Wednesday, May 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S



15,000 villagers face water shortage
Nishikant Dwivedi

Mullanpur-Garibdas (Kharar), May 1
Nearly 15,000 residents of five villages in the Kharar subdivision, along the western rim of Chandigarh — Mullanpur-Garibdas, Ratwara, Paintpur, Bharaunjiya and Ferozpur-Bangar — are facing scarcity of water for the past one week.

Long queues of villagers in front of community water taps in these villages have become a common sight. Men, women and children begin their day with a trek to the nearest water tap, which yields only a trickle of water, forcing villagers to wait for their turn. Frayed tempers, loud arguments and occasional fights are not uncommon. It seems their plight has not moved the administration.

Water pipelines in this village and four surrounding villages were laid 24 years ago, when the population was only 2000. Irregular power supply and lack of generators jam tubewells, making people suffer. If the situation is any indication, the villagers are in for tough days ahead.

The immediate cause of the water crisis in these villages is that one of the two tubewells had stopped functioning. Officials of the Punjab Public Health Department, SAS Nagar, had removed the fault in this 22 horsepower tubewell and the well was functional today evening.

The department has been supplying water to these villages from a 12.5 horsepower tubewell for the past few days. The villagers complain that the water pressure in the taps is less and so is the duration of the supply. Ms Rani Puri, an aged resident of Mullanpur village, says she has to manage a large amount of household works with a limited supply of water. Ms Kanta Devi of the same village complains that the condition of the taps is never good.

The pipelines are undersized as they are meant for a small population, but today the combined population of these five villages stands at around 15,000. The villagers complain that in case of power failure, the regular supply is badly effected. The villagers also allege that some persons have installed water taps in their houses by using their links in the government in general and the Public Health Department in particular. There are no generators at the tubewells.

When contacted, Mr S.R. Aggarwal, Executive Engineer, Public Health Department, SAS Nagar, admitted that there was some problem with the water supply in these villages. He maintained that the government had certain plans for the area and in the next couple of months the supply of water in the area would improve. He also informed that an additional tubewell would be soon installed for these five villages. He refuted the allegations regarding individual connections and said the connections were given under a special scheme, which had now been discontinued.


MCC destroys over 2509 kg of unhygienic food
But sale goes on unabated
Poonam Batth and Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , May 1
The Health wing of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh ( MCC) today claimed to have seized and destroyed over 2509 kg of food articles during the last fortnight, which was kept for sale under unsanitary and unhygienic conditions, and was exposed to dust and flies.

However, the ground reality seems to be much different as an extensive survey carried out by a Chandigarh Tribune team revealed.

Despite a ban announced exactly a month ago, it is being flouted with impunity in different parts of the city. Cut fruits, cane juice, salad, cucumber slices and other eatables continue to be sold unabated through out the city and expectedly, most of it is being done in an unhygienic manner by hawkers and vendors, posing a serious health hazard to the consumers.

However, giving details of the campaign launched by the McC, Medical Officer of Health ( MOH), Dr S.S Cheema, said that under the Epidemic diseases Act 1897, health officials seized and destroyed 960 kg of ice and ice candies, cut fruits and vegetables weighing 775 kg, sweets and other eatables measuring 255 kg and 285 kg meat and meat products. Besides destroying sugar cane juice weighing 234 kg, 80 bottles of unhygienic soda water were also seized and destroyed.

Chandigarh Tribune during a visit to Sector 17 today, found that the authorities, despite its tall claims, it has not been able to get rid of the hawkers near the Neelam Cinema, a few meters from the MCC office or those on the plot of land next to the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Another random survey over the last few days revealed that vendors selling these products continue to thrive in various markets, near the bus stand, cinema halls, outside schools, and other public places. Rural areas and slums are among the worst affected areas. Eatables such as chana bhatura, ice creams, chat, matka kulfi, sugarcane juice in these areas are as popular as ever even as they stand exposed to dust and flies.

Keeping in view the onset of summer and danger of outbreak of water-borne diseases, raids are being regularly conducted against the vendors selling such products.

It may be recalled that ban on the sale of cut and exposed items had been imposed by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M Ramsekhar, on April 1, to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic.

While a number of vendors were not even aware of the ban, others said that the order was issued every year and that it never affects their sales. ‘‘We have been selling these products for 15 to 20 years in these markets and we will continue to do so. What we sell are fresh fruits and this is our livelihood,’’ says Shanti Bai, one of the vendors in Sector 17. ‘‘ The sale goes on even as the health officials keep destroying the food articles, for we keep taking out our stock in small quantities every now and then,’’ says Nand Gopal, another vendor.

The norms laid down for the sale of such items are being violated with impunity with the authorities turning a blind eye. Vendors, who cover the food articles with a thin cloth, do not realise that it is not adequate as dust can reach down to the items and lead to infections. The items should ideally be covered by wire gauge or glass to protect contamination against dust and flies. Even the water the vendors use to wash and clean their wares may not be fit for human consumption as it is kept in rusty or dirty plastic ones containers

An official of the MOH Department argued that the corporation had limited staff to deal with the problem. ‘‘ We simply cannot have a person sit round the clock to check where all they sell the products,’’ he added. An official of the Education Department said that all school principals would be directed to educate children about the damage of consuming exposed food items or drinks.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director General, Mr V.K. Kapoor, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), said that the BIS had laid down certain standards formulated under ‘‘ code of hygienic condition for of cut fruit, fruit juice and fruit salad ( IS 8123 : 1976)’’. These could be tough to follow but for health care for all concerned, they have to be adopted seriously by the local health authorities, he asserted.

The standards could be of considerable assistance to the health authorities, however, Mr Kapoor agrees, that during his tenure, even though the BIS had tried to build public awareness through media and camps, the Health Department had never approached them for any guidance.

Sources say that whether it is the Municipal Corporation or the administration, each tries to pass the buck to other, but the fact is that both are equally responsible for the failure to tackle the problem. While orders are issued by the DC , the implementation is left to the MOH and other official. But the raids are not effective due to a lack of coordination . Enforcement staff, sources allege, also take protection money‘hafta’ and the business continues.

But the fact remains that unless proper hygiene norms are adopted, consumption of such cut fruit , fruit juices, fruit salad from these stalls is a potential health hazard to the consumers.

Dr S.K. Bhandari, Head, Department of Medicine, General Hospital, Sector 16, asserts that optimum hygienic conditions should be maintained to ward off threat of gastroenteritis, diarrhoea. loose motions, vomiting, typhoid , dehydration and vomiting. In the rainy season, the problems multiply as temperature and weather is conducive for proliferation of germs in contaminated water, cut fruit and vegetables where the bacteria can come through flies.

The BIS standards, if adopted strictly, can help put a check on these health hazards, says Mr Kapoor. Cut fruit and juices cannot be sold in the open or uncovered.

Meanwhile some guidelines have been issued by the Administration:

Stalls should be established at places approved by the health authorities. There are even specifications regarding dimensions and location of these stalls. Besides, not only the place has to be well-lighted and ventilated, either naturally or artificially , flooring, too, should be properly paved, smooth and with uneven surface The walls of the room too have to be oil painted.

Potable water supply should be provided and connected to a drain for proper disposal. Besides ,suitable conditions should be there for washing hands and fruits.

Fruits, cut fruit and other food articles connected with the trade have to be stored in a fly-proof safe to prevent contamination by dust, flies and insects. Their storage and cutting too will be restricted to a room and fruit juice extractor in particular should be thoroughly cleaned and washed before and after operation of juice extraction.

Only stainless steel aluminum or glass vessels be used for collection of juice. And tumbler for serving juice be made of paper or some disposable material.

To check flies, the stall should be sprayed with pyrethrum or similar insecticides using a handsprayer once a day. Besides, the premises have to be treated by the MC authorities or a approved firm once every four months and their record maintained,

Besides maintaining hygienic conditions, employee hygiene forms an important part of the code. The employees have to maintain their personal hygiene and be medically examined by medical practioner and examination includes X-ray for the chest for TB. Besides all persons employed in the trade should notify the health authorities in case of fever, sore throat, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, boils, cuts, sores, ulcers, discharging ears and notifiable diseases.


Ammunition depots or dormant volcanoes?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The fire in the ammunition depot in Mamoon Cantonment, in which ammunition worth Rs 15 crore has been destroyed, has brought into focus precautions and guidelines to be adopted while storing ammunition.

The biggest hazard currently involving ammunition depots is the close proximity of civilian settlements, generally unauthorised or in gross violation of the law. As per Government of India regulations, there can be no construction within an area of 1,000 metres from the perimeter fence. A casual look at ammunition depots in the region will reveal heavy encroachments around ammunition depots.

The ammunition depot at Dappar, on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, is a classic example. Wooden shacks, tenements and jhuggis have cropped up all over the place, thanks to the callous attitude of the state authorities and a largely ignorant public.

The ammunition dump at Badowal in Ludhiana is also ringed by unauthorised construction, including marriage palaces and palatial houses. In fact, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had recently directed the state authorities to raze all such unauthorised construction.

A division Bench had asked the Punjab Chief Secretary to inquire into the failure of the district authorities and the police in taking preventive steps at the proper time. The Bench further asked the Chief Secretary to take suitable action against the erring officials after fixing responsibility. The Bench also observed, “We have a very strong suspicion that it is not merely a case of inaction, but can as well be a case of active connivance of these authorities with the petitioners, enabling them to raise huge constructions in the prohibited area.”

What also require attention are the primitive rules and regulations governing storage methods. Lieut-Gen B.S. Randhawa (retd) says these date back to the time of British rule and require complete overhaul. Weapons and ammunition have become highly sophisticated over the years, requiring different storage techniques, but these have virtually remained unchanged, he adds.

There are basically three types of ammunition — hardball ammunition like that used in rifles, white phosphorus ammunition and confidential/secret ammunition. While hardball ammunition can be stored virtually anywhere as long as a specified gap between the containers is maintained, white phosphorus ammunition is highly combustible and requires different storage methods.

For white phosphorus ammunition, the storage area must be clear of high-tension wires and inflammable material. This type of ammunition is generally stored underground in specially dug pits, with adequate firefighting equipment ready at hand. For confidential/secret ammunition, there is an entirely different protocol for storage and is not disclosed.

An ammunition dump should be spread over a sufficiently large area to ensure adequate separation between storage points. The water table at the site should be low to prevent dampness or seepage. Generally sufficient firefighting measures are maintained at ammunition depots. Besides adequate fire extinguishers and water points, plenty of loose earth or sand is supposed to be available at various points. Grass is regularly supposed to be cut and fire lanes are required to be maintained, which restrict the spread of fire by wind.


Actor kidnapped by SI, released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
A Punjabi film actor and producer was kidnapped by a Punjab Police Sub-Inspector and seven other persons yesterday, in a truly filmi fashion.

After much hype and drama, Mr. Pardhumman Kakkar was released by his abductors at about 1: 30 a.m today. The police arrested two of the accused while they were bringing the victim to the city. Mr Kakkar was admitted to the Sector 32 GMCH and was discharged at about 10 am today.

Roopinder Singh Rupi and Balkar Singh were arrested by the police under Sections 147, 148 ,149 and 365 of the IPC and are in police remand till May 4. The Maruti van (PB-08Z-6573) in which the accused were travelling back to the city from Jalandhar with Mr. Kakkar, was also impounded by the police near Hotel Kapil in Sector 35. The arrests were made by a team headed by Inspector KIP Singh, SHO of Police Station Sector 34.

Since the police had been maintaining a regular contact with the victim on his mobile phone, without the knowledge of the accused, they were able to find out about the whereabouts of the accused last night.

Interestingly, the name of a Superintendent of Police posted at Jalandhar also figures in the entire episode. Mr. Kakkar, while levelling allegations against him alleged that he was directly taken to the said officer’ residence last evening. However, the Chandigarh Police reportedly had a word with the officer before the abductors reached there and he refused to entertain them.

Meanwhile, the police has already dispatched search parties in order to nab the remaining accused. The search parties have been dispatched to Jalandhar in search of SI Avtar Singh Bhola, posted at the Punjab Armed Police; and to the native village of the other accused falling under Police Station Khalshian in Amritsar.

Mr P Kakkar, who was in the city yesterday in order to plan the shooting schedule of his recently launched film, Ishq, was kidnapped by the accused from Sector 44-B at about 4: 30 pm.

The accused Sub-Inspector is alleged to have spearheaded the kidnapping. He was reportedly seen brandishing his service revolver to force the victim to comply. He and the other accused- Roopinder Singh Rupi, Balkar Singh, Satbir Singh, Surinder Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Manu and another person, were in a Tata Sumo ( HR-01E- 9839).

According to police sources, a relative of the Sub-Inspector, Roopinder Singh Rupi, had paid Rs. 6.60 lakh to Mr Kakkar in 1999 in order to arrange for Rupi’s younger brother, Satbir Singh’s illegal immigration to the USA. Mr Kakkar is reportedly in the business of sending people abroad through illegal means- something which Mr Kakkar denies.

He claimed that it was one of his film’s directors, Ram Khanna, who had taken the money from Roopinder Singh. "‘Since the accused were unable to nab Khanna after he duped Roopinder, they were pressurizing me to pay the money back. They had made me sign several legal documents and cheques worth Rs 6.60 lakh on numerous occasions. At one point of time, I was forcibly picked up from my house in Jalandhar and taken to the SP’s residence at Cheema Nagar there. He, too, pressurised me to sign two cheques , which were later dishonoured as I had not given my proper signatures," he alleges.

At the time of the incident yesterday, the victim was in a Santro car with four of his friends, including another small time film artiste, Bunty Pawar, who is suspected to have played a decoy for the accused and helped them kidnap Mr Kakkar. Bunty Pawar was reportedly paid Rs 25,000 by the accused in order to arrange for the kidnapping.

It is alleged that the accused had first approached a film distributor, Sukhjinder Nijjar and asked him to arrange for the kidnapping. He had in turn brought Bunty Pawar in the picture.


Power dept’s ‘revenge’ for lodging complaints
Raids conducted on complainants’ premises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
In a reported incident of official highhandedness, the UT Electricity Department, is taking a ‘revenge’ of sorts from local small-scale industrial unit owners, who had lodged a complaint of power failure. The department has conducted raids at their units and slapped a fine on all of them.

A news-item on how a section in the Industrial Area, Phase II, had no power, appeared in The Tribune on April 27 highlighting how there was no power for two days. The department, instead of pacifying the residents, slapped a fine between Rs 10,000 and Rs 30,000 to each of the 22 industrial units mentioned in the news-item.

An entrepreneur said, “We do not know what action has been taken by the electricity department to improve things. But their behaviour with the people who reported the matter to Press has made things clear. For instance, only in this very section of industrial houses all premises have been raided. Any violation, big or small, has been slapped heavy penalties.”

Another entrepreneur clarified, “We do not intend to fight with anybody. We just want electricity, so that we can do what we want .”

Meanwhile, charges for which major penalties have been imposed are — broken or duplicate seals. Most industrialists begged ignorance of the fact that their meters did not have proper seals. “We appreciate that what is right is right but we are very much disturbed by the timing of raids,” they added.

Most of the industrial houses are already facing financial crisis. Then, they are faced with 48-hour-long power cut. They questioned the timing to conduct such raids. They said the department officials came every month to take the meter reading, they should have given in writing that the seals were broken. Most industrialists did not know that they might be drawing power over and above their sanctioned loads.

An agitated person said, “We have a right to just one circular informing about the rules and regulations.” He added, “The machines won’t run without power.

The salary bills do not lessen if there is no power. The rent is the same, power or no power. Fixed costs are the same. So we pray everybody realises his duty in the right earnest and make efforts to make things better.”

Since over one year the power supply to this line has been erratic. Two to three shutdowns lasting about 10 to 30 minutes were normal. Over the last one-month situation for this line had turned from bad to worse as power cuts had become frequent. The power started failing three to four times a day and for prolonged durations up to an hour each time. Between April 25 and 27 there was no electricity, an agitated industrialist added. 


City youth continue to drive two-wheelers helmetless
Another scooterist dies of head injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
It seems that nothing deters the city youth from flouting the traffic rules and regulations. Six days after a 21-year old girl, Kanika Gupta, lost her life in a road accident while not wearing a helmet, another helmetless youth was killed in a road accident in Manimajra on the intervening night of April 29 and 30.

Bundu, a 22-year old resident of Govindpura Mohalla, was killed after he fell off his scooter (HR-03-5320) .As he was not wearing any headgear for protection, he had received severe head injuries. He was a mason by profession.

The victim was rushed to the PGI, where he was declared as ‘brought dead’. The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

It may be recalled that the deaths of two school kids in Sector 38 in March, while they were driving a Kinetic Honda without helmets, had sent shockwaves in the city. Barely a month after these deaths, Kanika Gupta, a bright student of BCA final year in the SD College had lost her life, while her friend Shailesha was injured.

According to the traffic police officials, most of the deaths in road accidents occur when the drivers or the pillion riders refuse to wear the proper head gear. The figures available from the Accident Cell of the Traffic Police are shocking. It is believed that of the 37 people killed in road accidents till date this year, around 90 per cent of the deaths were the result of the deceased not wearing helmets.

During the past week itself atleast three helmetless two-wheeler drivers were killed in road accidents and a couple of others were injured. Following the stay order from the Supreme Court, the women are exempted from wearing helmets. Thus, it is almost an exception to see women drivers wearing helmets.

Not only this, the males, too, prefer not to abide by these traffic rules, and one sees them wearing helmets only while nearing the various light points in the city, where the cops are usually stationed. In fact, the lack of traffic cops deployment in the Southern sectors of the city also ensures that most two-wheeler drivers prefer to drive without helmets.

The DSP Traffic, Mr. V.P. Singh, when contacted, said that residents had to themselves begin believing in their safety and abide by the rules. “It is time that the people begin to understand that they have to abide by the rules for themselves and not for fear from being challaned.”


Mrs Anupama Kohar, Branch Manager, Haryana State Cooperative Bank, Sector 34-C: Why did God make a man before He made a woman? Because an artiste always makes a rough sketch before he makes a masterpiece.

So if woman is the master piece created by God, then there is every reason in the world to protect this masterpiece. Life is precious and is over and above everything else- including aesthetics.

I believe that most women refuse to wear helmets while driving two-wheelers, not for any religious sentiments but for losing their aesthetic appeal. They must remember that accidents are not sex specific and can happen to males or to females. Safety on the roads cannot be guaranteed with the ever burgeoning traffic on the city roads, and the traffic rules and regulations being openly flouted.

Moreover, with more and more women claiming equality with their male counterparts, the demand for the women being spared from wearing helmets is unjustified. I recently read news reports that seven females have lost their lives during the year in the city as they were not wearing helmets while driving two-wheelers. The families of the deceased women could have been saved of the trauma had they insisted on wearing helmets.

It is also learnt that a large number of such accident victims ,driving without helmets, end up as vegetables. In fact the trauma wards in the hospitals are full of patients having suffered head injuries in hospitals.

One must remember that wearing of helmets helps save at least one vital organ in case of an accident. Moreover, one is not doing a favour to anyone by wearing helmets.


Bibi Harjinder Kaur, former Deputy Mayor and president of the Sikh Nari Manch: We are not averse to women, or for that matter anyone else wearing helmets. Even if a Sikh gentleman or woman decides to wear a helmet, it is his/her own choice. In fact we agree that each individual has a right to his safety. Our point of view is that no legal body has the right to enforce anything that we consider blasphemous.

When we say that Sikhs should be debarred from wearing helmets, we talk from the point of view of taking people’s religious sentiments into consideration. Ours’ is a secular country and each individual has the fundamental right to practice the tenets and traditions of the religions.

It may be recalled that even during the World War II, the Sikh soldiers were exempted from wearing any headgear. Our religion forbids us to wear any headgear as this tantamounts to slavery. Even the Motor Vehicle Act mentions that Sikhs cannot be challaned for not wearing helmets.

I agree that a lot of people lose their lives in road accidents when they refuse to wear helmets , but this is not the only reason for the death toll in road accidents. The administration, too, is responsible for their failure to provide proper road safety measures. There are hardly any indicators on dividers, no proper road signs and the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the city’s roads all lead to the increase in road accidents. There are hardly any speed-breakers on the city’s roads that help curb overspeeding, which again is the major reason for accidents.

(As told to RMK)


State of education VI — A Tribune Survey
Chandigarh scheme ‘an alternative’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Impressed by the Chandigarh model for encouraging classroom teaching, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), has requested for a copy of the scheme for circulation among all states and union territories.

“Our endeavour is to discourage tuitions by providing an attractive alternative,” says Mr R.S. Gujral, Education Secretary, Chandigarh Administration. “In all Government Model Senior Secondary Schools in the union territory, we have introduced a new concept of weekly tests for plus one and two classes. These tests have been modelled on the IIT entrance tests for engineering students and the AIIMS test for medical students. This is the second year of the scheme. Until the last academic session , we used to conduct these tests every Saturday but from the new session, we have decided to hold them on Monday so that students could use Sunday as a preparatory day.”

Mr D.S. Saroya, Director of Public Instruction (Schools), says : “Unlike high-profile tuition or coaching classes where sections are big and unwieldy as at times they have even 120 or more students in a group, we have limited science classes in all Government Model Senior Secondary Schools to a maximum of 50 students in a section.

“To prepare them for entrance tests, we start training them the moment plus one classes get under way. We have constituted core groups of teachers. For example, all Ph.Ds in basic sciences and mathematics working in the department, have been included in the core group. From each core group comprising 40 to 50 teachers, we have constituted a top group of five to eight teachers in each science subject and mathematics. They have been provided the best of books, literature and material based on the requirements for entrance tests to the best technical and professional institutions in the country.

“Every week, this top group prepares a set of question papers which are printed and supplied to each Model Senior Secondary School a day before the actual test. After the test, all members of the core group assemble at a place and have a brain storming session. Next day they go back to their classes and give students the correct answers to each question in the test held the previous day. The entire expense for conducting these exams is borne by the Education Department,” says Mr Saroya maintaining that type of training and tests conducted by the department were far superior and better organised than any private coaching centre.

Besides, he says, all students are provided 24-hour training and they can contact their teachers any time for solving problems.

“We discourage students who want admission just to get themselves marked present to meet the mandatory requirement of attendance. Instead, we want students to remain busy and make the best use of facilities and resources made available by the Department,” he adds.

He confirmed that a copy of the scheme would be sent to the CBSE very soon for circulation throughout the country.


Deepak continues as PU Dean
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Dr Deepak Manmohan will continue as the Dean, College Development, Panjab University, as interviews for the post have failed to decide on any suitable candidate.

The decision is largely being viewed as a graceful one because Dr Deepak Manmohan retires from the teaching profession in October this year. He has been the honorary Dean, College Development, for the past nearly four years. His biggest critics agree to his commendable role in enhancing the value of the Chair, which looks after affairs of nearly 104 colleges.

Reliable sources indicated that there was difference of opinion in the selection committee with regard to three or four candidates on the interview list. It was also indicated that the advertisement gave a feel that the post was regular, whereas it was term-based.

The selection committee included Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Prof H.S. Soch, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr S.K.Gupta, Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University, Justice D.V. Seghal, Dr Sehnmar, Mr Lajpat Rai, Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath and Dr A.C. Vaid.

The candidates for the post included Mr B.D. Budhiraja, Principal of KLSD College, Ludhiana, Dr C.L. Narang, coordinator of NSS unit, PU, Maj D.P. Singh, Principal of Government College, Sector 46, and Dr S.S. Sooch, Deputy DPI, Dr M. Shakeel, Dr Baljit Kapoor, Principal Surinder Kumar Anand and Principal S.S.Chohan.Back


Scared villagers fire shots in air
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, May 1
Residents of Lohgarh village fired rifle shots in the air for 20 minutes fearing robbery near here on Monday midnight.

However, the residents claimed it to be an incident of crossing-firing among the villagers and the robbers.

The incident occurred within in a week after the robbers struck the village and gunned down a resident and injured another in wee hours on April 24.

Sources said that following some noise in the night, the residents having licenced firearms went to the terraces of their houses and started firing in the air in self-defence. Rest of the villagers hearing sound of fire shots fled to safe hiding places. Panic gripped the surrounding villages.

Mr Narinder Sharma, a former sarpanch, said that the incident occurred when the village was facing an unannounced power cut. He, however, denied any robber striking in the village.

On receiving information, Mr. Sampuran Singh, in charge of Lohgarh police post, rushed to the spot, along with a team of police personnel and brought the situation under control almost after two hours.

The Deputy Superintendent of Dera Bassi police, Mr. H.S. Bhullar, ruled out it to be an incident of cross-firing. He said that the scared residents were confused over hearing about robbers in the village. He, however, admitted the incidence of firing.

A gang of about 10 robbers struck Lohgarh village in wee hours on April 24 and fired from a close range at Mr Amarjit Singh, a 27-year-old farmer, who tried to chase the robbers along with his companions. The gun fire also resulted in bullet injuries on a leg of an Army jawan, Mr Hari Singh, who was on leave.

The robbers were crawling towards the village, when some villagers, who were harvesting the wheat crop in a nearby field, noticed them. The villagers shouted and tried to chase them, the robbers opened fire on the villagers resulting in death of Amarjit Singh at the spot.

In another similar incident, a gang of armed robbers struck a poultry farm in Karala village near Banur on April 27 midnight, beat up its owner, Rajinder Singh Cheema and his wife and three children with iron rods and decamped with some gold jewellery, a mobile phone, a car stereo and Rs 6,000 in cash. The robbers bolted the doors of their house from outside before fleeing the spot.

The Banur police and Dera Bassi police are still clueless even after one week of the incidents. Panic has gripped the area and the residents are feeling unsecured.

While contacted, Mr Bhullar, DSP, Dera Bassi, said that police parties had been sent to suspected hideouts of the robbers. The Deputy Superintendent , Banur, was not available for comments.


Plan to develop Morni Hills
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 1
A wildlife safari, a crystal-clear lake and an electric train chugging along the hills—the commitment for recreating a dreamland in the Morni Hills, tapping the hills for their tourist potential and transforming it into a “must visit’’ getaway for those looking for entertainment and adventure. The idea is beginning to see the light of day.

In keeping with his word of developing the backward hilly area of the district as announced at a rally in the area last week by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, a brainstorming session to identify lucrative interesting options was held under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Mr L.M. Goyal.

Sources said that while area had scenic beauty in plenty, nothing had ever been done to develop it as an alternative to the hills closeby. With the first meeting held to shape the things to come, the Haryana Government is building the plan block by block and speedily.

The Morni Hills, especially close to the heart of the Mr Chautala’s father, Mr Devi Lal, holds promise for much more than being a sleepy cluster of villages with little to offer to visitors and this has propelled the government to begin exploring possibilities.

The sources said setting up a wildlife safari was among the ideas which came up during the meeting. A task to be left to the Haryana Wildlife Department, it has its roots in the flourishing wildlife in the hills.

Besides creating a lake, the Tourism Department has been asked to breathe life into the Yadavindra Gardens by setting up joyrides for children and improving facilities at the garden.

“Running an electric rail-ride through the hills with a guide describing the entire route in detail is also under consideration while a plan for carrying out conducted tours has also been well-received by members,’’ an official said.

While ensuring enough entertainment, a close eye has been kept on the low education level of the area. “An effort to open a branch of a reputed school like Delhi Public School, Delhi, and Lawrence School, Sanawar, is also on the cards since it was felt that developing educational facilities for promoting any area was a must,’’ he added.

Though developing all this and more will require heavy investment and can’t be carried out by the government, the task of identifying foreign parties willing to invest in the ambitious project has also begun.

The Chief Secretary, confirming the meeting for development of the Morni area, said that the planning was at a preliminary stage and spadework had begun. “We will be able to give details on the project when something has been finalised,’’ he added.

Among those who attended the meeting include officials of the Wildlife, Tourism and Water Harvesting Department. 


People preferring second-hand ACs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
With mercury levels rising each day, the demand for airconditioners and coolers is also getting hotter. The season has, however, witnessed a change in the market scenario and this time it is the second hand ACs which are dominating the market. These can be availed at most of the electronic goods dealers.

The maximum demand for airconditioners is that of the 1.5 tonne capacity AC. A second-hand 1.5 tonne AC would cost between Rs 7,000 and Rs 10,000 .”This is only marginally higher than the cost of a cooler. Since the ‘status’ factor is attached to an AC , many prefer going in for a second-hand one than a cooler,” says Mr Surinder Singh of Surindra Radios . A new grill which would come for less than Rs 500 and fresh paint would give the AC a new look, says he.

A major portion of the demand comes from hotels, corporates et al and the share of households, which has been marginal, is showing an increasing trend.

As exchange facility is available , the dealers accept old airconditioners at cheaper rates, which after adding a margin of Rs 700 and above is resold. “But we accept only those ACs which are in proper working condition,” says Mr Subhash Kumar, another dealer.

Dealers say that the overall demand for new ACs has also increased substantially, thereby changing the trends. Most dealers, when contacted, said that an increase of 25 per cent in the demand for ACs has been witnessed this season. A subsequent decline in demand for coolers has been there. “Last year we managed sale of nearly 10 coolers daily, which has fallen to two to four coolers a day this year,” said another dealer. He said that they are expecting a sale of more than 300 ACs during this season , whereas last time we could sell merely 50 or 60 pieces.

Attributing the changing market scenario to an increased purchasing power of the people and mainly the availability of easy financing facilities, the dealers say that these have proven to be a boon for the market. “Consumer has the choice to pay in easy instalments at zero per cent rates of interest . This has tremendously contributed to the changed pattern,” said Mr Ravinder Singh, a dealer. 


Homage paid to Chicago martyrs
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 1
A large number of government and political organisations organised rallies to pay homage to Chicago martyrs, marking May day here today.

Hundreds of workers of the Federation of UT Employees and Workers from various departments participated in the rally at Matka Chowk. The rally was addressed by the President of the Federation, Mr Satpal and General Secretary, Mr Bhag Singh Rana, among others.

Many of the UT employees assembled at the UT Maintenance Building, Sector 19. While addressing the rally, the President of the UT Subordinate Service Federation, Mr Ramesh Chand Chandolia; the Patron, Mr R.S. Sandhu and the General Secretary, Mr Sant Singh Saini, demanded immediate release of DA to the daily wagers as per the decision of the government.

Meanwhile, All India Centre of Trade Unions (AICTU), Chandigarh unit, organised a big rally of industrial workers here at Industrial Area phase-II. The International and CTU Workers Joint Action Committee also organised a big rally at Sector 17, Bus Stand.

Presiding over the Labour Day function here in the Government College, Sector 46, the Principal of the College, Major D.P. Singh, called upon staff members to work religiously and advised them to work with dedication for the overall upliftment of the institution.Back


Tribune staff observe May Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The Tribune Employees Union today paid rich tributes to Chicago martyrs on the occasion of Labour Day.

The union organised a massive rally on The Tribune premises which was addressed by several employees. The speakers reminded the employees of the sacrifices made by the martyrs. They also appealed to them to follow the path shown by the martyrs.

The speakers flayed what they described as the anti-labour and anti-employees policies adopted by the Union Government and cautioned the employees to be ready to wage struggle against such policies.

The employees also expressed their concern about the emerging tendencies in the newspaper industries to introduce the contract system.

Among those who addressed the employees were Mr B.S. Jandu, Mr Harish Vashishtha, Mr L.S. Chaturvedi, president, vice-president and general secretary of the union, respectively, apart from Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Varinder Singh and Mr A.S. Shekhawat.


Labourers cut phone cables
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
Hundreds of phones of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) installed in the residential and commercial areas of Sector 38-C were disconnected, as labourers of a booth-owner in the same sector accidentally cut through the department’s cable lines.

Sources said the booth-owner had bid for the site in an auction and was using a bulldozer to dig out the earth to speed up the work. In the haste, the cable which was laid outside the earmarked space for the booth was cut. Why the booth owner had dug up so far outside the earmarked area was the moot question, commented a shopkeeper in the adjoining area. Joining such wires needs technical expertise of cable jointer and would take at least one more day. 


workshop concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
The two-day workshop on modern concepts of planning and design of energy efficient buildings being organised by the Army, concluded here today. Several presentations on design and energy management of buildings were made by experts from related fields.

In the morning session, Mr Bipin Malik, Professor from the Chandigarh College of Architecture, spoke on Energy Conservation and Vernacular Architecture, while energy-conscious design process and passive design measures were highlighted by Lt Col Satish Kumar.

In the subsequent sessions, engineers and architects from the office of the Chief Engineer Chandigarh Zone (CECZ) made several presentations. Mr Rakesh Saini gave two separate talks on passive space-conditioning techniques and concepts of thermal comfort and climactic zoning of India.

Shading devices and sun-control measures were highlighted by Mr Jagdev Thakur, while Ms Veenu Vinayak delved on climactically responsive architecture. Both are architects working with the Military Engineer Service.

Eminent speakers at the seminar included, those from engineering and architecture institutes, as well as experts from various state development authorities. The workshop was attended by participants from the Engineer-in-Chief’s Branch at Army Headquarters as well as representatives of various zonal chief engineers based at Delhi, Bathinda, Jalandhar and Chandigarh.


407 challaned for using black films
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
With the mercury soaring each day, the traffic police has launched a special drive to check the use of black films on cars and other four-wheelers and the mobilephones while driving.

As many as 407 challans have been issued for use of black films since the launch of special drive on April 17. Traffic cops maintain that the onset of summer has more and more people scurrying for cover against the sun . As a result a lot of people violate the orders of the High Court by using black films on their cars.

Thirty-four people have also been challaned for using mobile phones while driving during the past two weeks. Police say that very few people are issued challans for using mobile phones as the traffic cops are stationed only at the traffic light points and only those violating the rules here are caught in the net.


Abandoned baby girl found
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, May 1
A newborn baby girl was found abandoned at Singhpura Bhudda village on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway today.

According to eyewitnesses, some passers-by noticed the baby wrapped in a piece of white cloth in bushes. The baby was later taken to Dera Bassi Civil Hospital by three youths namely, Mr Krishan Sharma, Mr Sanjeev Sharma and Mr Sher Singh. The hospital authorities confirmed that the baby was normal.

The matter was reported to Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, SDM, and Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, DSP. A case has been registered.


Plants in a home

DO not ever place cactus plants inside the home or office. Although, the cactus are very beautiful and need very less attention, still they do not compensate for the harmful energy created by their sharp thorns. When present in a house, cactus convert the energy around them into poison arrows which over a period of time may cause illness, losses or problems in relation to the occupants of the house. But when these plants are placed outside the house, their role reverses and they act as protectors against the bad energies that might be entering the premises. Another set of plants, which are not supposed to be kept in the house, are the Bonsai plants. These plants which require a lot of detailing and care, actually retard and stunt the growth and the progress of the family in which they are present. If at all, you are in love with them and are not ready to part with them, place them in the north. In this part of the house, they will harm you the least.


Send your Feng Shui queries to:

E-mail: [email protected] 
Postal address: C/o F.S. TIPS
The Tribune, Sector-29, Chandigarh-160020.Back


Car-borne youth assault constable, damage truck
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 1
Unidentified car-borne youth reportedly smashed the windowpanes of a truck belonging to the paramilitary forces and assaulted a constable at the Sector 14-15 traffic light point.

According to police sources, the youth, who were travelling in a car (CH-03A-9257), hit the truck (UP-14E-2661) from the left side and chased it to the roundabout dividing sectors 14,15 and 24, 25.

Heated arguments took place between the two groups which led to the alleged assaulting of one of the constable in the truck.

The matter was brought to the notice of the police by the truck driver, Head Constable Bhairon Singh. A case under sections 147, 149, 323, 332, 356, 186, 506 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered with the Sector 11 Police Station against the accused. Back


Child hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 1
A six-year-old child, Deepak, was hit by a scooter near Rajiv Colony last evening . The scooter driver fled away from the spot. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.

Scooter burnt
Miscreants burnt a scooter parked in front of the house of Mr Amit Vij in Sector 41 on Tuesday. A case has been registered under Section 435 of the IPC.

Theft cases
Two cases of thefts have been reported in the city during the past 24 hours. A Maruti car ( DL-8C-8016) was stolen from Sector 41-D on Monday night. In another incident, a Kinetic Honda (CH-01S- 4288) was stolen from the bank square parking in Sector 17. The police has registered cases under Section 379 of the IPC.

One arrested
Rajinder, a resident of Ram Darbar, was arrested by the police on the complaint of a girl of Colony No 4 for attempting to outrage her modesty in Industrial Area, Phase I. A case under Sections 354 and 509 of the IPC has been registered.


One injured
A man was injured when an unknown vehicle hit his scooter at the Sector 17-18 roundabout on Tuesday evening.

According to sources, the injured, Mr K.C. Bajaj, was travelling on the scooter (HR-03B-3800) when he met with an accident. He was rushed to the PGI, Chandigarh, where his conditions is said to be serious. Back

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