Tuesday, February 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Unpaid phone bills run into 16 crore
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
A whopping Rs 16 crore is what the local office of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) needs to recover as pending payments from people who have used phones and have refused to pay up or have delayed the payments, frustrating the public sector telecom service giant.

The money is to be recovered from about 900 defaulters spread across Chandigarh telecom district, which includes Panchkula, SAS Nagar, Kharar, Zirakpur, Nayagaon and several adjoining villages. All defaulters were either fly-by-night-small-time companies or individuals who needed to call abroad or out of station very frequently. At times, government departments have delayed payment of bills, but it is never that dues of the government are unrecoverable.

These amounts referred to as “outstandings payments ” in BSNL parlance have accumulated in the past decade, with no legal framework in place to make recovery. The modus operandi is very simple. First get a phone installed by paying Rs 3,000. The first bill will not land up before three months and it will be payable by the end of the fourth month from installation. In the meantime, run up huge bills and vanish. All the department can do is to disconnect the phone and seek payment of bills. Sources in the BSNL said most outstandings were a legacy of the era when the BSNL was a government department till about 2 years ago.

Now the BSNL is getting tougher with the defaulters. It has been decided that all pending payments which are more than Rs 50,000 will be straightaway handed over to the police without prejudice to anyone. Senior BSNL officials have been pursuing matters with senior police officials and seeking registration of cases of cheating and swindling government money.

Similarly, all heavy users will get monthly bills and not bimonthly bills. Any user having a bill in excess of Rs 3,000 a month will fall in the category of heavy users and get monthly bills.

This means a bill which is paid after four months of actual usage will now be payable after two months of actual usage.

Already, STD pay phone operators get fortnightly bills. All these measures are part of reducing the pending payments. Besides this, international call facility is not being given on simple application, but the applicants previous record of payments is checked.

One of the most brazen cases of cheating is of a Panchkula resident, who got a phone installed in the house of his father–in-law and ran up bill of Rs 24 lakh and refused pay up. In the meantime, the user’s wife went abroad selling off the house after her father died. The telephone defaulter followed his wife to foreign lands, leaving the BSNL high and dry.

Citing the same example, a source said the BSNL had nothing in its hand except the Rs 3,000 security deposit. Also the BSNL has a new problem by way of the private telecom service providers. A defaulter does not feel hindered without a phone when BSNL disconnects his phone as he can easily get another phone from a private company.

The BSNL being a public sector company, it cannot act like a private company which gives monthly bills and monitors call traffic and once a sudden increase in call traffic is registered, users are even asked to pay up earlier than the due date. With bimonthly billing running close to Rs 22 crore from about 2 lakh subscribers, black sheep among customers was a reality, opined BSNL officials.

25 users in CBI net

At least 25 telephone users are in the CBI net for not collectively paying up Rs 3 crore which they owe to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). In the past few weeks, the BSNL handed over these cases to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for action. All the subscribers made tremendous number of international calls and refused to pay up.

The only thing the BSNL has in its hands is Rs 3,000 paid as security by each of them and a file is maintained on how much is pending, besides the obvious disconnection of the phone as small punishment for non payment. These phones were installed in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar and all had international calling facility. Sources said the CBI started its investigation process.



3 hurt as students clash on PU campus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Less than 24 hours before the Panjab University students participate in the their biggest cultural event of the year, Jhankaar, three boys have been seriously injured in a major clash with another group of boys which took place on the university campus in broad-daylight here today.

The three boys, Vikram Singh Kang, Vikram Sharma and Sumit Bawa, who are now admitted to the General Hospital Sector 16 with multiple injuries, have alleged that they were bashed up by a group of at least 15 boys just outside PU’s administration block at around 2.45pm with swords, rods and hockey sticks. They have also alleged that the group of boys who attacked them include Aman, former president, DAV College Students Union, Sector 10, and now a student of PU; Ranjha, a student of DAV College, and Ajai Pal, all supporters of SOPU (Student’s Organisation of Panjab University).

According to the statement given by these three to the police, Vikram Sharma, a resident of Barnala, along with his friend Sumit Bawa, resident of Raikot, are visiting their common friend, Vikram Kang, a resident of Sector 21 to attend a wedding. They had gone in Sumit Bawa’s car (a Tata Sierra, number PB 08M 2305) to the university today to buy examination forms from the administration block and having found it closed for lunch, went to the Student Centre.

There, according to the version of these three to the police, a group of boys started instigated them and using foul language as a result of which these three sat in their car and drove back to the administration block. “We had just stopped the car when at least 15 boys in five cars, which included a white Maruti Zen being driven by Ranjha and a Gypsy, surrounded our car and started beating us up. They had swords, hockey sticks and rods. We tried to protect our heads with our arms and got back into the car and drove straight to the hospital. They even attacked us while we were in the car,” said Vikram Sharma. The car, totally damaged, is now with the police.

The three boys have been admitted to the Sector 16 hospital. While two of them have scalp injuries, one of them has fractured his arm. All of them have cuts and lacerations on various parts of their bodies. One of them, Vikram Kang, has recently undergone a knee surgery due to which he is limping. The doctors on emergency duty have given these three emergency help and will be keeping them under observation for a day.

Meanwhile, the PU security personnel have stated that reportedly there was also a heated argument between the two groups at the Student Centre for taking turns for making phone calls from the pay phone at the Student Centre. And after these three left the Student Centre, the rest of them decided to follow them in their cars. The police have registered a case against Aman, Ranjha and others under sections 147, 148, 149, 324 and 341 of the IPC.



Commuters fret as auto-rickshaws go off the roads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
About 2000 auto-rickshaws went off the road for nine hours in the city today to protest against an upcoming decision of the Chandigarh Administration banning the plying of auto-rickshaws which are more than 15 years old.

This put to inconvenience hundreds of commuters in the city. Worst off were those visitors who arrived by the Shatabdi Express, Himalayan Queen and Paschim Express link. All three trains arrive between 10: 45 a.m and 4 p.m. The Paschim Express link departing from here also leaves around the time when the strike was on. Those arriving in the city for first time were the worst affected by the strike.

Mr Rathin Das who had come to the city from Orissa, told The Tribune that he had to board a cycle-rickshaw after alighting from the Himalayan Queen to reach his hotel in sector 35. It took 45 minutes and cost Rs 70, he said. Rickshaw-pullers over charged and local taxi operators who charge about Rs 150 to drop a passenger at the railway station were in great demand. Auto-rickshaw drivers, however, resumed service after 5 p.m.

The Chandigarh Scooter-Rickshaw Union lined up hundreds of autos on the Jan Marg roundabout at Sectors 9, 10, 16 and 17 (Matka Chowk). An effigy of the Administration was also burnt by the protesters. In a signed statement , the union said the Union Ministry of Surface Transport (MoST) had told the Administration in a letter last year that age limits could not imposed for autos.

They alleged that the scheme to fix age limit has been brought about by officials of the transport department in connivance with auto-rickshaw manufacturing companies. The idea is to benefit the manufacturers, the union claimed.

Auto-drivers are economically weak and are in no position to arrange for finance to buy new vehicles. Age limit condition on autos has not been imposed in any of the metros too, the agitated union members claimed.

They said old autos were not causing pollution and it was caused by poor maintenance and lack of upkeep of the engine rather than by anything else.



CBI chargesheets 2 bank officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has charge-sheeted two bank officials for allegedly defrauding their respective banks of a total of Rs 37 lakh. The charge sheets were filed before special courts last week.

According to sources, investigations by the CBI revealed that a former officer in the State Bank of Patiala had defrauded the bank and its clients of about Rs 23 lakh while he was posted as the manager of the bank's branches in Donkalan and Banbhora villages in Patiala district from 1995 to 1996. He was dismissed from service in 1999.

Investigations revealed that the manager allegedly manipulated or forged bank documents and records. He used to make duplicate term deposit receipts after receiving money from clients, sanction demand loans against the fake receipts and keep the money with himself. Eleven such instances have been listed in the charge sheet. The loan amounts varied from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh.

Most of the bank's clients were illiterate villagers and the manager used to do some of the paper work for them. In fact, he even made out a term deposit receipt in the name of a person who had died earlier.

Bank records and various receipts obtained by the CBI as evidence have been sent for handwriting analysis by the Government Examiner of Questionable Documents in Shimla.

In the second instance, a clerk employed with the SAS Nagar branch of UCO Bank allegedly embezzled about Rs 14 lakh by making incorrect debit entries over a six-year period from 1992.

The clerk used to take out cash and to account for it he used a withdrawal form with his own savings account number. He also used to write the ledger folio number on the form himself to make it appear that the withdrawal was debited in the relevant ledger. In fact, investigations revealed that the clerk never used to send the withdrawal forms to the officer in charge of deposits.



Panchkula to have its own Sukhna
HUDA approves site near new Ghaggar bridge
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
The site for the artificial lake being envisaged for Panchkula, on the banks of Ghaggar river has finally been selected. The Chief Administrator, Haryana Urban Development Authority , has finally approved one of the three sites proposed by a four-member committee headed by Administrator, Panchkula.

According to a four-member committee had been set up to identify the exact place for construction of this lake. Other than being a major tourist attraction in the district, this would also serve the purpose of recharging of groundwater for sustaining the already depleting ground water table in the region.

It has been decided that the lake will be constructed along the guide “bundhs”. There is a proposal to construct guide bundhs on the upstream and downstream side of new Ghaggar bridge. The committee had recommended that the four to five acre piece of land surrounded by guide "bundhs" on one side and external road on the other side, can be considered for the lake.

The site for the construction of a lake here would be useful in recharging of groundwater , besides being an economical proposal as compared to the other proposals.

This site has been finalised after the recommendation was given to the Chief Administrator by the committee comprising Administrator HUDA, Superintending Engineer, HUDA Circle; Superintending Engineer, HUDA Horticulture and Executive Engineer, HUDA Division III. This committee had been set up by the Chief Administrator in December 2001.

The team had also recommended a site for construction of the lake on the river bed itself, between the old and the new Ghaggar bridges. This area, they felt, could be utilised for developing the lake by constructing curtain walls or low height dams. The total area of the lake would then approximately be 10 acre.

Considering the cost of construction involved here, this site was not considered.

The third option for developing the lake was on the area comprising Nadha choe and some existing depression thereby in Sector 23, Part II. However, this site has not been considered as the choe is filled with water only during the monsoons. Thus, the water for filling the lake would have to be diverted from the river.

The authorities will now set up an expert committee for finalising the exact location for developing the lake. After a feasibility study is carried out by the expert committee, the work for construction will begin, informed a senior official of the HUDA.



Bhankharpur overbridge ready, awaits inauguration
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, February 4
Punjab’s first railway overbridge that has been constructed on a built-operate-and-transfer (BOT) basis at Bhankharpur level crossing on the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway is waiting for inauguration for over a week.

The bridge was slated to be opened for vehicular traffic by December end but was delayed due to incomplete construction works.

The project was allotted to R.S. Builders and Engineers, a Ludhiana-based construction company on BOT basis by the Building and Road wing of the Punjab Public Works Department in 1999.

The Ministry of Surface Transport (MoST) had approved the construction work for completion within a period of two years.

The work was delayed for over one and a half years as the Ministry of Environment (MoE) did not permit the PWD for felling over 2,400 trees along the proposed overbridge site on the highway. Finally, the construction of the bridge was started on December 27, 2000, as the Forest Department gave a green signal to the construction company after clearing the site.

The construction of about 2 km-long-overbridge was completed in two parts.

Sources revealed that the ongoing Assembly elections in the state delayed the opening of the overbridge, as the Shiromani Akali Dal wanted to ‘cash on the project’ to be started and completed during its rule.

The PWD authorities, however, confirmed that the construction company needed a railway safety certificate from the Railways for electricity cables, which pass under the bridge. A bridge clearance certificate from MoST is also required. Both the certificates are awaited.

According to the PWD authorities, entrepreneurs will finance the project as a whole and will charge toll tax on the road users to recover the cost of the bridge. Besides issuing monthly passes to commuters, Rs 10 per car, Rs 25 per truck and per passenger bus, Rs 30 per multiaxle vehicle and goods carrier would be charged, the authorities disclosed.

However, two-wheelers and tractors (without trailer), vehicles of VIPs, MLAs, MPs and defence personnel have been exempted from toll tax.

After conducting the final survey of the ROB, MoST will give clearance to the project and will fix toll charges before opening for vehicular traffic.

With the opening of the overbridge, there would be a free flow of heavy traffic without any bottlenecks. Earlier, traffic jams for long hours were often seen at Bhankharpur level crossing making the highway accident-prone.

Presently, commuters are facing a lot of inconvenience on the two alternate diversified routes — Bhankharpur-Mubarikpur-Dera Bassi and Bhankharpur-Issapur Dera Bassi.



War not imminent, says Gen Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Former Chief of Army Staff, General V.P.Malik ruled out any immediate possibility of a war with Pakistan despite the biggest deployment of forces on the border since 1971. Stating that the heavy presence of the US air and ground troops in Pakistan has made the possibility of war in the region low and the need of the hour for combating cross-border terrorism was credible coercive diplomacy.

General V.P Malik was speaking on “Cross-border terrorism — Challenges before India” at Panjab University here today. The lecture was organised by the Centre for Defence and National Security Studies (CNDSS) under the special lecture series.

General Malik began by saying that the main objective of a terrorist was not to kill but to spread fear, despair and insecurity among the people leading to loss of faith in the government and law and order machinery.

Stating that the perception about terrorism had undergone a big change after the WTC attacks, General Malik pointed out that cross-border terrorism, which is foreign-sponsored, is never totally foreign in nature and cannot survive without local support.

Elaborating on the genesis and contours of terrorism, General Malik said Pakistan had exhausted India’s patience by the prolonged proxy war and had brought the two countries on the threshold of a war.

General Malik made a fervent appeal for putting own house in order first by creating national security awareness among political leadership, administration and media. He also emphasised the need for political consensus on issues regarding national security. there is need for concerted efforts to check alienation and guide the misguided elements. “An elected government is not enough. Good governance is also required,” he said.

Stating that war can be resorted to by both the country suffering from cross-border terrorism and the country promoting terrorism. The former will do so when it feels that it has had enough and the latter will do so if it feels that the suffering country will not put up any fight.

In reply to a question, on the status of deployment of forces on the borders, General Malik observed that the action had been able to contain infiltration from across the border and necessary pressure must be exerted to achieve the desired results.

Prof (Ms) R.J. Hans Gill, DUI, in her presidential remarks complimented the speaker and observed that terrorism may not be altogether eliminated but can be contained by judicious use of forces.

Prof T.R. Sharma, Coordinator, CDNSS, in his opening remarks said the prevailing situation had put everyone in a dilemma whether India should go in for war or not.



Additional income for villagers under food-for-work scheme
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Dhandardu (Barwala), February 4
This sleepy village suddenly comes to life early in the morning when 20- odd villagers converge on the outskirts to begin the digging work for a village pond. These men have been employed by the gram panchayat for a minimum daily wage of Rs 38 and seven kg of wheat under the ambitious food-for-work scheme launched by the district administration as part of the Sampooran Grameen Rozgar Yojana.

This group of 18 villagers, mainly small farmers and farm labourers, work on the digging of pond for nearly six hours each day. Their work entails that 100 cubic feet of earth has to be removed each day by one person. “This is one government scheme that has really benefited us by supplementing our income. We are free by the afternoon and then we can tend to our own land holding, “ says a worker, Jaspal.

This village, along with 18 other villages of Barwala block as well as hundreds of villages in the blocks of Morni, Raipur Rani, Pinjore and in Kalka, have been covered by the administration under this scheme. Most of the 18 villages of Barwala block, especially Taprian, Bunga, Ganeshpur, Tirlokpur and Parwala, have been hit by the drought for years. Because of the location of these villages on the foothills of the Shivaliks, the ground water retention capacity of these villages is poor and hence the crops do not yield a good return.

A visit to Taprian village, saw the villagers at work on the village pond. Said Des Raj, a small farmer, who is working here: “Because of poor crop yield, it was difficult for me to provide for two square meals a day. By working under this scheme, I can manage sufficient food for my nine-member family.”

Though 26 tubewells have been sanctioned by the Minor Irrigation Tubewell Corporation for the district of Panchkula, with nine of these having been sanctioned for Panchkula alone, the residents hope for some relief.

With agriculture and dairying being the main occupation, the small and marginal farmers as well as the landless farm hands in these villages have been the worst affected. “It was thus that the government decided to start this food-for-work scheme. Not only will the development work in the villages be carried on at a faster pace, but people will also be paid in cash and given foodgrains as their labour charges,” informed the Deputy Commissioner Jyoti Arora.

It is learnt that a sum of Rs 111.72 lakh in cash and foodgrains worth Rs 164.39 lakh were allocated in the district. The gram panchayats were empowered to take up works like desilting or digging of village ponds, strengthening of ring bundhs (phirni) construction of water channels for the village ponds, chaupals, earthwork on the phirnis of villages, earth filling of depressions, playgrounds etc.

In some of the villages, as in Billa, the construction of a dharamshala under food-for-work scheme, was completed at a cost lower than the estimated cost. “In such cases, we plan to increase the number of rooms in the dharamshala, and in other villages the size of the roads is increased in case there is some saving,” informed Ms Renu Jain, Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Barwala.

These panchayats are entitled to take up works upto an estimated cost of Rs 50,000 with the approval of the gram sabha and above Rs 50,000 with the concurrence of Zila Parishad. In various gram panchayats of the district, all funds in cash have been distributed along with first instalment of 9907 quintals of wheat worth Rs 82.22 lakh.

Informed the Deputy Commissioner, “We have now received additional proposals for works such as desilting/raising of water sheds, dry stone check dams, construction of bridal paths by the gram panchayats, for which additional funds are being demanded from the government.”



Circle releases poll opinion survey
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle said that an opinion survey it conducted in tandem with Änubhav Feature Service, Aas Kiran De-addition Centre and certain other organisation revealed that 94 per cent of the voters would not vote for drug promoters.

Addressing a joint conference, Principal Ram Singh, Mr Gurmit Singh, chief organiser and chief secretary, respectively, of the circle, stated that of these 62 per cent felt that if all candidates in their constituencies were found distributing alcohol and drugs they would not vote for any of them. They added 38 per cent said that they would have to vote for someone if all were found to be promoting liquor.

Disclosing the highlights of the survey, Mr Sarabjeet Singh, Assistant Professor of Journalism at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, said 50 per cent voters wished political parites to spell out their seriousness to rout the menace, 30 per cent felt that political parties should not have any truck with drug traffickers, while 15 per cent felt that political parites were not serious and had no expectations from them.

Mr Sarabjeet Singh added that about 68 per cent wished that political parties should declare their stand on drugs in their election rallies, while 60 per cent wished parties to declare their action plan if voted to power while 45 per cent wanted them to mention it in their manifestos.

He said the survey concluded that 55 per cent and 61 per cent voters blamed politicians and police, respectively, for the increasing drug menace, while 34 per cent claimed parents and teachers. The survey said 25 per cent voters blamed government officials for the drug menace. Mr Sarabjeet Singh said 35 per cent voters blamed others factors like unemployment, foreign TV channels, lack of religious education, increasing population, migrant labourers and chemist shops for drug addition.

He stated that 80 per cent of the voters believed that the use of drugs in poll endangered society, democracy as well as national security.



Should we display our military might?
Pritam Bhullar

TO deploy the Army for war at the country’s borders with Pakistan in full strength and to expect it to take part in the Republic Day parade at the same time is asking for too much from it. The Chief of Army Staff, General S. Padmanabhan’s decision to cancel the Army Day parade and to have declined to spare manpower and equipment from the combat formations and units for the Republic Day parade so that India’s were efforts was not diluted was a commendable one.

Incidentally, India, barring France, is perhaps the only democracy in the world which focuses on its military prowess on a day of national rejoicing. Are we doing this to tell our adversaries that we are militarily very strong or to restore confidence in the public about our military might? Today, with a major breakthrough in information technology, there is hardly anything that remains hidden from the enemy. In any case, military strength needs to be exhibited on the battlefield and not at a solemn national occasion like Republic Day.

As for the public, the knowledgeable people among the public already know our capabilities and weaknesses, but the man on the street cannot tell a Bofors gun from a tank.

Now think of the colossal expenditure that we incur on this extrvaganza year after year, which involves moving of equipment and manpower from all over the country and then keeping them tied down to the national Capital for about two months.

Beating of retreat

With the beating of the retreat at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on January 29, every year the Republic Day celebrations come to end. Perhaps, very few in India know that this function is considered to be one of the best of its kind in the world where massed-bands, both brass an pipe, from the Army, Navy and the Air Force attired in colourful dresses enthral a select gathering.

Military bands have a special significance in a soldier’s life, for martial music is known to have inspired soldiers during war time. In the olden days, battles used to commence at the sounding of the reveille in the morning and come to a halt at the sounding of the retreat in the evening.

The training centres of all arms and services are authorised brass bands and most of them also have pipe bands. Apart from this, almost all the infantry battalions have pipe bands which are manned by their medical platoons.

Around the 70s, the standard of bands started dropping because of the lack of interest of officers in them. Mercifully, corrective measures were adopted a couple of years ago to arrest the decline by creating a post of Inspector of Bands at each command headquarters.

His job is to run short refresher courses for bands and supervise their (bands) training by visiting units in the command. To improve the standard, band competitions have also been started among the bands of various units in each command.

Welfare of widows

With almost every passing day our brave soldiers get killed in J and K and in the North East, thanks to the surging insurgency which is refusing to die for want of a political solution. Most of these soldiers die in the prime of their life, leaving behind their young wives as widows and small children as orphans.

It is a pity that our politicians have no time for the welfare of soldiers and their widows because they have no political clout. Even the soldiers’ welfare structure in the districts is considered unnecessary and is, therefore, kept understaffed.

To quote only one example of the 17 posts of District Sainik Welfare officers in Punjab, six are lying vacant for the past many years. To fill these vacancies, a requisition was sent by the Directorate, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, to the government on May 22, 1997, for submission to the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Patiala.

But no action has been taken on this so far. Similarly, a requisition for the four vacant post of Assistant District Sainik Welfare officers was sent to the PPSC by the government on December 18, 1997. Ironically, the PPSC has recommended filling of only two posts out of these.



Lok Pal releases book
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 4
The Punjab Lok Pal, Mr Justice D.V. Sehgal, today released a book titled ‘The pictures that speak’ at a brief function held at the Semicondutor Complex Limited compiled by the Vigilance Department of the company.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Justice Sehgal said people should limit their needs and build their character as a measure towards curbing corruption. He said if a public servant took bribe from a needy person for his legitimate work, he was guilty of committing financial rape. In case a public servant drew extra benefits by virtue of his position, he was guilty of financial adultery.

He asked a question from the audience as to why should a person accumulate wealth . He volunteered to reply the question. He said if the coming generation was capable, they would earn for themselves, and if they were incompetent, they would waste the same. He said corruption should not be tolerated in any section of society.

Earlier, Dr Sudha Sharma, Chief Vigilance Officer of the company, dwelt at length on the contents of the book which primarily consisted of posters prepared by students of different schools of Chandigarh, SAS Nagar, Noida and Hyderabad.

Mr M.M. Sobti, Director (Technical), appreciated the efforts put in by the Vigilance Department of the company and Mr Rajendra Saksena, Manager, HRD, welcomed the chief guest, while Mr L.K. Grover, Manager, Vigilance, proposed the vote of thanks.



Sweet, spicy, crisp humour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
After a long innings in mainstream theatre, Keshav Bhrata is now shifting focus. On his mind is sweet humour with a somewhat spicy topping. After one successful audio cassette which he launched when Bansi Lal declared prohibition in Haryana, Bhrata is back with another satire. This time round the target of Bhrata’s is Laloo Prasad Yadav, who has somehow never remained out of news.

Put under the crisp label of ‘Laloo ji Punjab mein’, the project makes a rather strange point. Bhrata and Jassi Dhaliwal, who conceived the project, are selling Laloo’s ambitions through this cassette. The focus of attention in the cassette is migrant labour, which is swelling in this part of the region. And since it forms a major chunk of the vote bank, anybody who can command them will wrest power in this state.

Said Bhrata, “The songs tell of how Laloo Prasad Yadav stays put in this region after realising the massive strength of migrants here. The script is lyrical and has been rendered by Brijesh Ahuja and Gurtej Tej.”

To add more humour to the show, Bhrata roped in comedian Jaspal Bhatti, who released the cassette at the Chandigarh Press Club this afternoon. Forever scrutinising politicians, Bhatti said, “The election scenario is as such full of humour. I congratulate this team, which has traced humour beyond that which we see and read everyday.”

After a sensitive project of the order of ‘Laadla Gobind ka’, one wonders how Bhrata could shift his attention to something like ‘Lalooji Punjab mein’. But he had his explanation for the shifting of focus, “Changing times call for changing attitudes also. We are simply trying to keep pace. As for this cassette, it is our attempt to attack the ailing system,” he elaborated.



Memo on illegal guest houses
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 4
The Hotel Association of Chandigarh today submitted a memorandum to the UT Administrator, Lt-Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, urging him not to regularise the illegal guest houses which shift to commercial areas without charging the conversion fee.

The association said the bogey of budget tourists not having enough options was being raised by vested interests. Bhavans runs by social bodies have a capacity of 518 rooms and over 550 dormitory beds. Rooms in these bhavans and dharmshalas are available at between Rs 50 and Rs 400, with air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned options. The tarrifs of these bhavan are published in the official tariff guide published by the Chandigarh Industrial Tourism Corporation (CITCO). Some of the important places are Kisan Bhavan, Himachal Bhavan and Panchayat Bhavan, among others.

The Association said reserve and sale price of restaurant or lodging-cum-restaurants was always higher by 30 to 40 per cent than the normal shop-cum-office meant for general trade. The memorandum further cited examples to prove their point. According to it, on January 30, an LCR site in a southern sector was auctioned for Rs 2.32 crore, much higher than a normal SCO site. It further said the Administration had recently charged over Rs 50 lakh for converting an SCO site into LCR site and issued letters of conversion of much higher amount in number of other cases of converting SCOs into LCRs in their city.

The association members claimed that they had purchased and constructed their hotels after arranging huge loans and they were suffering financial losses. The memorandum alleged that hotel business was being affected as room occupancy has been taken away by illegal guest houses and the business of restaurants, pubs and bars was being eaten up by unauthorised restaurants running in the vicinity.

Welcoming the Administration’s move to open more pubs, restaurants and LCRs, the association urged the Administrator to allow it only after conversion charges as per the present policy. The receipts coming by way of conversions and auction of different restaurant and LCR sites would give a boost to the tourism industry, it added.



Luckewarm response to auction of commercial sites
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
The auction of commercial sites in various parts of the township, including Industrial Area, by the Haryana Development Urban Authority had a lukewarm response with only 26 sites of a total of 77 being auctioned today. This auction fetched HUDA a sum of Rs 8.95 crore.

Various commercial sites — shop-cum-office with basement, semi-built-up SCOs, built up booths, booth sites without basement, iron and steel sites in Sector 15, double-storeyed shops and a dhaba site in the Industrial Area were kept for auction today. Barring a few SCOs in Sectors 11, 14 and 20 and booth sites and built-up booths in Sector 6, 7, 8, 15, 25 and in Industrial Area, the rest of the sites saw no takers.

The showroom sites in Sector 11-B fetched a good price, though the final bid was a mere Rs. 25,000 more than the reserve price. Both the SCOs fetched Rs 119. 50 lakh each. Amongst the booth sites, it was the two booths in Sector 6 that fetched the maximum price of Rs 12.55 lakh. Even here, the final bid was a mere Rs. 50,000 more than the reserve price.

Most of the bidders felt that the reserve price fixed by HUDA was already on the higher side and as a result they were unable to carry on with the bids. It may be noted that all bidders were required to deposit earnest money of Rs 50,000 for participating in the auction and a person intending to bid for more than one category was required to deposit money for each category separately before the auction.



De-worming campaign launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
A de-worming campaign was launched from Colony Number 4 by the Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi.

The Swarn Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojna-sponsored campaign would be carried out in 11 other colonies of the city.

The inaugural function was organised today by the Jan Shikshan Sansthan. As many as 1700 children from different schools were administered tablets and given biscuit packets. Chairman of the sansthan K. L. Zakir presented a vote of thanks to those who attended the function.



Car theft accused hospitalised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Manjit Singh, an accused in a car theft case, has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula.

Manjit Singh was on transit remand from Chandigarh and was produced before the Ilaka Magistrate, Panchkula, this morning to seek his police remand. Reportedly, Manjit Singh pleaded illness before the Magistrate and he was then taken for medical examination. The doctors stated that Manjit Singh was suffering from a heart disease and they admitted him to the hospital.



Shopkeepers seek removal of encroachments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Shopkeepers of Sector 21C here today urged the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Bhimsen Bassi, to remove encroachments from parking areas in the market as alleged by certain scooter bazaar agents.

Giving reference of several representations to the Chandigarh Administration and the police station concerned, the shopkeepers said encroachments were resulting in customers not able to access shops.

In a letter addressed to the IGP, they said efforts to persuade these agents to vacate these areas had been leading to wordy duels. Shopkeepers have urged the IGP to visit the spot to understand problems being faced by them.



Shopkeepers file income tax return
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
An income tax return filing and PAN application camp was organised today at Phase VII, SAS Nagar.

As many as 103 persons filed their returns and PAN applications at the camp conducted by Mohinder Singh, jurisdictional ITO and Jagpal Singh, ITO TDS-cum-1/6 for range-V.

State Bank of Patiala representatives were there to receive deposit tax returns.



Pedestrian knocked down, killed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
A pedestrian was killed after being knocked down by an unknown vehicle near the Sector 43 Inter-State Bus Terminus last night. He was rushed to the Sector 32 Government Hospital in a serious condition, where he succumbed to his injuries. Police sources say that his identity is still to be ascertained. A case has been registered.

One arrested
A resident of Rajpura, Om Parkash has arrested by the police from Sector 20 and 55 pouches of wine were seized from his possession. A case under the excise Act has been registered against him.

Car stolen: Mani Majra resident Sat Parkash has reported that his Maruti car (CH-03-E-8339) has been stolen from Sector 35. The police has registered a case.

Maruti stolen
A resident of Bilaspur, Anil Sharma, has reported that his Maruti car (HP-24-A-0466) has been stolen from Sector 34. A case has been registered.

Vehicle stolen
Sector 21 resident Minakshi has reported that her Kinetic Honda (CH-01-Y-4384) has been stolen from the Sukhna Lake parking lot. A case has been registered.


One held
The police has arrested a resident of Pinjore on charges of stealing a scooter (DIS — 7643) and using it with a fake number plate (CH-OI 6401). Sunil Kumar was arrested on Bitna road lat night and booked under Section 379 of IPC. He had reportedly stolen the scooter from Varinder Kumar of Ghatiwala village.

In another case of theft, a Hero Honda motor cycle (HR-51C-9534) was stolen from the parking of Topiary Park on the night of February 2. A case under Section 379 of IPC has been registered on the complaint of Atul Raj Maggu.

One held for assault
The local police has arrested Vijay Kumar, who was accused of having assaulted Ms Pratibha Devi on January 10 after the latter had demanded Rs 3000 that he owed her. Later, he fled away. He had come back to his house in Khrak Mangoli on Sunday and the police arrested him.



5 held on immoral trafficking charge
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 4
The local police has arrested three women today on charges of immoral trafficking. These women were operating here for the past two days, ever since a Punjab and Haryana High Court order forced the guest houses in Chandigarh to close shop. The police today raided Hotel Vikrant in Railley village near here and arrested three sex workers who had earlier been operating from Chandigarh. The three accused — Neeru Sharma of Ghaziabad, Meetali, a Nepalese and Sharmila , a resident of Delhi — reportedly told the police that they were forced to shift their operations here following the closing down of guest houses in Chandigarh.

The police had received information about these women and a team of cops led by DSP J.P. Dahiya conducted a raid at the hotel at around 5.30 pm today. There they arrested the three women, along with a customer, Vajinder — a resident of Bir Ghaggar village. Hotel manager, Pankaj was also arrested for aiding and abetting this illegal activity.

All five persons were arrested and booked under Section 13 of Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act.

Meanwhile, these arrest have once again proved that the township is showing signs of becoming a major nodal point for prostitution in this region. A few months back, the police had raided a few places in Sectors 15 and 21 and arrested four sex workers along with some of their customers as well as a pimp.

It is also learnt that a large number of pimps are reportedly operational in Sectors 7, 8,15, 12-A, 19 and Mansa Devi Complex. In September this year, a pimp, Ajmer Singh, was allegedly murdered by one of his workers with the connivance of her two paramours though he had shifted his operations to Chandigarh since July, ever since his racket was busted by the Panchkula police. His body had been thrown in a sewer in Sector 12-A here.



Special police team to investigate burglary case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The local police has put together a special team to investigate a major burglary which took place in a Sector 36 house yesterday.

According to sources, the team, headed by Sector 36 SHO Ajaib Singh will also have assistance from the Crime Branch.

Jewellery, cash and foreign exchange estimated at about Rs 4.5 lakh had been stolen from the house of Wg Cdr M S Bhomia.

The police suspect it to be the work of an organised gang and is pursuing various leads.

Sources say that special teams will also be dispatched to various places in the region known to harbour criminal elements with links in the city.



Hiked Maruti prices from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Maruti price hike is likely to be implemented from tomorrow in the city. Prices of Maruti 800, Omni and Esteem will see a hike between Rs 2,000 and 9,000 (approximate) depending upon the model.

According to official information, though the new price details were available, due to some calculation confusion, these had to be worked out again.

Meanwhile, dealers in the city are still selling Maruti at old prices.

“They are selling the old stocks at old prices , which is a normal practice with the dealers. The new prices will be implemented from tomorrow,” said an official.

Last week, Maruti had announced an increase in the prices of its 800, Omni and Esteem models. The price hike (ex-showroom Delhi ) was between Rs 2,307 and Rs 8,835 for various models.

While the ex-showroom price (Delhi) saw an increase of about 1.7 per cent for Maruti 800, a hike of around 3.5 per cent in 800 LX, one per cent for Omni five-seater, 0.85 per cent for Esteem LX was announced.

While the decision of hike is understood to be the net loss of Rs 269 crore during 2000-01, Maruti left out B segment models like Zen, Wagon R and Alto, and also its newer introductions Versa, Baleno and Altura, of the price hike.



New Raymond outlet in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Raymonds, an established name in men’s clothing, opened their third outlet in Chandigarh yesterday with Raymond-22, a unit of Namdhari Shopping Centre, opposite the Sector 17 bus stand. The “complete men’s store” will have everything from suit lengths and shirt pieces to readymade shirts of Park Avenue, said the director of the Namdhari Shopping Centre, Mr Rajdeep Singh Namdhari. Jharkhand Rajya Sabha Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari inaugurated the showroom.





There is an inherent relationship between tourism and the law and order maintaining agencies like the police, who can help in tourism promotion, said Mr H.G.S. Dhaliwal, Superintendent of Police, while addressing a seminar on “Role of Police in Tourism”, organised by the Institute of Tourism and Future Management Trends here on Monday. Mr Dhaliwal said the police could help the tourist in various ways like by providing information on places of interest, essential services, ensuring their safety and helping in solving their problems like the recovery of lost travel documents or belongings, on priority. The students of the institute also had an interactive session with Mr Dhaliwal. TNS

Loan mela

The State Bank of Patiala will organise a week-long Housing Loan Mela at it’s Sector 8 branch here. The mela will start on February 8. Loans will be provided at an annual rate of interest of 11.50 per cent on daily reducing balance and there will be no service charges, said Mr V.K. Gupta, Chief Manager of the branch. The bank will also consider the take over of house loan of other institutions and banks in cases where repayment has already started, he said. TNS


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