Wednesday, February 16, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


No more fencing of Madhya Marg
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — There will be no further barricading of Madhya Marg or any other road in the city.

A decision to this effect has been taken by the Chandigarh Administration after Chandigarh Tribune took up the issue of barricading of a section of Madhya Marg by heavy mild-steel railings.

Besides, the administration has given a green signal for the construction of an 11-storey building in Sector 17. The proposed tallest building of the city, as planned by Le Corbusier, will be constructed by the Chandigarh Housing Board. It will be a commercial centre maintained and owned by the board on behalf of the administration.

Portions of the building will be leased out to business and industrial houses, financial institutions and others.

To set the ball rolling, the administration has asked the board to engage some consultancy agency to work out the modalities before the work begins. The proposed complex is expected to come up on the central commercial strip of the city centre along Jan Marg.

The Administrator of Chandigarh, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), told Chandigarh Tribune that the concept of the building had been approved in principle and the remaining modalities were being worked out. It has been decided that its ownership rights will remain with the Chandigarh Housing Board.

Meanwhile, the Engineering Department has been instructed to complete the already-allocated work of erecting mild-steel railings in the middle of Madhya Marg between the intersection of Sectors 26, 27 and 28, besides Sectors 26, 27 and 19.

General Jacob said no further portion of Madhya Marg or any other important road of the city would be allowed to be barricaded in such a way.

Of late, the Engineering Departments of the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation had been increasingly using mild-steel railings and chain-link fencing in various areas. Some of the gardens in the city, including Bougainvillaea Garden and the Sector 10 Leisure Valley have been provided with chain-link fencing after cutting of traditional hedges and bushes.

An exercise to put up mild-steel railings on Madhya Marg was also undertaken after similar railings had been erected from Transport Chowk upto the Sukhna Cho bridge.

Some persons protested the move, saying that instead of improving the green cover by planting more bougainvillaea in the middle of Madhya Marg, the Engineering Department had opted for heavy mild-steel railings which spoiled the grandeur, openness and uniqueness of the city.

Mild-steel grills, railings and chain-link fencing have been used only recently, as Chandigarh was known to be a city of low boundary walls and green hedges earlier. Because of the changing security environment, some of the persons offered protection, including the VIPs, were allowed to raise the height of boundary walls from the approved ceiling of 5 ft 9 inches at the back and four feet in front.

Besides, for reinforcement or strengthening of fencing, barbed wires covered with hedges were permitted. However, of late, the concept of barbed wire supported by green hedges has been given a go by by the Engineering Department in general and Horticulture Wings of the Municipal Corporation and the Administration in particular.Back


Decks cleared for Kalka-Mumbai train
By Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — Decks have been cleared for the operation of a direct Kalka — Mumbai train connection. Railway authorities at Ambala and Dadar in Mumbai have been informed about this and an announcement in this regard is expected any moment. It could be even during the railway budget that is to be announced at the end of this month, according to sources.

There is a proposal to start a special six-coach train from Kalka with a dedicated locomotive and attach it with the Paschim Express at Ambala. The existing configuration of the Paschim Express, running between Amritsar and Mumbai Central, is of 18 bogies. These six coaches will take the total up to 24 bogies.

The six wagons that will start from Kalka and be attached with the train at Ambala will be delinked from the train at Dadar and not carry on till Mumbai Central, the orginal destination of the Paschim Express. On the return journey, the bogies will be attached from Dadar and be delinked at Ambala for the onward journey to Kalka.

The train from Kalka to Ambala will be known as the link express . It will possibly have an AC II tier coach and besides the second class sleeper coaches, a general coach will also be part of it.

The carrying on of the entire 24-wagon train to Mumbai Central was the problem due to which the train connection could not be provided earlier, The Mumbai Central station does not have platform that can berth 24 wagons. A similar facility is, however, available at Dadar, located a few kilometres before Mumbai Central.

Around four months ago, the Western Railways had put a poser on running of 24 coach train terminating at Mumbai Central. According to the Western Railways, a couple of other trains were also being managed in the same manner in which some bogies are delinked at Dadar.

Railway sources said the linking will take about 10 minutes Already the Paschim Express has a 10-minute stop at Ambala where it reaches around 1:15 p.m. on its downward journey towards Mumbai. On its journey towards Amritsar, the delinking of the six bogies will be carried out at Ambala when the train reaches there at around 2:40 p.m.

Once this train starts, it will not only provide a direct link between Chandigarh and Mumbai, it will also provide a direct connection till Kalka from where approach to Shimla is very easy by road. Unfortunately, the arrival timing and departure of the special six coach link express does not coincide with the arrival and departure of narrow gauge trains between Kalka and Shimla. The link express will depart from Kalka before noon and by that time no train arrives from Shimla. On the return, the link will arrive at around 4:30 p.m. and by then all trains for Shimla would have departed. Back


ADGP to probe torture charge
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — Directing the Additional Director-General of Police to conduct an inquiry into the allegations of torture of a tenant for not vacating the residence belonging to the wife of a Punjab cadre Superintendent of Police, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has also asked him to submit report by March 22.

The Commission has also directed the ADGP (Security) to "provide security, preferably by some other police force than the Punjab Police", at complainant Mr Shashi Parkash Sharma's expense "till further orders".

Claiming to have been tortured by in charge of the Jalandhar CIA staff "for approaching the Punjab and Haryana High Court" seeking the release of his employees, the complainant had earlier alleged that he was left unconscious in the Civil Hospital on February 8.

The complainant, apprehending danger to his life, had left the hospital two days later after undertaking to get treatment "from somewhere else as SHO of Division Number six was still harassing him", the counsel for the complainant had claimed.

Going into the background, the counsel had stated that Mr Sharma was falsely implicated in a case after he obtained stay order against eviction from a civil court. The house, he had added, "belonged to Manjit Kaur, wife of Gurcharan Singh, Superintendent of Police of Punjab cadre deputed for some action in Assam".

The complainant, his counsel had stated, was later hospitalised for nearly 10 days after sustaining injuries following an attack by the cops. On February 3, the complainant and his employees were illegally detained and tortured after being forcibly lifted, following which a habeas corpus petition was filed by Mr Sharma's uncle, the counsel had added.

The warrant officer appointed by the Court, he had further added, "got three employees released from the custody of CIA Staff at Jalandhar while the whereabouts of two other employees were not known".

After going through the complaint, the Commission observed: "..... Since the allegations are of serious nature and at the instance of a high-ranking police officer, it is a fit case where the ADGP of the Commission should conduct an inquiry himself and submit the report positively on or before March 22, 2000". Back


FIR registered in dogs’ poisoning case
By Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — After dilly-dallying for over four months, the UT Police has finally registered an FIR into the case of alleged poisoning of six dogs in Sector 16 by the local Municipal Corporation officials.

Six dogs were allegedly poisoned to death by health officials, led by Dr S.S. Cheema, Medical Officer of Health (MOH) of the civic body, on October 9, 1999, but the police had not registered an FIR despite a number of pleas by a Sector 16 resident Mr Bhupinder Kakar and his daughter Ms Nandini Kakar, an animal lover.

Four of the six dogs belonged to Kakars, and according to them were duly vaccinated, registered with the civic body and were wearing collars issued by it at the time of their death. The other two ill-fated dogs belonged to rickshaw-pullers who had reared these at their Sector 16 General Hospital rickshaw stand and were witness to the act.

The UT police had entered the incident into the Daily Diary Register through DDR no 35 on the same day, but had been showing its reluctance to register an FIR into the case during all these months due to the “involvement” of the officials and “pressures” allegedly exerted by the Administration authorities.

Police officials had been saying that the case would be registered only after they received chemical examination report of the viscera of dogs, which was eventually sent to the UT Police by the Patiala based State Chemical Examiner Laboratory on December 30, 1999 (report no 259 to 264). Even after receiving the report, clearly mentioning that the animals were poisoned with strychnine, a deadly chemical not available in the open market, the Sector 17 police station officials had been sitting over the matter for about a month and a half and a case was formally registered only after the UT Inspector-General of Police, Mr S.K. Singh, who had promised to register a case once the chemical report was received by the police, intervened and directed the officials concerned to do the needful.

In the FIR too, the police authorities have cited chemical examination report from Patiala as reason behind the delay in the registration of a case into the matter.

Though no accused has been named and no arrest has been made by the police so far, an FIR has been registered under Section 428 of the IPC and Sections 11 (1) (2) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 at the Sector 17 police station.

Mr Kakar, in his complaint, had alleged that he had seen some people alighting from a Gypsy bearing registration no CH-01-G-1424 and feeding burfi to his dogs, which later turned out to be poison. A number of rickshawallahs had identified the person leading others feeding burfi to dogs as Dr S.S. Cheema, the MOH. Ms Nandini Kakar, who has vowed to take the case to its logical end, said she was in possession of collars and registration certificates of dogs.Back


An year of challenges, achievements
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — The dogs poisoning case, the missing files case, the plight of Baba Khan of Yadavindra Gardens at Pinjore, complaints of police harassment, poor civic amenities in various parts of the city, stinking toilets at the Sector 16 General Hospital, locked lavatories at the District Courts Complex, illegal felling of trees, barricading of Madhya Marg, unfair means cases at Panjab University and acquisition of land at Saketri for further development of Panchkula are from a long but unending list of stories carried by Chandigarh Tribune to throw up issues, mobilise public opinion and help citizens in finding solutions to their problems. Chandigarh Tribune is one year old today.

It was in our inaugural issue that we investigated the case of missing files from the Sector 26 police station, which led to the suspension of several policemen, including two Deputy Superintendents and an Inspector. The matter is still under investigation.

Chandigarh Tribune has been highlighting, from time to time, the issue of felling of trees in different parts of the city. Though once a decision was taken by the Administration to go for transplantation, it was not carried out for one reason or the other.

It was again Chandigarh Tribune which broke the story about poisoning of dogs in Sector 16 and after dilly-dallying on the issue for several months, the Chandigarh police finally registered an FIR in the case.

Repair of a number of leaking joints of water pipelines was undertaken after the problem was highlighted through the columns of this city pullout, besides work on a number of other projects, including repair of roads and upkeep and maintenance of gardens and open spaces.

Of late, the Administration has decided not to permit any more barricading of Madhya Marg or any other road after the issue of Madhya Marg was highlighted in the columns of this newspaper.

It was again Chandigarh Tribune that discovered the plight of Baba Khan, a permanent feature of the historic Yadavindra Gardens at Pinjore, who had been suffering from throat cancer. After the story appeared, some of his fans got together and organised treatment for him. He is now getting better, following chemotherapy at the Department of Radio Diagnosis at the PGI.

Chandigarh Tribune has been championing the cause of disadvantaged citizens, who in the present system, have to run from pillar to post to get their sufferings mitigated.

Cases have been registered against guilty policemen and others after cases of high-handedness against citizens were reported by us. For example, in one case, two policemen serving at Punjab Police headquarters, took away the bicycle of a poor salesman of a furniture shop after a road accident. Subsequent investigations found the policemen guilty.

In yet another case, some policemen were dismissed on the spot by the then Inspector-General of Police, Ms Kiran Bedi, after Chandigarh Tribune brought to her notice a case of open graft.

Chandigarh Tribune has been taking pride in raising issues on environment, pollution and ecological balance.

For maintaining the special identity of Chandigarh as a planned city and a successful experiment in urban planning, it carried a series of interviews with former Chief Engineers, eminent Chandigarhians and architects on both past and present Chandigarh. This series threw up a number of issues, including the growing problem of slums and unauthorised colonies.

It has led to the formulation of a new policy by the Chandigarh Administration to discontinue rehabilitation schemes in the existing format. Under the new format, there will be no ownership rights and only multi-storeyed flats with community toilets will be built.

Problems posed by unauthorised slums have also led to a number of steps by the Administration and the police alike, including verification and registration of new entrants and tenants.

It was Chandigarh Tribune again which highlighted some of the chronic problems facing residents of Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar. On a number of problems, immediate action was taken by the authorities concerned. In a few others, improvement is expected in the coming months.

Series highlighting problems, including those posed by use of shortcuts by pedestrians and vehicle-drivers, has been well received by readers. In some cases, shortcuts have been temporarily plugged. For example, the jumping over mild steel barricades on the road dividing sectors 17 and 22 near the Inter-State Bus Terminus led to raising of the height of the barricades.

Chandigarh Tribune also highlighted the poor upkeep of toilets and cleanliness at the PGI and General Hospital, Sector 16. Some steps have been taken to redress this grievance of the general public by sanction for additional funds by the Administration for the Sector 16 General Hospital.

The plight of residents of Sector 61, after being repeatedly highlighted in these columns, has improved. Same is the story with new urban townships like Zirakpur, Mullanpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru and Bartana.

Chandigarh Tribune also undertook a campaign to prevent defacement of public places by bills, posters and paintings. Some of the areas, especially those in the periphery of various government schools, were cleaned up immediately afterwards. The defacement of bus queue shelters and other public places, however, continues unabated. Even road signs, sign boards and walls are still defaced by unauthorised posters and paintings.

Chandigarh Tribune has been persistently following the setting up of complaint centres. The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has now relented and decided to set up three complaint centres. The Citizens' Charter is, however, still not ready.

The problem of water scarcity has been highlighted to get the fourth phase of the Water Supply Augmentation Scheme going from the current financial year. Insanitation and poor garbage disposal, which is often highlighted, has shown some improvement.

Chandigarh Tribune has also taken up cases of talented individuals living in penury. One such case of a forlorn singer of yesteryear, highlighted in our inaugural issue, saw the singer not only getting financial help but also opportunity to perform again.

Since every endeavour has been made to provide a citizen-friendly newspaper, some of the nightmares everyone of us encounters day in and day out have been highlighted in another series — Citizens' Nightmare.

On the education front, Chandigarh Tribune has been highlighting the problems facing school students, including lack of basic amenities in government schools in slums and rural areas, shortage of staff and poor results. Chandigarh Tribune also ran a series to interview principals of all major schools of the city.Back


Illegal liquor shop in residential area
From Gautam Dheer

PANCHKULA, Feb 15 — An English and country wine liquor shop operating illegally from the residential area in Sector 18 has not only become an eyesore but also a pain the neck for the residents of the sector.

The shop is located near houses and remains open from morning to late night. Just along the sides of the shop is an illegal ahata operating from a room of a nearby house selling snacks and other items to the customers.

Residents lament that people drink there till late nights. Quarrels disturb the peace of the area.

The residents complain that drunken people vomit and create a mess allaround.

Residents say that broken glasses and bottles dot the streets and nearby parks. Often children playing in the streets and parks get hurt.

A police barrier is situated near the liquor shop. Unfortunately, the residents allege that the police personnel on duty fail to check the nuisance. The misery of the residents is compounded when many drink and dance on the loud music from the audio systems in cars parked near the shop.

The District Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Chander Bhan, informed that no liquor shop could operate close to a residential ares, schools, places of worship or near the main roads. However, he added that the complaints in this regard could only be redressed after the next annual auction of the site for liquor shops proposed in March.

Official sources in the department reveal that the sites for the shops are notified and forwarded by the contractor following which the department undertakes a site inspection for its approval or disapproval.

Since the site of the liquor shop is not in a commercial complex, the outlet has been temporarily set up on the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) land.

The sector welfare associations have several times took up the issue with the authorities concerned but to no effect. Residents say that they have often resorted to peaceful demonstrations to protest against the shop, but have failed to get any results.

Most of the residents feel that the promises to shift the shop from the present site recently made by the contesting candidates during an interaction organised by the Panchkula Press Club are nothing more than a poll stunt.Back


Garbage heaps dot Zirakpur
From Our Correspondent

ZIRAKPUR, Feb 15 — Heaps of garbage at various places have become a common site in the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat. Though the panchayat authorities have given the sanitation on contract at the rate of Rs 50,000 for one year, there is no improvement in the sanitation condition of the area. As many as 52 dustbins but none is being utilised.

Residents complain that workers employed for the sanitation of the panchayat hardly come to villages which fall in panchayat's jurisdiction. At some places, the condition is so bad that the stink of garbage heaps can be felt from far. They have become a major health hazard.

The street from the sub-post office is mostly full of slush. The way to Lohgarh police post too has slush accumulated in potholes. Commuters have to wade through slush while taking buses from the traffic light point.

The Health Department has hardly sprayed any pesticide in the deep potholes full of slush. The ditches-turned-pools at various places in the villages pose a danger to children particularly. Rainy water accumulates in these ditches which are covered with weed.

Shopkeepers complain that the sweepers come late and do not do their work satisfactorily. "They come late and by that time the shopkeepers have to sweep the space in front of their shops themselves, said Mr Sunehari Lal, President of the Zirakpur Market Welfare Association.

The parking place for horse-carts has become a dumpyard of garbage here. This place has not only become an eyesore but also a major health hazard for the residents. The vendors who sit along the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Kalka highway at the diversion here aggravate the problem.

The nagar panchayat authorities were not available for comment.Back


Villagers oppose AVA notice
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Feb 15 — The panchayats of the 28 villages proposed to be acquired under the Anandgarh project today opposed the ten-point public notice — circulated by the Anandgarh Vikas Authority (AVA) — to develop the area on modern lines. The villagers expressed their objections before the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, who was in the Majri sub-tehsil complex to listen to the grievances of the villagers.

The Vice-President of the Anandgarh Hatao Sangharsh Committee, Mr Jagjiwan Lal, said the Punjab Government was befooling the villagers. The members of the committee told the district administration officials that they would talk on the issue after meeting the Chief Minister. They sought that the government should not issue advertisements promising a dream project.

A joint memorandum of the 28 panchayats was given to the Deputy Commissioner. Back


'War was only option in 1965'
From A Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — "India reduced the defence forces in Kashmir under a UN resolution after Independence, and Pakistan started its infiltration there, thus situation became uncontrollable gradually," said Major-General Narender Singh, while delivering a speech on the Indo-Pak war of 1965, at Government College, Sector 46, here today.

He added that only solution was to go to the war at that time. Despite being inferior to Pakistan in collective fire power, we fought and won the war. The USA was giving political support and weapons to Pakistan during the cold war and Pakistan was equipped with more sophisticated weaponry for the war, he said.

He said: ''In the 1965 war we went on defensive in Punjab region and attacked in Jammu area, and it surprised the enemy, but the Pakistan army and the air force were more prepared and equipped for the war.''Back


Preserving dying culture
From A Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — The Federation of Migrant Groups from North Western India, now Pakistan, came into existence in 1997 to rejuvenate the dying culture and tradition of the 10 million migrants from Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and tribal areas of Kurram, Tochi, Khyber and Bolan in 1947.

The genesis of this federation is linked to the holocaust of Partition. "We got together to preserve the art, culture, language and dialects of our areas," says Mr S.K. Sharma, President of the federation.

The Para-chinar Biradari, the Mirpur Welfare Association, the Sarhad Biradari, the Kahuta Welfare Association, the Baluchistan Welfare Association, the Bahawalpur Welfare Association, the Bahawalpur Panchayat, the Lahore Brotherhood, the Dhan-Pothohar Association, the Sialkot Biradari and the Montgomery Zila Biradari are members of the federation.

The federation is working for recognition of its culture and dialects, coverage of its cultural events by TV and other media, inclusion of cultural events and performers in dance and drama teams of PR departments of Punjab and Haryana, opening of Multani department in universities in Punjab, getting tribal status for the migrants and getting the Bahawalpur House in Delhi for the Bahawalpuris.

According to Mr Sharma, the greatest achievement of the federation is that the Chandigarh Administration has agreed to build a holocaust museum in the city. The federation has also been engaged in promotion of cultural heritage of these migrants by conducting cultural events. "We are striving hard to retain this rich cultural diversity," says Mr Sharma.Back


Rally against Anandgarh on Feb 18
From Our Correspondent

KHARAR, Feb 15 — The Anandgarh Hatao Sanjhi Sangharsh Committee, formed by residents of 28 villages of Kharar tehsil, where the Punjab Government has proposed to set up Anandgarh, has decided to organise a rally on February 18 in Jayanti Majri village, to which prominent political leaders will be invited. This was decided at the meeting of the committee held yesterday.

Meanwhile, the committee has written to the Chief Minister of Punjab, asking him for time on February 21 to meet him and inform him about the sentiments of villagers. It wrote that the villagers, in their meeting held on February 6, rejected this proposal and would never allow themselves to be uprooted from their villages. Mr Badal should remember that he opposed the move of the government headed by Mr Beant Singh in 1995 of setting up New Chandigarh.

It wrote that on July 1, 1995, these villagers organised a rally in Chandigarh, in which Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the representative of Mr Badal, announced that if the SAD came to power in Punjab, the proposal would be cancelled. Mr Badal should answer why he was supporting this move now. It also wrote that the Govenment should have dialogue only with the committee and should not mislead villagers by distributing posters. Back


Car recovered, thief arrested
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — The Punjab Police recovered a car (CHK-981) from Kurali last night, which was stolen from Sector 22, and arrested the thief — Harminder Singh.

According to police sources, on the complaint of Mr Ravinder Syal, police nakas were alerted. The accused did not stop the speeding car when he was signalled to stop at the SAS barrier. He also reportedly knocked down a Sector 41 resident, Mr Jairam.

The local police then alerted the Punjab Police and the accused was nabbed and the car was recovered.

Goods recovered: Mr Abdul Razak of Mani Majra complained to the police that Sanju Bahadur of Hallo Majra had stolen a camera and a suitcase from his house. The accused has been arrested and stolen articles have been recovered from him. A case has been registered.

Two-wheelers stolen: Mr Ramesh Chand Sharma of Sector 47-D, in a complaint with the police, alleged that his motor cycle (CH-01-R-6802) had been stolen from in front of his house. In another incident, a scooter (CH-01-2386), belonging to Ms Pooja Dhingra of Sector 22-B, had been stolen from Sector 17. Two separate cases have been registered.


Cyclist injured: A cyclist was injured when a Fiat car (CH-01-B-305) hit him near the roundabout of sectors 2 and 4. A case under Sections 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 5 police station, following a complaint by Mr Mohammad Mohan.

Liquor seized: The local police seized 40 pouches of country-made liquor from the possession of Om Prakash of Chaneti village. He has been arrested. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.


2 agitators held: Two agitating members of the Godrej-GE employees union were arrested by the police last evening. Police officials said Anil Vishwas and Vikas Shar, Cashier and General Secretary, respectively, of the union, were taken in custody as preventive measure.

They said the management of the factory had lodged a complaint with the local administration that agitating employees were threatening workers who were reporting for work. The union alleged that the management had levelled false charges against its members.

Goods gutted: Goods worth thousands were gutted when fire broke out in a factory in Phase 8, Industrial Area last evening. The factory was being used to repair transformers. Two fire brigades extingusihed the fire. No loss of life was reported.

Case registered: The police has registered a case under Section 448 of the IPC against Md Beenu of Phase 5 for trespassing the house of Mr Mohinder Singh of Industrial Area, Phase 1.Back


Inner beauty equally important: Lara
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — Today was a day for celebrations for the class of '99 of the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD) from about 20 different centres. The occasion to toast was not only the annual convocation of the institute but also the fact that the diplomas were being awarded by Lara Dutta, the Femina Miss India Universe, 2000.

Lara, who would leave for Cyprus on May 12 to contest for the Miss universe crown, was on her first visit to the city today and said that the city was well known for its "cleanliness and hi-tech environment". In her address to the students she said that fashion is not just about wearing good clothes or looking good "but how you live, your mannerisms, your approach towards things and most of it their quality".

Diplomas in the fields of fashion design, textile design and interior design were awarded by Lara to the students. Lara realised only midway that she should wear her Miss India Universe 2000 sash! Later, she was presented with a good luck card by the students of the NIFD, wishing her success in the Miss Universe contest.

Earlier the NIFD corporate report was read by Ms Aditi Srivastava, GM, Corporate, followed by an address by the centre head of Ludhiana, Mr Arvind Gupta.

At the end of the session, an interesting chat session of the students was held with the reigning beauty queen.

"I have been on a roller coaster ride ever since I have been awarded the crown of Miss India Universe, and though life has changed, it has changed more in he way of how people and society see me. Not in the way how I look at things", said a poised Lara while answering a query about her feelings after having won this coveted crown.

When asked about what it took to win the crown, she said, "There is not a single Indian woman who is not beautiful. But wining this contest is not only about good looks but also about the way you are inside, and your personality from within."

While confessing that she had dreamt of being a Miss India at the age of seven years, Ms Dutta said "If not a model, I would have either been an astronomer or an astronaut. But I was terrible and awful with mathematics". Back


'Everything about models not cosmetic'
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — "Beauty is surely a business today, but, gone are the days when beauty pageants were about judging beauty alone and not individual talents and personalities," said Lara Dutta, Femina Miss India Universe 2000, at a press conference here today. She was here on the occasion of the annual convocation of the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD) at Tagore Theatre.

She is a third-year BA (economics) student of Bombay University in Mumbai.

Speaking to the media after the convocation and surrounded by autograph hunters, Lara, said after winning the title of Miss India, she needed to polish her skills further because now, she would have to compete for an international title. "It is true that we attend classes on diet, body toning and speech, but, everything about us is not always cosmetic. It certainly is no big deal if for such contests, one undergoes a dental treatment or other surgery. "After all, all this for improving one's stage presence," she added.

At 21, Lara is not new to winning prestigious beauty pageants, after having won the Gladrags Supermodel Contest in 1995 and the Miss International Germany in 1995-96 as well. She also has to her credit a number of prestigious assignments. "I had a dream of becoming Miss India at the age of seven," she said. Reacting to the raised eyebrows, she said, "I even remember who all won the titles then, when I was so fascinated by these contests."

At this moment, a five-year-old girl nudged her, asking for an autograph and said she also wanted to become a Miss India when she grew up. Lara said, "I agree that I can influence a many persons of all ages, but, I also believe that the beauty business has opened up a whole lot of opportunities for us."

Talking about opportunities open for her, she said she would certainly consider entering Bollywood. "Entry of models in Bollywood has become rather normal today. This is because once you get recognition, you want to maintain that at least for some time. Besides, the film industry provides the much-needed exposure, fame and recognition," she said. She also said, "I will keep doing this till it keeps me happy."

Later, she was also quizzed on issues ranging from the Kandhar hijack episode to the controversy over Deepa Mehta's film Water. Remaining largely non-committal, on the hijack issue, she said the government did whatever it could do at that time. On the stalled shooting of Water, she said, "My father is a Punjabi, hailing from Jalandhar, and my mother is a Catholic. So, I grew up in an open environment which makes me think that there is nothing wrong in Mehta making this film."Back


Amend ST rates, Administration urged
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 15 — The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal has hailed the decision of the Administration to reduce sales tax on some of the items and bringing it at par with Punjab and Haryana.

In a press note issued today the mandal today also urged the Administration to amend sales tax rates of karyana items, toys, shoes, milk products, cattle feed and exercise notebooks so as to bring them at par with northern states, including Delhi.

It also demanded clearance of the pending sales tax assessment cases, simplification of the procedures and expeditions compilation of the Sales Tax Act.

It may be recalled that the mandal had been pressing the rationalisation of the sales tax for quite some time now. During its meeting with the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), the latter had assured the mandal that its genuine demands would be looked into after consultation with the Finance Department. The mandal had also submitted a list of 30 articles on which the sales tax was higher than the neighbouring states.Back

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