C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC rejects property tax imposition
BJP-SAD councillors stage protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Amid opposition by a majority of the nominated councillors, the Congress-dominant General House passed the agenda to “outrightly” reject the imposition of property tax in the city. The BJP-SAD councillors staged a dharna in the well of the House when the Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, said that a councillor, Ms Harjinder Kaur, did not represent SAD.

Trouble started when during the course of proceedings, the Mayor asked Mrs Harjinder Kaur to produce a letter from the party president about her position in the party. On this Mrs Harjinder Kaur did not allow the proceedings to run and sat on dharna on the floor of the house led by BJP councillors Gian Chand Gupta, Kamla Sharma and Rajesh Gupta. They claimed that the Mayor had no right to inquire about the political status of the councillors. She was an elected councillor and that should be enough for the Mayor in Chair, said Mr Gian Chand Gupta.

Seeing the mood of the Opposition, the councillors of the ruling group raised slogans against the BJP councillors.

During the commotion, the main issue of withdrawing the recommendation of the property tax was sidelined and the two rival groups indulged in the blame game. After adjourning the House for 10 minutes, the agenda to “outrightly” reject the recommendation of property tax was passed by majority. Soon after, the proceedings came to an end.

Brig Sant Singh (retd), a nominated councillor, who opposed the rejection of property tax, said only 5 per cent of the people were affected by the tax. However, he could not speak in the House due to the pandemonium. His stand was supported by Mrs Amar Kulwant Singh, Dr B.R. Verma, Mr Didar Khan, and Mr P.C. Sanghi — all nominated councillors. Dr K.S. Raju, also a nominated councillor, supported the idea of withdrawing the recommendation of property tax in the interest of the public.

Earlier, the meeting began with the BJP councillors protesting against the non-inclusion of their agenda for withdrawal of all taxes, including the property tax, imposed during the regime of the Congress group. On this the Commissioner, Mr M.P. Singh, clarified that the agenda could not be included as it was a special meeting called on the issue of property tax. The Mayor assured the opposition councillors that their agenda would be included at the next meeting. Not satisfied, Mr Gian Chand Gupta said there had been instances when agendas had been included in special meetings.

The Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, said in the name of urban reforms, the Administration was trying to impose new taxes on the city residents. He said the Administration was not respecting the democratic aspirations of the people. He demanded that the corporation be given 17 per cent out of the revenue earned by the Administration.

The local unit of the BJP today staged a dharna in front of the corporation office demanding withdrawal of all taxes, including the property tax. Mr Satya Pal Jain, former member of Parliament, said the Congress was trying to gain public opinion on the issue of property tax. He said after proposing property tax at a rate of 2 per cent, it had recommended “outright” withdrawal of the recommendation of property tax. The president of the local unit, Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, said withdrawal of the recommendation on property tax was a win of the BJP.


Cong ready to face snap MC poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Congress Mayor Subhash Chawla said yesterday that the party was ready to face mid-term poll in the corporation in case the elected body was dissolved by the Chandigarh Administration on the issue of property tax. Going back to the people on the stand of opposing the property tax would be a welcome step, said the Mayor.

Replying in the same breath, he said he was hopeful that the administration would not resort to unconstitutional step of dissolving the elected civic body on the issue of property tax.

The officers of the administration know that the General House has twice rejected a move to impose property tax at a rate of 5 per cent. The Congress is holding a special session tomorrow to “outrightly” reject the agenda of imposing the tax.

Mr Chawla said the party saw nefarious designs on part of BJP leaders to malign the ruling party in the corporation through false propaganda. He alleged that administration was constantly ignoring the elected councillors under pressure from the Centre. He dared the former BJP MP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, and the local BJP President, Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, to debate on a common platform. “ We would reply to each and every allegation”, said the Mayor.

Replying to the allegations by Mr Jain on the issue of increasing water charges, he said it was only the user charges, included in the water tariff, which were increased from time to time as the cost of pumping water from the Kajauli waterworks was being borne by the corporation. When the electricity rates increased, the user charges had to be jacked up, he added.

He claimed that the Administration had been ignoring the elected body, including the Mayor. There had been occasions when the officers of the corporation were called for review meeting by the Administrator and the Adviser and the Mayor was never called. “Decisions were taken without consulting the elected representatives of the people”, he claimed.

On the issue of protest by the BJP leaders, he said the opposition leaders were trying to divert the attention of the city residents. He dismissed the allegation of corporation staff working for the MP.

On the demolitions in the Sector 38 rehri market, he said the Estate Office had been repeatedly writing to the corporation about the encroachments. Then the Estate Office wrote to the Deputy Commissioner on the issue. “The letter shown by Mr Jain to the media yesterday was only the reply sent by the corporation to the administration”, he said.

On being asked about the agenda item of the BJP not being included in the tomorrow’s General House, he said the item was not signed by the fourth member, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, and was submitted very late.

Who benefits if the elected body is dissolved?

Political analysts say that the Congress is not ready to face General Elections next year with 5 per cent property tax. It will favour that the Administration dissolves the body so that public opinion is in its favour. On the other hand, the BJP will favour constant battering of the Congress-dominated corporation on the sensitive issues till the General Elections. The administration will have to hold elections for the remaining three years.

It may be mentioned that the Congress MP and the Mayor had been quite open in criticising the Administration for ignoring the elected body and taking one-sided decisions. If the civic body was dissolved, the BJP could be in a tight spot as the Congress would be free to say that the property tax has been imposed by the Administration — controlled by the BJP-led NDA government. 


MC staff accept ministry package
Drop demand on deputation
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Ending a seven-year controversy, 6,500 employees of the Municipal Corporation today agreed to a compromise formula under which they will drop the demand of being treated as deputationists. In return, they will get all other service benefits availed by them as government employees.

What the employees will get

* Government and not MC to handle post-retirement benefits like pension, gratuity and provident fund
* Employees to be governed by the Punjab Civil Service Rules, 1960
* Pay scales, DA instalments to continue as before.
* Service conditions of firing and taking action against the employees will remain like any other government set-up
* Employees will get to retain government houses

The acceptance of the package by the Coordination Committee of employees was conveyed to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today by the Chandigarh Administration. Once the MHA approves of it, a notification will be issued.

The president of the Coordination Committee, Mr Ajit Singh when contacted, confirmed that the package offered by the MHA had been accepted. Sources in the Administration confirmed that this was like enjoying all service benefits of a government employee but the word ‘‘deputation ’’ has been dropped. The committee had gone to Delhi for a meeting with ministry officials two days ago where they were told about the proposal. The acceptance was conveyed to the Chandigarh Administration today which further informed the MHA.

Under the compromise formula the employees will get all post-retirement benefits like pension, gratuity and provident fund through the government — the Accountant General’s office — and not through the MC. Employees had expressed reservation over the MC being able to generate enough funds to pay pension and other benefits. Also, employees of the MC will be governed by the Punjab Civil Service Rules, 1960 under which the service conditions of pay scales, DA instalments and other service conditions shall continue as before. The power to take action and punish employees will remain like any other government set-up but will be transferred to the Commissioner, MC.

Sources said accepting all 6,500 employees on deputation to the MC would have been impossible. All of them were originally employees of the Chandigarh Administration and were shifted to the MC in 1996 on its formation. The employees had been demanding that they be treated on deputation. The Union Ministry of Personnel and Union Ministry of law had opposed it, saying that it was not possible to treat employees on such a long deputation. Besides, this would have had an impact on the privatisation process under which employees of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, who were employed in the erstwhile Department of Telecom, would have also demanded same benefits.

The MHA which is the controlling ministry for Chandigarh had agreed to extend all service benefits to MC employees, subject to certain conditions.


Striking students shine shoes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
A symbolic protest by way of polishing shoes at the Sector 17 Plaza was organised by activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) drawn from various colleges, here, today to express concern over the rising cost of higher education in the city.

Action plan of PUCSC

* To gherao the Vice-Chancellor when he returns to office after three days
* To block traffic on the Madhya Marg in case of lack of response from the authorities
* To extend strike to colleges of Punjab

On the Panjab University campus, meanwhile, the indefinite fast by five members of the co-ordination committee of UT college students completed three days without eliciting any response from the authorities while no classes were held in city colleges.

In separate statements issued in the evening, the president of the Panjab University Campus Students Council (PUCSC), Mr Malvinder Kang, said though the Dean University Instructions and Dean Student Welfare had called a meeting of the students, it had failed to provide any answers to the question of over-charging of funds and rollback of the hike in fee.

Urging the Senators and Syndics of the university to come out with their opinion in the matter, he threatened to extend the agitation to all colleges of Punjab if the fee disparity in private colleges was not dealt with. In a representation addressed to Principal SC Marriya of the local DAV College, he pointed out the extra funds being charged by them was true for others as well.

Demanding consistency and uniformity in the fee structures of all colleges, the general secretary of the ABVP, Mr Saurabh Joshi, said the policies of the university and the Chandigarh Administration were making higher education an option for the elite, leaving no scope for students coming from poor or middle class families.

He appealed to parents to unite and fight for the cause of the students and attacked the disparity in fee structures of colleges, exploiting the students in the name of providing better facilities to make quick money.

The Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) demanded that the decision of fee hike announced by the UT Administration was “harsh and should be rolled back immediately”. The president of SOPU, Mr Ranjit Singh Raju, said “the unjust burden” on students would not be tolerated and the organisation would be forced to launch an agitation in case the university failed to give a favourable response.

Meanwhile, no classes were held in the city colleges. The campuses, usually bustling with life, had hardly any students though teachers reported according to their time-tables.


Closure of Punjabi channels makes dance girls vulnerable
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
The increase in the rate of trafficking of dance girls outside the city is suspected to be linked to the virtual end of opportunities for the girls here following the failure of Punjabi TV channels and serials and introduction of computerised music samplers, synthesisers and disc jockeys.

Dance business

* DJ and computerised synthesisers and samplers to blame
Girls getting assignments out of Chandigarh
* 35 of them have been to Dubai also
* Good artistes earn as much 50,000 per month, rest get around 15,000
* Parents are helping children learn dance to be professionals
* Largely clean business as far as security of girls is concerned
* Gidha groups are also working
* Album recording down, forcing girls to look elsewhere

The present situation is contrary to what it was five years back when the sky invasion mushroomed television channels.

The advent of channels prompted the emergence of music companies which booked dancers for video albums and stage shows, a person involved in the local music industry told the Chandigarh Tribune.

He said such music channels as Lashkara and Tara needed choreographers but they did not have proper girls for video albums. Whoever knew a little dance, got the opportunity.

The demand created the mushrooming of dance teaching institutes in the city and surrounding areas. They did brisk business with even parents encouraging the girls to learn dance and get opportunities in music albums and Punjabi serials.

With the closure of the two channels and lack of popularity of Punjabi serials, opportunities for the girls sharply fell. The dance girls had also tasted economic and social freedom during their runaway business, which suddenly collapsed. This situation made the Komals, Simrans and Rajnis vulnerable to music companies which faced an onslaught from DJ and change in technology, another person running a music company said.

Then the Punjabi pop singing took a new turn towards obscenity, catching the city girls offguard.

In the wake of this situation, at least 35 city girls have been to Dubai and Singapore as dancers. They save around Rs 1 lakh in three months, a musician, who has been to Dubai, said.

The popularity of DJ and introduction of computerised samplers and synthesisers has rendered at least 700 artistes jobless as no instrument, can be played on the sampler. The artistes were earning around Rs 600 in each performance with at least 10 assured bookings those days.

The DJ has not only dried up opportunities for instrument players but also singers and dancers as it is not considered safe to dance to the tunes of DJ in private parties. The safety of the girls was ensured when a group of musicians used to accompany them to an event.

Rakesh Batalvi, Kuldeep Singh, Baljeet Singh, Kapil Sharma and K.M. Muralidhar, Komal and Asha, the accused in the human trafficking case, are not known in the local music industry. The established names do not even recognise them, saying that they apparently seemed to be exploiting the situation.

A person running a music company here said the city now witnesses exchange of dance girls between Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Delhi, Chandigarh and Mumbai with top artistes frequenting these places to perform stage shows and in video albums.

Ludhiana and Jalandhar are estimated to have around 500 dance girls and an equal number in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula.

The best groups are those of gidha, but they are not getting much money for performances in the city.

Meanwhile, a few choreography groups have also emerged, leaving other dancers with no opportunities in video albums.

There was a time when recording was possible only after a month of seeking date with studios. Now, the number of studios has gone up from two to 10 and one can get recording done even in a day.


Dance girls case accused denied bail
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 12
The bail application moved by the three suspects in the case of trafficking of girls to Bangalore was today dismissed by a local court. Pleading that they were falsely implicated, the suspects — Rakesh Batalvi, Kuldeep and Baljit — filed the application in the court of the UT Judicial Magistrate(First Class), Mr Sandeep K. Singla.

The UT police opposed the suspects’ bail on the ground that the girls were allegedly illegally detained in Bangalore by the accused and even forced to perform dance and stage shows there.

Giving details in the reply filed in the court, the police alleged that the accused had lured the girl by saying that they would to perform in an album. The accused took the help of a woman and a girl to persuade the girls to accept their proposal. The girls were promised a salary of Rs 15,000 per month by the accused, but had been given a lesser amount.

Appearing on behalf of the state, the Public Prosecutor, Mr Ashok Rohilla, argued that the girls were forced to dance in pubs at night. But when after one month in Bangalore, when the accused failed to provide them any role in the album, the girls raised a protest. Then some of the girls were also allegedly beaten by the accused.

Stating that the girls had signed a contract with the musical groups owned by them, the accused alleged that the police had been misleading the court by providing wrong information. The accused pleaded that the statements of all girls should be recorded. The accused also stated that the girls were not detained by them.


9 Bartana residents told to evict houses
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, November 12
The inter-state land dispute between Punjab and Haryana states took a new turn following the eviction notices served by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to nine residents of Harmilap Nagar Colony in Bartana village today.

The fate of these families is hanging in balance since both the states have been staking claim on the land that shares its boundaries with Bartana village in Dera Bassi subdivision of Punjab and Abheypur village in Panchkula district of Haryana.

HUDA has directed the owners to vacate their house within 24 hours as, it alleges, is an unauthorised possession on an industrial plot of Panchkula in Phase II. HUDA has also warned that they would be evicted by using force if they disobeyed the orders.

Notices have been served on Mr Shankar Pandit, Mr Narain, Mr Rajinder Kaushal, Ms Santosh Kumari, Ms Pushpa Devi, Mr Jitendra, Mr Jaswant Rai and Mr Shrichand Kaushik as also Sanatan Dharam Mandir, a temple located there.

The affected residents have brought the matter to the notice of the local administration as well as the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat.

Talking to the ‘Chandigarh Tribune’, members of the affected family revealed that they were served notices by HUDA on November 3 and 11. Today, HUDA served them ‘dasti’ notices to vacate their houses.

The residents claimed that they had constructed houses in a housing colony which falls within the jurisdiction of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat after completing the necessary formalities relating to the revenue records of the land.

They were also given electricity and water meter connections by the Punjab State Electricity Board and the Punjab Public Health Department, added a house owner.

To stake its claim, HUDA laid a wide kutcha road on the disputed land the past four days and removed some cowsheds a couple of weeks ago, said Mr Rajinder Singh.

Mr Manmohan Kumar Sharma, DSP, Mr Sanjeev Garg, tehsildar Dera Bassi, Mr Narinder Sharma, president of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, and other revenue officials reached the spot and verified the legal status of the land.

Mr Garg claimed that the ‘disputed’ land belonged to Bartana village. A case is pending with a Rajpura court over the ownership of the land.

Mr Narinder Kumar Sharma, president of the civic body, alleged that HUDA had unnecessarily been staking its claim over the land for last many years. Supporting the house owners, he said HUDA should have discussed the matter with the Dera Bassi administration before taking any step over the disputed land.

On the other hand, holding Punjab’s claim on the land wrong and alleging encroachment by the families of Haryana land , Mr Ashwani Kumar, Estate Officer, HUDA, said that the houses were constructed much before formation of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat.

The houses may face the axe, added Mr Sharma.


PU plan for unavailable options
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
With a view to helping students of affiliated colleges, particularly in the semi-urban and rural areas, Panjab University is planning to make relaxations in the existing rules to facilitate students take up subjects not offered in their colleges.

Principal Harmit Kaur and Principal Jaswant Singh, both fellows of the university Senate, have moved a resolution seeking amendment in the existing rules.

The university has responded positively by constituting a committee under the chairmanship of Prof R.J.Hans-Gill, the Dean, University Instructions, including Principal Gill, Principal Harmit Kaur, Prof S.L.Sharma, Dr Usha Gupta and Prof Charanjit Chawla.

Under the existing rules a regular student of an affiliated college can offer a subject in which a college is not affiliated by attending the prescribed course in another college affiliated to the university. Principal of the college where the student took classes had to certify that the student had attended the minimum number of lectures required for eligibility.

The resolution seeking amendment says that a ‘regular student of an affiliated college may offer one subject(not including practical subject) which is not offered by his college.

The principal of college where student is enrolled will report to the Controller of Examination for information’.

The resolution has certain interesting aspects which forced the university to restudy the matter. It is a known fact that all colleges do not offer all subjects. In bigger cities, students could avail the options at other colleges while this was not possible in rural and semi-urban areas.

Even at places where the options were available at other colleges it was found that it was nearly impossible for students to fulfil the requirement of minimum lectures attended to qualify for the final examination. “ The facility was being used by certain colleges to mint money by issuing certificates of attendance”, a senior fellow said.

The amendment is seen as a big relief for hundreds of students who wished to take up an option not available at their college. Students could take the help of teachers and relevant study material to compensate for classes in one subject.

This difficulty was faced, particularly, by a large number of students who migrated from one college to the other. During migration, it often happened that one of the papers of students concerned was not taught at the new college causing them a lot of inconvenience.

‘There should be no problem in amending the existing rules on the part of maintaining academic standards because the university also awarded degrees to private candidates who did not attend even a single lecture in a single paper+. The facility was not a general change but aimed at a particular category of disadvantaged candidates”, the fellow added.


Lalit Sharma UT Adviser
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last night finally issued formal orders to appoint Mr Lalit Sharma as Adviser to the UT Administrator. Orders of his appointment were received in the office of the UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma late last night and were conveyed to officials this morning.

A 1971 batch officer of the UT cadre of IAS, Mr Sharma is presently the Chief Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Sharma’s family hails from Punjab but he has been brought up and has studied in Delhi.

He will relinquish his charge from Arunachal Pradesh on November 17. It is expected that he will join here within a few days. Speaking over the phone from Arunachal Pradesh Mr Sharma said: ‘‘I will leave for Delhi on November 17 which is followed by a few days of work and the routine briefings in Delhi before I reach Chandigarh. This should be sometime near November 25 or 26.’’

Sources said Mr Baleshwar Rai, a 1970 batch official of the UT cadre, has been chosen to go as Chief Secretary, Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Rai had wanted that he not be posted out of Delhi as this could be his last posting before retirement. 


Water supply to be hit today

Chandigarh, November 12
Water pressure will be low in the city in the morning and evening hours tomorrow, while residents will have to do without water supply in the afternoon. The supply will be affected because of repair work facing carried out in the P.S.C. pipeline, Phase III, near Marauli village, the Municipal Corporation said here today. OC


Drive against illegal tourist buses soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
The Chandigarh Administration will launch a concerted drive against illegal tourist buses operating from the city as ‘State Carriage Buses’ leading to a massive loss of revenue in the shape of passenger tax and road tax.

The UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma, yesterday told his Adviser to launch the drive. The Administrator asked the Adviser to organise a joint operation by the State Transport Authority and the Excise Department to check the operation of such buses. He said, if possible, the Administration of neighbouring satellite towns should also be involved in this exercise.

Taking a serious view of bad condition in internal roads in Industrial Area, Phase II, Justice Verma asked the Chief Engineer to take up the re-carpeting of roads there on priority. The Chief Engineer assured the Administrator that contract for re-carpeting of the roads had already been allotted and work would be completed by March, 2004.

The Administrator asked the Chief Engineer to fix the responsibility of supervisory officers of the Engineering Department for a lack of supervision leading to a mishap in which two labourers were killed. The Chief Engineer informed the Administrator that work had been done by a contractor and Sub-Divisional Officer and Junior Engineer ought to have ensured that trenches were dug up with proper safeguards as enjoined upon by the agreement. The Chief Engineer had been directed that safety measures as provided in agreements should be fully adhered to.

Justice Verma asked the Chief Engineer to initiate an inquiry against the supervising staff particularly on this point.

Also a meeting of resident welfare associations of various sectors will be convened soon. The Administrator said he would like to interact with associations to motivate them to supplement the efforts of the Administration and the Municipal Corporation in maintaining the hygiene and cleanliness of their respective sectors. The Adviser assured that a meeting would be organised within a month.


Evasion of sales tax detected
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 12
Sales tax evasion — estimated to be in lakhs of rupees — was detected by the officials of the Excise and Taxation Department during a raid conducted here today.

The officials seized a large number of documents from two units of timber merchant being run in the Phase III of Industrial Area here. Sales tax evasion was estimated to be around Rs 20 lakh which could become double after a penalty was imposed. The operation started around 11.30 a.m. and went on till about 3 p.m.

Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Jarnail Singh, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Ropar, said an unaccounted sale carried out by the two firms could be estimated to be more than Rs 2.5 crore. He said the owner of the two firms, Sahibzada Timber Traders and Sahibzada Ply Palace, was the biggest timber dealer in this area which included Chandigarh and Panchkula. He was paying tax amounting to Rs 50 lakh a year to the department.

He said the officials had seized about 4,000 documents relating to the sale and purchase which would be scrutinised by the department. He said a large number of transactions had been carried out illegally. The stock of timber lying at the premises was also verified and officials from the Forest Department were called to assess the quality of wood.

The AETC said during the operation, he saw an employee of the establishment going hurriedly towards a kitchen. He followed the employee and saw that he was trying to hide two bags full of documents behind the gas cylinders in the kitchen.

He said though the owner was not present when the raid was conducted, a manager and an accountant, along with nearly 100 employees, were there. The owner came after about half an hour. He said the dealer had admitted to indulging in tax evasion. A cheque for Rs 5 lakh was handed over to the officials raiding the units as part of tax payment.

Mr Jarnail Singh said the raid had been carried out on the directions of the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, Mr D.P. Reddy. He said the department had also conducted raids at Jalandhar and Patiala today.

Mr Jarnail Singh said his office had earlier imposed penalities amounting to Rs 3 lakh on various establishments in Ropar district for not issuing proper bills at the time of sales.


SAS Nagar garbage piles up
Sohana residents protest against dumping
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 12
The Municipal Council here once again finds itself in a fix over the dumping of the town's garbage with residents of Sohana village, near here, giving an ultimatum that they will not allow a site in the area to be used for the purpose till adequate compensation is given by PUDA for the land acquired.

While residents sat on dharna today demanding adequate compensation, garbage kept piling up in the town as not a single vehicle carrying garbage was allowed to pass that way by the protesters. A number of tractor-trailers loaded with garbage were seen parked at some distance away from the site where residents sat on dharna.

Mr Buta Singh, member of the block samiti, said PUDA had acquired 13 acres of land that fell under the village for the purpose of dumping garbage. An award of Rs 2 lakh for this land was announced by PUDA yesterday which was highly inadequate. He said PUDA had acquired land about three years back for developing Sectors 76 to 80. An award of Rs 10 lakh per acre was announced by PUDA for this land. The villagers demanded that the compensation should be given at the rate of Rs 15 lakh per acre.

The protesters said some residents had planned to keep vigil at night as well so that the council was not allowed to dump garbage in the area.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the council, said that garbage was piling up in the town but the civic body was helpless. He said the council had written many letters to PUDA in which it had been stated that residents of Sohana village had many times objected to the throwing of garbage and as such the physical possession of the land should be handed over to the civic body at the earliest. But the matter was delayed by PUDA for a long time. He said PUDA had given an assurance today that the physical possession of the land would be handed over to the council tomorrow.

The council had been facing problems over the past many years for dumping garbage as no site had been earmarked for the purpose by the authorities concerned.

Earlier in October last year, the IAF authorities had objected to the allotment of another garbage dumping site to the council by PUDA in Sohana village. The Air Force said the site was near the outer marker of the airfield and the dumping of garbage increased the number of birds in the area posing a serious threat to military and civilian flights.

In March last year, the council began dumping garbage at a temporary site allotted by PUDA, near Sector 66 here. This led to a protest by residents who said that using the site for the purpose might lead to health problems.

The council had also once taken a site on lease for garbage disposal in Badmajra village near the milk plant here. The plant authorities, however, filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the use of site in that manner. The court directed PUDA in February last year to allot a site to the council. PUDA then allotted the site near Sector 66 on temporary basis.


Birth certificates free of cost
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 12
The office of the Registrar-General of India will launch a campaign for the issue of birth certificates free of cost to the children aged between 0-9 years from November 14.

Information about children in the said age group will be collected from schools, anganwari centres and voluntary organisations of the city. In case of children born in Chandigarh and whose birth is registered with the Registrar (Births and Deaths), a copy of the birth certificate will be issued free of cost.

The office has appealed to the parents of those children whose birth is not registered to get the registration done even if it has been delayed, and also to get the name of their child registered if the registration has been done without name so that the certificate could be issued with name.


Akshit adjudged ‘Chetanya Prince’
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 12
Tiny hands, too young to clap, waved enthusiastically as Akshit was declared “Chetanya Prince” during the healthy baby show at Chetanya Hospital, Sector 43, today. Mehak was crowned “Chetanya princess”. A painting competition was also organised.

The contest was tough. About 65 children vied for the title. For the painting competition, about 100 children participated in two categories. One for children aged between three and six. The other for children aged between six and 10.

For the healthy baby contest, children from nine months to three years participated. The criteria for judging the healthy baby was body language, activities and physical appearance. The results in the order of merit are as follows: painting competition (three to six years) Mehar Virk and Deepanshi; (six to 10 years) Riya Goyal and Viren Goyal. The special prize was bagged by Akash. The judges included Ms Pankaj Singh and Mr Naresh Bagga.


Unauthorised rickshaw stands reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Officers of the enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation on Monday carried out a survey to ascertain the number of unauthorised rickshaw stands in Sectors 7,8,9, 10 and 11. The area councillor, Mr Chander Mukhi, and the Additional Commissioner, Mr Arun Sekhri, led the survey team.

At least 22 unauthorised rickshaw stands used for parking of 250 rickshaws were identified. Mr Mukhi stated that this week, a concerted drive to remove illegal rickshaw stands would be launched. He said the drive was aimed at making the sectors encroachment-free.

Mr Mukhi said he would accompany the enforcement staff. Tea vendors and other roadside vendors would also be removed. The progress of the drive would be reviewed after 15 days. He criticised the stand of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch on the issue of imposing property tax. He said councillor Harpreet was a member of the committee which had shortlisted the bank for receiving the instalment of the tax.


Eating Out
Mr Burgor extends fine dining
Harvinder Khetal
Tribune News Service

WITH the opening of Mehfil - 2 on the ground floor of Gourmet Mall, Sector 17, Chandigarh, last month, another feather was added to the restaurant’s concept of providing a variety of cuisine catering to diverse tastes under one roof. The plush interiors of Mehfil are in stark contrast to the staid and no-frills look of the other sections of the eatery. For, this restaurant and bar is meant for the connoisseurs who prefer fine dining to the self-serviced fast food culture prevalent at the Mr Burgor, Baker’s Hut and Italica segments on the first floor.

After being ushered in by the smiling doorman, you are welcomed into Mehfil by the staff smartly attired in western uniform. As they pull back the chair for you to settle down, the blue and golden hues of the décor remind one of the first Mehfil restaurant that came up in 1979 (it has been given on franchise), near Ghazal. Mr Harmohan Dhawan, restaurateur, proudly informs that he has tried to recreate the ambience and glory of his first venture. And his experience of nearly 25 years in the hospitality industry has taught him that North Indian is still the most preferred cuisine. So, he offers only this to the guests here, leaving the upper storey for those with a taste for Chinese, Mexican, Continental or Italian dishes.

The pampering begins soon after with the waiter presenting neatly folded white towels dipped in perfumed water with gloved hands to you for wiping your hands and mouth. Notes of light Hindi music waft into your ears as your sense of aesthetics is touched by the high domed white ceiling with a maroon covering. The mood is all set as gastronomic juices flow while you peruse the menu to select the drinks, snacks, starters and main course. However, the glaring spelling errors in the menu card (e.g. deserts for desserts) are a bit disconcerting for a perceptible eye. But as you bite into the kebab over a sparkling wine or a bowl of warm manchow soup, the irritant feeling seems to vanish.

Soon it is time for the murg tikka butter masala and haryali ghost for the non-vegetarians and shahi panir and malai kofta for the vegetarians. And time when your calorie count is relegated to the backburner as the fare dished out is enriched with butter, ghee or cream and laced with an assortment of herbs and spices. Served in ‘handis’ or ‘karahis’, the food is kept hot over blazing fuel cakes. Complement with biryani or roti/paratha/naan and raita plus salad. Top with your favourite flavour of ice cream or that relaxing cup of coffee and go back home smiling. For, even as Mehfil rates are reasonable as compared to other fine dining places in the city, the restaurant is also offering a 20 per cent inaugural discount on both drinks and food.


Dainik Tribune ex-Assistant Editor dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Mr Ved Prakash Bansal, a former Assistant Editor of Dainik Tribune, died at his residence in Himshikha Colony, Pinjore, near here, today. He was 64. He had not been keeping well for about six months and was under treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh.

He was cremated today. The pyre was lit by his son-in-law, Mr Kamal Kishore. Mr Bansal leaves behind his only daughter, son-in-law and two grand-daughters. His funeral was attended, among others, by Mr Raj Kumar Singh, officiating Editor, Dainik Tribune; two former Editors of the paper, Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma and Mr Vijay Saihgal; Assistant Editors Mr Naresh Kaushal, Mr Ashok Malik, News Editor Jitendar Awasthi, former Associate Editor Kamaleshwar Sinha, Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, Mr Haresh Vashishtha and Mr Anil Gupta, president, senior vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of The Tribune Employees Union and leaders of various political and social organisations and relatives and friends.

Mr Bansal was a member of the founder editorial team of Dainik Tribune. Before joining Dainik Tribune, he served various Urdu and Hindi newspapers of Jalandhar, besides a news agency. He had good command over Urdu, Sanskrit, Punjabi and English, besides Hindi. He was associated with the Panchnad Shodh Sansthan, Sewa Bharati and the Divine Life Society.


Pothole causes mishaps
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 12
A water-filled pothole right next to the roundabout of Sectors 31, 32, 46 and 47 has caused at least four minor accidents and a person suffered a bone dislocation in the past two days.

Mr A.S. Bhatia, an employee of Canara Bank, was returning to his home in SAS Nagar last evening, when his scooter skidded because of the pothole and he sustained a bone dislocation in his left shoulder. ‘‘Each time I cross the roundabout, I take special care to avoid the pothole but yesterday I could not avoid it and fell’’, said Mr Bhatia and added, ‘‘a Bus was right behind me and I had to raise both hands to attract the driver’s attention otherwise I could have been in a serious trouble’’. 


Prayer in memory of Maheshwari
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
A prayer meeting in memory of Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Housing, Haryana, S.K. Maheshwari, IAS, who died here on November 10, will be held at Sanatan Dharam Mandir, Sector 27-C, here on November 13 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

According to the Secretary of the Haryana IAS Officers Association, Mr Sanjay Kothari, the meeting was being organised by the association to pay tributes to S.K. Maheshwari.


2 US citizens booked for defrauding students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
Two US citizens and founders of a closed company, TRI Infosys Pvt Ltd, in Sector 34 here Kuldip Sangha and Satinder M. Mohindra have been booked for allegedly defrauding nine students of Rs 18.95 lakh in the name of getting them jobs in the USA after training them in their institute.

The police said while Mohindra operated from the USA, Kuldip Sangha was running the company operations in India.

The police said Kuldip had enrolled 39 students after opening the company here in 2000 at SCO No 126-127, Sector 34, and started their training in computer skills and software programming.

It said as per need he used to put up the cases of recruitment of students in the US through Satinder M. Mohindra.

Sponsorship of the desired students used to be sent from the USA and Kuldip Sangha used to take up the cases of visa formalities in India with the embassy.

During the process of training of these students, which was allegedly dragged for two years instead of six months as promised, Kuldip quietly left for the USA and did not return till September 2003.

He came to India for the marriage of his son and was noticed by nine students.

The students reported the matter to the police.

Kuldip Sangha is a US citizen for the past 45 years, according to the police.

An FIR has been registered in Sector 34 Police Station.


2 found unconscious
Tribune Reporters

A man and a woman were today found unconscious on the main road of Sector 15.

They were taken to the Sector 16 hospital.

The police has identified them as Mr Darshan Saini and Resham Kaur from Hoshiarpur.

As per the report, the two were not in a position to give any statement to reveal the mystery behind what actually happened to them.


Two shops burgled
Two shops were burgled in different markets here on Tuesday. According to reports, the burglars struck at two shops of Gandhi Bazar and the main market and decamped with watches, mobile phones and other items. The shops are near the police station.


Man jumps in front of train
Jaspal Singh of Gholumajra, allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of the Lucknow-Chandigarh train on the Kalka-Ambala railway line, near here, this morning.

According to Gurinder Singh, in charge, Lalru police thana, Jaspal Singh was suffering from depression. He had been working with an industrial unit nearby, he added. 


Five companies to face cases for defacing public property
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 12
The local Municipal Council has asked the police to register cases against five establishments for defacing public property in the town.

In a letter to the SP, the Additional Executive Officer of the council, Mr Sarabjit Singh, said many companies had put up banners and pasted posters on the government property. The establishments had been issued notices from time to time by the civic body in this regard had failed to remove them.

The council said cases should be registered under Section 178 of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, against Deep Laboratories, Spice and Co, Virdi Gas, Pal Music Co and Reliance India Mobile. 


Tips on launching ventures given
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 12
An interaction between the participants and sponsoring agency of two entrepreneurship development programmes, being organised by the Regional Centre of Entrepreneurship Development (RCED), on behalf of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, was held at the Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT) here today.

Mr Chander Mohan, Director, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi, Mr R.C. Chopra, Director, Small Industries Service Institute, Ludhiana, and Mr A.K. Garg from Khadi Village Industries Commission, interacted with participants and provided guidance on different aspects of industry.

Mr Paramjit Singh, Principal consultant, RCED, said the aim of the six weeks instructional phase was to equip the participants with managerial and motivational inputs so that they were able to launch their own ventures in the small-scale sector. 


Market panel elections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
An administrator is to be appointed to run the affairs of the Market Committee as the term of the elected representatives has ended and the election process will take about three or four months. The committee runs the affairs of procuring vegetables and grain.

A case to appoint an administrator to the committee has been mooted to the Chandigarh Administration. In the past, HCS or PCS officers have been appointed administrators. Elections to the committee have been ordered under the Punjab Agricultural Produce Rules, 1961. Revision of the electrol rolls has started. The process for notifying and preparation of rolls will take three or four months, sources said. 


Sector 22-D market coupon draw tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 12
There will be a mega lucky draw of coupons in Sector 22-D to end the shopping festival in the market on November 14. Comedian Bhagwant Mann will regale the audience and pull out the coupon for the mega prize that is an Esteem car, The Market Welfare Association , Sector 22-D, said today.

Prizes worth Rs 25 lakh will be given away. Besides, the car, there will be three Maruti cars, washing machines, refrigerators, audio systems, TVs, microwave ovens and computers.

The association said it had wanted to invite a member of Pandit Nehru’s family for the draw of lots but they expressed their inability due to elections. The shopping festival lasted for 42 days.

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