Tuesday, June 20, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Metered power supply must for
rehabilitation of slum dwellers
By Ajay Banerjee 
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — In an effort to stop the colossal theft of power by slum dwellers, the Chandigarh Administration is set to notify a scheme under which it will be mandatory for all slum dwellers to have metered power supply, show consumption of power and pay bills, otherwise they will not be eligible for any rehabilitation scheme run by the Administration in the future.

This has been thrown as a bait to make the power stealing slum dwellers fall in line or face the consequences and be out of much lucrative rehabilitation scheme that promises a free flat. At the moment, almost all jhuggi dwellers in Chandigarh steal power with impunity to run electrical gadgets like coolers, fridges and TVs. And till now all efforts of the Chandigarh Administration to make the slum dwellers take metered power supply have failed and even led to violent clashes, while more than 20 per cent of the city power supply continues to be stolen by slum dwellers.

But the latest idea may be the magic potion which can make jhuggi dwellers opt for metered supply, hopes the Chandigarh Administration. December 8, 1996, has been notified as the final cu-off date all future rehabilitation schemes to be run for people living in slums around the city. More than 33,000 families have been identified which will be a part of the final rehabilitation scheme under which they will be allotted flats in multi-storeyed housing colonies.

The Secretary Engineering, Mr Rakesh Singh, says this clause of regular metered supply, with power consumption and payment of its bills will be added to the list of eligibility norms laid for rehabilitation in addition to other criteria, like having their names on the electoral rolls on or before December 8, 1996, ration cards.

This does not mean that any jhuggi dweller, who has a regular power supply in his place but does not fulfill the other criteria will be part of any scheme, clarified an official. He added the final cut-off date will also be maintained. However, it is not clear about the outcome of those who have set up jhuggis after December 8, 1996, and availed themselves of power connections.

The scheme is at present being whetted by the Law Department and once it is okayed, it will be notified. Sources in the Engineering Wing estimate that a large majority of the slum dwellers will opt for metered supply to become eligible for any further rehabilitation schemes.

Just to ensure that someone does not try and trick to get a meter and continue to steal power, the clause of showing regular consumption has been added, said sources.

Meanwhile, around 40 families who were living in the demolished slum colony in Sector 31, will stand to get a freebie and will be rehabilitated or allowed to set up jhuggis temporarily. These families had not moved out after the demolition almost two months ago and have now presented ''proof'' of being eligible but were left out of the rehabilitation of the colony.

These people have held on to the illegal shanties right under the nose of the police, while the Administration kept saying that they will be removed. And now with this claimed proof, the Administration, it is learnt, has relented and is thinking of allowing these encroachers to set up shanties at some other place. However, there will be no system of verifying the claims of these 40 families and some bogus one may also creep in to enjoy the benefit at the tax payer’s cost.Back


Hospitality — police style
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — Two city residents got a first-hand experience of Chandigarh Police hospitality when one of them was allegedly hit and injured with a rifle butt by a cop on PCR duty at the transport traffic lights here today.

The UT IGP, taking a serious view of the matter, immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter. The duo, Baljit Kumar and Amar Nath, both brothers, were going to their sister’s house in Bapu Dham Colony with two cases of whisky — to be served to guests — at the reception party of their nephews later this evening, when they were stopped and harassed by the cops on duty there.

According to sources, a cop reportedly asked them that they could not carry such a large amount of whisky, to which the duo said they it was legal to carry 12 bottles per person. This is said to have angered the cop, who allegedly told them that he would teach them a lesson for knowing the law.

While this was going on, another cop came from behind and hit Baljit Kumar on the head with a rifle butt, injuring him. Following this, the brothers were taken to the Sector 26 police station, where some cops “prevailed” on them to allegedly sign a compromise, while they wanted to lodge a formal complaint in the matter. This was brought to the notice of senior officers, who swung into action and ordered the inquiry.


Ranjit's bail plea dismissed
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — The judge dismissed the bail application of Ranjit Bajaj, son of a senior IAS couple, in the kidnapping case today. Additional District and Sessions Judge Sneh Prashar had reserved the orders till today on Saturday.

Ranjit, with the help of his friends, had allegedly kidnapped Sunny Garg, son of a city-based industrialist, on May 14 and robbed him of Rs 1.18 lakh and some other documents.

The defence counsel argued that the applicant had neither kidnapped the complainant nor threatened him. The public prosecutor argued that the applicant had not only allegedly kidnapped the complainant but also confined him in his house and took away his mobile phone and some documents from his wallet.

After hearing the arguments, the judge observed that the investigations in the case were still on and it was possible that the applicant may try to tamper with the evidence and also influence the witnesses. The judge dismissed the bail application on the basis of the observation.

Ranjit had earlier been granted bail in the case of alleged use of a forged registration plate on a car and having a forged sticker allowing film-screen and red light on a car on June 16.



Sonu Nigam introduces himself in new avataar
Tribune News Service 

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — The man who sent ripples down the spine of the music industry with his debut songs recorded by T-Series was in the city today for a big purpose. Normally one would not hear of singers inaugurating acting institutes, but when one is referring to Sonu Nigam, things get a little exceptional.

And this exception stems from the fact that Sonu is not just a singer any more. He will shortly be seen in his new avatar — as an actor. With three movies at hand, he is all set to become a cynosure of all eyes even as a hero. And today he almost blushed as he introduced this fact to the public which was gathered in too big numbers to see him.

The occasion was inauguration of a modern film and television institute, The Groomers, in Sector 35. But to talk of the truth, the initial one-hour was too tough to be borne in the sense that the star of the evening was lost among the crowd. As the question-answer sessions progressed the atmosphere kept getting noisier and all one could witness was chaos around with everyone asking another one to keep quiet.

Later when things calmed down, many things became known about the institute and why Chandigarh was chosen as its base. The place sounds unique with its claim of offering a comprehensive training in dance, singing and allied fields in a period of just four months. What appeals more to the mind is the solid faculty which the director if the institute, Mr Satto Singh, is supposed to get from Mumbai.

"None less than Kishore Namit Kapoor and his troupe will be here to train the aspirants," informed Mr Satto Singh whose association with the industry is about 33-year old. He has been attached to productions like Beti, Pathar aur Payal, Warrant, Kacche Heere, etc. As far as Kapoor is concerned, he is the man who has to his credit the training of stars like Hritik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Sonali Bendre.

To add credibility to the venture, the organisers also announced a film Hum phir vohi dil laye hain starring Raj Babbar and Danny in lead roles. Interestingly, hero and heroine of this film, which is due to be directed by Mr Lawrence D'Souza, will be chosen from among those who take the above-stated four month course.

Informed Mr Satto Singh,"Lawrence will visit the city and select the star cast for his movies. All we wish to convey is that we are not here to just promise falsely, but also to offer results."

It is learnt that Paintal will also come to the city to train those who enroll with The Groomers for the course. Another attraction of the course is that after completion the trainers will get an opportunity to get their portfolios clicked from people of high repute like Jayesh Seth and Jagdish Mali.

Introducing the director of the institute today, Sonu said that he had always remembered Satto Singh as the first producer who had offered to sign him for his film. That was when Sonu had said that he could never face the camera.

With all such fears having gone with the wind, the state is different when Sonu is ready to face the glaring lights and also test himself in an entirely new field. "But it takes courage to take such a decision, for I am already a known singer. I will have to put in a lot of effort to transform my image."

About his singing, Sonu said that the talent was inborn. "I have been singing since I was as young as three years of age. My life as a singer is spotted with struggles galore. The actual break came much later. But I know I succeeded because I believed that I would," said Sonu who flew back today itself to attend his recording schedule in New Delhi tomorrow.Back


First military hospital to have LAN
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — Western Command Hospital, Chandi Mandir, will be the first military hospital in the country to be automated when a local area network (LAN) inter-connecting its departments and wards gets functional next month.

Stating this while briefing media persons on the occasion of the hospital's 40th Raising Day, hospital Commandant, Maj-Gen Virendra Singh added that during the first phase, all departments and wards will be put on LAN for patient data keeping as well as for other services. Equipment for the same has been procured and is in the process of being installed.

The next phase would involve networking the command hospital with several hospitals located in the northern sector as well as with Army Research and Referral Hospital Delhi, AIIMS, PGI and major hospitals in Chennai and Lucknow.

While a video conferencing facility has been introduced in the hospital for the operation theatre, library and the conference hall, the next step would be to make this facility available between networked hospitals by the end of this year.

The Commandant said LAN would also connect the hospital with Western Command Headquarters and lower formations and the hospitals intends to start a health page on the network for the benefit of troops.

Over the past two years, the hospital has made several advances in the academic field as well as specialist services. Maj-Gen Virendra Singh said that the hospital has attained the status of a teaching institute. He said that the hospital has developed a good interaction with civilian hospitals such as the PGI and Government Medical College. He said that Command Hospital officers are on the teaching staff of civilian hospitals as honorary consultants and vice versa.

Established as 152 General Hospital in Delhi on June 20, 1960, the hospital was called upon just a few months later to provide medical cover to war-torn Congo as a part of a UN team. Returning to India after three years, it was moved to Chandigarh and housed in the old Punjab Secretariat building in Sector 12, with a strength of 300 beds.

It was expanded to 600 beds in April, 1965, which was further increased to 1,000 beds during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. In April, 1976, it was upgraded to Command Hospital and its strength was raised to 630 beds in 1972. After 27 years in ad hoc accommodation, it moved to its present location in a new complex at Chandi Mandir on June 15, 1990.

The hospital serves not only the Western Command, but is also the nodal centre for receiving and treating battle casualties from the northern sector as well as high-altitude sickness cases from Siachen and adjoining areas. During the Kargil conflict last year, it received about 600 battle casualties — the highest among military hospitals.

In view of its role as a major trauma centre for the western and northern sectors, facilities to cater to spinal injuries as well as reconstructive surgeries were added. With its function expanded to serve as a tertiary referral centre for the Western and Northern Commands, super specialities were made available, which include neuro-sciences, cardiology, gastroenterology, nephrology, rheumatology, uro-surgery and onco-surgery.

Expansion in facilities has also led to an increase in staff. the number of doctors has increased from 56 to 89 over the past two years and that of nursing officers from 60 to 78. Besides, the hospital has the highest occupancy rate among military hospitals.

On future plans, Maj-Gen Virendra Singh said that the hospital is expected to have CT scan, mammography and MRI facilities within a year, while the dialysis centre is in the process of being further expanded.

He felt that one area which is still wanting is the hospital laboratories, which need to be upgraded. Presently, help from other institutes is required for certain tests.


Road berm clearing ‘not uniform’
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — "Clear the berm and recarpet the road" programme initiated by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has been receiving both bouquets and brickbats alike.

Though a number of sectors have already been covered by this drive, the expected results have been far from satisfactory. The reasons include lack of coordination within various wings of the Engineering Department of the Municipal Corporation and the civil contractors assigned the task of recarpeting of road tops.

One of the major areas of criticism has been lack of uniformity in the enforcement drive. "Unless you are ruthless, you cannot enforce law," remarked a resident of Sector 44 who was unhappy with the enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation in sparing "some influential households by not bulldozing their encroached road berms" while "damaging even the gates" of others.

The second major criticism has been lack of coordination between the Roads Wing of the Engineering Department of the Municipal Corporation and the contractor executing the road resurfacing work. In none of the sectors, the road berms cleared either by the house owners voluntarily or by the enforcement staff of the civic body, have been spared by the contractor or his men. After sweeping the road, heaps of road sweeps have been deposited along road berms and at places on kerb channels which have been recently cleared by the workers of the Roads wing in the wake of the ensuing South-West Monsoon.

The contractor and his men maintain that they have only one job — to recarpet the road after cleaning its surface. The removal of the road-sweep, they maintain, was none of their business. As such, the road berms cleared a few days earlier again present a horrible sight with thick deposits of "bajri, crasher stone and dust". At places, storm water gulleys and kerb channels have also been blocked by these road sweep deposits.

The most significant of the flaws of the present drive has been the failure of the Roads wing to "re-do" the kerb channels to ensure the smooth flow of storm or rain water. With the raising of road surface, the kerb channels have become ineffective. Since they have been blocked at numerous places because of new deposits of 'road sweeps' or the debris left behind by clearing of road berms of their encroachments.

Unless the smooth flow of rain or storm water is ensured, the damage to recarpeted roads would be as expeditious if not faster than as before. In one sector, for example, Sector 44, the roads got damaged in less than four years against a normal life span of seven to eight years. The reason being ineffective drainage system because of defective channel system of kerb channels. The situation even after fresh carpeting has not changed much.

In many areas, the ramps overlapping the edge of the road return as soon as the recarpeting work ends. In some areas, these ramps, which ultimately reduce the width of the road, came back in less than 24 hours of the completion of the fresh recarpeting of road surface.

Another sore point for residents of the sectors covered under the drive is failure of the civic body in removing the debris of the removed encroachments from road berms. In many areas, the debris or even the removed hedges, trees and plants have been deposited at road corners, in front of parks and open spaces with hardly any sign of their removal from what otherwise are called "garbage collection and removal points" of the civic body. At places, the deposits, especially the organic ones, have started decaying besides emitting foul smell.

On the brighter side, after clearance of encroachments from road berms and fresh carpeting of road surfaces, majority of roads in the Sectors already covered under the drive look wide and smooth facilitating better movement of vehicles.

It is time for the Public Health staff of the civic body to repair the damaged storm water gulleys in the sectors already covered under the resurfacing drive so that the newly laid road weather the ensuing monsoon well. 


Mechanic kids risk early breakdown
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — Ravi is aged 16. When he first came to work in the Sector 21 automobile-repair market, he was barely 11-year-old. "I was not good in studies," he says, "so my parents asked one of our neighbours who worked here as a mechanic to introduce me to the profession."

Ravi began with an earning of only Rs 5 a day. "There were days when I was not given anything at all. However, my ustad has taught me a lot. Today, I make more than Rs 1,500 every month." He is not the only one. Most of the mechanics in this profession have come up the same way.

Also, meet Tinku, aged 12. At one time, he worked as a helper of a mechanic in the Sector 28 automobile-repair market. His ustad has now turned him out. Tinku suffers from periodic bouts of fever and nausea, besides headache, and is in no condition to work now.

Doctors say that this is common among youngsters working in smoke-filled and polluted environment because they regularly inhale carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. Working for long hours in these conditions can also have serious fallout later in life.

According to a child specialist, Dr Sarvinder Gandhok, extreme exposure to smoke can cause acute carbon-monoxide poisoning. "The patient can suffer from headache, dizziness and nausea. Inhaling a large quantity of carbon monoxide in a short span can lead to bronchitis. Later, it can develop into bronchial asthma."

Dr Gandhok says that persons working under such conditions can suffer from defects in vision. "Later in life, it can also lead to heart diseases. Smoke and dust can also cause skin problems like allergy and eczema. The most common condition is allergic rhinitis."

Although the definition of street children covers those working in automobile garages, tyre and tube workshops, hardly any social organisation is working for them.

Many social workers say that it is difficult to dissuade these children from this profession. The number of automobiles has increased manifold in the past years. Therefore, it is a rather well-paying profession now. Moreover, in most of the cases, the family has pushed the child into the job.

It is also difficult to identify these children. They have been taught well not to talk about themselves or what they do. "Ask him," they say, pointing towards their ustad. The ustad in turn has a readymade answer — "He is my bhatija, helping me for a day."

So these children grow up leaning all the tricks of the trade from their ustad. He teaches them how to handle a pana, connect broken wires, rectify minor problems and much more.

They learn how to hurl the choicest of abuses in the most offensive manner. They learn to smoke and drink early in their lives. Everything comes for a price.

The Ustad prefers to hire children when they are still eight or nine-year-old, the age when they are most impressionable. They can be moulded as per his requirements and don't ask for money also.

The initial training by the ustad involves a lot of running around. They are made to do odd jobs for him. The ustad, in the meantime, imparts the training slowly. He does not want them to learn too fast.

However, for the youngsters, it is a life lived too fast. It can't be a lot of fun working from 9 am to 9 pm when you are only nine-year-old.


City Beautiful awaits revival 
of horticultural tradition

IF Chandigarh has been widely known and recognised as the City Beautiful, it is certainly not as such exclusively by virtue of its concrete buildings constructed on the pattern of modern architecture prevalent in France and other countries of Europe. There is no denying the fact that the buildings, which include Secretariat, High Court, Punjab Legislature, Panjab University, Museum and Ary Gallery, Panjab Arts Council, Tagore Theatre and schools and colleges, stand majestically, yet there is much more important which offers enough of aesthetics, beauty, charm and grandeur. And that is the horticulture of the city, which besides fascination, lends enchantment.

Horticulture is basically the culture of the gardens. In other words, it is the art of cultivating gardens. When the city was the capital of Punjab, almost all the Governors, Chief Ministers and Ministers evinced keen interest in promoting horticulture in the city. Notably, the Governor, Mr N.V. Godgil, and the Chief Minister, Mr Partap Singh Kairon, figured prominently for patronising and promoting the culture of gardening. For this purpose, Mr Kairon recruited a large number of block development officers in the Chandigarh region.

The down memory lane, I often recall that among the ministers of Punjab, Giani Kartar Singh, Mr N.S. Talib, Mr Gurbanta Singh, Mr Amar Nath Vidyalankar and Mr Prem Singh Prem ensured that all-out efforts were made to keep the city neat and clean and free from pollution of all sorts. In their official capacity, they took interest in planting more and more trees as well as promoting horticulture. Later, the Chief Commissioner, Dr M.S. Randhawa, and the Adviser, Mr Ashok Pardhan of the Union Territory of Chandigarh carried forward this rich tradition, as a result of which a large number of nurseries in the city and nearby areas grew up. At present, the city can boast of a fairly good number of nurseries, which provide a large variety of plants for cultivating kitchen as well as all other types of gardens.

With the passage of time, this very culture and tradition of cultivating gardens has seen its downfall, mainly because the main concern of the migrants to Chandigarh from other towns and cities of Punjab and elsewhere is apparently to establish their businesses in the city. Instead of giving a big hand to the promotion of horticulture, the migrants, who settled down in the city in the 1980s, eclipsed the glory of the already existing nurseries and gardens by raising phadi markets over the land meant for them. The oldest nursery in Sector 23 was the first to fall victim to their lack of aesthetics for planting trees and flowers in their residential areas.

Now the Horticulture Wing of the Municipal Corporation has geared up its machinery to restore the floral beauty and grandeur of the 50s and 60s to the city. During a brief conversation on the phone, Mr Puranjit Singh, Chief Engineer, said they had an ambitious plan of going ahead with the construction of new floral-parks as well as the repairs of the old ones. The pucca railing around these would provide protection from encroachment. “We are ready for doing the maximum as well as the best possible to promote horticulture in the city, provided there is continual availability of funds for the purpose,” he added.

Another officer of the department, XEN Raghbir Singh, said in an energetic and ambitious tone that the department was determined to streamline its functioning so that the very best of horticulture could be promoted. He registered his protest over the publication of a report on fencing of the government quarters, in possession of the officers of the department, in a recently launched vernacular daily from the city. He added that in the absence of a pucca wall around the quarter, fencing in the limited area was a must for the secrecy and security of the family residing in it. Those who write against such fencing are apparently unaware of the fact that the municipal bye-laws of the developed and developing nations provide for adequate fencing of the residential areas in prescribed limits for reasons of safety as well as security.

It has been noticed that in the recent past, the horticulture department has done a lot in various localities, extending from Sector 4 to Sector 61, with regard to plantation of trees and flowers, besides constructing beautiful parks. Ironically, in some sectors, the residents have been thwarting all these efforts, with the result that such parks are reduced merely to barren grounds for parking cars, jeeps, bicycles, and scooters as well as open air toilets for their pet dogs.

Some residents have even gone to the extent of removing the railings. Thus, the basic purpose of the culture and tradition of horticulture, as penned down by the city planners, is defeated. In the circumstances, the administrators of the Municipal Corporation should impose penalty on the defaulters so that the promotion of art and culture of gardening goes unabated in the city.

As a student of agriculture, which includes the subject of horticulture, I would like to put forth a suggestion that for the most appropriate promotion of the culture of cultivating gardens, the horticulture department should cultivate flowers and plants which have both medicinal and ecclesiastical value. These include anemone, geranium, marsh, marigold, primula, potentilla, geum, aster, lilium, aconite, delphinium, ranunculus, corydalis, inula, saussurea abvallata, campanula, pedicularis, trysimum, morina, impetiens, bistorta, and ligularia. The best months for their plantation are June and July.

In addition to the above, the department should bring awareness among the people to keep the city clean and pollution free. It is possible only if some important do’s and don’t are observed. The do’s are to avoid deforestation, make no open fires and discourage others from doing so, minimising use of firewood, to carry away all non-degradable litter and burn or bury paper before leaving any spot. to extinguish any burning cigarette butts and dispose off glass-bottles properly, to avoid using polythene and to propagate and pursue conservation.

The don’ts include avoiding the use of pollutants such as detergents, to abstain from grafiti and contribute in keeping the locales clean, to allow the flora and fauna to flourish in its natural environment, and not to indulge in any activity which is not acceptable by local norms and values.

— J.S. Bedi


The bovine astrologer

THE modern people of Chandigarh know little about the traditional way of life in a village. And they know nothing about certain things, which are fast going into oblivion. So when I saw the ‘bovine astrologer’ on Madhya Marg, I screeched my car to a halt and jumped out with my camera. There it stood on the edge of the road, with a lady customer keen to know about her future. Its keeper was explaining the answers given by the bull. Strange and unbelievable it may seem to the younger generation of this semicosmopolitan city, but people do believe that this bull can solve their problems and give correct answers to their queries.

Almost 100 per cent of the children, born and brought up in Chandigarh, are unaware that such a thing exists. This kind of bull was a common sight in villages and towns a few decades ago. Its back and face is covered with a cloth studded with kaudian — a kind of seashells. Their keepers used to take them from house to house, answering the queries of the residents, who would reward them in cash or kind. They were also taken to rural fairs, which provided an opportunity of ‘good business’.

Can such a bull really predict the future or know the solution of people’s problems? “This is Nandi bull. He has done the pilgrimage of Chaar Dhaam and has, consequently, been bestowed with divine powers”, says Vishwanath from Gorakhvishala ashram of Hardwar. “There are only two persons in Hardwar, who own such bulls — me and my guru Baijnath ji. I am going to Kulu, where my guru ji will meet me and we shall solve the problems of people in Dasehra ground there”, he said. “We travel a distance of 100km per day”, claims Vishwanath. However, the figure does not seem realistic. They travel on foot; and on the way, they have to take rest, look after physical requirements of their bodies, and of course have to attend to their clients. Many people do believe in supernatural powers of such a bull. But there are others, who attribute the phenomenon to expert training by the keeper.

Highly religious minded people form the clientele of the duo. The bull and its keeper hold a majma at an open place. A number of people gather there in a circle in which the bull moves.

Then it selects one person and stops in front of him. The keeper asks that person to put his question or problem to the ‘all knowledgeable’ Nandi bull — the only breed of its kind in three worlds. The bull gives answer to his question or solves his problem by nodding in the affirmative or in the negative. Its keeper interprets the answer. (They can answer about 100 commonly asked questions.) The devotee pays either in cash or in the shape of eatables like grains, fruit etc.

With changing lifestyle of people, and their movement to cities, the ‘fortune telling bulls’ have become a thing of the past.

— Thakur Paramjit 


Contract workers up in arms
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — The employees, working on contract for the maintenance of electrical works in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, are up in arms against the contractor and certain officials of the Engineering Department for having taken them for a ride over various issues.

Nearly 30 such employees working in the substation as helpers, electricians and substation attendants have alleged that they are being harassed and exploited by the employers, Sandeep Electrical Company . They pointed out that for nearly four years, since the contractor Tarsem lal Jindal took charge, all of them were being paid salaries lower than those prescribed under the Minimum Wages Act. It was only when they raised a hue and cry about their salaries that from May, the contractor started paying them salaries in accordance with the Wages Act in the presence of the labour inspector.

However, the recent conflict arose when the employees were forced to sign on pay slips, mentioning amounts higher than what was actually paid to them, last month by the munshi and the cashier. While some of the employees signed the same fearing they may lose their jobs, the others refused to do so and snatched the register. The deposited the same with the Assistant Labour Commissioner.

The employees revealed that the substation attendants, for nearly three years, were being paid Rs 1800 instead of Rs 3500, electricians were being paid Rs 1600 instead of Rs 3100 and helpers were being paid Rs 1400 instead of Rs 2650. However, following their complaint in the labour court, for May they have been paid Rs 2600, Rs 2270 and Rs 2175, respectively.

They further pointed out that despite the provisions under law, neither Employees Provident Fund ( EPF) nor ESI was being deducted from their salaries. According to Dharampal, one of the employee leaders, the owner of Sandeep Electrical Company had been flouting rules and regulations, yet he had been bagging the contract for the past three years. As per law, any company which has more than 20 employees on contract, is supposed to implement the PF and ESI schemes.

The employees alleged that the XEN concerned and the staff of the electrical wing were unnecessarily sheltering the contractor and finding faults with them. They never marked their attendance, yet the contractor had been seeking the payment from the officials on the basis of the number of days they had worked. Even the high-ups were making money out of their salaries, almost Rs 600 per person, alleged one of them.

The contractor, who could not be contacted, is learnt to have lodged a complaint with the Sector 34 police station that the employees snatched Rs 40,000 and the salary register from his staff, besides beating up the cashier and munshi, who had gone to get the slips signed. However, no case was registered. He is learnt to have written to the Electricity wing of UT that he is not keen to carry on with the contract and take responsibility of the employees.

The Assistant Labour Commissioner, Mr S.S Chauhan when contacted, said the dispute amongst the contractor and the workers seems to be instigated by a third party. To ensure better industrial relations, they have been asked to resolve the same amongst themselves during the next two days.

The XEN, Mr Kuldip Singh, said the employees are agitated since they want their jobs to be permanent and are waiting for the court orders since the case is pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. As regards the problem, he denied most of the allegations as baseless and said their conflict was with the contractor and not with them. Only the contractor is accountable to us and the labourers in turn report to him. “We have been paying the salaries which the contractor has been asking,” he added.

Meanwhile, the work of electricity distribution and maintenance is being carried out smoothly by the employees on contract. A spokesperson of the employees, Mr Amar, said they would continue to work till they were forced to quit by the authorities concerned.


Bid to commit suicide
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 19 — A resident of Bapu Dham colony reportedly tried to commit suicide but was rushed to the Sector 16 general hospital where her condition is stated to be stable.

According to police sources, the 18-year-old Beena was found to be vomitting all over the house by her husband Hari who works at a dairy. He told the police that he came home in the afternoon and lied down for a nap at about 2 p.m. When he woke up two hours later he found his wife ill and vomitting. She told him that she had reportedly consumed a bottle of phenyl.

The police is investigating.

Three injured: As many as three residents were injured in accidents at various places in the city.

Sources said cyclists Ajay Kumar and Monty were hit and injured by a truck (HR-37-A-0921) near the CTU workshop in Sector 25. Monty received fractures in his left leg and arm, while ajay received minor injuries. The truck driver, Sukhbir Singh, has been arrested and the truck impounded.

Similarly, cyclist Balwant Singh, a resident of Nawanshahr, was hit by a scooterist (PB-12-C-0059) near the cricket stadium roundabout. The cyclist was admitted to the hospital while the scooterist fled from the scene of the crime.

Cases under Sections 279 and 337, IPC, have been registered.

Girl recovered: The police has recovered a 20-year-old girl from the sector 16 general hospital who is not talking to anybody. The hospital authorities called the police after they spotted the sari-clad girl sitting all by herself since early morning. Repeated attempts to get her to reveal her identity or name proved futile. She was also carrying a bag containing some woollen clothes and a mangalsutra. She was also wearing some jewellery and had a small mount of money.

Further investigations are on.

Held for gambling: The police has arrested four persons, Ram Naresh, Jatinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh and Abjul, on the charges of gambling at a public place. A sum of Rs 522 was recovered from their possession. A case under Section 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling act has been registered against them.

Truck stolen: Mr Harvinder Singh, a resident of Hoshiarpur, reported that someone stole his truck (PB-07-A-9899) from the transport area. A case under Section 379, IPC, has been registered.


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