Sunday, August 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Harjinder Kaur elected city Mayor
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The so-called rebel Akali Dal candidate, Ms Harjinder Kaur, claiming support of the high command, today became a minority supported Mayor of the city, defeating her party rival Mr Mohinder Singh with the support of two Congress members.

Ms Kaur, who was disowned by the local Akali Dal unit president, Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, defeated her party’s official nominee and the Deputy Mayor, Mr Mohinder Singh, by seven votes to three in a House meeting whose quorum was completed by a BJP member flouting party whip for not participating in the meeting. He, however, did not cast his vote. Hence, 10 out of the total 11 members polled.

The MCC tenure, however, remained clouded, with a section of the BJP and Akali Dal filing a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today in the matter and is listed for hearing on Monday before the Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Sudhalkar and Mr Justice Adarsh Goel, sources said.

Senior BJP councillor, Mr Prem Sagar Jain, was the lone party member present from amongst the 13-member strong BJP group in the House, making the quorum of 10 complete but did not exercise his right to vote as per party directive not to vote, contest and support any candidate in the election.

The presiding officer, Mr Harish Bhanot, started the process at 2.15 pm. The election was a 20-minute business and the votes were counted in the presence of the MC Commissioner and the Secretary.

A possible three-month tenure of Ms Kaur, if the House is not dissolved, is fraught with dangers, facing a similar fate that her Congress predecessor, Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, who won the election through cross voting allegedly by a section of the BJP and others but could not run the House during his seven-month tenure. Ms Kaur claimed that she has the support of majority of BJP councillors sufficient to run the House. Today’s election was conducted with the presence of six nominated members and four elected ones, including the two candidates as the 13-member BJP and single member Chandigarh Vikas Manch (CVM) boycotted the poll to demand the dissolution of the House.

Ms Kaur has become the sixth Mayor of the city, third of this year, in the five-year term of the Corporation to be completed in November. The two-member SAD if taken as united has now cornered the posts of both Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

In her post-election press conference, Ms Kaur said she would take blessings of her party chief and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to elicit their support for making the city clean and completing pending road and other works fast in the remaining period of the House.

Ms Kaur said that she was the first Akali to bring to the party the prestigious post of Mayor.

But her local party boss with whom she had been running the battle of supremacy said Ms Kaur was not a party member and accused her of violating party decisions in the past and working according to her own will independently, adding that Akali Dal would not let her work in her term.

The Congress seemed divided as two party councillors Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala, and Ms Sunita refused to vote for an Akali candidate. However, former Mayor Mr Raj Kumar Goyal and Ms Kamlesh voted for Ms Kaur.

The Congress Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, said “we supported Ms Kaur to counter undemocratic dissolution move of the BJP and do not care whether she after being a rebel again joins the party.”

The BJP-SAD leader in the House, Mr Desraj Tandon, without clearly saying they would not let her function, said they would go case by case.

Today’s election was caused after the resignation of Mr Goyal on July 21. Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala, had taken over as the Acting Mayor since then. The earlier mayoral election meeting scheduled for August 10 had to be adjourned following technical objections from the BJP and lack of quorum.


Help of all parties vital: Mayor
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Ms Harjinder Kaur, the new Mayor of Chandigarh, suave, polite and having been judged as Ms Entrant Beautiful in her college days, is a young politician to watch in future with her ability to couch her personal agenda in democratic lexican — a perfect present day politician’s trait.

Born in February 1960 in Punjab, she got entry into politics in 1996 after getting elected as a Councillor, but her ambition to be recognised as a politician immediately came to the fore when she contested for Mayorship against her party’s alliance partner BJP’s candidate, Mr Gianchand Gupta, in 1997.

Ms Kaur has been branded by her local party chief, Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, as a self-seeking woman flouting party directives time and again but she today proved her political acumen surprisingly winning over even the Congress and most of the nominated members.

A political science post graduate and graduate in education with a B.Ed degree, Ms Kaur is the president of the International Sikh Forum and a former member of the Dharam Prachar Committee appointed by former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and removed by the incumbent, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi.

A woman of artistic and religious taste, Ms Kaur has also been the Chairperson of the Punjab Sangit and Natak Akademi, and was the sole representative from India as Deputy Mayor of the city in 1999, in the international meet on women empowerment and social structure at Glasgo in the United Kingdom.

A champion of Punjabi, Ms Kaur took minutes to get her name plate written in her mother tongue.

As part of reflection of her personality, she announced that she was merely a symbolic head of the corporation and no work could be done unless all, cutting across party line, contributed to her efforts.

She evaded any derogatory reference to Mr. Riar despite provocation and said he was ‘’satkar yog’’ to her.

A representative of ward No. 9, she claimed to have worked to her capacity for improvement in the ward.

She did not mince a word on internal party rivalry despite her supporters claiming that she was the real Akali Dal not Mr Riar.


Fresh reservation of wards announced
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Three former Mayors, a former Senior Deputy Mayor and the Deputy Mayor — mostly of the BJP-SAD alliance which got a thumping majority in the last MC elections — will have to test their popularity in constituencies other than their own, after fresh reservation of wards was announced here today. The draw of lots for reservation of wards was held at Tagore theatre today.

The causalities were a former Congress Mayor, Mr Raj Kumar Goyal, former BJP Mayors, Mr Gian Chand Gupta and Mr K.K Adiwal, a former BJP Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Prem Sagar Jain and the incumbent Akali Deputy Mayor, Mr Mohinder Singh.

The heavyweight gainers were Congress Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Gurcharan Dass Kala, Leader of the BJP-SAD alliance in the House, Mr Des Raj Tandon, former BJP mayor, Mrs Kamala Sharma, incumbent Mayor, Mrs Harjinder Kaur. The wards of BJP councillors Mr O.P Goel and Mr Bachan Singh also continued to be general wards.

The women councillors were the gainers as their reserved wards had only gone to the general category where they were entitled to the contest except for Congress councillor, Mrs Suneeta, whose ward No 14 was reserved for Scheduled Castes (men).

As per the draw of lots held today ward Nos: 2, 5, 6, 13, 15 and 16 were reserved for general category (women). In the 1996 elections, ward Nos 1,8,9,11, 14 and 17 were reserved for as general (women).

The lone reserved Scheduled Caste (women) seat was shifted from ward No 18 to ward No 7.

At the outset, draw of lots was held for three Scheduled Caste seats and ward Nos 14, 19 and 7 were reserved. In the last elections, ward No 5,15 and 18 were reserved.

The Joint Election Commissioner, Mr D.M Khaneta, said the draw of lots for the scheduled caste seats would be held from among three wards, which were the next highest in the SC population.

Giving details, he said that according to figures available, ward No 14 had an SC population of 6,427 out of its total voters of 25, 983 (24.73 per cent); ward No: 19, which had an SC population of 5,136 out of its total 27,279 voters ( 18.37 per cent) and ward No: 7, which had 4,997 SCs of the total 27,920 voters ( 17.89 per cent).

On the issue of reservation of ward No 14 for Scheduled Caste, representatives of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch ( CVM) and a Congress leader, Mr Krishan Lal, raised certain objections. They pointed out that if ward No 14, which was earlier reserved for women could be again reserved for a Scheduled Castes seat, then the other two wards 5 and 15, which were hitherto reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) should be included in the list of wards for making the reservation of seats for women. Though Mr Khaneta refused to make the required change and said that they, on being dereserved, would fall in the general category, but when a notification was shown to him stating that the dereserved SC wards were to be included in the draw of lots he agreed to their request. Hence draw of lots for women was held from among 11 wards, which include 2,3,4,5,6,10,12,13,15,16 and 20. Interestingly, both had again been reserved against women.

The other councillors whose wards had been reserved were Mr Kanhya Lal, Air Marshal ( retd) R.S Bedi, Mr Rajender Kumar and Congress councillor Ms Suneeta.

The 11 wards left in the general category were 1,3,4,8,9,10,11, 17, 18 and 20. This included seven wards, which were earlier reserved for women.

Among those present were BJP party president, Mr Dharam Pal Gupta, local unit SAD president, Mr Gurpratap Singh Riar, BJP councillors, Congress and Chandigarh Vikas Manch leaders, including Mr Devinder Singh Babla, Mr Sandeep Singh and Dr O.P Verma.

While those, whose wards were not reserved, were a happier lot, the others pointed out that rotation of wards was not very fair as all work one did went waste and one had no choice but to fight from a new ward and start afresh.


Power Dept errs on bills record
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Hundreds of residents of Sector 38, 39, 40, 38 West and surrounding villages of Maloya and Dadumajra have been paying power bills for the past 12 months but the money paid by the residents has allegedly not being deposited into the accounts of the Chandigarh Administration. The missing amount may run into lakhs.

Even as it was to be discovered where the money had gone, the department slapped a bill of arrears against all these residents. Sources said the missing amount ran into lakhs. Lower-level officials were not even aware about the exact nature of the problem and wanted to hush up the case at their own level, claimed sources.

For the past two weeks the Electricity Department’s bill collection centre in Sector 40 had been a beehive of activity with harassed people running to clerks and official showing that they had been paying bills. But their pleas had fallen on deaf ears. Officials told the residents that arrears were outstanding. Sources within the department said only when a hue and cry was raised that the ledgers were re-checked and it was found that the department was in wrong. The lower level staff was tight lipped, said a resident. Till last evening no senior officer of the rank of Superintending Engineer or his superior, the Chief Engineer had been informed of any such problem by the field staff, the source said.

The worst off were hundreds of residents of the Chandigarh Housing Board’s (CHB) housing enclave of Sector 38 West. Most residents got their meters installed between January 2000 and March 2000. After three months or so they started getting bills but no consumption was mentioned in the bills, residents said, while showing the blank bills to |The Chandigarh Tribune.

Fearing reprisal from the official machinery, residents feared getting their names in print, while revealing the harassment they had been facing on a daily basis at the hands of clerks of the department. Though receipts of payments had been issued, the ledgers of the department did not show any record.

An old retired couple of Sector 38, who were also in amongst the sufferers, were coming everyday to the subdivisional office in Sector 40 and were not even offered a chair. In the past one week the couple had been coming daily fearing that the department would disconnect their power supply.

Interestingly the residents also showed signed receipts issued by the department. There was no record of these entries with the department, explained a resident whose wife and daughter had been pleading with the electricity department officials for a hearing. Just a visit to the Sector 40 bill collection centre and the entire picture became clear, he claimed. 


300 khair trees uprooted illegally
Recovery could be tip of iceberg
Nishikant Dwivedi

Seeonk (Kharar), August 18
About 300 stumps of khair trees, illegally uprooted, were recovered by Punjab Forest Department officials in a raid late in the evening here yesterday. An inquiry into the incident has been marked by the Forest Department to the Conservator of Forests.

The uprooting came to light after the department officials, reportedly acting on a complaint forwarded by some villagers, raided the depot of a contractor and recovered 289 stumps of khair trees. Even though the contractor has been granted a permit to fell khair trees in about 1,100 acre of area, uprooting and felling of unmarked khair trees, according to sources, is illegal as per the law.

Denying that a raid had been conducted, the village sarpanch, Mr Shaminder Pal Singh, said the stumps recovered belonged to certain old trees which were felled a long time back. The trees were being felled as a dam was being constructed, he added. The forest officials, he claimed, were more than satisfied that nothing illegal was taking place.

Sources, however, claim that the mass recovery could be just the tip of the iceberg. Such cases where in unmarked trees are illegally chopped off and uprooted, are on the rise, sources opined.

The villagers, who are the owner of the trees, are now demanding a thorough inquiry into the matter. They are insisting that the trees should be counted by forest officials. Mr Ram Pratap Singh, a villager said, “The owners should be allowed to accompany the officials during the counting operation”.

The villagers, as per sources, had given contract to fell trees to Mr Garcha Singh of Naya Gaon village about six years ago for Rs 96 lakh. However, the contractor got permit from a forest official in 2001. The contractor has already paid Rs 72 lakh to the villagers and the rest will be paid after the felling is completed by the year end, sources said.

A low gravity Jyanti Majri dam is coming up in the village. The dwellers allege that some persons, taking advantage of the dam, were illegally chopping off khair trees.

The president of the committee, Mr Gurnam Singh, refused to speak to Chandigarh Tribune team. His brother, Mr Gurpal Singh, did not even allow the team to speak to the president who was sitting at a distance of about 50 yards.

Mr Suresh Kumar, who claimed to be partner of the contractor, asserted, “We have not axed even a single unmarked tree”. About the roots which were recovered by the Forest Department yesterday, he asserted, were uprooted by the persons engaged in construction of the dam. However, he admitted that “some of the stumps might have been uprooted accidentally” by his men who were axing trees. For those accidental up-rooting, I have already been challaned, he added.

A villager, Mr Darshan Singh, said the stumps were being uprooted by the choppers so that the forest officials could not detect the existence of the trees. When contacted Mr Gurmeet Singh, Principal Chief Forest Conservator, Punjab, confirmed the recovery of stumps and said that an inquiry has been marked to the Conservator of Forests. Regarding allegations of involvement of forest officials by the villagers, Mr Gurmeet Singh said, “The inquiry report will reveal everything”. 


Ban on mining recommended in 19 quarries
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 18
Recommending the banning of mining in 19 quarries, a four-member committee, constituted to carry out a resurvey of all mines in the district has cited damage to plantation due to mining activity as the main reason.

According to the report, 11 of these mines were on contract and a ban could mean a loss of over Rs 17 lakh to the government. It was learnt that the report had been forwarded to the department concerned for a final decision on the matter.

Among the other reason stated for banning of mining activity in these quarries was the absence of workable area, either the river-bed being too small for quarrying or the dense forest and vegetation cover under threat.

The committee, in the report, had specified that violation by contractors with relation to quarrying had been observed at 12 sites. The violation at these sites primarily included bank cutting and foot hills as well as deep mining going below 10 feet in a couple of cases.

Sources in the district administration said that action against the violators would be initiated in accordance with the rules pertaining to mining. The report had been forwarded for suitable action against violators.

The committee constituted at the district grievances committee meeting included the Subdivisional Officer (Kalka), District Forest Officer, Morni at Pinjore, District Forest Officer, Kandi project and the District Mining Officer.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner had already asked the District Mining Officer to prepare a map demarcating the prohibited and functional mines list. He had also been asked to provide a list of rules and regulations in the context to all officers of the department concerned.

It maybe recalled that the district authorities, in a crackdown on illegal mining as well as mining activity in violation of the agreement had already slapped a fine on four contractors under Rule 21 (5) of the Mines and Minerals Regulation and Development Act, 1957. 


Police clueless on murder
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
The murder at the Gill Estate in Kansal remained unsolved for the second day today as the SAS Nagar police failed to make any arrest. The police is yet to get any clue which could indicate it about the assailant (s) or the motive behind the murder.

Police sources said the death was caused due to excessive bleeding from stab wounds. Meanwhile, the body of Satwant Singh Gill was consigned to flames by his son, Mr Ravinder Singh, at the Sector 25 cremation ground this evening. The body was released after a postmortem examination at the SAS Nagar Civil Hospital in Phase VII

According to sources, the police was looking into various angles, including the reported extra-marital affair of Satwant Gill with a Punjabi singer. The police reportedly questioned the singer. The police had yesterday rounded up the servants and the labourers who were said to be working at the estate for investigations.

According to Mr G P S Bhullar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar, different teams have been formed which were looking into various angles.

Police sources said that the murderer could be a person whom the deceased owed money. However, the police did not rule out someone from the ‘‘close relation’’ of the deceased behind the murder. The police has already interrogated Mr Narinder Kumar, priest at the estate’s temple, and ‘‘adopted son’’ of Ms Sunita Gill, wife of the deceased.

Meanwhile, the Blood Bank Society, PGI, expressed shock at the murder of Satwant Singh Gill. In a press release the honorary secretary of the society said that the deceased, who was the first plasmapheresis donor at the PGI in early 80s was among the 50 blood donors in the country classified as ‘Centurion Blood Donors’.


Zoo slams door on media
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir, August 18
The Madendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, said to be one of the largest in Asia and having an explosive population of lions and tigers, seems to have slammed the door on the media after getting adverse publicity in handling its mute inhabitants. The zoo authorities have banned the entry of the media saying they would only be permitted entry through ticket or monthly passes saying that media has been “interfering in the internal affairs of the park.”

When entry was sought through permission, the Zoo director, Mr R.K. Luna said reporters have to apply for monthly passes which will be decided case-by-case and that there were no set rules for such a permission. The step has been taken by the authorities for the first time in the life history of the zoo. Moreover, the zoo director has verbally directed the employees to ask them to buy ticket for their cameras too. Interestingly, when asked about the fee for the monthly passes, Mr Luna said being new to the post, he was unaware about the rules.

Today when this correspondent visited the zoo after buying tickets and tried to elicit his views on the animals, Mr Luna, misbehaved with him and directed the zoo employees to ask “the correspondent” to leave the zoo premises and never to enter the zoo premises again. 


Tiger dies at Chhat Bir zoo
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir, August 18
A royal Bengal tiger died a painful death in Chhat Bir zoo, this evening. The tiger, about 15 years of age, had a paralytic attack on July 20 and was kept in a cage for medical treatment in a ‘‘house’’ near the tigers enclosure. The big cat was noticed by the zoo keeper at about 4 pm following which the authorities were informed.

When contacted, the Zoo director, Mr R.K. Luna, confirmed the death and said that the animal would be buried after conducting post-mortem examinations tomorrow. This is the second tiger which died in the last one year. Earlier, a tiger had died while being taken to Delhi in June last year.


Summit a diplomatic breakdown: Natwar Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Atal Behari Vajpayee government did not evolve a national consensus or take “others” into confidence for the Agra summit. There was absolute lack of planning on part of the government in this regard.

This was stated by Mr K.Natwar Singh, a former Union Minister and diplomat, while addressing a talk on “Peace-Agra summit and after”, organised by the All-India Peace and Solidarity Organisation at Panjab University here today.

Mr Natwar Singh castigated the government for not preparing any clear agenda for the Agra summit. The Agra summit was not a diplomatic “breakthrough” but a “breakdown”. The people-to-people contact should continue and talks with Pakistan should go on despite all odds.

He was of the opinion that following the split of the USSR, political equations in the world had changed rapidly. The world as a whole is yet to come to terms with the disappearance of the USSR.

Mr Natwar Singh blamed the BJP government for not taking anyone into confidence for the nuclear tests at Pokhran. This had changed diplomatic equations internationally. The Prime Minister did not call a special Parliament session immediately. He did not even go on television to address the masses to say why “India had crossed a threshold”.

Instead, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to Bill Clinton, telling him reasons for the tests. This was brought to “our knowledge” through publication of his letters in the US media which was not justified, he said.

Diplomatically, the internal security of a country is directly related to the external. Lack of a strong Centre in the era of coalitions was not offering any positive signs of a healthy security on foreign affairs, he said.

The Agra summit was a good example of a “missing policy” on Jammu and Kashmir, the core issue between India and Pakistan. Till late 90s the UN did not consider Kashmir as a matter worth discussion. However, in 1998 both India and Pakistan were condemned, he said.

Talking of total lack of intelligence on the Pakistan front, Mr Natwar Singh said that Vajpayee was on a goodwill visit to Pakistan which was replied by intrusion in Kargil.

He said there was no clarity or focus for discussion at the Agra summit. There was a lack of conviction in getting a “no first nuclear strike” pact signed.

Later addressing a press conference, Mr Singh said the foreign policy had been “incoherent” during the coalition governments at the Centre as the governments were busy keeping the coalition partners in good mood.

Opposing “trifurcation” of Jammu and Kashmir and more autonomy to the state, he said the Constitution provided enough powers to the state government.

Blaming massive intelligence failure for the Kargil conflict, the Congress Working Committee Member said that General Pervez Musharraf was the only Pakistan head of the state who had come with only one-point agenda of Kashmir.


SAS Nagar faces brunt of UT slum
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar
After spending lakhs on building houses in Phase 3-A here, their owners feel they are “living in hell”. The adjoining “Nehru Colony” in the Union Territory has made life miserable for them.

The residents complain of offensive smell, flies, mosquitoes and pigs rummaging about in the SAS Nagar residential area.

To top it all, there have been reports of theft, and the suspicion falls on slum dwellers. Besides, it is not uncommon to hear quarrels among drunken men in that area. A park in Phase 3-A near the colony is freely used by the colony dwellers for resting and playing cards, much to the annoyance of the house owners.

The aggrieved residents say they have over the years brought their problems to the notice of the authorities but to no avail.

Mr Ranjit Singh Chatha, an agitated resident, said to separate the “Nehru Colony” area, the PUDA authorities constructed a wall, but it has been broken at some places by the slum-dwellers who depend on SAS Nagar for various facilities. They have also made holes in the wall to allow sullage from the colony to flow into the stormwater channels in Phase 3-A.

He said the occupants of houses whose backs were towards the slum, had put up metal railings at least to keep some part of the area clean. However, PUDA directed them to remove the railings, with an assurance that the house owners would be permitted to have gates at the back of their buildings. PUDA has not fulfilled this promise and the nuisance of pigs from the “Nehru Colony” has only increased.

Mr Joga Singh, another affected resident, said a small market came up near his house every evening where items like eggs, fish pakoras and liquor were sold. A large number of rickshaws and autorickshaws remain parked unauthorisedly in the area, at times blocking the rear entry to his house. “Windowpanes of my house have been broken thrice on different occasions after I asked those parking their vehicles near my rear gate to remove them”, he said.

Mr Joga Singh said the illegal market remained open till late in the night and men under the influence of liquor often created disturbance.

Mr Chatha, who agreed with Mr Joga Singh, said following complaints from him, the police had on three occasions seized pouches of liquor in the area.

Mr Parminder Singh, another affected resident, said he had been staying in the locality for about 10 years. House owners had now got tired of complaining to the authorities. The official residence of the Additional Chief Administrator (ACA) of PUDA, he said, was nearby but he had raised a fence and that area remained clean. Besides, troublemakers were not allowed anywhere near that house. He wondered why the ACA could not redress the grievances of other house owners.

The municipal councillor of the area, Mr Manjit Singh Sethi, said the green belt next to house number 219 was earlier encroached upon by rickshaws and autorickshaws.

He got a metal railing fixed there from the Municipal Council, but it had been damaged. He demanded that PUDA should permit only one point of entry to “Nehru Colony”. He said the residents favoured the construction of shopping booths in the green belt along the colony, as had been proposed earlier by the PUDA authorities.


And stray cattle roam free

While the municipal council goes about inviting tenders to decide a contractor to tackle the stray cattle menace, the number of such cattle seems to be growing by the day.

The Haryana Urban Development Authority washed its hands of the task of rounding up stray cattle last month and handed over the job to the local body. The municipal officials are taking their time to finalise a “responsible” contractor.

However, controlling the cattle menace will be a tough task, the number having soared considerably ever since HUDA raised its hands.

Meanwhile, the residents, tired of complaining, are once again planning to take up with the local administration, not only the nuisance value of the cattle but also the traffic hazard it has become.

* * *

Once again, there is talk of making adolescent education a part of the school curriculum. With the firm belief that the population and development of a nation depends on the level of awareness of its people, the Central Board of Secondary Education, has constituted a “Population and Development Education cell” for the purpose.

A one-day advocacy-cum-consultation meeting of school principals was held at Panchkula which has been chosen as the nodal centre of the region. Attended by as many as 50 school principals, the project has generated considerable interest in the programme.

It was decided that the principals representing their schools would ensure that adolescents had access to all relevant information about growing up, HIV, AIDS, sexual health and drug abuse.

Earlier, a presentation was made by Dr DS Muley, consultant of the cell, and Mr SP Chawla, Project Director of the cell. A discussion followed.


Not enough safai staff with civic body
Shashi Pal Jain

The municipal committee is facing a number of problems and is under pressure for providing sanitation in municipal limits. The Punjab Government is not permitting it to employ more safai karamcharis even when the municipal limits have been extended many times since 1970 and the number of safai karamcharis has remained the same as it was in 1970.

The committee has sought sanction for recruiting more safai karamcharis but it has not been granted. In spite of the efforts of the present staff, it has become difficult to keep the town clean. Three villages that were included in the municipal limits about three years ago, also need to be provided with sanitation facilities.

* * * *

The Arhti Association of Kharar in a letter to Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Self-Government, has demanded that internal roads in the local Grain Market and the road known as Badala Road leading to the Grain Market should be repaired before the paddy season begins.

The letter, given to the Minister on August 13, says that these roads are in bad shape and it is difficult for any vehicle to use them.

* * * *

The Lions Club of Kharar organised a diabetes check-up and treatment camp on August 15 in association with Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd. As many as 108 persons were examined for diabetes. They were given instructions about the precautions to be taken and some literature was also distributed.

The club also organised a Heptitus-B immunisation camp on August 12 in which 196 persons including children were immunised against Hepatitus-B. The next dose will be given on September 9.

* * * *

The seven-day long Jain festival, known as ‘Paryushan Parb’ started here on August 15 under the guidance of women saints, Kamlesh Ji Maharaj, Chandna Ji Maharaj and Shereshta Ji Maharaj. The three saints will spend the ‘chutarmas’ period here and preach Jain philosophy.

* * * *

Mr Subhash Garg, District Governor, Rotary District 3080, visited the Rotary Club of Kharar on August 12. A function was held at the Arya Girls College for Women in the evening.

Mr Garg inspected the projects undertaken by the club and took interest in the projects proposed to be launched.

* * * *

Radha Krishan Sankirtan Mandal of Imli Wala Mandir organised a three-day Krishan Janmashtami Samaroh from August 12 to 14.

The Samaroh was participated by a large number of persons. Swami Giananand from Vrindaban and many other saints gave discourses on the life of Lord Krishna. Back



Seminar on Sikh centenary celebrations
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, August 18
There is need to learn from drawbacks in earlier centenary celebrations related to Sikh religious events and draw up a long-term plan on such function coming up in the future

Stating this in his keynote address at a seminar on “Current panthic issues and Sikh centenary celebrations in the future,” held on the premises of the Punjab School Education Board here today, the Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Bhai Manjit Singh, said in 2004 there would be three centenary functions — the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, the 400th utsav of Guru Granth Sahib and the 300th martyrdom day of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Similarly, there would be one centenary function in 2006 and two in 2008.

The Jathedar said nowadays the “worship of individuals” and “deravad” were seen exercising greater influence than that of the Guru Granth Sahib. Despite the additional expenditure involved, people seemed to prefer the holding of akhand path at deras instead of historical gurdwaras. There was need to understand why this was happening and determine how a solution could be found.

The Jathedar said that in every village, town and city religious bodies and educational institutions should make efforts to inspire every Sikh to perform at least one “Sehaj path”.

He said it had been noticed that Sikhs in general showed more devotion in the case of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh than that of the Sikh gurus. It was necessary to launch a movement to create awareness in this regard.

He said the younger generation now was becoming a victim of evils like copying in examinations and drug abuse. If programmes were drawn up at the world level focussing on the giving of education and health, the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev, who did much to educate people, would prove beneficial. Similarly, the 300th martyrdom day of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons could be used to give the message sacrifice.

Mr Tirlochan Singh, vice-chairman of the Minorities Commissions, felt that hardly anything was achieved by observing centenaries. There was very little participation in such functions by non-Sikhs. The money spent on such occasions could be diverted to better causes.

Mr Tirlochan Singh said that during the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa the leadership could not even persuade certain Sikh government officers not to trim their beards. There were a few Sikh ministers whose own children were clean shaven.

He said Sikhism now existed in the true sense only in countries like Thailand and Malaysia. Only efforts at the individual level were being made to spread Sikhism but nothing was being done collectively. He said the problems of the community should be listed and solved one by one.

He said all were responsible for harming the Sikh religion and politics, in particular had played a negative role in this regard.

Among the speakers were Mr Harsimran Singh, Director, Gyan Ashram, Anandpur Sahib, and Mr Balwinder Pal Singh, Editor, Sada Virsa Sada Gaurav.


Parking blues in city markets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The city may be a planned one but markets in city continue to face acute parking problems. According to a random survey, the major shopping centres in Sectors 17, 22, 34 and 35 continue to be plagued with parking problems thus causing a lot of inconvenience to the public.

With the number of vehicles registered in the city crossing the five lakh mark, the parking lots in the city are crowded on the working days. Since there is no paid parking system in the city, vehicles continue to be parked in a haphazard manner. This, coupled with the lack of civic sense among the residents, makes the markets crowded with vehicles.

A visit to the commercial hub of the city — Sector 17 — reveals an interesting fact. While certain parking spaces such as the ones in front of the CMC, Sahib Singh and Sons, Empire Stores, Sub-Registrar’s Office and the Bank Square continue to be a problem area, the other parking spaces are not put to optimum utilised. Similarly, the underground parking lots in the sector are also not being used properly. The haphazard parking of vehicles poses a serious threat to the smooth flow of vehicular traffic in the market. Regular visitors to the market are of the view that the paid parking could atleast regulate the parking of the vehicles, besides, checking the theft of cars.

It may be recalled that the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) had introduced the paid parking system in 1998. But in the face of the opposition from traders and others it was withdrawn after a few days. The situation in the Sector 22-D market is not different. The situation becomes more disturbing during the festival time when the area is turned into an accident prone zone.

The sub-city centre is another problem area, as far as, the parking concerned. Since it has a large number of computer training institutes, offices and importantly, the Regional Passport Office, a large number of people visit the sector. As the parking lots have not been properly developed, parking proves to be a nightmare.


When kids preferred outdoors
Tribune News Service

Sharp piercing rays of the morning sun illuminate the study in his Sector 42 house as D.S. Saroya savours steaming cup of tea. Tired after two hours of putting at the Golf Course, the Director Public Instruction for Schools is in no mood to talk. As he flips through the pages, an advertisement about children creating images on computers catches his eye and he multers! “Computers were not what we used to play with as kids”.

“In our childhood, we used to hate sitting in closed rooms illuminated with synthetic light. Without wasting our time, we used to climb the stairs even in scorching summer and fly kites until we were totally exhausted”.

And when kites were not available, the students would go out the streets. “There were hardly any cars, scooters or motor cycles, on the internal roads to disturb us in our games. For hours together, in our holidays, we used to hit the leather ball with the bat in the streets. Or else, we used to play badminton in the evening, after using the gate as the net. If we had nothing else to do, we would patrol the neighbourhood on our cycles. Even for studying “that something extra”, our gang used to get together at a common place and go to the library”.

There were others who had mastered the “fine art of doing nothing”, Mr Saroya reveals. “They were members of the leisure class. Their aim was to enjoy today band not trust tomorrow. Believe me, they used to sit in the shade of a tree and discuss philosophy for hours without getting bored”.

The reason for all this out-door activity in the 60s and the 70s is not hard to see. Those were the days when the “idiot box” was not influencing young minds. “There were no 24-hour entertainment channels, not even a cartoon network, in the 70s. We had Doordarshan with very few programmes worth watching. It was in the late 80s that soap operas like ‘Hum Log’ and ‘Buniyaad’ were introduced. But these were hardly having any effect on the children”.

Today, the scenario has changed, “thanks to the television sets in drawing rooms and in bedrooms,” Mr Saroya says. “The teenage serials being aired round-the-clock hardly leave any time for out-door enjoyment. Otherwise also, this invasion from the skies is having a bad effect on the children. They have lost their innocence. Even a five-year old boy, exposed to all those advertisements on the TV, knows what adulthood means”.


Open power connections, demand Kansal residents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Residents of Naya Gaon and Kansal villages are much agitated over the Punjab Government attitude of not releasing electricity connections to the people who have built houses with their hard-earned money in Naya Gaon, Kansal and adjoining villages.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Jaswinder Singh, secretary of the Residents Welfare Association of Naya Gaon and Kansal, said that even though the neighbouring state of Haryana and the Chandigarh Administration had already formulated policies for giving power connections to the people who had built their houses outside “lal dora”, the Punjab Government was yet to formulate such a policy even though power was a basic need of people.

The Punjab Government declared Zirakpur and certain other villages a notified area committee a few years back even though the population there was certainly lower than that in Naya Gaon and Kansal. The people of villages had been suffering hardship due to the non-availability of power connections.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Jaswinder Singh said, had been holding “ sangat darshan” programmes all over the state to resolve the grievances of people on the spot, but the area just at the doorstep of his government was yet to attract his attention. The people of the area urged the Chief Minister to have a “sangat darshan” programme at Naya Gaon to solve their genuine grievances.


Meira wants Simla pact documents made public
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Babu Jagjivan Ram All-India Samta Movement today demanded that the secret documents relating to the Simla Agreement should be made public.

Raising this demand at a press conference here today, the president of the movement, Ms Meira Kumar, alleged that the hard-won victory in the battlefield was “completely surrendered” by the Indian leadership at the negotiating table.

Ms Kumar, whose father late Babu Jagjivan Ram was the Defence Minister when the agreement was signed, alleged her father was completely sidelined during the negotiations, so much so that he was not invited on the first day of the talks. Since the mandatory 30-year embargo on the document expired next year, the sensitive documents should be made public as the people had right to know the documents.

Answering a question, Ms Kumar clarified that she had not left politics but had taken a temporary break to devote full time for the non-political movement. The movement, she claimed, was working to bring out fundamental changes in the discriminatory nature of the caste-ridden Indian society and establish a new order based on equality.

Demanding a complete ban on child labour, she said the movement had taken up the matter with the International Labour Organisation.


Tributes paid to R.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Rich tributes were paid to Mr R.S. Gill, the doyen of hydro-electric engineering, at his bhog and antim ardas here today.

Mr R.S. Gill, father of former Punjab DGP, Mr K.P.S. Gill, died here last week. He was 93. A pioneer in hydro-electric projects in India. Mr Gill was also an authority on river water distribution. He had served the Jammu & Kashmir Government as a Commissioner after serving Punjab in various capacities, including Secretary to the Government and Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

A large number of serving and retired technocrats, bureaucrats, defence officers, eminent citizens, lawyers, judges, journalists, police officers, academicians, politicians and others joined the bhog ceremony at the Sector 8 Gurdwara.


BPL launches CTV
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, august 18
BPL today launched Studio Line 21— a 1,000-watt seven speaker colour television — here today. Film actors Priyanshu, Himanshu and actress Sandali of Tum Bin fame launched the new model at the BPL Gallery, Sector 35 here.

Mr Vipul Mathur, head of the customer interface unit , Punjab, said the company expected to consolidate its market share in the region with the introduction of this model.

Meanwhile, according to a press note issued here, BPL has been honoured by the Electronic Component Industries Association (ELCINA) for its performance in exports during 2000-2001. The company registered a growth rate of 91 per cent in export of Alkaline batteries to Japan and UK.


Deepti Nath cremated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Ms Deepti Nath, an elder sister of Ms Tripti Nath, Senior Staff Correspondent, The Tribune, and a daughter of Mr Tribhuvan Nath, a veteran journalist, was cremated at the Manimajra cremation ground here this morning. She died yesterday after an asthmatic attack.

A large number of relatives, journalists, retired and serving bureaucrats, eminent citizens and others joined the funeral procession. The pyre was lit by Mr Tribhuvan Nath.Back


Cop hurt in group clash, two youths held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
Shemsher, a local police constable, sustained minor injuries after he was hit by a ‘brick’ while he was trying to disperse two groups of youths who had entered into a brawl in Sector 15 here today. Later two of the youths, including a student of the DAV College, Sector 10, were arrested.

According to police sources, two groups of youths entered into a fight near the Lajpat Rai Bhavan. The constable, who was on duty, tried to dispel the warring groups and sustained injuries after being hit by a stone thrown by one of the youths.

A case on the complaint of the constable was registered against seven persons under Sections 160, 186, 332 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code. Those arrested included Kanwar Deep and Ashish.


Gold ornaments stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
During the last 24 hours, the police has received two burglary complaints. According to the police sources, burglars struck at house No. 3174 in Sector 15 here yesterday. Owner of the house, Rohtash said he was out of station at the time of the incident and the estimate of the theft could not be ascertained yet.

A case under Sections 457 and 380 of the Indian Penal Code has been registered.

In the second case, gold ornaments and Rs 3,000 were stolen from Sector 23 house after breaking locks. A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered on the complaint of Mr K.K. Kohli.

Theft: A Khuda Lahora resident, Mr Rameshwar Dass Saini, has reported with the police that gold ornaments including three chains, two lockets, two rings and one pair of earrings were stolen from his residence on Tuesday.

A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered.

Vehicles stolen: Ms Pushpa, a resident of Sector 23, reported with the local police that her moped (CH-01-Q-2747) was stolen from a Sector 17 hotel here yesterday. Mr Sunil Dutt, a resident of Sector 44, also reported with the police about the theft of his Yamaha motor cycle (CH-01-L-0333) from Sector 55 on August 15. A Santro car (CH-12 (T)-208) of Mr Madan Arora, a resident of Sector 44, was also reportedly stolen from his residence on Tuesday night.

In all the theft complaints, case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Held: The police has arrested Piara Singh, a resident of Janata Colony, Sector 25, from whom the police has recovered 50 pouches of liquor here yesterday. A case under the Excise Act has been registered.


Cobblers are in demand
Our Correspondent

With the availability of a wide range of footwear, the people, especially the younger generation, have started possessing several pairs of shoes to suit every occasion. Many buy branded shoes but their duplicates are also on sale.

It is these duplicate shoes, which bring business to the hundreds of cobblers in the city. The duplicate shoes do not match the quality of the original ones and need the services of a cobbler very soon.

Mahabir, a cobbler in the Panjab University market, is a busy man today. Until few years ago, he could handle the work with the help of just one fellow cobbler. Today he has three working under him.

‘‘People, especially women, bring to me with three or four pairs of shoes for repair at time’’, said Mahabir. His main customers are the residents of the hostel. ‘‘The girls possess several pairs of shoes and sandals to match their dresses’’, said Shankar, another cobbler in the same market, and added, ‘‘Most of the girls buy local brands and the soles tear loose after these are worn a few times’’.

However, the business of shoe-shining has significantly slumped. According to Abbas (54), who has been in this business for the past 40 years, said: ‘‘Most of the shoe companies have introduced shoe polish for each variety of shoes and people buy the polish along with the shoes’’.

These cobblers start work by 10 in the morning and return home with ‘‘a few rupees’’ by 9 p.m. They work under temporary sheds or under trees, continuously taking brief breaks after every couple of hours. Ashok Kumar (32), a cobbler at the PGI gate said: ‘‘Even when we eat, our hands keep smelling of leather and gum’’.

Ram Pardhan who has been mending shoes for the past 15 years in Sector 18 said that every morning he reached at his ‘‘shop’’ in clean clothes, changes into a working dress which is full of dirt and smell, and puts on the clean clothes while returning.

People wearing designer shoes also need the services of cobblers. Last Friday, a woman asked a cobbler in Sector 17 to repair the broken stitches of her designer shoe. The stitches on the strap were so fine that it was ‘‘almost impossible to do the restitching’’. Much to the satisfaction of the customer, the cobbler replaced the straps of her shoes with a leather shoelace.

Apart for mending shoes, these cobblers also mend leather haversacks, bags, basketballs and footballs. If the business of these cobblers has increased with the influx of a variety of shoes, so has the competition. Migrant labourers who fail to find any employment, take up the job of a cobbler. Today, at least one cobbler can be seen in every market of the city.

Competition among the cobblers has also become a cause of concern. The younger lot among them even resorts to begging. These young cobblers first approach a person to polish his shoes, and if the person does not want a polish, the young cobbler starts begging. There are at least 20 such cobblers on the Panjab University campus and the Sector 15 market.

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