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Ex-MLA expelled from school management
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President, Mr Avtar Singh, today expelled former Health Minister and MLA Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal from the management committee of Nankana Sahib Senior Secondary School here.

The decision to oust him from the committee was taken on March 22 at a meeting of the school management where Mr Grewal, who belonged to late Gurcharan Singh Tohra faction of the Shiromani Akali Dal had an alleged war of words with the SGPC President-cum-Chairman of the committee over the division of the school teachers and management into two groups.

The SGPC President revealed the decision to mediapersons when he was approached for comments on the tension in the school due to the activities of the warring factions. His comments were sought after a group of 40 teachers, led by the officiating Principal P.K. Sekhon, levelled several charges of improper conduct and autocratic policies against Mr Grewal.

While Mr Grewal could not be contacted, sources close to him termed all allegations as fabricated, baseless and politically motivated. They claimed that the allegations were planted to facilitate the political interests.

The SGPC President and Mr Grewal belong to the city but the former was close to the SAD supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, whereas Mr Grewal was had always been associated with late G.S. Tohra.

The school Principal, Ms P.K. Sekhon, is the wife of retired Air Marshall Manjit Singh Sekhon. She claimed before a press conference that Mr Grewal had sidelined several teachers and appointed a very junior teacher as the Principal of the primary wing of the school. This had led to heartburn among the teachers.

She was accompanied by 40 teachers, who have sent complaints to the SGPC President.

The SGPC President told The Tribune over the phone that Mr Grewal had walked out of the meeting. A quorum of members had taken the decision to expel him. The school Director had been given the charge of the additional secretary of the management till further orders.

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Allotment of liquor vends ends monopoly
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 25
In stark contrast to previous years when the auction of liquor vends witnessed high drama and manipulative tactics by the liquor cartel to hold on to Rs 1400-crore liquor trade all over the state, the allotment of vends by the draw of lots under the revised license policy here today turned out to be a tame affair.

However, the new policy had undoubtedly put an effective end to the monopoly in liquor trade. It has drawn back many such liquor traders who had been edged out earlier by the cartel.

Although drawing huge gathering of the prospective applicants at Casa La Baron marriage palace here for 578 unit vends (comprising one vend each for country liquor and Indian made foreign liquor) in the district, the entire process passed off peacefully and in an orderly manner.

Even though the security arrangements made by police in and around the venue were elaborate, bags full of currency notes, usually carried by contractors to the auction venue during the auction regime, were missing.

The process of drawing lots for allotment of vends was taken up at 9 in the morning and it was continuing till the filing of this report. Before the lots were drawn, the officials of the Excise and Taxation Department read out the relevant provisions of the excise policy, number of vends, conditions for allotment, mode of payment of licence fee in detail.

The excise officials announced that quota of liquor in the district had been raised to 1.68 crore proof litres as against 1.25 proof litres in the previous year. In terms of bottles, the vends in the district would sell nearly 2.60 crore bottles of country liquor and another 1.25 crore bottles of IMFL. The license fee during the year was expected to yield around Rs 238 crore.

It was officially stated that for 578 unit vends, 8800 valid applications were received. As many as 233 units vends, located in the municipal limits of the mega city, had 3129 applicants. The licensees in the city limits would pay an annual licence fee of Rs 60 lakh while unit vends in small towns and villages were allotted against fee of Rs 45 lakh and Rs 30 lakh respectively.

The excise officials had also drawn a provisional waiting list for allotment of vends if some of the successful applicants backed out or failed to deposit the balance amount of 25 percent of the annual fee before March 31. Another draw of lots would be held on March 28, if needed, for allotment of any of the left out vends after providing another opportunity to the applicants to bid for the same, the officials informed.

That the new excise policy would generate a healthy competition and a provide a level playing ground for the trade was evident when a prominent liquor trader admitted that the prices of country liquor were expected to come down by anything from 30 to 40 per cent while IMFL would also sell at 25 to 30 per cent lower than the previous prices.

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2 big commercial projects on LIT anvil
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
After a gap of 18 long years, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) is taking up two major development projects across Sidhwan Canal on Gill village side and on Tajpur Road, which would be exploited commercially.

Under the project, the city would have more commercial pockets, malls, cinemas and community centres.

The trust has already set the process rolling. It would acquire 600 acres of land across the Sidhwan canal and 200 acres on Tajpur Road. Tenders from surveyors have already been invited.

According to sources in the trust, this is after 18 years that the authorities are going to take up some major development project single handedly.

“Starting from the acquisition of land to building the state-of-the-art structures, we would take up everything. We are through with some of the notifications regarding the project,” said a senior officials of the LIT.

They added that though the project was at initial stages only, they would acquire the land within a year as the surveyors would provide them with their reports after some time. The surveyors would provide different options for acquisition and the trust would select the area out of those.

The sources said the trust had thought of expanding across the canal as the potential of the area was unexploited.

Moreover, there would be no dearth of land in that area.

LIT officials said they had taken up many projects earlier. The most prestigious one included the City Centre in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. But it was in collaboration with a private company.

The trust had developed some residential colonies also in the city.

Officials of the trust said they would have initiated the project much earlier. The only hiccup was a writ petition in the court till some days ago.

After the legal battle was over, the trust notified the project so that it could be taken up speedily.

The announcement of the project has already started giving the farmers of villages across Sidhwan canal sleepless nights.

A number of farmers have already visited trust office to enquire about the part of land that would be acquired.

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BJP under fire over Sonia’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 25
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies continued to be under sharp attack from Congress functionaries here after All-India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi was made to quit her Lok Sabha seat for occupying the seat of president of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), considered an office of profit.

Addressing a rally at Jagraon Bridge, Parliamentary Secretary for Power, Housing and Urban Development Surinder Dawar said Ms Gandhi’s resignation was a slap in the face of self-seeking BJP leaders and those from the other Opposition parties who were indulging a smear campaign just to misguide masses.

Mr Dawar said Ms Gandhi had proved herself to be a person of moral values, ideals and principles. “She had earlier said no to the post of Prime Minister even after having been elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Once again she has not flinched to abdicate the seat after being charged with holding office of profit.”

Prominent among others present at the rally were District Congress Committee (Urban) president Jagmohan Sharma, Mayor Nahar Singh Gill and Congress Sewa Dal organiser Sushil Parashar.

Activists of the District Youth Congress (DYC) held another rally at Chowk Division No. 3 and burnt effigies of BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishan Advani, blaming them for launching a politically motivated attack against Ms Gandhi.

Addressing party workers, DYC president Dimple Rana said through the gesture, Ms Gandhi had once again proved that she would not hesitate to make any sacrifice to uphold her principles, while the real faces of the BJP leaders also stood amply exposed before people.

Congress Sewa Dal workers, led by chief organsier Nirmal Kaira and general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress Akshay Bhanot, burnt an effigy of the BJP after a rally at Atam Park.

Party leaders Ramesh Joshi, Pawan Diwan, Maghar Singh Kaira and Shashi Sood were also present.

Speakers observed that by quitting her post, Ms Gandhi had foiled the attempts by the Opposition to draw political mileage from a “non-issue”.

“Sonia Gandhi had emerged stronger from the episode, while the BJP and its allies had been exposed for following double standard on holding offices of profit,” they felt.

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Khurana’s suspension upsets workers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
The recent developments in the Bhartiya Janata Party which led to the expulsion of senior leader and former Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, has upset the party rank and file here. Moreover, Mr Khurana's influence and rapport with Punjab and party workers here is the added cause of their concern.

Senior BJP leaders and workers observed that Mr Khurana’s expulsion could not have come at a worse time since the state was going to the polls within less than a year. Mr Khurana has also a close personal equation with senior Akali leaders, including the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

While not many leaders or workers are prepared to come on record, most of them wish that such an extreme step could have been avoided. observed, Mr Khurana is a grassroot leader and a pivot of Hindu -Sikh unity in the aftermath of terrorism in Punjab.

Lala Lajpat Rai, a senior party leader and former Rajya Sabha member said that “these are quite unfortunate, rather tragic, developments for the party workers who have nourished it with blood and sweat”. Without making a direct comment on the latest developments he hoped that the party steers clear of everything. At the same time, he remarked, while the party discipline is paramount, at the same time dissent also needs to be accommodated.

“Such developments are momentary and natural for a big party like the BJP”, he observed, while adding “but these are certainly not welcome.”

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SGPC takes battle to Sarna’s turf
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhik Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar is learnt to have decided to take the battle of his mentor and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal against his arch rival Paramjit Singh Sarna to Delhi, Sarna’s own turf.

As Sarna has announced to organised the commemoration of the 400 years of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev in Delhi, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh likely to preside over the function, the SGPC has now decided to hold the function in Delhi.

A meeting has been proposed to be held at Chemsford Club in New Delhi on March 27.

Sources said the SGPC secretary had issued an invitation to all SGPC members and senior Akali leaders to reach the club on March 27 at 4 pm to finalise the arrangements for organising the commemoration of the martyrdom on June 16.

Besides, they would also work out modalities for holding the celebrations of setting up of Shri Akal Takht Sahib on July 2.

Some senior Akali leaders have taken exception to the SGPC choosing the club as the venue for the meeting.

Senior Akali leaders told Ludhiana Tribune that they welcomed Mr Makkar’s decision to hold the meeting in Delhi, but the meeting should have been held at a gurdwara.

It is learnt that the SGPC president could not find any of the prominent or historical gurdwaras as venue due to the resistance from the Sarna group, which controls the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Managing Committee.

Sources said it was the idea of Mr Badal to hold the meeting at Delhi to counter Mr Sarna’s increasing activity in Punjab.

However, to the disappointment of the SAD and the SGPC, which is controlled by Mr Badal, they could not arrange a proper venue in Delhi and the meeting was planned at the Chemsford Club.

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Dharamsot highlights Cong achievements
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 25
“Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh have succeeded in creating a peaceful atmosphere with neighbouring countries and promoting trade with them,” said Parliamentary Secretary (Home, Justice and PWD), and member of the All-India Congress Committee, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot.

He was addressing Youth Congress workers during a rally here today.

Mr Dharamsot lauded the steps taken by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh towards recruiting teachers on merit and ending irregularities in the process.

He also flagged off a march in which activists carried banners and placards depicting the achievements of the Congress governments at the Centre and the state.

Under the policy laid down by All-India Youth Congress president Ashok Tanwar, district and tehsil units had been asked to organise youth marches at their respective headquarters to create awareness among people about the policies of the party, said Jasmeet Singh Raja, state general secretary of the Youth Congress.

Mr Raja pointed out that the next march in the district would be organised on March 27 at Sirhind.

Among others, block president Umesh Mintta and vice-president Vipal Sandhir also addressed the rally. 

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Forgery by sarpanch: Admin begins probe
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 25
The Sangrur administration has started a probe into an alleged forgery by the sarpanch of Kalyan village near here. The SDM Malerkotla submitted a detailed report to Mr Hussan Lal ,DC ,Sangrur.

According to Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, the district administration received a complaint against Sarpanch Ms Ranjit Kaur and her associates about irregularities in the disbursement of Rs 60,600 drawn by a panchayat secretary on account of pension for 91 persons ,including handicapped persons, widows and old persons.

Ranjit Kaur in her statement submitted to the investigating team denied the charges levelled against her and held that beneficiaries had been paid full amounts and she had been implicated in false case.

Amar Kaur wife of Bant Kaur, Malan Kaur, wife of Wariam Singh, Amarjit Kaur ,wife of Dhir Singh, Gurdev Kaur ,wife of Darbara Singh, Gurdial Kaur ,wife of Jarnail Singh and Kulwant Kaur ,wife of Sadhu Singh had complained to the DC ,Sangrur that Ms Ranjit Kaur had exploited their illiteracy and paid them pension amounts, much less than their entitlement. "Though we were to receive Rs 600 per month as our pension, Ranjit Kaur paid only Rs 400 per month and got their signature on full payment," submitted the complainants through sworn affidavits.

Preliminary investigations by the SDM revealed that Mr Dharam Singh, Panchayat Secretary had withdrawn Rs 60,600 on account of pension for 91 persons for the months of October, November and December 2005. "Though pension amount was to be disbursed jointly by eight functionaries, including the sarpanch, a teacher and an anganwari worker, Ranjit Kaur was allowed by others to make the payment personally," informed Dr Indu to Ludhiana Tribune.

Dr Indu claimed that the majority of the beneficiaries had stated that they had been duped by the sarpanch. However ,one beneficiary, who was literate, stated that she had been paid full amount.

Interestingly ,some of the signatories ,including Pushpa Devi admitted that they had signed the documents in good faith and they did not know that the beneficiaries were being paid a lesser amount. The SDM claimed that she would be recommending a strict action against erring officials. 

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Workshop focuses on development of children
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 25
Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, here conducting a five-day “Art excel workshop” for primary kids in collaboration with The Art of Living. It concluded yesterday.

Mrs Pooja Mordani from Mumbai conducted the whole programme. With the help of group activities, dynamics, stretches, creative exercises, breathing exercises, the children were taught the value of health and proper channelisation of the energy within.

The workshop focussed at the growth of children on mental, physical and emotional level. An interaction session was held with the parents. They were informed about the details and were also urged to bring out the creativity of the child by providing a healthy and stress-free environment.

Principal of the school S.C. Saxena and in charge of the primary wing Kavita Wadhwa took pain in making the workshop a success.

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Simplify income tax laws: expert
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 25
Highlighting the salient features of the Budget in relation to income tax related issues and new amendments, taxation expert Girish Ahuja made a plea for simplification of income tax laws to improve compliance and effectively tackle evasion of taxes.

He was addressing a seminar on “Union Budget-2006” organised by the Taxation Bar Association (TBA) here today.

Chief Commissioner of Income Tax R.S. Mathoda was the chief guest at the seminar.

Commissioners of Income Tax M.N.A. Chaudhary, Roshan Sahay, Kiran Babu and Ramninder Kaushal were also present.

In the course of discussion during the seminar, Mr Ahuja answered the queries raised by TBA members.

He wanted the fringe benefit tax (FBT), which was just another name of expenditure tax, abolished since it put an additional tax burden on trade and industry.

TBA president Ashok Juneja said a new Section — 139-B — had been introduced in the Budget to provide a scheme for filing of income tax returns by a specified class of persons through a tax return preparer.

He remarked that the provision was not required because it would adversely affect the interest of existing tax professionals, as well as tax advisers who were already providing best services to the assessees throughout the country.

He maintained that the existing tax professionals filed the returns of assessees with due care and caution after studying 298 Sections, 125 rules, 66 forms of income tax, provisions of FBT, judgements, circulars and notification of the Central Board of Direct Taxes.

As such, the return filing was a job of responsibility, which ought not to be entrusted to any other agency or persons except tax advisers already authorised under the Income Tax Act.

Mr Mathoda appreciated the visiting taxation expert for highlighting the budgetary provisions.

He observed that Bar and Bench were the two arms of the same machinery and Bar members commanded due respect and high dignity in the eyes of income tax officials.

He assured that all grievances and difficulties of the taxation Bar would be solved on priority basis.

Office-bearers and executive members of the TBA, including Ajay Paul Singh, Ravinder Garg, Bipen Jangra, Saurabh Beri, Jagjit Singh, C.P. Bhardwaj, Deepak Chopra, Sandeep Sharma and Balwinder Singh expressed their views in the seminar.

Besides them, study circle convener B.R. Kaushal, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana chairman Harish Rai Dhanda, District Bar Association president Naval Kishore Chhiber also took part in the deliberations.

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Sutlej Club poll today

Ludhiana, March 25
Sutlej Club goes to the polls tomorrow to elect its office-bearers for a term of two years.
Known as the officers’ club, it has Deputy Commissioner as the ex officio president, who is assisted by a team of elected office-bearers and executive committee to run the club on day-to-day basis.

A large number of members, both old and new, have thrown their hats in the ring for different posts with all contenders going all-out to woo the voters through personal visits and holding parties.

Some of them have also sought the support of senior political leaders and bureaucrats to influence the voters in their favour. For the post of vice-president, A.S. Chawla, a former general secretary, Sanjeev Thapar and Raju Sharma are in the fray, while the post of general secretary will witness a four-cornered contest among Sanjay Arora (Balla), Ashok Soni, Jiwan Dhawan and Varinder Goel.

Jatinder Marwaha and Arvind Malhotra are vying for the post of treasurer, while Tribhuwan Singh Thapar has already been elected joint secretary unopposed.

Outgoing cultural secretary Sanjeev Dhanda is pitted against Sarabjit Singh Tannu for re-election to the same post. Simarjit Nota (Ruby) and Dr Vineet Gilhotra are locked in a straight contest for the post of sports secretary, as are Amardeep Singla (Bittu) and Navtej Singh Natt for the post of bar secretary.

Election to the post of mess secretary will witness a three-cornered contest among Rajesh Bhambi, Rajan Sood and Kavinder Pal Singh Bains. OC

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Women of a family seek protection

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 25
Women of a family of Dhulkot village have sought protection for their lives and property from some miscreants who had assaulted their male members and threatened to eliminate them. They have accused the Latala police of inaction.

The police has denied the charges. In a written complaint to SSP Jagraon, Mr Mamta Devi Sharma of Dhulkot village had alleged that at least seven persons ,including Karnail Singh of the same village had assaulted her husband Narinder Kumar, father-in-law Devi Dyal and his nephew two days ago. OC

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Pension adalat hailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 25
The Punjab Government Pensioners’ Association appreciated the Accountant-General, Punjab, for making an effort to sort out various problems relating to pensioners at the pension adalat held in the city here recently. A large number of pensioners attended the adalat.

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Rs 60,000 snatched from cyclist

Amloh, March 25
Two motor cycle-borne youths snatched Rs 60,000 from a cyclist, Harchand Singh (60) of Annian village, on the Amloh-Annian road, this afternoon.
According to Harchand Singh, he had withdrawn the money from a State Bank of Patiala branch here.

He had kept the cash in the handle basket of bicycle and was on his to his village when two motor cycle-borne youths slowed down from behind, grabbed the money from the basket and sped away.

The local police has been informed. Former sarpanch of Annian village Pargat Singh accompanied Harchand Singh to police station. OC

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Cash stolen from gurdwaras

Jagraon, March 25
Thieves broke open the 'Golaks' of two gurdwaras.
They stole Rs 4000 from the ' golak ' of Gurdwara Kotmana and s 500 from the golak of the gurdwara Kohi . A case under Section 457 and 380, IPC, has been registered at Humbran and Sidhwanbet police station.

Scooter Stolen: A Vespa scooter ( No- PCE 7594 belonging to Gurbachan singh of New Atam Nagar Jagraon, from his house and the local police has registered a case under section 457, 380 ,IPC.

Liquor seized: Head Constable Ajit Singh of Humbran police station arrested Gurdev Singh of Walipur Khurd and seized 22,680 mls of illicit liquor from him. He has been booked under the excise Act. OC

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Premium car prices set to rise
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 25
The beginning of the next financial year is all set to witness a rise in prices of premium car segment. Companies site "cost adjustments" as the reason for the hike. "We are contemplating an increase in the prices of Toyota Innova and Toyota Corolla from April 1," said Mr Vikas Jain, deputy general manager, Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM). He said the increase has been necessitated in order to "accommodate several cost adjustments".

While TKM is yet to finalise the quantum of the increase in prices, it said that for customers who have booked cars prior to the hike would be delivered cars at old rates.

General Motors India, offering Chevrolet cars, is one of the fastest growing companies . President and Managing Director of the company, Mr Rajeev Chaba, when asked about rise in car prices said: "Nothing can be ruled out". While Mr Chaba also maintained that no increase had been finalised so far, an increase is likely to affect purchase decisions.

As the number of car buyers has been significantly rising, companies are also witnessing a shift from people upgrading from small car to premium cars. "A rise in prices could affect a certain fraction of purchase decisions, though the impact is always neutralised within a short period of such hike only," said Ramesh Kumar, a market watcher. 

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