L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Industry rues unkept promises by new govt
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The new government was not acting upon its assurances to the local industrialists about solving their problems. Representatives of local industrialists rue that as a result the industry was suffering as steps to solve their problems were not being implemented.

"Industry and Commerce Minister Manoranjan kalia, in a meeting held here earlier this month, made assurances regarding extension in the date for submitting C forms and had also said the Municipal Corporation would accept payments by cheques and would clear water and sewerage bill arrears prior to March 31. However, none of the assurances are being implemented causing a lot of inconvenience to the local industry," P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

Industry leaders said the government had announced that the last date for submitting annual VAT returns with C forms would be extended from March 31, 2007 to June 30, 2007, but the Excise and Taxation Department was asking the industrial units to adhere to the previous date as they had not received any notification pertaining to the extension of the last date.

"Even the MC is not accepting ordinary cheques without remarks of good for payment. Similar is the care when it comes to the payment of water and sewerage arrears, all due to non-issuing of notifications by the government," added Sharma.

Condemning the government for not sticking to its promises, industrialists said the inaction was sending wrong signals to the public and they were quite disappointed. Delay in VAT refunds on one pretext or the other by the concerened department was another problem rue the local industrialists.

Expressing their discontentment with the government, industry leaders said, "Our condition is no better than what it was under the regime of the Congress. We hope the new government would address our problems at the earliest."



BSNL employees see red over FDI hike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
In response to a call given by the central committee of the BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU), the telecom employees today held a protest rally out side the office of the general manager, Telecom, Ludhiana district.

They were protesting against the government’s decision to increase the foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecom sector from 49 to 74 per cent.

Addressing the protesting employees, the BSNLEU district secretary, Balwinder Singh, said there was no need to increase the FDI in telecom sector which was already more than what was allowed even in the USA and many other countries.

He pointed out that even though the 'access deficit charge' (ADC), levied on the private telecom companies, was paid to the public sector undertakings towards providing telephone facility in rural areas which was otherwise financially unviable, still only a portion of the loss to the BSNL was made up by this contribution.

The situation was bound to deteriorate further with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) directive to slash the ADC.

"During last year also, there was a huge reduction on this count whereas in the current financial year of 2006-07, the ADC received by the BSNL was about Rs 3,200 crores, which will now be further reduced to about Rs 2000 crores, thereby adversely affecting the financial health of BSNL as well as provision of phones in rural areas."

According to the trade union leader, the decision of the TRAI was completely unjustified and intended to favour private telecom companies.

Even the notion, that with the reduction of ADC the rates of ISD and STD will come down, was way beyond the factual situation since such hopes had been belied in the past.

Several other speakers termed it as shocking that despite reports of strong opposition from the union ministries of home and defence on security concerns, the cabinet had approved the hike in FDI from 49 to 74 per cent in telecom sector.

They said various reports had appeared in the media about the leakage of conversations through the private telecom companies on this crucial issue.

The BSNLEU activists maintained that increase in the FDI limit would further aggravates the situation and adversely affecting the national security.

They threatened to intensify the agitation, and even observe nationwide strike if the government did not role back its decision on FDI hike.

Prominent among other speakers at the rally were Hari Narayan Singh, Balbir Singh, Tejinder Singh, Darshan Singh Gill, Mohinder Lal, Param Jeet Singh, Avatar Singh Jhandey, Banarsee Lal, Sudesh Joshi, Arnarjeet Chander, Ramesh Lal, Jogesh Kurnar, Rakesh Kumar Sharrna, Jaswant Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Kabul Singh, Kashmir Chand, Om Prakash Sharma and Amrik Singh.



Amarnath langar bodies to move court
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Various organisations, which offer free langar and set up camps along the Amarnath yatra route, are up in arms against the Jammu and Kashmir government for some unacceptable conditions it has imposed.

The yatra is to start from June 30 and will conclude on August 28.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, members of various organisations who had come here from different states, including Haryana and Rajasthan, alleged that the state government had imposed very difficult conditions on the langar operators.

The langar organisations have decided to move the Jammu and Kashmir High Court against the government’s alleged arbitrary attitude.



Strike deferred
Bank customers heave sigh of relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Bank customers can heave a sigh of relief as bank employees have deferred the three-day strike post assurances by the Indian Bankers Association (IBA) to resolve the issues raised by them.

The strike that was scheduled to be observed from March 28 to 30 was to raise several issues, including restoration of compassionate employment scheme for family members of bank employees.

"The IBA and United Forum of Bank Employees have arrived at an understanding following an assurance given by the association to resolve the issues amicably. They have promised to take up each issue and address them by June 30 on account of which we have decided to defer the strike," said Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary, Punjab bank Employees federation.

The union said strike has been deferred, not cancelled. "The ultimate decision would depend on how our demands are taken up."

The demands included second option on pension, compassionate appointments and recruitment of staff and stoppage on outsourcing banking related jobs.

Employees had also threatened to observe an indefinite strike on May 3 in case their demands were not fulfilled even after the strike.

The announcement had caused panic among bank customers. Further, March 31 being a Saturday and April 1 being Sunday, bank customers were worried about the inconvenience.

Stating that there was an acute shortage of the staff in the branches of banks all over the country, unions said workload in banks had risen manifold and demanded restoration of compassionate employment scheme for family members of bank employees. Employees have also demanded outsourcing of routine works to be stopped.



Petrol stations closed on April 13
Tribune news Service

Ludhiana, March 26
All the 2,600 petrol stations in the state would remain closed on April 13 in protest against government's inaction on their long-standing demand regarding increase in dealers' commission.

Co-ordinator of the Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT) J.P. Khanna told the Ludhiana Tribune: "The strike is a part of the nationwide strike being observed on a call given by the FAIPT. The demand is pending for over three years now and dealers are suffering due to government's inaction. If need arises, we would intensify our stir and go on an indefinite strike."

While the dealers are demanding a commission on percentage basis, they are currently getting Rs 890 per kilo litre for petrol and Rs 520 per kl for diesel.

"For several years now, we have been demanding that dealers commission be given on a percentage basis,” said Khanna.






Chabra group defeated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana March 26
The entire group of K.S.Chabra, outgoing general secretary, Lodhi Club, has been rejected by the members of the Lodhi Club the elections of which were held here yesterday.

Manoj Gupta, who won the post of general secretary defeated Chabra with a margin of 456 votes. He got 596 votes while Chabra got just 140 votes.

Nine members of Gupta's team got all the key posts in the club executive. Anand Sikri has been appointed vice-president of the club while Lalit Singla has been elected joint secretary.

The new mess secretary will be Arvinder Singh Padda and bar secretary will be Pawan Garg. Nitin Mittal will be new treasurer, while Rajnish Gupta is the new cultural secretary. Rajesh Mittal is the sports secretary. The Executive members include Kanwaljit Singh Dang and Rashmi Gangwani. 



Punjab needs colleges like IIT, says NGO
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The Welfare Society for Engineers, Scientists and Managers (WSESM), in its meeting held here today, has asked the state government to open colleges like IIMs and IITs in the state.

President of the society, Sanjiv Dhiman, who chaired the meeting, said many technical and social 
issues like reservation, outsourced policy, salary structure in private and public sector were discussed in the meeting.

The general secretary of the WSESM, Dinesh Yadav, said even small states like Kerala were also having an IIT, an IIM and REC colleges. UP had three IIT colleges and one IIM.

"For the better education in state, the government must highlight this matter to HRD Ministry," said Dhiman.

The members also criticised the outsourcing policy adopted by private sector.

They said they were using the highly educated skilled persons as labour. They also demanded proper outsourcing policy in the private sector from the Ministry of labour.

The members were of the view that merit should be given preference and there was a need to redefine the term reservation. "It should be defined as a 
benefit given to the person who is intelligent, hard working and capable.The seats must not be gifted in the name of reservation," said Dinesh Yadav.



The day of the absurd
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
From funny to absurd to shockingly irrational. The city witnessed it all within last 24 hours only.

It all started with a youth climbing a municipal water tank on Rahon road, doing a 'sholay' act against his parents who refused to pay him Rs 2,000.

Then came the rumours about a deadly phone call that could explode the mobile sets, and finally the bone-chilling offering of his tongue by a man in a temple near railway station in the afternoon.

The crazy incidents kept the reporters and cops literally on their toes.

A 27-year-old youth climbed a high water tank in Boothgarh on Rahon road in Basti Jodhewal threatening suicide in the morning.

Described as a slightly mentally challenged youth, Ghola had demanded Rs 2,000 from his parents, lest he would not go to the marriage of his brother scheduled for the day. Unconfirmed reports said he wanted to get married first.

The parents felt he would lose the money somewhere.

He then climbed the tank while the baraat departed. It was after an hour's struggle that the police managed to bring him down safely.

Then, one Ram Chappan barged into a temple near railway station, cut off his tongue and offered it to the goddess.

He was unfazed when rushed to the civil hospital. Later, he ‘enlightened’ reporters by writing on a piece of paper in broken Hindi that his tongue would grow again in 24 hours.

He claimed he had a dream in which a goddess told him to offer his tongue and it would grow again.

He was unperturbed when the doctors tried their best to convince him that this was not possible.The man had bled a lot.

The night was filled with rumours that some sinister phone call from two specific numbers would flash a red light on your mobile phone and blow it off causing the receiver's instant death.

Though none of the hospitals all over the state has confirmed any such incident, mobile messages kept doing the rounds that five persons had died.

Neither the city police nor any hospital reported receiving any such call. One wondered if someone had such technology then terrorists would not have to labour hard.

Interestingly, none of the mobile phone companies issued any denial. They did not send any sms to soothe frayed nerves. Probably, they were happy with subscribers cautioning their near and dears one by sending messages.



DMCH poll poised to be smooth affair
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, March 26
Stage is set for the election of the office-bearers of Dayanand Medical College and Hospital managing society on March 30. But this time, there will be no contest for the various posts and the election is likely to be a smooth affair.

The election of the office-bearers of the DMCH Managing society take place after every four years. In 2003, there was contest for different posts. At present the managing society is headed by Brijmohan Lal Munjal, chairman, hero group of industries.

The general body of the DMCH which will meet on March 30 will elect Brijmohan Lal Munjal as its president unanimously and authorise him to nominate the remaining office bearers including the vice-presidents, secretary, joint secretary and treasurer.

A meeting of the general body was held on March 14 where the procedure for the election of the office-bearers was decided. There was general consensus in the meeting that the election should be unanimous and there should be no contests.

The managing society consists of 60 members, including eleven representatives of the Punjab Arya Pritinidhi Sabha and 
three nominated of the DMCH faculty.

There is possibility of present team of the office-bearers being retained with one or two additions and deletions. Besides Brijmohan Lal Munjal, the society has two vice-presidents Sunil Munjal and Dharamvir Bector, secretary- Amrit Nagpal and who later resigned and Premkumar Gupta, joint secretary is acting in his place as secretary. Satish Sanwalka is treasurer. There is one governing board which will be reconstituted by the president.



Pak team to visit PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
A 60 member delegation from Pakistan will be on a two-day visit to the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) from tomorrow.

The delegation is being led by Rai Aziz Ullah Khan, a member of the National Assembly and chairman of the Tourism, Culture and Dairy Development Board, along with other members of the National Assembly, members of the state legislatures, the district nazims and the district assembly members.

The delegation will also meet up with the vice-chancellor of PAU, on March 28. 






Vijaya Bank opens branch
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
O P Munjal, chairman and managing director of Hero Cycles, inaugurated a small and medium enterprises branch of the Vijaya Bank here today.

Speaking on the occasion, regional manager B S Rai said the bank is all set to attain a business of Rs 60,000 crore this year. He said the new branch is fully computerised and would cater to the needs of industrial establishments of the city.

Camp organised for tax queries

An income tax camp was organised by the Ludhiana Ekta Welfare Society near Hotel Chevron here today. President of the society Girdhari Lal said the camp was organised to make general public aware about the procedures of filing their tax returns and solve tax-related queries. Assistant commissioner of income tax Parveen Kumar inaugurated the camp.



Hoteliers want govt to promote rural tourism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab has urged the Union Government to promote rural, domestic, farm, ecological and religious tourism in Punjab.

It demanded that the rural tourism be recognised and developed on the pattern of agriculture in Punjab.

The president of the association, N.S. Nanda, met Ambika Soni, Union tourism minister, in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum of demands to her.

He said the government should consider the hotel industry as an independent industry as it was the industry providing about 38.6 million people direct and indirect employment.

"The government should give us desired incentives to provide better room facilities as it is needed by tourism industry keeping in view the forthcoming commonwealth games," he said.

Nanda demanded that the Hari-ke-Pattan Bird Sanctuary and Ranjit Sagar Dam may be developed as good tourist spots. Ranjit Sagar Dam can be developed as a hill station of Punjab and it should be developed for golf courses, trekking, water sports and other recreational activities.

He suggested that the Punjab government should open a tourist office at the international airport for tourists,where all kind of literature should be available. Tourist police may be employed to avoid harassment to the tourist by the touts.

The association president asserted that the government should pay special attention to identify the heritage buildings, monuments and relics, which needed preservation and protection.

Gobindgarh Fort in Amritsar, which was built in 1760 by Gujar Singh, a Sikh warrior, and then taken over by the British, should be made a 'national heritage'. This was also an official residence of General Dawyer, he said.

Nanda observed since India-Pakistan relations were moving in right direction, it was a good time to exploit huge potential of the tourist traffic for the promotion and development of tourism in both the Punjabs.

Both the governments should adopt a liberal visa policy to build people to people contacts.

He stressed upon the need to renovate Raja Sansi Airport on war footing and also demanded sanction of suitable grant for the development of all historical places in and around Amritsar.

The Attari railway station should be renovated and given face lift. A good hotel with bar and restaurant, coffee and snack bar and fast food should also be constructed for the tourists there, he suggested.



Property business comes to a halt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
As the City Centre project in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar is in the centre of a controversy, the real estate business has suffered a major setback as the buyers have suddenly gone missing.

Though the work at the Rs 3000-crore project is continuing, there are no takers for land that had witnessed unprecedented demand after the commission of the project. The property dealers who were doing a brisk business are seen 
sitting idle.

‘‘The property business has come to a standstill. There are no buyers at the present rates. And the owners are in no mood to sell their property by devaluing it. ’’ said a property dealer in the area.

The buyers are in a fix whether the City Centre would be completed considering the Vigilance crackdown. That is why they are not willing to take any risks. It is just a matter of time that the property bounces back, said another dealer.

He added that things had come to such a pass that some residents had even sold their houses after suffering losses as they needed money urgently. Otherwise everybody else is lying low thinking this time too would pass.

‘‘A resident is selling his two storey house for Rs 55 lakhs. But there are no takers, ’’ said Japnam Singh, a dealer. He added that many houses were on sale but neither the owners were willing to slash the rates nor buyers wanted to invest there.

The property in SBS Nagar had touched an all-time high in the past after the work on City Centre project had started. Many people did a brisk business in buying and selling of the real estate. A square yard was sold for Rs 25 to even Rs 35,000.

Earlier, not many people were willing to own a house in SBS Nagar as it was quite far from the main city. But after the City Centre project, the property skyrocketed.

‘‘Residents had thought the City Centre would mean business to them also as people would want houses on rent when they would work in different offices there. Even I bought a plot thinking I would sell it on a premium. But I am only waiting and watching now. Let the dust be over. ’’ said Arvind Sharma, a resident. 



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