L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

CM extends date for submitting C forms
‘Appeasement’ move pleases industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
Chords of dissent in the industry were toned down today and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's pre-election appeasement move worked well as he agreed to industry's demand of extending the date for submitting C forms to March 31, 2007.

Industry representatives, who had been complaining of "government's apathy" towards them, got a chance to meet the Chief Minister this morning. In the meeting the CM agreed to extend the last date for submitting C forms to March 31, 2007, even as the industry will have to submit VAT returns on November 20, 2006. The notification pertaining to the same is expected in a few days.

The meeting today not only proved an effective tool to placate the disgruntled industry, it also resulted in withdrawal of the industry's earlier decision of boycotting the CM's rally scheduled to be held on November 14. The call for state wide bandh on November 17 was also withdrawn today.

"The Chief Minister gave us a patient hearing and agreed to extend the last date for submitting C forms," said Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

Representatives of the industry expressed happiness over an assurance from Capt Singh to look into other problems like giving 'industrial area' status to non-designate areas where industry is located etc.

"Since he has aceeded to our demand, there will be no boycotting of his rally, nor the statewide dharna," said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Association, who also met the Chief Minister.

The issue of C forms took a serious note when despite repeated requests regarding extension in the last date for submitting VAT returns, the government did not respond. Irritated with the same, the local industry gave a call for a statewide bandh and also said it would boycott CM's rally on November 14. Industrialists said shortage of C forms was making it tough for them to adhere to the November 20 deadline of submitting VAT returns. Now that the last date for submitting C forms has been extended, the industry is relieved.

While the Chief Minister's decision to extend the last date is being purely seen as a pre-election appeasement move, several industry representatives, who had earlier been condemning the state government, said they do not want to criticise the government at this time when it was likely to agree to more demands of theirs.

On condition of anonymity, an industrialist said:"We are interested in getting our demands fulfilled. Even if the government is doing so now, we are relieved that at least industry would not have to suffer more."



Even after a decade, sewerage plants nowhere in sight
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
How much time does it require for the government agencies to set up sewerage treatment plants to keep the Sutlej and Budda Nullah clean? Well, the answer is more than a decade.

Considering the fact that sewers of many areas along the Sutlej were being emptied in the water body, it is intriguing that two out of three plants to be set up in Ludhiana are far from completion even after a decade.

This despite the fact that the Sutlej and a formerly fresh water body, the Budda Nullah passing through the city, have gained notoriety as “Waters of Sorrow” and residents of villages living alongside are forced to drink polluted water.

The plan was initiated in 1996, but even after jumping various deadlines, the three treatments plants in Ludhiana district — strategically planned at Balloke, Bhattian and Jamalpur — are yet to see the light of the day.

While the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board officials claimed that one of the plants in Bhattian was near completion, they could not say anything about the rest. They claimed that work was going on at a fast pace and would be completed soon.

Earlier, the plants were to be completed by 2001. Later the deadline was extended to 2003 as these could not be completed by that time. But even after three years of jumping yet another deadline, two plants are still far from completion.

Residents of the city feel that if not all plants, at least one in Jamalpur near the nullah should have been completed. But the nullah continues to pose threat to the health of city residents as well as villagers living alongside the water body.

A Tribune team visited many villages along the nullah and found that the March 2003 deadline did not bring a single drop of safe water for the villagers. Moreover the nullah was continuing to discharge effluents.

The things had actually worsened on the ground as was evident from the comparison of the conditions that the Tribune team had witnessed during the past three years. The sullage flowing in the nullah was stinking as ever. At the confluence of the nullah and Sutlej at Ballipur, the black of the nullah and the clean water stood in sharp contrast.

Residents of villages like Baniewal, Ballipur Kalan, Ballipur Khurd, Basaimi, Phagla, Birmi, Malakpur, Salempur, Gaunspur, Baranhara and Humbran were still the worst hit. Several other villages like Issewal, Mohi, Chak and Dakha also faced the threat.

“Every time during elections, the Akali and Congress leaders said the Budda Nullah would be clean like a mirror. But the promises are never fulfilled, said Mr Hakim Singh, a villager. He added that the nullah was quietly spreading pollution in the groundwater, forcing the villagers to deepen their tubewells at huge cost every year.

Earlier safe drinking water was found at 300-350 feet in these villages. Now most of the villagers have installed submersible pumps. With the onset of summer, water-borne diseases strike the area every year, said a villager adding that jaundice had become an endemic disease spreading its tentacles in the area. 



Sutlej Action Plan

The Sutlej Action Plan was launched in October 1996 after the river was identified as highly polluted by the National River Conservation Directorate of the Ministry of Environment. This plan called for providing main sewers, sewerage treatment plants, effluent distribution channels, pumping stations, capping of open drains, low-cost sanitation, afforestation, construction of crematoria and creating public awareness. The total estimated cost of the plan was Rs 22937.61 lakh, with Rs 16422.14 lakh being allocated for Ludhiana city alone.

This plan was aimed at 12 towns in the catchment area of the Sutlej. In the first phase, the plan is targeted at treating the major pollution caused to the river by four towns or cities — Ludhiana (contributing to the pollution through the Buddha Nullah, Phillaur (situated on the bank of the river), Phagwara and Jalandhar (both adding pollution through the Bein, a tributary of the Sutlej.)

The plan, scheduled to be completed in 2001, was earlier a 50: 50 venture of the Government of India and the Punjab Government. Later succour was granted to the state government when it was asked to contribute by way of acquiring land alone and the Central Government shelled out money for the plan.

As part of this plan, improved wood and electric crematoria were supposed to be constructed. The idea of constructing electric crematoria was later stalled and only improved wood crematoria would be constructed. The plan also entailed afforestation in the 270 acres acquired at Balloke, Bhattian and Jamalpur.

Besides, a sum of Rs 10 lakh has also been kept aside to create public awareness about pollution- free environment. A sum of Rs 145 lakh had earlier been earmarked for collecting the solid waste of the city and then disposing it of before it reached the river. But this aspect of solid waste collection and its disposal was later kept in abeyance.



Hardship drives woman to end her life
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
Unable to come to terms with the setbacks life inflicted on her, a 20-year-old woman, Jashanpreet Kaur, committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance at her maternal grandfather's house in Alamgir this morning.

Police sources said she was married in January this year only to be deserted by her husband Amarjit Singh after a few months. The man seemed to have his own problems to confront as he committed suicide in July this year.

The hapless woman was living till then at her in-laws' house at Jamalpur (Malerkotla) waiting for her husband.

Her husband's sister claimed her right on the five acres of their prime property. The woman had no option but to leave her in-law's house in August. The woman's father had died when she was a child only. She and her younger brother were brought up by their mother and maternal grandfather. Both, however, were aged now.

Already under depression because of the problems confronting her, the woman was allegedly further harassed by her in-laws who threatened her with dire consequences if she did not forsake the claim on the property. Police sources said her father-in-law, sister-in-law and the husband of the sister-in-law and some other persons had abused the woman last evening. She could not take it no more and consumed poison and was found dead by her mother.

SHO Sandeep Wadhera said the police had booked her in-laws under Section 306 of the IPC for creating circumstances leading to her death. No one has been arrested so far.



SSP cannot stay arrest after FIR registration: court 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 10
The Senior Superiendent of Police has no authority to stay the arrest of any person after the registration of the FIR. There is no such provision in the CrPC. The order passed by the SSP that the accused be not arrested till the completion of the inquiry is against the law.

These observations were made by the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Gurbir Singh, while disposing of anticipatory bail applications by Ramesh Mago and Ashok Mago of Sarabha Nagar against whom an FIR had been registered under Sections 380, 506, 420 and 34 of the IPC at the police station, Basti Jodhewal.

The case was registered on the complaint of Mr Subash Jain, Managing Director of C.L. Jain Wollen Mills Private Limited.

The court dismissed the interim bail granted to Ramesh Mago with the plea that he went abroad without getting the permission of the court, which was a misuse of the bail.

However, the court confirmed the interim bail granted to the accsued, Ashok Mago, with the observation that he did not misuse the concession of bail. The Judge remarked that the accused had joined the investigation and nothing was to be recovered from him.

The complainant had submitted that they were having business dealings with the accused persons who had purchased yarn from them.

The accused were to return the amount of Rs 1 crore, 29 lakh and 50 thousand for which the accused issued four slips. One slip was to the tune of Rs 69,50,000 and the remaining three were of Rs 20 lakhs each.

It was further alleged that on June 5, 2006, the accused reached their business premises to settle the matter. Ramesh Mago snatched the receipts except one which was lying at their residence.

However, the accused had submitted in their bail application that the case was a planted one. Earlier also the complainant had moved frivolous applications against them which were investigated by the various police officials. The dispute between them was of civil nature. The present complaint was a pressure tactics.



Cong leaders go gaga over Vikas Yatra 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 10
The local Congress leaders today claimed that the ongoing ‘Vikas Yatra’ of the Chief Minister,Capt Amarinder Singh, had proved to be a great success with an “overwhelming response” from the masses.

In a joint statement issued here today, senior vice-president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, and a former district president, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, asserted that the way people had responded to the ‘yatra’ showed that they were quite happy with the performance of the government.

They claimed that the response from the rural areas was particularly noteworthy. Mr Tikka and Mr Lapran maintained that the rural masses had acknowledged the steps taken by the Chief Minister in saving the state’s waters and ensuring timely lifting of paddy and wheat after procurement.

They said the ‘Vikas Yatra’ had generated a lot of enthusiasm among the Congress workers and mass mobilisation was becoming easier now.

They said there would be huge turnout of people on November 14 at the Congress rally in Ludhiana. 



Threshers or killing machines?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana November 10
Farm accidents are a common phenomenon due to over-mechanisation of agricultural operations. If farm power and machinery have reduced the drudgery of farmers, they have also led to occurrence of accidents.

As compared to various agricultural machines in operation in Punjab, the wheat threshers cause maximum accidents.

According to a study by the PAU agricultural engineers, threshers alone account for 35.2 per cent of total farm accidents. These accidents have caused untold suffering to the operators of these threshers who have lost their limbs and at times even life.

The Department of Farm Power and the machinery engineers, Mr G.S. Manes, Mr Rajdeep Sharma and Mr R. Khurana, have studied and surveyed "adoption status of safety measures on threshers".

In Punjab, there are about 3.12 lakh threshers that thresh about 20 per cent area. The ‘bhusa’ (wheat chaff ) thus produced is used as cattle feed. The study has revealed that about 40 million tonnes of this ‘bhusa’, worth Rs 400 crore, is wasted annually due to use of combine harvesters in the state.

The number of combines operating in Punjab is around 9,000. Even when straw combines are put to use to collect ‘bhusa’ from the field, the effective recovery is not more than 70 per cent.

Mr Manes, Mr Sharma and Mr Khurana say that on the one hand introduction of threshers has reduced the cost, time and labour requirement and given additional benefit of quality ‘bhusa’, on the other hand, threshers have also presented a host of problems: serious human accidents.

On paper, various types of test codes have been prescribed to make threshers safe. Even 'Dangerous Machine Act 1983' is also in vogue. Yet despite all these efforts, the occurrence of thresher accidents remains as high as 35.2 per cent. PAU engineers collected data from 25 manufacturers to study the safety measures adopted. from 20 farmers of Moga, Ferozepur and Ludhiana districts on their views about threshers.

It has emerged that economic constraint, including high-test fee and cumbersome procedure of testing, were the reasons as to why manufacturers did not get the thresher or feed chute certified.

Since safety or test certificate did not affect the sale, at least 25 per cent of the manufacturers did not feel the necessity to go in for these certificates. It was also observed that training regarding operation of machines was provided only by 20 per cent of the manufacturers and operational manual was made available by only 40 per cent manufacturers. Illiteracy was cited as the reason for this.

What came as a shock to the PAU engineers was the fact that about 31.25 per cent farmers showed lack of concern for human safety while the remaining farmers remarked that ISI mark or safety certification by competent authority was just a "publicity gimmick of the thresher manufacturers and it unnecessarily increased cost of the machine.

So we prefer to buy from a firm which has good reputation in the market". The study has showed that rotating components of the threshers were not fully covered and the ones that were covered used nuts and bolts. A welded cover was avoided for it came in the way of maintenance. However, more than 80 per cent farmers wanted all the rotating components to be fully covered. They preferred that manufacturers should avoid sharp edges and corners. 



Grain cleaning a threat to farm women: study
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 10
Though the farm women engaged in cleaning wheat grains and filling gunny bags perceive this activity light or moderately heavy, the fact is that this physical exertion is a cause of serious health hazard to them in the long run. This conclusion emerged after home scientists Kulbir Kaur, Krishna Oberoi and Shivani Sharma of the PAU's department of Family Resource Management conducted a study on the 'Occupational health hazards faced by the farm women during grain cleaning activity' recently.

The results have indicated that the women faced serious health hazards during grain cleaning through traditional ways, methods and with the age-old tool “Chhaj”, as it leads to "rising heart rate, both average and peak, and higher consumption of energy". The rising heart rate and consumption of energy was found to be high and above permissible limits.

Home scientists have recommended the need to devise women-friendly and cost-effective tools for grain cleaning. The design of these devices should be such as to reduce occupational health hazards of the farm women. According to the study, "The urgent need is to identify technology to develop tools and techniques that will help to improve body posture of the workers. Faulty body postures and positioning is the root cause of health hazards".

The researchers have mentioned that in the rural scenario women played an important role not only in crop cultivation but also in post-harvest operations, management of milch cattle and other major farm and home-related activities. While so doing in the traditional ways, these activities led to consume most of their time and energy.The cleaning of wheat grains and filling of gunny bags is among the most common farm activities.

The study involved 30 farm women of Hoshiarpur district, who were performing these activities with faulty posture like bending and squatting for long hours at a high physiological cost and low production. 



SGPC asks British Govt to return articles of historical value
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
The SGPC has appealed to the British Government to return all the historical valuables and articles associated with the Sikh Gurus and Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the committee which represents the community worldwide.

This was stated by SGPC president Avtar Singh after the conclusion of a meeting of the Dharam Prachar Committee at Alamgir Sahib gurdwara here yesterday.

He said the golden kalgi (plume) used by Guru Gobind Singh, the golden throne of the maharaja, the fabled Kohinoor diamond and sundry other items and valuable documents were in possession of the British and have not been returned despite several efforts in the past.

The committee chief said that keeping in view the sentiments of the Sikhs, the Indian Government should insert a clause in any future dealing with the British that this important demand should also be discussed and efforts made to get the items back as soon and possible.



Poll on mind, BKU seeks farmers’ opinion
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
The Bhartiya Kisan Union, led by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, has decided to talk to farmers across the state to decide the course of action to be taken for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

A BKU spokesman said here today that the farmers' opinon from across the state would be sought till December 10. The remarks and recommendations of the farmers would be taken seriously and discussed threadbear before reaching a final conclusion.

Although Mr Lakhowal is close to the Shiromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, but the BKU as such is an apolitical organisation and has been maintaining that it has farmers' interests as its only priority. Any decision taken would be determined by the farmers' welfare only. 



Insurance staff rue promotion policy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 10
To protest against the proposed promotion policy, employees of the public-sector general insurance companies will go on strike on November 14.
The employees said they were feeling demotivated as even after the excess work they had to do due to staff shortage and no new recruitments, promotional avenues for them were shrunk.

“The proposed promotion policy is detrimental to the interests of officers and decision to implement it is biased,” alleged the employees.

Mr Arun Kalia, general secretary, General Insurance Officers All India Association, said: “The public-sector general insurance companies are facing stiff competition and cadre strength has significantally reduced due to system of voluntary retirement.



Textile professionals form association

Ludhiana, November 10
Aiming to disseminate information pertaining to global trends for helping dyeing professionals meet stiff global competition, textile professionals have formed an association here.
The association also elected Mr Jasbir Singh Saini as president, Mr Jasmail Singh as vice-president while Mr S.D. Singh was elected general secretary. TNS



CM’s roadshow a waste of public money: MCPI(U)

Ludhiana, November 10
The state committee of the Marxist Communist Party of India (United) today criticised the state government for misusing the public money for partisan purposes.
The MCPI(U) leader, Mr Kuldeep Singh, said the roadshow of the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, which started from Nangal on November 8, was a sheer wastage of money and resources of the state government and state exchequer without any purposeful meaning and logic. TNS



Theft at showroom
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 10
Goods and cash worth Rs 50,000 were stolen from Happy Telecom, an Air Tel Retail Showroom, here last night.The thieves broke into the showroom by breaking wall of the stairway.The police has initiated investigation into the case.

According to a complaint lodged by Mr Rakesh Gupta,owner of the showroom, burglars had stolen goods and cash worth about Rs 50,000 by breaking into the shop last night. Besides, cash worth Rs 13,800, 11 new and 19 old mobiles were found missing.

Preliminary investigations revealed that miscreants had struck sometime after midnight. Though neighbors reported to have heard sound of falling wooden showcases, they mistook it to be that generated by some vehicle. Finger print experts failed to pick up any clue from the spot. 



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