Thursday, September 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘A lot many Indians may have died in attacks on US cities’
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Savita and her husband R.K. Sethi
Savita and her husband R.K. Sethi 

Chandigarh, September 12
For Mr R.K. Sethi, a retired Telecom Department officer of Chandigarh, and his wife, Savita, it was an unforgettable night-long nightmare. Their son, Atul, his wife Seema and nephew Sanjay were in the World Trade Center building when it became the target of a terrorist strike in New York last evening.

“I had just returned from my evening walk and switched on the TV when I saw the twin towers of WTC on fire”, he recalls with a shudder. “My immediate concern was about the safety and welfare of my son and his family. I called my wife who was equally concerned but did not know what to do...”

“The only telephone in the house did not have the STD facility and the nearby STD booths were jammed with anxious people trying to make long-distance calls to their near and dear ones in the US. I just resigned myself to the will of God and prayed for their safety”.

Mr Sethi, who served as an SDO (Commercial), Telephones, in Chandigarh, before rising to be Director, Telephones, recalled during an interview with TNS at his residence in Sector 21 here today that they had been to New York only a few months ago and had been to the WTC many times. “I and my wife had visited New York in June and spent some days with my son. Since Atul, a software engineer had his office located in the World Trade Centre, I had a chance to visit the huge building complex several times. His wife also works in the same building as also my nephew, Sanjay, who is one of the top-ranking software engineers of the US”.

“It is a huge complex, full of offices peopled by nearly 50,000 persons on any given day. There are a large number of Indians in the building. On the second floor, there is an Indian bazar which is full of priceless artifacts, antiques and handicrafts which are very popular”.

Mr Sethi said that it was only in the early hours of this morning that he had got a phone call from his son and daughter-in-law in New York that they are safe. So was Sanjay. They also gave him a detailed account of what had happened and how they escaped from certain death.

The World Trade Centre houses a large number of business offices of world famous companies, which comes to life as soon as the offices open at nine in the morning. On the ill-fated day, it was bustling with life as usual.

“The offices of my son, daughter-in-law and nephew are on the second and third floors of the World Trade Centre. They were in their offices when the commercial airliner hijacked by the terrorists smashed into it. There was a loud thud and a lot of confusion. People on the floors below did not know what had happened. Many looked out of the windows to see smoke billowing out of the upper storeys.

“While Atul tried to get back to work, Seema who is much more quick-witted, virtually dragged him out of the office and came running down to the ground floor where people were rushing to the nearest exit to get out of the building. Sanjay also sprinted out of his office.

“Their office is located right above the subway station. When they reached there, they were told that all trains had been cancelled. There were no buses either. They rushed towards Hudson River and caught what was probably the last ferry across the New York Harbour to Jersey before the whole building came crashing down.”

Mr Sethi said they did their best to evacuate the building as quickly as possible but a large number of people remained trapped in it and died when the building collapsed. A lot many Indians may have died when the building crashed. According to his son, up to 50,000 people may have died in the attack.


Phone lines choked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
International telephone lines and the Internet from Punjab, Chandigarh, large parts of Haryana, Himachal and Jammu Kashmir were adversely affected following suspected terrorist strikes in the USA.

“Calls to the USA between 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. yesterday and again this morning did not mature speedily due to a sudden increase in their number,” sources in Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) told The Tribune today.

They said the VSNL was expecting a similar situation for a couple of more days considering the large number of people in the region having acquaintances in the USA.

They said SMS messages on the mobile, which consumed a big part of the bandwidth, were noticed in a very high number resulting in the choking of other lines.

The sources said that Internet services also slowed down during the period apparently due to an increase in the traffic, but there was no unusual problem in this medium.

The Internet developed some snag before 7.30 for a brief period but it seemed to be an event unrelated to the increase in traffic.

Spice Telecom, the lone mobile telephone service provider in Punjab and Chandigarh, said: ‘’It seems like there was an increase in the traffic volume but the data throughout Punjab has not yet been collected to definitely say so,’’ adding, however, that there was no problem faced by the service.

Connect, a basic telecom service company of the HFCL, said that it noticed a fivefold increase in the attempts to make ISD calls. Besides, the calls made were around 20 times more than on a normal day from Chandigarh alone.

Anxiety in the region was very high in Amritsar and Jalandhar, which noticed 10 and seven times more ISD traffic from Connect subscribers, followed by Ludhiana and Patiala (five times more).

Connect said that the increase in the number of calls was noticed during busy hours in contrast to lean hours.

Another Internet service provider, Glide, said that it did not notice any unusual pressure on the bandwidth.

The VSNL sources said that as soon as stress on the system was noticed, they used appropriate software to re-route and prioritise calls.

They said the system was not making a swift clearance yesterday.

Internet service providers Mantra and Satyam do not have their gateway in the region so their position could only be clarified from their headquarters, Internet users said.Back


Terrorism is like AIDS’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
“Terrorism is a threat to our social life and to our existence in a free society. It, therefore, has to be dealt with collectively and strongly. The system that produces it has to be attacked with equal vigour.

“Terrorists succeed only if they are able to damage our social fabric and create dissensions. They attack democracies and we have to be vigilant all the time.

“Terrorism is like AIDS which at best can be controlled but cannot be wiped out completely.”

These are some of the views expressed by a number of experts who have been involved in fighting terrorism in India.

“In Punjab, terrorism is dormant. We are still not out of the woods,” says Mr Sarabjit Singh, Director-General of Police, adding that the state has to be alert all the time.

Talking about the biggest-ever terrorist strike in the world in the USA yesterday, Mr Sarabjit Singh says that “terrorists always have an element of surprise in their armoury. But this catastrophe has shaken the world.

“The societies suffering the malaise of terrorism have to get together, pool their resources and fight it out. It has to be a global war against terrorism,” he adds.

Mr D.R. Karthikeyan, a former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, currently delivering lectures on terrorism and human rights in Uttaranchal, says that “any act of terrorism in any part of the world is an act of terrorism against the entire world”.

“The whole world has become a helpless spectator to wanton violence,” he say while referring to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington yesterday, maintaining that the 12-year fight against terrorism was unable to prevent the havoc wreaked by yesterday’s attacks.

“What is needed is that the whole world should get together and condemn such ghastly deeds of violence,” he adds.

The Director-General of the Manipur police, Mr A.A. Siddique, says that the incidents in the USA yesterday are “something beyond terrorism which is difficult to comprehend”.

“These have created a very difficult situation and the aftermath will continue to be felt for a long time to come. The target in this case was not any individual or a community or a section of society but much beyond that. Such type of violence can engulf the entire world,” he says maintaining that while countries like India with limited resources, techniques and manpower often face allegations of inteligence failure in the case of terrorist strikes , “it is difficult to visualise such ghastly crimes against humanity taking place in the United States.”

“These incidents have been the most dreaded examples of terrorism,” he adds, maintaining that only a united and concerted campaign against this global malaise can help.

Another senior official who has been at the helm of affairs in the fight against terrorism says, on condition of anonymity, that the USA should initiate firm and strong action against the perpetrators of this most sensational and heinous crime against innocent humanity. He also expects that the USA will not hesitate any more in declaring all those states, including Pakistan and Afghanistan, which have been abetting terrorism as “terrorist states”.

“Only then can the menace of terrorism be controlled as it is extremely difficult to wipe it out, like AIDS, from the world,” he adds.Back


Escape from the jaws of death
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
For newly-married Gauri Bhardwaj, it was her maiden visit to the US capital, Washington, which turned sour because of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon yesterday.

Her husband, Amit Bhardwaj, is a software engineer based in Boston. A greencard holder, he along with his wife decided to take advantage of a break in the project he was working on and visit Washington. Yesterday was their third day in the US capital and they were scheduled to visit the Pentagon. But as soon as they came down from the hotel in morning, they were turned back by the police.

It was only then that they learnt about the attack on the Pentagon. Since then they are confined to the hotel. All movement on the roads have been banned. People have been told to stay indoors.

To their great relief, Gauri managed to e-mail her parents, Aruna and Col Ravi Dutt Salwan, at Mani Majra about their welfare late last night.

For Kusum Sharma, who commutes from Silver Springs, a suburb of Washington, to the US capital, every day, the day began on an ominous note. She was getting ready to go to her office which is located just two miles away from the Pentagon, when she got a phone call from the office saying that she need not come. No reason was given which left her panic-stricken. It was only later that she learnt about the terrorist strike at the Pentagon in which up 800 people are believed to have died. The whole town was sealed, traffic on the roads turned back and people were told to stay indoors. She phoned up early this morning her parents in Chandigarh to inform them about her welfare.

Fate played a decisive role in the life of city-resident Charu Kohli, working in America for the last few years, on the horrific morning of September 11 which shook America even as she slept through the tragedy.

Scheduled to be at her office at the World Trade Center where she works as Senior Management consultant, that morning, she was almost lamenting the fact that she had missed her train from New Jersey and was getting ready to catch the next one before a call changed it all.

Recalling his conversation with his daughter, Mr Yaspal Singh, said, “A colleague of hers called her up to check her whereabouts and found she was safe and at home. Over the phone, she was told of the bombardment of the centre, collapse of the buildings and advised to stay at home.”

Her next thoughts, obviously, went out to her family in Chandigarh. She called up home and told them she was safe and might not be able to call up for the next few days on account of clogged phone lines but they need not worry for her.

Mr Kohli added she explained how she had been working late into the night and could not wake up to be in office. “It would have been a different story had a stroke of luck not delayed her. Atleast we have heard from her and know she is safe,” he explains.

In contrast, it was another safe passage for the son of a retired Army officer who walked back home from the site of disaster after witnessing the planes crashing into the two towers.

Narrating his “escape” from the clutches of death, Col Surjit Singh Mond, said: “He told me, he missed death by three minutes. Had his train arrived in the adjoining subway a little later, he would have gone down with the debris of the collapsing towers.”

Amardeep Singh, working at an office adjoining the World Trade Center for almost three years now, said that with cabs off road following the crash, he walked back to his house, reaching almost six hours later. “He saw one of the towers come down and is still very shaken by the live pictures of limbs falling all around him,” he summarised.

“On the way he called up his wife from a local telephone booth, told her of his safety before resuming his walk back home. Unable to get through to him, we were conveyed a message through a relative in London. He called us up after 1 am and we both heaved a sigh of relief,” Col Mond said.


My heart is scarred forever, daughter tells mom
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Paramjit Tewari Chandigarh, September 12
“Mom, the skyline of New York city will never be the same again, nor will the zing of life ever be restored”. This was the first reaction of city-based Rabia Tewari, who had left home some time back to settle in NYC as a dress designer. When Rabia left Chandigarh, she was obviously not aware of the testing times that lay ahead. Like any another American national, her mind and heart is scarred with yesterday’s tragedy in the USA. More so because she witnessed the deadly dance of terror that struck a mighty nation at about 8.50 am yesterday.

Since Rabia’s office is located in the vicinity of the World Trade Center site in New York, she saw the majestic towers crumble after the aeroplanes crashed into the Northern and then the Southern ends. She also saw people jumping out of the towers to save lives. When Rabia last talked to her mother, yesterday night, she was going to donate blood for the injured. She is a universal donor, with blood group O positive.

Back home, Rabia’s mother, who lives on Panjab University campus, is still in the grip of fear, even though Rabia had confirmed her well being. Speaking to Chandigarh Tribune about the situation this morning, Rabia’s mother, Ms Paramjit Tewari, a professor in the Department of Zoology, PU, said, “Just as the news began to flow in, I lost my balance. Since our daughter’s office is located in downtown Manhattan, which is the worst hit area, I was very concerned.”

Even after desperate attempts to get through to Rabia, (who was not picking up the phone at her New Jersey residence last morning, meaning that she had gone to work) Ms Paramjit had almost lost hope of connection. Until, of course, the phone bell rang at night: “Mom, it’s Rabia. I just called to say that I am fine here. Please do not worry. I cannot still come to terms with the quantum of this tragedy, which has left the entire nation stunned and shocked. I myself saw the towers come down crumbling. It’s heart rending mom.” Rabia also mentioned that immediately after the blast, all offices were ordered to be evacuated. “Our office was also evacuated. Because the entire area has been sealed off, I cannot return to my New Jersey home, so I am shifting with a friend in Manhattan,” Rabia added.

Yet another thing which she pointed out was that the economy was already badly hit. “There is already a shortage of products. People are already stocking ration and other food products. The prices are also rising steeply”.

Rabia also told her mother that how the hospitals had been flooded with the injured. Last night she said: “There is a rising demand for blood. All hospitals authorities are appealing for blood donation. People are coming forward in a big way. Mom, since the smoke is retreating, I am also going to donate blood.”


F&CC meeting to take up vital issues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Finance and Contract Committee ( F and CC) meeting on September 14 will take up vital issues of supplying tertiary treated water for irrigation of various open spaces in the city and payment of enhanced compensation for the acquisition of 61.21 acres of land at NAC, Mani Majra, besides other items. In fact, most other items once again pertain to developmental works of Mani Majra.

The proposal worth Rs 443 lakh pertaining to supply of tertiary treated water for irrigation already stands passed by the water and sewerage committee of the MC and the F and CC, but since the authorities concerned have got to know about the Central government sanctioning 100 per cent grant for such projects, they have put forth the proposal afresh to get the members’ nod for seeking this grant. The treated water will be used to irrigate the gardens and open spaces and the expenditure will be charged under the head of minor irrigation.

The items listed on the agenda also include rough cost estimates for the construction of link road from Chandigarh-Kalka to Mauli Jagran in pocket no. 6 at Mani Majra (1st phase); RCE the for construction of concrete pavement in Fragrance Garden, Sector 36; disposal of commercial property in pocket No: 1, Mani Majra and estimate for the work of boring and installing a deep bore tubewell in lieu of abandoned tubewell in Sector 33-A.

Members will also discuss various other proposals pertaining to giving contract for removing carcasses from the municipal limits, including four villages under its jurisdiction i.e. Butrela, Badhri, Attawa, Burail and erstwhile NAC; construction of slow carriage way on V-2 road in Sector 22-C; leasing out of additional land adjoining the Yoga Sabha building at Mani Majra. A few other items pertain to leasing out of additional land adjoining the Yoga Sabha building at Mani Majra; estimates for providing storm water drainage scheme for kabadi market, Industrial Area, Phase-II and providing parking lights in the kabadi market, Industrial Area, Phase-II; allotment of parking site adjoining Piccadily cinema and condemning of unserviceable vehicles/pumps of the Fire Wing, MC.


How do you recycle ‘plastic’ ban order?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, directing the Chandigarh Administration to ban the manufacture and use of polythene bags, has put the Administration in a fix.

The Administration faces an uphill task of meeting the October 22 deadline set by the court and enforcing the ban, if the past experience is any indication. Earlier attempts to ban polythene bags failed due to bureaucratic indifference and limiting the ban to Sector 17 only.

On September 10, a Bench comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, had asked the Administration to “issue appropriate notification for banning the manufacture and use of polythene bags of less than 20 microns and recycled polythene bags that are used for packing foodstuffs. The Bench had asked authorities to take punitive action against manufacturers and users of these bags.

If the Administration imposes the ban, polythene manufacturing and recycling units will have to shut down. Sources said the powerful polythene-bag-manufacturers’ lobby would resist this move.

The Administration had formed a committee in 1998 for making the public aware of the ill-effects of using polythene bags. A draft notification, banning the use of these bags in Sector 17, was also issued. However, the ban remained on paper only.

Mr Subhash Kataria and Mr Jagdish Pal Singh Kalra, head and General Secretary, respectively, of the Sector 17 Traders’ Association, said only the Administration was to be blamed for the failure of the scheme in 1999.

They said, “To make the ban effective, the ban should have been total and strictly enforced.” They also said the Sector 17 traders had observed a “self-imposed” ban on the use of polythene bags for a month before the notification.

Mr Kalra said the ban could not be enforced because the notification had been silent on the issue of the manufacturing of polythene bags. “Our pleas for a total ban fell on deaf ears,” he said.

Observers say that a constant use of polythene bags is harmful not only for humans, but also animals. Cows and buffaloes that feed on the city garbage, including these plastic bags. Toxic chemicals enter the human digestive system through the milk that these animals produce. Recycled polythene bags, that are more dangerous to the environment, also continue to be used freely.

Observers say that most polythene bags find their way to garbage bins and land-fills, where this non-bio-degradable material releases toxic chemicals that get mixed with the underground water. The lure of easy money brings rag-pickers to these sites and they get exposed to these toxins.


PUDA may restart land acquisition
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, September 12
In the light of the Punjab and Haryana High Court allowing the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to carry on its proceedings in the extension of SAS Nagar case subject to the final decision of the writ petition, PUDA is likely to start the stalled process of land acquisition of Sohana, Mauli Baidwan and other villages in the coming days. The land of the villages falls under the five new sectors.

The land of the petitioners, around 120, allowed status quo by the court, is not being touched by the authority. A meeting of land acquisition officials has been called by the Chief Administrator of PUDA on September 14.

The Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said around 90 per cent of land was free from the status quo. Against 3951 plots allotted in the new sectors, the 15 per cent amount had been deposited for 3712 plots. “We will request the remaining allottees to deposit the 15 per cent money so that development of the area can be carried out”, he said.

Sources in PUDA said in the light of the status quo for around 120 acres, the conceptual plan of the five sectors might have to be altered. The planning of Sectors 78 and 79 could be affected as the maximum number of petitioners had land near Sohana village. A 200 feet wide road between Sectors 78 and 79 had come in the land of the petitioners. Another road in Sectors 76 and 77 would also have to be altered, affecting the overall planning of the area.

Around 200 acres in Sector 76 was in possession of the Radha Soami Satsang. Minor changes would have to be made to keep the circulation area same. Sources said location of over 500 plots of varying size would have to be changed.

An official said in case of Sohana village, a compensation of around Rs 25 crore had been given against a total award of 120 crore. In case of Mauli Baidwan village, a compensation of around 11 crore had been given against a total compensation of around 15 crore.

In case of Lakhnour village, a compensation of around three crore was yet to be given. Officially the possession of land of Mauli Baidwan and Sohana villages had been taken on May 7 and 17, respectively.


HUDA removes encroachments
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 12
The enforcement wing of the Estate Office, Haryana Urban Development Authority, removed encroachments here today from a two-acre piece of land acquired by HUDA where a hot-mix plant was operating.

The demolition operation, carried out in the presence of the Estate Officer, Mr D.P. Singh, lasted six hours during which 15 to 20 rooms were razed to the ground.

However, the owner of the hot-mix plant, Mr Shamlal Bansal, also present while the anti-encroachment drive was on, asked the officials for some time to remove the machinery at the site which was given to him.

The Assistant Estate Officer, Mr K.C. Bagga, said that after a couple of days the site would be reviewed and action would be initiated if Mr Bansal failed to comply with the orders and vacate the premises.

One JCB and 20 men of the enforcement wing carried out the operation which went off peacefully despite no accompanying police force following a supreme court judgement wherein Mr Bansal had lost the case.


Panel to discuss electric buses project for city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The city is likely to follow the pattern being followed by the Delhi Government for the ambitious Rs 120 crore electric trolley buses project. A high-level meeting of the Empowered Committee is to meet in Delhi tomorrow.

The UT is exploring the possibility to have Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) to finance the project and be an equity partner. BHEL has already signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Delhi Government .

The Delhi Government got interested in the electric trolley buses project after seeing the Chandigarh project. This is seen as a replacement for the CNG and other eco-friendly fuels. Meanwhile, Punjab and Haryana have agreed in principle for extension of the trolley bus service to neighbouring townships of Panchkula and S.A.S. Nagar.

This came about after the two state governments agreed to fund the project for operation of the buses in S.A.S. Nagar and Panchkula also. At a recent meeting of representatives from these two states and the Chandigarh Administration, it was brought out that effectivity of the project will be better if the two townships are also covered by the trolley buses, as about 2 lakh people come to the city daily.

Recently, the Union Ministry of Urban Development informed the Chandigarh Administration that a nine-member high powered committee has been formed to give final shape to the ambitious electric trolley bus project for the city.

The chairperson of the committee is the Adviser to the UT Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda. Other members will be a nominee of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Technical, Union Urban Development Ministry, UT Home Secretary, Finance Secretary, Chief Engineer and the Chief Architect. Besides this, two secretary-level officials will be nominated by the respective state governments of Punjab and Haryana.

The committee will meet and take decisions before the project is accorded a final sanction. The electric trolley bus project envisages an operation of buses run by overhead power cables. The UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), has been taking keen interest in the project and has even asked the Chief Architect to make provision to have a stand for the buses in the new ISBT in Sector 43.


Panther ‘died’ in accident
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 12
The post-mortem report of the panther, which was found dead on the Kalka-Panchkula road near Saket in Pinjore last night, confirmed that it died in an accident.

Though the body bore no visible injury marks, officials of the state Wildlife Department were suspecting it to be an accident. The Chief Wildlife Warden, Mr M.R. Jakati, said that after the post-mortem, the body of the three-year-old male panther was buried.

Last night, the panther, which had apparently ventured out of the adjoining forest area, died after he was blinded by lights of vehicles on the highway and could not escape. The dead panther had generated a lot of interest as villagers from around came to the spot to have a closer look at the animal resulting in a traffic jam on the highway for over half-an-hour.


Residents feel insecure after robberies
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, September 12
The police is still clueless about the two robberies, in which armed robbers looted cash and valuables worth Rs 10 lakh at gunpoint and left nine persons injured.

On Monday, an armed gang of masked robbers broke into a milk-processing industry in Gholumajra village near Lalru, tied the cashier to a chair and looted Rs 6.69 lakh at gunpoint. The robbers fled from the scene by scaling the outer wall of the industry.

In another incident, a gang of armed robbers broke into the house of Mr Anwar Hussain, an auto-electrician, in Sarswati Vihar Colony in Dera Bassi on Tuesday and robbed the family and their relatives of cash, jewellery and other valuables worth Rs 4 lakh.

The robbers also brutally beat up nine persons, including family members and their relatives, while they were asleep.

Both robberies took place on the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway within a gap of 24 hours.

This is the sixth such incident in the past six months and the police has failed to solve even a single robbery case, creating insecurity among the residents here.

Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, DSP, said that a team had been sent to Rajpura for questioning the suspects in the marriage robbery case. He said some suspects had already been rounded up and were being interrogated.

Though he was tightlipped, sources in the police said that two suspects — Dalbir Singh and Karam Chand — residents of Balolpur village near Rajpura, had been rounded up.

The police has also sealed the video cassettes of the marriage ceremonies to find out some clues by showing these to the victims.

He said the police of adjoining states had been informed about the incident.

Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, SSP, Mr Pritpal Singh Virk, SP (Detective), Patiala, and Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, AIG (crime), Chandigarh, also visited the site and assured the family that the accused would be arrested soon.


17 unions plan dharna on Oct 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Representatives of as many as 17 employee unions attended the working committee meeting of the co-ordination committee of the Government and MC Employees and Workers at Shanti Kunj here today.

It was unanimously resolved to hold a protest dharna in support of their demands at the Sector 16 Matka Chowk on October 4. The members condemned the UT Administration as well as the MC for not implementing the just and genuine demands of workers which are already accepted by the competent authorities.

Their demands include treatment of all transferred employees from UT Administration to the MC on deputation, payment of bonus to all staff members on the pattern of productivity-linked bonus of the Government of India, release of bonus for 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-01, regularisation of daily wagers/work-charged workers, concession in water bills to water supply workers on the electricity pattern, filling of all vacancies by giving promotion to all departmental employees, grant of technician scales to all categories, grant of the LTA and release of uniforms to Classes III and IV employees.

The unions, which attended the meeting, were the Public Health Worker Union, the Horticulture Workers Union, the Road Workers Union, the MC Employees Union, the Electrical Worker Union, the Sewerage Workers Union and the Medical Officers of Health Department Ministerial Staff Union of MC, the United Front Public Health Workers Union, the BDPO Workers Union, the Forest Workers Union, the UT Building Maintenance Workers Union and the Housing Board Employees Union of the UT Administration.

The working committee of the Public Health Workers Union also held a separate meeting.


Success Story
Woman triumphs over illiteracy and poverty

The story of Sharda Devi is a tale of struggle and final triumph over poverty and illiteracy. Sharda is now a neo-literate and she also manages to earn money with the skill she learnt as she was picking up the three Rs.

Her story is just one of the many which have emerged from the city’s Adult Education Department. The National Literacy Mission is in its third phase — that of adult and continuing education. In its second year, the continuing education programme aims at equipping men and women with skills to earn their livelihood along with creating awareness among them about national and social goals.

The continuing education set-up imparts to the learner special income generating skills to improve the quality of life. Vocational skills are imparted at various adult education centres in the city. The instructors are trained by the Regional Resource Centre (RRC).

The city’s centres are imparting food preservation skills, dress making, radio/TV repair, beauty culture, scooter repair, pot painting, candle making, chair caning, chalk making, soap making, biscuit making etc to adults who join these centres for basic education.

A resident of Colony Number 5, Sharda, is married to a daily wage earner and has been a housewife. She joined one of the adult education centres and within days she was trained to make liquid washing soap. Working on her training and basic education were two instructors from the RRC — Vijay and Usha, both of whom are as proud of their effort as is Sharda today.

Sharda makes the soap at home and sells it in the colony, earning up to Rs 250 a month. But this is only a start. Things have started looking up as far as her contribution to the family income is concerned.

As far as the city is concerned, such success stories are many. The city has registered a growth of 10 per cent in the number of literates in the past 10 years. The city’s average in this respect is much higher than the national average. While the national average has gone up from 55 per cent to 65 per cent, the city’s average has increased from 75 per cent to 85 per cent.


Council fails to auction carcass disposal work
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 12
The local Municipal Council is being compelled to dispose of animal carcasses on its own as it has failed to attract a contractor for the job.

The carcasses, including those of stray dogs and cattle, are being dumped at the garbage disposal site near the milk plant. The civic body is also losing revenue on account of its failure to auction the work of disposal to a private party.

On September 6 the council was to auction the work and fixed a reserve price of Rs 70,000. One of the conditions laid down by the civic body was that the party assigned the job would have to make its own arrangements for the site for dumping the carcasses. However, the prospective bidders declined to accept the condition and wanted the council itself to earmark the site.

The last time when the council was able to auction the work was during the financial year 1997-98. The auction amount for the year was Rs 88,000. The contractor had deposited Rs 22,000, but the contract had to be cancelled because a number of cows died in the town and residents had alleged that the contractor was poisoning animals.

The council Executive Officer, Mr H.B. Garg, said today the civic body had not got a proper place to dump the town’s garbage and it was not possible to make separate arrangements for the carcass disposal contractor. He said it was strange that no garbage site had been earmarked in a so-called planned town.

He said the lease of the present garbage site would end in January next year after which a new place would have to be found. Efforts were now being made to find a site in a nearby village.


Row over nurses’ uniform goes on
Tribune News Service

The controversy over nursing officers in military hospitals donning olive green trousers and shirts refuses to die down. While the nurses are up in arms against the proposal to revert their uniform to white skirts and blouses, army doctors are unhappy at the nurses wearing a uniform similar to theirs.

While the army authorities have put on hold a recent order to change the nurses’ uniform to white calf-length coats, internal memos and reports being circulated in the higher echelons are critical of the nurses’ wearing the olive green uniform, similar to that of regular officers.

A report prepared by an army hospital last month says that nurses’ wearing the olive green uniform has severely affected the smooth functioning of the hospitals, as they are shying away from their stipulated duties such as patient care, maintaining hygiene and other work in the hospital wards.

At the heart of the controversy lies the fact that while wearing olive green and brass badges of rank, the nurses are at times, mistaken for doctors or women officers, where was AMC officers say that the nurses are not commissioned officers.

The nurses, on their part, are happy as the olive green uniform gives them an added status, which as also resulted in jawans and JCOs saluting them, a gesture they are not entitled to. Describing the proposal to change their uniform as a whimsical and a male-chauvinistic move to satisfy the ego of a few male officers, the nurses are also peeved at the design, manner and duration of the new dress. The calf-length button down coat was to be worn without shirts and only when on ward duty. This would have required the nurses to change uniform several times while on duty in hospitals.

The AMC officers also argue that by donning the olive green, the nurses have lost their identity as “angles of mercy” and look like any other woman officer. Age-old tradition, ever since Florence Nightingale and her band of dedicated girls served wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, is being washed away, they add.

Even a number of retired officers as well as some ex-servicemen’s associations have expressed reservations at the nurses wearing the olive green uniform.

The reason cited by Army Headquarters for the proposal to revert the uniform to white blouses and skirts was that the olive green dress took away the age-old symbolism associated with the profession, hindered movement and was not patient friendly as nurses with shirts tucked in and wearing wide military pattern leather belts looked more like rigid and overbearing military personnel rather than nurses with a healing touch, which would affect patient psyche.

Last month some nurses moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking withdrawal of the Army order changing their uniform, which was to come into effect on September 1. Earlier, when the proposal to change their uniform was mooted, it was followed by a number of nurses or their family members forwarding representations as well as anonymous letters to military as well as civilian dignitaries right up to the President.


Harassment’ over autopsy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Shama Johari (30) could find peace neither during her brief married life, nor after death, allegedly at the hands of her husband and his family. Her mortal remains were taken back to Karnal late this evening , after both the PGI and the Sector 16 General Hospital refused to conduct post-mortem on her body.

In a complaint submitted to the Superintendent of Police, Karnal, her family members, who belong to Chandigarh, alleged that Shama was poisoned by her husband, Pankaj Johari, and her in-laws yesterday morning. “We could not fulfill their latest demand of a car on their marriage anniversary,” cried out her father Mr Jagan Nath.

Fearing tampering of proof, the family requested the Deputy Commissioner, Karnal to send the body for post-mortem to the PGI. “Now even 31 hours after her death she is far from getting peace and rest,” said her inconsolable father. Since the family of her husband has connections in Karnal and one of her brothers-in-law himself is a doctor, we requested the DC Karnal to refer the case for post-mortem to the PGI,” he said.

Shama’s body was brought to the PGI this morning and was accompanied by police officials from Karnal. The Deputy Medical Superintendent, Dr D. Bahera, referred the case to the Head of the Forensic Medicine Department. However, the latter was on leave and other faculty members, the family alleged, refused to conduct the post-mortem, and instead asked them to approach the sector 16 General Hospital. “Acting Head of the Department told us that to conduct such a post-mortem was not in the jurisdiction of the PGI,” said Mr Jagan Nath.

When contacted Dr D. Bahera said it was an internal matter of the Forensic Medicine Department. “ Moreover, it was not an official order. The DC Karnal had just recommended, on the application made by the family of the girl, that post-mortem be conducted at the PGI as per its rules and regulations,” he said.

Later, the sector 16 General Hospital too refused to conduct post-mortem. According to family members, they also approached senior PGI and UT Administrative officials seeking their intervention in the matter.

“The mortal remains of Shama were being taken back to Karnal at 7.30 this evening where the incident took place. I hope we manage to get justice for her,” said Mr Jagan Nath.

When contacted, Director Health Services, Dr Rameshwar Chander, said that Shama’s death was a medico-legal case. “The case was specifically marked by the DC, Karnal, for PGI and not the Sector 16, General Hospital. Moreover, this case belonged to Karnal in Haryana and the post-mortem should have ideally been conducted there. To avoid any tampering of the case , it could have been videotaped. For an expert opinion, the viscera could have been case referred to the medical college in Rohak, he added.

The DHS further said that to safeguard the interests of the family of the girl, the DC, Karnal, should have constituted a board of three doctors at Karnal itself to conduct post-mortem. “In any case, even as per the law, if a married woman dies within five years of marriage, , the post-mortem has to be conducted by a board of two doctors, one of whom should preferably be a woman,” added Dr Rameshwar Chander. 


Dirty canteen
Tribune News Service

The canteen in the district secretariat seems to give a low priority to hygiene and the disillusioned employees are slowly turning away from whatever little it has to offer.

Started a few months ago on the persistent demand of the employees, the canteen, housed on the terrace of the secretariat is topped by a fibre glass sheet.

The two shelves in the canteen are in a perpetual mess with spilled tea, used tea leaves and empty biscuit packets lying all over the place. Things have reached a point where even the canteen keeper has become indifferent to the dirt around him.

Ruing the fact that they have to eat whatever is available in the canteen and order tea from there during office hours, the employees emphasise that maintenance of cleanliness needs to be an item of priority imposed on the contractor by the district administration.

Gradually, the reputation of the canteen has taken a drubbing and officials, too, have started sticking to offering and taking cold drinks only. “I have my own system of preparation of tea and I don’t care for the canteen at all. I am not even aware of what all is available there,” the ADC, Mr Suresh Goyal, says. The District Development and Panchayat Officer, Mr Rajesh Jogpal, agrees that the canteen is not in the “best of health’’. 


Burail prisoners want more channels
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 12
Inmates of the Burail jail have demanded that they should have at least two more channels, including a news channel, on their cable TV network.

They have moved an application in a special court in this regard. There are about 20 TV sets for about 430 inmates of this high-security prison.

Inmates of the jail receive transmissions of four channels at present. Sources said they had told the UT District and Session Judge, Mr H.S. Bhalla, in special courtroom in the jail, that they wanted two particular channels to be on their network. Inmates also urged the Judge to ask the authorities to replace two other channels with these channels on the network, if need be.

Meanwhile, the security in the prison has been tightened.


Employees hold rallies, gate meetings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Pursuant to a call given by the Federation of the UT Employees and Workers, employees of the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation organised gate meetings and rallies outside their respective offices to mobilise workers and employees to participate in the proposed massive dharna on September 19 near the Matka Chowk in support of their long-pending demands.

The demands include bonus from 1996-97 to 2001 before the festival season, release of dearness allowance, employment to kins of deceased employees on compassionate ground, filling of vacant posts, treating those employees who were sent to the corporation on deputation, shelving the proposal to privatise the electricity, transport, CITCO and other public sector undertakings, revocation of suspension of Mr Kanhya Lal, joint secretary of the federation, and creation of additional posts to cope with the increased workload. 

Two injured in jeep-car collision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Two persons were severely injured tonight when a Mahendra jeep collided with a Maruti car on the inner road which falls between the Rose Garden and the Shanti Kunj.

Police sources said the accident took place at about 10.20 pm and they received a wireless message at about 10.30 pm following which the polie rushed to the spot. The injured had already been taken to hospital when the police reached the spot.Back


Druckgrafen directory
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula yellow pages directory publisher Druckgrafen will bring out its similar directory for Punjab and Chandigarh in the first week of October.

The directory will contain detailed information in more than 500 categories, a company spokesman said here today. It will also have the numbers of the Central, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh administrations, apart from the number of helplines and other institutions.


Driver denies he was drunk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Mr Gurmail Singh, a CTU driver No 363 (Depot No 3), here today denied that he was in a drunken state when the CTU bus he was driving hit an Army truck near the Air Force chowk as reported in a news item carried by Chandigarh Tribune on September 11 under the heading “Drunk driver rams CTU bus into truck, 1 hurt”.

In an affidavit, Mr Gurmail Singh explained that he was a teetotaller. He also added that he was an Amritdhari Sikh and, therefore, there was no question of his taking alcohol. 

MP urged to release development fund
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 12
Residents of the Housing Board units in Sector 29-B have requested the local MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, for help to develop the area.


No clue to murder found
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, September 12
The police is still groping in the dark in the watchman murder case and has sent the blood samples for laboratory examination.

Sources in the Police Department said that four suspects in the Karam Chand murder case had been rounded up.

Karam Chand, a watchman of a tractor spare-parts manufacturing unit, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances in the Industrial Area, Phase I, yesterday.

A resident of Haripur village in Sector 4, the deceased was found murdered in a toilet on the ground floor of the factory building. The criminals had bolted the toilet from outside after dumping the body.

According to family members, the deceased was involved in some litigation. However, the exact motive behind the murder could not be ascertained.



Truck driver arrested
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 12
The local police yesterday arrested Som Nath, a resident of Patiala district, from near Motor Market, Mani Majra, here for driving a truck bearing the number plate of a tanker.

The driver and owner of the truck, Kamar Singh, alias Kaur Singh, also a resident of Patiala district, has been booked under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code.

Thefts: During the past 24 hours, the police registered three cases of theft. Mr Rajwinder Nath, a resident of Maloya Colony here, reported that his washing machine was stolen from atop of a Haryana Roadways bus from the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 17. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered. An SAS Nagar resident, Mr Pritpal Singh, reported that a CD player was stolen from his car, which was parked near Kisan Mandi here yesterday. A case under 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Dr J. Dutta, a resident of Sarangpur village, reported that a wrist-watch, gold ornaments and Rs 1,500 were stolen from her residence yesterday. A case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC has been registered.

Meanwhile, Mr Gulab Singh, a resident of Sector 19, reported that his bag containing plastic jars were stolen from Sector 19 here yesterday. A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC has been registered.

Arrested: The local police arrested two persons from Dadu Majra Colony here yesterday and seized 66 pouches from their possession. Those arrested were Prehlad Kumar and MsIndu Devi, both residents of Dadu Majra Colony.


Robbery case: In connection with the daylight robbery of Rs 1.50 lakh from an employee of a local gas agency in Phase 5 here, the police is trying to ascertain whether the robbers made any call from an STD booth in the area before the incident.

Elopement: A young boy and a girl, who were arrested after the two ran away from their houses, have been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh, after they consumed some poisonous substance in police custody in Phase 8 here. A case under section 309 of the IPC has been registered by the police. 


Woman Entrepreneur
From hobby to profession
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Meeting Monica Sood is a treat in itself. Yummy plum cakes, chocolate gateau, French pies, and several other cakes and pies are what she loves to talk about, to think of and also to prepare.

Be it a birthday bash or a Christmas party, Monica’s puddings and pies are something without which many find the occasion incomplete. “It’s a shop with concept where each cake has a personal touch and is unique”, says Monica, the proud owner of the shop in Sector 8.

Her desire to do something is what gave birth to the concept. “We are not selling any other item except cakes and desserts in which we specialise. The idea is not to sell products but to provide the best to our customers”, she says.

Though she started the venture in 1994 only on a trial basis, it turned out to be a huge success and now her delicious preparations are taken even abroad. “It was the best compliment that I could get when a customer told me that every time she came to India, she took my cakes to Toronto. It makes one feel really good since cakes are not an Indian concept.”

The job is definitely challenging as people come with varied ideas and she has to make cakes ‘which they have seen only in books’. “I sit with the customer to know exactly what is in his or her mind.” She takes four days if the idea is yours and only a day if the cake you want is selected from her album.

Not only the taste but quality is equally important to her. “There is no compromise on quality and I do not use any kind of synthetic stuff.”

It was her hobby that she turned into a profession, but the task entails long hours of work, very few chhutis and a lot of reading. For the wide variety that she prepares, she collects the raw material from different places. An innovative person, she turns out a new cake recipe almost every month. At present she is working on recipes of some new varieties of bread which she plans to introduce in her shop soon.

On managing things, she says it has become comparatively easy with six trained persons to help her. “The children have to be taken care of and I make sure that I do not neglect them. After all they have an equal share in my happiness.”


‘Khana Khazana’ comes to city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Khana Khazana, which has been running on Zee TV for the past eight years, comes to Chandigarh on September 14 and 15.

The visit to the city by the Khana Khazana team, including Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, is part of a nationwide tour which is being undertaken by the show to celebrate its completion of 400 episodes on the channel. The team will involve city’s residents in a unique cookery contest which will pit contestants against Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and will ultimately end in an all-India final in Mumbai, where contestants from across the country will showcase their culinary skills in the Cookery Contest which will be telecast on Zee TV.

The contest will be held at the Hotel Parkview in Sector 24 on September 14 and 15. According to Master Chef Kapoor, “Coming to Chandigarh is a unique opportunity for us, since this region boasts of some of the finest cuisines in India. I would not be surprised if the eventual winner of the all-India contest is somebody from this region.”

Fortis Heart Institute

A spokesman for the Fortis Heart Institute, Mr Janak Singh Bawa, today said it was not only a super speciality heart institute but also a multi-speciality OPD and medical centre. At the OPD, the institute had doctors in 15 different specialities at one place.

Speaking at a press conference, he said world-class facilities in dental, endocrinology, ENT, gastroenterology, gynaecology, cardiology, nephrology, neurology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, pulmonology and in some other specialities were available.

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