Chandigarh Tribune
Saturday, January 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City welcomes the New Year with song, dance and merriment
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — The apprehension of Y2K complications disrupting power and water supply notwithstanding, the city and its surrounding areas bade a cold farewell to 1999 and ushered in the New Year with a burst of dances, drinking, exploding of crackers and singing here tonight.

Almost all major hotels of the city, including those run by the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation, restaurants, fast food joints, pubs, clubs, including Chandigarh Golf Club, Chandigarh Press Club and Sector 9 Central Club besides the Sector 36 Defence Services Institute, organised special dance and dine programmes to bid a warm farewell to the 1999 and welcome the New Year.

For the devout, a special kirtan darbar was held at the Sector 21 gurdwara where a community kitchen, too, was organised. Eminent ragi jathas recited “shlokas” from Guru Granth Sahib.

Some other places of worship also organised similar congregations. Special midnight prayers were held at the Sector 18 and 19 churches.

As soon as the clock struck 12, the revellers let go their feelings, embracing and hugging their friends, besides wishing them good luck in the New Year. At some places lights were also switched off briefly in the midnight bashes.

While the celebrations were on at all these points, engineers of the Chandigarh Administration were keeping their fingers crossed in apprehension of any Y2K complications arising out of the beginning of the New Year. Engineers were stationed at the Sector 9 UT Secretariat National Informatics Centre Control Room to monitor not only the problems arising at the national level out of compliance systems associated with power distribution on the national grid but also to oversee the local complications, if any.

The bank employees, too, burnt the midnight oil to finish manual preparation of ledgers and account books and keep the computers ready for all transactions from tomorrow in the New Year.

It was probably the Y2K apprehensions and the shadow of the IC- 814 flight to Kandahar, the seven-day mourning declared after the death of former President, Shanker Dyal Sharma and the Orissa cyclone that the celebrations were comparatively on a low kee than expected.

None of the local hotels or restaurants or clubs had any known singer, dancer or even VJ for the New Year eve celebrations. In fact, the turn out at most of the places was moderate to normal. Competitions like best dressed couple, best dancing couple etc., etc. were organised.

The police had made elaborate security arrangements throughout the city. Police pickets and checkposts were there almost on every intersection and important location.

The lukewarm response of the revellers may also be because of the heavy rates of admissions at most of the places where New Year eve functions were held. Most of the hotels, restaurants and clubs had been tastefully illuminated and decorated. At places special balloons, flowers and even gifts for children were also presented to the guests.

Until late in the evening, the turnout was low. In fact, hotels, restaurants and clubs started filling up only after 10. With low temperature and chilly winds sweeping across the city, the roads generally presented a deserted look.

Some of the NGOs and others were seen moving around in the city distributing blankets, clothes and some eatables to the poor and needy, especially those living in corridors of various shopping centres of the city.

Meanwhile, all roads led to celebrations tonight as exhilarated teenyboppers swayed to the bhangra music’s rhythmic beat, booming from high-wattage speakers of the decked-up cars, parked outside city hotels and dhabas — to embrace the new millennium.

The chill failed to freeze the thrill as they took to the streets in leather jackets over loose-fit jeans to shake, rattle and roll under the mercury vapours’ brilliant lights much before the clock hands kissed each other.

And as the 20th century slipped into oblivion, the crowd went be serk. Wild shrieks rattled the showroom windows as the unleashed stags broke into a frenzy. The jackets went off the shoulders, up in the air. The spirits were high, just as the revelers.

“This is our kind of celebration,” shouted Rahul Kathuria of Panjab University over the din. “Wild and whacky. Who needs to go to the hotels... we have been dancing all around the City”.

On the Panjab University campus, around a bon fire, hostelers danced as the portable stereo played ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”. Damsels’ cheered from the hostel balconies and joined in the singing.

While they twisted and shouted in the open, others waited outside discotheques, in the long unending queues, waiting for their turn to get in. The angry young men shrieked and screamed at the security guards impatiently as they slowly teared the invitation cards before allowing the entry.

Inside the smoke-and sweet perfume-filled discotheques, earth angels in alluring tight tops over glittering minis twirled all around the polished dance floors.

PANCHKULA: Revelry, games and the clinking of glasses marked the beginning of the new year at the club and the various hotels in the township, today. The cool winter breeze was no dampener on the celebrations as residents ate, drankand made merry.

The Gymkhana Club in Sector 6 was a crowd puller. The DJ rolled out one catchy number after another as the children danced their way into the night. Gradually, the youngsters also made their way to the dance floor. However, most of them were content being a part of the audience .

At Prabhat Inn, Sector 10, the programme gelled well with the theme for the big night. “Dil Se” as it was called, there were titles and sub-titles for the couples and children who thronged to the hotel for a whole lot of fun. Also, the organisers had arranged a balloon dance and a paper dance which proved to be of great interest to the revelers.

Games of all sorts marked the new year celebrations at Pallavi hotel, Sector 5. “Tol Mol Ke Bol”, musical chairs, tambola and antakshari were among the many that kept the visitors competing for the prizes. The surprise came in the form of artistes from the circus who enthralled the party-goers with their antics.

While the “affluents” were twirling around on the dance floors, the “not so rich” took to the streets on their single cylinder flying machines. They stopped next to the decorated cars to dance into the new millennium. Back

Some party, others listen to kirtan
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Dec 31 — Local fast food joints, restaurants and discos were host to private parties revelers, attired in their best, thronged the venues of festivity to welcome the new year in the township here tonight. The dance floors of at least two popular eating joints were jam-packed, with many trying their best to gatecrash.

With the late evening news of an end to the eight-day hijacking drama there was mixed reaction among the local crowd. Some expressing their happiness to a peaceful end to the episode on the last day of the millennium. Youngsters danced, boozed and sang all through the night.

Some favoured to spend their time listening to shabad kirtan at local gurdwaras. A special shabad kirtan programme was organised at Sacha Dhan gurdwara in Phase 3B 1 here.

The festivities were centred around the eating joints as no lighting arrangements had been made in the markets here. Taking all precautions to keep the trouble makers at bay, the host at a popular fast food joint in Phase 3 B2 had sought police protection. Mr Puneet, in charge of the food joint, said that only couples would be given entry. Prizes for the best dancing couple, best male and female dancers had been announced to liven up the atmosphere.

Another eating joint owner said the dance floor had been booked for a private party. The PCA also organised a party for its members at the PCA complex in Phase IX.

Meanwhile, to keep the law and order under control, the police set up at least seven nakas on all the main roads linked with Chandigarh. At least 14 mobile patrol parties were stationed at the potential trouble spots in the town.Back

Elders join the celebrations
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — It was a millennium celebration with a difference when students of the IS Dev Samaj Girls Senior Secondary School, Sector 21, danced around and made merry with inmates of the Old Age Home, Sector 15, and children at Bal Niketan, Sector 15, this morning.

About 120 students of classes XI and XII participated in the celebration. According to Principal Sumati Kanwar, the decision of the students to celebrate New Year's Eve in this manner was made by the children who wanted to make a difference to the lives of those who are not privileged like most of us.

At Bal Niketan, the younger children were not only distributed uniforms by students but were also regaled with the various variety items. Children from Bal Niketan were also seen running around the compound and participating in the various games.

It was an interesting sight at the Old Age Home as well where the elderly inmates had to be helped by students while playing the tambola game but when music began most of them joined the youngsters.

And after the giddha and Western dances presented by students, so charged with excitement did the whole atmosphere became that some of the inmates even went up to the mike to sing and recite their poetry for the audience.

Out of the 24 inmates of the Old Age Home, only 15 could make it out in the sun to view the programme. All the inmates were later distributed fruits and towels.

According to Mrs Kanwar, all the items donated were on the basis of contributory efforts of the students and staff of the school.Back

Just another harsh day for the poor
By Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — Even as city's elite and the middle class drank their way to the next millennium in various clubs, hotels and resorts, for the poor it was just another cold and harsh day.

Oblivious of the media hype and MNCs' attempts to commercialise the dawn of the new millennium, which, some say, begins on January 1, 2001, the day began and ended as usual for the poor children with hardly any celebrations. In fact, most of the roadside and slum-dwellers dubbed the celebrations as an elitist concept, with the common refrain being: "What is there to celebrate for us?"

As The Tribune team ventured on the city roads tonight to have a look at the other side of the celebrations. "What celebrations?" asks Ram Piari, as she cooks rice for her family in Sector 21 along the roadside. "Asks the babu log who celebrate in big hotels along with their families and squander away thousands of rupees," she points towards a row of decked-up hotels in Sector 35.

A group of people, mainly from UP and Bihar, in the Sector 29 market were singing, but not as a celebration. "We are singing to ward off the winter chill and do not consider it to be celebrations," tells an apparently inebriated middle-aged person, who refused to identify himself. Others just nod as they continue with their chorus.

Small bonfires to beat the chilly night were lit by the road side dwellers. A majority of them were not forthcoming. "In India, the celebrations are only for the rich, and the poor just die on the roads without anybody bothering about their fate", said an angry Phul Singh, a chatai maker. "You Press people come on such occasions every year and take pictures without any real sympathy for us miserable people," he adds.

The concept of the "new millennium" seemed alien to them. "What new millennium you are talking about? For us, every day is a new beginning and it is hand-to-mouth existence for us every day", says Sham Yadav, a native of Gaya district of Bihar, who plys a rickshaw during the night to ward off the winter chill. "When I manage to earn more than Rs 100, it is the dawn of a millennium for me," he added.

In the slums, the situation seemed a little better. A number of residents here were glued to the TV, watching Doordarshan--India's national channel.Back

Will the New Year bring changes?
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — It was not only the chirping of birds but melodious singing of a bhajan by a group of blind beggars that woke up most of the residents of a part of Sector 7 this morning.

Will tomorrow, the New Year Day, a special one for many, bring a change for these beggars who walked through the sector, barefoot in the shivering cold? For them, life has been continuing uninterrupted as New Year eves and New Year days bring them little cheer and fortune.

Soon after the clock strikes 12, telephone ring with people making every effort to be first to reach their dear and near ones to wish them a new millennium.

On the New Year Day, government offices, banks, schools, public places will be full of hoardings and posters wishing one and all a Happy New Year.

But are there any New Year resolves?

Will new millennium end poverty, human misery and suffering ?

Will it solve the problem of population and pollution ?

Will the new millennium mean that those visiting offices to get a ration card, a driving licence or a power connection will not be required to pay any bribe?

Will it mean that policemen will be more polite and more forthcoming in registering FIRs about minor offences like thefts of water meters, bicycles as also serious and heinous crime.

Will the new year mean that patients visiting government hospitals and health centres will be properly looked after and given medicines without being told to consult the doctor privately at his home ?

Will it ensure that those standing in a queue to get a train reservation done for a far off place on an emergency trip done without bribing the staff on board the train?

Will it mean that school-going children will get admission in their new schools without any pull or pressures or paying hefty building funds and donations.

Will the new millennium get the efficient and honest officials postings without bribing their political and bureaucratic bosses ?

Will the price tags for senior positions, and appointments in the police department, excise and taxation be replaced by merit and qualifications? The Chandigarh Tribune posed these questions to a cross-section of people, including bureaucrats, technocrats, politicians, businessmen, young executives and others. But all of them were candid in their replies that they have no answer to these questions though they wish and hope things would change for the better in the 21st century.

Interestingly, the answer is that the hype for the new millennium notwithstanding, it is "fun and frolic" for a few hours and the life will continue to move on as before. And a majority of those interviewed wanted to be home with their families to celebrate the new millennium.

The shadow of Orissa and IC 814 hijacking may be the contributing factors.

The celebrations have been on a low keel. The usual gusto and enthusiasm is missing. Even at the Sector 17 Plaza this afternoon, there was not much of New Year euphoria.

However, flower shops in the city have an unprecedented large booking of delivery of flowers on the New Year Day.

On the other hand, for more than a thousand of kids from slums in the city — Mauli Jagran, Colony No 4, Sector 25 Kumhar Colony — the New Year Eve brought them face to face with the camera. Mr Tejbir Singh Jauhar, a local photographer, and Mr Vineet Khanna, who runs a voluntary organisation for education of slum kids — Kitab — jointly organised a photo-session for slum kids where more than one thousand of children going to schools in slums were photographed. Tomorrow all of them will get prints of their photographs, free of cost.

So excited were these children that some of them climbed trees, posed and did everything to present smiling faces.Back


Twins walk away with the crown
By Arvind Katyal

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — 'She came, she played, she conquered'. This is what could be said about 17-year-old Urska Vesenjak of Slovania. In partnership with her twin sister, Masa, she also won the coveted doubles crown at the Bakeman's ITF Women Circuit Tennis Tournament which concluded today at CLTA courts here.

The success of these sisters from the small European nation should be an inspiration for Indian players, said a tennis player at the courts today.

The twins' father Franc said, ''They began playing at the age of seven and they do everything together." In lighter vein he added, "I am on the lookout for any twin match for them on the Internet.''

The tournament attracted seeded players of the world ranked 267 onwards, including the tough Indian Manisha Malhotra (317).

Antonia Matic of Croatia, one of the favourites, today was not in good form and lost to Urska in 45 minutes in two straight sets. However, her coach Misel Klesinger of Germany, was satisfied with her performance.

Chandigarh proved to be unlucky for Manisha who lost the final of the doubles to the Vesenjak sisters in partnership with Katarine Daskovic of Yugoslavia after struggling for more than two hours.

After winning the double crown, Urska gushed, ''I played the match as it came to me with no fear of losing in singles to Antonia." It may be recalled that Antonia had beaten Sai Jayalakshamy (India) third seed, Anna Nefedova (Russia) (ranked 673) and Manisha Malhotra (India) second seed.

Regarding today's doubles final, when they lost the second set rather too narrowly, Masa explained, ''Because we began lifting balls too high, we got a negative score which we rectified in the third set and blanked them at 6-0.''

Urska was richer by US $ 1600 while in doubles, both got US $ 650. Back

CISF shoot to victory
By Our Sports Reporter

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — Sabeeha Dhillon among women and Pawan Kumar of the CISF among men were adjudged the best shooters in the 24th Northern India Shooting meet which concluded last evening at Patiali Rao ranges, Sector 25. The CISF bagged the overall team championship.

Shooters Sabeeha, Jasmeen Brar and Aarti Mehta were honoured by the City Shooters Club, the organiser of the championship.

In 10 metres air pistol for men, Subhash Rana of the CISF emerged winner with 571 points, followed by Pawan Kumar of the CISF with 565 points and the third position went to Toshinder Singh of the Indian Airlines who got 565 points.

In the women's category, Sushma Rana of the CISF secured the gold medal by scoring 382 points, while Sonal of IA got silver with 370 points and Sonika Menon of the CISF bagged the bronze medal with 368 points.

In .22 standard rifle(OS), Inderjit Singh of Punjab got the gold medal in the civilian section by scoring 233 points. Karambir Singh of the Chandigarh police with 227 points got the silver medal while the bronze medal went to Holinder Singh of Chandigarh who shot 224 points.

In the junior men's section, K. P. Singh of Chandigarh scored 210 points to bag the gold medal while Bhagat Singh of UP secured 205 points to earn the silver medal and Sumer of Punjab got the bronze medal after taking 199 points.

In the 25 metre centre fire pistol (senior section), Viraj Singh of the ITBP bagged 138 points to secure the gold medal while Manjit of the same team secured the silver medal by scoring 131 points followed by Palwinder Singh of Punjab who bagged the bronze medal by taking 128 points.

Sewak Singh of Punjab got the gold medal in the 25 metre standard pistol event (civilian section) by scoring 136 points, while Palwinder Singh of Punjab scored 135 points to bag the silver medal followed by Pardeep Singh of UP who earned the bronze medal by scoring 129 points.

In 25 metre sports pistol for senior women, Bindu Goswami secured the gold medal by scoring 129 points followed by Neha Sharma of UP who got the silver medal and the third position went to Mansi of UP. In the 10 metre senior men (civilian) section, Parneet Kohli bagged gold by scoring 565 points, while Harvinder Singh of the Chandigarh police secured the silver medal and D.P. Singh of Delhi got the bronze medal. In the junior section, the gold medal went to Pawan Kumar (CISF-568), silver to Toshinder singh( IA) and bronze to Anurag Yadav of UP.

Win for Customs XI: Customs XI outplayed Punjab Communications XI by two wickets to enter the final of the 2nd Inter-Institutional Cricket Tournament being played at the PCA stadium, SAS Nagar here today.

Brief scores: PCL XI: 146 runs; all out in 45 overs (Prabhjot 28, Krishan Mohan 22, Arun Bedi 23, Bhupinder (senior ) 4 for 7, Dinesh Mongia 3 for 13.

Customs XI: 148 runs for 8 in 42 overs; Bhupinder (junior) 35, Sandeep Sharma 23, Ankur Kakkar 3 for 17, Monish Arora 2 for 30.Back


Service lanes: MCC ignores realities
By V.P. Prabhakar

NOTWITHSTANDING the ground realities, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation takes decisions which are not possible to be implemented.

One such decision taken by it recently is regarding the utilisation and maintenance of the back lanes or service lanes that exist behind the houses in the first 30 sectors of City Beautiful. This also shows that now the Municipal Corporation and earlier, the Chandigarh Administration do not want to perform their duties properly in this regard and want to unburden themselves from it by thrusting their maintenance on the residents.

In the concept of Chandigarh, these backlanes or service lanes were provided as the main sewerage lines, electric and telephone wires and now even cable wires pass either underneath or overhead these lanes. Moreover, it was also planned that the residents would construct dustbins in the lanes from where the sweepers of the Corporation/administration would collect the garbage without disturbing the residents.

The Chandigarh Administration itself had changed the concept of collecting garbage etc by the sweepers from the service lanes and the residents were asked to build dustbins in front of their houses from where garbage would be collected. This practice was followed and now in front of most of the houses one finds garbage lying instead of cleanliness or flowers. As the removal of garbage is very erratic, many a time the dustbins stink. In many sectors, people have already engaged private sweepers who lift the garbage in plastic bags from their houses and put them in the big bins placed at various places in various sectors from where the Corporation is supposed to lift it. As the sweepers of the Corporation generally complain about inadequate supply of diesel and even less number of vehicles available for this purpose, even the big bins are not removed and replaced by new ones regularly.

Often, either the telephone or electricity departments people keep on digging the lanes or even the main roads to lay underground cables and they do not bother to fill up the pits propertly. The result is that with slight drizzle, the earth caves in and many a time people have hurt themselves during night by falling in these dug up lanes. While the Public Works department puts the blame for this on the telephone or other department, they instead blame the PWD.

A committee of the Municipal Corporation, the suggestions of which have been accepted by the main body and sent to the Chandigarh Administration for approval, has suggested that a common boundary wall may be constructed in the centre of the service lanes by the adjoining house owners after apportioning the area to them. This area can be given on token lease fee.

Further, the committee has suggested that no ownership rights will be vested with the owner of the adjoining house. No structure or floor would be constructed and the owner will be supposed to only grow grass on the portion of land such given to him. Moreover, the owner will not have to object to maintenance and repair work by the authorities concerned. These service lanes — have a width of up to 16 feet.

The main reason why the lanes remain dirty or full of garbage is that the residents of the houses themselves throw the refuge openly in the service lanes, knowing full well that the Corporation will not clean them and this will breed mosquitoes and other diseases. But perhaps, the people do not want to change their habits. If any neighbour points it out, then there is quarrel in the street. Hence, many responsible residents prefer to prefer to remain keep quite.

The decision makers do not realise that most of the plots in the first phase, that is upto Sector 30, are freehold plots. Besides, a large number of people have purchased the plots on fixed prices and not in auction etc. Hence, they will not like to pay the lease money for no fault of theirs.

At many places, the service lanes are shared by the government houses and private houses. How such lanes will be divided among such residents. The service lanes are also shared by educational institutions & residents and shopkeepers and residents.

If the owners of the houses cannot construct any structure on such area, why should they demolish their existing boundary walls and reconstruct them in order to include a small portion of land of lanes. This will involve a lot of extra expenditure: First on demolition and then reconstruction. Who will bear the cost? For owners, this piece of land will be a waste or useless. This will also mix the freehold area with lease area which can create a number of problems at a later stage.

This will also invite trouble every day as in order to locate any fault in sewerage line or telephone line or electric wire or cable wire in the lane, the fault removers will be knocking at their doors.

A few years earlier also, a move was made in this regard under which it was suggested that the areas of lanes should be sold to residents so that they could include it in their plots. At that time it was also said that this area would be given on the prevailing prices of land which was not acceptable to residents.

Meanwhile, the residents of a few lanes have already started taking steps for the maintenance of these lanes by erecting iron gates on both ends of the lanes so that no anti-social element or animal can enter the lanes. However, they have also to see that residents do not throw refuse in these lanes, otherwise whose responsibility would be to remove garbage from there.

It may be added that there are no service lanes from Sector 31 to 61 in the city. These sectors were developed in the second phase and perhaps in order to avoid similar situation and also to get more land for sale the idea of having service lanes was dropped.

It is paradoxical that the land of service lanes belongs to the Chandigarh Administration and its maintenance is the responsibility of the Municipal Corporation which at present is spending Rs 13 lakh on it. Hence, the whole idea is not only to save Rs 13 lakh but to shift the responsibility of their maintenance to the residents.Back

RBI order on soiled notes
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 31 — The RBI has authorised all the branches of the public sector banks as also certain private sector banks maintaining currency chests to accept and exchange all types of soiled and mutiliated notes, particularly of the denominations of Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5, which are payable under the Reserve Bank of India (Note Refund) Rules. The exchange value on the notes payable under the rules will be paid by the bank branches on the same day. However, the currency notes which are not payable will be retained by the branches concerned.

A press note of the Reserve Bank of India further said that this facility was not only for the customers of the banks but also to the general public. The existing facilities for exchange of defective notes at RBI offices would continue. Members of the public are, therefore, advised to take the maximum advantage of the facility available for exchange of the soiled notes, according to the press note.Back

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