Thursday, August 17, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Petrol price up by Rs 1.95 in city
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — With the Chandigarh Administration increasing the sales tax on petrol from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, petrol started costing more in the city from today.

According to a notification issued by the administration this evening, the increase has been necessitated on account of the directive issued by the Central Government to the administration to ensure compliance with the agreed floor rate regime on the sales tax.

It may be recalled that at the meeting of the state Finance Secretaries in New Delhi last month, it was pointed out that Chandigarh was the only territory which had not implemented the decision to impose 20% sales tax on petrol. Consequently, the Union Finance Ministry had directed the administration to ensure immediate compliance of the decision to impose 20% sales tax on petrol.

Now the general public will have to shell Rs 1.95 more per litre of petrol. However, there will not be any change in the prices of diesel as the administration has not increased sales tax to the agreed floor rate of 12% since the states of Punjab and Haryana have not implemented the agreed rate.

In November, 1999, at an all-India meeting, it was decided that all state governments would adopt uniform floor rates of sales tax in respect of 205 items to curb trade malpractices and loss of legitimate sales tax realisation by the states. The uniform floor rates for petrol and diesel were decided at 20% and 12%, respectively.

While the administration had complied with the decision on uniform floor rates in respect of all items, the issue relating to sales tax on petrol and diesel was taken up with the Central Government on the plea that in case of Chandigarh, an additional burden of 4% Central Sales Tax (CST) is applicable, since all oil depots are located in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

The Union Home Ministry had written to Punjab and Haryana to waive the 4% CST on petrol and diesel but the states declined to reduce the CST.

Following this, the administration took up the matter with the Petroleum Ministry to open oil depots in the city to avoid the burden of CST. There has been a positive response from the Petroleum Ministry and land had been offered to oil companies in Sector 25 for opening the oil depots which are likely to be operational by September this year. With this, the 4% CST would be eliminated and the administration would be in a position to lower the prices of petrol, a press note issued here said.

With today's decision to increase the sales tax on petrol to 20%, the administration has complied with the decision to implement uniform floor rates.


A blow to the common man
By Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The petrol price hike by the Chandigarh Administration has come in for a severe criticism by the general public and the owners of various petrol stations. A cross-section of the city residents contacted by The Tribune strongly criticised the move of the administration to raise the sales tax on petrol from 12 to 20 per cent, increasing the rate of per litre of petrol from Rs 25.61 to Rs 27.56.

Almost all the people contacted in a random survey were of the opinion that the hike would come as a blow to the common man who was already overburdened due to inflation. Many petrol station owners were worried about their clientele which, they foresaw, would be affected.

Mr Amanpreet Singh, General Secretary of the Chandigarh Petroleum Dealers Association and owner of Sukhna Petrol Station, was of the view that the general public would be the worst hit. "The irony of the situation is that we are already paying 15 paise as motor spirit tax and we are the only city all over the country who is paying 4 per cent CST," he said.

"We will lose sales and the trade will shift to other cities like Panchkula where petrol is cheaper than Chandigarh from now onwards. We suffered this kind of loss last year after the tax raise and the revenue losses were huge at that time. The petrol stations situated on the periphery of the city will suffer the most," he added.

Similar views were expressed by Mr Surinder Kumar, manager of Vishal Service Station, Sector 31, who said that the sales would go down after the raise. "People will prefer to go down to Panchkula to buy petrol at cheaper rates. Earlier it was the other way round when consumers used to come to the city from Panchkula to buy petrol. The customers do not go in for the quality of the petrol but they fall for the cost factor," said Mr Surinder Kumar.

The general public, although was not aware of the hike as the notification came late in the evening, yet their first reaction after they were told was that it would be the common people who would be at the receiving end. Mr V.K. Sharma, Joint Director, Terminal Ballistics Research Lab, said: "the raise will be hard on the common consumer. This would amount to an extra burden for the public. Its a long and debatable issue to talk about the rise, but I will say that petrol should be sold at international rates. Why unnecessarily inflate the prices in the country?"

Mr Sudarshan Khosla, a resident of city and an engineer in PUDA, said: "This is a wrong move on the part of the administration and the common man will be the worst hit. If you say that many other states have imposed a sales tax at 20 per cent it doesn't mean that the rise is justified. I must say that its wrong on their part also. Petrol is a necessity these days and it should not be dearer."

Mr S.S. Sidhu, a city resident, said: "The price hike will upset my family budget. The prices of all other commodities are sky-rocketing. A raise of around Rs 2 is quite substantial. It is already quite expensive to buy petrol and it will have the spiralling effect on the prices of the commodities as the transportation cost will go up." 


Sitting MLAs to get land for colony in Mohali
By Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 16 — Citing security reasons, the Punjab Government has decided to allot land for a residential colony for its sitting Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in this town. Suitable land is being identified in the southern part of the town to build a colony on the pattern of the VIP complex in Sector 39 of Chandigarh.

Approximately 25 acres will be required for the purpose. Though it could not be ascertained whether land would be allotted to a society of legislators of the ruling party or a residential colony would be provided at the cost of the government, sources in the government say that the move could help the legislators, who through a society, had reportedly purchased land in Kansal village.

The proposal for providing the colony was moved by the government at a recent meeting of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority on the recommendation of the Director-General of Police (DGP), Punjab. The meeting was chaired by the Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur.

The police authorities, in a note, said there were many MLAs who, along with their family members, were under threat by militant organisations. They said apart from a security risk for the people living in the neighbourhood of the politicians, the presence of security personnel and their 'temporary' accommodation were a source of nuisance to the residents. Moreover, the security personnel encroached upon public land for pitching their tents.

It is feared that if land was allotted for a private colony, the sitting MLAs would continue to stay in the colony after their term expired after two years.

It is proposed that no concession in land price be offered to the applicants by PUDA. The mode of payment should also be on a par with the allotment of plots to other sections of the society. It is suggested that the allotment rates could be around Rs 3,800 per sq yard.

The guidelines for the scheme are being framed.

Dr Upinderjit Kaur, was not available for comments.


Polyclinic to have gynae ward
By Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The heavy rush of patients in the gynaecology wards of the Sector 16 hospital is likely to reduce after the UT Administration has decided to provide maternity services in the Sector 22 polyclinic. The Administration has sanctioned Rs 91 lakh for the project. The new ward will be built on the first floor of the polyclinic building.

The Chief Engineer of the UT, Mr R.K. Jain, said the work on the project was likely to begin in the first week of October and would be finished in a year. The new section will have four wards and six deluxe rooms with an attached balcony, toilet and kitchenette in each one of these. It will also have a modern operation theatre, pre-delivery room, clean labour room, baby room and septic nursery. “Tenders has already been invited and these will be opened soon,” Mr Jain said.

Dr Gurdeep Kaur, Head of the Gynaecology Wing of the Sector 16 General Hospital, said the project had been planned in view the overcrowding in the hospital. About 8,000 deliveries are performed every year in the hospital, most in any hospital in north India. She also said, “Earlier, the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital used to accommodate some of the patients, but now, the number of deliveries have increased. The provision of obstetrics facilities in the polyclinic will help us provide better service to the people of the city and its surrounding areas.”

Dr Gurdeep Kaur said the polyclinic would have delivery services as well as post partum facilities. Consultation on family planning, baby immunisation, sterilisation operations and the use of contraceptives would also be provided in the polyclinic. Mothers would be encouraged to adopt family-planning measures immediately after the delivery or within three months of it.

Facilities for carrying out laparoscopic sterilisation and post partum tubaligation have also been provided in the polyclinic. Patients can also visit it for counselling much later after they have been discharged. Even antenatal care will be provided to the would-be-mothers here.

The project will be a boon for persons living in southern sectors because the polyclinic is located close to the area.


Litigation delays UT's IT education plan
By Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The UT Education Department's plan to introduce computer education in schools and colleges which was supposed to start from this session will have to wait. The reason: legal wrangling between the Administration and service providing companies.

Following the Punjab and Haryana High Court directive the date of hearing for the party has been postponed till August 21, thereby ensuring delay in the implementation of the plans.

Reportedly, it was after the decision of the Punjab Government to introduce computer education in the schools of the state that the UT Administration also decided to launch the scheme in the UT schools and colleges.

In December last year, the UT Administration invited tenders from "ISO-certified" IT companies on the lines of the Punjab Government.

However, in the chapter containing the terms and conditions of the tenders, the words "ISO-certified" were missing , which later became the main issue leading to wrangling between the parties.

An eight-member committee, which evaluated the tenders, issued a letter of intent to IEC Software, a New Delhi based company which had the lowest bid, and in January the company was intimated that the offer had been accepted.

However, Tata Infotech, another company which had participated in the tender, objected to the decision, stating that IEC's offer could not be accepted since it was not ISO-certified whereas Tata Infotech was. Thus, the Administration decided to re-invite tenders and intimated this to IEC, which also moved to the court alleging it to be an unfair decision.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court last month directed the Administration to give an opportunity of hearing to IEC and also quashed the Administration's decision to invite fresh tenders.

The Education Secretary has now fixed August 21 as the date of hearing for IEC. Now, with more than four months having already been passed when the current session began, the chances of implementation of the plan are bleak.


Promises galore by MC poll candidates
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 16 — Promises of giving a facelift to the town and maintenance of basic amenities is what the candidates are making in their door-to-door campaigning for the forthcoming elections to SAS Nagar Municipal Council. While the sitting councillors are boasting of their achievements, those contesting for the first time assure of the implementation of the unfulfilled promises of the previous councillors.

In ward no. 21, at least four candidates are in the fray. Mr Prithpal Singh, who is contesting as an Independent candidate, says that the green belts in the ward would be developed. Construction of dispensary and allotment of land for rehri market are also on his agenda.

He is facing a tough fight from Mr Shamsher Singh Shergill of Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Kulwant Singh, a former councillor who is contesting as an Independent candidate, says he would make efforts to allot a government senior secondary school, provide a community centre, illuminate parks and provide recreational facilities for the youth.

The candidates in ward no. 22 are banking on woman empowerment. The candidates are Ms Jasbir Kaur of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Ms Ravinder Kaur, Ms Satpal Kaur, Ms Amiteshwar Kaur and Ms Anita Chadha — all Independents.

Ms Satpal Kaur says that she would take the women of the ward into confidence to carry out various development projects like the repair of roads and regular supplies of water and electricity.

In ward no. 23, Mr Harbans Kaur, a former municipal councillor, says that she would make efforts to make the town a district headquarters. She would also oppose the shifting of the bus stand from Phase 8 to Phase 6. Providing a post office and development of a commercial area in Phase IX are also on her agenda.

Her competitors, Mr Naurang Singh, Mr Balkar Singh, both Independents and Mr Malkiat Singh Mohali, candidate of SAD, also make promises on similar lines.

Mr Baldev Singh, an Independent candidate of ward no. 24, says that the disposal of garbage and clean administration are his priorities. Mr Amrik Singh, former municipal councillor, and Mr Sucha Singh Randhawa, both Independent candidates, and Mr Santokh Singh, candidate of SAD, are also in the fray in ward no. 24.

Mr Amrik Singh had made a detailed manifesto.

In ward no. 25, those in the fray are Ms Ajmer Kaur, Ms Inderjit Kaur, a former councillor, Ms Inderjit Kaur Rishi, Mr Santosh Walia, Ms Sunita Ahuja, Mr Kashmir Kaur, Ms Pritam Kaur, Mr Paramjit Kaur and Ms Ravinder Kaur Gulati.

Mr Amardeep Sharma of the BJP from ward no 26 promises an ambulance service, employment for housewives and stationery for poor students.

Other candidates in the ward are Mr Satpal Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Gagan Singh, Mr Jagpal Chand, Mr Desh Raj Chandala, Mr Manohar Singh, Mr Najar Singh and Mr Vijay Partap Singh.

Mr S.S. Barnala, former Municipal Councillor, who is contesting from ward no 27, promises to keep up the development works in the area. Other contestants in the fray in ward no. 27 are Mr Harbhajan Lal, Ms Harminder Kaur and Ms Jatinder Kaur.


Cattle falling prey to polythene bags
By Nishikant Dwivedi

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — They lie by the roadside, lifeless with their stomach burst open revealing heap of dingy yellow, black, even pink polythene bags. Every now and then one comes across dead cattle who fall victims to the polythene bag epidemic.

A survey of the periphery confirmed that the polythene bags discarded by city residents are finding their way to the stomachs of these hapless animals. Cattle feeding on such bags is a common sight at various garbage dumps.

Although exact statistics are not available, there is no agency in the city which is involved in protecting such animals. The officer in charge of the Animal Husbandry Department, Dr Jagdish Kochhar, asserts: “The worse affected are stray animals.”

It was very difficult to determine if the bovine had polythene in its stomach. The symptom like constipation was very general in nature rather than specific. One came to know about the polythene’s presence only after an autopsy was conducted. But given the cost involved and lack of care by the people such deaths would only rise in the future, he said.

The priest of a temple in the PGI complex lost a cow two years ago due to polythene. “About 25 kg of polythene was removed from her stomach in an operation carried out at the Centre for Prevention of Cruelty against Animals dispensary in Sector 38,” claimed the priest.

Even though cows are considered sacred, their number as abandoned animals exceeds than that of buffaloes. “Once a cow becomes uneconomical, she is disowned by the owner and has to fend for herself. And the only place where she can fill her stomach is to eat garbage at dumps,'' says a villager. “As far as the buffaloes are concerned, they are purchased by butchers,” he added. 


Administration denies separate home 
to delinquents
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The Chandigarh Administration has shot down the proposal for a separate home for delinquents and neglected children, saying that their number, in the city, was negligible. Therefore, having such an infrastructure would be an unnecessary burden on the administration.

Last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, following some newspaper reports on the pathetic condition of the Home for Delinquents and Neglected Children in Sector 15, had taken suo motu notice and asked the Department of Social Welfare to explain why the basic facilities were not being provided to these children.

The department, clarifying its position, had said a full-fledged home for the neglected and delinquent children was on the anvil.

The home for the delinquents and neglected children had been established on the first floor of the Home for the Old and Destitute in Sector 15. The idea for a separate infrastructure for these children was conceived in 1998, and the land was earmarked in Sector 25, in 1999.

Therefore, this decision by the Chandigarh Administration comes as a surprise, considering plans and the drawings of the building had been finalised and approved by the Architecture Department.

The official version is that in Chandigarh the number of juvenile delinquents is very less. As per the Director, Social Welfare, Ms Madhavi Kataria, “Going by the number of juvenile delinquents in the city, there is hardly any requirement to create such a big infrastructure. It would have meant an unnecessary financial burden on the Administration. This is why, the Finance Secretary, in consultation with the Administrator, felt that there was no requirement to create a separate home.”

The department says that the home for the juveniles in Sector 15 is serving its purpose quite well and for female juvenile delinquents, the department is tying up with Nari Niketan in Sector 26, for which a formal approval from the Law Department is awaited. Moreover, arrangements have also been made with the Special Home in Hoshiarpur for any convicted juvenile. “ Till date, we have neither got a convict nor a girl delinquent,” says Ms Kataria.

She adds that the home, ever since its inception in 1998, has received just 177 cases. Out of these, most have stayed for less than 10 days. About 22 children stayed in this home for about three months. At present too, there is only one boy, Krishna, aged about 10, in the home”.

However, irrespective of the number of inmates, there is a need to create a special facility for the juvenile delinquents. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 clearly indicates a realisation of multi-faceted problems, different needs and high aspirations of juveniles of different categories and the importance of working in collaboration with voluntary organisations interested in their welfare. It is aimed at achieving greater social justice for the affected children and enabling them to realise their rights as human beings.

The home is also to be used to conduct welfare activities for the neglected and homeless children.

The Juvenile Justice Act also spells out the machinery and infrastructure required for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of various categories of children coming within the purview of the juvenile justice system which includes establishing observation homes for the undertrials, juvenile homes for the neglected and special homes for delinquent or convicted children.

The Act specifies that the state government, in this case the Administration, is authorised to establish juvenile, special and observation homes. The homes will not only have to provide accommodation but also maintenance and facilities for education. These homes would also provide opportunities for the all-round growth, and development of personality.

The neglected juveniles are expected to be sent to an observation home unless they are kept with his parents or guardians. An atmosphere has to be created and maintained in juvenile homes for the overall development of juveniles. “A family or a homely atmosphere is a must because juvenile problems are often caused by broken families,” says the Act.

The need for a separate home, in the city, was also felt as many a time inmates of the Home for Old and Destitute had complained about the disturbance caused to them by the presence of the juvenile home on the first floor.

Ms Kataria, however, disagrees. “There have not been more than 11 inmates at a time. Moreover, these children are on the opposite side of the building. So it is virtually impossible for them to cause disturbance to the inmates of the home for elderly. In fact, our aim should be to try and increase linkages between them so that these children can be helped to get into the mainstream,” she adds.


Person succumbs to injuries
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — A Barwala resident, Hem Raj, succumbed to his injuries after he was hit by a bus near the new SAS Nagar barrier. The driver of the bus (PB-12-C-9030) was Faqir Singh. A case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered and the accused has been arrested.

Two robbed: A Hamirpur resident reported that two unidentified armed persons had snatched money from him after stopping him near a house in Sector 18.

Barinder Kumar, a resident of Sahal village, has reported that a youth robbed him of Rs 1,200 and ran away when he raised an alarm. A case under Sections 382 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.

Molestation bid: A Dadu Majra resident, Aman Deep, reported that an Ambala resident, Gurcharan Singh, had tried to outrage her modesty. A case under Section 354 of the IPC has been registered.

Liquor seized: The police has registered cases under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act against three women who were arrested with 13 bottles of whisky.Back


PCR staff's hand suspected in custodial death case
By Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The custodial death of Amanjeet has exposed lack of coordination between the police and the Police Control Room (PCR). Most of the SHOs term it as a nuisance which only adds to their woes.

The deceased was picked up by PCR personnel from near the Sector 39-40 roundabout. He died in police custody later that night due to serious injuries inflicted on him allegedly by the personnel. The police says that the accused grappled with a constable accompanying him and fell from the truck.

The family's version is that he was reportedly done to death. His widow is taking up the case with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

On the other hand, many police officers are highly critical of the role of the ''supra-investigatory agency'' that the local PCR has become.

In this case, the accused was picked up by the PCR personnel while he was reportedly in an inebriated condition and handed over to the Sector 39 police station at about 6 p.m. He died later at night. The duty officer only sent him for a medical test at about 11.30 p.m.

The question as to why the accused could not be taken to the nearest hospital immediately in the PCR vehicle remains unanswered. Also why did the personnel not hand him over to the chowki in charge and then inform the police station concerned also defies logic. The practice is that the PCR personnel who reach the spot keep on calling the duty officer on the wireless sets, irrespective of the fact that he could be tied up somewhere.

The officers also point out that the accused should have been subjected to medical tests immediately and his rela1tives informed, which is mandatory according to the Police Act. Since the charges framed against him were bailable, his detention for more than six hours was also illegal.

There are instances when the personnel have been more concerned about taking down the name and particulars of the guilty party than rushing accident victims to the nearest hospital.

There are only a few instances where the PCR personnel actually put their first aid skills to use. In a case in the northern subdivision, the accident victim kept crying for help while the PCR personnel kept calling the duty officer of the day, officers reveal.

This tends to tarnish the image of the police as a whole since people tend to perceive that nothing was done even though cops had arrived on the scene. There is no point in reaching at the site when they have nothing to do other than wait for the duty officer to arrive. "Is this not wastage of time and precious resources like petrol and manpower?" they question.

Another tendency of the PCR staff is that they tend to negotiate a deal between the parties while waiting for the police station cops to arrive. If a deal is struck, they let the parties go and tell the duty officer that a compromise has been reached.

A round of the city will reveal that many of the vehicles are stationed near liquor vends and public drinking places. In numerous instances, the checking officers have found that the vehicles were stationed at places other than they were supposed to be. This was reportedly done to pressurise the liquor vend owners to ''oblige'' them and only then would they move to their duty locations.

Only the other day, a PCR cop was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 500. In fact, some of the personnel even petitioned for an inquiry into the irregularities of an officer posted with the PCR to the UT Administrator, the officers reveal.


Stolen cars, scooters recovered
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 16 — The Crime Branch has arrested two persons and recovered four cars and two scooters valued at about Rs 8 lakh from them.

According to police sources, a team constituted by Inspector J.S. Cheema, arrested Vinod Kumar, alias Vikram, a resident of Burail village, who was going in a car (GJ 01 8489), and had no documents with him. On interrogation, three more cars were recovered from him. One car (CHK 3431) had been stolen from Sector 17, on June 24. The remaining cars have been taken into possession under Section 102 of the CrPC.

Similarly, another accused, Devinder Singh, alias Darshan was arrested while he was going on a scooter (CHO-IC-3552), which also had its documents missing. This scooter was stolen from the PGI. Another scooter (CHT 4773), was also recovered from him on interrogation.

Further investigations are in progress and more recoveries are expected.


One killed, 13 injured in accident
From Our Correspondent

KHARAR, Aug 16 — One person was killed and 13 other were injured, of them one seriously, in a road accident near Desu Majra village on the Kharar-SAS Nagar road today. Vehicular traffic remained suspended for some time because of the accident.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, driver of the CTU bus (CH-OIG-5842) which was coming from Chandigarh, died when the vehicle collided with an oil tanker (HR-34-7465) coming from the other side. The driver of the tanker was seriously injured and has been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

According to the police, the bus which was on route No 35/20, and the tanker collided head on. Mr Gurmeet Singh, conductor of the bus, was also injured.

As many as 11 injured persons were taken to Civil Hospital, Kharar.

Dr H.S. Obroi, while talking to newspersons, said the injured are Mr Narinder Sood, his wife, Minakshi, and their son Sahil (all from Kurali), Mr C.S. Karwal and his wife, Harjit (SAS Nagar), Mr Sant Ram and Romesh Devi (Anandpur Sahib), Mr Prem Singh (Chandigarh), and Mr Varinder Singh and Mr Yabe Ram (Mandi).

Dr Obroi said out of them four patients had some fractures and the others had minor injuries.

The police has registered a case against the driver of the oil tanker.

Meanwhile, Mr Ranjit Singh, a representative of the CTU Workers Union, who was present in the hospital, was critical of the Punjab Government.

He said in spite many accidents occurring daily and loss of life and property, the government was not taking any steps to widen this Kharar-SAS Nagar portion of the road. He said many structures were demolished many months back by the government on both sides of the road, but till today nothing had been done to widen the road.


One killed, 6 hurt in road mishap
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Aug 16 — One person was killed and six others were injured when a PRTC bus in which they were travelling dashed against a tree while avoiding a cow at Tangori village, near here, today.

According to information, the bus was going to Banur from Kharar when the mishap took place.

The deceased has been identified as Dev Raj of Rajpura.

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