L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


92 issued notices to return pension
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 27
Residents of Rachhin and Maherna villages have been shocked to receive notices from the District Social Security Officer of the Social Security Women and Child Welfare Department directing them to return thousands of rupees given to them as old-age pension or under different schemes of the Punjab Government.

According to officials, the notices have been issued as the beneficiaries had allegedly availed of the facility by submitting wrong information regarding their age, income or property.

Most of the beneficiaries, on the other hand, alleged that they had been served notices as they had refused to bribe members of the revenue staff who had come to verify the cases. Demanding justice, they urged the higher authorities to depute some senior officials who may verify particulars submitted by them at the time of sanction of their pension cases and take action against the erring officials.

Showing a legal notice threatening to book her under Section 420 of the IPC, Mukhtiar Kaur, a widow, said she had been asked to return Rs 24,800 as she got her case sanctioned on the basis of wrong information regarding her property. While the authorities have shown that she owns land more than two acres, she claimed herself to be landless and that she had no son.

“They should either dispose of two acres of land they say I own and pay me the proceeds after adjusting their due amount or punish the staff who had made wrong entries to put me in this position,” argued Mukhtiar Kaur, claiming that she only owned a small house.

Kaka Singh, Kashmira Singh and Ranjit Kaur, who claimed to be landless labourers, have also been served notices for allegedly owning more than two acres of land.

Pirthi Singh and his wife Surjit Kaur have been asked to repay Rs 36,000 as the authorities did not consider them to be of age mentioned in their forms. The authorities relied upon the figures mentioned in their ration card that was prepared 10 years ago. Interestingly, Pirthi Singh has been shown to be seven years older to his eldest son Balbir in the ration card.

Tej Kaur has been asked to repay Rs 9,200 as, according to the notice, she was underage for the grant of old-age pension.

There are at least 18 cases, including Sukhdev Singh, who did not receive even a single penny but were asked to deposit Rs 600 to 800 in lieu of pension received by giving wrong particulars.

Out of 53 notices sent by the authorities Bakhshish Singh, Surjit Kaur, wife of Jarnail Singh, and Malkiat Singh of Rachhin village have not been traced as yet. Gulab Kaur of the village, who had died for want of proper treatment, has been asked to deposit Rs 12,200, as her income, according to the authorities, was more than the entitled income group. Though Teja Singh, son of Mit Singh, was reported to have died after attaining the age of 80, he has been threatened to face consequences if he did not deposit Rs 9,800 as, in the records of the department, he had not attained the required age.

Besides 53 cases of the residents of the Rachhin village, 39 persons of Maherna Kalan village were also issued similar notices.

Accusing the staff concerned of acting with a prejudiced mind, Mr Gurbant Singh, Sarpanch Rachhin, Dharamvir Singh and Sohan Singh (both panches) urged the higher authorities to depute a team, which may verify the particulars of the beneficiaries and act accordingly to restart pension of the genuine cases and take stern action against the erring officials. Referring to the information received from the respective panches, they claimed that a majority of the beneficiaries had submitted correct particulars in their forms but the authorities, instead of verifying the facts, chose to rely on information provided by unauthentic sources. 



BJP decries use of water cannons against Akalis
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The Bharitya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) today accused the Congress government in Punjab of all- round failure. The leaders also condemned the use of water cannons against a delegation of Akali leaders led by the party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh yesterday.

Addressing a state level rally here today, the leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the BJYM alleged that the corruption was rampant and development in the state had come to a standstill.

Condemning the use of water cannons against Mr Badal and other Akali leaders, they alleged, it was deliberate and only showed the arrogance of power. The leaders pointed out, the delegation was peaceful and was on its way to submit a memorandum to the Governor. The BJP leaders claimed, “this was murder of democracy”.

Senior party leaders including the national vice-president, Ms Jas Kaur Meena, the national president of the BJYM, Mr Dharmender Pradhan, the state BJP president, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, national secretary of the BJYM Mr Anil Jha, Amritsar MP, Navjot Singh Sidhu, former MP Lala Lajpat Rai, state BJYM president, Ashwani Sharma and several others addressed the rally. Mr Sidhu remained prime attraction.

The rally started a couple of hours late. It was only after the venue was filled with people, who had been ferried from across the state, some even from Jammu and Kashmir, that senior leaders including Mr Sidhu reached the stage. Then it was over to Mr Sidhu, his poetic and witty style of speech sustained the interest of the audience for long.

He exhorted the youth to rise against the misrule of the government. He said, they should see for themselves and make the right judgements about the people and the party. He said, he was impressed by Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership, who made him to join the politics. Criticising the Congress government in the state, he said, there was not a single trace of developmental activity anywhere in the state.

The BJP leaders claimed that the days of the Congress government in the state were numbered and people have been disillusioned. They said, the law and order situation in the state was deteriorating as broad day light train robberies and the kidnappings for the ransom had become order of the day.

Former minister, Madan Mohan Mittal, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Master Sohan Lal, former legislator Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, former Deputy Speaker, Mr Satpal Gosain and others were among the speakers. No leader from the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal was present as the organisers said, it was only a BJYM show.



CPI condemns use of force against SAD leaders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
The state secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Dr Joginder Dayal today condemned the use of water cannons against former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal at Chandigarh, when he was going to meet the Governor. Mr Dayal demanded a high-level inquiry into the incident by the Union Home Ministry.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Dayal observed that it was sad that a senior leader and a former Chief Minister was treated like this. The act was reprehensible and did not reflect good on the state of affairs in Punjab.

The CPI leader also regretted the use of abusive language by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and former Chief Minister, Mr Badal. He said the way the two leaders tried to threaten each other only indicated that the standard of politics and democracy was going down in the state.

The CPI leader also announced that the 19th All-India Congress of the CPI was being held in Chandigarh from March 29 to April 3. He said, 1000 delegates from all over the country would be attending the congress. Besides there would be 200 “fraternal” delegates from 35 other countries who would attend the Congress.



EC decision on Ajnala hasty, says Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Mandi, Ahmedgarh, February 27
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has termed the action taken by the Election Commission to stagger the counting of votes in connection with Ajnala by-election, to be an action taken under undue haste.

Talking to this correspondent after a function organised at Guru Har Krishan Public School Phallewal Mr H.S. Hanspal president of the party claimed that the government had managed to conduct the elections in a democratic manner and peace had been maintained at all the polling booths except some stray incidents of violence provoked by the Akalis.

“Instead of taking action against the trouble makers the commission decided to stagger the counting that deprived the people of the state to know the mandate given by the voter in favour of the state government,” said Mr Hanspal. He termed the commission’s action to be taken in undue haste.

Mr Hanspal further claimed that slightly higher percentage figure of polling of 78.3 was expected by both the parties’ Congress and Akalis as well as their respective workers had worked hard to bring the voters to the booths. “To construe the higher percentage of polling as a sign of rigging is an undemocratic continued the party chief maintaining that the SAD was trying only to conceal their disappointment in elections.

Referring to the information received from the candidates in the Ajnala election Mr Hanspal asserted that the three-member committee sent by the Election Commission had scrutinized the documents and proceedings of all 143 booths in the constituency and found them in order. Now the process for the declaration of the result should be started without delay demanded the PPCC Chief.

Commenting on the issue of the statements made by Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, a former MP and a member of the All-India Congress Committee Mr Hanspal said he would not tolerate indiscipline in the party. 



Rs 5.50 cr to improve sports in schools
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
Mr Harnam Das Johar, Education Minister, Punjab, has announced to Rs 5.50 crore spent to provide modern sports equipment and create other facilities in Government schools in Punjab during the current year to improve sports.

He was addressing a meeting of the principals, headmasters, councillors and presidents of the Parents-Teacher Associations at circuit house here yesterday evening. Mr Johar distributed cheques worth Rs 10 lakh each to six rural Senior Secondary Schools, where the number of girl students was more than 200. He also distributed cheques of grants to the headmasters of eight government primary schools for the construction of one-room each.

Mr Johar said the government had made a special plan for sports in the schools and till date Rs 2 crore had been released to improve sports in the schools.

He said Punjab had produced a large number of sportspersons of international level. He said the government had also decided to introduce one period of yoga and gymnastics in the schools to improve fitness of students.

Mr Johar said to insure presence of teachers in schools, all DEOs and other senior officers had been directed to make special checking of the schools daily during first half of the day. He said to provide better education to students, under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan, buildings, toilets, hearing aids, etc were being provided in all schools.

The Education Minister called upon police officers to keep a vigil near schools, following incidents of kidnapping of students. He called upon the presidents of PTAs to contact the SDM or DEO, in case of any shortcomings in the schools who have been directed to redress these problems at the earliest.

Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Director-General Education, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Wing Commander Paramjit Singh Sibia, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Jagpal Singh Khagura, Mr Gian Singh, DPUI(S), Mr Jagtar Singh Khatra,DPI(P) and Mrs Rupa Saini, Deputy Director, Sports, Education Department, Mr Pritam Singh, SP City-2, Mr R.K Jiasawal (SP City -1), Mrs Amrit Gill, SDM(East), Mr Yash Pal Mehra, DEO and Mrs Harvinder Kaur, DEO(P), were also present.



Sarpanches loyal to Congress seek more funds
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 27
More than 30 sarpanches of Dehlon and Payal blocks owing alliance to the congress party have urged the authorities to give more financial powers to the elected heads of the village bodies to enable them to undertake development projects more efficiently.

In a communication addressed to Captain Amrinder Singh chief Minister Punjab, Mr Lal Singh Minister for Rural development and Panchayats and Mr Surinder Singla Finance Minister the sarpanches have stated that the functioning of the panchayats was affected due to the limited financial powers given to them.

Seeking enhancement of the limit for the withdrawal of money the sarpanches led by Mr Maha Singh Rurka told the Ludhiana Tribune that at present they were authorised to withdraw amounts up to Rs 10,000 only.

“We are made to shuttle between offices to locate Block Development Officers usually as all payments above 10,000 made through cheque or cash have to be signed by him,” argued Mr Rurka.

Accusing BDPOs of harassing them for making payments the sarpanches have demanded that they should be given financial powers to check corruption and speed up development of the villages. The congress leaders have further asserted that the panchayat accounts had earlier been operated jointly by the panchayat secretaries but their powers to make payments above 10,000 were withdrawn a year earlier.



Boy ends life
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
A 15-year-old boy was found dead under mysterious circumstances. He was hanging from a ceiling fan in his house in Manjit Nagar, Basti Jodhewal, here this morning. The police suspected it to be a case of suicide but was waiting for the statement of his parents for final word.

Gagandeep Singh, a class ninth student was surprisingly left alone in his house by his parents who had gone on pilgrimage with their two other sons and other members of the community in a chartered bus. The deceased’s other two brothers were elder to him.

His father, Dharmendera, an employee with a local hosiery had left him under the care of a neighbour’s family living on the upper floor of their house. The boy returned to his house at 10.30 p.m. last night.

The neighbours went to give him breakfast this morning. When he did not answer they broke open the door and were shocked to find him dead.

They called other area residents and the police. Inspector Jaswinder Singh Mangat, SHO, Basti Jodhewal, said it seems the boy had committed suicide as there were no signs of any struggle or robbery in the house.

The reasons for committing suicide were unclear. Inspector Mangat said the boy could have felt lonely in the absence of his parents or there could have been some other reason. All efforts to trace the whereabouts of his parents proved futile.

The boy had not left any suicide note.



Infighting stalls construction work
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, February 27
Infighting between Congress workers, especially between a contractor of the Improvement Trust and a member of the trust has led to the stopping of the construction work on the Railway Road commercial scheme for the past two months. The contractor of the trust Tarsem is known as a loyalist of former Congress MP, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, and former Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bhalinder Singh while the member of the trust Mr Shashi Vardhan is known as close to sitting Congress MLA Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo.

The former Chairman of the trust, Mr Bhalinder Singh, started the commercial scheme at Railway Road Khanna a few months ago and the construction work was in the full swing. But two months ago, Mr Bhalinder Singh was removed from the post. A known loyalist of Mr Shamsher Singh dullo, former MP and Mr Ashok Jindal, a confidant of Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, was appointed as chairman of the trust. After taking over the charge of the trust he announced to constitute an inquiry in delay of the railway road commercial scheme. He said the delay in the completion of the scheme was causing financial loss to the trust. The trust could have earned crores of rupees from the auction of shops-cum-flats and booths, he added. But some days later after he resumed the charge, infighting among Congress workers came to the fore. Mr Shashi Vardhan a member of the trust was reportedly manhandled by the trust contractor at the scheme site on the railway road. Next day, supporters of the member allegedly misbehaved with the contractor. A police intervention ensued peace between the two parties.

Mr Ashok Jindal, chairman of the trust said when asked about the stoppage of the construction work of the railway road commercial scheme said a local court had issued status quo orders as some shopkeepers had opened windows in the backside of their shops. However, he admitted that a letter to the contractor has been issued to explain whether the material used in the construction was up to mark or not. He said the contractor was using influence to solve the matter.

Mr Bhalinder Singh, refused to comment on the issue saying that he was no more holding the post, he said.

Mr Tarsem, contractor of the trust, could not be contacted to comment on the issue despite repeated attempts.



Chemists to oppose ‘police repression’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
The Punjab Chemists Association President, Mr Surjit Mehta, today made it clear that the medicine trade in the state would stand united against any kind of high-handedness by the police under the garb of the NDPS Act and any undesirable action or harassment of the chemists would be strongly resisted.

Addressing the annual general body meeting of the Ludhiana Wholesale Chemists Association at Lions Bhavan here, he, however, added that the government had agreed in principle to make necessary amendments in the notification earlier issued in this context and the chemists could sell the medicines under the banned drugs category after maintaining proper record.

Tikka Dalip Singh, president of the association, dwelt upon the activities of the body during the last one year, which also marked its first anniversary. Mr G.S. Chawla, general secretary, read out the annual report and Mr Pardeep Passi, financial secretary, presented the annual accounts.

The special invitees at the meeting, Mr K.S. Sethi and Mr Satish Aggarwal, both taxation advisers, conducted an exhaustive interactive session with the members of medicine trade on forthcoming valued added tax (VAT).

The meeting was attended by more than 200 retail and wholesale chemists, including office bearers of tehsil and sub-tehsil units of the association.



India not shining for majority,
says former policy maker

Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 27There are vast areas of neglect in the country in spite of phenomenal growth taking place in different sectors. India may be shining for very few people but to most of its poor, the position is far from being rosy.’

These remarks were made by Dr Harsh Mander, a former bureaucrat, a noted columnist, writer, activist and policy maker while speaking at a meeting on “public policy and development”, organised by the Ludhiana Management Association here today.

Painting a dismal picture, in stark contrast to what was being claimed by the economists, he said the failure of policy-making was evident from the fact that the country had a record food surplus and tonnes of food grain was rotting in godowns but millions of Indian were forced to go hungry every day. Even in an affluent state like Punjab, there were disturbing issues like sex ratio, casteism and labour exploitation.

Dr Mander, who has had an extensive experience of working in tribal areas and was instrumental in bringing forth the right to information Act being implemented, remarked that for any policy to be beneficial to people, it had to reach the poorest of the poor and the general public should have a participation in policy making. Advocating the Gandhian ideology of technological development, he said the need of the country was such technology which could give a boost to job creation rather than displacing employment.

“The prime requisite for success in public policies for development are peoples’ participation, rule of law, fiscal and monetary discipline and accountability of the administration.”

Mr Anil Kumar, in his presidential address, gave a different perspective to the discussion by maintaining that profit could not be such a hated word. When the development take place, which could only be if there was a motive of profit then there always was a filter down effect. However, the delivery system had to be very efficient and just for the same to happen, there was dire need of respect for human rights, right to information, accountability, justice and the public policy to be a mirror image of peoples’ aspirations.

He said India was growing at a very fast pace of almost 8 per cent every year and the development which was taking place all round the country, was a multi-dimensional process involving reorganisation and reorientation of entire economic and social system. The public policies had a great impact on the pace and direction of the development of any economy.



New pay panel demanded
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
At a joint meeting held here, the Punjab Government Employees and Pensioners have urged the state government to announce the setting up of the fifth Punjab pay commission while presenting the Budget for 2005-2006 in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

In a press note issued by the Government Pensioners’ Association, the pensioners have argued that in the view of rising prices, inflation and other factors, the setting up of another pay commission has become inevitable. They pointed out that the fourth Punjab Pay Commission had also recommended pay revision after 10 years. It was due from January 2006.

They pointed out that if the government set up the pay commission now, it may take two or three years to give its report. Therefore, setting up the pay commission should be given top priority.

They also demanded a raise in the medical allowance, house rent allowance as promised in the Congress manifesto on the eve of the last Assembly poll besides restoration of house rent allowance. They lamented that the Punjab Government, during its 36-month rule, had presented three budgets, but it had failed to fulfil even a single promise. Rather it had taken several anti-employee decisions.



Johar disburses grants to hospitals
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
Under a special programme of the state government to release grants for the development and welfare projects, the Punjab Education Minister, Mr Harnam Das Johar, today distributed grants amounting to Rs 10.5 lakh among several organisations, most of them charitable hospitals in the city.

Grants of Rs 1 lakh each were provided to Guru Teg Bahadur Charitable Hospital, Dukh Niwaran Charitable Hospital and Krishna Mandir Charitable Hospital for providing free treatment to the weaker sections. The minister also handed over a cheque for Rs 50,000 to Kotnis Acupuncture Hospital.

Similarly, a cheque for Rs 1 lakh was handed over to Vivekanand Swarg Ashram in Model Town Extension for extending the facility of free eye treatment and eye operations to the poor people. Mr Johar said these grants were released to the hospitals so that medical care and subsidised medicines could be made available to the underprivileged population in the city and the surrounding areas.

Mr Johar further distributed cheques for Rs 50,000 each to 10 dharamshalas, falling in his constituency, for repair and renovation, in addition to releasing a grant of Rs 1 lakh to the committee of the local Valmiki dharamshala.

The minister said that the grants for the development of colonies of poor people would be provided through the municipal corporation from funds earmarked for development works. Claiming that the pace of development works would be further speeded up, he said the City Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, had promised to allocate liberal grants for the development projects.



Rotary celebrates 100 years
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 27
To celebrate 100 years of the Rotary International, Rotary Club of Ludhiana-North with Rotaract Club Government College for Women, GGN Khalsa College, BNSM College of Technical College, Alamgir (Ludhiana) and other Rotaract Clubs of Dist. 3070 organised a conference at Government College for Women Auditorium here today.

The conference was attended by District Governor Dr Beena Mishra, who highlighted the projects and of the Rotary International in 100 years of service to the community and goodwill, world understanding and peace. She said that the efforts of Rotary to eradicate polio were on achievement. Dr Mishra referred to the work being done by Rotary Foundation in making grants, discovery grants, helping grants, community assistance programme and the four major programs in operation were group study exchanges, ambassadorial scholarships, grants for university teachers and Rotary centre for international studies.

She praised the projects undertaken by Rotary Club Ludhiana-North and made a special refence to Rotaract Conference held in December 2004. “Rotary is truly ageless and its legacy lives through millions of people who have benefited from our projects and programs”, said Dr Mishra.

DGN Rtn. Romesh Ran referred to the services of Rotary during its 100 year of service and how it had helped to ‘Bridge the Gap in world understanding, peace and good will. “As a result of the efforts of Rotary for eradication of polio, the world is almost free from polio saving millions of children from this crippling disease.

President Gurjeet Singh highlighted projects undertaken by the club this year and before since it received charter in 1972. 



Child killed while flying kite
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 27
One child was killed and another was injured while they were flying kites at two different places here this afternoon.
It is learnt that a five-and-a-half-year-old boy, while flying a kite, fell from the roof of his house and received a head injury. Lal Babu, a resident of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and father of the deceased, said the boy was taken to the local Civil Hospital, where the doctor declared him brought dead.

In another incident, a boy identified as Chirag Dua (4) also received a head injury while flying kites. The mother of the child said the boy had received a head injury and was under treatment at the Civil Hospital.



Poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 27
ASI Jasmer Singh arrested Baldev Singh of Kalyan Ahmedgarh police station while patrolling at canal bridge, Johlan, and seized 21 kg poppy husk from him. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against Baldev.

In another incident, HC Jarnail Singh of police post Galib Kalan arrested Sat Pal Singh and Paramjit Singh of Huzran during nakabandi at Sherpur crossing and seized illicit liquor from them. The Sidhwanbet police has registered a case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act in this regard.



Two brothers killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 27
Two brothers were killed in a collision between a car and a tractor-trailer here. Shanti Sarup and Tilak Ram of B. Block, Sirsa, were travelling in a car (DL-4CC-4631) driven by Balwinder Singh of Raikot when it was hit by tractor-trailer driven by Surjit Singh of Bhandra. A case under Sections 304-A and 427 of the IPC was registered at Raikot. 



Demand to make city special economic zone
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 27
Until Value-Added Tax (VAT) is implemented throughout the country, it will not be possible to do away with the other taxes. While the Punjab Government has endeavoured to simplify provisions in the VAT draft, there are several issues that will be taken up at a higher level to make things easier and ensure proper implementation of VAT. This was stated by Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla at the annual general body meeting of the Fastener Manufacturers Association held here last evening.

Mr Singla agreed with the industry viewpoint that it was not right to give complete authority to tax officials to cancel VAT registration as a penal measure. He assured the industrialists that he would discuss the issue with the Chief Minister.

The association submitted a memorandum of their demands to the minister. It demanded that before imposing VAT, all other taxes like excise, service tax, entry tax, stamp duties, etc should be abolished. They also demanded that different states should follow the common VAT draft.

The other demands put forward by industrialists included simplification of the penal measure. They said the dealers should be allowed to file quarterly returns instead of monthly returns, as in the VAT Bill 2004 monthly returns had been prescribed for those whose turnover exceeded Rs 1 crore during the last year. They also made several demands regarding VAT on exports , maintenance of stocks and other provisions.

The association submitted another memorandum of demands to the Punjab Government. They said that Ludhiana should be declared a special economic zone as it had diversified industry. They also urged the government to complete the gas pipeline project from Iran to India at the earliest as it would benefit the industry of Punjab.

Meanwhile, the new office-bearers of the association, who were unanimously elected, were also announced at the meeting. Mr Narinder Bhamra was elected president of the association.


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