C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Pradeep Chhabra is city’s mayor
20 does the trick for Cong
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Congress councillor Kamlesh while putting her vote slip in the ballot box. Incidentally, the lock of the ballot box is seen open in the picture, pointing to carelessness of officials.
Congress councillor Kamlesh while putting her vote slip in the ballot box. Incidentally, the lock of the ballot box is seen open in the picture, pointing to carelessness of officials. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 1
The Congress emerged clear winners in the mayoral polls today with all the three posts of mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor landing in its lap. Pradeep Chhabra is the new city mayor while Anju Benewal and H.C Kalyan, both of the Congress, were elected senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor respectively.

Winning by a huge margin, the Congress claimed victory by recording a total of 20 votes each in elections for all the three posts. New incumbent Pradeep Chhabra referred to it as a Twenty20 win. “Its an age of Twenty20 and it batted for us too,” he said.

BJP’s Gurcharan Dass Kala claimed 10 of the 36 votes for the post of mayor while the BSP recorded a total of five votes, thus losing to Congress which claimed 20 votes. One vote, however, was rendered invalid as the ink was marked to both BJP and the Congress in that vote, which was showed to the entire House by the presiding authority Kuldip Singh Chandpuri.

The MC House wore a festive look after Pradeep Chhabra was announced the winner. The Congress councillors, delighted at their victory, broke into thunderous applause and swarmed to congratulate him. Equally joyous was Congress MP Pawan Bansal, who gave the winner a warm hug.

The next two rounds of voting for the post of senior deputy and deputy mayor were then presided over by Chhabra.

Anju of the Congress claimed 20 votes to be elected the senior deputy mayor, Surinder K. Jagota of the BJP recorded 12 votes while Sarita Devi of the BSP got four votes.

For the elections of deputy mayor too, H.C. Kalyan of the Congress claimed victory by recording 20 votes while Gurnam Singh, who was supported jointly by the BSP and the BJP got 16 votes.

Chaos all over

Once the entire election process was over and the winners announced, the House got jam-packed with a large number of councillors, party workers, supporters and MC employees jostling with one another with garlands and laddus in hand to congratulate the winners. As the newly elected mayor waded his way through the crowd and took his seat in the mayor’s room, a stampede like situation was created. A large number of supporters also stood on a bench, stationed right behind the mayor’s chair, to make space for the crowd. The costly furniture in the room was at the receiving end with supporters as well as cameramen standing on the seats and sofas to see the new mayor take his seat.

Crackers were also burst outside to celebrate his victory.

Promises galore

While promising completion of pending projects, newly elected mayor Pradeep Chhabra said he would take all steps to ensure all wasteful expenditure was avoided. A councillor for the last six years, Chhabra said his main focus will be on pending projects, which will be taken up within three months. The major projects include providing gender budgeting for economic empowerment for women, work for establishing a centre on the lines of the India Habitat Centre and India International Centre for the promotion of art and culture and exchange of ideas amongst the intelligentsia of Chandigarh and establishing a dog pound and bird (chicken) slaughter house. Chhabra also said he would take the work of installation of ambulances on a priority basis.



Loyalty pays, sooner or later
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jubilant Pradeep Chhabra after being elected as mayor of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Jubilant Pradeep Chhabra after being elected as mayor of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in Chandigarh on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Majahan

Chandigarh, January 1
Loyalty to minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal seems to be the success mantra of Pradeep Chhabra, who was elected mayor of the municipal corporation (MC) of Chandigarh here today.

In fact, it has been a steady rise for the Congress worker to the coveted post. With Bansal's man Friday on the mayoral post, the Congress is slated to go into the Lok Sabha poll with extra confidence.

Since political leaders, including Bansal, are known for rewarding their loyalists, loyalty and sincerity have proved shot in the arm for suave Chabbra, who is seen as the acceptable face of the Congress among a cross-section of councillors, including the nine nominated councillors.

In the backdrop of his seniority and calibre, Chabbra, who was the senior deputy mayor in 2004, was tipped to be a strong contender for the mayor's post in 2005. However, the post went to another Bansal's protege Surinder Singh.

Instead of being miffed with Bansal, Chhabra renewed his loyalty to the minister making concerted efforts to project him in good light in the public life through media and personal contact programme. And a seasoned Bansal also did not disappoint his protege and rewarded him with the important post of the special representative for the MPLAD fund-an assignment which earned him a lot of goodwill among the city residents and officials.

"Development is the key issue in the next Lok Sabha elections. In fact, the efforts of Bansal and the MC to develop Chandigarh as the world-class city should be seen as complimentary," Chhabra told The Tribune after assuming the office here today.

For the former youth Congress leader and second-time councillor, the experience in the party organisational matters would go a long in discharging his onerous responsibilities. In fact, his stints as the president of the District Youth Congress and secretary of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) would stand him in good stead in his new job.

This coupled with his tenure as the senior deputy mayor in 2004 and chairmanship of various committees, including the Roads Committee, Water Supply Committee and Sanitation Committee, will only help him to coordinate better with the civic body officials.



First day: Punjab taxes commuter convenience
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 1
Thousands of commuters travelling daily to and from Chandigarh to nearby areas in Punjab had a harrowing day today with the Chandigarh Transport Union (CTU) snapping most of its bus services to Punjab. Worst affected were school students and employees who had to reach their offices early in the morning and had passes to travel with CTU.

On the flip side, privately run mini buses and auto rickshaws had a field day running jam packed on the Chandigarh-Mohali routes but still could not meet the rush of bus users. Passengers were stranded at bus stops on the shut routes as many did not even know that the bus services had been cancelled.

CTU buses number 25, 40 and 33 collect passengers from villages of the Majri block dropping them at PGI and the bus stand in Chandigarh. Since none of these buses ran today, villagers were stranded at bus stops. Private bus operators have a thin service in some villages and commuters were seen getting on packed auto rickshaws.

Passengers from Manakpur, Mianpur, Haripur, Sangatpur, Kubheri and Purkahli villages were the worst hit as no private operators run buses on this route. Only one Punjab Roadways bus goes on this route, which was overflowing with passengers.

“The bus number 25 follows the 40/102 route. CTU buses on this route start from Ropar and pick up school students and employees at seven in the morning from at least 15 villages. Not running this bus has caused the maximum harassment,” said Sukhvinder Singh a resident of Majri village.

Bus numbers 40 and 33 cater to villagers who generally go to PGI. “The route is Chandigarh bus stand to Khizrabad via Sialba or Kubheri. Only a few private buses ply on these routes,” said Kamal Kishore who lives in Khizrabad.

For school students, who had been called for New Year functions today, no buses were available from the bus stops in their villages this morning. Most of these students hold CTU passes, which are likely to go waste. The school students are up against a bigger problem when the schools re-open tomorrow.

Similarly employees reached their offices late with everyone hunting for an alternative means of transport. “We have been waiting to take a lift on this road. But since we have no helmets, no one is picking us up to take us to Chandigarh,” said Harminder Singh and Mahinder Singh, residents of Ferozepur village. The daily service to Ropar on the bus number 45 was also affected.

Other than the villages, Mohali residents had to use other means of transport to reach Chandigarh. “The bus number 6A and 6B is the lifeline of commuters. It is always full of passengers. It runs every 15 minutes through Phase VI Mohali to Phase 11 starting from the Chandigarh bus stand. But today we have been waiting for over half an hour at the bus stop and have not seen a single CTU bus. People have taken autos that are charging through the roof,” said Simran Singh a student waiting at the Phase VI bus stop. The other buses, which are not picking passengers from Mohali, include 13A and 13C for which passengers were seen stranded at the Phase VII bus stop.

No timely action

The Punjab government notification increasing the special road tax was issued on November 22, 2007. The CTU had informed the Punjab government that they would not be able to ply buses on these routes almost a month ago but no extra buses was pressed into service by the Punjab government to meet the situation which has paralysed the movement of Mohali residents.



Students, employees left high & dry
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The first day of the year was not a good day for the bus commuters of Mohali and other peripheral towns of Punjab.

The decision left hundreds of commuters high and dry at Inter State Bus Terminus, Sector 17, and various local bus queue shelters in the city.

Commuters reaching the bus stand to catch buses to these areas were a harassed lot as most of them were clueless about the cancellation of the routes.

“We have been waiting for the bus for one hour as we did not know about the cancellation of all the routes to the city. We came to know about the situation from the bus conductor. It is ridiculous on the part of authorities, which are responsible for creating this problem for the public”, lamented Mohinder Kaur, who reached the bus stand from Dera Bassi along with her daughter-in-law Charanjit Kaur and grandson. They had to go to Phase IIIB2 in Mohali.

Taking advantage of the situation, auto-rickshaw drivers were allegedly charging extra from hapless passengers. Gurpal Singh of Khizrabad said that except CTU buses, there was no mode of public transport to his area. “I have to go to my village but there is no other way except the auto rickshaws, which are demanding far more than the normal fare today,” he said.

Yesterday the CTU had announced that the bus services to Punjab had been curtailed because of raising of Special Road Tax from 50 paise per km to Rs 5 per kilometre, covered by the bus in the Punjab area.

Passes go waste

CTU officials returned over 40 persons from the bus pass renewal counter. Talking to TNS, a CTU inspector said they were not making passes for commuters to these areas as the bus service was not likely to be resumed soon. The department issued over 3,000 bus passes to the commuters of the area. However, school students had already been issued passes for January.

Withdrawn bus routes

Peripheral towns: Bus numbers 25, 33, 76, 40,45, 29, 79, 95, 20/78, 35/77, 35/106, 16, 126, 7, 34, 3A, 3C, 85. Mohali: 6A, 6C, 9A, 9C, 11A, 11C, 12A, 12C, 13A, 13C, 14A, 14C, 15A, 15C 



18-yr-old youth, woman killed in accidents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
A cyclist and an old woman were killed in two separate road accidents in various parts of the city today.

The cyclist, 18-year-old Ashok Kumar of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh, was killed after being knocked down by a tractor-trailer near Khudda Lahora here this afternoon.

The police said the accident took place at around 4:30 pm. The tractor hit the cycle and dragged it to a distance. It halted after it rammed into a pole. The victim was severely injured in the mishap and died on the spot. He was taken to the PGI, where he was declared brought dead.

Ashok, only son of his parents, was twelfth passed. He is survived by his parents and two sisters. He had come to Khudda Lahora to meet his uncle about a week ago. His father is a home guard in Himachal Pradesh.

The tractor driver, Tehal Singh of Saini Majra village near here told the police that the boy came suddenly before his tractor. He tried his best to apply brakes, but could not save the boy. He has been arrested on the charges of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.

The body has been kept in the PGI for a post-mortem examination. About the other fatal accident, the police said 72-year-old Manwari was badly injured after being hit by a car on the road dividing Sector 31 and 32 this morning.

The woman was crossing the road and the car was heading toward the iron chowk. The accident took place at around 9:30 am. The car driver, Dr Kiran Sharma, posted at the Sector 6 General Hospital, Panchkula, took the victim to the Sector 34-based Mukat Hospital. The victim was hurt seriously in the mishap and breathed her last in the hospital at 4:30 pm.

A case has been registered.



Eateries post record sales on New Year eve
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The city was up and about till dawn today. In no mood to drop the festive mantle, revelers first partied their way into the New Year, and then converged on round-the-clock eating houses, sprucing up their sales like never before.

CITCO’s all-night coffee shop at Mountview yesterday collected the highest one-time sale in its history by generating business of over Rs 25,000 from 12 midnight to 4 am. At dawn, people were still walking in, asking for food. The restaurant hosted over 500 people last night, record visitation at any New Year night ever, here. Most of the rush was diverted from Aroma, where the management had shut down its eating house to keep hooligans at bay. Around midnight yesterday, over 2,000 people were standing outside Aroma’s Eating House hoping for entry; most were outsiders. “We did not want disturbances on the New Year eve. So we had to shut down our all-night cafe,” said Rajan Arora, Aroma manager.

Back in Mountview, the coffee shop was flooded with people, who proved yet again that partying hard was about eating hard. CITCO crossed another milestone last night with its flagship hotel Mountview’s Chinese restaurant, Magic Wok, witnessing a record sale of Rs 1.40 lakh, the highest ever in the history of this restaurant. From its main bash organised on the lawns, Mountview collected Rs 3 lakh; Shivalikview was close behind with a business of Rs 3.50 lakh last night. “Of the total sales last night, 14 per cent came from Yangtze, our Chinese restaurant,” said Vijay Gupta, general manager, Shivalikview.

R.P. Singla, general manager Mountview, for his part admitted that his staff was not prepared to handle the mad rush at coffee shop. “We had in fact decided to close it down as there was no rush till about 11 pm. Soon after that the crowds surfaced. We just about managed and made the highest-ever profit at coffee shop.”

While the Piccadily general manager Hemant Gulati sufficed to mention that their hall was jam packed, managers at hotel President confirmed a sale of Rs 1.50 lakh last night. They catered to the ghazal-loving audience at their restaurant, and kept the all-night café shut. From Taj, the details of New Year night business could not be collected as no one was available for comment. PRO, Taj when contacted said business details could not be disclosed. “They are available with the accounts department,” she said.



Veteran journalist Harish Bhanot dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Harish Bhanot, veteran journalist and philanthropist and a strong votary of probity in public life first, died here today after a brief illness. He was 86.

Born in Lahore in 1922, Bhanot studied at FC College, Lahore, and later entered the field of journalism, where he left an indelible for his knack of breaking stories and specialising in political and economic affairs.

He served with Hindustan Times with distinction for over 30 years, first at Chandigarh and later in Mumbai.

His insightful coverage of Punjab politics earned his kudos from his organisation and friends and foes alike.

After his retirement, he settled in Chandigarh and had the rare distinction of being the only journalist to be nominated as the member of the first Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) and was part of the important decision-making committee--finance and contract committee.

In fact, he was the MCC’s voice of reason from 1996-2001 when the corporation was passing through severe teething troubles.

Drawing heavily from his vast experience in journalism, Bhanot played a major role in formulating the policies of the first corporation and his voice was heard with respect both by the MCC and the Chandigarh Administration.

However, he has been immortalised by the supreme sacrifice, made by his only daughter Neerja Bhanot, a senior flight purser with Pan Am, who was killed by terrorists during a hijacking bid in September 1986.

Neerja, who sacrificed her life while helping passengers aboard the flight escape, was at that time the youngest and, till-date, the only woman Ashok Chakra awardee.

After his young daughter’s untimely death, Bhanot put the insurance money of Neerja in the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust, in which Pan Am Airlines also contributed an equal amount.

Every year, the trust honours airline crew that acts beyond the call of duty and Indian women, who have shown exemplary courage under difficult circumstances.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of the journalist.

Bhanot was an outstanding journalist who performed his professional duties with utmost dedication, commitment and sincerity, Badal said in his condolence message.

Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia and media adviser to the Chief Minister also mourned the death of Bhanot.

The cremation of Bhanot at the Sector 25 crematorium was largely-attended with people from different walks of life, including editors, veteran journalists and senior functionaries of civil and police administration of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh administration, taking part.

Bhanot is survived by his wife and two sons.



Punjab CM condoles Bhanot’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of veteran journalist and former nominated councilor of the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh (MCC) Harish Bhanot, who died here at his residence after a prolonged illness.

In a condolence message, Badal said Bhanot was an outstanding journalist, who performed his professional duties with utmost dedication, commitment and sincerity. In his death the journalist fraternity has lost a gem and a vacuum has been created which was impossible to be filled.

Badal expressed heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved family and prayed to the Almighty to grant peace to the departed soul and give strength to them to bear this irreparable loss.

Information and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia also shared his condolences with the family of Bhanot and described him a multi faceted personality dedicated to the cause of freedom of the press.

Media advisor to the Chief Minister Harcharan Bains also mourned the death of Bhanot. He said: “Bhanot was a journalist to the core and a social activist who sincerely pursued the concept of basic education for the children of slum dwellers”.

Meanwhile, principal secretary information and public relations D.S. Jaspal and director information and public relations Tejveer Singh also mourned the sad demise of the veteran journalist.

Later in the afternoon, Bhanot was cremated here at local cremation ground and people from different walks of life, including editors, senior and veteran journalists besides senior functionaries of civil and police administration of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh administration attended the cremation.

Deputy director press to the Chief Minister Opinder Singh Lamba laid the wreath on the body of Harish Bhanot on behalf of Badal.



UNESCO delegation visits city

Chandigarh, January 1
Chandigarh today boasts of all those features which are required to get a world heritage status. The next step is the submission of a dossier to the UNESCO for its nomination. Amidst hectic activities which are underway, the city recently hosted a high powered team from UNESCO.

It was sheer coincidence for the UNESCO delegates, who were to attend a workshop of Historic Urban Landscapes in Chandigarh, to be treated to Le-Corbusier’s pieces of architecture.

Chandigarh is in the reckoning to be crowned a World Heritage City.

Ray Bondin, the president of International Comm. of Historic Sites said, “What Le-Corbusier designed exists here. The city is his very authentic creation and has been maintained very well. Because its very important authenticity and the integrity of the original design are conserved, the management of the city and its conservation - these are the other things we are concentrating in the process.”

Headed by the chairman of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the 18-member delegation went around Chandigarh to view the original work done by Le-Corbusier. It was an exhilarating experience for those who just could not get enough of the master architect’s genius showcased in the city. Francesco Bandarin, the director of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, said: “I have seen the impressive fabric that was generated in the city, the variety of the urban forms that he has created. There are many things eliminated from this place. It is really a happy place and most of all credible levels, structure of your monuments. During my last visit, I felt that this place needed protection and conservation.

Kiran Joshi, model officer, Chandigarh World Heritage Project, said: “Once the property is nominated and even the World Heritage Society decides to inscribe it that is the beginning of your troubles.

Because thereafter you are expected to manage the conservation of the property in a way not to improve the authenticity and integrity and the values for which it has been inscribed." In a move to get Chandigarh the status of World Heritage City, the Chandigarh administration had approved the ‘Chandigarh Heritage Regulations’, demarcating three zones in the city.

The latest move is to find appropriate solution in tune with internationally accepted ethics of conservation. If all goes well, Chandigarh can be expected to become the first 20th century Indian city becoming a heritage town. — ANI



City leads in per capita income
Rs 24,191 cr stashed away in banks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Can you believe it? People in Chandigarh have stashed away about Rs 24,191 crore in banks? Yes, that whopping figure is for the money that was deposited in 255 banks of the city in 2006-07. The figure is so huge that it would beat the budget of several small states in the country.

Now, this means the people of Chandigarh have not just the highest per capita income in the country, their banks are also full to the brim. In the year 2005-06, deposits were Rs 20,746 crore.

And it is not just that the city residents are depositing money, they are also borrowing and the banks have collectively lent them about Rs 19,506 crore in 2006-07.

The statistical cell of the Chandigarh administration has compiled this data. According to the data, the tele density of the city has registered 20 per cent growth from 78 per cent in 2005-06. Besides registering growth in money and telephone connectivity, the city has also witnessed an increase in per capita consumption of power from 1070 to 1162 kW hours per annum while per capita water consumption has gone down.

However, the city continues to have two vehicles per house hold, says the data.



Three ‘Es’… key to safety on roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Adviser to the UT administrator, Pradip Mehra, inaugurated the 19th Road Safety Week here today. The week will last till January 7 and the Chandigarh traffic police is aiming to adopt a three-pronged strategy - education, enforcement and engineering - to make city roads safer.

An exhibition, a blood donation camp, a painting competition and a puppet show were organised on the occasion, which is being sponsored by The Indian Oil Corporation, Chandigarh.

Drawing a comparison with the rapidly changing life of today with that of the 1960s, Mehra said Chandigarh was totally different during those times with only a few cars plying on city roads but now with the situation was different. He said although roads were being widened, the ever increasing load of vehicles is leading to chaos.

However, Mehra complimented the Chandigarh police for its traffic management.

On the occasion, UT IGP SK Jain said they have been following the “three E's strategy” - education, enforcement and engineering - for implementation of traffic laws. He said out of 217 cases brought into notice by RLA, licenses of 168 habitual offenders have been cancelled and these efforts have led to a decrease in fatal accidents by four per cent since last year.

The Guest of Honour, General Manager of Indian Oil Corporation, Chandigarh, HS Bedi, said total consumption of petrol in Chandigarh alone is more than that in the 17 districts of Bareilly.

SSP Traffic, Attar Singh Ahlawat, urged people to follow traffic rules and co-operate with the traffic police in all aspects. He added that it is a difficult task to manage traffic in a city which has a population of around 11 lakh, with seven lakh vehicles plying on roads.

During the function, students of Shishu Niketan School, Sector 22, performed group songs, Rajasthani dance and a skit.



Western Command to hold ‘Know your Army’ exhibition

Chandigarh, January 1
A series of exhibitions have been planned this month by the Western Command at Ambala, Jalandhar and Jammu for the Army Day 2008 celebrations.

The first such ‘Know your Army’ exhibition would offer an opportunity to the people to witness the latest technology and a wide range of military equipment like tanks, infantry combat vehicles, artillery guns, anti aircraft guns, radars and engineering skills.

This show would possibly be the biggest Army display for the residents of Ambala, a defence release said here.

The theme of the exhibition is “Indian Army: Harbingers of Peace and Stability.”

It will trace the saga of valour and sacrifice of the Indian Army over the decades and portray the technological advancement and military might of the world’s second largest Army over the years.

It will also offer equestrian events, sky diving, band display, motor cycle display and hot air ballooning for the two-day show on January 5-6.

The exhibition would afford a rare opportunity to the students to relish the thrilling experience of undertaking rides on tanks and infantry combat vehicles. — PTI



Proposal for purchase of fire-fighting vehicles cleared
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 1
Even as the municipal council cleared a proposal to go in for hi-tech facilities worth over Rs 6 crore to tackle fire in high-rise buildings, heated arguments were witnessed at the general body meeting of the civic body here yesterday over alleged unfair allocation of funds for development of wards.

The proposal to purchase a hydraulic platform, advance rescue tender and a water tender with high and low pressure was cleared by the house. Municipal councils of eight towns will share the cost of the facilities. While the Patiala civic body will have to give Rs 134.46 lakh, the local council will pool in Rs 110.05 lakh. Funds will also come from local bodies of Zirakpur (Rs 76.72 lakh), Rajpura (Rs 70.37 lakh), Dera Bassi (Rs 32.99), Kharar (Rs 65.35) Kurali (Rs 21.89) and Mandi Gobindgarh (Rs 88.26 lakh).

The directions to purchase the vehicles were given by the department of local government. The vehicles will be parked in Mohali. Free service will be provided to civic bodies which have contributed funds while private parties will have to pay charges. The charges, however, were not fixed yesterday.

Bharat Bhushan Maini said discrimination was being done against the wards of the councillors from the opposition as funds for development works were not being distributed equally. He told the house that estimates for development works worth about Rs 77 lakh were put up in the agenda out of which only Rs 15 lakh were for councillors of the opposition group. He said he would lodge a complaint with the authorities concerned.

However, president Rajinder Singh Rana said all requests regarding development works from opposition councillors were entertained. He told Maini that he was free to make complaints.

The house cleared the proposal of registering architects and building designers for clearing building plans for the town as building bylaws were being implemented in areas in accordance with the government notification. Registration fee for A-class architect or building designer will be Rs 5,000. For B-class and C-class architects, the fee will be Rs 4,000 and Rs 3,000 respectively. Registration will be renewed each year by paying additional amount.

It was also decided during the meeting that development charges will be taken from people carrying out construction activity in villages falling within its jurisdiction. The rate fixed for residential category was Rs 40 per square yard and for commercial category it was Rs 90 per square yard. Development charges were being imposed because the civic body was providing basic amenities in the villages and as such, it should have adequate sources of income.

Kuljit Singh Bedi said no case of old-age and widow pension had been cleared during the past one-and-a-half years. However, Rana said the matter had been sorted out and all pending cases would be cleared. Bedi also said estimates for sinking of eight new tube wells was cleared eight months back but no work had started so far. He said the matter should be taken up on a priority basis to meet water shortage during the summer months.
Two minutes’ silence was observed for Rekha Punia, Siti Channel reporter, who died on December 11.



Chandigarh standardises unit processing cost in hospitals
Move to streamline blood delivery services
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
In a move to streamline blood donation and delivery services in Chandigarh, health department has decided to standardise the cost of blood unit processing in every hospital of the city.

Earlier due to differences in costs, patients would get drawn to the hospital offering the cheapest facility. This was not auguring well for blood-related services in city.

In its December 7 meeting, held under the chairmanship of Chandigarh health secretary Krishna Mohan, the state blood transfusion council has decided to have uniform costs for processing of blood units in Government Medical College and Hospital-32 (GMCH) and Government Multi-Speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16.

Blood processing cost will now work out to about Rs 150 per patient admitted to the general ward of these hospitals and Rs 300 per patient for those admitted to private wards. Costs have also been reduced a little from the past when blood processing would cost a private ward patient somewhere around Rs 350.

While the decision has already been taken for GMCH-32 and GMSH-16, the authorities at PGI have been asked to evolve a system for standardising blood processing costs in their wards as well. “In the PGI, the cost for processing of first blood unit is about Rs 325.

Cost of processing subsequent units is lesser as compared to the first unit. We have requested the PGI to take a decision in this regard at the level of their executive,” Dr Suvir Saxena, secretary of Chandigarh state blood transfusion council today told The Tribune.

Meanwhile, the council has decided to use mass media including animation films, magic and puppet shows to achieve its target of 90 per cent voluntary blood donation in Chandigarh. Right now the percentage of voluntary donation is 75 per cent. “We have also tied up with the Chandigarh chapter of AISEC, the international body which sends four volunteers every year to intern with us.

We will train them to deliver motivational talks on voluntary blood donation.”

The council, which was recently lauded at the all-India level for its high success rate with voluntary blood donation (among the top five in India), has also roped in principals of women colleges of Chandigarh to target women donors - an area that still has immense scope for improvement. 



Telecom service providers being ‘unfair’
Charge for free SMS on special occasions
Satinder Pal Singh

Chandigarh, January 1
City residents started extending New Year wishes to their near and dear ones two or three days in advance. Reason: Service providers like Vodafone, Airtel and Spice are charging for sending SMSs on special occasions or festivals.

Most of the service providers offer free messaging service to their customers, but on festivals and special occasions, they charge Re 1 for sending a message.

At the time when the customers subscribe to the service, they are not told that they will be charged for SMSs on special occasions.

The service providers simply send an SMS if there is any change in their plan and the customers are left with no other option.

Preeti, a student, said, “This should not be done. Festivals come only once a year. The service providers should offer something special to their customers on festivals rather than charging them Re 1 per message.”

A.P.S. Shergill, an advocate, said, “These days nobody sends New Year cards. Every body sends SMSs and the service providers make money by taking advantage of this practice.”

“These practices are ‘unfair’ and violate consumer rights,” said Pankaj Chand Ghotia, president, Consumer Courts Bar Association.

Sangeeta, resident of Panchkula, said, “The companies make the consumers habitual of sending free SMS greetings and then they take the advantage of this habit by charging for the same on special occasions.”



Clash at gas agency
Cases of theft, manhandling reported
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 1
A case of manhandling and theft was reported on the premises of Mohali Gas Enterprises in Phase V here today.

According to reports, an LPG customer came to the agency office and complained that he had not received his refill cylinder at his home despite having booked it. Staff members at the agency told him that the deliveryman had been to his home twice but nobody was there to receive the cylinder so therefore, the booking had been cancelled. He was asked to re-book the cylinder, but he insisted on getting delivery today itself and allegedly used abusive language.

The customer, while leaving the premises, allegedly broke the glass of a door while shutting it. He was detained by the employees and was asked to wait for the agency owner to arrive.

Meanwhile, the customer called up a few persons known to him, to the agency. They entered the premises and allegedly manhandled some agency employees and outsiders.

The employees lodged a complaint with the police that cash was missing from the agency premises. The customer also complained to the police that his mobile was missing.

The police is investigating the matter.



Drunk cop checks drunken driving
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 1
Boozing his way into the New Year cost police inspector Zile Singh dear when ASP Maneesh Chaudhary found him performing his duty under the influence of liquor. According to sources, the ASP has recommended disciplinary action against the erring cop. Meanwhile, Zile Singh was taken for a medical examination.

Interestingly, Zile Singh was a part police party appointed to check drunken driving.

According to information, the local police had set up a ‘naka’ at the roundabout of Sectors 15 and 16 when a passerby was found driving under the influence of liquor. The police party deputed on the spot called its PCR van to take the person to the general hospital for a medical examination. However, ASP Chaudhary noticed that inspector Zile Singh, in the command of the PCR van, was himself under the influence of liquor.



30-yr-old man found dead
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 1
Rajesh alais Raju (30), a resident of Mansa Devi Complex, was found dead here this morning. The deceased was a native of Banda in Madhya Pradesh and used to paint number plates of vehicles.

Sources in the police said it seemed to be a case of murder. The victim’s roommate Subhash was rounded up for questioning.

According to sources, Subhash lodged a complaint that when he got up in the morning, he found Rajesh lying dead near the house. Injury marks were found on the head and face of the victim.

SHO of Sector 5 police station Balwant Rai, when contacted, said the body had been sent for postmortem and investigations in the case had been initiated.



Feel at home, even at a police station
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
In its attempt to project a people-friendly image, the Chandigarh police has been given training to give the visitors a feeling as if they are stepping into a corporate office.

Not only the visitors, but those lodged in a lockup will also be enjoying music inside the lockup. Special meditation and yoga camps will be organised in the police stations to improve the efficiency of the force. The police today formally launched the new plans in Sector 3 police station.

The UT SSP and other senior police officers were present on the occasion and also celebrated New Year with prominent and senior citizens of the area.

The SHO of the Sector 3 police station, inspector Ram Gopal, said a CD on “self realisation” will be played in the police station during morning and evening every day to create an atmosphere of serenity in the police station and it would be played at a low volume so that it does not disturb those who do not want to listen to it. 



New Year babies: Girls outnumber boys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Three cheers for girl child in Chandigarh. A trend that may bring cheers to the health authorities and hint at society’s changing mindset, an overwhelming majority of the New Year babies born in three major hospitals of the city comprised of girls.

The city woke to up to welcome 23 girls as against 13 boys on the first day the year. The PGI reported birth of eight baby girls as against six boys. At Government Multi Speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, as many as nine girls were born against seven boys while all six babies born in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, were girls.

The first New Year baby (boy) was born to Chhaya at 12.19 am at the GMSH, according to sources.



A woman’s tribute to her brother
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Suksham Goyal, deputy director of Haryana's technical eduction department, heralded the New Year in a touching way by paying unique tribute to her brother, who died of leukemia six years ago. She organised a camp in which over 100 persons donated blood.

In fact, Goyal's endeavour was all the more creditable as she single-handedly persuaded the near and dear ones to donate blood in an effort to the take voluntary blood donation to the grassroots. And her collaboration with the Rotary and Blood Bank Society Resource Centre(Blood Centre), Sector 37, seemed to have conveyed the message to the general public in an impressive way.

The Blood Centre wore a festive look as the enthusiastic blood donors kept thronging it throughout the day. Happiness was writ large on the faces of the donors, including those from Sri Ram Institute of Education, Mauli (Panchkula) and Ganpati Institute, Bilaspur (Yamuna Nagar), as they contributed their bit to the noble cause.

"It is an effort to popularise the voluntary blood donation to pay tribute to my brother Shashi Bhushan Goyal," she told The Tribune here today. Enthused by ‘huge response’, Goyal wants to make it a regular feature.

Terming the gesture as marvellous, Kanta Swaroop Krishan, secretary of the centre, hoped that more and more people would come forward to emulate Goyal to mitigate the shortage of blood.



New Year celebrations conclude
Tourism dept, CITCO host lunch for slum kids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The tourism department’s New Year festival concluded at Sukhna Lake with a special lunch for slum children of the city. The lunch was organised jointly by the tourism department, Hotel and Restaurant Association and CITCO.

On the guest list were around 100 children, including children from Haripur area of Panchkula, Maloya crech, New Janata Colony, Care Society and special children of Sector 15. Children welcomed chief guest Jean Rodrigues, president, Indian Council for Children Welfare, Chandigarh, with a song.

Jean extended her warm wishes to the children for New Year and praised the organisers for hosting the lunch.

CITCO made arrangements at Lake Chef, the venue for the event. CITCO managing director Jasbir Singh Bir, tourism director tourism Vivek Atray and chief general manager of CITCO Amit Talwar were present. 



10 PGI employees retire

Chandigarh, January 1
Ten employees of the PGI retired from their services yesterday. Prof K.K. Talwar, director of the PGI, presented them mementoes. Ritu Dhillon, financial adviser, handed over beneficiary cheques comprising GPF, gratuity and group insurance to them. — TNS



Laxity in government offices

A press release has been issued by the Chandigarh administration on Dec 28, 2007, regarding meeting of SOCs. Where in the advisor has appreciated working of its officers and advised them to be proactive in the working for Chandigarh residents. He has also advised them to be present in the office hours. These meetings are held almost once in two months chaired by the advisor. A self praising press release is also issued and a copy of advice is sent to all departments which is seldom read and least implemented.

Just to quote one instance on Jan 11, 2007, in a similar meeting it was advised that officers should inculcate the attitude to serve the public in the sphere where the role is that of a service provider, along with the other decisions in public interest. The conditions are so bad that no officer remains in office and comes on phone. Some times even applications under the RTI Act are delayed for months without any reason.

There is no toll free telephone number, no fixed hours of public meeting. There is no dearth of rules and guidelines, implementation of which still needs to be done.

R.K. Garg, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Laptop, cash stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Four incidents of thefts and burglaries were reported from various parts of the city in the past 48 hours.

Rishi Kumar of Sector 41 reported to the police that a gold ring, a pair of gold ear rings, 11 silver coins, a watch, some garments and Rs 2500 were stolen from his residence by breaking open the locks on December 30. Madhulika Bhatt, manager ICICI Bank, Sector 9, lodged a complaint with the police that her laptop was stolen from her bank on Monday afternoon.

In another incident, Parkash Mimani of Sector 33-D filed a complaint that Rs 40,000 were stolen from his shop in Sector 22 after breaking open the locks last night. Similarly, Ravinder Kumar of Phase I, Industrial Area, reported to the police alleging that some dies were stolen from his plot, last night.

Four separate cases have been registered at various police stations in the city.

Caught stealing

Pardeep Singh of Sector 39 reported to the police that he caught red-handed Tajinder Singh of Sunam while stealing his motorcycle (CH-03-R-3837) from his residence in the wee hours today.

Meanwhile, Pritam Singh of Sector 38-B reported that Vinod Kumar, a vagabond, was caught red-handed while stealing a manhole cover from his residence on Monday.

Two separate cases have been registered.

Liquor seized

The police arrested Shiva of Colony No. 4 from the same locality this afternoon and recovered 80 nips of liquor from him. Similarly, Kuldeeep Kumar of Sector 25 was held from near cremation ground on Monday while carrying 25 bottles of liquor.

Two separate cases under the Excise Act have been registered at various police stations.



Girl commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 1
Manjeet Kaur (21) committed suicide in Azad Colony here yesterday evening. Manjeet’s father Ram Nath is a labourer.

Accoridng to the police, Manjeet was mentally upset.

When Ram Nath returned home yesterday evening, he found his daughter hanging from the ceiling fan.

A case under Section 174 CrPC was registered and the body was sent for postmortem.



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