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Touts fleecing ’84 riot victims
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The 1984 Danga Peerit Welfare Board, a social organisation working for the rehabilitation of the victims, has alleged that claims of many persons have been rejected on flimsy grounds and touts are calling the shots in the offices of the SDMs processing the applications.

Mr K S Patna, convener of the outfit, said they had been assured by the previous Deputy commissioner and the present incumbent, Ashok Kumar Gupta, that no eligible person would be denied his due. Contrary to the instructions of the DC, the staff at the office of the SDM were bent upon harassing the victims. The claims of only those were being processed who were willing to pay money to the touts, he alleged.

He said in many cases the process was given the go by and a number of people had even managed to get the compensation cheques, even though they were ineligible. The victims have suffered a lot during the past over two decades and all they need is a helping hand, something which had eluded them all these years, he added.

Certain babus have joined hands with the touts to earn a fast buck. The ploy is that the files of those who do not pay are listed as misplaced. A visit to the offices of the SDMs will reveal touts approaching the claimants and openly claiming that they could get the claims cleared, but for a hefty cut, he pointed out.

He said no meeting of the five- member committee constituted by former DC Anurag Verma on March 27 comprising their representatives had been convened till date. This was done so that the entire scrutiny and processing process could me made totally transparent and steps could be taken by their organisation in tandem with the officials to help the victims in getting their dues at the earliest, he said.

A deputation today met the DC and urged him to convene a meeting of the committee so that they could also be a part of the process in clearing the claims of those who filed their applications on February 22. Many of the claims in this lot have been wrongly rejected, he revealed.

Mr Patna said the DC had assured him that he would do the needful in this context in the next two days.

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SAD dharna against government ‘failures’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Hundreds of activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal- today staged a dharna against the "all round failure" of the state government. Speakers at the dharna alleged that the government had failed in providing even the basic amenities like power and water to the people. Moreover, they alleged that the government had sold out the interests of the state to big industrial and business houses.

Addressing the dharna former SGPC president and senior party leader, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, alleged that the state government had lost rapport with the people. He claimed that there was total collapse of the administrative machinery in the state and people were feeling suffocated.

The party general secretary, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, listed several failures of the government. He pointed out, the power supply had broken down and there was no water in most of the places.He said, the situation was much worse in the rural areas. He regretted that the government had not taken any measures to provide some relief to people from this scorching heat.

The other party leaders, including local MP, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, former minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, former MP, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal and others ridiculed the claims of the government of providing a corruption- free administration. They alleged that the corruption had broken all the previous records in the state and the common man was the most harassed.

They alleged that the state government had provided heavy exemption to the tune of Rs 1400 crore to colonisers.

The protesters included a number of women also. They were carrying banners and party flags and were shouting slogans against the Congress government in the state.

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Couple held in NRI dowry case
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 8
The Sudhar police has arrested a couple of Ludhiana who, along with relatives, had been booked under Sections 498, 406 and 420 of the IPC for allegedly harassing an NRI bride to bring more dowry.

The arrested couple admitted that the family of the groom had conspired to send him abroad by marrying him to the NRI girl though it did not have any intention to continue relations with the girl.

According to Mr Shawinder Singh Dhillon, SHO, Sudhar, Karamjit Singh, a resident of the Pakhowal road, Ludhiana, and his wife Virpal Kaur had been arrested from their residence while they were preparing to leave the area on yesterday. Kamaljit Kaur, mother of groom Parminder Singh, managed to flee.

Police investigations revealed that the accused had conspired to use the matrimony to send Parminder Singh abroad. “As Parminder was desirous of going abroad, we had no option but to get him married to an NRI girl. We proceeded accordingly and got him married to Karamdeep Kaur,” the couple told the police.

Meanwhile, Karamdeep Kaur and Sukhwinder Singh, her father, have vowed to do everything possible to drag the accused behind bars. “Though it is difficult for us to stay for a long period in India, we will do our best to drag all of them behind bars,” said Sukhwinder Singh and Karamdeep Kaur.

Karamdeep Kaur, who had been allegedly harassed by her Punjabi groom and in-laws to bring more dowry, has been asked by the police to come here and join the investigations against her in-laws.

The police had registered an FIR against Parminder Singh, his father Hari Singh, mother Kamaljit Kaur, sister Paramjit Kaur, brother Karamjit Singh and sister-in-law Vir Pal Kaur for allegedly harassing Karamdeep Kaur to bring more dowry.

Sukhwinder Singh had alleged that the accused had been harassing his daughter to bring more dowry. They had forcibly taken the articles of dowry that were given to the bride by her relatives.

Sukhwinder Singh, who had been living in London for around three decades, had got his daughter married to Parminder Singh, son of Hari Singh, a resident of the Pakhowal road, Ludhiana, on March 12 last year.

He claimed to have given a handsome dowry. His daughter lived with her in-laws for four months after marriage. Then she took the groom to the UK with her. The complainant alleged that immediately after the marriage Parminder Singh and his relatives, including father, mother, sister, brother and sister-in-law, started harassing her for bringing more dowry, including a luxury car.

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Graft charge against ETO, probe sought
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 8
Mr Som Nath, Manager, Goyal Trading Company, Mandi Gobindgarh, in a complaint along with an affidavit addressed to the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Patiala, has sought a probe into the alleged demand of Rs two lakh made by Mr Janak Raj Jindal, ETO, posted at Mandi Gobindgarh for sanctioning a VAT refund paid by the customers of the firm. A photocopy of the complaint and the affidavit was given to this Correspondent by the complainant here today.

Mr Som Nath further stated that he had attached copies of the relevant documents along with his complaint, to prove that his firm which deals in the sale and purchase of retail items of steel goods, had duly filed returns with the office.

The sales were mainly to dealers who send goods out of Punjab against CST @ 2 per cent and claim refund of VAT @ 2 per cent from the Sales Tax Department.

The manager alleged that Mr Jindal called him to his office several times and made a demand of Rs 2 lakh for ITC claim of VAT in services/refund claim of the customers of the firm, and threatened to disallow the same if not given.

All pleadings of the complainant that he had been abiding by the rules of the department and his business was of small scale did not move the ETO.

When contacted on Mobile phone, Mr Jindal refuted all allegations.

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1-yr jail in cheque bounce case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
Mr Tarsem Mangla, Judicial Magistrate, has convicted Indiver Kumar of Rajguru Nagar to one-year imprisonment in a cheque bounce case. A fine of Rs 1,000 has been imposed on the convict.

The orders were pronounced by the court while deciding a complaint filed by Mr P. N. Bhakoo of Karimpura, Ludhiana. The complainant had submitted that the convict had taken a loan of Rs 3 lakh from him. It was claimed that the convict also entered into an agreement with him.

In order to repay the loan amount, he issued a few cheques, including a cheque for Rs 50,000. However, the cheque bounced. A legal notice was sent to the convict, but he failed to make the payment.

On the other hand, the convict pleaded false implication. The defence counsel claimed that the complainant was working as a chartered accountant. He used to file the returns of the convict. The complainant misused signed cheques of the convict.

However, after going through the documents on record, the judge convicted Indiver Kumar.

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Pesticides damaging environment, polluting foodstuff
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The pesticide umbrella that helped in increasing food- grain production when the Green Revolution began to unfold its socio-economic benefits, has now begun to leak, causing widespread damage to environment, making agro-ecosystem vulnerable to a new host of pests and insects and causing pesticide-residue effects in a variety of foodstuffs and even human milk.

In fact, with the march of time, insect-pest problems have also increased in some crops following application of pesticides. This has resulted in higher consumption of pesticides, otherwise so necessary to maintain higher levels of production.

Consequently, Punjab Agricultural University came face-to-face with a slew of new problems. The insects and pests have developed resistance to many plant protection chemicals. Scientists have encountered the problem of resurgence of new pests, of pesticide-residues, outbreak of secondary pests and toxicity to natural enemies. Since agriculture is now in the cusp of change, so is the control of new pests and insects with new technologies.

According to Entomologist A. K. Dhawan, a new “chemistry” is in the offing to overcome the problems posed by old-time insects and pests. This chemistry relates to application of smaller doses of pesticides that are cost-effective and have long-time effect. Even spray technology is different, as the new pesticides have different “modes of action” on pests or killing these pests in ways different than the traditional pesticides. These “novel pesticides” have been registered for control of “sucking” pests and also for American bollworm and pink bollworm.

Excessive use of pesticides or misuse of pesticides has caused pesticide-residue problem in all sorts of agricultural commodities and even in human milk in the state. Entomologist Dhawan today said approximately 55 per cent of food commodities in Punjab were found to be contaminated with pesticide-residues in 1997-2004. The percentage of contamination in cereals due to use of DDT, HCH was observed to be 8 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively, and the percentage contamination due to DDT and Lindane in milk was two and 53, respectively. Pesticide residues were also found in vegetables. Various pesticides were reportedly responsible for contamination up to 71 per cent in vegetables and 85 per cent in fruits.

Since major emphasis in the initial years had remained on increasing foodgrain production to meet the country’s needs, the consumption of pesticides also increased from 2,353 million tones in 1955-56 to 41,020 million tones in 2003-04. The percentage share of pesticide consumption in Punjab was 17.9 in 2002-03. This decreased from 7,200 metric tones in 1995-96 to 6,900 metric tones in 2004-05.

With more area coming under irrigation and shrinking of rain-fed area, the inspect-pest scene also changed. While serious pests of rice became extinct, minor ones emerged, increasing the severity of their attack. Maize and sorghum is now host to new pest, shoot fly, than stem-borer.

Cotton is another example, where pest scene has changed. A pest now attacks several crops rather than focusing only on cotton, whereas, ones which were once confined to just cotton have multiple hosts. “The dependence on insecticides, as a component of integrated pest management, has also resulted in outbreak of American bollworm and whitefly during the last decade”.

Today with the adoption of Integrated Pest Management practices, insecticide usage has been reduced by 55 per cent on cotton crop, cutting the cost of sprays by 38 per cent. And presence of BT cotton is likely to cause a dip of yup to 70 per cent in the pesticide consumption in the Malwa belt. Similarly, in sugarcane adoption of bio-control strategies the pesticide incidence reduced by 60 per cent and pesticide use by 90 per cent.

Dr Dhawan said even on vegetables several pests have developed multiple resistances to nearly all commonly used insecticides. “We have regularly recorded several pests on a variety of plants and crops. For instance, Armyworm has emerged as a pest of wheat, maize and sorghum. Stalk-borer is a new found pest in sugarcane. Also, a new species of ‘weevil and ‘toka’ are serious pests of wheat in rain-fed areas. However, as more area comes under assured irrigation, aphid will become a major problem”.

There has been a shift from “cultural and mechanical” practices of insect-pest control through crop rotation, field sanitation, deep ploughing, flooding, collection and destruction of plants damaged and infested by insects and pests to bio-control to chemical and synthetic organic insecticides to tackle the new and emerging insects and pests over the decades; all due to changing character of the green revolution.

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Sukhbir lauds SSF efforts
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary and MP, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, has lauded the efforts of the Sikh Students’ Federation (Mehta) efforts to strengthen party. He said, the federation under the leadership of its president Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal had provided a “good and effective leadership” to the youth, particularly the students in the state.

Mr Badal was addressing a function organised by the federation here yesterday. He assured the federation that the way party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had given due priority to the youth wing, similarly the SSF would also be involved in the organisational matters. He congratulated Mr Grewal for standing by the party and keeping the youth together under hostile circumstances.

Expressing his gratitude to Mr Badal, Mr Grewal reiterated his faith in the leadership of the SAD. He said, his organisation would do everything possible to strengthen the party and ensure its return to power in the state. He said, the federation was ready for any responsibility that the party would assign to it. He claimed that the federation had a strong cadre of motivated workers who were working hard round the clock for the party. 

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Two youths commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
Two youths committed suicide in separate incidents in the city today.

Manoj Kumar, 16-year-old boy, was found hanging from the ceiling of his house at Sant Vihar in Haibowal. His body was sent to the Civil Hospital for autopsy. Police sources said the boy used to remain upset over family problems. His father had left the family four years ago.

In another incident, a 20-year-old man committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance following a minor altercation with his family members.

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Serving the industry with zeal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 8
They have been serving the interests of the industry with devotion and dedication. They have pledged to continue to serve the industry and fight against corruption and “inspector raj”.

They are Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh who have continued to serve the industry as president and general secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) for the past 15 years in succession.

They have helped industrialists and saved them from the clutches of corrupt officials of various departments of the state and Central governments.

Mr Pradhan, now 85, has not amassed any fortunes and his son just runs a small unit which manufactures cycle parts. Similarly, Mr Avtar Singh (56) has set up his unit at Focal Point and manufactures cycle parts.

Mr Pradhan was elected president of CICU, Ludhiana, for the first time in 1991. Mr Avtar Singh was elected general secretary in 1992 and both have continued to hold the fort of the chamber since then.

CICU was set up in 1970 with Mr Prem Nath Gupta as the founder president and Mr Amrit Chopra as the founder general secretary. Among those who have served as presidents of the chamber are Mr Brij Mohan Lal Munjal of the Hero group, Mr Mohinder Singh Bhogal of the Bhogal group, Mr V. P. Chopra and Mr N. D. Sharma. Mr Sharma is now heading the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab, while Mr Chopra is president of the Federation of Small Scale Industries Associations.

Mr Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh have fought many a battle with the state government over the issue of hike in power tariff and rise in steel prices during the past 15 years.

Another major achievement of the team is the construction of the chamber building which has come up at Focal Point at a cost of Rs 1 crore. The construction of the building was taken up in 2001 when Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, laid its foundation stone. The building is now complete.

Mr Ajit Singh Kular, a senior industrialist, and Mr G. L. Pahwa, president, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, have described the duo as “maha tyagis” and have lauded their efforts for the industry.

However, Mr Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh have a serious complaint against the Chief Minister of Punjab who, they say, has not bothered to meet the small scale industrialists and has played into the hands of local politicians.

They maintain that the chamber has had very good relations with all Chief Ministers, including Giani Zail Singh, Mr Darbara Singh, Mr Beant Singh, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who met industrialists and tried to mitigate their grievances.

They regret that the Chief Minister has been extending all sorts of benefits to the corporate sector and the small scale industry which required a lot of government help and sympathy has been completely ignored.

Mr Pradhan is upset that he was labelled an Akali when Capt Amarinder Singh was asked by local Congress leaders not to attend the meeting of industrialists convened by the chamber two years ago after formal acceptance of the invitation by the Chief Minister. “The chamber is not a political organisation and we have been raising our voice regarding the difficulties of the industry and no personal issues were ever raised,” he said.

He said his father was a freedom fighter and his father and younger brother were imprisoned during the freedom movement. He himself was selected in the royal air force before Partition but was not inducted due to the participation of his father in the freedom struggle.

Echoing their protest over the “failure” of the state government to release cash subsidy of small industrialists for the past more than five years, they said the government had extended tax benefits running into several hundred crores to big industrialists but the subsidy of the industry was not being paid since 1995. The amount of the subsidy was more than Rs 750 crore.

Similarly, they said the arrears of VAT had not been released despite tall claims by the state Finance Minister. The arrears amounted to about Rs 1,000 crore now in Punjab. They demanded that the arrears should be released so that the industry could heave a sigh of relief.

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