their hands full
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, November 2
City potters are working overtime to meet the demand for diyas for Divali and a host of other earthen-ware used for worshipping Goddess Laxmi. The 10-odd families of potters in the Qilla Mohalla were busy moulding diyas and piggy-banks. Even school-going children, following a holiday yesterday were assisting in their own way. Gopi, a student of Class VI, was carrying the diyas up and down the stairs. He said he enjoyed the work but would not like to be a potter.

In the house of Jani Ram, probably the oldest potter in the locality, all members of his family were busy with the production of various items. Lamp stands with diyas around a bar of clay were also being made on the rooftop as the space in the courtyard had been occupied with various moulds.

One of the potters, who was yet to begin making the diyas, lamented that the business was not profitable these days. The wholesale price of Rs 100 or so for 1,000 diyas was not remunerative. Though the potters were making the diyas, it was more out of a labour of love rather than a profitable venture, he said.

He was devoting more time to make piggy-banks which bring better returns. He would make diyas in a couple of days even if it was not very paying, he added.



Land dispute: father gives clean chit to son
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The controversy surrounding the land which is worth crores of rupees at Jhande village took a new turn today with Jatinder Singh producing his father before the mediapersons and claiming that he had not confined him illegally.

Mr Amrik Singh, father of Jatinder of Jhande village, while addressing mediapersons said he was not well and was under medication. He claimed Jatinder had taken care of him while his second son had got a case registered against the former on charges of illegal confinement.

In a written statement Mr Amrik Singh rubbished the allegations made by his second son that Jatinder and his wife Surinder Kaur had been beating him. “They have been looking after me very well and I have no complaints against them,” he said.

He claimed that he had filed a writ petition in the high court asking for security as he feared threat to his life. He said the petition had been admitted by the court. He added that he would ask the Senior Superintendent of Police to drop charges against Jatinder.

He also said that paddy crop on his land was forcibly harvested by the opposite party and his son had lodged a complaint with the police in this regard. In his complaint to the SSP, Jatinder claimed that the crop on 1.5 acres was harvested on October 18 in connivance with a local police official.

The Sadar police had recently booked Jatinder and his wife on the statement of his brother Manjinder Singh. Both brothers hail from Jhande village while Jatinder Singh is presently living at Aiyali Kalan village in a rented house.

Both brothers have been levelling allegations against each other for the 5 acres worth Rs 2 crore owned by their father.

Jatinder added that his father was suffering from HSV encephalitis and underwent treatment at the CMC hospital for a few days.

Manjinder had been claiming that his wife along with some villagers had gone to meet his father at Jatinder's place on August 24 but they were not allowed to meet him.

But Jatinder produced his father, claiming that his health had improved and was fit to talk. 



Dawar proposes open darbars
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
In a bid to redress the problems of people of the Ludhiana East Assembly segment on the spot, Mr Surinder Dawar Parliamentary Secretary, holding the charge of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, proposes to hold darbars which would be attended by senior officers from government departments.

Laying the foundation stone of a Rs 9-lakh project for the surfacing of roads and streets in the Dharampura mohalla yesterday, he reiterated that the government was committed to the welfare of the masses.

He said the darbars would be organised in all 11 wards falling in his Assembly segment on the basis of the rotation.

Two offices had been opened in Prem Nagar and Cheema Chowk localities where party officials would deal with applications for pensions, ration cards and grievances related to other departments.

A major development project in he pipeline for the area was the covering of the drain from Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran to Gau Ghat at a cost of Rs 14 crore. another Rs 10 crore would be spent on the augmentation of water supply.

At another function, he said the UPA government had provided relief to the hosiery industry by withdrawing excise duty.



Cable charges up following service tax
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Both Siti Cable and Win Cable have asked their subscribers to pay, along with their subscription, 10.2 per cent as service tax to their operator. If you were paying Rs 200 per month for the cable connection, you will now have to pay Rs 20 more.

“We have asked the operators to collect this amount from subscribers,” said Mr Sunil Talwar, director of Siti Cable.

The subscribers are, however, reluctant to pay. “We are already paying Rs 350 per month for cable charges which is not less. Why should we pay more.” Surinder Kaur, a resident in the Civil Lines area, asked.

“The subscribers are not willing to pay the increased amount. We are finding it difficult to make them understand,” said Mr Sarabjit Singh, president, of the Cable Operators Association. He said the Excise Department should generate awareness among the masses so that services on which service tax had been imposed could be provided smoothly.

Mr Talwar said with the introduction of new channels, the subscription rate could increase further.



Pensioners meet Chief Parliamentary Secy
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 2
A special delegation of the Punjab State Pensioners Mahasangh today met Dr Harbans Lal Verma, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, who is also looking after the department relating to pensions and their welfare, under the presidentship of Mr Prem Sagar Sharma at the former’s residence. Giving details of the meeting Mr Prem Sagar Sharma told mediapersons that they put forward their demands in a memorandum.

They added that they had requested Dr Verma to include the names of representatives of various pensioners’ organisations in the state advisory committee.

In the memorandum they demanded early reimbursement of their medical bills, increase in fix medical allowance, special old-age allowance for those who were above 80 years.

They added that Dr Verma gave an assurance in this regard. He also said he would give special instructions to the higher authorities concerned for the early fulfilment of their demands. 



Carrying of firearms banned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
The District Magistrate has banned the carrying of firearms in the district. As per an order issued recently, the DM maintained that it had come to his notice that some people were carrying firearms in public and were threatening the peace prevailing in the district.

Persons flouting the orders issued under Section 144 of the CrPC would be booked, the order said. Policemen, Home Guards, CRPF employees and those having arms issued by the government were free to carry them, it added. 



Ludhiana Calling

Might sound unbelievable, but when it comes to efficiency, there are times when government employees could give private players a run for their money. At least this is what the Income Tax Department here proved on the last few days of filing of income tax returns. The department not only accepted returns on Saturday and Sunday but also opened extra counters for the convenience of assessees. The staff worked till late evening and accepted returns up to 6 pm. “If they had not worked on Saturday and Sunday the situation would not have been manageable,” a chartered accountant commented. The department recorded a 10 per cent increase in returns filed this year. Over 1.5 lakh assessees filed their returns.

Practice what you preach!

Punjab Agricultural University and the district authorities have been advising farmers not to burn paddy stubble in the fields, but the PAU does not apparently practice what it preaches. If the residents living on the northern side of the campus in colonies, including Kitchlu Nagar, Rishi Nagar and Chhoti Haibowal are to be believed, the PAU field staff burns the stubble after harvesting. While burning of paddy stubble, the residents allege, is a seasonal problem, the burning of garbage in the dumping ground of the PAU adjoining these colonies goes on everyday.

Modern-day Karva Chauth

Traditional festivities are getting a dash of modern touch. When it is an all-woman festival, they do not want to be left behind. Not only did the women organise special parties, tambola and game sessions on the special day, many but also tech-savvy logged on to the Internet to download the “true katha”. They listened to recorded versions of the evening katha.

Gambling fever

Gambling fever has gripped city residents, thanks to Diwali. For hard-core gamblers, anytime of the year is fit for gambling, but Divali holds special attraction for even those who do not approve of this habit.

Perhaps it is because of the myth that one who does not gamble on Divali, becomes a donkey in the next life. With the result, several crores exchange hands in the city every Divali season.

Holidays galore

The festival season is on and government employees are making the most of it. After availing considerable holidays in October, November too would turn out to be a month with holidays galore for them. The employees will have around 14 off days, including Saturdays and Sundays, with a restricted holiday thrown in on November 22. Rejoicing over the windfall of holidays, one of them remarked that almost without exception, every week during the month would have only four working days with a holiday falling either on Friday or Monday.

Seasonal delights

Photo by Sayeed AhmedCome winter and certain delicacies make their appearance. Be it “bhutta”, radish sprinkled with salt and lemon or sweet potatoes, those are hard to resist. “Shakkar-kandi” or bhutta sellers have a brisk sale in the vicinity of educational institutions, banks and government offices.

Online insurance

If what you dread about an insurance is going to an insurance office or the time taken, private insurers are coming out with innovative ways to save you from inconvenience. Using latest technologies, several companies have started providing the facility to get insured online. ICICI Lombard, for instance, provides the facility wherein a corporate client is given an identification number and a password using which all they have to do is to long on to the company’s web site and get the insurance done. Now, they are planning to introduce something on similar lines for individual clients as well.



BJP charges against Punjab Govt
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 2
Charging the Congress government in Punjab with being corrupt and citing some of the recent court judgements against the government, the urban and rural district units of the BJP have demanded the dismissal of the government and registration of criminal cases against both political functionaries and the bureaucrats.

In a memorandum, to the President of India through the district administration here today, the district (urban) chief of the party, Dr Subhash Verma, alleged that the Congress after coming to power was resorting to corrupt practices with favouritism and nepotism being the sole consideration for all government decisions.

“That the government is adopting double standards is clear from the fact that a commission was set up to probe the alleged involvement of Mr Raninder Singh, son of the Chief Minister, in havala transactions whereas criminal cases were slapped against political opponents of the Congress. 



Lotteries turn poor poorer
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Balak Ram is a rickshaw-puller. He earns Rs 100 everyday. And, most of it, he spends on buying lottery tickets. He has been doing it for so many years. So far lady luck has not smiled on him.

Balak Ram is one of the thousands who queue up daily outside the lottery booths at Clock Tower, Ludhiana. Most of them buy a chunk of a particular number tickets. But everytime their returns are far too less than their spending.

Around 50 Balak Ram looks more. His protruding eyes, cheek bones and lean frame tell tales of his poor health.

The lottery trade in Ludhiana is put at several crores a month and most of it is carried out at Clock Tower only. Sushil Kumar, a lottery addict said: “We know we are wasting our money, but the addiction is too strong to resist”. He said, while pointing towards the lottery tickets littered on the road, “these small bits of paper that you see cost at least Rs 5 or 10 each and this is all our hard earned money”.

Everybody who buys a lottery ticket hopes himself to be a millionaire overnight and in the process most of them go bankrupt. “The addiction is so strong that every morning when the lottery booths open there is a large number of people waiting to buy the tickets”, he said. Balak Ram when asked had he seen anybody becoming a millionaire there (at Clock Tower) he replied, “who knows when someone could be and it could even be me”.

Not only labourers and the low-income persons but also people working in banks, government departments or leading private organisations are regular visitors to the lottery booths. Particularly during the Divali season, the festival which is related to Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth and fortune, the rush for lottery tickets is always much more.

A number of state governments, including Punjab, have their own bumper lottery draws for special festivals, like Divali, Baisakhi and Holi. And all these bumper draws make a bumper business for the governments as the tickets are priced at Rs 100 each and people do not mind buying a ticket or two in the hope of getting rich overnight. The temptation becomes more and more irresistible when the prizes offered go up to Rs 1.5 crores. 



V.K. Garg is Central Excise Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Mr V.K. Garg has taken over the charge of the Commissioner, Central Excise, from Mr P.S. Pruthi. A 1983-batch IRS (customs and Central excise), Mr Garg has served with distinction in several capacities earlier. A postgraduate from IIM, Ahmedabad, with a law degree, he started his carrier in the department as Assistant Commissioner, Pune. He is also the author of a publication, Complaint Travel.

He held a number of important positions like Assistant Director, Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence, Joint Director, Directorate of Revenue intelligence, Assistant Commissioner and Additional Commissioner, IGI Airport, Additional Commissioner (Anti-Evasion), Delhi, Deputy Secretary, International affairs, and OSD with the Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs.

Mr Garg also participated in many prestigious training and fellowship programmes. He was also instrumental in making various reforms during his stint as the Additional Commissioner (Customs), IGI Airport, New Delhi.

Mr Garg has expressed his desire to work closely with the industry and trade in the region and to create an environment for mutual trust transparency and all-round efficiency in the working of the Central Excise Commissionerate.



Award for two
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
Dr Krishna Oberoi, Senior Scientist-cum-Technical Coordinator, AICRP-Family Resource Management, and Dr Sumita Roy, a former Prof-cum-Technical Coordinator, AICRP-Home Science Extension, received the Chaudhary Devi Lal Outstanding Award for best All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) in Home Science in New Delhi.



Two hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 2
Sukhdev Singh and his mother Kuldip Kaur of Kalsian, who were going on a motor cycle were hit by a truck driven by Tarlochan Singh of Bhaini Baringa. Both sustained injuries in the mishap. The Raikot police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of  the IPC.



‘NRIs willing to invest in India’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 2
There is a great scope for multi-level cooperation between India and Canada in the fields like business, information technology and tourism. This was stated by Mr Sukh Dhaliwal, an Indian expatriate and leading member of the Liberal Party in Canada, here yesterday.

He said the Government of India needed to take some measures to build confidence among the expatriates.

Mr Dhaliwal, who graduated from Guru Nanak Engineering College here and migrated to Canada in 1984, is a close confidante of the Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin.

He actively lobbied for Mr Martin during his race for Liberal leadership in 2000. Currently, on a visit to his native country, Mr Dhaliwal held that the Indian diaspora was too much willing to invest here (in India), but it had certain apprehensions that needed to be redressed.

He said the Khanguras, who are well settled in England and have a flourishing business there, invested here by setting up the first-five star hotel, Majestic Park Plaza in Ludhiana. There were several other NRIs who would like to contribute to the Indian economy, but there were certain difficulties that they faced, he added.

He said, “Since there is a substantial proportion of Indians in Canada, the relationship between the two countries is bound to be cordial.” The Canadian Prime Minister was keen to visit India to explore avenues of common interest between the two countries, he added.

The Mayor of Surrey, a prosperous city in British Columbia province in Canada, was scheduled to visit Ludhiana in May, 2005, he said. He said, “There can be some arrangement between Ludhiana and Surrey to evolve the concept of ‘sister cities’ so that the two cities can take up some common projects for mutual benefit.”

Referring to the socio-political environment in Canada, he said there was no racial feeling there and people were evaluated on the basis of their performance, credibility and integrity.

He himself had lost the last election to the federal seat of Newton North Delta in July last by a narrow margin.



Keep honey out of VAT, says board chief
Our Correspondent

Doraha, November 2
Mr Jagjit Singh, Chairman, National Bee Board, has stressed upon the need to maintain high quality standards by beekeepers. Addressing a press conference, he said quality was the foremost parameter for honey export. He said the beekeepers were worried about a sharp decline in the price of honey as compared to the prices in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004.

He said India produced about 30,000 tonnes of honey whereas the USA alone consumed 200000 tonnes of honey.

He said the government should attend to certain priority issues like relief from cess and inspection fees that affect the cost parameters. If the outflow was exempted, the beekeepers would get benefited. The beekeepers pursued beekeeping on a small scale and looked forward to exemptions from octroi.

He also highlighted the lack of proper testing facility and said the samples of honey received from the beekeepers were generally sent to Germany for accurate results which were required by importers.

He said honey should be kept outside the purview of VAT.


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