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Cong ticket aspirants upset over selection process
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
The Congress ticket aspirants appear to be upset over the prolonged delay in announcing candidates for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. They are also not happy with the selection procedure of the candidates adopted by the party this time, as none of the applicant is being given a chance to present his or her case before the selection panel.

Several Congress leaders and ticket aspirants questioned the logic of giving the authority of deciding their destiny to a handful of people based in Delhi and who did not have even a remote idea of the ground situation. They also criticised the preliminary screening of the candidates by the state panel. Because, a number of aspirants would be dropped at the initial stage and that too without being heard.

They pointed out, the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, the External Affairs Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, and the in charge of party affairs of Punjab, Mr Janardhan Dwivedi, had been given sweeping powers to finalise the candidates. “None of them have any idea or knowledge of the grassroots situation in the state, how can they take a fair and rational decision”, asked one aspirant, while adding, “This will only strengthen the culture of sycophancy at the cost of merit”.

The party leaders pointed out last time the applicants were granted separate interviews to present their cases for the party nomination. But this time they had dispensed with that system and had instead decided to shortlist candidates after preliminary screening by the local selection panel.

Moreover, another flaw in the selection committee, they said, was that even those who had applied for the party ticket like Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Mr Khushal Behal, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha and others were the members of this panel. “It is against the rules of natural justice that the same person whose fate is to be decided would sit in judgement”, one leader pointed out.

The aspirants asked the party must spell out the criteria on which the candidates would be shortlisted. They pointed out each applicant had deposited Rs 5,000 along with the application form. “And they did not deposit it just for getting rejected in the preliminary round without getting a chance to present their case”, an aspirant remarked.

The applicants are also sore over the unusual delay in announcing of candidates. “While the Akalis have already intensified their campaign, we are still campaigning within the party against each other”, remarked a leader, while pointing out how most of them were criticising one another just to secure the party nomination. They hoped that the list was finalised by January 14 as announced by the Chief Minister.

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Badal promises job avenues for youth
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 8
The SAD, if voted to power, would establish a directorate of employment for the youth of the state and monitor its performance, said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the party.

Mr Badal was talking to Ludhiana Tribune after addressing a rally at Dehlon village near here today. Hoping that he would become the Chief Minister after the Assembly elections, he said he would supervise the directorate’s working.

"As a CM of a state is supposed to be the most powerful person in any government, I wish to keep this department with me so that desired results are achieved," said Mr Badal.

Earlier kicking off the election campaign of party nominee, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, the former Chief Minister maintained that he was more aware of problems of masses than the Congress government.

"As I have worked at all rungs of local bodies, state government and union government, I can understand problems faced by common people and their representatives better that Capt who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth," said Mr Badal.

Recollecting that the electorate of Kilaraipur had been electing Akali legislators for long, he assured the nominee, if voted to power, would be given berth in the ministry proportionate to the margin by which he wins.

Accusing the Congress government of pushing farmers and traders into vicious cycle of penury and indebtedness, he alleged that defective policies of the present government had snatched all those benefits from various sections of society that had been provided by the SAD government.

Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, a cricketer and BJP leader, in his satirical style, lambasted Capt Amarinder Singh for allegedly transforming 'Sone Di Chiri to Sonia Di Chiri' by clipping its wings symbolising prosperity.

He commented that the Congress as a party was not bad but the leaders of the party had used it for achieving their ulterior motives.

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SAD to hold beopari conference today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 8
As the SAD is all set to organise its beopari conference here tomorrow, resentment prevails among traders and small scale industry over the failure of the two major political parties to come to their rescue. The traders and small scale industrialists hold both Congress and SAD equally responsible for their miseries.

The small scale industrialists allege that the Congress government during its five years of tenure did not bother to listen to their grievances even once.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh, president and general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, allege that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, accepted the invitation of the chamber to address the local industrialists, but cancelled the meeting at the behest of the local Congress leaders three years ago. After that he just forgot about the industry and never bothered to have any interaction.

They said the small scale industries had not received a single penny of capital subsidy, subsidy for modernisation. Both the SAD and the Congress had been promising during the past 10 years the payment of subsidy but nothing was done. Even the Finance Minister of the present government, Mr Surinder Singla, had made a number of announcements regarding the payment of subsidy to the industry but these remained only on paper.

Similarly, the industry, they alleged, had not received the arrears of VAT for the past three quarters till December, which amounted to Rs 900 crore. All promises in this regard had also remained unfulfilled. If the government had released the arrears and paid the subsidy, the industry would have felt relieved from the financial squeeze, which it was facing.

The industry also has a grouse that the Chief Minister showered favours on the corporate sector, got land for SEZs forcibly and also granted financial benefits to industrial houses worth over Rs 500 crore in the shape of exemptions in the payment of state taxes. On the other hand, no such gesture was shown to the small scale industry and the industry was treated shabbily, they charged.

To express their resentment, the local industrialists had mooted an idea to put up their own nominee in the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. But this idea did not catch up with a number of industrial organisations.

The SAD is holding its beopari conference in Ludhiana tomorrow to listen to the problems of the traders and the industrialists. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal has undertaken tour of Punjab to mobilise the traders and the industrialists for the conference.

Mr P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says that his organisation is not participating in the conference and he is organising a mock Assembly here on January 17. Mr Sharma has invited delegations of the SAD, the Congress and the BJP for the January 17 meeting where the parties will explain their stand on the problems of the industry and trade.

Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, president, Punjab Beopar Mandal, says that although both Congress and SAD failed to have any interaction with the traders and find a solution to their problems, Yet it was a good idea of the SAD to have a conference.

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BJP not amused with SAD wooing Hindus
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana January 8
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) may be trying to expand its base among the Hindus by giving seven party tickets to the members of the community, but it is certainly not to the liking of its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which feels that its domain is being encroached upon.

One section in the BJP is believed to be even keen on shortlisting candidates on all 117 seats across the state.

The BJP leaders are understood to be not happy with the SAD for two reasons. One, the party went on announcing the candidates "unilaterally", although the seat-sharing agreement was not finalised. It has not been finalised till now, although the SAD has announced candidates for almost all constituencies it is going to contest.

Secondly, the way the party has allotted the tickets to the Hindus is certainly being termed as “poaching in the BJP’s domain”.

The BJP leaders claim that there was a “subtle understanding” between the two alliance partners that they will not “encroach upon each other’s domain”.

Under this unwritten agreement, the BJP would not encourage the entry of Sikhs into the party and the SAD would not expand its base among the Hindus. That is the reason, the BJP leaders claim, the party did not grow much in the state, except within its traditional support bases.

“As long as the alliance worked well, we did not think the need to do it”, a senior party leader said, while alleging that the SAD was “not respecting the sentiments of its junior partner”.

There is a growing apprehension within the BJP that in case the trend keeps on growing, the party base will keep on shrinking.

“As the SAD keeps on welcoming the Hindus into its fold, why should they want to join the BJP?” asked the leader, while fearing that this might reaffirm the belief that the BJP was acting as a minority wing of the SAD only so it was better to join the SAD itself.

The BJP leader observed: “The SAD and BJP alliance was symbolic of the Sikh-Hindu unity in Punjab in the aftermath of a decade-long mistrust and bloodshed that had threatened the social fabric of the state.” However, now a dominant opinion in the BJP is that the party must look beyond the alliance to have an independent identity and existence.

The BJP leaders are also apprehensive that the party might face a similar fate in Punjab as it met in Haryana.

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Khangura steps up poll campaign at Kila Raipur
Tribune News Service

Kila Raipur, January 8
While most aspirants of the Congress party ticket are camping in Delhi, Mr Jassi Khangura is moving around in the Kila Raipur Assembly segment campaigning for votes. Mr Khangura, who is quite hopeful of getting the party nomination, is pitted against Akali strongman, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, who has been representing Kila Raipur for two consecutive terms.

Last time in 2002, it was Mr Khangura's mother, Bibi Gurdial Kaur Khangura, who had contested unsuccessfully against Mr Garcha. "Last time, we got very short time for campaigning and we did not know the area much,” Mr Khangura said.

He added, "We have been here for five years and know each inch and each person of the constituency."

"We are banking upon our commitment," he said, "Last time we had promised the people over here that whether you vote for us or not, we are going to stay with you. We have fulfilled that promise."

"We are telling everybody to judge us by the work we had got done in the area which had never been done in the post independent India,” he said.

Mr Khangura said, “This time we will explode the myth of Kila Raipur’s invincibility. Judging from the mood of the people who keep on meeting us, we fail to understand why it is presumed to be an Akali bastion.”

The Akalis have also intensified their campaign in the area with hoardings and flags dotting the skyline. But the Congress is not lagging behind. “We will match each hoarding and each flag they put up to ensure our dominant presence”, Mr Khangura said.

On the other hand, the Akalis are not taking any chances as they know that they are pitted against a formidable rival, much more resourceful and aggressive as well.

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Expert conducts tests on ailing tigress
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
Having developed some infection in her rear limbs, a tigress in the Tiger Safari here has been unable to move for the past two days.

Six-year-old Elaichi was examined by a veterinarian of the Punjab Veterinary Department, Chandigarh, at the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Husbandry University here today.

The veterinarian, Dr M.P. Singh, conducted X-ray examination of both the affected limbs. Talking to The Tribune, he said he had conducted a thorough check-up of the tigress. There was no injury revealed in the X-ray examination. Even the blood and faecal samples, checked for any parasite, tested negative.

Dr M.P. Singh said they had sent samples of urine, blood and faecal matter to study the biochemistry of ailing tigress.

He said it would take two more days to find out what was wrong with the tigress.

Dr Singh said he had prescribed some medicines for the tigress so that she did not feel pain. "We cannot leave the beast to suffer in silence. So we have applied topical medicine on her legs. The veterinarian remained in the city till evening.

The Tiger Safari has four tigers and five tigresses. Elaichi had developed some problem in her leg on Saturday evening. The safari authorities had released her in the safari on that day only. When they opened the safari today morning they found that she was not able to move at all.

“I spoke to the Chief Wildlife Warden at Chandigarh in the morning and he sent an the expert.” said Mr Parmod Kumar, local Tiger Safari superviser.

The authorities tranquilised the tigress in the morning and took her to Guru Angad Dev varsity hospital in a cage. The tests were conducted on her there while she was unconscious.

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Waiting for Sonia’s nod
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
A number of women applicants have staked claim on Congress tickets from various Assembly segments in Ludhiana.

These include Dr Manjit Kaur, daughter of former President Giani Zail Singh, who has applied for Ludhiana Rural, Ms Jasvinder Kaur, Ms Sushil Gupta, Deputy Mayor, Ludhiana, and Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, a councillor in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

Coming from well-connected political families, they are highly qualified and have great aspirations and a vision to pursue. Like Dr Manjit Kaur, who resigned as the Senior Medical Officer, or Ms Jasvinder Kaur, who resigned as the Deputy Advocate-General of Punjab. Ms Gupta and Ms Rampal are already in the mainstream politics.

Interestingly, all these women hope they would be given a chance this time by the party president, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Ms Jasvinder Kaur said: “Given the stand of the party on the 33 per cent reservation for women in legislative bodies I am hopeful of being fielded from the Ludhiana West this time.” She maintained that the Congress would prepare the ground for the implementation of 33 per cent reservations to women and allot a good number of seats to them in these elections. She added that if the Congress had to survive, it should give chance to new faces, new generation.

Ms Sushil Gupta, hopeful to get the Ludhiana East ticket, said she had always done her work with honesty. And this would be her priority in all the fields.

She added that she would always stand by the common man. "Like other leaders, I am not going to forget the masses. I will work for their interest and benefit. Honesty and transparency will be the mantra of my success," she added.

Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal said women-related issues would be on her priority list and she would work tirelessly to end unethical practices like female foeticide, dowry system etd. She said she would work to provide equal status to women and education to girl child. "Being a woman, I can well understand their problems and I can represent their cases well," said Ms Rampal.

For Dr Manjit Kaur, besides education, upliftment of industry and health services in rural segments were a must.

She said she would raise the social issues and promote the two organisations running under her father's name, Giani Zail Singh Trust and Giani Zail Singh Foundation.

"I will start a Press Club (Rural) to address rural problems", added Dr Manjit Kaur, who claimed that she was sure of getting the Congress ticket from Ludhiana Rural.

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Cong election office in Amloh inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 8
"It is the result of the faith reposed in me by the electorate of Amloh constituency in the last Assembly elections that I had been able to get sanctioned a grant of over Rs 100 crore for the development of this constituency," said Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, sitting MLA of this constituency, during his address after the inauguration of the election head office at old grain market here today.

Though the Congress has not yet released its list of candidates, it is understood that the party will renominate him on the basis of his performance.

“People can meet me any time," said Mr Dharamsot. He appealed to party activists to keep a distance from intoxicants and to remain vigilant of any provocations.

The election office was inaugurated by advocate Om Parkash Karkara who comes from a family which has been active in the Congress for three generations.

State Congress Secretary and councillor Harinder Singh Bhambri spoke on the development works initiated by Mr Dharamsot in Mandi Gobindgarh.

State Secretary Dr Joginder Singh Maini hailed the policies of the Congress which had left no specific election issue for the SAD.

Block Congress chief Mr Shingara Singh Salana gave a detailed account of the achievements of Mr Sadhu Singh during his term in the constituency.

Mr Makhan Singh Tohra, Vice-Chairman, market committee, Bhadson, presented Rs 51,000 to Mr Dharamsot as election funds. Market Committee Chairman Partap Singh Sandhu said that the present government had made adequate arrangements for the procurement, lifting and payments of ten consecutive crops during its term.

Among others PPCC state treasurer Joginder Paul Singla , PPCC state secretary Dr Swatantar Karkara, zila parishad chairman Pakher Singh Salana, district Congress chief Lakhbir Singh, Artia Association chief and councillor Jiwan Puri, Municipal Council Mandi Gobindgarh chief Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, Youth Congress general secretary Jasmeet Singh Raja, Bhadson truck union chief Jaswinder Khanora, media incharge Pargat Singh Anian, district Congress committee secretary Manjit Dalla, Jaswant Singh Ghulumajra, councillors of Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh, panches and sarpanches of the area were also present on the occasion.

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Don't underestimate Bairagi vote bank: Bawa
Kuldip Bhatia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 8
Mr Hari Das Bawa, state president of the Bairagi Maha Mandal, today regretted that the huge vote bank of the community in the state was being underestimated and the failure of the ruling Congress party to give due political representation to the Bairagis was causing widespread resentment among the cadres.

In a statement here today, he said that the Bairagi community with a vote bank of more than 10 lakh, had a presence in almost every Assembly segment in the state. Ignoring this fact, the Congress government had failed to address its problems and fulfil genuine demands during its tenure.

Mr Bawa indicated that the Bairagi community would soon convene a high-level meeting of its state and district-level functionaries to discuss the future course of action with specific reference to the coming poll in Punjab.

In a separate statement, Mr Bikramjit Singh Rauni, state general secretary of the body recalled that the president of All-India Bairagi Maha Mandal, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, had organised massive gatherings of the Bairagi community in Barnala in 2003 and in Ludhiana last year to make the presence of the community felt in the political arena.

“Even though these gatherings were attended by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the PPCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo but in the absence of any worthwhile steps for political rehabilitation of minorities and backward classes, the Bairagi community still remains a neglected lot," Mr Rauni said.

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Johar mobilises support

Ludhiana, January 8
District Bar Association president Hemant Kalia, secretary Ravinder Grewal, president of the New Courts Bar Association Rajinder Gupta, president of Taxation Bar Association Rajeev Johar, coordinator of the legal cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Ashok Bhakri, former member for Punjab and Haryana Bar Council B.K. Goyal were among others who supported the candidature of Mr Harnam Dass Johar from the Ludhiana West Assembly segment today.

A separate meeting of local leaders was held at Abdulahpur Basti which was attended among others by Mr Kewal Bhardwaj, Mr Harjinder Sodhi, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Rakesh Bhandari and others. The leaders urged the party high command to renominate Mr Johar from the Ludhiana West Assembly segment. TNS

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Khalsa Panchayat clarifies on Rajinder’s statement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
The Khalsa Panchayat today clarified that the organisation was carrying out the advertisement campaign against the SAD and the BJP on its own. It also disassociated itself from the statements of Mr Rajinder Singh, who had recently claimed that the panchayat was not issuing advertisements against the SAD-BJP.

In a statement issued here today, the panchayat leaders, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Bhupinder Singh Nimana and Mr Joginder Singh Fauji alleged that Mr Rajinder Singh had no locus standi to speak on behalf of the Khalsa Panchayat.

They said the advertisements inserted in the newspapers were part of the awareness campaign against Mr Badal and the RSS.

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Ludhiana excels in detection of excise duty evasion
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 8
With the detection of the excise duty evasion over Rs 83 crore during the current financial year, the Ludhiana Commissionerate of Central Excise has achieved the second highest anti-evasion performance in the entire country (in terms of percentage of total revenue). In the audit also, the spot realisation target of Rs 6 crore for the year has already been attained.

Addressing a news conference here today, The Commissioner of Central Excise, Mr V.K. Garg, said unlike in year 2003-04 when revenue targets appeared difficult to achieve, the Ludhiana Commissionerate was today in a happy position of easily achieving its targets in the current financial year after having done so consecutively in 2004-05 and 2005-O6 during his tenure.

He claimed that the targets of excise duty collection of Rs 380 crore and service tax of Rs 200 crore were about to be attained in spite of clear instructions to speed-up all rebates and not to deny the input credit cenvat facility to any unit.

While the increase in revenue collection from excise duty in the commissionerate during the year was much higher than national average of 6 per cent, it was in the service tax collection that the department had shown tremendous performance. The total service tax collection had shot up from Rs 28 crore in 2003-04 to a whopping Rs 117 crore during the last financial year. In fact, the three quarters of the current financial year had already recorded a rise of 26.5 per cent.

Mr Garg, who is in the process of shifting to Delhi as the Commissioner of Service Tax for the entire NCR region, said he had always believed in addressing problems in a systemic way and it was his trust in the members of business and industry that led him to take many path-breaking initiatives that went on to strengthen the bonds between the assessees and the Central Excise Department. Mr A.K. Mehra of 1984 batch of the Indian Revenue Services is expected to take over in place of Mr Garg shortly.

The commissioner said as a part of its trade facilitation initiative, the government had introduced simplified procedures like relaxation in maintaining records, monthly payment of duty instead of consignment wise payment, allowing cenvat credit on the basis of invoices issued by the dealers without any departmental authentication, payment of 80 per cent of the refunds or rebate within 15 days of the filing of the same without any verification.

However, the department will act tough with wilful tax evaders, and in this context Mr Garg referred to new penal provisions introduced from December 30, 2006. Under these provisions, the defaulters could lose the facility for monthly payment and made to pay excise duty in cash on each consignment, cenvat utilisation could be withdrawn for a specific period, facility of self-sealing could be denied and registration could be suspended, which would render them ineligible to issue invoices for availing credit, he added.

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A patriot and farmer par excellence
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, January 7
Captain Rattan Singh, a hero of the INA (Indian National Army) and a farmer par excellence, served his motherland with all the dedication and devotion at his command. Capt Rattan Singh, who was Development and Agriculture Minister in the Giani Zail Singh government, died on December 26 and his bhog ceremony will be held at the Model Town Extension Gurdwara here on Sunday from 1 to 2 pm.

Capt Rattan Singh did his charted accountant course from Ediburgh University, UK, and started his political career after freedom of the country. He came in contact with General Mohan Singh who was founder of the INA and joined the INA and fought for freedom of the country against the British.

After Independence, Capt Rattan Singh settled in Jugiana village, near here, along with General Mohan Singh. Chitra Bahadur Singh, who was also in the INA, was with them. It is interesting to mention here that the wives of all the three comrades -- General Mohan Singh, Capt Rattan Singh and Chitra Bahadur Singh -- are real sisters and they have never lived separately throughout their lives.

Capt Rattan Singh made his mark as a politician and was successful in becoming a member of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha four times starting from 1962 to 1972. He was Deputy Minister in the Kairon Cabinet and minister of state in the Ramkishan and Gurmukh Singh Musafir Cabinet. As a minister in these governments, he was always concerned about the welfare of the farmers and was keen on improving the lot of the farming community. He was instrumental in the introduction of the Mexican wheat varieties in Punjab in the seventies.

As a farmer Capt Rattan Singh always thought of innovations in farming and successfully introduced plantation of poplar and eucalyptus at his farm at Baira Bet village along the Sutlej bed. Capt Rattan Singh was sure to achieve a higher position in the Centre but left the Giani Zail Singh Government following differences with the CM.

After his resignation from the Zail Singh Government, he took retired from politics and concentrated only on agriculture and tried to urge the farmers of the state to adopt commercial farming to raise their standard of living.

This reporter had watched Capt Rattan Singh very closely for more than three decades and never found him dejected. He was always cheerful even during his days of political turmoil and during militancy he was pressed to shift from his farm at Khairabet to the town but he never agreed and stuck to his farm. However, he definitely felt sad over the fall in the values and deterioration in the political arena. He was pained at the rising political corruption in Punjab and the country as a whole.

Dr KS Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, and Dr DR Bhumbla, former Vice-Chancellor, Haryana Agricultural University, who have worked closely with Captain Rattan Singh, say that farmers have lost a true friend and a son of the soil.

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Ravi Dass mission warns against use of drugs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana January 8
The Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission today warned members of its community against the use of drugs. It emphasised the need for spreading awareness and educating the youth so that they are not trapped in the lure of drugs.

Speaking at a function organised to facilitate the its elected office- bearers, the leaders of the mission warned that in the coming elections there could be possible use of drugs to lure the youth. They said, the community members must ensure that they give proper education to their children and create awareness among the youth against the ill-effects of drugs.

The speakers included Mr Harinder Singh Khalsa, a former Ambassador to Norway, Mr Shiv Ram Sirohi, national president and the chairman Mr Jaswant Kataria highlighted various activities being carried out by the mission for the uplift and welfare of the society.

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Railway pensioners resent shortage of medicines
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 8
Railway pensioners, who are members of the RELHS scheme, had been getting medicines through purchases made from the Railway Hospital, Ludhiana. However, for the past two months medicines were not available in the hospital stock.

The pensioners were facing hardship for no fault of theirs. A week ago local purchase of some medicines was resumed but the supply to the pensioners was restricted to 10 days only against normal 20 or 30 days.

Moreover, all medicines required were not being purchased and the pensioners were made to suffer as they could not buy these drugs due to financial constraints. For example, patients suffering from glaucoma need two types of eye drops -- Betegan and Pilocar -- to keep tension under control. But since they were not in stock the pensioners had to purchase these from the market.

The members of the North Railway Pensioners Welfare Association, therefore, demanded that either the supply of medicines be arranged from the Railway stocks or local purchases be restored to mitigate the problems of the pensioners.

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New Year party enthralls audience

Ludhiana January 8
To mark the arrival of New Year, Sethi Study Circle organised "Horizon”, a blend of SSC Graduation and Cultural Gala here yesterday.

The participants showcased their enthusiasm and grit by their enthralling performances. The audience was mesmerized by the dances and songs.

Director of the institute, Ms Punam Sethi and MD Prof Pritpal Singh Sethi appreciated this endeavour. He especially thanked the faculty members for their able guidance to the students. — TNS

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Industry ups the ante on capital subsidy
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 8
Expanding its list of demands to be put forth with political parties seeking their support, the local industry today said that whichever party came to power should assure disbursal of capital subsidy without any further delay.

The industry that has planned to hold a mock parliament with representatives of various political parties prior to elections with a view to getting their demands fulfilled, today said it would also raise issues like declining water table in the state and rising cost of freight.

"The state is facing a serious water problem because the water level is depleting rapidly. A model ground water bill, which seeks registration of tubewells, ban on new wells in critical areas, mandatory ground water recharge and pricing has already been blasted. The Central Government is advising states to wean away farmers from high water consumption crops. Due to this grave situation, digging of wells may be restricted for agriculture industry and domestic use," said Mr PD Sharma of Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Stressing on the need for the government to take measures to ensure betterment on this front, the chamber added that if effective steps were not taken in the direction, the problem could assume grave proportions.

The chamber also said that Punjab's industry was suffering on account of rising cost of freight."There should be a national policy for freight equalisation for all major inputs for industry. Earlier, a freight equalisation principle for movement of steel was in place but it was abolished in 1992 due to pressure of steel producing states. However, with opening up of the economy, states near ports are able to avail advantages for import as well as export. States like Punjab are the worst sufferers which necessitates the need for a national policy for freight equalisation of industrial inputs coming or going to the ports."

Mr Sharma also said that after the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act came into being, even states like Uttar Pradesh had constituted a facilitation council to monitor and implement the provisions of the Act. "But Punjab has done nothing in the direction," he added.

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Biz Clip

Ludhiana
Launched:
City Tiles Limited launched its new range of arc edge steps and risers and arc edge wash basin counters at a meeting of the Ludhiana Architects Association held here last week. The company also introduced anti-scratch and anti-slid tiles. Mr Inderjit Singh, area manager of the company, explained various products being offered by the company. Among others present on the occasion were Mr Ravinder Khosla, president, Mr Rajan Sareen, vice-president, Mr Vinay Jain, general secretary, and Mr Sanjay Goel, press secretary of the association. TNS

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