Wednesday, March 28, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


How PGI is blowing its green cover
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

A lot of wood has been carted away in this manner from the PGI over the past weekend in Chandigarh after cutting the trees.
A lot of wood has been carted away in this manner from the PGI over the past weekend in Chandigarh after cutting the trees. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, March 27
The continuous felling of ‘simbal’, ‘sheeshum’, ‘kikar’ and ‘eucalyptus’ trees over the past few months on the PGI campus has begun to threaten the environment of this institute.

Hundreds of trees valued at several lakhs of rupees have been cut as part of “developmental work” over the past six months in the PGI. The latest to face the axe are the trees near the Advanced Paediatric Centre (APC) and it is alleged that this felling is illegal. The PGI authorities say that, since the PGI is an autonomous body, they do not require anybody’s permission to cut these trees. However, forest officials say that a prior permission is required before any such felling.

“The head of the institute is authorised to get any tree cut for the development work, but he is also supposed to plant another tree in return,” the PGI authorities say.

However, sources said, within the past six months, a number of trees had been cut here in the name of development activity without anybody’s permission. The institute has special government funds of about Rs 122 crore for building advanced centres and some persons want to get the sites cleared as soon as possible so that tenders can be floated.

Adviser’s consent must for felling

BEING an autonomous body, the PGI enjoys many privileges, that leads to many ambiguities in the interpretation of rules. To carry out any tree-cutting activity in the city, a permission has to be sought directly from the Adviser to the Administrator. About six years ago, the Finance Secretary used to enjoy this power, but it was given to the Adviser due to the growing awareness on preservation of trees.

Officials of the Engineering Department that also houses the Horticulture Wing of the institute say that all this is being done to provide better healthcare facilities. They say that it is a choice between preserving the environment and providing better healthcare to patients. “The PGI always carries out afforestation drives to compensate for such fellings,” they say.

As far as trees that were cut over the past weekend are concerned, officials say that, “These were from the site adjacent to the incinerator and had dried because of termite infestation. About 700 ‘sheeshum’ trees have been legally auctioned at Rs 7 lakh to get some revenue.” A visit to the site today, however, showed otherwise.

Trees that were felled this weekend were not from the site near the incinerator, but from the playground near the Advanced Paediatric Centre (APC). Moreover, the stumps of these trees show that these were healthy ones. The stumps have been covered with soil and bushes to keep the fellings a secret.

Sources say that this is not the first time that healthy trees have been cut in the PGI. In the past six months, the trees that have been felled include six sheeshum trees near the Drug Deaddiction Centre, one at the new tuck shop near Research Block B and another one in front of the library.

They say that more than half of the trees on the site near the incinerator were green and healthy. An old-timer recalls how the area used to be densely covered with trees of mixed variety. There are other ways to save termite-affected trees than chopping these off.

Rules say that the PGI is part of the green belt, which requires that authorities seek permission from government before cutting any tree on its premises.

Experts say that the recent fellings are a direct violation of the Tree Preservation Order of 1952, which requires that even for cutting a tree on a private land, a prior permission from the Chandigarh Administration is required. This should hold true even for an autonomous body like the PGI. The institute also pays Rs 57,000 to the Department of Environment and Pollution Control for various discharges and the effluent waste from the hospital. 


Banks to remain open on April 3
Holiday bonanza awaits govt staff
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
All banks will be open on April 3, revising an earlier decision to keep them closed on that day for the annual closure of their accounts as a holiday bonanza awaits government employees in the entire region with Himachal Pradesh heading the list with nine holidays in the first fortnight of the new financial year.

Since the new financial year starts on a Sunday (April 1), there will be a public holiday in almost all states and Union Territories on April 2 on account of Ram Navmi.

Banks in the country are usually closed on the first working day of the new financial year, starting public transactions only on the second working day. So many of the states and Union Territories declared April 3 a public holiday for banks for the annual closure of their accounts. As such, the banks would have opened to the general public in the new financial year only on April 4.

Since the first half of April is dotted with public holidays, most of them covered under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Reserve Bank of India today intervened to direct all Indian banks to remain open on April 3 for public dealing and treat April 1 — Sunday — as their annual closing day. In Punjab, April 1 had already been declared a bank closing day holiday.

In Himachal Pradesh, for example, the following are the closed days for banks in the first fortnight of April :

April 1, 8 and 15 Sundays
April 2 Ram Navmi
April 3 Annual closing day (for banks)
April 5 Muharram
April 6 Mahavira jayanti
April 13 Baisakhi
April 14 Dr B.R. Ambedkar jayanti
April 15 Himachal Day (Sunday)

In Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, there is no public holiday on April 5 (Muharram). There is no public holiday in Haryana on April 14 (Dr B.R. Ambedkar jayanti). The rest of the holidays are common in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

Most of the banks, when contacted, had no intimation about the orders issued by the Reserve Bank about the change in the annual closing day and the declaration of April 3 as a public dealing day. 


City population crosses 9-lakh mark
Tribune News Service

Fact sheet

  • Sex ratio declines from 790 to 773 females per 1,000 males
  • Literacy rates goes up from 77.81% to 81.76%
  • City growth rate almost double the national growth rate
  • City’s population density only next to Delhi, 7,903 persons live in an area of one square kilometre.

Chandigarh, March 27
The City has crossed the 9-lakh mark if the provisional population figures are any indication.

According to the population figures released by the Census Director, Mr Shamlal Goyal, here today, the total population of the city was 9,00,914, up from 6,42,015, recorded in the 1991 census thus registering a decennial growth rate of 40.33%. While the city had 5,08,224 males, the number of females was 3,92,690. In the 1991 census, there were 3,58,614 males and 2,83,401 females in the Union Territory.

An interesting fact has been the decline in sex ratio(females per 1,000 males). While the national sex ratio has risen from 927 to 933, the number of females per 1,000 had gone down from 790 to 773 in the city. On the other hand, literacy rates have gone up from 77.81% in 1991 to 81.76%. Now 85.65% males and 76.65% females in the city are literate.

The comparative figures for the 1991 census were 82.04% and 72.34%. The data shows that the population density, which had gone up and was only next to Delhi’s 9,294. Here 7,903 persons live in an area of one square kilometre as compared to 5,632 as per the earlier census.

The growth during the decade,40.33%, had been almost twice the national growth rate of 21.34%. However, it had been less than the growth rate of 42.16% during 1981-91.

Sources said the decline in the sex ratio has mainly been due to the influx of the migrant labour, who leave their families in their native places in Bihar and UP.


Police steps up vigil at places of worship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
In wake of the recent incidents of creating communal trouble in various cities of Punjab, the UT Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Parag Jain, today held a meeting of all Sub-Divisional Police Officers and the Station House Officers to assess the law and order situation and asked them to keep a strict vigil on all places of worship.

In view of the ongoing Navratras and the recent incidents of burning of religious scriptures in Amritsar, Patiala and Ludhiana, the local police is leaving nothing to chance. Security around all religious places — temples, mosques and gurdwaras — has been beefed up. Round-the-clock security has also been provided around mosques. Senior police officers say that the designs of certain nefarious elements trying to instigate communal tension, especially during the Navratras, could not be ruled out .

The police officers have been asked to intensify patrolling and gather intelligence to predetermine any plans at spoiling the city’s social fabric.

Extra police force is also being provided to all the police stations , especially the ones where there are Muslim dominated pockets like in Mauli Jagran, Bapu Dham, Colony No. 4 and in Colony No. 5.

The SSP has asked his officers to keep in regular touch with the Muslim leaders in their respective areas and assure them of all possible help in case of any eventuality.


MC challans encroachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The enforcement staff of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, in their drive today issued nearly 100 challans to rehri-phari vendors and other shopkeepers encroaching public corridoors and MC land in Sectors 17, 19, 22, 34, 35 and Industrial Area, Phase-I.

In Sector 22, the shopkeepers in the line of Hotel Samrat and Hotel Pankaj, who had encroached the public corridoors by displaying their wares were challaned. The staff seized as many as five refrigerators, four coolers, water tanks, chairs, tables and mattresses.

The drive, which was led by Inspector enforcement, Mr Kashmira Singh, also issued 10 challans of the violators in Palika Bazaar, Sector 19, and the rehriwalas in the area.

In Sector 17, challans were issued to vendors sitting adjacent to the parking areas and in the corridors of the market selling ‘bhel puri’, posters, shoe laces etc. The juice vendors and other tea stall owners in Sectors 34, 35 and Industrial Area were also challened.


5 shortlisted as IT project consultants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
After sifting through the presentations made by 19 companies, the Chandigarh Administration today shortlisted five companies for the selection of a consultant to the Administration for its information technology project and the IT park. The five companies — Jones Lang Lasalle, C.B. Richard Ellis, KPMG, Colliers Jardine, Deloitte Touche Tamatsu — are all multinational and have been asked to submit their financial bids by April 10.

The companies have been shortlisted by a committee comprising the Adviser, Ms Neeru Nanda, the Home Secretary, Mr Raminder Singh Gujral, the Finance Secretary-cum-Secretray Information Technology, Mr Rakesh Singh, the Managing Director, CITCO, Mr S.P. Singh and the Director IT, Mr Vivek Atray.

The consultant, will be guiding the Administration on the project besides informing on various aspects and querries arising during the course of setting up of the IT park near eastern side of the Sukhna lake. The consultant will be advising the Administration on whom to invite and who should be a partner to the Administration and on what terms and conditions.

The need for the consultant has been felt as all top IT parks in the country like those in Bangalore and Hyderabad have been build on the advice of consultants. With the IT field changing almost everyday, the consultants keep the executing party informed on minute details.


Lensmen strike work in region
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Photo studios and shops in Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh kept their shutters down today. This strike, a sequel to the complete bandh by the professional photographers in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali on March 17, was to voice their demand for the complete withdrawal of 5 per cent service tax on photography services, proposed in the Union Budget this year.

Mr Kuldev Raj, chairman of the action committee, Punjab Photographers Association, said according to reports received till this afternoon, bandh was complete and protest rallies were held at all district headquarters and in major towns and cities. In Chandigarh, the photographers in large number assembled in the morning in an open space opposite bus stand. They marched in a mock funeral procession carrying an effigy of the Union Finance Minister up to Matka Chowk where it was consigned to flames. Later, a delegation, led by Mr K.K. Mehta, president of the association, went to see the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana, and submitted a copy of the memorandum in their offices with a request to forward the same to the authorities concerned in the Central Government.

Mr Tejbans S. Jauhar, spokesman of the association, said: “We hope after our meeting with Mr K.L. Verma, Member North Zone, Central Board of Excise and Customs, and Mr I.R. Soni, Commissioner, Central Excise and Customs, Chandigarh, the government will reconsider its proposal to impose service tax on photography. But we have to continue our protest until the levy is finally withdrawn”. He further said, “the photographers are gradually becoming aware of the consequences of the levy. Very soon, if the government does not come out with a positive statement, the protest will spread all over the country, resulting in the gherao of Parliament and the Finance Minister, mass hunger strikes, rallies and processions in Delhi and at all state headquarters”.

A plan of action in this regard will be finalised in a meeting of the All-India Federation of Photographers Associations at Mount Abu on April 4.

Mr K.K. Mehta while addressing the rally said: “The government should open its eyes to the reality that 95 per cent of the professional photographers in the country are self-employed and not even earning a taxable income. They are semi-literate, not educated enough to understand business accounting and are unable to afford an accountant to maintain records and file returns prescribed in the service tax law. If the government insists on the levy, they will not be able to continue in the profession for long and will be out of business soon.”

Mr Anand Prakash Sharma, senior vice-president of the Chandigarh Photographers Association said, “why tax a photographer only. How is a photographer different from a painter, a sculptor, a film maker, a writer, a song writer, a music director or a performing artist for that matter. All of them work in the discipline of a particular form of art of their individual choice”.

Meanwhile, similar reports of strike and protest rallies by photographers have come from Shimla, Manali, Abohar, Phagwara, Phillaur, Faridkot, Malerkotla and Gurdaspur.


Annie’s promise: a model from India
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
You just cannot miss those finely blended Bengali and Malayali charms that make Annie Thomas what she is. Her race to stardom did not begin early in life, but her positive approach finally took her places.

After making a mark in the world of modelling and glamour, the Miss India World 1998 has now received an enviable offer from the Paris-based Metropolitan modelling company. From April 3, Annie Thomas will work as the country head of this international firm, helping it find the best women models here. She will head the company’s New Delhi branch called Poise.

Annie, arrived here today to conduct a 15-day workshop in modelling. Sitting in her hotel room, Annie looked a little tired, perhaps because she has returned to India only yesterday after participating in the Dubai fashion week.

On a question regarding her height, she said, “Good height is one asset that a model must have. Confidence, good body and a good height work wonders in modelling. The rest of the flaws can be covered up by professionals who work on models,” she said. About her lineage (a Bengali mother and a Malayali father), Annie said she had been lucky that she possessed the quintessential assets of a model.

About her assignment at Poise she said Metropolitan was looking forward to Indian participation in the World Supermodel Contest in September this year. This is the first time when Indian models have been invited to the contest and Annie will play a key role in shortlisting the finalists. She said, “We will conduct a national-level model hunt to select the best. I have been sent a requirement chart from Paris. The participants have to be below the age of 21, which makes my job tough, because girls in India do not begin modelling that early in life.”

The Loreal model, however, looked confident of doing a good job. With her vast experience in ramp modelling and short stints on the small screen, training models should not be difficult for Annie. She has already conducted two modelling workshops for IAAN Creations, the audio-visual production house that has invited Annie to Chandigarh.

About her training plan for the 25 participants who have been selected for the workshop that began in Hotel Aroma today, Annie said her stress would be on personal attention. “I will try to attend to each participant as much as I can to make models out of all of them. Though I do not promise them 100 per cent job placements, I can always forward their portfolios to interested national and international modelling firms,” said the dusky beauty who played a struggling model in the Sony TV serial ‘Khwahish’.

The modules that Annie will cover under the workshop include catwalk, make-up and hair styling, acting for commercials, meditation and personal grooming. Teaching all this should not be difficult for her as she has maintained her looks even after becoming a mother. She said, “After the arrival of my child, I feel complete. I am settled and happy. The only challenge that remains is to strike a balance between work and family.” Balance comes easy to Annie who will return to New Delhi after this workshop to take up another tough assignment — the fashion show of Ritu Beri.


Politicians support CHB residents’ demands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The CHB Residents Federation, an apex body of 33 welfare associations, today got a shot in the arm when local political parties supported their long-pending demands

Addressing a press conference here, the representatives of the parties pledged support to the genuine demands of the CHB flat residents. Mr B.B. Bahl, President of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, Mr Kewal Krishan Addiwal, a former Mayor and BJP representative, Ms Harjinder Kaur, a former Deputy Mayor and SAD representative, Mr Surinder Bhardwaj, Janata Dal(U) chief, and Mr Inderjit Singh Grewal of the CPM addressed the press conference.

Earlier, Mr Nirmal Datt, Chairman, Mr Jatinder Bhatia, President, and Mr B.S. Chadha, General Secretary, of the federation, urged the Chandigarh Administration to delink the clause regarding the removal of alterations and additions from the ownership rights to the general power of attorney (GPA) holders

Demanding the regularisation of the “need-based” additions and alterations, they said the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) should follow the policy of concessions and compounding to regularise all additions and alterations that were structurally sound and did not encroach upon the public land.

Terming the rates of conversion to the leasehold from the freehold as “too high”, they wanted that the charges should be calculated on the basis of the original allotment price of the dwelling unit and not at the current market value. They also demanded that the ownership transfer fee should be 5 per cent of the original price on the PUDA pattern.

Mr J.S. Bhogal, a non-official member of the CHB, wanted the ownership rights to the GPA holders on the pattern of satellite towns.

Meanwhile, Mr Bahl and Ms Harjinder Kaur clashed over the rehabilitation policy of the Administration. Coming strongly against the rehabilitation policy, Ms Harjinder Kaur regretted that while the migratory labour had been provided various sops by the Administration, the demands of the middle and the lower middle classes, which had provided the maximum revenue to the state exchequer, had been pending for a long time. This prompted Mr Bahl to point out the migratory labour was the backbone of the Chandigarh economy and the city could not do without it. To this Ms Harjinder Kaur replied that she was not against the poor but against the lop-sided policies of the Administration.


PUDA reserves plots for martyrs’ families
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 27
Expressing solidarity with the Kargil martyrs, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority has reserved at least 10 per cent of the plots for the families of the martyrs in its urban estates. The beneficiaries will be allowed to select any available plot of the authority throughout the state.

The scheme applicable to the affected persons of Kargil operations or those killed in a war while protecting the borders will be operative from January 1, 1999. Formulated in the light of the decision taken by the Punjab Cabinet, the scheme would, however, be extended to the martyrs hailing from Punjab.

Of the total reserve price of the respective plot, the government would contribute Rs 5 lakh and the remaining would be paid by the allottee. The contribution by the government would be sourced from the Punjab War Heroes Family Welfare Fund. In case the reserved price of a plot was Rs 5 lakh, the allottee would not be required to pay anything but it would be specifically mentioned in the allotment letter.

An official of the authority said alotments in the name of minors could be considered under the guardianship of legally declared guardians. The reserve price, reduced by Rs 5 lakh, would be recovered from the allottee in monthly instalments in case of houses. For those opting for plots the reduced price would be charged in six monthly instalments in case of plots. However, the authority had planned the mode of payment in such a way that the allottee would have to pay the first instalment after a year.

It has been decided that the application of the eligible persons would be routed through the Department of Defence Services. The Additional Chief Administrator ( P and C) at the PUDA’s headquarters has been made the nodal officer for forwarding the applications to the concerned Additional Chief Administrators in the field. The ACAs in the urban estates have been asked to process the cases, including the financial aspect, within three days of receiving the applications.


3,500 take part in rally for recruitment 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Thousands of youths thronged the Sector 7 sports complex on the first day of a recruitment rally being organised by the Army. The Army is recruiting soldiers for general duty as well as for clerical duties.

Soldiers to be enrolled as clerks were screened for recruitment today. The rally, being organised by the Branch Recruitment Office, Ambala, will continue till March 29. Recruitment at the rally is open to youths hailing from Chandigarh and Panchkula, Ambala, Kurukshetra and Karnal districts.

Officials conducting the recruitment rally estimated the number of candidates to be over 3,500. The local police as well as army authorities had made adequate arrangements to control the crowds and to meet any untoward incident.

After initial screening of documents and educational certificates, the candidates were put through a physical proficiency test, which included a run, balance beam and chin-ups.

Those who met the minimum laid down standards underwent preliminary medical examination. Candidates found fit will be required to undergo a written test following which a final merit list will be prepared.


Power cuts hit life
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 27
The effect of low generation of power at all hydroelectric projects in Punjab is badly affecting the normal life in the town and its peripheral areas as unscheduled power cuts continue throughout the day. A major causalty of the shortage of power has been the industrial activity.

Apprehending a major power shortage in the coming days, the Chief Engineer (System Operations) of the Punjab State Electricity Board, has ordered the closure of induction furnace for 10 days with effect from yesterday.

The worst sufferers were the students appearing in the examinations of the Punjab School Education Board. Harassed consumers complain that the situation was poor even as the summer season was yet to begin. 


Gate rally
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 27
The PUDA Employees Association (Class III) today organised a gate rally in front of the PUDA office in Phase 1 here to protest against the alleged attack on a senior assistant in the Estate Office, Mr Shiv Kumar, by a property dealer. Addressing the rally, Mr Ranjit Kumar and Mr Sat Pal, members of the association, demanded cancellation of the estate agent licence of the property dealer. No property dealer should be allowed to approach the branch superintendent or the assistant concerned for official work, said the association leaders. Mr Ashok Mehra, General Secretary of the association, said they would seek security at the first and second floors of the Estate Office.


23-year-old woman of Palsora commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
A 23-year-old married woman committed suicide by hanging herself at her Palsora Colony residence last night. The suicide became known only in the morning today when a brother-in-law of the deceased, Jagdish, came in the house to check why the baby was crying.

According to information available, it is learnt that the victim, Saroj Bala, was married to Chaman Lal, a mechanic in the Telecom Department here. Last night, while Chaman Lal was on night duty and his wife was home alone with their daughter, she allegedly hung herself with a nylon rope to the hook of the fan. The reason of the suicide is not known as yet.


Cash worth Rs 20, 000 was stolen from the house of Mr Bishwa Nath Sharma yesterday in between 9 a.m. and 12 noon in Sector 27-B. The miscreants had reportedly entered the house after breaking open the locks. A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 26 police station.

In another case, cash worth Rs 2000 was stolen from the shop-cum-office of Mr Kewal Kumar Aggarwal in Sector 7. The incident occurred on the intervening night of March 23 and 24, after the miscreants had reportedly broken the lock and made their entry. A case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC has been registered at the police station, Sector 26.


Three cases of theft have been reported in the city in the past 24 hours. A Maruti car( UGP- 2142) was stolen from a house in Sector 27 -D on the intervening night of March 24 and 25. The owner, Mr Nirmal Singh, a resident of Mohali, has complained to the police and a case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Two residents of Bapu Dham colony, Roma and Shalu, have been accused of stealing a juicer from the rehri of Shiv Ram, when it was parked in front of his residence at about 1.30 p.m. yesterday. Both the accused were arrested by the police and stolen property recovered from their possession. A case under Sections 380 and 411of the IPC has been registered.

A car stereo was also stolen from a car (HR-03B-0195), when it was parked at the Chandigarh Club on the intervening night of March 24 and 25. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered on the complaint of the owner, Mr Karam Chand.


In a case of hit-and-run accident, Gurdeep Singh was hit by a car (CH-03-9315) in Sector 8 yesterday afternoon. He was injured and has been admitted to the PGI for treatment. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Woman assaulted

Shushila Kherwal, a resident of Ram Darbar, has accused Manjit Singh, his father and grandfather on beating her up at her residence on March 14. The police has registered a case under Sections 325 and 34 of the IPC, after they had received the medical report of the victim.

Suicide attempted

A young woman is alleged to have attempted suicide at her Colony No. 5 residence here this evening. Puja, who had been married to one Sri Ram, attempted self-immolation at her residence at around 5 p.m. when she was all alone. She was immediately rushed to the Sector 32 Government College and Hospital. It is learnt that she has sustained 70 per cent burns.

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