L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Rs 133.43 cr for development works
Rs 418.43-crore MC Budget presented
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
With the government allocating around Rs 700 crore for the municipal corporation for various projects under the City Development Plan, Ludhiana may witness all around development during the next fiscal year. The work will start as soon as the grant arrives and the MC will contribute its bit by curtailing expenditure on other development projects or by generating revenue from other sources, including the sale of property.

This was the major highlight of the MC’s proposed Budget with a total outlay of Rs 418.43 crore, which was declared passed in less than an hour in a specially convened session of it’s general house here today.

MC commissioner Vikas Pratap read out the Budget proposals and the majority of councillors thumped their desks declaring the proposed Budget as passed. After passing the Budget, the SAD-BJP councillors distributed sweets to celebrate the victory of combine in the recent Assembly elections in the state.

With the total outlay of Rs 418.43 crore for fiscal year 2007-2008 providing Rs 133.43 crore for new development works and Rs 36.75 crore for maintenance works. The proposal brought a hope for the city residents that provided for the development of slums in and around city, more sewer lines, more bridges to ease traffic, more street lights and parks by the end of the next fiscal year starting April 1.

BJP councillor and Leader of Opposition in MC House Parvin Bansal said though no new taxes were levied this year, the Budget had nothing for the poor. He said it did not provide for any rebates on water and sewerage bills of the poor, there were no scheme for widows and destitute. He, however, congratulated the MC authorities for having generated good revenue from advertisements.

He said it was after many years that this revenue was in crore while during last many years it was restricted to lakhs only. He said a revenue of Rs 3 crore generated from advertisements was an achievement.

Bansal raised the issue of the slaughtering of animals in the MC’s slaughter house. He said only 180 animals per day were slaughtered there and the rest of the butchering took place in illegal butcheries running in all parts of the city. He called for a check on these illegal butcheries and provide healthy meat to the residents and generate revenue at the same time.

The BJP councillor also spoke on the revenue generated by the Tehbazaari wing stating that the target of Rs 2.25 crore achieved during the current year was too less in a city that was marred by encroachments. ‘‘It is time not only to net the small fish but also the big fish. Our staff removes kiosks but nobody says anything to the big shopkeepers who encroach upon half of the road,’’ he said.

He added that the parks were also not getting their due as most of them were badly maintained. He rued the meagre amount kept for public analyst and chest clinic. He said the MC was not able to spend Rs 40 lakh kept aside for malaria while many people were killed due to mosquito borne diseases. The commissioner said that the MC would try to cover the old city areas with fogging and would send teams on bicycles and two wheelers to reach congested areas.

Bansal demanded an inquiry into expenditure on petrol and lubricant. He questioned why proposed Rs 760 crore expenditure was revised to Rs 850 crore during the current year. He also demanded the computerisation of various departments and upgrading of fire brigade.

Further in the Budget, the MC has earmarked Rs 22.43 crore for laying new roads, Rs 53 crore for bridges, Rs 22 crore for streets and drains, Rs 8 crore for streetlights, Rs 5 crore for parks, and Rs 10 crore for providing basic amenities to the slums.

According to Budget estimates, octroi and VAT would remain the biggest source of revenue with projected income of Rs 165 crore - figures for the current year in brackets (Rs 155 crore), followed by house tax Rs 50 crore (Rs 50 crore), octroi on electricity Rs 11 crore (Rs 11 crore), composition fee Rs 6 crore (Rs 3 crore), sale of property Rs 10 crore (Rs 8 crore), additional excise duty Rs 45 crore (Rs 68 crore), HUDCO loan Rs 39.84 crore (Rs 53 crore) and licence fee under section 343, Rs 150 lakh (Rs 100 lakh).

Apart from development works, which would be allocated a lion’s share (69 per cent) of the total income and Rs 93 crore would be spent on establishment and Rs 13.07 on contingency. The expenditure of O&M Cell of MC on establishment and that on contingency would be maintained at Rs 25 crore and Rs 10 lakh, respectively. 



PSEB to issue spot electricity bills
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Power woes

While consumer services have become a focus area, there was little hope for people on the power supply front. The situation is likely to remain grim this year too with lack of addition in supply. As per board officials, the peak demand last year was 9,000 mega watt backed by a supply of 6,600 mega watt only.

The shortage, of 10 per cent to 30 per cent, is likely to continue as demand continues to grow at an average of 8 per cent annually. 

Ludhiana, March 15
City is set to become the first city in the state to issue spot electricity bills. The Punjab State Electricity board (PSEB), which would get this work done from a private party, has already issued more than 50 hand held computers to a special team for generating bills on the spot.

"The system would be operational in a week. Bills would be generated right in front of the consumer and employees who would go to consumer's doorstep to collect the payments after issuing on the spot receipts," said K.D. Chaudhry, chief engineer of central zone.

PSEB, which has put up a single window system in place for new connections at load extension, says it would give connections within four working days.

Board officials say the system is aimed at minimising formalities. For residential category customers would require a test report along with the application and the commercial category consumers would require an additional no objection certificate.

Hoping to better the complaint reddressal system, the board has started a single window where grievances can be registered. A slip would be given to the complainant indicating the date by which the complaint would be reddressed.

"A call centre would also be set up by the month of July-August this year. Existing cash collection centres would be improved by introducing a token system and making a proper sitting arrangement," added Chaudhry.

The easy bill collection centres have collected around Rs 3 crore so far. "Along with the electricity bills, handouts bearing details of information on our collection centres is also being distributed. We have increased the number of our centres to 81 in the city and are open to putting up more such centres,” an official from the company said.



Three power board men injured
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, March 15
Three PSEB linemen Nirmal Singh, Darshan Singh and Gurnam Singh were injured due to electrocution during the repair work being conducted at the feeders in the Prem Nagar locality of Mandi Gobindgarh on Wednesday.

Four linemen were repairing the 11000 voltage broken wire when the accident took place. Nirmal Singh (46) who was on the pole when he got electrocuted in the accident. His colleagues Darshan Singh and Gurnam Singh also got electrocuted while trying to save him and fell on the ground. Both were taken to the local Civil Hospital.

Nirmal Singh was brought down from the pole after several hours. The fourth lineman Baleshwar Yadav saved Nirmal Singh from falling off the pole with the help of a rope for two hours. SDO Baldev Singh said the matter under investigation to find out the reasons behind the accident which took place when the employees were working on a permit.



Ruckus over uncovered manholes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Noisy scenes were witnessed on the floor of the municipal corporation House when councillor from ward number -3 Rajiv Katna raised the issue of uncovered manholes in the city stating that nobody cared for these death traps.

He said there were no covers on manholes in the MC’s store and the residents were facing threat to their lives due to the open manholes. He added many accidents had taken place in the past also.

Other councillors, including Satnam Ahuja, Bhai Raj Singh, Jaswinder Bhola, Gurdeep Singh Neetu, Sohan Singh Goga, Parvin Bansal, Harbhajan Singh Dang and Simarjit Singh Bains joined Katna on the issue leaving their seats and gathered around the city mayor and the commissioner.

They did not allow mayor Nahar Singh Gill to constitute a committee to look into the demand. They said all councillors wanted manholes to be covered immediately. The mayor then directed joint commissioner B.K. Gupta to note down the demand of councillors and make arrangements for the purchase of manhole covers.



IT swoop yields Rs 1.61 cr
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
In the course of a stepped-up drive to unearth concealed income and enforce tax compliance, the surveys conducted by income-tax officials on a couple of business houses all through Wednesday, led to surrender of Rs 1.61 crore.

It was learnt that IT officials of Range III had launched simultaneous surveys yesterday on Gaba Garments Pvt Ltd in Shivpuri locality and Dixon Knitwears on GT Road near Jalandhar bypass which continued all through the day.

The IT sleuths thoroughly inspected books of accounts of these firm for last three years, record pertaining to sale and purchase, stock of raw material and finished goods and the financial data on computers.

The two firms, between them, volunteered an additional undisclosed income of Rs 1.61 crore and agreed to meet the tax liability before the end of this financial year.



Rain damage assessed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
S. S. Channy, principal secretary, department of labour and employment, today visited around a dozen villages of Samrala sub division and assessed the extent of damage to wheat and other crops because of the recent hail storm and heavy rains. He was accompanied by Sumer Singh Gurjar, deputy commissioner, Baldev Singh, SDM, Samrala and other revenue officers.

Channy first stopped at Barddhalan village where a large number of affected farmers showed him the damage to wheat and fodder. He inspected the damage at Singhan Di Salaudi, Naulari Kala, Chack mafi, Kular Mazra, Gagar Majra, Dhilwan, Diwala, Bagli Kalan, Bagli Khurd, Rupa, Purba villages.

At Naulari Kalan village, farmers apprised him about the severe damage to wheat and potato crops. The newly sown crops of sunflower and vegetables were also found damaged. The farmers demanded that along with wheat and fodder, the crops of sunflower, capsicum and other vegetables should also be assessed for compensation.

On the demand of the farmers regarding the less number of patwaris available for girdawari, Channy asked the DC to depute more patwaris from other parts of the district for the special girdawri work in the affected villages so that the work could be completed within a period of one week.

The principal secretary expressed solidarity with the farmers who had been severely affected and assured that while preparing his report, all aspects would be given thorough consideration. He also informed that the CM would review the reports by all the principal secretaries deputed for the assessment of damage in different districts in a special meeting at Chandigarh on March 19. He informed that he would also visit the affected villages in the Khanna and Payal sub division tomorrow.

The DC informed that the patwaris from other parts of the districts were also being deputed to complete special girdawari in time. Among others who apprised the principal secretary about the damage suffered by the farmers, included Kirpal Singh Khirnia, former MLA, Santa Singh Umedpuri, district president (SAD), Ajmer Singh Dhillon, director, Milk Union, Jagroop Singh and sarpanches of the affected villages.



Cong ignored development works: SAD
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 15
People of the state have given verdict against the anti-people policies of the previous Congress government which did not care for development but adopted vindictive attitude against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership, asserted former Minister Harmail Singh Tohra.

He was addressing a meeting of SAD activist of Amloh Constituency at party office here today.

Tohra appealed the workers to participate in a big way to celebrate the 3rd 'barsi' of Panth Rattan jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra on March 25 in his native village 'Tohra".

Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MP, who lost the Amloh Assembly seat to Congress candidate, refuted the propaganda of money distribution by her to woo the voters.

She declared to give a befitting reception on March 18 to Captain Kanwaljeet Singh who belongs to this area on his induction as Cabinet  minister.

She assured the audience that officers of this constituency responsible for excesses on Akali workers would be severely dealt with and people of Amloh constituency would have not to go to Chandigarh for official work.



Ranbir’s parents rue his transfer to Chandigarh
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 15
It is our misfortune that our son, who had bravely fought with anti-social elements and extremists during the dark days of militancy in the state, was shifted to Chandigarh to be shot by a colleague on Monday night, wail old parents of Ranbir Singh of Shanker village.

Ranbir, who was earlier posted in the security staff of former minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, was posted at the Circuit House in Chandigarh after the elections. Another policeman Bagga Singh posted at the same place killed him with his self-loading rifle after Ranbir refused to lend him some money for purchasing drugs and narcotics.

A farmer of Shanker village Gurcharan Singh and his wife Nasib Kaur were somber that destiny had snatched their younger son.

“How can one expect that an armed personnel would shoot his colleague only for refusing to lend him a meagre amount for purchasing drugs and narcotics. Had we known that such people were working in uniformed forces we could have asked our son to leave the job and work in fields to support the family,” said Gurcharan Singh while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Panchayat led by sarpanch Harnek Singh, meanwhile, urged the authorities to provide compensation to the family on the pattern of martyrs and provide suitable job to widow of the deceased cop.

Investigation by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that Ranbir Singh had joined the police as sepoy in 1993. While working in the IRB created during the Beant Singh regime he fought bravely with anti-social elements, including terrorists. He was posted in the security team of former Congress minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot during pre-election period and was shifted to Chandigarh immediately after the polling day. Congress leaders of the area had sought his transfer to the security team of newly elected legislator from Kilaraipur Jassi Khangura.

“It was again our bad luck that senior Khangura instead of impressing upon the authorities to transfer Ranbir to Punjab asked us to wait for some time. We were shocked to hear the news of death of our son instead of his transfer,” sighed Gurcharan Singh.

Accused Bagga Singh, a resident of Fatehpur Gujjran village, was arrested by the Chandigarh Police from the Bhattian colony, Ludhiana, yesterday. He was arrested with the cooperation of the Ludhiana Police and the weapon used in the crime was recovered from his possession.

Meanwhile, the body of the deceased was cremated at his native village last evening. A large number of local leaders attended the funeral procession.



Jhammat is tempo union president
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 15
Newly elected legislator from the Kilaraipur constituency and Youth Congress leader Jassi Khangura received another jolt when SAD leader Prit Pal Singh Jhammat was selected president of the Tempo Operators Union by party leaders, led by Mann Singh Garcha, a confidant of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today.

Manjit Singh Mann was nominated vice- president of the union.

Malkiat Singh Maherna Kalan, a close associate of Khangura, former president of the union, was removed earlier.

Justifying the action, Mann Singh Garcha said, "As the interests of tempo operators were not being watched by earlier incumbent and his associates, a majority of operators decided to entrust the office to some popular operator."

Mr Jhammat said steps would be taken to enhance profit of the operators.

Senior SAD leaders, including Raghbir Singh Saharanmajra, member SGPC, and Sukhwant Singh Tillu, director, Jagtar Singh Tari, and Gurjit Singh Lehra were also present on the occasion.



Citizens council poll on March 31
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
The election for the post of chairman of Ludhiana Citizens Council (LCC) for a five-year term (2007-12) will be held at Hotel Baron here on March 31.
According to the LCC secretary general Ashok Juneja, the elections will be conducted by the returning officer, Ravi Kant Gupta, who has been nominated as returning officer for this purpose.

The chairman will be elected by 114 members of the executive committee, and in case of more than one nomination being filed for the post, polling will be held from 7 pm to 9 pm on the same day.

Other office-bearers of the body for the next term will be nominated by the chairman, Juneja added.



Tricksters offering to double money nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
The focal point police has nabbed four tricksters who were allegedly duping people by offering to double their money. The accused gave them fake currency, with one side plain and other of Rs 50 denomination, in lieu of the actual money.

A team led by SIs Nishan Singh and Dilpreet Singh nabbed the four accused in a raid just minutes after they had lured and looted a migrant labourer of Rs 5000 in Jamalpur.

SP (detective) Harish Kumar told reporters that the victim Moti Lal had come yesterday to the cops posted at a naka. He informed how he had lost Rs 5000.

The four accused were nabbed in an immediate raid by the police. They were identified as Prabhu Nath, Jamuna Prasad, Munni Lal and Hari Prasad. They all were residents of Nirmal Singh da Vehra, Jeewan Nagar.

The police has recovered 28 wads with real notes at the end and plain paper inside apart from Rs 36,100 from the accused.

They have been booked under Section 420 of the IPC.



One held with opium 
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, March 15
Ajmer Singh of Dalla was arrested by the local police from Agwar Khawaja Baju. The police recovered 180 g of opium from his possession during patrolling. Case under section 18, 61, 85 of NDPS Act has been registered.

7 booked for assault: Happy, Seepa of Akalgarh, Raj Kumar and four other unknown persons allegedly stopped Rajesh Kumar of Air Force Station, Halwara, on the way and assaulted him with sharp-edged weapons and iron rod.

The Sudhar police has registered a case under section 323, 506, 341, 148, 149 IPC. The injured has been admitted in Civil Hospital Sudhar. Some old dispute is said to be the reason behind this incidents.

Dowry case: Gurdeep Singh husband and his father Bhupinder Singh of Dad allegedly harassed Parminder Kaur of Dakha and by making demands to bring more dowry and forced her to leave her matrimonial house.

The duo allegedly did not return her articles on demand. Dakha police has registered a case under section 406, 498-A IPC. No arrest has been made so far.



Illegal kerosene lands man in jail
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 15
Charanjeet Arora, judicial magistrate, has sentenced Hans Raj of Ram Bihari Colony, Tajpur Road, Ludhiana, to imprisonment for six months on the charges of possessing huge quantity of blue-colour kerosene oil illegally without any licence.

The accused was booked under section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act at Focal Point Police Station on October 6, 1998.

As per prosecution, the accused was nabbed while carrying 15 drums of kerosene oil in his tempo, following secret information.

The accused allegedly used to brought the kerosene oil from Himachal and sell the same at excessive rate in Ludhiana.



Industry sees red over CST blues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
Phasing out of Central Sales Tax (CST) is getting delayed, industry representatives said today. They also rued that despite continuous demands by industry, the shortage of C-forms continues and demanded that last date for submitting these forms be extended by six months.

"The CST was to be phased out from April 2006 and later October 1, 2006, was fixed for the same. The Finance Minister declared April 1, 2007, as the recent date but nothing is being done in the direction and the delay appears imminent," said Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry president P.D. Sharma.

He said the delay would also effect the date of implementing unified goods and services tax which is scheduled to start from year 2010.

The Chamber said despite the new government having come to power, the department's functioning had not improved and traders continue to suffer on account of delay in VAT refunds.

“Dealers had to submit C-forms of previous year (2005-06) alongwith their annual statement by the end of November 2006. The previous government extended the date to March 2007, but the problem of trading community has not been resolved as supply of these forms is still inadequate," said Sharma.



Kashmiri shawl-sellers make big bucks
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 15
It may sound unbelievable but it is true that every year Kashmiri shawl-sellers (each) do business to the tune of Rs 30 lakh in this industrial city in less than seven months time.

More than 300 Kashmiris come to the city to get a good fortune through selling their "exclusive Kashmiri" shawls to the La' creme of the society.

It is not that just the upper strata of the society buys these "rare pieces" but the middle class too, do not mind spending few hundred rupees on Kashmiri embroided shawls.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Aslam Ahmed (not the real name), a Kashmiri shawl-seller said he found people in Ludhiana had great purchasing power.

He said even a new entrant in this line, could easily do business upto Rs 10 lakh in one season here. Aslam had started selling his shawls to Ludhiana women in 1998 on a bicycle.

Today, he visits his customers in a brand new Black Santro car. "Inshah Allah (By the grace of God), I am very comfortable with my life. I get good profit by my clients", he said.

Majority of these shawl-sellers have their set clientele in areas like Sarabha Nagar, Civil Lines, Model Town, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Gurdev Nagar, HIG flats etc.

They feel that clients preferred to get shawls from them as they sold these at much cheaper prices than showroom owners. Secondly, they feel that they offered good bargains to their customers.

Shiraz Ansari, another shawl-seller said they procured the cotton from Laddakh and it was changed into a fine thread by the elders in Kashmir on the spinning wheels.

The process of making shawl was started on khaddis and finally after finishing, the process of embroidery was started by the local artisans. "For an ordinary jaal (full embroidered shawl), it takes about three months but for intricate embroidery on Shahtoosh (which is banned), it takes about two years to get a piece ready", he said.

"We sell toosh shawls only to the clients who are trustworthy. We do not even claim to have these shawls," he added.

At times, the bargaining starts from Rs 1,20,000 and stops at around Rs 25,000 or even low for a particular piece.

"Women believe in bargaining and we have to deal with them accordingly. Obviously, we get something good on each piece," said another Kashmiri on condition of anonymity.

They take several rooms on rent in Field Ganj area for about six months. They come with full variety in September and go back home in March.

"It is easy for us to go for our Namaz (prayers) from the area as Jama Masjid is in the Field Ganj itself," he said.

Some of these rich shawl-sellers also plan to get their own houses or land in the city in near future. 



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