L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Liquor vends of Ludhiana division fetch Rs 275 cr
Kuldip Bhatia


  • The entire left side of the Ferozepore Road from the Sarabha Nagar crossing right up to canal bridge was sealed and only authorised vehicles were allowed. The vehicular traffic from both sides was diverted to the right lane.
  • Residents living in the areas around Rotary Bhavan had a tough time, as they were stopped at several check-points before being allowed in.
  • As if to kill time, nearly 30 pages of the rules governing the auction of vends were read out from the dais, taking almost an hour and many bidders were seen sleeping during the period.
  • With photographers not allowed inside the venue, the usual flurry of hectic movement of photo-journalists and frequent bolts of flashlights were missing.
  • All approach roads to Rotary Bhavan were heavily guarded and even the authorised persons had to stand in a queue for frisking and passing through metal detectors to gain entry into the auction hall.

Ludhiana, March 20
The vends of Punjab medium liquor (country liquor) and Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) in the Ludhiana division, comprising three excise districts of Ludhiana and one of Fatehgarh Sahib revenue district, were auctioned for Rs 275 crore at Rotary Bhavan here today as against Rs 268.33 crore revenue earned from the division last year, providing a marginal hike of 2.48 per cent.

In stark deviation from the earlier practice of holding auctions at all district or divisional headquarters, this time the liquor vends in the entire state were put under hammer at Ludhiana and the process of auction, which commenced under tight security arrangements a little after noon, lasted for around three hours. While the actual bidding for each division, put for auction as one unit, took only a couple of minutes, a lot of time was taken for the collection of 5 per cent earnest money, running into several crores in each case.

The venue of the liquor vends auction, the Rotary Bhavan in Sarabha Nagar, was put under tight security and the entire area gave a look of a fortress with barricades and police personnel all around. All approach roads to the venue were also heavily guarded and only those holding entry slips or duty passes, issued by the Excise Department, were allowed to proceed towards the venue of the auction.

Senior officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, including Mr S.C. Ralhan, Mr Rahul Bhandari, both, Additional Commissioners, the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Ajmer Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Mr M.S. Jaggi, SDM, were present on the spot to oversee the arrangements.

Unlike last year, when all mediapersons were kept at bay, representatives of the print media were allowed inside the auction hall but much to their resentment, the lensmen and members of electronic media were refused entry.

From what happened during the bidding process, it was not difficult to see that it was nothing more than a friendly match, with associates of the liquor baron from Uttar Pardesh Mr Ponty Chadha, making offers from both wings of the pandal and the hammer falling at the third bid of Rs 275 crore being made by United Traders.

Before the bids for vends of country liquor and IMFL in excise districts of Ludhiana I, Ludhiana II, Ludhiana III and Fatehgarh Sahib were invited, the DETC Mr Manmohan Singh announced that in all 522 vends of country liquor and 277 of IMFL in the entire division were being offered for bidding as one unit.

While officials of the Excise and Taxation Department took great pains to drive home the point that auction process was transparent, the sheer procedural mechanism adopted on the basis of recent amendments made by the Punjab Government in the rules made under the Punjab Excise Act 1914 paved the way for further consolidation of the virtual monopoly of the cartel led by Mr Ponty Chadha over liquor trade. The amendments in rules had made possible the unlimited clubbing together of different units or excise districts.

A departmental circular earlier issued by the Excise and Taxation Commissioner Mr D.P. Reddy, stated that the auction of L-14A (country liquor) and L-2 (IMFL) vends would be conducted in a manner that a unit for auction would comprise any number of excise districts combined together or one excise district as a whole in combination with L-2 and L-14A licences of any excise circles of other districts or one or more excise circles or part thereof, located in the same of different excise districts.

While sources in the department had maintained that this amendment was necessitated to achieve a reasonable hike in the revenue, collected last year from the auction of liquor vends, several persons connected with the liquor trade for a long time, alleged that the step had been taken at the instance of top political functionaries, who were out to hand over total control of the liquor trade in Punjab to the Chadha group.

Another liquor contractor, who was edged out of business during the auction conducted in March last, pointed out that by virtue of the amendment in the rules for clubbing together of all vends located in one excise district or several of them, the government had made clear its intention not to allow any other bidder than the “cartel-in-control” to take part in the auction.



Sidhwan canal going Buddha Nullah way
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Migrants throw litter in Sidhwan canal causing pollution in Ludhiana
Migrants throw litter in Sidhwan canal causing pollution in Ludhiana. — Photo by I.V.

Ludhiana, March 20
Sidhwan Canal-the backbone of agriculture in the district-is going the Buddha Nullah way if the mushrooming of slums along the canal and littering of garbage thereby polluting it is any indication.

The banks of the canal are fast turning into slums as migrants have erected their shanties at many places. They litter along the banks of the canal besides washing their clothes and utensils in it everyday.

While more and more people have started living along the canal, the authorities of Sidhwan Canal Department prefer to sleep over the problem. Not only the migrants but some scrap dealers have also started collecting their scrap and dumping it near the canal. At times the polythene bags and other scrap materials are carried by the fast blowing winds and deposited in the canal.

Thanks to the callous attitude of the Sidhwan Canal Division Department in keeping the canal and its banks clean and the failure of the local police in preventing people from throwing garbage and litter into the canal, it has come to this pitiable condition. The amount of garbage thrown into the canal seems to so high that it was contributing immensely to the raise in level of the canal bed also besides the pollution.

While the officials concerned deny it, informed sources revealed that the water carrying capacity of the canal had suffered because of the garbage and litter settling regularly on its bed. The water had damaged the concrete banks and wide cracks had come up at several places. It was threatening a road running alongside the bank.

When a Tribune team visited the canal today, a number of migrants were washing cement sacks and plastic bags soiled with a coloured substance. The water in the area has turned black. After a distance some migrant women were washing their clothes and utensils in the water.

The canal division department holds the irresponsible attitude of the people and the police inaction on their complaints responsible for the problem. An official of the Sidhwan canal said they had written several complaints to the police to take action against people throwing garbage into the canal but nothing has been done.

While environmentalists maintained that the canal was getting increasingly polluted and the aquatic life in the canal was under threat, the official termed the pollution as not of a worrying degree.

It may be recalled here that the police had registered a case against some persons accused of encroaching the banks of the canal and polluting it a year ago. But the accused were some unidentified scrap and rag dealers who were regularly throwing pollutants in the canal. However, neither anyone was arrested nor any follow-up action was taken on the complaints.

Department sources said a number of persons, especially near the Malerkotla road, were throwing different pollutants in the canal. They had paid no heed to the requests of the department urging them not to do so. A complaint in this regard was sent to the police also.

According to sources, the pollution in the canal has reached at an alarming stage. Due to the pollution, the aquatic life in the canal has been affected substantially. Further, the waste settles at the bed of the canal resulting in silting of the canal. This causes danger of floods. The water capacity of the canal also lessens due to which villages in far-off areas do not get enough water.

Department sources said the canal was clean in Doraha side but the moment it enters Ludhiana, it becomes polluted.



‘Bold’ TV channels ‘affecting’ young minds
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 20
The unrestricted presentation of ‘bold’ programmes on television channels, particularly music channels, has raised many an eyebrow from the viewers. They feel that television producers should exercise some restraint as these programmes and music are viewed by the family and it becomes too embarrassing for everybody.

D.V. Saharan, an elderly businessman, observed that there should be a strict check on the programmes being aired on the television to ensure that these can be viewed in the family without any embarrassment and objection. He stated that the situation was getting out of control. Since these programmes are aired instantly and without any clearance from authorities, a lot objectionable matter reaches the drawing and bedrooms of the people.

Mr Saharan said this is not just the bold but the vulgar display which should be stopped forthwith. He maintained that technological advancement must not mean degradation of moral values. “We owe some moral values to our own selves, to our children and society which needed to be preserved and respected at all costs,” Mr Saharan said, adding that it becomes very difficult for the viewers to screen and filter the programmes so that everybody could view these.

It was disturbing that a majority of music videos, latest remixes depicted sex, vulgarity and bold scenes and youngsters did not mind watching all this with the family as it had become a routine stuff for them. Not only this, some channels discussed sex-related queries in detail. “Since schoolchildren are having holidays and television is their favourite pastime, they keep on surfing channels and some channels focus on adult problems. The detailed discussions could corrupt their minds. They should not be screened,” said Ms Veena Malhotra, a housewife.

Ms Indra Bhatia, Principal, SCD Government College, said though ‘bold’ channels were discussed and criticised publicly as they brought unhealthy influence on youngsters, specially on growing generation, nothing was being done by the authorities to stop this. The indecent scenes on television made the children more curious for which they were not actually grown up. “But we can always monitor our children. Parents need to spare time from their busy schedule to see that they were not getting hooked to objectionable channels”, said Ms Bhatia.



Ludhiana Calling

Watch dog

Dog has always been man’s best friend. The animal is the favourite pet to guard one’s home. But at times the animal is used to guard one’s business interests too. One such group of rehriwallahs near Fountain Chowk have taken the services of a white pomerian who guards their as well as their customers’ vehicles. Ludhianvis have a special penchant for eating out and they prefer eating at rehris than at hotels. Owing to the huge crowd at the place pickpockets and vehicle thieves also hover in these areas. Keeping a watchman would have been an additional burden so one of the rehriwallahs has kept a watch dog for the purpose.

The sting operations carried out by electronic media have made government officials, businessmen and celebrities wary of journalists. Government officials do not talk much over the phone saying that they could be unaware if the conversation was being recorded. The officials especially cops, gunmen and peons who frisk people searching for hidden arms now focus if there is any spy camera.

Dr ‘Noble’ laureate

Earlier this week, Nobel prize winner Dr Norman E. Borlaug was on a visit to PAU and a circular was sent to all departments in the constituent colleges to attend the lecture of the visiting dignitary at Pal Auditorium. Responding to the instructions that the event be also put up on the notice board, an employee in one of the departments considered that Nobel laureate Dr Norman E. Borlaug seemed to be too long a name of one person. So what he wrote on the notice board was - Dr Noble Laureate and Dr Norman E. Borlaug will deliver a lecture.....

Scantily dressed mannequins

At the turning of Jhansi Road towards Ghumar Mandi, the road gets narrow and more congested as a lot of shops selling readymade clothes put out mannequins wearing alluring clothes. But the mannequins wearing swim suits, revealing tops and tight shorts draw the attention of the drivers. The traffic is very heavy and utmost care is needed to pass through the traffic but those mannequins standing so dressed rivet the attention of the passersby. Hence the chances of accidents increase manifold. Moreover, the pedestrians have no place left to walk on the footpaths as they have been taken up by the shops.

Memory or money?

Call it an enterprising spirit or the spirit to encash any situation-while schoolgoers are busy in their exams advertisements of products that help in memory enhancement have become common. Syrups and tablets that claim would help you ‘build a strong memory’ resulting in a good score are not to be missed. While many do get carried away by such advertisements, one only wishes these claims would come true. Sentinel



District Congress president’s removal sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Workers owing allegiance to various aspirants for the post of the president of the urban unit of the District Congress Committee (DCC) yesterday demanded the removal of president, Jagmohan Sharma, alleging that he had paralysed the functioning of the party in the district. The demand was put before the state Returning Officer of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), Ms Usha Ben Thakkar, an ex-MP from Gujarat.

High drama was witnessed at the local Circuit House, where Ms Thakkar was supposed to hear the workers’ point of view. However, the supporters of various aspiring candidates started raising slogans thus forcing her to shift the venue from the Circuit House to a hotel. Even there workers did not stop raising slogans.

It was learnt that a number of block presidents and prominent workers demanded the removal of Mr Jagmohan Sharma. They said ever since Mr Sharma took over as the DCC president, the party activities came to a halt and there was no activity witnessed anywhere. “It is strange that the party has not organised any function ever since Mr Sharma took over,” remarked a worker at the meeting. The aspiring candidates appeared to have done a lot of spadework to build up pressure as hundreds of supporters of various aspiring candidates had gathered at the venue.

Later Ms Thakkar told The Tribune that she had taken note of the workers sentiments. She did not rule out the change in the leadership of the DCC. However, at the same time she did not mean that he was necessarily to be replaced. She said, in case the need was felt for change, the party will try to evolve a consensus. If the consensus was not reached, the party will go for the election and the delegates would elect the district president.



Marriages of 21 poor girls solemnised
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Marriages of 21 girls belonging to weaker section of society were solemnised at a mass marriage function organised by the Dr Bhim Rao Ambedhkar Youth Welfare Club at Sahnewal, today. Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Jail and Urban and Housing Development, presided over the function and blessed the newly-wedded couples.

Addressing the function, Mr Birmi called upon the NGOs and other social organisations to organise such mass marriage functions of poor girls, which would also help in minimising the problem of dowry from society. He said the people of Punjab had always been in forefront to extend the financial assistance to the needy people and our great Gurus had shown up a path of equality and service to the suffering humanity.

Referring to the efforts of the state government for the welfare of weaker sections, the minister said the government had created a corpus fund of Rs 450 crore to ensure the regular pensions for the elderly people, widows, disabled and dependant children. He claimed that pensions to around 14 lakh beneficiaries were being given under social security program of the Government. Mr Birmi said the government had also launched a new scheme ‘Ashirwad’ to give shagun of Rs 6,100 on the marriages of two daughters of Scheduled caste families and poor widows. He also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the club. Mr Gurdip Singh, president of the club, said substantial gift items have been arranged by the club for the newly-wedded couples.

Among others who were present on this occasion included Mr Baljinder Singh Dhilon, Mr Gian Singh Pasla, Mr Harbant Singh Gill, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sandhu, Chairman, Market Committee, Sahnewal, Mr Ramesh Kumar Pappu, President, Nagar Council, Sahnewal, and Mr Swaran Singh, vice-president, MC.



Truck carrying LPG cylinders overturns
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Providence prevented a major tragedy in Model Town today when a truck loaded with LPG-filled cylinders overturned at a crossing near Baba Chicken Shop today. The Model Town police said cylinders rolled out of the truck but fortunately none of those exploded. A busy market is situated next to the crossing and the explosions could have caused a massive damaged to the life and property.

Police sources said the driver lost balance when the rear tyres of the truck climbed the central verge and overturned. The driver also escaped miraculously.



Gang busted

Ludhiana, March 20
The Shimla Puri police today claimed to have busted a gang of narcotic smugglers with the arrest five of its members, including two women recovered 160 kg of poppy husk from them. They were bringing the contraband in a car and were intercepted at a police naka on Gill road

SHO Jogi Raj said the accused had been identified as Gurbhej Singh, Surjit Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Gurmeet Kaur and Amanpreet Kaur.



Industry wants VAT implementation deferred
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 20
Captains of the industry and taxation layers yesterday said that the Punjab Government should also defer implementation of VAT as the five BJP ruled states had done.

“The BJP ruled states today postponed the implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) system and the Punjab government should also follow suit to ensure uniformity,” said Mr Ashok Juneja, chairman, Punjab Tax Bar Association.

The association said despite the fact that only 11 days were left for the implementation of VAT, no act had been made available till date.

“It is not possible for trade and industry and even tax professionals to understand and comply with the provisions in such short span of time,” said Mr P.C.Garg, chairman of the association.

The association also demanded that the Punjab government should first amend “discriminatory provisions” to the satisfaction of industry and bar association.

Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufactures Association, said there should be uniformity in implementing VAT in the country.

“If a few states implement and a few do not, it would amount to high rate of tax which would harm the industry,” he said.

Demanding that the Punjab government also defer VAT till it was implemented throughout the country, the association said the government should ensure that the new system, which it says, aims at simplification should actually benefit industry. “We are also meeting the Finance Minister next week to discuss the matter in detail,” Mr Kapoor said adding, “the government must involve trade and industry before taking a decision regarding VAT.”

Demanding VAT to be deferred for at least for one year, Mr Tulsi Das Jaitwani, president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said: “The government should defer VAT for at least one year and first focus on creating an industry-friendly environment.”

Condemning the proposed new system of taxation, Mr Jaitwani said not merely industry, tax professionals were also condemning VAT due to its “discriminatory and harsh” provisions.

He also informed that the industry would observe Bharat bandh for 72 hours, from March 30 to April 1, against the VAT.



Special camps to educate traders on VAT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 20
While the trading community continues to express its strong reservations on the proposed introduction of value added tax (VAT) in Punjab from April 1, the Parliamentary Secretary for Power, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Surinder Davar, today said that officials of the Excise and Taxation Department would hold special camps in the city during the next few days to educate the traders with the new system of taxation and to dispel their apprehensions.

Addressing a function organised by the Madhopuri Hosiery Federation here last evening, he claimed that the government had effected several amendments in the VAT Act to make it a more simple and liberal system of tax. He said the government was aware of the problems of small industry and business in the state and no such step, including taxation measures, would be brought into effect, which could retard the progress or create more problems for these sectors.

On the other hand, the Punjab Pardesh Beopar Mandal and Trade Cell of the BJP at a meeting held in Kidwai Nagar here today extended their support to the three-day strike call on March 30, 31 and April 1 all over the country against the introduction of VAT. Activists of the two bodies resolved to hold protest demonstrations, rallies and dharnas during the strike.

The meeting further made it clear to the government that if VAT was thrust upon the trade and industry, the affected sectors would be left with no other choice but to gherao the ruling party legislators, ministers and members of Parliament.

Among those who addressed the meeting were Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Baba Ajit Singh, Mr Kasturi Lal Mittal, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, Mr Sunil Mehra, Mr Ashok Juneja, Mr Jatinder Singh Gilhotra, Mr Bhupesh Aggarwal and Mr Swarn Singh.


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