Thursday, March 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Residents to have voice: panel
Management of community centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Finance and Contract Committee (F and CC) of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Mayor, Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, today gave its nod to the proposal pertaining to the management of community centres in the city through public participation.

On the controversial issue of relocation of nurseries, the MC turned down the proposal of the administration to allow the four nurseries situated on the Chandigarh-Panchkula highway to function from the existing place of work and that their land will not be acquired. The committee passed the grant of arrears of risk allowance to sewermen, proposal to levy fine on cattle keepers for collection and removal of cow dung from four UT villages and allocation of Rs 27.28 lakh for the renovation/special repairs and maintenance of slaughter house in Industrial Area, Phase-I and strengthening of main road in Karsan at an estimated cost of Rs 19.70 lakh. However, the items pertaining to the revision of water supply bylaws amendment and the policy regarding operation of cable network were deferred. The items approved today will now be sent to the House, comprising all elected and nominated councillors for the final approval.

The members while deliberating on the proposal of the erstwhile Art and Culture Committee recommended that with a view to encourage public participation, the management of these centres be handed over to the members of these centres in that area. This had also become necessary since most of these centres were not being put to much use due to the shortage of staff and financial constraints. The modalities regarding the structure of governing body, membership fee, maintenance of accounts and sharing of funds were also finalised.

Members have recommended that the governing body will comprise seven executive members, including the area councillor, who will be the president of the body and two MC officials. Besides, three members will be elected from amongst the members of these centres and one will be nominated by the area councillor. In whichever sectors, the nominated councillor is there, he too shall be an executive member. However, the proposal put forth by nominated councillor and F and CC member, R.K. Aggarwal that the nominated councillors can also be made presidents of the executive body was not agreed upon. The governing body will look after the day- to-day affairs of these centres, while the policy decisions will be subject to the approval of the civic body.

The committee approved a life membership of Rs 2,500. While the ordinary members will be required to pay Rs 500 as entrance charges and Rs 50 subscription charges per month, the senior citizens will be offered a 50 per cent discount on their membership and the entrance fee for them will be Rs 200. It was also recommended that 20 per cent rebate be given to members for holding functions and marriages within the premises. Any resident of the sector is eligible to be a member of the same.

The facilities allowed for sustaining the interest of the members include various indoor and outdoor recreational games, a canteen, a well-equipped library, cyber cafe and judo karate. On the issue of allocation of funds it was decided that 75 per cent of the collections will be given to the governing body for the purposes of maintenance and funding of these centres, while the remaining 25 per cent should go to the MC. The proposal put forth by the BJP councillor, Ms Ranjana Shahi, that for the initial six months, the MC should continue to foot the bills of water, electricity and other maintenance works as a subsistence measure was accepted. She had pointed out that to begin with the governing body will not have sufficient funds to do so, but later it can be passed on to the governing body for by then they would have generated funds through bookings and collection of membership fee etc. In case of any dispute, the Commissioner, MC has been authorised to settle the same.

The members, however, turned down the request of the Administration that nursery owners of four nurseries on Chandigarh-Panchkula highway be allowed to function from 8 acres of prime land. The MC officials were also asked to take strong steps to take possession of this land, which has been acquired since 1990 and the said place has been earmarked for specialised hospital and shopping complex.

Taking into account the nature of risk involving the sewermen working in the Public Health Wing of the civic body, the members unanimously decided to grant risk allowance of Rs 40 per month to each of its eligible sewermen on the pattern of Punjab Government since 1996. As a result of this, 109 sewermen would get arrears to the tune of Rs 1.48 lakh with effect from the date of their transfer to MC till March 31, 1999.

The F and CC also recommended a detailed amount of Rs 27.28 lakh for the renovation, repair and maintenance of slaughter house of the civic body located in industrial Area, Phase-I. The committee also approved levying fine of Rs 50 per cattle head per month, instead of the proposed service charges for collection and removal of cow dung from the cattle keepers in the four villages under the jurisdiction of MC. The strengthening of main road in Karsan in Phase I and II was also passed at an estimated cost of Rs 19.70 lakh amidst heated discussions.


Chandigarh club poll: notice for March 12
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
The UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class) today issued a notice to the Secretary and Returning Officer of the Chandigarh Club for March 12. The duo, Satnam Singh and Harpreet Singh, had moved a plea for taking appropriate legal action against the respondents, the Secretary and Returning Officer of the Chandigarh Club. It was alleged that as the respondents had not obeyed the ad-interim injunction passed by court on March 2.

It was stated in the plea that the court had directed the respondents on March 2 to arrange the separate ballot box for all 415 excess members of the club on the date of election and the counting of the votes polled be temporarily stayed till the final decision of the case.

It was alleged that the more than 300 members out of the excess 415 members, had cast their votes in the election on March 3, 2001, but the Returning Officer did not make necessary arrangements for getting their votes cast in a separate ballot boxes. 


Notice to acquire land issued
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
The Anandgarh Development Authority issued a notice under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 to acquire land of the 29 villages which are to form the township of Anandgarh, here today. Approximately 10,000 acres will be acquired for Anandgarh.

Confirming this, Mr R K Verma, Additional Chief Administrator of the Anandgarh Development Authority (ADA), said, ‘‘The notice has been issued and we would soon start acquiring the land’’. When asked about the area falling under the Land Preservation Act, he claimed, ‘‘We have promised that the land use will not be changed’’. Mr Suresh Kumar, Chief Administrator of the ADA, when contacted, said ‘‘We have already promised that the forest cover will be preserved’’.

Some of the pockets falling in the area have been left out of the notice. A senior official in the ADA, when contacted said, ‘‘Some of the pockets may have been left out of the notice’’. It cannot be confirmed weather the ADA had left out the religious places from the notice or not.

With the issuance of Section 6, the process of acquisition of land has started. The prices of the land of the villages are yet to be fixed by the District Price Fixation Committee. The land prices of Chahi, Brano and Gair Mumkin categories of land has been fixed at Rs 7 lakh, Rs 6 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, respectively. 


Paper cancelled following leak
Tribune Reporters

Sas Nagar, March 7
The State Council for Education Research and Training (SCERT) today cancelled the mathematics paper of primary class following reports of paper leak in Ludhiana district. But by the time the news of paper cancellation reached the examination centres, the paper had started.

The primary class examinations being conducted by the SCERT began today. Officials of the Education Department said the order of cancellation of the mathematics would not affect the schedule of other papers. Though the date of the re-examination of the maths papers was not announced, the officials said it would be held on March 16 or 17.

Sources said the officials of SCERT rang up the officials of the Education Department, ordering the cancellation of the mathematics paper, at around 7.45 a.m. today. But by the time the officials could further communicate the cancellation orders, the paper had begun at 9 p.m. and at least 10 per cent of the centres in the remote areas of Ropar district, the candidates had almost finished the paper.

Over one lakh candidates are appearing at 160 centres in the district. The officials expressed their helplessness in communicating the orders in wake of no communication and a messenger had to be sent.

After the report of paper cancellation reached the examination centres, the candidates kept on waiting for their parents to pick them up. The parents sought that the authorities should intimate such a decision in advance.

Patiala: There was confusion in the district following rumours since morning that the mathematics paper of the Class V of the Punjab State Education Board had been leaked. While some students going to various examination centres were told to go back home as the paper had been cancelled, some centres conducted the paper.

Later, however, the District Education Officer (Primary, Mr G.S. Brar, disclosed that he had received a communication from the Director of SCERT that the paper had been cancelled and that it would be held again later. He said the new date for holding of the paper would be disclosed to students soon. He said other papers would be held as per the schedule.

The DEO said according to reports received by his office, the paper had been leaked at Ludhiana. He said it had also been reported that a newspaper had also published the paper in form of a guess paper.

For the students of the city, it was day of confusion. With the students not getting any directions yesterday with regard to cancellation of the paper, all of them went to their respective examination centres to appear in the examination. While most of them were told that the paper had been cancelled, some centres allowed the students attempt the paper.


Youth held for trespass
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 7
A youth was reportedly held for trespassing in the compound of one of the girl’s hostels on the Panjab University campus by the security guards late in the evening yesterday. He was later released after verification, said PU sources. This comes on the heels of the incident in which an intruder had reportedly sneaked into another hostel of the PU.

When contacted, Ms Ritu Sharma, warden of the hostel, claimed that the youth was moving around in the open ground around the hostel and after apprehending him, he was handed over to the Chief Security Officer (CSO). According to the sources in the PU, the youth was a ward of a former university employee.

When contacted, Mr R K Singh, the CSO said, ‘‘The boy had actually gone to the hostel to have meal as his wife is employed in the hostel.’’ According to him, the youth was mistaken as a trespasser by the security personnel.

The streetlight on the back lane of the twin hostels of Kasturba Hall and Sarojini Hall are often ‘‘out of order’’. The inmates complained that the barbed wire around the boundary wall of the hostel was not sufficient for security.

Interestingly, the rooms of the newly constructed extension of the hostel are ‘‘exposed’’ to the outsiders from the road along the PU sports ground. The inmates complained that often boys peep into their rooms after jumping the fence. To keep themselves away from the eyes of the outsiders, the inmates have put up five to six curtains to cover the glass window panes of their rooms.

When asked about the defected lighting in the back lane of the hostel, the CSO claimed, ‘‘A committee has been formed and very soon proper lighting will be installed on the lane, besides some other places in the campus’’. He also claimed that the boundary wall around the extension hall would also be raised.

The university authorities maintained that the vigilance in the campus had been increased. But according to the students and other residents of the campus, the entry to the campus was literally unobstructed after midnight. The PU security staff checks the entry to the campus from 10 pm to 12 midnight and after that only one staff of the security is left at the gate. Mr Singh claimed that after midnight, it was the local police which took the charge.


PU postgraduate exams from April 17
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The annual examination for postgraduate classes of Panjab University will commence on April 17, official sources said here today.

The examination in the arts and science streams for the first year will end on May 7 and for the second year on May 8. The first year examination are scheduled for the evening session while the second year examination will be conducted in the morning session.

Examination scheduled for part I of MA and M Sc on April 17 are papers I of English, Punjabi, History, Hindi, Political Science, German, Persian, Tamil, Ancient Indian History, Education, Gandhian and Peace Studies, Geography, History of Art and Algebra in Mathematics.

Examination scheduled on May 7 are paper V of Physical Education, Public Administration and paper IV of Psychology.

Examination scheduled for April 17 of MA and M Sc II are paper I in Public Administration, Arabic, Bengali, French, Physical Education and Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology. Psychology (paper XVIII) and Philosophy (paper V) are also scheduled for the first day.

Last examination for the second year classes on May 8 is paper VII in Public Administration. The practical examination in the subject of music (instrumental, vocal, tabla and dance) will be held before theory examination.


Canadian MPs for visa office in city
Prabjot Singh
Tribune News Service

When the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, offered the state helicopter to Mrs Elinor Caplan and her delegation to make a quick visit to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple complex, she politely turned it down saying that the delegation had a tight schedule.

The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, presented beautiful mementos to all members of the delegation before taking them to the House. After watching the House in session during question hour, the visiting delegation also witnessed the proceedings of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha before making a short trip to the Canadian Trade Office in Sector 17. The delegation returned by the Himalyan Queen in the evening.

Chandigarh, March 7
“We are fully aware of the problems of distance and other difficulties faced by people of Punjab while going to New Delhi for the processing of their visa and immigration applications. Our endeavour has been to provide what is possibly the best service keeping in view the constraints of the policies of the Indian Government and the availability of resources at our end,” says Mrs Elinor Caplan, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration of Canada.

India was the second largest centre for processing immigration visas to Canada, she said.

Leading a 12-member all-party Canadian Parliamentary delegation on a day-long visit to the city, Mrs Caplan, accompanied by nine other MPs and the Canadian High Commissioner to India, Mr Peter Suthetland, also met the Chief Ministers of Punjab (Mr Parkash Singh Badal) and Haryana (Mr Om Prakash Chautala) besides visiting the legislatures of the two states in session.

Talking to The Tribune, Mrs Caplan said that she could understand the difficulties being experienced by people from Punjab in visiting the Delhi office. “We wanted the Chandigarh office to be upgraded to a visa office. But then there is a Government of India policy which restricts full-service offices to New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.”

“We will try to do our best to improve our services . We have not come here with any pre-conceived notions. The MPs accompanying me on the visit come from Ridings which have a heavy population of Indo-Canadians in general and Punjabis in particular. They all are aware of the challenges and respect the financial constraints we have,” she said.

Talking about new legislation on immigration, she said that it was before a committee of which Mr Gurbax Singh Malhi, Mr Gurmant Singh Grewal and 14 other MPs were members. The new law, when in place, would say “yes” more often than now and would take shorter to say “no” to an application, she said.

Last year, she said, the intake was 2,26,000. This year they were targeting an intake of between 2 lakh and 2.25 lakh.

Mrs Caplan was accompanied by Mr Malhi (of the ruling Liberal party), Mr Grewal and Mr Deepak Ubhrai (of the main Opposition party, the Canadian Alliance). The other members of the delegation were Mr Reg Alcock (Liberal from Winnipeg South); Ms Colleen Beaumier (Liberal from Brampton, West- Missisauga); Mr Stephen Owen (Liberal from Vancouver Quadra); Ms Judy Sgro (Liberal from York West); and Ms Judy Wasylycia-Leis (NDP from Winnipeg North Centre).


Will to make Chandigarh visa office “missing”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
“There is no political will to upgrade Chandigarh Trade Office to a Visa office,” says Mr Gurmant Grewal, a Member of Parliament of Canada belonging to the Canadian Reform Alliance, the main opposition party , maintaining that “this office was a lame duck “.

Mr Grewal, who was here as a member of the official Parliamentary delegation led by the Canadian Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, Mrs Elinor Caplan, said that unless there was a “political will to upgrade this office, nothing would happen. All Liberal Government has been doing was just politics. They opened this office on the eve of the 1997 general election.

“Our Minister did not meet India’s External Affairs Minister here. Our Foreign Minister had written a very mild letter to his Indian counterpart to request upgradation of the Chandigarh office,” Mr Grewal said maintaining that Chandigarh office receives about 180- enquiries on telephone everyday. Except for supplying application forms , it does nothing. In 1999, the Government of India allowed this centre to be a Visa application collection centre. The offer was not accepted on the plea that there was no reliable service available between Chandigarh and New Delhi for carrying of application forms and passports,” he said.

“Interestingly, Chandigarh is also not connected by the Central computer system,” he said maintaining that there had been some improvements in the Delhi office after he wrote a lengthy letter to the Government . Now there is drinking water and other facilities available to the visitors to the High Commission. Even those who reach the office by 10.30 a.m. are interviewed the same day.

He said that now the Liberal Government was talking of opening a Visa office in Bangalore. “At present there are 9.8 Indo Canadians of which 85 per cent are Punjabis. Which is more important for us. Chandigarh and not Bangalore,” he said.

Mr Grewal was critical of the new Immigration Bill for certain clauses like duel intention and inadmissibility criteria. Under duel intention, while the regular applicants in queue would continue to wait while those applying for immigration after reaching Canada on a visitors’ visa would get preference.

He, however, hailed the proposed amendment to raise the age limit of dependents in family class from 19 to 22.

Talking about intake level, he said that the rate of immigration to Canada had dropped to 1.8 lakh in 1998 under the present Liberal Government. When the Liberal Government talks of 1 per cent of the total population as intake for the current year it comes to three lakh while the Minister says that the target for the current year was between 2 and 2.25 lakh.

Mr Grewal said that after Canada imposed sanctions against India after the Pokhran blasts, the bilateral trade between the two countries dropped by about 25 per cent. “ At present the bilateral trade is worth $ one billion while on the other hand, the daily bilateral trade between the USA and Canada is $ 1.25 billion. See India, the 11th largest economy of the world, where it stands with regard to bilateral trade. Efforts are being made to improve the trade but it is to late,” he said. 


Kargil martyrs’ sacrifices downplayed,
says Maj Bhatnagar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In a disclosure that could stir up a hornets’ nest, Maj Maneesh Bhatnagar today claimed that the bodies of a Captain and some jawans killed during Operation Vijay had been handed over by Pakistan a year after the war was over.

Alleging that the sacrifices made by junior officers during Operation Vijay had been shrouded in mystery by the top brass in order to cover up their own misdeeds, Major Bhatnagar claimed that the mortal remains of Capt Yadav of 3 Rajput and some of his men had been handed over to the Indian authorities in August, 2000 — over a year after the Kargil operations were formally over. Major Bhatnagar, of 5 Parachute Regiment, is currently attached to HQ, N-Area, here to face disciplinary action for alleged dereliction of duty during the Kargil conflict.

Major Bhatnagar claimed that while Capt Yadav and his men had died while launching an assault on Reshma post in Hanif Sub-sector, the deaths had been reflected by the Army authorities as casualties during routine patrolling. A similar sacrifice by Maj Manoj Talwar while attacking Point 5682 / 5685 had been downplayed, he further claimed, adding that there might be other such cases which are not in his knowledge due to lack of access to information.

Demanding that disciplinary action should also be initiated against senior officers for their alleged failures in reporting intrusions along the Line of Control, Major Bhatnagar said “it is not known till now whether the Commander of 102 Brigade, Brig P.C. Katoch, and the GOC, 3 Division, Maj-Gen V.S. Budhwar, reported large scale intrusions by the enemy in Sub-Sector Hanif and Southern Glacier, which fall under the jurisdiction of 102 Brigade. He further added that it is still not known whether Point 5682/5685, Reshma Post, Point 5880/5810 and Thang posts, which had been lost in 1999, have been recovered or not.

Meanwhile, Maj Maneesh Bhatnagar contended that since Army Headquarters had issued his posting orders while he was attached to 503 ASC Battalion for disciplinary proceedings, it proved that the charges levelled against him had been dropped during the hearing of charge.

Maj Bhatnagar produced copies of letters, claimed to have been written by the Commanding Officer of 31 Rashtriya Rifles (Commando), Col J S Manral and the unit’s Adjutant, Capt Baljeet Singh, welcoming his posting to the “elite” unit. A copy of a letter written by the Director-General, Rashtriya Rifles, Lt-Gen Avtar Singh, also welcoming him to the force was produced by Major Bhatnagar.

The defence contended that as per Para 453 of the Regulations for the Army, no individual against whom a disciplinary case is pending should be posted away from his unit until the disposal of the case. The defence further contended that the posting of the accused officer to an elite special force battalion engaged in counter-insurgency operations speaks for itself about the accused’s character and proficiency.

In fact, the letters from the commanding officer and adjutant, both dated February 29, 2000, quote Army HQ signal number and date (381843/MS-2E of February 26, 2000) vide which Major Bhatnagar’s posting was intimated to the unit.

According to the defence submission, Major Bhatnagar reported to N-Area, Chandigarh on March 27, 2000, where he was instructed to stay put and on May 5, Commander N-Area, Col Shakti Prashad, intimated him that fresh disciplinary proceedings are to be initiated against him.

According to Major Bhatnagar, he was apprised by Col G S Ranawat, officer recording the summary of evidence (SOE) at 503 ASC, Battalion, that before he was to leave the unit, he had been called by Colonel Ranawat and specifically told that no case was made out against him and the case had been dropped. Thereafter he was given a movement order for 8 Mountain Division Signal Regiment. After dropping the case, the accused was posted to 31 RR.

During recording of SOE, the defence maintained, witnesses examined only referred to their statements made earlier during the court of inquiry. One such statement by Capt S.S. Bisht of 5 Para states that during the visit of GOC 3 Division to forward positions, the accused officer had stated before him that he was willing to undertake any task.

The defence pointed out that as per Army Rules, Colonel Ranawat, depending on statements in the SOE, had the option of remanding the accused for trial or to refer the case to superior or, if desirable, rehear the case and either dismiss the charge or dispose it summarily. The defence contended that since the first two options were not exercised, it is evident that the charges had been dismissed. The subsequent orders for recording SOE, the defence alleged, were apparently given on the direction of higher HQs and the accused was made a victim of conspiracy as he was a witness to the illegal actions of superiors which led to the Kargil operations.

Meanwhile, in the other ongoing trial of Maj V.K. Madhan of 2 Rajputana Rifles, the defence continued with the examination of Lt Col R.L. Tiwari, who had recorded the SOE.


Not Holi, Holi days this time
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Who is celebrating when
he governments of Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh are celebrating the festival on March 9, to coincide with the actual Holi (as told by priests). All offices will hence be closed. The Central government offices have also declared a holiday on March 9, as UT and Punjab have. Haryana, however, varies, as it has declared March 10 as a holiday. Officials informed that since the day had been listed as a holiday in the Haryana calendar, the government decided to stick to the same. The banks will follow the holiday declared by respective states. Same is true of schools. The Punjab and Haryana High Court and the UT District Courts will also be closed for Holi on March 9.

Chandigarh March 7
It’s festive season yet again, and this time with colours bright and gay. But as the festival of colours arrives this years, it brings along some streaks of confusion. Nevertheless, even while one does not really know which day out of March 9, 10 and 11 is the actual Holi day, there is nothing containing the excitement which can already be smelt in the air.

Although the festivals are all about enthusiasm, they still have a strange tendency to tickle the curiosity. The same is true of Holi. Today when this correspondent took rounds of markets in the Southern sectors to find out whether the celebration was really on, it also held brief interaction with the visitors to know if they had any inkling about the Shiva and Kamdeva myth connected with the festival. Ironically, most of them did not even know why colours are sprinkled.

There are many legends behind the festival, leading to confusion (which matches with confusion about the day of the festival this year). But all that this reporter could gather after talking to some priests in temples and some elders is what follows.

According to stories in the Puranas and local legends, the festival begins on Dwadashi — the 12th day of the waxing moon of the month of Falgun. As for the significance, the festival is important for three reasons, and each family picks up the reason it can easily relate with:

* On this very day, Lord Shiva opened his third eye and reduced Kamdeva to ashes. Hence the importance of lighting a fire on the day.

* On this day Holika, the sister of demon king Hiranyakasyapu, tried to kill Prahlad, child devotee of Vishnu, by placing him on her lap and sitting on a wood pyre which was set ablaze. Holika was reduced to ashes while Prahlad remained unscathed.

* Again on this day, an ogress called Dhundhi, who was troubling children in the kingdom of Prthu, was made to run away by the shouts and pranks of the mischievous children. Though Dhundhi had secured several boons which made her invincible — these noises, shouts and abuses of boys — was a chink in her armour due to a curse given to her by Lord Shiva. Since then, the day came to be called as Adada. This legend explains the significance of dholis (for noise they make) during the festival.

Coming to celebrations now — colours derived significance when Radha and Krishna first smeared each other’s faces with colours on the Holi day. Since then the colour tradition picked up in Mathura, Vrindavan and all other places which were under Krishna’s influence. From there the colour tradition travelled to rest of the country.

Even today, the festival is declared open after the eldest member of the family offers prayers with a plate carrying a pot filled with coloured water. After this, Holika is burnt. This day is called Puno. Puno is followed by Parva — the day which is marked by the actual celebration with colours, dholis and all noise.


Seismic activity: HUDA to revise plans
Bipin Bhardwaj

Panchkula, March 7
Even as property prices have crashed following seismic activity in the lower Shivaliks adjoining Ghaggar river, a reportedly alarmed Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is all set for a rethink on the scope for further development activity in this area of the township . Following a huge crack in the hillocks on the left bank of the Ghaggar the sectors located in the immediate vicinity of the river have witnessed a drop in property rates. In case of flats gone are the prevailing premium, owners are ready to sell at rates at which allotments were made. It will take a long time for this fear to go, said a property dealer.

While massive construction has taken place on the right bank of the river Sectors near the bank like 23, 24, 25, 27 and 28 were still under development. Prior to this, the scared investors who had purchased flats in multi-storeyed buildings of different societies had also sold their properties either on a par or suffering huge losses. Scare due to tremors, the owners were forced to sell their property from security point of view and go for alternative investments. Earlier, a three bed room flat in a society was being sold at a premium of Rs 2 lakh to 3 lakh but since an earthquake ruined Gujarat, the premium has come down Rs 50,000, a property consultant disclosed. Sources revealed that the investors sold the society-flats going ahead for plots to construct single storyed independent houses. ‘‘Buying a plot in this area is much cheaper instead of spending a large amount to by a society-flat which further is unsafe from earth quakes point of view,’’ opined Mr Sanjeev Kumar, a local resident.


Birth rate has come down, says expert 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh March 7
There has been a noticeable decrease in the birth rate at the turn of the new century. This was stated by Prof Gopal Krishan, co coordinator of a Special Assistance Programme of the University Grants Commission, at a seminar on “a century of population change” being organised by the Department of Geography. The three-day seminar opened at Panjab University today.

Professor Krishan said in 1901 the birth rate recorded was 49. The death rate was as high as 43. The birth rate in 1951 was 40 and the death rate was 27.

The recently recorded birth rate has gone down to 26 and the death rate has gone down to 9. Although the birth rate is still high, there has been a definite fall in the overall growth rate over the years.

The population of the country has grown four times since the turn of the last century. From approximately 24 crore in 1901, the figures in 2001 are more than 100 crore.

Prof S.L.Sharma, Dean, Institute of Correctional Administration, in his inaugural address remarked that 20th century was a century of change, and four distinct features of change were — unprecedented rise in population, a unique kind of demographic transition, emergence of crucial issues of population and special kind of spatial distribution.

Dr Nina Singh, from Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, said fulfilling basic educational need of the millions of illiterate females was a daunting task. More than financial capability, it required a strong political commitment to correct the situation.

Dr L.S. Bhat, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, spoke on ‘Spatial and Structural Changes in India’s Population’. D. Krishan Mohan, PU, spoke on ‘Tribes in Census of India‘.

Dr S.P. Kaushik, Kurukshetra University, Dr K.D.Sharma and Dr Pippa Maryann Deodhar, from Panjab University and Dr H.S. Mangat, Punjabi University, Patiala, were among other prominent speakers.

Youth Parliament organised: Representatives elected to student bodies in local colleges participated in a “youth Parliament” organised at Panjab University here today.

A press note issued by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad said representatives of teaching departments of PU campus and office-bearers of colleges were invited to a day long discussion on student contribution in nation building.

Mr Hirender Kumar, national organising secretary of the ABVP, spoke on student contribution towards national reconstruction. He criticised the ongoing act by Taliban forces against idols of Buddha in Afghanistan.

Ramesh Pappa, national secretary, coordinated the discussion in the afternoon session. Shailender Singh Kanwar welcomed the guests.

Neeraj Sharma, Davesh Moudgil, Nishu Dubey, Vivek Chauhan, Mukta Sharma and Amit Rana were among other speakers.


Women voice concern over female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh March 7
Over the years, celebration of Women’s Day has actually become cliched. Nevertheless, seminars on women’s empowerment are believed to serve some purpose, insofar as they help to motivate the aware lot into leading this very awareness to the remote areas.

One such attempt was made by the Sikh Nari Manch in collaboration with the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi here today on the Punjab kala Bhawan premises. The function was meant to celebrate the spirit of womanhood, and it was marked by one speech after the other. While most of the issues voiced by speakers of the order of former MP Satinder Kaur Dhaliwal, State Health Minister Mohinder Kaur Josh, president of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Ms Harjinder Kaur, singer Sukhi Brar, Dr Inderpal Kaur and Prof Prabhjot Kaur, were the ones often deliberated upon, but the session did end on a positive note — that it saw a sensible suggestion coming from Ms Dhaliwal who called upon the educated women to help women in the villages to realise their rights.

A similar suggestion was made by Dr Shivinder Kaur Johl, who urged that small units should be formed and each unit should take upon itself the responsibility of spreading awareness, not just about female foeticide, but also about various impending women’s issues.

The seminar saw four important resolutions on women related issues, beginning with the call to secure the birth of woman. Next in the line came the calls for equal status and empowerment to women, fight against female foeticide. The political demand of the day was made by Harjinder Kaur who demanded the Punjab seat in the Rajya Sabha for Ms Dhaliwal.

One good thing in the evening was a projection of women’s liberation through the enactment of Gurinder Sandhu’s poem — Chirree de amber wal udoon. This one-act play which saw Anita, a promising actress from the Suchetak Rang Manch, SAS Nagar, in the lead was a satire on the practice of abortion. It showed how an emotionally-bruised woman, who had been forced into abortion, breaks free.

Among the various speeches made during the day, valid points came from Dr Shivinder who stressed the need to develop compassion for each other. “Woman is woman’s enemy. Our empowerment lies in rising above these petty insecurities and loving each other”, she said.

Sukhi Brar, the famous folk singer of Punjab, put across her feelings in a beautiful nazm which read — Mai ni sun meriye mai, dhee teri tarle paye, rab di diti zindagi khoh na jaman ton pehlan mainu maar na. Ms Harjinder Kaur was also quite emphatic in her demands for empowerment. As for Mohinder Kaur Josh, she gave Rs 50,000 to the manch for carrying out its “women’s empowerment activities.”

The chief guest for the evening was Ms Neeru Nanda, Adviser to the UT Administrator.


Spreading the message of eye donation
Nishikant Dwivedi

Chandigarh, March 5
‘Light for the blind - Donate your eyes’ — with this message and an eye on the Guinees Book of World Records, Mr Subrata Chakraborty, a 25-year-old youth from Kolkata, on a 10,000-km monocycle rally reached here today. He is on his cycle for the past 180 days and has covered 7,045 km.

Mr Chakraborty says that about 30 lakh of the visually handicapped Indians can regain their vision by cornea grafting and hence 30 lakh posthumous corneas are required for the purpose. The message for eye donations is printed on the clothes he is wearing.

His cycle has just one tyre, a seat and a pair of pedals and for breaks, he use his feet. Every day he starts his journey at the daybreak and continue till evening. ‘‘On an average, I travel 35 to 60 km every day depending on the terrain and weather’’.

It was during a circus show that he hit upon the idea of spreading the message of eye donation on a monocycle. ‘‘I urged the circus people to teach me to ride a monocycle’’. He practised for one year.

The rally was flagged off on September 8, last year, by Mr Viren Shah, Governor of West Bengal, in Kolkata.

When asked why he chose to spread the message of eye donation, he said, ‘‘Other things like AIDS and blood donation are widely publicised and I felt that awareness about eye donation was very little in our country’’.

He is a guest instructor at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of the National Adventure Foundation (West Bengal chapter) and a member of the International Eye Bank.

About getting his name in the Guinees Book of World Records, he says, ‘‘In the first week of June, when my rally will come to an end in Kolkata, I am sure my name will be entered in the book’’. He is yet to cover another 3,000 km.

He reached the city early this morning on his 'circus' cycle. He has covered a long distance moving through Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Vijaywada, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trichi, Kanyakumari, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bikaner, Amritsar, Jammu, Pathankot, Jalandhar and Ludhiana.

Tomorrow he will start his journey back to the starting point via Delhi, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Patna, Siliguri and Guwahati.


Karanti cycle-rickshaw launched
Tribune News Service

Cycle-rickshawChandigarh, March 7
Adhunik Industries launched “Kranti”, a cycle-rickshaw here today. This modern rickshaw has unique features like a multi-speed gear system, is light weight and strong tabular frame and has safety features like reflectors and mudguards.

Mr Ashok Kumar Arora , Transport Minister, Haryana, was the chief guest at the inaugural function while Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, Mayor, MC, Chandigarh, presided over.

Costing Rs 4,200, “Kranti” comes in nearly 10 different colours including some metallic colours. “Modern rickshaws of this design can already be seen in Delhi, Agra, Mathura, Varindavan, Bharatpur and several other cities in the country”, said Mr Bhavesh Kumar Punia of Adhunik. He said the rickshaw is the outcome of the Indian Cycle Rickshaw Improvement Project which was started by the Institute of Transport Development Policy, New York, in association with the Asian Institute of Transportation Development, New Delhi, under the grant provided by the United States Agency for International Development.

Apart from the new features, the buyer of the rickshaw will be provided an insurance cover for rickshaw as well as the rickshaw-puller. The company will keep a record of the buyers and a free medical check-up of the rickshaw-pullers will be done every year by the company, said Mr Punia. A booklet on safety norms is also given at the time of purchase and the buyer is told about the traffic rules and regulations.

The company is planning to come up with a new model which will have a speedometer, Mr Punia said.


Guidelines of 585 level phone users
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
All telephone subscribers connected with level 585 will be connected onto a new exchange at 1 p.m on Thursday. There will be no change in numbers , who however, subscribers will have to feed their dynamic STD/ ISD locking codes afresh.

For registration of code it will be 123 1111 followed by four digit secret code. To open it will be 124 four digit secret a code followed by ‘0’ . To lock the code will be 124 followed by a four digit code and ‘1’.


Phone bill collection hit
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 7
Telephone subscribers visiting the Phase 4 office of the Telecom Department to pay their telephone bills had to face a lot of harassment when an employee manning the counter refused to accept the bills on the pretext of a snag in the computer system. Some of the subscribers whose last date to submit the bill expired today complained that they had to rush to banks to submit the bill.


Officers institute’s stone laid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, West Command, Lieut-General Surjit Singh, laid the foundation stone of the Shivalik Officers Institute at Chandi Mandir Cantonment, near here today.

The Chief of Staff, Lieut-Gen H.R.S Mann, and other senior officers of Headquarters, Western Command, were also present on the occasion.

Being constructed at a cost of Rs 1.27 crore, the building will take one year to complete, an official release said, adding that it will fulfil the much needed requirement of both serving and retired defence services officers and their families for organising social functions.

The institute was earlier known as the Defence Services Officers Institute (DSOI). 


Photographers decry service tax
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Chandigarh Photographers Association today strongly condemned the imposition of service tax on all photography related services as proposed in the Union Budget.

The Executive Committee of the Association, which met here under the chairmanship of Mr K.K. Mehta, decided that a delegation of the Punjab Photographers Association would go and meet the Union Finance Minister and present a memorandum to him to protest against the proposal.

Mr Mehta said more than 95 per cent persons engaged in the profession of photography were self employed.

The members are apprehensive about the implementation of the proposed service tax and its impact on pricing of their services. They were also very apprehensive about their added harassment that they were going to face at the hands of the Inspectors.


Lake cafe to serve Amritsari delights
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Sukhna Lake cafeteria was alive with activity the whole day. Though activity on lake premises is not a new thing, but there surely was something new to day. As the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) threw open its Terrace Treat to Amritsari delight today, it opened the avenue to more and more clientele. By the evening, the Amritsari Food Festival which will be on at Terrace Treat till March 11 had seen about 200 visitors.

The festival has been repeated following a tremendous response to the Amritsari dhaba food festival held during the Rock Garden silver jubilee celebrations recently. In fact, CITCO also plans to have a full-fledged Amritsari kitchen at the Kalagram which is coming up on the Chandigarh-Shimla highway. As informed by an official, “This is a sort of pilot project. We want people to come and enjoy the sumptuous treat being prepared by especially-trained chefs.”

Strange it might sound, but the best chefs from CITCO hotels were sent on a week’s training to Amritsar so that justice could be done to the food festival which will be open for four day from 5 pm to 10 pm. Said an official, “They were sent for training to famous dhabas like Kundan da dhaba, and some others in the famous Haalbazar.”

The festival will have special Amritsari dishes like Pitthi puri with chhole and salad, chhole bhature, samose chhole, sarson da saag and makki di roti, dal Amritsari, laccha parantha, phirni and many more. And all this at a price not exceeding Rs 45.


Staff, children give Income Tax office a facelift
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In a unique effort, the staff and officers of the local Income Tax Department accompanied by their grown up children carried out voluntary work to refurbish their office which included , neat stacking and computer coding of about 3 lakh returns filed in the past five years to make the office more presentable and workable.

Just Rs 50,000 have been used as compared to the estimates of Rs 60 lakh submitted by contractors to re-do the office. Old ply boards have been reused with fresh coat of paint to cut down on costs, said a proud Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, North Western Region Mr J.S. Ahluwalia, while talking to The Tribune during a visit to the ‘‘ model office’’ where he interacted with a beaming staff

The children of employees who helped in stacking of all files in proper manner and helped in computer coding will be honoured and commendation certificates will be given to them said Mr Ahluwalia. A function will be held in April to honour these children.

It’s in this office, located just above ‘‘Hot Millions I’’ in Sector 17, that as many as 75,000 salaried class residents of the city and adjoining township of S.A.S. Nagar file their tax returns. The staff was fed up with dingy appearance of the office. The record room was overflowing with files making it difficult for them to work and , locate files besides presenting a shabby look to the visitors, said Mr Ashwani Luthra, Commissioner Income Tax, Chandigarh Circle .

‘‘Now I can locate any income tax return filed by any assessee in two minutes,’’ Mr Luthra said while adding that earlier this was impossible. Explaining the new system he said just by typing the name of an assessee in the computer a code appears on the screen informing the user as to where the file is stacked in the office. Files of assesses have been wrapped in polybags with stickers having code.

The work has been carried out on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays without disturbing the normal working of the office. And all this is a part of the process of transition from the old style to the restructured Income Tax Department. This required a four fold strategy : sorting and linking off the record; setting up of a separate record room , where from record would be issued for use; creation of an open layout for transparency and team work and lastly technology induction and training of staff.

The dormant record was sorted alphabetically , linked up and placed in plastic bags in racks in a centralised record room. About 2 lakh records have been sorted and placed in this manner. The second stage involved the current records.

On the physical front the old layout of wooden partitions separating the staff from the officers have been done away with. Now officers sit behind glass partioned panels. To use technology the staff now has access to computers . All staff members went imparted training on computers. 


NCP condemns demolition of statues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Activists of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) burnt the effigy of Mulla Mohammad Omar, chief of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, against the demolition of Buddhist statues here yesterday.

Raising slogans against the Taliban government, over 400 party activists of the NCP wanted that the Afghan government returned the statues to the Indian Government.

Addressing the activists, Mr Gurbachan Singh, president of the local unit of the NCP, said the Indian Government should take strict action against the Afghan government.


Rehris on roadside

The Estate Office does not permit stationing of rehris on government land. However, one can see a huge chain of fruit sellers on the roadside in Panchkula’s Sector 7 and 8. The same is the position in other sectors. To discourage them, the Estate Office staff often impounds the rehris in different parts of the town. The penalty for getting an impounded rehri released is Rs 1200. However, these are often released by the officials concerned under a ‘‘private arrangement’’ with the rehriwalas. The system works to the advantage of both. The rehriwala gets away cheaply and the official also makes a fast buck. The only loser is HUDA. As far as inconvenience to the public is concerned, who cares.

Manmohan Moudgil, Panchkula

City bus terminus

The Chandigarh Administration has decided to run more than 400 buses from the bus terminus in Sector 43. Almost all buses to different destinations in Punjab are now being run from Sector 43. This has caused considerable problems for women passengers. Passengers coming from Shimla, Solan, Kalka who want to go towards Jalandhar-Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Jammu etc find it difficult to take direct buses to these destinations from the Sector 17 ISBT. It not only wastes a lot of time but the passengers (especially aged persons, women and children) face a big problem particularly if they happen to have heavy luggage with them. Taxis, three-wheelers and rickshaws charge abnormal rates to take them to Sector 43.

The authorities concerned may reconsider the matter and allow some buses for these destinations also from the Sector 17 ISBT.

Arun Kumar, Jalandhar

Vineet Khanna

I was deeply touched by Mr R.K. Saboo’s write-up ‘‘Courage, thy name is Vineet’’ (The Tribune, Feb 22). I was taken to Vineet Khanna’s residence in the summer of 1982 by a friend. Ours was love at first sight, which was kept alive by my visits to him every year on his birthday (April 7). That he was a deeply religious man is evident from the fact that he had reconciled himself to his being incurably bed-ridden with promptitude and a mystic understanding of God’s will. His thoughts, words, and deeds sprang effortlessly from this inexhaustible source of living nirvana. His kinship with the Family of Man quickly enlarged to encompass, on one end of the scale, Mother Teresa and an abandoned child on the other. The soulful smile on a street urchin’s face was eternity for him, and the wiping of a tear like an emancipating dip in the holy Ganges. His vast and varied reading, his paintings, his poems, his projects all made his life a living Gita. Vinnet was no ordinary mortal. He was a Maharishi.

S.S. Bhatti, Chandigarh

Park with problem

I often go to Guru Tegh Bahadur Park in Patiala near Gurudwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib. It is an attractive park for children and is well-maintained. The problem of this park is that a nullah flows right through it. It contains dirt and filth and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and insects. It is a health hazard. Many who visit this park feel that the nullah should be covered to enhance the beauty of the park and also to make it safe for children. At present there is every possibility of some child falling in the nullah and getting hurt.

Ranjay Vardhan, Patiala


Three theft cases reported
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
Three cases of theft have been reported in the city in the past 24 hours. The police has attained success with the arrest of the accused in two cases. A Ludhiana-based businessman has also been booked by the police on charges of duping a city resident of around Rs 1 lakh on the pretext of investing the complainant’s money in a plantation.

According to information, a car stereo was stolen from a car ( HR-20D-0030) of Mr Sukhwinder Bawa while it was parked at the bank square in Sector 17 last night. In another incident, a car (CH-01L-0152 was stolen from in front of the District Courts parking here today.

The police, however, succeeded in nabbing two thieves and recovered stolen goods from their possession. Kishan Lal was arrested from the traffic lights of Sector 15 on March 5 after he had allegedly stolen the bicycle from the parking of Sector 15. This cycle belonged to Varinder Kumar and the police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC.

In another incident, Amarjit Singh was caught red-handed while he was allegedly stealing three steel taps and a steel water pipe from the Administration Block in Punjab University.

Seetal Singh Mundy has accused a Ludhiana resident, Bhupinder Singh Ojla, of duping him of Rs 1 lakh on the pretext of investing his money in plantations. The accused had not returned the money back to the complainant after five years, as per the agreement. A case under Section 420 of the IPC has been registered.

Sanjeev Kumar was arrested by the police under various Sections of the Excise Act for drinking at a public place near the rehri market, Sector 19. A case under sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.

An 18-year-old girl, Ravneet, was injured when she was hit by a cycle near the Sector 41 and 42 dividing road. She has been admitted to the PGI.

The body found by the police near the Sukhna Lake on March 5 has been identified as that of Amandeep Singh. It is learnt that Amandeep Singh (25) was suffering from mental depression. 


Hoteliers for peg price on a par with clubs
Assessment fee issue
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
A series of mega parties held during the recent elections of the office-bearers of the Chandigarh Club has prompted the hotels and restaurant owners of Chandigarh to get together and press the UT Administration once again to provide them with a “level playing field” vis-a-vis clubs in the city.

Some of the parties held in the run-up to the poll were big by any standards. Informed sources in the club say that some of them were attended by up to 2,000 persons. Liquor flowed like water and food was available in plenty. Some of them are said to have cost more than Rs 5 lakh an evening.

“It is very clear from this phenomenon that the people who can afford such parties go to the clubs. Also, they prefer to hold such big parties mainly because it is much cheaper to hold them in the clubs due to the fact that the rate of assessment fee levied on them by the Excise Department is much lower than what it is on the hotels and restaurants”, says Mr Manmohan Singh Kohli, President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Chandigarh.

Ironically, these are the very people who would not hesitate to visit hotels and restaurants if liquor is available there at rates comparable to those in the clubs.

“The clubs have been offering us an unfair competition”, complains Mr Kohli. “It is time the UT Administration woke up this fact and did something about it. It has been very helpful and as generally displayed a positive attitude whenever the hotel and restaurant industry has brought its problems to its notice. But it is now becoming a question of survival. The Administration must provide us with a level playing field vis-a-vis the clubs if it wants us to survive and cater in a decent manner to the growing tourist influx in the city”.

The UT excise policy defies logic. It allows hard liquor and beer bars in hotels but does not permit liquor bars in restaurants. Presently, liquor bar licenses (L 4 and L 5) are allowed only to the hotel or the restaurants functioning in the hotels. Independent restaurants are denied this privilege. It is felt that this practice is discriminatory as both the institutions of hotels and restaurants provide the same facility. In many places like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and many other cities in the country, independent restaurants are treated at par with the hotels in this respect. Nirula’s TGF, Essex Farms and a number of other restaurants are the well-known examples in Delhi where the normal hard liquor bars function.

It is argued that with the modernisation of the economy and great emphasis being laid on business and trade, it is in keeping with the changing that services of drinks be made more liberal and easy. Instead of drinking in the cars parked in public places or shady joints should be given the facility to drink properly in the designated places which in turn would earn more revenue for the UT.

In the Indian context, drinking is viewed by some as a social vice. Even after a number of attempts for its total eradication, the government has not succeeded in doing away with it in any of the state. Easy legal availability is unlikely to increase in more drinking as is the case with free mixing of boys and girls which has not in any resulted in increased promiscuity.

Pub bars (L 10A) serve only draught beer. Draught beer is fresh and in many ways superior to the bottled beer. However, there are occasions when its non-availability creates a problem. Generally, the stocking is done on the basis of average consumption as draught beer has limited shelf life. Many a time, due to abnormal consumption, the stocks run out. This causes disruption in the operation of the pub and renders the establishment.

About three months ago, the only brewery manufacturing draught beer was closed down for over 10 days. The non-supply of draught beer resulted in closing of all pubs in the city. Such are the times when service of bottled beer, though more expensive, could have obviated the necessity of closing down the pubs.

The Administration should have no objection to service of bottled beer in beer pubs as, any way, excise duty is paid on it. The storage and service bottled beer should be permitted in the beer pubs in the next excise policy.

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