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


The stage is set for panchayat polls
No complaints about free flow of liquor
By Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, March 15 — The stage is all set for the panchayat polls in the district scheduled for tomorrow and candidates in villages are making last-ditch efforts to win over voters since every vote counts, and the turnout in these elections is expected to be as high as 90 per cent.

Most villages wear a festive look and door-to-door campaigns are in full swing. Candidates, accompanied by their entourage of supporters, are leaving no house untouched and pleading to every voter for support. The activity, till yesterday, usually gathered momentum late in the evenings but, today, candidates kept pouring into houses and making fervent appeals to the womenfolk for votes.

Fighting to be sarpanch, Mr Raghbir Singh of Grehra village, during one such mission said that he was concentrating on rubbing in his election symbol on the last day, which was the only way to secure the electorate’s vote since the villagers, especially the womenfolk, were illiterate.

Another candidate in Karanpur village, Mr Prem Singh, said that going out and meeting people on the last day before votes were actually cast did have a bearing on the minds of the voters, and meeting them a second time also created an impression, which was why he was doing the rounds of his village. He had a handful of pamphlets which his supporters distributed on the way.

In Kiratpur, Baddgodam, Paploha, Tipra in Pinjore and Kalka similar scenes were witnessed and candidates refused to take the indifference of the voters to their appeals lying down. ‘‘We only leave the house once the lady of the house tells us that her family votes will go in our favour, and she has to sound genuinely interested, or else we just keep harping on whatever we have to say till an emphatic ‘yes’ is received,’’ Banta Singh, a candidate, in Pinjore block says.

Interestingly, youngsters in these villages, primarily in the Pinjore block, contented that liquor was being supplied to voters to please them and buy their votes. Nobody was complaining or resisting the ‘‘bribe’’. However, it did lead to minor squabbles during the evenings when the villagers got together to discuss prospective winners.

Meanwhile, candidates in villages informed that most party workers were pitted against each other, and were relying on their personal charisma and rapport with the villagers to wrap up elections. ‘‘None of the party bigwigs in the district have made an appearance so far, and the candidates have not even approached them from what we have gathered in our conversation with them. Anyway, it hardly matters to us since personal relations will be the deciding factor,’’ Ram Vilas, a village elder in Barsola, says.

Also, for the first time, the post of deputy sarpanch has been done away with and sarpanches will wield tremendous power, and have all finances at their disposal which has made the ‘‘battle’’ all the more interesting. Some of them are busy in negative campaigning in the village, rather than asking for votes for themselves.

Meanwhile, all polling parties comprising five members each, inclusive of a presiding officer, were despatched with election material for their respective stations from the centres identified in the four blocks of Pinjore, Morni, Raipur Rani and Barwala.

For 68 panchayats in Pinjore, 115 polling stations have been established and 130 polling parties have been despatched, while Morni has 20 panchayats, 27 polling stations and 32 polling parties to its credit. In Barwala, there are 35 panchayats, 63 polling stations and 113 polling parties, and Raipur Rani will have elections to 41 panchayats with 62 polling stations, and 72 parties have been allotted the task of conducting elections in the area. Nearly 40 villages in the four blocks have been declared sensitive.Back


10-day "mega-weekend" for staff
By Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — Starting from Friday, government and semi-government departments will be closed for four days at a stretch — and for five days in Punjab — making it a “mega weekend” for the employees and stopping and delaying all work concerning public.

A senior functionary said this was quite contrary to the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission which had suggested reducing holidays in the government sector while giving steep salary hikes.

In Punjab, if a government employee opts to take leave on March 22 and March 24 its extended holiday from March 17 to March 26 — making it a whopping 10-day holiday for the employee. And in government offices if a particular employee is on leave, his work is not taken over by the next in line, thus stalling the entire process leading to irritation among people.

Offices of the Chandigarh Administration, the Haryana and Central Government offices located in the region will re-open on Tuesday. In Chandigarh March 23 is a restricted holiday being the death anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh. In neighbouring Punjab it is a closed day. Even the lower courts will be closed on Friday and Monday. But since lawyers are on strike litigants are suffering.

The “mega weekend” starts due to a holiday on account of Id on March 17, followed by Saturday and Sunday, while Holi falls on March 20 (Monday). In Punjab it is holiday on March 21 on account of Hola Mohalla followed by another holiday on March 23.

As the financial year draws to a close even the banking sector, small traders, business houses, exporters and importers will suffer as thousands of cheques, payments and drafts will be delayed, while all nationalised banks will be closed on different days depending on geographical location of the bank. The Department of Posts will open on Saturday, but will be closed on March 17, 19 and 20.

The Telecom Department, its bill collection centres, the Income Tax Department and other revenue collecting departments like Sales Tax, Central Excise and Sales Tax will remain closed. The only exception is of the Railway booking counters that will remain open. Also on the closed list are the local electricity and water bill collection centres.

Apart from this, all people buying new vehicles will have to wait for the all-powerful government employees to return from their “well-earned rest”. The same is true in case of property deals, those wanting to encash cheques urgently will have to be patient till Tuesday and in Punjab till Wednesday. Tourists visiting the city will not get any assistance as the Tourism office will be closed. However, the hotels run by the semi-government CITCO, will remain open. The treasury remains closed. Anybody wanting to deposit money in the state exchequer will have to wait.

Members of the public wanting to get clearance or some little work done in the Chandigarh Housing Board, PUDA or HUDA will have to wait. Already people visiting government offices are being advised to come after the holidays. And this is not the only “mega weekend” for the year. Much to the chagrin of everyone such weekends will occur twice again this year.

By taking just two days of leave, employees can enjoy one weekend that will last nine days and by taking another two days of leave in another month the weekend will last for 10 days.

The next “mega weekend” will occur in April when the 12,13 and 14 (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) are holidays. All an employee needs is two days of leave on April 10 and 11 (Monday and Tuesday) to make it nine-day weekend. This will include April 8 and 9 ( Saturday and Sunday) and April 15 and 16, once again Saturday and Sunday.

The other extended weekend will be from December 23 to 31. In this case Punjab employees will get three scheduled Holidays on December 25, 26 and 28. In Haryana and Chandigarh December 26 will not be a closed day. So Punjab employees will have to take just two days of leave on December 27 and 29 to make it a long holiday. December 23 and December 24 happen to be the weekend closed day. The same is true for December 30 and 31.

What is closed and till when:

  • Offices of the Punjab Government: March 17 to March 21. And again on March 23
  • Offices of the Chandigarh Administration: March 17 to 20
  • Offices of the Haryana Government: March 17 to 21
  • Telecom Department: March 17 to March 21
  • Nationalised banks: In Haryana (March 19 and 20); in Punjab (March 19, 20, 21 and 23); in Chandigarh ( March 17, 19 and 20)
  • Income Tax Department: March 17 to 21
  • Postal Department: March 17, 19 and 20
  • Educational institutions: March 17 to 20
  • Revenue collection centres like the Treasury: according to the closed days of the state.

What will function:

  • Railway ticket reservation counters
  • Examinations of the Panjab University will be held as per schedule.Back


Sewerage cess in UT from April 1
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — Decks have been cleared for levying of sewerage cess within the municipal limits of Chandigarh from April 1.

The Chandigarh Administration today gave a formal approval to the resolution already approved by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation. The Administration has approved a levy of Rs 5 per commode per month for domestic consumers and Rs 10 per commode for commercial users.

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation hopes to generate Rs 2 crore per annum from levy of this first municipal tax in the city.

In neighbouring Punjab, there is a uniform sewerage cess of Rs 20 per commode per month.

A formal notification, after approval by the Administration, is being issued in a day or two. When contacted, the Secretary, Local Government, Mr Rakesh Singh, confirmed that the Administration has given its formal consent for levying of sewerage cess from the new financial year.

The Administration has been impressing upon the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to generate some financial resources on its own as it should not be dependent upon the annual grants-in-aid alone.

Though the civic body decided long time back to levy sewerage cess, it took some time to work out the modalities and get the formal clearance from the Administration. The new sewerage cess will also be applicable on educational institutions and hostels and hospitals also.

By another important decision, the Chandigarh Administration has also decided to formally transfer the possession of all parking areas adjoining cinema halls in the city to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

Though the corporation has already decided to auction these parking lots on March 22 following directions from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a legal formality of official transfer of these parking lots to the civic body was still to be gone through.

This decision of the Administration is also being notified separately in the official gazette of the Chandigarh Administration. The decision to transfer parking lots to the civic body was confirmed by the Finance Secretary-cum-Administrator, Mr Rakesh Singh.Back


Cyanide festival wins accolades
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — An impressive fashion contest was the highlight of the Cyanide Y2K festival, organised by the Department of Chemical Engineering at Panjab University on the second day of the festival here today.

The host department won the fashion display contest, while Panjab University ended up as the runners-up. The local NIIFT team was awarded the prize for best costume designing.

The venue witnessed a heavy rush. Students could be seen entering the venue as early as 2.30 p.m. Visitors even those carrying invitation cards, were being denied entry in the evening as the hall was ‘jam-packed’. The police had a tough time controlling the crowd.

The show received a good response. The first entry was from the Unique Institute of Fashion Designing. The response was instant to the hit Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan number piya re in the background.

‘Woman takes the mould she is put into’, remarked a speaker while commenting on the styles on display and the distinct features of the cloth and fashion wear. Beauty of the Indian tradition was largely underlined in most of the rounds.

The local Government College for Men students figured prominently among prize winners in several events. Gaurav Sheel, a media handler, said most results would be finalised by tomorrow.

Ankur from GCM won the ‘jam session’ organised as part of literary events. Maninder Singh from the same college won the ‘ad-mad’ contest.

Yogesh Negi and Shiv Kumar from GCM won the skit contest in the dramatics category. Mohit Jolly won the dumb-charades contest. Maninder and Rohit from the host department won the couple cricket contest in the informals category. Team of Vishal Bhatia and Atin Gupta from the local Punjab Engineering College won the ‘esoterica’ contest.Another winning team included Onkar Kinikar and Abhijit Gokhle from MIT, Pune. Hemant Kumar from the Arts College won the cartooning contest in the fine arts category.

Leading Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann nite is scheduled for tomorrow.Back


“Marriage on the web is the in-thing”
From Akanksha Sharma

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — “www.” The web designer of this particular website is Mr Arun Aggarwal (32), who is a highly qualified man with an MBA and MFC degree from Panjab University. Excerpts of an interview with him:

How did you initiate the idea to design a web-based marriage bureau?

This is the most in-thing now, the cyber marriages. There have been many sites in Delhi, Bombay and other metro cities, but we had no site in our city and this very fact motivated me to design a website specially for people belonging to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J &K. Secondly, access to Internet is easily available at all the area and this is the most quick way to communicate.

What was the need for the region-based site?

Most sites in Delhi and other places advertise in national newspapers and that is the reason people of this particular region do not have access to those sites as they normally read The Tribune, Indian Express and other vernacular news papers.

Don’t you think this would limit the scope of site?

This is the initial strategy. We would be collecting the data from this area and then promoting it to other parts of the country and the world over.

How exactly does this site work?

It is an easy, user friendly procedure. It is free of cost. It is based on the concept of newspapers classified. In detail, take an example, a Sikh boy who is an MBA, an NRI and a professional, he is eligible to apply in all these 4 categories given in the website. The procedure would be:

1. Login

2. you enter the home page wherein we have 4 buttons that is Bride, Groom, Register and Contact us.

3. You choose, Bride or Groom, once you have selected, say Groom, you click on it and you get the list of categories, which you further select and after that you click on the Go button and the whole list of advertisements run down with brief description.

4. You select the particular add after the brief matches your requirement and then further click on the box number assigned to that particular ad for more details.

The procedure is simple and hassle free.

How does one put the ad on this site?

Again it’s very simple. Just click on the register button and the detailed form comes out which you fill in and submit to us immediately over the site itself.

How would avoid Junk Mail?

As we receive the ad we have an administrative site where we scan the ad and in case if we feel something is fishy with the ad, then we contact the telephone number and the address for verification.

Who would bear the cost of verification?

Well, the cost of verification is not much. Its just a phone call or a letter, but the benefits of loyal customers would be more, isn’t it? Further I would like to tell you that though the submission of adds is free, verification helps us in getting in more genuine data.

What would be your source of income? I am sure its not a charity that you are doing?

No its not charity, feel even charity costs more now a days. Anyway, we would start charging a nominal amount of Rs 100/- per category. However, the first category would be free (Maximum would pay Rs. 300- for all the four categories, and the span of search is not limited)

What other benefits do you provide?

1. You can create your free e-mail account. 2. In case the advertiser does not want to give his contact address, we can forward the replies to him free of cost.

When exactly did you launch this site, and how has been the response since then?

I launched this site on March 10, 2000. The response has been very motivating, and I feel my efforts are paying up. I have been receiving at least 3-4 advertisements everyday, and you would appreciate that it is good for the beginning. Back


Panchkula can look forward to regular power supply
By Gautam Dheer

PANCHKULA, March 15 — As part of the on-going World Bank-aided modernisation and power reforms in the state, both the sub-stations in Sector 1 and Industrial Area, Panchkula, have been inter-linked. This will not only improve the quality of power but also help to optimally utilise power derived from the sources.

Work on the 66 KV interlinking line between the two 66 KV sub-stations has been completed and is now under final testing, to be conducted by the Chief Electrical Inspector (CEI), Haryana. Sources in the Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam (HVPN) revealed here today that a high resistant conductor wire has been used in a total stretch of 6.7 km between the two sub-stations.

As many as 34 towers have been erected for the purpose and a total cost of Rs 90 lakh has been incurred on the project. Mr G.C. Aggarwal, Chief Engineer of HVPN, said that the new line between the two sub-stations shall solve the purpose of ‘power-evacuation’. ‘’All quality standards under the Indian Electricity Act 1948, have been adhered to so as to avoid breakdowns in the future,’’ he said.

The newly commissioned line will act as a ‘ring-main’ around the township. Sources reveal that prior to the linkage, there was hardly any alternative with the department, in case of a power breakdown at one of the sub-stations. However, the new interlinkage will provide an ‘on-line’ power mechanism, substituting either of the sub-stations during breakdowns.

Both the sub-stations derive one power source from the grid at Ropar and another from Himachal Pradesh through the 220 KV Dehar-Madanpur link circut. Sources reveal that under the previous arrangement, the sources of power was perpetually unutilised on account of lack of connectivity between the two sub-stations. With the new ring-main circut, power from the source shall be adequately utilised.

Mr N.K. Gupta, Director, HVPN, said that the township and parts of adjoining areas will benefit from the reliability of the system and durability of power.’’ The proposal of the sub-station to be constituted in the Mansa Devi complex will soon be on rolls and shall further enhance the power supply to township’’, he added. Back


‘Plant-bougainvillea’ drive in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — A concerted ‘plant bougainvillea’ drive has been launched on all important roads under control of th]e Engineering Department of the Chandigarh Administration.

The important roads being covered in the initial stages are Dakshin Marg and Madhya Marg. Workers of the Horticulture Wing of the Engineering Department have been busy for the past two days digging pits for plantation of various “bush type” varieties of bougainvillaea to fill the existing gaps on Dakshan Marg and Madhya Marg.

After Dakshan Marg, Madhya Marg and Jan Marg, Purv Marg would also be covered.

The Administration has also decided to colour the earlier barricaded portion of Madhya Marg from Transport Chowk to Sukhna Cho bridge green in continuation with similar exercise taken on a portion of Madhya Marg dividing Sectors 26 and 27.

The steel barricading will be covered with colourful bougainvillaea. For the past several years, a little effort has been made to fill the growing gaps on important roads in the city.

The Administration has now fixed targets for various Sectional Officers and Subdivisional Engineers for plantation of bougainvillaea. Work has also started on restructuring slip roads on Madhya Marg so as connect them with slow carriageways to minimise chances of confrontation with the traffic on the main road with that coming from slow carriageways, especially near traffic islands and intersections.

Work has also started on levelling of road berms besides removal of debris, rubble and unwanted vegetation to give the important carriageways a neat, clean and green outlook.Back


Dharna by postal staff
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — On a call given by the Joint Council of Postal Employees, the local postal employees held a day-long circle-level dharna in front of the GPO in Sector 17.

More than 50 employees of the department participated in the dharna. During a lunch time rally-cum-demonstration, the demands were put forward. The employees are demanding the implementation of the postive recommendations of Justice Charanjit Talwar on extra departmental employees with reference to grant of status and pension.

Also on the demand list is the upgradation of 10 per cent to clerical cadre and a provision for similar percentage of posts to clerical cadre from postmen, mail guards, group-D.Back


PSEB employees stage dharna
From Our Correspondent

ZIRAKPUR, March 15 — A large number of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees today staged a dharna in front of the Executive Engineer’s office to protest against the suspension of nine employees of the board.

Workers from Banur, Sohana and Zirakpur electricity substations gathered under the flag of the Joint Struggle Committee and raised slogans against the board authorities. They criticised Mr GS Sohal, Chairman of the board, for suspending the employees.

Mr Jagdish Kumar, President of the committee, said in spite of there being no complaint against the employees, the Chairman had suspended them without any reason. The committee would suspend work if these persons were not reinstated soon, he threatened.

The PSEB chairman had ordered the suspension of one subdivisional officer, two junior engineers, a revenue accountant, a meter reader, a lineman and three assistant linemen on March 1.

Those who addressed the dharna, included Mr Kuldeep Singh, Secretary PSEB Employees Federation, Ropar Circle, Mr Jai Kishan and Mr Zanak Singh.Back


One arrested with pistol
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — The police has arrested a resident of Kumhar Colony on the charges of possessing a countrymade pistol.

According to police sources, Narinder Singh alias Ajay Singh, was nabbed and one countrymade pistol, three cartridges besides one extra barrel of a revolver were recovered from his possession. Further investigations are on.

A case under Section 25 \ 54 \ 59 of the Arms Act has been registered against him at the West police station.

Two nabbed: The police has arrested Mustkeem and Aslam, residents of Bapu Dham Colony, for taking away a TV and a VCR belonging to Surjeet Singh of the same colony. The duo had hired the equipment for watching a movie but they reportedly fled away without returning them to the owner.

A case under Section 406, IPC, has been registered.

Rickshaw thief held: The police has arrested Onkar, a resident of Sector 26 on the charges of stealing a rickshaw. A case under Section 379 \ 411, IPC, has been registered. The rickshaw has been recovered from the accused.

Car theft reported: Mr Arun Kumar, a resident of Patiala, reported that someone had stolen his car, PB AH 5815, from the Sector 17 parking. A case has been registered.Back


Booked for forging documents
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — An SAS Nagar resident, accused of forging documents for getting a car’s registration certificate issued, was today remanded to police custody till March 17 by the UT Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr H.S. Madaan.

The accused — Sandeep Gupta — was earlier booked by the Chandigarh Police for cheating, forgery for purpose of cheating and using a forged document as genuine, under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the prosecution, Sanjeev Sagar, in a complaint before the police, had alleged that the accused had come to him for selling a car on March 12. Upon verification, the complainant came to know that the loan for purchasing the vehicle had not been cleared, the prosecution had added.

Seeking police remand for the accused, the prosecution had also alleged that the accused had got the car’s registration certificate issued after preparing false and forged documents.Back


Lovers attempt suicide
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — Two young lovers, Salim (20) and Meetu (21) have been charged under Section 309 of the IPC at the Sector 31 police station after they attempted suicide.

Salim of Sector 47 was in love with Meetu of Sector 46 and they had been planning to get married as soon as Meetu finished her studies. She is a student of BA final year in a college in Agra. She used to visit the city during the holidays.

While Salim's father runs a tea shop, the Meetu's father is the canteen contractor in the Punjab Engineering College. The boy is unemployed. He used to help his father in running the shop.

According to police sources, they wrote a suicide note, in which they professed true love and stated that once their parents came to know about it, they would not allow them to get married. Hence, they were taking the extreme step.

They further wrote that their bodies should be cremated together. The couple reportedly consumed an insecticide and had retired to a room in the rear courtyard of Salim's house.

Fortunately, Salim's mother, who works in the vicinity, came home unexpectedly and found them unconscious. She rushed them to the Sector 16 General Hospital. Following timely medical attention, their lives were saved. They are stated to be out of danger.Back


Fridge mechanic found dead
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, March 15 — A 42-year-old refrigerator mechanic was found dead under mysterious circumstances in an isolated corner of the Phase 5 market here this morning. The body of the mechanic, Harbhajan Singh, was found lying behind a grocery booth in the market.

Except for a swelling on the right eyelid, there was no visible injury mark on the body. The turban and shoes of the deceased were found lying near his body. When the police reached the spot at around 10 a.m., blood was oozing out of the nose of the body. The police, suspecting that the victim died of consuming excessive liquor, has initiated inquest proceedings.

As the exact cause of the death could not be ascertained during the autopsy conducted at the local Civil Hospital in Phase 6 here, the viscera has been sent for chemical examination to Patiala. According to the information available, the mechanic had left his house in Phase 5 here around 4 p.m last evening with a resident of Chandigarh, Manjit. Both, after visiting different places in the town in connection with their work, had liquor at a vend in Chandigarh before the victim left for his home late in the night.Back


Monitoring of case sought
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — In a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court here, missing advocate Parveen Kumar Sharma’s brother today sought directions to the UT Senior Superintendent of Police and other respondents to monitor the investigations in the missing advocate case.

The case, under Section 364 of the Indian Penal Code, was registered by the Chandigarh Police on February 14, after Mr Sharma, practising in the district courts, mysteriously disappeared.

According to his brother, Mr Sanjeev Sharma, the advocate’s whereabouts were not known ever since he had parked his scooter at the Sector 17 Inter-State Bus Terminus on February 8, after leaving his house in SAS Nagar at about 1.20 p.m. for attending a marriage party in Laxmi Nagar at Delhi.

Claiming Mr Sharma to be an active human rights activist and office-bearer of the Lawyers for Human Rights International, his brother said the family and friends were feeling that the police was not taking the kind of interest that it should be. He had added that till date, the police was clueless regarding his whereabouts. Back


MCC concession for hoteliers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — In a significant decision, the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) today decided to allow the hoteliers to use and develop vacant land adjoining their hotels at their expense.

At a meeting here, the committee, however, recommended the imposition of daily charges for the holding of functions by the hotels. The hotels will also develop the land according to a design approved by the civic body, it was decided.

While clearing the Rs 2 lakh estimate for the construction of new fire station at Mani Majra, the F&CC recommended the construction of a new separate store for the enforcement wing at the cost of Rs 19.73 lakh.

While saying that all religious activities would be held in the Sector 34 exhibition ground at a fixed rate of Rs 3,000 per day, the religious organisations using the site for any kind of commercial activities would be charged Rs 10,000 a day.

To discourage the persons, who do not take the permission for holding religious and social functions, it was decided to charge a penalty at the rate of double the normal rates. And in order to curb encroachments, it recommended the appointment of nodal officers, who would be entitled to impose on-the-spot penalty.

And with a view to speeding up the procedure for the refund of the security, the committee decided to fix Rs 500 as security and refund it within the seven days after the completion at functions at the open spaces, community centres and open spaces.

In another important decision, the F&CC approved the rough cost estimates for the construction of the roads and the parking places in pocket nos 1,2 and 3 on the Chandigarh-Kalka highway of Mani Majra.Back


Contests, seminars on World Consumer Day
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 15 — Various functions, contests and seminars marked the World Consumer Day celebrations in the city today.

A five-day consumer awareness mela, displaying a wide range of products and offering free consumer services, got underway at Nehru Park in Sector 22. As many as 59 stalls, including 11 from the departments of the Chandigarh Administration, eight from the Industries Department and two from gas agencies, have set up stalls in the park, according to Mr R.K. Kaplash, Vice-President of the Consumer Forum, which is organising the mela in collaboration with the Chandigarh Administration.

A wide-range of contests, including the cultural programmes, will be the highlights of the mela, which will formally be inaugurated by the Punjab Governor and the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (Retd), tomorrow.

Later, Mr Baldev Raj Chawla, Punjab Minister for Health and Family Welfare, who presided over a seminar on consumer health at the Sector 22 Health Centre, inaugurated an exhibition of posters on consumer awareness and also released a souvenir.

Speaking at the seminar, Dr Vinita Gupta, Secretary of the District Leprosy Society, informed that 167 million persons were prone to goitre in the country and they could be saved from the disease by just making available to them a tiny quantity of iodised salt in their day-to-day diet. The Director of Health Services, Dr Joginder Singh, the Director of Family Welfare, Dr MP Manocha, also spoke.

Mr Surinder Verma, chairman of the Citizens Awareness Group, which organised the seminar, said the group had been focussing on the issues relating to health, sanitation, environment protection and national unity and integrity since its formation in 1994.Back

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