Monday, June 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Squall, rain hit city, flood roads
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — A squall with the wind speed touching 88 km per hour, accompanied by sharp showers, lashed the city and its surrounding areas. It brought relief from the oppressive heat on the Sunday morning.

The city received 2.8 cm of rainfall, but, it was not a pre-monsoon shower, according to the local Meteorological Department. The showers are due to an induced upper-air cyclonic circulation over north Rajasthan adjoining Punjab and Central Pakistan.

The squall and showers were preceded by dark clouds, leading to poor visibility. It was so poor that residents were forced to switch on lights in the day. The storm and showers lasted for more than 2 hours. Thankfully, a major power breakdown did not occur like in the past after such storms.

Today being Sunday, it was time for kids to play in the rain and get drenched. As usual, the roads were flooded with water. Halwais making pakoras and samosas made brisk sales. Those who drove out on scooters were stranded. The car bazaar along Madhya Marg in Sector 7 and 26 began business after 1 pm when the sun was out.

The rain also made the maximum daytime temperature drop. The maximum temperature during the day was 33.6°C, 6 degrees below the normal for this time of the year. It has fallen by 5°C since yesterday.



Goods worth crores destroyed in fire
From Our Correspondent

LALRU, June 4 — Goods worth crores of rupees were destroyed in a major fire which broke out today in two godowns of Nahar Exports Limited, a unit of Nahar Group of Industries, in Hasanpur village, about 2 km from here.

According to sources, the fire broke out in the raw material godown of the unit at about 1.30 pm. As the flames rose, officials of the unit made calls for fire tenders from Dera Bassi, Dappar, Rajpura, SAS Nagar, Chandigarh and Patiala fire stations. The local police was informed about the incident.

Eyewitnesses said the fire first broke out in godown number 2 and then spread to godown number 3, destroying a number of stored cotton bails. As the fire could not be controlled for more than three hours, the walls of godown number 1 and godown number 4 were broken to vacate these. Bales of cotton were also thrown in the fields from the broken walls. Two fork lifts were also used to extricate the destroyed and safe cotton bales out of the godowns.

Eleven fire tenders, more than 50 firemen and a unit of police personnel had a tough time to overcome the further spreading of fire. Thought the factory had its yard hydrants, the fire tenders had a tough time to refill water from nearby factories and other tubewells in adjoining fields as the overhead water tanks could not fulfil the water requirement. Two factory workers reportedly sustained burn injuries while fighting the fire.

Besides residents of surrounding villages, employees of other factories gathered all around to watch the blaze. Workers of the Nahar group of industries suspended the work and joined the firemen to control the flames.

Mr Sadhu Singh, ASI, said the industrialists did not inform them about the fire. They got a wireless message from Police Control Room, Chandigarh. The police personnel will remain on duty till the fire is controlled.

“We have restricted the fire from spreading to the adjoining godowns. It takes time to control the cotton fire. We will fight till last moment,” said Ms BS Sandhu, fire officer of the Dera Bassi fire station.

Mr Kamal Oswal, Proprietor of the unit, and Mr Chander Mohan, General Manager, refused to comment. Fire continued to blaze even six hours after the Tribune team visited the site.

This was the second major fire in the subdivision within two months. Earlier, a fire broke out in a socks-making factory on the Dera Bassi - Barwala road near Saidpura on April 13, which destroyed goods worth lakhs of rupees.Back


Additional police for SAS Nagar
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, June 4 — Residents of this town will soon see more cops on the roads. At least 195 additional police personnel, including gazetted officers (GOs), have been sanctioned exclusively for the SAS Nagar subdivision.

The additional force being requisitioned from the border range is expected to reach the town in the coming days. Sources in the police Department said that the additional force was approved after the district police authorities took up the matter with the Director-General of Police (DGP), Punjab. While approving the requirement, the DGP had marked the case to the IG (Headquarters) for discussing the matter with the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ropar.

At present there were only 189 police personnel, including the GO rank in the subdivision to look after a projected population of three lakh. The same force has to do the special duties and the VIP duty. As a majority of the VIPs pass through the town on the way to other parts of Punjab, one can often see cops along the Chandigarh- Ludhiana road. Deployment of force in the funnel area of Chandigarh airport and in Rajinder Park opposite the Punjab Chief Minister's residence in Chandigarh also form part of the duties of local police.

The district police in the proposal sent to the higher authorities have stressed on the need to create a VIP cell which could work in liaison with the regular force. The VIP cell would be headed by an Inspector. The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said the policing in the town was often compared to Chandigarh where there were 11 police stations for a population of 10 lakh. On the other hand, there were just two police stations for a population of about three lakh.

The local police also proposes to set up pickets along the porous borders with Chandigarh infested with slums. The police officials quote specific cases in which criminals strike in the town and escape to the neighbouring slum areas of Chandigarh.

Once the additional police force comes the officials plan to split the force into day and night duties. Equipping the local Police Control Room with high-tech gadgets to meet any emergency and for post-crime measures is also on the cards of the district police. It could, however, not be confirmed whether the demand of vehicles and other infrastructure had been met or not. 


Deceased’s sister alleges police apathy
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4— “Seema was so self-confident and full of life that the news that she had committed suicide left us shell shocked. What has added to our pain is the allegedly apathetic attitude of the police and the reported pressure being exerted by her in-laws in not allowing an FIR to be registered,” laments Savita, elder sister of the deceased.

The 26-year-old Seema, who did her class-XII from Sector 11 and post graduation from the Department of Geology, Panjab University, is no more. One of the bright students of the department, her death has shocked her close friends and relatives.

According to her sister, Seema was married to Bhopal resident Mukul Minocha, a civil engineer, on October 24. The couple lived for about six months at Halol, near Baroda, where Mukul was posted, and had moved back to Bhopal, where her in-laws lived, a fortnight ago.

“Out of the blue, someone gave a call on May 30 at about 2 a.m., informing my parents at Ahmedgarh, Sangrur, that Seema was seriously ill and had been hospitalised. They in turn called me up since I had called her just a day before. Seema did not mention anything about her health or any other problem that could lead her to take such an extreme step,” she recalled.

Her parents rushed to Bhopal immediately and she tried to contact her in-laws, but were told by someone answering the phone that she was still in the hospital, while the doctors had declared her dead at 12. 40 p.m., Savita alleged. When they finally got through to her in-laws, they assured her that everything was all right and she was probably tense about her GSI exams, for which she was preparing. A suicide note was found from her room, but she did not mention any reason behind the act.

Alleging foul play, Savita said the police had taken a half-litre bottle of Baygon and a large tuft of hair, reportedly belonging to Seema, from the spot. Surprisingly, the bottle does not bear anybody’s finger prints. These clues suggested that she was forced into the act and needed to be investigated thoroughly.

Claiming that the police was yet to register an FIR, she charged that the Minochas were influential people and Mukul’s father was a retired chief engineer of BHEL. They were trying to hush up the entire episode, she added. This could be gauged from the fact that her parents were not attended to at the Govindpura police station for more than three hours only to be turned away without registering an FIR.

They tried to search for the house of the local MP, but were unable to do so, being strangers to the city. Finally, they met some BJP workers and a meeting with the SP was arranged. Although he directed the police to register a case, nothing had been done so far, she alleged. She said the once beautiful face of her sister was totally blue, while the body was bloated at the time of the cremation.

According to the police, the autopsy revealed that she had consumed 500g of Baygon, but there was no bruises or other telling marks on her person. Savita insisted that her sister was forced to consume the poison. Meanwhile, the police is yet to register a case and say investigations are underway.


Solid wastes polluting food, water
By Ambika Kumar

PANCHKULA, June 4 — World Environment Day falls on June 5 with the protection of environment being the prime issue around the world. Deforestation, land degradation, siltation of rivers, water and air pollution are prominent.

With the increase in population, the amount of waste generated has increased tremendously. This waste is dumped in low-lying areas, along roadsides and at empty plots. This method of dumping disregards environment regulations. The improper handling of solid wastes poses a threat to our health and environment.

Highly dangerous, though often ignored, is the flow of polluting effluents from refuse dumps to water sources, the most common being the leachate from dumps. Another threat is of the biological concentration of heavy metals in food.

The transportation and disposal of hazardous industrial wastes present a great risk to the environment. Road accidents often result in toxic, flammable, highly acidic or corrosive wastes getting spilled, causing deaths and injuries. Improper disposals have killed humans and animals through contamination of crops and water.

A study was conducted by Dr Vikas Kohli and Mr Arun Aggarwal on 100 residents of Panchkula. They were divided into four groups of 25 each. The groups included ragpickers, doctors, students and the others.

The study showed that all residents had the knowledge of the harmful effects of solid wastes, except the ragpickers. Most of the residents said the waste disposal system of Panchkula was not appropriate and awareness was needed.

Except for rag pickers, most residents knew the constituents of solid waste generated in hospitals and could distinguish between biodegradable and non-biodegradable solid wastes. They knew that non-biodegradability was the reason for banning polythene bags and these should be recycled.

Based on the study, there were some suggestions from educational institutions to impart environment education to students from day one. This will help in generating environment friendliness among the future citizens. Besides this, hospital staff should ensure that the garbage is not thrown in the open, but, is dealt with properly. All surgical waste should be incinerated.

The waste generated by residential units should be classified into food waste, paper, glass, tin and polythene. This will help ragpickers avoid health hazards. Establishments like hotels, hostels and clubs generate kitchen waste in large quantities. Open dumping attracts stray cattle, insects, flies, posing health hazards. Industrial units should ensure safe and proper disposal of solid waste.

Municipal Corporations and boards should have a separate technically-equipped cell to take care of the proper disposal of wastes. Separate bins with different colours should be provided for dumping recyclable, organic, non-utilisable and biodegradable wastes.

Maintenance of dumping sites and planting of trees in the dumping yards should be promoted. The biodegradable component constitutes 60 to 70 per cent of the total solid waste. If properly managed, this can be converted into manure.

Ragpickers and scavengers are ignorant of the health hazards which they face daily. They are a non-unified labour force and do not receive any medical benefits either. 


Residents clear roadberms
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — Residents of Sector 44-B have decided to clear the roadberms of all encroachments, including iron and steel grills, barbed wire and the other types of fencing.

It all started a couple of days ago after a tractor driver of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation's Road Wing, reportedly, left a message with the residents, advising them to clear the roadberms on their own. He said failing this, the anti-encroachment staff would remove the encroachments and bill the residents for the task.

By the morning of June 2, at least 20 households in the sector had hired labourers to remove the fencings. The message spread and yesterday, more than 50 other households had joined the drive voluntarily.

In spite of the inclement weather and some rain today, most of the remaining households were busy until this evening to clear the roadberms along their houses of all fencings, including iron and steel grills.

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation had initiated a drive more than a year ago to clear roadberms of all unauthorised encroachments. The civic body had also decided to link the clearance of roadberms with the fresh carpeting of roads.

Anti-encroachment drives are conducted in the areas where the corporation undertakes the job of laying new premix road tops. Under the present drive, the recarpeting of roads is now scheduled to be conducted in Sector 44 later this month.

There have been instances of house owners having removed the fencing on the eve of the roads-recarpeting drive and encroaching upon the roadberms again after the roads have been repaired.

Houses in Sector 44-B have been built on independent plots, belonging mostly to members of cooperative housing societies. However, more than 90 per cent of the house owners had encroached upon roadberms, leaving little or no space for pedestrians. The residents themselves had a shortage of space for parking their vehicles as all open spaces between their houses and the roads had been "illegally and unauthorisedly" encroached upon.

Repeated requests and pleas of the Municipal Corporation to residents to cooperate and clear roadberms voluntarily, met with mixed response from the residents. In no sector, residents have undertaken a drive like the Sector 44-B house owners.

Most of them even got the debris cleared from the roadberms after removing steel barricades and fences.

Residents of the sector also had to pay masons and labourers. The charges varied between Rs 100 and Rs 200.

Now, nearly 90 per cent of the roadberms in the sector have been cleared and only a few places are left where house owners have grown hedges.



Seminar on environment
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — A seminar on the “state of environment in Chandigarh” was organised by the Environment Society of India on the eve of World Environment Day here today.

Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), President, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations, said that by setting up the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, the Administration had not only multiplied its own problems but created many more for the public. Horticulture was divided between the corporation and the Administration. The same was the case with the Medical Officer of Health. These divisions have created more confusion than solving any problems.

Col Sarwan Singh, General Secretary of the Consumer Forum, said that against the previous practice of cleaning service lanes twice a year, no steps are taken by the civic body to clean them up even once a year.

Mr S.K. Sharma of the Environment Society expressed his concern over largescale destruction of green cover by dust storm and inclement weather and suggested that plants must be properly protected and given fertilisers and other nutrients and their root system should be well protected.

Prof S.C. Jain of the local chapter of the Environment Society stressed the need for recharging of ground water. It was also suggested that the Administration should develop Rajindra Park as Chandigarh Botanical Garden. Some of the members also voiced their dissent against wet dredging at Sukhna Lake.


‘Check violation of human rights’
From Our Correspondent

KHARAR, June 4 — Justice Kuldeep Singh has appealed to the people to join hands to oppose violation of human rights in the country.

He was addressing a gathering here last night in connection with a seminar organised by the All-India Human Rights Watch in Kharar. He said that it was the need of the hour that the human rights of the citizens should be protected and such organisations should be formed who would work together for this cause.

He said that the makers of the Constitution had a dream to set up a welfare state here where there would have been no violation of human rights. “But even after 50 years we have not given human rights to all our citizens.” He alleged that those who were deputed to protect human rights were violating them.

He asked the people to protect the human rights and raise their voice against any violation.

Mr Ajit Singh Bains, a former judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, said that the residents did not get political and economic justice during the past 50 years and even at present about 50 per cent population in India was living below the poverty line.

He said that there was no supply of drinking water in about one lakh villages in the country.

Mr G.S. Grewal, former Advocate-General of Punjab, said that the danger to human rights was from two sides — from those people who wanted to change the mind of the people with swords and from those who were in power and were misusing their power.


B.B. Behl bereaved
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — Mrs Savitri Devi, mother of Mr B.B. Behl, President, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, died at Ludhiana today after brief illness. She was 85. Her cremation was largely attended. She leaves behind eight sons and a daughter.


One killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — As many as two persons were hit and injured in road accidents in the city.

According to police sources, Gokul Devi, a pedestrian, was hit and injured by a motor cycle (CH-01U-3722) near the Sectors 17 and 18 dividing road. She has been admitted to the PGI. The driver has been arrested and charged under Sections 279 and 337, IPC.

Similarly, an unidentified pedestrian was hit and injured by a vehicle near the railway traffic lights. The pedestrian was admitted to the PGI where he succumbed to his injuries. A case under Sections 279 and 304-A, IPC, has been registered.

Girl abducted: Sector 30 resident Lokender Pal reported that someone had abducted his minor daughter.

A case under Sections 363 and 366, IPC, has been registered.

Whisky seized: The police has arrested Mohinder Pal, a resident of Dadu Majra, and seized 14 bottles of whisky.

A case under Sections 61, 1 and 14 has been registered.

Bag stolen: Ms Poonam Rana, a resident of Sector 20, reported that someone had stolen her bag containing Rs 1,500 and gold ornaments from near the Housing Board roundabout.

A case under Section 379, IPC, has been registered.Back


Car used in crime traced
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, June 4 — In a major breakthrough, the investigating team in the murder case of a Chandigarh- based jeweller, Ashok Kumar, has tracked down the dark grey- coloured Maruti Esteem car used in the crime in Delhi. The car had been used in carrying the severed body parts of the victim for dumping. Bearing a registration number of Delhi, the car was found at a flat owned by the main suspect, Gurvinder, alias Gary, in Old Rajindra Nagar.

Sources in police said three suspects, Gary, Ranbir and Lakha had been seen at the flat a few days back. A police team from the Phase 8 police station had gone to bring the car.

In a related development tissues of the victim have been sent for DNA sampling to the Institute of Microbiology, Hyderabad. The severed body parts of the victim, except the torso, had been recovered from a seasonal nullah near Papri village here.

The family of the victim yesterday performed his last rites after the recovered body parts were handed over to it by the authorities at the Chemical Laboratory, Patiala. The police is still on the lookout of the three suspects, Gurvinder, Ranbir and Lakha.

Meanwhile, after the incident of robbery at Kharar, the local police has intensified night patrolling. At least 24 police parties, each consisting of six members, had been constituted to do the night patrolling. A special vigil is being kept on the suspicious persons. The patrolling is also being done in the rural areas adjoining the town.Back


Vintage models draw crowds
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — Just like the grand old women — all decked up, prim and proper for D-day — the vintage and classic cars stood polished and shining, with the proud owners beaming with joy as visitors came in droves to catch a glimpse of cars parked outside the Lake Club here today.

Around 15 vintage cars were on a static car display organised by the Vintage and Classic Car Club. Children, women and men evinced interest in these mechanical beauties of yore. For city residents and tourists visiting the lake, it was a rare photo opportunity with the timeless machines — all in running condition. The oldest was a 1928 model Ford.

Children stood awe-struck at the shapes, designs and technicalities deployed in the formative years of car manufacturing. If one kid blew a horn of a 1948 Chevrolet, another one climbed into an open-top-two seater 1951 model Fiat, while their fathers stood admiring the works. Young women preferred to pose with the cars, while men accompanying them took photos of car and the women posing with them from all angles. All this brought smiles on the lips of the owners, who were all to eager to explain nuances of the cars to the onlookers.

Unlike modern car shows, where talk revolves around brake horse power (BHP), the time taken for a 0 to 60 kmph take-off, or the number of valves and cylinders or the power of air conditioning, the talk during this display was about how old was the car; how one restored it, was the paint original, were the tyres available, and where did the spares come from.

Brig (retd) J.S. Phoolka, President of the club explains, ‘’The main sources are junk dealers in Ambala and as far as in Calcutta.’’ The Secretary of the club, Mr Baljit Manco, added that since the formation of the club around 3 years ago, the number of cars had gone up to 30. The club also helps buyers in restoring old cars. The latest addition the club family is a car owned by the late Col D.S. Vohra of the Nevadac Prosthetic Centre, now lovingly restored by his son.

Elaborating on costs of such vehicles Brig Phoolka said it depended upon the make of the car and the condition it was in. A model like Ford or a Citreon might be between Rs 2 and 3 lakh while a Mercedes or a Rolls Royce might be between Rs 8 and 10 lakh. Rare models of cars could cost even more.

All cars manufactured before 1939 are in the vintage car bracket, while those manufactured between 1939 and 1959 are classified as classic cars. The club plans to hold a rally in October. Today’s display was planned as a part of the shopping carnival planned in Sector 17. When the carnival was cancelled, the club members opined that the display must go on.Back


‘Cut land cost for co-op societies’
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — Samadhaan, a pressure group for social justice, has urged the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) to reduce the rate of land to be allotted to the group housing societies.

According to the President of Samadhaan, Mr R.P. Malhotra, while the Chandigarh Administration had recently decided to allot land to two private schools, which were profit-making enterprises, at the rate of Rs 1,800 per square yard, the members of the societies were being asked to deposit the balance of 25 per cent of the cost of the land to be allotted to these societies at the rate of Rs 2,500 per square yard.

Urging the CHB Chairperson to “reduce the rate of the land to some reasonable limit”, the group said the applicants should be given the option of accepting or not accepting the allotment at the present rate. Similarly, in the case of accepting the allotment, the interest rate amount already received by the board (Rs 19,817, Rs 13,802 and Rs 10,570 category-wise, respectively) must be adjusted while calculating the 25 per cent of the cost of the land.

“And in case of non-acceptance of the allotment, the applicants should be entitled to receive the whole amount paid by them along with 18 per cent interest as the delay in allotting the land is solely on the part of the board”, he added.

The government agencies such as the CHB are constituted with the sole purpose of serving the public and not just to earn revenue at the cost of the poor public.

The group urged the board to settle the case as per the facts discussed above, otherwise it would have no option but to move the court on behalf of the aggrieved members of the public, he added.


Ginger remains dearest
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — With the mercury soaring, the prices of the commonly used vegetables have registered a significant increase during the past fortnight.

Ginger, whose price hovered around Rs 40 per kg about a fortnight back, continued to the dearest vegetable at Rs 60. While garlic’s price ranged between Rs 35 and Rs 40 per kg that of peas was Rs 30, according to a random survey of the vegetable markets today.

The price of tomatoes continued to be reasonable with a kg selling at Rs 10. Similarly, the potatoes were priced at between Rs 4 and Rs 6 and onions between Rs 8 and Rs 10. However, the price of cauliflower went up to Rs 25 per kg.

While lady’s finger could be have for Rs 25 a kg, the price of brinjal ranged from Rs 10 to Rs 14. On the other hand cucumber was priced at Rs 8 a kg.

The prices of lemon, however, came down. Priced at around Rs 45 a kg a fortnight back, its price now ranged from Rs 35 to Rs 40 per kg, depending upon the quality of the lemon.

Vegetable vendors informed that the prices of a majority of the vegetables had gone up as the supplies had started dwindling. With the rise in temperature, the prices would go up further as had been the experience during the past many years, they added.Back


Auction of taxi stands opposed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — The Taxi Workers Union at its meeting here today opposed the proposal of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) to auction the taxi stands in the city.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Joginder Singh, President of the union alleged that if the civic body went ahead with auctioning the taxi stands the poor taxi operators would be adversely affected.

Mr Naresh Thakur, General Secretary, said the taxi operators were already going through a bad phase, particularly in the wake of the increase in prices of petroleum products.

Various speakers urged the corporation to implement the pattern prevalent in SAS Nagar and Delhi where taxi operators paid monthly charges.Back

CITCO’s move opposed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 4 — The proposal of the CITCO to privatise Hotel Shivalikview came in for severe criticism at a general body meeting of the CITCO Workers Union held here today. According to a press note, the meeting unanimously decided that if the Chandigarh Administration persisted with the privatisation of the profit-making hotel, the union would have no alternative but to launch an agitation. Prominent among those who spoke were Mr Balbir Singh, General Secretary of CITU, Mr Bhag Mal Rana, General Secretary of the Federation of UT Employees and Workers, Mr Brij Mohan and Mr Sanjay Kumar, President and General Secretary, respectively, of the CITCO Workers Union. Through a resolution, the meeting decided that in future the union would be affiliated to the Federation of UT Employees and Workers.Back

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