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Rice watered to increase weight
Food Corporation of India orders inquiry
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is learnt to have found stocks of rice lying at the Kailpur godown of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation near Mulapanpur watered. Since rice absorbs water, it gains weight. However, it gets rotten within a short span of time and is rendered useless.

This was noticed during the special transaction of the rice stocks by FCI officials today only. Sources revealed that the FCI official found the rice bags overweight. Since the stocks are weighed in bulk, it is difficult to mark out which bag weighs how much. But after some officials got suspicious, they started checking the bags. It was revealed after checking that the rice had been watered with the purpose of increasing the weight of the bags.

Once the rice is loaded on the trains, the responsibility shifts to the agency to which it is being supplied or to the insurance agency which has insured the stocks.

The rice stocks were insured with the Oriental Insurance Company. Since there is every possibility of the rice stocks getting damaged during the transit only, it would have been the insurance company which would have to bear the losses and nobody could make out the exact cause of the damage.

Besides senior FCI officials, the OIC officials also reached the spot. During the investigation, seven stacks of rice were found watered. There are 3,150 quintals of rice in one stack, making it a total of 22,050 quintals of rice which was watered and consequently certain to get damaged.

The FCI is learnt to have deputed a five-member team to investigate the matter and fix the responsibility. No senior official of the FCI was available for comments. However, the sources said, the FCI had taken the issue seriously and was keen to identify the culprits and punish them. So far it was difficult to ascertain at what stage the rice was watered.

The sources revealed that adding water to the rice stocks appeared to be the most convenient method for "increasing the weight of the stocks".

Because in due course of time it could be made out that the rice got watered accidentally because of seepage in the godown or any other such reason. Usually it could not be detected at the local level. By the time the water would be detected in the rice it would have reached its destinations across the country and at that time it would have been really difficult as where it got watered and for what reasons.

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Police harassing migrants over identity cards: CPM
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
The drive by the Ludhiana Police to identify migrant labourers and issue them temporary identity cards, in a bid to control rising crime by this section of the society, has failed to find favour with labour unions and the CPM here.

While union leaders say that the work should be done by the Labour Department and in a more systematic manner, the CPM has written to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, alleging “open loot by the police”, who it said was, “forcing labourers of UP, Bihar and Nepal to get identity cards prepared”.

“At least 10 lakh non-Punjabi labourers have become victim to this loot. They are forcibly called in police stations and charged Rs 50 to Rs 80 per card. Besides, these cards are not even signed by any authority and have no legal entity,” wrote district secretary of CPI (M) Ludhiana, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sekhon.

Talking to the Tribune, he said: “Even non-Punjabi workers are Indian citizens, how many identity cards would a citizen have to make? Besides, when the government does not charge anything in case of ration cards and voting cards, why should there by any charge.”

The police recently launched this drive under which a private agency prepared identity cards for labourers. However, unions allege that the drive was nothing but harassment.

“It is the Labour Department that could have taken the initiative. They should have rather asked companies that have employed workers to issue them temporary cards. That would have helped workers too,” said joint secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) Mr Jagdish Chand.

In case of unorganised labour, he said it was not difficult to put all workers under record. “There are areas like Gill Chowk where every morning workers gather in large numbers to find work. Besides, there are colonies. They do not care that if a worker spends his day in police station making an identity card, he loses his pay for one day,” rued Mr Chand.

He said several workers had come to the union with complaints of over charging too. “To top it, they are spreading rumours like workers would not be allowed to travel by train if they do not have an identity card. This is total harassment and should be stopped.”

The CPM also urged the government to intervene in the matter immediately. “The amount collected by now must be enormous. The government should intervene in the matter and advice the police to stop this drive,” said Mr Sekhon.

The CPM has threatened to launch an agitation if the process of issuing cards through private agency is not stopped.

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Three arrested for bid to murder sarpanch
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 6
The Sudhar police has arrested three persons out of 10 booked under section 307, 294, 455, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC for allegedly intimidating and attempting to murder sarpanch of Sarabha village after entering his house forcibly last Saturday. The accused were nabbed by the police from Pakhowal village last night.

According to the police station, Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Sarabha village, his son Hardeep Singh alias Happy and Balraj Singh Vicky, son of Raghbir Singh of Dolon village, were arrested from Pakhowal village last night.

The trio was nabbed from the vicinity of the Civil Hospital, Pakhowal, last night. Preliminary investigation revealed that the assailants had attacked the house of the sarpanch to settle a score with him for allegedly insulting Ramesh Kumar, one of the accused.

"When my father told me that Jagtar Singh had insulted him for nothing on April 29, I could not tolerate the nuisance and conspired with my friends to strike at the residence of Jagtar Singh," admitted Happy, the main accused before the SHO. The police has recovered a base ball bat, an axe and some canes on the information provided by the nabbed persons. A motor cycle, number MH 09 JG 7220, which was being used by the accused, was also seized.

The incident had occurred after Ramesh Kumar had felt insulted by Jagtar Singh. Ramesh Kumar had gone to his house to get certain papers signed, which he later felt had been spoiled by wrong stamping.

"Instead of apologising for the mistake, Jagtar Singh insulted and manhandled my father and we lost our temper on learning this," told Happy to the police.

Jagtar Singh, on the other hand, told the police that the accused had attacked and abused him without any provocation. Seriously injured Jagtar Singh was then shifted to a hospital in Ludhiana.

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Biofertilisers of no use in wheat, rice
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Too much euphoria created about the use of biofertilisers seems to be little misplaced as all crops cannot benefit from their use.

The application of biofertilisers to enhance yields of wheat and rice is of no consequence. The experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here have a word of caution for the farmers: "Do not waste money on these cultures, which are palmed off by private trade". The experts say the only crops that stand to benefit are legumes.

This warning comes from PAU soil scientists after sustained field experiments to determine the usefulness or purposefulness of the biofertilisers available in the market that are supposed to increase yields of wheat and rice by enabling soil organisms to "fix" nitrogen and act as phosphate solubiliser.

According to soil scientists, Dr G S Saroa and Dr V. Beri, except for 'Rhizobium" all other biofertilisers like azotobacter and azospirillum or blue green algae, phosphate solublizing micro-organisms are of no significance or consequence when it comes to obtaining higher yields. The reason for marketing of these biofertilisers is for taking advantage of the wide canvas on which wheat and rice is grown and enticing the farmers to purchase their products.

The scientists say that it is mandatory for chemical fertiliser companies to produce biofertilisers. The focus, therefore, should only be on rhizobium culture, which is of immense use to legume crops. Referring to the role of these cultures, "teeka" in the language of farmers, Dr Saroa and Dr Beri said the rhizobium culture was in powder form with 30 per cent moisture content. This culture powder and seed of legume crops, barseem, lucerne, soybean, moong, peas, lentil and gram are rubbed together before sowing.

Rhizobium bacteria form nodules on the roots of legume crops. These nodules act as nitrogen fixing mini factories. If a good legume has an efficient nodule system, there is no need for nitrogen supplement, except a small starter dose. To get higher yields of legume crops, apply rhizobium culture by all means. But say no to all cultures for other crops, particularly wheat and rice.

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Scorching heat makes swimming popular
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, May 6
As the temperature has recorded an increase in recent days, the residents have started frequenting swimming pools in the city for a cool splash.

A majority of pools at clubs and hotels are witnessing huge rush where people of all age groups pour in to get respite from scorching heat.

Mr Ruby Nota, sports secretary, Sutlej Club, said they had arranged a woman coach for the members’ wives and daughters.

“We were getting requests from members to arrange a woman coach. At times, women feel reluctant to learn from a male member.

“Otherwise, our main coach is here for the past so many years and he has trained hundreds of members and their wives,” said Mr Nota.

He said the club had made special arrangement to accommodate small kids.

“Children from three years and above can start learning swimming. They are accompanied by their mothers and maids.

“Under the supervision, they are left in small pool with swimming tubes where they could easily float without any risk,” said Mr Nota.

“To make the atmosphere livelier, we play music during the swimming hours,” he said.

They always tried to maintain the hygienic conditions of the swimming pool, he added.

Shalini, one of swimming lovers at Park Plaza, said the pool’s membership had increased in recent days.

“They have their own filtration plant and the water is always clean. Children, middle aged and elderly people come and enjoy the water sport.

“There are permanent as well as temporary members. The annual membership fee to avail the facilities of the health club is about Rs 25,000. One can also pay as per visit,” she said Shalini

The Lodhi Club has an all-weather swimming pool where number of swimming enthusiasts increased this month.

One of the members said, “Senior members come in the morning to have a fresh feeling and youngsters and children swim in the evenings.

“The temperature of the water is maintained. The water is regularly changed to avoid any kind of skin infection,” said the member.

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Decision on 50 pc DA merger hailed
Our Correspondent

Samrala, May 6
The decision of the Punjab Cabinet to grant the benefit of 50 per cent DA merger with their basic pay to the employees of affiliated aided colleges of the state has been widely welcomed.

Prof R. S. Brar, president and Prof Baldeep Singh, state executive member of the PCCTU, have expressed gratitude to the Punjab Government, especially Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, for the implementation of this long-pending demand.

Meanwhile, Shinderpal Singh, Principal, Malwa College, Bondli-Samrala, Dr Gulzar Mohamad Goria, Prof Hamdardvir Naushahrvi and Sukhjit have also hailed the decision of the government. They have appealed to the government to expedite the release of pension and gratuity and full 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the employees of non-govt colleges of the state.

Appointed

Mr Darshan Singh Bondli has been appointed as president of the Punjab Dalit Chetna Manch of the city by Mr Shamsher Singh, president, Punjab manch, here today.

Talking to mediapersons in the local Civil Rest House, Mr Shamsher Singh Purkhalvi said more than 20,000 persons had been enrolled as members of the Punjab Dalit Chetna Manch.

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Unnecessary mention, says N.K. Aggarwal

Ludhiana, May 6
Reacting to a news-item "Land row: Jt Director's authority questioned" carried in these columns on May 5, Mr N.K. Aggarwal of N.K. Aggarwal and Co., Ludhiana, has claimed that he was not "an interested party in any land transaction".

In a communication to The Tribune, he has added that the name of the Uttranchal Governor was also unnecessarily dragged into the controversy.

Claiming that the language used in the news-item was objectionable, he said it was "designed to malign his name by giving distorted facts". — TNS

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Rape case registered after 12 days

Jagraon, May 6
A woman of Bhundri village was allegedly raped on April 24 but the Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case after 12 days of the offense.

According to the complaint made by Paramjit Kaur of Bhundri, a 21-year-old woman was raped by Raja Singh of Bharowal Kalan. The police after registration of the case has recovered the car (PB-10-8401) belonging to the accused but the accused is still at large.

Hurt in mishap

Baljit Singh of Abupura was hit badly by a tempo No PIQ 4827 near traffic police picket on the G T Road while he was coming on his scooter. It caused multiple injuries to the scooterist who was immediately shifted to the Civil Hospital who later referred him to Ludhiana. The driver of the tempo managed to flee leaving tempo behind. — OC

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Industrialists discuss challenges of economy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 6
Integrated business management approach has helped value-focussed organisations to emerge competitive amid the unprecedented uncertainties of the new economy, said Mr Suresh Rajpal, co-founder and president, Tecnova India, while delivering the key-note address during a seminar on “Creating Business Excellence”. It was conducted by the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) here last evening.

Citing examples on how several companies captured and created new values for their customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and communities, Mr Rajpal asserted that right from the base level to the top management, every individual needed to be brought into one single vision.

Besides, all departments, in any company, should be measurable, be it sales, HR, quality, etc. He also spoke about enterprise resource planning (ERP) software as a bond that tied all divisions together and could facilitate data measurement on time.

Mr Rajpal emphasised on employee satisfaction, positive surprises to employees and customers, importance of social liability and impact of first impression.

Mr Anil Kumar, senior vice-president, LMA, discussed ways to retaining manpower and a low employee turnover ratio. Mr Kamal Wadhera, general secretary of the association, shared his experiences in the Hewlett Packard and also his passion that earned him Entrepreneur of the Year award for India given by Ernst and Young in 2000. Mr M.C. Munjal, president of the LMA, concluded the session. He re-iterated the importance of taking customer feedback.

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Biz Clips

Pensioners: Mr Sher Singh was appointed chairman of the North Railway Pensioners Welfare Association at the annual general meeting of the association held here recently. Other office-bearers are Mr K.L. Chitkara, president, Mr S.N. Sharma, senior vice-president, and Mr R.K. Puri, secretary general. TNS

Cool Expo: Cool Expo2k6, an exposition of cooling gadgets, was inaugurated here on Friday. Various companies have came out with promotional schemes. There are offers like holiday coupons and gifts. Among the participants are companies like LG, Whirlpool, Onida, Godrej and Voltas. TNS

Coco: Rital Impex, a company engaged in processing and marketing of dry fruits, has launched “Honey Lemon” and “Apple Banana” health drinks under its brand “Coco Joos”. Mr Pradeep Khanna, managing director of the company, said here today that the two flavours were a combination of taste and nutrition. TNS

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