|Friday, April 7, 2000,
City power privatisation
meeting on April 19
CHANDIGARH, April 6 To discuss and consider various aspects of privatising distribution of electricity (power) in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, a high level five-member committee will hold its preliminary meeting in New Delhi on April 19.
According to informed sources in the Administration, Special Secretary in the Union Ministry of Power will preside over the meeting which will be attended among others by the Adviser to the Administrator, Mrs Vineeta Rai, and the Secretary, Engineering, Mr Rakesh Singh. Two Joint Secretaries from the Ministry of Power, including one dealing with Finance and Accounts, will be the other members of the committee.
The Administration has been toying with the idea of privatising power distribution for a long time.
Chandigarh has a unique set up to look after power distribution in the Union Territory. With no source of its own generation, Chandigarh has been fighting for a partnership status in the Bhakra Beas Management Board in terms of Section 2(n) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
Though a final decision on this demand has been pending for a long time, Chandigarh has decided to go for its own captive power generation. After initially planning a 120 MW Nathpa-based power generation unit at Kishengarh, the Administration, after rethinking on the project, decided to opt for gas-based generation.
The proposal is still pending approval by the Union Power Ministry as it would involve laying of a gas pipeline to the generation unit, besides other sanctions.
Of late, the Electricity Wing of the Engineering Department has shown good results in revenue generation, exceeding its targets, by revising the tariffs thrice during the past some years.
The increased workload notwithstanding, there has been no correspondingly increase in the staff to meet the growing demands for smooth local distribution of power supply. The powermen had been agitating for a long time to get more than 250 additional posts sanctioned as per PSEB norms, which are otherwise followed here.
At one stage, the Administration almost allowed the Electricity Wing to go ahead with the recruitments pending approval from the Union Government. The proposal was, however, deferred to avoid any legal or technical complications later.
Now when the move for privatisation has started, this demand of the Administration for creating additional posts, would automatically be dropped. Ever since the Administration made its intentions clear of going for privatisation of power distribution, the UT Powermens Union and other trade organisation shave been planning and holding rallies and demonstrations opposing such moves.
The powermen maintain that they would not allow privatisation of power distribution in the Union Territory. They have been advancing several arguments in favour of their stand.
Chandigarh, unlike most
of other states and Union Territories, does not have
either an electricity board or power supply undertaking.
It has a departmental set up to look after the power
distribution and collection of revenue.
Plan to bring UT offices
CHANDIGARH, April 6 IT, as in Information Technology, is also IT as in in thing. The computer has become everybodys gotta-have and the UT Administration is no exception. Even more than that, senior officers talk of making the city North Indias answer to Hyderabad. An ambitious blueprint to accomplish this dream is already nearing finalisation and is likely to get the nod from the UT Administrator within the next fortnight.
According to official sources: A full-fledged department has been created to implement the project and we are confident of getting the finances to push it through. Chandigarh has better infrastructure than the cyber cities coming up in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
High on the agenda is the creation of computer linkages between the Estate Office, the Excise and Taxation Office, the office of Food and Civil Supplies and the UT Secretariat. A Local Area Network (LAN) is to bring all these UT offices online.
And thats not all. The plan calls for the extending the link over the entire city through a network of booths. Through computers at these booths citizens can log on to the website of any department and download any information they need. For instance, it will be possible to complete and submit forms through this network and to learn the status of any particular grievance filed with a particular department. The idea is all the relevant information at the click of a button and less paper-work. Sources are optimistic that by 2005, citizens will be able to get most of their jobs done by just logging on to the departments; websites Obviously those departments which have the most public dealing will benefit the most.
Mad rush for coaching
CHANDIGARH, April 6 " English with its composition, maths with its calculations, chemistry with its equations, biology with its classifications and physics with its definitions," says Tejas, "give me no time for relaxation."
This is the common refrain of a majority of students who have appeared for their plus two exams. Unlike the past, when students looked forward to visiting their relatives or just lie back and enjoy, students today hardly have the time for such niceties. In the age of competition, you are only as good as the qualification who have acquired, hence the mad rush for preparing for competitive exams.
It is also boom time for academies which have mushroomed in the city. Each "teaching shop" lists a unique feature and gives assurance of sure success, and students lap it up in spite of the charges which vary between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000 for a duration of 40 days.
Some institutions offer rich study material which helps students deal with the complex subjects in an easy and informal way.
That these academies have succeeded in hyping the tuition mania can be gauged from the serpentine queues witnessed outside the registration centres of such shops.
Aman joined an academy in Sector 17, because he needs to "excel" in his studies. And he is sure that the course would brush up his knowledge and make him familiar with the type of questions encountered in competitive exams.
Mr Kuldeep Singh, who manages an academy, is a retired professor of physics and appoints new faculties whenever students request. Familiar with the inadequacies of the students, he knows why some candidates, very good at school or college, are washouts in competitive exams. He provides them sufficient notice for attempting these questions. Candidates can expect a good grilling, he adds.
On the other hand, Ms Parveen, a school teacher, says, "The system of education is responsible for this sorry state of affairs. Something has to be done to stem the rot in our system.
"Many brilliant young men and women are joining these academies in larger numbers each year," says Rajesh. In charge of an academy, he thinks that academies help the students have a firm and better grip over their subject and the way of preparation for exams."
Encroachers in for trouble
CHANDIGARH, April 6 With the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) appointing 69 nodal and sub-nodal officers, the stage is set for the implementation of the anti-encroachment policy.
According to Corporation sources, while for the important sectors an SDO and an SO had been deputed, for smaller sectors the SOs will do the job. And of the 69 officers, 14 SDOs will work as nodal officers apart from their routine work.
The minor violations will be taken care of by the nodal officers with the help of 10 labourers attached with them. For removal of major encroachments, six vehicles and more than 50 personnel of the civic body will remain stationed at the Centralised Complaint Centre in Sector 17, which will be headed by an SDO.
Meanwhile, with the civic body deciding to set up three complaint centres, the redressal of the grievances is likely to be faster. The sources said while the Centralised Complaint Centres will cater to the needs of the whole city, apart from specifically catering to Sectors 1 to 30, the complaint centre at the water-works in Sector 37 will function for the Phase II and III sectors. The Manimajra complaint centre will serve the population of Manimajra and Mauli Jagran.
Who will open the new OPD ?
CHANDIGARH, April 6 Uncertainty still prevails regarding the inauguration of the new OPD block, PGI, which has been built at cost of Rs 20 crore during the last four years.
Although authorities attribute the delay in inauguration to lack of infrastructure in the newly completed building, others believe the wait is for suitable VIP to open the new facility. Ever since construction ended last year, authorities have been claiming that it would be inaugurated within a months time.
Former PGI Director Dr B.K Sharma, during whose tenure the project was started, want the building functional before he relinquished charge in November, 1999, but construction had not finished then. Subsequently, Prof N.K Ganguly, Director-General, ICMR, who assumed charge as Acting Director of PGI, also tried to push the work and inaugurate the OPD. He too did not succeed. It was slated to be inaugurated by Union Health Minister, Mr N.T Shanmugham, on March 15, when he was to come to the city for chairing the governing body and the institute body, but since the two meetings were held in Delhi this didnt happen.
But the new Director, Dr
S.K Sharma is in no hurry; he is sure it will be
inaugurated during his tenure and wants the building
equipped first. The building should have proper
furniture and equipment before it becomes
functional, he says. Though the
computerisation of registration will take another six
months, but we will move in once the basic
infrastructure, including new equipment and clinic
laboratories are set up. The extra personnel required for
this block including sweepers, clerks, nurses and other
technical persons have already been recruited and the
process of recruiting few more is already on.
Citizens Charter ... at last!
The MCC plans to come up
with its much-delayed Citizens Charter in a
fortnight. Sources said the the charter has
almost been finalised and will soon be sent
for printing. The charter will give specific timeframes
for redressal of grivances. The Charter will also list
officers names and phone numbers for citizens
convenience. As a special feature, the Charter will
include application forms for getting permission for use
of vacant spaces and community centres.
12 more lawyers join fast
CHANDIGARH, April 6 The chain fast by lawyers at local district courts continued today, with 12 more observing strike in order to express their solidarity to the cause of their fraternity. The strike is being observed as a mark of protest against the proposal to amend the existing Code of Civil Procedure.
The call for an indefinite fast was given here on April 4 by the District Bar Association.
The lawyers who sat in
protest today were Mr Vinod Kumar, Mr Sanjeev Walia, Mr
Pramod Sharma, Mr Surinder Rana, Mr Vinay Bhandari, Mr
Chaman Lal, Mr Pawan Sharma, Mr Onkar Singh, Mr T.S.
Bhatti, Mr S.P. Chhatwal, Mr J.S. Khassaria and Mr H.S.
After stir, PU staff get pay
CHANDIGARH, April 6 Almost 500 non-teaching employees of Panjab University today held a protest in front of the office of the Finance and Development Officer for delay in release of their salary.
The protesting staff was then informed by some sources that the salaries would be released soon.
Mr Suresh Mahajan, Senior Vice-President, PU Non-Teaching Employees Association, said, ''It is not possible to survive without salaries as the admissions of the children are going on and we have been forced to agitate."
Mr M. G. Sharma, FDO,
presented a different picture: ''There was no reason to
protest today as their salaries were released in the
morning. The delay was only on the part of the UT
administration. We began disbursing the salaries
immediately after getting the draft.''
Chandigarh, April 6 A case of high-handedness by police personnel attached to the security detail of a senior police officer of the state has come to light.
According to police sources, the incident occurred outside a convent school in Sector 45 where Mr Ashwani Kumar, a resident of Sector 18, had gone to pick his son. A formal complaint has been received by the police and further investigations are on.
It seemed that the officer had gone to pick up his son in an official car, (CHOIG 1173), from the school. Since the parking was full, he asked his men to get some space vacated. The cops are said to have ordered the complainant to find some place else, but he refused to do so. Angered at the audacity of Mr Kumar, he reportedly asked them to teach him a lesson. At this, they manhandled him. In the ensuing melee, his clothes got torn.
Juice times are here again
PANCHKULA, April 6 With the summer almost here, the local markets have been flooded with cold drinks to suit every palette and pocket. Available in different flavours, these drinks are selling like "hot cakes''. Foreign brands which offer great variety, occupy most shelves in stores and shops.
Black-grape juices have caught the fancy of most shoppers looking to quench their thirst. Most of them prefer the taste of foreign brands. Available in a pack of 500 ml, grape juice can be bought at Rs 75. An Australian brand which has made its maiden appearance costs Rs 90.
Apple and orange juices of the same variety are being sold at Rs 80, while the price of tomato juice is the lowest at Rs 65 per pack. Also, a flavoured cooler is sold free with every two packs of juice.
While juices are available in small packs also, the prices differ from company to company. An Indian brand of grape juice costs Rs 18 per pack, though its foreign version is priced at Rs 20 per pack. Orange juice is available at between Rs 8 and Rs 16 per pack, depending on the company. The prices of bottles of juice (foreign brands) range from Rs 15 to Rs 25 for 50 ml bottles. Among the flavours available in the Indian variety, the prices of litchi, mango and apple are Rs 68 each for 500 ml bottles.
Shelves also have a lot brands of companies catering to the Punjabi taste for lassi. These are available at between Rs 8 and Rs 10 per pack or disposable cup. Flavoured milk is being marketed in a big way this season. Available in the flavours of strawberry and vanilla, it is priced at Rs 8 per pack.
Sharbat is being sold at
a price ranging from Rs 45 to Rs 133 per bottle. The
almond-flavoured one is the most expensive, though
shopkeepers say that its sales are yet to pick up this
season. Most customers still buy juices for their summer
stocks. Squashes of all flavours were priced at Rs 45 per
Computers are now household items
CHANDIGARH: Computers are no more confined to offices. They are steadily becoming an essential household commodity. Kids play games, teenagers watch movies and housewives click on various websites on computer.
For homes, people are not buying only a PC and a printer. They are going in for the multimedia kit and in-built modem. Sending of e-mails to friends and relatives in India and abroad is on the rise. We bought a PC for home some six months ago with the basic purpose of keeping in touch with our relatives staying abroad. Sometimes, we also use it to type important documents, explained Mr H.S. Sekhon.
While offices prefer the relatively cheaper Celeron processor, at homes many prefer Pentium III. Scroll mouse and multimedia keyboard are comfortable for surfing on the Internet. As for printers, good inkjets are preferred to the costlier laser ones. Scanners are rare at homes. Many use these for sending photographs of their kids to relatives abroad, says Mr I.P. Singh, dealing in HCL computers.
Shruti, an M.Sc. student, has been gifted a computer by her dad. Now that I have my own PC, it has become easy for me to do my thesis typing at home. It has saved my time and money, she said with thrill.
However, Mrs K.K. Brar considers PC a nuisance. When I tell my 11-year-old son to stop watching TV, he switches it off but sits in front of the computer. He has become very addicted to playing games. This is the reason why this time he has come up with a poor result, she complained.
Plastic bags a hazard to
CHANDIGARH, April 6 Carrying a jute bag to the market may not look chic, but if you insist on asking for a plastic bag, you are making a statement that caring for the environment is the last thing on your list of priorities. This is an observation by an environmental scientist that is proving to be true. After being hailed as the wonder material in the last half century, it is today proving to be a phenomenal man-made disaster.
Plastic bags are light, cost less, come in various sizes and are easy to dispose. But instead of knowing that they were ruining the environment, we never give a serious thought about the long-term effects or the need for going in for alternatives.
This menace plagues even a modern city like Chandigarh, and efforts to stop its use have come a cropper. One can see plastic bags clogging drains, being used in landfills or just about dumped everywhere in the city. There have even been reports of animals, particularly stray cattle, dying after eating them from garbage bins.
A drive to discourage the use of plastic bags was started by shopkeepers of Sector 17 but it too fizzled out after some weeks and things are back to square one. There are in fact only a few shops in the city which do not give the bags to customers or provide them with paper or jute bags.
The role of certain NGOs with an avowed aim of working in this context had been circumspect. Despite the funding by central agencies, there has been little work done to justify the grants.
However, sources in the administration said they have registered 50 clubs with dedicated members who spread the message of non use of plastic bags. In this context the students of GCG, Sector 11, DAV Senor Secondary School, Sector 8, besides the Government Model Schools of the city have done creditable work in this field.
The members of these clubs have pledged not to use the bags themselves and insist that their families not use them.
Experts and environmentalists are of the view that despite the benefits associated with the material, unfortunately, plastic bags are non-biodegradable and will remain in our environment for a very long time. They will continue to pile up in the land fills, releasing hazardous chemicals like nickel, cadmium and arsenic that are not only carcinogenic but release gases that add to global warming. The blight has even reached marine lives. They also affect agriculture by blocking free water flow to the crops.
Conference on data communications
CHANDIGARH, April 6 A two-day national conference on data communications is being organised from tomorrow at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation, Sector 30 from April 7.
A statement issued here today said that the main objective of the conference is to take stock of the design, modification and optimisation of data communication networks in the present scenario. The delegates attending the conference would include representatives from the private sector, educational institutes, government R&D institutions, the ministry of information and Technology as well as students from related fields.
About 30 papers are
expected to be presented in the conference, which has
been divided into six sessions and will conclude with a
panel discussion. It will be inaugurated by the Principal
Secretary, Science and Technology, Punjab, Mr Rajan
3 workers hurt in blast
SAS NAGAR, April 6 At least three workers were injured when the roof of a chamber used to store slug was ripped apart in a blast triggered by methane gas released from pressure valves of the chamber at the Diggian sewage treatment plant in Industrial Area, Phase 9, here on Tuesday.
Ram Kumar, Jagatar and Devinder Singh were sitting on the roof of the chamber when the blast took place. While the condition of Ram Kumar and Jagtar, both admitted to the Sector 32 hospital, is reported to be serious, the third person received minor injuries.
Sources said one of the worker was smoking a bidi when his hand accidentally came in contact with the pressure valve which releases methane gas generated from the slug collected in the chamber. The impact of the blast was such that the 25-metre diameter area was ripped apart.
Daily torture for commuters
CHANDIGARH, April 6 Buses plying on the Chandigarh-Patiala route take more than 100 minutes to cover 68 km, causing difficulties to daily commuters. When prominent offices were shifted from Patiala to Chandigarh, most of the employees did not shift their families. Executives and other office-goers also preferred to commute.
Mr Jyotinder Singh, who runs a business in Chandigarh, says the condition of the road is the real problem for the commuters. Ms Gurvinder Sahota, who travels almost daily to Panjabi University, says, "Almost all VIPs travel on the Chandigarh-Patiala road but the road has not been properly widened. Persons going to Bhatinda, Sangrur and Sirsa also use the route." Mr Sahil Oberoi, who goes to Patiala three to four days a week, says whatever bus one takes, it takes more than an hour and a half.
The commuters are sore at the way most of the buses are diverted via Rajpura. Ms Mohinderbir Kaur, who travels on the route at least thrice a week, says the real problem lies with poor condition of roads, less width and movement of trucks. According to persons working in various offices of Punjab, the development work of this 68-km stretch has not been taken seriously though Mr Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Balramji Das Tandon belong to the same area.
The PRTC has introduced
non-stop buses from Patiala and Chandigarh but only five
routes have been earmarked on each side. The number of
buses is inadequate and one can see large number of
travellers for Patiala at Tribune Chowk and Zirakpur in
evenings. Similar situation prevails at Patiala bus
stand, Punjabi University bus stop and Rajpura bus stand.
Ms Sandhya Kashyap says students have to skip classes to
get a seat in the bus.
Zirakpur citizens call streets
'murky and mucky'
ZIRAKPUR, April 6 Exactly one month ago, the Punjab Finance Minister switched on streetlights along the Chandigarh-Ambala National Highway within the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat limit. The road should now be well lit but it is not. Except for the small stretch in front of the market, Zirakpur remains as dark as ever after sunset.
Residents blame the "indifferent" Nagar Panchayat authorities for the unlit street lights and warn that the darkened streets are an invitation not only to accidents but to thieves. As it is, Zirakpur streets are not much to look at even in broad daylight: they are deeply pocked, slushy with accumulated water and lined by heaps of garbage. Citizens describe the main road through the market area as "a disgrace" and point to an enormous puddle just near the traffic light-point.
"My customers have to get around that puddle to reach my shop. It has been affecting my business for more than a month now," grumbles merchant Amit Kumar. He and his fellow shopkeepers are also highly critical of the safai-karamcharis. "They sweep the road from time to time but instead of removing the garbage they just pile it up here and there in the market," one shopkeeper complains.
One cannot get to the post office without tip-toeing around the stinking water from a blocked sewer. The water near the post office has been a chronic problem for years.
Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat
Administrator Surjit Singh pushes the blame for the
sewerage system on to the Punjab Public Works Department
(Building and Roads). "They put down the pipes many
years ago," he says. He denies allegations about the
streetlights and inefficient sweeping and says the civic
body will try to solve the problem of blocked drains
after consulting the Punjab Public Works Department
(Buildings and Roads).
PIB regional workshop
CHANDIGARH, April 6 The two-day regional workshop, organised by the PIB, on rural development being held at the UT Guest House concluded here today.
The delegates adopted several recommendations at the end of the deliberations. In case of Punjab and Haryana, the adoption of intensive technology have had adverse effects in the form of degradation of soil, depletion in ground water, alkalinity and salinity of water besides water logging.
There was great need to promote agro-based industries and transform crop patterns.
Regarding the problem of drinking water and sanitation in rural areas, the workshop recommended that adequate funds be allotted well in time for proper drainage system and disposal of waste water in villages. Proper planning and interaction of the village headmen and NGOs working in the area should be sought before funds were released.
The government should take immediate steps for alleviating the lot of the Scheduled Castes living in the villages.
Regarding women empowerment and literacy, more campaigns should be launched to inform people about various schemes. The media too on its part should vigorously write about such matters and schemes.
Other recommendations include evaluation of existing schemes on a priority basis.
In his valedictory
address, Mr S.S. Prasad, Director, Rural Development,
Haryana, said that there should be proper linkage between
executing agencies and the community. Mr M.L. Dhawan,
Head, Department of English, Government College, Sector
46, conducted the proceedings while Mr Kanwal Kishore,
Deputy Chief Principal Information Officer proposed a
vote of thanks.
CHANDIGARH, April 6 The Modern Complex temple had Murti Sthapana ceremony here yesterday. After five days of final countdown activities, the idols of goddess Durga and Lord Krishana and Goddess Radha were placed in the temple by Kuraliwale Nadiparwale Mahatmaji.
The Mahatmaji resides in a cave. The massive gathering of devotees was thrilled to see and touch the Mahatmas feet.
Baisakhi mela at Press Club
CHANDIGARH, April 6 The Chandigarh Press Club is organising a Baisakhi mela to coincide with the installation ceremony of the new team of office-bearers on Friday (April 7). The programme will begin at 8 p.m.
Renowned artistes of the
region, including Sardool Sikander, Suchet Bala, Manmohan
Waris, Sunita Bhatti, Ashok Masti, Sarbjit Cheema, Baboo
Mann, Jaswinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma will present
a cultural programme on the occasion.
Surbhi Agrotech director remanded
PANCHKULA, April 6 The Panchkula Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Mr S.K. Garg, remanded one of the directors of Surbhi Agrotech, Nahar Singh, to 10 days in police custody in a cheating case after he was produced in the district courts, here today, by Mr Rajiv Deswal, SHO, Sector 19 police station.
According to sources, the accused, apprehending arrest in a case registered by the local police had applied for anticipatory bail in the Calcutta High Court on the basis of his residence. However, the court had directed the accused to appear before the Ilaqua Magistrate of Panchkula within two weeks and apply for regular bail, the sources added.
After he was apprehended by the local police yesterday from the bus stand in Sector 5 from where, according to police sources, he was planning to flee, he was produced in court where he had also moved an application for grant of bail.
Nahar Singh was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by Y.D. Sharma, a resident of Muzzafarnagar, against the directors and chairperson of the firm. On the basis of the same complaint the local police had registered a complaint against the seven accused under Section 420, 406, 506, 120 B.
The accusations levelled against the accused revolve around cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, criminal intimidation and criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy .
There are a number of cases against the absconding directors and chairperson Usha Kiran Chaturvedi in the police stations in Manimajra, Sector 5 and Sector 19 in Panchkula. The head office, however, situated in plot number 290, Phase I of the Industrial Area falls under the Sector 19 police station.
Foreigners goods stolen
CHANDIGARH, April 6 A foreigner staying at a hotel in Sector 10 has lodged a complaint of theft with the police.
According to police sources, Gys Von Moargen reported that his computer, camera and mobile phone had been stolen from his room between 8 p.m. to 9. 30 p.m. when he had gone out.
A case has been registered under Section 380, IPC.
Held with liquor
Boy run over by truck
SAS NAGAR, April 6 A six-year-old boy was killed today when he was run over by a truck after he fell from the scooter on which he was travelling with his family.
The accident near Raipur Kalan, under the Sohana police station, took place when the scooter collided with another one. Gurpreet Singh, who was travelling with his father, mother and sister, fell off and was crushed by an oncoming truck.
The truck driver and the scooterist with whom the collision took place were reported to have fled.
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