Tuesday, June 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Warden out; ‘fast’ attack still on
Policemen take three students to hospital
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Panjab University Vice-Chancellor ordered that the warden of Sarojini Hall be changed immediately and the police took away three of the students on indefinite fast, but the agitating students showed no sign of relenting here today.

Two of the six students on fast had fainted yesterday, after which, they had to be taken to the Sector 16 General Hospital. After the university authorities requested it here today to take away the rest of the fasting students for medical examination, the city police told the four students to come with them. When the students resisted, the police had to use force.

After being declared medically unfit to continue the strike, these students — Malwinder Singh Kang, president of the Panjab University Students Union; Harveer Singh, president of the Students Organisation of Panjab University; and Ajay Pathania — were admitted to the hospital. The fourth student, a girl named Jaspreet, managed to escape and resume the fast.

As the news of the police action spread on the campus, old student leaders gathered there and the agitating students shifted their base from outside the hostel to outside the VC’s house. Followed everywhere by the police, the students raised slogans and took out a candle-light procession on the campus.

Meanwhile, the VC, Prof K.N. Pathak, said Dr Ritu Sharma had replaced Dr Veena Sachdeva as the hostel warden “till further orders”. The university has formed a committee to look into the grievances of the students and recommendations of some earlier committees. This committee includes Mr K.C. Shenmar, Prof S.L. Sharma and Prof Paramjeet Tewari.

The committee will submit its report within 24 hours. The VC said a permanent solution to the problem would be available by tomorrow morning. The VC also said he would also visit the hospital to urge the fasting students to end their agitation.

The agitating students, meanwhile, are not satisfied with his action. The students in the Emergency Ward of the Sector 16 General Hospital said their strike and spirit remained unbroken. The students refused to be put on glucose drips or get their blood tested. “Dr Sachdeva has, technically, not been removed, so, our agitation will continue,” they said.

Inmates of Sarojini Hall had given a representation signed by about 50 of them to the Dean Student Welfare on June 7, that had been forwarded to the warden. She had submitted a reply in this regard on June 11. On June 12, Malwinder Singh Kang had told the DSW that students would stage a sit-in. When the DSW had been unable to broker peace, a committee led by Prof Bal Krishana had been formed and expanded the next day to resolve the dispute.


What teachers say

  • The Panjab University Teachers Association and some students defended the hostel warden.
  • The PUTA delegation that met the VC, said: “The removal of the warden will solve nothing, but set a wrong precedent. The students should focus on genuine grievances in a healthy way.”
  • Some inmates of the hostel have written to the PU in support of the warden. They say that she introduced a lot of activities for improving the hostel conditions and the strike against her is futile. “A large number of students are not participating in the strike. They are being threatened. Authorities should meet each student individually,” they said in a press note issued here today.


What students say

  • The Sarojini Hall warden, Dr Veena Sachdeva, harassed them by calling them to her office, closing the room from inside and scolding them for hours.
  • She took no action on their complaints that a plumber and a mess boy had misbehaved with two inmates.
  • She imposed a Rs 100 fine for breaking a room lock in case the keys were lost. A girl was left out all day, as she denied her permission to open the lock this way.
  • She used to tell department heads that certain girls had loose character and take undue interest in personal lives of inmates.
  • She used to force inmates to give tuitions to her children... for paltry sums.
  • She asked some inmates to vacate their rooms, though they had permission to stay.
  • She gave undue favours to a former inmate and submitted a false affidavit in her support.
  • They have not invited any student union or body to help them in the agitation. “The others are here for their own reasons,” said an agitating hostel inmate.
  • Policewomen dragged them, as a result of which, two girls got hurt.

Dr Sachdeva said she had done everything in accordance with the hostel rules. The VC said he had not been approached by anyone.



Rates slashed in paid pass parking areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh here today announced allowing parking in the paid pass parking area at half the normal rate of Rs 5 for a car and Rs 2 for a scooter.

The reduced rates had been cleared by the Finance and Contract Committee of the Corporation before the contract with contractors was signed keeping in mind the distance of locations of pass parking areas.

A corporation release said the people could park their vehicles in the paid pass parking areas at half the rate. If a visitor to the paid parking lots did not find a place, he could go to the pass parking areas, it said.

The corporation has also given freedom to the contractors to freely use the paid pass parking lots to manage the lots.

The corporation, apart from re-issuing the whole rate chart for passes and tickets, has also sought to put a stop to tendency of ‘influential’ people refusing to pay the parking charge saying no concession would be given to the officials using the government vehicles. Employees of the Chandigarh Administration and Municipal Corporation were also not spared from this clause.

The corporation had only allowed free parking for scooters of government and public sector undertaking employees at demarcated locations.

It also clarified that the terms of the contract only allowed responsibility for the theft of a vehicle but was not responsible for damage and belongings inside the vehicle.

Free scooter passes for government and PSU employees will be given only after the recommendation by their heads of departments at a charge of Rs 5.


‘Forging’ ahead with parking stickers
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, June 17
Free parking stickers, issued by the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh to government employees, mediapersons and those working with public sector enterprises, have been forged and neatly glued on the front windshields of cars and other vehicles by ‘unscrupulous elements’.

Strange it may sound, but it is true. A number of residents, particularly youngsters, are using these stickers day in and day out to park their cars and scooters in the paid parking lots without pulling out even a single rupee from their wallets.

"As of now we have no idea about the number of such stickers in use”, claim sources in the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh. "But there is no denying the fact that the use of these stickers is causing loss to the authorities,” they say.

Paid parking system was introduced in the city recently in an attempt to solve the problems being faced by commuters while leaving behind their vehicles. The corporation, besides offering free parking facility at certain spots, had also issued stickers for permitting ‘the privileged class’ to park their vehicles without paying.

The intention behind issuing such stickers has, however, been defeated following the incidents of forgery — unchecked so far. Sources maintain that the modus operandi of the offenders is not so complicated. "All you need is one genuine sticker for forging as many stickers as you like", they assert.

"The offenders," they reveal, "simply take a genuine sticker to a computer centre. After getting the sticker scanned, the offenders, with the help of computer veterans, change the serial number printed on the sticker, if they like. Otherwise, they simply take the printouts, as many as they like".

Sources add that the edges of the printouts are then rounded of before being pasted on cars and two-wheelers for being used as genuine. "In most of the cases, the job is done so neatly that it becomes almost impossible to differentiate between a genuine and a forged sticker. Interestingly, you do not have to spend more than Rs 50 to Rs 60 for getting the work done".

Refusing to admit the use of forged stickers, City Mayor, on the other hand, says, "Till date, we have not received any complaint regarding the use of forged stickers. Otherwise also, I am of the firm belief that it is not possible for anyone to use parking lots with the help of such stickers".

Giving details, she asserts, "Each sticker has a serial number printed on it and a register is maintained in the office for this purpose. In the register, the vehicle number is mentioned against the signature of the allottee".

She adds, ''As soon as the final list of allottees is prepared, it will be handed over to the parking lot contractors to enable them to compare the name of the allottee and the vehicle owner. If any incident of forgery comes to light, stern action will be taken against the defaulter".


HC directive on number plate issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Disposing of a petition filed by a Naya Gaon resident on the number plate issue, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Union of India, the UT Home Secretary and other respondents to “pass appropriate speaking order” within four weeks on the petitioner’s letter requesting them to make an announcement regarding non-challaning of vehicles till “high security number plates were available”.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, observed, “Without going into merit, we dispose of this petition with a direction to the respondents to pass appropriate speaking orders on his letter dated June 5 within a period of four weeks from the date a certified copy is brought to their notice”.

In his petition, Dr B. Singh had earlier contended that the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways had earlier made a statement that the date for computer fitting of “high security number plates” on existing vehicles had been postponed to March 1, 2005. However, the date for changing the colour scheme was still June 30 forcing the vehicle owners to change the background of the registration plates from black to white, which was not in conformity with law.

Meanwhile, a local court today issued notice to the UT Administration, Inspector General of Police and In Charge, Traffic Line taking up a petition filed by the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr N.S Minhas, for June 24.


35 students cleared for Australia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Discussion on general living standards, applicable immigration rules and regulation besides wide ranging information regarding documentation and foreign exchange formalities were central to discussions during a pre-departure seminar organised by IDP Education Australia here today.

Approximately 100 students participated in the discussions. Approximately 35 students have been totally cleared for the departure while a significant number is working through the last minute details.

Talking to The Tribune Mrs Anita Abbi, manager of the local chapter of the IDP Education Australia, said MBA-related courses topped priority list of the students going abroad for higher studies. Telecommunication, digital communication and micro-processing electronics were certain other key fields which topped the priority list of the students.

Mrs Abbi said the number of students wishing to pursue their higher education in Australia had risen significantly in the past couple of years. The IDP being a consortium of the Australian Education Department and prominent universities gave greater credibility to the system. All the counsellors at the local IDP chapter have personally visited Australia. This gives them a better personal insight for right counselling to students, she said. Representatives of the Australian universities also make regular visits to the country at various formal functions.

Students are clarified in the first step about the ‘Nooser Guide’. This system is used in evaluating the total per centage of the Indian student applicable in the concerned Australian institute by applying the grading parametres of the Australian system. The Nooser’ has put certain institutions which includes Panjab University in ‘A’ grade which has a higher standing.

Students from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Haryana attended today’s seminar. A student said he was keen to know the financial details of his stay in Australia which were dealt in detail today.

The IDP brochure read “ For those who have not travelled or lived overseas before, this is the beginning of possibly the biggest adventure of your lives. It will require not only courage and commitment but also a sense of humour to survive and succeed. Everything you encounter will seem strange and bewildering initially. You will find yourself in an environment where the landscape, climate and people are all unfamiliar. Moreover, you will be faced with a considerable academic workload. Do not be alarmed. Many people there before you have successfully completed their courses”.

The IDP has attempted giving an accurate and authentic information to students which endeavours to save them the last minute hassles, Mrs Abbi said.


Keeping mentally sick in homes for destitute illegal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

*Mental Hospital, Amritsar, is the only hospital for mentally challenged persons in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh

*Supreme Court wants each state to have its own mental hospital

* Each mental hospital must get a licence as required under the Mental Health Act, 1998

* Each State must have a Mental State Health Authority

* The number of persons estimated to be suffering from serious mental disorders is about 2 lakh in Punjab.

* Pingalwaras and Home for Destitutes are not authorised to keep mentally challenged persons as inmates

Chandigarh, June 17
It was not the increased incidence of suicide and the growing number of the mentally-challenged which made state governments sit up, scan provisions of the Mental Health Act of 1998 and reactivate their mental health authorities.

Rather, it was a shocking incident in which 25 chained inmates in an asylum in Tamil Nadu died last year which brought before the apex court the issue of how States and Union Territories had been “mishandling their mentally challenged persons” throughout the country.

The apathy of the state governments towards the mentally sick would have continued but for the insistence of the apex court on implementing various provisions of the Mental Health Act, 1998, after a writ petition was filed following the Tamil Nadu tragedy.

The state governments and the Union Territories have been directed to submit their reports to the Union Health Secretary by Jul y 1 this year and the Union Government, in turn, has to file its reply by July 15. Those states/Union Territories, which fail to file replies before the Union Health Secretary have been asked to remain present through their Chief Secretaries in the Supreme Court at the hearing next month.

In Punjab, for example, a hue and cry has been raised about the alarming increase in suicides by farmers. Psychiatrists and other medical experts identify psychosis, epilepsy, dementia, severe depression, attempted suicide, alcohol and dug addiction, besides anxiety, obsession, phobia, somatisation disorders and adjustment and stress disorders as common serious mental disorders.

In the absence of any system of compiling statistics of mentally -challenged persons, it is estimated that at least 1 per cent of the population suffers from serious mental disorders and 5 per cent to 10 per cent from common disorders. Even these figures are alarming. For a population of two crore in Punjab, for example, at least two lakh persons have serious mental disorders and about 10 lakh less serious mental disorders.

The figures, percentage-wise, may be around the same for Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The case of Chandigarh is different as the PGI has a full-fledged Department of Psychiatry and an indoor ward for keeping serious mentally -challenged persons.

The Mental Health Act requires each state and Union Territory to constitute a mental health authority to monitor the functioning of the mental hospitals and the treatment of the mentally-challenged. But most of the states do not have such authorities and even if they exist, they are mostly dormant.

“The reconstituted Punjab State Mental Authority has already held two meetings in April and May this year,” says Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, maintaining that the old Government Mental Hospital in Amritsar would soon shift to its new building and get converted into the Institute of Mental Health.

The Amritsar mental hospital, with an initial capacity of 800 beds, has been catering not only to mentally-challenged persons of Punjab but also of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

The apathy of the state governments and the Union Territory can be judged from the fact that Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh owe crores of rupees to mental hospital, at Amritsar, which was declared a common institute under the Reorganisation Act of 1966. Each partner state and the Union Territory were expected to make contributions to the Amritsar hospital in proportion the population.

Until early this year Haryana owed Rs 13.54 crore , Himachal Pradesh Rs 2.6 crore and the Union Territory of Chandigarh Rs 21.35 lakh.

Himachal Pradesh, while refusing to pay the arrears, has now decided to go in for its own state mental hospital. Cases from Haryana and Chandigarh, however, continue to be referred to Amritsar, where the actual intake strength is only 450 mentally-challenged persons.

According to the directions of the Supreme Court, each State and Union Territory must frame a policy and initiate steps for the establishment of at least one state-run mental health hospital catering only to the mentally -challenged. Only a few have initiated action so far. Such hospital does not include a separate psychiatric ward in a medical college or government hospital.

In fact, the existing practice of keeping mentally-challenged persons in “pingalwaras”, homes for the Destitute or homes for handicapped people is violative of the law. Under the Mental Health Act, the state governments or UT administrations are supposed to issue a licence to each psychiatric hospital or nursing home which, besides employing qualified psychiatrists, are supposed to have on their rolls social workers and clinical psychologists. As such , only the Psychiatry Departments of certain medical colleges and a few hospitals are eligible to get the licence.

(To be concluded)


Agnihotri case: CBI files reply
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
The CBI today filed a reply in a case of an anticipatory bail plea moved by a former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge and the Chairman of Oil Selection Board, Justice M.R. Agnihotri, in a Prevention of Corruption Act case registered against him in a local court.

The bail plea moved by Justice Agnihotri had come for hearing before the UT Additional and Sessions Judge, Ms Sneh Prasher, in the morning. A team of CBI officials and counsel for the agency, Mr B.K. Sharma, filed reply before the Judge about at 11.30 a.m.

Sources said that the CBI had said in its reply that during his tenure as Chairman, Justice Agnihotri, had allotted a number of petrol stations to the people by ignoring norms.

The counsel for Justice Agnihotri pleaded before the court that the CBI be directed to supply a copy of the FIR registered against accused. But the counsel for the CBI opposed the request stating that there was no provision in the Criminal Procedure Code where the agency was liable to supply the certified copy of the FIR to the accused party. He informed the court that the copy of the FIR had already been submitted before the court by the agency and the counsel of the accused could get the copy from there.

Later, the CBI agreed and supplied the photostat copy of the FIR and reply filed in the court to the accused party. After hearing the arguments the Judge adjourned the case for tomorrow for arguments on the plea.

Justice Agnihotri had moved a plea before the court on apprehension of his arrest by the CBI in a case registered against him on the charges of corruption, cheating and forgery. He had stated in his bail plea that he had followed all norms and rules framed by the Ministry of Petroleum, while allotting the petrol stations.

The CBI had registered a case against accused under Sections 420, 120-B, 467, 468, 471 of IPC and under Prevention of Corruption Act 1998 on June 10. Sources in the CBI said that assets worth Rs 1.80 crore in form of movable and immovable property, cash, jewellery, and fixed deposits had been recovered by the agency from bank lockers and the residences of Justice M.R. Agnihotri and his family members.


Man found murdered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
An unidentified man, in his mid thirties, was found murdered in the jungle near the Panjab University campus here this evening.

The police was reportedly working on two theories — the man was either killed at some other place and his body was dumped here or he was killed on the spot after being drugged. The assailant(s) had tried to disfigure the victim's face by hitting it with a stone, but did not succeed.

The police suspects involvement of more than one person in the crime as a large stone was lying besides the body which was probably used to either ‘make a final blow’ or disfigure his face. Police sources said the stone was too heavy to be lifted by one person.

The body was first noticed by a forest watchman who, later, informed the police.

This is the third murder in the city in a month. A migrant labourer was killed on June 11 by a fellow labourer near the railway station here. A 78-year-old woman, Prakash Kaur, was allegedly killed by her servant on May 23 in Sector 15.

Senior police officials, including Mr Parag Jain (SSP), Mr Baldev Singh (SP, City) and Mr S.S. Randhawa (DSP Central), reached the spot.

The victim was wearing a grey striped shirt, dark colour trousers and sandals. He was also wearing a ‘kara’ in his hand. Nothing was found in his pockets which could help in the identification of the victim. There were scratch marks on both the hands of the victim. However, sources said, the spot where the body was found did not have any sign of struggle. This makes the police believe that the man was killed at some other place and the body was dumped here.

Another factor which supports the theory, said police sources, was that had the victim's head been crushed by the stone in the jungle, his blood would have spread there, but there were no blood marks there.

The police also believes that the body was dumped in the jungle after the rain today as the clothes of the victim were dry and there were some marks of mud on his trousers.

The police would wait for few a days before going for autopsy on the body in a hope that the body might be identified.


‘Bankrupt’ PSEB fails to clear dues of SSI units
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The financial position of the Punjab State Electricity Board is in real mess. The management is not only finding it difficult to clear the bills for coal supply but small payments worth a few lakh rupees to each small scale unit, which had supplied small items like nut bolts and transformers, have also been stopped since February, 2002.

Senior officials of the board at Patiala, admitted privately, that they were unable to clear bills worth about Rs 25 crore to the small scale units of Chandigarh, Panchkula, SAS Nagar and other towns, due to financial constraints. These small time firms, which are dependent on timely payment by the PSEB, supply hardware items such as towers, sub-station structures, transformers, cables and conductors. In fact, even earlier the payment schedule has been so erratic that several units have been forced to cut down their production or close down their shutters.

The insiders admit that the officials of the PSEB, which are never tired of making allegations that the small sector regarding power theft, are solely responsible for the problem of so many units. One of the official, responsible for clearing payments, is on leave for the past many days.

Mr A.L. Aggarwal, general secretary, Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, says,‘‘The PSEB has not paid the bills of SSI units since February 15, 2002, resulting in hampering of our production schedule. Although the board’s payment terms specify that the payments shall be made within seven days of the receipt of goods at their stores, yet the payment is not made even after 5-6 months.’’

Another entrepreneur, who did not wish to be quoted, said‘‘ The Delayed Payment Act No. 23 of 1998 and Interest of Delayed Payment to Small Scale and Ancillary Industrial Undertakings Act No 32 of 1993 have a provision of payment of interest on delayed payments beyond the period as agreed upon in the agreement entered into between the buyers and suppliers. The PSEB also charges interest from consumers if the payments are delayed. But no one is ready to listen to our problem due to low bargaining power and lack of political lobbying.’’

He added that under the Act, the PSEB was liable to pay interest on delayed payment but it was turning a deaf ear to such requests made by them. Mr Aggarwal pointed out that delay in payments had resulted in accumulated interest on their credit and denial of further credit by banks. The units are now finding it difficult to clear the instalments of their loans and are forced to delay the filing of sales tax and other returns.

The Chamber of Chandigarh Industries has urged the Chairman of the board, Mr Sudhir Mittal, to take necessary steps to ensure that the board authorities make payments with interest under the Delayed Payment Act at the earliest.


Protest against implicating villager in drug case
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, June 17
Residents of Dhakauli village today staged a protest against the arrest of a local resident in a "false case" of drug smuggling by the CIA staff, Patiala.

The villagers, who staged a day-long dharna in the village, threatened that they would gherao the police station at Dera Bassi tomorrow and block the Chandigarh-Ambala highway if the accused was not released immediately.

The protesters alleged that the police had let off the main accused and arrested an innocent person, Surinder Kumar, who was the only source of his family income.

Moreover, after picking a woman from Panchkula and Surinder Kumar from Dhakauli village, the police had shown Lalru the place of arrest. In addition, the police claimed to have arrested Bhoora Singh of Dharangarh, Surinder Kumar of Dhakauli and Mangat Singh of Singhpura village, and seized 25 kg of opium from them.

An eyewitness, who refused to disclose his name, narrated the sequence of events saying that a team of police personnel (in plain clothes) reached the village at about 3.30 pm on Thursday and enquired about the drug being sold in the area.

The team then reached Surinder's place and asked for opium. On his refusal, the police personnel asked him to take them to Poonam Sharma, alias Kanchan. The cops were taken to Poonam’s house in Sector 18, Panchkula.

They were using an Indica car (HR-26Q-0040). The cops, along with Poonam and Surinder Kumar, returned with about 5 kg of opium and rounded the two for drug smuggling.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mrs Joginder Kaur, mother of Surinder Kumar, alleged that Madan Lal, who is also a partner of Poonam, had hatched a conspiracy against Surinder. Surinder was operating his straw-husk selling trade from a piece of land owned by Madan Lal. He had asked Surinder to vacate the land and also threatened of direct consequences, she complained.

Madan Lal had also fraudulently got a piece of their land transferred to his name.

The irate villagers alleged that the police had let off the main culprit, Poonam Sharma, and implicated Surinder who had nothing to do with the drug. Initially rounding her up from Panchkula, the police has shown her absconding after receiving illegal gratification, the villagers alleged.

When contacted, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Patiala, denied the charges. He said some political persons were instigating the public.

He, however, clarified that some associates of the accused had approached the police with money, but after its refusal to accept the offer, they had resorted to an agitation.

Mr Balbir Singh Bartana, a former MLA from Banur, and his daughter-in-law, Ms Sheelam Sohi, also joined the dharna and assured the affected family and the villagers to stand by them.


Beant memorial may see the light of day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
With the Congress coming to power in Punjab, the Chandigarh Administration is seeing it as an opportunity to get funds released for the Beant Singh memorial project coming up in Sector 42. Punjab, under the Shiromani Akali Dal rule, had refused to pay its share of the project. The share of the state is close to Rs 8 crore in the Rs 18-crore project.

A meeting of the governing body of the Beant Singh memorial society was scheduled shortly and the Chandigarh Administration would take up this matter officially in the agenda of the meeting, said well-placed sources.

Originally, the UT and Punjab had joined hands to build a memorial for the Punjab Chief Minister who was killed in August, 1995. Beant Singh is credited with curbing militancy in the state. However, Punjab backed out of the project. The UT has asked Punjab to pay or it will do a re-think on the project.

The UT has been going ahead with the project with its own funds and has decided to open a modern exhibition centre in the open area adjoining the memorial building. A multi-purpose convention centre is to come up in the Beant Singh memorial building which is under construction in Sector 42. The complex will also house a restaurant. These were some of the changes suggested by the executive council of the project.

The convention centre will be carved out by re-designing the originally planned huge library. With the advent of the Internet and availability of information online, it was opined that such a huge library was not required and the space could be used for other purposes. Since the city lacked a big convention centre, this seemed to be the ideal choice, sources confirmed.

There is a 9-acre plot adjoining the Beant Singh project and it has been proposed to build an exhibition centre here on the lines of Pragati Maidan to New Delhi. The latter will lend support with its convention and eating facilities.

The Badal-led Punjab Government had refused to provide funds on the pretext that it did not have money for the project. But now the government has made some provision for funds in the forthcoming budget for the project.

In the past, Punjab had asked for a utilisation certificate for a sum of Rs 2.2 crore it had given. The administration had tabled the requisite copies of all certificates. Punjab was required to pay Rs 8 crore for the project but had stopped payments after pumping in Rs 2.2 crore.

Sources said Rs 2.5 crore more would be required to construct one building and the basement of the other. And in case both buildings were to be completed, a sum of Rs 8 crore was required.


Sea of algae in garden ponds
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 17
With the Haryana Urban Development Authority failing to properly maintain the three gardens here, these places that were once the pride of the town, now, attract few visitors.

Ponds full of algae, wild growth and smelly, stagnant water, besides rickety benches, weeds and ill-maintained fountains are what you see in these gardens today.

In the Sector 6 Topiary Garden, the fountain has rusted and not functioned for the past two years, another pond here has stagnating water covered with algae. It has not been cleaned for long and the motor for lifting the water is also not operational. Some of the 29 animal topiaries here have dried up.

Though the lawns of Nirjhar Vatika and Yavanika have been mowed, weeds have spread all over. These gardens are in the grip of congress grass. The district administration had urged citizens to begin a mass movement for removing congress grass and sought the help of the Horticulture Wing of HUDA for the purpose. However, little has been done, so far, to do away with the menace. With monsoons approaching, the problem can only increase.

The overall upkeep of City Fountain, too, is poor. The water in the artificial ponds has not been cleaned for long, say regular visitors to the park. There is no control on the spread of weeds and the Horticulture Department has not planted any ornamental plant at these places, says Mr M.C. Chopra, a person who lives in Sector 9 here. Even preventive maintenance works are not carried out regularly. On an average, there are 10 gardeners for each of the gardens.

These gardens have no attractions like swings or slides for tiny tots. Whatever little slides are there in public parks, rust has made these unfit for use. Seats in these parks are in a dilapidated condition. Ms Rekha Khurana, a woman who lives in Sector 11, says that senior citizens will like to sit in the parks, if ever they find a seat available.

The Citizen’s Welfare Association, meanwhile, says that most parks here are never maintained by the HUDA gardeners. Mr S.K. Nayyar, president of the association, says: “We have given numerous representations to the HUDA Administrator and the Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, but nothing has been done, so far, to improve things.”

Meanwhile, townsfolk can look forward to a makeover of neighbourhood parks. The MC has proposed to privatise the maintenance of most of the parks here. It plans to give the Residents Welfare Association Rs 1 for maintaining each sq m of every park. The association will bear the cost of gardeners. With the transfer of various developed sectors here to the MC, it will get as many as 115 parks to maintain. The gardens, however, will continue to be maintained by HUDA.


No action against cinema hall owner
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 17
Being well-connected certainly has its advantages. One can be on the other side of law and still get away with it. A perfect case in this regard is that of a local cinema hall owner, who is reportedly close to the powers that be in the state.

Suraj Theatre, located in Sector 1 here, has been charging for parking vehicles on the HUDA land outside the theatre for the past couple of months.

This in spite of the fact that neither the Haryana Urban Development Authority nor the district administration has introduced paid parking in the township.

Senior officials in the administration and in HUDA though admitted that the cinema hall was not allowed to charge parking fee, yet chose to remain tight-lipped about why action had not been taken against its owners. A senior official in HUDA confirmed that the hall owner was misusing the HUDA land by cordoning it off as a parking place.

It is learnt that the cinema hall owners have stationed their men near the entrance. Ropes have been tied at the entrance to stop any person from parking his/her vehicle without paying the parking fee. While Rs 10 are charged for parking a car, a fee of Rs 5 is being charged for a two-wheeler.

Ms Sushma Sood, a resident of Sector 12-A, says, “Upon visiting the theatre we argued with the men demanding parking fee that it was illegal to charge for parking on the HUDA land, but in vain. They categorically told us that we could leave our car on the main road. “ She says that considering the safety of the vehicle they were forced to comply.

It is also learnt that following complaints by residents, the Estate Officer, HUDA, had reportedly visited the cinema almost three months ago and had been asked to pay parking fee for the car . It was then that a written complaint was sent to the local police by HUDA authorities, requesting that a case of fraud be registered against the owners. However, no action has been taken by the police till date.


Jawan-kisan ties a war winning factor

IN the 1965 war when the Army started moving into Punjab, the soldiers wrere not only greeted with a smile by the people but the traditional Punjab hospitality was also extended to them. And a regular supply of milk, “lassi”, “sarson ka sag” and “makki ki roti” began coming to them.

Army personnel and villagers after a volleyball match in the Amritsar sector.
Army personnel and villagers after a volleyball match in the Amritsar sector.

The reason for this was that the state of Punjab, known as the sword arm of India, contributed the largest number of soldiers to the Army at that time. Besides, being a border state its people bore the brunt of every war. The recruitment pattern having been changed, Punjab is no more the principal contributor to the Army manpower, though its people still face enemy bullets in every Indo-Pak conflict.

Morale of the Army largely depends on the morale and co-operation of the people of the border areas Happily, one does not find any dilution in the traditional bonhomie between the Army and the punjabis. Both, a soldier and a villager take pride in helping each other in the border villages.

However, unlike the 1965 and 1971 wars, the deployment for war since December, 2001, has deprived many villagers of their livelihood because they have not been able to harves their crops due to the minefields and wild fires which have ruined the crops in several areas. Mine accidents have caused more than 24 causalities, both dead and injured. This has affected the morale of the villagers. The Centre should give top priority to providing financial compensation to the villagers. This will go a long way in winning the war.

Gentlemen cadets

Yet another course of 573 gentlemen cadets (GCs) passed out of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) on June 8. The terms and conditions of service in the Army have improved a lot-over the years for a GC now gets Rs 8000 per month as salary during his training and is commissioned as a Lt and not as a 2/Lt that used to happen a few years ago.

Despite this, the shortage of officers is not only continuing but is also increasing by the year and has crossed the figure of 13,000. The government, after having tried but failed to make the Army service more attractive, had to reduce the training period at the IMA by six months in 1999. Even this measures has not been able to make a dent in the shortage of officers because the focus of our youth has shifted to Materialism.

According to the old belief, an officer is a gentleman firs and then an officer. It is for this reason this reason that a cadet is called a “gentleman cadet”. No wonder then that the chief guest and the reviewing officer at the passing-out parade, the Naval chief, Admiral Madhvendra Singh, said in his address to the cadets: “ Whatsover technological advancement may have been made in military Science, there are certain values connected with the profession of arms which will never change”. Perhaps, very few in today’s Army would be knowing that Adm Madhvendra Singh’s father of the Parachute Regiment, who retired as a Major-General, topped in the first course at the IMA in 1934 and was, therefore, allotted IC-1 number. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw passed out at the 14th position from the same course.


Once again Brig Mohinder Singh (retd), President of the Indian Ex-Services League (IESL), has come out with strong criticism of the government for neglecting the ex-servicemen’s genuine demands for years. The callousness of the government, he says, can be gauged from its negative attitude towards them.

Outlining ex-servicemen’s demands, such as not granting 50 per cent of the pay as pension to most of them, bringing a jawan lower than a “chaprasi” in status, Mr George Fernandes’ betrayal on “one rank, one pension demand” after having accepted it in April 1999, not granting 30 per cent of pay as family pension to soldiers’ widows unlike their civilian counterparts, giving medical allowance of only Rs 100 per month, backing out after promising a medical scheme and not utilising the National Defence Fund for the benefit of defence personnel, etc, he has exhorted the ex-servicemen to be prepared to adopt an agitational approach.

Brig Mohinder Singh also says: “The ex-servicemen will now have to come out on the streets at all levels, if they want any favourable reply from the government. This is the only course left open to us. So let us all strive together to achieve our goal.” Sadly, our politicians have come to believe that no demand is genuine enough unless there is an agitation for it.”

Pritam Bhullar



Legend of Bhagat Singh ‘ a mockery of history’
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, June 17
With Bhagat Singh being hanged all over again by so many big producers of the film Industry, a postmortem session could not have been far away. So when Iqbal Dhillon, maker of “Shaheed-e-Azam,” and a few members of his team dissected every single scene from the three movies on Bhagat Singh today, it gave mediapersons a chance to know the subject from a maker’s viewpoint.

Iqbal Dhillon, who is visiting Punjab in connection with the release of his movie Shaheed-e-Azam, started with the most obvious question as to why Bollywood industry all of a sudden got smitten by our charismatic leader? “Super duper hits “Gadar” and “Lagaan” inspired many producers to take up some historical subject and Bhagat Singh being Bhagat Singh everybody saw a chance of making quick buck though such a venture,” he said as he made himself comfortable at a local hotel in Sector 35 here.

But looking at the was Shaheed-e-Azam, Shaheed and Legend of Bhagat Singh have been doing at the box office their dreams sure were shortlived. “Our movie must have been commercially a failure, as far as history is concerned “Shaheed-e-Azam” is still the most authentic one,” said Dhillon claiming that the final product was the result of six years of vigorous research on the subject.

And distortion of history in the other two films is the major point that irked this film-maker. “Sunny Deol was expected to put melodrama in his film but that a serious person like Raj Kumar Santoshi also could resort to such crass commercialisation came as shock to us,” he said, a sentiment that was shared by Gurkirtan, Gaurav Trehan, Vinod Sharma who played different characters and also Harinder Gill, script writer.

“Legend of Bhagat Singh is not only a mockery of history but also an attack on the Punjabi culture,” said Iqbal Dhillon referring to the scene in which the girl he was supposed to marry comes to Bhagat Singh’s house with the marriage proposal. “In Punjabi culture, a girl does not come to a boy’s house, specially in those days it would be unthinkable to do so. Not only that the song “Pagri sambhal jatta” was a song originally sung by Ajit Singh but in the film it was picturised on Bhagat Singh and that too in such a westernised way that stood out as a glaring mistake in the movie,” he said.

For all these distortions, Iqbal Dhillon blames the government. “When the government knew so many films are being made on such a famous personality, if not the Central Government, the Punjab Government could have appointed a few historians to judge the validity of the subject matter,” he said. In the same breath, Iqbal Dhillon also alleged stepmotherly treatment by the Censor Board. “There were important scenes like one on the Gandhi Irwin Pact and another a confrontation scene between Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhagat Singh which were mercilessly chopped by the board,” he said. “If people can read about the truth in history books why can’t they watch it on the screen,” he questioned.

However controversy is not something new to this producer who has produced movies like “Shaheed Udham Singh”, the national award winner in 1999 and “Tabaahi”, his much controversial movie on terrorism which was released in 1994. “To earn money there is no dearth of romantic subjects to lure people, but if one is handling something sensitive and serious, one should do it with some responsibility,” he said.

Iqbal Dhillon is planning to take his film to children. “I am here to tie up with schools so that the film can be shown to students and they can learn about their hero,” he added.


Dark streets greet ‘surprise visitors’
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Electricity Committee of the Municipal Corporation, in a surprise inspection, found streetlights near temples and gurdwaras in southern sectors not functioning. There have been a number of incidents of chain-snatching near these places.

The committee chairman, Mr Jitender Bhatia; a councillor, Ms Pushpa Sharma; the Executive Engineer, Mr P.K. Kashyap; and some of his junior officials found about 50 per cent of the streetlights in southern sectors out of order. The inspection followed a number of complaints regarding non-functioning streetlights.

The committee had visited Sectors 29, 30, 31, 32, 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49 last week to look into the complaints. It, now, plans to make more such surprise visits regularly to monitor the functioning of streetlights. The Sector 47 Sanatan Dharam Temple did not have any power supply when the committee visited it. The inspecting team was shocked to see only two streetlights functioning along the entire V-4 road between Sectors 46-A and 46-D. Mr Bhatia asked the officials concerned to immediately get the lights restored.

The committee also found the streetlights near the temple of Sector 46 and the gurdwaras of Sectors 45 and 47 not functioning. The situation was the same at the Sector 47 Community Centre and market. The streetlights around the roundabouts of Sectors 31 and 32, 30 and 29 and the Sector 31 market were non-functional.

Some persons of Sector 38 said the streetlights on the V-3 road dividing Sectors 25 and 38 had not been functioning for the past three days. The city is reported to have 16,900 streetlights maintained by the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation.

Complaints in this regard had been pouring in, but the MC did not have enough funds for maintenance. The MC had even increased the budget allocation under this head, but the Administration had rejected it.

With a bad track record of maintaining streetlights, the MC had sought to privatise the work, but the terms of contract attracted no bidder. The plan was to allow advertisers to maintain electricity poles in lieu of putting up their advertisements on these. The experiment has been successful in Punjab, according to sources.


Villagers join hands to mend pond
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur-Garibdas (Kharar), June 17
Residents of Mullanpur-Garibdas village are working hard these days to put a village pond in order which was lying in a shambles for the past many years. Villagers have pooled money, equipment and are performing ‘kar sewa’ to make the pond clean and useable.

The village panchayat reportedly could not use the grant it had received for the development of the pond and it lapsed. The village has one more pond and the villagers are determined to work on it also after completing the task on their hands.

On Wednesday last, the villagers started ‘kar sewa’ to develop the pond near the new school building. They claimed that the panchayat had received a grant of about Rs 2 lakh to develop the pond, but the fund lapsed. However, Mr Dewan Singh, sarpanch of the village, could not be contacted.

Eight villagers have volunteered their tractors for the purpose and other villagers are providing manpower. Villagers start their day by spending a few hours at the pond doing ‘kar sewa’. Some of the families have taken up the job of providing food and water to the ‘kar sewaks’.

Mr Piyara Singh Saini, Mr Karnail Singh, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Lakhmir Singh Khera, Mr Jarnali Singh and Mr Balbir Singh, were seen levelling the land around the pond with tractors. About 50 other villagers were also at work at that time. They said soon the pond would be in a good shape. They also urged the residents of other villages to take up the development of their respective villages on their own.

As per information available, Rs 50,000 each for setting up a tubewell and for a temple given to the village panchayat by the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Prakash Singh Badal, during his sangat darshans had also lapsed. Mr Arvind Puri of the Youth Welfare and Sports Club, Mullanpur, said the club had spent Rs 50,000 for setting up the tubewell.


‘Probe assets of Cong ministers’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Hailing the government move against the corrupt officials and former ministers in the Akali Dal (Badal) and BJP-led coalition government, the employees unions have sought an enquiry into the assets of the Congress ministers, who have allegedly paid large amounts to get the party ticket and to win elections.

Protesting against the recommendations of the Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, speakers at a state-level rally held here today asserted that there was no fundamental difference between the economic policies of both parties. Both of them had followed policies which led to retrenchment of workers and deprivation of the masses. The rally was organised by the Workers and Employees Coordination Committee Of Punjab and Chandigarh.

Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, senior vice-president of the state unit of CITU, said,‘‘The Congress government, like Badal government, has no interest in the future of the working class. That is the reason, that the plans are being made to sell the profit-making state corporations at throwaway prices. The government is not ready to understand that hundreds of families would be affected by its anti-worker decisions. Besides taking action against the corrupt officials and former ministers, the government should also show courage to order inquiries against its own ministers who have allegedly paid huge amount to get party ticket and to win elections.’’

Addressing the meeting, Mr Chander Shekhar, convener, Worker and Employees Coordination Committee, claimed that the state government had already abolished 50,000 vacant posts in various departments, including about 10,000 promotional posts. Mr Ramesh Sharma, general secretary, Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, alleged that the Finance Department of Punjab Government had directed the departments to deposit the increased DA installments for 13 months into pension and PF account from January 2002 to February 2003, while Haryana and Himachal Pradesh Governments had made cash payments.

The speakers condemned the government’s decision to freeze DA and slashing of various allowances like rent allowance, medical allowance, rural area allowance and encashment of leave before retirement.The meeting demanded immediate reversal of these steps which were put into practice by the Badal government.

Mr Bhagmal Rana, general secretary, Federation of UT Employees and Workers, Chandigarh, expressed concern that the state government, without analysing the experience of Enron, privatisation of power in Orissa, Haryana and other states, seemed to be bent on disinvestment in 29 PSUs.

Among others,members of the Government Teachers Association, UT Powermen Union and Forest Corporation Workers Union also participated in the rally. Later a delegation of workers submitted a memorandum to the CM, urging him to take decision in favour of workers.


CITU’s election claim contested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Mr Inderjit Singh Grewal and Mr Balbir Singh were claimed to have been elected president and general secretary, respectively, of the city unit of CITU. However, the claim was immediately rejected by the rival CITU faction led by Mohmmed Shahnaz Gorsi.

The election was held at the fifth delegate conference of CITU of the Chandigarh unit. Mr Gorsi in a statement said Mr Grewal and Mr Singh had been expelled from the party for their ‘’anti-working class’’ activities.

Eightyfive delegates from different workers’ unions called by Mr Grewal and Mr Singh attended the conference and resolved to strengthen the struggle in the union territory for the rights of workers.

Mr Grewal demanded immediate implementation of the newly announced minimum wages and criticised the Administration for ignoring workers’ demands and denying them their rights.

The Punjab state general secretary, Mr Chander Shekhar, while delivering the inaugural address, urged the workers to organise themselves to oppose anti-labour policies of the Central and state governments.

Mr Shekhar criticised the Punjab Government for its reported move to sell off 29 PSUs. He said it would render around one lakh workers jobless.

Mr Shekhar lashed out at the Central Government for carrying out liberalisation and privatisation policies which were resulting in growing unemployment.

Mr Gorsi warned the people against fund-raising efforts of their rivals and alleged impersonation.


Fire in thread factory
Our Correspondent

Lalru, June 17
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a major fire that broke out in a thread manufacturing factory located on the Aganpur-Bhagwasi road, near here, this evening.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out in a godown of Cheema Spintex and damaged hundreds of cotton bales. Soon after noticing the blaze, workers informed the factory owners and subsequently the Fire Brigade in Dera Bassi was called for help. Fire engines from Chandigarh, Panchkula, Ambala, Rajpura, SAS Nagar and Dappar were also called. The eight fire engines took over one and a half hours to extinguish the fire. Labourers from the nearby factories also joined the operation. Mr Hardyal Singh Cheema, owner of the factory said that over 6,000 cotton bales were destroyed in the fire.


Thundery developments likely today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The heat today got better of the rain in the city as temperature rose by 2.2°C despite a rainfall of 8.8 mm for the second consecutive day. The city witnessed 5.2 mm rainfall yesterday bringing down the temperature to 33.6°C. The last week had two rainfalls measuring 9.4 mm and 4 mm. Thundery developments were likely tomorrow, said the Meteorological Department. Today's rain was caused by an upper air cyclonic circulation over Punjab and Central Pakistan. The department said the earlier development which caused last week's rains had now passed from the region. It said temperature was likely to increase.


Man robbed of Rs 4,150
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
A man was robbed of Rs 4,150 by three youths near the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium at about 4.30 pm here today. According to police sources, Mr Avtar Singh, an employee with a courier company, parked the company's three-wheeler near the stadium and went to a nearby nullah to answer the call of nature. Three youths in their early twenties allegedly approached him and robbed him of the amount. Avtar Singh's clothes were also torn by the youths.

Theft: Mr Jaspreet Singh of SCO 100-101, Sector 34, reported to the police that a youth in a Maruti car (HR-32A-7065) stole Rs 3,000 from the cash counter of the SCO last evening. A case under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 379, IPC, has been registered.

Arrested: The police arrested Jagtar Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, for allegedly stealing a gold ring and a wrist-watch from the house of Mr Gurnam Singh of Sector 33 here yesterday. A case under Sections 455, 380 and 411, IPC, has been registered.

Abduction: A resident of Palsora Colony alleged that Phakhar, a resident of Baterla village here, abducted his minor daughter on June 14. A case has been registered.

Threatened: A woman of Burail village reported to the police that a fellow resident, Krishan Kumar, teased her and later issued her a threat. Krishan Kumar was arrested under Sections 506, 509 and 323, IPC.

Phone stolen: Mr D.M. Parth, Deputy Registrar-cum-Chief Protocol Officer, Punjab and Haryana High Court, reported to the police that his mobile phone was stolen in Sector 35 market here on June 15. A case has been registered.

Injured: A 30-year old woman, Ms Gian Devi, was injured after she reportedly fell from the second floor of her house in Charan Singh Colony, Mani Majra, here yesterday. She was admitted to General Hospital, Sector 16, where her condition was said to be stable. The police has ruled out any foul play.


Purse snatched: Scooter-borne miscreants snatched a purse from Ms Kamlesh Gupta in the Secor 8 market late last night. The purse contained Rs 4,000 and some documents. A case under Sections 356 and 379 of IPC has been registered.

Two held: The police has arrested Ashok Kumar and Ram Chandra from near the Ghaggar bridge in Sector 21 on the charge of creating nuisance. A case under Section 160, IPC, has been registered.

Theft: Mr Sunil Singla of Durga Trading Company, Railley, has accused his servant, Awadh Singh, of stealing hardware goods worth thousands of rupees from his shop. A case under Section 381, IPC, has been registered.


Scooterist killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 17
A scooterist, Hari Ram Saini of Phase II of Ram Darbar, was killed when a truck hit him at the traffic-lights point of Sectors 45 and 46 late yesterday. His wife and two minor children, riding pillion, received injuries and had to be admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital here. The accident took place at about 11.45 pm yesterday and Hari Ram died in the hospital early today.

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