L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


18 live mortars recovered from sewer pit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The scare of scrap bombs returned to haunt city residents with the recovery of 18 live anti-aircraft mortars from a sewer pit of the Municipal Corporation near Bindra Colony on the Shivpuri road this afternoon.

The bombs surfaced when some employees of the Municipal Corporation were cleaning the sewer at about 1 pm. This is probably the first time when such explosives, termed scrap bombs that arrive with the consignment of iron and steel scrap from the Gulf countries especially war-ravaged Iraq, have been found from sewer pits. Normally such bombs have been recovered from open drains or abandoned plots.

A bomb disposal squad of the Punjab Armed Police, Jalandhar (PAP), safely recovered the explosives in the evening after the Salem Tabri police had secured the area. The team transported the explosives to a secluded area in the Dhandari dry port, where thousands of such explosives are already stacked for several months, waiting for proper disposal.

Police sources said there was a remote possibility that the mortars could have exploded. But such an explosion would have definitely harmed the MC employees cleaning the sewer or could have caused major damage to the sewer pipes.

The recovery also pointed out that the some industrialists were still not following the directive of the District Magistrate (DM) to stop dumping such explosives found in the scrap imported for moulding in the furnaces.

The DM had issued orders some months ago that anyone found dumping the bombs instead of informing the district administration would be booked for violation of the orders.

Sub-Inspector Rajinder Singh, in charge of the bomb disposal squad, told Ludhiana Tribune that each of the mortars, which were also called anti-aircraft bullets, could cause considerable damage within 8m.

The Salem Tabri police sources said it would be difficult to find out who had dumped the explosives in the sewer pit. Sources said whoever had done so had acted in a very irresponsible manner.

There were clear instructions that if industrialists recover such bombs in scrap, they should inform the police or the district administration and no action would be taken against them. Yet, the bombs were being dumped haphazardly, putting so many lives at risk.



MC razes slum houses
Tribune News Service

The razed houses of slum dwellers at Jiwan Singh Nagar in Ludhiana on Wednesday.
The razed houses of slum dwellers at Jiwan Singh Nagar in Ludhiana on Wednesday. — Photo: IV

Ludhiana, December 28
Just a day after failing to demolish an illegal building of an influential transporter, a demolition squad of the local Municipal Corporation today razed a number of houses of slum dwellers along the 100-feet road in Jiwan Singh Nagar this afternoon.

The demolition squad also issued a warning to over 500 such houses in the slum colony to clear the area on their own within a few days or face the bulldozer. The demolition team did not budge before the protesting residents unlike yesterday when it did not raze the illegal structure of an influential transporter.

The slum dwellers, many of whom had constructed walls on the encroached land, raised slogans alleging the MC was only targeting the poor and weak persons but not taking same action against rich and mighty persons.



VAT reduction evokes mixed response from industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The reduction of the rates of value added tax (VAT) on several items has evoked a mixed response from the industry. Expressing resentment over not reducing VAT on auto parts, the Auto Parts Manufacturers Association of India said the government has ignored the auto parts industry that has been demanding a reduction for a long time.

"We have been time and again urging the government to reduce VAT on auto parts from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent as the industry is adversely affected due to heavy taxation. The empowered committee on VAT even assured our association that it would reduce VAT on auto parts but it has not done anything," said Mr G.S. Kahlon, president of the association.

The association said that auto parts industry in the state had been rendered incompetent after high VAT was imposed on it and entrepreneurs were facing hardships in selling their goods due to this reason.

Explaining the problem, the association said it had sent a memorandum to the empowered committee clarifying that various items being made from the same material attracted 4 per cent VAT, but when they were used in auto parts, the rate of VAT increased to 12.5 per cent. "This difference of 8.5 per cent is unjustified," said Mr Kahlon.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, on the other hand, welcomed the government's decision to reduce VAT on 89 items.

Industry associations, meanwhile, demanded that the government should release VAT refunds at the earliest. "Refund claims should be released without filing forms 'C' and 'H' as already promised by the government," said Mr Upkar Singh, joint secretary, CICU.



Treat burning of straw a criminal act: farmers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Punjab farmers have not only become conscious of “time” in performing various agricultural operations or following PAU recommended farm practices, but also are they now more aware of the importance of conservation and management resources as also environmental degradation. They are also concerned about the menace of stray cattle.

This was the common refrain at the meeting of the scientific advisory committee of Krishi Vigyan Kender, Ferozepore, today.

PAU’s Director of Extension Education Dr. S.S. Gill, who chaired the meeting, was told by the farmers that they fully endorsed the resolution of the farmers’ committee which met at Ludhiana on December 20 seeking appropriate legislative measures from the government to discourage early paddy sowing and transplantation to save water and power.

The Ferozepore farmers said besides treating early paddy sowing a “criminal act”, as resolved by the farmers’ committee, burning of paddy straw, which caused air pollution and destroyed farmer-friendly soil bacteria, should also be treated as a criminal act.

Dr Gill appreciated the sentiments and initiative of the progressive farmers like Kanwar Jatinder Singh Bedi of Sohna Sandhaur village, Surinder Ahuja and Gurdeep Singh of Badni Gulab Singh village for raising such important issues.

The farmers who participated in the scientific advisory committee meeting expressed concern over the menace of stray cattle that destroyed crops and fodder. To this, Dr. Gill suggested that the village panchayats should play a pro-active role to tackle the problem.

The farmers and panchayats should find a viable solution to this menace keeping in view the religious sentiments of people and also their own interests. “Panchayats can tether the stray cattle or animals on village land or create a pen where social organisations or NGOs could be involved to provide such cattle, animals fodder, feed and water.

Some farmers felt that the abattoir at Dera Bassi be made fully functional to take care of stray male buffalo calves.

The meeting was attended, among others, by district officials of agriculture and related departments, like Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and NABARD.



IT surveys launched against customs clearing agents
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 28
The Income Tax department today launched survey operations against half a dozen customs clearing agents in the city, including one clearing agency in Mandi Gobindgarh town in Fatehgarh Sahib district, which falls within the jurisdiction of Ludhiana Chief Commissionerate.

According to Mr M.N.A. Choudhary, Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT), around one dozen premises of the clearing agents at Focal Point, Industrial Area B and G.T. Road here were under survey which was continuing till late in the evening. Various teams of IT officials with supporting staff were carrying out the inspection of books of accounts, other documents and computer data of the clearing agents, who were suspected to be evading income tax.

Some of the customs clearing agents, targeted for survey, were learnt to have amassed immovable property beyond their declared sources of income. The exact extent of concealed income and evasion of taxes thereon, would be known only after the process of valuation of these properties by technical persons was completed, which was a time consuming process, added the CIT.



Probe ordered into destroying of blood units
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Taking a serious note of the news-item published in a section of press regarding the illegal destroying of 15 units of blood and hiding of the empty pouches by some employees of the Civil Hospital, Mr Anurag Verma Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, has ordered an inquiry by Mr J.K. Jain, Executive Magistrate, Ludhiana. Mr Verma asked Mr Jain to ascertain the actual facts of the case and submit his report within two weeks.

The DC said that in case any employee of the Civil Hospital was found guilty of destroying the units of blood as reported in the news-item, strict action as per rules would be initiated against him.



Car snatched from Jalandhar resident
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 28
Two unidentified car borne youths snatched a car from a resident of Jalandhar from near Gurdwara Manji Sahib yesterday evening.

According to the information, Mr Durga Parsad, son of Bhagirath, was coming from Ludhiana when he reached near the spot, a maruti Zen car hit his car.

The occupants of the Zen car dragged Mr Parsad out of his car and attacked him with an iron rod. The accused then ran away with his car (PB 08 A N - 9955).

The matter has been reported to the police.



Recall 2005
Year saw thrust on steps to check duty evasion
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 28
The Department of Central Excise and Customs maintained its thrust on the compliance of service tax and measures to check duty evasion during year 2005. Having exceeded the targeted revenue collection of Rs 940 crore for the previous financial year, the department appeared to be all set to repeat the performance if senior officials were to be believed.

With several new services added for the levy of service tax during the year, the Ludhiana Commissionerate had a tough time to rope in the new service providers, particularly the goods transport companies. It took a number of agitations by the transporters and several rounds of discussions before the 300-odd companies sought registration under the provisions of the Act.

According to Mr V.K. Garg, Commissioner of Central Excise, the service tax collection till November 2005 was around Rs 70 crore against the annual target of Rs 107 crore. During the last financial year, the service tax had yielded Rs 83 crore and the number of assessees had witnessed an increase of more than 60 per cent.

In the course of consistent anti-evasion drive, the department had carried out surveys on different categories of service providers like security services, service stations, storage and warehousing services, workshops and sugar mills, which led to the detection of service tax evasion to the tune of Rs 1.19 crore. In all, 19 cases of duty evasion were detected till November 2005 involving a duty evasion of Rs 12.66 crore.

In a rather innovative, albeit clandestine manner of duty evasion, an induction furnace unit on the Chandigarh Road here, which was officially closed for several years, was manufacturing steel items during night hours and removing them from the premises before sunrise without the payment of duty for quite some time. The preventive wing of the department, however, outsmarted the defaulting manufacturer, who was booked for operating unlawfully and the evasion of duty.

Almost towards the end of the year, the preventive wing of the Customs Department unearthed fraudulent release of several consignments of imported goods without the payment of custom duty on Inland Container Depot at Dhandari Kalan here. A clearing and forwarding agency was alleged to be involved in the release of goods on the basis of fabricated documents. The scam involved a custom duty evasion of Rs 8 crore and two persons were arrested in this connection.

Continuing with its efforts of improving compliance and making the working of the department conducive for the assessees, the department set up a help centre here in July for the benefit of small units, which was inaugurated by the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla.

Moving further towards this direction, the facility of round the clock (24x7) electronic payments (e-payments) of central excise and custom was extended to the city industrialists. With the help of PAN-based 15 digit assessee code, the tax payers could make payments at any time of the day without any hassle.



Angithis sell like hot cakes in chilly weather
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 28
Traditional things may go out of circulation for some time, but they come to the rescue when other modern gadgets fail. So is the case with angithis which otherwise extinct are now back on the streets and selling like hot cakes. Due to harsh winters and shortage of electricity and LPG, the city residents are turning to age old angithis not just for getting warmth during long, cold nights but also for cooking food.

Shambhu and his whole family residing near Shingar Cinema say, "We are kept busy throughout winters as people living nearby find angithis very economical and useful. Cooking gas is consumed more in winters and runs short of supply. So angithis come to the rescue. These days Punjabis love to eat sarson ka saag and every one knows it takes long to cook. So after cooking the morning meals, saag is left to simmer on slow burning coals. At night, fire is freshened and night meals are cooked and then the angithi is moved inside the bedroom to make it cosy."

Shambu buys empty cans of paints or oil. After cutting them to required shape, he expertly kneads clay and builds the shape of angithi on it. It is so built that the vessel can comfortably settle over it.

He says, "Many people come from posh areas in their cars and buy my angithis and clay ovens (tandoors) for keeping in the outer house for barbecue purposes. Some buy it cook saag and also to sit around it when they are throwing a party. Chicken tikkas, keema and kababs etc. are barbecued well in tandoors. The cooks have been trained to cook rotis. Nothing like a tandoori roti wrapped round a seekh kabab and tangy mint chutney."

Sarla, a housewife says, "Angithis are a boon. We can regulate fire by putting more coals and fanning it to make the fire really sharp. Similarly, we can dim the fire by removing burning coal. The whole family sits around the angithi and eats simple but hot meals. I like it in winters as I do not have to stand and while sitting down near the angithi, I can do all my work.”



Applications invited for Stree Shakti Puraskar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, has invited applications for Stree Shakti Puraskars to be given by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Department of Women and Child Development), Government of India, to the women who had done exemplary services for the welfare of women and children.

The applications can be submitted latest by January 6, 2006, in the office of Assistant Commissioner (General) at Mini Secretariat here.

Giving more details, the Deputy Commissioner said the awards were given annually in the names of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, Kannagi, Mata Jijabai, Rani Gaidenlou Zeliang and Rani Lakshmi Bai. Each award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and a citation.

Various activities for which the awards are being given included support and rehabilitation of women and children in difficult circumstances like destitute women and children, widows victims of atrocities and conflicts, disabled women and children, aged women etc., education and training, promoting self help groups, support to women in agriculture and rural industry, including promotion of technology to reduce drudgery, environment protection, empowerment of women for community and political participation, health, propagation of indigenous system of medicines and creating awareness and consciousness on women's issues through art, media (including electronic and mass media), community bases programs etc.

Mr Verma further said the applications could be submitted in a prescribed proforma, which can be obtained from the office on any working day. He said the applications received under the scheme would be sent to the State Level Screening Committee, which would further shortlist the applications and sent it to the National Level Selection Committee.



Grant to disabled for buying aids
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Under the scheme of assistance to disabled persons launched by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, grant-in-aid would be given to the disabled persons for the purchase, fitting of aids and appliances (ADIP scheme) through the organisations already working for the welfare of the disabled, this was disclosed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, here today.

Giving details, Mr Verma said under the scheme, the income levels for eligibility had also been enhanced to Rs 6,500 per month for 100 per cent concession and Rs 10,000 per month for 50 per cent concession. He said under the scheme, motorised tricycles for persons with locomotor disability and software for visually handicapped persons using computers, which may cost more than Rs 6,000, were also permitted.

Referring to the objectives of the scheme, Mr Verma said that the main objective of the scheme was to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential.

He said the scheme would be implemented through various agencies i.e. societies registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, their branches, registered charitable trusts, District Rural Development Agencies, Indian Red Cross Societies and other autonomous bodies headed by District Collectors Chief Executive Officers District Development Officers of Zilla Parishads.



Youth urged to wipe out corruption
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 28
Mr Harnam Das Johar, Education Minister, Punjab, has called upon the youth to wipe out the corruption from society. Mr Johar said this while addressing a gathering on the occasion of the 121st founder’s day of the Indian National Congress (INC) here today.

Mr Johar said the party, constituted in 1886, was the oldest in the world and towering leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel were associated with it.

Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, Chairman, Punjab Housefed, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Ludhiana, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, District Congress Committee (Urban), also addressed the workers on this occasion.

Meanwhile, the 83rd founder’s day of the Congress Seva Dal was celebrated today. 



Two held in robbery case
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 28
The SSP here claimed to have arrested two persons allegedly involved in a robbery attempt at Mata Rani Mohalla here last week in which six armed robbers tried to rob an aged couple.

The incident happened on Saturday night at about 9 pm when six robbers entered the house of Baldev Singh, a cloth merchant in the locality.

The robbers allegedly asked the wife of the trader to handover cash and gold to them. The couple caught one of the robbers and raised alarm. The accused was later handed over to the police while others managed to flee.

The police got success in arresting two more accused, identified as Raj Kumar, alias Tinku, son of Karmpal of Dharm Pura, and Surinder Kumar, son of Shankar Dass.

The SSP said another three accused involved in the case were still at large. They have been identified as Shem Singh, son of Kewal Saing, Satya Parkash, son of Inder Sen, and Shami Kumar, son Bachan, all residents of Ghaziabad.



Medical insurance scheme for rural people
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
With a view to ensure good medicare facilities to the people in rural areas, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, has appealed to the rural people to come forward and get benefited from the new insurance scheme, Sanjivani Health Insurance, being implemented by the Cooperative Department through cooperative societies in the villages.

Stating that any member of a cooperative society or members of his family could get free medical treatment up to Rs 2 lakh in reputed hospitals of the state, Mr Verma said under the scheme, dependents of the member of a cooperative society, including his wife, unmarried children and elderly parents, could avail themselves of medical treatment by paying marginal premium.

The Deputy Commissioner said to avail themselves of the facility, the patients had to be admitted in to hospital for more than 24 hours and a member and his dependent could get free treatment up to Rs 2 lakh in a year. The Deputy Commissioner said that the government would identify at least two hospitals in every block for this purpose.

He said free treatment for those ailments for which hospitalisation was not required could also be availed under the programme. The treatments included dialysis, chemotherapy, eye surgery, lithography and coronary angiography.

Mr Verma said under the scheme, the member of a cooperative society would have to deposit only Rs 300 per year to avail himself of the medical insurance. All family members below 60 years of age would have to deposit Rs 30 per year and those falling within the age group of 60 to 75 years would have to deposit Rs 45 per year.


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