Monday, November 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S



Balongi, Lalru too want to go the Naya Gaon way
Residents seek NAC status
Rajmeet Singh & Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

* Economic rationale not the criteria to constitute NAC’s in the periphery.

* Residents of Balongi and Lalru seek NAC status

* Politicians-big money nexus prevail upon the decision to constitute NAC in Naya Gaon, allege residents of Balongi.

SAS Nagar/Lalru, November 11
Voices of discontent are being heard among the people living in the peripheral areas of Punjab, which have witnessed unauthorised urbanisation over the years — courtesy the announcement of NAC in Naya Gaon, made recently by the Punjab Chief Minister.

Similar resentment was aired by people in villages, located on the outskirts of Chandigarh. Alleging a step-motherly treatment, residents of Balongi, adjoining SAS Nagar and Lalru, bordering Ambala City, said despite the cases of constituting civic bodies in their area fulfilling the laid down criteria, the state government had not heeded to their demand.

A proposal for constituting a NAC in Balongi, comprising nine gram panchayats — Balongi, Balongi Colony, Badmajra, Badmajra Colony, Raipur, Jhujjhar Nagar, Daun and Balolpur — with an area of around 4,000 acres is yet to catch the attention of the powers to be. Citing economics rationale, Dr Gurnam Singh Balongi, who has been leading a campaign for constituting a NAC in Balongi, says , “We have been demanding the NAC for the past three years. If large-scale unauthorised construction was the criteria for announcing a civic body, we also fit in it”.

A preliminary survey conducted by a team from the Local Government had found that being located on the Chandigarh — Ludhiana highway, the annual income could touch Rs 1 crore, including that from octroi collection. There were 83 factories, three liquor vends, two cold storage and two petrol pumps. Dr Singh said we have a much better case than the Naya Gaon NAC which could generate an estimated annual income of around Rs 15 lakh. Sources in the government said the proposal had been given a “silent burial”.

He admits that like Naya Gaon, constituting the NAC would give a boost to the land prices and give relief to the people who own land in the area. “The Periphery Act is hanging like a sword of damocles like over our heads. Like Naya Gaon we also seek relief from the government.”

Similarly, residents of Lalru have been demanding the NAC status for the past over one year. A preliminary survey conducted by the Local Government Department had revealed that the proposed civic body could generate an annual income of about Rs 9 crore from octroi collection alone. Mr Dev Raj, district president of the BJP unit, says , “The area of seven villages — Lalru, Alamgir, Dehar, Jalalpur, Lehli, Dappar and Gholumajra, is proposed to be included in the civic body”. As per the officials records the population of the area was over 25,000. The area had over 100 large scale industries.

Mr Raj said certain political compulsions and a lobby of industrialists and businessmen were against the formation of the civic body. However, the residents have been demanding better amenities from the Nagar Panchayat.



Barbed wires blot beauty
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Le Corbusier would not quite have liked it. But just as many things in the city have changed for worse since the master architect vanished from the scene, the face of the Government College of Art and Government Museum has changed too — and this time, for the worst!

For over a year now, the beautiful space shared by the college and the museum in Sector 10, has been sporting a big blot. No unbiased visitor to the campus can ignore the high wall of barbed wires that now divides the museum and the college space, once famous all over this region for the freedom and beauty it offered. Today, however, the spirit of this space stands desecrated, thanks to the decision of installing barbed wires taken about a year back in some meeting of the Government Museum Advisory Committee.

While news has it that the Director of the museum had mooted the proposal of installing barbed wires in the interest of security, an overview of the area reflects that the wires hardly serve the purpose. On the contrary, they present a visually-jarring picture. Not just that, this physical division between the college and the museum campus has led to another major problem. The basketball court of the college has also been divided in the process. Now while one basket lies on the side of the museum, the other basket lies on the college campus.

Investigations by Chandigarh Tribune revealed that the sports scenario of the college has been badly affected on account of this division. One of the college teachers admitted: “Basketball was the only outdoor game we had. The students were up in arms against this decision to divide the campus. But since no steps were taken to undo it, they are now quiet”.

Further, it was learnt that the then principal of the college, Mr Prem Singh, had even written to the UT Engineering Department asking for removal of the wires. Mr Prem Singh, when contacted, said: “The department replied that it had only executed the decision”. He added that the installation of such wires was in bad taste and served no purpose, whatsoever. “This decision was taken hurriedly and without our consent. It has also caused a lot of heartburning among students of our college”.

Interestingly, following the division, the famous Nandi bull sculpture of the museum has fallen in the territory of the college. While the office of the museum’s Director maintains that the decision has the approval of the UT Administrator, city artists feel that the decision is ridiculous. Famous city-based artist Shiv Singh, who is also member of the museum’s advisory committee, said: “It is ridiculous to divide this beautiful space. They should have evolved another method for security. They can hardly prevent thefts by putting up such wires, which stand in utter contrast to the very spirit of art. If they are worried about the security they can always raise a wall around the museum boundary instead of spoiling the open space which signifies freedom”. Shiv Singh added that he was not present in the meeting where this decision to install wires was taken. Noted art historian Dr B.N. Goswamy, also on the advisory committee, was also not present during the meeting.

Meanwhile, students of the college are still disappointed about this decision. Said one final year student, “God knows what purpose these wires are solving. The museum authorities should realise that barbed wires have no place in a space dedicated to art promotion and dissemination”. The UT Home Secretary, Mr S. Gujral, who is also in charge of the museum, was not available for comments.



16.28 cr recovered from defaulters
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 11
The Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam has recovered Rs16. 28 crore from defaulting electricity consumers in rural and urban areas. This has been done under the Surcharge Waiver Scheme- 2001 launched in October.

An official spokesman of the nigam said here today that 45,411 consumers had come forward to clear their pending bills. A total surcharge of Rs 4.84 crore was waived off by the nigam. He said maximum 14,878 consumers had benefitted from the surcharge-waiver scheme in Operation Circle Kurukshetra comprising Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts where Rs 5. 49 crore had been recovered and the surcharge of Rs 80. 6 lakh had been waived off.

The Utttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam and Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam have decided to extend the scheme till November 15.

While giving details of the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme introduced for the regularisation of unauthorised load by the consumers, he said 6,963 consumers had voluntarily disclosed their load. The nigam had received 4,175 applications from the rate tubewell consumers for the regularisation of their unauthorised load and it had regularised a total of 11,900 KW . As many as 1,943 domestic, 200 non- domestic , 153 industrial and 400 tubewell consumers had also declared their unauthorised load.

The nigam authorities also detected 12,550 cases of power theft during the current financial year.

Meanwhile, the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam has achieved an all time record remittance of Rs 129. 21 crore into bank during the month of October as compared to Rs 90. 80 crore during the corresponding month of the previous year. The highest revenue realisation this year was Rs 116.7 crore during the month of May 2001.



MC poll: Congress fails to decide nominees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The Congress today failed to decide its nominees for the Municipal Corporation elections. The names of candidates are likely to be finalised by November 17.

This was said here today by the All-India Congress Committee Secretary and in charge of the Chandigarh unit, Mr Bhubaneshwar Kalitha, after a meeting of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee.

The CTCC, however, decided the strategy for the elections. The party has decided to highlight the BJP and the Akali Dal’s failure to develop the city and provide clean governance at both Central and corporation levels.

He said the promise of a clean and a tax free city had visibly not been met with filth scattered everywhere and service charges being slapped in the city.

Announcing that the manifesto of the party will only come after the candidates are shortlisted, he said a charge sheet will soon be released to the Press against the BJP and the Akali Dal.

“The Central Government is allegedly embroiled in scandals in the sale of public sector undertakings, promise of one crore jobs per year not being met and allocation to the Public Distribution System being reduced,” he said. The party promised a conditional tax free corporation if it won the corporation poll with majority.

Meanwhile the BJP today set the ball rolling for selection of candidates for the December 8 municipal corporation elections with the BJP high command representative, Mr O. P. Kohli personally talking to senior party leaders on the prospects of candidates in each ward.

The BJP national secretary, Mr O. P. Kohli, today met ad-hoc committee members, office-bearers and councillors, to make his assessment on the prospects of candidates from each ward and also to bring about discipline in the party.

“Individual meetings have been called to ascertain prospects of individual candidates,’’ Mr Kohli said here today. He, however, did not give any date by which the list of candidates will be finalised.

Later, Mr Kohli called a meeting of the ad hoc committee where the corporation elections, issues for manifesto, formation of a campaign committee and an election committee were discussed with the members, the ad hoc committee convener, Mr Yashpal Mahajan said.

In another development, the local unit of the SAD today authorised its district president, Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, to select candidates for the corporation elections.

A meeting will be held tomorrow to finalise candidates. An election committee, comprising Dr Darshan Singh, Mr Surinder Singh Chinna, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Navjot Singh Brar and Mr Raghbir Singh, was set up today.

This is the second such election committee as the Mayor-led faction had already announced a similar committee which was rejected by the Akali Dal Secretary-General, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, saying there was no sanctity of such panels.



Accommodation woes of Bar Council
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, November 11
A controversy has arisen over the functioning of the Bar Council of the Punjab and Haryana as the Bar Council of India (BCI) has restrained it from buying a new building or plot, while the Administration has directed it to vacate the present accommodation in the District Courts Computer by November 15.

The secretary of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr C.M. Munjal, said the decision of the BCI had affected council’s functioning. He said it was unfortunate that the council with a strength of 35, 000 advocates had no place for functioning.

He said “Some of the Bar Council members have gone against the council because of its strict decision to maintain standards of the profession.” The Bar Council of India, New Delhi, had restrained the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana from taking any decision on financial matters following a petition by its eight members. These members had challenged the election of the chairman and the vice-president besides challenging the constitution and reconstitution of its various committees before the BCI, New Delhi.

The chairman of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, said he had sent a letter to the UT Home Secretary and the UT Finance Secretary for allotment of site for Law Bhavan at Chandigarh.

He said, “the council do not own any plot or building in Chandigarh and at present the office of the Bar council is located in the District Courts Complex, Sector-17, and the Deputy Commissioner has asked the council to vacate the present accommodation by November 15.”

He said a sum of Rs 45, 000 was deposited alongwith an application for allotment of land on March 3, 1998, which was still lying with the Administration.



SI suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
A Sub Inspector posted at Sector 36 police station has reportedly been suspended for delay in submitting a challan in a court, which resulted in six persons suspected of committing dacoity getting released on bail.

The suspects included the son of another Sub Inspector in the Chandigarh Police.

They had reportedly been arrested for attempting a dacoity in Sector 35 on August 31. According to provisions, Sub Inspector Pala Ram was required to submit the challan within 60 days of the incident but he failed to do so.



Vocational courses for jail inmates
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 11
With a view to transform jail inmates into good citizens and rehabilitante them after their jail sentence, jail authorities have started various vocational courses and educational programmes in the Model Burail Jail.

At present there are more than 400 inmates lodged in the jail who are engaged in work, both inside and outside the jail, to earn their livelihood. Fifty inmates, including 35 men and 15 women, have joined the adult education programme. About 40 inmates have been learning refrigerator and scooter repair training. Also, about 100 inmates have joined yoga classes.

The courses relating to moral education and training in vocational courses have been started with the help of the UT Adult Education Department. Courses in scooter repair, refrigerator and air conditioning, of the duration of three to six months, have been started with the help of the Jan Siksha Sansthan.

Mr D.S. Rana, Superintendent, Burail Jail, said, “The vocational courses are the best alternative to engage prisoners and to keep them physically and mentally alert. It creates self-confidence and by remaining in touch with various activities inside and outside the jail, they can return to the society with clear conscience.” He said there had been a radical improvement in the prison discipline and also jail crimes have declined after these courses. Computer education will be arranged soon, he added.

He said for the entertainment of inmates there were about 20 television sets in the jail. Mr Rana added that the best example of reform in the jail was a woman, who has been teaching tailoring to 16 other women inmates.

“For the inmates who used to miss their family and had been suffering from mental tension, we have started yoga classes. The Punjab State Yoga Association has been running a regular yoga camp in the jail since June. More than 100 inmates are practising yoga,” said Mr D.S. Rana



‘Transparency — a tall order’
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Mr Gian Chand Gupta, who represents ward number 16 comprising Sectors 30, 32 and 46, has worked both as the city Mayor and the BJP president of the UT. He is said to be leading a faction against the former MP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, and for long has had control over the party organisation. Chandigarh Tribune interviewed him recently and the excepts from the interview are produced here:

Question: What have been your achievements during the term?

Answer: I offer myself for public scrutiny both as a Mayor and as a councillor. My achievements as a councillor include: Construction of community centre for Sector-46 and allotment of land for another one in Sector-30; construction of 126 booths for the fire-hit rehriwalas of Sector 46; development of green belts in Sectors 32 and 30 and that of Sector-46 is under development; development of 45 new parks in the ward and installation of three hand pumps.

I got recarpeted almost all V-6 roads, apart from all V-5 and V-4 roads in the ward. Extension of parking lots in Sectors-46 -C, 32-D and 30-C markets; construction of a parking lot near the CBI office, storm water drainage and laying of pavement tiles in the ward was also done.

As Mayor, I got the Fragrance Garden in Sector-36 developed and a causeway on Sukhna choe linking railway station and Industrial area, to reduce traffic on the Panchkula road, was built. A bridge on Mohali-Chandigarh road was built and 25 mobile toilets in labour colonies were provided; 500 new road gullies were constructed for storm water drainage.

Sanitation work in rehabilitation colonies, Burail, Badheri, Butrela and Attawa was privatised; a fire station in Industrial Area, Phase-II, was constructed; single-window system for on-the-spot booking of parks, grounds and community centres was introduced; booking of these for religious purposes was made free.

Q: What do you think you could not do for the electorate and why?

A: Some of the parks could not be developed, recarpeting of parking lots in markets of sector 32-C, D and Sector-46, provision of lights in the Central green belt, Sector 32, and laying of kacha pavements in EWS colonies in Sectors 30 and 32 could not be done due to shortage of funds. Schemes like complaint centres in each sector, citizen’s charter and day markets could not be implemented due to lack of funds. My efforts to bring about transparency in administrative functioning met with partial success only.

Q: How did you use the Corporation forum to redress the grievances of people?

A: By raising people’s voice in MC meetings.

Q: What did you promise the voter during your election campaign?

A: Transparency and not letting them down by personal or party conduct.

Q: How responsive has been your party towards your electorate’s grievances?

A: Every partyman seemed alive to the problems of people and always ready to help in solving these.

Q: How supportive had been the bureaucracy in your role as councillor?

A: Officials in the Corporation were supportive, but some of those in the Administration were not receptive to the elected representatives.

Q: Would you like to re-contest election in view of your performance?

A: Party willing, yes.

Q: What have you gained personally by being a councillor?

A: Satisfaction of serving the poor and the needy.


Promise  Performance
Laying of roads 

Few roads still remain to be recarpeted.

Improvement in water supply achieved
Development of parks 

Developed, but maintenance needed

Transparency in administration  A tall order.



Poetical themes, then and now
Tribune News Service

Flipping through the dog-eared pages of an old yellowing magazine which she found while cleaning a cupboard, school teacher-cum-poetess Manjeet Kaur Mohali comes across a patriotic poem. As she goes through the verse, a thought flashes in her mind that until a few years ago most of the poets were penning verses in praise of the motherland, unlike today’s poets.

“Till the early 80, most of the poets were still celebrating the country’s independence,” Manjeet kaur recalls. In the pre-independence era, poets wrote verses to bring awareness among the masses and to charm them into joining the freedom struggle. They wrote ballads in praise of the heroes of the freedom movement, and about the nation’s past glory”.

She adds: Once freedom was achieved, the poets had all the reason to go gaga over the achievement. Poems eulogising the motherland became popular and poets started penning poems describing the nation’s character. Instead of composing verses in admiration of the mole on the fair visage of the poet’s object of desire, they took pride in talking about the ways and means used by the nationalists to throw the British out of the country.

Claiming to have been influenced by this movement, Manjeet Kaur asserts: “I too wrote poems on this subject when I was in college, along with so many other poets of our time.”

All this happened before disillusionment set in. “In the mid-80’s, people realised that there was no reason for them to rejoice. The country had failed to achieve the objectives the freedom fighters had struggled for,” she says. “Independence had not brought anything to the common man. Socio-political conditions had only worsened. They realised that corruption had started to eat into the vitals of the system. The police had become more overt in its extortions. Local politicians were often hand-in-glove with corrupt officials. Even after 50 years of independence, there were no jobs for the students and the teachers were underpaid.”

As a result, there has been a marked shift in the theme of the poems. “The poets, disheartened by the deterioration, are now composing poems highlighting the problems being faced by the people in their day-to-day existence. Once again, poets are talking about the need for a revolution in society,” she asserts. “Others are composing love poems portraying women in a poor light”.

She concludes: “The poets should remember that, like journalists, they also have a social responsibility. Their poems should reflect the deterioration in the social, moral and cultural values without becoming a part of it.”



Refusal of visas to scribes flayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a USA-based organisation of journalists dedicated to the protection of scribes, has taken exception to the refusal of visas to journalists of Indian descent by the Pakistan Government.

In a communique to General Pervez Musharraf, the CPJ said some Indian journalists as well as journalists of Indian origin holding citizenship of other countries, who submitted their visa applications in September, were still awaiting their approval while non-Indian journalists received their visas within days from Pakistan Embassy in New Delhi.

The communique further said a few journalists of Indian origin who managed to get Pakistani visas were running the risk of being deported as it happened with an Indian scribe holding a US passport.

“The CPJ urges the authorities concerned that the journalists should not be barred from Pakistan on the basis of their nationality”, it said.



CTSA for open house sessions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The Chandigarh Telephone Subscribers Association (CTSA) has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to conduct open house sessions at Chandigarh . This would enable the subscribers to voice their grievances and offer their suggestions for the improvement of services of basic telephony, cellular and Internet operators.

‘‘North - west region has not been covered properly till now and in case the sessions start there , it would benefit the subscribers in this region’’, said Mr Randhir Verma, president of the association .



Lions Club holds Divali Mela
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 11
A colourful cultural show marked the celebrations at the annual Divali Mela organised by the Mohali Lions Club on Dashera ground in Phase 8, here today.

At least 200 students of six local schools participated in the cultural show. The Public Relations Minister, Mr Natha Singh Dalam, was the chief guest on the occasion. The fair was a one-day event. Mr Kuljeet Bedi, Chairman and President of the Lions Club said the entry to the mela was free this time. Elephant rides, giant wheel, raffle draw and stalls of eatables were the highlights of the mela.

On the occasion, the Chief Medical Officer spoke about female infanticide. Mr H.S. Midha, President of the club, also spoke on the occasion.


Tributes paid to Capt Rohit Kaushal
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 11
Tributes were paid to Capt Rohit Kaushal on his sixth martydom day which was observed at his memorial in Jalauli village today. On the occasion a guard of honour was presented. Brig Inderjit Singh from Western Command and SDM Panchkula besides others paid floral tributes to him.



The election date of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) House, which has to be constituted afresh by December 23, is being kept closely guarded apparently to ward off pulls and pressures.

As dates have not been announced, political parties, mainly the BJP and the Congress, are accusing each other of pressurising the Chandigarh Administration, to defer elections.

Political activities have picked but have not gone into full blast. The Congress had earlier been accusing the BJP of getting the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, to put pressure for an early election as the BJP had moved a resolution to dissolve the MCC House.

The BJP is now accusing the Congress of seeking to get the elections delayed with the ploy of Ramzan.

The Congress minority cell recently demanded that Ramzan period be avoided for elections.

With a date not being confirmed, media has been speculating on the day when elections are likely to be held.

Punjab yellow pages

The first edition of a Punjab Yellow Pages has been introduced to the market recently by a private company bringing out a Yellow Pages directory for eight years for Chandigarh.

The directory aimed at NRIs claims to have information on 500 business categories in alphabetical order.

It gives information on government and private sectors, large and small industries, educational institutions and traders and tourism.

The company that has brought out the directory says that Punjab is in the proximity of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and is thus an attractive destination for investors.

Environment studies

Panjab University happens to be amongst the rare universities in the country to have introduced the subject of environment studies as a compulsory subject at the graduation level a few years back. This followed directions from the Supreme Court.

In another noteworthy step in this direction, the university is also introducing the subject at the postgraduation level from the next academic session. The matter has been cleared by the university committee which has also cleared the syllabi for the course.

The university struggled in the initial years for the establishment of the course. The examination was cancelled in the first attempt because a negligent percentage was able to clear the examination. The syllabi was considered too technical to be commonly attempted by different streams of students, particularly the science stream.

This was followed by minimum lectures which were mandatory for getting a certificate to have qualified in the subject. Colleges having arts streams faced problems in organising lectures. Students appearing as private candidates also faced difficulty in finding a college which would accommodate them in the absence of regular classes.

CM says no

Controversy refuses to leave the side of the now “deserted” Anandgarh Project. When the Punjab Chief Minister during a sangat darshan at Kharar recently announced scrapping of the project, the bureaucrats who were actively involved in project and even went on foreign joints to study housing projects were not even taken in confidence.

When asked about their reaction to the announcement, some of the officials were surprised. A bureaucrat said the political masters hardly take them in to confidence while announcing or scrapping a project. It is learnt that the Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, who is (was ) chairperson of the Anandgarh Authority was also not taken into confidence while announcing the project.

In the dock

A reporter got the taste of his own medicine while he was checking any late night developments on the crime front in the city.

The reporter made a call to one of the police stations in the southern subdivision of the city, and asked if any FIR had been registered. He was told by the cop at the other end of the line that he had been booked.

Baffled, the reporter again identified himself. But the cop refused to believe that he was a journalist and thought of him as an accused in one of the complaints of cheating received by him earlier that day. In fact, the cop rebuked the correspondent by asking him not to feign his true identity and instead give his address.

The reporter, himself confused at what was happening, again gave his office address, but all in vain. Worried, the reporter disconnected the telephone line. But his investigative instincts again had him calling the police station in order to know about the complaint pending in the police station. This, time, it was the Station House Officer of the police station who answered the call and upon knowing of the identity of the reporter, went into peals of laughter. He had been briefed by the cop who had earlier received the call and thus the faux pas was cleared.

Winter is here

The change in season has been brisk and can be felt. The chill is much more and this has spurred sales of geysers. Still, it may take a month for sales of room heaters and blowers to pick up. The local Industrial Area has several units where geysers and blowers are assembled for sales in local and surrounding markets.

Shopkeepers say sales have gone up. So far, all supplies were being sent to Himachal Pradesh where winter sets in ahead of the plains. Now local people have been making enquiries about rates and sizes of geysers.

Various local brands have colourful bodies and an interesting feature is that you can get a choice of sceneries painted on the body of the geyser to match the decor of your bathroom. And if you have purchased a dull coloured geyser years ago it can be painted afresh with a bright scenery on it.

On the power front engineers are girding up to meet the winter load. Power drawal during peak winter is as high as the drawal during peak of summer. A piece of advice has been given by an engineer: try and buy geysers which consume less power.

True conservationist

Nek Chand is truly on path of conservation. He is not just working on the expansion of Rock Garden by creating better and new sculptural forms every day, but is now also focusing on regenerating and reviving the forms which have been damaged over the past 20 years.

In the store room of Rock Garden about 50 damaged pieces of his art are lying clustered, waiting to be put back to life. Interestingly, Nek Chand has also hired labourers to mend damaged works and give them a new shape. Two women and two men are constantly at work in a silent corner of the Rock Garden, busy giving final touches to many recreated pieces. The photograph on top of the page shows one of these women at work.

Not interested

Come what may, some people are just not interested in anything cultural. The other day Dr Alka Pande talked to the students of Dev Samaj Girls College about the fast vanishing cultural traditions of Punjab. The talk was organised to conclude Virasat series of SPIC MACAY. Alka had come fully equipped with slides which document the vanishing musicians and their heritage. Despite the preparations, not everyone in the gathering was interested in what she had to say. At least one-third of the students were busy preparing notes throughout the lecture. And even while some eyes were focused on them, they seemed in no mood to relent. At the end of the lecture, one student said: “Will culture ever be preserved by such lectures?”

Well, culture may not be preserved overnight, but that is really how the beginnings are made.

Party has it all

Rallies or sammelans of political parties in the city are a routine affair. Hardly any day passes when we do not see political rallies addressed by national or state-level leaders. These rallies become monotonous or lacklustre unless interspersed by comic anecdotes.

The BJP sammelan held in Sector 33-A at the BJP office was dressed among others by Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, and Mr O.P. Kohli, National Secretary of the party, among other orators. All leaders spoke in volume about the leadership qualities of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and preached all workers to sink their differences.

However, when the turn of Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP from the city, came he created humour by saying that those who accuse the local unit of the BJP of factionalism were sadly mistaken. The party has “Yash” (the name of the new coordinator of the outfit after the abolition of the team of officebearers of the party.) It has Gian, (the name of the former President of the party was Gian Chand Gupta). It enjoys the virtue of Satya (Mr Jain’s own name). It has “Prem”, the name of a former officebearer of the party. It has Dharma (religion), the name of a former President of the party, Mr Dharam Pal Gupta.

He said any political party which had all these virtues could not be said to be ridden with factionalism. And the meeting ended on a happy note.

Tawa ’n’ tandoor tale

That thousands of people are flocking Hotel Shivalikview for the Tawa ’n’ Tandoor festival on during the days of Divali mela (November 9 to 12) is no surprise. Afterall, it’s not everyday that you get good Shivalikview fare at rates lower than normal days.

The hotel officials are equally happy. In these four days, their bottom line is likely to cross the Rs 2 lakh mark, proudly claimed Banquet Manager Jagan Chaudhry. Just as it did during the first phase of the festival, from October 26 to 29. In fact, seeing the good response on the night of day one, the authorities decided to provide the khana even during lunchtime.

The vast lawn adjoining the parking lot has chik-lined stalls in which cooks are busy rustling up the delicacies on huge tawas (tawa mutton masala, fish Amritsari, pao bhaji etc) and earthen tandoors (achari panir, tandoori gobi/veg salad, tandoori murg, kebab, tikka etc) sprinkled with traditional herbs and spices under the supervision of chef Dharam Veer Singh.

Foot-tapping Punjabi pop livens the atmosphere and leads kids to the dance floor, who seem to be enjoying themselves, full with food, ice-cream, juices and cold drinks. The elders seem to be content with tomato shorba (Rs 10), snacks, sarson ka saag, biryani-raita and dal, topped with jalebi or gulab jamun, accompanied with beer. That there are not enough chairs does not seem to bother them much.

If you haven’t been there, don’t despair. It’s on today, too!

— Sentinel



Girl injured in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
A seven-year-old girl of Colony No 5, Krishna, was injured after she was hit by a car near the Poultry Farm chowk. She was admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital. A case has been registered.

Theft cases: Sector 11 resident Surinder Singh has reported that his purse containing Rs 15,000 and an attache case containing some clothes and his identity card have been stolen from his residence. In second case, Sector 18 resident Subhash Chand has reported that his house was broken into and his fax machine and cash amounting to Rs 5,000 were stolen. In third case, Sector 22 resident Dalip Kumar has reported that his shop in Sector 20 was broken into and cash amounting to Rs 1,500 was stolen. The police has registered cases.

Man beaten up: A resident of Colony No 5, Bikram, has been admitted to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital after he was beaten up by three persons belonging to the same colony. The police has registered a case.



Motor cycle of Tribune scribe stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Umesh Ghrera, a Sub-Editor working with The Tribune, reported that his Hero Honda Passion motor cycle (CH-03-D-1226) was stolen from his residence in Sector 46 last night.

He had parked the bike in the forecourt of his house after returning from the office. The bike was still there when he returned from a walk at about 11.30 p.m., but found it missing at about 7.30 this morning.



Festive season fails to excite shoppers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 11
Crystal wares and chunky jewellery are displayed on the sheet-covered folding beds casually placed outside the decked up shops. Inside, under the dazzling lights of high wattage bulbs, are displayed wrist watches, crockery, electric goods and other Divali gifts. But there is no enthusiasm among the shoppers even though the festival is just four days away. This is not all. Even the loud din of crackers, synonymous with Divali, is not filling the hearts of the youngsters with joy. Worse, very few residents have purchased electric diyas for the festival of lights.

The traders admit that there is no excitement in the markets. ‘‘Until a few years ago, you had youngster buying crackers a month before the festival,’’ says Dheeraj Khanna, a Sector 37 shopkeeper. ‘‘The shopping season too used to be at its peak at least a week before the occasion’’. He adds that in days that are no more, residents could be seen shopping around for the festival, buying new clothes and other accessories for their homes. Attractive gifts items, including crockery, sceneries, decoration pieces, were also sold off briskly. But now a days, they are lying wrapped up in colourful sheets.

Another trader Rajesh adds, ‘‘This time the business is not picking up. As the use of dangerous crackers have also been banned by the Administration, the sale of crackers has also come down’’.

Agreeing with him, a Sector 32 showroom owner reveals, the people have become conscious while buying gifts. The residents are these days looking for inexpensive gifts that look expensive. The customer is just not willing to spend much on the gifts.




The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will provide 40,000 telephone connections (wireline), 10,000 lines on WLL with six BTS stations for umbrella coverage and 21,000 GSM mobile connections by next year, according to a press note. TNS

The State Bank of Patiala will observe ‘Customers interaction fortnight’ from November 12 to 24 during which senior executives of the bank will visit the bank branches and interact with the customers, according to a press note issued by Mr J.R. Devgun, General Manager (Operations). TNS


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