Thursday, December 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S



PSIEC placed in a tight spot
Fails to recover land compensation sum
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

* A proposal of the PSIEC to float an Industrial Housing Scheme (dedicating 20 per cent of the total area in a focal point for residential dwelling units) is likely to be approved by the state government. Once the land from the erring industrial units in SAS Nagar was evicted, houses for industrial workers would be carved out.

* The PSIEC Employees Union has suggested that a fund should be created in the corporation at the instance of the high court wherein the land enhancement compensation could directly be deposited. It would ensure that the funds of the corporation were not diverted to pay for the land enhancement costs.

* The PSIEC employees allege that due to a connivance between the officials of the Industries Department and the land owners, the enhancement costs announced by different courts were conveyed late to the corporation resulting in interest penalty on the compensation amount.

SAS Nagar, December 26
The Punjab State Industrial and Export Corporation (PSIEC) is in a tight spot. Unable to recover the enhanced land compensation, including the interest liability, from the industrial plot owners here, a liability of over Rs 20 crore, expected to rise to around Rs 70 crore, has set alarm bells ringing in the minds of the employees of the corporation.

Already facing financial crisis, the corporation had to shell out about Rs 2.75 crore from its pocket after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed it to pay certain 50 per cent of the amount in a stipulated time period in land compensation cases. So far an industrial unit has only paid Rs 65 lakh to the corporation. Peeved at the inability of the corporation to realise the amount from the pocket of the industrial units, the employees union of the PSIEC has decided to become party to the land compensation cases pending before the high court. Funds were being mobilised to meet the legal expenses in pursuing the cases.

Though the industrial unit owners decry the over 50 per cent increase in the land enhancement cost in the wake of recession in the industry, officials of the corporation express their apprehension in implementing the court orders. Sources in the corporation said the Ranbaxy group, holding 123 acres of land in Industrial Area, Phase VIII, had been asked to pay a land enhancement cost of around Rs 17.90 crore.

The units in the ELTOP area have to pay around Rs 7.35 crore. An enhancement cost of around Rs 11 crore has been calculated for Godrej GE unit which had been allotted 75.02 acres. ICI a reputed company manufacturing auto paints, which in possession of around 33 acres has to pay Rs 4.65 crore. It is learnt that a unit, Continental Devices, has already paid Rs 63 lakh of the total enhancement cost of Rs 1.78 crore. Other big units like Brahama S, and Shivalik Cables had been asked to pay Rs 4 crore and Rs 3.10 crore, respectively.

Sources said a district court had directed the Land Acquisition Collector of the Industries Department to pay the interest liability. An official said after a case to approach the Supreme Court in the land compensation was struck down by the Punjab Government, the corporation was likely seek more time period in paying the enhanced compensation amount.

After repeated correspondence between the CMD of Godrej GE and the Chief Minister of Punjab with the former seeking relief from the land enhancement slapped on its unit here, the Punjab Government is learnt to have clearly stated that at least 50 per cent of the amount of the total sum has to be paid.

The Managing Director of the PSIEC, Mr Kulbir Singh, said the corporation had already cancelled the allotment of land to Ranbaxy group and the eviction proceedings were to begin in the court of the Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM), SAS Nagar, under the relevant sections of the Public Premises Act. The corporation was in the process of issuing final notices to different industrial units.


Jor Mela: Punjabi spirit all along
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Thick envelope of fog, overcast sky and chilly weather are not enough to dampen the indomitable Punjabi spirit of community service as langars dot the state highways and inter-district highways leading from various parts of the state to Fatehgarh Sahib, the venue of the three-day annual Shaheedi Jor Mela.

In the 50 km periphery of Fatehgarh Sahib town , spread over Patiala, Ludhiana, Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts, the number of such community kitchens which have been functioning round the clock since yesterday must be over a thousand. And these langars would continue till December 28.

And interestingly, each of these roadside langars are organised voluntarily with contributions coming mainly from the organisers from adjoining villages supplemented by donations from the people at large.

These langars, though a routine for people of Punjab, are as frequent as big religious fairs, including Maghi at Muktsar, Hola Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib, Baisakhi at Talwandi Sabo and Shaheedi Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib. Then there are other festivals and fairs, including the Chappar, and the Puranmashi (full moonlight) congregations at various historic places of worship throughout the state.

Each of these community kitchens or langars has the same set-up. The village panchayat or the gurdwara committee take the initiative and villagers supplement it with their contributions in the shape of milk, sugar, tea leaves, vegetables, oils and ghee, wheat flour, cereals and pulses, rice and even fuel.

The most articulate speakers of the village are picked to manage the public address system while women and girls take the responsibility of both cooking chapatis and cleaning utensils while menfolk are assigned the job of stopping the passersby by requesting them with folded hands and serving them hot food and snacks. The participation is of the whole family. And families take turns as the kitchen continues round the clock.

This phenomenon is unprecedented. Nowhere such a massive participation on voluntary basis takes place during religious festivities. If one works out the economics of one of such langars, the cost of material consumed a day comes to about Rs 10,000. This is supplemented by volunteers who cook and distribute food, including chapatis, dal, subzi, kheer, rice, pickles, besides pakoras, bread pakoras, jalebees and tea.

Another interesting aspect of such community kitchens is that people cut across religion and caste lines to join them and work as a team. The enthusiasm witnessed this time is all the more significant in view of the tension on the international the border. Unprecedented in number and overwhelming participation reflects not only universal brotherhood, communal harmony and peace in the state but also gives a message that in case of need this enthusiasm and voluntary participation could turn into a mass movement to boost the morale of our security forces who move through the state to forward positions on the Indo-Pak border.


Jacob’s visit leaves fire officers red in the face
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The surprise visit of Lt. Gen. JFR Jacob, (retd.), Governor of Punjab and Administrator, U.T., Chandigarh, to the fire stations of Sector 38, 32 and Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, today exposed the un-preparedness of the fire fighting system of Chandigarh.

General Jacob reached Sector 38 fire station without any intimation. The Senior Fire Officer in charge of the fire station, Mr. M.L. Sharma, was away on personal work. Two firemen and one driver were playing cards in the sun. The Administrator was surprised to see that only one driver was available at the fire station. The fireman informed the Governor that in the fire station out of four fire tenders only one was operational, whereas three were off the road due to various mechanical and battery problems.

The Governor asked the fireman to sound the hooter of emergency to collect other firemen. But no firemen appeared on the scene even after emergency hooter was sounded. The fireman, Mr. Radha Krishnan, informed the Governor that the fire station was understaffed, as a total of 10 firemen were available for three shifts. General Jacob was appalled to see broken doors blocking the exit doors of fire station with junk blocking the precious space.

Later, the Governor went to the fire station, Sector 32. The position in this fire station was far worse as only one fireman and one driver were available for two fire tenders. Most of the firemen were on leave and senior fire officers S.K. Gosain was reportedly on duty in Sector 17. A pile of condemned tyres was blocking the exit door of the fire station. One ambulance and recovery vehicles in the fire station were lying in the un-serviceable condition.

Later, the Governor went to the emergency ward of Government Medical College. The Administrator found that emergency overcrowded, with most of the patients lying on trolleys. The surgeon-incharge of the emergency ward informed the Governor that all these patients were waiting for their surgery and they were semi-emergency cases. On being asked about the reason of backlog of surgery, the surgeon informed the Governor that after 2.00 PM, out of seven OTs only one OT works and emergency cases were given preferences.

The Medical Superintendent and Director, Medical College, who reached the scene 20 minutes after the arrival of Administrator informed that there was shortage of anaesthetists in the Government College and backlog could be cleared only if staff strength could be increased. He said that the problems of availability of operation theatres would be solved after completion of C- Block. The Administrator said that the Director and the Medical Superintendent should work out the modalities to make the optimum use of available operation theatres and the staff and clear the backlog at the earliest. He said that the emergency wards should not remain overcrowded and patients should be sent to wards immediately after giving preliminary treatment.

The visit of the Administrator to all the three places was without any prior information.


Children want peace in the New Year
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 26
The sands of time brought a lot of changes during the year 2001. Where as on the one hand the scientists were able to map the entire DNA code sequence, pushing the humanity to further progress, there was the aircraft attack on the World Trade Tower in the USA by terrorists rebels that brought all development to a halt and shifted the focus to the war.

Back home, the events of the past 10 days, in the aftermath of the suicide attack on the very seat of our democracy, Parliament House, has shaken the young ones, who have been deeply perturbed and want a peaceful New Year.

Puneet Kumar, a student of Class V of Gurukul School, wishes that the world becomes a better place to live in during the year 2002. “ We children are taught that peace and compassion are virtues that each one of us should acquire. But it is the elders who need to re-learn their lessons because they are the ones bringing war and death in the world,” he laments.

His views are supported by Deep Mala, a 14-year-old student of Manav Mangal School. She says that the forthcoming year will be a decisive year for her personally as it would carve her future career. “The new year is going to be very important year for me as I will be going to Class X and how I fare in this class will have an impact on my career plans,” she says. However, she feels that the recent developments in the country, what with the attack on Parliament and the Afghan war following the September 11 attacks in the USA have had an obvious impact on everyone, including her generation. “ We want a world free of struggle and strife. Let their be peace everywhere,” she appeals.

Ten-year-old Jyoti Thakur says, “There is much more in the world than violence and the world. Let the new year bring in social and economic well being for the country and the wor. Let us increase our food production so that there are no starvation deaths in the country. Also, let us evolve a system to decrease the effects of natural disasters like earthquakes, which claimed thousands of lives in Gujarat earlier this year.

However, most of these youngsters expressed a positive attitude towards having a better world in the New Year. Their sentiments, could be best summed up in these lines of Shakespeare-

“ We are such stuff ,

As dreams are made of...”


Councillors administered oath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Twentyeight Municipal Councillors were administered the oath as members of the Municipal Corporation for a period of five years at a brief ceremony here today. The lone absentee was the highly decorated Brig Sant Singh, who was nominated to the MC.

He is away to Delhi on some work, his family said tonight. Within minutes of the oath-taking ceremony, Mr B.B. Bahl, president of the local unit of the Congress, which has 13 of the 20 elected members, told reporters that his party would strive to get the MC its share of funds from the Administration. The matter would be taken up with the Union Government and the local MP Mr Pawan Bansal, would take up the issue, he added.

Asked how the Congress would manage for more funds when the outgoing BJP- SAD alliance could not manage it, despite the BJP being in power at the Centre, Mr Bahl alleged the BJP councillors were fighting among themselves and did not have time for such works. Later, Mr Bansal said that Chandigarh was a revenue-surplus state. Thus, excess funds should be diverted to the MC for development.

Earlier oath was administered by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, with party leaders in audience and Mr Bansal sitting among the councillors. Notable among the absentees were Chandigarh Vikas Manch leader and former Union Minister Harmohan Dhawan, despite his party winning three seats. Former local MP Satya Pal Jain was not there. However, the BJP was represented by Mr Yash Pal Mahajan, president of the local unit. Also missing was Mr Gurpratap Singh Riar, president of the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

With the Congress having a strength of 13, the strong Congress contingent was led by Mr B.B. Bahl.

The process started with the nominated councillors coming first, followed by elected councillors. All eight nominated councillors took the oath in English. Ms Anu Chatrath of the Congress, Mrs Harpreet Kaur Babla of the Chandigarh Vikas Manch and Mr Surinder Singh of the Congress preferred English. Two councillors, Mrs Harjinder Kaur of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Mr Kuldeep Singh of the Congress, opted for Punjabi.

All other 15 councillors took their oath in Hindi. A small get-together was organised outside the MC office with senior functionaries of the Administration, Mr Raminder Singh Gujral , Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Local Government, and the Finance Secretary, Mr Karan A. Singh, also present.

However, a fair attempt to administer the oath in Punjabi was made by Haryana cadre Indian Administrative Service official and UT Deputy Commissioner M. Ramsekhar. Hailing from Andhra Pradesh, Mr Ramsekhar did a good job, however, he urged the wrong gender for Mrs Harjinder Kaur amidst laughter, he could just smile and accept his handicap. Mrs Harjinder Kaur took the cue and did not wait for the DC to read out the final line of the oath, much to the relief of the DC. Mr Kuldeep Singh of the Congress was also administered the oath in Punjabi. 


Votes of nominated councillors crucial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Despite the Congress having a clear majority in the Municipal Corporation, there will be a contest for the Mayor’s post. Various combinations and permutations are being worked out by the Opposition parties.

The Congress president, Mr B.B. Bahl, today said the Congress candidate would be announced on December 28, the last date for filing of nominations for the Mayor’s poll to be held on January 1.

Mr B. Kalita, Secretary All-India Congress Committee, and in charge for Chandigarh, will arrive here and hold a meeting with the elected councillors, the local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, and besides other senior leaders.

The MC has 29 councillors. Twenty of them are elected and nine nominated. The Congress has 13 elected councillors, the BJP-SAD combine has four while the Harmohan Dhawan-led Chandigarh Vikas Manch has three. The votes of nominated councillors will be crucial.

But for the combined Opposition to create a stir, they will require eight more votes than their elected strength. This means, if a non-Congress Mayor is to be elected, he would first require all seven votes of a combined Opposition and eight more. There are nine nominated councillors. The other option is that some disgruntled Congress councillors vote against their party.


Phone lines in VIP sectors remain dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Telephone lines in the Civil Secretariat building, housing the governments of Punjab and Haryana and VIP sectors in the north of the city, remained dead for most part of the day today, thanks to a major glitch in the telephone exchange serving the area.

Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana reside in these sectors. Bungalows of ministers and top officers of the two governments are also located here.


Provide information on tenants: Admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Within a fortnight of the attack on Parliament House, the Chandigarh Administration today made it compulsory under law for landlords to provide information about tenants. Any violation will invite action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.

The order comes eighteen months after the same system of providing information about tenants was dispensed away with. The argument was that very few police cases were being registered or action was taken for non information of tenants. This time it will be implemented very seriously, said a top UT official.

Landlords of both residential and commercial property will have to furnish information in writing about their tenants to the Station House Office (SHO) concerned of the area. The order will remain in force till February 24. This has been done to keep tabs on activities of anti-social elements and the orders under Section 144 of the Cr.P.C

Meanwhile, the Administration also extended its order asking information about people seeking employment in petty and non-formal trade or services or to provide contract labour like rickshaw-pullers, rehriwallahs, phariwallahs, washermen or cobblers to provide their particulars along with their passport sized photographs to the local police to enable identification or verifications of criminal elements .

Any breach of this order will invite action under Section 188 of the IPC . The order that comes into force from tomorrow will remain in force till February 24.

Interrogation of criminals by the local police reveals that some of them or their accomplice are from among the migrant labourers and those engaged in petty, non-formal trades and services. The orders were passed after it was found that such people do not get their antecedents verified and as a result crime prevention becomes difficult.


On road to progress, despite teething problems
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 26
The year 2001 saw major changes in the township with the creation of the Panchkula Municipal Council. Over the year, staff and powers were slowly transferred to it from the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

The Municipal Council was created on January 26 this year. A final notification for delimitation of 26 wards in the township was also issued, paving the way for elections in the future.

Interestingly, initial jubilation at the creation of the MC soon led to wariness amongst the residents, who feared that with the MC being formed and most of the developed sectors being transferred to it, the political interference would increase to a large extent.

The resentment of the people increased as the Municipal Council began imposing taxes (house tax and tax on those running commercial business in residential areas). A lot of residents welfare associations protested against the imposition of these taxes , but to no avail.

On the positive side, the MC, in spite of having a skeletal staff began initiating work on the beautification of the township. Polythene bags were banned in the township; it was decided to acquire land for a dairy complex outside the township to solve the problem of stray cattle; and the MC proposed to privatise the maintenance of streetlights in the areas falling under its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, work on the prestigious Golf Course and Multi-disciplinary Sports Complex here started in right earnest this year. Haryana Olympic Bhawan was also started during this year.

A restaurant building in the city centre was also inaugurated during this year. It is altogether a different matter that the restaurant has not become operational till now. Though the contract for the restaurant was awarded a few months ago, the contractor ran into a few problems and tenders have been invited once again.

For the first time, the enforcement staff of the Town and Country Planning Department demolished the farmhouses in Billa village, which had come up in violation of the Punjab Periphery Area Control Act. The authorities also clamped down on the building violations in the periphery and more than 100 criminal cases were registered against the violators of this act.

Other anti-encroachment drives in the township included the one in the Housing Board colonies. For years together, the residents of these colonies had been encroaching upon government land by constructing illegal structures.

Other than this, the year brought a ray of hope for the employees of HUDA, who were granted the privilege of pension at government pattern. Earlier, the employees were given the facility of a contributory provident fund.

In another major administrative decision, the authorities did some reshuffling of its employees, who had been on the same seat for more than five years.

This year also saw a number of development schemes being initiated by the district administration. Infrastructure in the district was developed according to present-day needs, especially with regard to educational facilities, pushing forward the district on the road to development during the first year of the millennium.

On the other hand, with the floating population in the district increasing by the day, the crime graph also soared, with the number of murders in the district during this year being more than double those reported in 2000. September kept the police on tenterhooks, with three cases of murder being reported during a span of 13 days.

The year began on a not-so-happynote, with the villagers near Naddha Sahib discovering a one inch wide and 1.2 km long crack on the foothills of the Shivaliks. Since these cracks were discovered a few days after the earthquake that rocked Gujarat, both the administration and the local population were shaken.

After much panic, geologists from far and wide as well as from the Department of Geology, Panjab University, and the Archaeological Survey India visited the site. It was only about two months later the controversy died down, with most experts agreeing that the cracks were only on the surface and a result of the subsoil having dried on the surface where the Naddha choe once flowed.

The administration launched various new schemes for the welfare of the residents, with HARIS scheme being launched in January. HARIS ( Haryana Revenue Information System) was launched in Panchkula and Kalka subdivisions, wherein the registration of land deeds computerised. It was in November that that this scheme was extended to three other subdivisions, Raipur Rani, Barwala and Morni .

New computerised registration centres were set up, to provide the facilities of registration and registry on the spot. Besides this registration work, the computer centres would undertake the work of land jamabandi, birth and death records, voters’ list and 22 other facilities.

The district-level Integrated Informatics Centre offered information on Sarkar Aapke Dwar, Panchayati Raj, BPL list and emergency services. An individual could also register personal complaints regarding water and electricity, administrative and other departmental grievances through informatics centres established at sub-tehsil level.

Two bridges were constructed in the district in villages of Toka and Rihor in Barwala. The new bus stand at Kalka also came up this year. The grain market in Barwala was inaugurated this year. The JBT hostel for women also came up in Morni. The government decided to construct residential quarters for its employees stationed at Morni.

Several government middle and higher education schools were opened in the district. The foundation stone of an engineering college was laid in Golpura in Raipur Rani. However, education in government schools showed dismal results, with the pass percentage in the schools being reported as less than 40 percent. A new agricultural training centre was constructed for agricultural experts from all over the state.

Taking on the power shortage problem in the district, the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam commissioned a 66 KV power sub station in Raipur Rani. Foundation stones of two power substations in Mansa Devi Complex and Kalka were also laid.

It was the Antodaya Anna Yojana for families below poverty line and the new lease of life given to Village Development Committees during the second phase of Sarkar Aapke Dwar programme that were widely appreciated. In the first scheme, which was extended to the district, 15. 33 per cent families below poverty line were identified and given 25 kg of rice or wheat at Rs 3 and Rs 2 a kg, respectively.

An amount of Rs 3 crores was allocated for the 157 Village Development Committees during the second phase of Sarkar Aapke Dwar programme. This money was being utilised for the construction of school rooms, village boundary walls, chaupals and village streets.

The residents, in spite of the various welfare schemes launched by the police, were disturbed by the rising crime graph. The district also proved a soft hideout for hardened criminals, including those with underworld links.

Of the 13 murders that took place in the district, the police was able to solve just six. The police was able to solve two blind murder cases, one of a factory watchman by a former employee and the other of a 24-year-old man by poachers. Three murders in September, those of a stage artist, a watchman and hotelier Pankaj Rana, got the police on its toes.

An aide of Babloo Srivastava, Manjit Singh Mange, and his two aides, and gangster Mahavir had been taking shelter in the township for several weeks. They were arrested or chased off by police from other states. Delhi police also busted a major gang involved in luxury car thefts operating from here and involving a local INLD leader.

The police busted a gang involved in heroin smuggling with the arrest of a Nigerian, Tazuddin. Three kg of pure heroin worth over Rs 2.5 crore was recovered from him.

Six dowry deaths were reported in the district and a similar number of rape and abduction cases were registered. The year also saw a lot of youngsters taking to crime for ‘living it up’. About 20 cases of car thefts by teenagers for having joyrides came to light.


‘I will be in Capital for celebrations’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Dreams do come true, if you have money and the inclination to turn these into reality. So while the “have nots” of society still day dream on ways of heralding the New Year, the rich and famous of Chandigarh have their plans chalked out.

For them, its is all decided. As the sun sets on 2001, some will rush (in their polished jaunty jalopies) to open air parties, where the thumping beat of music, mingled with the soft melodies of gazal singers crooning live numbers from the by-gone era, will transport them to the next year of the millennium.

Others will repose on comfortable sofas around blazing bonfires savouring barbeque sausages and cheese and invigorating the yellow elixir at city hotels decked in glittering lights for the occasion. Some others are hosting their parties with friends from overseas joining the celebrations. Few are planning to fly out of the city to “undisclosed destinations,” away from “the rut of the business world”.

Painter and designer, but primarily a sculptor, Shiv Singh plans to spend the last day of this year with fellow-artists at the All-India Fine Arts and Crafts Society in Delhi. “In fact, I will be leaving for the Capital tomorrow,” he says.

Giving details, Mr Shiv Singh, honoured with the National Award in 1979, besides the President of India’s Silver Plaque for the best exhibit of 1982 at the All-India Art Exhibition in Delhi, along with several other awards, says: “Normally, I talk my way into the next year with friends and colleagues at the Golf Club, which is my second home. But this year I will be attending a dinner party being hosted for artists”. 


‘End to discrimination’, his motto
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
“End to discrimination”, is the message of Mr Rajinder Kumar Saini, chairman of the Arya Prathindhi Sabha, the supreme council of Arya Samajis living in East Africa.

“Anyone can become a member of the Arya Prathinidhi Sabha, irrespective of caste, creed or colour”, he asserts during his visit to the city. “Keeping this is mind, we impart education at Arya Samaj Schools, set up in Kenya in and around 1920 to students coming from all sections of society”.

Giving details, the chairman, a PhD in entomology from the University of Wales, says: “The basic principle of the Arya Samaj is to guide people on the technique of living life in a peaceful and a contented manner. Their caste and social status does not matter”.

Regarding the formation of the sabha, he says: “The Arya Prathinidhi Sabha was started in Kenya in 1903. Today, we have about 600 members in Kenya itself. After every two years, the sabha members select a new chairman”.

The motive behind the setting up of the sabha, he adds, is to keep non-residents close to Indian customs and values. This, he asserts, is done by organising a satsang every Sunday followed by langar at Arya Samaj temples.

“Otherwise also, we have bhajan sessions on festivals, including Divali, Dusehra and Holi,” he says. “Every week special religious classes for children on the Hindu philosophy of life, music and the Hindi language are also organised for the under-privileged students”.


Shaping young minds

Pragati Gandhi, Assistant Director with Besten Foundation, is in her mid-20s and she is already into planning, executing and organising cultural exchange programmes for students at different levels.

A postgraduate diploma-holder in Mass Communication, her forte is counselling students and their parents. The reason, she explains, is not very hard to see. ‘’When I was a student, there was hardly anybody to guide us properly. This is not all,” she asserts.” There was no platform for kids to do something different.’’

Giving details, she adds: “It is only through counselling and extra curricular activities that the talent of a child can be explored. Through participation of children in various activities, the parents also come to know about the potential of their kids”.

So instead of whizzing around on the geri route, like some of her college friends did, Pragati started her career with an organisation known as “Director of Ideas for Advancement”.

“I also undertake social work at Old-Age Home and the institute for blind,” she reveals.


Expenditure item cleared amid protest
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, December 26
Municipal councillors today protested against the Department of Local Government imposing an expenditure of Rs 3.51 lakh on the civic body in connection with the foundation stone laying function held on December 6.

The councillors, who were attending a general meeting of the civic body, said though the function to lay the foundation stone of Punjab Municipal Bhavan was held here, the town’s councillors were ignored by department officials. No seating arrangements were made for them at the venue; nor were they invited to lunch on that day. Besides, the council was already facing a severe financial crunch after the scrapping of octroi and could not afford to foot such a heavy bill.

However all councillors except six cleared this item on the agenda though under protest arguing that the function had already been held and the expenditure incurred.

The meeting also passed a resolution to vacate a part of the premises occupied by the council in Phase VII by June 30 next year in keeping with the court judgement.

The councillors cleared the estimates submitted by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board for the sinking of two new tubewells in the HB flats area in Phase I and the Phase IX Industrial Area.

However, councillor Manjit Singh Sethi said that the tubewell sunk in Phase IIIA earlier by the board was not working satisfactorily. He said the water discharge was inadequate and the depth was not according to plan.

The meeting decided to ask private parties to undertake tubewell sinking work in future instead of assigning to the board.

The House cleared additional increments in the case of 34 council employees on the basis of their service periods and satisfactory work.


Looking forward to oodles of fun
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, December 26
Driving uphill with friends in cars decked up with balloons, swaying to thumping beats of bhangra music booming from speakers after parking vehicles in the middle of the road, enjoying drinks and gahzals at a dimly lit evening — with New Year Eve just round the corner, the air is full of anticipation and excitement.

If you have not yet made up your plans for New Year celebrations, look at others who have.

Talking to youngsters, Chandigarh Tribune has found that while rich little kids will wait for the clock to strike 12 in elite hotels and clubs, a majority of students have their own plans for celebrations.

Anurag Sharma, doing masters in business administration at Jalandhar, has come back home to make merry with his gang. “On New Year Eve 31st we will leave the city in a friend’s car. After a cool drive we will plan to camp in the open somewhere beyond Kasauli,’’ he says.

They plan to make merry amidst bonfire, barb-e-cue and dancing to the hard beat of a 100-watt music system they are planning to take along. “The drinks stocked at a friend’s place at Parwanoo will add charm to the evening,’’ he adds.

Everyone may not be going uphill to travel. There are others like Rohita Kumar, a postgraduate PU student from Himachal Pradesh, who prefers to stay back as her hostel friends have arranged a dance party. “We are having a grand party in the common room where all day-scholars and foreigner friends have been invited,’’ says Rohita, adding that “the menu will be special”.

Nilesh Sharma, teaching at a private school here , is not going back to his native place as he plans to spend the occasion with his friends.”Our group of 8 or 10 friends has decided to drink a toast to New Year together. We will get together at any friend’s house and spend time drinking and listening to light music,” he says.

For Supreet, a sales executive with a multinational company, New Year Eve will not be the same this time. “Ever since my marriage two years back, we have been attending the exclusively for couples parties. This year will be different. We will stay at home and watch programmes on television,’’ he says. “I will prepare special food items for the occasion at home. There is no fun wasting so much of money when you cannot even enjoy fully,’’ he adds.

Ayesha, a Class VII student, is also staying back at home, but she has evolved different plans. Instead of watching television, she has invited her classmates. “We will dance and eat different pizzas. When the clock heralds New Year, I will greet my friends and favourite teacher on phone,’’ she says.

While residents will embrace and congratulate each other, Meenakshi, a fashion designer, will be imploring the Almighty for an ideal world where friends remain together forever. “Every New Year’ eve I remember all the friends whom circumstances have disunited,” she says.

Sameer, a software engineer, has a unique plan. “I will go off to sleep at nine. By the time I wake up, I will be into New Year,” he says.


Press Club bonanza
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
The Chandigarh Press Club has planned a bonanza for its members, their families and guests on New Year Eve.

Two bumper tambolas, a cultural programme and a DJ with music system and dance floor, apart from food and drinks, have been planned.

According to Sarabjit Pandher, secretary general of the club, a limited number of guest passes will be available on first-come-first-served basis from December 29.

The weekly Saturday tambola has been cancelled.


Special cruise offer for senior citizens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
A special package for senior citizens above the age of 50 years valid on SuperStar Virgo (which sail from Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand) and on SuperStar Leo (which sails from Hong Kong to China and Vietnam), has been announced by Star Cruises, the first global cruise line.

The offer is valid on bookings made from December 20, 2001 to March 10, 2002 on six days 5 night, four days three night and three days two night cruises.

This special offer includes 25 per cent off for the second passenger on SuperStar Virgo and 30 per cent off for second passenger on SuperStar Leo. 


Sabzi Mandi stone laid
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, December 26
The foundation stone of the town’s vegetable and fruit market was laid near Sector 65 today by the president of the Punjab Mandi Board, Mr Mal Singh Ghumaan.

Mr Ghumaan said the 20-acre sabzi mandi would have modern facilities. A sum of Rs 6 crore had been earmarked for the project. A Rs-32 crore modern sabzi mandi would also be set up in Ludhiana.

He said work on the Rs 24 crore residential colony for board employees was on in Sector 66 here which would be completed next year. He also took a round of the site.

Mr Ghumaan said an eight-storeyed office complex of the board would come up here at a cost of Rs 12 crore.

The president said the revenue of the board had doubled over the past few years. In 1999 it was Rs 325 crore with the current figure being around Rs 600 crore.

Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu, Secretary of the board, said commercial activity often failed when there was government interference. For proper results, he said, it was necessary to give a free hand in such spheres.

The sabzi mandi here will have four platforms for auctions, 85 shops and 20 booths. There will also be an 11-acre parking area.


Govt employee jumps to death
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
A Punjab Government employee jumped to death from the sixth floor of the high-security Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat here this afternoon. Apart form the Public Relations Department, all other offices of the two governments situated in the Secretariat were closed on account of the Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Udham Singh. According to police sources, Dhanu Ram (50) was earlier posted at the Punjab Raj Bhavan and was sent to the Secretariat a couple of months ago. The deceased, who was working as a senior assistant, is survived with a wife, a son and a daughter.


Two of Bawriya gang held
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 26
The police claimed to have made a headway in two major robbery incidents which occurred in Swarswati Vihar Colony in Dera Bassi and subsequently in Zirakpur and its surrounding villages after the arrest of two members of Bawriya gang, that had been active in this part of the state for the past couple of years, here today.

According to Dera Bassi police officials, two main accused — Kalu, alias Pachpachi and Kanhaiya — were involved in a robbery at the house of Mr Anwar Hussain in Swarswati Vihar Colony, in Dera Bassi, on September 11.

Armed with double-barrel guns, pistols, daggers, iron rods, chains, electricity cables, sticks and torches, the robbers had broken into Mr Anwar’s house and attacked nine persons, including three members of a family and their relatives, and robbed them on gun point of cash, valuables and garments worth lakhs of rupees.

The house owners and dozens of their relatives were sleeping in different rooms and on the terrace of the house after solemnising the marriage of Mr Hussain’s two children.

The accused were identified when they confessed about their involvement in Dera Bassi robbery case during interrogation by the Kurukshetra police after being arrested for their alleged involvement in seven cases of thefts and robberies in Ambala and Kurukshetra areas.

Police said the same gang had struck at four houses, a farmhouse and a tubewell located in Zirakpur, Nabha, Bhabhat and Chhat villages, beat up over 24 persons, including two members of a family, brutally and had decamped with cash, jewellery and other valuables worth thousands of rupees on October 15.

Some silver and gold jewellery items have also been recovered from the two and further investigations are on, claims Mr Amarjit Singh, SHO, Dera Bassi.

Police said the two had disclosed names of their six other accomplices — Dhanni, Jiya, Bhagat, Rajinder alias Lamboo, Thulla and Ramu — during interrogation. These six persons belonging to Muzaffar Nagar and Nazibabad are yet to be arrested.


Child crushed to death by truck
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
Two road accidents in different parts of the city today claimed one life during the past 24 hours. A child was crushed to death by a speeding Tata 407 truck near the dividing road of Sectors 48 and 49 this evening, while one person in a van was injured after being hit by a Punjab Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) bus in Sector 22, allegedly being plied on the wrong side of the road.

According to sources, 12-year-old Pintoo, a resident of Shaheed Udham Singh Colony was riding a cycle when he was hit by a truck. The truck driver managed an escape. The victim was immediately taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where he was declared dead.

In the second accident, which took place around 12.30 p.m., a PRTC bus (PB 11D 9693) rammed into a van (CH 03E 5366) on the road dividing Sector 21 and 22 near the Aroma traffic lightpoints. The van driver, Ashwani Kumar, a resident of Sector 15, was going towards Sector 36 when the accident took place. He was admitted to the PGI.

Police sources said the driver of the bus, Prem Singh, a resident of Noorpur Bedi, was driving on the wrong side and was arrested.

In the third road accident, which took in the wee hours today, an Indica car being driven by Mr Brahamdeep Singh, a resident of Ludhiana district, was allegedly hit by an Esteem car (CH 01X 2500) near the SAS Nagar barrier. A case under Section 279 of the IPC was registered. However, no one was injured in the accident.

One motor cyclist, Mr Davinder Singh, a resident of Sector 46, was injured after being hit by a scooter near the Sector 45 dispensary yesterday. The scooterist fled. A case under Sections 279 and 37 of the IPC was registered.

Mr Navdeep Kumar, a resident of Sector 71, SAS Nagar, reported to the police that his Maruti car (DL 4CC 8632) was stolen from Kala Gram in the late hours yesterday. A case of theft was registered.


Two booked for pilfering power
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 26
The police has booked two persons for allegedly pilfering electricity from the main electricity cable causing a loss of Rs 27,278 to the state government.

According to a complaint, Mr Jagdish Chandra Sharma, SDO of the Barwala circle, Hari Pal and Hari Singh of Mauli village were allegedly pilfering excess electricity from the sanctioned load.

The complainant alleged that Haripal was causing a loss of over Rs 13108 while Haripal Rs 14,170 to the electricity department.

Cases under the Electricity Act have been registered against them at Raipur Rani police station.

One held: The local police has arrested Satpal Singh, a resident of Rattewali, for carrying 30 pouches of country-made liquor from Shabhtu village on Wednesday.

A case under Sections 61, 1and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered against him at the Chandimandir police station.

Case registered: Surjit Singh of Haripur village was caught red-handed while playing satta at Old Panchkula on Wednesday. The police has recovered Rs 250 from his possession and a case under sections 13-A, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act was registered against him at the Sector 5 police station.

Motor cycle stolen: A motor cycle (HR-05A-0053) was stolen from outside Vatika park in Sector 5 here on Tuesday.

The vehicle owner, Mr Navinder Sharma, said. A case under Section 379 of the IPC had been registered.


Hind Motors owner booked
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
The local police today registered a case under the Gambling Act against the owner of Hind Motors, dealers of Bajaj and Tata motor vehicles. Police sources said Ashish Gupta, the owner, was charged of running an unauthorised scheme in which one had to deposit Rs 200 to participate. The participants were promised airconditioned Sumo, microwave oven and consolation prizes as part of the scheme.



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