Tuesday, July 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Uniform allowance, yes, but where are the uniforms?
By Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — While the government continues to disburse lakhs of rupees to its employees in the name of uniform allowance, washing allowance and stitching charges for the uniform, most employees, both in the Administration and Municipal Corporation are taking the government for a ride. A round of many major departments of the Administration shows that most Class III and IV employees who are availing themselves of the uniform allowance, are not actually seen wearing them.

The UT is following the Punjab pattern in respect to the disbursement of uniform allowance. According to the circular passed by the Punjab Government in 1994, the employees are entitled to allowance for both summer and winter uniform. The circular provides, "Males and females will both get Rs 594 each for a period of three years in summers as uniform allowance and Rs 500 each in winters. In summers, they will get an extra Rs 88 for footwear, etc; in winters an extra of Rs 119 for footwear and jerseys, and Rs 188 for long coats."

If these figures are anything to go by, then the estimated allowance money for the current 3,324 employees of the Administration easily goes into lakhs. This is apart from the extra stitching charges and washing allowance which all workers get.

Ironical is the fact that the respective heads of departments are not ensuring that proper norms be followed. Most employees are getting this money but are not using the same on uniform. In many important departments like the DC's office, Excise and Taxation Department, Food and Supplies Department, Licensing Authority office and Health Department, Class IV employees are hardly seen wearing the uniform.

The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is another major example in this regard where drivers and conductors are rarely found in a proper dress. Similar is the state of the Health and the Electricity Department. Linemen and sweepers are also hardly in uniform.

A UT official contacted in this regard agreed, "The observation that very few people are wearing uniform is very appropriate. In fact, the onus of ensuring that Class D employees wear the uniform lies on the respective heads of department. They must get stringent in this respect."

The MC follows its own pattern in this regard, but the problem is the same there also. Conditions in the Fire Department are especially deplorable. In the recent years, lakhs were sanctioned for providing special shoes by the name of jumbo shoes to the employees, but the firemen are reportedly not using these shoes. A retired official of the department said, "These shoes were procured after a lot of expenditure, but they are now gathering dust."

It is further reported that sewer men are not being provided with proper face masks, gloves and boots by the MC. Till about 1980, they were being provided with boots and gloves, but now these facilities have been discontinued. Their weekly medical check-up is also not being conducted these days, according to sources.


Bus queue shelter collapses in rain, 2 hurt
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — Heavy monsoon rains that lashed the city and its surrounding areas, including Ambala and Patiala, today resulted in the collapse of a bus queue shelter in Sector 18, causing serious injuries to two persons waiting under the shelter.

The rain, recorded 10 cm in Chandigarh till 8.30 p.m, 6 cm each in Ambala and Patiala, flooded roads and disrupted life, besides causing hardships to office-goers. The present conditions will last for the next 24 hours, the local metrological department has predicted.

Ram Bahadur and Raju, the two injured in the collapse, were shifted to General Hospital Sector 16. Ram Bahadur is rickshaw puller while Raju is the driver of a van in a private college located in Sector 18. The condition of Ram Bahadur is stated to be serious as his spine has been injured.

The rain that started in the wee hours today continued till 5 in the evening. The day time temperature dropped to 26.6°C, 7 degrees below the normal average for this time of the year.

The Director of the Met office, Mr S.C. Bhan, explained that the rain had occurred due to a low pressure area over Western Rajasthan. The cloud cover extended to high of 6 km vertically, added Mr Bhan. Chances of heavy rain are high in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

In the morning, several hundred people going to offices on two-wheelers were caught in the downpour. The same was true for children going to school. However, a few youths could be seen enjoying the rain while driving around on motorbikes. In some areas, stormwater drains choked, while water accumulated in several low-lying areas.

Heavy rain was also received from the neighbouring townships of SAS Nagar and Panchkula.

Once the rain stopped, the skies cleared up partially. This resulted in booming business for those selling chhallis (maize), samosas and pakoras. Cups of piping hot tea was also in demand in the offices in the morning. By the late evening, it was very pleasant and several residents thronged for a stroll at Sukhna Lake and Sector 17.

Those departing from or arriving at the railway station in the morning were reportedly overcharged by autorickshaw pullers.


Road stretch washed away
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, July 17 — Roaring Ghaggar today afternoon washed away a 10-feet stretch of road near the bridge in Sector 21. Police personnel set up nakas on both sides of the road to divert the traffic.

Reports of a shepherd being carried away by the river also came in. The police, even after conducting an enquiry, could not confirm the occurrence of any such incident.

In Kalka, two residents were saved from being drowned in a river. The duo, were caught unaware after the sudden rise in the water level owing to the rains. Police personnel and the public helped in the evacuation. 


Raging Ghaggar leaves trail of destruction
From Bipin Bhardwaj

CHHAT BIR, July 17 — A raging Ghaggar, flowing at a record 2 lakh cusecs and 4 feet above its danger level since this morning, left a trail of destruction, damaging crops, and washing away the protective spurs near the lion safari at the Chhat Bir Zoo, besides endangering the surrounding villages today.

A flood warning has been issued for villages in Patiala as the Tangri , a tributary of the Ghaggar, has also breached its banks and all the flow of water of the Ghaggar will head for Patiala district. The record discharge of 2 lakh cusecs today broke the previous record of 1.91 lakh cusecs recorded in 1993. The water level was 14 feet against 10 feet, that is the danger level indicator at the bridge over Ghaggar at Bhankharpur village, officials of the Drainage Department revealed.

At Chhat Bir, the strengthening of the bundh failed to provide any protection as most of the sandbags were washed away. The swirling water of the river not only washed away the vegetation on the banks, but entered a number of villages, damaging causeways and other household goods. The worst affected were Bakarpur, Salabgarh, Ibrahimpur and Chhat, situated about 1 km on either side of the river bank. About 3 to 4 feet river water accumulated in various villages along the banks. Besides cattle, wood and other items were also swept away by the water current. But no human life has been lost.

Knee-deep flood water also entered the houses at Chandiala village, putting residents to inconvenience. The Drainage Department of Patiala had a tough time throughout the day, avoiding soil erosion from the bundh adjacent to the boundary wall of the Chhat Bir lion safari. Besides stone pitching work, more than 16,000 sand-filled bags were used to strengthen the protective walls of the spur by a team of 75 departmental employees.

Officials of the civil administration, Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, SDM, and Mr HS Bhullar, and other departments rushed to the spot. Mr Sidhu directed the employees to construct temporary spurs and bundhs to divert the direction of the current of the flood.

Mr Narinder Chopra, Subdivisional Officer of the Drainage Department, Patiala Range, said heavy and continuous downpour in the catchment areas of Ghaggar for the past two days had flooded the river to this extent. The department made all arrangement to control floods at all sensitive points along the river, he claimed.

“Flood has damaged the nose portion of the spur, constructed adjacent to the Chhat Bir Zoo, to defend nearly 8 feet high water level discharge. But the level of water went about 16 feet, which damaged half of the spur,’’ said Mr Amrik Singh, a Junior Engineer. Mr Raghubir Singh, a farmer of Chhat village, lamented that flood water entered his fields and destroyed paddy, maize and other crops over acres of land.

“I have never seen such a strong water current in the river before. The water hit the fields and even the spurs adjacent to the zoo. Had the protection measures not been taken in time and the flooding would have remained for two hours more, it might have caused the boundary wall of the Lion Safari of the zoo to collapse and all the lions would have come out of it. These might have caused a great destruction in the surrounding villages,’’ feared the residents of nearby villages, who came to have a look on at the site.


Panchkula has a weird guest
By Donald Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — A metre-long lizard-type creature with overlapping horny scales made its appearance in Phase I of Panchkula’s Industrial Area last night . The guards on duty captured the creature. This morning Col R.S. Gill rang up The Tribune talking about a weird creature that had landed at Amartex House.

A ball of scales in a tin container greeted our cameraman. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Haryana, Mr Banarsi Das , was already there with an umbrella. The Amartex staff took off the lid of the container for our cameraman. The weird creature unfolded its tail. The creature turned out to be a pangolin, a member of the anteater family. The heavy showers saw the attendants cover the container again.

Mr Bansarsi Das said the pangolin was found in abundance in the lower Shivaliks. This creature must have found its way here on some vehicle. The pangolin, which may have been injured while being captured by the night guards, again rolled itself into a ball. We continued to wait. Mr Banarsi Das rang up his staff members and soon an inspector and a district forest officer landed. We waited for another 30 minutes for the cage to arrive. The pangolin had to be virtually rolled into the cage. It remained motionless for a brief period. Then it unfolded itself displaying its overlapping horny scales, narrow long snout and long tail. Cameraman Karam Singh was waiting for this moment. He clicked. The creature was loaded into a van and was soon on its way to Pinjore.

We talked to the securitymen on duty at Amartex. The pangolin was sighted by security superviser Pawan Kumar and Mirtunga Misra. It looked like a “goh” (monitor lizard). As they approached it started digging a hole and in no time the pangolin was half inside the hole. But the wall foundation stopped the creature from proceeding further. They saw a long spike and soon dragged the animal out of the ground. Not knowing what the creature was, they put a drum over it, and pulled into the Amartex campus.

The guards said they were all along under the impression that the creature was a monitor lizard.

To know more about the pangolin we talked to the Chhat Bir zoo director, Dr Vinod Sharma. He said “pangolins, like the American anteaters, are toothless. They have long, narrow snouts, long tails and sticky ropoelike tongues that they can thrust far out to catch the ants on which they feed. Pangolins have coats of mail formed by overlapping horny scales, instead of the coarse hair of the American anteaters. Pangolins can roll themselves into tight balls so heavily armoured that few enemies can harm them. They are inoffensive animals, but when captured they may lash out with their scaled tails”.


Open pit mocks public attitude
By Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, July 17 — This is a typical case of passing the buck by various government departments, while the common man waits for things to change. A valve pit, more than two-foot deep and almost three-foot wide, has been lying uncovered on a footpath just outside one of the entrances of the Phase 3B1 Rose Garden here.

"It has been like this for as long as I remember," says the caretaker. He says that there have been many incidents of children having fallen in the pit, sustaining serious injuries. Scooterists and cyclists have also fallen in the pit while driving on the footpath.

In the dark, it is difficult to spot this "trap". "I have a weak eyesight and have trained myself to first locate the pit and then pass by it," says an old man who has been a regular evening walker in the garden for years. After a heavy rain, the pit fills with water and becomes an even greater danger, not to mention the breeding ground it is for mosquitoes. "It is also used as a garbage pit by vendors on the footpath outside the garden," says the caretaker of the garden. Ask anyone if he or she has complained and the reply is, "What's the use? Who will listen?"

The Municipal Council office says that the maintenance of all sewers and manholes is the duty of the Public Health Department. The Public Health Department says that this pit is in Rose Garden and is therefore a responsibility of PUDA which maintains the garden. Although none of the bodies is ready to own responsibility, all agree that it should be covered, at least with a wire mesh.

More than 500 persons visit the garden each day, but, no one seems to have bothered to complain. Although there is a lot of hue and cry each time an accident occurs, as long as a family member is not involved, all is forgotten the next day. The public is as responsible as the government authorities for such a menace.


Doctors living in filthy conditions
By Ritika Mehta

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — Resident doctors at the PGI, who work long hours to save the lives of thousands of people, face appalling living conditions in their own hostels.

Unlit corridors, stinking toilets, choked drains, water leakage , poor power supply and creaking doors make a picture of neglect at the old Command Hospital hostel in PGI. The problems of the hardworking resident doctors living here are endless.

The hostel has about 20 rooms and it accommodates 40 doctors. The boarders here have a hard time as they miss out on basic necessities of life. Doctors say that it is unfortunate that we have to put up with unhygienic conditions. The toilets here are unclean and filthy emanating unbearable foul smell. Inadequate sewage disposal at times leads to overflow making things worse.

Bathrooms do not serve their purpose, instead add to the troubles and discomfort of these boarders. Out of three washrooms, one cannot be utilised at all as there is no water supply or light. ‘We can use only two bathrooms here all the while acing constant water leakage which leaves these bathrooms flooded and consequently we have to bear with choked drains” , said a doctor.

The list of their woes does not seem to end here. Says an official here, “It is indeed pathetic that even for fetching drinking water people have no other place to go to other than these very bathrooms.” ’Although few rooms do have taps but they are not enough to cater to everyone’s needs. Sharing his own experience at this place another boarder admitted that power cuts and irregular water supply deprives the doctors of basic amenities despite their hectic schedules.

Though resident doctors here say that they have brought all these things to the notice of the concerned officials but unfortunately there has been no response from their side. According to sources here it took few months of repeated requests and applications from their sides to convince the concerned department to clear off the place of the dangerously overgrown congress grass.

Official sources in the Engineering Department of the PGI say that a special core group has been formed to deal with the problem of hostels. A plan to have new wiring for the electric supply of the entire block has been made. New doors and chowkats have been planned for the block.

Several new changes are being brought in bathrooms, toilets and water supply systems. All this, however, awaits administrative approval, without which nothing can be done. Sources further informed that the approval is pending for the past three months and the files keep on shuttling from one place to another.


Drive to challan vehicles
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — The police will launch a special drive to challan drivers of heavy vehicles and four wheelers on July 20.

The traffic police has observed that most such vehicles either do not have taillights and indicators or drivers do not use these, which causes many accidents. Drivers of vehicles bearing defective number plates will also be challaned.

Meanwhile, in a special drive launched by the traffic police, drivers of 166 autorickshaws were challaned. While 62 offenders were challaned for overcharging and not having fare meters, 37 were fined for not possessing documents, 18 for overloading and 49 for miscellaneous offences. As many as 30 vehicles were impounded. The sources said the drive would continue.


Youth Parliament
Should driving licence age be lowered to 16?

Gavish Singla, plus one student: I am against lowering the age limit for issuing a driving licence. Talking from my own experience, I was fully trained to drive a geared scooter when I was in the ninth standard, but my parents did not allow me to drive because the rules and regulations would not permit it. I had friends who managed fake licences. Even though they had 50 cc mopeds, they demanded motorbikes, scooters etc from their parents to make an impression on others. Many students think that the driving licence age should be lowered to 16 so that they do not have to depend on their parents for going to tuitions, to school or to college. They ignore the fact that the administration has permitted them to get licences for mopeds. Lowering the age limit for a driving licence will, in my view, only lead to more accidents.

Tanu Bedi, LLB student: So far as the question of disallowing the lowering of the age limit to 16 years to get a driving licence on grounds of maturity, physical or otherwise, is concerned, I believe the kind of exposure this generation is getting makes them mature faster. Therefore, driving licences should not be denied to these youths on grounds of maturity. Teenagers below 18 driving geared vehicles is a common sight on the roads. What causes concern is their ignorance of traffic rules.

The procedure for issuing driving licences, instead, should be streamlined and proper awareness about the traffic rules should be strictly insisted upon. Underhand ways to obtain licences should be eliminated.

Shikha Sharma, a computer student: Driving licences should be issued only at 18 mainly from the safety point of view. Many a time I have seen teenagers below 17 driving rashly and speeding with little concern for the pedestrians. They may end up harming themselves as well as others. That the issue is being debated also points at the fact that a number of mishaps involve these youths. The only argument that can be advanced in the favour of lowering the age limit is that it would help these youths to become more independent. The question of safety, however, does remain paramount.

Arun Goel, LLB Student: As youngsters these days like speeding, which is a major cause of accidents on the streets and main roads, the minimum age for obtaining a driving licence should not be lowered to 16. Most of the violators of traffic rules are yougsters as, without proper awareness about these rules, they get confused in heavy traffic. In the absence of strict enforcement of traffic rules even in the case of genuine licence holders, allowing those below 18 to obtain licences will only add to the existing chaos. Non-geared vehicles, however, are easy to handle, and there is a limit to speeding in these vehicles. Therefore, driving licences for these vehicles may be issued to those below 16 to enable them to attend their tuitions etc.

Vishal Deep: The law recognises a person to be a major only on attaining the age of 18. The age limit for issuing driving licences should, therefore, not be lowered to 16. Youngsters habitually flout rules and are not mature enough to treat their own safety and that of others with seriousness. To obtain driving licences by underhand means, they make their parents spend money, some times as much as Rs 800 or Rs 1000. Whenever they are caught for violating traffic rules, they resort to bribing the traffic policeman. This only leads to irresponsible driving and more accidents on the roads. Obtaining licences by whatever means cannot save lives.


Phone subscribers at receiving end
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, July 17 — With competition from the private sector looming large, the Department of Telecommunications doesn’t seem to have got its act together even as far as local connectivity is concerned.

The Mohali exchange continues to dole out excuses like non-feasible areas and the monsoons for long waiting periods for new connections and transfer cases, clinging on to the cumbersome bureaucratic methodology of their department. Long queues, rude public dealing officials, inaccurate billing, faulty lines and telephones not repaired are just some of the complaints which are on the tip of the public’s tongue when asked about what ails the telephone department.

Consider this case: Mr. Davinder Singh Dhillon, a construction contractor residing in Phase 2, Mohali, applied for a new connection on July 24, 1999 and one year and five months later, he is still waiting. Regular visits and inquiries to the department have yielded no results. Another simple transfer case from Phase 10 to Phase 11 took two months and the subscriber was almost thankful that it just took two months and not more.

Long queues and distraught public are a routine scene at the Mohali Commercial Officer’s office. People complain that the dealing staff are generally busy talking on the telephones rather than dealing with the public and when they do so, they are excessively and needlessly rude.

But Mohali Telecom officials seem oblivious to these matters. There are, according to the Mohali Area Manager, approximately 22,000 subscribers in the Mohali Telephone exchange which has a capacity of 28,000 lines. The nearby villages have another about seven thousand subscribers, but they have their separate exchanges. Thus, the exchange is not overloaded as more line capacity is added whenever required.

As far as the non-feasible areas in Phase 1 and Phase 2 are concerned, it’s being promised that advice notes would be issued in another fortnight.

What about the incessant complaints regarding telephones not repaired for weeks? “The problem of not repaired telephones arises only when the subscriber, instead of booking a complaint with 198, tries to contact the lineman directly. We receive more than 100 complaints each day and most of them are looked into within 24 hours and within three to four days all repairs are done,” says the Area Manager.

So, all is well as far as the official end of Mohali Telecom is concerned but the public continues to feel otherwise.


Citizens and Public Offices
The long queues, the humidity and the hurry
By Ambika Kumar

Time :12:30 pm
Driving licence and registration branch, new Estate Office building, Sector 17.

Problem: Unending queues due to inadequate number of counters causing unnecessary harassment to the visitors. Different counters for “seemingly unimportant formalities”. No staff to guide people regarding the procedure.

Background: Public faced these problems on a much larger scale earlier as a result of which a new office had been opened to reduce inconvenience to them. The problem of over crowding still continues and public is not fully satisfied with this branch either.

Official Version: “We have not received any complaint from the general public. This branch is very efficient. Any complaint should be addressed in writing to the District Commissioner who will deal with it”, explains Mr Jai Ram Singh, Office Incharge.

Citizens Speak: One stands and waits in the long queue from nine in the morning till noon. It’s hot and everybody is in a hurry. The line moves slow, really slow. Finally, when one reaches the window, it is lunch break. “Come at two pm please”, is what one hears.

This is the state of affairs of the licencing branch in the new Estate Office building. “It takes at least a week to get a car registered. One objection follows another and we have to run from pillar to post. The counters close much before the scheduled time”, rues an Insurance agent Mr M.Bhandari.

Another citizen, Mr Suresh Kumar says, “This branch has no experienced or trained staff. To check one file they take 20-25 minutes which is painfully slow. They are so confused that at times contradict their own statements. They lack coordination among themselves”.

“Why can’t they point out all the objections or faults at one time”? questions a citizen. The citizens also complain about the harassment here. If their computer makes an error we suffer as we ought to get the corrections done. “Trying to get my RC corrected, I have wasted three days. The entire process is very time consuming and causes a lot of unnecessary trouble”, complains Mr Mahipal.

“Just because I have to come to this place nearly every day, I am loosing my daily wages for the past four days. As I have to get it done, I have to bear this inconvenience and mismanagement”, expresses Mr Sri Pal, another harassed person.

“We wish that some action is taken in order to improve the situation here, making it easier for the general public instead of being such a hassle “, suggested a group of people at the License office.


Bhavans galore in city
By Ramesh K. Dhiman

Generally known as the City Beautiful, Chandigarh is on its way to acquiring a new sobriquet, ‘the City of Bhavans.’ With a surfeit of 36-odd bhavans, some managed by the government and some by different sabhas and societies, Chandigarh can easily be called a city with the largest number of bhavans in the smallest area! A majority of these bhavans are predominantly caste and community-based. Though the mushrooming of these caste and community based bhavans in a modern city like Chandigarh sounds somewhat incongruous, yet for those visiting this city which is rated as one of the costliest ones in the country, these bhavans are a blessing as they offer accommodation at affordable rates. And for the residents wishing to throw parties, solemnise marriages, hold religious congregations or cultural events, these bhavans come handy as the organisers do not have to spend on procuring ‘shamianas’ and other infrastructure. 

The need for these bhavans was felt when people belonging to certain communities found themselves without means of regular interaction with members of their community. Also they had no common platform to share their views and discuss issues of mutual concern. They had to meet in the houses of members or under the sky. The spirit to do something for the community by promoting their regional art, culture and heritage, miles away from their homes also enthused them to realise the dream. This spirit of affinity, joined them in a bond of brotherhood, and they were able to share their agonies and ecstasies at those centres.

Interestingly, the bhavans, run by the sabhas and other societies, have many things in common as far as their functioning and aims and objects are concerned. Almost all are centrally located and offer accommodation at comparatively cheaper rates, although there are some exceptions. These bhavans have modern amenities, are equipped with geysers, room-heaters and blowers in winter and water coolers and ACs in summer. They offer moderately-furnished ordinary suites and well-furnished deluxe suites with attached baths, and are well-connected with the telephone network. Spread over areas from two kanals to as big as 14-kanal covered area, these bhavans contain well-manicured lawns, galleries, ramps, spacious multi-purpose halls, open courtyards, terraces and parking lots. There are dormitories which are still cheaper.

Some of the sabha-run bhavans have gone a step further. They are performing a host of welfare activities, such as holding medical check-up camps, blood donation camps and free yoga and meditation camps, honouring those who excel in education, sport or in any other field, and helping poor patients in hospitals. They also extend financial help to the poor for arranging marriages of their daughters and sisters. Some sabhas and organisations managing the bhavans, also bring out monthly and bi-monthly house magazines, besides souvenirs. There are others that run libraries for members of their community.

Prominent bhavans in the city are Aggarsen Bhavan, Ambedkar Bhavan, Baba Makhan Shah Labana Bhavan (it has nearly half a dozen branches in the city), Garhwal Bhavan, Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir Bhavan, Gujjar Bhavan, Gulati Bhavan, Jat Bhavan, Kashmir Bhavan, Khukhrain Bhavan, Mohyal Bhavan, Gujarat Bhavan, Namdev Bhavan, Red Cross Bhavan, Rajput Bhavan, Ramgarhia Bhavan, Rajasthan Bhavan, Ravi Dass Bhavan, Satsang Bhavan, Saini Bhavan, Sood Bhavan, Lions Bhavan, Rotary Bhavan, Swami Ram Tirath Bhavan, Mahajan Bhavan and Paras Ram Bhavan (both under construction).

There is yet another category of bhavans which include the Himachal Bhavan, Haryana Bhavan, Panchayat Bhavan, Congress Bhavan, Laj Pat Rai Bhavan, and Kisan Bhavan.


Should Chandigarh have an international airport?

By Suresh Bhambri: VARIOUS writers are expecting a world class international airport from authorities who have miserably failed to maintain even a semblance of standard at the domestic airport. The pathetic conditions at the local airport have more than once been highlighted by the press with photographic illustrations. The canteen with a leaking roof over head and third class catering, leaves much to be desired. Add to this the below-average bath-rooms.

The plight of those who have the ill-beck to visit the airport to receive or see of a friend or relative is even worse. They have to wait outside in the sun and rain, because their entry is banned for security reasons. There is no proper restaurant or even STD booth so that they can inform their families if the flight is inordinately delayed. The pre-paid taxi service which is available at most of the stations, including Chandigarh, is not available here and the tourists are charged by unscrupulous taxi-drivers according to their own whims and fancies. I am no dooms day prophet and my idea is only to present a realistic picture.

As for the difficulties faced by those going to Delhi for connecting flights, the authorities have only added to their woes by stopping direct flights from Chandigarh to Bombay earlier being run by Indian Airlines. I am sure if flights to Bombay via Delhi are re-started in the morning at 7 or 8.00 a.m. passengers can reach Delhi in time for the day-time flights besides the much needed facility of direct flight to Bombay. As for those getting night flights from Delhi they already have a flight leaving Chandigarh at 2.40 p.m. arriving at Delhi at 3.40 p.m. They normally reach the international airport at 5 or 6.00. In any case they have to present themselves for check up their hours in advance leaving a short waiting period. Let us standardise the domestic airport before thinking of an international airport for Chandigarh.

— Mr Suresh Bhambri is Station Manager of Jagson Airlines.


By H.S. Bhatty: On the eve of a new millennium, when the world is literally being reduced to a ‘global village’, it is absolutely necessary to provide quick communication and easy access to world markets and in this context the establishment of an international airport at Chandigarh is imperative. As of now, an undeniable fact is that one can reach New Delhi from Dubai or Singapore in three hours, and then slog for five tedious hours by rail or road to reach Chandigarh.

With Chandigarh expected to become a Cybercity soon, Bangalore and Hyderabad IT tycoons making a pitch for setting up their bases here, the UT Administration planning to wire the whole city with fibre optics and the existence of an Electronic Park at SAS Nagar, things are moving so fast that if easy access is not available to world experts, scientists and business taipans, we shall be missing the IT bus.

The emergence of Chandigarh as a Convention Centre is also on the cards, if for nothing else, to take off some of the pressure on New Delhi itself. Chandigarh is also the fulcrum around which educational and medical institutions revolve.

An international airport at Chandigarh will also enhance the flow of cultural exchanges of artistes and troupes from abroad. Some years ago when Mr Vasant Sathe, the President of the ICCR, was asked as to why foreign artistes and groups were not sent to northern states, he identified the lack of infrastructure and large stages as the reason. But the more telling observation was that foreign groups could not afford to travel by road or rail and waste one of two days, when their time was precious and hence they invariably turned their face southwards after reaching Delhi. An international airport, offering direct flights to Chandigarh will obviate this lacuna.

Lastly, in spite very good arguments for upgrading the present airport to international standards, the defence authorities could veto the whole plan as they would have the last word. I would therefore venture to suggest that the Defence Ministry and Chandigarh, both being under the Central Government, should take a bold decision to move the military airport to some remote location, so that overlapping of military and civilian operations is avoided. In any case, 20 years from now, air traffic density would grow to such proportions, even the present airport would not be able to cope with the international air traffic.

— Mr H.S. Bhatty is Secretary-General of Punjab Arts Council.


By V.V. Narayanan: Chandigarh is fast emerging as a metropolitan city. Even foreign consulates are interested to have an office in the City Beautiful and the British Library is the latest addition to the city.

The Punjab Government’s intention to develop Mohali as the Information Technology destination, one can expect a lot of foreign participation in the IT companies being set up there. Since things are not always finalised on the net alone, access in person is also important for the overall understanding.

Chandigarh is offering almost all educational courses and a quite number of foreign students are studying in Panjab University. Most of them are hailing from Malaysia, Thailand, Fiji Islands, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Kenya, Iran etc. and some of them are of Indian origin settled in foreign lands. In an earlier survey conducted amongst the foreign students, most of them opined that Chandigarh is the place where foreign students can get better higher education and good accommodation with lesser cost, as compared to other developed and developing countries. In times to come, the in-flow of students will also increase manifold and direct access to Chandigarh by air will be a boon not only to the student community but also to the government indirectly.

Majority of Indians settled in Canada and UK are Punjabis. Whenever they visit India or their relatives visiting them, they have to use Delhi/Bombay for their international flights. They have to waste precious time in travelling inland before an international flight. If Chandigarh is upgraded as an international airport, they can board or land directly at their door-steps.

We already have an airport in Chandigarh, and what is required to be done is to upgrade the same to international standards.


By Puneet Singh: Ah! How nice it sounds that the city beautiful will have an international airport. But the question is do we really need one? We are talking of a new international airport, but are our existing ones really world class? The answer to all these questions is in negative. It is a pity to see our existing international terminals. They are in a pathetic condition, and the government is not paying much attention to the same. To make matters worse, there are not enough facilities in these terminals. Take for example the runway required for the landing and take off of the aircrafts during thick fog when the visibility is reduced to a bare minimum. Thousands of passengers suffer for the lack of this facility as lots of aircrafts are delayed due to the same. Coming back to the city beautiful, no doubt it is an excellently planned city, but then again, it really does not need an international airport. Let us come to the practical reasons for this; consider the example of Rajasansi airport in Amritsar, it was given the rank of an international airport because it was able to give a lot of passengers for the Gulf born flights, but is it true for the city beautiful? the answer would be a plain simple no. Then again, would the air force want an international flight running down, where they have a strategic defence base? Another reason would be that Chandigarh, being the city beautiful has lesser places to offer to the tourists. The tourists who come to explore India (a land full of rich culture and heritage) find their charm in the old forts of Rajasthan or in the exotic beaches of the south or in the beautiful valleys of Kashmir (which is also known as the Paradise of India). Let us shift our focus from the tourists to the people who come for business. Barring a few industries, Chandigarh does not open the Indian industry sector to them, whereas the cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi etc. have a lot more to offer and on a much larger scale. Hence this reduces the passenger to a selected few. Thus keeping all these views in mind it would be wiser, if we would plan for having an international airport at Chandigarh a distant dream.



New Rotary chief installed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17— “Rotary is a service organisation with an extremely noble cause, which cannot be bound within countries,” said Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Government, Labour and Employment, Punjab, which speaking at the installation ceremony of Mr Praveen Chander Goyal as the President of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh for 2000-2001.

Mr Tandon said the noble message of the Rotary had to travel to and from all corners of the world. He expressed his happiness at the good work being done by the organisation, especially women and children. "This help will go a long way in making a better and secure future for them,” he added.

Earlier, the newly installed President of the club, Mr Goyal, gave projections of the action plan for this year. Besides promising to continue the good work started by previous team, Mr Goyal sketched the outline for his plans. These included health care, literacy and family planning programmes for Bapu Dham Colony, besides establishing Rs 3 crore blood reserve centre and artificial limbs for the handicapped

He also introduced his new team, which included Mr Charnjit Singh, Vicc-President, Mr Manmohan Singh, Secretary, Dr (Ms) Mangala Dogra, Joint Secretary, and Mr Atma Ram Singh, Treasurer. Other members of the executive were Mr Rakesh Garg, Dr Sarla Gopalan, Dr Gopal Dhingra, Mr B.B. Bhatia and Mr R.M. Suri.

Speaking on the occasion, the past President of the club, Mr Darshan Mahendru, gave a presentation about the activities of the club in 1999-2000. “We consolidated the ongoing projects, gift of life, family welfare and vaccinations and initiated the Rs 3 crore Rotary blood bank society project.”

Congratulating the past President, Mr Mahendru, Mr Rajendra K. Saboo, hoped that the new team would continue with the good work. “Each year is like a milestone for the club. I hope that this year will be another successful beginning of our ongoing journey.”

The District Governor of the Rotary International District 3080, Mr Ranjit Bhatia, felicitated the newly installed team on the occasion. Mr Ravi Mahajan was declared the recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow.

Mr Tandon donated Rs 50,000 to the club and stressed on the importance of Chandigarh emerging as a regional centre in Information Technology.


Savera’ faces a bleak future
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17—Jogavali Devi. Age, 31 years.Village, Serpur Agahra, District Chappra, Bihar. Jogavali came to Savera, a short-stay home for destitute women and children in Sector 43 two years ago. “ My husband, JWO S.N. Singh, remarried and threw me out of the house. For the past 15 years, I followed him around various Air Force stations in India. His last posting was at Chandigarh. Thereafter, he retired and went back to Bihar. My mother, brother and my husband did not want me back home, so I came to ‘Savera’ and have stayed here since,” says Jogavali.

She is one of those few inmates that short-stay homes like ‘Savera’ come once in a while. “ Her case is unique,” says Mrs Manjit Sodhi, Honorary Secretary of the NGO, Savera. “Her story is very confusing. The facts contradict each other. After all, you can’t reach a solution with only one side of the story. Moreover, she doesn’t appear to know her exact home address. So we really don’t know whom to contact and where.”

Rekha’s case is somewhat similar. She is 30 years old and is mentally unsound. Besides, she is extremely irritable and prone to using abusive language. Which is why she has not been able to settle anywhere. As a result, Rekha has been shifted from one home to the other in these past few years.

“Rekha was sent to us by the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar,” says Mrs Sodhi. “ I told him that the home was not meant for mentally unsound people. He asked me to write an application, so that she could be shifted to a mental hospital. Somehow, I could not bring myself to do that. So she has continued to stay with us, despite all the problems we have been facing. We did try to contact her husband. But as is always the problem in such cases, he is simply not interested to take her back.”

Mrs Sodhi, in her 11 years with the organisation, has helped innumerable poor and needy women. “Though, I don’t really have any record but in all these years, I must have seen as many as 300 cases. We have settled girls by conducting successful marriages and have sorted out marital problems by counselling and similar exercises. But some cases continue to baffle us and these two are in that category.”

Besides inmates who overstay, short-stay homes like ‘Savera’ face many other problems and scarcity of funds is one of them. ‘Savera’ is affiliated with Association of Social Health in India based in Delhi. The association falls under the Ministry of Human Resources and Child Welfare.


Scooter rally by BSP
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — The local unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party, led by its President, Mr Mata Ram Dhiman, held a scooter rally which moved through different Sectors. According to Mr Ajit Singh Saini, General Secretary of the unit, the purpose of the rally was to highlight the problems of the residents of the city.

The BSP processionists were demanding that all open electric wires and cables should be covered, roads repaired, sanitary conditions in villages and colonies improved, healthcare facilities in villages and colonies updated and immediate check on prices of essential commodities.

The BSP wanted that the menace of corruption should be controlled, more employment opportunities created, besides protesting against the inefficiencies of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.


Residents allege harassment by HUDA
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, July 17 — The House Owners Welfare Association on Monday alleged harassment by HUDA in view of the notices to residents of Sector 10 to deposit demolishing charges. Mr M.L. Sharma, General Secretary of the association, said in a press note that notices had even been served to those who had hedges on their own.

The residents resolved that if they were forced to pay these charges, they would move the court. Mr K.N. Gulati, President of the association, stated that HUDA was charging extension fee from holders of vacant plots, but it was not maintaining these.


Martyrdom day of Udham Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — The 60th martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh will be observed by the Shaheed Udham Singh Memorial Bhavan Society at Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir Auditorium, Sector 24, here on July 30.

Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, will be the chief guest and Mr Satya Paul Jain, former MP, will preside over the function.

A souvenir depicting the life of Shaheed Udham Singh will also be released on the occasion.


2 held for setting man afire
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 17 — The police has arrested two persons on the charge of setting a man afire.

According to police sources, Bawa Ram and Surinder Singh, both residents of Kumhar Mohalla, Burail, caught hold of Nazar Khan, also a resident of Burail, beat him, doused the complainant with kerosene and set him afire. He was rushed to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital with severe burn injuries. Both accused were arrested and booked under Sections 307 and 34 of the IPC.

Theft case
The police arrested Sonu, a resident of Deep Complex, on the charge of stealing a bicycle from the house of Mr Kansi Ram, a resident of the same complex. A case under Sections 379 and 411, IPC, has been registered.

One arrested
The police has arrested Mauli Jagran resident Baldev Kumar for hitting a scooterist with this truck near the Makhan Majra turn. However, no one was injured in the accident. A case under Section 279 of the IPC has been registered.


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