L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Vegetable agents go on strike from today
Flay move to privatise recovery of market fee
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
Fruit and vegetable commission agents here will go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow against the government’s decision to privatise the recovery of market fee by the Mandi board.

As many as 123 mandis in the state will remain closed. Nearly 10,000 retail vendors purchase vegetables from the wholesale market in the city which has 250 commission agents.

“We will continue strike till the decision is withdrawn,” said Mr Amarbir Singh, general secretary, Punjab State Fruit and Vegetable Commission Agents Association. He said it was unfair to fix market fee as the prices of perishable goods kept fluctuating.

Auction for giving the contract of collecting market fee to a private party, that was scheduled to be held earlier this week, was postponed on account of the protest by the commission agents.

Commission agents contended that fixing the market fee would make things tougher for them. Mr Singh said the annual market fee generated from Ludhiana was above Rs 9 crore and the decision to fix a certain amount, which would be collected by a private contractor from the agents, would result in a major increase and the agents would not be able to afford it.

Meanwhile, the strike would hit the common man, who is already suffering on account of the bandh in protest against VAT.

Wholesale fruit and vegetable markets remained closed on March 28 which led to a sharp increase in the prices of fruits and vegetables. The protest against VAT worsened the situation as retailers kept selling vegetables at prices that were five to six times higher than those prevailing before March 28.

Cauliflower, which was available for Rs 3-4 per kg in wholesale market, was today being sold for as high as Rs 20 per kg in retail markets, whereas tomatoes were over Rs 16 per kg against Rs 5-7 per kg rate in wholesale market.

“There is no supply due to which rates have shot up,” a retailer in Ghumar Mandi said.

However, Mr Singh said there was no problem in receiving supplies. “There is no shortage. Retailers might be doing this so as to sell vegetables and fruits at the higher rates after our strike begins from tomorrow,” he said.

While the prices of fruits were not much affected earlier, they were likely to shoot up after the strike, said Mr Singh.

Meanwhile, in wholesale market, the price of potatoes was Rs 2-2.50 per kg today, whereas that of carrot was Rs 5-6 per kg, ginger Rs 30-32 per kg, pumpkin Rs 4-5 per kg and radish Rs 2-3 per kg. Grapes were available for Rs 20-22 per kg, oranges Rs 400-450 per pack of 171 pieces, banana Rs 6-7 per kg, guava Rs 10-12 per kg and watermelon Rs 9-10 per kg.



No fooling, Vat is here for real
Kuldip Bhatia


Communications equipment, bricks, medicines, industrial belting, bitumen, capital goods, coir and coir products, electrodes, hand pumps, hose pipes, ice, industrial cables, IT products, kerosene oil, lime and lime stone, plastic granules, printing ink and sewing machines will attract 4 per cent tax as against 8.8 per cent at present.


Timber, wood, plywood, paints, building material, hardware, toothpaste and toothbrush will be taxed 3.7 per cent more at 12.5 per cent under VAT.

Ludhiana, March 31
The Excise and Taxation Department is all set for shifting to the new valued added tax (VAT) regime here from tomorrow (April 1). More than 90 per cent of nearly 43,000 registered dealers in the district have already submitted their fact sheets and new tax identification numbers (TIN) have been issued to them.

This was stated by Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner (DETC) Manmohan Singh while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today. Terming the hue and cry against the new system of tax as misplaced and motivated, he maintained that the Vat Act had been finalised after detailed interaction with all parties concerned like industry, business community, tax consultants and officials over a period of three years.

“Vat registration numbers or tax identification numbers (as these are known all over the country) have been issued to all dealers who have filed their fact sheets. It is only in case of those few traders who do not want to continue in business or have some discrepancy in their fact sheets that the TIN Nos. are still to be issued.”

“Registered dealers are not required to submit fresh surety bonds and the process of issuing fresh TIN Nos. is in fact a renewal of their tax registration certificates with updated particulars,” he said.

He pointed out that from tomorrow onwards, registered dealers were required to issue “Vat invoice” under the Act since input tax credit (ITC) will be available to traders only against original buyers’ copy of this invoice.

A provision had also been made for composition of tax by small dealers, whose turnover varied from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 35 lakh and they were not undertaking inter-state transactions.

Dispelling common apprehension among the public and members of trade and industry that prices of all commodities would register an increase in the new tax regime, the DETC asserted that on the contrary prices of several items of daily use would come down. This is so since some essential commodities had been shifted from 8.8 per cent tax bracket to four per cent and there were only two tax brackets of 4 per cent and 12.5 per cent for most commodities as against prevailing eight different categories with rate of tax ranging between one and 30 per cent.

Moreover, with the original buyer entitled to claim input tax credit, the effective retail price of a large number of items would rather come down in due course.

He disagreed with another notion that traders would have to bear double taxation on tax paid stock in hand. “For stock on which tax has already been paid under Section 5 (I-A) as on March 31, 2005, input tax credit will be available on 100 per cent of the value of the goods where tax has been paid by the dealer and at the rate of 75 per cent where goods have been purchased as tax paid goods.”

Claiming that the Vat system of tax was based on mutual trust between the dealer and the department, Mr Manmohan Singh said there should be no reason for inviting penal penalties if trust was not breached. The department would repose trust in registered dealers who were to carry out self-assessment for payment of tax.

The additional tax surcharge and entry tax at information collection centres would stand abolished as Vat would replace sales tax in the state from April 1.



Bandh against VAT continues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
Shops and industrial units remained shut on the second day of the three-day bandh against the value added tax (VAT) here today. Industry associations also held meetings to discuss the future course of action on the issue.

In an urgent meeting conducted by the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, representatives of 18 industry bodies demanded withdrawal of VAT. These associations would hold protest processions wearing black batches in the city tomorrow.

“Instead of helping trade and industry, as is being portrayed, VAT wold act as a blow, particularly on the small-scale industry, and would force industrial units to close down under burden of heavy taxation and due to harsh provisions,” industry representatives said.

The procession would begin from the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers’ Association office tomorrow and would pass through Campa Cola Chowk, Gill Chowk, Vishwakarma Chowk, Bharat Nagar Chowk to the Sales Tax office here.

Representatives of hosiery industry met Parliamentary Secretary Surinder Davar. A deputation, led by Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club, apprised Mr Davar of the problems the industry was anticipating on account of implementation of VAT.

“He listened to our problems and assured us that he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister,” said Mr Vinod Thapar. He said Mr Davar also asked the industry representatives to present facts and figures pertaining to problems they were anticipating on account of VAT.

Meanwhile, a majority of the shops in the city remained shut today, causing inconvenience to the residents. Shops, however, began opening in the evening.

“We had expected that shops would begin opening on the second day as it affects business also but shops remained closed, which caused a lot of inconvenience,” said Mr Subhash Sharma, a resident.



Gang of robbers busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
The local police today claimed to have busted a gang of five robbers who were planning a robbery near Malikpur village near here. Various household goods, two pistols and two rods have been recovered from them.

Of them four have been identified as Sukhwinder Singh, alias Bittu, of Karnal, Lakhbir Singh, alias Lakha, Daljit Singh, alias Romi, and Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, of Kaithal. One of their accomplices is at large.

Daljit Singh is wanted by the Ludhiana police in a dacoity case. All other accused are also named in many cases involving thefts and smuggling of liquor.

Meanwhile, the police nabbed four alleged pickpockets. They are Raj Kumar, Akbar, Gaurav and Vinod Soni. They were active in the area near the railway station and the bus stand, and used to pick pockets of people travelling by autorickshaws.

The police also arrested a proclaimed offender, Sulakhan Singh, who was wanted in an attempt-to-murder case registered against him in Amritsar in 1990.



Treat sick animals, circus told
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
A joint team of veterinary officers of the local Animal Husbandry Department and activists of the People for Animals, who had inspected the Amar circus camping in city a few days ago, has asked the management not to make the sick animals perform different feats and provide them immediate treatment.

Claiming that many animals performing in the circus suffered from some problems and needed immediate attention of veterinary experts, the team has asked the circus management to do something for the sick animals.

Members of the joint team claimed that while the vaccination record of dogs was in order, three dogs had deformities of limbs due to malnutrition and lack of exercise. They advised that a corrective treatment should be adopted and these should not be used for performance.

They further claimed that the circus could not produce the vaccination record for the horses that meant that they were not given any tetanus vaccine. A mare called Shobha was having deformities in all limbs. She should not be allowed to perform in the circus, they suggested.

The condition of exotic parrots was satisfactory and they were provided with sufficient space, food and water. Two white crested cockatoos were detected with skin infection and needed immediate treatment and expert advice.

The joint team, which has submitted the report to the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry Department, further claimed that the only ox had become overweight and lethargic. ‘‘It needs exercise. Moreover there is no vaccination record of FMD and HS. ’’

The water tank prepared for the only hippopotamus was dirty. There was no space around the tank for exercising, feeding and defecating. The hippopotamus needed the opinion of a Wildlife expert as its vision might have been affected.

The team observed the general cleanliness of animal shelters was not up to the mark as polythene and stones were scattered all around. These could pose threat to animals, they claimed. ‘‘The circus company claims to have a veterinarian on its regular payrolls, but no expert was present on the spot though many reports showed his signatures. There was no record of treatment given to animals. No first-aid kit was available.’’

“Now the ball is in the court of the Deputy Director,” they claimed. 



Passing Thru

Rajwinder Singh
Rajwinder Singh Germany-based Poet Laureate

Which are your books and awards as a German writer?

Seven of my books in German have been published and the eighth is under way. In 2000, I got the German State Literary Scholarship for the second time and in 2002 I was given the State Literature Award. I received the German Federal President Award in 2004 and was chosen for the German Chapter International Pen in 1995. In 1997, I was designated as Poet Laureate in Rheinburg and was invited to stay with King Fredrick the Great in his palace. As chairman of the Writer-In-Prison Committee of Pen, I represented Germany in many nations and was also invited to International Writers’ Colony at Worpswede in 1998.

What efforts were made by you in bringing East and West Germany closer?

As a freelance writer, I penned my creativity in German for the first time in 1985 after which I was chosen as the executive member of the Berlin Writers Association. I became the second president of the association in the next year and remained on the post for four years. Then I was assigned the job of organising a conference namely ‘Writers Against War’ in 1988 in Berlin in which I called upon six writers from Lebanon. Then, I arranged a literary conference meant for building peace ties between the hitherto torn East and west Germany. In several of my East German tours, I could make out that if an attempt was made the wall between East and West could collapse within no time. This view of mine was published in 34 daily newspapers after which the wall actually lasted for the next six months only.

Which of your works are cherished by you the most?

Among the Punjabi collection, the works dear to my heart are ‘Ghar Parwas the Parwaz’ and ‘Raat Lammi Zindagi’ while in German, ‘MitleSebugh’ and ‘Rheins Barger Rahpsodies’ are my favourite. 



Curb child labour, NHRC to chief secy

Ludhiana, March 31
The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Chief Secretary Punjab to enforce the Child Labour Act, 1986, here to curb the child labour in judicial complexes and government offices.

Directions have been issued recently in response to the complaint filed by the Voice For Human Rights which alleged that in grave violation of human rights, children below 14 years were being made to work at dhabas and tea stalls at district administration offices and judicial complexes.

The representation said people came to courts and offices of the district administration seeking justice but it was unfortunate that violation of laws began from the temples of justice.

It further added that the working conditions of these children were so bad that they did not get even half-an-hour rest during the day. Sometimes they were beaten up by their employers.

The representation said it was the responsibility of the state to provide education to children as the Constitution prohibited employment of children below 14 years and Right to Education was a fundamental right of every child. The Child Labour Act, 1986, also prohibited the employment of children.

The organisation asked that no child should be employed in the scheduled employments mentioned in Schedule Part A and B of the Act and employers should be prosecuted.



HRD Manager of DMCH sacked, claims union
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
Human Resource Development Manager at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) Rajeev Verma was dismissed from the service by the managing committee today, claimed functionaries of the DMCH Employees Union.

Mr Verma was accused of barging into a marriage function at a resort on the Pakhowal road here yesterday and dancing in an inappropriate manner with a girl.

The action taken by the management, however, could not be confirmed since its secretary and the Medical Superintendent (Personnel) of the DMCH were away and could not be contacted.

According to information, the official had gone to the function along with two girls and danced with one of them. After relatives of both the bride and the bridegroom took offense to his behaviour, he was beaten up outside the marriage palace.

It was further reported that one of the relatives of the bridegroom took out a pistol and trained it on Mr Verma. Later, both the parties went to the police station and lodged complaints against each other.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, president of the DMCH Employees Union Rajwant Randhawa said while the action taken against the HRD Manager by the management was a step in the right direction, several other hospital officials who allegedly exploited female staff should be dealt with sternly.

She claimed that the management was aware of Mr Verma’s conduct, but no action had so far been taken against him.

Ms Randhawa, along with president of Hero DMC Heart Institute Harsh Prabhakar, demanded action against those found guilty of physical, financial and mental exploitation of employees, particularly of women, in the institution so that their safety was ensured.



A literary luminary and teacher
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
In the death of Prof Sulekh Chander Kanwal the cultural and literary world in Punjab has lost a glowing figure. Professor Kanwal had influenced the literary and cultural life for a long time. He breathed his last on March 22 in Patiala.

A retired Professor of Physical Education, Professor Kanwal would captivate his audiences with his skillful compering of ghazal evenings. He participated and presided over various mushairas.

He was the life member of a prominent literary organisation Adeeb International, and the patron of Dhvani, an organisation in the service of music and poetry. Besides, he was adviser to the NTAS and member of Triveni, a literary organisation in Patiala.

The Hindi version of his Urdu ghazal collection “Aashiyan” was published in 2004 by Adeeb International and the book was released by prominent litterateurs Kashmiri Lal Zakir, Balraj Komal and Surjit Patar. Many of his shers were instant hits with the audience like, “mehfil mein jab bhi zikar tumhara karenge log, meri taraf zaroor ishara karenge log.” “Mohabat voh hi achhi hai, tualuk woh hi behtar hai, ki jiski ibtada aur inteha behtar se behtar ho.” “Yun chand bhi rakhta tha is ghar ko munavar par, Ik aap ke aane say chan nikle aye.” “Chehre sab jane pehchane, naam kisi ka yaad nahin hai, Galiaan kuche shahar vohi hai, ghar ka rasta yaad nahin hai” “Aye bark-e-muztrib yeh tera iztraab kyon, Aa khud hi ashian mein dikha loon to chain loon.”

He was teacher to prominent Punjabi singer Gurdas Mann, Punjabi film and theatre actress Nirmal Rishi and singer Nile Khan whom he guided in their formative years, and was the source of inspiration and encouragement for many other upcoming artists.

Prof Kanwal had the ‘never-say die’ spirit. His was an illustrious career full of struggle and hard work. He drew strength from his mother, Bibi Sita Devi, a retired Headmis-tress from Kila Raipur. An educationist to the core, Professor Kanwal served the Punjab College of Physical Education Patiala for more than 22 years. Besides his four-year stint at Government College, Ajnala. Ever since his retirement in 1988, he picked up his mission of encouraging girls’ education in rural areas and headed many such institutions at Rajpura, Chhapa, Khant Manpur, Kheri Naud Singh and hansali. 



Indians wish to donate blood for Pakistanis
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 31
“Donating blood to Pakistanis would be the most novel component of a war to conquer the hearts of citizens of a nation that had been branded as an enemy of our country,” claims Mr Vikram Joshi, a human rights activist and member of the Dedicated Brothers Group an NGO.

He claimed that those moments would be most exiting when vital fluid of a group of philanthropists registered with the Dedicated Brothers Group, would circulate in the vessels of Pakistan nationals striving for life.

Twenty volunteers from the state would donate blood at a camp scheduled to be organised jointly by the Indian organisation and the management of Nai Awazain, a weekly Pak journal, at Al-Humra Hall, The Mall, Lahore, on March 9. Dr Rakesh Vermi, president of the group, would be the chief guest on the occasion.

The volunteers of the group have approached the Pakistan Embassy for visa for visiting the country in the second week of April. Mr Mian Munir, Chief Editor of Nai Awazain, who had earlier visited India, has invited the president and members of the group to Pakistan.

During his visit to Punjab, Mr Mian Munir had proposed to organise a joint event in Pakistan.



Insurance staff observe strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 31
Protesting against the management’s attitude, class III and class IV employees of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India observed a strike here today. The call for the strike was given by the All-India Insurance Employees Association.

Mr Amarjit Singh, divisional secretary, North Zone Insurance Employees Association, said, :”In the offer made by the management on March 22 this year, pay scales are much lower than those in the banking sector.”

He said the cost of wages in the LIC had come down to 5.49 per cent of the premium income and would further decline to 4 per cent in 2004-05. The outlay for the wages of employees of the LIC was insufficient, the association said.

Association members said though the Finance Minister had stated in the winter session of Parliament that the government would not interfere with administrative jobs of the LIC management, it was creating hurdles in the settlement of wage revision.

Mr Harbans Singh, divisional president, said though employees had been contributing to the stupendous growth of the corporation, they were being deprived of even wage revision and other benefits.

The association also threatened to intensify its stir if the matter was not resolved.



3 pc DA hike from Jan 1 hailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
The Punjab Finance Minister’s announcement yesterday in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to hike DA by 3 per cent for its staff from January 1 this year is appreciated. It will raise DA from 14 to 17 per cent of the basic pay and pension and provide relief to low-paid staff, says a press note issued by Mr Yash Paul Ghai, Additional General Secretary of the Government Pensioners’ Association.

Meanwhile, it urges the Finance Minister to fulfil the promises made by the Congress in its manifesto in February, 2002. These included raise in fixed medical allowance, house rent for pensioners and old age allowance for them at the age of 80.



Pensioners hold meeting
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 31
A meeting of activists of the Pensioners Welfare Association of the block was held at the local Treasury Office. It was presided over by Mr Inder Pal Sharma, state president of the association.

Mr Sharma informed the members that the state body had taken up the issue of non-receipt of circulars regarding payments on the pattern of other states with the authorities concerned.

Mr Amritpal Singh, former Headmaster, and Mr Khazan Chand were elected president and general secretary of the association. 



Meeting on wheat procurement

Khanna, March 30
A meeting was organised to supervise the procurement arrangements by SDM, Khanna, Mr Jaspal Mittal, today.

The SDM directed the officers concerned to check the arrangements for auction of wheat, lifting, loading, storage, gunny bags, lights and drinking water.

Officers of procurement agencies, the secretary of the Market Committee and of the civil administration officers attended the meeting. OC



‘Check female foeticide’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
The Civil Surgeon, Dr Rajinder Kaur, has stressed the need to curb female foeticide. Addressing a district-level seminar on “safety of girl child and family planning — a challenge for men” at Government Multi-purpose Senior Secondary School here today, she made a strong case for pre-natal healthcare for pregnant women, institutional deliveries, importance of mothers’ milk for the new-born babies and responsibility of men to have planned families.

Meanwhile, Government Hospital at Pakhowal village has launched a family planning drive in association with the Punarjot Eye Bank of Punjab.



Five held for smuggling, gambling
Our Correspondent

Khanna, March 31
The Khanna police arrested five persons on charges of smuggling and operating satta yesterday. Two of them have been arrested for smuggling liquor, one for smuggling poppy husk and two for operating satta.

The Malaud police arrested Maggar Singh of Alampur Chhappran and seized 12 kg of poppy husk from his possession. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against him.

The Kot police arrested Pargat Singh of Bija for allegedly playing satta. It recovered Rs 465 and some satta slips from his possession. In another case, the police arrested Devinder Singh of Dehru village and recovered Rs 430 from his possession, which he had collected for playing satta. Cases under the Gambling Act have been registered against them.

The Isru police arrested Baljinder Singh for possessing nine bottles of smuggled liquor. The police arrested Bal Krishan Dev, a resident of Amloh Road, Khanna, and seized 12 bottles of liquor from his possession.

In another incident, two unidentified scooter-borne youths snatched Rs 1,000 from an employee of a Coca Cola distributor. According to information given by the victim, Rinku, he was delivering a crate of the soft drink to a shopkeeper of New Abadi when the incident took place.


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