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Excise office tightens noose around cable operators
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
Acting tough on cable operators who have been evading service tax by not issuing receipts of monthly subscriptions to the subscribers, the Central Excise Commissionerate has started a drive to detect such tax evaders.

Officials visited a few cable operators in the city. Service tax evasion of over Rs 2 lakh has been detected so far.

“Despite a massive awareness campaigns, there are various service providers, including cable operators, who were not paying service tax. We have started this drive against such service providers,” said Mr Rajan Chaudhary, Deputy Commissioner, Central Excise Commissionerate, Ludhiana.

He said of the total 293 cable operators falling under the jurisdiction of the commissionerate, Ludhiana alone has 231 registered cable operators. The commissionerate exercises jurisdiction on nine districts.

“Besides several complaints of non-issuance of receipts against monthly cable subscriptions, it had come to our knowledge that cable operators were not declaring the actual number of connections provided by them and evading service tax,” Mr Chaudhary said.

Incidentally, Ludhiana Tribune carried a report on Tuesday on cable operators charging old rates and refusing to issue receipts to their subscribers.

While cable operators had admitted that they had not issued receipts to their subscribers for the month of February, they said they were doing so as their multi-service operators (MSOs) had asked them to charge increased rates that customers were not willing to pay.

Mr Chaudhary said the Ludhiana Commissionerate had been conducting surveys earlier also. He said under one such survey it was found that a cable operator in Bathinda (it falls under the Ludhiana Commissionerate) had evading tax to the tune of Rs 40 lakh.

“That cable operator had been visited earlier also during a survey and was advised to take registration number and make payment of tax. Our investigations revealed that he was operating both as a cable operator and an MSO,” he said.

Mr Chaudhary said the commissionerate had made it clear to service providers that penal action could be taken against them if they did not pay service tax.

“Now we have begun that exercise. We even appeal to the general public to come forward with details of cable operators who have been collecting subscriptions without issuing receipts,” he said.

In an earlier campaign, the commissionerate had visited marriage palaces to detect service tax evasion.

Mr Chaudhary said, “It is better that service providers pay the tax. The department will conduct such drives in case of service providers operating in various other fields as well.”



SC notice on cellphone calls brings relief to subscribers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
The Supreme Court notice to the Centre, cellular operators and multinational banks on a public interest litigation seeking a ban on unsolicited calls to customers has brought cheer among residents. While cellular operators have said they support a complete ban, residents said they were relieved as unsolicited calls had become a headache.

“It may be important for such companies to have a data of customers and call them, but for us it is certainly a headache,” said Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

He said it was particularly troublesome when executives of these companies called during important meetings or even after office.

Based on the data of mobile phones subscribers or people holding bank accounts, executives would contact people persuading them to buy credit cards or go in for a particular mobile phone connection.

“These companies did not even bother to know if a customer was interested in knowing about their services or not. All they would do is keep explaining about their products irrespective of whether one was interested or not,” said Gagan Watika, public relations officer, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH).

She said while in roaming mode it was highly irritating to receive such calls. “Not just that, during a meeting one cannot even be rude to them and there is no option left than to tolerate these unsolicited calls. Now that a notice has been issued I am sure it would bring immense relief to people.”

“As the executives are sweet as saccharin when they make such calls it is very difficult to be rude to them and ask them not to trouble us,” said Mr Sachin, a local resident, adding that “but one cannot deny that such calls are sheer waste of time.

Cellular operators, on the other hand, have said they support a ban on such calls. Mr T.V. Ramachandran of Cellular Operators Association stated that these calls had become a menace and cellular operators would cooperate with the authorities concerned to keep a check on such calls.



Groom’s family pays Rs 2 lakh to buy peace
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 8
A groom and his family who had allegedly manhandled and humiliated the family of a bride of Ber Kalan village in Ludhiana district on Friday had to pay around Rs 2 lakh as compensation the bride family to avoid a criminal case. They also had to apologise.

Residents of the village irrespective of their political alliance stood by the family and threatened to launch an agitation in case of inaction of the police.

Reacting to the news item published in the columns of Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Paramjit Singh, SHO, Payal, called both parties to his office and warned the family of the groom against harassing the family of the bride.

Bowing to the pressure, the groom’s family apologised and agreed to pay around Rs 2 lakh as compensation in lieu of expenses made on betrothal ceremony and other celebrations.



Young hearts get ready for Valentine’s Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 8
School and college students have started preparing themselves for Valentine’s Day. They are busy chalking out plans to celebrate the day with their valentines. Markets and shopping malls are flooded with a variety of gift items. Young lovers have already started making purchases for their valentines. Some ‘secret lovers’, in order to hide gifts from parents and friends, prefer to keep these at the shop itself.

The shopping stuff include roses, chocolates, cookies, cakes, toys, gift sets, jewellery, nightwear, perfume hampers, decorative chimes and hangings, perfumed candles, apparel for men and women, romantic movies, audio CDs of romantic numbers, love greetings, love balloons, watches, cute teddy bears, singing cards, dolls, crystal love parrots etc.

The range of gifts start from Rs 15 for a rosebud to Rs 2,000 for watches and different outfits. One of the shopkeepers at Civil Lines, whose shop is situated near a women’s college, said girls were already on a shopping spree.

“But majority of girls seem to be scared of their parents. They buy gifts and after footing the bill, leave these at the shop only. They say they will collect these as soon as they get an opportunity. Some of the girls leave their products saying they will collect the things on Valentine’s Day itself,” said the shopkeeper.

A student of the Khalsa College for Women believes Valentine’s Day is an ideal day to express ones emotions, feelings. “I am going to wear a dress presented to me by my valentine. We are very good friends and are mature enough to know our limitations. There is nothing wrong to celebrate the day in a decent manner. My parents know about my friend and they will hardly stop me seeing him on February 14,” she said.

Vikas, a 23-year-old boy working with a private bank, feels that telling your loved ones that ‘you care’ and ‘they are close to your heart’ makes a world of difference. “All in the name of St Valentine, we express our love, emotions. It is the day when you feel comfortable to talk to your valentine. I have bought a gift for the special person in my life, which I will not like to share with others,” he said.



BDPO, JE caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today arrested a Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) and a Junior Engineer (JE) posted at Machhiwara under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly taking bribe from a former sarpanch of Chakhi village.

Mr G.S. Dhillon, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, said BDPO Gurmittar Singh and JE Karnail Singh were arrested while taking a bribe of Rs 7,000 from complainant Manmohan Singh, a former Sarpanch of Chakhi village. The raid was headed by DSP Darshan Singh.

The complainant had alleged that during his tenure as the head of the village panchayat, a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh was spent on development projects. The BDPO was authorised to give the utility certificate of the proper use of the grant.

However, he was demanding money for issuing the certificate. The complainant said when he declined to pay money, the accused threatened to get him booked on the charge of misuse of funds. The former sarpanch then approached the Vigilance Bureau claiming that he had utilised the grants honestly and was not willing to pay bribe.

A trap was laid by the bureau and a deal Rs 10,000 was struck between the accused and the complainant. The former sarpanch had paid the first installment of Rs 3,000 to the accused officials, while the remaining amount was to be paid today. The vigilance team swooped on the accused and caught them red-handed.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau said the bureau was investigating into the amassment of wealth by the accused. Some incriminating documents had been seized and further investigations were on, they said.



6 premises of shawl maker raided, Rs 1 cr seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
Undeclared cash, jewellery and bank FDRs to the tune Rs 1 crore were seized by a team of the Income Tax Department from a local shawl manufacturer. The raid that began early this morning was conducted by more than 50 income tax personnel from Panipat, Panchkula, Karnal, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana. The I T personnel raided six premises, including the residence of the Mochpura Bazaar-based shawl manufacturer, Mamta Shawls.

According to the department, six bank lockers of the manufacturer were
also sealed.

The raid was conducted under the supervision of Mr Ajay Sharma, Deputy Director, IT Investigations.

The search operation was on till the filing of this report.




When it comes to money-making ideas, city residents probably have a plethora of these. A small eating joint in Ghumar Mandi, frequented by college students, has an innovative idea of making money. Pasted on its wall is a notice that says "Rs 50 would be charged for sitting idle." Youngsters might be peeved but the owners are sure to benefit.

No to watermelons

Watermelons give a cool feeling in summer by replenishing fluid in the body, thereby preventing sunstroke and dehydration. It is possible to get the fruit even in winter but it is not relished. Heaps of watermelons can be seen along the GT Road here but there are no buyers. A seller says that the fruit has not attracted buyers as people are apprehensive of consuming the fruit for fear of ill-effects on health.

Mud-slinging contest

The demolition of a residential building by the municipal corporation in Labour Colony last week has virtually become a mud-slinging contest between two councillors belonging to the SAD. One of them was so upset at the MC action that he demanded the transfer of the Commissioner, saying that no development had taken place during the past two years. However, his party colleague supported the demolition.

Rose blues

Recently the Sentinel met a cute college student who was making plans to celebrate the Valentine's Day with her friends. She discussed her dress and planned how she would spend the day. Asked how many roses she had got in the previous years, she said: "Frankly, I have not been able to get any rose from anyone till date but I always keep a stem of the rose in a book to boast among my friends that my Valentine loves me a lot!" We hope she gets one this time!

Status without perks

Journalists may be envied by some for their contacts, but when it comes to loans and credit cards, they still get a raw deal. Though some private finance companies claim that they extend loans to journalists, the applications of a majority of them are rejected. The reason they cite is that the recovery is normally difficult.

Poor reading habits

Thanks to the poor reading habits of city residents, one sees bookshops opening here and soon shutting down for want of customers. People are more interested in flaunting money rather than acquire knowledge, says the manager of a leading bookstore.

Media trials

The media often indulges in trying accused even before formal charges are framed against them in court. The Gudia episode, Anara Gupta case and several other incidents have been "exploited" by the media with the least concern for the victims. The apex court has done well to restrain the media from such exercises while granting bail to the accused in a case relating to dowry pertaining to a local girl who is said to have committed suicide in Kolkata.

Stray dogs

The municipal corporation has turned a blind eye to the menace of stray dogs. Recently in the Ghumar Mandi area, as many as five persons were bitten by a stray dog.




Preserve heritage sites, says Shatrujit
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
The nation, especially Punjab, has erred in not preserving its historical buildings, sites and artifacts which are a window to our past. Since the government has little expertise and enthusiasm in maintaining these, it is the duty of individuals to come forward so that our children can have a physical remnant of our rich and glorious past, says Tikka Shatrujit Singh, a scion of the erstwhile Kapurthala royal family.

In the city to visit the site of the Wadha Ghallughara (Big Holocaust), he said preservation of ancient buildings was our solemn responsibility since we had to save something for our future generations. In the case of the Sikhs, there should be more awareness about their history, especially in the period of 1700-1800 AD, he added

Elaborating on his plans for Kapurthala, where a large number of buildings were replicas of famous French landmarks, he said they were forming the Maharaja Jagatjit Singh Trust, comprising citizens of the city who strongly felt that many of the historically important but crumbling buildings should be restored to their original grandeur. The Moorish Mosque, one of its kind in the world, was also crumbling for lack of care, he added.

Citing the example of the Gol Kothi, he said this was a palace where Maharaja Jagatjit Singh stayed as a teenager and was also visited by French royals.

Similarly, the Jagatjit Palace that housed Sainik School, was the abode of the Kapurthala royals and was host to several French dignitaries, including the then President of that country. He said the seriousness of the government in this context could be gauged from the fact that he was yet to receive a reply asking for the handing over of the Gol Kothi. 



NRI donates Rs 1.5 cr for ayurvedic college
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Sarabha (Ludhiana), February 8
An NRI from this village of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha today donated Rs 1.5 crore for upgrading the local charitable ayurvedic and medical college and hospital. Mr Hoshiar Singh Grewal, a UK-based businessman, paid the amount for the Kartar Singh Sarabha Memorial Ayurvedic College and Hospital in a simple ceremony organised here.

The management of the college decided to utilise the money for constructing a 160-bed hostel for girls. Mr Hoshiar Singh laid the foundation stone of the building today.

Impressed with the college campus spread in 10 acres, Mr Grewal had decided to fund the college during his last visit four months ago. At that time also he had donated an amount of Rs 10 lakh.

Recalling the days when he was a student of Government Primary School, Sarabha, he said he had received his primary education from this school and always wanted to do something for bringing the village on the map of model villages in the country.

“Due to the sacrifice of Kartar Singh Sarabha, our village is known for doing something for the motherland. I kept visiting the village every year and had a strong feeling to help my motherland in some way or the other. So, by donating for a cause as great as education and health, I am doing my bit to help the students get education here and serve the ailing humanity,” he said. It was a joint decision of his wife and four sons, he said.

“When we visited the village last time, we saw the management was doing a good job. We went back and decided to do something for the college. I have come back specifically for helping the college,” he added.

The college, showing its gratitude towards Mr Hoshiar Singh announced him to be the chief adviser of the management besides having him and his son on the list of trustees.

The college is fast making its presence felt in the area by providing education and medicare facilities at nominal charges. Till date, NRIs have contributed Rs 4 crore for the college.

Mr Avtar Singh Grewal, chairman of the college, while thanking Mr Hoshiar Singh said he, on the behalf of students, was grateful to him for his donation for a noble cause.

The college started functioning in 2002 after getting affiliation from Baba Farid University, Faridkot. It has 120 students on its rolls and would be getting the fourth batch this year.

The hospital was set up in 1988 by the Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Charitable Trust and since then it has been helping the poor and the needy in providing medicare and laboratory facilities at much lower market rates.



Family awaits compensation for loss of household goods
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 8
A family of Halwara village, near Raikot, has been running from pillar to post for over five months to get compensation for the loss of their household goods that got destroyed when the dome of a religious place fell on their house.

They have accused the revenue staff of harassing them on one pretext or the other. Though the patwari of the ‘halqa’ had submitted his report within a reasonable time, other officers had allegedly been making a mockery of the family for seeking compensation ‘out of empty treasury’.

The family fears that another part of the structure of the religious place might fall on their house causing further damage to their house.

Mr Anurag Verma, DC, Ludhiana, said he had directed the authorities concerned to look into the matter and submit a report so that required action could be taken at his end and the family be compensated for the loss incurred by it.

In a communication addressed to Mr Anurag Verma, Mr Gurdeep Singh, a resident of nearby Halwara village in Ludhiana district, has alleged that the revenue staff has been harassing him by not completing the process for issuing compensation for the loss incurred by his family due to the fall of a dome of a religious place adjoining his house on August 20, 2004.

He has sought justice from the officer at a sangat darshan organised by the district administration at Raikot last week.

Narrating the sequence of events, he said the dome of the religious place situated by his house had fallen on the said day and household goods, including furniture, metallic chest, beds and a scooter, were damaged. The members of his family had had a narrow escape in the incident.

Though Mr Gurdeep Singh has been running from pillar to post for getting compensation, no action has been taken on his application yet.

He has demanded compensation for the loss and the removal of the part of the structure that posed a threat to life and property of the residents living nearby.

“Although the patwari of the ‘halqa’ had submitted report on September 6, the authorities concerned had been harassing me on one pretext or the other.

Instead of expressing sympathy with my family, the kanoongo and the tehsildar mocked at me and asked me to approach the Chief Minister who had handed them over an empty treasury,” 
lamented Mr Gurdeep Singh.

Substantiating his claim with photographs, he pleaded his case before the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, at a sangat darshan and urged him to order immediate demolition of the unsafe structure and get him compensation for the loss incurred.

The DC directed the SDM, Raikot, to do what was needed in the matter and submit a report.



Rural-urban rift threatens SAD existence in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
The rural-urban divide within the Shiromani Akali Dal is threatening the very existence of the party in city. It has become quite pronounced in the recent days with the leaders on the two sides trying to assert their respective positions and authority.

The urban Sikhs represented by Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, acting district unit president of the party, and Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, senior vice-president, have been grumbling that despite having been loyal to the party their contribution was never duly acknowledged. Mr Bhatia and Mr Makkar have always remained rivals, as both of them wanted to be the president of the district unit.

The third angle to the problem was added when the Sarb Hind Akali Dal, led by late Gurcharan Singh Tohra, merged with SAD and its district president Hira Singh Gabria became another claimant.

In fact when Mr Tohra and Mr Badal had parted ways, Mr Gabria was the president of the party at that time. So he claimed himself to be the obvious choice as the party had united once again.

However, this was not acceptable to Mr Makkar who continued to claim the position of the acting president of the party. To complicate the matter further, the party chief maintained an ambiguous silence leaving the field open for the leaders to lay their claims to the leadership.

Of late Mr Gabria has aligned himself with the ‘urban group’ only as he has a strong base in the city, particularly in the Ludhiana rural Assembly segment, which has substantial number of votes in urban areas.

Some leaders with rural background but settled in the urban areas have also started asserting themselves in the city politics. It was because of the possible onslaught of the ‘rural Sikhs’ that the urban Sikhs decided to bury their hatchet. They had authorised Mr Makkar to take further course of action to ensure that the urban Sikhs get their rightful due within SAD.

Mr Simranjit Singh Bains, newly appointed district president of the youth wing of the party, who recently defected from the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has also started asserting himself within the party, much to the chagrin of the ‘urban’ leaders.



Sack Goa Governor, demands BJP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
The Ludhiana district unit of the BJP today submitted a memorandum to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, seeking the dismissal of the Goa Governor, Mr S.C. Jamir, for dismissing the government led by Mr Manohar Parriker.

The BJP leaders pasted copies of the memorandum on the notice board of the mini secretariat. The memorandum alleged that Mr Jamir had flouted constitutional norms by first dismissing the government and then installing the Congress government led by Mr Pratap Singh Rane without conveying it to the President.

The memorandum said Mr Parriker had won the vote of confidence in the state Assembly as asked by the Governor. Even then, Mr Jamir had no qualms in dismissing his government thus setting a wrong precedent.

Demanding the immediate removal of the Governor, they said Mr Jamir had acted as an office-bearer of the Congress and not as the custodian of a Constitutional position. 



‘Gurbani Anusar Sajo’ campaign launched
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
Mr S.J.S. Pall, Income Tax Chief Commissioner, Ludhiana, today inaugurated the “Gurbani Anusar Sajo” campaign of the Alag Shabad Yug International Charitable Trust. He appreciated the selfless services of Dr Sarup Singh Alag, chairman of the trust.

In his welcome address Dr Alag gave a brief mention of Mr Pall’s selfless services as a scholar, writer, administrator and humanitarian par excellence.

The trust honoured him with an award of excellence and recognised his meritorious services. Mr Pall was honoured by many societies associated with Dr Alag, Chief Khalsa Diwan’s Ludhiana unit, Sukhmani Sahib Society and Lok Hitkari Sabha.

Mr Pall released three sets of Dr Alag’s books in Hindi, Punjabi and English on Guru Granth Sahib along with a folder, “Sikhism and its Fundamentals”, authored and sponsored by a civil engineer of the UK, Mr Kartar Singh. He was also honoured by the trust. Similar honour was bestowed upon Prof Jagir Kaur Dhami.

Dr Yadavindra Singh, advocate M.S. Aneja, Prof Mota Singh Sarai, Prof Sarabjit Singh, Prof Balvinderpal Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh and S.S.S. Chhabra also spoke on the occasion.



An apology for a hospital
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, February 8
Vacant posts of doctor, shortage of medicines and deserted wards have affected the health services at the Civil Hospital in this block. The Health Director had asked for two more doctors on deputation but nothing has come out of it.

Though the hospital which is being run by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation has six sanctioned posts of doctor, only two doctors are working here. Only one of them can attend to the OPD as the other has to discharge emergency duty.

The dental surgeon has been on leave for a long time for higher studies. The administration had arranged for another doctor on deputation from the PHC Pakhowal, but only on alternate days.

The newly renovated building of the hospital has started giving a deserted look as the surgical specialist, gynaecologist and medicine specialist are not available.

The emergency ward is ill-equipped and in case of an emergency, patients are referred to Ludhiana hospitals by nurses.

The hospital's laboratory is also in a pitiable state. There are three posts here and two persons have gone on deputation. The third post has been lying vacant.

Medicines are also not being supplied properly. A lot of essential medicines have not been provided for the past many months. The SMO has been authorised to purchase medicines but the limit is inadequate.

Adjoining dispensaries are also in a poor condition. Residents of Nurpur have not seen a doctor in their dispensary for at least three years. Residents of Chhaurian are deprived of both doctor and pharmacist.

The civil dispensary at Sihala is being run by pharmacist in the absence of a doctor while the Jhar Sahib dispensary has been transferred.

Dr Harbinder Singh, SMO, held vacant posts of medical staff responsible for the situation in the hospital.



FDI hike in telecom sector condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 8
Protesting against the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the telecom sector from 49 per cent to 74 per cent, members of the All-India BSNL Executive Association, the BSNL Employees Union and the Sanchar Nigam Executive Association held a demonstration in front of the office of the General Manager, Telecom, Ludhiana today.

The call for protest was given by the central headquarters of the unions. Flaying the decision to increase FDI, Mr Inderjit Singh, All-India vice-president of SNEA, Mr Balbir Singh, circle secretary of BSNL Employees Union and Mr Ashok Kumar Khanna, circle secretary of the All-India BSNL Executive Association, said the decision was not in the interest of national security.



Paramedics to stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, February 8
Employees of paramedical and health services will hold a dharna in front of the office of the Civil Surgeon, Patiala on February 10. This was stated by Mr Gurmeet Singh, secretary of the union, at a preparatory meeting of the employees at Mandi Gobindgarh today.

The dharna is being organised to press for the longstanding demands, which include promotions, handing over the control of 29 departments to the panchayats, non-payment of salary to employees for past several months, reduction in the interest rate from 12 per cent to 8 per cent of the General Provident Fund and the recruitment of employees on contract basis.


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