Tuesday, February 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Now, sewerage cess: Rs 5 per commode in homes
MCC hopes to fetch Rs 2 cr a year; unauthorised structures exempted
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — All unauthorised structures, including buildings, houses, jhuggis, educational institutions, eating places and places of worship, will be exempt from payment of sewerage cess which is being levied by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation from the new financial year.

Though the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has issued public notice in almost all major and important newspapers to conduct a door-to-door survey to find out the number of commodes (WCs) in each house soon, investigations reveal that the survey would be limited only to sanctioned and authorised buildings, both commercial and residential.

These buildings would also include educational institutions, hostels, government buildings, including Civil Secretariat, Vidhan Sabha complex, High Court complex, hospitals; schools, places of worship, banks and all other buildings whose building plans are approved by the SDO (Buildings).

According to estimates, there are nearly one lakh authorised buildings, from one-room tenement to the huge Civil Secretariat building in the capitol Complex, which would come under the purview of the sewerage cess.

Investigations reveal that the survey would not cover unauthorised buildings and structures. These would include temporary structures raised by the security forces on duty outside houses of VIPs, including politicians, bureaucrats, judges, judicial officers, technocrats and doctors who have made temporary or even permanent provision for toilets and lavatories. Besides, the survey would also not be conducted in the unauthorised colonies, slums and buildings which are not approved or sanctioned by the Administration.

This is being done to deny "any sanctity or legality" to such unauthorised structures or buildings. The number of such unauthorised buildings and structures in the Union Territory of Chandigarh runs into thousands. There are more in the colonies which are yet to be rehabilitated besides outside "lal dora" of most of the villages of the Union Territory. Then there are a large number of unauthorised structures in Mani Majra and also in the periphery.

The Municipal Corporation hopes to raise nearly Rs 2 crore a year from the sewerage cess. In case of residential areas, the cess to be levied is Rs 5 per seat while in commercial buildings, it would be Rs 10 per seat. Even in case of educational institutions, government buildings and hospitals, the cess would be Rs 10 per seat.

The corporation has also decided to levy fees for grant of sewer connections. Until now, there is not such fee.

The officials maintain that keeping out the unauthorised structures and buildings has been necessitated because of pressure from various sources to grant "sanctity" to such buildings.

At present, the sources said, each of the nearly one lakh buildings, including houses have two to five WCs or commodes each. Though the approved and sanctioned building owners or tenants would be required to pay the fee or the cess, those who choke the system, create problems would continue to enjoy "free services" unauthorisedly.

The civic body may, at a later stage, decide to charge some cess from the unauthorised buildings and structures. For example, the number of unauthorised places of worship in the city is in three figures. Similarly, there are schools on authorised sites but without approved or sanctioned building plans. Then there are bhavans and other such buildings which have "unauthorisedly added toilets and lavatories to the buildings by violating the term of allotment of sites to them.

The major problem is being posed by unauthorised jhuggis and dwelling units in labour colonies and villages where disposal is non-existent because of choking of sewer lines and pipes.Back


Congressmen refuse council membership
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — Expressing resentment at the reconstitution of the Administrator's Advisory Council, the Congress members today declined to accept its membership saying that it was "full of BJP men".

Stating this at a press conference here today, the local MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, alleged that for the past some time, the Chandigarh Administration was not working in a responsive manner, with the result that the elected representatives of the people were not being taken into confidence while taking major decisions.

Charging the BJP with "saffronising" the local bureaucracy, Mr Bansal alleged that various decisions taken by the Administration after the Congress victory in the last poll were taken with a view to giving a bad name to the Congress. "The Administration had crawled when asked to bend by its BJP masters," he commented sarcastically.

Apart from this committee, the Congress members would dissociate themselves from all other advisory committees as a majority of the members of these committees were from the BJP and they would not be able to perform its functions properly. the other political parties and social organisations had been virtually left out, he added.

He announced that the Congress would set up its "social and public audit teams" to monitor the working of different departments.

Coming down heavily on the Administration on issuance of building byelaw violation notices, he demanded that the notices should be withdrawn as the process to review the byelaws was already in progress.

Similarly, the issuance of resumption notices to the allottees was a design to malign the Congress. It was over the years that the encroachments and building byelaw violations had taken place and even Punjab Raj Bhavan had violations, he alleged while pleading for a more humane approach on the issue. Flaying the leasehold policy of the Administration, he was of the view that due to the lopsided policy only about 200 of the over 20,000 allottees had applied for conversion from leasehold to freehold.

Answering a question on corruption in the administration, he demanded a "roving inquiry" into the working of various departments by the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.

On the hike in the prices of water, he said the Congress would announce its strategy soon.

Meanwhile, leaders of local units of various political parties, including the Congress, Janata Dal (U), Janata Dal (S), Samajwadi Party and Janhit Morcha, who met here today decided to form the "Chandigarh Advisory Council."

The "Chandigarh Advisory Council", a press note issued by Mr Surinder Bhardwaj and Mr Subash Kataria after the meeting said, would be represented by the "disgruntled elements (in the eyes of the Chandigarh Administration) of all the political parties and from all walks and sections of life."

The note further said that the council would meet once a month and review the decisions and policies of the Chandigarh Administration, besides giving advice for the further development of the Union Territory.

The participants also decided to bring to the notice of the residents the incompatible and lukewarm attitude of the Administration towards the burning issues of amendment to building byelaws, lease-hold system, extension of lal dora, cleanliness and housing problem.

The meeting, the note said, authorised Mr Surinder Bhardwaj, Mr Ajay Jagga and Mr Kataria to coordinate with all parties and organisations to work out modalities for the constitution of the Chandigarh Advisory Council. It has been decided to convene a meeting of all interested on February 23.Back


British music charms Indians
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — "We look to produce music that grew from the land beneath our feet," said members of the Rag Foundation group. Tonight's concert at Chandigarh Club here by this group of three from the Swansea area of Britain was indeed traditionally classical with a flavour of freshness. This new British band, presented by the British Council and the Teamwork Films, performed before a select audience.

The audience was spellbound by the performance of the band, led by singer Neil Woollard, who has descended from the family of Phil Taner. The band also showcased the talents of his wife, Kate Ronconi Woollard, on the violin and a fine artistry of Richard Cowell on the guitar.

Kate's lullaby which she played on a traditional wooden fiddle-like vintage Welsh instrument called the crwth, was hypnotic.

The band then went on to play Henry Martin, an old one from Phil Taner's collection. It was apparent that the various sounds produced by the instruments created an alluring music.

When the band played Boney Bunch of Roses, a Welsh tune, the crowd joined in with claps, making the music sound pastoral. Neil's performance, with his hollers and jumps alongside, reminded one of our own Kishore Kumar.

The only disappointing factor was the thin strength of the audience. The select few who were there also seemed to need an appreciation course in music.

Earlier in the day, Mr Sital Dhillon, First Secretary of Law and Governance of the British Council, while introducing the trio, said they would also travel to Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai and Mumbai to "explore links with India, which had been long-standing".Back

‘Our music is for all age groups'
By Sonoo Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21— "Pop music today is a very manufactured product, and many bands disappear after giving out a single hit. What we are doing is catering to ourselves, our tastes and so trying to make music which would appeal as much to a 70- year-old as to a youngster". This was stated by a young three-piece band called the Rag Foundation from the Welsh area of the United Kingdom, whose songs have strong connections with South Wales, which it presents in a highly contemporary fashion.

The trio, comprising singer Neil Woollard, Kate Ronconi Woollard on fiddle and Richard Cowell on the guitar, was in the city today to perform as part of the Indo-British Young Musicians series, organised by the British Council.

The Rag Foundation, which is a bi-lingual group in English and Welsh, informed that theirs was one of the first bands to do Welsh music in English. "In fact the stiff-upper-lip about the English not wanting to listen to the Welsh music existed for several years. Things changed only in the last about four years", said Kate. And yes, they also have a fair share of critics who do not approve of the classical being merged with the popular. "But we realise that if these songs had not been put in a contemporary mould then they would have lost their relevance for young people like us", she added.

But how popular really is their music if they are picking up songs written several 100 years back? "We don't appear on MTV, but we certainly have people coming to listen to us", laughed Neil. According to Richard, "If people want to listen to us, they would. And today there is a lot of scope in the world of music in Britain, because there is no one single style there. We do have our very own specific audience".

The group which has been together for the last three years stated that though it came from different musical backgrounds they had all intentions to play as a trio. And stick they would, because Neil and Kate are now husband and wife! Neil, who is a descendant of the family of Phil Taner, a great singer of Gower, said he had been influenced by the likes of Stevie Wonder, while the soft-spoken Richard informed that he had been with a punk band.Kate started playing classical music before she ventured into jazz. "We create a very particular sound together, which is created by the fusion of all these influences", said Neil.

Earlier at a press conference, the trio said it was excited to be in India "because we know about the rich heritage of the Indian music, which is very similar to the traditional music that has been playing for the past many centuries in Wales".Back


73 buildings in Sector 17 face resumption
By Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — At least 73 buildings in Sector 17 which are collectively valued in the open market at between Rs 150 crore and Rs 175 crore, approximately, are in the process of being resumed by the Estate Office Wing of the Chandigarh Administration. Among the buildings listed for resumption are some well-known shops in the city.

Owners of some of these buildings have also been served with eviction notices, sending a chill down the spine of traders, shopkeepers and people running offices from wood-partitioned cabins in these buildings in the city’s main market. The notices were sent about ten days ago. Now, things are slowly opening up as traders are beginning to realise how big is the ambit of the notices this time. The Estate Office seems to have done its homework well.

This time, it is clear that the resumption notices are not just an old trick of landlords to get their premises vacated from tenants. ‘‘The authorities may as well choose to seal the building and not hand it back to the owner while carrying on with the court proceedings,’’ said a source.

In the past, several tenants had been made to vacate the premises after resumption notices. The Tribune had highlighted this aspect of the rules on leasehold property in November past year, where landlords had removed the violations to get back their buildings.

Now, in most cases, the notices have been sent for using showrooms after bifurcating these into 2 shops. In some cases, notices have been given for installing false ceilings and opening small repair shops at the back by electronics dealers. Other cases include the use of space by partitioning it into small cabins which are rented to companies and other professionals.

Traders, who are facing the notices, say that such businesses have been running for the past 25 years and objections raised by the government under old laws are not relevant today. The government agencies have issued sales tax numbers, power meters, water meters and have registered these establishments under the Shops Act. All such facilities had been provided by various wings of the Chandigarh Administration, said a trader.

Sources said the Estate Office authorities had gone strictly by the rule book and had followed the Act governing such violations. Traders say that some of these violations like false ceilings are necessary to make the air-conditioner more effective to attract customers. The Chandigarh Administration should have stopped the use of bifurcated showrooms at the first instance itself, said a person who runs a shop opposite the fountain. This would result in a loss of revenue for the Administration as all business activity in these buildings will close down, he said.

Official sources said an option would be to auction such buildings at a later stage or hand these back to the landlords after imposing a heavy fine. All this would result in higher rents as the auction prices might be a couple of crores for each building, sources said.

Meanwhile, shopkeepers have held a half-day bandh and have even formed a Joint Action Committee to deal with the situation. Some of them want to hold indefinite bandh. However, a large number of them, having their establishments in Sector 17-E (in the Neelam Cinema lane), owned by the Chandigarh Administration, may not want to join in such an activity due to the fear of a future government backlash.Back


A clarification

Refuting allegations of receiving over Rs 3 lakh from his Iranian clients, city advocate J.M. Bajaj today clarified that a fee of only Rs 25,000 was charged from him.

He further denied the allegation of demanding money for greasing the palm of a judge. Regarding the allegations of cancelling the sureties, the advocate stated that co-accused Omid Abodi, fled the country without informing the court, following which his surety Sukhdev Singh talked to the other securities about the alleged mala fide intentions of the accused to flee the country without facing prosecution and thereby Mr Rajinder Singh moved the court concerned for the withdrawal of his surety with the court.Back


Dr K. S. Thind honoured
From A Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 20 — Dr K. S. Thind, Worshipful Master of Lodge Yadvindra, Freemasons Hall, Sector 18, was honoured and bestowed with the title of Right Worshipful Brother, the second highest honour in freemasonry by the GLUI, an affiliate of Grand Lodge of England.Back


Hotels, pubs raided
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — To check the illegal practice of allowing the consumption of liquor in hotels and pubs, officers from the Central division carried out raids at various establishments in the city late last night. As many as 10 persons were arrested for various offences.

A team led by Mr Sagar Preet, ASP, carried out the raids and booked people found consuming liquor or creating nuisance at public places while under the influence of liquor. The officers also booked encroachers who were operating from the verandas of shops, thereby obstructing the passage of the general public.

Roop Kumar and Ajay, residents of Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra found consuming liquor at a pub in Sector 17 were booked under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act. A servant of the pub was also booked for allowing the duo to drink in the shop.

Sagir was arrested from near the bus stand while creating nuisance under the influence of liquor.

Six persons — Ganesh, Ram Babu, Rakesh, Naveen, Nagesh and Sonu — were arrested for creating public nuisance by blocking passageways with their rehris. They were also carrying on their business after 11.30 p.m., which is illegal. The team also cracked down on the practice of plying buses without the requisite permit and documents, from the city to various destinations in the region.

One private bus, CHOI 4019 (T) was impounded from Sector 22 for plying without the relevant papers. It was impounded. Two buses in the same area were also challaned for various violations.Back


Sector 7 resident run over by bus
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — A resident of Sector 7 was run over by a bus near the cricket stadium.

According to police sources, Jassi Kumar was going on his scooter when he was hit by a private bus ( PB-O1-5064). As he fell on the road, he was run over by a PRTC bus (PB-11-N 9498).

The drivers of both the buses —Angrez Singh and Amar Singh — have been arrested and a case under Sections 279 and 304-A, IPC, has been registered at the central police station.

Whisky seized: The police has seized 22 bottles of whisky from near counter number 11 of the bus stand. The liquor was lying abandoned. A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.

TV, watch stolen: Surinder, a resident of Sector 24, reported that one TV, a wrist watch and Rs 5,300 in cash have been stolen from his house. A case under Sections 454 and 380, IPC, has been registered.


Driver murdered: A 36-year-old driver in the Railway Department, Ajaib Singh, has been found murdered.

His wife, Karamjit Kaur, in a complaint with the police, said that he had gone to the office of Surinder, an inspector in the Railways, for leave. However, they had a heated exchange. Later, he, along with his son, Vihal, allegedly axed the driver to death. While Surinder has been arrested his son has absconded. Back


Cashing in on dry days
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — Not to let a business opportunity to waste, liquor traders in Chandigarh are using the two dry days in Haryana on February 21 and 22 — enforced due to the Vidhan Sabha elections — to follow a unique mode of advertising to attract customers.

Owners of liquor vends located near the Chandigarh-Haryana border have strung across the road huge cloth banners informing liquor buyers that shops in Haryana are closed. The banners painted in Hindi have been specially illuminated with bright lights. The shops are located on the busy Chandigarh-Shimla highway and at a proverbial stone’s throw from Panchkula that falls in Haryana.

Liquor shops closed down in Haryana at 8 p.m. yesterday. These will open on February 23. A casual visit to one of these shops in the evening revealed that sales were very brisk with several scooterists, car drivers and even pedestrians crossing over from Panchkula to buy their stock of liquor.Back


Fraud worth crores detected
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 21 — The Central Excise Commissionerate of Chandigarh-II has detected a case of suppression of sales and clandestine removal of processed fabrics by a fabric processor of Amritsar. The value of the fabric has been estimated at Rs 3 crore.

According to Mr Inder Raj Soni, Commissioner, Chandigarh Commissionerate-II, the modus operandi of the fabric processor was to maintain two sets of accounts and balance sheets, one for the bank and the second for the Central Excise and Income tax.The actual sale figure of the processed fabric given to Central Bank of India, Amritsar, has been shown as Rs 8.46 crore whereas the actual sales given to the Central Excise authorities and also to Income Tax are Rs 5.37 crore only.

The Manager of the Central Bank of India, Katra Ahluwalia, Amritsar, when contacted, confirmed the balance sheets submitted by the auditors along with monthly operating statements to them having actual sales figure of Rs 8.46 crore.He further confirmed that the orocessing to the Bank were regularly tallied by their officers with the inputs and final stocks of the unit by them.Even the Director of the processing unit has confirmed the submission of duplicate set of balance sheets to the bank and government authorities.

Action against the Chartered Accountant for preparing and filing of duplicate sets of returns for the same period to different authorities is also taken up with the Institute of Chartered Accountants. A case of evasion of duty of Rs 1 crore has been registered for recovery of the duty evaded.Back

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