L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Rs 585 crore earmarked for constituency-wise development
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The state government has chalked out a comprehensive programme for the fast all-round development of the state. The funds for this purpose are being sanctioned through the District Planning and Development Board for various projects, both in rural as well as urban areas.

Stating this here today, the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, Irrigation and Power, Mr Lal Singh, said Rs 12.40 crore had been released for different projects and schemes. He was addressing a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board here today.

The minister said during the first three years the government had strengthened its financial position through “efficient management and exercising austerity measures”. He said during this year the government would provide maximum funds for development and welfare schemes. He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh each for all 2,177 panchayats in the state. Out of these, 280 Panchayats had been given these grants and the remaining 1,897 would get the grants shortly.

referring to the constituency-wise funds, Mr Lal Singh said Rs 585 crore, (Rs 5 crore per constituency) for development projects were being spent through the District Planning and Development Boards in the state. He asked all MLAs to submit the details of the development projects in their constituencies with the board, so that these funds could be utilised at the earliest.

The minister also announced that toilets would be constructed in the houses of poor people in all villages and Rs 60 crore had already been released for this purpose for the whole state. He directed the officers of departments concerned to efficiently utilise these funds and ensure quality of work. He warned that any contractor found guilty of compromising with the quality of works and making unnecessary delay in implementing these would be blacklisted.

The minister said Rs 626.87 lakh had been given for urban development to the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, and other municipal towns. He appreciated the performance of the district in clearing the large pendency of utilisation certificates of the grants. He also directed the officers concerned to get the pending audit paras cleared at the earliest.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, Ludhiana, assured that the funds released through the District Planning Development Board would be utilised properly and efficiently. To ensure the quality of works surprise checking would be conducted, he added.

Later presiding over the meeting of the District Public Grievances Removal Committee, the minister appealed to all members to submit the common public complaints prior to the date of the meeting, so that the reply from the officers concerned could be called in the meeting for the final settlement of the complaint.

In the meeting, 12 complaints were discussed, on which the directions had been given to the officers concerned for solution. On a complaint regarding unhygienic condition in the localities around Giasura, the minister asked the Deputy Commissioner to hold a special meeting of the departments concerned to suggest a permanent solution for this complex problem, so that the required decision at the state level could be taken.

Among others who attended the meetings included Mr Surinder Dawar and Mrs Harbans Kaur Dulo (Both Parliamentary Secretaries), Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha and Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon (Both MLAs), Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, MP, Mr Nahar Singh, Mayor, Mr Ishar Singh, a former miniser, Mr Gurdeep Singh Bhaini, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, SSP, and Mr Pryank Bharti, ADC(D), Mr Rajinder Singh Basant, Deputy Chairman, CONWARE, Mr Ramesh Joshi, Director, Pollution Control Board, Mrs Mohinder Kaur Dangian, Chairperson, Zila Parishad.



Concealed income of Rs 2.3 cr surrendered
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 29
The survey operations launched by the Income Tax Department here on six customs clearing agents, operating at Inland Container Depot, Dhandari Kalan, have paid rich dividends as the firms have surrendered a total concealed income of Rs 2.3 crore and further agreed to clear the tax liability by March 15 next.

Giving details, Mr J.S. Minhas, Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, who led the survey teams, told Ludhiana Tribune that the customs clearing agents covered under the operation, spread over four or five months, were M/s R.B. Ram Nath Lamba, M/s Cruiser Impex, M/s A.R. Shipping, M/s Star Cargo, M/s Kishore International and M/s Amrit Sea Air. All these firms were showing a nominal annual income of below Rs 5 lakh in the income tax returns and thus evading huge taxes.

According to Mr Minhas, the office premises and warehouses of the firms located at Focal Point and Dhandari Kalan, in Amritsar and Mandi Gobindgarh were searched and their books of accounts and other documents inspected. This confirmed that these business houses were not showing their actual income and taxes were being evaded. With the additional tax liability accepted by the firms, investigations had been closed, he added.

In the meantime, simultaneous raids conducted by officials of the investigation wing of the department on a group of colonisers and property developers in the city, which continued till late last night, led to seizure of Rs 60 lakh worth of cash, bank deposit receipts, jewellery and other incriminating documents from business and residential premises of the firm in Dugri, Sarabha Nagar and Gill Road here.

Sources in the department revealed that 10 bank lockers of the partners of the firm and their family members were sealed. The lockers would be opened and inspected later and the extent of income concealed would be known after the seized documents and valuables were inspected and processed. The tax sleuths had taken in their possession the books of accounts of the firm and documents relating to high-value real estate transactions.

Senior officers of the department indicated that in the face of a staggering revenue collection target of Rs 1,150 crore for the current financial year, pressure would be maintained to unearth tax evasion under the Ludhiana Chief Commissionerate. The department had collected Rs 580 crore so far.

The IT officials further revealed that the database of high-value transactions had been prepared with inputs from commercial banks, stock exchange, mall plazas and other high-end stores in the region. Notices had been issued to a large number of firms and individuals to prove that the transactions were accounted for. Actions under relevant provisions of the Income Tax Act would be taken against those found to be evading taxes, the officials maintained.



Few takers for police scheme
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
Public often criticises the police for not doing enough for safeguarding their property. However, this time it is the police, which is at the receiving end of public apathy. It concerns a special Neighbourhood Watch Scheme introduced by the police that has not got a matched response.

With shortage of staff to physically man the area witnessing a facing spate in chain snatching, vehicles lifting cases, officials of the three police stations in the city today made a clarion call to the residents in the respective areas to help make the scheme successful.

The police has already distributed pamphlets several times in the area of Division No 4, Division No 8 and Haibowal police stations calling people to participate in the scheme for their own betterment, besides creating awareness in police public meetings. However, still there was a luke warm response.

DSP City-II Simratpal Singh Dhindsa told Ludhiana Tribune that the three police stations under his jurisdiction reported chain-snatching and car lifting incidents regularly.

He revealed that basically under the scheme the residents were required to keep a watch on the neighbourhood, especially in the absence of the neighbhour. The shopkeepers were also required to keep a watchman after each 10 shops in the market and similarly the residents after each 10 houses and putting proper locks on the vehicles parked outside.

The factory owners and traders can take cops with them for transporting money or for transaction in a bank, the residents were also supposed to inform the police if they were going out of station and leaving the house locked. Similarly, proper security arrangements have to be made outside the marriage palaces also.



City has tremendous potential: mall owners
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The city will have at least 15 malls within the next two or three years. While a section of market observers feel that there will be a “shedding down”, there are others who opine that the city has enough potential to “accommodate” all these malls and are expecting big profits.

According to Mr Suneal Mangal, director, Ansals Group, “There would certainly be a shedding down. How can all malls reap profits? It will be like saying all business ventures will be successful.”

Whereas a large section of market experts, who like to go by the experience that shopping complexes in the city have gone through agree with this opinion, there are others who disagree.

Aeren R. Enterprises, that is setting up a Rs 250 crore project of ‘Mallz’, got a study conducted by a Vancouver -based company, Hudema Consulting Group. It came out with some interesting findings. The company has come out with positive projections pertaining to population, income levels and spending power of people.

The study says city residents’ retail expenses are set to rise by more than Rs 2,000 crore within the next five years. The retail potential, which is Rs 3,864 crore, will increase to Rs 5,940 crore by 2010, an increase of more than Rs 2,000 crore. This figure will go up to Rs 14,131 crore by 2020.

“At least 9 lakh people are expected to be added every five years in this city as the current population of 1.6 million will increase by 16 per cent every five years,” said Mr Sujit Kumar, director and CEO, Aeren R. Enterprises.

Asserting that the city held a tremendous potential, he said: “There is no question of failure of malls here. Every mall will be successful as even earning potential will rise manifold.”

The company also projects an increase of 3.14 million square feet in demand for retail floor area. This area, interestingly, does not reflect additional demand for restaurants, cinemas, services or amusement parts and exclusively includes floor area for retail.

Several other companies that are coming up with malls also claim to have done thorough market surveys, giving positive projections about city’s potential for malls.

However, mall managers emphasise the need to come out with innovative strategies that manage to attract and also sustain customers. “Good mall management along with the right tenant mix are basic necessities. Besides, people will have to some up with strategies that make their mall unique,” said Mr Mangal.

Ms Sonica Malhotra, executive director, MBD Neopolis, which is investing Rs 100 crore towards building a premium mall with a five-star deluxe hotel, also feels that it will be unique features of each mall that will attract people.

“Features have to be such that cater to the growing metropolitan culture and also fulfil peoples’ needs for entertainment,” she said.

While opinions and counter-opinions regarding success of malls continue, city residents feel they stand to gain in the long run. “Whether malls are successful or not remains to be seen, but the city certainly will have a lot of good buildings and quite a few brands that come through such malls. Besides, many residents gain through rise in real estate prices, that occurs when a new structure comes up,” said Mr Abishek Sharma, a resident.



Two children die in mishap
Mahesh Sharma

Ahmedgarh, December 29
Tragedy struck a family when two children died and their parents were injured seriously when the car they were travelling in collided with a mini-truck near Latala village on the Raikote-Ahmedgarh road near here today. A cleaner of the truck was also injured in the accident.

The deceased were identified as Jasmine (3) and Harman Singh (2). Their father, Mandeep Singh, a resident of Kotla village, near Khanna, was driving the Maruti car and his wife Mohanjeet Kaur was sitting next to him when the accident took place.

The injured were rushed to the local Hind Hospital, where the children were declared brought dead. Mandeep Singh and his wife were seriously injured. Gurpreet Singh, the truck’s cleaner, broke his leg. He was also admitted to the hospital.

At around 10:30 a.m. the family was coming from Bilaspur village in Barnala after attending a wedding last night when the car hit a Tata 709, which was parked near a railway bridge near Latala village.

The car hit at the rear of the truck and was badly damaged. The truck was parked on the roadside and its cleaner, Gurpreet Singh, was changing its tyre when the car hit it. The front portion of the car went under the truck.



SAD rally at Raikote on Jan 2
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The SAD is preparing for a show of strength at Raikote on January 2. According to Akali sources, the Jannuary 2 rally will mark the beginning of the Akali campaign for the Assembly elections due in early 2007. The party supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will be the main speaker at the rally.

Disclosing this here today, party general secretary, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, said the workers were being mobilised and there was lot of enthusiasm among them. He said besides marking the beginning of the new year schedule, the rally also holds importance in view of the widespread disillusionment and alienation among the masses against the government.

Mr Grewal claimed that the rally would have a record turnout as people were desperate to ventilate their grievances. He alleged that the people were not being heard anywhere. The Congress government had proved to be a complete failure, he added.



Overflowing sewerage flood roads
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
With sewerage overflowing in Phase-7 of Focal Point, the roads in the area have been converted into pools of water causing inconvenience to the commuters in the area.

The industrialists have complained that they have been writing to the local civic body to solve their problem but nobody has come to their rescue.

In a complaint to the Joint Commissioner of Zone-B, the industrialists have complained that sewer was leaking in the area and water was getting collected on the roads. They said that due to vehicles moving on water-filled roads, the top layer was withering away creating potholes on the road.

They said that dirty water was proving to be breeding ground for mosquitoes also and diseases like malaria and dengue could spread. ‘‘We have been writing to the authorities about the health hazards also but nobody listens to us. We get clients from various parts of the country and it becomes too embarassing for us when they travel through these roads. Moreover, we are paying huge taxes to the civic body. They should at least realise that we should be provided with good roads.”



Most women take up jobs for financial independence
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, December 29
If one looks around these days, women are found working in each and every field hitherto unknown and unexplored by women. Ludhiana Tribune made a survey to find out the driving force behind women that made them leave their hearth and kids behind to make their own careers.

Talking to a cross-section of society, this correspondent found out the main reason for women in managerial jobs was to make an identity for themselves, to continue learning , to fulfill their aspirations and to be financially independent. While for those not in the top bracket jobs, it was desire to be out of the house, and money. Most of them said that they were lucky to be living in joint families as the grandparents not only take care of the children but also teach them customs and children get a correct set of values. Another common thing they stated was that the maximum work could be obtained only if the top management of an organisation was supportive of the women working there and view their set of problems (like an ailing child at home ) sympathetically.

Ms Gurpreet Wadehra, MA, MBA, working as Centre Manager in Better Think Learning System, handles the entire financial side of the business. She said,” I lived in a joint family and no woman in my family ever worked, but it was due to my father’s support that I was able to marry out of caste and fulfill my burning ambition of working and being financially independent. I feel life assumes a deeper meaning and different dimensions when one is gainfully employed. My husband trusts me so much that he lets me invest our savings the way I like in mutual funds , PPF etc. We are basically saving for our children’s education as we want them to study abroad.”

Ms Meenakshi Chatta has been working for the past 10 years. She said,”When I was in the first semester of MBA, I started working as I was very career oriented. I wanted that I should make my own place in the world. Work is very important for my soul, or else I would have withered. Financial independence that my job provides me as corporate communicator in TCY is very satisfying. Till now the running of the house falls on the shoulders of women , but we donot mind managing the home as well as our careers. These days men have become very clever as they lump their egos if their counterparts are bringing in more moolah than them

“Jaspreet Kaur, an M.Com from Pune University, had to come and settle in Hissowal village near Mullanpur though her father retired from service in Mumbai. She said,”I am working as a ‘computer operator’ and thank God I had become computer savvy while I was in Mumbai. I have to travel by bus for an hour and walk for 15 minutes to reach my workplace, but I do not mind as I love to come away from the village. I do not give any money to anyone nor do I take any money from my family members. I respect myself more as I made it in spite of my initial troubles of travelling from my village to my work place. Now that I have made a bus pass and every one has become very familiar, the bus driver waits for me if I am a little late. Working women lead a better quality life in my opinion.”

Mukta Gogia, a Relationship Manager in Top Careers & You, says, “My working makes me support my baby and my in-laws. My husband is studying MBA in Singapore and fees in the college is quite steep. After completing his studies, he well take up a job there only as renumerations are better there. I am so glad that I can look after my family and he can study with a free mind. I also feel that a working mother, in spite of spending less time with children, is able to impart more knowledge as she is more aware.”



Blankets given
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
Bharat Overseas Bank Limited, Ludhiana branch, distributed blankets and sweaters among the poor and needy old persons at Lepers Colony here today. The blankets were distributed by senior officers of the branch.



5 held with LPG cylinders containing water
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The city police and the District Food and Supply Office (DFSO) have in a joint operation busted a gang of tricksters, which allegedly used to dupe scores of LPG consumers in the city by selling them gas cylinders containing water on rickshaw-rehris in the city.

Five members of the gang, all former employees of different gas agencies, have been arrested and 29 adulterated cylinders have been seized from their possession. The gang members even charged Rs 310-Rs 330 for a gas cylinder, otherwise available at the LPG godown at Rs 289 and delivered at home at Rs 297.

The police said the exposure was just the proverbial tip of the iceberg of a major racket of such tricksters in the city.

The police and the DFSO have launched investigations against three gas agencies from which the accused usually took the cylinders and sold to the needy city residents.

The gang had resorted to selling LPG cylinders containing water after a number of consumers had noticed under-weight cylinders being sold by them. The cylinders containing water weighed 14.2 kg and went largely unnoticed. The consumer only realised when the cylinder became empty in less than usual number of days.

Addressing a press conference, DSP Simratpal Singh Dhindsa said he and the District Food and Supply Officer, Ms Simarjot Kaur, had received several complaints of LPG cylinders containing water. A team headed by Inspector Gurpreet Singh, SHO Division No. 8, and AFSO Ramesh Panglia caught the five accused.

The arrested persons are Salim Ali, Satnam Singh, Sham Lal and Indresh Kumar, all belonging to Phulanwal village, while fifth accused Charanjit Singh was a resident of Guru Nanak Pura in the city.

DSP Dhindsa said the accused used to fill water in the cylinders with a special tool called ‘flute’ . The water weight ranged from one litre to even 6 litres in a standard 14.2 kg LPG cylinder. The accused then sold the cylinders on rickshaw-rehris, mainly to those consumers who did not have the gas registration cards.

The accused thus used to make over Rs 1,000 extra after a few cylinders only while the suspecting consumers was hoodwinked. It was these consumers who had informed the police and the DFSO and exposed the scandal.

The accused have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC for cheating consumers and for the violation of the Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act. The role of some employees of the three gas agencies namely- Ludhiana Gas Service near Arti Cinema, Maneka Gas in Model Town and Kesri Gas Service was under scrutiny, DSP Dhindsa said.



Chemist held

Khanna, December 29
The police has arrested a chemist shop owner and recovered a big haul of banned medicines from his car. A case has been registered against him at the Payal police station.

The police had received information that a chemist, Parminder Singh, had been selling intoxicants to youths. The chemist was bringing intoxicants from Ludhiana when the police stopped his car and seized the intoxicants. — OC



Free trial of broadband connections
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
In the wake of aggressive marketing strategies of private players in the telecommunications sector, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has come out with a festive offer of free trial broadband connections for two months from the commencement of 2006.

Making this announcement at a press conference here today, the General Manager of Ludhiana Telecom, Mr G.S. Julka, said all existing BSNL landline subscribers would be eligible for this offer, which had no registration charges, no monthly rental for the trial period and no installation charges. The free trial offer would be available only under Home Plan 250, with a provision of free download or upload of 0.4 GB during the period.

He said the BSNL broadband service, being marketed under the name DataOne, had a speed of 256 Kbps and provided simultaneous usage of phone and Internet connectivity. The broadband service of BSNL, which was launched a couple of months back in the city, had evoked an enthusiastic response, with over 2,500 connections, both under home plan and business plan, having been released till now.

Claiming that the BSNL was the second largest mobile phone network in the region, Mr Julka added that BSNL mobile phone subscribers could remain connected for five years on a pre-paid recharge coupon of Rs 4,000, with a talk time of Rs 1,500. As a festival bonanza, the BSNL was providing 25 per cent extra talk time on recharge coupons of Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000.



‘Centre’s policies crippling Punjab steel producers’
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 29
Mr P. D. Sharma, President, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry Punjab, said here today that policies of the Central Government were crippling the steel producers of Punjab. Duty exemptions were available to steel producers in many parts of the country and adjoining states were having more facilities compared with the same in Punjab. Steel ingots and billets were coming to Punjab from far off places like Bhuj.

Mr Sharma pointed out that pattern of Global steel produce was witnessing a drastic change. The booming prices of steel in 2003 has triggered this change. China became the largest consumer of steel and the prices touched $ 600 per tonne from $ 200. China’s steel making capacity has now risen to 25 per cent from 11 per cent. China’s production had risen three times while the consumption has doubled. China is the only country which decided the trend of steel prices in the world. The steel plants in India were lagging behind China despite having large resources of iron ore. During the year 2004-05, the steel production rose by 3.9 per cent whereas the consumption rose by 7 per cent. The steel prices in India were high compared to international prices of steel. Prices of HR coil in Western European is around $ 400 in CIS countries $ 390 but in India the prices were Rs 21,500 exclusive of central excise duty. The custom duties in India are still high compared to other countries.



Greeting cards flood market
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
New Year greetings being sent by e-mail are the flavour of the season, yet greeting cards of various colours and hues and beautiful language have flooded the market, but these cards do not come cheap. A normal card costs between Rs 15 and Rs 20 and mushy ones or big-sized ones come for Rs 200.

The greeting cards carry season’s greetings and wishes for the coming year.

A plethora of new designs can be seen at stores in the city.

The flavour this time is cartoons in colourful colours. Schoolchildren have a lot of buying power these days as they get a lot of pocket money.


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