Chandigarh Tribune
Friday, January 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Western Command to have website
By Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — After having initiated a massive computerisation drive, Western Command is set to launch its own website on the Internet. Army Headquarters as well as Northern Command have already launched their own websites to project certain military-related activities as well as to provide general information to the public.

The Western Command website, which is nearing completion, is expected to be launched formally this month, sources said.

Information pertaining to operations concerning aid to civil authorities, developmental and social upliftment work and ecological projects carried out by the Army, welfare activities concerning troops and other ‘’unclassified, general nature’’ information will be accessible on the net.

Meanwhile, as an aftermath to the computerisation of office work and increasing use of information technology (IT), sources reveal that there has been an increase of 700 per cent in IT literacy at the Command Headquarters.

‘’About 3,000 Army personnel have undergone IT training this year,’’ an officer said. ‘’At present five computer training schools are functioning at various locations within the command zone and there is a proposal to set up another 25 such schools at other military stations,’’ he added.

The computerisation drive comes in the backdrop of the Army becoming ‘’IT savvy’’ to meet the challenges emanating from the global trend of revolution in military affairs (RMA).

In fact, a classified document — IT Roadmap 2000 — prepared by Army Headquarters envisions that to meet emerging warfare concepts as well as to streamline administrative and logistical operations, computer proficiency is to be mandatory for all Army officers.

The document stipulates that all officers, from the junior-most to the top rung, are to be computer literate by the year 2002 and should be able to handle computers for day-to-day functioning as well as for operational planning. The level of computer proficiency attained by an officer would be endorsed in his annual confidential report (ACR).

Sources add that a policy is being devised wherein only computer proficient officers would be eligible for a posting to Army Headquarters.

Though computers have been around in the services for some time, the use of IT for military purpose in India is in its infancy vis-a-vis certain, foreign armies. The bulk of the work done by computers has gone little beyond data processing.

While specific computer training has already been incorporated into the regular training curriculum of the National Defence Academy and the Indian Military Academy, sources said that computer literacy being a mandatory requirement at the time of seeking a commission into the Army is also being contemplated.

With shrinking budgets and manpower cuts, perspective planners are advocating greater automation. Already, Local Area Networks (LAN) are functional at Army and Command Headquarters level. Army HQs and five operational command headquarters have also been interlinked with each other through Wide Area Networks (WANs).

The process of expanding WANs further to interlink corps headquarters with their respective command headquarters is under way, and the process of interlinking lower formations will be executed thereafter. The interlinking of military hospitals and automation of their functioning is also under way.

A significant aspect of IT proficiency is the stress being laid on training through computer-based simulators in the view of budgetary constraints and increasing difficulty in availability of ranges for manoeuvres. Already simulators for large-scale war-gaming, analysing threat perceptions at various levels as well as for training junior commanders have been introduced.Back


Rain fails to dampen Lohri spirit
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — Lohri was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety in the city, notwithstanding the rain and a fall in the night temperature.

People dressed in their best could be seen sitting or dancing around bonfire in front of their houses. In many sectors, the resident welfare associations had arranged for collective celebrations on a grand scale. Sweetmeats, besides groundnuts, til and ghachak were distributed at many places, including Tribune Model Gram, Bartana. Youngsters could be seen dancing.

Meanwhile, a Punjabi mega dance competition, Lohri dhamaka aaja nachh le, was held at Musafir Auditorium today. Children in their colourful best cavorted and jived to a medley of popular Punjabi numbers.

The winners in the five to 10 years category are Divya Ohri (1) and Aditi Chawla (2); 11 to 16 years — Pretty (1) and Alka (2); 16 years and above — Rajni Ajmera (1) and Ritu Bansal (2).

In the group dance, Hardeep and group was declared the winner, while a special prize was given to Mr Jaggu for a comedy item. A special item was performed by Supreet, Harmanjeet Singh, Meena and Gaurav. Back


Distress sale of Maloya booths
By Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — Barely a year after the auction of booths by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) in the Maloya Colony here, distress sale is in full swing on account of illegal shops functioning from the residential premises and the non-development of the shopping complex.

Built in the 1988 by the CHB for rehabilitation purposes, booths, which were auctioned on October 10,1998, by the board, have become white elephants for the allottees. Lack of amenities, coupled with the authorities’ inability to remove the shops functioning from houses across the road have assured that the customers avoided the complex, alleged the allottees.

It may be recalled that of about 125 booths, only a few were allotted in 1990. After that, a policy decision was reportedly taken by the authorities to auction the commercial property worth lakh of rupees. On account of higher reserve price, the booths could not be sold off and remained in a state of drift for several years.

Subsequently, the reserve price was lowered and the booths auctioned in 1998 for over Rs 3 lakh per booth. “Even as the board raked in lakhs of rupees, we feel cheated as the authorities had failed to remove illegal shops functioning from residential premises near the area,” alleged the Chairman of the Booths Welfare Association, Mr Devinder Kumar.

Echoing almost similar sentiments, the association President, Mr Inderjit Singh, informed that with inadequate business due to lack of basic amenities like proper parking, pucca approach road and streetlights, the exodus from the market had begun and several of the allottees had sold off their shops at much lower prices than the market rate. In fact, there were no takers for the booths, said the General Secretary, Mr Avinash Khanna.

In fact, this was not the only grouse of the allottees. They alleged that while the possession was given only in 1999, after about six months of the conduct of the auction, the ground rent was being charged from 1988. And contrary to a clause of the allotment letter, there was no covered varandah in front of the booths for the convenience of the general public, which avoided the complex in inclement weather.

While they have to pay the installment money through their nose, no action was being taken against residents, who had constructed illegal shops across the road. The residents, who were allotted dwelling units at the rate of Rs 18,000 per unit, had constructed up to four illegal shops by encroaching upon public land, alleged Mr S.C. Sharma, legal adviser, while pointing out a row of illegal shops in the area.

Though the market was not fully developed, the CHB was charging interest at the rate of 18 per cent on the remaining 75 per cent of the auction money, Mr Sharma alleged, while demanding reduction in the rate of interest.

A visit to the complex today revealed that a number of the shops had signboards reading “for sale”. The shopkeepers informed that a number of allottees had already gone out of business because of poor business activity. Pigs seemed to be having a field day in the small parking lot of the market. Back


Rain water floods certain roads
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — Intermittent rain accompanied by thunder continued to lash the city and its surrounding areas for the third consecutive day today, making it seem more like a day during the monsoons than in the middle of January. The city had received 11mm of rain between 8: 30 am and 5 : 30 pm.

The rain made the mercury plummet from a high of 21.2 C yesterday to 14.6 C. This was 5 below the normal average for this time of the year. On the other hand the minimum temperature was still 4 above normal and was recorded at 11C.

The local met office predicted more rain for tomorrow while adding that the western disturbances over north Rajasthan adjoining Punjab were causing the rain. The sky is expected to clear up only on Saturday, the Director of the local met office, Mr S.C. Bhan said. This will also result in a drop in the minimum temperature, Mr Bhan predicted. The temperature in the morning can be even below normal once the sky clears, he added.

The rain today resulted in flooding of certain roads. This time even the northern sectors, the so-called VIP sectors, were not spared . Roads in the the elite Sector 4 were flooded and residents were angry. Justice Harbans Singh (retd), a resident, said a drain from where rain water used to run down has been closed. This resulted in water staying on the road. Residents had to make a cut in the loose earth on the side berm to allow the rain water to run down from the road, the retired Judge added. This segment of the road has been a nuisance whenever it rains. However, today it was worse, he said.

Rain water also accumulated in small cess pools around certain roundabouts in the city. Construction activity to widen the road dividing Sectors 44 and 43 came to standstill. Loading and unloading activity at the transport area was slow. Besides, the movement of long-distance buses was hampered. Rickshaw-pullers charged much more than the normal fare.Back


Rain brings slush in villages
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — Choked sewers and the absence of any arrangement for the drainage of stormwater have created slush-like conditions in villages on the periphery of Chandigarh after the first winter shower.

In Manauli, Sohana, Mullanpur-Garibdass and other villages, rain water has accumulated in lanes and roads leading to the villages.

The worst affected are students who have to walk to their schools. A parent, Mrs Surinder Kaur of Manauli, said that in the absence of any transport the facility, students were facing a tough problem as it was the examination time.

The villagers complain that the rain had affected the telecom and electricity services. Another resident of Manauli said telephones had not been functioning for the past few days. An erratic power supply had also hit the water supply.

According to Mr Bhag Singh, Sarpanch of Perch village, the situation had been the same for the past several years. Residents complain that it becomes difficult to wade through the water of the overflowing drains.

The road leading to Seonk village was inundated with the potholes making the stretch accident prone.

A resident of Mullanpur-Garibdass said streets were flooded with dirty water since the drain had not been cleaned. Sweepers, whose visits were few and far between, dumped refuse in lanes and even a small shower took it back to the drains.

The residents fear the outbreak of some epidemic unless proper preventative measures are taken.

"Cow dung and other waste material are thrown by residents in the streets in the absence of a garbage disposal system. The indifferent attitude of the panchayat has further compounded the problem," said Mr Puran Chand of Sohana.

The problem of garbage disposal was also highlighted by residents of several villages. They complain that drains have been choked by polythene bags, filling the village air with a foul smell.Back


Cabinet decision hailed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — The local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal has hailed the decision of the Union Cabinet to appoint a fresh commission of inquiry headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court, to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, President of the SAD Chandigarh unit, Mr Mohinder Singh, Deputy Mayor, Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, Bibi Amarjit Kaur Bhullar, President, Istri Akali Dal, Mr Mohan Singh Raipur Kalan, President Youth Akali Dal, in a statement hailed the decision to set up another commission of inquiry, taken by the Union Cabinet “as the earlier Ranganath Commission and two other sub-committees could not do justice to the riots affected.”

They criticised the working of earlier commission and claimed that 25,000 Sikhs were killed during the riots but only 707 criminal cases were registered and prosecution in only 374 cases put on trial, while 320 persons were acquitted. They termed the earlier inquiry commission appointed by Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, as an eyewash. The vast terms and reference of the new inquiry commission were also appreciated, as the new commission would look into the cause of the criminal violence and the riots targeting members of the Sikh community, lapses or dereliction of duty.Back


Plea to widen ‘killer stretch’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — A stretch of a particular road connecting SAS Nagar with the city, where two young girls were crushed to death yesterday, has become a ‘killer stretch’ if the number of accidents is any indication.

Frequent accidents on the stretch, starting from the roundabout near YPS School to the Sectors 43-44 roundabout, have made the area one of the most-accident prone in the city. Since the traffic on the road had increased many times and the width of the road had remained same, the number of the accidents had gone up, say regular road users.

Though the minor road mishaps are common, major ones like the one in which two SAS Nagar residents — Archana and Mamta — died on the spot are also a regular feature. The heavy vehicular and inter-state traffic only add the problems of the commuters. In fact two minor accidents were reported yesterday and a scooter collided with a car near the causeway linking the city and SAS Nagar this evening.

As a number of trucks continued to be parked outside the barrier, this further added to the problems of the commuters. And alleged encroachments by the marble shop owners on both sides of the roads had made the road a drivers’ nightmare.

The dumping of the construction material by the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) on the one side of the road and big concrete pipes on the other side had further aggravated the problem and reduced the area of the road to be used by the commuters. The dug-up area on the one side of the road with a view to lay drainpipes had become a major traffic hazard.

And in the absence of the streetlights it becomes difficult to drive on the road during the night. To compound the difficulties of the motorists, the police has placed road blocks apparently to slow down the speeding vehicles, but during night time they prove more of the hindrance than help.Back


CE corrupt, say HUDA staff
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Jan 13 — Employees of the Haryana Urban Development Authority organised a rally from Sector 8 to the office of HUDA here as their strike entered its 16th day yesterday.

They raised slogans against the HUDA authorities for turning a deaf ear to their demands and levelled charges of corruption against the Chief Engineer. They adding that he had never tried to address their problem and sort it out. Back


60 women cops to be recruited
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — The Chandigarh police will conduct a special drive to recruit 60 women constables shortly. According to Mr Ajay Kashyap, SSP (HQ), said this was being done, following instructions from the UT Administrator. The application forms for recruitment, priced at Rs 50 each, will be available at the police lines from January 17.

The minimum educational qualification for the post is matriculation. The candidates must be at least 5-feet-2-inch in height. The selection process, including physical measurement and physical efficiency, will commence in the last week of March, he said.Back


Eve-teaser arrested
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — The police has arrested a resident of Sector 20 on charges of eve teasing.

According to sources, Vinod Kumar was arrested from the same sector following a compliant from a girl.

A case under Section 294, IPC, has been registered.

Mobike stolen: Mr Sushil Shobat, a resident of Sector 46, has reported that his motor cycle (CH-OI-W 7411) has been stolen from his residence.

A case has been registered under Section 379, IPC.Back


PU gets hi-tech Rs 1.5-crore phone exchange
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — A new telephone exchange with a capacity of 1,000 lines opened in Panjab University here today.

The new EPABX electronic exchange of the Siemens model HICOM-350 F make costs nearly Rs 1.5 crore. The system promises a massive increase in the number of extension of facilities (up to 5760), including integrated services digital network (ISDN), for faster communication in digital information and video-conferencing.

Prof P.K.Sharma, the hand behind implementation of the technical magic, said there would be provision for simultaneous transfer of voice and data on the same line. Dial 53, followed by the extension number and telephones from outside could have direct access to the number.

"The exchange can accept fibre optic cable connectivity for noiseless and trouble-free link. It can feed cellular phones by putting additional transmitting equipment," Professor Sharma said. Further expansion of the system is possible without laying underground cables.

Professor Sharma said that apart from the existing facilities there would be provision for party conference, alarm or reminder call. The DOT has contributed in the installation of the services.

The exchange has come up in the basement of the Vice-Chancellor's office.

Mrs Vineeta Rai, Adviser to the UT Administrator, while inaugurating the services, eulogised the contribution of the university in various fields. She also talked about hectic efforts to clean the slum occupied area in Sector 25 for university purposes.Back


ST on most items likely to go up
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 13 — Sales tax on a majority of items is expected to go up by the end of this month or early next month as the Chandigarh Administration has notified items on which the Union Government wants that all states and union territories should levy a uniform sales tax.

Seven important items, however, have not been notified by the Chandigarh Administration. They are diesel and petrol; four-wheelers, liquor, molasses and rectified spirit and narcotics.

Punjab is the only state, which by an ordinance, has notified and levied 20 per cent sales tax on petrol. Since in Chandigarh, the Administration cannot levy any sales tax beyond 12 per cent, the levying of 20 per cent sales tax on various items as proposed by the Union Government may be held in abeyance.

The only alternative available to the Administration is to make a similar ordinance, which, again is subject to rectification by the Union Government.

At present, the upper limit of sales in Chandigarh is 10 per cent. Some days back, the Administration issued a draft proposing to amend the Sales Tax Act as applicable in Chandigarh by proposing to increase tax on all items in Schedule A to 12 per cent.

These items are weather-proofing compound, fireworks, lifts and elevators, marble and marble tiles, granite tiles, paints and colours, sandalwood and oil, dry fruit, preserved food articles, silk and silk fabrics, vacuum cleaners, VCRs, teleprinters, transformers, transmission wires and towers, carpets, cushions and mattresses, electronic toys, musical instruments, hair oils, synthetic gums, ivory products, naphtha, spark plugs, rubber goods, adhesives, PVC articles, asphaltic roofings, laminated sheets, cables, oxygen and gas, aerobatics and ACSR conductors.

The new sales tax slabs are zero per cent, 4 per cent, 8 per cent, 12 per cent and 20 per cent.

The major problem facing the implementation of this new sales tax policy is the Model Code of Conduct as extended to Haryana where the election process has started.

In case Haryana faces any technical hitch in not implementing the new uniform sales tax policy, Punjab and Chandigarh, too, would like to delay its implementation. Both Punjab and Chandigarh are aware that in case the uniform sales tax policy is introduced in two of the three states and union territories, there will be a cascading affect which will affect the revenue of all. As such, all want uniform and simultaneous implementation of the new sales tax policy.

Punjab is not keen to put motor vehicles (four-wheelers) in the 12 per cent category. It is having a fresh look at some of the items. Chandigarh, too, shares the Punjab concern on such a steep increase in sales tax on four-wheelers.

After the January 3 notification, there is a 20-day period for the people in general to file their objections. These objections are to be considered before a final notification is issued. In all probability, the earliest possibility is not before the end of the current month or the first week of next month.

The Union Government, especially the Ministry of Finance, does not want the Model Code of Conduct to come in the way of implementation of this policy for a number of reasons. The foremost being that this is not an appeasement policy as the rate of taxation will go up and become uniform throughout the country to benefit all states and union territories. The other point is that it is not an announcement by a state government, but a decision collectively taken and being implemented throughout.Back

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