Tuesday, March 27, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Shatabdi: a convenient train, no longer passengers’ delight
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
When the 2005 Shatabdi Express that runs between New Delhi and Kalka arrived here past night, it was 35 minutes late. Such delays are not unusual for this premier train of the Railways, due to which, it is losing its charm.

The morning Shatabdi was 25 minutes late. In 1989, when the train was introduced, the Railways had promised to make it a world class train. However, in the following 11 years, it has been reduced to a high-cost train that is no longer punctual, comfortable or clean.

The Chandigarh-New-Delhi fare — Rs 110 initially — has been hiked to Rs 435, but the facilities have not been improved accordingly. Many of those who regularly travel on this train say that its air-conditioned carriages, hot snacks and friendly ambience have almost become history.

The maximum deterioration has been in the catering service. According to a circular issued by the Director of Catering of the Northern Railways, each early-morning traveller of the AC chair car is to be given morning tea at Rs 13 (Rs 19.50 in Executive Class), followed by breakfast at Rs 40 (Rs 60 in Executive Class). Every afternoon traveller gets lunch at Rs 75 (Rs 112.50 in Executive Class), while each evening traveller is supplied tea at Rs 40 (Rs 60 in Executive Class). The cost of a mineral-water bottle and a newspaper that each passenger gets is not included in the apportionment cost.

The circular directed all zonal officials to ensure that apportionment-cost services were improved in quality, preparation and packaging. Though from April 1, 1999, the catering charges that are paid to the contractor have been increased by 25 per cent, the menu, barring minor changes, has remained the same.

Regular travellers haven’t liked the replacing of hot-water flasks, two tea bags or a coffee sachet, two sugar sachets and two milk-powder sachets with a cup of premix tea. When this premix tea reaches passengers, it is either cold or too sweet.

Serving trays are at times put in hot water and wiped by a dirty linen that has been used many times, which might lead to the spread of infections. For every second service, these trays are covered with a fresh piece of paper only. Those who travel in the Executive Class are not any better.

Stinking toilets with uneven and slushy floors and no sign of toilet rolls or deodorants, highlight the condition of this “elite train”. The signs that indicate whether the toilet is occupied or vacant have disappeared. The door-locks and latches are mostly broken or stuck. Soap bottles are either dry or leaking and the deodorant containers have rusted.

Punjabi Pop singer Harbhajan Mann is a regular traveller on this train. He said, “As I live in Patiala, I find it convenient to get down at Ambala and take a car to my house. In spite of the regular fare hikes, services offered on this train have not improved. The food is so poor that I have had only mineral water on the train today.”

His wife, Hardeep Mann, said, “Last Friday, I was travelling in the Executive Class, the food was atrocious. I wonder why officials have discontinued the previous tea package. It was good as one could prepare tea or coffee of his or her choice at leisure. The premix tea is cold by the time it reaches you.” The Manns also disliked the insanitation in the coaches.

Mr Y.R. Kapoor, a chemical engineer, is not happy at the introduction of more stops. “Gradually, officials will introduce more stops under pressure from one source or the other. The train now takes more time than before to reach Delhi,” said Mr Kapoor.

Bottle holders have been shabbily welded to the seats, at times at the bottom of these. The practice of cleaning toilets with vacuum cleaners appears to have been discontinued. These are now mopped, which pushes dust and filth under seats. The windows, too, are seldom cleaned and the curtains on these are dirty, loose and torn.

The STD facility that has been provided outside the Executive Class does not work between Chandigarh and Ambala and from Sonepat to New Delhi — the times when passengers need it the most. The service charges — Rs 18 to Rs 20 — are exorbitant. The Railway police officials on the train often occupy seats of passengers. They also lack the alertness expected of them.

Commuters’ complaints


  • Frequent delays, no punctuality
  • More stops
  • Poor upkeep and maintenance
  • Toilets stink
  • No toilet-papers rolls
  • No deodorant in toilets
  • Little or no liquid soap
  • No STD facility between Chandigarh and Ambala and from Narela to New Delhi
  • Poor sanitation, deposits of filth under seats
  • Erratic sound system; no music
  • Broken or loose magazine baskets
  • Uneven seat tables


  • Premix tea or coffee
  • Poor quality of tea and snacks
  • No variety in menu
  • Recycling of plastic utensils
  • No proper cleaning of crockery


Jacob inaugurates new bridge on city-Panchkula road
3 alternative road links planned
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Three alternative road links between Chandigarh and Panchkula have been planned after discussions with the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). The UT Administrator, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), was given this information by his Adviser, Ms Neeru Nanda, when the General inaugurated a new bridge on the existing Chandigarh-Panchkula road here this morning.

Route No 1 has been planned from the Industrial Area, Phase-I passing near Daria Village and joining Panchkula on the road near Sector 18 in Panchkula. Route No 2 will take off from Chandigarh-Ambala road (National Highway No 21) near Hallomajra passing near Mauli Jagran village and meeting the road dividing Sector 16 & Sector 17, Panckhula. Route No 3 will take off from V3 road between Sector 26 and the grain market, cross the Sukhna Choe and the old Chandigarh-Kalka road, and pass through Manimajra before meeting the Chandigarh-Kalka road.

The Adviser said all these routes passed through forest areas. The Union Ministry of Forest and Environment has given clearance in respect of Route No 3 as the land area falling on route No 1 and 2 is subjudice. The Chief Engineer, Mr R.K. Jain, informed that work on Route No 3 was under progress and construction of the vented causeway was in advanced stage of competition. A notification under Section 4 & 6 of the Land Acquisition Act has been issued for acquisition of 2.5 acres of land. The General inaugurated a four-lane high-level bridge across the Sukhna Choe on the Chandigarh-Kalka road by unveiling a plaque.

The existing 2-lane bridge across Sukhna Choe has been a bottleneck in the smooth flow of the ever-increasing traffic. The Union Ministry of Surface Transport (MOST) had approved a four-lane high-level bridge in 1996-97. The proposal for conversion of the existing road from the transport chowk into four-lane dual divided carriageway has also been accepted in principle this month.

Mr Rakesh Singh, Finance Secretary-cum-Secretary, Engineering, informed the Administrator that this three-span bridge had been constructed with the latest technology of post-tensioned pre-stressed concrete beams supporting reinforced cement concrete deck slab. He said that the bridge structure had been built at an approximate cost of Rs 3.5 crore, and another Rs 1.6 crore had been spent on approach roads. He said that for this bridge a technology of concrete batching and mixing plant with high strength concrete with compressive strength of 350 kg per sq cm had been used. Plasticiser has been used to reduce water content in the concrete mix to achieve better workability and low water cement ratio.

On this occasion, the Administrator honoured engineers of Chandigarh Engineering Department for their efforts. The engineers honoured of this occasion included Mr S.P. Bhandari, Sectional Officer, Mr Sandeep Singh, Sectional Officer, Mr Yogesh Gupta, Sub-Divisional Engineer, Mr B.B. Rampal, SDE, Mr R.S. Sandhu, A.E.D, Mr V.K. Thapar, S.D.E., Mr V.K. Chopra, Executive Engineer, Mr S.L. Bhandari, Executive Engineer, Mr Kuldeep Singh, Superintending Engineer, and Mr R.K. Jain, Chief Engineer.

Prominent among those who were present on the occasion included Mr Raj Kumar Goel, Mayor, Mr B.S. Bassi, Inspector General of Police, Mr Parag Jain, SSP, Mr M.P. Singh, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Managing Director, CITCO, Mr S.P. Singh and Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramshekhar.


Inauguration causes traffic chaos
Tribune News Service

Hundreds of commuters remain stranded on way from Panchkula to Chandigarh as authorities close the road for the inauguration of a bridge on Monday.
Hundreds of commuters remain stranded on way from Panchkula to Chandigarh as authorities close the road for the inauguration of a bridge on Monday. 
— A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, March 26
The inauguration of the new overbridge on the Chandigarh-Panchkula road created traffic snarls and led to arguments as an occasion for celebration caused harassment. Thousands of commuters were held up for more than two hours even as a visibly agitated UT Administrator, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) — who was invited to inaugurate the bridge — asked officials of the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Police as to why traffic had been held up.

The inauguration which normally should have taken no more than two minutes led to acrimonious scenes as commuters argued with cops as to why the traffic had been stopped. The Administrator, upon seeing the harassment of the public, hurried through the brief ceremony and asked the officers to allow the flow of traffic.

The road, which otherwise had been commissioned three weeks ago, was closed to normal traffic since yesterday for the new road to be given a facelift. Official estimates point out that on an average as many as 25,000 vehicles ply from Panchkula to the city each day. The situation was not as bad yesterday, being a Sunday, but the traffic moved at a snail’s pace right from 8:30 a.m. in the morning today, when the morning rush hours begin.

Mr Sanjeev Sharma, a practicing lawyer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court residing in Sector 15, Panchkula, complained that he had to miss a matter listed for 10 a.m. today as he was held up in the traffic jam for more than an hour. “The concerned authorities should give prior intimation to the general public if the road has to be closed down. Moreover, the road should be closed down only if there is an alternate route available. The bridge is for the convenience of the people in order to remove the traffic bottleneck on this road, but the inauguration has turned out to be another inconvenience for the public,” he said.

Another young commuter, Mr Raghav Kapoor, a student of St. John’s Public School, who was unable to reach school in time for his Art Class as a result of the traffic jam, said that such functions should be held early.


Joint ownership of dwelling units
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Chandigarh Administration is allotting dwelling units to settlers in labour colonies in the name of the husband and wife jointly so that in future no husband can sell the dwelling unit without the consent of his wife, said the Adviser to the UT Administrator , Ms Neeru Nanda, in her concluding speech at an eight-day awareness generation camp in connection with Women’s Empowerment Year 2001 through the Indian Council of Social Welfare, Chandigarh branch, at the Kumhar Colony.

The camp was organised by the Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board and the Adviser expressed her happiness over the camp being organised for the welfare of women. Mrs Kamla Sharma, Chairperson, Chandigarh Social Welfare Advisory Board, presided over the function. She said society could make progress only if women were aware of their rights.

A cultural programme was presented by students of Government Model School, Sector-25, and Khushi School for slum children. Mrs Shrestha Mehta, General Secretary of the Indian Council of Social Welfare, said the council was going to start a help line for aged persons shortly.


Now pay your telephone bills on holidays
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
A fully-computerised postal business centre was inaugurated by Mr S.C. Chaudhary, Chief General Manager of the Punjab Circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), at the General Post Office, Sector 17, here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr A.S.I.S. Paul, Chief Postmaster General, Punjab and UT, informed that in addition to providing free pick-up, exclusive booking, despatch and delivery of speed post and express parcels, the centre will also provide booking and delivery of satellite post. The payment of telephone bills will be accepted between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Sundays and postal holidays at a service charge of Rs 10 per bill.

Keeping in view the problems being faced by the rural telephone subscribers, Mr Paul added that all branch post offices will be authorised to collect payments of telephone bills at a service charge of Rs 5 per bill. The Postal Life Insurance policy holders will also be able to enjoy the same facility on Sundays and holidays (except national holidays). Bulk mailers can bring their articles and get the services like enveloping, address pasting and franking at this centre at nominal charges, which will be in addition to the postage.

He said such business centres had already been opened at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. The department proposes to provide the special facilities to other 22 speed post centres in Punjab. Mr Paul informed that the speed post business has grown to Rs 300 crore per year. The midnight mail motor service, connecting district headquarters and important town, introduced on January 31 this year assured next day delivery of all speed post articles booked up to 8 p.m. every day.

Meanwhile, the track-and-trace system to ascertain the status of speed post articles will be introduced a all speed post centres from the next month. It will enable the customers to get information about their speed post articles sitting at their home or in the cyber cafes through the Internet.

Mr Chaudhary expressed the hope that there would be long-term association between the Department of Posts (DoP) and the BSNL. He appreciated the plan of the DoP to collect bills from the rural areas where the BSNL did not have sufficient infrastructure.


Controversial issues go to PU panels
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Formation of committees on various issues, raising debatable questions, best described a 10-hour-long Senate session of Panjab University here yesterday.

After more than a six-hour discussion on the budget of Rs 7880.88 lakh for the forthcoming session, it was considered passed with minor adjustments which would be looked into. Everyone did get an opportunity to speak, but there were hardly any decisions on the floor of the House on controversial matters. “These matters now go to committees. Whatever the decisions, the House will go through another round, may be rounds, of debate”, a member said.

Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, said there was work on in a committee to check the misuse of amalgamated funds. The university is considering a committee to study fee and other facilities for economically backward students. One committee is dwelling on ensuring equal salaries in both aided and non-aided colleges.

The university will reconsider the case of equal pay scales for the Registrar, the FDO and the Controller of Examinations. The VC wanted a quick decision. However, the issue generated a lot of debate.

Professor Pathak said it “was not an easy case”. There were questions pertaining to the qualifications and grades of the officers. Prof Charanjit Chawla gave a list of media reports on the misappropriation of funds and other controversial issues to the Vice-Chancellor. Professor Pathak assured the House that the matter would be looked into.

The senate again could not decide on the case of alleged tampering with the result of a candidate by giving him 45 marks instead of 0. There were voices saying, “Every teacher knows that if the marks are increased beyond 15 per cent, the paper will go to a third examiner. It will be unfair to punish Dr Goyal, from the University Business School, without proper study”.

Members, however, asked “why the candidate had not been questioned. Details of his other papers were not available. The best part was that the university would be unable to provide the papers because the records are destroyed after a couple of years at the maximum”. The matter comes up at the next Senate meeting.

The university allowed promotions under the UGC career advancement scheme to all persons whose names were on the list. The case of one teacher will be reconsidered on objections by the observer. The university, however, will give five rejected candidates, Dr Rashmi Sudha Puri, Dr Kaliash Bhatt, Dr Surinder Kumar Sharma, Dr Vanita Khosla and Dr S.B. Prashar, another chance at the earliest.

“It is a matter of shame that PU has not been able to implement the pension scheme”, the VC said.

One interesting point was the showing of letters of a “management studies institute” based in Delhi which sends communications to teachers and principals asking them to give a pre-decided sum of money for “having been selected for an award”.R.S.S. Kumar said that even the House was known to have felicitated several such persons in the past which “needed to be guarded against”.

The new academic calendar proposing 194 days against the UGC stipulation of 180 days was cleared. However, there is a lot of difference between the proposals on paper and those possible in real practice. The list does not take care of the stipulated preparatory break before the annual examinations.

Disparities relating to the contingency funds given to departments were pointed out. However, Prof Bhuvan Chandel pointed out that of Rs 70,000 for the philosophy department, Rs 60,000 went for paying the electricity charges, among others, leaving only a small rum for actual academic activity.


Huge rush at Mansa Devi shrine
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 26
Devotees seemed indefatigable as they chanted hymns in praise of Mata Mansa Devi and awaited their turn to pay obeisance at the shrine in serpentine queues which seemed endless on the occasion of the first navratra here today.

As the sound of “Jai Mata Di” filled the air and went through the queue, the devotees carrying bright chunis and coconuts in hands for the goddess moved ahead at a snail’s pace, not seeming to mind the long wait.

The shops, too, were “dressed” for the occasion with red colour. Vermillion in orange as well as red, sweets as parshad for the goddess were displayed artistically and triangular flags held upright by devotees were “managed” by shopkeepers who vied with each other to attract customers.

However, after the long wait in the queues, the devotees only managed to catch a glimpse of the idol of the goddess before they were whisked away towards the exit by policemen to make way for others. Some offered cash, others jewellery while many came in carrying donations of utensils, fans etc.

The scene at the langar was also one of camaraderie as the devotees sat together and had food. After the darshan, most chose to hang on in the grounds of the premises.

Earlier, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, performed yajna and paid obeisance at the shrine. He greeted the devotees at the beginning of the new “samvat”.

As many as 10 lakh devotees are expected to visit the shrine before the conclusion of the navratras on April 2.


CTCC not geared up for MCC elections?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
True to its past history, adhocism continues to be the bane of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee(CTCC) and its frontal organisations.

With the election to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh(MCC) slated later this year, the party has failed to get its act together as the organisational set-up is in a shambles. The issue of naming the new office-bearers of the CTCC had been hanging fire for a considerable time now. At a press conference here on March 25, the CTCC Chief, Mr B.B. Bahl, evaded queries about the nominations of the new office-bearers.

In fact, Mr Bahl himself was nominated as the CTCC president by the high command following a “patch-up” between the Pawan Bansal group and the Venod Sharma group. Mr Sunil Parti, a former spokesman and general secretary of the party, owing allegiance to the Venod Sharma faction, had filed his nominations for CTCC chief’s post.

Now three vice-presidents, three general secretaries besides the treasurer, which in normal course should be elected, are to be nominated by the party high command. Similarly, the party is without three district presidents and 15 block presidents, a vital link for the party leaders with the party cadre.

The plight of the frontal organisations, the life blood of a party, is no better. The National Student Union of India (NSUI) had been headless after Mr Harmohinder Singh Lucky resigned over a year back.The Seva Dal too is headless after the resignation of Mr Parampal Singh Matharoo.

The current president of the Chandigarh Territorial Youth Congress(CTYC) is reportedly overaged, as he has crossed the 35-year mark. It is learnt that lobbying is on for the top CTYC post.

The problems of the party do not end here. Factionalism continues in the party. In fact, senior Congress leader and a Harmohan Dhawan loyalist, Mr Devinder Singh Babla, today fired a savlo at the CTCC chief, who owes allegiance to the local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, over his reported statement that Mr Dhawan was informed about a “nukkad sabha” in Colony No 5 yesterday. He also criticised the working style of Mr Bahl.

Party sources said the real troubles for the party would emerge after the naming of the office-bearers. Since the faction candidates outnumber the top party posts, the announcement of the new office-bearers would create more problems. The party broadly has four factions, the Pawan Bansal faction, the Venod Sharma faction, the Harmohan Dhawan faction and the Manish Tewari faction, most of the time they had been working at cross purposes.

Meanwhile, the party workers are looking forward to the visit of the Congress General Secretary and in charge of Chandigarh and Haryana, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, on March 29. The issue of the office-bearers will figure during the visit of Ms Kidwai.

Meanwhile, a senior Congress leader, Mr Devinder Singh Babla, today contradicted the statement of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee(CTCC) chief, Mr B.B. Bahl, that a former Union Minister, Mr Harmohan Dhawan, was informed about the “nukkad sabha” in Colony No 5 yesterday.

In a written statement, he claimed that no such information was given either to Mr Dhawan or to him. There was no information of any programme or schedule in Congress Bhavan regarding the “nukkad sabha”.

Surprisingly, no meeting of the CTCC had been held regarding the proposed visit of Ms Mohsina Kidwai, Congress General Secretary in charge of Chandigarh, he alleged.


Anandgarh panel gives legal notice
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 26
The Anandgarh Hatao Sanjhi Sangharsh Committee (AHSSC) today issued a legal notice to the state of Punjab and two others, asking them to stop all proceedings related to the Anandgarh project till the pronouncement of judgment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Jasbir Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary of the AHSSC, said the notice was issued to the Land Acquisition Collector and the Chief Administrator of the Anandgarh Development Authority (ADA), besides the Punjab Chief Secretary. Giving details, Mr Dhaliwal said that a reference was made to a Supreme Court authority in the notice.

The High Court, it may be recalled, had on March 14 reserved its judgment on a bunch of petitions pending before it and had asked the respondents not to dispossess the right holders till the pronouncement of the order.


Rallies against Vajpayee government
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, March 26
The Indian Youth Congress will organise a rally at the Matka Chowk here on March 28 to demand the resignation of the Central Government in the wake of corruption charges levelled against various NDA leaders following expose by the tehelka.com.

The rally will be addressed, among others, by Capt Amrinder Singh, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Sunil Dutt, Congress MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, local MP, Mr Bhajan Lal, a former Chief Minister of Haryana, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief, and Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, Indian Youth Congress chief.

Meanwhile, a rally to demand resignation of the Vajpayee government was organised by members of Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee in Sector 25 here today.

Another rally was organised by Congress activists in the wake of Tehelka expose at Labour chowk in Sector 44 on Sunday.

Mr B.B. Bahl, president of Chandigarh territorial Congress Committee, was the main speaker in both the rallies. 


Draw of lots for flats today
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 26
A draw of lots for 498 flats of the HUDA Employees Welfare Organisation (HEWO) will be held at the Mansa Devi complex in Sector 5 tomorrow.

The draw will be held for 85 houses in the super delux category, 106 in delux, 115 in the utility and 111 in the economy houses categories. Additional 81 houses have been marked for the economically weaker sections.

It is learnt that out of the total 504 flats constructed, six houses have been kept out of the draw of lots for discrepancies in eligibility, non-payment and choice of allotment at other stations.

While most flats in the society have been readied for occupants, finishing touches are pending in some of them, which will take approximately another month before these are ready for handing over to allottees.

Earlier, flats for the HEWO, constructed by HUDA, in the urban estates of Gurgaon and Faridabad were completed and occupants given possession last year. On completion of flats in Panchkula, draw of lots would be conducted for applications received in the first scheme.

On account of greater demand for these flats after the successful completion of the first scheme, enrolment was opened to members for the second scheme during 1998.


Help in curbing crime: police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The city police official today held meetings with residents of various colonies in the area in order to sensitise them to the rising crime graph and asked them to keep a vigil in their respective colonies.

The Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr Sagar Preet Hooda, today held separate meetings with residents of Bapu Dham, Colony No 4, Mauli Jagran and Indira Colony at his Sector 26 office. He urged them to play a constructive role in curbing crime in their localities.

Most of the residents, while maintaining that the police in their areas had been keeping a strict vigil and that the liquor smuggling, organised gambling and satta business had been on the decline, said that deterrence lasted only for so long as the police kept a vigil.

The residents of the various colonies also lauded the police for keeping a good check on drug trafficking and satta business.

Some of the residents said while liquor smuggling was on the decline, the opening of liquor vends near colonies was not helping the people of the area in any way. 


Financial independence for women stressed 
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 26
Stressing the need of literacy and financial independence for women empowerment, members of the Panchkula Mahila Morcha of the BJP unit urged the women to come out of their shell and lead the nation towards development, at a talk on ``women empowerment'' in Sector 9 here yesterday.

Organised at the Shiv Mandir, the talk highlighted the role of women in developing the nation and putting it on the road to progress while remaining in the background.

Speaking at the function, Ms Mohini Garg, President of the state mahila morcha, said that though women were progressive in their thinking and instrumental in the nation's development, their contribution was under-estimated and they were not given due credit.

She said that in the present society where values were fast changing and the political set-up provided new challenges, women needed to push ahead and make an impact.

Ms Garg claimed that women were in no way inferior to men and, if given opportunity and a platform to prove themselves, could perform even better than most men. She added that the need of the hour was to recognise the strength of women and channelise it in the right direction.

Criticising the Congress for hatching a conspiracy to malign the Bharatiya Janata Party, she said that the party was not being allowed to present its side of the picture which had unnecessarily sullied its image.

The others who spoke on the occasion included Ms Rehka Sharma, Ms Neelam Awasthi, BJP MP from Ambala, Mr Rattan Lal Kataria and Ms Banto Kataria. They said that the significance of women's rights and the slogan of empowerment of women was of no use till they became economically independent and literate.


‘Make judiciary accountable’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Participants at the two-day seminar on judicial reforms that concluded in Panjab University here yesterday, stressed the need for setting up a commission for judicial accountability and streamlining the system of judicial appointments. Participants also demanded that the Supreme Court should set up a Bench to review its earlier decision that truth was no defence in a case of contempt of court.

The seminar was organised by the Panchnad Research Institute in collaboration with the Punjab State Organising Committee for Debates on Reforms. In the last session on ‘contempt of court’ yesterday, the local MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, said truth was a defence in all cases. Mr T.N. Razdan, an advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, reiterated the demand for the establishment of a Bench to review the decision of the Supreme Court.

“The majesty of the judiciary should be maintained, but truth must prevail and judges should be made accountable if their conduct is not up to the mark. The law regarding the contempt of court should not be used to silence critics and critics should also not aim at denigrating the judiciary,” Mr Shyam Khosla, Chairman of Panchnad Research Institute, said.

This was followed by a valedictory session that summed up the discussions in the past two days of the seminar. A four-member committee comprising Mr Khosla, Mr K.S. Arya, Mr Razdan and Mr Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia was formed to release a report on the recommendations of participants.

A session on judicial accountability was held on Saturday where it was recommended that the judiciary should evolve an in-built mechanism of accountability. It was said that the judiciary was not only accountable to the executive but also to society, so it should perform its duties within well-defined parameters. For this, a commission should be set up to examine cases of judicial appointments and accountability. The speakers in the session were Mr Alok Kumar, an MLA and advocate of the Delhi High Court, Mr G.S. Grewal, a former Advocate-General of Punjab, and Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP. Prof V.K. Bansal, Head of the Department of Laws, PU, attended the session.

The session on judicial delays was attended by Justice J.V. Gupta, a former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The speakers in this session included Mr M.L. Sareen, a senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Prof Suresh Kapoor, Professor of Laws, Himachal Pradesh University, Prof G. Varandani, Professor of Laws, Kurukshetra University, and Mr Vikas Mahajan, an advocate of the Delhi High Court. The speakers said judicial delays were a matter of concern and there was a huge backlog of cases in courts. Some cases were decided years after petitioners, judges and advocates died. Speakers said judicial procedures should be reformed and the law should have provisions for a quick disposal of cases. It was suggested that adjournments not be announced liberally and there should be a time limit for lawyers to conclude their arguments.

The third session of the seminar dealt with the issue of transparency in judicial appointments. Justice Sodhi, a former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, attended the session. The speakers included Mr Rajinder Singh Cheema, a senior advocate of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, and Dr H.C. Manuja of the GNDU. The speakers said vacancies in the courts were increasing because of excessive lobbying and delays. There was an urgent need to streamline the system of judicial appointments by referring all appointments to the approval of the judicial commission. The executive, too, should play a role in these appointments.


25-kv substation inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 26
A 25-kv substation to provide power supply for the Ambala-Chandigarh-Kalka rail line was inaugurated by Mr N.K. Chidambaram, a member of the Railway Electricity Board, New Delhi, at Mubarikpur village, 2 km from here, yesterday. Now all the trains and engines will be hauled by electric locomotives.

Set up at a cost of about Rs 5 crore, the substation will supply single-phase alternate current (AC) to the railway overhead equipment. A Punjab State Electricity Board’s power house situated at Saidpura village on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road will feed the substation with 220-kv which would be ‘‘stepped down’’ by the transformer to 25 kv.

The feeding zone of the new substation at Mubarikpur will be the rail section between Dhulkot and Kalka. Moreover, in case of power breakdown in the Shahabad Markanda TSS, this will act as back-up substation in the Ambala area.

Earlier, this stretch from Ambala to Kalka was being fed by the Shahabad Markanda power station, about 20 km from Ambala. Back


Five jhuggis gutted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Five jhuggis in Sanjay Colony behind Modern Bread Factory in the Industrial Area, Phase I, were gutted in a fire this evening. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.

According to sources in the Fire Department, the belongings, including bedding and clothing, were reduced to ashes. It took two fire engines from the Industrial Area and Sector 17 over half an hour to extinguish the fire.

No loss of life was reported. 


Photographers’ strike today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
All professional photographers in Punjab, Haryana & J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh will observe a one-day strike tomorrow in protest against the imposition of 5 per cent service tax on photography services, proposed in the Union Budget this year.

A call for the strike tomorrow was initially given for Punjab and Chandigarh only, but later the state associations of Haryana, J&K and Himachal Pradesh also decided to join hands. As part of the strike protest rallies will be held at all the district headquarters and in major towns and cities of Punjab. A memorandum will be given to the Deputy Commissioner or any other senior most officer of the government at these places. In Chandigarh also, the photographers will hold a rally.

Mr Tejbans S. Jauhar, spokesperson of the Association, said that he along with Mr Kuldev Raj, Chairman, Action Committee and Mr Anand Prakash Sharma, Senior vice president, met Mr K.L. Verma, member, North Zone, Central Board of Excise & Custom and Mr I.R. Soni, Commissioner, Central Excise & Customs, Chandigarh, at Amritsar a few days ago. The delegation handed over to Mr Verma a copy of their representation. 


Behavioural problems in kids discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Behavioural problems should be looked upon as “challenging behaviours”. There is need for non-traditional community-based programmes for positive results.

This was stated by Prof Veerraraghavan of Delhi University in her key-note address at a seminar on “Behavioural problems amongst children”, organised by the Department of Psychology at Panjab University here today.

Increasing child behaviour disorders needed effective behavioural management programmes, said Prof J.M. Jerath, Chairperson of the department.

Dr Sagar Sharma in his presidential remarks emphasised the importance of social context for the study of psychological problems. Dr Pratibha Singhi from the PGI and Dr Manju Mehta from the AIIMS also addressed the seminar.Back


Opening of wine shop resented
Our Correspondent

Maloya (Chandigarh), March 26
Residents of Maloya Colony have strongly expressed their resentment against the opening of a wine shop by the UT Administration here.

Demanding shifting of the counter, the sabha also gave a representation to Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, UT Administrator, said Mr Harnam Singh, a resident of the colony.


Farmer duped of Rs 2.80 lakh
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 26
A farmer was reportedly duped of Rs 2,80,000 by a resident of Khijjar Kanaur village, near Banur, on the pretext of tripling the money. His servant had allegedly connived with the thug.

According to sources, Harmesh Saini of Lohgarh village was introduced to Kala by the victim's servant, Bhajan Singh. The servant had assured him that his money would be tripled.

In his complaint to the Rajpura police, the victim alleged that initially Bhajan Singh asked him to hand over Rs 40,000 to him so that the same could be forwarded to the Shimla-based agent, Kala.

The money was handed over, but Bhajan Singh returned Rs 1,700 before asking Harmesh Saini to circulate the currency in the market to check its acceptability. Against the second instalment of Rs 60,000 after a few days, Harmesh was returned Rs 12,000 and was asked to repeat the process.

While going for the deal for the third time, Bhajan Singh told Harmesh that his ‘‘boss’’ would meet him again, provided he gave him Rs 5 lakh to get a return of Rs 15 lakh against it.

For arranging Rs 3 lakh for the third deal, Harmesh withdrew money from his fixed deposit and other bank accounts. He was then introduced to Kala who asked him to give the money to another ‘‘super boss'' at a fixed spot for the further deal.

He was then taken to an unidentified place near Lalru and was shown a man with a briefcase in his hand from a distance. In the meantime, two persons in ‘‘khaki’’ riding a motor cycle were seen approaching.

Then Kala snatched the bag containing Rs 1,80,000 from Harmesh and fled from the spot.

The DSP of Rajpura was not available for comments.


Housewife’s murderer in hiding
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The city police is on the lookout for Barinder, alias Beeru, one of the accused in the murder of a Sector 10 housewife, Ms Pritha Singh, who is believed to be hiding with relatives in a nearby town of Punjab. It is learnt that a police party would soon be dispatched to these places to nab him.

The local police had sent a police party to Bhagalpur district in Bihar recently, but the party returned back unsuccessful. The police party was informed that the accused had not visited his home and his wife for the past four years.

The police will soon proceed towards declaring him a proclaimed offender, informed sources.

It may be recalled that the accused, along with Mohammad Ramzan and Mohammad Sallaudin, all marble grinders, had stabbed Mr Pritha Singh to death on the night of February 18. While Barinder Beeru and Sallaudin had been working at the house of the deceased, Ramzan was residing with them in the same hutment and the three had hatched the conspiracy with the intention of robbery.

The police had arrested Ramzan from the Colony No. 5 within three days of the murder, the other accused, Sallaudin was arrested by the police from his native village in Bhagalpur in Bihar within six days of the murder.


2 held for liquor smuggling
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, March 26
The police has arrested two persons for smuggling liquor in two separate incidents at Zirakpur nakas and claimed to have recovered 44 bottles of liquor.

According to information available, Karnail Singh of Issanpur village near Dera Bassi was arrested while carrying 35 bottles of liquor in a Gypsy, while Nirmal Singh of Sirsa was arrested for carrying nine liquor bottles. Cases under the Excise Act have been registered against them with the Lohgarh police post.


Assault cases registered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 26
A resident of Hallo Majra village, Mr Mahesh Madan, has reported that Santosh Kumar Singh assaulted his wife and nephew here yesterday. In his complaint he alleged that the two were injured and the accused also threatened to them.

A case under Sections 323 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

In another case, Mr Tarsem Singh of Sector 22 has alleged that Gurpreet Singh (Sector 35) and Amardeep (SAS Nagar) assaulted and threatened him here yesterday. The alleged incident took place in Sector 22.

A case under Section 323 and 506 of Indian Penal Code has been registered.

Theft reported

Mr Gian Singh of Sector 29 has reported that Rs 2,000 were stolen from his residence on Sunday.

A case under Sections 380 and 454 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

Cars stolen

Mr Vishal Sharma of Sector 40 has reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-R-2675) was stolen from the market of Sector 7 here on Sunday. In another complaint, Mr Baljinder Singh of Phase X, SAS Nagar, reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-K-921) was stolen from Sector 22 on the same day.

Cases under Section 379 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

Gamblers arrested

The local police arrested three persons, Vinod Kumar, Gobind Pal and Gilu Ram, all residents of Sector 31, for gambling at a public place here yesterday. They were arrested from Sector 31 and a sum of Rs 150 was recovered from their possession. They were booked under the Gambling Act.

Man arrested

The local police has arrested Balbir Singh for drinking liquor at a public place from near the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 17. He was booked under the Excise Act.


Companies back out of wired project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Even as the Chandigarh Administration’s wired city project is nearing completion due to the laying of 45 km of optical fibre cables (OFC) ducts in the city by Spectra Net Limited and approximately 40 km OFC ducts by Himachal Futuristic Communication Limited (HFCL), the consortium formed by group of companies joining hands to lay the OFC has fallen through.

With two major companies nearing completion of their project, the other companies who had signed to be part of the consortium to wire the city by joining hands have backed out. A number of companies who had earlier signed agreements with the Administration for laying of OFC in Chandigarh have now intimated that their plans have been altered as per the latest trends in the corporate world.

Meanwhile, Chandigarh Administration has restructured its plans for the laying of optical fibre cable in Chandigarh by various private companies, keeping in view the changing broadband scenario. The Administration has given permission to all companies which have signed agreements with the Administration to lay their own respective cabling as per their own perceived business needs, said a spokesperson.

With the completion of laying of OFC, every point in the city shall be within 1 km of the OFC network, thereby enabling the companies to provide Internet services to consumers through the high-speed broadband network. The Chandigarh Administration has signed an agreement with Spectra Net Limited for the provision of 8 mbps bandwidth free of cost to the Administration for its e-governance Project.

Reliance India Limited has written to the Administration the for the laying of OFC in Chandigarh and is likely to submit a detailed proposal in this regard shortly. Powergrid Corporation of India Limited has also laid OFC in the city on its existing power supply network and is also likely to make available this facility for commercial use by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Bharti Limited, one of the companies in the consortium, is holding talks with Spectra Net Limited for merger of the two companies. Zee Interactive, Hathway and RPG have also intimated that their plans for laying of OFC have been postponed for the time being.

The availability of OFC ducts in Chandigarh is already much more than the current requirement. This infrastructure is likely to be commercially made available to the public for broad band services shortly.

The OFC shall be linked to international satellites through the STPI Gateway in Mohali and other gateways, thereby making available large bandwidths to users in Chandigarh for Internet services. The OFC shall also provide convergence services like Internet over cable, and plug and play facilities, without the need of dial-up networking, thereby allowing the use of Internet without using telephones. This shall create a situation wherein IT companies and residents of Chandigarh alike shall be able to access high-speed and hi-tech convergence services. 

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