Monday, February 12, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mahesh wins Servo marathon, Rina, mother of 4-year-old, surprises all in half marathon
By Our Sports Reporter

Mahesh Singh of 7 Kumaon Regiment after winning the second Servo Chandigarh Marathon on Sunday.

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — In the second Servo Chandigarh Marathon today, Rina Dass of West Bengal won the half marathon event and Mahesh Singh Faryal of Andhra Pradesh won the full marathon event. Mahesh finished the race in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds and won Rs 1 lakh for his effort. Rina finished her race in 1 hour 16 minutes and 30 seconds to win the Rs 50,000 prize money.

The marathon coincided with the closing ceremony of the 7th National Adventure Festival. The venue of the start of the race, the Sector 16 Cricket Stadium, had been tastefully decoreated. Mr G.C. Daga, General Manager of the Indian Oil Corporation, flagged of the full marathon, while Mr Y. Sahay, GM of the IOC (Delhi) flagged off the half marathon. Milkha Singh flagged off the mini marathon. More than 100 athletes took part in the full and half marathons. More than 2,000 children participated in the 5 km mini marathon that ended at Sukhna Lake.

The full marathon covered parts of Chandigrh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula was supervised by officials of the UT Sports Department, the Haryana Sports Department and the Sports Authority of India.

Mr H.S. Bhadu, Coordinator of the marathon, said, from next year, the marathon would be an international event. Mr R.S. Verma, President of the National Adventure Club, said this year’s route had many turns and, next time, organisers would ensure that the route was straighter to help athletes perform better.

In the adventure festival that was organised from February 5 to 10, river rafting, trekking, para sailing and skiing events were conducted.

The opening and closing ceremonies had been kept low-key due to the Gujarat earthquake. Rina Dass, 26-year-old winner of the half marathon, is the mother of a four-year-old child. Rina has particpated in several cross-country meets, but this was her first visit to the city. She said the encouragement she had received from her husband and son, Ratul, had helped her win.

Past year’s winner of the half marathon, Pushpa Devi of the CISF, was pushed to the third spot this time by the eventual runner-up, Laishramaruna Devi of Manipur.

The name of the winner of the full marathon, Mahesh, was missing from the list of runners that had been given to officials who manned various checkpoints on the route. This caused a lot of confusion. Mahesh, 29, is a Havildar in Kumaon Regiment and used to take part in the 5,000 m race in national meets. He said organisers should have put up signs at each turn that told runners how many kilometres they had covered. He said this would have helped runners perform better. Mahesh had also taken part in the Allahabad Marathon, the South East Meet at Kathmandu and the Pune Marathon.

H.A. Chinappa of Coorg in Karnataka was only 10 seconds behind the winner. He said the water that had been given to runners during the race had too much salt in it, which made them more thirsty. He said officials should be properly trained for such events. Chinappa, 32, had also taken part in the Hong Kong marathon.

Bhairon Singh Lone, a 28-year old resident of Neemuch (MP) who finished third, said he was disappointed. The winner of the Allahabad marathon could not control his tears after losing, as he was the favourite. He finished the race in 2 hours 27 minutes and 20 seconds. He said, at Allahabad, he had finished the race in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Bhairon takes part in the 10,000 m race in various national meets. He said he was sure that international marathon runners took performance-enhancing drugs. He said it was possible that some Indian athletes took vitamin-enhancing drugs, but it was due to a lack of proper guidance.

The mini marathon received an enthusiastic response from children. In the girls’ section, Surjeet of Gurdaspur finished first in 18 minutes and 58.29 seconds. Veena, a student of the Sector 20 Government Model Senior Secondary School, was the runner-up and Nujeet Kaur of Chandigarh finished third.

Nodita, 12, of Shimla finished fourth. She is the daughter of Suman Rawat, a former international athlete of India and winner of the 1993 marathon.



  • Sponsors of the marathon did not bother to put any sign to indicate the route of the marathon.
  • Organisers had kept the number of cultural items to bare minimum this time due to the Gujarat earthquake. However, there was no banner, placard or poster on the route of the marathon that could motivate people to do someting for those who have been hit by the earhquake.
  • The police mismanagement was seen at many places. At SAS Nagar, even the car of a VIP was allowed to cross the route of the marathon. Near Dhillon Cinema in Chandigarh, many marathon runners risked getting crushed under passing vehicles. The situation was rather similar near the new flyover close to the railway station traffic lights. Here, one-way traffic had been enforced and people were caught unawares, as the police had not put up proper traffic signs to indicate the new restrictions.
  • Former Indian athlete, Suman Rawat, who was also the winner of the 1993 Rath Marathon, was at the venue, but none of the organisers paid any attention to her. Many of those who were present there believed that organisers should have honoured her.
  • Naresh Shanti Lal Talia, 53, came from Surat to particpate in the marathon. A message pinned to his chest said he was running run for country and those who had been hit by the Gujarat earthquake. He could not complete the race, but his message was well received.
  • Mr H.S. Bhadu, Coordinator of the marathon, was heard saying to the UT Joint Director Sports, Mr J.P.S. Sidhu, that, “Thank God, the event is over.” Coaches of the UT Sports Deaprtment had done a wonderful job of manning the sponge counters.
  • Runners, especially children, were seen wandering in search of water and refreshment.
  • Senior officials of the UT Administration were conspicuous by their absence at the concluding function. This reporter overheard someone saying that officials were absent because the President of the National Adventure Club, Mr R.S. Verma, was a retired bureaucrat.


Citizens face marathon problems
From Our Correspondent

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — The commuters from Panchkula and SAS Nagar indeed had a marathon drive to the city beautiful, courtesy the traffic snarls caused as a result of the 2nd Servo Chandigarh Marathon, today. Residents of these towns who had to face a lot of inconvenience, said the event could have been handled in a much better way.

Ms Radha, a Panchkula resident, and a kidney patient, who had an appointment with a doctor complained that she was stranded at the housing board traffic lights. Her cousin said, “To reach Sector 30 it took us almost two hours as we had to reach the doctor via the Chandigarh-Zirakpur barrier”.

Mr Gagandeep Singh and his family who had come all the way from Patiala to pay obeisance at the Gurdwara Nada Sahab, complained that he had to change his route many times to reach there. Mr Gagandeep said, ‘‘Had they knew about the marathon they would have postponed the visit till next Sunday”.

A senior police official when contacted, said the chaos near the entry points to the city from Panchkula and SAS Nagar was because of the poor feedback from the Police Department of the two towns. No police official of the two townships was available for comments.

The Chandigarh Tribune spoke to various commuters and most of them were of the view that the city police could have handled the situation in a better way. Ramesh Kumar, who was stranded near the Housing Board Chowk traffic lights said that he had seen marathon in Pune but there it does not interfere with the traffic.

The marathon started from the Cricket Stadium, Sector 16, at about 9 a.m. but the city road through the traffic light point of Sectors 22 and 23 was blocked much in advance and causing harassment to the commuters. Commuters who were to use the dividing road of Sectors 15 and 16 complained that they had to face lot of inconvenience.

When contacted Mr S.S. Randhawa, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic), admitted that the traffic moved slow at some of the city roads. He claimed, that this year the traffic was not stranded any where in the city. It may be recalled that during the last marathon, the police had to resort to cane charge at some of the places in the city.

The most interesting part was that the commuters were seen asking the cops why the roads have been closed as many of them were not aware of the race.

Another senior police official, when contacted, claimed that the commuters were informed about the restrictions and diversions much in advance and they should have planned in accordingly. However, he admitted that the whole affair could have been managed in a much better way.


How to retain seat in PU hostel
By Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — Sizeable portion of research activity marked under Master of Philosophy courses in Panjab University, stipulated for completion within a time period of one year, runs into two years and even more in few cases.

Students agree that there was a provision for extension of time but the delay seems to have become an accepted norm of the university education. There are known cases of research activity spreading over to a period of four to five years.

M.Phil courses were non-existent in majority of the subjects because the NET qualification was declared as mandatory by the UGC in 1992 for eligibility of lecturership. But still many departments in social sciences departments like sociology, English, public administration, history, economics, Gandhian studies and geography are offering M.Phil courses. The Department of Hindi has discontinued the said degree.

The university prospectus mentions an extension period but usually not more than a year. A research scholar said that it was a popular talk among students that admissions in research courses served as good excuses for retaining seats in hostels. I know of a case where a student left the university hostel after four years without even completing the course, a senior student said.

One glaring example of delay is clear from the evaluation of students of the Hindi Department, who took the admissions in M.Phil for the session 1992-93 and were evaluated in 1996. What is intriguing is that during the course of study, hostelers are often given satisfactory reports by guides, although orally, sources said. Retaining hostel seats deprives several freshers landing from far-off places.

Teachers have their share of woes pointing the heavy burden of work in several cases but then at other places students are literally “at the mercy of teachers”. Interestingly, in a significant development a science department, with full approval of the faculty, has clarified that no extension will be given beyond seven days. There are also pointers at the students given a rather leisurely time for submitting their thesis.

Ideally, one year has been identified for covering the course in two semesters.


Social worker Vineet Khanna dead
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — Noted social worker Vineet Khanna, who died at the PGI here this morning following brief illness, was cremated in the evening.

Vineet Khanna, who had been bed-ridden for the past about 30 years following a road accident, leaves behind his wife, Ritika, and a minor daughter, Diksha.

A large number of friends, social workers, civil and police officers of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and journalists were present at the Sector 25 Cremation Ground. His younger brother, Nidhish Khanna, lit the pyre.

Khanna, born on April 7, 1954, at Shimla, used to move about in Chandigarh and the adjoining areas in a specially designed stretcher-fitted vehicle. He had been confined to the stretcher since the age of 17 when his spinal cord got damaged in a road accident

Besides, Khanna also developed a number of other health problems, including kidney and cardiac problems. But this did not deter him from moving about to promote vocationalisation of education amongst the youth and provide basic education to slum children and women.

Khanna had set up an NGO, Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS), which arranged training for the youth to prevent them from becoming anti-social elements. The slum schools were named Pustak and the schools for women Vama.

He was also a noted poet and a journalist bringing out a monthly literary magazine, City Courier. He had been honoured by various central and state organisations, besides social and cultural bodies, in recognition of his work. The organisations included the Chandigarh Administration and the American Society of the NGOs.

A large number of people, including industrialists, bureaucrats and others were regular visitors to his institution helping out in different ways. Nobel prize winner Mother Teresa during her visit to Chandigarh in the early 1980s visited Khanna's residence in Sector 23 here after she learnt about the work being done by the handicapped.

The strong-willed Khanna had in the past come out of severe medical problems, but he had chest congestion and a suspected bout of pneumonia and was admitted to the PGi yesterday. He died at about 5.30 a.m today. On Friday, he had gone to Solan district to oversee various projects undertaken by the YTTS in that area.

Among those present at the cremation were the Punjab DGP, Mr Sarabit Singh, UT Finance Secretary Rakesh Singh, UT DPI (Schools) D.S. Saroya, former Rotary International chief R.K. Saboo, former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court Justice S.S. Sandhu, staff of Vivek High School where Ms Khanna is a teacher and students of Pustak.

Meanwhile, the UT Administrator and Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), in his condolence message, said the city residents would remember Khanna for his untiring efforts to promote vocationalisation of education and education of slum children.

A wreath was placed on the body of Khanna by Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu on behalf of the Chandigarh Press Club. A meeting will be held in the club tomorrow at 11 a.m. to mourn the death of Khanna.


Mr Ajit Salani, a social worker and Secretary of the National Handicapped Welfare Association, expressed grief over the death of Vineet Khanna.


Tree pruning commences again
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — Tree pruning drive in the city has one again started following the UT Finance Secretary- cum-Secretary Environment, Mr Rakesh Singh, giving a green signal to undertake the drive in accordance with the recommendations submitted by a four-member committee in its report.

The pruning of trees has started on the V-3 road dividing Sectors 20 and 21 and it will subsequently be extended to the other four V-3 roads identified for the purpose. These are between Sectors 10 and 11; 16 and 23; 18 and 19 and 19 and 20. The committee has already identified the branches which need to be pruned and has encircled the points where these have to be pruned with “white lime.”

The tree-pruning drive, which was started in January, was discontinued after a few days following the issue becoming controversial in the wake of allegations of excessive pruning by the authorities. Environment lovers, NGOs and even officials of the Forest Department had raised objections to the drive, being carried out by MC and pointed out that the trees are being “butchered” and not just pruned. Subsequently, a four-member committee was constituted by the Secretary, Environment, to supervise the entire operation and to ensure that only the required branches were pruned to the required size.

According to UT Director Environment Ishwar Singh, the members had in the report suggested that proper illumination of road berms was important from the point of view of safety of commuters. Hence, those branches which block the street lights from falling straight on the road will be pruned.

Among the branches identified are those which have over the years become heavy and are falling downwards. These pose hinderance to the movement of buses and other heavy vehicles on the road and also block roads during storm and rains. Similarly, to facilitate the cyclists and pedestrians to use the foot paths, the branches should be cleared at least till 8ft from the ground. It has been found that people mostly due to poor visibility are in the habit of driving/walking in the centre of the road, thereby coming in the way of fast moving vehicles, causing an increase in the number of accidents.

Once these branches are pruned up to the required height, people will not hesitate to move close towards the road berms.

Mr Ishwar Singh maintains that pruning work of the trees should be completed by the end of February, for after that the growth period will start. The four members of the committee were Director Environment-cum-Deputy Conservator Forests, Mr Ishwar Singh, XEN Horticulture, MC, Mr Raghbir Singh; XEN Electrical (OP-I), Mr S.N. Makkar, and DSP Traffic, Mr S.S. Randhawa.



EXAMINATIONS are trying for students, but so are they for teachers who are condemned to evaluate half-backed, ignorant and often mischievous answers. The recently concluded end-semester examinations found one university professor giving zeroes to most of the 200 and odd answer-scripts in the subject of mathematics. Another did the same for answer scripts in history.

Now the university concerned will have to go through the motion of getting these drastic scores re-checked to ensure that the examiners were not unduly strict. The VC will have to buy peace by offering grace marks to all those who have failed. Unfortunately, no one will insist that the bulk of our students who are whiling away time in various liberal arts and science subjects either improve their performance or get out to do something more meaningful than studying history and mathematics.

Urban management

Mr P. Lal, Managing Director, Punjab Police Housing Corporation, is back home after attending an international workshop in “Leadership in Urban Management” in Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia from January 27 to February 6. The workshop was organised by the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS). The Netherlands, an internationally acclaimed institute for training and capacity building, in collaboration with HUDCO (India) and its training unit, the Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI), New Delhi.

Mr Lal was the only delegate from the Punjab Government in the Indian delegation comprising 47 participants form various parts of India consisting of senior Urban Managers and local elected representatives.

The workshop exposed the participants to a variety of issues and best practices in the Asian urban context, including low and middle income housing, solid waste management, sanitation and urban transport system with special focus on resource mobilisation, good governance and management of change.

Weighty problem

The nine-day international sculptors’ workshop held recently on the premises of the Government College of Art, Sector 10, was full of interesting anecdotes. The sculpture prepared by Delhi-based artist M.S. Rawat (who was one among the 11 participating sculptors) ended up weighing a good 100 kg. It was a big tortoise figure made out of concrete and cast into the ground. The artist had to now get the structure lifted from the mound and place it in a proper form on the ground.

The college authorities began with trying to lift the tortoise with the conventional method using a balli, but failed miserably. Then they had to request the traffic police people to get their pick-up van and help with the task, but to no avail. Finally, respite came when the personnel from the Transport Chowk came with a crane and lifted the structure. All this while, the feeling of anxiety was writ large on the face of MS Rawat. His fears came true when a leg of the structure crumbled in the process. The artist had to sculpt it all over again. But the sculpture finally got its due place.

Timely move

In a welcome and timely move, a road divider and mini roundabout have been installed at the crossing between Sector 39 and the Sector 38 (West) flats.

Ever since residents moved into the newly developed housing complex in Sector 38 (West), traffic hazards on this crossing increased. Vehicles moving across between these two sectors became a hindrance and potential source of accidents for the traffic moving on this road leading to Ludhiana.

Actually, in anticipation of the rise in traffic in this area owing to rising occupany of the Sector 38 (West) flats, traffic lights should be installed for complete safety.

Slum art

British Library in Sector 8 is doing its bit for street children of the Sector 25 slums. It has been selling painted postcards made by these slum kids from its counter. The postcards carry no price tag and members can shell out as much as they wish, be it Rs 5 or 10, or more. All for a good cause.

These children — in the age group of five to 14 — have made a genuine attempt to produce bright and vibrant paintings on postcards. From houses, trees and other landscapes, their paintings make for a colourful collection, never mind if they seem a trifle crude to expert eyes.

The money collected from their sale is then given for these children’s development. Mr Sushanta Banerjee, Manager of the library, says he himself likes to go to this colony on weekends and personally distribute the money, instead of routing it through an NGO. And he takes goodies and chocolates for the kids, too.

CMC newsletter

The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is planning to start a monthly news letter under the name of “Chandigarh Nigam News”. According to MC Commissioner, Mr M.P Singh, the objective of the newsletter will be to apprise the city residents of the achievements made by the MC, while at the same time spell out the projects and policy decisions taken on the floor of the House. It will be a forum to project the work of the corporation through its Mayor, Commissioner, Councillors, Chief Engineer and other officials and will also highlight the difficulties faced by them. The format of the newsletter is being finalised and it will be started soon after the formalities are completed, he added.

Taking a cue from Ludhiana update, the quarterly newletter of MC, Ludhiana, the proposed four-page newsletter will, on the front page, feature write-ups “From the Commissioner’s desk” and “From the Mayor’s pen”. The second and third page will be devoted to various horticulture development programmes, sanitation related activities and the MC’s contribution to the society in other areas and future plans. The last page will have the profile of a councillor and feedback of the public on various issues. They also propose to circulate as many as 2000-3000 copies of the same free of cost to important institutions and welfare organisations in the city so that what is not highlighted by the media also reaches the public.

No to cattle traps

The department of Urban Planning, UT, has rejected the MC proposal on installing cattle traps on the city roads. The reason for doing so is that these traps are unsafe for pedestrians, specially women wearing high heels and two-wheelers.

A cattle trap is a series of metal pipes laid out across a road, a few inches apart. The gaps between the pipes prevent cattle and stray animals from crossing them, while vehicles and pedestrians can cross over harmlessly.

The decision of the department is very upsetting for nominated MC councillor, Major Gen (retd) Gurdial Singh, who resides in Sector 33 and had sought that cattle traps be put up in Sector 33 in view of the cattle menace on the sector roads. This sector is located adjacent to Burail village. He simply cannot digest the fact that his request, in public interest, has been turned down on a frivolous ground of the traps causing problems for women wearing high heels. Is fashion statement more important or the safety of people? he wonders.

Free ride

If you want a free rickshaw ride — just stand near any of the three Panjab University campus entry gates. The very next moment a rickshaw will pull along and the puller will offer to take you inside the campus — free of cost!

Reason? The Panjab University authorities have banned the entry of autorickshaws and rickshaws without passengers. The decision is not new, but the security staff has been told to implement the orders in the wake of a recent incident in which a PU security staff personnel was literally taken for ride by a three- wheeler driver after the former did not allow him to enter the campus.

The rickshaw pullers are reportedly losing business. Using this new technique — of free service to pedestrians who are going to the campus — they get entry into the campus as they carry “passengers”!

Tracing the map

The Chandigarh Traffic Police had imposed certain traffic restrictions and diversions on the route of the second annual marathon race on February 11. The Tribune decided to carry the route map to inform its readers about the restrictions in its Saturday edition. A correspondent called up his sources in the police department for the map but in vain. He was told that the department was given only two such maps and one was with a senior police official.

When contacted Mr Balbir Singh, Superintendent of Police, Traffic, also said only two route maps were provided to them. He said, ‘‘I had one of the map but it was lying with a constable’’. He tried to get the map or its copy for The Tribune but the constable had already left for the day. However, the Chandigarh Tribune did carry the route map after securing it from another source.

Strange fires

The reason for the fire incidents that occurred in Sector 31 on January 31 and another which occurred in Sector 28 on February 2 is rather odd. Both sectors have slum dwelling in the vicinity. The slum dwellers, who often use open fields for easing themselves, generally do not care to put off the lighted bidi or cigarette when they leave the fields after defecating. Resultantly, fires spread out. In Sector 31, the Fire Station personnel of Sector 32 took about two hours to control the fire (shown in picture) and saved about 10 jhuggis from being razed.

Such incidents, although occurrence have not often been thought about. They may, however, assume graver proportions if not prevented right now.

Starry trouble

The Festival of Tibet which ended here last week may not have attracted many people to its handicraft section, but the gap was well bridged by the counter on medicine and astrology. On the first day of the festival (February 2) astrologer Phurbu Tsering from the Tibetan Medical and Astrology Institute, Dharamsala, had a tough time attending to the clients. He had already had about 200 visitors by the evening on February 2. By that time he was so tired that he had to request about 20 others waiting in line for their turns to see him later sometime.

For those of you who wish to know all about Tibetan astrology (not to forget that the Gujarat earthquake was also predicted by them) there is a specific site named — But the experts at Dharamsala institute are not taking any further orders to prepare birth charts, as they have a huge backlog to clear.

Sticky move

If the Chandigarh Administration can do it, why can’t the UT police! Perhaps with the intention of imitating the administration, the police issued cheerful, fluorescent, parking stickers for the passing-out parade being held at the Recruit Training Centre in Sector 26, Chandigarh.

The fact that the stickers were issued “just for the heck of it” became evident to the visitors when they realised that no one was checking the vehicles to see if these had been glued or not.

Gifted child

Kashish, a class IV student of St Soldier’s School, SAS Nagar, is a gifted child. He can sketch your fairly-convincing portrait in less than 10 minutes. The other day when he came to The Tribune office claiming that he could do this, we asked him to give an on the spot test. The boy managed to satisfy the doubt when he sketched one of the correspondents in just 10 minutes. Kashish has already won about six awards for this skill.

People’s Governor

Lt .Gen. J.F.R. Jacob (retd), with his eminent presence in the city, finds his way into our columns, weeks after week. And rightfully so. Anyway, last Thursday, he inaugurated the juice bar managed by mentally challenged children at Chef Lakeview. Later, his tour to check facilities at the CITCO run complex landed him into the pub where he chanced upon some men having their glass of evening beer. “How is the beer?” he asked them. “Good, very good. Would you like to have a glass?” he was asked. “No,” said the General tersely, “I do not drink. But how much is each glass for?” “Rs 25,” he was informed. “And the bottle, how much does that cost, he enquired. “Rs 50 sir,” he was told. “Then it is all right,” he said and walked out and straight into two youngsters taking a leisurely walk on the lakeside. “Hello boys, what are you doing here?” the General asked the duo. “Huh...nothing,no...nothing...uh,” somehow the two youngsters managed to mutter, totally intimidated by the General’s presence. “Beta, batao inhe, you have come here for sightseeing,” a helpful gentleman offered from the crowd. “Yes, yes,” they said and vanished into the crowd.

Ultimate gift

He did not want expensive gifts or clothes to take back home. All that 24-year-old Megembe from Uganda, here in the city for a rare heart surgery under Rotary Club’s Gift of Life project, wanted as a souvenir was an iron for pressing clothes. And no, he did not want those ultramodern expensive varieties which cost the earth. Instead, all he asked his benefactors, who gave him and his fellow Ugandan, 12-year-old Jnyamchibe, a new lease of life, was the rustic heavy variety made of iron. The kind our local dhobis use filled with koyla. The reason he gave was simple. He was a washerman by profession. So an iron was the most useful thing for him. And since his native place did not have the facility of electricity, it was also the most convenient.


After e-commerce, e-banking, e-mail, it is now e-pooja. The PGI is planning to buy computers to fit in with the IT savvy world. Therefore on this weekend, to make the doctors more computer literate, a special course was organised. And the Director of the institute, Prof S.K. Sharma, began the course by performing e-pooja. So very technologically auspicious.

— Sentinel


Defacing public property with impunity
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Feb 11 — Proximity of the town to Chandigarh does not count in the minds of the local administration, at least when taking action against those defacing public property in the town. While the authorities in Chandigarh have booked several persons under the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, the local authorities, be it the local Municipal Corporation or the other department concerned, appear to be oblivious of a virtual free-for-all by advertisers to smudge signboards and sector-guide maps with posters and handbills.

Whenever any drive has been launched by the local civic body, it has not been a preventive action, but to just remove the posters which are ironically back. The traffic police try to chip in their efforts in removing the banners hanging at the traffic light junctions, but of little use, as the advertisers have not even left the streetlight poles and signboards containing vital information.

Officials of the civic body claim that they do not have preventive powers to check the menace and instead blame the Police Department for not taking action. The plight of those visiting the town can be gauged from the version of Mr Kuldeep Singh, who visited the town from Nagpur to meet an acquaintance in Phase III B 2, “I am trying to find out the sector-guide map so that I know the location of the house of my acquaintance. I reached the house asking the passerby.”

At the Phase IX turning a signboard is defaced on one side with a poster, and on the other, an advertiser has gone to the extent of publicising his business by painting it. Just a few metres away a signboard of a hospital is again smudged with handbills. Even the civic body appears to be at the receiving end. Some advertisement boards painted afresh to attract paid advertisement in front of the Phase IIIB 2 market sign of the civic body had been covered with posters. The signboard generally advise road users about road safety with the sponsors getting credit at the lower end of the boards.

Demanding action against the violators local residents said the posters acted as an eye sore. The Chandigarh police was taking action against the violators under the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act as extended to Chandigarh but such action is taken in this town.

The Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr G.S. Chauhan, said strict action would be taken against the advertisers and the persons sticking the posters and handbills.


‘Declare Punjabi as your mother tongue’
Tribune News Service

SAS NAGAR, Feb 11 — Members of various religious bodies organised a bicycle rally in the town today. The aim of the rally was to motivate Punjabis to declare Punjabi as their mother tongue in the census. The rally led by Mr Hardeep Singh, a member of the SGPC, began from the Phase XI gurdwara and finished at the Phase I gurdwara.

Representatives of the Danga Peerat Society and members of some local social bodies also took part in the rally. Participants urged the people to rise above caste and religion to declare Punjabi as their mother tongue in the census. They said the census was also about knowing the details of the cultural heritage of the people. Mr Hardeep Singh said, in the 1961 census, many Punjabis had declared that Hindi was their mother tongue.

Participants opposed the registration of migrant labourers as residents of the area. They said migrant labourers should not be allowed to vote in the elections here.

Meanwhile, Mr S.P. Sharma, a consultant of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, visited the town to know the progress of the census operation that began on February 9. Mr Sharma stressed the need for recording the participation of females in economic activities and the number of physically disabled persons. He said, though women in Punjab assisted men in various economic activities, this fact was not being told to enumerators. Mr Inderjit Singh, Director Census and Executive Officer of the local civic body, also accompanied Mr Sharma.


Jacob’s assurance on lal dora
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), said that the Chandigarh Administration will on humanitarian grounds take sympathetic view of the problems being faced by people residing beyond the lal dora limits.

He specified that the Administration had no intention to exploit these people, and would keep their welfare in mind while formulating a policy. This assurance was given by him to Mrs Ranjana Shahi, a member of the Advisory Council of the Administrator, UT, when she met him recently.

According to information available, more than 20,000 residents of 18 villages fall within lal dora. Keeping in view this large number, many a time a demand has been made to the Administration to increase the limit of the lal dora. In 1993, a high-level committee was constituted to give a report on the issue of extending this limit. But the report is allegedly lost in the files. While hundreds of houses outside the lal dora limit have not been given proper water and electricity connections, the Administration proposes to acquire the land of as many as five villages.

Ms Shahi appreciated the efforts of the Administration in solving various long-pending problems of the city, pointed out that the problem of lal dora, which affects a large number of lower middle class in these villages persists as such. The clouds of uncertainty loom large over their heads, for they can be rendered homeless any time, she added.

She demanded that those settled outside the lal dora be allowed to settle down in their existing dwelling units in a planned manner by developing these areas and providing basic amenities as these people were prepared to pay for these services. It is reported that the Administrator assured her of an early solution to the problem.

Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the Joint Action Committee for Rural Development, Mr S.P. Bansal, lamented that the Administration was giving a step-motherly treatment to the local residents. While on the one hand the Administration was busy providing houses to the migrants from UP and Bihar, the local residents were being dislodged. He demanded that till the Administration did not take a proper decision on the issue of lal dora, the proposal to acquire land of these villagers should be stalled. 


21 poor couples tie nuptial knot
From Our Correspondent

PANCHKULA, Feb 11 — As many as 21 poor couples tied the nuptial knot at a mass-marriage ceremony organised by the Lions Club, Chandigarh (Plaza), in the Aggarwal Bhavan, Sector 16, here today.

Dressed in achkans and lehanga cholis, the couples came to the pandals along with their family members and relatives. Some of the bridegrooms were seen coming on rickshaws and cycles while few others came on foot.

Band parties received the enthusiastic baratis as they danced their way out. They were also served snacks and lunch. The marriage ceremonies were conducted in two shifts. Of 21 couples, marriage of two were performed according to the Sikh rites. However, two minor couples were sent back.

Besides, silver necklace sets, wall clocks, blankets, shawls, folding beds, quilts, pillows, steel trunks, utensils and some other household items were also given to each couple. The items were contributed by the members of the club and public.

Mr Vijay Sehgal, Editor of Dainik Tribune, blessed the couples.


Hooda to meet the Press today
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — The President of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, will meet the Press at the Chandigarh Press Club tomorrow at 11.30 a.m.

All regular and candidate members are invited.


Vehicle thefts on the rise
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Feb 11 — In spite of the various drives launched by the police to check vehicle thefts by urging the residents to take certain measures, the number of reported thefts has been increasing.

During the past 24 hours itself, at least two cases of vehicle thefts have been reported. A Maruti car (CH-01Y-9123) was reportedly stolen from the parking lot in Sector 17. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 17 police station on the complaint of the owner, Mr Anoop Gangotra.

In another incident, a Yamaha motor cycle (CH-01M-7099) was stolen from outside Parshuram Bhavan, while it was parked there last evening. The owner, Mr Hari Krishan Sharma, has got a case registered under Section 379 of the IPC with the Sector 39 police station.

A domestic servant has been accused of taking away a CD writer from the mechanic that he had himself given for repair for his master. The accused servant, Vijay Kumar, has been arrested by the police and the stolen CD writer recovered from his possession.

According to a case registered under Section 408 of the IPC at the Sector 17 police station, Mr Vinod Kumar Sharma has alleged that he had given the computer CD writer to his servant for getting it repaired a week ago. However, the accused reportedly took away the writer without informing the owner.

In a case of liquor smuggling, the police has arrested three persons and recovered 63 pouches and 12 bottles of whisky.

It is learnt that the three accused, Vir Singh, Ranjit Kumar and Vinod Kumar, were arrested by the police from various parts of the city yesterday and booked under various sections of the Excise Act.

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