|Wednesday, May 3, 2000,
worth lakhs of rupees destroyed in Sector 46 Rehri Market fire
CHANDIGARH, May 2 Goods worth lakhs of rupees were reduced to ashes following a devastating fire in the Sector 46 Rehri Market in the wee hours of today.
According to the information available, over 120 shops out of 130-odd shops were virtually reduced to ashes in the fire which broke out probably due to short-circuit. Shopkeepers said the fire was first noticed by the chowkidar around 1.30 a.m., who informed the market association chief, Mr Mohan Lal. Mr Mohan Lal, in turn, informed the police, and the Fire Brigade got a call at 2.12 a.m.
By the time two fire engines reached the spot, the fire had already spread to other shops, housing a wide range of goods, including gas cylinders. While shopkeepers alleged that the first fire engine did not contain water, the Chief Fire Officer, Mr GS Bajwa, denied the allegations, saying that the fire call was received slightly late, with the result that the whole market was gutted. In fact, a fire engine from the Sector 32 Fire Station was sent to the spot on seeing the leaping flames.
He informed that the problem was compounded as several gas cylinders burst, resulting in injury to two Fire Department personnel. It took the 12 fire engines, including two from SAS Nagar and Panchkula, over three-and-a-half-hours to put out the blaze.
The shocked shopkeepers could be seen retrieving whatever they could when a Tribune team visited the site this morning. Anger was writ large on their faces as they alleged that the fire engine reached the spot late, resulting in the tragedy. The irate shopkeepers also blocked traffic on several roads around the market, including the road separating Sectors 46 and 47. They also deflated the tyres of a fire engine in protest.
The Adviser to the Administrator, Ms Vineeta Rai, accompanied by the DC, Mr M. Ramsekhar, and the SDM(S), Mr Ashish Kundra, visited the site and announced a compensation of Rs 3,000 to each of the affected persons. The Mayor, Ms Shanta Abhilashi, also visited the spot. Later, they were paid Rs 3,000 in cash.
Mr Mohan Lal, while terming the compensation as too meagre, demanded that pucca booths should be provided to them. Even if the administration provided them booths built up to the plinth level, they would accept them, he added.
The area councillor, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, along with a delegation of the Rehri Market and Capital Rehri Phari Market Association, met the Adviser, who assured them that pucca booths would be provided to them soon.
A delegation of the Congress, under the leadership of a former Union Minister, Mr Harmohan Dhawan, also called on the Adviser and demanded pucca booths for the remaining 2,300 persons, who had deposited Rs 3,000 with the Estate Office. The Rashtriya Raksha Dal has also demanded enhanced compensation for victims.
Fire destroys 100 jhuggis
SAS NAGAR, May 2 Around 100 jhuggis were destroyed in a fire in Budmajra village near here today.
The fire broke out around 2.30 p.m. and took hours to be brought under control. Two fire engines from SAS Nagar and one from Chandigarh were pressed into service.
Mr Jaipal Singh, SDM, who visited the scene near Dara Studio in Phase VI, said most of the occupants of the jhuggis were present when the fire broke out. It was not immediately clear how the fire started.
The SDM and the Sub-Fire Officer, Mr Avtar Singh, estimated that between 80 and 100 jhuggis were engulfed in the flames. However, occupants said at least 150 jhuggis were reduced to ashes.
Mr Avtar Singh said two children locked up in a jhuggi were rescued by fire brigade personnel. Two LPG cylinders had burst but nobody was injured.
Occupants of jhuggis
with thatched roofs could not save their belongings.
Owners of jhuggis with tin roofs extricated most of their
items. The SDM made arrangements for providing food to
the affected families today.
first time in the history of UT police, erring
officers will be compulsorily retired
CHANDIGARH, May 2 For the first time in the history of Chandigarh Police, officers who have a bad track record or have been held guilty of misconduct by departmental enquiries will be compulsorily retired from service.
As many as 371 officers have been shortlisted by the department who have either completed 25 years of service or are 50 years of age. Those falling in the ambit of the criteria, followed by a screening committee, will be served with three months of notice and pay for the same.
Elaborating on the policy, Mr S. K. Singh, IGP, said he had been working on it for the past some time and had recently given his nod for shortlisting those who could be retired as per rules and norms. The provision to do so already exits in the service rules.
It was for the first time that an elaborate policy had been drawn up by the department and certain guidelines had been laid down which would be strictly adhered to in the future. The number of officers which met the criteria was arrived at following a scrutiny of the service and track record, involvement in graft cases, integrity, number of repeated misdemeanours, lapses and punishments meted out during the course of their service, he added.
Mr Singh said the list is topped by officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendents of Police (12), followed by Inspectors (12), SIs (159), ASIs (81), Head Constables (35) and constables (57). A final list of the officers and other ranks who will be served with the notice will be finalised shortly, probably within this month, he added.
This was a part of the ongoing measures to refurbish the image of the force to project it as a people- friendly force. This was also done to negate the impression among the people that the department was very lax when it came to taking action against erring officials. It was a regular grudge of the people and upright officers in the department that those who were corrupt enjoyed the most important posting in the police.
According to police sources, the number of erring officers between the rank of ASIs and DSPs was very high, given their strength in the force. Presently, there are 12 DSPs, 50 Inspectors, 248 SIs, 190 ASIs and more than 2630 constables in local police.
As per records available with the department, as many as 17 personnel, one SI, one ASI and 15 constables had been dismissed from service from April 1, 1999 to March 3, 2000. Other than this, four SIs had been awarded major punishments and their increments had been stopped, 50 ASIs and SIs had been issued censure notices, 440 constables had been censured while 60 increments had also been stopped.
Other than this, many
personnel of all ranks were facing departmental enquiries
or were likely to face them following sanction. In
several instances, the officers were facing criminal
cases and cases have been registered against them, the
health education bureau virtually non-existent
CHANDIGARH, May 2 Health programmes in the city continue to be severely affected as mystery shrouds the reasons behind the non-functional status of UTs State Health Education Bureau (SHEB), which was brought into existence for the sole purpose of disseminating health-related information. The office of the bureau lying housed in 30 Bays Building in Sector 17 has now been locked for over four years, with infrastructure worth lakhs reported to be gathering dust inside.
The problem is aggravating in view of the fact that neither the Municipal Corporation nor the Administration is taking up the responsibility of the bureaus functioning. Ironically, each department is shifting responsibility on to the other. In the midst of this confusion all vital programmes the bureau was supposed to undertake, including organising, directing state health education policies and offering guidance in health education to the government and the NGOs, have been discontinued.
No appointments have been made to the bureau since March, 1996, when the last health education officer, Mr L.N. Sharma, retired. Although information gathered from the office of the Medical Officer, Health, hints at the matter of appointments to SHEB being pending, no results are yet to be seen. Meanwhile, health awareness continues to decline in the absence of organisation of camps and seminars on prevention of diseases, which SHEB is supposed to undertake, as informed by Mr L.N. Sharma. The situation is sure to deteriorate with 25 cases of diarrhoea already been reported.
From certain documents it becomes known that SHEB was earlier functioning under the direct control of Director, Health Services (DHS), with a health education officer and a clerk working under a centrally-sponsored scheme. The problem began when under the budget head 2210-Medical and Public Health 1989-90, the bureaus staff was tagged along with Assistant Director, Malaria, for the purpose of disbursement of salary and allowances. However, the present Assistant Director, Malaria, Dr G.C. Bansal, when questioned said the bureau was not with him.
The former DHS, Mr G.S. Ahluwalia, had even written a letter in this regard to the Finance Secretary in 1995 mentioning that there was no notification regarding the transfer. The names of Mr L.N. Sharma and the clerk were erroneously included in the notification regarding transfer of Assistant Director, Malaria to MC. In the interest of public service I propose that these officials be allowed to work under the DHS. Nothing in this regard was ever done.
Another point of concern is that no one is answerable with regard to the funds reportedly still being sanctioned for the bureau. Although the MC and the Administration officials concerned expressed ignorance in this regard, reliable sources informed that funds to the tune of about Rs 1.5 lakh are being sanctioned annually although the channel of their utilisation is not known.
litigation against the MC and the Administration in this
regard is already pending in the local courts and the
next date of hearing in the case is May 24. In this suit
the petitioner has demanded that the MC and the
Administration should start the functioning of the bureau
apart from declaring the funds being sanctioned for use
by the bureau. Although the MC has replied to the suit
denying the allegations levelled, the Administration is
yet to reply.
join shramdan from next week
CHANDIGARH, May 2 Men and machinery from the Army may be back at the regulator end of the Sukhna Lake from next week to resume their participation in desiltation of the bed of the lake after a gap of nearly three years.
Though the Administration plans to start the next edition of shramdan from May 8, the work on mechanical desiltation may start even earlier.
The Engineering Department of the Administration has been in touch with the Irrigation Departments of both Punjab and Haryana, besides the Bhakra Beas Management Board to seek both men and machinery for this continuing programme launched in 1988 to save the lake from siltation.
The concept of shramdan was introduced by the then Adviser to the Administrator, Mr Ashok Pradhan, in 1988. It picked momentum during subsequent years. A look at the past history of this voluntary movement reveals that on an average 30 to 40 lakh cubic feet of silt used to be removed from the bed of the lake during every summer before the onset of the Monsoon.
However, the pace of shramdan gradually slowed down after parents of school children complained against forcible participation of their wards in the programme, both in the evenings and mornings.
Last year, the Administration left it to hardcore volunteers, called silt addicts to continue the manual desiltation as the mechanical operations continued, though at much lower level.
The Army authorities at Western Command Headquarters, which used to spare three bulldozers, one JCB and five tippers besides a large contingent of manpower to shramdan every year, gradually withdrew itself from the operations three years ago. Till then, the Army authorities even used to foot the bill on fuel on running the machinery during operations of its own machinery every summer.
As a result, the output desiltation came down from 40 lakh cubic feet to about a half. Last year, for example, only 19.65 lakh cubic feet of silt was removed from the regulator end of the lake. This included 0.9 lakh cubic feet of silt removed manually and voluntarily.
For the past two years, even the Bhakra Beas Management Board has not been able to spare its Poclain and five tippers for the shramdan. It is expected to send its machinery again from this year.
Haryanas one dragline is already at the lake. The Administration hopes to get some good support from Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, which has in recent years acquired a large fleet of machinery. The corporation may provide a JCB and some tippers for the project this summer.
A meeting of the functionaries of the Administration is likely to be held in next couple of days to work out various modalities for shramdan to begin on May 8. Targets for removal of silt, both manually and mechanically, would be fixed only after availability of men and machinery from various departments is determined.
children play cop, and do the job effectively
PANCHKULA, May 2After tapping residents of the township for help under the community policing scheme, the local police has turned its eyes on school children which they see as effective catalysts in spreading the message of adhering to traffic rules and allowed them to play cop for a couple of hours every evening.
The ambitious project seeking participative learning saw over 20 school children of Satluj Public School in Sector 4 volunteering for the experiment which got under way this evening at two points, namely at the roundabout of Sectors 4, 5, 10 and 11 and at the roundabout of Sectors 12, 12 A, 11 and 14.
Being conducted under the supervision of the ASP, Mr Amitabh Dhillon, the operation intends to exploit the ``novelty value for the children and instil in them the necessity of following traffic rules besides getting the message through to the parents as well.
Our idea is to do away with the concept of imposition of rules being a police vs public story and engage the children in educating the masses. Moreover, preaching will help the children to practice the same and their involvement will make them feel strongly about the whole business of obeying rules, Mr Sudhir Chowdhary, Superintendent of Police, said.
Mr Dhillon adds that the additional advantage of involving the children is that they understand only one language and arguments of any kind dont hold any water. Either you are right or you are wrong, and there are no two ways about it with them, he comments.
The programme for the evening began at the school premises where a 15-minute briefing on the number of documents to be checked, traffic rules and the need for traffic management was given to students. Later, they were divided into two groups and posted at two different points in the township where the police and students worked in tandem to enlighten people.
The simple fact is that once the idea finds its way into the heads of the children, the message will automatically reach their families and will be conveyed to others in the vicinity through word of mouth, which would be a big help, Mr Chowdhary informed.
Further, the programme of student-involvement would be spread to other schools of the township with all students from Class VII to X being given a chance to play cop if todays programme proves a success. Their enthusiasm will be the barometer of our judgement and it is their appreciation of the children which will propel us forward, Mr Dhillon said.
The Principal of the school, Mr Krit Serai, informed that the programme happened after he met Mr Chowdhary in connection with an advertisement on cable television with regard to traffic rules sponsored by the school after a rally on the same issue organised by the school.
It was then that
they suggested that the children could be involved in the
endeavour to make our mission of educating citizens on
rules a success and I was game for it. The students were
only too eager to be picked up for such an
assignment and I thought it was a great learning
experience for them, he added.
reallocates water share
CHANDIGARH, May 2 In view of low inflow of water into the Gobind Sagar reservoir at Bhakra Dam, the BBMB technical committee today reallocated water for irrigation to member states.
The current inflow is 11,000 cusecs as of today. Accordingly Punjab has been allocated a share of 9,750 cusecs at Ropar and 6,000 cusecs at the Harike headworks. The combined share of Haryana and Rajasthan was fixed at 8,750 cusecs.
The release of water from Bhakra will be 19,000 cusecs and from Pong 12,000 cusecs to meet the demand of the partner states, according to sources.
There had been less snowfall as compared to last year, when it was 21 lakh cusecs when converted into water. This year it was around 13 lakh cusecs. Informed sources told TNS tonight that it was agreed upon in the meeting that Punjab would increase its indent for irrigation water corresponding to the increased inflow in future.
The meeting was attended by the Chief Engineers of the partner states besides officials of the BBMB. A review meeting is scheduled for May 20.
The sources also pointed out that Punjab Agricultural University had advised farmers to go in for early sowing of cotton and late sowing of paddy. At present the farmers are busy harvesting wheat and paddy sowing would commence shortly. The demand has shot up due to dry spell and drought conditions in some parts of these states.
Thus no major problem
was foreseen. However, due to less melting of snow and
inadequate winter rain the inflow into the reservoir has
been rather low this year. This has marginally affected
the flow in the irrigation network, sources said.
affairs: Punjab orders inquiry
CHANDIGARH, May 2 The Punjab Government has instructed the authorities concerned to collect information with regard to alleged irregularities in interviews and appointments at Panjab University, Chandigarh, Higher Education Minister Master Mohan Lal said here today. He told TNS that he had received a comprehensive complaint with regard to alleged irregularities in appointments and financial matters.
As Punjab provides budgetary support to Panjab University, Master Mohan Lal said that the Punjab Government was fully justified in knowing what was happening in the university and how the funds provided by the state government were being utilised by the authorities concerned.
Panjab University is in the thick of a controversy over the issue of appointments. Informed sources said the UGC had directed all universities not to fill posts till July and to take adequate economy measures.
Mango trees face threat
CHANDIGARH, May 2 Nearly 300 of the 2600 mango trees in a 2-km stretch of a green belt along Purav Marg are under threat. The threat is posed by residents of 200-odd houses along a park in Sector 29-B.
The mango grove was created in early 60s by the Administration to save the residential areas of Sector 26, 28 and 29 from pollution of industrial units. Today due to a variety of factors, the green belt is in a bad shape.
A TNS team on a visit to the park recently saw that the park had become a dumping ground for garbage. The green is turning brown and heaps of garbage, empty bottles, broken glasses and left-over food are scattered in the park.
Nasir, a Saharanpur-based contractor who has taken the orchard on contract, says a large number of trees, located adjacent to the colony, had stopped bearing fruit. He blames the residents for this. He says many residents often threaten him whenever he asks them not to dump waste in the park. He shows some drainage pipes, which residents have turned inside the park. Nasir says that he has approached every department concerned in this regard but nothing has been done.
On the other hand, residents allege that the Health Department is totally indifferent towards their problems. They say at present, a small garbage bin is catering to the needs of 50 to 100 houses, which is grossly inadequate.
A question being raised is why the authorities did not construct a wall in order to avoid the interference of the residents in the park. Horticulture officials say whenever the park is fenced, it is removed by residents either to get passage or to extend the boundaries of their houses.
Encroachment is another problem in the park. It was found that the residents had encroached the land by erecting wooden walls to create kitchen gardens and lawns. Some have even constructed rooms and make-shift garages. A resident has dared to open a beauty parlour and the entrance is from inside the park. Needless to say, the Estate Office has failed to take any action.
The contractor says incidents of direct confrontation between chowkidars and residents are common. The problem is acute during the season when they tried to check the thefts.
experts believe that the crop in the entire orchard is
falling due to lack of irrigation facility and diseases
like hopper, and powdery mildew. They observe: If
corrective measures are not taken, the orchard will
flays Administration on Anandgarh issue
SAS NAGAR, May 2 The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, today, criticised the reported stand of the Chandigarh Administration on the Anandgarh proposal by the Badal government.
She said the new city would not put strain on Chandigarh and the UT Administration should first check the mushrooming of slums and unauthorised colonies in its area. The Minister said the Punjab Government did not want slums in the periphery of Chandigarh.
On being asked whether the Punjab Government had consulted the Chandigarh Administration while conceiving the project, she said, "We had taken the Central Government into confidence before proposing the project."
She said the UT Administration had not been consulted before proposing the plan, but, it could be consulted if required. She said the new city would be self-sustaining unit and would not put strain on Chandigarh like SAS Nagar and Panchkula.
About a report of the Town and Country Planning Department which was against the location of a city close to Chandigarh, she said she was not aware of any such report. She said the Punjab Government was planning to lay a foundation stone of the project within the next six months. The second phase of the notification of the villages would also be carried out soon.
Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary (Housing), said private consultants had been called to plan the city. She said consultations with financial institutions regarding the funding of the project were going on. It would be a private venture with least investment by the government, she said.
She also said the defence authorities had been consulted regarding the building of the Mullanpur air force station within the proposed Ananagarh city. The minister said it had been mutually agreed that a belt of 2,000 metres around the air force station would be left out. She said no letter from the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment regarding the project had been received, but, the Centre would be consulted in all matters.
When asked about the status of unauthorised construction in Kansal village, proposed to be acquired under the project, she avoided the issue. She said no construction after December 1998 would be regularised in the periphery of Chandigarh.
Earlier, the minister attended a presentation on the Corporate PUDA Complex planned in Sector 62. The Chief Administrator of PUDA, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said the complex, estimated to cost over Rs 12 crore, would have a covered area of 2 lakh sq ft. It would house all the local and presently Chandigarh-based offices of PUDA.
Later, the minister told
the mediapersons that a committee, constituted to guide
the government on the allotments of sites to private
education institutions, had submitted its
recommendations. She refused to give details. The
Additional Chief Administrator of SAS Nagar, Mr Dipinder
Singh, and other senior officials of PUDA were also
present on the occasion.
lacks civic amenities
ZIRAKPUR, May 2 Stinking water, absence of roads, kutcha streets, lack of street lights and various other problems have become a nightmare for the residents of Preet Nagar Colony in Lohgarh village here.
Residents of the colony alleged that before the formation of the Nagar Panchayat, the colonisers sold the residential plots in an unplanned manner without leaving sufficient space for the roads and streets.
As there is not any provision of drains, water remains accumulated at various low-level places in the colony. Stinking water ponds in different parts of the colony has not only become a health hazard but also poses threat to the lives of children. Many stinking water ponds, have become breeding centres for flies and mosquitoes.
We have given a number of representations to the Nagar Panchayat authorities about the sanitation condition and of the colony but no action has been taken in this regard. We are living in inhuman conditions, complains Ms Ranbir Kaur.
A drizzle is enough to make the streets full of mud and slush. Moreover, no drains have been laid along the streets which also results in the accumulation of waste water on the streets.
The residents are reportedly getting contaminated water supply from the shallow handpumps, which adds to the health hazards and is an open invitation for water borne diseases.
The water table is declining day by day and the local civic body has hardly thought about regular water supply to the residents. The Public Health Department has not sprayed any pesticide to get rid of the mosquitoes and flies here, commented Mr Tarunjit Singh, a student of the colony.
Though the Nagar Panchayat was created over a year ago, the civic body has hardly taken any step for the development of the colony.
Frequent power cuts and low power load have become routine in the colony.
done, Mr Malhotra, you have just saved a life. God bless!
PANCHKULA, May 2 Timely help saved the life of Mr Rajesh, a resident of Sector 18, when a speeding truck hit him from behind while he was on a stroll this morning. Help came by way of a good samaritan in Mr RP Malhotra, President of Samadhan, a group standing for social justice.
Describing the sequence of events, Mr Malhotra said that as he opened the gate of his house situated on the road dividing Sectors 7 and 8 at 5:30 am , he saw a truck with a protruding object hit a pedestrian who fell to the ground. His wife, accompanying him, began to cry for help even as he rushed to the spot where the victim was bleeding profusely.
Meanwhile, another passer-by rushed to the nursing home right in front of the spot to seek help which was refused by a ``visibly annoyed and irritated doctor who advised him to take the patient to the hospital. Also, the duo was disappointed as motorists refused to oblige.
Finally, Mr Malhotra fetched his own car and rushed the bleeding patient to a nearby nursing home where, yet again, the door was closed on his face following which he rushed the patient to the General hospital in Sector 6 where he was given first-aid and referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. He was discharged by the PGI later in the day.
Critical of the
``24-hour sign-board on display outside
nursing homes, Mr Malhotra said that precious lives are
lost due to the apathy of the public and the indifference
of the doctors practising in these ``unethical and
irresponsible nursing homes.`` The boards are
just a way to earn easy money and not to save human
lives. Moreover, the wealthy car-owners are not a shade
better with unending talks on idealism and little care
for human values and moral ethics, he
JE booked in assault case
SAS NAGAR, May 2 A junior engineer of the local Municipal Council, Baldev Verma, and his brother Kuldeep Verma were today booked by the police for allegedly assaulting the owner of a marriage palace in Phase V here. A case under Sections 148, 149, 323 and 506 of the IPC has been registered against the junior engineer. The case had been registered after the Punjab Human Rights Commission, acting on a complaint filed by the victim, Mr M.S. Chawla, had asked for a reply from the police.
Earlier, the police had failed to register an FIR on a complaint lodged by the victim. He had then approached the commission.
Punwire men arrested: At least seven employees of Punwire, wanted in a two-month-old case of assault on one of their women colleagues in a commotion on factory premises, have been arrested by the local police. The suspects had been booked under Sections 148, 149, 342, 382 and 120-B of the IPC.
The case was registered on complaint lodged by Ms Updesh Manju, a Personnel Coordinator in Punwire. She had alleged that she was beaten by an unruly mob led Rakesh Kalia. The others named in the first information report (FIR) registered by the police were Jagmohan, Amrik, Ashok Joshi, Ashwani, Jagmohan, Sandeep, Rakesh Pandey and others.
The arrests were made on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the DSP, Mr S.S. Gill. The suspects had in a letter to the SSP of Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, sought a fair inquiry into the case registered against them. The suspects had written to the SSP after their bail applications were rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The suspects had been evading arrest.
Employee booked: The police has registered a case following a complaint by a Sector 17 businessman that his employee had misappropriated Rs 60, 318.
According to police sources, Mr N.K. Janjua and Mr A.K. Goel, proprietors of a firm, reported that their employee, Panchkula resident Daljit Rai, who worked as a marketing executive, had collected outstanding dues from their clients and had absconded. A case under Sections 406, 467, 468, 471, IPC, has been registered.
Cyclist killed: Panchkula resident Ashok Kumar who was going on his cycle, was hit and injured by an unknown truck near Mauli Jagran colony. He later succumbed to his injuries. A case under Sections 279, 304-A, IPC, has been registered.
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