L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


MC demolishes illegal shops
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 14
The demolition staff of the municipal corporation here had to work overtime. There was a controversy surrounding 16 shops, constructed by former Congress councillor Mr Sat Pal Puri (Ward No 66) on a part of 80-feet-wide road along Budha Nullah in Shivpuri locality in the city.

Giving effect to orders of a local court, officials of the building branch of the MC, a strong contingent of police, staff alongwith and bulldozers, descended on the spot in the afternoon. They pulled down the shops on the roadside and near the nullah.

The senior town planner, B.S. Brar, who led the over two-hour-long operation, told Ludhiana Tribune that the owners of the property had put up some resistance but the demolition team completed its assigned task.

The MC Joint Commissioner, Dr Jaswant Singh, said a local court had established that these shops were constructed on a part of the land belonging to the MC and had ordered the demolition of the building and clearance of permanent encroachment.

Mr Puri, during his second stint as the councillor from this area, was charged with abusing his official position and was disqualified before his removal from his post in November last year.

The removal order, issued by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, had observed that the councillor was guilty of encroachment of public land and construction of shops on part of 80-feet-road in the Shiv Puri locality along Budha Nullah in an unlawful manner.

These shops had created a lot of public resentment with the ruling Congress being at the receiving end. It was charged with adopting a soft attitude to the blatant act of encroachment on public land.



Govt order on building plan
Recharge pits must to store rainwater
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 14
If you are planning to construct, reconstruct, alter or add a structure to a building on a plot having area more than 200 square yards, you will have to construct percolation pits or recharge pits or any other rainwater harvesting structure as required under the rules contained in new building bye laws being adopted by the civic body of the area.

Having failed in management of waste water in the towns and large cities, the state government has directed the civic body authorities not to sanction construction plans of such buildings unless the required provisions were made.

Rainwater harvesting structures shall be provided in all existing buildings with incentives to the owners in a policy to be decided by the government.

Sources in the civic bodies of the area revealed that owners of the ordinary buildings with ground and maximum two floors spread in area measuring more than 200 square meters would have to construct percolation pit of 30 to 45 centimeters diameter with an adequate depth up to the water level. This pit shall be filled with suitable filter material such as well burnt broken bricks up to 15 cm from the top.

Wherever an open well, bore well or existing water storage sumps are available, the owner will have to manage to carry the rainwater to such structure through closed pipes of suitable size.

For building with more than two floors, a pit of 1 to 1.5 meter width and appropriate depth shall be provided in addition to the percolation pits of 30 cm diameter to be provided at three-meter interval. These pits would be constructed all along the plinth boundary depending upon the soil classification below ground.

For industries and institutional buildings, the surplus rain water in the open spaces within the premises shall be allowed to run towards collecting drains of suitable size.

The civil authorities at the local municipal council said any other modification, addition of alterative designs furnished by the applicants should be considered for approval if it conformed to rain water-harvesting concept to the satisfaction of competent authority.



School Principal denied anticipatory bail
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Khaira, has dismissed the anticipatory bail application of the Principal of Guru Nanak Public School, Samrala, Gurdip Kaur, in a case of cheating the school students.

She was facing the charges of taking examination fee from students but not depositing the same with the Punjab School Education Board which resulted in the students not appearing in the examination. She was booked under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC at Sadar Police Station, Samrala, on the complaint of Sukhwinderjit Singh of Madpur village.

Dismissing the bail application, Mr Khaira observed, ‘’ Keeping in view the gravity and magnitude of the offence which resulted in the students losing a year of their education, I do not find any merit to grant the benefit of anticipatory bail to the accused’’.

The complainant had submitted that his son, Jagdeep Singh, was student at Guru Nanak Public School. For the final examination of Class X Gurdip Kaur recovered the amount of Rs 600 as fee and Rs 750 from the students of Class XII but she did not issue any receipt against this amount.

When the son of complainant alongwith other children, did not receive the roll numbers on February 27, 2005, they, along with the Panchayat of the village, contacted the principal. When they asked about the roll numbers, she assured them that very soon the roll numbers would be provided but subsequently she was unable to provide the roll numbers.

On the other hand, the principal claimed that she did not receive any money from the children.



Defence delegation visits PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
A high level delegation of 13 senior officers of the Indian Army and some foreign armies from the National Defence College, led by Mr Alok Jain, Joint Secretary and Senior Directing Staff (CS) of the college visited Punjab Agricultural University here today.

The delegation included Brig Pradeep Bhalla (Group Coordinator), Brig SK Bhardwaj, Brig BS Daulat, Col V.K. Rattan, Cmdr Randeep Singh, Air Comdr. R.J. Karve, Mr S.C. Bajpai, IORS, Mr T. Suvana Raju, HAL, Mr R.N. Behura, Staff Col Zakaria Mahmoud Mohammad Makhlouf from the Egyptian army and Col Perdit Kumar Tiwari from the Singapore army. The army officers said they felt immense joy in visiting the university which had been instrumental in heralding the Green revolution in the country.

Welcoming the delegates, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, described the brief history of PAU since its inception and said that PAU had three disciplines - Research, Extension and Teaching. He added that PAU was only the second agricultural university established in the country having live constituent colleges.

Dr Aulakh pointed out that Punjab was known as food basket of the country which produced two major crops —wheat and rice. Besides, he maintained that the university was now laying added focus on the diversification in agriculture.



BSNL stir enters decisive phase
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The United Forum for BSNL Executives, comprising the All-India BSNL Executives Association and the Sanchar Nigam Executives Association, has decided to launch a decisive phase of agitation against the management from tomorrow. In the wake of the negative attitude adopted by the authorities, the executive unions would resort to non-cooperation on March 15, hold relay hunger strike and work to rule for an indefinite period.

In a joint statement here today, functionaries of the union said after the management failed to honour its commitment for absorption of the executives within the corporation, the two main unions had come together on a single platform under the banner of the United Forum for BSNL Executives. After serving a notice to the management, the BSNL executives have been agitating since February 22, without any response from the BSNL so far.

The BSNL management, on its part, instead of implementing its commitment, went not only to the Delhi High Court but approached the division Bench as well to restrain the agitating employees from holding demonstrations. The petition was dismissed by the court and the division Bench imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on the BSNL management. The court had further directed the BSNL to approach the single Bench if it had any grievances in the matter.

The trade union leaders said the united forum had already observed demand day on February 22, followed by a day-long dharna on March 1 and a protest day on March 10, after wearing black badges and holding lunch hour demonstration at the office of Chief General Manager of Telecom in Chandigarh and at district headquarters in Punjab as well.

The demands put forth by the unions included the implementation of non-post based time-bound promotion, provision of 100 per cent weightage of service rendered in the department, including those in ad hoc, ACP and lateral grades, fixation of date of promotions from October 2000 and onwards or when the officers completed the specified eligibility period, an end to parallel post-based promotion, stoppage of recruitment of management trainees, implementation of revised IDA pay scales of JTOs, SDEs of civil, electrical, architecture, TFs, PAs, PSs, assistants and other categories to be made effective from October 2000 and one-time placement in the next higher grade for JTOs and SDEs.



Workers to take part in Chandigarh protest
Privatisation of PSEB
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Members of the local workers unions would participate in a protest demonstration in Chandigarh tomorrow against the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Mr Harjinder Singh from the Moulder and Steel Workers’ Union, said workers from the hosiery, steel, cycle and other industries would participate in the protest rally.

Condemning the government’s decision, union members said privatisation of the electricity board would not only render thousands of persons jobless, but would also make electricity very expensive.

“If the board is privatised, it would focus only on profit motive which would hit domestic as well as industrial users,” said union members. They emphasised that farmers would also be adversely affected as a result of the increase in tariff.

As a result of the hike in power rates, inflation would increase and many would be rendered jobless, it would also result in increased poverty, said union members.

Citing the example of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, workers said electricity rates in these states had increased manifold increase after privatisation.

He said workers from Ludhiana would participate in various protest demonstrations against the privatisation of PSEB.

He stated that members of Lok Ekta Sangathan, Hosiery Workers Union, Lok Sangharsh Committee, Jassowal Sudaan, Rashtriya Shaheed Bhagat Singh Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee and Moulder and steel Workers Union, had conducted several meetings to discuss the issue. Among

“The unions had also distributed pamphlets to generate public awareness on the issue,” he added.



French club chief’s assurance on turban issue
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 14
A delegation of 50 French agriculturists and businessmen visited Khanna today. The delegates were members of a French club, Geter. The president and the chairman of the club assured the Sikhs to take up the turban issue with the French Government.

The delegation had reached Delhi on March 9. They visited Jagraon Mandi in Punjab to know the marketing system of the state for agricultural commodities. Ms Marie, president of the club, said they had met agricultural experts at Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana. She said the agricultural experts had told them about the new varieties of agricultural commodities discovered by the university in the recent past. The delegation had visited a flour Mill here this morning. Mr Varinder Kumar Guddu, owner of the mill, welcomed the delegation. The members of the delegation saw the working of the flour mill.

Later the delegation visited the Khanna grain market, the biggest in Asia. They learnt about the marketing of wheat, rice and other commodities. After that, the delegation made a visit to the Markfed Vanaspati Mill.

Mr Phillip, chairman, Ms Marie, president, and Mr Stephane, an active member of the club, assured the Sikhs to take up the turban issue with the French Government after a long discussion. Mr Phillip said this law was century-old and it had been enforced to avoid religious fundamentalism.

The delegation has left for Maharashtra where they will visit sugarcane industries.



Pak guests given warm welcome
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
A delegation of 11 eminent persons, consisting of poets, businessmen, artists and cricket lovers from West Pakistan, came to Ludhiana to meet Mr N S Nanda, President Dhan-Pothohar Brotherhood Punjab.

The delegation was on the way back to Pakistan after watching the cricket match at Mohali. Mr Nanda along with other members gave them a very warm welcome at a hotel and then at Nagpal Resort, Ludhiana, where the delegation stayed for one night.

Mr Nanda also recalled his experiences at Lahore, when he went there to his native village ‘Darkali Khurd’ Rawalpindi District, after attending the World Punjabi Conference last year. He brought two marble slabs, bearing the names of his father, grand father and great grand father in Urdu language from there.

Mohammed Tariq, a renowned businessman of Lahore and leader of the delegation showered his lavish praise for Punjab Government residents of Chandigarh and Ludhiana for their exemplary hospitality during their stay to watch the cricket match at Mohali.

Mohammed Arshad and Asaf Mohammed said the affectionate feelings of Mr Nanda and other citizens of Ludhiana for their hospitality overwhelmed them. 



Passing Thru

What do you think about hosting the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in the year 2010?

Organising the Commonwealth Games will not serve any purpose. It will be a sheer wastage of time and money. Rather we should spend money on preparing the players in athletics and shooting as in these events, India has a fair chance to secure medals.

What should the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Sports Ministry do to improve the standard of games in our country?

The IOA and the government should join hands to achieve the desired results. The Army should be entrusted with the work of imparting training to the players. The Army personnel are known for discipline and strictness. One could see the difference between the shooter, Major Vikram Rathore, who earned a silver medal in trap-shooting event, and other participants during the last edition of the Olympics at Athens.

What do you expect from the Indian players in the future competitions?

I dream that during my lifetime, an Indian will win a gold medal in the Olympics. To achieve this milestone, our players must work hard with dedication and make the ‘impossible’ possible. We should learn from China which was nowhere on the scene till 1958 but now they have touched dizzy heights, which was evident in the recent Athens Olympics.

— Anil Datt



Plea to CM on freedom fighters’ medical bills
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 14
The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front has urged the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter of non-reimbursement of medical expenses to a freedom fighter by the state government.

Taking note of a report published in the Ludhiana Tribune Mr Yogesh Dewan, secretary general of the front observed that officials concerned had not bothered to expedite the process of re-imbursement of medical expenses made by Dr Niranjan Singh. Dr Niranjan Singh had borrowed money from his relatives and friends.

In a communication addressed to Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Dewan said that keeping in view the contribution of the freedom fighter and his financial position, the authorities should have extended some assistance to him on their own. “These people are our real assets as it was only due to sacrifices made by them that we are enjoying independence today,” added Mr Dewan.

He appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter and direct the authorities concerned to make the payment to Dr Niranjan Singh immediately so that he could return the money that he had taken from his well-wishers for his treatment.

Dr Niranjan Singh, who had taken part in the Quit India Movement when he was just 18-year-old, had been seeking re-imbursement of medical bills worth Rs 3.5 lakh. Disappointed over the apathetic attitude of the authorities he had threatened to stage a dharna outside the residence of the Chief Minister. A team of office-bearers of the All India Anti Terrorist Front, led by Mr Dewan, had met the freedom fighter and had offered financial help to him. But he declined the offer and asked them to take up the matter with the Chief Minister.



Farm scientist couple travels around India
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
Dr Balkrishen Ratnaparkhe, a soil scientist, and his wife, Dr Pushpa Ratnaparkhe, from Indore in Madhya Pradesh have been travelling around India for the past 27 years to interact with farmers everywhere and learn about their problems. Except for some northern states like Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and UP, they have travelled in most parts of the country on their scooter only.

In the process, Dr Pushpa has already established the All-India Association of Lady Veterinarians (AILV) and set up local chapters in all states. She said in rural India most of the domestic chores and the job related to the dairy was mainly done by women only. However, there was no effort made so far to make the women veterinarians, who can play a vital role, interact with each other and share their experiences.

Dr Pushpa graduated in veterinary sciences in 1962. But the first woman veterinarians passed out in 1952 from the Madras College of Veterinary Sciences. She pointed out,that until a decade ago, not many girls would opt for veterinary sciences. But now they outnumber the boys in the merit list. So far, there was no national association of lady veterinarians and she initiated the move.

She pointed out that there were several advantages of an association at the national level. It helped in making them interact with each other, explore various problems and share their experiences among themselves. The experiment has worked very well in the southern and western states and she hopes that it will do well in the north also.

Her husband, Dr Balkrishen Ratnaparkhe, is a soil scientist. He said wherever they would go, he would interact with farmers, learn about their problems and suggest some remedial measures and also pick up some good things from them.

Although the couple did not travel on the scooter this time, so far they have travelled all the distances on the scooter only. They said, on an average, they would travel 100 km daily at an average interval of 25 km. In the course, they would stop at the nearest village they would come across during their stopover and talk to the people there, who were mostly farmers.

The couple is now retired from government service. But during their service period, they would necessarily take one month’s leave and travel around. During their long odyssey, which is still going on, they would only stay with the families and not in hotels or guest houses. Dr Balkishen said, “We will stop at some village and knock at some villager’s door and introduce ourselves and the purpose of the visit...then we would say we will stay with you and nobody refused us anything”. They said they tried to pick up the best of all cultures and people they met during their long journey, which was going on, non-stop.



Army officers visit stock exchange
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
A high-level delegation comprising 13 senior Army officers from the National Defence College led by Mr Alok Jain, IAS, Jt. Secretary and Sr. directing staff, visited the Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) today. The delegation was received by Mr H.S. Sidhu, Executive Director, LSE.

Mr Sidhu delivered a lecture on “Overview of Indian Securities Market and brief introduction of Ludhiana Stock Exchange and its subsidiary LSE Securities Ltd”. During his presentation he spoke on various aspects of Indian securities market, the reforms like dematerialisation, screen based training and shorter settlement cycles.

Later, the delegation interacted with Mr Sidhu and Mr Jaspal Singh, Chairman, LSE securities Ltd, on various issues concerning stock market and its regulator SEBI. Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr Sidhu answered the queries of the senior defence officers on various developments taking place in the Indian securities market.

The visit was organised by the Director, Sainik Welfare, Ludhiana.



People turn to astrology in tough times
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 14
If one notices, one may find people belonging to all classes wearing rings with different stones to influence planets in their favour. Whether it is a TV serial, or in real life, one notices that an increasing number of people are supporting, coral, ruby, sapphire, emerald or topaz rings on different fingers.

In one office, from the boss to the peon, everyone, on the advice of a Vastu consultant, was wearing rings to calm the mind and meet good fortune.

The Ludhiana Tribune spoke to some astrologers and a Vastu consultant to find out if more people were coming to them for solving their problems.

Mohit, a Vastu consultant says, “If I met five clients earlier , now I meet more than 10. More and more business men ask me the right time to invest money and to find out whether a particular period is good for fresh investments. Sometimes suggest to them to wear certain stones like the sapphire if the Saturn is impeding their progress. Stones are useful if the astrologer or the Vastu consultant suggests the right stone in the right metal and when and how to wear it — in a ring or a pendant. Stones balance the cosmic radiation and if these are genuine, they will also correct the cosmic imbalance in the body. They give a troubled person more positive thoughts and impart confidence to the wearer. Hence he/she can solve problems.”

“Seeing discord in marriages in recent times, an increasing number of people want to make sure that the horoscopes match. They feel that if a girl or a boy is ‘manglik’, the marriage will be successful only if the other partner is also a ‘manglik’. People also want to ask if they will be able to go abroad. NRIs take their yearly horoscope from here to know how good or bad their forthcoming year will be. If is a bad year, then some steps are taken to mitigate the ill effects.”

“Ever since I have started wearing the topaz in my index fingers, things have become better”, says Nonu. She has recovered her money from people and feels she has better control over people. ‘Mukhwinder feels wearing of coral has given his career the right direction.

Ashwani and Rajesh, two city-based astrologers, also feel that due to increased stress more and more people are coming to them to find solutions to their problems. Ashwani says that people with marital problems visit him to save their marriages. Rajesh feels that problems are generally of a universal nature dealing with health, wealth and women .

Deepak, a jeweller, says that one should not buy stones from an astrologer as they sell inferior quality stones and charge more money.



Animal welfare camp held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
Under the ‘adarsh gram yojna’ of the department of animal husbandry, an awareness and animal welfare camp for dairy farmers was organised at Sarabha under the guidance of Dr H.S. Gill, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, yesterday.

Mr Hoshiar Singh, an NRI, who had donated Rs 2 crore for the Sardar Kartar Singh Sarabha Memorial Hospital in the village and Mr Avtar Singh, also an NRI and chairman of the Sarabha Hospital, inaugurated the camp.

Dr Pawan Sood, in charge, Civil Veterinary Hospital at Sarabha, and Dr Parshotam Garg, senior veterinary officer, highlighted the importance of clean and economical milk production under the changed scenario of the WTO regime. Dr Vikram Jit, Dr Vikram Mohindra, Dr Kiran Bir, Dr Bhatnagar and Mr Surinder Bhatia spoke on treatment of dairy and other animals for various ailments.

The Sarabha branch of the State Bank of Patiala and various leading pharmaceutical companies provided medicines and other support for the camp.

A cattle competition was conducted and farmers were encouraged with prizes sponsored by Mr Avtar Singh and Mr Hoshiar Singh. Prizes were distributed among the winners by Dr Harprem Singh and Mr Avtar Singh.

The sponsors announced to provide the veterinary hospital with a refrigerator so that vaccines could be stored in a proper way. Mr Jagtar Singh, Sarpanch, along with the panchayat members, was also present.



Army recruitment rally from March 20
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
A special Army recruitment rally will be organised in Ludhiana from March 20 to 24. The rally will be open to the candidates belonging to Punjab. The recruitment will be made in the technical category and technical (aviation) category.

According to Col R. Mathews, Director Recruitment, Branch Recruiting Office, Ludhiana, the rally will be organised at Camp Ground, near the Jagraon bridge. The preliminary screening for the recruitment has already started in various districts. While in Amritsar it was held today, at Ferozepore, Nawanshahr, Sangrur, Patiala and Bathinda it would be held on March 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19, respectively.

Col Mathews said the candidates having passed their 10+2 exam with mathematics, physics, chemistry and English will be eligible for the technical soldier category, while for the technical (aviation) category, the candidate will need to have the additional qualification of a three-year diploma in mechanical, electrical, electronics, automobile or computer engineering from a recognised polytechnic college.

The candidates willing to appear in the recruitment rally must have a height of 170 cms. Besides they should be born between July 1982 and September 14, 1987. They will need to bring 12 copies of their passport size photographs along with them. The Sikh candidates will need 12 photographs with turban and 12 without turban.

The candidates must also bring the original copies of their certificates which include educational qualification, proof of residence, school character certificate, Kandi area certificate (wherever applicable), caste certificate and also the proof of being the sons of ex-servicemen (wherever applicable).

Candidates with NCC background or having been trained in ITI or computers will be preferred. Preference will also be given to the outstanding sportspersons having participated in national and international events, besides those having scored first or second position in the state competitions.

Col Mathews maintained that there were unlimited vacancies and the candidates must beware of the touts and brokers who might mislead them.



Badal betrayed Sikh Panth: Khalsa Panchayat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 14
The Khalsa Panchayat today maintained that the document released by the RSS, charging former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with opposing Sikh detainees under TADA, had confirmed the belief of the body that Mr Badal had betrayed the Sikh panth on several issues.

Addressing a meeting of the panchayat here, its member, Mr Charanjit Singh Khalsa, claimed that the panchayat had released a similar document in 2000, maintaining that during his tenure as Chief Minister, Mr Badal had not only ignored but opposed several crucial issues. The issues included the release of Sikhs from jails, return of invaluable treasure pillaged during attack on Sri Akal Takht, scrapping the black list of Sikhs in foreign countries and rehabilitation of dharmi faujis.

The RSS document had unveiled the real truth. He said even though the Sikh panchayat still considered the RSS as its arch enemy, which had always stood in the way of acceptance of most of the major demands of the Sikh community, but after it had clearly indicted the former Chief Minister with being anti-Sikh, Mr Badal should lose no time in quitting the post of SAD president.

The meeting noted with concern that both Mr Badal and his close family members had sought to make a political issue of the case of amassing disproportionate wealth against them and had openly approached senior functionaries of the ruling party and the courts. The Khalsa Panchayat lambasted blind followers of Mr Badal and gave a call to them to come out openly against the Badal clan and remove him from the party post.



PSEB employee robbed
Our Correspondent

Samrala, March 14
A robbery occurred near Papraudi, 3 km from here, today morning when three unidentified persons looted an employee of the PSEB.

According to a report, when the meter reader of the PSEB went to record the meter reading in Star Agro Industry Rice Mill, the robbers snatched rings, a golden karra by threatening him with a pistol. The police, swung into action on getting the information. No arrests have been made so far.



Time to don summer colours
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 14
The summers have arrived. People, specially the youngsters, are off with their sweaters and jackets. To be in tune with new season, residents have started wearing cool, pastel colours replacing bright, dark ones. Shopkeepers, too, have changed the wardrobe of their mannequins with lighter tones in cottons and chiffon.

Teenagers can be seen wearing cotton shirts and tops with jeans and skirts. Soothing colours like pink, lemon and white are being preferred. In farewell parties, majority of girls prefer wearing light coloured outfits.

Shagun Mahajan, BA III year student, feels that the season was such that one could neither wear woollens nor voiles. “Cotton and chiffon can definitely be worn. Keeping this in mind, our juniors have kept chiffon as the dress code. We have to walk on the ramp wearing Indian outfits in chiffons”, said Shagun.

Ms Mona Saluja, a homemaker said she had already packed-up all the woolens. “You don’t feel like wearing warm clothes. We have started wearing summer clothes and it is difficult to bear pricking sun rays during afternoons”, she said.

One of the owners of a showroom at Mall Road said that dress-material in cottons, crepes and chiffons had started replacing silks and satins. “We have got all the latest for summers. And the stuff is really crowd-pulling. The customers have begun with their summer purchase. Light coloured, delicate embroideries are once again in. The pastel shades are much in demand. South cottons are preferred by working women and crepes in pastel shades by the business segment”, said the shopkeeper.

Meanwhile, paediatricians are of the opinion that small children should still be covered properly. Warm-vests should not be removed as early mornings and late evenings have chill.



Hike in excise duty on steel flayed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 14
The Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association today said the Union Budget had failed to resolve several crucial issues, those pertaining to the small scale industry.

“We had expected the government to take some measures against the rising steel prices. But the Finance Minister increased Excise Duty on iron and steel from 12 per cent to 16 per cent,” said Mr Gurpargat Singh Kahlon, president of the association. He said with the increase in excise duty, the steel prices had started rising again as a result of which small scale sector was suffering.

“Post-Budget, the prices of MS rounds have increased by almost Rs 1,000 per metric tonne whereas those of CR and HR coils have witnessed an increase of Rs 1,300 to 1,400 per metric tonne,” the association said.

“The increase in prices is still continuing and this has become a cause of worry for Industry,” said Mr Charan Singh Kohli, general secretary of the association. He said the immediate effect of this hike in Excise Duty on iron and steel, which are the basic raw materials consumed by engineering industry, has been a massive increase in prices which have again put a question mark on the survival of engineering industry.

Mr Kohli said major steel producers had indicated a further increase of 10 to 15 per cent in prices and it would be a severe blow to SSIs.

Urging the government to safeguard the interests of the small scale industries, the association said concrete measures should be taken and the proposal to increase Excise Duty from 12 to 16 per cent should be withdrawn.

The association also recommended the formation of a regulatory commission that should include representatives from Industry so that major steel producers were not able to increase prices arbitrarily.

According to Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, said the price of steel had started rising in April 2003 during the NDA regime and there had been 75 per cent increase in the steel prices till then. The industry had urged the NDA Government to reduce the Central Excise Duty which was brought down to 8 per cent from 12 per cent. But the UPA government had again enhanced the central excise duty to 16 per cent.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president of the CICU, disclosed that the export of bicycle and bicycle parts had been hit very badly as a result of the hike in steel prices. The export of bicycle parts was worth Rs 790 crore last year whereas it had touched only Rs 700 crore so far this year.

Mr Inderjit Singh and Mr Avtar Singh regretted that there was no one to look after the interest of the small scale sector which provided maximum employment to the people.


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