L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Akali protest against power cuts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
A few Akali leaders led by Mr. Sohan Singh Goga, a local councillor, staged a dharna and burnt an effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in protest against frequent and unscheduled power cuts at the Ramgarhia Chowk here today.

The Akali leaders said residents of the city were reeling under unscheduled power cuts in the humid and sultry weather. Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Mr. Hira Singh Gabria, an Akali leader, said while the Chief Minister was enjoying his life sitting in a palatial house, citizens were suffering, as there was nobody to listen to their grievances.

Mr. Goga said if the unscheduled power cuts were not checked they would be forced to intensify their agitation. “We fail to understand that there are reports that dams had registered record level of water and still we were suffering from hours long power cuts. What are they going to do with the water if it cannot generate electricity,” added Mr. Goga.

He also said the public was being kept in dark. “It was the failure of the Chief Minister if this situation persisted for long. How can they sit peacefully when the people are suffering? We will soon intensify our agitation if our requests go unheeded,” he said.

Others who took part in the protest were Mr. Avtar Singh Makkar, Mr. Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Mr. Arjan Singh Cheema, Mr. Balbir Singh Mankoo and Mr. Vikramjit Singh Khalsa, all Akali leaders.



Unscheduled power cuts trouble industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Unscheduled power cuts, being imposed for eight hours daily, have caused resentment among local industrialists. Industry representatives say in addition to the compulsory 24-hour off, the industry is suffering due to unscheduled cuts.

Mr. Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, said: “Regular power supply seems to be an unachievable task for PSEB now. Unscheduled cuts not only affects production and margins, but also the credibility of industrialists who are not able to meet their orders. Poor power situation has caused heavy losses to industry in the state”.

Industrialists also said if required the board could impose two weekly offs but on other days regular power supply should be ensured. Urging the government to take immediate measures in the direction, the Untied Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Associations said the government must consider the matter on priority basis as industry was suffering.

Mr. Varinder Kapoor, general secretary of the associations, said regular power supply should be ensured otherwise many industrial units would be compelled to shift base to neighbouring states.

Industrialists pointed out that states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana were offering better facilities and infrastructure unlike Punjab where electricity had become a major issue.



Bicycle export loses power
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
The export of bicycle and its parts has suffered due to the reduction in the duty drawback facility. Even otherwise, the overall production has got affected due to frequent power cuts and the fall in the steel prices.

Enquiries reveal that the city alone exports bicycles and its parts worth Rs 75 crore every month and Rs 900 crore in a year. The Central Government reduced the duty drawback facility from 16 per cent to 8 per cent in May due to which the export of bicycle and its parts fell to Rs 30 crore in June, according to Mr. Satish Dhanda, former chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, has sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister and the Union Commerce Minister seeking their intervention in the matter. They also urged them to restore the status quo in the grant of duty drawback benefits. According to Mr. Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president, and Mr. Avtar Singh, general secretary of the chamber, the local industries have suffered due to wrong policies of the Central and the state governments. They regretted that the government instead of helping the small-scale industries were taking anti-industry steps. Mr. Avtar Singh said the industry was in panic as the labour trouble had upset the production and now it had been burdened with hefty power bills. The PSEB authorities had sent power bills by including the arrears of the enhanced power tariff from April.

On an average, the industrial units had to pay Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh extra because of the rise in the power tariff. Earlier, the engineering industries were suffering because of the steep hike in the steel prices. Now, when the steel prices have started falling the buyers from foreign countries have suspended some of the export orders and fresh orders are not forthcoming. This has put the industry in a tight position.

Mr. Avtar Singh said now about 150 containers of the bicycle and its parts were going to the ports carrying export consignments against 750 containers every month. The total number of containers that were being sent from the city’s dry port with export goods was 2500.

He said the overall industrial production had fallen by more than 40 per cent due to the power cuts. The steel prices have been falling for the past two months and the latest fall in the prices was announced by the SAIL on August 1 worth Rs 1500 per ton of the CR and HR coils. The total fall in the steel prices of the two major items of consumption had been to the tune of over Rs 5000 per ton during the past two months. Cr coil was quoted at Rs 33,500 per ton today and HR coil Rs 23,500 per ton, respectively.

In the meantime, some industrial houses of the city particularly the main bicycle manufacturers and cycle parts manufacturers have also setup their offices in China to sell their own goods and import Chinese goods to India. 



I-Day security: over 200 detained
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
The police has, in a pre-dawn door-to-door checking in two colonies of Model Town and the Sarabha Nagar police station area, detained over 200 persons who could not provide proper details or documents about their identity.

Those detained, including labourers, were released after their details were recorded in two police stations. The surprise checking was conducted in Ambedkar Colony and Sunet village of Sarabha Nagar. It was the first sign of heightened security measures in the city for Independence Day celebrations, police sources said.

Residents of these colonies were taken aback when at about 3.30 am, large number of police personnels led by the DSP Mr. R.K. Bakshi, began house-to-house search. Mr. Bakshi said the aim was to nab anti-social elements.

Though the police had no specific information, the checking was planned as a general precautionary measure. Mr. Bakshi said 122 persons were detained from Sunet village and 85 were brought for questioning from Ambedkar Colony.



98,000 file IT returns
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 3
With as many as 98,000 income tax returns having been filed by individual taxpayers by August 1, the last date for filing of returns for 2004-05, the Income Tax Department here is all set to mop up the targeted revenue of Rs 1,150 crore during the current financial year.

Last year, the tax collections from the region were around Rs 800 crore and the number of returns filed by the individual assesses was 91,000.

The Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT), Mr. S.J.S. Pall said here today that the overall number of assesses, which was around 2.5 lakh during the previous year, would also record a significant increase and a clear picture would emerge when the companies and other big tax-payers, whose accounts were to be audited, would file their returns in October.

Mr. Pall outlined several measures initiated by the department to make the functioning more transparent and taxpayer friendly. "Coercive methods that led to a sense of mistrust between the business community and the IT officials has become a thing of the past. We lay more emphasis on creating awareness regarding social and legal commitment to pay taxes."

He said it was in the process of forging closer ties with the taxpayers that the government had launched a scheme of setting up 'tax sahayta kendras' (assistance centres) all over the country. In the region such centres had become functional at Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

"Tax consultants, IT officials and supporting staff are available at these centres to assist small taxpayers who have always been shy of disclosing their income and paying taxes due to procedural problems rather than their intention to evade tax," he said

Mr. Pall further observed that the department had also roped in representatives of trade and industry as well as taxation experts and members of bar to launch a concerted awareness campaign and consequently further expanding the base of the tax payers. He said the efforts did yield positive response which was evident from consistent rise in the number of taxpayers and revenue generation. But the number of assesses and tax collections from the region were still disproportionate to the actual income and living standards of the people.

According to the CCIT, while the department expected from the business community to pay their taxes scrupulously at its own level, the department had taken various steps to streamline the day to day working. "Most of the operations in the region are computerised, facility of e-returns has been extended to assesses, there has been increased interaction between the department, tax payers and the members of taxation bar.

Expressing confidence that the department would achieve the ambitious target of Rs 1,150 crore, Mr. Pall remarked that unlike previous years, the big assessments would be completed by the end of December so that the assesses had enough time to pay their due taxes before the end of financial year. The department would also press for speedy and time-bound disposal of cases pending in tribunals.



B.Ed for a price
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, August 3
Private non-aided B.Ed colleges are providing seats from the management quota for a price ranging between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 2 lakh .They are asked to pay in cash and make do without a receipt .

There are about 97 Bed colleges in the state and about 10 more colleges would start functioning at the time of second counseling by Panjab University. Apart from general and reserved categories, state government has left 13 to 15 seats to the management's discretion." We assume if there are 100 such B.Ed colleges, the total seats would be about 1300. By asking a fee of Rs 1lakh per student (in the management quota), crores are going into the kitty of the private non-aided colleges ,said Prof Tarsem Bahia, fellow Panjab University and convener, Punjab Education Forum.



Passing Thru

Mr A.K.Bhatnagar
Mr A.K.Bhatnagar, general secretary, North Zone Insurance Employees Association. 

This is your first visit after taking over as the secretary of NZIEA. What brings you here?

The Gurgaon incident has shocked workers across the country. I am here to talk to LIC employees from the zone about the incident. We feel workers have been pressurised to reach a compromise and we also want the erring police personnel to be punished.

Please elaborate on wage revision settlement.

Wage revision was due since year 2002. After a lot of representations and protests, the management has finally agreed to our demands. Apart from merging the DA with basic at Price Index 2328, several demands pertaining to allowances have been met.

Unions are generally blamed by managements to create a hostile working environment. What do you say?

After privatisation, many managements are trying to wipe off unions. Unions help in breaking communication barriers between workers and managements. However, the fact is that private companies, which aim at profit maximisation, do not want unions so that they can exploit workers, which is highly unjust.

— Shveta Pathak



Patient seeks financial aid
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 3
Ms Rajni, a 28-year-old woman, admitted to Christian Medical College and Hospital here, is fighting for life and her only chance of survival rests on the benevolence of public-spirited and kindhearted people.

Brought to the CMCH in June, the patient was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease with right non-visualised kidney and left-sided multiple renal abscess. She was initiated on hemodialysis since then.

According to Dr Basant Pawar, Head of the Department of Nephrology, the patient came from a very poor family and her husband was a physically challenged person who worked in a hosiery and earned barely enough to support his family.

Dr Pawar said the patient would either require biweekly hemodialysis throughout her life for the chronic kidney diseases or go for renal transplantation, which in the present circumstances seemed to be distant hope.

In an appeal to the people to come forward to the rescue of the ailing woman, Dr Pawar said cheques and drafts made in the name of "CMC Ludhiana Society - for the treatment of Rajni" could be sent to the Department of Nephrology of CMCH here. All assistance would be duly acknowledged.



Friendship is forever, for some
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, August 3
Friendship Day is on August 7 and some people spelt out there feelings. “Friendship is a priceless gift, specially in this materialistic world. I have a bum-chum and we have shared a deep friendship. For this reason, life has been pleasant despite hardships”, says Vishwas. His friend Gulfam says, “On Friendship Day, we go out for a picnic and our children love to listen to our exploits and anecdotes.”

“We are nine friends studying in college and have been friends for the past five years. We have tiffs but we make up fast. Some guys have tried to break our friendship, but they have not succeeded. We are fortunate to have a friendship based on trust and respect for one another. We give gifts on Friendship Day and promise to cherish our friendship”, say Taruna, Rajinder, Micky, Mamta, Neeru, Ritu, Mandeep, Malti and Jimmy.

“Perhaps all of us are wonderful in several ways or may be we are lucky to be people who put others first. Whatever it is, we want to tell everyone that we are very important to one another and wish everyone to have a perfect friend”, they add.

Commercialisation of this day has made people more aware of it but unfailing friendship has always existed.

Along with friendship cards, this year there are friendship bands, pens and a book on quotes are enclosed with the cards. There is a brisk sale of friendship bands which are quite a rage. These are made of metal, thread, beads and leather.

Many, however, phoo-phoo the idea of expressing friendship through cards, Fang, a businessman, says,” I will never send a card as we friends know that we are there for one another during adversity. We are five friends from school and are now into our thirties. Our friendship has not only survived, but also grown. We are confident that whether we meet or not, we would be there for one another in tough times. We do not require anything to express our bond. Only young boy and girls want to show friendship through such things.”

“Is there anything like friendship these days? I have been betrayed by so-called friends both in business and personal life,” says a bitter Roshan Lal. He said his friend with whom he had started a business duped him and now he was in dire straits. Then his daughter got married and his friend knew that the boy was a drug addict but never told him. His daughter is back home as she could not tolerate her husband’s violent behaviour. “This is the friendship these days. Stab your friend in the back,” he added.

Yet those who have even one sincere friend say, “Thank god we can choose our friends as relatives are thrust upon us. Friends are better than relatives.”



Making mockery of a memorial park
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Chattar Singh Park, named after an NCC cadet who died while digging a drain along with his battalion to supply water to the bus stand area in the early 1950s, is not only lying abandoned, it has become a place to hold demonstrations and meetings.

Often called the Matka Chowk of Ludhiana, it is a pity that the park is being used for such activities. Also there is no board that gives details about the cadet.

According to Mr. M.S. Cheema, a historian, Chattar Singh had died in the early 1950s. The park was named after him and was constructed in 1954.

Sita Ram, owner of a teastall near the park, says that it is a “sleepy” park but in 1954 when it was built, it was the best park in the city. “Now only unionists come here to hold meetings or raise slogans against the government,” he said, adding that even these organisations had not done anything for the park’s upkeep.

The fencing of the park has rusted and is broken at several places. A fountain, which was the beauty of the park, has been dry for the past 10 years. Taps are being used carelessly by people living nearby. Water continues to flow but no one closes the taps.

Trees in the park are being cut recklessly and the statue of Chattar Singh has not been washed or painted.

Sadhu Singh, who used to go to the park for his walks, says that the filth and litter in the park has made it avoidable.



Jobless railway vendors protest
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, August 3
many as 200 railway vendors have been rendered jobless following the failure of contractors to deposit their licence fee arrears.

Mr. Dev Raj, president of the Railway Vendors Association, said today that for the past 16 days vendors had been coming to the railway station everyday with the hope that the impasse between the contractors and the railway authorities would be resolved and that they would get back their jobs. Their hopes had been raised following the reported willingness of the contractors to deposit the arrears. The contractors had even moved the Panjab and Haryana High Court, praying that they were willing to pay the arrears in instalments. The plea was granted by the court, but still the railway authorities had been dilly-dallying in accepting the court verdict.

Mr. Raj further stated that vendors were being punished for no fault of theirs. Reliable railway sources, however, told this correspondent that the railway authorities in Delhi were contemplating handing over the catering arrangements at railway stations to a single contractor with effect from October. The vendors are willing to deposit the licence fee on their own for the next couple of months provided they are allowed to run their business.

They will hold a meeting tomorrow in this regard to chalk out their future line of action.

Meanwhile, commuters continue to face hardships on account of unavailability of eatables, tea and mineral water at the railway station.



Akali leaders meeting held
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 3
A meeting of workers and leaders of the Akali Dal (Badal) was held at a gurdwara in Isru village on Wednesday.

The meeting was organised to chalk out a plan for the Akali conference being organised in the memory of Shaheed Karnail Singh and Bhupinder Singh on August 15. Mr. Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal said the impact of the conference would affect the party at the state level and it was the duty of the Akali workers to make the conference a success. 



Kabaddi player hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Two persons, including a kabaddi played from Amritsar, Mr Jatinder Singh Lali, were seriously injured in a collision among a bus, a truck and a car last evening.

The persons travelling in the car, suffered the brunt of the impact as the vehicle rammed straight into truck. The bus passengers survived as only one side of the bus was hit. Its driver managed to swerve away to safety.

The Maruti car (PB 02G 1250) collided with the truck (PB 04F 9837) and the front wheel of the truck broke and it hit a roadside tree. Truck driver Balbir Singh of Moga absconded after the accident.

Cleaner of the truck Sukhcharan said that the driver had tried its best to save the car but lost the balance of the vehicle after the front side of the truck brushed a side of the bus coming from the opposite side.

The injured were given first aid at nearby Saran Hospital. The Dakha police has impounded both the truck and the car.



Two booked for cheating firm
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 3
The police has booked two persons for cheating Khamano-based firm Laxmi Overseas and registered a case under Sections 420, 406 and 34, IPC, at the Sadar police station, here.

Gurjeet Singh Saini, a liaison officer of the firm, had lodged a complaint that two persons of LGM Ltd had purchased wheat from Laxmi Overseas. They made some payment and started lifting the wheat from godowns of the firm. On May 15, 2005 and lifted more than 2000 metric tonnes of wheat till July 25. But they had not paid the rest of the amount. Gurjeet Singh alleged that accused J.K. Jain Sathi and Rajesh Pannaria had lifted wheat from the godowns of Lalheri, Daudpur and Bhattian.

Following an initial inquiry on the complaint the police has registered a case against the accused. However, no arrest has been made.



One held for liquor smuggling
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 3
The local police to has arrested a person on charges of smuggling of liquor in the area. The truck carrying 9,000 bottles of liquor has also been impounded.

Mr. Harinder Singh Chahal, Senior Superintendent of Police, said the local police had arrested Gurmel Singh of Chhanna village. Mr. Harinder Singh, SHO (city), intercepted the Truck at the Dhulkote Chowk at around 2 a.m. When the driver hesitated in allowing the search of the vehicle, the police got suspicious and impounded it.

“Contrary to the claims made by the driver that the truck was carrying sand, it had bottles of liquor,” said Mr. Chahal. Moreover, the driver had not stopped at an octroi naka on the road leading to the Dhulkot chowk.

Preliminary investigations revealed that a wine trader of Ludhiana had hired the truck from a Ludhiana-based transport company for shifting a huge quantity of liquor on July 30. The staff of the transport company instead of sending the goods to a firm based at Ropar diverted the truck to this area. They allegedly tempered with the records to show that the bills were prepared on July 31. Investigations further revealed that the gang was to supply a part of the goods to smugglers for selling these at cheaper rates.

The police has registered a case under the Excise Act. Meanwhile, the accused was presented in a court at Malerkotla from where the police got his remand till August 5.



Shifting of red units resented
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 3
Irked over the Punjab Pollution Control Board's (PPCB's) decision to shift red category industry from the residential areas, industrialists here demanded land to be allotted to them for shifting.

They also sought that the deadline given for shifting i.e. September 30 should be extended as it was not possible for the units to shift within such a short span. A few industrialists also demanded that the areas where small industrial units were located be designated as industrial areas.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr. Manmohan Singh Ubhi, president, Dashmesh Small Scale Industries Association, said "The decision of the PPCB has sent shock waves among small industrialists. It has been established by surveys conducted by various industrial associations that very few units in this belt can be called polluting units. Even the Supreme Court has directed to designate those areas that have more than 70 per cent industrial units as industrial areas. A survey can be conducted here too as over 80 per cent of the area is covered by industrial units."

He said various initiatives by the government in recent past showed that these areas were recognised as industrial. For instance, the PSEB had extended the time limit for granting electricity connections to the units in this belt.

Mr. Joginder Kumar, president, Ludhiana Electroplaters Association, said, "The decision would affect over 250 red category units. A study by the Science and Technology Department has shown that these units are doing electroplating or zinc plating on job work. Minor changes in layout within factories can solve the entire problem and these units need not be shifted."

He said the major problem in shifting was the non-availability of space for setting up new units. "If units are to be shifted, they should be allotted at least 10 acres of land at the rate of Rs 126 per sq yd at par with large units. Besides, they should be given sufficient time."

Industrialists also expressed apprehension that after shifting the red units the pollution board might crack whip on green category units as well.

"The way things are moving with one department pursuing a policy to promote industry and the other going against it, we fear that a decision might be taken to shift even the green category units. The industry is in no position to shift. Already Ludhiana's small scale industry is not doing well. Such decisions would ruin this sector," Mr. Kumar said.


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