Wednesday, December 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Records damaged in MC building fire
No casualty reported
    DC orders inquiry

Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Records of the Licensing and Registration Branch, Union Territory, of the past three decades was reportedly reduced to ashes following a major fire which broke out in the record room in the ground floor of the Municipal Corporation building here this afternoon.

Talking to mediapersons, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, ordered an inquiry into the incident, but ruled out the possibility of sabotage at this juncture. He, however, added that the cause of the fire would be known after the completion of the inquiry. He clarified that the record of the past three to four years was had been shifted out. The new record was lying safe, he added.

For three MC employees, the search and rescue teams were akin to divine intervention. The employees, who had panicked and had been unable to come down in view of the dense smoke in the building, were carried out by the team sporting breathing apparatus.

The trio trapped in Room No. 209 were a bit shaken by the entire episode but were reported to be in normal condition. They were immediately evacuated to a safe place and later brought down the stairs by fire men who picked them in their arms. But for this, no untoward incident occurred and no casualty was reported. 

However, sources maintained that the damage to the record was irretrievable since most of the old record had got burnt and whatever was left was so badly soiled that it would not be possibly to use it again. According to sources in the Fire Department, the possibility of foul play could not be ruled out.

On the other hand, the Chief Fire Officer, Mr G.S. Bajwa, said that only six wooden racks containing 25,000-odd files were totally burnt along with some furniture and ceiling fans. He claimed that a major part of the record, including registers and files, on most other racks had been saved by the timely action of the staff. In fact, perhaps only one-fourth record had been reduced to ashes.

The total loss reported was not more than Rs 50,000. As many as six fire engines — two from the Sector 17 Fire Station and one each from Sector 32, Ram Darbar, Industrial Area (Phase I) and Mani Majra — were pressed into action.

He said the fire broke out at 4.10 p.m. and was brought under control within 45 minutes. But the staff had to battle for over three hours to control the dense smoke. ''It was difficult to reach the source of the fire as it had spread from a corner.'' Incidentally, the Chief Fire Officer was present on the premises of the MC as some tenders were to be opened in the room of the Secretary, and the fire engines were rushed immediately.

Mr Bajwa said in view of the wind velocity, it was not possible to enter the record room from the other side since the smoke was rather dense. To ensure that the fire was put off completely, three men and a fire engine would be stationed on the spot for the entire night. The cause of the fire was being ascertained, he said.

Some MC employees tried to extinguish the fire, but were unable to do so and called the fire station for help. Six fire engines battled for over three hours to put out the flames. But the magnitude of the fire was so intense that it could not be controlled immediately. The extent of damage to record would be assessed by tomorrow.

The corporation had been inspecting various other buildings in the city to ensure that they had the fire prevention measures, but its own building does not have any such system, employees alleged.

Billowing smoke engulfed the entire MC building in no time and employees ran out in panic fearing that it was going to spread fast to the building.

The fire men could be seen breaking open the windows in a bid to put out the fire. The fire spread so fast since the record comprising paper and furniture was dry and highly combustible.

Senior officials of the MC, including the Commissioner, and the Deputy Commissioner and the Licensing and Registration Authority, Mr P.S. Gill, were present on the spot till late in the evening to assess the damage.

Earlier as many as 13 employees, including three women, who were trapped on the top floor, had to be evacuated with the help of a long ladder when the fire could not be put off after consistent efforts for over an hour. It was 5 p.m. and it was time for these employees to return home. The women in particular were panicky and afraid to come down the ladder.

The damage could have been much more had the fire spread to the other areas, particularly the parking area adjacent to the basement where vehicles of senior officials and councillors are parked. But the vehicles had been parked outside today because of an agitation by the phariwalas, who had gheraoed the MC building and blocked the way for over two hours earlier during the day.

A similar fire had broken out in the Punjab and Haryana High Court two years ago where records pertaining to certain decided cases were reduced to ashes. 



Traffic chaos follows road closure
From Bipin Bhardwaj

DERA BASSI, Dec 5 — Confusion and traffic jams marked the first day of the closure of the Chandigarh—Ambala highway today. The road has been closed as work is on to construct a railway overbridge at Bhankharpur, about 2 km from here.

Hundreds of commuters were put to a great inconvenience due to the diversion of traffic to other link roads. Long queues of vehicles could be seen on these road throughout the day. The narrow level-crossing at Mubarikpur became a virtual traffic bottleneck on the Mubarikpur-Dera Bassi stretch of the road.

Traffic moving from Chandigarh to Ambala was diverted to the Mubarikpur link road from Bhankharpur to rejoin the highway near the local DAV High School. The heavy vehicles heading towards Chandigarh used the same route.

Though the light vehicles approaching Chandigarh were diverted to the Dera-Bassi-Issapur link road, some heavy vehicles also took the same route. A truck carrying mattresses overturned, disrupting the traffic on the Issapur link road for more than an hour.

The road was bumpy and full of potholes. It had another level-crossing as well, which added to the inconvenience of commuters.

Heavy traffic coming from Chandigarh and Ambala caused congestion on roads. This happened because most drivers were unaware that the road had been closed.

Besides 10 Punjab police personnel, men of the Punjab Public Works Department (B and R) managed traffic from 10.30 am onwards. The highway was closed near DAV School and at Bhankharpur.

There are four schools along the Bhankharpur-Mubarikpur-Dera-Bassi road and two on the Dera-Bassi-Issapur-Bhankharpur road. Before and after the school hours, students also caused traffic congestion on these routes.

The PWD had used long chains as road dividers on both sides of the level-crossing on the Bhankharpur-Mubarikpur link road. Despite this, traffic jams could be seen at regular intervals.

According to sources in the Railways, over 3,000 four-wheelers and long-route buses cross the highway in a day. The level-crossing is closed for a minimum of five minutes to a maximum of 15 minutes at different times. At least 28 trains, besides rail-engines pass through it daily.

Besides this, all important persons of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan use this highway and usually violate traffic rules. This adds to the traffic chaos.

Authorities said the new routes could take the volume of traffic and there would be no more traffic jams. However, the local authorities said that the road would not be able to bear the heavy volume of traffic for over two years, while the construction of the overbridge was on. They said the Dera-Bassi-Issapur-Bhankharpur link roads needed to be widened to accommodate more traffic.

Office-goers and students are among those who have been severely affected due to the increase in travel time because of the traffic chaos.

Mr H.S. Bhullar, DSP of Dera Bassi, said more police would be deployed on these routes to control traffic. Special check would be kept on drivers of trucks and buses as they often jump queues.

The PWD authorities, however, said the traffic flow was smooth on the new routes. They said traffic jams were due to the carelessness of road users.

Meanwhile, residents of the nearby areas have demanded that the Dera-Bassi-Issapur-Bhankharpur link road should be widened and repaired. They said this move would reduce the volume of traffic on the Dera Bassi-Mubarikpur-Bhankharpur road.

The local administration had also urged the PWD to widen the link road, but the Ministry of Surface Transport had rejected the proposal, said Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, SDM of Dera Bassi.


IT scheme starts today
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Responding to the requests from tax payers, who have not received their PAN cards, the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, North Western Region, Ms Surinder Pal Kaur, today announced the launching of a special drive for allotment of PAN to all the tax payers in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Chandigarh.

Commencing from tomorrow, any tax payer who has not been allotted a PAN, could obtain priority allotment by using a website:

The procedure is simple. A tax payer would be required to log on to the site and use a query form to fill in his personal details. All requests received by the department between December 6 and 8 would receive a call from the income tax office under the new customer service initiative. Ms Kaur informed that the Central Board of Excise Control has already introduced the new excise control code based on PAN.

The website drive for priority allotment will be open for all those applying for fresh allotment and those who had already applied for PAN, but have not received their PAN cards. The website also gives information on 1/6 scheme and Samman Scheme. The site aims to present an overview of the department's set-up in the north-western region. Various forms can also be downloaded from the website. These include the saral form, forms for income tax clearance and obtaining PAN.

Stressing the importance of obtaining and quoting PAN, Ms Kaur explained that it was mandatory to quote PAN for opening a bank account, for getting a telephone connection, for sale and purchase of vehicle, for sale and purchase of shares over Rs 10 lakh, and for payment of hotel expenses above Rs 25,000. It is also to be quoted on returns, challans and in all correspondence with the department.


City IG order on release of vehicles
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Accident victims will not have to wait for court orders to get their vehicles released. The Inspector-General of Chandigarh Police, Mr B.S. Bassi, today directed all Station House Officers to hand these over to the owners on supardari. The direction is significant as about 70 to 100 vehicles are involved in mishaps every month.

In the monthly crime review meeting, the IGP also asked the SHOs to release on bail, without fail, persons arrested for bailable offences. If surety was not available, the cops were asked to inform, without delay, the nearest relatives of the arrested person. The IGP also directed them to return against receipts the belongings, taken into custody at the time of arrest, to the accused upon his release.

For eliminating inconvenience faced by residents while getting the FIRs lodged, the IGP also reiterated the decision of registering every case brought to their notice. “Register FIR even if the allegation is of cycle theft,” the IGP asserted.

The other decisions taken during the three-hour meeting included immediate launch of neighbourhood watch scheme, increase in the number of cops at public places, besides training six cops from each police station the technique of typing. Maintenance of toilets in police stations by private parties was also considered.

The decision to hand over the vehicles without insisting upon court orders is important as the victims, ignorant about the legal system, had to go through the complicated procedure of filing applications with the aid of advocates, resulting in “unwarranted delay” in most of the cases.

Returning personal belongings like wrist watch and cash will not only save the accused of inconvenience, “it will also help the cops in disposing of the case properties thereby reducing pressure on the malkhanas,” the IGP stated.

Giving details of the meeting, he asserted, “Another decision to post additional cops at public places like the Lake, Rose Garden and city markets was also taken to give the residents a sense of security”.

Regarding “neighbourhood watch scheme” for enhancing area security, the IGP stated that it would be launched by “the end of this month, or the beginning of next”.

Coordination committees, he explained, comprising members of the public and the police were being set up. “The committees”, he added, “would hold meetings with the beat officers once a week, with the SHOs once in a fortnight and with the Sub Divisional Police Officers once a month. Day-to-day problems concerning security of their houses, along with the solutions, would be discussed during the meetings”.

Holiday for cops, too

Residents are not the only ones to benefit from today’s meeting. The Chandigarh Police today decided to give weekly offs to its staff on a rotation basis. Revealing this, the IGP stated that the move would improve efficiency, besides boosting the morale of the cops. The decision, he added, would be implemented within a week.

The police also decided against cancelling the leave of its staff during the festival season. The cops were asked to furnish their leave plans for year 2001 so that necessary adjustments could be made.



CM asks PUDA to build bridge
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Dec 5 — A major traffic bottleneck on the Chandigarh-Ludhiana national highway, a bridge on the SAS Nagar-Kharar section of the busy road, will be replaced with a new bridge. The bridge will be built by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) parallel to the existing single-lane bridge on Patiali Ki Rao, a seasonal rivulet.

A decision in this regard was taken by PUDA after the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of Mahindra Knowledge Park here today, directed PUDA to build the bridge. The construction of the bridge is to be completed in a year at a cost of about Rs 1 crore. It will streamline traffic that gets jammed for hours in case of an accident on the bridge.

Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, Chief Administrator of PUDA, said the bridge would have seven spans. Initially the project would be funded by PUDA, but later, the cost of construction would be reimbursed by the Union Ministry of Transport. The new bridge will be in addition to the one that is being built to connect SAS Nagar with Balongi village.

Mr Sidhu said providing adequate road link to the town from Chandigarh and the neighbouring urban conglomerates was vital as the town was being projected as the IT destination of the country.

On the issue of building a new transit bus stand near the Phase VI Milk Plant here, he said PUDA had already negotiated for the purchase of six acres belonging to the Ropar District Milk Union.

Meanwhile, to reduce traffic congestion on the SAS Nagar-Kharar section of the National Highway 21, the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal has taken up the issue of providing a Kharar bypass with the government. 


BSNL may make access to Internet free
New package from Jan 1

By Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Department of Telecom, which has recently been corporatised and re-named as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), is about to change the way computer users ‘‘surf ’’ the net. BSNL, which is one of the major Internet service providers in the country, is all set to make access to Internet free of cost.

The new package is expected to be announced at the end of this month and is likely to be applicable from January 1 next year. BSNL has already sent a tariff package for approval to the Union Ministry of Communications. Under this scheme the user will not have to pay Internet service charges but will have to pay for the call charges at reduced rates when compared with the present charging rates. Even the new charges will be under varying slabs. During the day a user hooking onto the Internet through a telephone line of the BSNL will be billed at the rate of one call every 5 minutes. During the night hours call charges will be halved and the charges will be a call for every 10 minutes.

BSNL’s Director (Operations) Prithipal Singh confirmed that a package is being worked out for Internet users but said he could not give out an exact date for implementation. So how will BSNL recover costs that it invests in the Internet projects across the country?. The thought process among the officialdom is that investments are a one-time expense and call charges collected from Internet users will help recover the costs of the equipment needed in setting up Internet infrastructure.

Due to the increased computer density in the country the number of callers will be more. Thus the calls generated on the Internet will be more, estimates the BSNL in its proposal. Besides, this is also aimed at making information technology more user-friendly and cheaper as the government is also going in for “e-governance”.

Meanwhile, Mr Prithipal Singh informed that the BSNL is in the process of setting up a countrywide Internet service backbone linking all major cities. With this users can avail leased circuits and even dial up facilities besides increased Internet speeds. Though BSNL has optic fibre link between major cities, equipment is needed to link various places, explained the Director.

Also in the immediate plan is the network management systems, which will help in knowing the exact traffic on each route at any given time, he said, while adding that this will improve the functioning.


Rampur ki Dawat at Red Bishop
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Dec 5 — There is good news for food connoisseurs looking for delicacies to tickle their palate—Haryana Tourism Department has come up with a unique idea to pamper them with exquisite cuisines from all over the country, at a food festival.

With the venue being the government-run Red Bishop in Sector 1, the celebration of the richness of food and its aroma will begin with the Rampur food festival on December 8 and continue till the 12th of this month.

The Rampur ki Dawat offers a feast fit for nawabs, with the menu listing out an amazing range of spicy, succulent kebabs, sumptuous gosht dishes and mouthwatering Rampuri mithais.

The brainchild of Mr Vijay Vardhan, Managing Director, Haryana Tourism Development Corporation, he proudly says, “We have called cooks from Rampur to brew magic for us in the dishes, which find their way to the customer’s table. We are hoping the idea will catch on and we will have a good response.’’

If that is not all, Haryana Tourism has another ace up its sleeve in the form of a live qawalli to be presented on all four nights at the premises. Led by Jameel Ahmed Rampuri and party, of Junoon fame (a golden oldie on the 1857 revolution), will entertain guests, bringing back the splendour of royalty and adding a touch of class to the banquet hall.

Mr Vardhan informed that though the initial plan was to host the festival outside, the venue was shifted to the banquet hall keeping in view the cold weather. “The move will bring in finances, as well as provide an opportunity to people to get to know the taste of the cuisine. My experience of food of different states available in the city, shows that there is always an underlying Punjabi flavour to it. This is something different that we are experimenting with,’’ he added.

The second such festival is likely to feature a state from the south while the third will be straight from the heart of Lucknow. “I don’t mind if we can not break-even in this one chance, as long as we can attract people.

This is primarily to test waters and if it is a success, there will be many more festivals to come,’’ Mr Vardhan stated.

Meanwhile, Red Bishop is being decked up, to play host to the Rampuris and putting the best culinary skills of the Rampuris to test. 


Executive development programme begins
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — An executive development programme (EDP), designed to upgrade the skills of project identification, formulation, appraisal, implementation, monitoring and recovery of loan of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe beneficiaries, was inaugurated at Kisan Bhavan, Sector 35, here today.

The four-day programme has been organised by the National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC), New Delhi, in collaboration with the Chandigarh Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes and Minorities Financial and Development Corporation (CSCBCMFDC), Chandigarh.

Highlighting the various ongoing projects of the NSFDC, Dr S.P. Ram, Executive Director, spoke on the formulation, implementation and loan recovery from the beneficiaries who are living below the poverty line. Mr R.N. Ray, Senior Manager, Training, NSFDC, stressed the need for involving non-government organisations in the identification of beneficiaries and monitoring the projects.

Earlier the programme was inaugurated by Mrs Madhvi Kataria, Managing Director, CSCBCMFDC.

The programme was attended by officials of the Scheduled Castes corporations of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi.


Police beat up phariwallas
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The Chandigarh police today allegedly beaten up phariwallas and reportedly arrested 198 of them, while they were protesting in front of the office of the Municipal Corporation. Hundreds of members of the Old Phari Market Association today gehraoed the MC office for two hours and raised slogan against them.

Phariwallas started gathering in front of the MC office since morning. Around 12.30 p.m. they gheraoed the office which continued up to 3 p.m.

President of the Old Phari Market Association Partap Singh said that some of the phariwallas were taken to the Sector 17 police station, but things became worse after 3 p.m.,when police personnel started beating up remaining phariwallas. He alleged that police personnel, including senior police officers, beat up many phariwallas including women.

No senior police official was available for the comments, when contacted.



Thanking the good Samaritans of the city
‘I’ll be back,’ says grief-stricken sister
By Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Irmgard Exo came to India on October 20 with dreams for a holiday, she had long planned for. She will leave with her sister Mechthild, most probably sometime next week, but in the form of in an urn ashes.

The 36-years-old Irmgard, succumbed to severe head injuries on December 2, after struggling for survival for more than a month, at the PGI.

Mechthild, rushed to be at her side, soon after she received the news of her accident. The body of Irmgard is being cremated tomorrow at the Sector 25 Cremation Ground at 5 p.m., according to Budhist rites

“She believed in Buddhism,” says Mechthild. “It was after the item in your newspaper, that help poured in from all around. It changed the situation and helped me survive my first visit to an alien country,” she added.

Irmgard had come to India for a holiday with her boyfriend. On November 7, she sustained severe head injuries when the door of the hired matador they were travelling in, opened and she fell out. The incident occurred near Mandi in Himachal Pradesh.

She was referred to the PGI, the very same day, where she was operated upon twice. During the past one month she had been in a coma in the intensive care unit of the institute. Ironically, the day she passed away, representatives of the German insurance company, ADAC, had come to Chandigarh to take Irmgard back home.

For Mechthild, after her initial struggle in an altogether different country, culture and language, the long wait for Irmgard to come out of the coma, was possible, with help from completely unknown people.

“Initially, nothing was familiar. There was no help, no support,” she recalls. Today, not only is she more familiar with the city , but somehow also feels connected to it.

“It is not so much India, but Chandigarh that I feel connected to. Through the columns of your newspaper, I would like to thank all those wonderful people who helped me survive my loneliness and sorrow”.

There were doctors and nurses who helped me. Some people invited me for lunch. Some even offered to donate blood. There were students in the university who helped me understand more about traditions and culture of your country. Today, Mr R.S. Mann, a social worker offered to bear the cost of clothes and coffin for my sister,” she adds..

Mechthild says that even through Chandigarh will always be associated with sad memories, someday she would like to come back . “In a way, I am thankful to my sister for making it possible to visit Chandigarh and know the people and their culture.”

Initially Mechthild was told not to trust anyone in India. Not even the government, or the police. Money gets the ball rolling — she was warned before leaving the country. Today she feels otherwise. “There might have been people who tried to somehow profit from my situation, but their numbers are very less. In fact, most of the associations I have made, have helped me to build trust.

During my stay in the city, many people visited me. Some I saw several times, some only once. Someone gave me a bicycle to get around the city, while another brought pillows for my sister. I would like all of them to be with me tomorrow, for the last rites of my sister.”


CM on inauguration spree
Tribune News Service

PANCHKULA, Dec 5 — On an inauguration spree, Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala here today formally opened school buildings and health centres, and later declared the 46th national school games open at Hansraj Public School in Sector 6.

Beginning with the laying of the foundation stone of a primary health centre at Kot village to be constructed at a cost of Rs 60 lakh within one year, Mr Chautala reiterated his commitment to eradicate corruption from all levels and said that money would be recovered from those who had amassed Government wealth.

Mr Chautala said transparency had been maintained in all recruitments and the recruitments were done on a merit basis. He asked people to bring to his notice the cases relating to offering of bribe for any recruitment, especially for the posts of police constable and teachers. He accepted the demand for constructing a vardh vishram grah, pavements of phirnies and metalled road in the village.

He also inaugurated the website of Income Tax Department, Panchkula, and said that efforts were being made to make Haryana the cyber capital of the country.

The Chief Minister also inaugurated the newly constructed building of the Public Health Department constructed at a cost of Rs 2.09 crore. It would have all modern facilities to accommodate offices of the department under one roof which would help in increasing the efficiency of the department.

While speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that all villages of the state would get sufficient potable water. He also inaugurated a dispensary in Sector 4, constructed in the name of martyr Major Dipender Bachar, constructed at a cost of Rs 26 lakh.


City resident wins 3.2 lakh in KBC
From Parbina Rashid

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5— It was a dream come true for city resident Vijay Sharma, Zonal Manager of Nicholas Pirmal India Limited, who recently won Rs 3,20,000 on the Star TV programme Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).

An elated Mr Sharma cherishes every second he spent in the company of Amitabh Bachchan. “He is very charming even off screen” says Mr Sharma. “Before the shooting, Siddhartha Basu, the producer of KBC, advised him to remain calm and answer questions in a judicious manner”, recalls Mr Sharma.

Though luck played an important part in the whole affair in the initial stages, right from the selection procedure over the phone to getting to the hot seat, the question answering was purely knowledge-based, he said.

After getting through the phone line of KBC after several attempts, I managed to get selected from among the 100 entries who were able to give the right answer to the question asked by the computer, he said, adding that the selection was done randomly. During the next phase, four questions were asked and with the same selection procedure the list was narrowed down to 10. However, the trickiest part was the fastest finger first round which requires quick wit.

Vijay, who used two of his lifelines to pocket 3.20 lakh, said the entire show was well-planned without too many retakes. In case you are wondering how Big B always gets the person who is supposed to rescue the one in the hot seat when called for a “phone a friend “lifeline, Mr Sharma has the answer,” the KBC contacts the person well in advance and asks the person to sit by the phone through the entire episode of recording. The person is asked “to act surprised” when told that he is talking to Amitabh Bachchan from Kaun Banega Crorepati.”

The memory of the time spent with Amitabh makes Vijay very happy. After paying 40 per cent of the prize money to the Income Tax Department, Vijay wants to buy a car, preferably a Santro or a Zen.

The episode featuring Mr Vijay Sharma will be telecast on December 7.


MLAs enroll for computer classes
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Legislators of Haryana enrolled themselves for computer training at the swank e-governance center of the Haryana Civil Secretariat here today.

Inaugurating the training programme, Chief Minister Mr Om Prakash Chautala said with this step Haryana became the first state in the country where lawmakers had joined the technological revolution being spearheaded by his government . He announced that each MLA would be provided with a computer for training.

He said the very fact that more than 80 MLAs, out of a total of 90, had enrolled themselves for the training course irrespective of party affiliations, showed that Haryana legislators were progressive in approach and they were also eager to pave the way for a transparent administration. He said the state government would organise a seminar on corruption in the first week of January. Mr N Vittal, Central Vigilance Commissioner, would be the chief guest.

The Speaker of the Haryana Assembly, Mr Satbir Singh Kadian, Deputy Speaker is Gopichand Gehlot as well as senior government officials spoke on the occasion.


14 jhuggis gutted in fire
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — As many as 14 jhuggis were gutted in a fire which broke out at Khuda Lahora this evening. No loss of life was reported.

According to sources in the Fire Department, fire broke out after a burning cigarette was reportedly thrown by a dweller into the bushes. Two fire engines, one from Sector 11 and the other from Sector 38, were rushed to the spot. It took them over one hour to bring the fire under control.

A senior officer in the department, when contacted, said that the exact cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained. He, however, ruled out the possibility of any foul play behind the fire incident.

Meanwhile, Mr Parvinder Singh, a resident of Sector 33-D, had a providential escape when the car in which he was travelling caught fire near the UT Secretariat building, Sector 9, this morning.

According to sources in the Fire Department, the engine of the car (NLK-8504) went up in flames following short-circuit due to loose wires in the engine.

The police control room informed the fire station which rushed a fire engine to the spot. Only the front portion of the car was reportedly burnt. 


Workshop on innovative urban management
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Capacity building and training for the persons involving in the local government for better functioning was emphasised during a three-day training workshop on “innovative urban management and financing of urban infrastructure” organised by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) in collaboration with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), New Delhi, here today.

Welcoming the participants, Mr Rashpal Malhotra, Director, CRRID, highlighted the important role the elected representatives had to pay as envisaged in the 74th amendment. Alleging that paucity of fund was a major hindrance for most of the local bodies, Mr J.P. Gupta, former Chairman, Punjab Finance Commission, said that the municipal corporations and councils had to rely on their own resources for funds.


Unauthorised taxi stands removed
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — The enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, today uprooted tents of as many as 15 unauthorised taxi stands in various parts of the city. There are at present only 58 authorised taxi stands in the city.

As part of the drive launched today, tents put up at the stands and furniture were removed from the stands in Sectors 20, 30, 31, 32, 46, and 47. The Inspector, Kashmira Singh, who conducted the drive said that four trucks and a bulldozer were used in the operation along with a staff of 25 to 30 persons.


Girl hurt
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — A 15-year-old school girl, Deepa of Sector 28, was admitted to the PGI with serious injuries after she fell from a local bus today. In another case, a Colony Number 4 resident, Sunita, was admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital after she consumed poison.

Sunita, according to sources, was rushed to the hospital after she consumed poison following a tiff at her house. The condition of the 30-year-old housewife was reported to be stable.


‘Govt delaying notification’
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Dec 5 — Apprehending that the government was going to “intentionally” delay the issuing of the notification of the election of the President of the SAS Nagar Municipal Council, the councillors of the Kulwant group are contemplating to take legal course once again. The meeting to elect the President of the civic body was held on November 27 after the councillors had sought directions from the Punjab and Haryana High Court in this regard.

Sources in the government alleged that certain councillors in the opposition, who owed allegiance to certain cabinet minister, was opposed to the issuing of the notification. The councillors in majority had yesterday met the Local Government Minister and the Director, Local Government, in this regard. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, has already sent minutes of the November 27 meeting to the higher authorities. Back


BSNL advice on phone bills
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Due to the indefinite strike by postal employees, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said that it was not in a position to despatch the bills dated December 5, 2000, for the period from November 15 to 30. The department has advised the PCO owners to collect their bills from Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Kharar areas from the respective telephone exchanges. Bills can be collected from the respective Telecom Revenue Accounts (TRA) offices, a press release issued by the local office of the BSNL said today.Back


Shopkeeper booked for keeping porn films
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Acting on a tip-off, the Chandigarh Police today booked a Sector 22 wholesale shopkeeper on the allegations of keeping blue films, besides other new-releases.

The shopkeeper Hem Chand Bansal was booked under Section 292 of the IPC, besides Sections 51 and 63 of the Copy Right Act for allegedly keeping releases like Mission Kashmir, Refugee and Dharkan.



Cheated of Rs 37,000
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — A resident of Ludhiana district has reported that he had given money to a city resident for arranging visa to the USA four years ago but till date neither the visa has been arranged nor the money has been returned.

Mr Kewal Singh has alleged that he gave Rs 37,000 to Dhiraj Kumar Nath of Sector 34 in 1996. It was learnt that Dhiraj had promised the complainant that he would arrange visa for him.

A case under Section 420 of the IPC has been registered.

Woman assaulted:
A woman of Darwa village has alleged that she was assaulted by four persons, including a woman, of the same village. According to information available, Ms Amrit Kaur was allegedly assaulted by Satish Walia, Ram Ishwar, Raju and Suman Walia on Friday.

A case under Sections 325 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the accused.

Hit by car:
Mr Ram Dev, a scooterist, was injured when his scooter was hit by an Ambassador car near the MC office, Sector 17, here on Monday. The car was reportedly without a registration number.

The victim, who is a resident of Bapu Dham Colony, was admitted to the General Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. His condition was reported to be stable.

The police has registered a case under Sections 279 and 337, IPC.

Pedestrian hit:
Surjit Singh, a resident of Sector 9, Panchkula, was hit by an LML Vespa scooter near the housing board lights point. He sustained injuries and was admitted to the General Hospital, Sector 16.

According to information available, Surjit Singh was hit by the scooter when he was crossing the road.

Rajiv Bagga, the scooterist, has been arrested and a case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Money stolen:
Mr Sardar Ram, a resident of Kumhar Colony, Sector 25, complained that his bag containing Rs 10,000 and some documents was stolen from the colony on Monday.

A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered and police is investigating.

Maruti stolen:
Mr Som Arora, a resident of Sector 30, has reported that his Maruti Zen car (CH-18-0024, temporary number) was stolen from his resident on Sunday night.

A case under Section 379 of IPC has been registered and police is investigating.



‘Most agroportals useless’
By Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 5 — Agroportals in the country are not providing sufficient information to farmers. Most of these are providing only theoretical solutions to practical problems faced by farmers. A survey by the NMIMS of Mumbai has shown that out of the 12 agroportals in the country, 11 do not give any local information and most of these do not update their information.

Mr Rakesh Singh, an Assistant Professor of the NMIMS, said this. He also said agroportals should act as a source of critical information and helplines.

Mr Singh said top managers of various agro-input and farmmanagement companies believed that the availability of right information was critical for farmers. More than 40 per cent of those interviewed said these portals would not work in rural India. “Lack of supporting telecommunication and power-supply infrastructure will make the application of the Internet restricted. Outdated agro-laws, absence of proper infrastructure and credit risks are affecting the success of portals in rural areas,” said Mr Singh.

Participants at the CII seminar on IT in Agriculture and Rural Development said the use of information technology in Indian agriculture would help the country fight global competition.

“The Indian economy needs an agricultural growth of at least 4 per cent per annum to create exportable surplus,” said Mr Omkar Nath Dhar, President of Agri Net Solutions, Mumbai. He said the growth of agro-economy would be based on knowledge-based agriculture enterprise and quick reach of agriculture technology.

Advanced technologies like remote sensing should be used for the survey of problem soils, finding solutions and conservation measures, crop-production estimates, judging severity and persistence of stress and the study of its possible impacts on production and the other areas of agriculture.

“Integrating IT solutions can give the true picture of the situation at the grass roots to authorities without the help of intermediaries. It can also give timely information for forecasting and optimising profits. This will help farmers take corrective measures to reduce risk and cost-overruns,” said Ms Achamma Joseph, MD of Soft Systems. She also said agronomy solutions combined with integrated systems could help agro-product companies to predict consumer preferences more accurately.

Mr Krishna Kant, Senior Director of the Ministry of Information Technology, said the IT needed to be properly used in rural spheres and social applications of the IT could not be ignored.

Regarding agroportals, it was suggested that firms should prepare a strategy for setting up kiosks in a phased manner and look for strategic alliances with similar-interest business houses or the NGOs. “Given the literacy rates, especially in rural areas of the country, such kiosks can be effective only when backed up by good helpline centres,” said Mr Rakesh Singh. 

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