Wednesday, June 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Despite water tariff hike, MCC will lose money
By Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — The decision of the Chandigarh Administration to notify revised rates of the water tariff for various sections of consumers came into effect from yesterday. It seems to have come at the worst-possible time for the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) and residents.

With the shortage of water a routine affair in several parts of the city, the decision to effect massive hike in the water tariff, from 100 per cent to 600 per cent, though long overdue, is likely to be severely criticised by residents, welfare bodies and political parties. The BJP-led civic body had been delaying the hike for for the past over three years, largely, due to its political fallouts. The proposal regarding the hike was cleared only earlier this year.

Protests against the shortage of water, particularly in the southern sectors and Mani Majra, had been continuing since the onset of the summer. Besides various residents' welfare associations, the Congress had also organised a massive rally here yesterday, blaming the civic body for the shortage. Water scarcity is seasonal with the demand shooting up to 90 million gallons per day (MGDs) and the supply remaining static at about 60 MGDs in the summer.

Official sources, however, defended the hike. They said there would not be any shortage of water in the coming weeks since the monsoon was about to arrive and the civic body had enough storage capacity.

The economics of water tariff shows that even after the massive hike (the first since 1995 against four hikes in the power-supply rates), the corporation will stil lose Rs 9 crore in the year 1999-2000. The expenditure on the pumping of water from Kajauli, near here, is mounting regularly due to a hike in the power rates by the Punjab Government. This means that the civic body will have to hike the water tariff again shortly. This seems improbable since the elections to the civic body are due later next year. The BJP, whose record for providing civic amenities has been lacklustre so far, will think twice before implementing such "unpopular" decisions again.

With the latest revision, the water-supply rates, for both industrial and domestic units in the city, will be the highest as compared to SAS Nagar and Panchkula. Earlier, Chandigarh had probably the lowest water tariff rates in the region with the domestic water-supply rates being the lowest at Rs 0.70 per kilolitre (kl).

Economics of water supply system

Year              Expenditure                    Receipts                     Deficit           
                         (in lakhs)                        (in lakhs)                  (in lakhs)

1997-98           2,311                         1,216                      1,095

1989-99           3,000                         1,300                      1,700

1999-2000        3,300                         2,400                      900


Water costliest in Chandigarh  (A comparison)

                                    Domestic                                Commercial

Chandigarh                Rs 1.40 per kl                          Rs 6 per kl

SAS Nagar                 Rs 1.20 per kl                          Rs 3 per kl

Panchkula                  Re 1 per kl                              Rs 2 per kl



Smart cards system by June 12
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — The long awaited smart cards system will be introduced in the city from June 12 when the operations of making new driving licences and the renewal of old licences will be shifted to the new Estate Office in the Municipal Corporation building in Sector 17.

“This will be done on a trial basis,” the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, told the UT Administrator, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob, when the latter paid a surprise visit to the Estate Office to see how persons were suffering while trying to get licences made and vehicles registered.

The DC also told the Administrator that the vehicle registration and licencing branch would be shifted to the new building by June 25 and by then the work which would begin on June 12 was expected to stabilise. The Administrator walked into the Estate Office this morning unannounced and went directly to the public windows of the licensing branch where he saw serpentine queues of applicants waiting to get their licences made in hot and humid weather. He noticed that the hall was too small for public transaction and there was no ventilation as well.

The Administrator also asked persons about the problems . He also went from counter to counter to check the work being carried out. In the meantime, the DC came there and told the Administrator that the licencing branch would soon be shifted to the new building.

The new building will be air cooled with sufficient space for

applicants. Besides this, a sufficient number of counters will be opened so that the wait is reduced to 10 to 15 minutes.

The Administrator then moved to the back of the Estate Office building where lawyers and typists sit. There some persons complained that stamp papers of small denominations were being hoarded by stamp vendors and were not available to the common people.Later, accompanied by the DC, General Jacob went to the new Estate Office building to see the progress of work being on the smart cards project.Back


PUDA plans green cover
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, June 6 — Several pockets of land along the Leisure Valley choe, a seasonal rivulet passing through this town, have been identified by the horticulture wing of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to undertake large scale afforestation. The land identified has been reclaimed after channelising the embankments of the choe.

Initially the afforestation will be undertaken in about 12 acres along the embankments of the choe in Sector 63 (Phase IX). In the first phase of the drive, the horticulture department will plant at least 1,800 saplings of the species known for pollution control and thick canopy.

The department proposes to extend the afforestation to other pockets of land in Sector 66 downstream of the choe, which will be reclaimed once the channelisation work is complete, say officials of the engineering wing of PUDA. A sum of about Rs 5 lakh has been earmarked for the first phase of the drive. The Additional Chief Administrator (ACA), SAS Nagar, Mr Dipinder Singh, said the afforestation was aimed at beautifying the chunks of land along the Leisure Valley choe so that it acted as lungs for the residents of the area.

Another problem for the planners and the residents of the area is the untreated sullage, residential and industrial, being discharged in the choe. Residents of Sectors 62, 63 and 66 and other villages downstream have been complaining of nauseating smell of the sullage flowing in it. The afforestation will help in improving the quality of air and improve the green cover, according to the XEN (Horticulture), Mr J.S. Gill.

To tackle the problem of erosion of the embankments of the choe, PUDA had so far completed channelisation work in about 2 km long stretch. At least 100 acres have been reclaimed due to the channelisation though some trees have been damaged in the process.

A musical fountain in Sector 63 has also been planned by PUDA. The officials say the consultants for installing the musical fountain are being identified. Plantation of 20,000 saplings throughout the town, a special park in 14 acres in Sector 68 at a cost of Rs 69 lakh and recreational facilities for children are also being undertaken by the department under a scheme for which Rs 5.17 crore has been earmarked. A special park in Sector 56 and revamping of PUDA nursery in Phase 9 is also on the cards. 


Businessman robbed of car, cash
From A Correspondent

PANCHKULA, June 6 — A local businessman returning home from his factory in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, was robbed of his Maruti Zen car, Rs 8,000 and two credit cards at gun point by three youths travelling in another car near Pinjore last night.

Mr Anil Kumar Arya, a resident of Sector 10, started off from his factory at 7 10 p.m in his car (CH-01-V-7539). On the road to Pinjore and onwards to Panchkula, a Maruti car drove up parallel to him. Three youths were travelling in the car. They signalled Mr Arya to stop.

Mr Arya told the police: “I stopped the car. Two occupants of the Maruti car stepped out and pointed a pistol at me and asked me to move to the passenger’s seat.” Within seconds Mr Arya was asked to get out of the car. The youth fled with the Maruti Zen car, Mr Arya’s purse containing Rs 3,000, his driving licence and an American Express credit card. 


Upreti calls it a unique phenomenon 
of magnetic storms
By Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — “The Antarctic is a heaven for scientists as it provides an opportunity to explore the Unsolved mysteries of the universe. It is acknowledged as the best laboratory on earth provided by the nature.”

These were the words coined by Dr D.K. Upreti, a scientist in the National Botanical Research Institute at Lucknow, who had been to Antarctic with the 11th Indian expedition in1991.

He was here in the city to participate in a workshop-cum-training programme on environmental education. He had been selected for the expedition to evaluate the level of pollutants in the lichens growing in the coolest continent on earth.

He accompanied the 92-member expedition comprising the scientists, crew members and personnel from three wings of the defence services for the logistics support.

According to Dr Upreti the members for this prestigious expedition are selected on the basis of their research plan related with the Antarctica. The Department of Ocean Development, New Delhi, is incharge of selection of team members. The scientists from various organisations all over the country are selected.

The selected members have to face a rigorous medical check- up at New Delhi and qualify a training in rock-climbing and snow craft organised by the Indian Tibet Border Police.

“The journey of 11,000 kms was started by a ship from Morgoa port to Antarctica. It was during those days in 1991 that 11000 kms were travelled by the ship. These days the teams start the sea route from South Africa, thereby reducing the journey by 6,000 kms. The ship used for this journey is specially designed with a raised bow for breaking the ice in pack ice zone,” informs Dr Upreti.

On the third day, the ship crossed the zero degree latitude, passing through the Lakshdeep islands. The ship touched Mauritius on the tenth day. After crossing the Prince Edward island near South Africa there was no land mass upto Antarctica and the sea remained turbulent due to exchange of cold and warm water currents.

Before entering the cold zone after 40° latitude warm clothes had been issued to each member. That included two Helly Henson overalls with dark yellow fluorescent strips, polar shocks, solar and ultraviolet goggles, gloves, snow boots and DRDO coats, he told.

After 40° latitude the huge icebergs floating on sea water were the common sight. Sometimes wind currents carried them to the equator. These were as big as 20-30 and contained water.

The different stages of ice formation could be seen between 40 degree latitude upto Antarctica. The fast ice stage was common near 40 degree latitude in the form of 10-20 meter long and 1-3 meter thick snow-flakes. It was easy for the ship to move on fast ice but in the second stage called pack ice, sea surface was muddy and ship moved to and fro to break the ice with its raised bow.

The third stage was a continuous sheet of thick ice over the sea, called the shelf ice. Between the shelf ice and the pack ice stage there was polyna stage where one could see penguins, fishes and whales.

When the ship was anchored near the shelf ice, a group of about 15-20 penguins gathered nearby as if to welcome them to their homeland. The team was carried to Maitri — the Indian research station at Antarctica by a helicopter. The Maitri station was about 100 km from the shelf ice, near Priyadarshini lake, named after Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India.

“I had a chance to experinece the unique phenomenon of magnetic storms. It is the interaction of solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field. The energy from the solar wind intensifies from 10,000 to15 million megawatt and can disrupt short- wave radio communication as also loss of sight in human beings, birds and animals,” narrates the scientist.

After a busy schedule of 56 days, the ship started its voyage back to India. The experience was astonishing, as Dr Upreti explains,”Huge clouds in green, lavender, red and yellow were seen on the horizon as if fireworks were played in the heaven. These changed colour within few minutes. This process is called Aurora and can be periodically seen near the poles after an interval of 11 years.”


Watermelons hold city’s road safety to ransom
By Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — A scooterist moving at a fast speed is suddenly tempted by watermelons hanging by the roadside and he applies an all the more sudden brake. The one following him on another scooter gets no time to control the vehicle and a collision occurs, which fortunately for both, is not fatal.

That is exactly what happened this morning in the area which marks the division of Sectors 20 and 33. And this is not the sole spot in the city where such minor and sometimes major accidents occur. Watermelon vendors have now been sitting for over two months on various spots in the city, some among which are quite hazardous from the road safety point of view — divisions of Sectors 17 and 22, Sector 36 and 37 and Sector 20 and 33, to mention a few.

As per a random survey, there are at least 50 other such places in Chandigarh where these vendors have been doing brisk business during this season, and strangely with the permission of the Municipal Corporation and traffic police authorities concerned. Most of the vendors, said they were paying Rs 500 to the MC authorities on a daily basis. “We do not deny that we have been doing good business here in the city, but we are paying for sitting on the roadside. Someone from the MC comes to us for collection and that is how we have been allowed to sit here.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Engineer, Mr Puranjit Singh, when questioned in this regard, informed that these vendors had been allowed to sit in the city as per a policy decision taken by the MC in consultation with the Traffic Department, which had cleared most of the points. “This is a seasonal fruit. Hence, we decided to permit them sales.” He also admitted that Rs 500 was being charged from the vendors on a daily basis.

As far as the maintaining safety around these points is concerned, the onus falls on the Traffic Department. Sources in the department informed that care was taken at the time of deciding as to where would the vendors be allowed to sit. Strangely, however, although just about 15 vendors have been permitted by the MC, many are now frequenting the city. The tandem in which they operate may not be very clear but it is certainly implicit.

It is also very strange to conjecture as to how the MC, which is extremely stern with regard to removing rehriwalas moving about the city, has allowed these vendors to sit at various places. The traffic department could do well to once again conduct an inspection of the spots concerned and find out where they figure on the road safety graph.


What’s the normal course?

Normally only the licensed vendors are allowed to operate in the city. While there are many who go and sell their product in the main Sector 26 grain market, there are others who are part of apni mandis.

Even other fruit and vegetable stalls in the city have been specifically notified by the MC. But the watermelon vendors are sitting under a policy decision of the MC, which has taken into account the seasonal nature of the fruit. Road safety has been held to ransom in the process.Back


From pillar to post for relief
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — For Savitri, whose husband, Ramesh, died after a prolonged illness on April 7, 1999, the struggle for getting a meagre financial assistance continues.

A victim of the never ending apathy of our government departments and those serving in them, she continues to run from pillar to post with her second son, Arun, in tow. "My elder son, Sonu, is suffering from a stone in his kidney. He is better now but tends to get tired easily," she explains.

Ramesh was an asthmatic patient and was also suffering from a severe case of tuberculosis. "His death was on the cards but it was with the help in terms of medication and monetary help from the Indian Red Cross Society that he managed to spend his last days in relative peace."

"It was with the help of the Red Cross Society that I leant about this new scheme launched by the Social Welfare Department of the Chandigarh Administration last year," says Savitri. According to this, financial assistance was available to the eligible persons under the National Family Benefit Scheme.

Savitri was told that she could avail of a lump sum financial assistance of Rs 10,000 which was to be provided to a family on the death of the primary bread winner. The scheme was effective from September, 1995.

With the help of the NGO she applied for availing of the benefit under this scheme on a prescribed form duly accompanied with proofs of residence which included her voter's identity card and the ration card.

Sources in the Red Cross Society said that Savitri's application with the required papers was forwarded to the Social Welfare Department within days after the advertisements first appeared in newspapers. But as of now more than one year has gone by but Savitri has not received a single penny by way of compensation from the department.

In the letter No SW/NFBS dated March 3, 1999, a notification from the Director, Social Welfare, had instructed the Tehsildar of the Chandigarh Administration to get the application verified and submit it along with a specific report made regarding whether the applicant was residing in the Union Territory of Chandigarh for the past three years or not.

"All this in spite of the fact that they were furnished with the details at the very first instance," laments Savitri today. "Even if they want to verify my application, what is taking them so long. I have visited their office alone and accompanied by people from the Red Cross Society so many times that I have now lost count," she says.

And as the authorities in the Red Cross Society say: "we can guide people to the right authority. Thereafter it all depends on them. But the fact remains that the help loses its meaning when it is offered too late." 


Tree branches chopped off
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, June 6 — It is “crime” perperated daily on the roads of the town as the authorities watch helplessly.

The victims are none other fully-grown trees along the roads, which provide shelter to the passerby.

It was the same story again when the workers of the Punjab State Electricity Board descended on the scene today to chop off branches of tress which had come up along the main road leading to the PCA Stadium in Phase IX.

These fault was that these had become a hindrance to overhead electricity wires and had to pay the price for it.

The staff of the Electricity Department, in their zeal, callouslessly chopped at least 30 healthy trees.

An official of the Horticulture Department did come on the spot to tell the workers to be cautious in chopping off the tree branches. But the moment the official left, the “callous chopping” exercise again resumed.

As per the practice the Electricity Department has to inform the Horticulture Department before undertaking any chopping exercise, but it was seldom followed.


‘Ru-Ba-Ru’ with Gurdial a trendsetter
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — The ‘Ru-Ba-Ru” function with the noted Punjabi writer, Jnanpeeth award winner, Padma Shree Gurdial Singh , hosted jointly by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi and the Press Club here yesterday, was a trendsetter in many ways.

A large gathering of writers, poets, journalists and lovers of art had a chance to interact with the eminent writer. The participants also shared with him his views on contemporary writings in fiction.

Major-Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), Chairman of the akademi, on this occasion presented Mr Gurdial Singh with a bouquet of flowers and a set of fountain pens. He also urged the novelist to continue writing about the poor and oppressed classes in villages.

General Gill said that unfortunately very few writers felt and wrote about the downtrodden and their causes. “It is extremely satisfying that Mr Gurdial Singh’s concern for the poor and the caste-affected strata in rural India has earned him the Jnanpeeth award,”he said.

General Gill, while lamenting that very few Indians had themselves written about 1947 and the partition of India, announced a national seminar on the subject in the coming months which would be organised by the akademi. 


‘Accept GPA’ for flat transfers
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — The CHB Residents Federation has demanded the introduction of the transfer of ownership policy, accepting the general power of attorney(GPA), on the Punjab and Haryana pattern.

Mr Nirmal Datt and Mr BS Chadda of the federation, in a statement issued here today, also demanded sanctioning of the additional covered area for the regularisation of the need-based structures that were architecturally sound and did not encroach upon the public land.

They regretted that the transfer of ownership policy accommodating the GPA holders was agreed to in principle during the chairmanship of Mr PK Mehra, but nothing had been done in this direction so far.

The problem had been compounded as ever-increasing population had forced the residents to create additional covered space in their dwelling units, they said, adding total absence of the timely supervisory measures had only added to the problem.


Two burglaries in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 6 — Two cases of theft were reported from various parts of the city.

According to police sources, Sector 46 resident Jai Kishen reported that someone had stolen gold ornaments, 150 silver coins and Rs 15,000 in cash while he was out of station. Ms Chander Prabha, room number 1, Nurses Hostel, General Hospital, reported that someone had stolen some electrical gadgets, some important documents and Rs 15,600 in cash. Burglaries were also reported from room numbers 10, 11, 13 and 21. A case has been registered under Section 457 and 380 of the IPC.

Eve-teasers held: The police arrested three persons on the charges of eve-teasing from various parts of the city. While Raju and Deepak were arrested from near the local bus stop in Dadu Majra, Pushpinder was nabbed from Sector 38. Cases under Section 294 of the IPC, have been registered.


Women remanded: The three women, Tejo, Palo and Jangi, who were arrested yesterday for snatching a chain from Jagjit Kaur at the Phase 1 gurudwara were today remanded in one-day police custody by a Kharar court. The three women had bEen caught by the passersby and handed over to the police.

Rapist booked: Mahipal of Phase XI Labour Colony was booked by the police for allegedly raping a woman of the same colony. A case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC has been registered by the police. The medical examination of the victim was today conducted at the Phase 6 General Hospital here today. Back



Court official held for bribery
From Our Correspondent

KHARAR, June 6 — A Reader in the court of the SDM, Kharar, was arrested by the Vigilance Department, Punjab, while accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a person today. A team of Vigilance Department led by Mr Malvinder Singh Sidhu arrested Piara Singh, Reader, while accepting the bribe.

According to information Mr Karanbir Singh of nearby village, Rora, complained to the Vigilance Department that the Reader was delaying a case under Section 107/151, CrPc., which was pending in the court of Subdivisional Magistrate. He said that the official was demanding Rs 3,000 for disposing of this case. The deal was settled at Rs 2,000.

Piara Singh was arrested in the presence of two employees as witnesses.Back


Mango prices go up
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, June 6 — A delicacy among fruits, mangoes have registered a substantial rise in its prices in the past three days. The safeda variety of the fruit, which was selling at Rs 25 a kg, was today selling at rs 40. A better quality of the fruit was selling at Rs 50 a kg.

A survey of the local markets revealed that the prices of almost all the fruits had registered an increase in the past few days. A seasonal fruit, papaya, was selling at Rs 16 a kg. Last week it was selling at Rs 12 a kg. A vendor in the Phase 7 market was offering mausami at Rs 50 a dozen.

Another attraction at local markets was cherry packed in transparent square boxes. A 250-gm pack of the fruit was available at Rs 25 each. The prices of different varieties of apple in the past few weeks have remained almost the same. Varying between Rs 30 a kg and Rs 50 a kg, the Kinnaur variety of the fruit was being sold at Rs 50 a kg. The other varieties of the fruit were selling at Rs 40 and Rs 35 a kg.

A number of seasonal fruits like melon and watermelon have also hit the markets with the melon (small-sized) being sold at Rs 15 a kg. The watermelon was available at Rs 10 a kg. Bananas were being sold at Rs 25 a dozen. Other seasonal fruits like litchi, plum and apricot were selling at Rs 40 a kg each. 

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