Friday, July 21, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


No to Canadian visa office for city
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — The interest expressed by the Canadian government in upgrading its city business office to a Counselor’s Office has been shot down by the regulations of the Ministry of External Affairs which prohibit opening of any Visa or Counselor’s office in any city other than New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.

The City Business office started by Canadian High Commission three years ago, has been a good investment as it looks after business and trade in the region. Though there are no restrictions on foreign missions for the opening up of business offices, the rules and regulations do not permit any counselor’s office outside four cosmopolitan towns, says Mr Peter F. Walker, High Commissioner of Canada to India.

Mr Walker, who is on a farewell visit to the city, says the main purpose of his fifth and last visit to this joint capital of Punjab and Haryana during his three-year tenure in India is to improve further business and economic relations between these two States and Canada.

“I met the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and the State Chief Secretary, Mr R.S. Mann, today to discuss various areas of economic cooperation.

“The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has expressed interest in the Anandgarh project. Early this year, the CMHC entered into a bilateral agreement with HUDCO, NHB and HDFC for undertaking various housing and other infrastructure development activities. A low-cost housing project has already been undertaken in Mumbai by the CMHC.

“It is keen on its participation in Anandgarh project. The Punjab Minister of State for Urban Development, Mr Ranjit Singh Ballian, and the previous Administrator of Anandgarh project, Mrs Vini Mahajan, had visited Canadian High Commission to express their interest in CMHC for this ambitious project. The CMHC is evaluating the project,” he said.

Mr Walker said that besides Anandgarh, Canada had expertise in infrastructure building, especially in road building, improving highways and environment, besides undertaking work on hydel power generation projects.

Describing “information technology” as fashionable area, Mr Walker said that Canada had acquired a high level of expertise in IT industry and is keen to extend its presence in Punjab. Some Canadian IT companies , which are growing and expanding, are already in Punjab as the State had the opportunities and potential to be a significant hub of this industry.

“Another area in which we have expressed our interest is our expertise in building hydel power generations in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. We have already worked in four States in India on power projects and are very familiar with power generation, transmission, distribution and even revenue collection. This is one area which we are going to discuss with the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and his senior officials tomorrow.

“In the area of environment , for the problem of pollution in Ludhiana, we propose to undertake a project on water supply and waste water management. I shall be going to Mumbai to discuss it with a Canadian company which has already been working in the same area for some time now.

“We can assist the Punjab Government in the areas of road building, , improving existing highways and highway designs. We have advanced technology in road building and maintenance techniques,” Mr Walker said.

Mr Walker, who belongs to Winnipeg, bread basket of Canada, says that his home town has one thing common with Punjab, which is also the food basket of India.” We can provide our expertise in the area of grain storage and grain handling.

“Besides the economic agenda for this visit, there have been extraordinary links between Punjab and Canada. Of nearly seven lakh Indian immigrants in Canada, nearly 55 per cent are of Punjabi origin,” Mr Walker said.

About the problems faced by visa seekers, Mr Walker said that after he assumed office, a number of steps had been taken to mitigate the sufferings of visa seekers. Now any one can come between 8.30 a.m. and 10 a.m. and he or she would be attended to within few minutes. His or her application is processed the same day. The number of various non-immigration visas issued during the past one year has been constantly going up. the number was around 40,000. At the same time, 15,000 applications for permanent residence were processed during the past one year. India is perhaps the second largest in sending immigrants to Canada. At present, the target for intake of immigrants has been fixed at two lakh, he said. This target may increase in the coming years.

Mr Walker said that Canada was also keen that top Indian companies, especially those in Information Technology and Bio-technology areas to invest there as it offers a large force of skilled workers besides cheap power for power-intensive industry.

He said that his tenure in India was eventful as he witnessed two Lok Sabha elections, Kargil operations and other major events. Though some sanctions and measures announced by Canadian government after nuclear tests conducted by India were still in place, the economic and trade cooperation has remained unaffected. Rather, areas of economic cooperation have grown stronger. The Indian economy was much more favourable and the government at the Centre was stable, the pace of economic growth and economic reforms had picked up, he added.


VC-designate tying up loose ends
Talks about affordable fee, soft loans for students
By Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — He might be the Vice- Chancellor in waiting, but Dr. K. N. Pathak, VC-designate is all set to take charge of the Panjab University administration. He is busy tying up loose ends and getting ready for the 23rd when he shifts into his new role. Soft spoken, open minded, humble but progressive, here are the responses he had to some of the questions facing the education system in general and the Panjab University in particular:

Q: What are the central problems facing the university today and what do you intend to do about them?

A: The central problems facing the university at this juncture are finances. We are in the midst of a monetary crunch and first and foremost a solution to this is to be found.

Q: You went to meet the Chancellor of the University, Mr Krishan Kant, did the issue of finances come up and were you given any assurances ?

A: No, this issue was not brought up. It was my first meeting with him after the decision of my appointment. It was more of a courtesy call. He did ask me what my plans for the university were and I apprised him of the situation.

Q: What do you have in mind to tide over the financial problems?

A: Apart from the government to be approached for grants, the industries should be approached for a consultancy link-up with the expertise available in the university.

Q: But a link of this variety already exists. Yet, it has not been able to generate funds.

A: We already have a link of this sort but the industries have not been very forthcoming with funds as a culture of this kind is missing in India and moreover most of the industries have not been confident of getting returns for the penny they pay. This confidence has to be built up and worked upon.

Q: A large amount of maintenance work is pending in the university. The Teachers flats, the faculty house, the hostels all these are in bad shape. When can we expect changes in these?

A: Look, its all to do with the money. Money makes the mayor go. All I can say at this stage is that If I have the money, I give an assure that I will get the existing buildings repaired and maintained rather than building more. And this is a promise.

Q: What about the fee hike issue? Student bodies have protested the hike in fees.

A: Higher education can never be free. The fact is simple: you get what you pay for and if the fee charged from the student is low, then he also will not be able to get the facilities which higher education calls for. Yes, I agree that the fee should be affordable by all classes of people and I have some plans for that too in mind.

Q: What are these plans?

A: I think the time has come that the banking and private sector starts playing a role in helping bright and needy student. Soft loans should be made available to students and even scholarships from private parties should be tapped.

Q: What about the long drawn pension issue of the university employees?

A: Basically, I am in favour of the employees getting pension as it is a well deserved help for the old age of the employees. But the issue has got more complicated with years and with some employees having even moved court, I believe. I will look into the matter and if there is anything pending from the university’s end, I will do it in all ernest.

Q: In recent years more and more cases of corruption have been linked to the examination system of the university? What do you intend to do about that?

A: I feel it is the right of every student who appears in any test of the university to be fairly examined as it leads to a question of faith of the student and society in the examination system. I will put my heart and mind into this matter and all corrective actions will be taken.

Q: What about the selection process, the fairness of which has also been questioned regularly.

A: Yes, changes are required. The new pay commission has suggested a new process and methodology of selection and that has to be looked into seriously and then a decision to this effect taken.

Q: What about the posts lying vacant?

A: The crux of the matter is that the workload has to be assessed and then selections are to be done.

Q: What about the problems of the hostels here on the campus?

A: The are a lot of problems , of safety, cleanliness and discipline and the solutions can be found only with the cooperation of the wardens and students. Nothing can change in a minute, everything takes time and changes in the positive direction will be taken.

Q: What about the constitution of the senate. You will have the opportunity of the Senate being formed after your appointment.

A: The prerogative of nomination of members to the Senate lies with the Chancellor. But if he asks for my advise I will act accordingly.

Q: The demand for a larger representation of university faculty has been brought up by PUTA regularly. What do you intend to do about that?

A: I feel the faculty is well representated in the Senate but if the demand is genuine I am ready to look into that.

Q: How do you feel holding a prestigious post as this?

A: I don’t think this is an achievement or victory.Yes it is a very big administrative responsibility and If by the end of my term I am able to bring about positive and progressive changes to the education system, I will consider it an achievement. I would also like to add that now I belong to the whole university and the problem of the students and employees is now also mine and suggestions from all are welcome and whatever I do it will require immense cooperation from everyone concerned with the betterment of the system.Back


Ghaggar bundh to be raised to save Chhat Bir zoo
From Our Correspondent

CHHAT BIR (Patiala), July 20 — To save Chhat Bir Zoo from recurring floods on account of a volatile Ghaggar, the Punjab Government will spend Rs 50 lakh on constructing a bundh along the banks and raise the level of the existing embankment by 2 feet.

A 500-foot revetment will also be build adjacent to the lion safari keeping in view threats from the river, informed Mr R.N. Gupta, Divisional Commissioner, Patiala Division, who was on a visit to the flood hit areas of the subdivision. The bundh adjacent to the lion safari of Chhat Bir Zoo was damaged by the Ghaggar on July 18.

Mr Gupta said that the 20-foot high and 500-f00t long revetment would cost Rs 25 lakh and a similar sum would be spent on raising the level of the existing embankment. All efforts will be made to save the zoo that is spread over 500 acres.

The three states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh should sit together and come out with a concrete solution to meet flood threats posed by the Ghaggar. Moreover, the governments should make the people aware of the impact of felling of trees on soil erosion resulting in o floods, said Mr Gupta.

Mr Gupta, along with Mr S.S Sidhu, SDM, Dera Bassi, Dr Vinod Sharma, Director Zoo and officials of the Drainage department, also visited flood-hit villages, including Alamgir, Tiwana, Dehar, and expressed satisfaction over the precautionary measured adopted by the department.

He said the government was ready to meet flood threats in the state. He appealed the people to come forward and join hands withe government to fight with such situations.

Badal visits zooMr Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, also paid a visit to the zoo and discussed the flood situation with Mr R.N. Gupta, Divisional Commissioner of Patiala Division. Mr Badal had stopped at the zoo en route to Punjabi University, Patiala.


662 vehicles challaned
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — A total of 662 vehicles were challaned for various offences on the first day of a special 10-day drive by the Chandigarh Police to discourage drivers from driving vehicles which do not conform to the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Act.

The drive, directions for which were given by the UT IGP, Mr B.S. Bassi, was supervised by the SP, Traffic, Mr Balbir Singh, and DSP S.S. Randhawa. It started at 8.30 a.m. and continued till 1.30 p.m. As many as 150 personnel drawn from various units, besides the traffic wing, were on duty.

The cops were stationed at 29 points which witness heavy volume of traffic. As many as 270 trucks, buses and cars were challaned for plying without brake and taillights, 199 for having faulty indicators, 18 three-wheelers for not having fare meters, 33 for defective number plates and 47 for driving without helmets, besides 105 for miscellaneous offences. Back



Kalka-Shimla train loses passengers
From M.M. Bhandari

KALKA, July 20 — With the start of rainy season in the area, there has been a sudden fall of travellers on Kalka-Shimla track. As per a source, even during the peak season of tourist in May and June this year, the number of people who travelled by Kalka-Shimla trains has been less than that in the same time during 1998-1999 and 1999-2000.

The source said that there was a lesser flow of tourists from the Calcutta side as compared to the past. The newly started Mumbai-Kalka train also could not prove profitable to the Railways.

Private de-luxe buses, which run and carry tourists from Chandigarh to Shimla, are preferred as they take less time than the train. Though almost all trains to Shimla have been suitably connected with broad gauge trains coming to Kalka from Howrah, Mumbai, Amritsar and Jodhpur, the passengers who come in these trains to Kalka prefer to alight at Chandigarh or Kalka and take a bus to Shimla.

The first train from here for Shimla starts at 4 a.m. and the second, which is an express train, at 5.30. This fast train covers the distance up to Shimla in 4 hours and 40 minutes. After this, other trains leave at 6.10 a.m., 6.30 a.m., 8.30 a.m. and 12.05 p.m. The last train leaves at 12.30 p.m. For couples, there is a compartment which has four cabins, each cabin consisting of two berths. The fare for each cabin is Rs 750, which includes food. Besides this, there are rail cars, which also carry passengers from this track.

The Kalka railway station, which is a meeting place of the narrow gauge and the broad gauge rail line, has a distinct identity in northern India. This station was developed by the English before Independence as a place for starting the journey to Shimla. The narrow gauge train, after serpenting its way through a number of hills and tunnels, ends at Shimla. It is often seen that tourists after reaching here feel excited on seeing the narrow gauge trains, which are also called toy train.

According to Mr Chandani, Station Superintendent, the railway authorities do their best to provide facilities at the station and keep a healthy atmosphere at the station by helping the passengers. He added that this railway station has won various appreciations for cleanliness and customer service.


Harassed by Administration, MC, footpath 
workers protest
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — Hundreds of roadside workers of the city gathered near the Sector 20 labour chowk today to protest against alleged harassment by the Estate Office and Municipal Corporation authorities.

According to the President of the Footpath Workers Rozgar Bachao Samiti, Mr H.S. Gambhir, a survey was carried out by the administration last year identified 2,274 footpath workers in the city. "Despite repeated assurances and promises, they have neither been issued identity cards nor any pucca booths to us," he added.

Later, the protesters went through different sectors and staged a dharna in front of the Municipal Corporation office in Sector 17. They also blocked traffic opposite the Municipal Corporation office. However, the leaders insisted that their intention was not to harass the general public. "We only want to draw their as well as authorities' attention to the problems that the footpath workers are facing everyday," they insisted. Those participating in the protest march alleged that despite repeated assurances given by the Chandigarh Administration, their places of work were destroyed and the workers harassed both by the estate office and the police.

Addressing the gathering, union leaders urged the Chandigarh Administration to implement the already accepted demands, which include issuing identity cards and providing pucca booths for which a scheme of Rs 2.10 crore has already been passed by the government.

They also warned the administration and the Municipal Corporation that if their demands were not met soon, they would be forced to take a stronger course of action. "We provide cheap service to society without disturbing the peace of the city. Despite that, we are treated like third class citizens. We refuse to tolerate this," they said.Back


Water pressure to be low
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — Following incessant rains and caving-in of the Kajauli water supply line(Phase III) at a few places at Kharar, near here, the supply of drinking water will be at low pressure in the city for the next two days.

According to a press note, though the process of repairing of the damaged water supply line has been started on a war-footing and temporary arrangements for the supply of the potable water has also been made during the weekend, the supply will be at low pressure. The residents are requested to bear with the civic body for a couple of days.



Should driving licence age be lowered to 16 ?

Rashi Trikha (16), plus one student: At the time the Motor Vehicles Act was framed, the average age for sending children to school used to be five to seven years. In the present situation, a child attains maturity by the time he is 14 or 15. Also due to greater exposure to the media, the youngsters these days become aware of the traffic rules. They also know how to drive safely. Therefore, I suggest that the driving licence age be lowered to 16. By the time a student reaches the plus one stage, he has to attend two or three tuition classes, especially if he belongs to the science stream. Permission to drive a vehicle can save him much time. If the voting age can be reduced from 21 to 18, then it should also be possible to lower the driving licence age to 16 years for motor vehicles and 14 years for non-geared vehicles.

Navneet Singh: The sea change being witnessed in the 21st century has not left the youth unaffected. The youngsters today are becoming increasingly fond of the latest vehicles on the roads. They want to be seen driving these latest models. The youngsters today do not confine themselves to the ‘school to home and home to school’ schedule. In these times of the Internet and the e-mail, would anyone like to move about on a moped? I, therefore, strongly suggest that the driving licence age should be lowered to 16. The applicants may be asked to qualify in a written test.

Shraddha Warman (16), plus two student: In this age of cyber cafes and the Internet and a boom in Information Technology, even a small child knows how to operate a personal computer (PC) and serf on the Net. Obviously, the Motor Vehicles Act is an orthodox piece of legislation. If the voting age can be reduced from 21 to 18, we could also amend the MVA. If a 16-year-old can decide which career to choose, he can surely be trusted with a driving licence. Vehicles up to 50 cc are not durable and offer no safety in a mishap. Besides, instead of blaming the youngsters for their ignorance of traffic rules, an effort should be made to educate them about these. That they do not abide by the rules also exposes the inefficiency of the traffic police. Moreover, the teenagers do not enjoy a monopoly of rash driving. The adults are equally to blame. Despite restrictions, youngsters manage to get licences by paying a price. I, therefore, suggest that the driving licence age should be lowered to 16 to ensure that youngsters are not exposed to corrupt practices at an impressionable age.

Satinder Kaur (17), passed plus two: Driving licences should not be issued to those below 18. One may lack the skill and the capacity to handle a vehicle before that. Minors are often seen driving scooters without helmets just to show off, without realising that this can endanger their lives. They also get influenced by stunts in the movies. They do not mind risking their lives to enjoy the thrill of taking risks. Parents who procure licences for their children through corrupt means waste no time in blaming the authorities whenever their children are involved in accidents. The driving licence age should, therefore, continue to be 18.

Ravi Shankar, English Honours student: The correlation sought to be made between one’s age and the capacity to drive is misleading. It has vitiated the MVA and laws that govern driving. Driving is a skill and its acquisition is not the prerogative of adults alone. Statistics show that most of the accidents involve the so-called mature persons. A good state of health and proficiency in driving should entitle one to obtain a driving licence, no matter whether he has reached 18 or not. The applicants can be imparted training and made to pass a written as well as a practical test. Driving awareness programmes should also be started at the school level.

Karanvir Sarao, plus two student: Chandigarh, a key educational centre in North India, has a large student population in the 16-18 age group. The legal bar on obtaining a driving licence before 18 has proved ineffective. In this era of increasing competition, one has to attend tuitions besides going to school or college. Public transport is inadequate and unreliable and wastes time. Students, therefore, are compelled to break the law and drive vehicles out of necessity. Getting a licence even if one is a minor poses no problem. It is a booming business for touts. We must adapt ourselves to the changing times. The need of the hour is to lower the driving licence age to 16. We can introduce strict safety measures to make it a safe exercise. Besides clearing written and practical tests, the applicants should be required to attend a traffic school for at least two weeks.

Jaya Gupta Spatu, final year medical student: Youngsters today are more advanced, intelligent and far-sighted. At present I am studying in Russia where students come from all over the world. What our parents learnt and achieved at the age of 25, our generation has done at 15. I drove my first moped when I was about 10 whereas my father did so at 29. While we are progressing in every field and competing with the world, we should waste no time in deciding the issue of lowering the driving licence age. In my view, it should be fixed at 15 which is the need of the hour.

Rajiv Ahuja, chartered accountant: I have to sometimes disallow my son, who is a plus one student, to go to school on scooter not because I do not consider him to be mature enough, but because he does not have a driving licence. I am aware though that children of his age belonging to VIP families drive automobiles with impunity. The driving licence age should be lowered to 16 in the light of poor implementation of the law uniformly.

Jatinder Singh (18), civil engineering student: There is no age limit to learning. If a 16-year-old

can drive well, he should be issued the licence. Of course, he should have to pass a written and practical test about traffic rules. Anyone asking for a driving licence should have to undergo strict physical, mental and practical tests.


Traffic disrupted for 20 hours
From Our Correspondent

ZIRAKPUR, July 20 — Vehicular traffic on the Chandigarh-Ambala national highway was disrupted for more than 20 hours due to a scooter-laden truck which overturned after hitting a road divider here last night.

Sources revealed that a truck (PAT-8914) carrying 44 scooters hit the road divider and turned turtle which resulted into scattering of scooters on the road. The Jalandhar-bound truck was returning after getting fuel from the petrol station when it hit the divider which was without any light reflectors at about 9.15 last night.

Residents complaint that the Punjab Public Works Department (Building and Roads) recarpeted the road and constructed road dividers but failed to put signboards and light reflectors.

They further alleged that due to the negligence of the PWD, more than six accidents had occurred at this spot during for the past two months. The non-operational street lights installed by the erstwhile Nagar Panchayat were also making the spot accident prone.

Traffic of the road could be restored after the truck was lifted by a crane at about 5.30 pm today.


CITCO hotels unsafe
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — The CITCO-run hotels — Shivalik view and the Mountview — are becoming unsafe for the guests if the number of thefts are any indication.

In yet another incident of daylight theft at the Shivalikview on July 16, the Punjab Anand Lamp Industries Limited complained that personal belongings of a Chinese guest of the company — Mr Sun Weigen —amounting to about Rs 5,000, were stolen.

A representation to the CITCO Managing Director alleged that a similar incident had also occurred when another guest was staying at the Mountview. The matter was also reported to the management on April 14, but no response was received.

“Such things are unwarranted for the hotels of repute and put a question mark on the safety and security of the CITCO-run hotels,” the representation added.



Sarpanch held in murder case
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — The police today arrested the Sarpanch of Khuda Ali Sher village for being involved in the murder of a villager.

Pal Singh, alias Pala, was arrested following information given by the other two accused in the murder who were arrested yesterday.

According to police sources, the body of an unidentified Sikh person, about 40 years old, was found by the police from near a thicket of bushes in Khuda Ali Sher late last night. The body bore grievous injuries on the neck and head.

The deceased was identified as Mohinder Singh, who ran a tea shop in the Sector 24 rehri market. One of the accused had an affair with the wife of the deceased which was objected to by Mr Mohinder Singh.

Fake note?: Bhim Singh, a conductor with the CTU reported that a passenger gave him a Rs 100 note which he suspected was a fake.

The police has registered a case under Sections 489 and 489-C, IPC.

Forcible entry bid: The police has arrested Ramesh Kumar and Davesh Kumar who tried to forcibly enter the house of Satinder Singh in Sector 21.

A case under Sections 457 and 511, IPC, has been registered.

In another such incident, Teja of Palsora Colony has reported that Vijay Kumar tried to enter her house last night when she was alone.

A case under Section 354, IPC, has been registered.

Car stolen: Ms J. K. Chawla has reported that her car (CHOIJ 3000) has been stolen from her residence.

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


Dimple's candles to light animals' cause
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, July 20 — The local chapter of the People For Animals (PFA) will hold an exhibition-cum-sale of exclusive designer candles by actress Dimple Kapadia and her company the Faraway Tree at Hotel Mountview from July 28.

A major percentage of the funds generated from this exhibition will go towards providing a 24-hour ambulance service — Jeev Rakshak, maintenance of the animal hospital, Basera, free mobile veterinary camps at slums and villages, vaccination of dogs and other projects.

This exhibition is being planned after the grand success of the first-ever exhibition of designer candles by Dimple Kapadia at Hotel Oberoi, New Delhi. That show was organised by the PFA head office.

Dimple will coming from Mumbai with her team to attend the exhibition which will be open to the public from July 29 to March 30. The exhibition, to be held at the hotel everyday from 10.30 am to 8 pm, will have on the display designer candles which include herbal, aromatic, glass and floating candles. The candles will be priced between Rs 120 and Rs 1,000 and over.

The chief guest will be the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob. Mrs Maneka Gandhi, Chairperson, PFA and Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, will be the guest of honour.Back

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