L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


A classic retreat by MC demolition squad
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
While the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) does not think twice before razing the illegal structures of the poor, it becomes helpless when it comes to removing the encroachments of rich and influential if the “classic retreat” of a demolition squad of the local body, which had gone to pull down a structure of a local transporter today, is any indication.

Led by the MTP, Mr S.S. Bhatia, the ATPs, Mr Meharban Singh and Mr Tejpreet Singh, a demolition squad armed with two bulldozers had gone to Transport Nagar to demolish a structure belonging to an influential transporter with much fanfare in the morning.

Following alleged political pressure, the team came back empty handed without razing the structure, which MC officials disclosed was constructed without any approval of the site plan from the civic body.

The way the squad acted on the spot, it was quite clear that they were doing their work half-heartedly. The team tried to demolish some pillars, but those were so strongly built that the machines failed to give desired results. Today’s incident also exposed the preparedness of the MC to deal with encroachments when some nails of a JCB machine were broken while the team was trying to demolish the pillars.

Amidst frequent ringing of their mobile phones, the officials returned without causing any damage to the imposing structure. Interestingly, the MC had woken up today while the structure had started coming up months ago. And even after an hour of the operation, the building was standing erect.

An employee of the transporter, who was present on the spot, said they were constructing an automobile show room on 2,000 sq yd of land. He added that the construction started some four months ago. He refused to say anything on the site map issue stating that his employers were at the know how of the things.

While most of the MC officials kept their phones switched off, a senior official on the condition of anonymity said they had ordered to stop the construction of the building two months ago. Police personnel were also posted on the spot to stop the owner from restarting the construction. He added that he personally wanted to take action against the illegal buildings of the rich but was unable to do anything following political pressure.

“It seems that the MC and the state government have not learnt any lessons from the Delhi demolition imbroglio. They will be on a sticky wicket when responsibilities would be fixed one day,” he said, adding that had it been the building of not so influential person, the axe would have fallen. 



Industry to boycott government for failing to refund VAT
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Sore over the non-refund of value added tax (VAT), the local industry has decided to boycott the state government. As per the decision, taken by the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association and the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU), the industry has decided that it will neither welcome ministers or government officers at any function nor participate in government functions itself, till the government issues a notification pertaining to VAT refund.

"When VAT was implemented, the government assured us that refunds would be made within three months. However, even after nine months there is no sign of refunds. Industry has its capital blocked as a result its functioning is hit. We have decided that we will not participate in any government function and will not welcome any ministers or government officials ," Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary of the association, told Ludhiana Tribune.

The industry associations say that over Rs 400 crore worth VAT refunds are pending whereas the government is grossly understating the figure at Rs 33 crore.

The two associations, that represent over 3,000 industrialists, traders and exporters from the light engineering and hosiery industry, are now in the process of roping in other industry associations from throughout the state.

The problems being encountered by the industrialists on account of non-refund were aggravated when Chief Minister Amarinder Singh recently cancelled three meetings with industry representatives.

Finance Minister Surinder Singla made an announcement on September 30, 2005, that VAT refunds would be made within 15 days. However, as no progress was made in this direction, the industrialists had sought an appointment with the Chief Minister. The first appointment for November 7 was cancelled followed by cancellation of another appointment on November 16 and yet another in the end of the same month.

The industry alleges that the minister is only avoiding them and is not bothered about industry's concerns. "Industry in the state has been facing several problems, but the government appears least bothered about the same. The CM does not even appear to listen to our problems and all that the finance minister has done so far is given false assurances," alleges an industrialist. They say even as the issue was taken over a couple of times with the government and several letters were also written, nothing has been done so far.

The industrialists also say that over Rs 400 crore of refunds are lying with the government. "Mr Singla says it is Rs 33 crore, which is not even one-tenth of the actual amount."

Agitated over the lack of response from the government, the industry is now planning to rope in associations from throughout the state and intensify its struggle.



Traders a harassed lot under VAT regime: BJP
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The BJP has castigated the state government for harassment being caused by the Excise and Taxation Department officials with respect to the value added tax (VAT) regime, which was introduced in the state in April this year.

In a statement here today, Mr M.L. Maini, general secretary of the district unit of the BJP Legal Cell, observed that the promises of the government regarding the smooth working of VAT had fallen flat while at the same time the claims of the department being transformed into trader-friendly mechanism had been negated.

On the contrary, experience thus far had shown that a number of problems had been created for the trade and industry after the introduction of VAT. Ironically, the government and the department were closing their eyes to scores of day to day problems and instances of harassment brought to their notice by the tax payers. The completely indifferent attitude of the bureaucrats was causing widespread resentment among the members of the trade and industry.

The BJP Legal Cell functionary lamented that in the recent past the instances of computer failure at the Information Collection Centres (ICC) at different check points had added to the woes of the traders and in the absence of computer data, the assessees were made to suffer and avoidable delay was caused in the settlement of issues.

Elaborating the computer-related problems, Mr Maini said for instance if the return of a dealer was not fed in the computer even if it had been filed or due to the failure of the dealers to submit the return in time, the computer files of those particular dealers were locked. As a result, the ICCs were informed accordingly, which in turn did not allow the goods of the dealers out of the state due to incomplete information fed in computers or locked files. “In such cases, goods are detained at the barriers even if the proof of returns being submitted or the tax involved having being paid in time, is shown to the authorities.”

He regretted that as if all this was not enough, the information regarding unlocking of the computer files was not sent to the ICCs immediately and the process was delayed for one or the other reason. The delay caused due to the detention of goods at the barrier for days together led to financial loss and unnecessary harassment to the dealers. In some cases, the dealers had to face the cancellation of orders and delay in the collection of payments for failure to affect supplies on time.

Mr Maini called for immediate remedial steps to stop the process of locking system of the computer files and further to bring efficiency in all matters relating to VAT at different levels in the department.



Failing to file VAT returns, traders termed ‘defaulters’
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Trading community is panic struck as the Excise and Taxation Department, which has served notices for delay in filing returns under VAT asking traders to submit the same by December 31, has termed these traders as “defaulters” in its records.

According to traders, even as the date of submitting delayed return remains a couple of days away they are facing problems in getting their goods cleared on barriers.

“Even those who have submitted returns with penalty are facing problems as their goods are stopped on barriers where officials tell them that they are mentioned as defaulters,” said Mr Jatinder Khurana, an advocate.

Sources revealed that the department had issued notices to 768 dealers in Ludhiana 1, 802 traders in Ludhiana II and 942 traders in Ludhiana III districts. The notices were served for delay in submitting returns for the first and the second quarters.

Those who have delayed the filing of returns are also required to submit penalty, which is Rs 100 per day, subject to a maximum of Rs 10,000.

“The amount of penalty should be reduced and besides the department should ensure that traders do not suffer as VAT is a new system and people are submitting their returns,” said Mr Khurana.

Traders said that the department should also not detain their goods carriers.



Class XI student rapes 3-year-old
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A Class-XI student allegedly raped a three-year-old girl of a migrant labourer at Pawittar Nagar of the Haibowal area this morning.
The accused was nabbed by area residents and a team of the Haibowal police. The accused, Gurinder Singh (17), was alone at the house and had allegedly lured the girl, who lived in the neighbhourhood, by offering her sweets. The girl’s father had gone out to work while her mother was taking bath.

The girl’s mother said when she came out of the bathroom and could not spot her daughter, she raised an alarm. A few minutes thereafter she heard the cries of her daughter from the neighbhouring house. She was shocked to found her daughter in the neighbhourer’s house. The girl was bleeding.

Irate residents surrounded the house and caught the boy. Meanwhile, a team of the Haibowal police also reached there. The police controlled the agitating mob.

The mob, however, marched to the police station with the accused and raised slogans outside the police station. Tension built up in the area with the migrants assembling in a large number. However, the police managed to bring the tempers under control.

The accused boy and the victim girl underwent medical examination at Civil Hospital later in the evening.

Haibowal SHO Kuldip Singh said the boy had been booked for rape. He claimed that the accused boy later told the police that he had gone mad after being incited by his classmates for such an act. He was begging forgiveness.

This is the second shocking incident of rape of a minor girl in Haibowal. A couple for weeks ago, a badly wounded three-year-old girl of a migrant labourer was found raped and dumped in agricultural fields near Surinder Park.



SBI acquires defaulters’ properties
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The State Bank of India (SBI), Model Town Extension branch, today took possession of three properties for alleged default in the repayment of loans.
The bank, with the assistance of GATS Financial Reconstructors Limited, took possession of three properties mortgaged in the name of Mr Yadwinder Singh, Mr Ramesh Kumar Mehra and Mr Nishan Singh. According to the bank, the parties defaulted in the repayment of loans to the tune of Rs 5.44 lakh, Rs 4.36 lakh and Rs 4 lakh, respectively.

“The parties were served a notice of 60 days but they never came forwards, due to which the possession of properties was taken. The premises of the three parties were locked and sealed,” the bank said today.

Meanwhile, the Brahmpuri branch of the bank, took possession of five properties yesterday. The bank said in a press note that the properties were mortgaged in the name of Ms Pardeep Kaur, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Pawan Kumar Mr Chaman Lal and Mr Davinder Pal who allegedly defaulted to the tune of Rs 8.14 crore, Rs 6.47 crore, Rs 6.87 crore, Rs 4.42 crore and Rs 3.37 crore, respectively. The bank served a notice to the borrowers on February 28, giving them 60-day time but they failed to turn up.



Faulty railway signal claims driver's life
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 27
A driver of a goods train was killed under another train while he was waiting for the green signal near the Lalheri road level crossing here today.
According to the information, at around 10 am a goods train was coming to Ludhiana.

At Khanna, the train stopped following the red signal. The driver of the train, Puran Chand, along with assistant driver Amba Parsad came down the train in wait for the green signal. In the mean time, a passenger train Archna Express came on the track and hit the assistant driver who died on the spot.

Puran said the signal system there usually remained faulty. He said the problem had started after the automatic system of signals were installed. The Station Master at Khanna railway station said the track was clear, but due to some fault the system failed to give green signal. After the incident there was no vehicle to take the victim to the hospital.



Akali directors hold bank meeting with Congress support
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, December 27
Despite the directions of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, not to give or get the support of the Congress, two out of four Akali directors of the Khanna Agricultural Land Development Bank convened the meeting of the Board of Directors today with the support of two Congress directors, while the two Akali directors had boycotted the meeting after giving a dissenting note. The local Akali leaders had criticised the role of the two directors, who had convened the meeting with the help of the Congress directors.

Three months ago four Akali candidates were elected out of the total six candidates. The meeting for the election of the office-bearers was held two months ago. The bank authorities had postponed that saying the agenda issued for the meeting was wrong. The bank authorities also refused to give the proceedings register to the directors to enter the proceeding of that meeting. However, the four Akali directors convened the election meeting and elected their office-bearers with a majority as the two congress directors left the venue when the bank authorities declared the meeting as postponed. The Akali directors elected Mr Bahadar Singh as Chairman, Mr Hardev Singh Vice- Chairman, Mr Kashmira Singh loan committee chairman and Mr Khushwant Singh as state committee member.

But after some days the bank authorities issued another agenda to hold the election of the office-bearers. The four Akali directors reached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and succeeded to get a stay order on the election of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman. That meeting was also postponed due to the stay orders.

However, after some days two Akali directors Khushwant Singh and Kashmira Singh approached the High Court and appealed to it to withdraw their application. Following this application two directors and other more than 12 Akali leaders of the area met Mr Badal to ask him to direct the two directors to maintain status quo. Mr Badal deputed Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal to resolve the matter. Mr Sawarn Singh Sandhu Advocate, a local Akali leader, said that a group of Akali leaders met Mr Grewal who told him that he had conveyed the message of Mr Badal to both directors not to give or get the support of the Congress in the meeting of the bank.

However, today in the meeting of the Board of Directors four directors comprising two of the SAD and two of the Congress convened the meeting, while two other Akali directors boycotted the meeting.

Some Akali leaders, including Mr Harchand Singh Alipur, Member Working Committee of the SAD, Mr Devinder Singh Khattra, Mr Gurbax Singh Bija, Mr Sawarn Singh Sandhu, Mr Teja Singh Advocate, Mr Tarlochan Singh Mohanpur, Mr Jeet Singh, Sarpanch Alaur, and Mr Jassa Singh Galwadi, had alleged that the two directors had played into the hands of the Congress on the behest of Mr Lakhbir Singh Kalal Majra, who always tried to benefit the Congress. They alleged that he had earlier voted for the Congress in the Municipal Council’s president elections and now he was again trying to benefit the Congress.



Tewari exhorts youth to work for nation 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Mr Manish Tewari, secretary of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), today exhorted the youth to work for the nation building. For this, he said, it was essential to build up one’s character. He was addressing a gathering of local people, mostly the youth, at the conclusion of a rural sports meet held at Detwal village, near here.

Mr Tewari said the sports constituted an important part of our culture. He emphasised the need for organising more and more such events and programmes so that the youth participate in the games and cultivate a competitive and sportsman spirit. He regretted that youth were being driven towards the drug-addiction, which was threatening the society.

Appealing to the youth to utilise their energies for constructive purposes, he said, the state government and the Central Government had launched a number of schemes for the welfare of the youth. He urged them to avail themselves of these opportunities.

Speaking on the occasion, local MLA, Milkiat Singh Dakha appreciated the efforts of the local sports club in mobilising the youth to participate in such constructive events. He hoped that the government would soon come up with various schemes for the youth.

Prominent among those present on the occasion included senior Congress leaders like Mr Pawan Dewan, Mr Dharamjit Singh Khaira and Mr Akshay Bhanot. 



Anti-drugs rally by YC activists
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Hundreds of activists of the District Youth Congress led by its vice-president, Mr Sushil Kumar, held an anti-drug addiction awareness rally in the city today. It passed through various areas. The participants were carrying banners and placards denouncing drug abuse.

Party activists urged people to ensure that the youth did not get hooked to drugs as these threatened the very social fabric. They warned against drug abuse saying it was “killing our youth”.

The rallyists demanded that stern action be taken against those responsible for luring the youth towards drugs. They appealed to social organisations to step forward and save the youth from the drug menace.



Farmers’ union holds protest

Jagraon, December 27
Hundreds of farmers, on the call given by the Kirti Kisan Union (KKU) took out a protest march in the bazars of the town. They were demanding the arrest of Paramjit Singh Sivia, commission agent of Bassian and now Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, against whom criminal cases has been registered at Raikot police station.

They demanded the waiving of loans, free supply of water and electricity and providing combines at no profit, no loss basis to farmers. OC



ICICI to settle claims of paddy farmers

Ludhiana, December 27
The ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company will settle claims of paddy farmers in Khanna from December 29, for a period of nine days.
The farmers would receive claims at the designated branches of ICICI Bank once they surrender the cover note given to them at the time of insurance, said Mr Pranav Prashad, head of the rural and agriculture business of the company.

“We are sensitive to the loss that farmers had to incur due to unfavourable weather conditions for cultivation this season,” he said. The company insured farmers against extra costs incurred due to deficient rainfall. TNS



Biz Clips

Industrial Organics Limited, manufacturer of industrial chemicals, organic chemicals and drugs, has been awarded the second prize in energy conservation by the Ministry of Power, Government of India. According to a press note, Mr Varinder Gupta, Managing Director of the company, received the award from the President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, at an award function held in New Delhi. — TNS

Inaugurated: Controls and Switchgear Group, an electrical products and services providing company, has opened its office in the city. Mr I.A.Sadhwani, vice-president of the group, inaugurated the office. — TNS


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