L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Another foreign dream turns sour
Woman raped, defrauded
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 7
A woman’s desperation to go abroad landed her in trouble when a youth from her village not only defrauded her but also outraged her modesty. In an effort to maintain their respect, the victim’s family members remained quiet for about three months, but were compelled to seek help of the SSP, Khanna, when the accused started threatening to expose her in case she did not continue satisfying his lust and giving a huge amount of money.

The Payal police has registered an FIR under section 376 and 420 of the IPC against the youth but no arrest has been made.

Amandeep Singh of Jandali village in Ludhiana district has been booked for allegedly defrauding Simrat Pal Kaur (name changed) of the same village on the pretext of taking her to Canada after marriage and raping her at a hotel in Delhi.

The case has been registered on the basis of an inquiry conducted by Randhir Singh, SHO, Payal.

Investigations by the police revealed that Simrat remained unmarried for an unusually long time as she wanted to go to Canada after marrying an NRI.

“Though I had no craze for NRIs, I just wanted to show some of my friends that I can also go abroad. In fact they had challenged me that I can not manage to do so,” Simrat told the police during the investigation.

About three months ago, Amandeep Singh of the same village, who has been to Malaysia many times, came in her contact and assured her that he would take her to Canada.

He demanded Rs 4 lakh for preparing travel documents.

Hailing from a middle-class peasant family, Simrat could arrange only Rs 3.5 lakh on the realisation of fixed deposits at certain banks.

Besides paying the amount, Simrat’s parents also agreed to arrange a “fake marriage ceremony” at a religious place at Fatehgarh Sahib and provide its photographs to felicitate visa sanctioning. After receiving the photographs and other documents required for preparing passport, Amandeep pretended that the embassy had called the “couple” to Delhi.

According to Rattan Singh Brar, DSP, Payal, the accused demanded another amount of Rs 90,000 to enable them get the visa documents.

Referring to information received from Randhir Singh, SHO, Payal, he said, “However, he deserted Simrat at a hotel in Delhi after allegedly raping her and taking away Rs 90,000 she had carried with her.”

Simrat’s woes did not end here. Even after this, the victim family remained quite for the sake of respect of the clan. “We were shocked to note that Amandeep returned to the village after a few weeks and started blackmailing us. He threatened to distribute our photographs among villagers in case I refused to continue satisfying his lust and giving him money according to his demand,” Simrat told the police.

Notwithstanding pressure from Amandeep, the victim family approached Gautam Cheema, SSP, Khanna, for justice.

The SSP directed the SHO, Payal, to investigate the matter and register a case.

Finding the allegations true the SHO, Payal, registered a case. But the accused is still at large.



Parking lot contractor overcharging
Kanchan Vasdev/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
Despite the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (LMC) fixing parking charges for the parking lots in Feroze Gandhi Market here, the contractor concerned has been accused by many residents of overcharging them.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune have revealed that the A.P.R. and Company Parking lot in Feroze Gandhi Market is overcharging the persons who park their vehicles in the lots, even though the MC, in its terms and conditions, has fixed the parking rates.

Many residents, who are parking their vehicles on a daily basis in the market, said that the contractor was charging Rs 225 for car, Rs 125 for scooter and Rs 50 for a bicycle per month, while the MC had fixed Rs 140, Rs 90 and Rs 40, respectively. The terms and conditions, fixed by the MC, a copy of which is with Ludhiana Tribune also, clearly states the same.

The Traders and Property Dealers Association of the market has sent a number of written complaints to the Teh Bazaari Department of the MC and other senior officials. They had sought explanation from the contractor who, in his reply, stated that the lots were auctioned at very high prices. So they were forced to raise the rates of parking.

An office-bearer of the association said the contractor was charging Rs 3, Rs 5 and Rs 10 for cycle, scooter and car, respectively, on a daily basis, while as per the terms it was Rs 2, Rs 3 and Rs 8, respectively.

The footpaths, meant for pedestrians, were also being used for parking and even the area on the roads near Nehru Sidhant Kendra were serving as extended parking lot contrary to rules. Even the green belts and vacant plots were being put to use by the contractor in violation of rules.

‘‘While the contractor is supposed to put up a board in the lot, stating the rates, monthly passes and persons responsible for the parking area, these are not being put. And wilful obliteration of parking rates has been done on the board to fleece the customers, ’’ said K.S. Monga, a representative of the association.

‘‘We have made a number of representations to the civic body, but nobody listens to us. If they have political compulsions, why should we suffer? They should at least respect the chair on which they are sitting, ’’ he added. 



32,000 vacancies
Posts of teacher to be filled by July: Minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
Bibi Upinderjit Kaur, education minister, Punjab, has said that the government hopes to fill maximum out of 32,000 vacant posts of teacher after the summer vacations (July). Bibi Upinderjit Kaur was in the city today as the chief guest during the convocation and the annual prize distribution function at Ramgarhia Girls College here.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, she said that 22,000 vacancies were there in the secondary education department, while 10,000 posts were there in primary education. She said in the next Cabinet meeting, everything would be decided and a majority of teachers would be adjusted.

She also said that it was unfortunate that under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, the position of the state had gone down to 16. "Education needs to get a boost, as the future of the state and nation depends on good quality education. It needs to be improved. Students, on the other hand, must realise the importance of hardwork and value of time," she added.

On asking why teachers were being put on election duties, Bibi Upinderjit Kaur, on her maiden visit to Ludhiana as a minister, said that she would try that teachers were not put on duties other than teaching.

She also said that people wanted the primary schools to be shifted to the primary education department instead of panchayats, but any change (if need be) would take place after considering all aspects. The education minister said that in colleges more emphasis would be laid on technical and professional education.

"We are requesting the government machinery to emphasise more on Punjabi language. Other than Hindi and English, the matter should be translated in Punjabi also," she added.



Police Apathy
On a crutch, seeking justice
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Bhajan Singh
Bhajan Singh

Ludhiana, May 7
He is a victim of police apathy. Forty-five- year-old Bhajan Singh, a resident of Saidan Mohalla here, has not suffered so much from hip displacement as from police attitude.

He suffered the hip injury, that left him crippled and unemployed in June 2005, when his associate, Raju, a resident of Jalandhar, allegedly pulled a ladder he had climbed to put banners of films near Sheetla Mata Mandir in Aggar Nagar. Raju, according to Bhajan Singh, did not want to pay him Rs 50,000 that was kept with Raju. Since then, Bhajan has been making rounds of police officials with a crutch for justice.

Bhajan Singh experienced the worst when division number 4 police station (his residence falls in its jurisdiction) washed its hands off the affair, stating that the incident took place in Aggar Nagar, an area covered by the Sarabha Nagar police station. The Sarabha Nagar police kept on dilly-dallying the case.

Even after the intervention of former DIG, Parag Jain, the Sarabha Nagar police did not register a case. Instead an ASI reported to his officials that Bhajan Singh did not want any action by the police and wanted to take it up with the Jalandhar police, as Raju was a resident of Jalandhar and all his bank accounts were there only. Interestingly, a copy of statement in this regard, signed by Bhajan Singh and countersigned by ASI Angrez Singh, was also submitted to the senior officials.

Later, this poverty-struck man went to former SSP, A.S. Rai, who directed the division number 4 to register a case. Finally, the police booked Raju under Sections 279/337/338 IPC on November 3, 2006.

The happiness of getting a case registered proved too short for Bhajan Singh, as the police did not present the challan of the case in court. Now he is again struggling to make rounds of the officials requesting them to do the needful.

He even put up an application before Ilaqa Magistrate Tarsem Mangla with the help of a local advocate. The magistrate called the report from the SHO concerned. The official, in return, replied that the challan against the accused was ready but it was still under checking.

‘‘I want my money back. I am unable to keep my hearth burning. My three kids cannot go to school, as I cannot pay their fee. To add to it, the police is not helping me because I am a poor man, he lamented.



PAU gets collaboration offers from world over
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
A host of international scientists have lauded the appointment of Dr M.S. Kang as the new vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University. Ever since he took the reins of the university on April 30, Dr Kang has received hundreds of e-mail messages from across the world offering collaborations with PAU.

Dr Rattan Lal, a PAU alumnus and director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Centre, Columbus, hopes to build upon and strengthen collaborative efforts between the Ohio State University (OSU) and PAU in the areas of food processing and water management. He vividly expressed that PAU is fortunate enough to have visionary leadership of Dr Kang.

Dr Lakesh Shivakumaraiah of the Mississippi State University (MSU) wants academic collaboration for research and education with PAU in the areas of life sciences, forestry resources, engineering, etc. The MSU has extensive programmes especially in cotton, soyabean, maize, forages, bio-energy crops, horticultural crops, remote sensing and drought management etc.

Dr Edzard van Santen, a distinguished scientist from Auburn University who served in the forage breeding programme at Faislabad (Pakistan), has offered collaborations with PAU scientists and a student exchange programme.

Dr Sukumar Saha (USDA-ARS), chairman of Genomic and Biotechnology at the World Cotton Research Conference-4 at Lubbock, TX, who is also associated with genetic research in cotton, has shown a keen interest in developing collaborative projects in cotton genetics and breeding with PAU.

Dr Bikram Gill, a distinguished professor at the Kansas State University (KSU), has written, "The challenges could not be greater but I am sure you have the backbone, vision and dexterity to overcome obstacles and succeed. PAU needed you and thank you for taking it on. We will always be there to help."

Offer of help has also been made by Dr Y. Kalra of the Natural Resources, Canada.

Dr David Baltensperger of the Texas A&M University expressed that he looked forward to opportunities to collaborate with PAU.

Dr Amarjit Basra of Monsanto in St Louis is hopeful that under Dr Kang's leadership, PAU would lead the way for a second green revolution. Dr Paul Sidhu of the World Bank has articulated his confidence that with his vision and experience, Dr Kang will be able to give a new direction to PAU programmes for addressing the pressing second generation green revolution problems of Punjab.

Dr Param Randhawa, who manages a state- of- the- art diagnostic laboratory for plant diseases, disease resistance genes and variety identification markers ( CA Seed & Plant Lab) has offered help to PAU.

Dr K.G. Raghothama, associate director of international programmes in agriculture of Purdue University, has invited the VC to visit Purdue University to set a stage for exchanging ideas and developing vision for future collaborations.

Dr J. K. Ladha and Prof P. S. Virk of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, have sought to strengthen collaboration and offered help to bring PAU to world prominence.

Many members of the Association of Agricultural Scientists of Indian Origin (AASIO) have valued Dr Kang's leadership while congratulating him for his occupying the exalted position as the head of PAU, an institute of global repute.

Many scientist-administrators of international bodies have been attracted to PAU. Dr Raj Khosla of Colorado State University has desired to visit PAU to discuss current research and to establish prospective collaborations. Dr G.B.Reddy of the Department of Natural Resources of the University of Florida has already planned his visit to PAU in the context of collaborative research projects under the AKI-planning grant.



Sikh scholars flay RSS
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 7
The statement made by the RSS about the sikhs being part of the hindu society has aroused sharp responses from sikh fraternity.

The Jathedar of the Akal Takhat, Joginder Singh Vedanti has warned the RSS to not interfere in the sikh doctrine.

Prof Prithipal Singh Kapoor former pro-vice chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University and a renowned sikh scholar, said here today that it was inaccurate and mischievous on the part of RSS to describe the sikhs a part of hindu society. He said the real fact is that the sikhs are a part of the Indian society which includes communities like Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Jains etc.

Prof Kapoor said, “It is this fact which lends independent and distinct identity to the sikhs. The sikhs since the times of the gurus have ordered their own path and evolved their own society which has made distinct features in no way closer to the Hindu society.”

Lt Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retired), president of the Indian Ex-services league said the RSS seemed to be suffering from majority syndrome and not realising that India's secular and plural culture was the main adhesive to its unity.

“Such statements harm the peace and unity among the people. The sikhs need no certificate of recognition as they have created important position in India's history.

The present government must take note of such statements made by the RSS to maintain peace in the state," he said.



Freedom fighter cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Khamano, May 7
Dharmpal Varma (82), famous freedom fighter from Khamano who died yesterday, was lit to flames by his eldest son Paramjit today around 10.30 am with state honours.

Ravinder Kumar, SDM Khamano, placed a wreath on the body. A local police party under the command of SI Ratanjit Singh presented a guard of honour.

Some prominent persons and a large number of local residents were present at the cremation.

Dharampal had taken active part in the freedom struggle and was later involved in social service.



Zail Singh’s birth anniversary celebrated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 7
The Dharmik Ekta Club Welfare Society held a meeting under the presidentship of Ajay Kumar Siddiqui at Chawani Mohalla here yesterday. The members celebrated the 91st birth anniversary of Giani Zail Singh.

Social worker Dr Sanjay Sharma, Subash Sondhi and many others were present. They garlanded the photograph of Giani Zail Singh and paid him floral tributes.

The society demanded that the central and state governments should celebrate the birth and death anniversaries of Giani Zail Singh.

The members demanded that the government should put up a statue of Giani Zail Singh at an appropriate place in the city. They said a delegation of the club would meet Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh in this regard.



Stray Dogs Issue
MC shrugging off responsibility: PFA
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
Taking up the issue of stray dogs with the municipal corporation authorities, Dr Sandeep K.Jain, state coordinator, People for Animals (PFA) and honorary animal welfare officer, AWBI, has stated that the MC officials were shrugging their responsibility regarding these animals.

After the statement of MC officials that they could not do anything about the dogs, and that the PFA was equipped to handle the matter, Dr Jain has shot off letters to the MC chief and the local bodies department.

He has stated that either the officials were ignorant about the provisions of Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, or were just trying to shake off the responsibility in the dog biting cases that had shaken the city in the recent past.

Stating that the local authorities were responsible for the implementation of Dog Rules with the help of the animal husbandry department and NGOs, Dr Jain said that they were required to set up dog pounds to check the menace.

Moreover, the MC was required to train its staff regarding the techniques of catching dogs, identifying, transportation and release in the same area after sterlisation. He added that all necessary information had been provided under Dog Rules for managing cases of rabid, dumb rabid, furious dogs.

He added that councillors of the municipal corporation had unanimously decided to adopt this programme in 2004. The then DC had also tried to launch this programme in the district and many subdivisions had showed the results, but it failed due to the lack of initiative of the MCL.

"It is a known fact that if this programme is adopted aggressively and 70 per cent of the dog population is sterlised in two years, a state of equilibrium can be achieved. It is required that officials of the MCL are sensitised on this matter and posting/training of staff needed to carry out their job be ordered," he added.

Other agencies can also be involved as per rules to control the stray dog population.He has further asked the MC to direct the officials concerned to implement this programme for effective control of dog population and rabies.



BJP gears up for MC elections
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has started the preparations for the forthcoming elections of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, while its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is yet to make its start.

The party held a closed door-meeting at the Circuit House, here, yesterday. The state president, Rajinder Bhandari, and the additional party incharge, R.P. Singh, were present at the meeting.

Buoyed over the success in the assembly elections, the party is trying to bargain for maximum number of wards with its alliance partner SAD.

So far, the two alliance partners have shared 35 seats each, with the understanding that whosoever has the maximum number of seats in the MC would get the post of the mayor.

During the recent delimitation, the number of wards is proposed to be increased to 75. Although the final notification about the delimitation is yet to be issued, the BJP is learnt to have staked its claim for the additional wards with the argument that its influence in the urban areas is more than that of the SAD.

As on now, the BJP and the SAD share two assembly seats each, from the city.

One semi-urban seat of Dakha, which has some municipal wards in it, is represented by the SAD. But the BJP leaders are arguing that it is just incidental that some city areas fall in a rural assembly segment and the same yardstick cannot be used for the MC elections and the assembly elections. “It is basically the areas of influence of the party where we want to field our candidates”, a senior party leader said.

So far, the BJP has got the mayor’s seat once, when Chaudhry Satya Prakash was elected the mayor. Subsequently, it went to the SAD and the Congress in the elections.

The BJP leaders for a record have been maintaining that the mayor would belong to the SAD-BJP and not to any particular party.



Mini-bus operators for check on illegal plying of vehicles
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
Mini-bus owners have urged the district administration to check the illegal plying of auto-rickshaws beyond the municipal limits.

In a memorandum to the deputy commissioner, the Ludhiana Mini-Bus Owners Association said the service of mini-bus operators in rural areas was adversely affected, as three-wheelers and four-wheelers were continuing their operations despite not having the permission to do so.

"Three-wheelers are allowed legally to operate their vehicles within the municipal corporation limit, but they are operating even in rural areas . If our staff tries to stop them, they do not hesitate to resort to violence," said J.S. Grewal, general secretary of the association.

The association said this action was causing heavy financial losses to mini-bus operators, who were already passing through a tough phase due to the heavy burden of taxes and rise in fuel costs.

"Four-wheelers that are allowed only to carry goods even ferry passengers, which hits our industry," added Grewal.

The association said so far drives to check such illegal operations had failed to bring the desired results, as the checks were done only for a short period after which three-four wheeler operators restarted their operations.



Two held with illicit liquor
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 7
Baljinder Singh of Patti Sua Manuke was arrested by the police from the area of Chahhar during patrolling. They have seized 11430 ml of illicit liquor from his possession.

In another incident, Darwara Singh of Chak Bhaika was arrested by the Raikot police from the area of Dhurkot. They have seized 15000 ml of illicit liquor from his possession.

Cases under the Excise Act have been registered against them.

1 held with opium

Surinder Kaur of Bhundri was arrested by the police from the area of Gagra during patrolling. About 250 gms of opium have been seized from her possession.

A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against her.

1 held with knife

Zuma Singh of Chakbhaika was arrested by the Raikot police from the area of Kalsan. They have seized one knife from his possession.

A case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered.

23 booked for assault

In three separate incidents the Sudhar, Sidhwan Bet and Humbran police has booked 23 persons on the charge of assault.

In the first incident, Narinder Singh of Fagla, Gursewak Singh of Humbran, Billa, Palla, Sukhwinder Singh and four unknown persons, allegedly assaulted Tevinder Singh, Parminder Singh and Harminder Singh of Humbran with a sword and iron rod and also stole gold chain worth Rs 29, 000.

The Humbran police has registered cases under Sections 324, 325, 380, 148 and 149 of the IPC and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

The injured have been admitted in New DMC Hospital, Ludhiana. Some old enmity is said to be reason behind the incident.

In the second, Sukhdev Singh, his son Jagwinder Singh, Bachan Singh, Sukhdev Kaur, Karam Jit Kaur, Paramjit Kaur and Charanjit Kaur of Talwandi Kalan, allegedly assaulted Gurdev Singh of their village with spade.

The Sidhwan Bet police has registered a case under Sections 452, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

The injured has been admitted in civil hospital, Sidhwan Bet. Dispute over old land is said to be the reason behind the attack.

In the third incident, Surjit Singh and his brother Rajinder Singh, Parminder Singh, Kulwant Singh, Sukhminder Singh and Parkash Singh of Nangal Kalan, illegally took possession of the land of Sawran Kaur. They allegedly assaulted her with sticks and ganadsi.

The Sudhar police has registered a case under Sections 447, 511, 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

The injured has been admitted in civil hospital, Sudhar.

So far, no arrest has been made in all the cases.



Suicide by indebted peasants unabated in Malwa
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 7
While the Punjab Government is yet to initiate the process for excavating reasons behind the exceptionally large number of suicide committed by members of peasant families in the state, the incidents continue unabated in this part of Malwa.

Though the immediate cause of deaths might be varied in reported cases, frustration due to financial constraints dominates.

However, the police did not insist on registering cases under the abetment to commit suicide Section in a majority of cases, obviously to minimise harassment to the victim’s family. In certain cases, kin of the deceased cite mental imbalance as the cause of committing suicide.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune reveal that there has been a spurt in suicide incidents in this part of Malwa during the recent past. The victim had resorted to drowning in canal and consuming insecticide in most of the cases.

Iqbal Singh, son of Jit Singh, a farmer of Jhordan village in Ludhiana district, reportedly consumed insecticide to end his life yesterday. The deceased took the extreme step as he had reportedly lost hope to repay loan he had borrowed to sustain agriculture in a hired piece of land measuring 10 acres.

According to Amarjit Singh Khaira, SHO of Raikot, a case was not registered as kin of the deceased had stated in the presence of social leaders of area that nobody was responsible was for the incident.

Tejinder Singh (34), son of Zora Singh of Saholi village, was feared drowned when he had reportedly jumped in the Abohar branch of Sirhind Canal, near here. Though the exact reason for the attempt is yet to be ascertained, the members of the family maintain that he had received a head injury during a brawl at Chandigarh a few years ago.

The body of Bahadur Singh of Dhaler village who had gone missing three days ago was found in the Bathinda Branch of Sirhind Canal near Kalyan Bridge yesterday. According to an FIR registered under Section 306 of the IPC against two farmer brothers of Jhaner village, economic issue was the reason behind the reported suicide.

Last week, Baldev Singh, son of Kartar Singh of Bassian town in Ludhiana district, had ended his life by hanging with a fan. He was running a tractor repair workshop and was reported to have committed suicide out of frustration.

Earlier, the body of Gurpreet Singh Gora, son of Gulab Singh of Goh village, near Khanna, was recovered from a canal near Khanauri in Haryana. The youth had gone missing about three weeks ago.



Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 7
The Humbran police claimed that it has busted a gang of thieves, who have been involved in various theft cases. They have arrested Rajinder Singh, alias, Sonu of Basian Bet, Joginder Singh of Kot Umra and Vikramjit Singh, alias, Vicky of Gorsian Kaadar Baksh.

According to sources, sub-inspector Jangjit Singh, and SHO P.S. Humbran, got an information that the bad elements present in a barren lying factory at Humbran Bhatha Dhua were planning to commit crime. They were armed with weapons.

The police, after the registration of the case under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC, raided the place and arrested the trio along with sword and other sharp-edged weapons, whereas, their fourth accomplice Dinesh of Dukli Dham (Bihar) managed to flea from the spot.

During an interrogation, the accused have confessed, stealing of Rs 1200, a hair cutting machine from a barbar shop at Basian Bet, Rs 18000 from a Karyana shop, a gas cylinder and P.C.O. set from a tea stall at Ghuspur, a gas cylinder from Humbran, a mobile from a shop in Humbran etc.



Trade union decries dismantling of PSUs
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 7
The 4th district conference of BSNL Employees Union (BSNLEU) today made scathing attacks on the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre for what it described as sustained attempts to dismantle the private sector undertakings (PSUs) and continued policies of privatisation.

The conference, which opened at Punjabi Bhawan, here, under the presidentship of Balbir Singh, was attended by about 250 delegates.

The BSNLEU district secretary Balwinder Singh, in his report placed before the house, congratulated the workers for their massive support to the union in terms of three membership verification and for their continued support which had led to the BSNLEU emerging as the largest union in BSNL at the national level by 60 percent margin for the second term In succession.

Inaugurating the open session, CITU general secretary Raghunath Singh charged the government with overt and covert efforts to dismantle the Indian PSUs under dictates from bodies like the World Bank, IMF and multinational corporations. "Vigorous attempts are being made to disinvest and privatise even profit making public sector companies."

He said the recent attacks on BHEL, Nevyeli Corporation and increase in FDI (foreign direct investment) from 49 to 74 per cent in telecom sector were some of the examples of the anti-public sector policies of the government. Serious effort were being made to increase FDI In Insurance sector as well which was nothing else but a bid to enable foreign companies take over control of insurance and telecom sectors.

Circle secretary of the union (Punjab Circle) Balbir Singh, condemned the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for its soft corner towards private operators in the telecom sector. He maintained that each and every decision of TRAI went in favour of private operators and against the public sector companies — BSNL and MTNL. The recent decisions of TRAI asking the BSNL and MTNL to share their towers and other infrastructure with private operators was a clear indicator in this direction.

Punjab circle president of the union R.L. Modgil, while addressing the workers, criticised the UPA government for its policies of privatisation. He said the decision to hike the FDI limit in telecom sector will virtually transfer the control of telecom services to foreign companies, thereby putting in jeopardy the national security simply because telecom sector was a very sensitive area. Further, the decision of TRAI to reduce ADC will inflict a loss of around Rs 2100 crore upon the BSNL.

Other prominent speakers at the conference were Jasbir Singh, M.S. Dhaliwal, Tarsem Singh, Lavinder Sharma and Karan Chander. 



Exports hit, decline of 5-10 pc likely
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
Exporters in the region have reported a dent in export orders on account of increased credit costs and a weakened dollar. Unable to face global competition, exporters fear they may not be able to attain export targets set by the government and exports could even witness a 5 per cent to 10 per cent reduction than last year.

Industry source said a large number of buyers, particularly for those in the engineering segment, postponed their orders for May and have asked exporters to wait.

Alarmed at the development this, feel industrialists, could mean shifting of orders to more competitive countries like China.

"In the last six months, credit has become costlier by over 3 per cent, dollar has reduced by around 12 per cent and steel prices too have risen. The overall affect hence is almost 17 per cent. As a consequence, we have become costlier in comparison to our competitors," said S.C. Ralhan, regional chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council.

While exporters are busy completing previous orders, they apprehend shifting of orders to other countries. "In May, our buyers, instead of giving us orders, asked us to wait. This is alarming as it means that if by the end of this month our costs are not competitive enough they would not place orders with us," an exporter said.

Despite orders having been affected a few exporters increased prices. "However, that is the case with those who obtain orders of very less volume. In case of larger volumes increase in prices could even translate into cancellation of orders as price differential would increase significantally."

Industry is now waiting for the government to take concrete measures in the direction.

Recent announcement by secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, G.K. Pillai, on cost of credit has brought some hope among industry circles. "We are trying to recommend a solution wherein the banks and RBI could arrive at a concessional rate of credit for exporters," Pillai had stated at his recent visit to the city.

"If credit rate reduces, we can immediately pass on the benefit to our buyers which would help us maintain them."

Apart from dollar, high credit has been adding to exporters' woes. "It makes us uncompetitive in global markets. Cost of credit was already very high and in the last six months it has moved upwards further, which has made us very weak. If situation fails to improve there could be major losses," another exporter rued.

In case of engineering goods, exports from this region were around Rs 4,000 crore. China gives stiff competition in most engineering products like cycle parts, handtools and fasteners. While actual impact would be clear only when the situation improves, so far exporters estimate a decline of around Rs 300 crore in engineering goods exports from the region.



LMA holds seminar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 7
G. K. Pillai, secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has addressed a seminar on 'Special Economic Zones' organised by the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA), here.

Pillai spoke about SEZ Act, 2005 which aims at infrastructural development, promotion of investment from foreign and domestic sources, promotion of exports and 
creation of employment opportunities.

Kamal Wadhera, general secretary, and Mahesh Munjal, president, of the association were also present on the occasion.



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