L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

PAU reeling under financial crisis
GPF of staff not deposited
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 20
Punjab Agricultural University is reeling under a severe financial crunch and the authorities have approached the Punjab government for immediate grant to tide over the situation.

The financial crisis is so acute that the authorities have not been able to deposit the general provident fund of the employees worth Rs 6 crores for the current year in their account.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr K S Aulakh, has pointed out that PAU has been getting a block grant of Rs 80 crore since 2002-03 and there has been no increase in the same. This block grant is not even meeting the salary component of the university employees.

The university has received Rs 320 crores from 2002-03 to 2005-06 and the expenditure on salary has been to the tune of Rs 343.80 crore — a deficit of Rs 23.80 crores in the salary component alone.

The increase in the salary component has taken place despite the fact that the authorities have already reduced the staff strength by more than 22 per cent. Due to the deficit grant released by the state government, the university has not been able to credit Rs 6 crore to the GPF accounts of the employees.

The Vice-Chancellor has further pointed out that the pension fund of the university is depleting at a fast rate. The deficit in the pension fund for the last three years-2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 is Rs 4.97 crores, Rs 7.70 crores and Rs 10 crores respectively.

The total deficit of these years is Rs 22.67 crores. The university will not be able to pay the pension to the retirees if the pension fund is not replenished immediately.

The university has sought a minimum sum of Rs 15 crores to replenish the pension fund to avert a serious crisis.

Punjab Agricultural University has also not extended the facility of LTC to its employees. The same facility is available to the employees of the state government.

The employees of the university have been pressing on the university authorities to restore the LTC facility and the university has sought a sum of Rs 2 crores for this purpose.

The PAU authorities have sought a sum of Rs 33.19 crores — salary deficit Rs 10.19 crores, GPF deficit Rs 6 crores, pension deficit for 2006-07 Rs 15 crores and LTC Rs 2 crores — immediately to meet the financial crisis.

The Vice-Chancellor has also pressed upon the Chief Minister to enhance the annual grant of Rs 80 crores to Rs 113 crores.

It may be mentioned here that the Central government provided a special grant of Rs 100 crores to Punjab Agricultural University for undertaking research and enhancing the infrastructure during the central budget of 2006-07 at the instance of the Prime Minister.

The PAU authorities had suggested that a part of this special grant — about 87 crores — be put as a corpus fund which would earn more than Rs 6 crores to the university as annual interest and the same could be used for undertaking research activities.

But the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, which is a central nodal agency, did not agree and asked the authorities to spend the same grant for different development projects in a year.

The university authorities had to reframe the research and development projects to meet the ICAR requirements. PAU was asked to follow the pattern of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, which was also granted a special grant last year.

Dr Aulakh had a personal meeting with the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, in Chandigarh who directed the Chief Secretary to take care of the financial needs of he PAU.



With 2 identities, NRI fleeces PSEB
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
A USA-based non-resident Indian and retired clerk of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is in the dock for allegedly scripting a series of frauds here with the connivance of some employees of the local Municipal Corporation for achieving financial and immigration benefits.

He allegedly forged documents to have two identities of himself and his wife, two different birth certificates of their son and daughter, allegedly showing his sister’s son as his own. To cap it all, he is taking pension under his real identity from the PSEB and living under a different identity in California, USA.

The accused, Ramesh Kumar, alias Verinder Kumar Chopra, was allegedly reaping benefits of the alleged fraud for over 15 years till his elder brother Bhagat Ram, also a US citizen reported against him.

After year-long investigations, the Kotwali police registered an FIR against US-based Ramesh Kumar, alias Verinder Kumar, his wife Shakuntla Rani, alias Ramma on July 15 last under Sections 420,465,467,468 and 120-B of the IPC for the serial frauds that began in late 1980s.

The complainant claims that the accused couple had shown Harish Kumar fraudulently as his third birth child. He was the son of Pushpa Rani, a deaf and dumb sister of the accused couple. She lives near Islamia School, Mehmood Pura, here.

The accused couple has been charged with felicitating his immigration as their birth son instead of adopted son for the alleged convenient immigration to the USA of some relatives of the accused woman, Shakuntla. Her close relative’s daughter was eventually married to Harish and both are working in the USA.

According to the FIR, the case was registered on the directions of SSP A. S. Rai and the advice of the District Attorney -Legal who gave his opinion on the inquiry report conducted by the police.

The police officials were shocked that the accused was taking pension from the PSEB, showing that he was living in Faridabad, Haryana. The police has learnt that he had been giving certificates about his residence in Faridabad time to time to the PSEB for taking the pension.

The documentary evidence provided by the complainant, Bhagat Ram, revealed that the accused managed to forge documents like ration cards and some registers containing information about them in the records of the Municipal Corporation apart from the Birth and Death Registration Office.

The photos of the family affixed on different documents did them in. The police matched the photographs at some other documents like the registration copy of some property bought or sold by the accused in Ludhiana.

The police will be taking up the matter with the US Embassy for arresting the accused couple. The complainant has also reported the matter to the US Government for action against the couple.



Murdered woman’s kin block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
Relatives and neighbours of a 35-year-old woman, who was allegedly murdered by a man last night, protested against police inaction by blocking traffic on the Basti Jodhewal Road here today.

Angry relatives kept Veena Rani’s body in the middle of the road and sat on dharna for two hours. They were alleging that the police was not locking the house of the accused and was not able to arrest him.

Veena Rani, a resident of Model Colony, Meharban, was allegedly murdered yesterday by her neighbour Jagdish Jain by strangulation. The provocation was an altercation between the two families for some time. A case was also registered against Jagdish Jain under Section 323, IPC, a week ago.

The relatives of the woman lifted dharna only after police officials went to the spot and pacified them. They assured them that the accused would be arrested and action would be taken.

The police registered a case of murder against Jagdish Jain. According to DSP Manjit Singh Dhesi, the body of the woman was lying on her bed when a team of police went to her house.

In her statement to the police, murdered woman’s daughter Meena said that on July 12 also Jagdish jain had forcibly entered their house and beaten up her mother badly. The matter went to the police also. Later some prominent members of their locality tried to get a compromise effected between the two parties but the man was allegedly hurling abuses at the woman openly and was levelling allegations against her.

Yesterday, when her husband Kamal went out of the house for work and Meena was away to market, she saw Jagdish Jain with a rope leaving her house when she was returning home.

When she went inside, her mother was lying unconscious on the bed. She tried to move her but to no avail. She ran out to call for neighbours. When they came she had breathed her last.



Relief for ’84 riot victims
Sanction for payment of 4657 claims received: DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana July 20
Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, has claimed that the district administration has received sanction from the state committee for payment of 4657 claims of 1984 riot victims, which were sent after verification by the district level committee and cheques of Rs 2 lakh each have been disbursed to most of the claimants. The remaining persons can receive the cheques from the SDMs concerned.

Giving details, Mr. Gupta in a press release issued here today informed that a total of 6452 number of claims of 1984 riot victims were received in Ludhiana district up to the cut off date i.e. 15.5.2006.

These claims were processed by concerned SDMs in accordance with the government policy. Out of 6452 claims, 4786 number of claims were recommended to the state level committee. The remaining 1666 cases did not qualify for payment of relief.

Giving details of 1666 claims, he pointed out that 467 claimants did not have Red Cards and hence were rejected by the government.

In 1085 cases, the SDMs concerned verified that the affected families were not residing in Ludhiana district. Hence, they were not covered under the policy. He further said that 49 cases were of complex nature which were not recommended to the government.

However, before taking final decision on the above 1085 and 49 claims lists of affected families were displayed on the notice boards of SDMs and DC office for information of the claimants so that they may be given a chance to submit additional proof/ evidence, if any, with the sole purpose that any genuine claims may not be rejected.

Mr. Gupta clarified that some of the claimants have lodged documentary evidence/proof with the concerned SDMs. Such claims are being re-examined by a Sub Committee headed by ADC (General). The sub-committee has already started its job of re-examining the claims in Bachat Bhawan w.e.f. 20.7.2006. The verification of red cards in 65 cases has been received from other districts and these claims are being sent to government soon.

He further informed that the Government of Punjab, Department of Disaster Management, under the rehabilitation package scheme as framed by the Government of India, issued policy on February 10 this year to the effect that the claims for rehabilitation grant for 1984 riot victims may be accepted, where the claimants are Red Card holders and where they are still residing in Punjab.



Furnace units allege discrimination
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
Crippled by poor power supply, induction furnace units today condemned the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for providing more power to four acr furnaces in the state than to over 100 units here.

“There is a clear discrimination against the induction furnace industry, which is already reeling under power crisis, labour unrest and other financial hardships,” said Induction Furnace Association of North India president K.K. Garg.

The PSEB had stopped power supply to induction furnace units whereas the decision was not applicable to arc furnace units. Induction furnace units are currently getting power for only three days a week, for 11 hours a day.

Mr Garg said the arc furnace units were getting power for five days a week in spite of the fact that the operations in both categories of units were the same.

“Those arc units consume 200 MW, while more than 100 induction furnace units use 300 MW. Both produce same kind of material and pay similar charges to the PSEB. The electricity board should not resort to such discrimination.”

The association said due to the ongoing crisis, rolling mills were also being forced to stop operations, as there was shortage of raw material on account of which steel prices had risen sharply.

“Steel prices have risen due to the shortage and our production, which was 7,500 tonnes a day, has declined by 85 per cent. The entire engineering industry is also being affected as a result,” said association’s senior vice-president Sandeep Jain.

Owners of induction furnace units said the PSEB had been charging several lakhs of rupees as minimum charges from these units and had not reduced these charges even as power supply to these units had been cut drastically.

“Due to financial hardship they extended bill deposition date by four days whereas we wanted at least 10 days of grace period,” said Mr Garg.

Industrialists have threatened to gherao the Chief Engineer, PSEB, if the discrimination continued and approach the Chief Minister if the matter is not sorted out at the earliest.



Havaldar dies as gun fires accidentally
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 20
A Punjab police havaldar, deputed on security of the State Bank of Patiala, Malerkotla branch, near here, died due to accidental firing from his own gun yesterday. He was cremated with at his native Khera village in Hoshiarpur district today.

Charanjit Singh, son of Darshan Singh, a havaldar posted at City police in Malerkotla, died when a bullet from his own gun was fired accidentally in the afternoon on Wednesday.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the bullet had entered his body on the left side of chin and pierced the brain, causing immediate death. At the time of the incident, Charanjit was sitting on a chair in front of the main gate of the bank.

All those present at the site were shocked to see the cop lying in a pool of blood.

The cop was immediately shifted to Civil Hospital, Malerkotla, where doctors declared him brought dead.

The deceased is survived by a wife and three children.

The Malerkotla police registered a report under Section 174 of the CrPC on the statement of Ms Satya Devi, wife of the deceased.

A police party led by Mr Rajesh Mattu presented honour to the cop before the body was cremated at Cheri village in Hoshiarpur.

Charanjit was transferred from Sangrur to Malerkotla recently. He had left the police station as usual in the morning and was about to finish his duty for the day when the gun fired accidentally, claiming his life.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP of Sangrur, Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, SP (D), and Mr Bhola Singh, DSP, Malerkotla, mourned the death of the cop.



Sarabha Nagar firing: 2 accused girls join probe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
Two of the four girls involved in the infamous firing incident in Sarabha Nagar on May 27 late evening joined police investigation today after obtaining anticipatory bail against their arrest from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

SSP A.S Rai told Ludhiana Tribune that the two girls—Tripit Kaur, alias Pannu and Sukhpreet Kaur — joined the investigation and were questioned about different aspects of the case.

He said the police had questioned them about the motive of the firing in the market, the weapon used and the car they travelled in.

The girls, have reportedly stuck to their version of the events that they had not fired and in fact, a son of an influential politician of the city had fired at them, police sources said.

The girls had been at large since May 27. The police later learnt they were from Chandigarh. The police had obtained their pictures after conducting raids on their rented apartment in Chandigarh.

The girls were maintaining they were not the accused and were in fact the victims in the case.



PCR constable foils kidnapping bid
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, July 20
A PCR constable rescued a minor girl as she was being kidnapped by a local resident.

According to information, eight-yr-old Sunita, a resident of Jhugian near Civil Hospital, was going toward her dwelling near Lal Palace last night when Ranga Singh of Bhamipura, riding a motor cycle (PB-10A-9866), tried to kidnap the girl.

Constable Shingara Singh, posted at PCR, Adda Raikot, Jagraon, who was passing by noticed this and rescued the girl. He arrested the accused and impounded the motor cycle.

A case has been registered under Section 363, 365 and 511, IPC. SDJM Jitender Walia today remanded Ranga in judicial custody till August 3.

Assault case

Harpreet, Manpreet, Lakhoo, Kali and Kala of Acharwal village allegedly entered the house of Gulam Mohammad of their village and assaulted him, before allegedly stealing a dupatta.

The Raikot police has registered a case under Sections 452, 379, 323, 148 and 149, IPC.

The injured has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Raikot. No arrest has been made.

Power theft

A Junior Engineer in the Public Works Department, Raikot, Ramandeep Singh, was booked for stealing electricity by kundi connection last night.

The police registered a case under Section 379, IPC, on the complaint of Assistant Engineer, Sub Divisional Office, PSEB, Raikot, Dharmpal. No arrest has been made.

Information sought

Jagraon Vikas Manch president Raman has sought information from the local Municipal Council under the Right to Information Act with regard to tenders floated for new roads/repairs of old ones, number of tubewells, quality of water supplied to households, number of samples taken, number of new tubewells purposed and streetlights installed and garbage collection. According to president, the information has been sought to weed out corrupt in the working of the local Municipal Council.

5 booked for trespass

Harnek Singh and Balwinder Singh of Dalla, Bhag Singh and Dalip Singh of Akhara and Sukhchain Singh of Tajpur Road, Raikot, were booked for allegedly trespassing on the fields of Harnam Singh of Dalla village and forcibly cultivating paddy crop on part of the field. The police has registered a case under Sections 447, 427, 148 and 149, IPC.



Rs 28.63 lakh watch to be displayed in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
Buoyant over the industrial town’s demand for premium and ultra luxury watches, Ethos Swiss Watch Studios has brought a Breguet watch costing Rs 28.63 lakh, to be showcased at a wedding exhibition in the city.

‘‘We are hopeful that the watch would get sold off but our main aim is to tell people that premium watches that they had to procure from Switzerland and other places are now available at competitive rates in their own city,’’ Mr Yashovardhan Saboo, CEO of the company, told Ludhiana Tribune today.

The watch to be showcased is a ‘‘Queen of Naples’’ model for ladies in yellow gold and studded with diamonds. So far the city has been home to luxury watches up to around Rs 5 lakh. ‘‘This is perhaps the most expensive watch the city has had so far, though people here do buy much more expensive watches from other places,’’ said Mr Saboo.

Talking about the market for top line watches, he said even as the company started operations only around two years ago, it witnessed a turnover of more than Rs 12 crore and Punjab held a share of 30 per cent. North of Delhi, the company has an outlet in Ludhiana and one in Chandigarh, which portrays the enormous demand the region is generating.



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