L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

MC sleeps over sewerage project
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Residents of Jassian Road today staged a protest against the delay in completion of sewerage project in their area.

They said the work was started five months ago but was not completed as yet although the time allotted was three months.

Led by Narinder Singh Makkar, general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress, the residents said the work was suspended during most of the days as the labourers did not turn up.

They said the pending work was posing problems for commuters due to a lot of digging and only a small part of the road was left.

‘‘I think the MC is waiting for some accident to take place before it would wakes up to the problem, ’’ said Makkar.

He demanded that the work should be completed soon or action should be taken against the contarctor for delaying the work.



CM’s directive on supply of Bt cotton seeds
Area under cotton likely to increase: VC
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, March 21
The Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has directed the heads of the department concerned with the cultivation of cotton to make adequate arrangements for the supply of seeds of Bt cotton and other hybrids available to the cotton growers and also ensure the supply of water and power during the sowing period of cotton. The directions were given by the chief minister at a high level meeting of the heads of the department concerned with the cultivation of cotton and the scientists of the Punjab Agricultural University held at Chandigarh.

Dr K S Aulakh, vice Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, who attended the meeting told the reporter here today that the Punjab state had a record production of cotton to the tune of 26 lakh bales this year and the area under cotton during 2006 Kharif was 6.28 lakh hectares.

He said the area under cotton was likely to increase to seven lakh hectares this year. The Punjab state also had a record 750 gm lint production of cotton per hectare this year which was three times higher than the national productivity.

At present, 80 per cent area is under hybrids (about 40 per cent under recommend Bt hybrids) and remaining under non-decrepit Bt. hybrids (30 per cent) and non-Bt hybrids and varieties 25 per cent.

During 2007, it is expected that area under non-Bt hybrids and varieties will decrease by about 10 per cent. Area under desi cotton is less than 5 per cent and it shall remain so.

According, Punjab Markfed to arrange for the supply of Bt cotton seed and the state would need 15 lakh packets of 450g each of Bt cotton. The price of Bt cotton seed varieties has already been reduced to Rs 750 per packet from Rs 1250 per packet.

The chief minister also asked the officials of the state agriculture department and the Markfed to ensure the supply of genuine seeds and check the sale of spurious pesticides and fertilisers.

Punjab Agricultural University has recommended the sowing of cotton from April 1to 30 to ensure better yields. Adequate availability of water is necessary during this period. The irrigation department has been asked to ensure the supply of canal water for the same. The availability of uninterrupted power supply will also be ensured.

The experts of Punjab Agricultural University have called upon the cotton growers of the state to follow the integrated pest measures to check the spread of diseases as suggested by the PAU.



File IT returns before March 31 or pay fine 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 21
The non-filing of income tax returns for financial year 2005-06 up to March 31, 2007, will attract a penalty of Rs 5,000 under Section 271-F of the Income Tax Act.

This was stated by Commissioner of Income Tax (CIT) A.P. Srivastava at a meeting held with the functionaries of the Taxation Bar Association (TBA) and the District Taxation Bar Association (DTBA) here last evening. The meeting was attended by Ashok Juneja and Anup Jain, presidents of the two bodies, besides several other high ranking officials of the department.

The Bar presidents held detailed discussions with the IT officials for improvement in the working system of the department while pointing out that pending grievances, rectification and applications be disposed of speedily.

The CIT assured the Bar functionaries that all additional and joint commissioners concerned would attend the Bar members and assessees every day between 3 pm and 4 pm for the settlement of pending matters and processing refunds. He said all officials would make every effort to resolve the problems of the Bar members as also the assessees. However, in case of unsatisfactory outcome, the members of the Bar could get in touch with the CIT concerned.

Srivastava further informed that to tackle the heavy rush expected at receipt counters for filing of IT returns, it had been decided that the counters would remain open from Mar 26 to 30 up to 5 pm and till 7 pm on March 31 (Saturday). The Bar members could file bulk returns in separate folders at special counters set up for the purpose.

Both Juneja and Jain asked the tax payers to deposit their income tax well before March 26 in the wake of a bank holiday on March 27, followed by three days nationwide bank strike call from March 28 to 30. They said March 31 being a Saturday, banks would be working for just about two hours and the assessees ran the risk of tax payments being refused by the banks. The Bar presidents made an appeal to the government to direct the designated banks to have a full working day on March 31 in view of the large number of people who waited till the last date to pay their taxes.



Anti-Narcotics Cell set up
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
With the incidence of narcotics use on rise in the city, the local police has set up a special Anti-Narcotics Cell to take on the smugglers. The cell would consist of a dedicated team under the leadership of SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh for combating the trade that is eating into the very fabric of society.

SSP R K Jaiswal told Ludhiana Tribune that the city was hot-bed of narcotics trade. The drug abuse has peneterated even school level with many teenagers reportedly hooked on to one narcotic or another. He said many social agencies have been pointing out the danger to the police for the last several years but nothing much has been done in this regard.

Gurpreet Singh said the special cell would be identifying the extent and depth of the illegal trade, "We cannot disclose the planned methodology, but residents can feel ensured that the police was sensitive to the problem and effective measures would be taken."

He said the broad outlines were to identify not only the carriers but the people who were holding the strings of the trade in the region.

The police has urged the public to give information about the prevalence of drug trade at the police control room number 100 or call SP-Detective at phone number 98158-00405.

Meanwhile, the police has nabbed Daljit Singh of Ghawaddi village with 120 kg of poppy husk yesterday when he was trying to snmuggle it to the city. 



Social security plan for elderly
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, March 21
The Union finance minister has formulated a proposal in the Budget 2007, for the social security of the senior citizens.

A senior citizen, who is owner of a house or a building, can avail a monthly stream of income against the mortgage of his house, while remaining the owner and occupying the house throughout his life, without repayment or servicing of the loan.

Elderly citizens would feel relieved, thus asking the National Housing Bank (NHB) to start this novel creation on the lines of the global countries of the world.

Dr S.K. Thaman, organising secretary, All India Senior Citizens Organisation pleaded that there is a dire need to formulate parameters for the mortgage guarantee companies to remove difficulties and obstacles for safe implementation of this new noble product.

It is generally observed that middle class families and weaker sections of society desire monthly income under this scheme.

The leaders of the ruling and opposition parties should sit on one platform for the successful implementation of this new scheme.



Quake rumour sets panic in Ludhiana
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Rumours of an earthquake in the small hours today gave a sleepless night to the city residents, who spent more than four hours in panic on the roads.

Around 1 am, the residents started calling each other on the phone and waking neighbours to come out in the open saying an earthquake was forecast. But nobody could tell the source of the forecast.

Panicky residents came out on the roads along with their valuables and pets and others sat glued to their TV sets to know whether there was any quake alert by the authorities. To their dismay all TV channels were flashing the news of New Zealand beating Kenya in World Cup.

The confusion was compounded when relatives from other stations also started calling up and warning them to stay outdoors. Calls were received from abroad also as NRIs rang up to know the welfare of their dear ones back home.

In the chaos that prevailed, some tried to call up the police control room and the district administration to find out the reality behind the rumours. They, however, could not get any convincing reply as attendants just laughed at their calls and said they had no information. Then they woke up media persons to find out if there was any truth behind the rumours.

After waiting for four hours on the roads, the residents went inside their houses around 5 am. “We could not sleep even then. The fear of the quake kept knocking at our minds. It was a nightmarish night,” said Parupkar Singh.

In the confusion, the lack of disaster as well as panic control management of the district administration was exposed. Nobody knew where to call up.

“It is the responsibility of the state to inform us about what is happening. There was no satisfactory reply from the police or the Deputy Commissioner’s residence. We had to spoil our sleep. Otherwise had we been given the disaster control room’s number, we would have got the clear picture. Who is to be held responsible?” asked a resident.

Jagraon: About 100 persons from the area and its adjoining areas came out of their houses in panic in the early hours of today because of the rumour. Announcements to this effect were even made on the public information system in various villages. After waiting for about two hours from 3 to 5 in the morning, when nothing happened, the people had a sigh of relief.



'Social mobility can lead to family  disintegration'
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
Social mobility, often considered as a precursor of specialisation and competition among the members of a society, has another aspect that epitomises struggle for material gains, disintegration of joint family system and mental stress.

This was revealed in a study 'Impact of Social Mobility on Society - A Case Study of Majha Cultural Zone of Punjab' by Dr. A.K. Gupta and Ms Jaspreet Kaur of the Department of Human Development and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University, here.

The study was conducted to delve into the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents and to ascertain the impact of inter-generational mobility of social institutions. Eight villages of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts were chosen where one eldest male member each from the two different generations was selected for collecting the responses.

According to the researchers, social mobility brings fluidity into social stratification of society, as it is a change from one social position to another. This change could be educational, political, social, occupational and in other areas of life of the individuals as well as families.

Pointing towards the self-centred and materialistic pursuits of people, the study indicates disintegration of joint family system, mainly because of outside employment.

The tendency of living in the nuclear families has increased in rural areas too as there is a sharp change in the operational land holdings of marginal and small farmers. Respect of elders is on a gradual decline and interpersonal relations have become more material-centric. Families spend less time together because of their busy schedule and fast life. Herein, a positive element worth noting is improved woman participation in the decision making process.

Highlighting the impact of social mobility of economic institution, the study draws attention to escalating rural indebtedness due to an increase in the family expenditure pattern. The buying behaviour suggests expenses on luxurious items than those with some utilitarian approach. The consumerist culture has taken its toll in the form of economic inequality. The levels of mental stress are constantly surging and crime rate is getting higher by the day.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. With the increase in occupational opportunities and mass media exposure, the educational level is on the rise.

This has inculcated scientific temper to a certain extent, which has been instrumental in eradication of social evils like untouchability. Mobility has encouraged healthy competition between people with respect to education, income, social status, etc. Reservation for women and equal rights are rendering the caste based panchayat system redundant. Inter-caste marriages have become common and usually economic status of the family is seen as compared to the caste status in the earlier days. 



PSEB trips on technical staff
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 21
The new government has declared power sector its top priority. However, the human resources situation in the PSEB remains a matter of concern.

The post of assistant electrical engineer (AEE) is vital in managing the power distribution system. However, just 5 per cent posts in the PSEB are being managed by the directly recruited engineers. The Rest are being managed by the staff promoted from lower cadres.

Besides, 140 posts of assistant engineer and assistant electric engineer are lying vacant. This comes to about 30 per cent of the total sanctioned strength of 473 posts. About 23 per cent sanctioned posts of engineer are lying vacant.

According to the data available from PSEB sources, 550 posts of engineer are lying vacant out of the sanctioned strength of 2,300. In the near future 900 engineers are due to retire.

The board recruited 263 assistant engineers through the NTPC, NHPC and the PGCIL in early 2007. With the change of the government, the fate of these engineers now hangs in balance.

The neglect of recruitment of technical staff has lead to cadre crisis. While there is clogging at the top rung, the lower posts are lying vacant. Most of the chief engineers have very short tenure of two or three months as heads of department. In such a short tenure, generally, they are forced to spend the period making arrangements for their coming retirement.

For unavailability of qualified engineers, most of the posts in the civil cadre are filled by promotions from lower cadres. This has affected the implementation of certain projects by the civil wing of the department. The Mukerain hydroelectric project has been delayed by over three years and its completion is not yet in sight.



Max New York Life’s launches group retirement plan 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The Max New York Life has launched a ‘Group Superannuation Plan’, a unit-linked investment plan, aimed at providing financial protection and creating long-term wealth for employees after their retirement.

The objective is to build a sizeable corpus for an employee as he approaches retirement, a part of which can be transferred and the remaining amount used to purchase an annuity, the company said in a press note today.

It said that the plan offers a complete financial solution to the employer and the employee and is also an excellent employee reward-and-retention tool for organisations across India.

Managing Director and CEO, Max New York Life Insurance Company Limited, Gary Bennett, said: "According to the 2001 census, by 2026, 173 million Indians would be above the age of 60 years. The population among this age group in urban areas will touch 55 million Indians.

“The Group Superannuation Plan with its customised service offerings and wide-ranging investment options will be a tax effective option for responsible organisations to systematically plan for the increasingly crucial post-retirement stage of employees."



Shreyans gets new chairman

Ludhiana, March 21
The Board of Shreyans Industries Ltd has elevated Rajnesh Oswal as the new chairman and managing director and Vishal Oswal as vice-chairman and managing director following the death of D.K. Oswal Founder chairman on February 19. The board condoled the death of D.K. Oswal and paid him rich tributes. — OC



Annual auctions

Samrala, March 21
The annual auction for contracts of forms, canteen and cycle stand was held in the office of Executive Magistrate Dr Svita today bringing around Rs 3.68 lakh of additional revenue to the government treasury.

Jaggi and Co. got the forms contract for Rs 1.70 lakh, Rajinder Kumar got the canteen contract for Rs 2.58 lakh, while Paramjit Singh secured the cycle stand contract for Rs 3.05 lakh.— OC



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