L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

ESIC detects 975 cases of non-compliance by employers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
Of the 2,000 cases of non-compliance filed by the Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) against employers in the state, as many as 975 cases are from Ludhiana alone. However, even after the introduction of a scheme of amnesty to withdraw cases, less than 80 employers have come forward.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr G.C. Gena, regional director, said: "They should have come forward. Now we are making a lot of efforts towards generating awareness among them so that the benefits of the scheme can be availed."

He said that employers needed to be aware of the benefits of the ESIC and should not try to match these with other mediclaim schemes by private companies, as the extent of coverage is much more at an affordable price in the case of corporation.

The scheme of amnesty offers to withdraw cases filed against employers subject to various conditions. To avail the scheme, which is on till January 31, 2007, employers have to submit an affidavit stating that they would be regular in complying with the provisions of the ESI Act in future and also have to pay in full interest and damages due during the period of default.

Regarding the high number of cases from Ludhiana, Mr Gena attributed the same to heavy concentration of industry here.

The corporation, on an average, gets an annual revenue of Rs 70 crore from this region and 4.85 lakh employees are covered under its schemes.

Among the endeavours to rev up the existing system, the ESIC is working towards the computerisation of the system, getting ISO certification and upgrading hospitals. For computerisation, over Rs 80 lakh are being spent. Mr Gena added that it would facilitate, besides deposits, forms etc as well.

"The computerisation exercise is on in Chandigarh and would shortly be taken up in Ludhiana."

When asked about complaints regarding the functioning of the ESIC hospitals, Mr Gena agreed that there were complaints and the corporation was now upgrading facilities at its hospitals.

He said they are also working towards getting ISO certification.

Mr Gena also interacted with local industry today and addressed its queries. He visited Avon Cycles, where he was submitted charter of suggestions by several associations, including the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry.



Chaos on last date for filing VAT returns
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
Chaos and confusion prevailed at the Excise and Taxation office in the Mini-Secretariat as thousands of traders came to deposit their annual VAT returns on the last date for filing the returns today.

Due to a heavy rush, the department decided to accept returns till midnight. The shortage of C and H forms, on account of which the trading community had been raising the demand to extend the last date to March 31, 2007, followed by an announcement by the government regarding extension of date only for submitting C forms, added to the confusion.

“The government announced that the date was extended to March 31, 2007, and later the department advertised that the last date to submit C forms was December 31, 2006. To top it, the date for submitting returns was not changed. It made no sense because C and H forms are to be attached with returns which is why most of the traders were not clear about the date itself,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Association.

Ludhiana has roughly 55,000 traders who are assessed for VAT. All the three rooms, respectively for Districts I, II and II, witnessed heavy rush of lawyers, CAs and traders themselves who had come to submit their returns. A majority of traders said they kept waiting for the date to be extended which is why they did not turn up to deposit their returns earlier.

While returns were filed today, traders gave lists in cases where they were not able to obtain C forms. “We had C form but as there is so much rush, chances of forms getting misplaced too are high so we did not attach C form along with and will submit it later on," a trader said.

Blaming the habit of assessees to submit returns on the last date, department officials said even after being told through advertisements time and again not to wait until the last date people did not come earlier which created heavy rush.

"Earlier, we submitted our returns through lawyers only. However, now in case of sales above Rs 50 lakh a certification from CA is required which resulted in extra work. We were rushing between chartered accountants and lawyers. Such provisions add to inconvenience," said Mr Rajinder Kumar, a trader.

Lawyers, who had come in large numbers to submit returns for their clients, said the department should have made arrangements to deal with the rush as it was quite expected. "In this case, there was a lot of confusion and heavy rush was quite expected. We had to wait for almost two hours to submit returns. Better arrangements should have been made," said Mr Jatinder Khurana,. president, Taxation young Lawyers Association.



Ludhiana police gets ISO certification for CPRC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
The Ludhiana Police has added another feather in its cap under by attaining the ISO 9001 :2000 for the Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC).
Popularly known as the Single Window System or the Courtesy Counters, the Community Policing Resource Centre has established a quality management system for general enquiries, verifications regarding passports, arms licences, NRI registrations, visa extension, permissions, national crime research bureau vehicle verifications, human rights complaints and the information cell under the Right to Information Act.

The Quality Management System (QMS) under the ISO meets the international standards. Addressing mediapersons here today, Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said achieving the ISO 9000:2001 would enable the general public to have the above-mentioned facilities in an organised and transparent manner and result in an efficient, effective and qualitative disposal.

This would ensure involvement of the top management in QMS which would result in better understanding of relationship between the CPRC and public and ensure's sustained customer satisfaction by delivering services that meet their expectations, he added.

Under the 1SO certification a quality policy has been framed where the CPRC resolves to give people an efficient, law-abiding and responsive law enforcement machinery to the individual needs. It would strive to improve the quality of policing through easy and dignified access of the public to police services, improved community — police relations, transparency in service and dealings and forum to address all the rights of all citizens and sections of the community.

This certification is issued by Technical, Universal and Verifiable, Gemany. The documentation has improved and the focus is to deliver the best service to the general public. This is the first instance in the state of Punjab where the CPRC has been upgraded with the status of ISO.



Police close to cracking Devgan murder case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
After various unsuccessful attempts to solve the sensational murder case of Prem Nath Devgan, owner of the MEFA Needles manufacturing unit, the Ludhiana police today claimed that it was close to cracking the case. Although the police had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to solve the murder some months ago and had arrested a migrant from Bihar, the case was leaving the police confused.

SSP A.S.Rai today said that they had almost got a breakthrough an would announce the success within a day or two. He ,however, refused to divulge any details about the case and refrained from announcing if the police had arrested any accused.

Sources in the police told The Tribune that they had rounded up three persons during the past few days and the case would soon be cracked.

Prem Nath Devgan, owner of MEFA Needles, that has assets worth over Rs 100 crore was found stabbed to death in a room of his office-cum- residence on the factory premises on November 27 last year.

There were seven deep stab wounds on the body of the octogenarian businessman. Police investigations so far have centered around property dispute as the cause of the crime. The dispute was between two women, both claiming to be his wives. There was a controversy over a Will of the deceased too.
The police could not make a breakthrough in the property dispute angle. The focus shifted to some suspect migrant labourers in the factory. Two of those had gone missing after the murder. A police team went to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and one of the suspects was held.

The police had constituted a special investigation team of SP City-II Kuldip Singh, SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh, DSP Detective and the area police officials for early solution of the case.



Students protest flouting of Tobacco Act
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20
More than 1500 students from 40 schools, teachers and members of the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle undertook a protest march from the premises of GGSSC till the Deputy Commissioner's office here today. The march was undertaken in protest of the non-implementation of the Tobacco Act, 2003.

Dr Charankamal Singh, chief secretary of GGSSC, said inspite of the Act having been passed, it has not been implemented either in letter or spirit. He said there should not be any shops or kiosks selling tobacco pouches, cigarettes etc within 100 meters of educational institutions, but this law was being flouted with a vengence. Tobacco gutkas costing just Re 1 were being sold outside schools and school children were getting addicted. Tobacco products were not to be sold to children under 18 but they were being sold. People smoking at pubic places were to be fined Rs 200 but they were being let off scot free.

Students carried placards asking to ban tobacco products. They shouted slogans against the government for its failure to implement the Tobacco Act. Principal Ram Singh of GGSSC submitted the memorandum for implementation of the Tobacco Act to the Deputy Commissioner.



Photo ID cards: voters harassed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20
Numerous irregularities have been committed by the election staff while preparing the voters lists for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections scheduled to be held in February, 2007.

These irregularities have been noticed during the process of making photo identity cards. The election staff, while preparing the lists, has given wrong addresses and even the percentage of the voters in many cases is wrong.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor, President, Peoples Awareness Forum, today strongly assailed the election staff for causing unnecessary harassment to the people. Mr Kapoor disclosed that his father's name was also wrongly written.

The staff deputed to make photo identity cards refused to make necessary corrections on the spot and had taken the plea that they could not make any correction as they had to go by the computer addresses.

Mr Kapoor further disclosed that in Dakha Vidhan Sabha segments, residents of Rajguru Nagar and adjoining localities had to face a number of problems in getting their photo identity cards because there were numerous irregularities in the addresses and other antecedents. He revealed that more than one hundred voters had been enlisted against 191-A house of Rajguru Nagar and majority of these residents were living in C block. The election staff had to face hardships while locating the correct residents.

“The staff deputed to prepare photo identity cards was issuing new forms for correction of addresses and other antecedents of voters. But the identity cards were not being issued on the same day”, said Mr Kapoor.

Mr Kapoor has asked the district administration to look into the matter and put the things in order. 



SBS Nagar slum being ‘legalised’
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
The controversial slum near City Centre in Shaheed Bhagat Singh(SBS) Nagar is being clandestinely converted into a legalised residential area with the District Food and Supply Department issuing ration cards to the dwellers and mentioning their address as New Valmiki Colony.

So much so that a number of slum-dwellers have Voters' Identity Cards issued by the Election Commission of India and to send a message across the residents the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) had unsuccessfully tried to remove them from the land worth crores.

The residents of SBS Nagar, who had purchased plots from LIT to live in a posh colony had been demanding removal of the slum. They had been claiming that the presence of a slum amidst their colony was creating problems for them. Besides posing law and order problems, the peaceful environs of the area were affected.

Investigations revealed that a number of jhuggi-dwellers had their ration cards got prepared by a Congress leader. Some of them had their names in the voters' list also. Showing their cards reluctantly (as they had turned hostile towards mediapersons following a number of reports on them and a demolition attempt by LIT), they said that they wanted to include the names of all slum-dwellers in the voters' list.

‘‘Till five years ago, we all had our votes. But an Akali leader got the names of around 70 per cent dwellers excluded. Elections are round the corner now and we hope some Congress leader would do the needful for us. After all this slum is a votebank of the Congress, ’’ said Mr Prem Chand Dogra, a leader of slum- dwellers standing amidst a cluster of jhuggies each having a Congress flag atop.

There are around 1350 jhuggies in the area and every family has an average of seven members. The population strength of the slum attracts many a leader who want them to vote for them. ‘‘Last time,the Akalis wanted us to vote for them. We said we would not do so. Consequently, our names got deleted from the list. We are paying a price but we cannot tell lies. We will vote for the Congress till we die.’’ he added.

He said that he was the first among jhuggi- dwellers to have erected a shed in April, 1984. ‘‘That was the time when the late Chief Minister Beant Singh brought us here. He had told us to sit here. Otherwise, there was nobody who could live in a deserted place at that time due to terrorism. We were brave enough to stay here. But nobody listened to us later on. And we are still living in shanties although they have promised a number of times that they would allot a 40 square yard plot each to the dwellers. ’’

The residents of the SBS Nagar, who had been claiming that the slum was a pockmark on the face of the Rs 900-crore City Centre that was coming up near the slum. But the future of the centre was also certain as it was mired in a controversy.

‘‘If not the City Centre, is it advisable to have a slum in the residential area? The dwellers use public parks as open toilets, they steal even small things from the houses and create nuisance in the area. Did we pay a princely sum to the LIT to live near a slum? Then we would have purchased plots at throwaway prices near some slum,’’ said a resident of SBS Nagar on condition of anonymity. 



Concern over growing socio-economic disparities
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
The North West Indian Sociological Association (NWISA) has expressed its concern over the social distortions that are threatening the very fabric of society with the erosion of moral values and neglect of aged people. This major society flaw has been attributed to the process of liberalisation that has been set in motion, particularly in rural society.

PAU Professor of Sociology, Department of Human Development and Sociology, Dr Harnek Singh, today released the broad recommendations of the association, which held its 10th annual conference at the PAU last week. He said the growing "materialistic tendencies" of the people should worry the policy-makers. Correctives, if not applied now, could lead to further social tensions, posing a major challenge to the maintenance of law and order, as a consequence of socio-economic disparities.

The set of recommendations being forwarded to the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research, Chandigarh, also express concern over the issues like suicide by farmers, drug addiction, falling sex ratio, migration from rural to urban areas and lack of health delivery system and infirmities in the school education system.

The sociologists have made a strong case against setting up of Special Economic Zones on arable, fertile and cultivable land. The diminishing returns from the farms and increasing cost of inputs: fertilisers, power, seeds, plant protection chemicals etc is also a factor contributing to societal changes.

Sociologists impressed upon the government to evolve implementable policies to rejuvenate the rural society as there is a growing chasm between urban and rural societies.

The organisation called upon urban dwellers with roots in rural Punjab to exercise austerity in social spending rather than ostentatious display of wealth, which sends wrong signals to the rural society.

Dr Harnek Singh pointed out that the sociologists, who discussed the role of state and markets in impacting agrarian social structure in North West India, were of the view that the "sociological fault lines" must be erased to avoid "social turmoil" in the next green revolution and as a consequence of accelerated process of reforms in the wake of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation. 



Mayor inaugurates road projects
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
City Mayor Nahar Singh Gill today inaugurated a number of development projects in the city.
He inaugurated recarpeting of roads project worth Rs 42 lakh in Focal Point and another project worth Rs 23 lakhs in ward number 18 from Aarti Steel Chowk to railway crossing towards Dhandari.

In ward number 16, another road starting from Nahar Spinning Mills to the main road towards Focal Point would be recarpeted at a cost of Rs 5.30 lakh; in phase 5 of Focal Point, internal roads would be recarpeted at Rs 5.5 lakh. The foundation stones of these projects were unveiled today.

Similarly in ward number 17 recarpeting work on a road from Phase 4 A to Masjid Road was also inaugurated. The project worth Rs 12.6 lakh on road starting from Cancer Hospital to Sherpur Road was also inaugurated by the Mayor.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Gill said it was the priority of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to provide all basic facilities and infrastructure to all people of this city. He added that the MC was committed to complete all development works within minimum period and making ludhiana a model city of the state as well the country.

He invited a representative of focal point industries to come forward and get their grievances redressed. He also urged the industrialists to help in combating pollution by planting more and more trees outside their factories.



Prem Mittal chairman of PPCC cell

Ludhiana, November 20
Senior Deputy Mayor Prem Mittal has been appointed the chairman of the industrial cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. The appointment was made by the PPCC president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo. A function was organised by the local unit of the party here today which was presided over by the Minister for Public Health, Mr Harnam Dass Johar.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Johar expressed confidence that with Mr Mittal's appointment as the chairman of the industrial cell, the industrialists would hope to get the redressal of their grievances in a proper manner.

He observed since Mr Mittal belonged to Ludhiana and was quite popular in the industrial quarters, it would help in developing better rapport with the industry. TNS



Protest march by Education Employees Union
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20
A protest march was undertaken by the Education Class IV Employees Union here today. They gathered outside the Deputy Commissioner's Office. Mr Harbhajan Singh , president, said a charter of demands, including permanent jobs to part-timers, was submitted. He said that the part-timers had not been given salaries for over a year and their salaries should be paid immediately.

He also said that peons and chowkidars were being asked to do both duties. They should be given only one duty each.

He also said that people employed and paid from PTA funds should get as much salary as the people employed by the Deputy Commissioner. He further said that no funds had been sanctioned for their uniforms in the budget.



Gurbani website launched
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 20
Singh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Shri Kesgarh Sahib, launched Gurbani Website www.gdnsldh.org of Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib, Ludhiana, at a largely attended religious congregation here yesterday.

This website will provide opportunity to Gurbani listeners throughout the world to enjoy kirtan and Gurbani recital round the clock.The Jathedar made an appeal to the Sikh sangat to avail themselves of this opportunity and follow the path and teachings of the great Gurus.

Mr Pritpal Singh, president, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib, expressed gratitude of the Almighty and the congregation on this auspicious occasion.

Among others, Giani Dharamvir Singh, head granthi, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, were present at the function.



Maid's murder spells doom for family
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 20
The murder of the maid by a youth in Greenfield Colony has increased the woes of her family consisting of her crippled husband and three minor children. She was the only bread-earner of the family after her husband Mallu Ram was crushed under a car, in which the daughter of an influential hotelier was learning driving last year. His wife had to take employment in more homes for sweeping and utensils washing work.

She had to arrange not only for providing two square meals for the children and the husband but also had to earn enough for continuing the studies of her children. Narrating the struggle, he said his wife was somehow pulling along to fund the studies of the children.

‘‘ Now , who would provide them resources to make a better living. We did not want them to spend life as labourers. Had I not been crippled in that accident, I would not have let my wife to take more home to arrange money.’’ he rued.



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