Sunday, March 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City loses out on DoT cellphone service
By Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — On account of alleged political meddling, Chandigarh has lost out in the race to be one of the few cities where the Department of Telecom had intended to launch its own cellular phone service in this financial year.

Actually, Chandigarh would have been the first city where DoT, the public sector communications giant, had planned to set up its first ever cellular service network in the country, sources said. This would have been the first govenment sector entry into the cellular market as the project started in New Delhi by the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) could not be classified as a cellular service in the exact technical terms.

Sources said everything was going on smoothly. Plans for a cellular service for Chandigarh had been approved by the DoT and only the equipment to operate the service was awaited. The new government came sometime in October and it had other plans. Out went Chandigarh’s case and a few other cities were added. Another top source added that political considerations may have affected the chances of Chandigarh’s case.

The local authorities have not given any concrete date for beginning the project but had indicated that the service may have started before the end of this financial year.

According to the initial groundwork done by the DoT, Chandigarh would have been very successful due to a high income rate of the residents. Besides this, the Chandigarh Telecom District also covers SAS Nagar and Panchkula. So even if the DoT was to set up its networking towers in these townships, the cell phones could be function in the periphery of Chandigarh.

Unlike MTNL’s Wireless in Local Loop (WILL) service that has restrictions of operation over a wide area, DoT had opted for “cell based” technology, thus providing for a wider area of coverage.

The initial reports of the Chandgiarh scheme had created a furore in the market as the rates would have been competitive, actually much less than those being charged by the private service providers.

In Delhi the MTNL virtually set “a cat among the pigeons” when its service was announced at a monthly rental of less than Rs 500 and a three-minute out-going call at Rs 1.40. According to media reports, the MNTL authorities had to close down the booking after a whopping unexpected response.Back


Centre should have objected to Clinton’s remark’
By Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The government should be taken to task for not objecting to President Bill Clinton’s referring to Kashmir as a disputed area in his speeches on several occasions.

This observation was made by Mr K. Natwar Singh, a former External Affairs Minister and a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), here this evening. He was in the city on a personal visit.

Recalling the hue and cry raised by the government when similar remarks were made by President Nelson Mandela, he said this time “ there was not even a murmur of protest from any quarter. The government must answer why it had chosen to ignore the President’s remark referring to the “Kashmir dispute” time and again.

Even while stressing that both the countries should exercise restraint, respect the Line of Control (LoC), renew dialogue and practise restraint (on the use of force), President Clinton had equated India and Pakistan, even though we are already practising what he preached,” he pointed out.

Mr Singh opined that time will show how Pakistan responds to this since Clinton had not minced words in condemning the tensions along the border and trans-border terrorism. But given the precarious financial position of Pakistan, it would have limited options but to follow the line suggested by the President.

He also added that Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Congress President had welcomed the visit which would strengthen Indo-US relations. She, however, had certain reservations on signing the CTBT and other security-related issues.

However, the impact of the visit would be discussed in the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Congress to be held in Delhi on March 29.

Commenting on the major achievements of the visit, he said it had presented our country to millions of American households in a positive way. Besides being a goodwill visit, it was a rediscovery of India which had been on the American horizon for quite some time.

It also speaks volumes about the influence and clout of the non resident Indians in the USA which had brought about the renewed interest, and shows that America wants to be a major player in South Asia. The presence of a large number of NRIs are a proof of this. This clout was missing when the previous Presidents visited India, he added.

The other areas which will get a boost are in the fields of education, health, information technology (IT), software, ecology and environment, trade, exports. The Indo American Forum would also get an impetus, he observed.

On the President himself, the senior Congress leader said he was an exceptional individual with a great capacity to grasp intricate problems.

He was engaging and was very focussed in his approach and had done his homework before embarking on the visit. He was appreciative of the speeches which had sophistication and had been drafted with great skill and the packaging was remarkable.

Describing the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Anantnag as “nothing but ethnic cleansing” , he added that it was a “ horrific incident which showed the inability of the state as well as the Central Government in preventing such incidents despite prior information”.

It was a serious and dangerous development and also proved that the government could not ensure the safety of its citizens, he added.Back


City's periphery to have polo club
By Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The city's periphery will soon resound with hoofbeat of galloping horses coupled with the thump of mallets striking wooden balls.

After the success of polo tournaments at Patiala recently to commemorate the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa, the Punjab Polo Association has decided to establish a polo club and a race course in the city's periphery.

The Vice-President of the Punjab Polo Association, Maj-Gen U.S. Sidhu (retd), said the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had already issued instructions to the District Commissioner of Ropar to identify a suitable site in Chandigarh's periphery for the purpose.

The association's proposal envisions setting up of two polo fields and one race course. Interaction between the association's office-bearers and the district administration in this regard is underway.

The association is looking for about 200 acre for the purpose. The club and the race course would be in the Ropar district, but, within the city's periphery.

After the land is procured from the state government, the association estimates an expenditure of about Rs 1.2 lakh on establishing the club and the training facilities. Land will procured on a 99-year-lease basis, with the association paying about Rs 15,000 annually to the state exchequer towards the rent. The race course will be established later. The funds for it will be made available by the association out of its existing resources.

Maj-Gen Sidhu said the requisite expertise and infrastructure to establish the club and the training facilities were already available here. Initially, it would require the availability of the grounds and stables for horses.

Four horses which were presented to the Punjab Chief Minister at the Patiala polo tournament, will form the nucleus of the training infrastructure. While three of the horses were presented by Col K.S. Garcha, ex-Commandant of the 61 Cavalry and an Arjuna Awardee, the fourth was presented by Vikram Sodhi, who has his own polo team.

Horses would also be procured, later, from the Army's Remount and Veterinary Corps and various polo clubs in the country to expand the training facilities.

Veterinary assistance from the Army and the Punjab armed police, both of which maintain horses and a have a presence in the region, will also be requisitioned.

The thrilling, though stately game of Polo, was reintroduced in the region after 70 years for the tercentenary celebrations. The last polo tournament in the state had been held at Shimla in 1924, when Punjab comprised present-day Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and parts of Pakistani province of Punjab. Punjab had then won the Beresford Cup and the Viceroy's staff Handicap Cup, after which the team was disbanded.Back


Keeping astrology alive in Chandigarh
By Kulwinder Sandhu

CONTRARY to the common belief that the educated generation of today’s world does not believe in the ancient art of astrological signs, little less than one million residents of Chandigarh with 100 percent literacy feed 423 astrologers (non-official records) residing in the city. Being a part of the cultural heritage since centuries, astrology still captures the imagination of our society. Whether it is the inauguration of a showroom, or the auspicious occasion of marriage, no new venture is undertaken without consulting the astrologer, commonly called as Panditji.

There are today astrology cook-books an astrology marriage guide and an astrological dating service. Daily newspapers, weeklies and monthlies regularly print horoscope columns. Why suddenly, does astrology, seemingly dead and discredited, now capture the world’s imagination?

Although astrologers regard themselves as sorely abused by press and public, they seem to be their own severest critics, regularly denouncing one another cheats takes and imposters and gleefully circulating collegue’s erroneous predictions. Still, the people who patronise astrologers seem to be satisfied. Typical, perhaps, are the comments of Naresh Kumar - a resident of Sector -15, Chandigarh. “With astrology one can blame the stars when things go wrong. Isn’t that a lovely feeling? It is probably reasssuring, also, to find the earth back at the centre of the universe, and oneself the centre of attention.”

Astrologers are aware of the importance of telling the customer what he wants to hear, without losing all the credibility. Thus, vices and short comings are subtly transmitted by choice of language. Drunkenness becomes conviviality; lechery an ardent nature; meanness becomes thrift. Horoscope frequantly play both ends against the middle. According to Pandit Kuldeep Mishra who sits along the footpath dividing the inter-state bus terminal and the Sector-17 market, There is an idealistic as well as practical side to your thinking. Though you enjoy solitude, you appreciate the value of companionship.”

Hardly, ten yards from him there sits an another Sikh astrologer Roop Singh. He says: no body has ever proved finally that astrology doesn’t work. But the important thing is that there is little. If any, evidence, that it does.”

But how far the roadside astrologers are capable of providing authentic astrological forecast is a matter of belief. Few residents of the city say that the accuracy of present-day astrologers does not dependably extend beyond skillful character analysis, intuitiveness and the sighting of general trends.

At least 20 astrologers in the city earn a handsome amount ranging from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 per month. But for the roadside astrologers, life is contrary to this. Roop Singh a victim of 1984 anti-Sikh riots shifted to Mohali from West Bengal in 1986. For his three boys, a girl and a wife he leaves just 50 bucks daily. Although he earns Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 daily by sitting on the footpath, the rest goes in drinking, and when asked about how his family makes the both ends meet, he classified: “one of my son works in a factory and earns around Rs 1500 per month.”

Similar, is the condition of many more astrologers in the city. Although, the roadside astrologers are not allotted permanent places to sit, the Chandigarh police has issued photo-identity cards to these roadside astrologers. While showing his identity card Pandit Kuldeep Mishra said: “We have long been demanding permanent space on roadside but the Administration and the Municipal Corporation never care” He further said: “Sometimes, when state officials come on their round we have to run alongwith our belongings.” Back


Blowing bubbles across hearts
By Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — Bubble-gum babes and chewing-gum boys — are mumbling goodbye to manners, indifferently.

“Yeah,” Shireen mutters carelessly, rolling the battered yet fresh bubble-gum as her guy Girish explains the perilous implications of Madame Bovary’s romantic love to the new-fledged literature learner on Student Centre’s concrete low steps.

Inhaling the tantalizing whiff of her perfume Girish dreamily talks of Charle’s “real” love for Bovary till.... bang! The bubble explodes in his face.

Stunned, he stares as Shireen impassively stretches the chicle-gum around her tongue once again. “It was all so interesting. Why did you stop in-between?” she asks innocently, coquettishly.

Relax Girish ! There’s nothing to be surprised about. Bubble-gumming her way across the hearts is a passion with her. Like with so many teenyboppers of today.

“In the irrevocable past, when admiring glances were baited with alluring hip-huggers, bubble-gums were chewed by only a few for flaunting a society-agitator’s attitude, to cut a transgressor’s image,” asserts young psychologist Tamana Gill. “No more. Bubble gums are now-a-days `the thing’ with fashionable ba’bies of the higher world. Manners of the Victorian era —who’s bothered ?”

No wonder, the gum hops from one side of the trap to another as Mehak Kapoor trots down for her final year chemistry class in college.

Inside, concentrating on the acidic properties of a chemical, she casually curves her crimson lips before blowing a “big bubble”. To the lecturer, she apologises for the “sub-conscious act”, sticks the gum on the hard wooden bench before departing for the vocal music class. “Cheap thrills is what I get out of sticking gums here and there,” Mehak confesses.

Today glossy wrappers glittering in the poly-jars tempt the window-shoppers as they walk past the provision stores, down the market corridors.

“Now you have strawberry, mint, double mint, pineapple and vanilla to choose from,” says Sector 35 shopkeeper Ghansham Verma. “So popular are they that teenagers do not mind having them instead of change”.

The ones with a soft-centre are Zaira’s favourite. “I love when the B-G simply melts in the mouth,” chirps the plus-two student. “I can chew it for hours together. Dunno why but it gives me some kinda confidence also”.

Explaining the trend, society watcher Sneh Sharma says, “Tall Australian or South African cricketers, even our own actresses, chewing gum on the television screen inspire you to catch the fad. It changes your face-look, lends a style of casualness declaring a ‘damn to the world’ attitude. Gives you confidence too. Chew gum and you won’t feel alienated when alone in an indifferent crowd”.

“Rage yes but harmful too” — caution dentists. Chewing gum over and over again can eat into your ivory. Workout for the cheek bones — its a myth, they insist.

“Abroad you have sugar free gums sweetened with Xylitol. Not here,” reveals head of PGI’s Oral Health Sciences Department, Dr. H. S. Chawla “Sugar in gum, in any foodstuff, including fruits, produces acid. It erodes the tooth, creates a microscopic ditch and later a gaping cavity”.

“Sugar,” Dr. Chawla warns, “should not be taken in any form for more than three times a day. Quantity doesn’t matter. Frequency does. Saliva naturally re-mineralises the tooth but only thrice. After that sugar-produced-acid is sure to dig cavities. Then, even brushing is useless. The bacteria cannot be eliminated”.

So careful kids... eating goody-goody gums again and again for bubbling excitement can cause pre-mature loss of the tooth. Troubles may be like bubbles, as they say but bubble troubles can be real double troubles!Back


Press Club elections today
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The stage is set for the annual elections of the Chandigarh Press Club scheduled for tomorrow. A total of 14 candidates are contesting the seven positions of office-bearers.

Polling starts at 9: 30 a m and ends at 3: 30 pm. Counting of votes will start afterwards, and results will be announced by the evening.

The following are contesting the polls. President (one post) — Mr Ashwani Bhatnagar and Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu; Vice Presidents (2 posts) — Mr Chanchal Manohar Singh, Mr Ashok Malik, Mr Ashok Puri, Mr Sanjeev Chopra and Mr Darshan Singh ; Secretary-General (1 post) — Mr Sarabjit Pandher and Mr Raveen Thukral ; Joint Secretaries — (3 posts) — Mr Asit Jolly, Mr Nalin Acharya and Mr Rakesh Raki; Treasurer (1 post) —Mr Nand Lal Gupta and Mr Sanjiv Shukla.Back


Kishangarh residents a harassed lot
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The inmates of some farmhouses in Kishangarh are a harassed lot. They have been walled in and have no way to either approach their houses or come out for the past one week.

Residents allege that the UT Forest Department has arbitrarily raised a stone wall on the approach road which has been in existence for the past 30 years.

According to one of the landowners, Mrs Mohinderjeet Kaur, the passage, from the main road of the village along the Sukhna choe, was provided by the consolidation authorities in 1964 - 65 and the same was being used by the her for access to her land for the three decades.

She said she was surprised to learn that the staff from the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests is raising a stone wall and has begun to dig pits for the purpose of afforestation, claiming the land to be the property of the department.

It was the duty of the consolidation department to provide passage to each landholding in the area when the consolidation was carried out in the 60s

She lamented that the crop of maize was ready which could not be transported to the market in the absence of a road.

Other farm owners have also appealed to the authorities to either clear the path or provide them with an alternate passage.Back


Spread literacy to slums, villages: Jacob
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The Punjab Governor and Administrator, of Chandigarh, Lt-Gen, J. F. R. Jacob, (retd.) asked voluntary bodies and nongovernment organisations to spread the literacy campaign to slums and remote villages and to provide education to the children who are forced by circumstances to work, at the annual prize distribution function of Aurobindo School of Integral Education here today.

The Governor exhorted the children to become computer literate to meet the challenges of the international market. He said children should be given an opportunity to surf the net and to explore various vistas of knowledge.

Lauding the role of Aurobindo Trust for providing integral education to children, the Governor said playing games should be encouraged.

He announced a donation of Rs 50,000 on behalf of the Chandigarh Administration for the library of the school. General Jacob said the Administration would be happy to associate itself with schools and students in any venture which raised the quality of life of slum children.

Prizes were given away to children for excelling in educational and allied activities by the Governor. The function began with the lighting of lamp by the Governor and was followed by meditation with music and a group of children sang Aurobindo Stuti.

The function was attended by Ms Vineeta Rai, Adviser to the Administrator, Mr Pradeep Narang, Secretary-General of Aurobindo Trust, and Mr. B.K. Mehan, Chairman of the school. Ms Indu Maitra, Principal of the school gave a resume of the activities of the school.Back


Dip in evening temperature
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — Despite the warm conditions prevailing in the city and its surrounding areas during the day, the local meteorological office said the temperature was still 2 below the normal average for this time of the year.

The day time temperature soared and was recorded at 28. 4C almost 2C over yesterday’s recording of 26.0C. However, by the evening the drop in temperature was sharp and forced residents to wear light woollens. In the past one week overcast conditions had made residents pull out the woollens.

Even today’s minimum temperature, recorded at 13.0C was 2C below the normal average for this time of the year. Back


Shopkeeper stabbed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — A shopkeeper of Sector 20 alleged that he was stabbed by a resident of the same sector.

According to the police sources, Ajay Arora alleged that he was assaulted by Surinder Kumar alias Shinda who stabbed him with a knife. Ajay said Shinda was accompanied by six other persons who came to his shop in a van (CH-01-W 0410) and on a motorcycle (PB-27-A-3037).

A case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 307 and 506 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 19 police station.

32 arrested: The police has arrested 32 persons for committing various offences in the central subdivision, under a drive conducted by Dr Sagar Preet Hooda, ASP (Central). Cases have been registered against them under assorted Sections of the IPC, the Police Act and the Excise Act.

Elsewhere, three persons were arrested on the charges of creating nuisance while under the influence of liquor. A case under Sections 34, 5 and 61 of the Police Act has been registered.

Home Guard slapped: The police has charged a Sector 45 resident, Mona, for slapping Naresh Kumar, a Home Guard volunteer, while he was on duty. A case under Sections 332 and 353 of the IPC has been registered.

Computer stolen: Mr Surinder Singh, a resident of SAS Nagar, reported that someone stole a computer and a telephone from his Sector 34 place while he was out of station. A case under Section 380 of the IPC has been registered.Back


Three held for murder, thefts
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, March 25 — Involvement of a gang wanted in cases of murder and a series of thefts at different places in Punjab and Haryana has been found in the unsuccessful robbery attempt at the LIC office here past Tuesday.

Three members of the gang, all school dropouts, were today arrested by the local police. The suspected gangsters — Sukhdev alias Sukha, Kuldeep alias Bittu and Jaswinder Singh alias Kala — all residents of Rajpura, had tried to steal a chest containing Rs 3 lakh from the LIC office before they were chased by residents of the area.

A police team led by the SHO, Phase 1 police station, Mr R.S. Sohal, tracked down the gang members on the basis of registration documents in the Fiat car which they had left behind while fleeing. The car had been purchased from Chandigarh a few months back by the gangsters, said Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar.

Two country-made pistols, a .315 bore gun and a .12 bore gun, with 10 live cartridges, have been seized from the burglars. The arms had been purchased from Saharanpur and were reportedly used in at least two murders at Rajpura.

Giving details, the Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr B.S. Randhawa said they had snatched Rs 1.5 lakh from a watchman of the Punjab Electricity Board at Rajpura and had killed him. In another case, the gang members had shot dead the owner of an oil extracting plant at Rajpura.

The Rajpura police had been informed of their arrest. Several burglaries at Patiala, Banur, Zirakpur, SAS Nagar and Narnaul had been committed by them in the recent past.

Truck drivers by profession, the trio had conducted a recce of the LIC office to ascertain the location of the chest and had made enquires regarding the insurance policies.

Mr Randhawa said an operator at the Police Control Room, Mohan Singh, had been suspended and and a constable at Sohana Police Station, Baljeet Singh, had been sent to police lines for dereliction of duty in connection with the burglary attempt at LIC office.

Most of the burglaries were committed in a scooter before they purchased a new scooter and the Fiat car from the booty. Apart from the case of attempted burglary at the LIC office registered against them, a case under the Arms Act had also been registered by the police. They would be produced at the Kharar courts tomorrow.Back


Constables to work for greater interaction
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, March 25 — Beat constables will now work to increase the interaction between the local police and the public. The beat constables in the town will now go from door to door to hand out a list of preventive measures to control crime.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr SS Gill, convened a meeting of police personnel from different local police stations and police posts here yesterday.

Stressing upon a friendly attitude towards the public, beat constables were given the pamphlets, to be distributed to the members of the public.

The members of the public have been urged to keep a watch on the movement of suspicious persons and to inform the PCR or the respective police station in such an eventuality.

Not allowing wild growth in the front and back of houses, proper illumination, providing information about domestic servants and tenants, proper parking of vehicles and precaution while withdrawing or depositing cash in a bank are some of main steps suggested by the police to prevent crime.Back


ST on vehicles to be revised
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 — The Chandigarh Administration proposes to revise the sales tax on motor vehicles. In a draft notification issued yesterday, the Administration has decided to revise the sales tax on motor vehicles from 5 per cent to 12 per cent.

As per draft notification, objections have been invited to the proposal within next 20 days.

By another notification, the Administration has revised sales tax on a number of items, including Vanaspati ghee, tractor and attachments, computer and IT products, including computer components and butter and ghee.

The rate of sales tax on Vanaspati ghee, tractor and attachments and computer and IT products, including computer components, will be 4 per cent while for butter and ghee it will be 8 per cent, a notification of the Administration, said today.

By another draft notification, the Administration proposes to bring agarbatti and dhoop under no tax slab.Back


‘Agro-forestry gives insurance cover’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, March 25 —Agro-forestry provides insurance in case of crop failure and meets the requirements of firewood, timber and fodder for animals . This was more relevant in the current perspective where agro-forestry was nearly fully-established.

These views were expressed by Mr S.K.Kapoor, a former Chief Conservator of Forests, Punjab, in his paper on the concluding day of a two-day national seminar on ‘Post-Harvest Experience in Agriculture: Problems and Remedies’ at ICSSR complex, Panjab University here today.

The session was chaired by Dr Pritam Singh, an expert on Punjab economy.

Dr Manmohan Singh, Director, Industries and General Manager of the Co-operative Banks, presented a paper on the role of Punjab state for development of agro-industries. He feared that the policy of liberalisation, de-licensing and decontrol could lead to a negative role in development of agro-based industry.

In the working session on “Post-Harvest Financial Issues”, papers were presented by Dr G.S.Dhillon, Mr Sukhbir Singh, a General Manager of NABARD, and Mr B.S.Saini.

Dr Dhillon’s paper was on reducing rural indebtedness through post-harvest measures.Mr Saini defended the present way of working of the agriculture co-operative model.

The valedictory session was presided over by Mr Kamleshwar Sinha, Associate Editor of The Tribune. Being son of a farmer, he said the field of agricultural studies was naturally interesting. Man living in harmony with the nature becomes a complete man.

In the new millennium ,if one wanted to live in harmony, he should think of agriculture and agro-based produce, Mr Sinha added.Back

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