L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Rs 9 lakh penalty on consumers for power theft
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
A team of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials today swooped on alleged power stealers in the Feroze Gandhi market here. The board that conducted surprise checks to curb power theft imposed penalties to the tune of Rs 9 lakh on various consumers for wrong metering, extra load usage than permitted and other discrepancies.

The surprise checks have alarmed users in various parts of the city as the department did not declare anything about its campaign.

The "routine checking" by the distribution wing of the PSEB, west circle, covered Feroze Gandhi market, including car bazaar, banks and stock exchange today and is likely to be conducted in various other areas of the city as well in the coming days.

Refusing to disclose the further schedule of checks, Mr P.K.Aggarwal, Chief Engineer, PSEB, said: "It was only a routine checking to curb theft. We will continue with such checks." He said the board's aims was to eliminate power theft and the task would be carried out comprehensively. With power theft resulting in major revenue loss to the PSEB, it has started laying extra emphasis on curbing theft.

While around 190 connections were checked today, the officials found terminal seals broken in 25 cases, which would be investigated further for reasons. The officials also found bus wires with naked joins, pointing out towards the possibility of theft.

"It is possible that the information regarding checking reached consumers, which is why we were not able to detect kundi connections," Mr Aggarwal said.

A team of five Executive Engineers, 12 SDOs, Junior Engineers and inspectors conducted the check which was also resisted by various shopkeepers. However, the situation was brought under control by officials.

In cases where terminal seals were found broken, the PSEB will keep a check on power consumption of consumers. Similarly, the board would keep a regular tab , particularly in suspected cases.

The PSEB had begun an anti-power theft and anti-corruption drive in January this year and detected 159 cases with a power theft of more than Rs 1 lakh each. While the board primarily focussed on agricultural sector in January, it had announced that it would conduct massive checking in the industrial sector as well. The department had recorded a major increase in load declarations last year as a result of its campaign.



Delay in road project irks shopkeepers
Amandeep Singh

Ludhiana, June 3
The delay in the construction of an elevated road from Chand Cinema to Jagraon Bridge is causing a huge loss to the shopkeepers and harassment to commuters. People are hoping against hope that the road will be constructed soon.

Shopkeepers represented by the Clock Tower Association are raising a hue and cry for the early construction of the road. It was promised that the road would be completed by 2003 or even before. However, it has been delayed on one pretext or the other. The shopkeepers have demanded the Governor’s intervention for the early completion of the elevated road project.

Traders, businessmen, shopkeepers and residents are a harassed lot due to the haphazard way in which the construction work is being carried out blocking the entire stretch of the GT Road from Jagraon Bridge to Chand Cinema causing major traffic jams and accidents.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, the Raikhy Cinema Shopkeepers Association stated that the construction of the elevated road was a headache for the shopkeepers and commuters. The entry of three-wheelers in this area was the main cause of pollution and accidents.

Frustrated with the current circumstances, the shopkeepers demanded an immediate action for early completion of the elevated road project. 



Bank poll: Cong rift comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Amloh, June 3
The rift in the Congress has come to surface during the elections of the directors of the Amloh Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank. Today was the last day of withdrawals and allotment of symbols. The bank is divided into six zones. May 31 was the last date for filing nomination papers, June 2 for scrutiny, June 3 for withdrawal and allotment of symbols while the election will be held on June 8, Mr Harjeet Singh Dhillon, assistant registrar-cum-returning officer, said here today.

During scrutiny the nomination papers of Mr Kulwinder and Mr Kandhara Singh from Khanian zone No. 1 were rejected and Mr Paramjeet Singh (SAD) was declared elected unopposed yesterday. In Raipur Chobdaran zone No. 6 the papers of Mr Harjinder Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh were rejected. Mr. Gurbux Singh (independent) was declared elected unopposed. Mr. Harjeet Singh Dhillon asserted to the mediapersons today that the candidates have filed their nomination papers as their individual capacity without any indication of their political party. Now the candidates in the fray are:

Zone No. 2 (Lakha Singh wala) – Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Yadwinder Singh; Zone No. 3 (Shamaspur) – Mr Dharam Singh and Mr Baltej Singh; Zone No. 4- (Baronga Zer) – Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mr Baljeet Singh; and zone No. 5 – (Salana Jeevan Singh Wala) – Mr Shingara Singh, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Mr Ajaib Singh and Mr Sukhwinder Singh.

During a press conference yesterday block Congress chief (candidate from zone No. 5), Mr. Partap Singh Sandhu, chairman Market Committee, and Mr Jaswant Singh Khullu Mazra had openly alleged that the nomination papers of Congress candidates from zone No.1 and zone No. 6 have been rejected allegedly on the behest of Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, minister for cooperation and Horticulture, due to internal factionalism in the Congress.

They further alleged that the returning officer was replaced only one day before of scrutiny.



More cops in fake verification racket
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The fake police verification racket busted by the Jagraon police has assumed bigger proportions with revelations that several other cops of lower ranks had colluded with the main accused, Head Constable Joginder Singh of Ludhiana police, in running the alleged racket. The alleged criminal act of the accused compromised with the national security too. They are learnt to have charged thousands of rupees from the ‘victim’ families.

The operation being conducted both by the Jagraon police as well as the district CID has found that Joginder Singh was caught twice earlier on the same charge. He was booked by the Nawanshahar police as well as the Ludhiana police for running a similar racket.

It has also come to light that the accused were not only indulging in cheating the department and fleecing people but were also compromising with national security as the police verification was eventually delayed.

The verification was required for checking the ‘national status’ of a person who had allegedly migrated illegally to a country or had sought political asylum there. Earlier it was thought that the cops had taken money from people who had applied for passports to go abroad.

Police sources reveal that the governments of various countries seek police verification of people who immigrate illegally or seek political asylum. The verification is sought through the Ministry of Home Affairs. The accused constable in connivance with some other cops used to open the verification letters.

He allegedly went to the house of the family concerned and took money to report whatever the family wanted. The families were infact willing to dish out any amount to have a report to their advantage.

The accused, however, never sent the report as he would have been easily caught. He simply returned the verification letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs by post. The letter was re-routed by the ministry. This took several months and the accused hoped that no one would know anything.

However, due to this delay, the person whose verification was sought managed to stay in a foreign country for long. The police was concerned that the person could be a wanted criminal or a terrorist.

The police was also concerned as how the main accused head constable managed to lay hands on posts meant for the CID. They were investigating the matter with the help of the investigating agency.



One held for theft in IG’s house
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The Sarabha Nagar police has arrested a youth who had allegedly committed a theft of nearly Rs 20 lakh in the Sarabha Nagar block-F house of an Inspector General of Maharashtra police, B.S. Sidhu, posted in Mumbai.

The house had remained locked with one portion given on rent for an office of liquor baron Ponty Chadha. The youth identified as Bunny Duggal, was a next door neighbour. He allegedly kept on pilfering valuable items including weapons and ivory products over a period of time.

The police has recovered two stolen imported rifles, several items of ivory and other valuables from the youth’s possession. His brother was a car dealer in Feroze Gandhi car bazar.

SHO Pawanjit Singh had investigated the theft case and had arrested the youth from a naka. He is in police custody. The theft came to light when a door of the house was found open by a servant. He informed the caretaker who took the matter to the police.



Khanna records more wheat arrivals
Tribune News Service

Khanna, June 3
While the arrival of wheat in grain markets in the state has witnessed a decrease in comparison to previous years due to alleged hoarding by some big farmers as well as reduction in yield at some places due to inclement weather Asia’s biggest grain market at Khanna has recorded more wheat arrivals than last year.

However, sources in the market said the problem of hoarding was definitely there and some farmers were deliberately bringing the produce late in the market to earn more profits. There were reports that the government may buy more wheat later as most of the stored wheat was distributed during tsunami relief exercise.

Khanna market received 95,167 of wheat this year till May 25 while last year the final stock was 95,020 tonnes. However, last year the arrival had stopped after May 5 while this year the farmers were bringing the produce slowly and figures were available till May 25.

Sources said more farmers were resorting to hoarding this time. There has also been discontentment among the farmers over the minimum support price decided by the government.

The agency-wise procurement this season till May 25 in the Khanna grain market was Pungrain – 8,260 tonnes, F C I – 11,916, Markfed – 7,764, Punsup - 25,560, Punjab Ware Housing Corporation – 9,552, Punjab Agro — 7181 and private traders had procured 24,934 tonnes of wheat.



Taxation Bar Assn to suspend work for week
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
In protest against the alleged misbehaviour of an official of the Excise and Taxation Department at the Mini Secretariat, members of the District Taxation Bar Association here will suspend their work for a week.

Alleging that a receipt clerk used abusive language and threatened association’s president B.K.Gupta and other executive members when they lodged a complaint against him with the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Ludhiana III, Mr Jaspal Garg.



Congress has failed on all fronts: BJP 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
Blaming the ruling Congress in the state for failure on the administrative front, maintenance of law and order and checking rampant corruption at all level in the government departments, the BJP has demanded inquiry into the acts of omission and commission on the part of senior ruling party functionaries and administrative top brass in the district.

In a memorandum submitted to the Governor of Punjab through the district administration, BJP leaders alleged that law and order situation in the city and elsewhere in the district was going from bad to worse. The land mafia, was enjoying patronage of certain senior Congress leaders, and corrupt officials were continuing their dubious dealings with the support of ruling party functionaries.

Citing some recent incidents which included an attempt by armed miscreants to take forcible possession of a shop in Ghumar Mandi, registration of title deed of a disputed piece of land in the office of sub-registrar during night, an alarming rise in murders, robberies, rapes and thefts and encroachment on government land by the high and mighty, the BJP leaders claimed that these activities were being committed with the support of some local Congress leaders.

The memorandum further maintained that, in particular, the crime against women and senior citizens had witnessed a spurt in the recent past.

Asserting that there was a total collapse of the governance, administration and law enforcement machinery in the state, the party sought an immediate intervention of the Governor to ameliorate the pitiable condition of the people.

The BJP deputation was led by the district president, Dr Subhash Verma. Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Mr Shakti Sharma, Mr Anil Sareen, Mr Pran Bhatia, Mr Subhash Bhatia, Mr Jitendra Mittal, Mr Om Parkash Talwar, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Mr Balwant Rai Mattu, Mr Hukam Chand Kumra, Mr Subhash Dawar, Mr Parshottam Mittal, Mr Uma Datt Sharma, Mr Surinder Sharma, Mr Gurdip Singh Neetu and Mr Sandeep Kapoor, also included in the deputation.



MCPI opposes proposed hike in petrol prices
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
The Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI) has strongly condemned the UPA government, headed by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, for the proposal to increase petrol and diesel prices in the country. The party is of the firm view that this step will hit the common man hard.

Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, national general secretary, and Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary, in a joint statement here, have taken a serious view of the attitude of the leadership of Left parties, especially those of CPI and CPM, who were said to have given a nod to the proposed hike in petrol and diesel prices. They lamented that the so-called Left parties had also become a party to this anti-people step aimed at benefiting petro companies and putting unnecessary burden on the common man.

The MCPI leaders recalled that during the one-year rule of the Congress-led UPA Government, prices of petrol, diesel and domestic gas had been increased many times. They regretted that the leadership of the Congress, as well as that of other constituents of the coalition like CPI and CPM, was more interested in watching the interests of big companies than the common man.

Mr Lyallpuri and Mr Kuldip Singh cautioned the government against any move to further increase the prices of petrol and diesel as it would lead to all-round increase in prices of all commodities. The party also decried the negative attitude of the Prime Minister towards free and subsidised power supply to farmers and the agriculture sector, which was the backbone of Indian economy. “While the UPA Government is providing subsidies and concessions to big capitalists and big industrial houses, including, multi-national companies, it is discriminating against the farm sector.

The MCPI functionaries expressed serious concern over the dismal power scenario with prolonged and unscheduled power cuts being imposed on all categories of consumers. On the one hand, the power situation was worsening while on the other, the PSEB and Punjab Government were contemplating sharp, increase in power rates which was unjustified and unreasonable. The party has threatened to launch a joint struggle against this injustice along with other like-minded parties and groups.



100 cases settled at redress camps
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, June 3
A redress camp was organised by the police near here today. Senior police officials, including DIG Parag Jain and SSP Rajiv Ahir, heard the problems of people and about 100 cases resolved at the camps held in Jagraon city and Mullanpur Dakha.

The Ludhiana police is in the process of putting a legal stamp on the compromises reached among parties at such camps. Mr Jain said the compromises remain an informal agreement and any party could easily go back on its word. The police was in taking the help of a district judge to help make the agreements legally binding.

The issues were of petty nature but lingered on as the police could not find time to deal with these matters due to the pressure of important cases.



Industry for further cut in steel prices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
Industrial associations have expressed concern over the “insufficient reduction” in steel prices by leading steel manufacturers, including SAIL. “In the international market steel prices have come down by $ 100 per tonne, which translates to around Rs 4,500.

However, the five major steel producers have effected a minor price reduction in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 per tonne only, which is nowhere near the real reduction in the price of steel, “ said Mr G.L Pahwa, president, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association. Urging the government to regulate prices, the association said market manipulation by five major steel producers needed to be stopped.

Mr Pahwa said the duty on imported scrap should be scrapped so that locally produced steel gets cheaper. Due to rise in steel prices and consequent increase in input costs, Indian exporters have been forced to shift base to countries like China as locally produced goods have become costlier in comparison.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) also emphasised on a further reduction in prices. Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, CICU, said the current reduction would help engineering industry including cycle and cycle parts, but it should have been more. “Reduction through discount announced by SAIL would be temporary and short lived relief to the steel consuming industry. Steel manufacturers should have considered international trends while announcing discounts,” he added.


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