L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Kidnapped travel agent rescued
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
The Ludhiana police today rescued a travel agent who was allegedly kidnapped by two persons, whom he had promised to send abroad by accepting around Rs 5 lakh but had failed to do so.

Lakhbir Singh, a Ludhiana based travel agent was forcibly kidnapped from his residence at local Noorwala road at 10 a.m. yesterday. His wife in her complaint to the police stated that he was thrown inside a Tata Sumo van by two persons, who used to come to their house often.

Mr Dinesh Partap Singh, SP city-II, while addressing a press conference today, said the police had recovered the kidnapped travel agent from Pangla village in Hoshiarpur. His kidnappers Ranjit Singh and Suraj, were also arrested from the spot.

The police officer said that they had kept Lakhbir Singh in a room under a telecommunication company’s tower and they succeeded in tracking them with the help of the van’s number which was noted down by the travel agent’s wife.

He claimed that the travel agent was beaten up badly after he was taken to the village. He said that the alleged kidnappers were angry at Lakhbir Singh as he had accepted Rs 4.75 lakh from them a year ago on the pretext of sending them abroad.

The duo had visited the travel agent a number of times during the past year but he had neither returned them the money nor sent them abroad. This had left them more angry and finally they planned to kidnap him to get the money recovered from him.

The SP said both had taken law into their hands by kidnapping the victim without taking the help of authorities concerned to get justice. They were booked under Section 364 and 34 IPC.



Excise Dept detects Rs 15 cr fraud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
The Excise and Taxation Department has detected fraud to the tune of Rs 15 crore by an export house here.

Addressing a press conference, Mr V.K. Garg, Chief Commissioner, Central Excise, said the department conducted comprehensive investigation and found that the party claimed rebates of over Rs 15 crore over the last three years. The investigations, that are on, revealed that the party set up three manufacturing facilities in the same premises without having independent manufacturing facility. “Even collective manufacturing of the three entities are incapable of producing as many products as the party claimed to be exporting.”

He said the cenvatable invoices for inputs were received from a large number of sources by the export house including those received from people in Surat. “We are carrying on our investigations and Rs 15-cr fraud detected would contact Surat-based parties as well,” said Mr Garg, adding, “most of these invoices have been confirmed to be non-existing and many firms also did not exist at all. Invoices amounting to Rs 12 crore of duty have been found to be bogus.”

The Excise Commissioner said the export house owners opened more than 100 accounts in the names of different entities. “Heavy inventory running in crores of rupees has been found to be missing.”

The department is carrying on investigations.



Calcutta’s ouster may cost SAD dear
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 13
Last fortnight saw two big events in the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. At long last Mr Parkash Singh Badal formalised the ouster of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta — the architect of Badal-Tohra rapprochement before the demise of the latter. Since the death of Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra a strong section of the Akali-Dal was itching to see Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta out of the Akali-Dal. Originally the Ranjit Singh Brahmpura faction of Majha belt started the game when Jathedar Tohra was still on his death bed. Mr Brahmpura acted through his henchman Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke who remained acting President of the SGPC after the death of Jathedar Tohra. Mr Badal on his own seemed to be incapable of disciplining some of his proteges like Mr Brahampura and Mr Sucha Singh Langah who continue to call the shots in the districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur. But this policy has started boomeranging after the revolt of Mr Raghbir Singh, secretary SGPC, who was earlier used by Mr Badal to facilitate the ouster of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta from the SGPC.

At the moment, the organisation of the Akali Dal(Badal) in Majha belt is in disarray. How far this will damage the prospects of the Akali Dal in the forthcoming elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is yet to be seen.

The ouster of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta means much for Panthic circles. He is a respected Akali ideologue and has mastery over the sikh traditions. He has the guts to call a spade a spade when it comes to the upholding of the Panthic values, Sikh traditions and Akali ethos. He has been under strong pressure from his supporters to shed his inhibitions and walk out of the Akali Dal (Badal ). But he always said that so far the Sikhs had not thrown up an alternative to Mr Badal hence he would not like to demean the Panthic leadership. But he usually criticised the policies of Mr Badal viz-a-viz the BJP and Sikh interests and aspirations. During the quadri-centenary of martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev he did not hesitate to appear on the stage of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) at Tarn Taran and associated himself with Sarna brothers. He commands respect outside Punjab and with in disasporic Sikh circles. What happened at Manji Sahib in Harmander Sahib on July 2 has left much to be desired. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta did not laugh gleefully and he said it was unfortunate for the Panth.

What is important is to perceive the turn of events after the ouster of Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta. He can be more active on the socio-religious Sikh platform without actively associating himself with any of the Akali factions. The Akali factions like Akali-Dal (Longowal ) led by Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra and Akali Dal (Amritsar ) led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann have approached him for cooperation and a joint delegation along with Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta met the Akal Takht Jathedar against the directive against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. But the million dollar question is whether these factions of the erstwhile Panthic Morcha will like to act as a confederation and allow Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta to operate effectively against Mr Badal to cleans the vitiated religious sikh atmosphere. It will only depend on the intelligence and the willing cooperation of these factions . Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta would like to comment independently on political situations as they develop during the period closer to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha election making his presence felt in the traditional Sikh arena.



Dharna by BJP Mahila Morcha
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha staged a demonstration against the rising prices of essential commodities in front of the Clock Tower here today.

They were beating tins “to wake up the sleeping government” to the problems of the people on account of rise in the prices of essential commodities.

They were led by the district chief of the morcha, Ms Prem Bhatia, and the general secretary, Ms Reena Dhawan. The activists also distributed pamphlets listing the prices of essential commodities in comparison with those prevailing two years ago.

The morcha leaders said the prices of all essential commodities, including flour, rice, pulses, sugar, oil and fuel, had gone up by around 50 to 100 per cent. For the common people, it was difficult to manage a living under such dearness, they added.

They alleged the Congress governments at the Centre and in the state had failed to check the prices of essential commodities. These governments were watching the interests of a few capitalists only. They alleged the hoarders were not being brought to book and everything was going on under the official patronage.

The activists said they would continue with their protests as long as the prices were not brought under control.



PAU seeks funds for sustainable agriculture
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, July 13
To give a push to the second Green Revolution, the Punjab government has decided to focus on agricultural diversification, research and development with necessary financial support to the university.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who last week presided over a meeting of senior bureaucrats and attended by Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh to deliberate on funding this project, has constituted a small committee to give concrete shape to the proposal which envisages not only utilization of Rs 10 crore under the agricultural diversification, research and development fund but also to give additional support. The committee constituted by the Chief Minister is expected to meet shortly.

Dr Aulakh who was in Chandigarh on giving necessary financial support to the university to meet its committed expenditure pointed out that “block” grant given by the government to PAU has remained static at Rs 80 crore for the last few years. This money was not sufficient to meet even the committed liabilities. The Vice-Chancellor requested the Chief Minister that this money should be raised to at least Rs113 crore.On this, the Chief Minister has asked the Chief Secretary, Financial Commissioner (Development) and Principal Secretary (Finance) to work out the modalities to meet the requirement of PAU.

The proposal submitted by PAU seeking approximately Rs 24 crore includes research component for identified crops and technology areas in respect to at least half a dozen specialized areas. It includes the requisite money required for contractual services and contingency needs. PAU has included a funding of Rs 1.82 crore to launch a state wide technology campaign to demonstrate to the farmers, simple and adaptable technologies for higher production and enhancing family incomes through their adoption.

Meanwhile, Director of Research, Dr Dhillon who attended a meeting of sub-committee on crop services constituted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi, suggested that ICAR should incorporate in its agenda of All India Co-ordinated Research Project in Bio-technology to give financial support to this sector. Another point he made was assured procurement of alternative crops like maize, sorghum, pearl millet. His suggestion as contingent support to the ongoing state projects from ICAR was also well taken.

The state Planning Board, which met under the chairmanship of Dr S.S. Johl, has put emphasis on giving priority to education, health infrastructure etc. In these schemes, PAU has been assigned to prepare project profiles on agricultural technology, dissemination and market linkages, water use efficiently and a plan paper on diversification research and development.

Dr Dhillon today said Punjab produced 3 per cent of the world’s wheat and 2 per cent rice. Likewise it produced 20 per cent of country’s wheat and 10 per cent rice. Punjab farmers spend Rs 290 crore on cotton seed alone which was siphoned all to multi-national companies.



DC’s directive to complete pending projects
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta has directed the officers to complete all the development works being carried out through the grants under Punjab Nirman Programme by September 30 positively besides strictly ensuring the quality of the works.

He was addressing the monthly meeting of District Development Committee organised to review the progress of the various schemes of the government at Bachat Bhavan, here today.

Till date funds amounting to Rs 49.80 crore were being spent under programme in the district through different departments. He said during year 2005-06 grants amounting to Rs 23.28 crore were spent under this programme and more funds of Rs 37.35 crore were being spent during the current financial year.

Reviewing the progress of unspent grants, the DC directed all the BDPOs to utilize all the pending grants and submit the utilization certificates within a period of two months positively and warned that strict action would be taken against the defaulters. He told them, in case, due to some unavailable reasons, the grant cannot be utilized, then the specific grant should immediately be returned.

Latter addressing a meeting of District Roads Committee, the DC directed all the XENs to complete all the relevant formalities i.e. tenders, administrative approvals etc relating to the roads, for which the grants have been released to them and to start the work at the earliest. He also directed the PWD officers to start the repair work at Machhiwara-Rahon road within district and Jagroan-Raikot roads, as the funds have already been provided.

In another meeting of the Agriculture Production Committee, Mr Gupta reviewed the progress of sowing of paddy crop and stock situation of fertilizers. Mr Sangha, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, informed that there was no shortage of fertilizers for this season and the required stock have already been placed with the village level cooperative agriculture societies.

The DC asked the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, to ensure immunization against the seasonal diseases to the animals in the villages. Dr Paramjit Singh, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, informed that the vaccination to prevent contagious diseases have already been given to 82 per cent animals in the district and informed that the department was organising anti rabies camps in different parts of the district to vaccinate the stray dogs against rabies.

Reviewing the progress of dairy development, he informed that during this year, training in dairy farming would be provided to 250 dairy farmers and loans amounting to Rs 230 lakh would be arranged to the trainees to start their ventures.

Others who attended the meeting included Mr S. R. Kaler, DDLG, Mr M. S. Jaggi, SDM, (W), Mr Prem Chand, SDM, Raikot, Mr Jaspal Mittal, SDM, Khanna, Mr Baldev Singh, SDM, Samrala, Mr T. S. Dhaliwal, SDM Payal, Mr S. S. Gill, SDM, Jagraon, Dr B. K. Gupta, Mr Ashok Kumar (both Joint Commissioners, LMC) and Mr Sanjeev Garg, DDPO.



CM’s clean chit to city cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
In an apparent move to boost the morale of the police in Ludhiana, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday gave clean chit to the Ludhiana police on the law and order situation in the city. He said some incidents of crime must not be blown out of proportion. At the same time he maintained that those responsible for these incidents would not be let off at any cost.

Replying to a question during his visit here yesterday, the Chief Minister sought to boost the morale of the police force in Ludhiana. He pointed out that there was no sense of fear or scare in the city. He said some unfortunate incidents that had taken place here were being investigated into and the guilty would soon be brought to book. He said other similar cases had been cracked in Jalandhar and Amritsar also.

The Chief Minister asserted that law and order would not be allowed to deteriorate in the state at any cost. He observed that there was an atmosphere of peace prevailing everywhere in the state as also in Ludhiana.



Protest against octroi abolition
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 13
Protesting against the state government’s decision to abolish octroi, activists of Municipal Service Union and Municipal Council Safai Mazdoor Union staged a protest rally at the gate of MC office here today. The activists threatened to launch an agitation in a phased manner in case the administration tried to ruin the future of lakhs of persons depending on thousands of octroi employees.

While addressing the rally, office-bearers of two unions accused the government of trying to please voters at the cost of subsistence of octroi employees and maintenance of civic amenities in the towns and cities. “Before taking a final decision the policy makers should consider the troubles families of employees would be facing,” said the speakers.

The activists raised slogans. Mr Som Nath Chauhan, president, Municipal Council Safai Mazdoor Union and Municipal Service Union leaders Harvinder Singh Sohi, Bharat Bhushan and Satnam addressed the rally.



Death anniversary of Sant Parkash Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
The 26th barsi (death anniversary) of Sant Parkash Singh will be observed at Natt village, near Sahnewal, on July 14. A kirtan darbar will also be organised. Sant Balwinder Singh will address the gathering on the occasion.

According to Dr Arjan Singh, famous ragis, including Bhai Gurmej Singh, Bhai Gurkirat Singh, Bhai Gurcharan Singh, Bhai Gurdev Singh, Bhai Kirpal Singh and Bhai Amarjit Singh, will perform kirtan on the occasion.



LMA seminar

Ludhiana, July 13
The Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) organised a seminar on ‘Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing’ here last evening.

Mr Mandeep Singh Sekhon, Director, Strategic Planning and Continuous Improvement, Tarkett Enterprises Inc, USA, was the keynote speaker.

“Six Sigma started in Motorola in the manufacturing division. Today you can apply it to many fields such as services, medical, insurance procedures and call centres. Six Sigma strives for perfection and allows for only 3.4 defects per million opportunities for each product or service transaction. TNS



Two die as cars collide
Our Correspondent

Khamano, July 13
Two car-borne persons died on the spot when their Indica car collided head-on with a speeding Tata-Safari near village Newan Jatana on Chandigarh Ludhiana road, near here.

The Indica car (CH-03F-1389) was going towards Chandigarh and the Tata Safari (PB-10BR-0606) was coming from the opposite side. The Indica car was badly damaged and the two persons travelling in the car died on the spot. They were identified as Ashok Kumar and Ashwani, both residents of Chandigarh.



Punjabi wedding splendour attracts businessmen
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 13
High spending on weddings by Punjabis has now attracted the businessmen from other states in the country to come forward and provide shopping of wedding-related stuff all under one roof.

Those who have come forward this time include not only cosmetic brands for trousseau and wedding planners but also insurance companies providing loans for wedding, pharma units and even wedding-entertainment providers who promise to get the celebrity you want at your wedding.

“Considering the high spending done in Punjabi weddings, we have decided to hold ‘Celebrating Vivaha 2006’, an exhibition that would involve participation from designers, jewellers, decor providers, gifts and accessory providers and various other companies, in this city,” said Mr Tarun Sarda, CEO, Vivaha Interactive.

“Weddings, where spending goes above Rs 1 crore, are not rare in Punjab. We noticed that people came to places like Delhi for their wedding shopping. However, not all can come there every time which is why we thought of providing them with this facility,” he stressed.

Explaining about the interest of companies other than those dealing in dresses or jewellery for wedding, he said, “A wedding is not only about buying clothes and jewellery, people these days look forward to a wide range of other services that they can get under one roof. As over 60 participants form across the country get together, people will be able to decide on the kind of shopping they want.”

Right from wedding planners like Shaadi Online and Touchwood Entertainment to leading brands like Longines, Rado, Omega and designers like Neeta Bhargava, Vijaylakshmi Dogra, Priya and Chintan and various others with their trousseau collections are offering gifts for weddings.

Mr Sarda said the company started organising this wedding exhibition in 2003 and the concept had found many takers within a short span.

“The turnover in the first year was Rs 5 lakh and it crossed Rs 20 crore last financial year,” he said.



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