C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Rodrigues wants new plans for high-rise buildings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
In what may be the first attempt to change the face of the city, the UT Administrator, General S.F. Rodrigues (retd), has asked the planning and architectural wings of the Administration to plan for high rise residential blocks and judicious and practical use of land in the periphery.

At a presentation given by the Architecture Department the General yesterday did not agree with the idea of having an iron cast ruling of having no high rise residential blocks. He gave the planners another 15 days to come up with fresh ideas on the high rise blocks and use of land in periphery so as to protect it in the long run, sources within the Administration said. They added that the General asked for logical reasoning as to why the idea of high rise building blocks be rejected.

The periphery of the city is under threat from encroachers, illegal construction and colonisers. Already the Periphery Control Act has been violated by residents of Punjab and Haryana and by leaving vast tracts of land without any use in the age of rising property prices may not be a wise decision in the long run.

Large parts of villages in Chandigarh are under illegal colonisation and the Administration could practically do little to prevent further erosion of the sanctity of land use, admit officials. There has to be a planned judicious use of these lands, they say. The concept of using land in the periphery may include marriage halls, nurseries, entertainment parks having very low covered area and golf courses.

It may be recalled that the Chandigarh Housing Board had earlier sought permission for a high-rise residential complex that was turned down by the Architecture Department.

The idea of the Architecture Department and planners that this would put a strain on existing services in the city did not cut much ice with the General. The Chandigarh Housing Board sought permission for 10-storey flats in the upcoming 40 acre complex in Sector 63.

It may be recalled that the Chandigarh Administration had asked the Chandigarh Perspectives – a body loaded with architects – about its opinion on the 10-storey blocks. However, it decided against allowing any such high rise blocks.

Interestingly, the Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Lalit Sharma, has prepared a concept plan for the future of Chandigarh where all plans will be reviewed and changed as per the requirements of the city. 



Accountant held with stolen cash
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
Parveen Kumar, alias Pinni, who had stolen Rs 1.20 lakh from the office of his employer on December 29 has been arrested. The police said Parveen had submitted a fake bio-data to his employer Ajay Kundra giving false details of his name, address and qualification.

He was arrested near his residence in Phase III, Mohali, last night, and a sum of Rs 90,000 was recovered from the dickey of his scooter.

The police told the Chandigarh Tribune that Parveen had removed all clues after stealing the cash. He had managed to get the secret number of the briefcase of Mr Kundra. On December 29, he stole the cash from the briefcase and deleted his records from the office computer before leaving the place.

He was an accountant at the office of Mr Kundra of Sector 38-C and had mentioned himself as Rajesh Rana (B.Com) in his bio-data. He was employed just three-four days ago from the date of theft.

The police said Parveen told it that he had stolen Rs 1.10 lakh only. He had also stolen an envelop carrying some documents, believing that it had cash.

He gave Rs 10,000 to one of his friends and spent the rest of the amount. The police produced him in the court that remanded him to judicial custody. 



Tribune Impact
Posters violating election code removed in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 4
Posters of the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, in and around the Mini Secretariat, Sector 1, were removed in the morning, well before the office hours started, here today.

After removing posters pasted on the walls and pillars of the Secretariat, a few labourers were pressed into service to remove posters at other public places in the city. From billboards to sign boards and roundabouts, a thorough inspection was carried out in the city to identify places where posters continued to adorn the walls despite the Model Code of Conduct coming into force in Haryana.

Also, billboards and hoardings put up by various boards and corporations in different parts of the district were given a coat of white paint in accordance with the directions issued by the Election Commission. Sources in the Election Commission said the state government had already issued instructions for removal of posters from public places and the district administration officials had been asked to strictly adhere to the directions.

Chandigarh Tribune had, in a story published today, highlighted that violations of the Model Code of Conduct were galore in the Secretariat which houses the offices of the Deputy Commissioner, District Electoral Officer during elections and other top brass of the administration. Posters of the ruling party had been pasted on the walls and pillars of the Secretariat and nobody seemed to notice the glaring violations.

Also, these posters violated the Defacement Act of 1954 of the Defacement of Property Act 1954 which bans defacement of public property through pasting posters, painting walls and installing billboards.

The Deputy Commissioner had stated that she would shortly issue an order on removal of the posters in the district and instructions to the civic body to keep a tab on all such violations. The administration will also convene a meeting of political representatives to inform them of places where posters can be put be after prior approval of the official concerned at specifically earmarked places.



Residents lament delay in getting NOCs
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 4
Delay in getting no objection certificates (NOCs) for registration of property has been causing a lot of heartburn. Residents have been complaining that the administration’s decision to route the NOCs through the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) is causing inadvertent delay in procuring the certificates.

The district administration has issued directions that separate letters be sent to the Executive Officer, the Municipal Council, the Estate Officer, HUDA, and the Tehsildar, who will issue NOCs after cross-checking land records. They will then send the report to the SDM, who will forward it to the Deputy Commissioner and an NOC will finally be issued.

Earlier, the applicant would himself give applications to the Municipal Council, the Naib Tehsildar, HUDA, and the Tehsildar, Revenue. The application was referred to the patwari concerned seeking a report from him before issuing the NOC.

Mrs Darshana Devi, a local resident, says she has been running from pillar to post for the past one month to get an NOC for selling off her land in Maheshpur village here. “The SDM has sought report from the Tehsil office, while Estate Officer will send the report after verifying the facts from his field staff. But the MC office has now said that there is no such plot available in their records, and they have now asked the Patwari, Revenue, and the Patwari, HUDA, to report. Because of the MC’s report, I am not being issued the NOC,” she says.

Another applicant, Mr Ranjit Singh of Railly village, says the letter received at the SDM office from Estate Office, Panchkula, does not bear the signatures of the Estate Officer, but those of his staff, so the issue of the NOC has been delayed.

Deputy Commissioner Neelam P. Kasni said there was no change in procedure for issuing NOCs. “We are strictly going by the book, and have asked the heads of various departments to keep a check on issue of NOCs to streamline the process, and avoid any errors,” she said. 



Tehelka case draws towards conclusion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The general court martial trying Col Anil Sahgal on charges of professional impropriety in the Tehelka case inched towards conclusion with the prosecution and well as the defence submitting their respective closing addresses today.

Arguing that all charges against the accused stand proved and that the evidence on record establishes the guilt of the accused beyond doubt, the prosecution counsel, Mr Arvind Moudgil, said that the accused had profited by taking gratification other than the legal remuneration to promote the interests of foreign arms firms.

Colonel Sahgal faces five charges of corruption, moral turpitude and acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline under Sections, 45, 63 and 69 of the Army Act.

He said that the accused had shown lack of moral fibre and behaved in a manner unbecoming of his rank, service and stature.

Stating that he had compromised national security by divulging confidential information to persons not authorised to receive the same, counsel added that the accused had also violated established procedures of the Armed Forces.

The prosecution counsel said that the story of the accused that he had accepted money from the Tehelka team as advance rent for his flat is unbelievable and fails the test of probability as it had not been confirmed by any witness and the accused had also failed to explain how he could rent a house which had not been constructed.

He argued that the accused had confessed in the court that his parting information pertaining to procurement of hand held thermal imagers amounted to a security lapse. The accused admitting his presence on video tapes with a call girl showed his weak moral fibre, he added.

Contending that if viewed in its entirety the case has many ifs and buts, with many questions remaining unanswered the defence counsel, Maj K Ramesh (retd), stated that the guilt of the accused could not be established on four charges. He added that there was just a possibility of his being guilty on the charge of accepting the hospitality of wine and women as it was an act unbecoming of an officer, but it could not be stretched to his acceptance for the purpose of promoting the interests of the arms dealing firm as he was not aware of its existence.

He contended that two charges of having accepting money from the Tehelka team posing as representatives of fictitious West End International do not stand as the persons had been introduced to the accused as representatives of a firm dealing with military canteens and not as those of the arms dealing firm. He said that the accused was not guilty of the two charges on the basis of benefit of doubt with the possibility of having accepted money for the purpose of rent.

He said that the charge of the accused directing his assistant to hand over some documents to the Tehelka team was a "washout" as it never emerged on any of the tapes and nor was it proved by any of the prosecution witnesses.

Stating that the said documents were never in the accused's personal possession, he added that neither did the prosecution or nor the court pose a single question to the accused on this count.

The defence counsel added that the charge that the accused did not seek clearance from the military intelligence before meeting representatives of foreign firms was also a washout as the persons he met were Indian nationals who had claimed to be dealers of canteen firms and the fictitious firm, West End, had not been coined at the time of his interaction with them.

Further, there was no record of any firm by that name in the departmental records.



Tamil Nadu set to launch double fortified salt
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
He's spearheading a revolution of sorts the world over and it has directly to do with the food we eat everyday. While the world, especially India, maybe only waking up to the concept of food fortification to meet nutritional deficiencies, the President of Micronutrients Initiative, Mr MG Venkatesh Mannar, can't help counting and re-counting its benefits to society.

Perhaps that's why he casually tells you that Tamil Nadu is on the threshold of being the first state in the world to launch double fortified salt with iodine and iron, a technology MI has passed on to the Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation.

"Production in the Tamil Nadu plant will begin with fortification of nearly 5000 tonnes per year very shortly. Once it gets underway, we will identify other states which hold potential for a similar project. Also, we will move on to Kenya and Nigeria in Africa for the double salt fortification project," he said.

And, when the focus shifts to the "candy" business of the MI which earning them accolades, Mr Mannar can't help smiling, given its phenomenal success in the four states where it has been implemented so far.

The response has been overwhelming and more and more states across the country are lining up for the coveted "candy" project. Under the MI-funded scheme, school children are being given candies fortified with iron, Vitamin A and C as well as folic acid.

Costing 15 paise per candy, the total sum works out to be exorbitant since the scheme is reaching out to almost 20 million children in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Of this Bihar alone has five million children.

Saying no to them is tough but resources are a constraint with the organisation.

"We are a global body, funding projects all over the world. If we begin investing on demand in India, we would not have enough resources to initiate programme elsewhere. So, we are asking the states to chip in for its public and we are ready to help out with the fortification process," he said.

Speaking about flour fortification, Mr Mannar termed wheat flour as an "attractive food vehicle", given its ability to absorb a number of nutrients right from iron to Vitamin Bs, zinc, calcium and folic acid at negligible fortification costs.

"It is the most widely consumed grain and easily the best way to reach out to the maximum numbers. While we have begun by fortifying it with iron and folic acid, more nutrients would be added once it begins to climb the 'popularity' chart," he explained.

The MI is a non-profit development agency based in Ottawa, Canada, and financed by the Canadian International Development Agency and guided by a steering committee of representatives from CIDA, UNICEF, the World Bank and UNDP among others. 



Centre to import sugar from Brazil, Thailand
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Worried over the spiralling prices of sugar, the Union Government has decided to import 20 lakh metric tonnes of sugar from countries like Brazil and Thailand to check the rise in prices.

Talking to TNS after launching the flour fortification project in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, Mr S.K Tuteja, Secretary, Ministry of Food, said the government is aware of the sharp price spurt in the price of sugar over the past few days and is taking steps to stabilise them.

The price of sugar, a key ingredient in a number of food products, including biscuits, confectionery, colas and chocolates, has seen a sharp rise of Rs 600 per quintal in the past few weeks. With the price of sugar going above Rs 20 in the retail market ( Rs 2000 per quintal), sugar has become bitter for the common man. And if the rise in prices is not checked, the food product manufacturers would be forced to increase the consumer prices, said sources in the industry.

Mr Tuteja attributed the rise in sugar prices to the continuous fall in the levels of sugar production. Giving figures, he said the production this year is 125 lakh metric tonnes, as compared to 138 lakh metric tonnes last year and 202 lakh metric tonnes in 2002. He said the imports were being made to bridge the gap between the demand and supply in the coming years.

But the farmers in Punjab attribute the same to the apathy of both the Central and the state governments towards their demands. Since the government does not lift levy sugar from the cooperative mills, the payments to the farmers by these mills gets delayed. Even as they have been agitating to get their arrears released for sugarcane supplied to these cooperative mills during the last two seasons, only a part of the same has been released. The area under sugarcane crop has also decreased with more and more farmers diversifying into other crops due to teh indifferent attitude of the government towards cane growers.

Mr Tuteja said the minimum support price ( MSP) would continue as the government has not taken any decision to withdraw the same. He assured the farmers of Punjab and Haryana that they would continue to get the MSP for wheat and paddy. He said the report tabled by the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, in Parliament does not mention anything about the withdrawal of MSP on foodgrains. However, subsidy on food would be gradually reduced.

On the issue of voluntary flour fortification in the roller mills, he said he would urge the state governments to target it through the public distribution system ( PDS) as this will help them reach out to the below the poverty line families and would have the greatest impact on improving the nutritional status of the bulk of labour force, thereby increasing their productivity levels. The Food Secretary would also take up the issue of installing the equipment for flour fortification in small-scale `chakis’ from where a majority of the public buys flour.



Rs 29 lakh donations for poor lie unutilised at PGI
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Completely defeating the purpose of generous donations for facilitating the treatment of needy patients at the PGI, more than Rs 29 lakh remained unutilised by the PGI here in the last financial year.

Around Rs 29.62 lakh, which was received by the PGI during the financial year 2002-03 as donations from individuals and non-governmental organisations for the free treatment of poor patients, has not been put to any productive use by the institute till the end of the financial year 2003-04. The auditors have raised objections to the non-utilisation of donations received in their latest audit report.

The Para 2, Section B of the report clearly reads, “Donations by individuals/ non-governmental organisations are being made to the PGI with a view to mitigating the suffering of poor patients or providing facilities. However, during audit, it was noticed that an amount of Rs 29,62,458 received during 2002-03 as donations from individuals for different purposes remained unutilised till the end of 2003-04.” The non-utilisation of funds becomes glaring given the fact that the PGI has also tried to make the yellow card (below the poverty line) mandatory for the patients seeking free treatment due to “misuse of the facility.”

The donations that have not been used during the financial year include donations of Rs 8,37,519 for the development of a bone bank, Rs. 10,800 for transplant surgery, Rs 1,77,090 for a crèche, Rs 3,87,760 for refrigeration, Rs 14 lakh donated by Mr Jindal, Rs 1 lakh by Mr Brar and another donation of Rs 49,290.

Sources disclosed that when the matter was raised by the auditors, no reply was furnished by the PGI authorities. It is also learnt that the auditors in the Part 1, Section C of the report, had also pointed out that the PGI had not submitted replies to their old audit objections.



SI remanded in judicial custody
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, January 4
A local court today remanded Om Parkash, a Sub-Inspector with the local police, who was arrested by the CBI while accepting bribe here yesterday, to judicial custody.

The police official was caught red-handed by the CBI while allegedly accepting Rs 3,500 from Mr Ravinder Kumar. The official was allegedly taking money from Ravinder Kumar, the owner of a Tata 407, that was involved in an accident that had killed an Army jawan Joginder Singh and left three persons injured.

Om Parkash had allegedly demanded Rs 5,000 to hush up the case and the deal was struck at Rs 3,500. The official was arrested outside the Industrial Area Police Station, the sources added.



Admn invites applications for house allotment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The House Allotment Committee of the Chandigarh Administration has invited applications from Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana and the Registrar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for allotment of various categories of houses for the year 2005-06 for their officers.

An application for higher and lower categories of houses from the "eligible employees" in Form "A" along with Form "D" may be forwarded to the office of the Secretary, House Allotment Committee, by January 31,2005. Higher categories of houses include houses from Type 3 to 9 (old) and type V and VI (new). Lower categories of houses include houses from type 10 to 13 (Old) and type 1 to IV (new).

Eligible employees means an employee of an eligible office of the governments of Punjab and Haryana, the Chandigarh Administration and Punjab and Haryana High Court, working on a regular basis and the staff which has been declared by the Chandigarh Administration to be eligible for accommodation under these rules.

The employees of those departments of the UT Administration, who have their own Departmental Pool Houses, shall not be entitled.

For 13 type (old) and type I (new) houses, only those applicants may apply who were /are Class IV employees and were appointed as Class IV on or before January 1, 1991, and January 1990, respectively. All officers or officials who had earlier applied need not apply afresh.

In case of lower categories of houses the following priority dated have been declared as given in the table below:

The applications for the allotment of type V houses will be entertained in this office in respect of the officers who are drawing emoluments (Basic Pay) as under:

i) Up to December 1995 (Basic Pay) Rs 4500 or above.

ii) Up to 1.1.96 onward (Basic Pay) Rs 12,750 or above.

The application for the allotment of type 11 houses will be entertained in respect of the officials who are drawing emoluments (Basic Pay) as under:-

i) Up to December 1977 (Basic Pay) Rs 201 to Rs 350.

ii) Up to December 1985 (Basic Pay) Rs 700 to Rs 999.

iii) From 1.1.86 to 1.1.1994 Basic Pay more than 1600.

The application for the allotment of type III house will be entertained in respect of officials who are drawing emoluments (Basic Pay) as under:-

(i) Up to December 1977 (Basic Pay) Rs 201 to Rs 350.

(ii) Up to December 1985 (Basic Pay) Rs 700 to Rs 999.

(iii) From 1.1.86 to 1.1.1995 Basic Pay more than 1600.



City prepares to celebrate Guru’s birth anniversary
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
With the city gurdwaras decking up to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, falling on Wednesday, the festive and spiritual mood has set in among the city residents.

Major Jaswant Singh, member of the gurdwara committee, Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Gudrwara, sector 34, said: “There is lot of enthusiasm among the people to do selfless service. Not only the elderly, but the youngsters too are coming in good numbers to take part in ‘path’ and ‘langar’ preparations”.

Saying that the young generation could learn from the mystic-warrior and spiritual leader, he said the guru’s life was a beacon of light, which could provide a very positive direction to their lives. “Simple and balanced living and a fearless attitude towards problems of life are the essence of guru’s teaching”, he added.

“It is true that the guru, who brought a new era of political and social awareness, had transcended the fear of death. When one transcends the fear of death, there is no question of living with indignity and cowardice. A true spiritualist transcends the fear of death. The baptism of ‘khanda’is a very meaningful. It is the process of spiritual transformation of the imitates to create the steel will for righteous action. Guru Gobind Singh’s struggle was for spirituality and not for power, explained a granthi of the gurdwara.

“Ask the devout, their life tells how faith in the true name (Satnam) has sustained hope in their lives, said 63-year-old Jasmohan Singh. “Though I am not fully conversant with the ‘bani’, yet I have full faith in it. It has nourished me through my troubled times. I imbibed the value of seva when I was a child by watching my village elders who were courageous yet compassionate,” he added.



Marital status of NRI turns murkier
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 4
Claims and counter claims have created utter confusion on the marital status of a Canada based NRI, Ashok Chopra, and a local resident, Neelam Chopra. The latter has alleged that she was married to Ashok Chopra since 1999, and that he indulged in bigamy and hid his marriage to a Canadian woman.

Mr Ashok Chopra, on the other hand, has claimed that he was never married to Neelam. “She is my elder sister’ s granddaughter, and was married to Denish Singh by a registered marriage in 2000,” he pleaded, before the court of Mrs Shashi Bala Chauhan here today. He was arrested along with his brother, Charanjit Singh, by the Raipur Rani police yesterday, on the complaint of Neelam. They have been accused of kidnapping, threatening and assault, while Ashok has also been accused of bigamy.

Neelam Chopra claimed that she was married to Ashok Chopra on October 10, 1999, and has two sons from the marriage. She said that “her husband” would often go to Canada for work, while she stayed here, in a house that he had bought for her in Sector 4. He had allegedly told Neelam that he would fake a marriage with a Canadian in order to get a Canadian citizenship. “On December 5, 2004, a Canadian woman, Jema, came and said she was my husband’s first wife. When I confronted him, he failed to give an appropriate reply. Since then our relations have been strained,” she alleged.

Neelam said on January 2, her husband’s brother, Charanjit, and other relatives came to her and said they would resolve the dispute at her parents house in Yamunanagar. “They took me in a car along with my two sons, Nitish and Asmit, and near Raipur Rani, they drugged me and left me on the roadside, and took away my sons. I then reported the matter to the police”

The police registered an FIR and arrested the duo, who were produced in the court today. The counsel for the accused pleaded that Ashok was never married to Neelam, rather she was married to one Denish Singh in Yamunanagar in the year 2000. He said the accused were being framed as Neelam wanted a part of his property.

The court remanded the accused to police custody till January 7.



Power board holds camp for farmers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 4
Officials of the local circle of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) held a camp to help farmers regularise additional power load in Mullanpur village today.

The camp which started in the morning went on till the evening. The PSEB earned a revenue of Rs 1.56 lakh after regularising the load of 35 farmers.

Mr V.K. Mahajan, Additional Superintending Engineer, who was present at the camp, said since it was the first camp in the area, the response was low today. Announcements had been made on loudspeakers regarding the holding of the camp but farmers feared that penalty might be imposed by the PSEB for running the additional load. But they saw that enhanced loads were being regularised without formalities and by accepting the reduced regularisation charges from farmers. Better response was expected when the camp would he held again on January 7.

A number of villages, including Shangariwala, Tira, Bhrogian, Ratwara and Parch were covered in the camp held today. There are 478 tubewells running in this area.

Mr Mahajan said villages like Daon, Balongi, Bariyali, Behlolpur and Jandpur would be covered at a later date.

The PSEB is giving a chance to farmers to regularise their enhanced loads by January 31. No penalty would be imposed during this period. The PSEB has even reduced the regularisation charges from Rs 3,000 per hp to Rs 1,000. The procedures have been simplified.



Garbage dump irks society residents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The residents of the New Light Cooperative House Building Society in Sector 51-B and the adjoining area are living in close proximity to a garbage dump.

With residents of the unauthorised Colony No 5 dumping garbage on the open ground near Sector 51-B, living in the area is proving to be a nightmarish experience.In fact, some of the allottees are dreading the idea of shifting to their own flats.

Mr CM Malhotra is one of such allottees. Mr Malhotra, who bought a flat after investing savings of his lifetime, alleged that it was virtually impossible to shift to the new flat due to unhygienic conditions.

“The slum-dwellers defecate in the open adding to the misery of the residents.A cess pool of dirty water has become a source of mosquito-breeding and is an open invitation to diseases,” said Mr Malhotra.

And those allottees, who have shifted to their apartments, are at the receiving end of the colony dwellers. Moreover, with more people shifting to other nearby housing societies, the traffic on all roads had increased making Sector 51 an accident-prone area.

Mr Malhotra demanded that the Chandigarh Administration should install traffic lights and roundabouts in the area so that the accidents could be checked.

Urging the Chandigarh Administration authorities to shift to Colony No 5, the residents said its removal was the way the insanitary conditions could be tackled.



200 girls take part in pro-helmet rally
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
After the Supreme Court ordered that women could not be forced to wear helmet while riding two wheelers, the Chandigarh traffic police is now trying to educate the city women about the advantages of wearing a safety helmet.

The police today organised a scooter rally of about 200 girl students from the various colleges of the city so that “to save lives from road accidents”

The rally was part of the 16th National Road Safety Week, from the Children Traffic Park in Sector 23, here today. The rally was organised in association with the Indian Oil Corporation, said police sources.

The rally was flagged-off by Mr Vinay Kumar Mishra, senior Regional Sales Manager, Indian Oil Corporation in the morning. The SP (Traffic), Mr Amitabh Dhillon, the president, Nari Jagrati Manch, Ms Neena Tiwari, and the secretary, Nari Jagrati Manch, and prominent citizens were present on the occasion.

The rally passed through the Yatri Nivas chowk, cricket stadium chowk, museum chowk, High Court chowk, lake, Hira Singh petrol chowk, Punjab Raj Bhavan, golf turn, Sector 26-27-7 and 19 chowk, the light point, Sector 19-27, light point Sector 17-18 and culminated at Neelam police post, Plaza, Sector 17.

The pillion riders were carrying placards showing road safety massages, “Always wear safety helmet while driving”, “Do not use mobile phone while driving”, “Short cuts are dangerous” and “Do not play loud music while driving”. The sources said the idea of the rally was to instill the habit of wearing helmets and obeying the traffic rules.

Mr Mishra and Mr Dhillon addressed the participants and explained about the road safety measures and motivated them to follow the rules. 



Spice asks harassed subscribers to be patient
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
“Network busy”, “all customer care executives are busy please try later”, “error in connection”, “number does not exist”, “the phone you are trying is either switched off or out of coverage area”, “SMS failed”, your call is on if you get these messages – you’re right, you too are on Spice mobile connection.

One of the first to start in the Punjab telecom circle, subscribers of the company find themselves in a piquant situation, they are neither able to subscribe to another telecom operator out of fear of losing contact with those who have this number, nor is the company doing much to improve the situation.

What is worse, the Spice customer care number (9814012345) is perpetually inaccessible and customers are greeted with rudeness on the other numbers with one reply “contact customer care”. Senior Spice officials who did not wish to be quoted said, “The company is aware of the problems and we are working on it”.

The Spice customers have repeatedly complained about low signal, loss of network and being unable to have their SMS messages on Christmas and New Year delivered. The company, however, claims that it has handled the largest number of SMS messages ever, touching a figure of around 1 crore on New Year Eve. “Around 40 lakh messages originated from our systems and around 60 lakh terminated on our network”, the official said.

However, when company officials themselves tried to contact the customer care, the call did not materialise. The Tribune reporters have unsuccessfully tired to contact a Spice customer for the past 48 hours after a number of readers complained about the services of the cell operator.

The Spice has blocked call diversion to other mobile operators out of fear of losing customers. The company spokesmen, however, do not agree with this and say, “Call diversion is a grey area and it depends upon the operator what to allow and what not to allow”. But a call which is targeted for a Spice can be diverted to another Spice or to a BSNL landline, but not to an Air Tel or a HUTCH mobile number.

“We are familiar with most problems like voice disturbance, the complaints are genuine and we are aware of them. But at the moment we are expanding our network and as it happens during all up-gradations, there are teething troubles”, Mr Naveen Kaul, Chief Operations Officer of the company, said.

He said the company had spent about Rs 100 crore on the up-gradation of its equipment. “Once the upgradation is complete in about a month, things will improve”, he said.

He admitted that there were problems in the area of customer care and said something would be done about that too. But the first priority was to improve services in Chandigarh and Punjab, he added.

A local mobile connection dealer said though Spice was a ISO 9001-2000 operator, it was rapidly losing its customer base due to poor service. He said Air Tel and HUTCH were the cellular operators that were denting its market share the most. With the launch of Tata Teleservices in Punjab tomorrow, the situation for Spice is only going to become more competitive. 



Sexual harassment charge against Barnala SP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
In an application to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Harpal Kaur of Sagarpur village in Jalandhar district today alleged sexual harassment by the Barnala SP.

Ms Harpal Kaur, who was produced before mediapersons here by a human rights organisation, alleged that the SP, who was earlier posted at Jalandhar, called her in his room in December, 2003. Since then she had allegedly been harassed by the police official.

The official also tried to implicate her physically challenged husband in two cases of murder and drug-trafficking, she alleged. She had even complained to Punjab MLA Gurbinder Singh Atwal in this connection.

Meanwhile, the SP refuted the allegations claiming that he has never met her. 



PGI residents’ society greets Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
A deputation of the PGI Campus Residents Welfare Society, Sector 12, under the leadership of president R. K. Khanchi, greeted the newly elected Municipal Corporation Mayor, Ms Anu Chatrath, Senior Deputy Mayor, Ms Pushpa Sharma, and the Deputy Mayor, Mr Sohan Lal Vaid, here today.

The society expressed happiness over the election of Ms Chatrath as the Mayor as she represented the ward no. 2 as the Councillor, which comprises of Sector 12,14 and 15.

Mr Khanchi emphasised on bringing the PGI residential campus under the limits of the Municipal Corporation. The Mayor assured the deputation that the PGI, Punjab Engineering College, Sector 12, and Panjab University, Sector 14 campus, would be brought under the MC for development and the welfare of the residents. 



SDM to hold inquiry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Sub Divisional Magistrate (East), Ms Padmini Singla, has been appointed to hold an inquiry into the incident occurring in Bhushan Industries here where a man was killed yesterday.

Deputy Commissioner Arun Kumar has ordered a fact-finding inquiry and Ms Singla has been asked to submit her report within three days. The inquiry report should focus on the circumstances leading to the death of Mr Prem Chand and also lack of safety measures and lapses, if any, on part of the management.

In his order, the DC has said that prima facie it appears that safety precautions were not taken while checking the valve pipe. The victim was asked to rectify the fault, which probably required better skills and more precautions. 



Teacher, students hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 4
Mr Jaipal, a teacher, and three students of Jainendra Public School — Saroj, Prakash Bhardwaj and Santosh — were seriously injured when they were hit by a truck near the school today. They have been admitted to Civil Hospital here, according to information.



5 hurt in separate mishaps
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
Five persons have been injured in separate road accidents in the city in the past 24 hours.

Two persons were injured when a mini-truck hit their Chevrolet car at the Sector 46, 47, 48 and 49 roundabout late last night.

The police said the truck overturned while negotiating a turn hitting the car. The car driver, Murari Lal of sector 15, and a co-passenger suffered injuries. They were admitted to the hospital. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Mr Punit Jindal of Sector 35-C suffered injuries when the rickshaw he was travelling on was hit by a Jeep near Director Heath Services Punjab, Sector 34, yesterday. He was admitted to the PGI. A case of negligent driving under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Two persons on a motor cycle were hit by a car near petrol station, Sector 52, on Sunday. Mr Harbans Singh of Fatehabad village in Amritsar district who was driving the motor cycle and pillion rider, Mr Gurpreet Singh, were admitted to the GMCH, Sector 32. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Vehicle stolen

Two cars and a scooter were stolen from the city, the police said on Tuesday.

Mr Sanjiv Kumar of Sector 41-A complained to the police that his Maruti car (CH-03-Q-2349) was stolen from near Hotel Residency, Sector 35, yesterday. A case of theft under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 36 police station.

Mr Davinder Singh of Harmilap Nagar, Baltana road, Panchkula, reported to the police that his Maruti car (CH-03-Q-7488) was stolen at the night of January 1.

It was parked near Hotel Himachal Tourist, Sector 22. A case of theft has been registered at the Sector 17 police station.

Mr S.K. Juneja reported to the police that his scooter (CH-01-X-5960) was stolen from his residence on December 16. A case of theft has been registered at the Sector 34 police station.



No accomplices, claims robbery bid suspect
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 4
Rajwinder Singh, who was allegedly involved in a robbery bid outside a bank here on December 31, has told the police that there were no accomplices in the crime.

The suspect, who is undergoing treatment at the PGI in Chandigarh for gunshot injuries sustained during the robbery bid, told the police in writing that nobody else was involved in the crime. He had suffered serious injuries in the jaw and is unable to speak.

The suspect, a former employee of the PTL here, had tried to rob Rs 36 lakh and was shot at and injured by the bank guard.



Man crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 4
A 35-year-old man was crushed to death by a Haryana Roadways bus near Poultry Farm Chowk in Hallo Majra, late last night.

Shiv Kumar, a resident of Colony No 4, was getting down from the bus and the driver moved the bus. Shiv Kumar was crushed under the rear tyres of the bus. He suffered serious head injuries. He was rushed to the GMCH, Sector 32, but the doctors declared him brought dead.

Shiv Kumar was working at a furniture shop in the city. He was coming from Panipat. The police has arrested the driver Devinder Singh of Panipat and the conductor Kanshi Ram.



BSNL launches ITC cards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched the plastic ITC Cards with access code of 1602180 for faster connectivity.

According to a press note, the Sulabh scheme subscribers of the Fetex technology may be facing problems in using these cards as their number are programmed with the old access code. The subscribers connected to the Fetex-I of Sector 17 can contact the telephone numbers 2707777 and 2716666 for the redressal of their grievances.

And the subscribers of the Fetex-II of Sector 17 can contact the telephone numbers 2720000 and 2702600. Similarly, the Sector 34 subscribers can take the help of 2606666 and 2667230. For the Mohali subscribers, the telephone number is 2220000, the press note added.


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