Friday, April 13, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Jacob shocked at haphazard construction in Mani Majra
Tribune News Service

General Jacob said orders have been passed to ensure that one Assistant Commissioner of MC would sit in the Notified Area Committee (NAC) office for one hour daily. Birth certificates, water meter and electricity connections would be issued from the NAC office itself. He said that people of Mauli Jagran would also benefit from this decision.

Chandigarh, April 12
The UT Administrator, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), on a visit to Mani Majra today, was shocked to see unsafe construction, hanging cantilevers, balconies of opposite houses virtually touching each other, leaving no space for electric wiring and loose live electricity wires touching extended portions of balconies.

He said that safety of human life was prime to us and safety and security of the people should not be compromised while going into this problem. The committee constituted to go into the problem of houses outside Lal Dora of villages would also go into this problem.

The Administrator was on a visit to various pockets of Mani Majra to see the problems being faced by the residents of these areas. He was accompanied by the Mayor. Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, Finance Secretary, Mr Rakesh Singh, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr MP Singh, the Administrator first reached Notified Area Committee office.

The Mayor said that people of this area desired that this office should be fully functional for the requirements of Mani Majra and Mauli Jagran people. He said that residents of Mani Majra have to go to Chandigarh to obtain birth certificates, NOCs, water connections and electricity connections. On this the General assured that orders had been issued.

When the Administrator went to pocket no 11 in the Gobindpura locality, the Finance Secretary explained to the Governor that here residents of over 100 houses have encroached upon land acquired by Chandigarh Administration and constructed their houses on public land. He said that these constructions are illegal, being encroachments on public land. Therefore, electricity connections and water connections are not being issued to them.

Later, the General visited Mariwala town. Here the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, explained to the General that these are 450 illegal houses of unacquired land. The Administrator expressed dismay over hanging balconies, illegal kundi connections maze of loose live electric wires. He was surprised to see that people were still carrying out illegal construction despite non-availability of NOCs and there was no check on that.

General Jacob interacted with the children and found that there was no playing field for the children. He asked the Finance Secretary to identify an open space where a playing field could be constructed for the children of Mani Majra. The Finance Secretary said that certain land was available in pocket no. 07 where probability of constructing playing fields would be explored. The MC Commissioner said that the MC had already spent Rs 60 lakh in upgrading civic amenities of Mani Majra and while allocating funds next year, care would be taken to allocate funds according to the requirements of the people.

However, the Administrator did not visit Pipliwala town and Subhash Nagar areas, which fall in the ward of Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala due to constraint of time. People of the area, who were hoping for an early redressal of their problems following the Governor’s visit were disappointed. Earlier, his visit to the grain market and Ram Darbar were also cancelled though the authorities worked day and night to get these areas spruced up before the visit. The residents said that if mere announcement of the Governor to visit an area could make so much of difference in terms of developmental works, we only wish that more such announcements are made from time to time.


Top cops, politicians involved in illegal
immigrations: NRI
Tribune News Service

Maninder Gill
Maninder Gill

SAS Nagar, April 12
An NRI Punjabi-music promoter, Mr Maninder Singh Gill, alleged today that some members of the ruling combine in Punjab and some senior police officials were involved in sending people abroad illegally.

He said, if the Punjab police promised to protect him, he was ready to name the persons who were involved in this racket. He said the records of people who had not returned from foreign tours could be collected from various embassies. He said the Ludhiana police had registered a case of cheating against him after he had given some information regarding those who were running illegal immigration businesses to an IG and several DIGs.

Mr Gill told all this to mediapersons at his residence here. He said a case had been registered against him in Ludhiana on a complaint of a person called Harjeet Singh. Harjeet had alleged that Gill had taken Rs 6 lakh from him for sending him to Canada. Mr Gill said the then Superintendent of Police (Operations) of Ludhiana had found him innocent. He said this case of cheating and another of FERA violation had been registered against him under political pressure.

He said, “For the past 20 years, I am in the business of promoting Punjabi music aboard and I have also held shows in Canada, the USA and 63 other countries. The trouble began when I spoke on my radio channel in Canada against some politicians and officials who were bringing people illegally into that country. Details of the property that these politicians had bought there was also broadcast. I am owner of Raja Entertainers and if anyone proves that I have ever sent anybody aboard illegally, I will give that person 1 lakh dollars,” he said.

“Recent happenings have forced me to start winding up my Rs 25 crore business in Punjab that I had established in 1995. I have already sent by wife and children to Canada. The Punjab Government does not treat NRIs well here. Most of the wrong actions of the Punjab police are forced on them by politicians of all parties,” he said.


BJP to lodge FIR against Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
BJP councillors have decided to lodge an FIR against the Congress Mayor, Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, and the party President, Mr B.B. Bahl, for having accepted to give bribes to win the mayor elections. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the BJP councillors held at the party office in Sector 33 today under the leadership of party President, Mr Dharampal Gupta.

In an official release issued here, the leader of the BJP-SAD councillors, Mr Des Raj Tandon, stated that a unanimous decision had been taken in view of the fact that the Mayor and Mr Bahl while addressing a press conference two days back had admitted that they had paid bribes to secure votes in favour of Mr Goyal, which was a usual modus operandi of the Congress as was proved in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha case.

They also decided that a special meeting would be called asking the Mayor to explain the allegations levelled against him by the members of general public in various matters which had been highlighted by the media from time to time.

Those present in the meeting included Mr Tandon, Mr Raghubir Lal Arora, Mrs Kamala Sharma, Mr K.K. Adiwal, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, Ms Ranjana Shahi, Mr Kanhaya Lal Sharma, Mr Rajinder Kumar and Mr Bachan Singh.

The members also sought that since the Mayor and his party councillors had expressed their inability to run the corporation by declaring at the press conference that they may resign in the near future, they should not stay a day more in the office. ''Since the Congress has failed on all fronts, they have chosen the path of escapism by stating to resign.''


INLD member held in car-stealing racket
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
A district office-bearer of the ruling Indian National Lok Dal, Mr DK Singla, and his accomplice, Rajesh Gautam, both residents of Sector 10, allegedly involved in buying and selling stolen cars, were arrested from their residences late this evening. Their involvement came to light after the Delhi police arrested Amit Bhushan, the main accused in a car-whisking racket. Claiming to be Congress leaders’ Renuka Chowdhary’s son-in-law, Amit Bhushan was arrested on April 10 by the Delhi police while trying to attempt another theft from Malviya Motors in Chirag, South Delhi.

During interrogation he revealed the names of two city residents. After taking police remand from a court in Delhi, a team of the Delhi police accompanied by the accused arrived in the city this evening.

Revealing the modus operandi of the accused, sources in the Delhi police said a number dealers in Delhi had suffered losses on account of the thefts. The accused had managed to give the police a slip each time he drove out of the agency showrooms with a new car.

It is learnt that Amit Bhushan, posing as a customer, entered a car dealer’s agency. Selecting one of the cars he would ask for a trial run. Accompanied by the driver of the agency, the two would drive out of the agency. Once on road, he would ask the driver to get off and check the car for a strange sound.

“As soon as the driver was out, Amit would lock all doors, start the car and drive away. With the new car, he would come straight to Singla and Gautam, bargain it for a cost much below the actual price of the car and go back to Delhi. Later, it was up to the two city residents to dispose off the car and make whatever money they could make by way of sale,’’ a Delhi police personnel informed.

Another city resident and active member of the INLD, Mr Surinder Garg, was also called to the police station for possession of a car stolen from Delhi. Though the police has recovered as many as eight cars, the accused is stated to have admitted to having five more in his possession. A case has been registered against the accused.


Forgotten children of India visit home
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Though the fact that the Roma gypsies migrated from India came to light only about 300 years ago with the coming of the British to India, these nomads have been preserving the Indian element among themselves. Their character reflected Indian traits. Evidence that they were rooted to India comes from the fact that they, like us, call water “pani” and eye “aankh”.

No wonder then, that the 14 odd Roma delegates, who were in the city today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the International Roma Union, felt nostalgic. Many of them, who had come to the land of their origin for the first time, were touched by the warmth of the Indian people, especially the Rajasthanis and the Punjabis and could not hide and their urge to be accepted by the Indian government as the “forgotten children of India.”

The day was all about Romas, their history, origin, immense struggles and misfortune in that they still have no “official” homeland. There were many experts deliberating upon the cause of Romas in the auditorium of the government Museum and Art Gallery, including the renowned French scholar, Vania de Gila Kachonowski and the Indian Roma scholar. Dr W.R. Rishi. And while various chapters of the history of these ancient children of India unfolded before one’s eyes, one realised how deeply were they linked to India, and especially to Punjab, which had been home to many Roma clans.

The Tribune took the opportunity to share the pain of this nomadic tribe, which has been involved in an incessant search for identity. And after speaking to about six delegates, one could only feel proud of the Indian lineage of these people who, despite their history of enslavement at the hands of Fascist forces, had maintained their dignity.

Leader of the delegation, Dr Emil Scuka, was more than thrilled to be in India. “I have grown up loving Indian culture and language. In fact the Romani language is extremely close to Rajasthani, Punjabi and Gujarati. Indian hospitality is also known all over. I am glad to be heading this delegation, which is in India to attend the two-day conference on Roma Culture and heritage, “Journey to roots”, being organised by the Hindu Heritage Pratishthan.” He was also overwhelmed by the fact that the conference today culminated in some significant resolutions which the Indians passed on the behalf of their Roma friends.

Significant among them are the official acceptance of Romas as the children of India, facilities for teaching Romani language in schools of India, setting up of India houses where Romas can come and assimilate Indian culture and fostering cultural exchange between Romas and Indians. The Romas were also enthralled by information from Dr W.R. Rishi, who said that Shivalik Public School in Chandigarh offered the facility of free education to Romani children. “There are also three scholarships for Roma children, apart from one for a Roma research scholar, sponsored by the ICCR.”

Roma delegation, which comprises 53 members voices their struggle to be recognised. One delegate informed how in the Czeck Republic, Roma children were termed mentally incompetent and were required to study in special schools meant for the physically and mentally-challenged. The delegates will leave for Delhi today and will also meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.

While the future of the tribe remains uncertain, one heartening fact was the encouragement the UT administration officials extended. Among officials who attended today’s celebrations were the Adviser, Ms Neeru Nanda and Director, Social Welfare, Ms Madhavi Kataria, who is also chairperson of the organising committee for the conference. The delegation went to the Shivalik Public School to take a view of Dr Rishi’s Roma House. They were also honoured by the office-bearers of the Sanatan Dharam Mandir.


Scholar in search of Roma roots
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
For the world, he is a renowned Roma scholar. To himself, however, he is still a gypsie — a Balto-Slavic gypsie — who has taken upon himself the responsibility of tracing the roots of Romas back to India. In this quest of getting back to the moorings, Dr Vania de Gila Kochanowski, the renowned Roma scholar from France, is supported by millions of Roma friends spread all over the globe. To begin with, one could just start with the mention that Dr Vania has been a noted promoter of interdisciplinary studies in India.

Member of the French National Council of Regional Languages, Culture, and of the Committee of Auschwitz, Dr Vania is also President of the association called Romano Yekhipe France. Not just that, he has been roped in by UNESCO to continue his activities towards tracing the roots of Romani people.

A plenipotentiary of the World Gypsie Organisation in UNESCO, the International Romani Union, 71-year-old Dr Vania was today in town to grace the celebrations of the 30th year of existence of the Union which was formed on April 8, 1971. He spoke to The Tribune about his Balto-Slavic Gypsie status, his two remarkable works on the life and history of the Roma tribe, and his six-year stay in India. This stay which happened in the 1980s proved to be a landmark stay in that Dr Vania was able to establish a direct connection between the Indian Rajputs/Punjabis and Romas. He had gone around the country, especially to the North-Western parts collecting 15,000 blood samples of people from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir. After comparing these samples with about 5000 samples of the Gypsies, the scholar reached a conclusion that Romas are close to Rajputs and Punjabis, and are hence rooted strongly to India.

Dr Vania initiated himself into the direction of nomadic studies, primarily because he was continually faced with the question of his own identity. His works, especially his two PhD theses (General Linguistics and Dialectology; Romane Chave (European Gypsies): Assimilation or integration) are outstanding in their purpose. Says the scholar: “The effort has always been to garner strength and courage so as to help forge integration of European Gypsies into their respective societies. The Romas, which number over 15 million, are still struggling for a homeland. I am one of them. So I feel obliged to know where I belong.”

Dr Vania’s urge brought him to India where he worked hard among the banjaras and Gypsies near Chittor and tried to make them conscious of their historical origin. In the scientific field, Dr Vania’s most important contribution since 1964 has been in the application of inter-disciplinary research of history which resulted in a PhD thesis of Romani identity. For this work, Dr Vania was able to get wide support and collaboration from scholars all over, including Padamshri R. Rishi of Chandigarh.

“In 1985 I was supported in my mission to India by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations for three months. That was also a memorable visit. India is always home to us, for its warmth and large heartedness,” said the scholar.

Apart from the academic part, there is more to Dr Vania’s personality. He is a great dancer. Like many other Balto-Slavic gypsies, Dr Vania made his first steps into dance almost from his birth in Paris. He learnt the base of classical dance in courses given by great dancers of the time. 


PU security officer stabbed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
A security officer of Panjab University, Mr S. N. Bose, was stabbed by two youths as he objected to their jumping on to the premises of a women’s hostel on the campus here tonight.

Mr Bose, Assistant Security Officer, received injuries on his cheek, left arm and left thigh. One of the attackers, Sanjay, a resident of Janata Colony, Sector 25, has been nabbed and he has named his other accomplice as Pawan, also of Janata Colony. According to police sources, Sanjay and Pawan had gone to the PGI with Sheru, Laloo and Rana. the five of them were returning to their homes in Sector 25 when they jumped a barbed wire near Kasturba hostel.

Mr Bose asked them to stop. Sheru, Laloo and Ran escaped while Sanjay and Pawan were caught. Within seconds the duo stabbed Mr Bose injuring him seriously. Pawan ran away, while Sanjay was nabbed and handed over to the police.


‘Parallel banking’ lands banks in soup
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
“Parallel banking” by a host of thrift and credit cooperative societies formed by serving employees of the nationalised banks have become a major headache for the managements of the banks.

There are about 800 such societies formed by bank employees in the Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar areas alone which have mobilised crores of rupees by way of deposits. The number of such societies formed by bank employees in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal runs into thousands. This money mobilised by them is advanced as loans to members who seek these at about 18 per cent interest. The interest paid on deposits is around 14 per cent.

“There is nothing wrong with the formation and running of the thrift and credit societies because these are allowed under the law”, says Mr Ajay Kumar Bansal, president of the Employees Welfare Cooperative Non-Agricultural Thrift and Credit Cooperative Society. “These societies are registered under the Cooperative Act and function according to set rules, regulations and procedures”.

Mr Bansal is an employee of the local head office of the SBI and most of the members of the society are also SBI staff members. But the society does not use the name of the SBI because, in a bid to distance itself from such societies, the bank prohibited the “misuse of name of the SBI to mobilise deposits”, according to an official of the bank.

There have been cases in the past when certain bank employees manning various branches tried to persuade customers to deposit their money with the society rather than with the bank.

As a matter of fact, the local head office the SBI, put out a public notice on January 20, 2001, in leading newspapers of the region which said:” The public is hereby informed that the State Bank of India has no connection with any thrift and credit cooperative society run either by the bank’s staff or otherwise and shall, therefore, not be liable for the deposits placed with such societies. Anyone placing deposits with these societies will do so at his own risk and responsibility”.

Despite the bank’s attempt to distance itself from credit and thrift societies floated by its employees, it is being dragged into payment disputes involving societies and their members.

A large number of SBI employees who retired under the VRS on March 31 this year have not so far been paid their retiral terminal benefits (RTB) running into lakhs of rupees by the banks because the credit societies have written to the banks not to settle their accounts till they clear the dues of the societies.

One irate former SBI employee, who retired under the VRS complained that the credit and thrift societies were nothing but “non-banking finance companies” for the setting up of which permission of the Reserve Bank of India was required under Section 56 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. None of the societies had obtained such permission and, therefore, they were unlawful, he asserted.

He complained that the societies were managed by certain “influential bank employees” who had sent requisitions to the bank to deduct loan amounts from the retiral benefits of the employees leaving their jobs under the VRS. “The banks have no role to play as the management of the bank has itself been declaring from time to time”.

He also alleged that in many cases, the societies had tried to “fleece members by deliberately inflating their dues”.

Enquiries made at the local head office of the SBI reveal that the permission of the RBI is not required for running thrift and credit societies. All that they have to do is to register themselves with the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and they are business. The banks do not intervene in the disputes between the societies and their members. They only do so if there is notice from the court or from the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

As a matter of fact, the local head office of the SBI referred the matter to legal experts some time ago for formulating its stand. The experts have said that the “bank should withhold the amount claimed by the society from the ex-gratia/leave encashment to be paid to the employee going on retirement under the VRS till the matter is not adjudicated upon by the competent authority or a no-dues certificate from the society is submitted by the employee concerned.”

The SBI has now advised its DGMs, main branches and all others concerned to withhold the ex-gratia/leave encashment amount to the extent the recovery notice has been received from the society, direct or through the Registrar/Sub-Registrar, Cooperative Societies, and make payment to the society or employee after the settlement of their claims and undertaking given jointly by the president/secretary of the society and employee or orders of the competent authority empowered under the Act.


Drills, rallies to mark Fire Services Week
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Students will not only be solving theorems and mugging literature the next week. They will also be learning something about fire safety and prevention as well. The Fire Department not only plans to generate awareness among them, but will also be conducting drills in high rise buildings, besides training Air Force personnel, during the Fire Services Week.

From April 14 the authorities will also be carrying out rallies. They also plan distributing posters and leaflets, besides showing films and issuing public service advertisements. A quiz will be organised in Sector 17, wherein motivation prizes will be given for correct answers.

“The intention behind the programme,” says Chief Fire Officer, Mr G.S Bajwa” was to propagate fire safety message with the support of the media, insurance companies and certain other voluntary organisations. The theme this year is “small fires grow rapidly and wisdom lies in fire prevention”.

Giving details Mr Bajwa pointed out that fires in India take a heavy toll and damage national property worth crores of rupees. Atleast 90 per cent of these fires can be minimised if they are fought in the initial stages, or if adequate fire precautionay measures are observed.

Going into the background, Mr Bajwa said that the Fire Services Week is observed throughout the country from April 14 to 20 to commemorate the memory and pay homage to those brave firemen who lost their lives when they were fighting the dock fire on April 14, 1944. As many as 66 officers and men of the Bombay fire brigade lost their lives, while fighting the fire which occurred in the vessel S.S. Fort Stikine berthed at Bombay docks.

Highlighting the causes of fire analysed during a survey, Mr Bajwa pointed out that 60 per cent fires are of electric origin on account of electric short-circuit, overheating, overloading, use of non-standard appliances, illegal tapping of electrical wires, improper electrical wiring, carelessness and ignorance etc.; 10 per cent are caused by improper housekeeping due to lack of proper awareness. About 15 per cent fires are caused by LPG blasts, as people have a tendency to leave the cylinder valve and burner knob of the gas stove on after cooking; 10 per cent are due to burning cigarette/bidi ends, which people throw callously here and there, including wastepaper baskets, and 5 per cent of incidents pertain to careless play by children . These figures by and large hold true for the city also where the incidents of fire are more in high-rise buildings, colonies and rehri markets.

He further disclosed that children and housewives are the most affected persons in the fire incidents in homes. Children are in the habit of playing with electrical plugs and sockets and are vulnerable to accidents since they put wires, metal instruments or their fingers into the sockets. With a view to prevent such accidents, the fire authorities will go to various schools in the city during assembly time and give them elementary fire-fighting training, besides general awareness.

The threat of fire in high-rise buildings is constant and if adequate precautionay measures are not taken, the consequences can be grave. Fire rescue drills will be conducted in few buildings such as the Sector 9 UT Secretariat and the office of AG ( Haryana) in Sector 33 and the employees will be given tips on how to move to safe places for evacuation without any panic. Mr Bajwa further revealed that high-rise buildings are more prone to fire outbreaks due to lack of proper fire fighting equipment. Nearly 50 per cent of the 300-odd high-rise buildings are either without such equipment or the same is lying out of order. During a drive launched two months back, the department had issued notices to seven such buildings and they can be sealed if they fail to comply with the directions during the given time period.

Sources in the Fire Department disclose that maximum fires occur during the months of April and May, since there is no moisture in the atmosphere. According to figures available, till February this year a total of 137 fires were reported in various parts of the city, which have damaged property worth Rs 16 lakh. Of these there was only one major fire, in which 250-odd jhuggis were gutted in the Industrial Area, Phase-I. Special emphasis is laid to prevent fires in colonies, which are more prone due to the illiteracy of the occupants. 


* Do not leave small children alone in the house or allow them to play in the kitchen.
* Take utmost care while handling LPG stove for cooking purpose. If you suspect leakage of LPG, close the cylinder valve and inform the concerned persons.
* Do not overpump a pressure stove as it may explode. Never fill kerosene when the stove is lit.
* Extinguising the cigarette completely before discarding. A burning cigarette can ignite any organic matter very easily.
* Plug only one appliance in one socket. Overloading the electrical circuit can start a fire.
* If your clothes catch fire, do not run. Stop, drop and roll on ground.
* Extinguish fire if you can. Otherwise, raise the alarm and evacuate by the nearest available exit.
* Call telephone No: 101.

Help the firemen to help you.

* Give way to fire engines to enable them to reach at the incident quickly.
* Allow them to use your telephone to communicate with the control room.
* Don’t park your cars close to fire hydrants/underground static water tanks.
* Guide firemen to water sources i.e tubewells, ponds, static tanks etc in case of fire.



And quiet hums the tap...
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Water supply in the city is expected to bounce back to normal from tomorrow, since the breach in the supply line coming from Kajauli has been repaired.

Giving this information, Superintending Engineer, Mr Swaran Singh Kanwal has appealed to the residents not to be worried as water supply will be normal from morning itself, though ground floor houses in many sectors received regular supply today evening also.

Water supply to several parts of the city was disrupted for nearly three days following a breakdown in the supply line near Roorke village ( Kharar). Residents had a harrowing time, as either the supply was inadequate or those on the top floors did not receive any water due to low water pressure.

Mr Kanwal further informed that 20 MGD water, which flows through this line every day has already started flowing and the same was being received in the Sector 39 waterworks, from where it was being distributed to various water works. The same would be released to various sectors during the morning water supply hours.

The problem arose since the demand of water had already risen to about 80-85 MGD with maximum temperature in the city rising beyond 37 degrees Celsius, while during the past two days the city had been managing with only 45 MGD, which included 40 MGD from Kajauli and 5 MGD from the tubewells supply. The city receives a total of 64 Million gallons per day ( MGD) from these two sources but following the breakdown in which a pipe in the joint gave way, it had been receiving 20 MGD less.

Meanwhile, to overcome the water shortage problem, as many as 10 tankers have been pressed into service to supply the same wherever required. Those needing water can call at 781156 for the tanker.

The Mayor, Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, along with nominated councillor, Maj Gen ( retd), Gurdial Singh, visited the Kajauli water works in the evening to take stock of the situation . They also claimed that following the repair, water supply would be normal since water had started flowing into the Bhakra mainline canal. However, residents should use the water cautiously during the summer months for the problem was bound to continue due to lack of sufficient water in reservoirs due to lesser snow in mountains this year. As a result, dams were also not being filled properly, informed Mr Singh. He further pointed out that the fourth phase of Kajauli waterworks should be augmented at the earliest, so that the reserves in the same could be used to meet such emergencies.

Later in the evening, the Chief Engineer, Mr Manmohanjit Singh, along with the SE ( Public Health) visited the site and directed the employees to monitor the supply of water properly. To further tighten the noose on those found wasting drinking water, the authorities concerned have issued 60 more notices during the past two days and more such notices would be served in the next few days with a view to making more water available for drinking.

Residents, meanwhile, continued to face problems and some of them did not receive a drop of water the whole day.

SAS Nagar
Due to repair of the Kajauli water supply line near Roorkee village in Kharar, there will be no noon water supply to Phase 9, 10 and 11. The Executive Engineer, Public Health, SAS Nagar, Mr G.S. Ghuman, said water pressure was low as the filtration plant in Sector 57 was not getting supply of water from Kajauli. A resident of Phase 10 complained that not a single drop of water had come throughout the day. Back


Water shortage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Janata Dal(U) has alleged the discriminatory attitude by the District Food and Supplies Department in the issuance of ration cards. Alleging shortage of drinking water in the villages and colonies, the meeting urged the authorities to take adequate steps to check the growing menace of mosquitoes which posed a serious health hazard.


Flats galore but no takers
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Housing Societies: Nearly 150
Occupancy level: Approx.45%
Reasons for low occupancy level
*Defective transfer policy of societies
*Supply has far exceeded the demand for low cost housing
*Non-completion of account
of disputes between management and contractors
*Unsatisfactory designing of flats
*General slump in the market

Panchkula, April 12
Occupancy levels in housing societies continue to be abysmally low, even as their number has shown a meteoric rise in the city, most of them having mushroomed in the Panchkula extension.

With hardly 35 per cent occupancy rates in the “concrete jungle” of Sector 20 which has over 100 societies, property dealers contend that the spurt in the construction of low-cost housing societies, coupled with a slump in the market, was responsible for the “vacancies” at every level.

In one of the most sought-after locations, just off the national highway in Mansa Devi complex, the situation was only a shade better as far as occupancy levels go. Concentrated in this pocket are nearly 45 societies, where just over 50 per cent of the flats have been occupied.

While this not only spells doom for the property dealers who were on the lookout for big bucks when the trend of low cost housing caught on, it has taken its toll on the premium as well, with investment in flats fetching fewer returns.

“Against a premium of Rs 4 to Rs 5 lakh in a flat costing approximately Rs 10 lakh, things have come to such a pass that owners are willing to sell these for the actual cost and there are still no takers. Also, the slump in the market has brought down flat prices by nearly 20 per cent,” Mr Rajesh Aggarwal, a property dealer, holds.

Though the Gujarat quake, partially responsible for the prevailing state of affairs, has given the public second thoughts of residing in flats, a major reason for the low occupancy levels, property dealers contend, is the faulty ownership policy.

“The rules of societies by employees of certain government and non-government organisations do not allow for transfer of property to a private party, which is a major bottleneck. Sometime ago, it was learnt that the Haryana Urban Development Authority was considering allowing such a move to improve business, but nothing has happened so far. Mr Ashok Kumar, another property dealer, claimed.

This problem of low occupancy has its roots in the desire of owning additional assets without requirement or as a source of investment. Most of the owners of these flats already have houses of their own and have bought flats for their resale value.

Then, there is the problem of unfinished housing societies, where disputes between the contractor and the society management were delaying occupancy by owners while still others were plagued with unsatisfactory designing and greater supply against a falling demand curve.

In sectors 27 and 28 in the Panchkula extension, refund to housing societies has already begun, most of them withdrawing their plans following the appearance of cracks, suspected to be caused by tectonic activity.


What exactly will be the role of the CDS?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
With the government having reportedly appointed a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), speculation on who is to be the “first among equals” may have been laid to rest, but it has thrown up more issues. With the exact role and powers of the CDS still not defined and with the structure of Ministry of Defence (MoD) still remaining as it is, the institution of the CDS is cast under a shadow.

As Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sushil Kumar, the seniormost among the three service chiefs, steps into the shoes of the CDS — faces the task of advising the government to chalk out geo-strategic policies in the backdrop of a nuclear environment and the challenge of fine tuning inter-service operational concepts and synergy, besides cutting through the red tape wrangling the MoD. But in the present format, the institution of the CDS appears to be inserting another headquarters between the MoD and the services and further degrading the status of the service chiefs.

While creating the post of the CDS has, in some sections, been hailed as a wise decision, as it may result in some integration between the services and the MoD, besides giving the services a greater say in military issues, there are still apprehensions if the CDS will be given adequate and requisite powers or would he be reduced to just a glorified person.

Further, there is a school of thought which is of the opinion that unlike as in the case of the United States’ forces, which operate globally and hence require total integration for effective functioning of theatre commands, this concept cannot be fully applied in the Indian context where military operations would be confined to the territorial vicinity of the nation. The level of synergy required to carry out operations in the Indian context is already available.

Chandigarh Tribune spoke to some eminent retired officers in the city to know their perception on the post of the CDS and the tasks that lie ahead.

“The appointment of a CDS will compromise the status and pre-eminence of the service chiefs and unless the service HQs are integrated with the MoD, the change will not be worthwhile,” commented Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd), former Director General, Perspective Planning. He added that his charter of duties has not been identified and his dual role as the CDS as well as Navy Chief will dilute the whole issue. “It is still not known whether he will function under the Prime Minister or the Defence secretary, and if he functions under the latter, the status of the service chiefs will be degraded further,” he added.

“Creating a post of the CDS is a wise decision, but the important point still to be redressed is that where will the CDS fit into the hierarchy. It is still not clear under whom will the CDS function,” Maj Gen Rajendra Nath said. Stating that the CDS should not just be a “showpiece”, he added that he must have adequate powers for determining the allocation of resources among the services. Pointing out that future wars are likely to by oriented towards joint inter-service operations, he said that with the introduction of nuclear weapons and missiles, he would have to co-ordinate the defence plans of the country in which all three services play a role.

“The hierarchy is still not clear. If it is just one more bureaucratic hurdle to be crossed, then the whole exercise is futile,” says Brig K.M. Tiwari (retd). “If the Ministry of Defence remains as it is, then what is the CDS — something between the ministry and the service chiefs or just a more dignified version of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee,” he questions. He added that the decision appears to have been taken to appease certain people or as an aftereffect of the Kargil conflict or the Tehelka expose.

“The damage done to the forces by the Tehelka expose will be to be undone by the CDS. he will have to go out and tell people that whatever is done in the forces is above board and transparent,” Lt Gen G.S. Kler, former Director General, Military Training said. He will have to keep a shrewd eye of inter-service expenditure so that no service feels the pinch, besides ensuring that red tapism in the Defence Ministry does not hamper modernisation and procurements, he added.


New Chandigarh Club team takes charge 
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Mr Ravinder Chopra, who was declared elected as the president of the Chandigarh Club in a close fight last night, formally took over the charge of his new office this morning.

At a simple ceremony, the outgoing president, Mr Chaman Sharma, handed over charge to Mr Chopra, who arrived in the club premises accompanied by the newly elected office-bearers and executive members shortly before noon.

Later, he presided over the first meeting of the executive where he took stock of the situation.

“I never expected the contest to be so close,” said Mr Chopra in a talk with TNS shortly after taking over. “But election is election. One never knows which way it will turn at the last moment.” Mr Chopra defeated his nearest rival, Mr R.S.Sachdeva, by just three votes. He polled 1,059 votes against 1,056 secured by Mr Sachdeva. The third candidate for the post of President, Mr Amarjit Singh Sethi, secured 831 votes.

Mr Sunil Khanna was elected as vice-president defeating his only rival, Mr Sunil Gupta. Mr Sandeep Shani polled the highest number of votes amongst the contestants for the posts of the executive member. The other successful candidates were Mr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Mr Ajaibir Singh, Mr Gopal Gupta, Mr C.M. Munjal, Mr Naresh Chaudhary, Mr P. Bhushan Sharma and Mr Sanjeev Mehan.

The management and the affairs of the club are vested in the executive committee. The executive committee, in addition to the president and vice-president, consists of eight elected members and two members to be nominated by the president of the club.

Shortly before the result was declared, Mr Sachdeva demanded a recount. This was, however, turned down by the Returning Officer, Mr Subash Nagpal, who declared the result. Later, Mr Sachdeva wrote to the outgoing president, Mr Chaman Sharma, but he also did not respond.

Mr Sachdeva filed a civil suit in the court of Mrs Jatinder Walia, Magistrate, First Class, Chandigarh, praying for the appointment of a local commissioner for taking physical possession of the votes polled and holding a recount. The magistrate appointed a local commissioner and fixed April 16 as the next date of hearing in the case.


House tax move opposed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
Lodging a protest against the imposition of house tax with the notification of formation of a municipal council in the city, the Joint Forum comprising members of the residents welfare associations, said that they would move court against the proposal.

Threatening to take “the battle to the streets”, Mr R.P. Malhotra, said that the matter would first be taken up at the level of the Deputy Commissioner. “If we don’t get a positive response, we will approach the Chief Minister before beginning an agitation,’’ he said.

Claiming Panchkula to be a de-facto capital of Haryana, he said that officials of the Haryana government had settled down in the city and the cost of their security was being levied on the public.

“We have been burdened with additional stamp duty and other taxes are in the pipeline. There is a lot that has to be done on the development front and we are not willing to pay for what we have not got,’’ he added.

Admitting that the city was unlikely to be declared a capital in the near future, the forum said that they would be satisfied if granting of “capital status’’ was considered. “With the status, we would be able to get the much “needed central grant for the development of the town. The government must realise that it cannot afford to meet all its expenses by bordering the public,’’ Mr Malhotra stated.

Quoting statistics, the members informed that an expenditure of Rs 16 to Rs 20 crore was levied for half-hearted maintenance which required a grant of at least Rs 50 crore for upkeep only. He appealed to NGOs and political parties to express their views on the matter.


CM flags off Vishav Shanti Bal March
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 12
On the eve of the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal flagged off “vishav shanti bal march” from the premises of the Punjab School Education Board here today. The march organised by the National Society for Child Artists will culminate at Anandpur Sahib after halting at Hansali gurdwara.

The participants, representing different religions and carrying placards and banners, raised slogans for peace and harmony. The participants would pray for world peace and harmony at Anandpur Sahib, said Mr Ajit Salani, Chairman of the organising society.

Earlier speaking at brief ceremony, Mr Badal said the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of the Maharaja was a historic event. A series of functions were being organised in different parts of Punjab and Delhi beginning at Patiala tomorrow. He congratulated the Punjabis on the occasion.

Mr Salani said the society would organise function throughout the year. The other main events being organised by the society are a painting competition at Amritsar on August 15 and a seminar on “condition of children during the regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh” on October 20. Some senior Cabinet Ministers, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, the Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, and the President, SAS Nagar Municipal Council, were present at the flag-off ceremony. 


Baisakhi Fest-2001 begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The four-day business and cultural extravaganza, Baisakhi Fest 2001, got off to a colourful start at the Parade Ground here this evening.

The UT Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, inaugurated the festival by lighting the traditional lamp. Earlier, Mr Gujral, accompanied by representatives of the National Institute of Professional Techniques(NIFT), was welcomed by the drum-beaters. Mr Gujral also went round the various stalls.

Mr Gujral was welcomed by Mr G.I.P.S. Boparai and Ms Paramjeet Kaur, Chairman and Director, respectively, of the NIPS. Mr Boparai said that artistes from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan would perform during the festival.

Meanwhile, Sarbjit Cheema, a popular Punjabi singer of Rangla Punjab and Chandigarh shehar di kudi fame regaled the audience tonight.Back


Governors greet people on Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), today extended greetings to all Punjabis on the eve of Baisakhi.

The Governor said that Baisakhi had a special significance in our history. On this day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh laid the foundation of the Khalsa panth to protect the under-privileged.

The day also marked a watershed in our freedom movement in 1919 as hundreds of people laid down their lives on this day in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, for freedom. He called upon the people to celebrate this festival collectively in the true spirit of Punjabiat.

The Haryana Governor, Babu Parmananad, today extended his greetings to the people on the occasion of Baisakhi.

In his message the Governor stated that the seasonal festival of Baisakhi signified the fun and frolic expressed by the harvesters through folk song and folk dances. He said: “We should celebrate this festival to promote the social and national unity of the country.”


Jacob condoles Dewang’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), today expressed shock over the death of Dewang Mehta, President, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), who died in Sydney early this morning.

In a condolence message, the Governor said that the contribution of Mehta in promoting the information technology sector in India would be remembered by all. General Jacob said Mehta took keen interest in information technology plans of the Union Territory, Chandigarh, and was planning to set up an office of NASSCOM in Chandigarh.


Stress on internal discipline
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
Stressing on the necessity of inculcating internal discipline, Swami Vishvas said that though running after material possessions was not bad, there was a need to strive for a balance. Stating this at a press conference, here today, the swami said that man was losing his identity in trying to achieve material gains. “The essence of our culture is in showing the way to those who have lost themselves completely in the rat race. The answer lies in meditation which brings peace,’’ he added.

Commenting on the commercialisation of helping people attain their inner self, he said that most agencies involved in this work were highlighting the necessity of concentration. “The basic difference between concentration and meditation is that while the former teaches you to focus on an object, the latter propogates the peace got from looking within yourself,’’ he stated. He said that doctors abroad had begun recommending meditation as the only way of healthy well-being, more and more people were coming to India in search of gurus and returning satisfied with the results of meditation.

The Vishvas Mediation Centre will hold meditation camps from April 12 to 15 in the evenings at the Parade Ground in Sector 5.


Parthasarathi concerned over falling sex ratio
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
An ‘unacceptably high foeticide’ in Punjab and Haryana has sent the alarm bells ringing in the quarters of the National Commission for Women.

Vibha Parthasarathi, chairperson of the National Commission for Women, while talking to mediapersons at Panjab University here today said that drastically low sex ratio in Punjab was a complex problem and needed immediate care because the repercussions in the long run would be “dangerous”. She was reacting to a recent report of the census where the sex ratios were drastically low in the region.

The chairperson contacted the officials in the Punjab, Haryana and UT Administrations today and discussed at length the problem and the future line of action.

The falling sex ratio was a complex problem and involved a range of reasons, including an inherited patriarchial mind set, economic reasons, social factors and even the media exposure, she said. Mrs Parthasarathi said that insecurity for women wards, financial liabilities like dowry, promotion of female stereo-types on media were only a few areas where the preference divide in the sex clearly showed.

The chairperson said that the 1991 census had shown little improvement in the sex ratio in Punjab. During talks with officials one reasons for preferences of boys was given that Sikhs were a martial race and so boys were naturally preferred. “I say that Gorkhas and certain other races were equally known valiant martial races but they showed no signs of a sexual divide in preferences”, she added.

Mrs Parthasarathi said that it was not wrong to point out flaws in the medical services responsible for “unacceptably high foeticide”. Tests for sex determination were done on requests of parents in several cases and this was one way of easy money making. A group of medical practitioners in Kerela recently got together and promised not to get into any malpractice, morally or ethically. This was a good example.

She said that the three governments she talked to gave her details of the programmes in the state. Haryana gave instance of two districts where the sex ratio had been reversed. She said some important programmes on the issue were in the waiting.Back


Seminar on missing females
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
A seminar on “where are the missing females of Punjab and Haryana?’’ was held at Punjab Book Centre here yesterday. A probe into the causative factors and their social implications were discussed.

Prof H.S. Mehta, was quite optimistic that the sex ratio in India as a whole had improved. It was earlier 927 against 1000, whereas it was 933 now. He expressed that it was a matter of concern that in the age group zero to six years, the sex ratio had come down from 941 to 927.

He said the main reason for this seemed to be female foeticide. He said the people in India had a discriminatory attitude against women.

As the people of this region could afford to go in for the expensive tests, this led to a majority of abortions, he added.

Dr Sucha Singh Gill from Punjabi University, Patiala, said: “It is a misconception that lesser women population can check the growth rate. In Kerala the female growth was 1056 but the birth rate has declined to 9.4 per cent which is half of India’s population growth.’’

Mr M.M. Sharma, Secretary, Voluntary Health Association, Punjab, was the organiser of the seminar.Back


Bapu Asaram
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
The 60th birthday of Sant Sri Asaram Ji Bapu will be celebrated at Aggarwal Bhavan, Sector 16, here tomorrow. According to a press note issued by the Shri Yog Vedant Seva Samiti, a shoba yatra will be taken out on the occasion. It will start from the bhavan and after passing through Sectors 16, 15, 14, 12-A, 12 and 11 culminate at the samiti's office.


Girl escapes from Nari Niketan
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
An inmate of the Nari Niketan, Sector 26, reportedly ran away from the niketan here yesterday. She was arrested by the police on Tuesday from Kajheri village along with four boys. The boys were sent to Burail jail and the girl to the niketan.

According to police sources, the girl belonged to Dehra Dun and her parents were called here yesterday. No case has been registered against the girl. However, it is learnt that an inquiry into the matter has been marked by the authorities.

Student booked

The local police has registered a case under Section 406 of the IPC against a student who reportedly ran away with the answer sheet from an examination hall. According to information available, Joginder Singh Lingwal, B. Com. (I) student ran away with his answer sheet from a centre at DAV College, Sector 10.

The case was registered after Mr M.C. Katoch, superintendent of the college, reported the matter to the police.

Chain snatched

Ms Pushpa Rani, resident of Dera Sahib, Mani Majra reported to the police that a cycle-borne man snatched a gold chain and mangal sutra from her neck here yesterday. The police said that the incident took place at around 11.30 a.m. near the woman’s residence.

A case under Sections 356 and 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Beaten up

Mr Kulbhushan Kumar, a resident of Sector 7, Panchkula, reported that he was beaten up and threatened by five persons in Dariya village yesterday. The local police arrested an accused, Paras Paswan.

A case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 323 and 506, IPC, has been registered.

House burgled

Mr Pankaj Kumar, a resident of Sector 45, reported that his house was burgled and the thieves took away a gold chain, four gold rings, one pair of ear-rings and Rs 4,000 yesterday.

A case under Sections 457 and 380 of IPC has been registered.

Scooterist injured

A scooterist, Mr Niwas, a resident of Burail village, was injured after he was hit by a truck near the Modella traffic light point last evening. He was admitted to the PGI.

A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Arrested with liquor

The local police arrested three persons under the Excise Act and seized 90 liquor pouches from their possession. Those arrested were Sikander Singh (Dadu Majra), Rajinder Kumar (Sector 38) and Krisan Lal (Maloya Colony).

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