Thursday, August 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

MCC defers decision on guide maps
No charges for religious functions on public land
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 —The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) today deferred the decision on the installation of illuminated sector guide maps in the city.

The issue, which had raised a lot of dust during the past several months, was deferred till the next meeting of the House here after the BJP members alleged irregularities in the award of contract to a particular company.

Participating in the discussion, Mr Gian Chand Gupta (BJP) wanted to know why the issue had been cleared by the Finance and Contract Committee when it had been pending for the past two meetings.

Mr Prem Sagar Jain, also from the BJP, while calling for a deferral, wondered how tenders had been invited without the prior approval of the corporation.

Ms Satinder Dhawan (Cong) alleged that renting out space meant for advertisement purposes was violative of the terms and conditions of the MCC.

However, Major-Gen Rajinder Nath (retd), terming the procedure for the allotment of tender as above board, said: ''We should not suspect every decision as this one would earn revenue amounting to about Rs 77 lakh for the corporation.''

Earlier, the House constituted a committee to evolve the modalities for the allotment or auction of stalls in the Sector 17 Plaza and Sector 22 market and open spaces in Sectors 17, 22 and 34 for festivals like Divali and Dasehra.

The corporation gave a go-ahead to the proposal granting permission to hold religious public functions free on municipal land, except at Circus Ground in Sector 17. However, a ground rent would be charged for holding social functions.

Through another decision, the House decided to form a committee for suggesting steps for improvement in the opening of the tenders and allotment of works.

During question hour, several members were of the opinion that detailed information of the projects undertaken by the civic body under the Councillors' Ward Development Fund should be supplied to them. The Commissioner, Mr M.P. Singh, assured members that it would be provided by September 15.

Mr Mohinder Singh, Deputy Mayor, and another SAD councillor, Ms Harjinder Kaur, expressed concern at the fact that though the civic body subscribed to 12 newspapers, yet no Punjabi daily was subscribed by it. The Mayor, Ms Shanta Abhilashi, assured the House that Punjabi dailies would also be subscribed to by the corporation in future.

The House also okayed the revised estimate of Rs 59.91 lakh for earth-filling and road work in Mauli Jagran and Pocket No. 4 od Mani Majra. The estimate of earth-filling in Pocket No. A of Mani Majra amounting to Rs 16.78 lakh was also approved. Back


Banks, petrol pumps told to review security arrangements
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — In the wake of the recent dacoity at a nationalised bank in Amritsar in which a manager and a gunman were shot dead by armed dacoits, the Ropar police has directed all banks, owners of petrol pumps and liquor vends to review the security arrangements at their establishments. The bank authorities have been specifically asked to depute at least two gunmen at all times. The Anti-terrorist squad force has also been asked to be more vigilant.

The security arrangements were reviewed at a meeting of the gazetted officer (GOs) of the district police convened by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ropar, Mr GPS Bhullar at Ropar today. Following the arrest of a warden of Burail Jail, Chandigarh, who was trying to fax certain documents to UK- based underground militant outfits, the anti-terrorist squad has been asked to beef up security along the highways — which the police fears could be used by militant outfits to target VIPs using the road routes. Regular screening of people living along the highways and regular checking of other vulnerable points on the roads has been stressed by the police authorities.

Mr Bhullar said letters would soon be written to the banks to provide enclosure to the gunmen in such a way that they did not come in direct contact with the people visiting the banks. The GOs have been asked to conduct mock exercises at all banks to meet any eventuality. The owners of liquor vends have also been asked to have gunmen along with them when they were carrying cash.

Meanwhile, members of Kale-Kache wala gang reportedly made a robbery attempt at a house in Adrethan village in Kurali late last evening. The dacoits reportedly injured occupants of the house while fleeing away. Though the SSP confirmed the incident. However he said that as no complaint was lodged by the victim no case had been registered.Back


BCA students face bleak future
By Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — The realisation that the BCA degree is not as beneficial as it seems to be has dawned upon the final year students of the first batch of BCA. They have come to know that after putting in three years of hard work and spending Rs 50,000 on the course, they can only land up with a job of a lab attendant or a computer operator.

The thought of a bleak future has created a feeling of frustration among the students of all colleges of the city offering BCA and their parents have come up together and formed a BCA Students and Parents Association. The association has demanded from the Panjab University authorities to convert the BCA degree into a four-year course called Bachelor in Information Technology (BIT).

The demand has been put forward in wake of the decision of Delhi University converting the existing three-year course (BCA) into a four-year course (BIT). The university, while taking the decision held that the “BCA stream be offered the option of availing a one-year extension course at the end of the third year”.

The students say that although they have been studying advance programming and have already covered 50 per cent of the syllabus of MCA, they are not preferred in the job market. Moreover, there is not much scope for the higher studies as there are 30 seats in the MCA degree offered by PU, out of which 16 seats are available in the open category and two seats reserved for BCA passouts. There are 900 students who will be passing BCA this session.

Moreover, there is no scope for higher studies abroad as the students are asked for 16 years of study tell the level of graduation. They say that if their demand of a four-year course is met by the PU authorities, the option to go abroad for higher studies will be open to them. The on-the-job training and a project work in the fourth year of the course will help them offer better prospects in the job market.

Mr P. S. Sangha, Principal of Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, agrees with the students. He says,”The demand is very genuine. The one-year extension will help them compete in the job market and help the students to go in for higher education abroad. I had called on the deputation to meet the PU authorities. I think their demand should be considered sympathetically.”

The PU authorities, however, do not agree to the demand in toto. Prof Paramjit Singh, Registrar of the university, says,”To convert the BCA into BIT is not as easy as it appears to be. All the colleges offering the BCA course will have to ask for the affiliation from the All-India Council of Technical Education. Colleges, do not have the infrastructure to ask for permission and do not fulfil many other conditions required for the affiliation.”

“Moreover, we need to discuss so many factors as we do not want to take any decision in a hurry. We were not able to find many takers for the BCA course last year. Any system works properly only if it is initiated and made to run in a proper manner. We are interested in helping the students but there are many bottlenecks. If Delhi University has converted the course into a four-year one, then they might be facing problems now. So we first want to see the pros and cons before going in for it.” says Prof Paramjit Singh.Back


Man kills minor son
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — In a gruesome incident, a minor boy was allegedly killed by his father in Rajiv Colony, Shahpur, today.

According to information available, Manoj, a resident of a colony near Phase X and a drug addict, had been married to Vimla for seven years. Manoj, a rickshaw-puller, used to ill-treat his wife and threatened her with dire consequences whenever she took her two children to her parents’ house. He even threatened to kill the children if she did so.

Vimla came to her parents’ house a few days back along with her children. Last night, her husband came there and quarrelled with her and stayed back at his in-laws’ house. At about 5 a.m., she heard the cries of her minor son, Vicky. She got up and saw that her husband was strangulating the child. On seeing her, Manoj immediately went out of the jhuggi.

She found that Vicky had died and blood was coming out from his mouth and nose. She raised the alarm and some persons gathered on the spot and apprehended Manoj.

The body of the child has been sent to the General Hospital, Sector 16, for a post-mortem examination.

A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.


From commercial site to dumping ground
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30— An area earmarked for commercial purposes in Sector 35. today presents a pathetic picture. The site reserved for service shops to provide amenities to the residents, has instead become a garbage dumping ground.

The six-kanal plot lies on the V 5 road in front of Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 35-D, between house No. 3070 to 3201 on one side and 3258 to 3201 on the other.

Soon after the conception of southern sectors, a separate layout plan was approved for each sector by the UT Administration. The plan for Sector 35, vide drawing No. 22 of job No. 58, traced by the Architecture Department on July 9, 1986, clearly shows the site as reserved for service shops.

An official of the department admits that the plot is specified for commercial purpose, but adds that it is one of the many sites in the city which are yet to be developed. According to the official version, the department of Architecture is concerned with the planning of a sector. Whereas development of sites depends upon the priority of the department concerned .

Mr D.R. Malhotra, Vice-President of the Chandigarh Defence Colony Welfare Association, says the plot has been lying vacant ever since the residential plots were allotted in 1967. “ It is due to neglect and biased attitude of the Administration towards the southern sectors that the place has now become a dumping ground for the waste building material and garbage, he says.

The problem has multiplied with the house owners on both sides of this site having encroached upon the area. Moreover, the place has become a favourite haunt of the rag- pickers and stray cattle as the Municipal Corporation has placed a garbage bin right in the middle of the site. During rains, the situation worsens as congress grass grows unchecked and the area becomes a breeding place for mosquitoes.

The Defence Colony Welfare Association in written complaints has asked the Chandigarh Administrator and the Chief Architect to solve the problem or at least construct a boundary wall so that the area doesn’t become a thoroughfare for motorists. “We have even requested the Municipal Corporation and the Health Department to remove the bin so that the area can be used as a park or for other community purposes,” adds Mr Malhotra.


SC’s directive hailed by women fronts
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — The Joint Women Front, at a meeting yesterday hailed the judgement of the Supreme Court directing the courts to take serious view of rape cases.

The three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, in its order passed on August 26, had reversed the decision of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh which had confirmed the acquittal of an accused in a rape case committed by a maternal uncle on his niece. Besides, the Supreme Court has taken exemption to the High Court and the Sessions Court, Chamba, for dealing with the case so “lightly”.

The front had also expressed distress on the fact that the crimes against women like rape were on the rise. At the meeting it was also felt that many times the accused went unpunished because the defending party took advantage of minor lapses in evidence. The front also appealed to all courts in the country to display the desired sensitivity in the rape cases so that the accused were not acquitted on flimsy grounds.

The NGOs and women activists also strongly condemned the rape of a 20-year-old blind woman by three constables near Hallo Majra village, a couple of days back. The forum appreciated the role of Mr Parag Jain, SSP Chandigarh police , for having written to the ITBP authorities for taking strict action against the personnel who committed the crime.Back


Row over burial ground
From Our Correspondent

DERA BASSI, Aug 30 — Controversy over the possession of burial ground in Samgoli village, near here, today delayed burial of a dead body for more than nine hours.

According to sources, Shammi (20), a Muslim woman, died last night and the burial of the body was objected to by residents of another community of the same village this morning.

The people who objected to the burial claimed their possession on the land which actually was left for the burial ground by the Wakf Board, sources revealed.

The body was buried late in the evening under police security after verifying the revenue records of the land which showed the ownership of the Wakf Board.

Mr Sitar Muhammad, President of the Muslim Welfare Association, Dera Bassi, said that of five bighas of land left for the burial ground by the board, four bighas had been encroached upon by the villagers. Back


Anandgarh website upgraded
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — The Town Planning and Development Authority, Anandgarh, has upgraded its website by adding information relating to the land acquisition, message boards, search engines, weekly quiz, etc. This was disclosed by the Additional Chief Administrator, Anandgarh Development Authority, Mr R. K Verma, here.

Mr Verma informed that the authority had made available the information with respect to acquisition of land on the Internet. The compensation to be awarded will also be available on the web when the Land Acquisition Collector announces the award. It is probably for the first time in the country that land acquisition records are available on the Internet, the officials claim.

In an attempt to make all its working transparent and e-enabled, the authority has put all information related to its ongoing work on the Internet. A search module has been developed to enable people from all parts of the world to know the status of land acquisition in the area earmarked for the development of Anandgarh township.

“Unlike other organisations we do not want a closed system”, said Mr Verma and added, “our aim is to ensure maximum transparency and convenience to the public.” According to him the authority is also in the process of complete computerisation of all its records.

He also disclosed the plans of the authority to use geographic information systems (GIS) for the planning of the town. He informed that the authority had already got the maps for Anandgarh digitised using aerial photography and the Survey of India’s maps.

According to him, the master plan for the new city will be available on the GIS maps planning for various services like water supply, sewerage, telecom and roads will be done using these digitised maps which will ensure efficient implementation and maintenance of these services.

Mr Verma said, “Once the detailed maps are available on the GIS, all the areas of the new town will be accessible through these GIS maps on the web. One would be able to know the location of any place up to the street and house- levels in the new city while sitting in any cyber cafe.

The authority has started a weekly quiz from August 15 on issues related to modern architecture and town planning. The participants on the basis of their score will be awarded points and the top three scorer, after three months, will be given attractive prizes. The winner of the year will be awarded a mega prize.

He appealed to the citizens, professionals and others to visit the site and contribute their ideas, suggestions, feedback and other inputs to the historic process of setting up of the new city.

He said the authority will provide services, like registration and payment for the plot, through Internet. “It will be an endeavour of the authority to gather the best the and advanced information in the field of urban development and make available on the site”, he said.

One can visit the site for conferencing cyber-talks by experts, online interaction with officials of the authority, message boards, voting, inquiries etc. One can get information about the vision, objections, location, debate and criticism of the Anandgarh Project.

According to him, the authority aims at making http:\\ a complete information portal on modern town planning.Back




CEIC inaugurated
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30—The Punjab Information Technology and Justice Minister, Mr C.L. Garg, inaugurated the International Education Information Centre of the Campus Education Information Centre (CEIC) in Sector 19 here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Garg stressed the need for more information centres in Punjab so that the students could be prepared for systematic foreign studies.

The Chief Counsellor, Ms Meena Kumari, informed that foreign admission counselling would be provided to the students free of cost.The centre would prepare the students as per the admission requirements of foreign universities. They would also be provided coaching for languages like English and French for a nominal fee.

The centre will also provide information and admission material free of cost to the CEIC students. At the end of the year the centre will introduce information of 500 more universities of the world.

The General Manager, Mr Kumar, informed that the CEIC would come up with more branches in Punjab soon. The centre will help the professionals to approach Canadian human research centres to send their job profiles through websites and e-mail.Back




Changing facade of houses
By Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — The faces of residential houses in the city and its outskirts have changed a lot and seem to be getting better. Grandeur is the watchword today for the owners who are ready to spend a fortune on the way their houses look from the outside.

From the entrance gate to the bathroom fittings, these houses are out and out eye catchers. The gate of the main entrance is considered “a solid one” only when it weighs more than a tonne and if in it can have a large variety of intricate designs. The iron gate moulding is very costly but that does not deter the owners. “Large gates are a sign of not just wealth but security. The gate is the first thing an outsider observes and if it looks good, the visitor knows what to expect inside. Moreover, a big imposing gate is very important to keep the evil at bay “ says Mr Lalit Kapoor, owner of a massive 3 kanal house in Sector 8.

Then comes the driveway. Inter-locking paving tiles are the in-thing as far as the driveways are concerned. These tiles come in many shapes and “give a metalled look” to the otherwise “stony” look of the earlier driveways. The driveways are invariably lined with a large variety of ornamental plants. “Some houses you visit in Chandigarh actually look like minor nurseries” exclaims Mr Hriday P. Singh, a resident of Patiala visiting relatives in the city.

The garage space has not changed much although more and more people are going in for the switch/button and even remote-operated garage shutter openers. Many owners make space for more than a single car. Some use this space to build an extra room to be let out.

Considering the penchant of Chandigarhians for greenery, big houses generally have lawns inside.” But now more and more people are asking for a pucca floor instead of a lawn as they think it is cleaner, easier to maintain and gives the much-needed space for children to play, host parties and then park cars in the night.” says Mr Vishvanath Jain, the owner of a modern kothi in Sector 19.

The use of pitched roofs and open terrace with balconies jutting out is another feature which has been seen on the faces of many houses in the city. “This kind of a roof has its utility in areas where there is a large amount of rain or snow. We use this style here mostly for decoration and for the sake of having something unique.” But the response to this style of roof in a limited portion of the house is rather well. “These roofs along with the traditional roofs look good. More and more people are combining the two and getting a spectacular effect.” says architect P.S. Chawla.

“The balconies are decorated with more and more complicated designs of grills,” says Taranjit Singh, a civil engineer who is into building residential complexes in Mohali.

Terraces too are being used by many house-owners. Grass beds, pots and plants adorn these terraces. “Benches and chairs are made during construction so that later one does not have to keep taking chairs and beds upstairs to sleep or sit,” says Dr Vishal Jain, owner of a massive house in Sector 35.

The revolution in building styles is attributed to the fact that the variety of material available now is phenomenal. “Butchwork and marble have never gone out of fashion. For the walls one can get textured paints with all sorts of finish. Sandstone, wood, granite, you name it and the finish is available,” says Mr Taranjit Singh.

“Also important is the fact that the urban development authorities have relaxed a large number of rules regarding the house building plans like the extension space to be given in balconies, the height of doors and windows. That is a welcome gesture and so one is observing a changed face of many houses around,” says Gautam Ahuja, an architect from Delhi.

But what about the affort and the cost of building these houses? “Its all part of showing off. We wear good clothes because we want to show off, so why not the same with our houses? “Also these days more and more customers are inclined to buy readymade houses and we have this new breed of highly professional and qualified builders who do the whole job for you,” says Mr DS Benipal, president of the Mohali Property Dealers Association.

(To be concluded)


PUDA engineers resent suspensions
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — The PUDA Engineers Association has expressed resentment over the suspension of six engineers in connection with the horticulture works in the Patiala Urban Estate area.

A spokesman of the association claimed that the suspension was based on a report which had been prepared by persons not associated with the horticulture works. He said the engineers had been suspended on the basis of wrong feedback to the Additional Chief Administrator (ACA), Patiala. The association said that the number of plants indicated in the report was not correct.

Citing an example, the spokesman said, in Phase 3 of the Patiala Urban Estate as per estimate the total number of plants were 1,090 and at present there were 961 plants. The remaining 139 plants had to be shifted due to the shifting of a 100-foot stretch of road to a commercial pocket in Phase 2. The association urged the government to withdraw the suspension orders. 


Power cuts belie PSEB claim
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — Depsite claims by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to provide uninterrupted power supply to the town, prolonged unscheduled power cuts during the past few days had made life of the local residents miserable. Equally hit by the unscheduled cuts are the industrial units, forcing the entrepreneurs to install diesel generation sets.

The harried residents of Phase 3B1 complained that there was no power for over five hours this evening. Similar reports were received from Phases 4 and 7 and other parts of the town.

An official of the Electricity Department said the power cuts were due to a generation problem at the Ropar thermal plant. The official, however, said the problem in Phase 3B2 was due to burning of an equipment in the transmission lines. The officials of the department were trying to rectify the problem till the filing of this report.



Mangal Dhillon ‘harassed’
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — The Punjabi Film Producers and Distributors Association criticised the Public Relations Department for causing harassment to Mangal Dhillon. Mr Ajit Salani of the association said the man who glorified the history of Sikhism was being humiliated by the Punjab Government.

He said if the attitude of the Punjab Government continued to be the same, no one would come forward for producing films based on Punjabi culture, history and literature. He said a meeting of the association was being called to review the whole situation and decide its future course of action.


Two killed, 6 hurt in mishaps
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — Two persons were killed and six others injured in two separate road accidents in Ropar district during the past 24 hours. The driver of a Maruti Esteem car, Rajbeer, died on the spot and his two other companions, Dalbeer and Vikas Arora, were seriously injured when their vehicle, bearing registeration number of Punjab, collided with a truck at Kumbra traffic lights here last night. The car was badly damaged in the collision. The police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC.

In another incident, a woman was killed and five other persons were injured when the car in which they were travelling rammed into a stationery trolley near Kurali late this evening. The injured were rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh.Back


1 killed, 6 hurt in mishaps
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Aug 30 — One woman was killed and six others were injured in separate accidents in the district. A Tata Sumo, CH-01 V-7501, hit a scooter, CH 01 F-6369, near Rampur Siyudi, killing Santosh Tandon on the spot. A case has been registered at the Pinjore police station.

In another incident, a truck rammed into a Maruti and a van near the Kalka barrier, injuring four persons. In another incident, a Haryana Roadways bus hit a car driver, Jaspal Verna, near Alipur village, while a scooterist received injuries after being hit by a car in Sector 9.


CITCO organises picnic for senior citizens
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30—Ms Varsha Joshi, the Managing Director of CITCO, flagged off two buses carrying senior citizens for a picnic to Aam Khas Bagh in Pinjore from Hotel Shivalikview in Sector 17 here today.

About 100 senior citizens, who had responded to a press advertisement, were selected on a first come first serve basis. Apart from a warm lunch, which was dispatched from the Chandigarh Yatri Nivas, they were provided with bottled mineral water and fresh fruit.

They were served tea and snacks on their return to Shivalikview. Col Aulakh thanked CITCO on behalf of the senior citizens for the arrangements made by it.Back


Embroidery programme
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — A three-day workshop on machine and hand embroidery to promote entrepreneurship among women, organised by Canara Bank at Togan village, near Ropar, concluded today. Dr C.L. Narang, Director NSS, Panjab University, Ms Harvinder Kaur, Manager CED, also spoke on the occasion.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Manager of the bank, spoke about various loan schemes of the bank. Twentyfive women were trained in the workshop, said Ms Harvinder Kaur.


Gopal Krishan
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — Dr Gopal Krishan, Professor in the Department of Geography, has been nominated by the Indian Science Academy as a member of its National Committee for International Geographic Union for 2000-2003. Back




Sect 23 resident assaulted
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH ,Aug 30 — Mr Dalip Singh, a resident of Sector 23, alleged that five-six persons, who were armed with swords and sticks, came in a car ( PBR-8385) and attacked him last evening. He has been seriously injured and admitted to the PGI.A case has been registered.

Dowry case
A case has been registered against Kishan, a resident of Indira Colony, Mani Majra, on the complaint of his wife — Kamlesh. Kamlesh, who was admitted to the PGI with serious burn injuries after she allegedly tried to commit suicide, alleged that her husband had been harassing her to bring more dowry.

Cop assaulted
Mr Gagan Singh, a constable posted with the Police Control Room, alleged that Rajesh, a resident of Phase I of Ram Darbar, assaulted him while he was on duty yesterday. The accused has been arrested and a case registered against him.

Liquor seized
The police has arrested Ram Sariq, a resident of Bapu Dham Colony, and seized 51 pouches of whisky from him.
A case has been registered.

Three held
The police has arrested three boys — Sonu,Gurmeet and Billa — all residents of Dadu Majra Colony on charges of stealing utensils and clothes from the same colony.
The utensils and clothes have been recovered from them and cases registered against them.

Held for eve-teasing
The police has arrested Sanjay, a resident of Purani Mandi in Kulu district, for eve-teasing. A case has been registered.Back


Scheme to raise SSI production
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — Small-scale industries in Chandigarh are benefiting from the credit guarantee scheme by way of raising of funds for working capital, funds for the upgradation of technology and other related activities.

The new scheme for small and tiny sector units up to Rs 10 lakh will result in a large credit flow to the tiny sector, which will not only lead to increased production but also generate more employment opportunities, opined Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) while speaking at the national conference on small scale industries in New Delhi today.

The credit guarantee scheme is basically to facilitate flow of institutional credit to the priority sector and weaker section beneficiaries. He appreciated the role of the Government of India to finalise a credit guarantee scheme for providing loans to small and tiny sector units up to Rs 10 lakh.

The scheme is expected to enhance the comfort level of banks in respect of tiny sector lending. It would also obviate the need of collateral security, which has been a problem area. This step is expected to result in large credit flow to the tiny sector, leading to greater production and employment generation, the General said.

Chandigarh, he added, was not envisaged as an industrial city but it was acknowledged by the planners that industry would provide an essential link in the development of the city. As a matter of policy, Chandigarh has given priority to the promotion of non-polluting industries. There are a number of small units which are acting as ancillaries of large industries located in neighbouring states. There are 15 large and medium, and about 3018 small-scale units in Chandigarh, employing about 28500 persons and giving output of about Rs 600 crore, Gen Jacob informed.

The SSI sector has traditionally produced a wide array of goods for consumption and industrial goods, including machine tools, printing machinery, electrical apparatus and equipment. Special incentives are provided to the small-scale units, such as reservation of items.Back


Spice in the hot seat?
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 30 — Mobile phones provide the time-strapped society a way of keeping in touch. However, the facility comes at a cost, notwithstanding the fact that they could possibly be causing health hazards of the highest order to its users. These sleek gadgets seem to add to the ever-increasing number of problems of connectivity, disturbance in lines, hidden costs for users and over billing.

A user narrates, ‘‘I almost get a heart attack the day I see my monthly bill. Every time I feel that I could not have made or received as many number of calls .’’

The Senior Marketing Manager and spokesperson for Spice Telecom, the only mobile telephone service provider in the region, Mr Mandeep Bhatia, disagrees vehemently. ‘‘Let users prove the charges. The fact is that mobile phones are still a new entity for people of this country. Thus, they are neither aware of actual facts nor about what goes on behind the scene. We are running a business. But the fact is that people have experienced only one operator. Possibly this is why their expectations are unusually high,’’ Mr Bhatia added.

But there are any number of mobile users who are now regularly complaining of over billing and hidden charges. As Mr Ashok Jindal, a businessman from the city, says, ‘‘Earlier they used to send a detailed bill. This facility was withdrawn without any information. There is no way to find out whether the charges are for outgoing or incoming calls. Another problem is of late delivery of bills.’’

Mr Bhatia counters this by saying that a detailed bill is available just a phone call away. ‘‘Despite being the only mobile phone company in this region, transparency is maintained, criticism is welcome and we are ready to solve any problem of detail bills which are available for just Rs 50 a month. Even the DoT charges for its detail bills.’’

As per business practices, all facilities come with a price , however, the charges are very nominal. Users having the roaming card facility, are happy as services of Spice are some of the best in the country, Mr Bhatia added.

A user showed The Tribune the monthly bill issued by the Spice Telecom, which carries with it, information about airtime and DoT pulse value used, monthly rental and the payment to be made. Then there are other services, besides the connection. These include the voice mail and the value-added service which includes call forwarding, passing and hold or wait facility, besides the Infoline service.

The latest in the list is the short message facility, selective STD facility for places like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and a few places in Jammu and Rajashtan. Many customers lament that they have been provided a service they never asked for. ‘‘I did not ask for the roaming facility. The day I realised that my son was calling up Delhi from my mobile, I was shocked,’’ says Mr S.P. Awasthy, a textile consultant.

‘‘We do not have any hidden charges,’’ counters Mr Bhatia. ‘‘anyone who does not want these extra services can terminate them with a single phone call. We have been praised by the Ministry of Commerce for giving excellent service to our customers. Even in a monopolistic scenario, charges are reasonable, while tariff revision takes place every now and then and it is on a down slide,’’ he adds .

‘‘What kind of reasonable services is Spice talking of?’’ queries Ms Poonam Bhatnagar, an executive with a multinational company.’’ Spice is charging almost two times than the mobile companies in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Moreover, customers also complain about ‘‘blackholes’’ meaning the mobile sets lose connectivity within the network, in a few areas in Punjab. Mr Devinder Singh Dhillon, a contractor, says that his mobile stops working the moment he enters Chunni on the Chandigarh-Fathegarh Sahib road in Punjab ‘‘What is the use of a mobile that doesn’t work when you require it the most,’’ questions Mr Dhillon.

‘‘These areas or the ‘‘black-holes’’ as you are calling them are the places where we do not have a single customer,’’ says Mr Bhatia. ‘‘We have to make investments in places where we can recover our costs.’’

Another major grouse of most customers are the helplines which do not operate on a Saturday and Sunday. ‘‘This is because 100 per cent of the team is not available on these days,’’ explains Mr Bhatia. ‘‘Customer service is supposed to solve problems. Serious problems are looked into on any day, at all costs. Other complaints are noted down and resolved by the next working day.Back



AITUC, HMS stage rally
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 30 — Members of different trade unions and employee unions of different units in the town staged a rally under the banner of All-India Trade Union Council (AITUC) and Hind Mazdoor Sabha (HMS) in front of the office of the Assistant Labour Commissioner (ALC) here today.

Mr Ramji Dass, General Secretary of the Trade Union Council, said the demands pertained to starting the functioning of PUNWIRE, an enquiry into the misappropriation of its funds by the CBI, reinstatement of the employees of PCL, end of the lock out at MOI.

Leaders of the Godrej-GE Employees Union, which also took part in the rally, demanded end to the harassment of its employees by the management of the company, a judicial enquiry into the lathi charge on its employees by the police on July 29 and withdrawal of false cases registered against its members.

Addressing the participants, Mr Saheed Ahmed, President of the Punwire Employees Union, demanded an end to the anti-worker policies of the Punjab Government. 

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