L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Industry sees mischief
7-hour power supply to induction furnaces
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) action of supplying electricity to induction arc furnaces for seven hours yesterday failed to find favour with the industry which termed the action as a “mischief”, stating that the board did not inform them well in advance about the same. As a result induction furnaces could not function even as electricity was supplied between 10 am and 5 pm.

Terming the action as a “mischief to thwart their agitation”, representatives of the industry said such actions would not mellow them and they would begin their protest from tomorrow by observing a relay fast at Vishwakarma Chowk. Besides, they would also put black flags outside their factories to mark their protest.

“The electricity board has been discriminating against induction furnaces by ordering closure for an indefinite period. However, electricity is being supplied to five arc furnaces in the state even though the nature of operations in both cases is similar,” alleged Mr K.K. Garg, president, Induction Furnace Association of North India.

“After the board learnt about our protest, it supplied power for seven hours yesterday, from 10 am to 5 pm, without even giving us sufficient time to get labour to run our units,” he added.

The industry representatives blamed the Punjab Government for ruining the industry by failing to tackle the power shortage. Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “Last year the power deficit in the state was about 800 MW which has gone up to 2,400 MW this year. Most of the other northern states registered a marginal increase of about 10 to 15 per cent. The fact is that there has been no increase in demand from the industry and the entire increase is from the non-industrial sector. The government, it seems, is focussing only on non-industrial activities.”

He said closure of steel induction furnaces has given a further jolt to the “steel-consuming industry” in the state, which relies on Punjab’s industry for over 70 per cent of its requirements. “If such is the condition when elections are not far, we are worried about the industry’s fate in future.”

More than 15 industry associations would support the protest that begins tomorrow.



Ex-MLA to move HC against minister
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
Mr Nirmal Singh Mahant, former MLA from Rai Kote, today accused Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Lal Singh of intimidating him and even threatening to get him killed. He alleged that on August 8 during the Jansampark rally at Rain Kote and on August 11 at Hambran he was humiliated and threatened by the minister.

Mr Mahant told The Tribune here today that he would be filing a civil and criminal defamation case against Mr Lal Singh in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, as he had publicly misbehaved with him on two occasions. He said he had brought the matter to the notice of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, PCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo and other senior leaders.

Mr Mahant had represented the Rai Kote Assembly segment from 1992 to 1997. During the Jansampark rally Mr Lal Singh did not want him to participate in it because, the former MLA claimed, he (Mr Lal Singh) did not want him to demonstrate public support as it could present a tough competition to his favourite, Mr Harmohinder Singh Pradhan, at the time of deciding the candidate for the Assembly elections.

Mr Mahant said since he was duly invited by District Congress Committee (Rural) president Bhulinder Singh, he went there with a number of supporters. This, according to him, was not liked by the minister. He allegedly did not let him (Mr Mahant) speak at the rally despite latter’s repeated requests. There was altercation between the minister and Mr Mahant at that time.

He again went to Hambran to sort out matter with Mr Lal Singh. But again, Mr Lal Singh allegedly tried to get him out of the rally pandal forcibly. Once the rally concluded he was followed by some people, allegedly at the alleged of Mr Lal Singh. He claimed that he straightaway drove to a police station to save his life.

Mr Mahant said he had tried to meet the Chief Minister but could not get an appointment. However, he managed to meet the PCC president who advised him to wait and not to go to the Press. Mr Dullo had asked him to wait for a week, but no action had been taken against Mr Lal.

“If this can happen to me, a former legislator with a record of sacrifices for the party during the terrorism days, then what would be the plight of an ordinary worker,” he asked.



Heavy rain lashes city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
Heavy rain lashed the city in the afternoon today, providing the much-desired relief from scorching heat and humidity. Although the rain did not last for long, yet a number of low-lying areas in the city were inundated.

Traffic came to a halt at several places, including Ghumar Mandi, the Domoria Bridge and some other interior areas of the city. Within minutes, the water accumulated at these places. A number of vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, got stuck.

Agricultural experts and farmers maintain that the rains could be good for the paddy.



Jaipur sacrilege raises Mann’s hackles
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has condemned the sacrilegious incident in which the hair of a Sikh youth was forcibly cut by youths when he objected to their indecent behavior towards a girl student.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Daljit Singh, president and senior vice-president of the party, alleged that the ruling regime was encouraging fundamentalist forces to create a situation of terror and humiliation for minority communities and Sikhs were being targeted with these sinister intentions. They said the Sikh community all over the world was outraged over the incident.

They demanded that the government should take immediate action to arrest the culprits behind this incident and action should be initiated to get them punished.

The Principal of the educational institution where this unsavoury incident took place should be immediately sacked, because instead of taking any action, he seemed to side with the culprits.

Police officials should also be prosecuted who refused to take any action against the culprits and were openly siding with communal forces, they pointed out.

They alleged that increasing incidents of violence against the Sikhs at regular intervals all over the country clearly indicated that these were sponsored and encouraged by major political parties. Sikhs, because of their distinct identity, were a soft target, they said.

They alleged that denial of justice to Sikhs pointed an accusing finger towards the judiciary. The scales of justice were dangerously tilted against the Sikhs. As had been seen in the past, sinister moves were being made to dilute the distinct identity of the Sikhs, they alleged.

They also criticised self-styled Sikh leaders who had become willing tools in the hands of Hindutva.



Erring official transferred
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
Municipal Commissioner Vikas Pratap today took disciplinary action against an Inspector with the Tehbazaari Department following allegations that he was extorting money from encroachers in different parts of the city.

The action came in the wake of a Tribune report carried in these columns today. Mr Pratap told the Ludhiana Tribune that the accused official had been shifted. He had been given office work and removed from field duty.

The Municipal Commissioner also warned employees of the MC that no laxity in work would be tolerated and stern action would be taken against the corrupt. Sources said a senior official who was allegedly delaying action against the erring official had also been pulled up.

The official was accused of extorting money from encroachers in Gyaspura. Mr Hakam Singh Gyaspura, councillor of ward number 21, alleged that an Inspector in his area was accepting Rs 100 each from rehri and kios owners and allowing them to encroach public land.

Mr Gyaspura had named the Inspector in the house. Following the allegations, the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill and Commissioner Vikas Partap had announced that nobody would be, allowed to encroach public land.

Mr Partap had categorically asked Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner, who heads the Tehbazaari Department, to look into the allegations and take action. He had asked him to get the matter inquired by evening. But no action was taken till the news report appeared today.



Family firms under IT scanner
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 23
A team of the Income Tax department, comprising over 24 officials, launched simultaneous survey on business premises of a group of four companies owned by the same family at Kanganwal Road here yesterday.

The IT officials descended at the premises of Surdarshan Forge, Ess Ess Steel Castings, Ess Ess Wheels and Happy Machine Tools at forenoon and carried out detailed inspection of books of account, IT returns for the last three years, documents relating to sale and purchase as well as physical verification of stocks.

During the survey, conducted under the supervision of Mr S.S. Rana, Additional Commissioner Range (V), partners of the firm and some of the key staff members were questioned, entry and exit from the premises were restricted and phone calls were barred.



Two die in wall collapse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
Two labourers were killed and two were injured when they were demolishing an old wall of a shop on the main Haibowal road this evening.

One of the deceased has been identified as Prahlad Kumar while the identity of the other labourer is yet to be ascertained. The contractor, Ram Swarup, and mason Shambhu were seriously injured in the incident.

The shop was being built on the land of a retired SDO. The Haibowal police said the wall collapsed suddenly when they were breaking it. They were buried under the debri.

Other labourers and area shopkeepers shifted the injured to hospital with the help of the Haibowal police.



AOC-in-Chief visits Halwara IAF station
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 23
With the coveted Battle Honours being conferred by the President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on one of the squadrons located at Indian Air Force Station, near here, for Operation Safed Sagar, the air base received an applaud from AOC-in-Chief Western Air Command, Air Marshal A. K. Singh on the conclusion of his two-day official visit today.

“Undoubtedly the IAF station, Halwara, being one of the best equipped IAF stations and prepared for any offensive or defensive act, stands elevated in the air defence chain of our country. I am proud of all constituents of the station as they have done their best to serve the nation by putting their other roles next to the commitment to service”, said Air Marshal Singh while talking to Ludhiana Tribune on his observations during the visit.

Besides complimenting AOC Air Commodore Anil Chopra and his team for the achievements of the station in the recent past, Air Marshal recollected glorious history of the base.

According to him, The Best Hospital Trophy and runners-up trophy in Ex-Vayu Spardha-2004 for Air Traffic Services Squadron were the other feathers that had been added to the cap of the squadron.

Officers at the base said after its inception in 1950, the air base received a squadron of Spitfires, taking shelter under canvas sheds.

Tempests, Harvards, Jets and French Ourogons moved in during the juvenile stages of the base.

Gnats, MiGs and Sukhoi-7s, which flew from the base, wreaked havoc on the Pakistan Air Force bases during 1965 and 1971 wars.

At present, MiG 23 BN are stationed here.

Surface-to-air missile SAM-III (Pechora) and S-24 became vital components of the air defence wall during transitional phase in the eighties.

Though the Ferozepore airfield, spread in 965 acres of land, had remained in disuse, Sidhwan Khas Range, an off-base unit, spread in more than 35,000 acres, has been used for air-to-ground weapon training of pilots of all air bases of the Western Air Command.

Dignitaries had appreciated the suitability of the range in 1989 when biggest-ever firepower demonstration of the IAF was held here.

The Halwara station came as a strong component of chain of air bases opened to strengthen the northern and western borders.

The abandoned air strip used for shifting 306 Wing, AF Palam, has now become a permanent station and houses ATC building, igloo hangers, operational readiness platforms, aircrew rest rooms, wings operational room complex, medium receiving stations and blast pens.

The Air Force dental centre and a hospital cater to the needs of more than 2,000 Air Force personnel.

The command has been controlled by Air Commodore Anil Chopra since January 3, 2005.



Airmen’s wives get a morale boost
Our Correspondent

Ms Priya Singh, regional president of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association, Western Air Command, interacts with members of the association at Halwara, near Ahmedgarh, on Tuesday.
Ms Priya Singh, regional president of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association, Western Air Command, interacts with members of the association at Halwara, near Ahmedgarh, on Tuesday. Photo by Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 23
Ms Priya Singh, regional president of the Air Force Wives Welfare Association (AFWWA), Western Air Command, boosted the morale of families of Air Force personnel at the Air Force Station, Halwara, near here.

Terming women as the inspiring force behind the success of the “rulers of the sky”, she called upon them to maintain an amiable atmosphere at home so that men could devote their mind and body to the service of the nation.

According to Ms Suman Chopra, president of the AFWWA, Air Force Station, Halwara, Ms Priya Singh interacted with members of the association at a meeting held at C V Gole Auditorium, Sudhar, last evening. “Though the role of women has always been crucial in creating a congenial atmosphere at home and the workplace of men, the wife of a pilot has to be more cautious as a small tension could mean disastrous, not only for him and his family but the nation also,” Ms Suman Chopra quoted Ms Priya Singh as telling the members of the association.

Ms Priya Singh visited the Air Force Hospital and distributed gifts among patients. She also visited mentally-challenged students at the special school.



Task force to look into burning of farm waste
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Punjab Government Department of Science, Technology, Environment and Non-Conventional Energy, has nominated PAU Director of Extension Education, Dr S.S. Gill as a member of the seven-member task force constituted to look into the problem of burning of agricultural wastes by farmers.

An order to this effect, issued by the Principal Secretary to Government, Ms Romila Dubey, was received here today.

The Executive Director of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Dr N.S. Tiwana, is the chairperson of the task force.

The task force will prepare a policy paper to combat the menace of burning of farm wastes after harvesting and its consequent ill-effects on human beings, living organism, soil, air etc. The task force will also suggest agronomic practices and technologies for better utilisation of agricultural refuse.

The other members of the task force are PAU’s Professor of Agricultural Engineering Dr H.S. Sidhu, State Director of Agriculture, Mr B.S. Sidhu, Director Health and Family Welfare, Dr G.L. Goyal and Additional Director Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi, Dr J.S. Kimotra.

The Principal Secretary of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr Malwinder Singh, is the convener of the task force. The task force will submit its report and recommendations within three weeks.



Inadequate water supply
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) today rued inadequate water supply in the Industrial Estate in the city.

“Even as two tubewells, at the expense of industrialists, have been installed, water is supplied to the Industrial Estate only for an hour in the morning and two-three hours in the evening,” said Mr Upkar Singh, joint secretary, CICU.

He said the tubewells were run by the Public Health Department, which collected Rs 127 every month from each industrial unit so as to pay salaries to the staff. “However, the water supplied to us is never adequate.”

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, CICU, said: “The Industrial Estate in Ludhiana was created by Partap Singh Kairon in his tenure as Chief Minister with a view to providing facilities to industrialists in the area. However, basic facility like adequate water supply is lacking.”

He said the matter was brought to the notice of the secretary, Public Health Department, but no concrete measure had been taken in the direction so far.



Trader accuses cop of demanding bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 23
A police official posted at the Division No 5 police station allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a local trader for issuing a police clearance certificate today.

Complainant Jaskaran Singh, relative of a journalist, was shocked when the police official demanded Rs 2,000 for the certificate. Mr Jaskaran Singh has sent a complaint to city SSP A.S. Rai. He has alleged that when he asked the basis of seeking money, the cop told him that the money was their fee.

The trader told it to his journalist relative, who brought the matter to the notice of Mr Rai and the DSP, Mr R.K. Bakshi. Mr Bakshi later said he was awaiting a copy of the complaint and would take strict action if the police official was found guilty.

Interestingly, when the trader told the police official that he would not pay bribe and demanded his papers back, he refused to do so.



Biz Clips

PepsiCo India has launched Tropicana’s lychee and peach twirl juice drinks. According to a press note issued here today, the two new flavours have widened Tropicana’s existing portfolio of 12 flavours. — TNS

Contest winners: Mr Raj Kumar and Mr Arun Kumar, city residents, won Pulsar bikes in the “Whytehall Bike in a Bottle” contest by Radico Khaitan. The company said in a press note that Mr Rimpy won a television set whereas Nokia mobile handsets were given to two winners, Mr Madhur Chaddha and Mr Nanak Chand. The company also distributed other prizes, including DVDs, glass sets and wallets. — TNS



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