L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Earn or leave city, beggars told
250 go away from city after ultimatum by police
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
Nearly 250 beggars here are learnt to have left the city following an ultimatum by the city police to them to either forsake begging and earn a living honourably or leave the city immediately or face jail term.

The police has served the ultimatum as the aged beggars were allegedly resorting to inhuman treatment of children to force them to seek alms or carried the children in such a pathetic manner that people were forced to pay. At times, the beggars had started abusing if they did not get enough alms.

The police has either summoned the beggars to the police stations or detained them for questioning about their activities. The police was making a record of the beggars.

Residents may heave a sigh of relief from the menace soon if the drive achieves the desired objective. Seeking alms was proving quite harassing at city roads, markets and outside temples. It was leading to accidents and many alleged crimes were perpetrated by criminals masquerading as beggars.

Four years ago, the police has launched a massive drive and jailed nearly 1000 beggars in a rare implementation of an Act banning begging in the country. However, the drive had fizzled out sooner than later.

The ultimatum has been issued by SP City-I Rakesh Aggarwal in 10 police stations falling in the main city area. He said as per information 200 to 250 beggars have already left the city, ‘‘It seems highly paying profession for them.’’

Rakesh Aggarwal said they had taken on the begging mafia mainly to prevent the exploitation of children, ‘‘The beggars were exploiting people's emotions by showing handicapped or seriously ill children. It was the sheer exploitation of children who were made to suffer in such a manner by the aged beggars. One never knows if the children were forced to be put in such a position.’’

There were several such cases seen on the city roads, especially at road crossings, traffic lights, railway stations, bus stand, outside temples or markets.

Rakesh Aggarwal said the drive has been launched in police stations from division No 1 to 5, Sarabha Nagar, Haibowal, Model Town Division No 8.



Residents, traders sweat it out
as power crisis worsens
No improvement in sight: PSEB
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, June 22
Prolonged power cuts have made the sultry summer unbearable for residents and traders. Till 4 pm today, the city had already faced a cut of more than seven hours. Owing to this, the water supply has also been affected. And in the coming days, there will be no respite and the duration of cuts may be longer, said PSEB officials.

Irate residents said the government must take measures to improve the situation on an urgent basis. "Electricity has started playing hide and seek early this morning and it has been more than seven hours so far. Not only is it causing inconvenience to people, even household work is suffering as there is no water supply," said Mr Pankaj, a resident of Krishna Nagar in Ghumar Mandi.

Residents said the state government had failed to resolve the power crisis. "The situation is only worsening each year. It does not even stick to its promises of not imposing cuts in the night. The daily routine is disturbed and one is not even able to work," Gurmail Singh, another irate resident said.

Besides, the cuts have hit the industrial production.

According to Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president, and Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, the power cut had resulted in 25 per cent loss in production daily.

The power cut has also resulted in the rise in the steel prices. The steel manufacturers of Mandi Gobindgarh have raised the price of steel (ms rounds) by about Rs 1,000 per tonne. Ms rounds have been quoted at Rs 25,000 per tonne. The industry will soon face a shortage of steel as the steel rerolling mills of Mandi Gobindgarh have been subjected to three dayoff in a week. This will upset the steel production schedule.

Pradhan and Avtar Singh lamented that the state industry was facing severe financial crisis because of the wrong policies of the state government and the indifferent attitude of banks in extending credit to the industry. The private credit had also squeezed.

They were critical of the Excise and Taxation Department which had asked them to get security bonds renewed after the implementation of the VAT.

Avtar Singh explained that they had already got the sales tax numbers for the past many years and now the department had asked them to get new numbers under the VAT.

This would require lakhs of rupees and the industry was facing severe financial crunch. The state government should not insist on getting new security bonds and the industry should be allowed to run their business on the old sales tax numbers.

The labour engaged in the industry is also feeling restive because of the fall in the wages. The industry is not going to pay them the wages for the weekly days off . A majority of the industrial units have contractual labour and weekly off means no work, no wages.

Tulsidas Jaitwani, president, Punjab Beopar Mandal, said a state level convention of the traders would be held in Ludhiana on July 9 to take stock of the situation with regard to the power crisis and difficulties being faced by the traders.

The severe power crisis has resulted in shortage of drinking water. Already the town was facing serious shortage of potable water despite the claims of the Municipal Corporation of providing potable water supply to the town.

The corporation has no alternate arrangements to keep the tubewells running and maintaining the water supply in the town.

Meanwhile, PSEB officials said widening the demand-supply gap was creating problems and the duration of cuts could increase if this gap increased further. Officials had already warned at the beginning of the year that this summer would be no better as against an average rise of around 8 per cent, demand this time had increased by 18 per cent.

The existing demand was hovering around 1,500 lakh units with a shortage of 30-35 per cent. Attributing the situation to snowfall in the hilly areas, officials said situation could be expected to improve only when snow melted as temperature in hills rose.

"Snowfall in hills has affected flow of water in rivers. Even the supply from Naptha Jhakhri has reduced to half. We cannot expect much improvement in the current situation," said Mr V.K.Bhatia, Deputy Chief Engineer, PSEB.



Birmi’s ouster to check indiscipline in Cong
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, June 22
The dropping of Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, from the Punjab Cabinet by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has sent a forthright signal that henceforth no dissidence or indiscipline would be tolerated at any level.

The Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, has been facing dissidence eversince his assumption of office as Chief Minister of Punjab and his leadership was challenged two to three times- But there was no alternative to his leadership and sometimes adjustments had to be made to accommodate the dissidents. But since the Vidhan Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in February 2007 and all political parties are gearing themselves up face the electorate, the Congress high command took a decision to curb indiscipline in the party. It was bad luck of Mr Birmi that he spoke against the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, at a time when the party was preparing itself for the elections. It was not an opportune time to speak against the pradesh party chief and thus Mr Birmi faced the wrath of the party high command. In fact Mr Birmi was confident of his links with the All India Congress Committee and he thought he could 'rein' in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Dullo.

The action against Mr Birmi and suspension of younger brother of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and his supporters has given clear indication that the high command would not tolerate any further indiscipline in the party at anycost. The days are gone when dissidents could rakeup controversies and go to media.

The Congress high command has also given enough clue to the Punjab Congressmen that the next elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Punjab will be fought under the leadership of Captain Amarinder Singh and the Pradesh Congress president Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo.

Both Captain Amarinder Singh and Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo are now trying to present a united face to the party workers.

Mr Dullo has tried to galvanise the party setup in the state and has submitted the list of reorganisation of the PPCC to the high command. The high command is expected to clear the list any day. Mr Birmi had to suffer because of his outbursts against Mr Dullo as the latter undertook a mass contact programme in Ludhiana rural segment of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha which is represented by Mr Birmi at present. The mass contact programme was undertaken by the Mayor of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, who is a serious contender for the Congress ticket. Mr Gill is also a protege of the Chief Minister and has been booked for his support for the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, when he announced that he would send 3000 migrant workers to Rae Bareli for her election campaign. The Election Commission has booked Mr Gill for the same.

It is pertinent to mention here that Ludhiana Congress Committee urban is a divided house and the Chief Minister and the President PPCC have to pay attention to the same to set the house inorder. The local Congress leaders are engaged in leg pulling of each other. 



Duped by agent, Punjabi youths stuck in Kuwait
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
The search for greener pastures has landed another group of 16 Punjabi youths in trouble in Kuwait. Duped by an agent, the youths have been stuck in the foreign land without food or water for the past two days.

The youths have, in a communication to the Lok Bhalai Party, sought its intervention in the matter. The youths have, in a signed letter to Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, claimed that they were taken illegally to Kuwait and promised salary from the day of arrival in that country.

However, they claimed that they were yet to be given a salary even as they had spent over six months in Kuwait.

The youths claimed that they were being threatened by travel agents of dire consequences of they complained against them or did not toe their line.



Probe against ex-sarpanch completed
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 22
The police has completed investigations into a case registered against Akram Khan, former sarpanch of Dehliz village, for allegedly intimidating Fatima Begum, mother of Sowar Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of the 82 Armoured Regiment who had died during the Operation Rakshak in Jammu and Kashmir on April 24, 2000. Claim was made after reported intervention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi through the Army headquarters.

According to Rachhpal Singh Hara, DSP Malerkotla, challan would be presented in the court on July 2. Hara said the investigation had been based on facts and the apparent delay in presentation of challan was due to summer vacation in the courts and due to wilful default of any official.

On the allegation levelled by Fatima before the UPA chairperson, Hara claimed that the complainant was never called to the police station. "Though we have not received any communication from the office of the UPA chairperson, we have been told that the complainant had objected to preparing a sketch of her house. The sketch was prepared on the advice of a legal adviser of the police department who had claimed that it was required for proving the charges levelled by the complainant," said Mr Hara.

The DSP further held that the accused had been granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but the complainant, not understanding technicalities of law, insisted on getting him arrested and unhappy with the police action.

Perusal of the records revealed that consequent upon publishing of stories regarding the plight of the victim family and indictment of Akram Khan by Dr Indu, SDM, Malerkotla, the police had registered a case against Akram Khan for allegedly harassing and threatening Fatima to usurp a portion of compensation given by the government.

In her inquiry report submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Sangrur, the SDM had held that the accused had been harassing Fatima Beghm with threats to get a portion of grant that she had been getting after the martyrdom of Sowar Mushtaq Khan.

Dr Indu had found that Fatima had been threatened with dire consequences in case she did not pay him Rs 1 lakh for getting the formalities completed for the processing of a case in which the government had declared to pay Rs 5 lakh as grant. 



Urban Estate residents seek civic amenities
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
Residents of Urban Estate Dugri Phase-I are ruing pitiable civic conditions in their area. In yet another memorandum to the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, the residents have urged the MC officials to give some attention to their area also.

According to press release issued by Mr H.S. Lamba, general secretary of the Urban Estate Welfare Society, residents of area were facing a lot of hardship due to bad conditions of roads. Some pockets of Phase-I from 100 sq yd to 500 sq yds block, where stone has been laid one and half year ago but no recarpetting of road has been done inspite of the work allotted to the contractors concerned.

The residents have demanded an inquiry into the matter alleging that whatever work has been done was not upto specifications.

Residents said the condition is worse regarding sewerage. Sewerage pipes are full of garbage and only one machine is under operation which is not sufficient as per requirement of the area. Sewerage water is over flowing from the sewerage holes. Complaints are registered in the complaint register from time to time but no body cares.

The residents of the area are approaching the authorities for the last three years to widen the bridge at Sidhwan Canal, Dugri Bridge but all in vain. Mr Lamba said that the demand of the residents of Phase-I to shift the cremation ground from phase-I to Phase-II where already full fledged cremation place has been constructed should also be fulfilled. Senior citizen home is also required to be set up in the Urban Estate. Mr Lamba has appealed to the officers of department concerned to look into the matter on priority basis as there is a great unrest among the residents of the locality. 



PSEB employees hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
Protesting against the‘‘anti-employee policies’’ and contractual system, employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), southern zone, held a gate rally near Fountain Chowk here today.

Addressing the rally, Mr Kewal Singh Banwait, vice-president, AITUC, said the employees would intensify their struggle in protest against the Electricity Bill, 2003, so that it was not implemented.

Demanding that contractual system be done away with, the association member said the PSEB management should instead fill existing vacant posts. They also said that jobs be given to kin of deceased employees.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Mushtaq Masih, Mr Mohinder Pal, Mr Malkit Singh, Mr Rachhpal Chand, Mr Bikar Singh, Mr Sukhdev Raj and Mr Khushhal Mani.



Dharna by Forest Dept staff
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 22
To press their pending demands, members of the Forest Department Labourers Union, Haryana, staged a dharna in front of the building of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Haryana, in Sector 6 here.

The protesters were demanding filling of 195 vacant posts sanctioned by the government besides lifting the ban on new recruitments, implementation of the Labour Act, and other schemes like ESI, gratuity, provident fund.

They were also demanding reinstating of the retrenched employees of the department and regularisation of contractual workers. The union president, Mr Anand Sharma, alleged that the department had been unnecessarily delaying the recruitment of employees at 195 posts sanctioned by the government. 



Street paving work inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
Residents of Bhagwan Dass Colony today heaved a sigh of relief when the Municipal Councillor inaugurated the street paving work , that was pending for quite some time.

Addressing the residents, the Municipal Councillor said the Municipal Corporation has sanctioned Rs 27 lakh for the work. This would prove handy for the paving of nearly 90 per cent of the streets.

Area residents including, Amarjit Singh Jitta, Raghbhir Singh Toor and Munish Dutt have thanked the Municipal Corporation for the work.



Former BSNL DGM dead
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 22
Mr H.K. Lal, former Deputy General Manager of Ludhiana Telecom district, died today at a Jalandhar hospital after a brief illness. He is survived by his widow, two sons and two daughters.

He will be cremated here on June 23 at 10 AM. The staff and officers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited and telecom unions have mourned his death of and expressed sympathy with the bereaved family.



Singla’s remarks upset small-scale industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 22
The Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Singla's recent statement that the government had no plans for any special policy to encourage the small- scale industry has upset SSI units here.

Condemning the government for its ‘‘inability to solve problems of the SSI sector’’ and giving it a step- motherly treatment, Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India (FOTSII), said small industry was the backbone of the economy and had a track record of generating the highest employment.

‘‘Barring a meeting in January 2004, the Chief Minister has never bothered to spare time for this vital sector of the economy,’’ said Mr Kumar, adding, ‘‘the only solace so far has been release of Rs 50 crore as backlog subsidy and another Rs 100 crore. Major issues like delay in VAT refunds, allocation of land for relocation of polluting units and poor power supply continue plaguing the industry here.’’

Due to the neglect of the SSI sector, many units are on the verge of closure, said Mr Kumar.

The federation said that government's focus on mega projects would not solve the state's existing problems like unemployment.



Biz Clips

LG Electronics:
LG Electronics India has planned to increase its export turnover to $ 450 million by 2008. According to a company press note issued here today, LG would invest Rs 300 crore by 2010 towards its new plant in Pune. — TNS

Raglan: Raglan Infrastructure, a real estate group, is planning an initial public offer (IPO) in the last quarter of the current financial year. Mr Vikas Singal, managing director of the company, said today that the group would also diversify its business and enter hotels, malls and industry. — TNS

Auto parts manufacturers: Auto Parts Manufacturers Association today said that the mega project by German company Volkswagen, that has been given nod by the state government, would give a fillip to the auto parts manufacturing industry in the state. “The city has a large number of small and medium enterprises engaged in this business and they would immensely benefit from such projects,” said Mr G.S. Kahlon, president of the association. — TNS

CICU: Ruing delay in VAT refunds, the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) today said that despite promises by the government, industry was suffering on account of the delay. — TNS



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