Tuesday, December 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

 

 

Politicians to blame for low turnout
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
The concept and functioning of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh during the past five years has met with disapproval from the people, with nearly two-thirds of them refusing to exercise their right to franchise to elect a new House on Saturday.

Only 34.5 per cent of more than 7 lakh voters turned up to cast their vote in the much-hyped election. In certain wards, polling was as low as 25 per cent.

The message for politicians is clear: either get your act together or get out. The dissatisfaction over the manner politicians have conducted themselves inside and outside the house and the way precious resources of the MC have been managed is all pervasive.

During the run-up to the poll, there were incidents in which vote-seekers were turned away by irate prospective voters with comments like we don’t need another white elephant in Chandigarh; does Chandigarh need seven Mayors in five years; have they made any difference to the quality of life in City Beautiful. The answer is an overwhelming no. At the end of five years, is Chandigarh any cleaner or better managed? The answer is again a resounding no. An unsatiated hunger for better sanitation, roads, parks and water supply and a rather irresponsible behaviour on the part of certain councillors have all contributed to the disgust of the average voter of the city.

All 20 councillors have exhausted their Rs 35-lakh expenditure limit each in development of parks, carpeting of roads and buying equipment for sanitation. This has not satisfied the voters, who say there is nothing much on the ground by way of fresh development in the city.

A cross-section of the people do not want a corporation. They believe it to be a white elephant to serve bureaucrats and politicians, who will feed on people’s earnings through new ways of taxes. This has been deterring the decision-making civic body from imposing taxes, with the parking fee decision having to be kept in abeyance despite the House passing it.

The parking fee had finally to be imposed after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the MC and the Chandigarh Administration to impose the fee, which came as a boon to the corporation, starved of funds during the past three months. The corporation is likely to net Rs 1.25 crore through the fee, which will probably be the first tax in the city.

After the High Court verdict, the political class may find another way for revenue collection if the councillors can gather courage. The challenge before the corporation is to provide basic civic amenities to almost 75 to 80 per cent of the city with only a share of around 25 per cent funds from the Administration.

The Joint Election Commissioner of UT, Chandigarh and Delhi, Mr D. M. Khaneta, said the question of existence of a corporation in the city was not negotiable as it was a constitutional obligation under the 74th Amendment. A city with a population of over 5 lakh would have to have a civic body with almost virtual control on the city excepting policing.

He said the Municipal Corporation of Delhi was more powerful than the state government, with responsibilities of power, water, education, social welfare and civic amenities being under it along with powers to generate resources.

In the past five years, the MC seemed to have only taken up liabilities of 7,000 employees from the Administration and major development and upkeep needs and had not been able to generate resources.

The infrastructural needs of a fast-increasing population are increasing without matching development, resulting in disappointment of the people of the city who have been spoon-fed by the Central Government by bearing their cost of living and providing them with facilities without any cost for decades.

The low percentage may not really be an indication of the actual turnout of the people in the city as Chandigarh has a high number of its youth leaving the city for want of employment and employees getting transferred from a place predominantly populated by them.

Migrants living in colonies and villages probably have the highest stake in the corporation due to fruits of development percolating to them. They have been turning out in a larger number than those who live in sectors.

Southern sectors, which witnessed most of the development of civic amenities after the corporation came into existence, also benefited, said a politician. The development of the city without the corporation was confined to Phase 1 of northern sectors and mainly only major roads were taken care of, the politician said.

Overlapping responsibilities of the corporation and the Administration had also led to the MC being blamed for it and the Administration going scot-free, Mr Angrez Singh of the Pind Bachao Committee said. He said the low turnout was because politicians had pitted Purabias against Punjabis and the local man had rejected the attempt. He said out of 34.5 per cent polling, migrants might have voted 20 per cent and remaining by only those who were associated with politicians.

V-6 roads, parks and community centres in villages, colonies and southern sectors can justify the existence of the corporation, but politicians have to realise that development creates hunger for more development.

Politicians also seem to have failed the people by not behaving in a mature manner and showing lack of collective effort with responsibility in tackling day-to-day problems of the people.

A low turnout, if taken positively, can be against this phenomenon. If taken negatively, the blame goes to the people who dream of development at no cost and are happy at weakening crutches of the Central Government, which has generally started expecting fund raising by the service provider, the corporation.

The politician said the corporation seemed to have become a shock absorber for the failures of the Administration, which had kept most of the powers with it and passed on its economic and development burden on the people’s body in an apparent bid to weaken it. With around 7,000 employees from the Administration, the MC does not have any additional cost except for development and its democratisation.
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Confident faces show no signs of anxiety
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, December 10
Anxiety is not writ large on the faces of candidates contesting elections to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh. Even tension is missing in their voices. They are confident of their victory even though time has come to a standstill.

Their fate is sealed in the ballot boxes and the clock is slowly ticking away, but still they are not walking the floor in an attempt to “pass time” and are not even pacing the room alone, waiting for their “dreams to come true”.

Most of the candidates, when contacted by Chandigarh Tribune, said they were sure “that the efforts and the best wishes of their supporters will lead them to the Municipal Councillor’s seat”.

A former Mayor and a candidate, Mr Kewal Krishan Adiwal, claims that he is not at all tense. “I have left everything to the mercy of God. Though we faced tough competition from the rivals this time, I am still hoping for the best”.

He adds, “I have great respect for people who have exercised their voting rights for electing their representatives. Whether I win or lose is a different matter. I want to maintain contact with general public and want to serve them to the best of my abilities and I will do that even if I am out of power”.

Mayor Harjinder Kaur asserts, “I am waiting for the result, but I am not at all anxious about the outcome. I was initially disappointed to see such a low voter turn out, but the kind of enthusiasm my supporters exhibited on the polling day made me feel confident of my victory”.

Another candidate Chander Mukhi Sharma adds, “I am quite optimistic about the result and there is nothing for me to worry about. I am happy as my supporters have extended their full support to me”. As far as passing time is concerned, he asserts, “I am passing time gathering feedback from different persons. Otherwise also, supporters, dropping in to show their support, leave little time for me to worry about anything.

Candidate Neeru Manchanda says, “I am not at all tense about the results. I am a God fearing person and after putting in my efforts I have left everything to his mercy. Defeat or victory, I am ready to take both in my stride’’.

The president of a party’s local unit, Mr Shivi Jaiswal, is not a candidate, but he is concerned about the outcome of election. “Thirty-five per cent polling is a cause of concern. But at this moment, I am more worried about the counting of votes. As far as the results are concerned, anyone can emerge a winner. It is more important to take every thing in a positive spirit”, he says.
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Nominate non-political men to MC’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
For better liaison and transparency, persons nominated to the Municipal must be non-political personalities from minority communities like Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and those living in the municipal jurisdiction of five villages which form a part of the Municipal Corporation.

The Pind Bachao Committee has demanded this in press note issued here today. The statement demanded that criterion of being non-political must be strictly adopted. The future planning could not be left in the hands of politicians who could do anything for short-term political gains. The statement further demanded that such nominations should be made by the Administration, who was the constitutional head of the Municipal Corporation, keeping in view interests of the general public.
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Human rights? Talk of lost childhood!
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, December 10
“Ghar mein to bhookh hi lagti rehti hai. Koi khana khilane vala hai hi nahi. Jab subha yahan ( Panjab University) main ladka ladki aatien hein to paisa mil jata hain or hum kau yanha par khana mil jata hai.’’ Five-year-old Guddi is living in Kumhar Colony along with other orphaned children. Guddi begs everyday in Panjab University from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and earns Rs 20 to 25.

While the city gets together to raise a hue and cry about human rights and violations on World Human Rights Day, it is another ordinary day for the number of beggars and child labourers who have become an integral part of the cityscape. Nobody bothers to give a thought to their plight as they go about earning for meal a day.This is also in stark contrast to the claims of the Chandigarh Administration, which has stated that there is no one in the city below the poverty line.

Another five-year-old, Pooja from Janta Colony, narrates her tale of woe. She says, “Mere ma bap bachpan main hi mar gai the. Chacha chachi ke pass rahti hoon. She begs in Sectors 15, 16 and 17 and Panjab University. She claims that she earns Rs 150 to 300 every day and gives all the money to her uncle and aunt. Despite this she is ill-treated by them as they are fond of liquor and charas.

A number of children in the city are facing hard times and are unable to earn food thrice a day. These children are working in canteens of various offices, dhabas and sweet shops. Many of them are into shining shoes. They live in groups in different colonies.

“Har roz to nahin, par kabhi kabhi teen time khana mil jata hai,” say Naresh (14), Dinesh (12) and Raju (9). They have recently migrated to the city with the hope that they will get a proper meal every day. They earn Rs 10 to 15 a day.

Children engaged in begging and menial jobs are living in slums and belong to migrant families from Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.The city is attracting a large number of migrant families with the hope of better living standard and better job opportunities. They are either orphans or work as labourers to support their families. About 3 lakh persons are living in 45 colonies in Chandigarh, of which only 19 are authorised.
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Rights of unborn child stressed
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, December 10
Human Rights Day was observed at Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 36, here today. A senior research analyst with the Institute of Development and Communication, Dr Rainuka Dagar, spoke on ‘The rights of the unborn child: a case of foeticide’.

She lauded the efforts of the college in sensitising and creating awareness among the prospective teachers towards human rights of the unborn child. In her presentation, she focused on infanticide, cultural neglect and the dowry system.

She stressed the need for a dignified life for the girl child while bringing out the deep routed male child preferences in Punjabi society. She emphasised the role teachers could play in mobilising and giving visibility to the issues pertaining to the rights of the unborn child.

The lecture was followed by an interactive session. This ended with a pledge by students of not being a part of the practice of sex determination.

Presenting the vote of thanks, Dr Satinder Dhillon, Principal, emphasised the need for and role of educational institutions and the media in creating awareness about female foeticide in the community at large. The function ended with a prize distribution function for posters and slogans.

At the Institute for the Blind, Sector 26, the members of the local chapter of the All India Human Rights Watch observed Human Rights Day. The members, led by Mr Anil Kaushik and Mr Gurmeet Singh, distributed fruits among the blind students.

Later, a lecture on the rights of a blind child was delivered to the students. The members said they would back the students for any kind of help, including legal services in the future as well.

To mark Human Rights Day, a ‘manviya samman bhoj’, a symbolic programme to honour women, was inaugurated at Maloya village by Ms Kamala Sharma, Chairperson of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board.

The programme, aimed at creating a sense of equality for women in society and making society aware of their rights, was also held at Sector 11, Mauli Jagran and Sector 24. Over 100 men served food to about 200 women as part of the programme. The programme was organised by four NGOs — the Citizens Association for Relief Education and Services, the All India Women’s Conference, the Unnat Bharat Vikas and the Bharat Sewak Samaj.
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Lectures, awareness sessions mark World Human Rights Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
The Department of Gandhian Studies, Panjab University, organised a lecture by renowned Gandhian, Prof. N. Radhakrishanan, Working Chairman of the Indian Council for Gandhian Studies, to mark World Human Rights Day at the Gandhi Bhavan, PU, here today.

Lecturing on the universality of human rights, Prof Radhakrishnan spoke about the Gandhian way of imparting knowledged of human rights to people. He also related incidents from Gandhi’s life which led him on the path of creating awareness among people about their fundamental rights.

The PU’s NSS Department organised an awareness session in the Dadu Majra colony to mark the day here today. Social workers, community leaders, opinion makers, members of the local Mahila mandal along with more than 100 residents participated in the function.

Dr C.L. Narang, Director NSS, PU, speaking on the occasion stated the law of the land should not shatter the grace and dignity of human rights.

Prof Ramesh Thakur in her address said women in India were underpreviledged and virtually had no role in opinion making, and that the crime against women was increasing with each day.

Participants were of the opinion that world was divided into various castes and categories. Justice for all should be the slogan of the 21st century.

A function was also organised by the United Nations Students Association at PU’s UNESCO Centre. Prof R.N. Paul, pro-Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, was the chief guest. Speaking on the occasion he said preservation of human rights was very important for maintaining civil liberties and ensuring progress of the nation.

Geeta, Deepika, Shweta and Karan, all students of the university, also spoke on different aspects of human rights and responsibilities of individuals. Prof Ashwani Syal and Prof Udai Pratap Singh also spoke on the occasion.

Prof R.D. Anand said compulsary education was important to ensure that human rights were observed. Dr Santosh Sharma of the Department of Correspondence Studies stated that there was a need to humanise ourselves before expecting human treatment.

Mr Justice D.V. Sehgal in his presidential remarks, said every civilised society should look after the rights of all without any discrimination on the basis of sex, education, caste, colour or creed.

Prof Jitender Mohan, Honourary Director of the UNESCO Centre raised the issue of sensitisation of police, judiciary, and executive along with the need of educating masses to work for the protection of rights of all.
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Octroi abolition fails to benefit consumers
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 10
Even after 10 days of the abolition of octroi in Punjab, prices of a majority of consumer goods have yet to register any fall. Consumers continue to pay the same prices and the wholesale dealers and retailers are pocketing the profit margin.

In case of cement, an octroi fee of Rs 5 per sack was still being charged from consumers. In certain cases, retailers were giving a relief of Rs 3 per sack — till the fresh stocks arrived, said a cement dealer.

A businessman dealing in vegetable ghee and refined oil, said after the abolition of octroi a consumer could expect a relief of around 15 paise per kg on ghee and around 20 paise per litre on refined oil. Mr Shyam Bansal, a businessman of Phase 1, said the wholesale rate of a 15 kg tin of vegetable oil had come down by Rs 2.50 and that of a 15-litre pack of refined oil by around Rs 30.

A dealer of electronics goods in Phase 7, said due to tough competition in the market, octroi on electronic and electrical goods was already being borne by dealers. In case of a colour television, a dealer had to pay an octroi of three percent. Now after the abolition octroi, the profit margin of wholesalers and retailers had increased. A similar trend was visible among the wholesale stockist and retailer of medicines.

The prices of petrol and diesel have, however, come down by 56 paise and 36 paise, respectively, from December 7. The manager of an IBP-licensed pump, said although petrol and diesel prices had been reduced after a communication from the company on December 7, the prices of lubricating oil were yet to be reduced by the respective oil companies. The price of LPG also come had down by 26 paise per cylinder.

The town being an industrial hub, the major beneficiaries are the industrial houses which earlier had to pay heavy octroi on raw material coming from other states.Back

 

Bomb scare at school
Tribune News Service

Highlight

A caller ID installed at the police control room (PCR) at the Phase 1 police station proved beneficial when the anonymous call was traced to an PCO booth in Sector 70.

The STD operator did not have any print out to show that call had been made to telephone no 100, as it was billed as a free call.

The police has showed pictures of around 50 unscrupulous elements to the owner of the PCO. Cops attending telephones at the Phase 1, Phase 8 and the Sohana police station often complain of anonymous calls.

 

SAS Nagar, December 10
A bomb scare at Gyan Jyoti Public School in Phase 2 here, minutes before the start of house examination, created panic among the students and the staff of the school.

At around 8.20 a.m., an anonymous caller rang up the police control room (PCR) and said that a bomb had been planted on the school premises. Soon anti-sabotage teams of the Ropar police reached the school. The police teams along with the school staff searched all rooms, toilets and other suspected places where the device could have been planted. However, the call proved to be a hoax.

The ASP, Ms Kalpana Nayak, said efforts were being made to trace the caller suspected to be a student of the school, who made the anonymous call. However, investigations by the police have revealed that the youth who is suspected to have made the call was not in a school uniform. Mr J.S. Bedi, director of the school, said soon after the bomb scare, all classrooms were got vacated and the students were asked to assemble in the school playground. The examination was held as per schedule after the search ended.Back

 

 

SPEAKING OUT
A majority of city residents want MC wound up
“UT taking better care of us than councillors”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Do the people of Chandigarh need a corporation? If not, why? This question arose because of abysmally low percentage of voting in the Municipal Corporation elections held on December 8. To know the views of the people, The Tribune interviewed a cross-section of the people. Barring a microscopic minority, a majority of the people favoured the winding up of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

Mr Pramod Sharma, an M. Phil researcher at Panjab University, said the Municipal Corporation “is a must for a city like Chandigarh” He felt it was an essential and important part of the democratic system. He said the results of the functioning of the corporation would be before the people, provided councillors worked with the right spirit and dedication. He said if the residents and councillors joined hands, we can bring about a positive change.”

He paused for a minute, and said: “I have noted that there was lack of interest among the people. I feel that those who have not voted should be fined”.

Mrs Ashok Rattan Kaushik, a lecturer at the Gandhian Studies Department of Panjab University, said she was not in favour of the corporation in the city. “Did the councillors maintain any contact with the people who electecd them at the last election” she asked. Except increasing water supply rates, the councillors have not done anything. And remember now the property tax is in the offing.The Corporation is already charging sewerage tax.

Visibly upset over the functioning of the corporation, Mrs Kaushik said: “I am disgusted with the performance of the corporation. No one cares for sanitation. With heaps of garbage seen all around, the city has become a stinking place. Stray cattle and dogs on the roads are a menace to the people”, she bemoaned.

Sitting in her department, Mrs Kaushik said she was not in favour of any undemocratic system. Every ward representative should see to it that the people who elected him were not alone to fight odds for the next five years.

Mr Yadvinder, a student of the LL.B. (third semester), however, felt that Chandigarh must have a corporation. It is the constitutional obligation of the Chandigarh Administration and should be faithfully discharged.

A resident of Sector 20, Mr Yadvinder feels that the water supply in their sector had improved after the corporation came into being.

He said that the levy of property tax was necessary for creating funds for the Municipal Corporation to discharge its obligations. He, however, admitted that none of the councillors cared to inquire from the public about their grievances. He is of the opinion that with the coming of the Municipal Corporation, cleanliness had improved in the city. Vehicles of the corporation were seen removing the garbage every morning.

He, however, felt that the councillors should work with dedication and commitment to people who voted them to power.

Mr Joginder Pal Singh, assistant lecturer at the local College of Arts, however, diametrically opposite his views. He said: “We do not need any municipal council. Women councillors are totally dependent on political parties, which get them elected.

He said that there had hardly been any development of the city ever since the corporation came into being. The Chandigarh Administra-tion was taking better care of the civic amenities now entrusted to the corporation. Now the civic amenities were in shambles. The roads in Sectors 40, 41, 38 and 42 were bumpy. No one cared to get them carpeted. He asserted that all civic amenities should be given back to the Engineering Department of the Administration as was the arrangement before the Municipal Corporation was set up. Elections had even polluted the thinking of the teachers who were deputed on election duty. Property tax would be a burden on the people. He said officers were accountable to their seniors but the councillors were accountable to none.

Ms Vibha Galhotra, a former student of the Chandigarh Art College, suggested that the sooner the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation was wound up, the better for the city. She says that during the past more than 40 years the Chandigarh Administration had not imposed any tax on the residents. “But now we daily hear of levying one tax or the other.”

Pointing her finger to the green belt (although there is hardly any greenery) outside the college, she says this was the development the corporation had done for the city There was hardly any improvement in the water supply. Similarly, the civic amenities were really in bad shape. Turning towards the Leisure Valley, she said that there was a time when a large number of people used to come here in the morning as also in the evening. Now hardly any person visited this valley. The reason? Its greenery had disappeared.

Mr Amar Nath Gupta (61), who has a tent shop, says there was hardly any need for the corporation in Chandigarh. This was a Centrally-ruled city. The Union Government released funds in lakhs every year. The setting up of the corporation had added to the burden of the people.

Mr Gupta says that during the past 46 years before the corporation was set up, people lived happily. There were no parking fee in Sector 17 and other market places. If one visits a few Sectors during the day, he is forced to spend a sizeable amount on parking his scooter and car. He says that officers of the Administration promptly redressed grievances of the public, Now one is forced to visit his councillor several times for getting his work, like repair of road, cleanliness and water supply, done.

The election of the corporation had politicised people at the grassroot level. He says politicians raised hollow slogans that they should resign from the councillorship if he did not come up to the expectations of the people who voted him to power. “Has any politician ever resigned after winning the election”, he asks.

Mr Gupta says with dismay that they had to pay Rs 500 per month for getting their market swept. The politicians bring more and more labourers for getting their votes increased. The total urban voting of the people cannot be more than 20 per cent. All other polled by labourers. “No wonder people of our market do not call it corporation but kar parsan”.

Similar views were voiced by Mr Karam Chand, who is a barber in the Sector 27 market. He says there was hardly any need for a corporation in the city. People did not go to exercise their franchise. This showed their disapproval of the corporation.

He says they were soar because of the inflated water and electricity bills that they received every two months. Although semi-literate, Mr Karam Chand is quite conscious of legal provisions. There was time when the officers of the Administration found it difficult to exhaust the funds allocated by the Centre. But now the corporation continues to cry for funds. “Have the funds been squandered by the people”, he asks. Mr Rajinder Parshad (43), who runs a provision store, also speaks against the Municipal Corporation. The corporation has not benefited any one except those persons who have been offered jobs.

He takes out a water bill from his drawer and says that he had received a water bill of Rs 2,000. Before the corporation was set up, asserts Mr Rajinder Parshad, he never received a water bill more than Rs 300. “I have not drilled any tubewell in my house. Nor has there been any increase in the consumption of water in my house.”

He was so angry that he did not go to poll his vote. He claims that a majority of the people he spoke to about the functioning of the corporation also expressed similar views.

Once property tax is introduced, Chandigarh would become another Patiala or Ludhiana or Jalandhar. He asks: “What is the difference between a city designed by Le Corbusier and an ordinary architect? Chandigarh has ceased to be City Beautiful”, he says with anger writ large on his face.
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Admn to notify power generation scheme soon
Tribune News Service

  • Admn will notify captive power generation for local industry.
  • A person who is presently running an industry will be permitted to produce power.
  • Will keep a system of buying power from the power producer.
  • The concept of supplying power to sister concern is to undergo change
  • Can use any fuel or method of generation subject to pollution emission control norms. 

Chandigarh, December 10
The Chandigarh Administration will soon be notifying permission to allow local industry to generate its own power by having small captive power generating systems.

This will be subject to certain norms and conditions which will be in the notification. Changes have been incorporated in the scheme. These include a shift from allowing supply of power to sister concerns. The parameters of sister concerns is being defined afresh. This will enable the power producer to supply power only to those units in which he himself is the major shareholder. This has been done to do away with bogus claims of sister concerns which may arise later.

Originally when the Chandigarh Administration had approved the scheme it had said sister concerns can be supplied power. This had the scope of being loosely interpreted thus allowing supply of power to just anyone by the power producer.

Also very strict pollution emission control norms will have to be followed as the producer will be required to obtain certain clearances. The power producer will be allowed to use any type of fuel and any method of power generation.

Revealing the broad parameters the source said a power producer can have a 100 KVA plant or a 2 mega watt generating plant. In case of 2 mega watt plant the producer will be given the option to synchronise his system with the power distribution system of the Chandigarh Administration. This means the excess generation of power can be purchased by the Administration.

In case of a 100 KVA plant the producer will not have the option of synchronising his system with the Administration’s system. His system will be for his own use only and whatever excess he produces goes waste.

With synchronising, the Administration will have the option of buying back power from the producer for its own requirements during peak load hours. The rates for buying will be fixed from time to time, however, broadly the present global rate of Rs 2.36 per unit will be kept in mind.

In case the producer wants to buy power from the Administration to meet some emergency he shall be billed at the highest slab rate. At present this rate is Rs 4.20 per unit. 
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REMINISCENCES
Changing face of Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh
This city is no more what it was, the thought flashes through the mind of architect Rajeev Mahajan as he drives past scores of houses with high walls and monotonous gables — the triangular decorative features over doors and windows.

“This is not the way Chandigarh was supposed to appear,” he asserts. Going back in time, the architect, born and brought up in Chandigarh, recalls: “In the days that are no more and will, perhaps, never come back, Chandigarh had its own character. Travelling back to Chandigarh from a far off place, you knew you were in this city as soon as you saw the surmountable boundary walls and low silver-painted gates. This is not all. A typical Chandigarh house had cobbled mountain-stone and brick walls, walls that appeared as old as the building”.

As far as the roads are concerned, you could cut along the gradual curves without worrying about cops hiding behind bushes to challan you for speeding. The roads were so wide and the traffic so little. Moreover, there were very few traffic lights to interrupt you in your dream drive through the city. Instead, you had roundabouts with alluring flowers happily swaying in the cool evening breeze.

Things have now changed. “The city has, sadly, lost its character,” Mr Mahajan reveals. “The imposing flats in the southern sectors, and some of the newly constructed houses in the northern sectors, which are nothing less than impressive cages, give little indication of the city’s past glory. I am sure, a visitor coming to the city after a few years, will hardly be able to distinguish Chandigarh from any other boom town in Punjab, thanks to the haphazard and unplanned growth”.

Giving details, he asserts: “The residents now want their houses to look new, that is the reason why the cemented walls are painted after two or three years”. Regarding the trend of demolishing old houses and constructing new ones in situ, he asserts: “There has been a reduction in the size of the families over the years. As a result, feeling of boredom has set in among the residents. To get rid of this feeling, they change the design every few years. In some cases, envying neighbours follow the drift”.

High walls, he explains, are the manifestation of the inner insecurity experienced by the residents. “I do not blame them for this. Cases of theft, robbery, even murder, have witnessed a sharp rise in the city making such measures necessary. The authorities should do something about it”.

He concludes: “The decay of the city cannot be isolated from sociological and psychological factors. Architects and town-planners alone cannot solve the problem. It is high time the authorities came forward and did something about it”.
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One injured in accident
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 10
A major tragedy was averted when a bus of a private school of Kharar collided with a Maruti Zen car (DL-3C-N-4619) at the PCL traffic-lights here last night.

The driver of the car, Naveen Goyal, has been admitted to the PGI with serious injuries.

The driver of the bus, Sukhdev Singh, has been arrested by the police.

The impact of the collision was so much that the bus, belonging to Dasmesh Public School, Kharar, overturned after severely damaging the traffic lights. The roof of the car caved in under the impact of the collision.
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Dental services DG's post upgraded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
The post of the head of the Army Dental Corps, held by an officer of the rank of a Major-General, has been upgraded with Lieut-Gen J.L. Sharma taking over as the first Director-General of Dental Services, according to a statement issued here today.

In January 2001, he took over as Additional Director-General, Dental Services. With this upgradation, he has become the first Lieutenant-General to head the Army Dental Corps.
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Arrested for defacing public property
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
A person has been arrested and two others have been booked for allegedly defacing public property by pasting advertisement posters on an electricity pole near the SGGS College, Sector 26. Mohali resident Sukhdeep Singh was arrested and later bailed out, while a case has been registered against Sukhwinder Singh, a resident of Mohali and Kulwinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 29, Chandigarh.

In another case, a resident of Kajheri, Ram Kumar, was arrested for reportedly defacing public property by writing slogans. He was later bailed out. A case has been registered.

Theft cases: Parbhat Marwa has reported that his cash box containing Rs 23,000 and some other items, including a CD player, and artificial jewellery, all amounting to about Rs 40,000, have been stolen from his SCO in Sector 40. A case has been registered.

In another case, a resident of Kumhar Colony has reported that a gold ring, two saris, some silver items and to Rs 4,600 have been stolen from his residence. A case has been registered.

PANCHKULA

Man injured: A man was reportedly hit by a car (PB-22F- 0001) in Sector 20. The victim sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the hospital. The watchman of a house near the place of accident Netram Tyagi, informed the police and a case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC was registered.

Car stolen: A Maruti car ( PB-70- 2332) was reportedly stolen from Sector 5 here yesterday. The police has registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Pradeep Garg.
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BIZ CLIPS

Chandigarh
Promotion campaign
Ebony will observe “Madame and Adam Fashion Fortnight”, (a promotion campaign) till December 21.Under the promotion campaign, all purchases on mens and women wear beginning Rs 1,000 and above will fetch the customers gifts like perfume sprays, watches, set of watches etc. The promotion will be on at all Ebony stores in New Delhi (South Extension, Rajouri Garden), Noida, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Chennai.

Office-bearers
Following have been elected as the office-bearers of the Market Social Welfare Association , Sector 47. Mr G.L. Gulati, president; Mr Satpal Gupta, vice-president; Mr H.S. Minhas, general secretary and Mr M.Q. Nayyar, treasurer.

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