C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Delimitation work for UT villages to begin soon
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The delimitation exercise to include the area of 14 UT villages in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is expected to begin soon. The exercise to identify the area and the number of voters has to be done well in advance of the general elections of the corporation due in December 2006.

Against the present strength of 20 wards, the number of wards after the delimitation would cross the 30 mark. Around 50,000 additional voters in the 14 villages would also become eligible to cast their ballot in the municipal elections.

Sources in the Administration said officially the delimitation exercise would begin soon after the inclusion of the villages in the civic body. Correspondence between different departments regarding the assets and liabilities in the rural areas had already begun. Information regarding the structures within and outside the lal dora of the villages had also been sought.

The elected body has been given time till January 2006 by the Chandigarh Administration to give its consent on taking the villages.

Anticipating that the villages would be part of the MC, the elected body was now eyeing the unacquired land in the UT villages. It was forwarding a proposal to the Chandigarh Administration to acquire around 3000 acres in the villages. The land falls in Badheri, Baheana, Bair Majra, Burail, Dadu Majra, Baria, Dhanas, Hallo Majra, Kaimbala, villages.

The sources said certain amendments would have to be made in the Punjab Municipal Act, 1994, as applicable to Chandigarh, before the Centre gives its nod to delimitation. The draft was being prepared before being sent to the Centre. It would take some days, said a senior official.

Sources in the corporation said after delimitation, the area of wards would shrink. However, there is indication that four of the peripheral villages, which do not fit into the urban character of the city, would not be included within the limits of the civic body.

On being included within the MC limits, the Administration would have greater control on managing the vacant lands outside the lal dora of the villages. Carrying out demolitions within the villages would also be possible for the Administration.

The elected representatives are, however, opposed to the inclusion of the villages, as it would badly affect the ongoing development works in the city and put additional burden on the civic body.



Abduction mastermind still at large
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 14
Even after having solved the sensational abduction-for-ransom case about a month ago, in which son of a city-based automobile dealer was abducted for a ransom of Rs 2 crore, the identity of the ‘mastermind’ in the case continues to baffle the Chandigarh police till date. Tracing the accused seems to be a far cry for the city police as they are still groping in the dark about his identity.

It is interesting to point out that the man had good knowledge about the interiors of the state yet no trace of him could be found anywhere. He is known to have shifted several residences in the city, yet, no one knows anything about him. It is also intriguing to see that no person he came in contact with during his stay here seems to remember anything about him. “All clues end in a blank and we have to restart again and again”, a police officer quipped on a note of anonymity.

On November 20, the local police had claimed to have solved the case of abduction of 17-year-old Nikhil Joshi, son a Deepak Joshi of Sector 36. The police recovered the boy from a house in Sector 16 and arrested two youngsters, Manoj Kumar and Honney Sharma in this connection. The police said that the boy was kidnapped from Sector-35 based hotel on November 18.

The UT police has deployed security personnels outside the residence of the complainant, who are apprehensive of their safety as the mastermind is still at large. The police teams sent to the various addresses mentioned by the ‘mastermind’ in his documents and certificates failed to make any break through and returned empty handed.

The Special Investigating Team (SIT), constituted to solve this case, has been struggling to establish the identity of Aman Verma, the ‘mastermind’ in this case. The police officials investigating the case believed that the ‘mastermind’ is still in Singapore and the efforts are on to complete the formalities of extraditing him.

Though the senior police officers refused to comment on the investigations, the sources in the police said arresting the ‘mastermind’ is so far seems to be a far cry for the SIT. The team was in process of taking help from various national and international agencies in tracing and nabbing the accused.

An officer associated with this case said, “The procedure of getting help from international agencies like Interpol is not an easy job. The procedure not only is lengthy but needed a lot of documental proof to support the claims. As theses agencies were not answerable to the police. Certain issues pertaining to this case are discussed at the government level and are kept as secret.”

The process of extradition is difficult in the want of ‘sufficient evidences’ to prove the identity of the accused. The Interpol only provides its services after it is satisfied with the details furnished about the case, said a police official.

Preferring anonymity a police officer said taking in consideration the profile of the ‘mastermind’ it is hard to digest the fact that he would be in Singapore. He may have shifted to a country with which India has no extradition agreement. More over the local police has failed to gather information from various national agencies and from Punjab police about the background of a man, who knew hinter areas of the state so well that he mentioned exact addresses of far of villages in the state.

The officer said the ‘mastermind’ Aman Verma has a visa to stay till December 18 in Singapore. He added that the investigations had apparently reached a dead end as no one had approached the police after the case was highlighted in the media. Even the banks duped by the ‘mastermind’ had not approached the police following the registration of cases against the accused.



CSIO records another earthquake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Close on the heels of yesterday’s quake, another quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale with its epicentre at Badri Nath in Uttaranchal (30.700 degrees North, 79.300 degrees East) was recorded at 12.40 pm here today.

The shock was recorded at the Seismological Observatory Chandigarh. IMD, New Delhi, which is a government-authorised agency for providing earthquake epicenter and magnitude, declared the magnitude of the earthquake as 5.2 respectively on the Richter scale.

The epicentral distance of this earthquake from Chandigarh was 220 km approximately. The CSIO seismological observatory equipped with number of seismological instruments, like analog and digital seismographs, and running round the clock for recording seismological data.



IT registers its presence in city
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh December 14
Information technology has landed to stay on the socio-economic map of the city with a clear indication of having a definite impact on its future development. The inauguration of the Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology Park and the employment of IT aided e-sampark centres for public utility all over the city are the insignia of change in future.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, inaugurate the IT Park on September 24 paving way for entry of multi-nationals and big companies. Along with the development of the park area comes the lifestyle typical to the industry. Besides the housing area in the park, there is going to be definite impact on the prices of houses, at least in the adjoining areas of Manimajra and even Panchkula.

The city now has eight e-sampark centres all over the city. Instead of standing in long queues to deposit their electricity bills, residents now walk into clean e-sampark centres, get a seat accompanied with newspaper and a cup of coffee while they wait for their chance. The long queues have vanished.

The revised prices of the Chandigarh Housing Board flats have taken the city residents by surprise. A two bedroom flat in Sector 49 costs Rs 32 lakh while a single bedroom will cost Rs 14 lakh. Residents are “surprised” at the hike by the government agency while the CHB defends the decision saying that the price was only a reflection of the market and that they could not keep on selling their flats “at a loss”. The latest development is the board planning to introduce the scheme of “tatkal” booking, of course at a premium.

The administration’s decision to allow conversion in the Industrial Area has not gone well with the industrialists. Except for Pasco, no one else has volunteered to go in for the scheme saying the price for conversion was very high. The rate fixed by the administration was Rs 18000 per square yard.

Another development in the property circles was that there are very few takers for the ‘sarkari’ commercial property on ‘leasehold’ as was indicated by the failure of the Administration and the Municipal Corporation to dispose certain priced portions of land. The auction of the Hotel site at the IT Park had no bidders except for one which led to the cancellation of the auction. The auction of the MC owned commercial sites in Sector 35 and Sector 44 had also failed earlier on the same account. Interestingly, at all the auctions there was a clear indication that people were willing to pay even “very high” in case the property was given on a freehold basis.

The Right to Information Act applicable in all states and Union Territories is yet to make any visible impact on the life of the city and majority of the UT offices are yet to define a clear mechanism and the chain for addressing public questions. The value added tax is likely to be introduced from the next financial year. It has been cleared by Parliament recently as the Punjab General Sales Tax 1952 has been repealed. Meant to be introduced in April earlier this year, it was detected that first UT will have to get the Punjab Sales Tax Act repealed through Parliament.

Mr Arun Kumar, a former Deputy Commissioner, lost chances of getting an extension in his tenure in his office earlier this year because he came in direct confrontation with councillor of the Municipal Corporation and the developments also had Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, the local member of Parliament, on the scene.

UT is likely to have a revised ‘liquor policy’. Mount View got a ‘five star’ status and Hotel Taj was also inaugurated. The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking is likely to introduce the grid system in schedule making the services much faster and regulated as they will run only on horizontal and vertical lines. Chandigarh is all set to have a film city. Tourism gets a new face with at least four villages being identified for the rural tourism.



“Laado” leaves a lasting impression
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
It was an evening that made a difference. An evening where you didn’t see women shirk and men sniker and look away, when the sensitive topic of female foeticide was touched. For a change you had 600 people sit up and listen to the message being put across to them. They laughed, they cried and more importantly agreed that the issue needed immediate importance.

“Laado — My Girl Child” an interactive 40-minute play, which was a heady mix of music, mimickry, puppetry and bilingual was put together by students of Ryan International School, Sector 49, today evening at Tagore Theatre. The play was a culmination of a 13-day workshop organised by the Ryan International School on various visual and performing arts on the theme Laado-My Girl Child, which focuses on the issue of female foeticide.

Using the art of puppetry, the students with their acting skills, put together a play that focused on the discrimination against the girl child over centuries. Most interesting was the end where the students enacted the year 2055, when no woman is left. Scenarios of owners of leading cosmetic brands like Lakme and Revlon begging for a living and a museum of women came across as harsh realities that we just might have to face if the issue of female foeticide is not tackled soon.

Students also gave performances in Kakaripayattu (which means gymnasium in Malayalam), Mayurbanj Chhau an art form from Orissa and a street play, all on the issue of female foeticide. Interestingly, the street play and the puppetry show have been scripted by students themselves.

The students had also put up an exhibition of paintings at the venue. Irina Brar, and Savita Bhatti, wife of famous comedian Jaspal Bhatti, were also present at the show.

The students will be performing across the city for the next three days. The painting exhibition will be organized at the Browser library on December 15 and at the state library, Sector 34, on December 16. The street play will be organised at Panjab University , PGI and Pushpac Complex on December 15 while on December 16 it will be organized at Khuda Ali Sher, Sukhna Lake and Sector 17. The puppetry show, Laado, will be organised at Indira Colony on December 15 and at Guru Hari Kishan Public School on December 16.



Passing Thru

Ms Humaira Arif Dasti
Ms Humaira Arif Dasti, medieval historian,
Multan, Pakistan

Q: What brings you to the city?

A: I am here to read a paper at the two day seminar on Sufism being organized by the Panjab University’s Department of History. My paper deals with the role and contribution of the Surawadi silsila of Sufis.

Q: Do you teach Sufism at Multan?

A: I am a medieval historian at Multan and have worked on the Sufi orders which had their centres in Multan, Sind and Uchh. Here the Suhrawadis held sway and so they remained the focus of my attention.

Q: Has teaching of Sufism changed your personal beliefs and philosophy?

A: Yes. You cannot teach Sufi idea without getting influenced by it or without getting involved in it. And our students feel the same. Reading about the Sufi life, their teachings, their way of life, affects most of the students.

Q: Which concept of Sufi life and their teachings have touched you the most?

A: The concepts of self- realization, peace and communal harmony have influenced me the most. Also unlike the Chishti order, the Suhrawadi order propounded the leading of a normal life by the follower. Normal life meant leading a good family life and earning ones’ livelihood honestly. I think these Sufi ideas should be followed by all.

— Chitleen K Sethi



Rise in min temperature

Chandigarh, December 14
The city today recorded a minimum temperature of 5.6 °C. This is the highest temperature recorded in the last fortnight in December.

The month began with a minimum temperature of 4.6 °C. TNS



Reduce size of bureaucracy: ex-AG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Dr B.P. Mathur, former Deputy Comptroller and Auditor-General of India and Director, National Institute of Financial Management, Faridabad, today said that Indian bureaucracy needed to be reduced in size and revamped to include fresh corporate talent.

Dr Mathur was delivering a special lecture on “Governance Reform — A New Paradigm” organised by the ICSSR North-Western Regional Centre, at its complex in Panjab University here today.

Stating that India is one of the poorest country in the world. Dr Mathur, however, pointed out that India had also made tremendous technical advancement. “In terms of purchasing power parity India is the 5th largest economy in the world and is predicted to be at the 3rd place in the next 25 years, he said.

Stressing that the government must introduce reforms into the governing process and offer range of services and processes, Dr Mathur identified governance reforms in three areas viz. personnel management, budget and financial management, purchase and contract management.

He was of the opinion that the size of the bureaucracy should be reduced so that it loses its permanent nature and becomes target oriented. “The civil service should be open to persons from the corporate sector so that new and fresh ideas of governance are introduced. Such recruitments should take place through the Union Public Service Commission for a limited period of time,” he suggested.

Professor S.L. Sharma, Director of the Institute of Correctional Administration, observed that it was of no good to criticise the system unless it led to change in the system. He said systems all over the world were changing and the system too needed to change.



VCs told to evaluate social development
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), the Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of universities based in Punjab, here today called upon Vice-Chancellors to evaluate the progress of social development, especially in education, medical and agriculture, and help the state in improving its plans and policies through their expertise and professional capabilities.

Taking a hard look at the total scenario and integrating the programmes of research, teaching, work experience and community development, in consonance with the needs and aspirations of society at large, can only do this.

Presiding over a meeting of the Vice-Chancellors, General said the universities must study the realities and needs of our social life and evolve action plans achievable within the existing available resources.

Expressing his concern over the growing menace of drug addiction and female foeticide in rural and urban areas, General Rodrigues said the universities had a special role in these areas of special human concern to generate awareness among people by organising seminars, workshops and interactive sessions. He said he had already asked the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University to constitute two study groups to study the problem of drug addiction and female foeticide.

He stressed the need for a harmonious integration of the university academia and other organs of the state government like the police and NGOs to arrive at an implementable action plan. The Vice-Chancellor of GND varsity, Dr S.P. Singh, said the university had already undertaken the project because of its vital importance.

Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr G.S. Kalkat, Chairman, State Farmers Commission, Punjab, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, and Dr Ravinder Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid Medical University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, and Mr N.S. Kang, Secretary to Governor, attended the meeting.



Mansa Devi bridge issue taken up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The meeting of the Divisional Railway Users Consultative Committee (DRUCC), Ambala, was held today at Ambala.

At least eight of the total 17 members attended the meeting. The main issues raised were sanitation at the Ambala station, railway overbridge at Mansa Devi, Panchkula, and installing unreserved UTS at Abhoar, said Mr Harvinder Walia, Public Relations-Inspector (PRI), Ambala. 



Col Sodhi elected Kalgidhar society chief
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, December 14
Col J.S. Sodhi (retd) was elected president of the Kalgidhar Enclave Welfare Society during its general-body meeting here.

The president nominated other members and executives to constitute the elected body as follows: vice-president — Maj Gurcharan Singh (retd); general secretary — Col D.R. Chauhan (retd); legal member/treasurer — Col S.R. Gogar; planning and development member — Er P.P.S. Dhaliwal; media member — Mr Gagandeep Arora; executive members — Mr Pardeep Passi, Mr Pankaj Garg, Mr Sushil Jindal, Mr I.R. Dhiman, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Ved Gupta and Mr Subhash Gupta.



Poll to elect new Mayor to be held on Jan 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The elections to elect the new Mayor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) will be held on Sunday, January 1.

According to sources, nominations for the post will be filed on December 26, 27 and 28. A notification announcing the schedule for Mayor’s election will be issued in a day or two.

Even though the councillors had earlier put forth their demand that the date of the elections to the post be advanced, it being a Sunday on January 1, but since there is no provision in the Municipal Act, the same was not considered.

The new Mayor is to chair the House soon after taking over to elect the Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor. Advancing the date would have also meant cutting short the tenure of the present Mayor by a few days, sources add.

The elections to the post of Mayor even last year were held on a Saturday, which was a holiday.



Dharna by medical representatives
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Members of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives’ Union today began their three-day strike all over Punjab and Chandigarh on a call by their national federation, FMRAI.

The medical representatives, today, sat on a dharna in front of General Hospital, Sector 16, and Polyclinic, Sector 22, to lodge their protest. They even met doctors and urged them to prescribe the lowest-priced medicine for any ailment instead of expensive medicines.

Mr A Sawhney, general secretary of PCMSRU, said even though profits of pharmaceutical companies were increasing due to the hard work of the medical representatives, they were not being given their due.

“A majority of the companies are neither paying the minimum wages as declared by the Chandigarh Administration and Punjab Government nor are they implementing Sales promotion employees Act, 1976, which provides Medical representatives a cover under ESI Act, Bonus Act and PF Act. These companies openly flout all labour laws in connivance with the labour authorities and ESI officials,” he said.

Mr Sawhney said while on the one side medical representatives observed a complete strike and organised dharnas and demonstrations against labour authorities, they simultaneously organised dharnas at various places against the Chemicals and Fertilizers ministry and demanded reduction in prices of drugs.

The leaders also stated that because of the non-implementation of VAT in Chandigarh medicines in Chandigarh were costly.



Bhagavadgita copies distributed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 14
As part of the month-long celebration of Gita Jayanti, Sri Gita Prachar Samiti, Chandigarh, distributed copies of Srimad Bhagavadgita free of cost to devotees. It also organised its first annual function at Brahmasarovar, Kurukshetra with religious fervour and enthusiasm. A large number of devotees participated in the function. This was stated by Mr Ravi Gulati, convener of the samiti. Gita Jayanti is celebrated throughout the month of December.

After conclusion of the programme, bhandara of tea with snacks was also served.



Protest against demolition drive

Mohali, December 14
Residents of Mauli Baidwan village yesterday protested against the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s (PUDA) demolition drive carried out in the village. PUDA’s regulatory team today razed to the ground a religious structure in the village.

A tense situation prevailed in the village yesterday when the team, with its bulldozer, began demolishing a structure that was encroaching upon PUDA’s land in the village. The villagers objected to the drive and made an announcement from the gurdwara to people to collect at a spot, where they protested against the PUDA action. — TNS



Punjabi society convention from December 16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The 32nd convention of the International Punjabi Society is slated to be held at Chandigarh from December 16. It will be a three-day affair and about 500 delegates, including 200 people from the USA, Canada, the UK and Pakistan are expected to participate in the conference, Mr Jaspal Singh Kandhari, Chairman of the Organising Committee, said here today.

This year the convention would honour Dr P.S. Pasricha, Director-General Maharashtra police, Poet Sardar Anjum, cardiologist I.S. Kler, and Dr Anil Kohli. The society was founded in 1968.

The general secretary of the society, Mr Amarjit Singh Sethi, said among the participants this year would be Mr Keith Vaz, a member of the House of Commons, UK, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Lord Tarsem Singh from the UK and Mr Gurdip Singh Gujral, also from the UK.

Mr Kandhari said the society had provided respirators that aided artificial breathing in critical patients to the PGI and also started scholarships for students. On rising female foeticide and women, who have been deserted by NRI husbands, the society would be having discussions at the presidents’ meeting and would make an announcement of what its plans in the near future, Mr Kandhari added. 



Remount Veterinary Corps anniversary celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The Army's Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) celebrated its 226th anniversary at Chandi Mandir Cantonment, near here, today. A social get-together was organised to mark the occasion.

The RVC is a specialised force for breeding, training and treatment of military horses, cattle and dogs. The personnel and animals of the Corps deployed in difficult and hostile terrains have always performed credibly. Army dog units have been doing an outstanding job in counter insurgency, counter terrorist and de-mining operations in hazardous and inhospitable terrain. Several Army dogs and their trainers have received gallantry awards and commendation cards for their distinguished services.



Parking contractor booked
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 14
A parking contractor was booked after a Maruti car was stolen from his parking lot yesterday. Elsewhere, the police on Tuesday arrested one person for possessing ganja and six for gambling.

Mr I.K. Sehgal of Sector 48 reported to the police that his car (CH-01-S-9339) was stolen from the Sector 17-B parking area.

In another incident, Mr Surya Mani of Sector 41 filed a complaint that his scooter (CH-03-J-0775) was stolen from his residence on Monday. A case of theft has been registered.

The police arrested Bhandari Badri Mato of Bihar from Sector 38 while carrying 3 kg of ganja. A case under the NDPC Act has been registered.

The local police arrested six persons from various places in the city for gambling.

Satish Kumar and Chintu Ram of Bapu Dham Colony were arrested from the same locality and Bablu, Raj Kishore, Mahabir and Main Pal of Attawa were arrested from Sector 42. The police recovered cash from their possession.

Cases under the Gambling Act were registered against them.



Two more held in murder cases
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 14
The police today arrested the other two accused in the killing of two persons, whose bodies were found from Maloya village this year. Both victims were allegedly done to death by five members of a family, belonging to the Sansi tribe.

Giving details, the crime branch said Masih and Darshan were arrested from the city. The police has already arrested the other accused - Mewa Ram, Raj Kumar and Sucha.

So far the police has failed to establish the identities of both the victims. The police said Raju was tattooed on the right hand of the victim, whose body was found on December 4. Ritu, wife of Sucha, who allegedly had illicit relations with the victim, told the police that Raju belonged to Himachal Pradesh.

About the other victim, whose headless body was found on February 4, the police said he was involved with the wife of Darshan.

The police said efforts were on to establish the identity of the victim. The accused during the interrogation told the police that they had thrown the severed head of the victim in a drain.



HDFC Bank launches Kisan Card in Punjab, Haryana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The HDFC Bank, one of the India’s leading private sector banks, in association with the Visa International has launched the Kisan Card here today. “Kisan Gold Card’ provides an opportunity for hassle-free loan to farmers which they can avail 24-hours on ATM cards, in India and abroad.

Mr Aditya Puri, Managing Director of the bank, said “the Kisan card holders will also be issued ‘Payable at Par Cheque Books’. Each card will have a personal accident insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and a free investment advisory. The daily withdrawal limit through the card is Rs 15,000 at the ATMs and Rs 25,000 for usage at merchant outlets”.

The card has been launched in all districts of Punjab and also districts of Haryana, excluding those in the NCR region.

Ms Neena Singh, the Regional Director, said “ the card will facilitate the farmer by preventing him repeated visits to the bank for his loans and related paper work. He can avail the facilities on his card. In case he wanted a loan of more than Rs 15,000, he could use his Cheque Book”.

The card limit on the card, which is sanctioned for three years, is based on production requirements of the farmer and will be renewed after every three years.

Mr Puri said “the Kisan Card fills an important niche in our business and provides instant liquidity in a transparent manner to the farming community. Farmers in the region have always been among the first to apply innovative practices which is the reason our bank has launched the product here.”

The card is aimed at meeting the Production and Investment needs of the farming community. Production needs broadly cover crop production requirements, including funds for all related equipment, irrigation requirements, construction of farm-related buildings and investment in allied activities including dairy, piggery and bee keeping, besides others.

Later in the evening, Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister of Punjab, formally launched the Kisan Card at the CII.


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