Wednesday, May 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


British Council opens Library, Information Centre in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The British Council opened its 13th Library-cum-Information Centre on Madhya Marg here this afternoon. This is the first library of the council since 1975 in 110 countries where the council has already been running 254 such libraries for the past 50 years.

The Director-General of British Council, Mr David Green, and the Director-General of Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Mr Himachal Som, joined British High Commissioner to India, Sir Rob Young, a UK-based Indian born industrialist, Mr Nat Puri, and the Adviser to the Administrator of Chandigarh, Mrs Vineeta Rai, at the opening ceremony.

Also present at the opening ceremony were senior functionaries of Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh — Mr Ram S. Varma, Ms Ravneet Kaur, Mr M.P. Singh, Dr V.K. Kak, Dr J.S. Chopra, Justice S.S. Sodhi — besides some prominent citizens, including Prof M.M. Puri, Mr Chaman Lal Sharma and Maj-Gen Himmat Singh Gill. The Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, was also among the guests.

The opening of the library, which has taken a little more than six-and-a-half-years, has come in the wake of the visit to India by the UK Secretary of State, Mr Robin Cook, last month and symbolises excellent relations between the two countries. The library, says Mr Colin Perchard, Director, British Council in India, fulfills a 10-year-old demand of people of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh for a world class information centre.

The library will be fully computerised and air-conditioned and will have besides 6,000 volumes, a cyber centre for members with five terminals created in response to the increasing interest of Indians in electronic information.

The library, which will serve more as information centre, will have latest touch screens to provide latest information on various aspects of life, business opportunities and education facilities. Members will be entitled to borrow books and view the videos.

The library will also be a window on education opportunities in the UK stocking prospectuses of various universities and colleges. A full-fledged Business Information Centre, run with support from the British High Commission, will give exhaustive information on business and trade. Facilities are available for photocopying, inter-library loans and assistance in procuring reading material from British Library Document Supply Centre in UK.

Sir Rob Young said that today was one of his pleasant days ever since he took over as High Commissioner to India. The relations between India and Great Britain, he said, are strong, cordial and confident. There was a temporary blip in 1998 but afterwards the relations have been strongest ever following exchange of visits of the political leaders of the countries. He also referred to the recent visit of the Secretary of State to India.

Mr Colin Perchard, Director, British Council, in his address of welcome traced the history of the library and also highlighted its salient features saying that it was more of an advanced state-of-the-art information centre than a library alone.

Mr Himachal Som said that India must draw a leaf from the British Council experiment and open more such centres in other countries. At present, the Indian Council of Cultural relations was running 13 centres abroad. Four more centres are being added this year, he added.

Mr David Green said that the opening of the library in Chandigarh was a personal triumph for Mr Colin Perchard who had put in 37 years and a half of distinguished service for the council. After six weeks of hard work, Library has become a reality.

Mr Chaman Lal Sharma, Mr Amarjit Singh Sethi and Mr Tejbans Singh Jauhar, President, General Secretary and Secretary of the Chandigarh Nagrik Sabha, respectively, welcomed the inauguration of the Library and expressed the hope that it would meet the long standing needs of the people of the city. “Now they do not have to run to New Delhi to get basic information about travel to Great Britain for business, education or personal travel purposes.

Mr Ranjit Malhotra, an England educated lawyer, and who was the first Indian lawyer to be awarded the prestigious Felix Scholarship, said that the British Council office will be an excellent source of information for students intending to pursue higher studies in Britain. Otherwise, one has to actively and extensively correspond with universities on an individual basis to gather the relevant information.



300 scholarships for Indians
Face to face with British Council chief
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — A package of new measures to make it easier for Indian students to study in Britain, 60 universities and colleges with particular interest in India have come together, for the first time, to create a new undergraduate and vocational scholarship scheme for India. Nearly 300 scholarships, burasaries and fee reductions for “A” level, further education (vocational and professional courses) and undergraduate studies are being offered specifically to Indian students every year from now onwards.

This initiative would be worth Rs 5 crore a year.

The new scheme is a major commitment by Britain to opening the doors of British education to India.

Further, the British Government is also making it easier for Indian students to study and work in the UK, simplify visa procedures further, expand the number of postgraduate scholarships available and equip all students with greater information to simplify their choices and speed their applications and acceptance process.

These are some of the observations made by Mr David Green, Director-General, British Council, in an exclusive interview with The Tribune here this morning. Mr Green is here to inaugurate British Council Library, 13th in the country, and first anywhere in 100 countries since 1975.

The new library, which has been opened in Chandigarh today, is the state-of-the-art library which will be run in collaboration with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. It will give the people of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, a one-stop-shop, where those seeking any information on any aspect of the UK can find it on touch the screen system at the library. Besides, it will be a showcase of modern technological Britain and will be fully computerised and air-conditioned. It will have facilities for seminars and workshops, besides, having a cyber centre for members, with five terminals, created in response to the increasing interest of Indians in electronic information.

Mr David Green, who is here for the first time after his elevation as Director-General of the British Council, says India has come a long way since he visited this country in 1968.

“Indian economy is doing extremely well. The relationship between India and Great Britain is doing very well and we want it to be further strengthened,” Mr Green said.

Talking about cultural exchanges between the two countries, Mr Green said that though the programmes for the current year are being finalised, the ideal team for visits and exchanges is between October and April. We are planning to bring Shakespeare Music Company , a one-man Shylock show, in October this year.

“After commissioning of this library, the first anywhere in 100 countries since 1975,” Mr Green said, “We will take account of improved technology and review our other 12 centres by upgrading the information facilities there.

“Each British Council Library acts as a ‘magnet’ between British academics and local institutions, including those of art, culture and bring them together and becomes a centre of bilateral activity. Accompanying me is the Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University, Sir Colin Campbell,” Mr Green said.

Other area of focus, he said, has been of distance learning. The MBA programme offered by Strathclyde and Durham Schools has been very well accepted. Durham School offers on-line coaching by a personal tutor for each student. There are about 100 students registered for these programmes in Delhi alone and in the past four weeks, there are about 30 students from Chandigarh and nearby areas who have been enrolled for this MBA programme by distant learning.

Funded by British Trade International, BOND provides six to 12 months training at British industries for mid-career professionals.

Mr Green said Britain has also been bringing to India its Best of Science Festival. In February this year, 10 best British scientists were here.


Decentralise power, says UK envoy
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — Population, decentralisation of power, especially healthy growth and development of Panchayati Raj institutions at village, block and district level, rural planning, water management, pollution control, upgradation of existing technology, problems of marginal and small farmers and introduction of suitable technology to enable local level producers to become processors came up for discussion during an interaction programme with the British High Commissioner to India, Sir Rob Young, at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), here this afternoon.

Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director, CRRID, provided a brief introduction to the research and training facilities at the centre.

Sir Rob Young evinced keen interest in the devolution of powers to the Panchayati Raj bodies.

Others who participated in the interaction included Prof R.P. Bambah, who chaired the meeting, Mr B.L. Abbi, Mr R.K. Grover and Dr S.K. Mangal.



Six PCL workers sacked for assaulting executive
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, May 16 — The confrontation between the Punjab Communications Limited (Puncom) Officers Association and the PCL workers union today intensified with the management dismissing the services of at least six workers alleged to be involved in the assault on an executive of the factory last Friday. Four of the dismissed employees had been named in the first information report (FIR) registered in the assault case by the police.

To protest against the dismissal of the workers — Bharat Bhushan, Som Dutt, Didar Singh, Jaspal Singh, Ujjal Singh and Harvinder, all union leaders — a large number of members of the PCL workers union today abstained from duty. Alleging that the workers were being removed from service on the pretext of fabricated charges levelled by the executive, the workers said they were not allowed to enter the premises of the production unit of the company.

On the other hand, Col S.S. Sandhu (retd), Deputy General Manager of Puncom, told Tribune News Service that following a complaint by the victim, Gulshan Khanna, an inquiry conducted by the management had revealed the role of the six workers in physically assaulting the executive. The management had taken serious view following which they had been dismissed from service.

Another 25 persons, who were allegedly involved in blocking the way of the executive in front of the factory but did not assault him, had also been identified and appropriate action would be taken against them, said Colonel Sandhu. Regarding the workers who abstained from duty, the Deputy General Manager said the act amounted to strike. The protesting employees were repeatedly asked to join their duty. Even the local officials of the Labour department had visited the spot on a complaint by the workers, added Colonel Sandhu. He said the dismissed workers had been asked to report at the Personnel and Administration (P and A) branch of the company to hand over the dismissal letters to them.

The union leaders, on the other hand, said they were being victimised after they objected to certain wasteful expenditure being done by the management.

Meanwhile, in a separate development a press release issued by a group of the PCL workers union denied its role in assaulting the executive. It could not, however, be ascertained how many factions of the PCL workers existed.


Resentment among junior-level policemen
By Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — Resentment prevails among nearly 200 junior-level policemen on account of the alleged arbitrary decision of the authorities of suspending batches to undergo the intermediate course necessary for further promotion.

The course, conducted at the Police Training College, Phillaur, is mandatory for officials at the Head Constable level who are to be promoted to Assistant Sub Inspectors (ASIs) following vacancies. The last batch that underwent training was way back in 1994.

Sources alleged that prior to this, the eligible persons were sent for training regardless of vacancies in batches of 20 — 30 employees. In the previous batch, however, only three persons were sent. The twice-a-year six-month course, which is held twice a year, starts in April while the winter one gets under way in October.

The compact police set-up here is reportedly in the grip of severe stagnation and there are Head Constables who have been on the same level for periods varying from 10 — 14 years. Despite many recommendations to the concerned authorities, nothing has been done so far. Some of the affected persons are reportedly approaching the Central Administrative Tribunal in this context, the sources added.

Resentment also prevails about the decision to recruit two batches of probationary ASIs. This was done despite the fact that 20 persons who had cleared the intermediate course are awaiting promotion for the past six years. With no likelihood of promotion for the next five to six years, the number of years the personnel will reportedly stagnate will rise to nearly a decade.

The sources said one of the few incentives in the uniform is promotions after a fixed interval of time. What motivation would a junior employee have if he knows that no matter how hard he works, he is going to be on the same rank for more than a decade.

This menace is not only at the junior level, there are instances where even at the senior level employees are on the same rank for nearly 15 years with no opening in sight for another four to five years. Many are already on the verge of retirement.

One good thing about the course was that the employees would at least have the consolation that they are eligible for the next rank and would not mind the wait. .

Sources also said the ad hoc promotions given to more than 150 employees at the head constable and ASI level have further aggravated the problem. Many of these were given during the militancy days but many reportedly managed top get them from obliging seniors upsetting the promotion schedule.

Now that such employees were being reverted in Punjab following court orders, the same must be followed here too, the sources stressed.

This was one welfare aspect that had been ignored for the past many years and needed to be redressed without fail, they added.


Teachers’ post: sale of forms stopped
By Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16—The Haryana Public Service Commission (HPSC) and the Education Department have stopped the sale of forms for the recently advertised 234 temporary posts of lecturers (college cadre) from today.

The move comes in the light of a new notification issued by the University Grants Commission on “grades and qualifications’’ about which the Higher Education Department was unaware of until the time the advertisement appeared in newspapers. Also, another bottleneck in the appointments has come by way of a ban imposed by the Haryana Government on new recruitments which is also being taken up with the authorities concerned.

After having sold 2000 forms since the date of the advertisement on May 8, the HPSC today stopped further sale of forms till the proposed amendments are included after adoption of the notification by the government following which these will be re-advertised, according to officials of the department.

The secretary, HPSC, Mr Ramesh Krishan, said though there was “some informal talk of another UGC notification and consequent re-advertisment, nothing has been conveyed to me in writing. Till that happens, the sale of forms will go on.’’ However, the Education Department sent formal information to the commission to stop the sale of forms around noon after which the counter was closed.

The Director, Higher Education, Ms Shakuntala Jhakku, admitted that some changes in the advertisement in its present form were on the cards in view of the new information. She maintained that when the advertisement was forwarded to the HPSC this was nowhere in the picture. However, she refused to comment on what the new notification entailed, adding “the file pertaining to stalling of the sale of forms had been moved the day the advertisement appeared’’.

Another question mark on the contents of the advertisement comes by way of the absence of the scales of teachers in an otherwise comprehensive advertisement. Some see it as a move by the government to employ teachers at lower scales since the posts are temporary. Though officials admitted that it was a serious lapse on the part of the HPSC, they contended that there was no mischief involved and the approved pay scales would be given to the selected teachers.

The Secretary, Education Department, Mr Prem Prashant, informed that the HPSC had been conveyed that certain changes in the advertisement were in the offing which would require re-advertisment and that no sale of forms should be allowed. “Whatever the advertisement says, one thing is certain, the appointments of teachers will take place only according to the new guidelines even if it means withdrawing the advertisement,’’ he added.

For now, the appointment of teachers for 21 subjects in colleges of Haryana has been shelved and adding to the prevailing confusion is the ban on recruitments by the state government imposed right after the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, took over after elections held in February. The Education Department proposes to seek relaxation in the case of the appointment of teachers from the government especially since no new recruitments have been made in the past three years.


CTCC’s concern over price rise
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee today expressed its concern over the rise in prices of essential commodities, including those of Public Distribution System. In a memorandum submitted to the Adviser to the Administrator of Chandigarh, Mrs Vineeta Rai, Mr V. Narain Swamy, a General Secretary of the All-India Congress Committee, and Mr Kulbhushan Gupta, officiating President, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, said that the increase in the prices of PDS items should be withdrawn immediately.

The Congress delegation also held that because of directionless policies of the NDA government at the Centre, prices of other daily use items, too, were rising rapidly. Chandigarh, being a city of employees was the worst hit by the price rise.

The delegation also assailed both the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation for their heavy doses of taxation during the past few months, including increase in water and power tariffs, rent of community centres, levying of sewer cess fee and increase in sales tax on various items.

Earlier, the CTCC held its meeting under the chairmanship of Mr Kulbhushan Gupta where Mr Narainswamy emphasised the need for agitational approach against the economic policies of the present NDA Government at the centre. Several other leaders endorsed the views of Mr Narainswamy. They included Mrs Shrestha Mehta, Mr Ram Pal Sharma, Mr Subash Chawla, Mr Sham Lal Gupta and others.

According to Mr Sunil Parti, spokesman of the CTCC, the Adviser gave a patient hearing to the delegation and assured it that the memorandum would be conveyed to the higher ups concerned.

Meanwhile, Mr Kulbhushan Gupta, in a separate press note, today removed Mr Vijay Pal Singh from the post of General Secretary of the CTCC and issued him a show cause notice for allegedly trying to sabotage the CTCC meeting presided over by Mr V. Narainswamy and also for misbehaving with the CTCC President. He has been asked to explain his behaviour within 15 days failing which he may be expelled from the primary membership of the party.


‘Give priority to EWS houses’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) would give priority to the construction of EWS tenements for the lower strata of society, the new Chairperson of the board, Ms Neeru Nanda, said here today.

Talking to The Tribune, Ms Nanda said she had asked the board officers to give detailed reports of the previous EWS schemes and modalities of the allotments to her. She would explore various models and choose the suitable model for the city. Ms Nanda took over her new assignment on Friday.

One index of the success of the EWS scheme was that nobody transferred the dwelling unit, she said. She added that the proper resettlement of poor persons was the other satisfaction criterion.

Ms Nanda, said with a view to ensure that the allottees “retained” the dwelling units, the board would adopt a suitable model. The board would ensure that the experience of Delhi was duplicated here.Back


Book on Dasham Granth released
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The Punjab Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri, today stressed the need for spreading the message of universal brotherhood and love, as preached by Guru Gobind Singh.

Releasing Dasham Granth-ek saanskritik adhyan, a book by Dr Dharampal Maini, and published by the Punjab Languages Department to mark the culmination of tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa path, the Governor said the guru’s doctrine was a guiding force for humanity. Mr G.P.S. Sahi, Principal Secretary, Higher Education and Languages, said the works of the guru should be translated in other Indian and foreign languages.


Demand for more pre-paid auto booths
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The traffic warden cell and the Consumer Forum have requested the authorities concerned to install more pre-paid auto-rickshaw booths at places like the ISBT, Sector 43, the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and shopping complexes in Sectors 17, 22 and 34.

The request followed a surprise visit by a joint team to the pre-paid booth at the ISBT, Sector 17, yesterday. The constable on duty informed the team that the pre-paid machine had been out of order since February 14. The matter had been reported in writing to the authorities concerned by the staff posted at the booth, according to a press note.

It was also found by the team that only two autorickshaws were parked at the authorised pre-paid parking lot and the rest were parked nearby.

The team observed that it was a matter of great concern that the visitors and citizens were being harassed and over charged by the autorickshaw drivers as a majority of drivers did not charge the fare notified by the Chandigarh Administration.

It was observed by the team that a majority of autorickshaws were running on diesel without being passed by the transport authority concerned. This was despite the government’s efforts to control pollution.

The team will submit a written report to the authorities concerned.


We must save the city’s green cover

LEISURE Valley has been gifted to us by the founding fathers of Chandigarh. They, after careful consideration, had marked this chunk of open area to be permanently kept green for the benefit of its population as well as preserving its environment from pollution. It is not meant to be tampered with at the sweet will be narrow-minded administrators looking for more revenue.

Undoubtedly, such vast space running from the north of Chandigarh to its south, benefitting people of Chandigarh and SAS Nagar, should be treated as a Heritage Valley. Under no circumstances should it be allowed to be tampered with for commercial purposes.

We should condemn the recent proposed project of constructing light electric railway running through certain parts of the valley. Such plans are prejudicial to the purpose of creation of such a place. Once these are allowed, there will be no end to further encroachment. Ultimately, this area will become a big commercial complex without any green cover.

We have before us the example of Calcutta, which, too, had a green belt called maidan, far bigger than our Leisure Valley. Till 1947, no encroachment was permitted there. After the Independence, some money-minded leaders allowed one encroachment after another there. It has spoiled the original character of this once spotlessly green and well-preserved place which has till now protected the city against pollution.

Currently, all our metropolitan cities are facing heavy space-shortage and gradually, a good chunk of green area is disappearing under encroachments. Time is not far when we will hardly be left with any greenery.

In the past decade the population growth rate has surpassed all earlier records in Chandigarh. Equally mind boggling has been the growth in traffic. Unauthorised jhuggis in the periphery of the city are putting more pressure on space.

We should try to diffuse encroachments, so that the green cover of the city can be saved.

— By V.S. Mahajan


Rash driving case registered
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the driver of a senior Punjab IPS officer. The car, PB-01G-1313, hit and injured a scooterist, Sharanjeet Singh, near the RBI in Sector 17 here this afternoon. He has been admitted to the PGI. A case under Section 279/337, IPC, has been registered.

Arrested: The police has arrested Jai Pal, and recovered 600 gm of opium from his possession.

Held: A Rajpura-resident was arrested while he was allegedly trying to steal a scooter from a parking lot in Sector 17. A case under Section 379, 411, IPC, has been registered.

Dowry case: Ms Anuradha, a resident of Sector 30, reported that she was married to B.S. Bhalla of Jalandhar and had been mistreated for bringing inadequate dowry. A case under Section 406/498-A, IPC, has been registered.



Car thieves held after chase
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — Two cops posted at a naka on an outer city road who today managed to overpower two city residents driving a stolen car have been awarded a class I certificate, besides Rs 2, 000 each by the UT IGP, Mr S. K. Singh.

According to police sources, Avninder Pal Singh, a resident of Sector 46 reported that his car, CH-O-1-C-1275, had been stolen from outside his residence at about 4 p.m. The PCR immediately flashed the number of the stolen vehicle to all police stations, PCR vehicles and the nakas on the periphery of the city.

At one of the nakas on the Sector 45/46 road, Head constable B.N. Ram of the Madhya Pradesh State Armed Force and constable Suresh Kumar of the local police saw the car and chased it on their scooter. The accused on seeing them sped towards the Mohali cricket stadium.

The car was later driven on the kutcha track, leading to the Shaheed Bhagat Singh colony but got stuck in loose sand. The duo abandoned the car and tried to run away but were chased by the cops and apprehended.

They were identified as Tarlochan Singh, a resident of Sector 46, and Surender Singh, a resident of Sector 47. Both have been arrested and a case under Section 379, IPC, registered. 


Vendor held for preparing forged registrations
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, May 16 — Kuldip Singh, a vendor selling motor vehicle registration forms in front of the SDM Office, Kalka, was arrested for preparing forged registrations here today. Giving information of the arrest, the SMD, Mr MS Yadav, said that the fact came to light when Narayan Singh from Khikhra village and Malkit Singh from Ramnagar came to collect their registration card.

Presenting a receipt for the same, the duo told the official that they had got it from Kuldip Singh in lieu of payment of Rs 1500 and Rs 1000 while their registration numbers were still not ready in spite of the cut-off date being March 31 and April 30 respectively.

They further informed that while Narayan Singh had made the payment for scooter registration and driving licence, Malkit Singh had made it for scooter registration only.

Mr Yadav said that the actual cost of registration was Rs 560 and that for a driving licence was only Rs 120. He said that the police had recovered many registration cards, driving licences and ration cards during the search which followed the arrest of the accused. 


‘Police training methods need revamping’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — It was the need of the hour for demilitarising the police, besides making concerted efforts at the national level to revamp police training methods. These changes should be effected keeping in view the challenges the police would face in the future, says Mr Atul Karwal, an Assistant Director at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad.

The 1988 Gujarat batch IPS officer visiting his parents in Sector 43, spoke about the training imparted to IPS officers at the prestigious academy. He is in charge of all the outdoor activities that the budding officers undergo in two years. Mr Karwal addressed recruits at the Recruit Training Centre at the Sector 26 police lines here today..

Starting with changes needed in training, he said there was great need for a shift in the thinking of the people, including police officers, that it is a sideline posting. The trainers should be top professionals so that the officers are groomed in a proper manner.

Secondly, the militarisation of the police should end and for that we have to shrug off our colonial legacy and archaic laws. The 130-year-old IPC was formulated to suppress and further colonial rule and is completely out of tune with the changed scenario today. The excessive stress on drill, carrying of weapons and clubbing of personnel performing law and order and carrying out investigations needed to be changed.

Thirdly, there was need to bring in greater professionalism, set up better communication network, besides induct state-of-the art equipment. “The difference between the sophisticated equipment by criminals and the police was embarrassingly large”, he opined. He said the rise in cyber and white collar crime, economic offences and rise in offences relating to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) was alarming and “we were ill-equipped do deal with it although some states have made a beginning in this context.”

He also stressed the need for having teams of officers specialising in a particular field like narcotics, homicide, IPR-related offences besides cyber crime. Although the new generation officers are in the know of things, the academy also runs 30 topical courses for senior IPS officers bringing them up to date with the latest on the crime front, he revealed.

Community policing needs to be taken up on a large scale as this was the only way the police would be able to carry out its duties more effectively in the future. Worldwide it was the trend and a few examples in the country had been very positive.

Similarly, there was also great need to make the force more officer oriented. The number of constables in a police station should be brought down while that of officers at the level of ASIs and SIs increased. This would ensure better police-community relations, he emphasised.



Jet Airways plans Boeing on city-Delhi route
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, May 16 — Jet Airways, the second largest airline operating in the domestic sector, is all set to expand its services on the Chandigarh-Delhi sector by graduating to Boeing 737s from the present ATRs.

Jet Airways, which has more than 35 per cent of domestic air traffic share in the country, is also considering expanding its hub-and-spoke services from several important and strategic centres in North, including Chandigarh, after enhancing its capacity.

According to Mr J.P. Singh, a senior executive in the airline, though there was enormous potential for the aviation industry to expand, a major problem facing the private airline industry, in general, and Jet Airways in particular, was shortage of aircraft.

“Once we get our Boeings, we will not only enhance our capacities on all important sectors but also look for new sectors, including Chandigarh-Leh, Chandigarh-Jammu-Leh and Delhi-Amritsar.

“For the time being, we are concentrating on Rajasthan which has a tremendous potential for dollar traffic. We are now concentrating on Udaipur and Jodhpur, besides Jaipur,” he added.

Mr Singh said Leh would not be a problem for Jet Airways but unless a market survey was done to assess the demand of air traffic, it would not be prudent to comment on the possibility of a regular service to Leh.

Commending the Chandigarh-Delhi daily flight, he said that it has done exceedingly well. “This is why we are now contemplating to enhance its capacity by replacing the smaller ATR aircraft with a Boeing. Chandigarh, like Varanasi, and other smaller strategic centres in our hub-and-spoke plan, has done very well.

“We had several options before us when we started the Chandigarh-Delhi service, including Delhi-Amritsar and Delhi-Ludhiana service. Amritsar and Ludhiana are still on our list of active consideration,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Suresh Nair, Manager, North India and Nepal, Jet Airways, said that the airline was organising its agency awards function at Chandigarh even when the city was offline of its operations in 1998-99. Perhaps Chandigarh was one of the few offline cities to have such an award function.

Miss Ritu of Amrit Airlinks and Mr Mohinder Bajaj of Bajaj Travels besides Khanna Travels got special awards for their performance in sales during 1998-99 at a function. Mr Sukhwinder Dhami of Chandigarh and Mr D.S. Dadwal of Jalandhar were among others who spoke at the function.


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