Tuesday, January 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Ranjit Bajaj arrested for car theft
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Ranjit Bajaj, the controversial ward of a senior Punjab bureaucrat couple, Mr B.R. Bajaj and Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj, is once again cooling his heels in the custody of Chandigarh Police.

This time, he allegedly stole a Maruti car to help out his friend, Maninder, in securing spares for his car.

The stolen car remained parked at the Sector 16 residence of the bureaucrat couple before being moved to the rented house of Maninder, who works as a marketing executive with a private firm.

The stolen car was found with a fake registration number by the sleuths of the Crime Branch. “The car had been kept in running condition for their habit of wandering around,” said a police official. The police suspected that the suspects were involved in other cases of theft as well.

Sources in the police said he along with his friend, Maninder and Naresh alias Bobby, who works as a munshi with a lawyer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, lifted the car of an advocate, Mr Madan Lal, from his residence in Sector 23. Ranjit and Naresh were also involved in the infamous case of kidnapping of Sunny Garg, son of an industrialist, on May 12, 2000. The case ended after the two parties reportedly reached a compromise.

A police official said after stealing the car (CH 01 C 0669), a fake registration number (CH 01 C 1274) had been fixed on the vehicle that had been stolen on the night of November 8, last year.

While Ranjit and Maninder were arrested from Sector 16, Naresh was arrested near the Sector 20 Government Dispensary. The three youths will be produced in the local courts tomorrow.

The sources said seeing the past of Ranjit Bajaj, the Chandigarh Police has prepared his record file.

A case of kidnapping of Ranjit near Hot Millions in Sector 17, was reported on June 29, 2000. Ranjit was, however, later found by the police with jeep-borne youths.

Past offences

* A head constable of Chandigarh Police, Daya Ram, was assaulted by him along with two of his friends near the Matka chowk on September 26, 1996. The trial is sub judice.

* On May 5, 2000 a police party had apprehended Gursmeep Singh of Sector 41 while driving a Maruti car under the influence of liquor. During the search of the car, a 9 mm pistol, along with seven live cartridges and two swords, was found. An arms licence in the name of Mr B.R. Bajaj — bearing the picture of Ranjit Bajaj — was found in the car. The car was registered in the name of Ms Rupan Deol Bajaj. The case sub judice since September 22, 2000.

* Sunny Garg, son of industrialist Ramesh Chand, was allegedly kidnapped by Ranjit Bajaj, Bobby, Swaran Singh and some other persons on May 17, 2000. As per the police record, Ranjit had forcibly occupied the car of Sunny Garg and taken him to his house in Sector 16. The victim was allegedly beaten up with iron rods, while cash, a mobile phone and a cheque book were snatched. Sunny, who was asked to bring Rs 20 lakh, was released after the intervention by the mother of Ranjit Bajaj. The FIR in the case was quashed by an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

* An ASI, Harinder Singh, was on a naka duty near the house of Ranjit Bajaj, who was wanted in the case of kidnapping of Sunny Garg, on May 21, 2000. On seeing the police party, Ranjit escaped in a Maruti car with a friend, Amrit. The ASI along with another ASI Paramjeet Kaur chased Ranjit but fell down in the process. A shot was fired in the air by the ASI. The case is sub judice.

* On May 5, 2001 Ranjit and his friend, Naresh, were seriously wounded in an attack by six youths led by Jagatinder Pal Singh alias Bagga. The case is sub judice. In June, 2001 Ranjit had, in retaliation, set the car of Bagga on fire.



They promise the moon in hope of votes
Ruchika M. Khanna

Panchkula, January 6
The first-ever elections to the Municipal Council are being fought more on rhetoric rather than real issues confronting people.

With most of the candidates in the fray having released their election manifestos and campaigning on at full swing, the candidates are promising the moon to the voters. Issues close to the heart of the voter are the ones being promised by candidates, irrespective of the fact that they as councillors would be in no position to tackle these.

Issues like sanitation, streetlighting, improving the condition of roads, which will be in the purview of the elected councillors, have taken a back seat. Abolition/reduction of taxes imposed by the council and reduction in the cable tariff, which are beyond them, are the main issues on the election manifestos of most candidates.

So much so that even candidates supported by the ruling party- Indian National Lok Dal — which had itself imposed house tax, fire tax and professional tax in all civic bodies, after octroi was withdrawn, are also promising withdrawl of these taxes once elected to power.

It may be noted that the Municipal Council here would earn Rs 3.5 crore annually from house tax and fire tax and a sum of Rs 15 lakh from professional tax. The revenue generated through these taxes contributes to about 40 per cent of the total annual revenue ( about Rs 9.25 crore) of the council.

Also, The Haryana Municipal Act, 1973 , clearly states that the state government has the power to suspend any resolution or order passed by a committee or council. “Even if the elected councillors pass any resolution to either abolish or reduce these taxes, it will be insignificant. The Deputy Commissioner can suspend any such resolution. On the other hand, any elected representative can lose his chair if he tries to cause financial loss to the council, in this case cut in taxes, “ informs an officer of the Municipal Council.

Interestingly, most candidates while promising abolition of taxes, fail to educate on how revenue earned through these taxes will be substituted for carrying on other developmental activities. They promise better roads, streetlighting, better maintenance of parks and sanitation, but express their ignorance on how such developmental activities will be carried out if the taxes are withdrawn.

Another popular election promise by most candidates is the reduction in cable tariff. This issue, which has rocked the township every few months for the past one year with each increase in tariff by the operators, figures prominently on each of the candidates manifestos. But quiz them on why cable operators will reduce the tariff at their instance, and they are at a loss of words.


Election material with RO
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 6
The election material for the first-ever elections to Municipal Council here was brought from the State Election Commission today to be kept in the custody of Returning Officer-cum-Sub Divisional Magistrate.

The election material, other than the ballot boxes, was brought from the office of the State Election Commission in Sector 20, Chandigarh, in a well-gaurded truck. This has set the ball rolling for the rehearsal of elections to be held at Yavanika on January 10.

On the other hand, the administration continued to keep a tab on candidates violating the code of conduct by removing banners from electricity poles, trees, government, semi-government and other public property. The putting up of banners here is a violation of the Haryana Defacement Act.

Meanwhile, candidates continued with their campaigning in various wards. Mr C.L. Malhotra, an Independent candidate from Ward No. 10, said he had finished his first round of door-to-door campaign.

Mr Randhir Mallik, an INLD-supported candidate from Ward No. 13, today held three “nukkad” meetings with residents of Sector 14 and 15. He was accompanied by Mr Kanti Prakash Bhalla, former Minister and president of the District unit of the party, Mr Ram Gopal Mehta. Ms Urviz Aggarwal, another INLD candidate from Ward No. 30, visited Sector 21 and promised better development of the area.

The election manifesto of Mr Ajay Goel, an Independent candidate from Ward No. 3, was released in which he promised rationalisation of taxes, sanitation, converting the rehri market into booths and parking places in Sector 7 market. The election manifestos of Mr Pardeep Sharma, a candidate from Ward No. 19, Mr Tarun Bhandari, a candidate from Ward No. 25, Ms Jalmeda Dahia from Ward No. 10, were also released. The three candidates promised better sanitation, improvement of roads and doing away with stray-cattle menace.

Ms Renuka Rai Walia, a candidate from Ward No. 2, today visited various group housing societies and assured the implementation of all provisions made for Swastik Vihar in the master plan.

Mr Devindra Dhawan, the BJP candidate from Ward No. 21, held meetings with eminent residents of his ward and also held “nukkad” meetings in Sector 11. He promised to work for the development and beautification of the sector.


UAV designed by PEC for SASE test-flown
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Taking up a “highly classified” defence project, the Punjab Engineering College (PEC) here has designed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for use by the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE). The UAV has been test-flown successfully and is stated to be undergoing user trials in high-altitude areas.

According to the head of the PEC’s Department of Aeronautical Engineering, Dr S.C. Sharma, the UAV is designed to ascertain snow accumulation patterns in remote and inaccessible areas. Information gathered through the UAV would be used to assess the snow cover, locate safe routes for troop movement, search of objects buried in snow and mark out hazardous areas like crevises.

Headquartered in Chandigarh, the SASE, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation, has been given the task to provide advance weather forecasts and avalanche warnings to troops deployed in high-altitude areas along the Line of Control. It is also engaged in carrying out terrain studies and generating maps of hazardous areas. The SASE’s tasks assume significance in the light to the Army’s increased commitment in the Kargil Sector, known for its treacherous terrain.

This is the first-ever defence project undertaken by PEC’s Aeronautical Department. Dr Sharma, who was the only aeronautical engineer on the 10-man team involved in designing and fabricating the UAV, said the aircraft could also have a lot of applications in the civilian sector. While designing and theoretical work concerning the airframe was done in Chandigarh, trials were carried out in Pune.

The project, which till recently had been kept under wraps even within the DRDO, was started under the directions of Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam about three years ago, when he was holding the portfolio Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. This possibly explained why flight trails were done in Pune rather than in Bangalore, which is the country’s aeronautical hub. Also, no aeronautical engineer from the DRDO was involved.

With its airframe fabricated from fibre reinforced plastic, the UAV weighs around 60 kg and is packed with sophisticated electronics and high-resolution cameras, besides a telemetry link to transmit images back to controllers in real time.


Commandos in Zirakpur
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, January 6
The police has failed to make any headway in Dhakauli robbery case in which armed robbers struck at a house and hacked a man to death and left five other members of his family critically injured in the wee hours on Sunday. To tighten security cover and chalk out further course of action against the assailants, Mr Bhupinderjit Singh Virk, SP (Detective), Patiala, today held a meeting of police officials and issued guidelines to them.

Sources said a company of Punjab Police Commandos has also been deployed in the Zirakpur area to tighten the noose around the neck of the culprits and avoid any untoward incident.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Tajinder Singh, SHO, Dera Bassi, said police teams have been dispatched to suspected hideouts of the assailants. A team of the CIA staff, Patiala, has also been pressed into service.

He said the Punjab Police was in touch with the Chandigarh and Panchkula police. He said Mr Balbir Singh’s daughter, who had earlier claimed to have recognised a robber, today failed to identify when a suspect arrested by the Panchkula Police was produced before her. The police has deployed two constables at the residence of Mr V.S. Mishra in Hill View Colony at Dhakauli village.

It may be recalled that armed with daggers, iron rods and batons, the group of robbers had struck at the house of Mr V.S. Mishra in the wee hours on Sunday. They had hacked Deepak Mishra, son of Mr V.S. Mishra, to death and left five — Mr Mishra, his wife Suman, younger son Pawan, Deepak’s wife Geeta and their daughter Tania — seriously injured.

The critically wounded Mr V.S. Mishra and Tania are battling for their lives at the PGI in Chandigarh. The condition of Geeta is also stated to be serious, while Pawan and Suman are to be stable.

The body of Deepak was cremated at the cremation ground in Sector 25, Chandigarh, by the relatives of the victims today.


Road safety week begins; blood donated
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 6
As many as 208 units of blood were donated for road accident victims on the first day of the 14th Road Safety Week being organised by the UT Police here today.

During the safety week various activities like a painting competition, a workshop for bus and truck drivers, eye camps, and a scooter rally by girl students and lectures for rickshaw-pullers will be organised.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, IGP, inaugurated the week-long celebrations at Sector 17 this morning. Mr Balbir Singh, SP (Traffic) outlined details of the safety week.

Speaking on the occasion, the IGP asked city residents to obey the traffic rules in order to make the city road “more safe”.

He said the police was trying to provide better road safety to the residents.

At the inaugural function, all senior officials of the police were present.

In a release issued, the police said 9,000 students and 336 teachers of various schools and colleges had been imparted training on road safety.

The donors included cops, students from Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, Government College, Sector 11, Government College for Girls, Sector 11 and 46, DAV College and Government Home Science College.


Auto strike off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Chandigarh Scooter-Rickshaw Union today decided to call off their week-long strike after the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), agreed to extend time period for overaged auto-rickshaws till March 31.

Earlier in the day, after holding a protest at the Matka chowk, a delegation met the Administrator and urged him to provide some more time so that they could purchase new vehicles. The delegation was led by Mr N.S. Minhas, a local Akali leader, and Ms Harjinder Kaur, a former Mayor of the city, along with Mr Harcharan Singh Sawney, president of the union. Mr Makiat Singh Dhaliwal, and Mr Ravinder Singh Khalsa.

The delegation argued that they were forced to go on strike to the discomfort of the public, especially schoolchildren, since the State Transport Authority (STA) had decided to impound 15-year-old or more auto-rickshaws without giving them adequate time to purchase new vehicles.

Auto-rickshaw operators of SAS Nagar, Panchkula and Zirakpur also joined the protest yesterday. The Administrator also reportedly agreed to consider the other demands of the union, including subsidised loans to buy new vehicles and exemption from sales tax to buy new vehicles. Mr Sawney, said: “We were not against the Administration’s decision to implement the SC guidelines, however, we were just demanding some time till March-end to arrange finance for new vehicles.”


Panchkula MC ‘harasses’ drought-hit nomads
Bipin Bhardwaj

Panchkula, January 6
The consecutive drought for the past four years in Jalore district of Rajasthan has forced hundreds of families to migrate to faraway places. Members of over 200 such families have camped in Daffarpur village of Dera Bassi tehsil in Patiala district.

Camping at an abandoned piece of land in Daffarpur village near Ramgarh in Panchkula for the past couple of days, these families, along with their 10,000 pets, who were forced to leave their native villages — Balwara, Kathari, Bishangarh, Bala Bhawrani, Rambha, Saila — due to drought are allegedly being harassed by the Panchkula Municipal Council (MC) authorities.

These nomads had a bitter experience on their arrival here when the Panchkula MC authorities impounded 30 sheep and goats and allegedly pocketed Rs 8,000 for releasing only 27 animals.

The matter came to light when Mr Wari Ram Devasi, a resident of Balwara village in Jalore district, who is an owner of a sheep flock, approached the authorities to get a receipt of the money paid by him to get the sheep released. He raised a hue and cry for the three missing sheep.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Devasi alleged that some employees of the Panchkula MC enforcement staff rounded up their 30 animals (24 sheep and 6 goats) including some donkeys, which were grazing on the Ghaggar river bed near the Nada Sahib Gurdwara.

‘‘After being charged a penalty of Rs 8,000 for the release of the animals, no receipt was issued to me and only 27 animals were released. When we protested, one more sheep was released. The authorities denied having the sheep and the goat in their possession, ’’ he alleged.

These families are camping in abandoned pieces of land around the village along with 15 camels, 24 donkeys and four dogs. They are feeling doubly ruined by the drought and the Panchkula administration.

According to documentary proof, the group of families is headed by Mr Kala Ram, a 70-year-old resident of Balwara. The families have been given a permit by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Jalore to roam and feed their cattle in four states — Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh — because of the ongoing drought in Rajasthan.

Holding a cake of bajra (millet) with a piece of gur on his palm, Mr Bhana Ram (65) narrated their tale of woes as they pooled Rs 8,000 to get their sheep released. He lamented that the Panchkula MC did not give them any receipt.

‘‘We trudged miles for survival but in Panchkula we were harassed a lot. Instead of helping us, the government has rubbed salt on our wounds,’’ said Mr Roopa Ram Deva.

‘‘We were offered meals thrice in Punjab and Haryana,’’ a woman in the camp said. ‘But after months of long journey, it was a shocking experience for us in Panchkula. After making payment to get the sheep released we have been left with nothing and are forced to beg,’’ she lamented.

Their problems do not end here, the cold wave has also claimed many sheep of the families during the past two weeks.

When contacted, Mr O.P. Sihag, Executive Officer of the Panchkula Municipal Council, expressed his ignorance about the incident. He, however, said that if any shepherd or other animal-owner camps on the outer skirts of the MC limits and enters within the limits, the MC was authorised to impound the animals.

They were exempted provided they were migrants and were crossing within the MC limits, he claimed.


Panel to review building bylaws
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 6
The Punjab Government has formed a 10-member committee to review buildings bylaws laid down by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority. The committee, which held its first meeting here today, will consider changing the building bylaws being followed across the state on PUDA estates.

According to a member, Mr B.S. Tej, who is also president of the Citizens Welfare Council, SAS Nagar, the committee members will be revising various building bylaws being followed by the Chandigarh Administration, Chandigarh Housing Board and the Haryana Urban Development Authority to find examples that can be emulated by PUDA.

According to sources, the decision to review the building bylaws was taken as a large number of residents have changed the design of their buildings. They have been issued notices by PUDA. This made the authorities sit up and it felt some relaxations needed to be made in commensuration with changing times and needs.

The building bylaws being followed across the PUDA estates in Punjab were constituted in 1996 and have not been amended or reviewed till date.

These bylaws, called the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority Building Rules, 1996, were earlier formed on the basis of the Punjab Urban Estate Development Regulations, 1964.

“The meeting held today was a preliminary one and all of us will now be given copies of other Acts that are being followed in the region. We are also going to gather additional information from the residents about what changes they perceive in the building bylaws.

All this information will then be sent to the chairman, who after going through the written information, will call another meeting for a discussion,” said Mr B.S. Baidwan, president of the Mohali Industries Association, who is also a member of the committee.

Other than the chairman of the committee, who is Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, the committee includes architects, town planners and representatives from the local government.


Fall in line, Mayor tells staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, today formally asked the Municipal Corporation officials to devise ways to speed up the process of clearing developmental projects and increase channels of communication with councillors on the issue.

The mantra of speedy development was placed by the Mayor before the officers in his introductory meeting with them.

The meeting was attended by Commissioner M.P. Singh, Additional Commissioner Ashok Vashishth, Joint Commissioner Sunil Bhatia, Chief Engineer V.K. Bharadwaj, superintendent engineers and executive engineers.

Mr Chawla said delays due to procedural hassles should be reduced to a minimum. He sought a status report on finances which was cited as one of the major reasons of delays in completion of project. The report is likely to be submitted in a couple of days.

He also asked the officials to keep the area councillor posted about the ongoing developmental activities. Mr Chawla asked the Enforcement Department to be polite with the people and avoid unnecessary confrontation. The formal meeting followed informal separate meetings with the Commissioner and the Chief Engineer. Mr Chawla is also believed to have sought photostat copies of the meat licences in the city from Dr M.S. Kamboj.

Mr Chawla got some useful suggestions from officers to reduce the delay in procedures. He asked the officers to tap more resources from the Central Government for improving the sanitation of the city.

A Central Pollution Control Board delegation today met the Commissioner to inquire about the progress being made on time-bound necessary measures required by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry under the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court.


Hungry kya...
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Unofficial lunch break by employees, stretching from 1 p.m to 3.30 p.m., kept the new Mayor hungry today.

The official lunch time for the Municipal Corporation staff is between 1 p.m and 1.30 p.m.

The Mayor had to call up his wife asking her to send lunch in the office. He had called a meeting with officers at 3 p.m.


Demand to set up trust for temple
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 6
‘‘A Trust should be formed to manage and preserve the 550-year-old Mata Jayanti Devi temple at Jayanti Majri village in Ropar district’’. This demand was put forward by a joint delegation of the Rural Area Development Committee, Ropar, Puri Development Trust, the two committees managing the affairs of Jayanti Devi temple and representatives of 50 villages of Kharar sub-division who met Punjab Governor Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) today.

In a release issued by Mr Arvind Puri, Chairman, RADC, it has been claimed that the demand is backed by panchayats of 50 villages. Mr Nathu Ram Puri, chairman, Puri Foundation, UK, had announced a grant of Rs 1 crore for the temple if a Trust was formed to manage the temple.

In a memorandum submitted to the Governor, it was also demanded that Mullnapur-Garibdass and surrounding villages should be accorded the status of Notified Area Committee (NAC).

The delegation also demanded that the Puri Development Trust Mullanpur should be transferred land at the earliest for the construction of an engineering and IT college at Mullanpur-Garibdass village. It may be recalled that Mr Nathu Ram Puri had on July 19, 2002, announced that the Trust would construct the college for the development of educational facilities in the area.

The delegation also demanded re-laying of village link roads in the Kharar sub-division. It demanded that the road between the Chandigarh-Mullanpur barrier and Jayanti Devi temple and the one joining the barrier and Majra village should be taken up on a priority basis.

The other demands included laying of sewerage system in Mullnapur and surrounding villages, upgrading of Government Girls School and a 50-bed modern hospital in Mullanpur - Garibdass village.

The delegation comprised Mr Varinder Sharma, Mr Bahadur Gupta, Mr Sanjay Kumar of Mata Jayanti Devi Langar and Prabandhak Committee, Mullanpur, Mr Laik Ram, president of Mata Jayanti Devi Committee, Jayanti Majri, Mr D.D Puri and Mr Nachatar Singh of the Puri Development Trust and Mr Atma Ram, Mr Gurcharan Dass, Mr Jagjeevan Ram, Mr Saminder Pal Singh and Mr Baldev Singh, sarpanch of Kasuli, Jayanti Majri, Tira, Seonk and Ferozpur villages, respectively, and Mr Arvind Puri.


Follow path shown by Prof Schroff’
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 6
‘‘Prof Mahadeva Pal Schroff is the pioneer, Architect, Creator and mentor of modern pharmacy in India.’’ This was stated by Prof S.N. Sharma, Emeritus Professor Hamdard University, New Delhi, while delivering the Professor Mahadeva Lal Schroff Centenary Commemorative lecture here today.

Organised by the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Professor Sharma talked about the various facets of the genesis and evolution of modern pharmacy in India.

Earlier in his welcome address, Prof C.L. Kaul, Director, NIPER, highlighted the fact that Professor Schroff had in the 50’s pronounced the necessity of establishing a centre for excellence in pharmaceutical education and research and the creation of NIPER was the culmination of his idea. Dr Kaul also appreciated that many eminent scientists in the field of pharmacy in India had been associated with Prof Schroff.

Dr Harkrishan Singh, a student of Prof Schroff, recalled his interaction with him. Mr P.D. Sheth, president of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association, presided over the function and stressed that less than 3 per cent of the graduates joined the profession as community pharmacists, hospital pharmacists or clinical pharmacists. He also appreciated the establishment of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at NIPER as a positive move in increasing the availability of competent pharmacists in the area. Mr Sheth also recommended the need that pharmacists have to be a part of the healthcare team.

Prof Sharma, who had a long association with the late Prof Schroff initially as a student and then as colleague, emphasised that Prof Schroff had left behind him challenges and a legacy for pharmaceutical healthcare and this forms the starting point for younger pharmacists. Prof K.K. Bhutani, Dean, NIPER, proposed a vote of thanks.


Udisha launched for women panches
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 6
A special programme to train women panches and sarpanches in the state was launched here today. The programme, called Udisha, a concept of the Institute of Development and Communication (IDC), Chandigarh will be implemented in collaboration with the Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development, Punjab.

Formally inaugurated today by the Minister of Social Security and Welfare of SC/BC, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, the programme is aimed at empowering women at the grassroot level. Under the scheme all women panches and sarpanches will be imparted training on functions and duties of women panchayat members, skills for performing regulatory and development functions, government schemes for upliftment of women, gender sensitisation and role of women panchayat members and checking drug abuse.

The training programme created specially for women panches is based on a sample study of 300 women panches. During the study it was found that only 10 per cent of them received regular notices for panchayat meetings and 43 per cent had never received such notices at all.

The study also pointed out that the number of woman panches who attended the meeting had gone down substantially over the years. Only seven per cent were attending meetings regularly while 26 per cent attended these meetings occasionally, that too only for some specific purpose. As much as 67 per cent of the woman panches had never attended a single meeting.

The study also pointed out that in some cases the women did not know that they were standing for elections. The study further showed that most of the women panches had little idea of the problems of their village and even less knowledge of various government schemes and rules and regulations.

In his address, the minister said this programme would be launched throughout the state in the coming six months and all panches and sarpanches trained at the block level. The government would spend a sum of Rs 623 lakh on the programme. The minister focussed on the need for women panches to play a pivotal role in ending female foeticide in the state, which had touched alarming levels.


Termite-hit trees axed
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, January 6
Following a Tribune report on termites in city’s green cover infecting trees, the UT Horticulture today removed the termites manually and cut down dead trees, which spread the termite.

A Chandigarh Tribune had carried a story on December 3 highlighting that the green cover in the city was in danger.

Employees of the Horticulture Department cut down the affected trees from the badly affected belt in Sector 17 in front of the police station. The employees said officials had ordered them to cut the worst-affected trees in this region.

When contacted, Executive Engineer Horticulture Raghubir Singh said he had passed orders to remove termites and dead trees from the affected green belt. He had visited a number of places to assess the extent of damage. Many trees had been affected due to the dry spell in the city.

Investigations by Chandigarh Tribune had revealed that most of affected trees are in Sector-17, Sector-16 (adjacent to Shanti Kunj), Sector-28, Panjab University (dispensary area and some other places), Sector-29 and Sector-22. Many trees in these sectors have already succumbed to termite infection.

The worst affected belt is in Sector-17 adjacent to the District Courts boundary wall. The problem is graver in view of termite colonies spreading into offices situated nearby.


Why are Generals reticent with media?

AT the time of retirement of former Army chief General S. Padmanabhan, some mediapersons commented that he was reticent with the media during his tenure. It was also said “the official snub to him for his remarks on India’s nuclear capability and resolve, if attacked with N-weapons, made him recede into his shell even more”.

While it is easy for the media to make such comments, it is difficult for them to gauge the reasons for this reticence. For as per the Army Rule 21 “no person subject to the Army Act can communicate directly or indirectly to the Press any matter even on service subjects without prior sanction of the Central Government”. This being a tricky rule, can be applied in the strict sense when the government decides to do so.

There have been many cases where the Generals got into trouble for making off-the-cuff remarks to the media. Of several such examples is the one of former Army chief General S.F. Rodrigus. In his interview with the Pioneer in 1992, he used certain words which came under severe criticism by Parliamentarians, some of whom went to the extent of demanding his resignation. It was with great difficulty that the situation was saved by the then Defence Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar.

So long as the government does not make a media policy for the Army by amending the archaic Army Rule 21, the Generals will continue to exercise caution while interacting with the media.

Gallantry awards

In December, three investiture ceremonies, two in the Western Command and one in the Northern Command, were held to present gallantry and distinguished service awards to the soldiers. These awards are great motivators for the young soldiers and should always be well published.

In the Western Command, the Army Commander, Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, presented these awards to 38 soldiers at Ambala and 40 soldiers at Chandi Mandir on December 13 and December 16, respectively.

Lucky are those who survive while fighting with exceptional courage and receive the gallantry awards themselves. But one has to think more of the unfortunate widows and orphaned children of those soldiers who receive these awards posthumously. They not only deserve nation’s gratitude but the country also owes them a sacred debt.

Soon after the war, the war heroes are forgotten and with that are forgotten the promises made to them and their widows. Most of the hapless widows have to rush from pillar to post to get their dues and many of them fail in their efforts with the callous government functionaries.

One of the many such examples is that of the widow of Lance Naik Gurbachan Singh from Kapurthala who laid down his life in the 1965 war. She was allotted 80 kanals. For which, she had to fight a long battle for 37 years to get her due. Such cases adversely affect the morale of the serving and retired soldiers.

Helpline catches up

Never before in the past has such a noble service been started by the Army for the ex-servicemen, their families and widows as the “Ex-servicemen Helpline”. This service was started by the Headquarters Western Command in the Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir, on September 15, 2002. By helping the ex-servicemen in all their problems, it has gone a long way in boosting their morale. Not only the Army men but even personnel from the Navy and the Air Force are making full use of this service.

With the popularity of this service having grown, it has been started at two more stations i.e. Bathinda and Jalandhar in the Western Command on January 1, 2003. It is also being started at Sangrur in the near future. With this tempo, it seems the service will spread to many more stations in this Command in the current year.

Helping the ex-servicemen in their problems of pension, welfare, hospital admission, canteen services and to provide them ambulance vehicles and transport at concessional rates are some of the many services provided by the Helpline. It is time the other Commands also took a cue from the Headquarters, Western Command, to start this service. For the experience shows that the government hardly solves any problems of ex-servicemen. And it is the Army that understands their problems better besides providing adequate and timely help to them.

Pritam Bhullar



City scientist honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Dr Sanjay Jain, a city-based scientist working with the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) whose voice recognition expertise resulted in the conviction of attackers on Parliament on December 13, was today honoured with the Home Minister’s Award in Mumbai.

Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani gave away the award to the scientist for the year 2001 at the 14th All-India Forensic Science Conference. The award is in recognition of his “outstanding contribution in the field of forensic physical sciences.”

Starting his career in 1987, Dr Jain undertook a project entitled “Development of computer-based technique for speaker identification” under the Ninth Five Year Plan to develop expertise in the examination of criminal cases related to the voice and speaker identification.

He received advance training in speaker identification and tape authentification at the University of Trier, Germany and German Federal Police Lab, Wiesbaden, year 2000.

As project leader, he played a significant role in the development of software for speaker identification in text independent conditions and in the establishment of forensic speaker identification technique at the CFSL, Chandigarh.

Dr Jain is supervising the work of research fellows to carry out research activities in the area of forensic speaker identification.


Karanj oil as alternative to diesel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Farmers in the rural areas and vehicle owners may get Karanj oil — produced from the seeds of special varieties of trees — as an alternative to diesel if the trials of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, are any indication. This indigenous fuel would be available at Rs 10.50 per kg, said Prof Udipi Srivasan, expert and Chief Programme Officer from SuTRA here today.

At a demonstration-cum-workshop, organised by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, he claimed that there were 300 species of trees in the country which produced seeds containing oil, including Karanj. He said Ponamia oil could be produced on a commercial scale provided right strategies were adopted. Giving a demonstration of the Karanj oil to run a diesel Gen-set, he said,‘‘ This could be produced at Rs 10.50 kg, if the sale value of the cake as fertiliser was also taken into account.’’

Mr S.K. Bajpai, scientist in the Department of Science and Technology, disclosed that the department was working on various strategies to promote the technologies developed by SuTRA, Bangalore.


Low-pesticide vegetables
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
By introducing low pesticide vegetables here today, Punjab Agri Export Corporation Limited (Pagrexco), a subsidiary of the Punjab Agro Industries and Export Corporation (PAIC), has taken a major step towards organic farming in the state.

Introducing the export-quality traditional and exotic vegetables, Mr Himat Singh, Managing Director, PAIC, said an area of around 500 acres had been covered in the state to produce quality vegetables that would be sold in the international market and at select counters in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar, Patiala and Panchkula and PAIC counter in Sector 28-A.

He said the traditional vegetables like peas, cabbage, cauliflower and exotic vegetables like Nantis carrots, brocolli, Brussels sprouts, Knol Khol and lettuce would be grown under contract farming. A premium variety of sarson had also been introduced, which was easy to cook and tasted like saag. The exotic vegetables would also be available in premium markets of New Delhi in addition to local markets. During the coming summer season, he said, Pagrexco proposed to increase the area under contract farming and would sell the produce by increasing export volumes and by setting up Food Marts, first in Punjab and Chandigarh and later in other.

He claimed that around 250 acres of land had been kept fallow to reduce the impact of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in the soil. After getting certification from international agencies, organic farming would be introduced at this land. The corporation was making efforts to provide quality produce to consumers and remunerative price to farmers, he added.


POWA to meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
To mobilise public support to do away with the Rs 1500 clause, the Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA), in association with various welfare bodies of the city, will organise a convention on various provisions of the East Punjab Rent Control Act here tomorrow.

According to Mr R.P. Malhotra, general secretary, several bodies, including FOSWAC (Federation of Sectors’ Welfare Associations of Chandigarh), the CHB (Chandigarh Housing Board) Residents’ Federation, the Indian Ex-Servicemen League, Chandigarh, the Chandigarh Pind Bachao Committee representing 22 UT villages, the Citizen Council, Sector 21, the Modern Housing Complex Welfare Association, Chandigarh, the Defence Colony Welfare Association and SAMADHAAN a pressure group for social justice — will participate in the convention.

Mr H.R. Swan, IPS, DGP Haryana (retired), will be the chief guest.


32-year-old burglar nabbed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
A 32-year-old burglar involved in several cases of theft in southern sectors has been arrested by the Chandigarh Police. According to information, the burglar, Arjun, a resident of Uttaranchal, was arrested along with Hari Bahadhur, a resident of Nepal, while planning a burglary.

Both suspects were operating from Sirhind to avoid suspicion. At least 27 cases of burglary, involving theft of around Rs 40,000 from cabins in the Quiet Office complex in sector 36, have been solved by officials of the Sector 36 police station.

Arjun closely worked with a notorious gang involved in serial burglaries in Chandigarh and Panchkula in 1995. The members of the gang have served sentences in different jails. Arjun, served a term of 10 months in the Ambala jail.

A police official said the main suspect, after being released from that jail, did petty jobs at Amritsar and Chandigarh. A drop out in matric, Arjun, was thrown out of the house by father due to his habit of gambling. The total cash stolen by him in the past has also been spent on gambling, said a police official. The suspects, who are on police remand till tomorrow, are suspected to be involved in other cases of burglaries in the region. All members are said to be gamblers.

Purse, mobile snatched

Three youths riding a black LML Vespa scooter snatched purse and a mobile phone from one Mr Balwinder Sharma near the PWD store in Sector 34 here last evening. The victim, a resident of Sector 35, reported to the police that the incident took place at around 8.55 pm. The scooter number could not be noted down. A case has been registered.


Mr R.K Goyal, a resident of Sector 36, reported to the police that his Maruti car (PB-10P-6801) was stolen from his residence on the night intervening January 4 and 5. Meanwhile, Lt-Col S.J Singh of the Sirhind Club, Ambala Cantonment, reported that Rs 5,000 and medicines valued at Rs 12,000 were stolen from his Maruti Zen, which was parked in Sector 17 on January 3. Two cases of theft have been registered.

Liquor seized

Hundred pouches of liquor were found lying in a scooter which was abandoned by a scooterist who was signalled to stop in Maloya on Sunday morning. A case has been registered.


Six held

The police has arrested six persons namely Devinder Singh, Ravinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh, Anil Kumar, Sumit and Mahendra on charges of committing indecent acts at a public place. They have been booked under Section 294 of the IPC.


Car snatching: both versions to be verified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
In connection with the incident of alleged robbing of a Tata Indica car at gunpoint by three persons at the Sectors 27 and 28 traffic junction on Saturday last, Mr Arvinder Singh, who claims to be owner of the car, said that he had bought the same from the original owner, Bhalinder Singh, for Rs 1,30,000.

Showing documents of sale, Mr Arvinder Singh, said the vehicle had been sold in October this year. The surveyor, Mr Rajinder Singh, who had been named by Bhalinder Singh in the case, said he had taken no money from Bhalinder Singh for settling the case.

Police officials say they are investigating the matter and if the complaint is found to be false, action will be taken against the complainant. Last night Balwinder Singh, a resident of Sector 38, who was in possession of the car had complained to the police that Bhalinder Singh of Nabha, Patiala, had forcibly driven away the car.

The driver of the car had said he had borrowed the vehicle from its owner, Arvinder Singh, to go to Sector 28. A police official said versions of both parties would be investigated.


Giving Punjabi hospitality to customers
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

On the eve of New Year, when most of the hotels, restaurants and discotheques in the city were offering free dinners, drinks or coupons to attract the young crowd, it was Aroma hotel that did most of the business. Without any marketing gimmicks, the annual turnover has already crossed Rs 3 crore.

No wonder, says Manmohan S. Kohli (49), Chief Executive, Aroma: “People do not like to be fooled by ‘buy one, get one free’ offers. They simply want to have highest value for their money. And we are expert at it.” He has nurtured this hotel not as a “profit-making establishment” but as a centre of “aristocratic hospitality,” where children love to bring in their parents for eating. In that way, Aroma stands for family eating and has no place for ‘cheap’ fashion shows, astrologers or doubtful characters.

He claims, “We have promoted it as a place for family eating as well as for the emerging class of new customers — students and women. Established in 1953, Aroma Hotel in Sector 22 has emerged as one of the most respected places in the city, where not even a single crime has been reported during all these years.”

After doing his early studies, Mr Kohli took over the family business here from his father, who had established a small hotel near the bus stand, after migrating from Pakistan. He says: “We have tried to develop it as a place for masses and classes, where one can enter even with a Rs 10 note to taste a special pastry or enjoy costlier dishes. Our strength lies in concentrating on core business strength — “Punjabi hospitality” for the growing middle class.”

A man committed to promoting “affordable home hospitality,” Mr Kohli has fostered Aroma as a place where one can have every kind of cuisine ranging from “tandoori chicken” to dishes from the South in a homely environment. Regarding the increasing trend of fast foods, he says, ‘‘It is not the fast food, but fast service with a smile that people want. You cannot term pizza as a fast food, which takes at least 20 minutes for right preparation. Here, we rather serve Indian food in much less time with traditional taste.”

A regular columnists on travelogues, Mr Kohli is a patron of classical music, dances and other Indian traditional arts. As part of his social duty, he contributes for the education and food of children of slumdwellers, besides participating in blood donation camps. However, he laments that the city is fast losing its status of ‘ “city of gardens and cleanest place” in the region.

The administration could collect a special tax to keep the city “clean and green,” he adds.

Asked what changes have taken place in the profile of customers, he says with the emergence of great Indian middle class, the profile has totally changed. Like other metros, city hotels and restaurants are now witnessing as increase in the number of women customers. With the increase in family income, students have also emerged as the biggest surprise for the hospitality industry.


Hair oil launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Paras Pharmaceuticals, a healthcare and pharmaceutical company, has introduced Livon Silky Potion, a non-greasy hair fluid. It is a transparent, odourless after wash hair fluid containing Vitamin E that eases tangles and knots and makes hair smooth and soft.

Livon Silky Potion acts instantly on application and could ideally be applied after a hair wash on towel-dried damp hair. It can also be used on dry hair prior to combing and is safe for all types of hair.

New advt campaign

Nirma Limited has announced the launch of new advertisement campaign for its beauty soap — Camay.

According to Mr Hiren. K. Patel, Director, Nirma Ltd; “We believed in bringing the best to our consumers. Earlier, Camay was accessible only to a particular segment of Indian society. Now, anyone can buy it. The campaign reinforces the image of Camay as an ideal skin care soap.”

Following a detailed quantitative and qualitative research commissioned by Nirma to ascertain consumer needs and attitudes, it was discovered that there were marked preferences for ‘skin care properties’.

New range of watches

For all those exuberant women, who have an eye for detail and a feel for fashion, Fastrack — the fashion brand from Titan — takes the term casual fashion notches ahead with its new range of unconventional watches.

This unusual fashion collection is all about being a non-conformist, right from how the watch is shaped, to the dials and straps. There are twin straps in contrary colours and top and bottom straps in different colours, both with split dials that leave a strong impression.

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