L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Cheating in the name of donor passes
Reshammiya show organisers may be in soup
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Some donor passes are being sold for as much as Rs 5,000 each. This is reportedly being done with a motive to evade tax due to the state government. In fact, tickets are being sold in the name of passes.

Questions are being raised over the tax entertainment exemption granted to organisers of Himesh Reshammiya’s live show to be organised by Showmax here tomorrow.

The organisers claim that they have already paid a lump sum amount to the Red Cross. However, sources say that the organisers had paid a nominal amount to the Red Cross, while it was minting money.

Newspapers carried advertisements of the show mentioning the rate of tickets between Rs 5,000 and Rs 1,000.

The show is being organised at Hardy's World that has a seating capacity of several thousand. The organisers are also charging hefty money from those interested in displaying advertisements of their products.

Estimates put the tax loss to the state exchequer to at least Rs 1 crore as the organisers themselves have been claiming an inflow of about Rs 2 crore.

They were reluctant to speak about the collections but when this reporter talked to one of the organisers on the pretext of putting up a display advertisement, he said any person interested in advertising would need to buy tickets worth at least Rs 1 lakh. Even then there was no guarantee of proper space.

The man, who identified himself as Bunty Singh, said: “We can arrange for some space within the venue as most of the space had already been booked.”

Officials of the Excise and Taxation Department are sore at the exemption granted to the organisers. “You can defraud the state of crores of rupees in terms of tax just paying a nominal amount to the Red Cross,” remarked an official, who did not want to be identified.

He said it needed to be probed how the organisers managed this kind of tax exemption. If the organisers were made to pay entertainment tax, it would have been several times more than they might have paid to the Red Cross. This was simply an intelligent way to defraud the state, he said.

While the organisers have earned huge money, they have not shown anywhere how much money they got from advertisers.

Sources in the Income Tax Department said they had also taken note of the event. The income tax officials are likely to look into the total transactions, with possible action against the defaulters.

The officials said merely naming the tickets as donor passes did not provide immunity from law.



Medical stores raided
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 21
In a massive crackdown against chemists at different places in the district yesterday, six teams of drug inspectors and other officials raided chemist shops in a bid to check violations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and other laws governing unauthorised sale of intoxicating substances.

The raids were conducted under the supervision of the state drug licensing authority, Mr Pradeep Kumar, while drug inspectors from Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar, Sangrur and Faridkot comprised the raiding parties.

According to Mr Sanjeev Garg, Drug Inspector, Ludhiana, the seizures made from medical stores at Bija, Khanna and other towns in this district included 13 lakh tablets, 20,000 capsules, 2,700 injections of intoxicating drugs along with 1,790 bottles of cough syrup of different brands.

Mr Pradeep Kumar stated that licenses of three chemist shops at Bija and Khanna had been suspended, besides initiating criminal procedures against those selling intoxicating drugs without licences or prescriptions. A couple of chemist shops operating without licences had been sealed.

The drug authorities, said Mr Kumar, had cancelled 36 licences while 315 licences were suspended this year for various violations.



Park upkeep now with industry
Shweta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) is planning to hand over maintenance of parks in Focal Point area to industry associations. Municipal Commissioner Vikas Pratap today said that cleaning of the parks would be done in around two months following which the maintenance would be handed over to the industry.

"We would assess the quantum of work that needs to be done. After the parks are cleaned they would be handed over to industry associations. Not only would it result in beautification but also take care of problems like fly ash dumping," Mr Pratap told Ludhiana Tribune.

During his interaction with the industry here today, the Commissioner said sewerage system in Focal Point too would be taken care of from the Rs 800 crore sanctioned to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) under the National Urban Renewal Mission scheme.

Apprising the Commissioner of their problems, members of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association said: "Industrial units in focal point are facing difficulty on account of frequent sewerage blockage and due to dumping of fly ash in green parks and green belts here."

They said that fly ash affected the quality of goods that were being manufactured in industrial units in focal points as the finishing of products was badly affected as a result. "Apart from harming the quality of products, fly ash is also causing health problems among industrial workers."

Industrialists said that pipes used for the sewerage system were of no use at present as their size was smaller in comparison to what was required to cater to large number of industrial units here. 



No hope for these addicts
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Little had Hari Ram (27) known that the attraction of getting a good fortune in this city would make him a drug addict. The addiction to various drugs over the past three years, has made him a TB patient. With only Rs 20 in hand, he can’t get himself treated at any hospital.

Belonging to Aara district of Bihar, Hari Ram said he was a daily wage earner. “I was positive when I left home three years ago but life was not as easy as I thought. I saw people struggling here. In the absence of work and money, I started taking drugs. Even if I wish, it is now impossible to go back,” he says.

Hari Ram's case is not an isolated one. Hundreds of drug addicts wish to say no to drugs but find themselves helpless as nobody takes them to de-addiction centres.

Samir Kumar (25), a rickshaw-puller from Orissa, has left work because of weakness and chronic cough. He stays on a footpath and buys mashed poppy seeds for Rs 5 to make a “beedi.”

He says he wanted to get away from this habit but could not find a way. He went to the Civil Hospital but a doctor called him a drug addict and threw him out. “People are not willing to talk to us. Where should we go? A failure in life, we cannot go back to our native land,” he adds.

Mr Amar Singh Sidhu, secretary, GGS Institution of Information Communications and Technology, an NGO, says that he has taken up the issue of the rehabilitation of drug addicts.



Industry gets Mayor’s support
Demands suspension of AETC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Local industry here today found a supporter in none other than the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, on the issue pertaining to the tiff between industry and officials of the Excise and Taxation Department. Hundreds of industrialists yesterday detained a team of Excise and Taxation Department officials, who stopped a vehicle carrying plastic tricycles on finding that the same were not supported by a bill.

The issue took a political turn as District Congress Committee President Jagmohan Sharma jumped in and even abused officials of the department on phone. Industrialists alleged that officials were trying to impose a fine of Rs 5,000 on goods worth Rs 5,000.

The matter got heated up and industrialists in large number ghearoed them at Than Singh Chowk following which they had to return without taking any action.

Refusing to let the issue die, various industry associations today conducted a meeting in which Mr Gill was invited. While industrialists demanded suspension of Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner D.K. Verma, the mayor assured them complete support and said,"I agree that whatever happened with you is condemnable. Industrialists are a respectable community. I assure you my complete support and will take up the matter with Mr Singla and Mr Sardool Singh and will go to them along with industry representatives."

While the Mayor and industry tried seeking mutual support, the meeting became interesting when industry began condemning the state government, which alarmed the Mayor. As industry continued with its allegations on issues like value added tax (VAT) refunds etc, the Mayor walked out of the meeting only to be persuaded and brought back by industry representatives.

The Excise and Taxation Department, on the other hand, has brought the issue to the notice of their high-ups. When contacted, AETC Verma said,"Clearly, some people are seeking political mileage." Condemning the detaining of the department's team yesterday, he said,"As they abused us and gheraoed us, we were not able to take any action. However, the matter has been brought to the notice of our seniors."

Industry representatives, meanwhile, took up issues like problems in getting VAT refunds with the Mayor. "Getting refunds has become a major problem. One cannot get refund unless one bribes officials," alleged Mr K.K. Seth of Neelam Cycles.

Mr Vinod Thapar, president, Knitwear Club, said the industry was facing lots of hassles on account of red tapism. Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, Mr Rajnish Ahuja of Focal Point Sheds Association and Mr P.D. Sharma of Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry were also present at the meeting.

The Mayor assured them he would get an inquiry conducted into the matter of VAT refunds and action would be taken against officials found guilty.



Use IT tools for rural growth: Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
“Quick dissemination of scientific technology to farmers is key to rural development and in this age of information technology we have faster and efficient tools at our command. We must use these efficiently and effectively.” This was stated by the PAU Director of Extension Education, Dr S.S. Gill at an informal discussion with extension specialists at Kairon Kisan Ghar today.

Dr Gill said since its inception the PAU had been a leading institute in the country for its excellent extension linkages. The university had brought awareness in modern farming techniques among farmers through its various training programmes.

“We must maintain this tradition by effectively incorporating new information and communication technologies in our extension programmes,” he added.

In charge, Kairon Kisan Ghar, Varinder Kumar Bhambota thanked Dr Gill for his guidance and support as leader of the team. Among others present on the occasion included Dr Kamal Mahindra, Dr Jaswinder Bhalla, Dr Paramjit Kaur Pandher, Dr Neelam Mahajan, Dr Tejinder Singh Riar, Dr A.P. Singh, Dr Nirmal Jaura and Mr Gurbhajan Gill. 



Welfare camp for animals

Ludhiana, December 21
The People for Animals (PFA), Ludhiana, organised an animal welfare camp at Jamalpur here today. Mr Prem Sagar Aggarwal and Mr Mohinder Pal Jain inaugurated the camp.

According to Mr Ajay Jain, president, PFA, 300 cows and calves of Gau Raksha Samiti Gaushala were treated and given FMD vaccine. Mr Satish Jain, vice-president, PFA, said the FMD (foot and mouth) was a virus that spreads from one animal to another very quickly. Mr R.K. Sharma said every dairy owner and gaushala should get their animals vaccinated. Mr Ajay Jain added that the PFA would continue to organise such camps. —TNS



Sandhu nominated to Singapore Academy of Law
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 21
Mr Harpreet Sandhu, Senior Additional Advocate-General, Punjab, has been nominated associate member of the Singapore Academy of Law.He is the first law officer of the Punjab Government to have been nominated to the Singapore Academy of Law.

A communication to this effect was received by Mr Sandhu here today. Mr Sandhu is one of the seniormost law officers in the Punjab Government associated with the investigation of various corruption-related cases.



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