Friday, February 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City faces poll heat
Works put on hold; traffic diversions create chaos
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Punjab poll has hit official work in the Union Territory of Chandigarh and also the day-to-day lives of its residents. Little things are either held up or are not being carried out.

Starting with a drop in the sale of property to serpentine queues at traffic diversions for the movement of VVIP cavalcade's, everything has had the "poll affect". Important officials are busy receiving senior leaders as per protocol and members of the public have to wait outside their offices.

Development works that have to be integrated with the neighbouring SAS Nagar have been put on hold. The unwritten message from the Punjab bureaucracy is clear: "everything after the elections". At least three officials of the Chandigarh Administration are waiting till the elections are over for their repatriation to respective parent cadres.

Today city residents saw traffic bottlenecks as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani stopped in Chandigarh en route to their respective election venues in Punjab. The reason is simple, Chandigarh being a media centre, the VIPs get good publicity during poll time.

In view of Mr Advani's visit, the local Deputy Commissioner was to be with him as per the protocol. Outside the DC's office were large crowds with their applications. Construction work on all link roads between Chandigarh and SAS Nagar has been halted since the past two months. It may have no impact on the poll outcome, but some road links would have shortened distances up to 2 p.m. for office and college-goers. Chandigarh had promised to shift the sewerage treatment plant from Sector 66, SAS Nagar. In the past two months no file has moved. Probably, the babus have adopted a wait and watch policy.

The same is true for the funding of the Bean Singh memorial in Sector 42. Punjab has not paid its share for the construction of the same. Chandigarh has yet to take a final decision on what is to be done. The last time a meeting on the issue was convened, Punjab sent a junior ranked official.

Chandigarh had sought back its employees posted in the Punjab Civil secretariat. These employees are drawing salaries from the UT while working in Punjab. In this case also nothing has happened, thanks to the poll circus.

In Punjab no action has been taken on illegal constructions. In November last year, the Punjab Government regularised all constructions against the spirit of the Periphery Control Act, 1952. The High Court stayed the order of the Punjab Government which was clearly aimed at the ballot box, but would have put pressure on the city services.

Senior officials point out this is nothing new. Each time a dharna is held by employees or farmers when the Assembly is in session the busy Madhya Marg at Matka Chowk is blocked for hours. It is the Chandigarh police which has to face the protesters. The cops are not too happy about it. 


Panicky depositors rush to ATMs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Reacting to reports of panic among its depositors, the Bank of Punjab, a private sector bank, tonight clarified anyone could withdraw any amount of cash tomorrow morning and the bank was not facing any problem as such. Saying that baseless rumours had been started by rival private banks in distant towns in Punjab and Rajasthan, a spokesman said, "There is no need to panic," and assured depositors about the safety of their money.

The bank had achieved a growth of 43 per cent in its net profit during the third quarter of the current financial year and will soon open eight branches across the country. Earlier, in the evening city residents had panicked as reports filtered in about large amounts of cash being withdrawn in the border belt of Punjab. Several people called up the Tribune to enquire into the matter. Few people panicked so much that they could be seen at the ATM counters late into the night. The bank will function normally, said the spokesman.


VVIPs’ visit throws life out of gear
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The brief visits of the country’s two top political leaders left the city in a chaos — from traffic snarls to restriction of movements to shutting down commercial establishments — it was for all to see.

With Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, both with the Z-plus security cover in town, the authorities could not afford to take any chances, even if it was to inconvenience of the local residents.

About 1,000 police personnel with quick reaction teams, bomb detection squads and commandos on the standby had been deployed for providing security to the visiting dignitaries. This was in addition to their own personal security staff, including National Security Guards for the Home Minister and Special Protection Group officer for Sonia Gandhi.

The Home Minister’s engagement was at the Sector 27 Press Club in the morning while Sector 35 was the Congress president’s venue in the afternoon.

Heavy police presence was seen in Sector 27, with vehicular movement being restricted on roads leading to the Press Club. As a security measure, shopkeepers and commercial establishments in Sector 27 were not permitted to open almost till noon. According to reports, even the school adjoining the Press Club premises remained closed today.

With roads being sealed a little ahead of the VVIP movement, a heavy traffic jam ensued on the road leading from the Tribune Chowk to the Madhya Marg. A large number of morning commuters were held up on this account.

Similarly, movement on the road leading from the airport to Sector 35 was restricted due to Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s cavalcade. Traffic was held up at all intersections en route for about 15 minutes before the VVIP was to pass.

As a precautionary measure, no parking was permitted on the routes to be used by the VVIPs. Even regular parking lots outside offices and commercial establishments in the vicinity of the routes were vacated.

Policemen were stationed atop buildings at strategic points. Mobile patrols, armed policemen as well as Home Guard volunteers were deployed all along the routes. Special security arrangements were also made at the airport with security personnel deployed around the perimeter.


Days of preparation, 8-minute glimpse
Large crowds gather for Sonia ‘darshan’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Congress workers of the city had a glimpse of their leader Sonia Gandhi for a couple of minutes here today after hours of wait and days of preparations, which were allegedly obstructed by the Administration apparently in the wake of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani’s visit this morning.

Ms Gandhi landed at the airport at 3.45 pm and straightaway came to inaugurate the Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan in Sector-35, the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) office at 4 pm, and went back in eight minutes without even taking any refreshment or water. She flew back to Delhi at 4.25 pm.

The visit sparked off a controversy, with a CTCC General Secretary and leader of the party in the Municipal Corporation Subhash Chawla alleging that the Chandigarh Administration had removed their flags and buntings in the night despite commercial payment for putting these, apparently to avoid drawing a possible displeasure of Mr Advani, who also had to come via the same route. Mr Chawla also attacked the Administration for charging commercial rates for political activities. An official spokesman of the Administration denied the charge, saying only those flags were removed for which no payment was made.

Wearing a cherry-coloured salwar kameez and accompanied by All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Ambika Soni, AICC Treasurer Moti Lal Vora and Haryana Pradesh Congress President Bhupinder Singh Hooda, apart from CTCC office-bearers, Ms Gandhi went back without addressing those gathered for a glimpse. The AICC President tried her best to approach workers, within security concerns observed by the Special Protection Group.

Ms Gandhi came up to the public enclosure, where hundreds of people, a large number of them women, had gathered, but security staff came in the way when enthusiastic workers tried to shake hands with their leader or touch her.

The AICC President came from Kurali, where she addressed a public rally, and went back to Delhi by a helicopter. Bouquets of local office-bearers went waste as the SPG did not allow these to be presented to Ms Gandhi.

The party had last night fitted microphones, in case Ms Gandhi addressed workers, but these were removed after the AICC President’s office last night said there was no plan to address the people.

The CTCC had issued around 1500 passes for the people to come for Ms Gandhi’s welcome led at the airport by local MP Pawan Bansal, Mayor Ms. Lalit Joshi, CTCC president B. B. Bahl, former Union minister Vinod Sharma and former Indian Youth Congress President Manish Tiwari. The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President Amarinder Singh and former Haryana Chief Minister Bhajan Lal were also present at the airport. 


IT as a tool for medical research
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
If there is any one who can make some sense of the fast-changing world of medicine and health in the new millennium it is Prof N.K. Ganguly, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. With 31 years’ experience in research and training, Prof Ganguly knows exactly what direction experimental medicine in the country should be taking specially in the context of some mind-boggling findings elsewhere in the world.

Are we in tune with the kind of work being done in the USA or UK? “Yes, there have been significant shifts in medical research in India, which is more or less in tune with studies done elsewhere but we are also focusing on diseases common to the country, so maybe copying the West so much might not be a very good idea. At the same time we have been able to achieve results which researches abroad are still working on.”

What are these significant shifts that you mentioned? “With the coming of IT in such a big way in almost every field, the world of medicine has also been influenced. Not just directly, as in telemedicine, but also in research, especially genetics. The other major help that IT has been is in surveillance. In a country like India, surveillance of a disease, it’s seasonal variations, etc is of utmost importance. It has helped us in our efforts of trying to eradicate polio and now we are carrying out surveillance with the help of computers for other diseases. Similarly, computers have been widely used to sequence the exact form or type of virus or bacteria causing the disease which has revolutionalised medical research.”

“A large number of discoveries have been made in finding medicine for various diseases. The pharmacy industries are now working with government agencies to try and find cures and discover new drugs. Other than their own R & D they are also involved in sponsoring, along with us some major projects in HIV, polio etc. Other than, of course drug manufacturing companies, are charitable organisations which are now sending money for research on diseases like cancer and AIDS.

What are the challenges before the ICMR in promoting research? “Ethics and equity. Ethics, as you know, is something about which a large number of things have already been said and one need not repeat all that. Equity is the problem where medical facility of high quality is to be provided to those who need it the most. For the ICMR the capacity to generate data, counselling and impart it at least at the district level, is of utmost importance.”

“Diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, diabetes, hypertension are the country’s biggest problems and the need of the hour in order to solve these to ensure community participation along with trying to find vaccines. Increasing awareness, self-diagnosis, early diagnosis all help.”

How well are the country’s medical research institutes doing? “These are doing quite well. As far as the maximum number of publications goes, AIIMS is at the top while the PGI is third. But then there are other ways also in which these institutes can be judged. Like the impact of their research on community health. We are also keen on laying down some accreditation norms for these institutions,” he adds.


Visitors feast on gourmet food
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 7
From artistically-concocted mocktails to Exotic dishes, mouth watering cakes and cookies, all conjured up the images of world class restaurants for the visitors at the Hospitality Crafts Exhibition 2002 on the premises of Food Crafts Institute (FCI) in sector 42 here today. Organised by FCI, this two-day exhibition displays the handiwork of the students from different departments of the institute.

The ambience was complete with the food and beverage department creating a theme restaurant called “Space Odyssey” in which the science of space was combined with the food of this world that left the visitors spell bound. There was also a live band to complement the mood.

Though the exhibition was aimed at generating awareness among the school students about opportunities in the hospitality, hotel and catering industry, it was a wholesome experience for anybody who came to the venue today. One could pick up valuable tips right from napkin folding to table setting and salad decorations.

The food production department displayed an array of dishes from different countries as well as different parts of India, while the bakery and confectionery department presented cakes, puddings, pastries, cookies and souffles. The house keeping department displayed decorative items and interiors of hotel suites. The exhibition was inaugurated by Ms Neeru Nanda, Adviser to the Administrator, Chandigarh Administration. Mr. S.P. Singh, MD, CITCO also visited the exhibition.


PO staff thwarts robbery bid
Tribune News service

Panchkula, February 7
It was the presence of mind of two post office employees that thwarted an attempt by two unidentified youths to rob them of Rs 2 lakh yesterday. According to information available, the two employees, Harwinder and Satish, were carrying Rs 2 lakh cash from the office to the Sector 7 branch of the State Bank of Patiala yesterday when two unidentified motor cyclists hit them on their heads and attempted to rob them.

As the two employees slowed down their scooter to cross over the road, the miscreants, who were already standing there, hit both on their heads and then tried to snatch the bag. But the two employees immediately started their scooter and rushed off inside the bank. 


New schedule for phased power cuts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The Chandigarh Administration today shifted the schedule for the imposition of rotational power cuts in the city and its villages. The new schedule will come into force from Friday morning. The cuts will be imposed from 8 am to 12 noon.

Under the system, power is switched off in a selected and demarcated area for a fixed period. The same process will be repeated in another area for 30 minutes followed by the next area.

Besides this, the staggering of weekly off days for industrial consumers in Industrial Area, Phase-I and Phase-II would continue.



8 am to 8.30 am

Manimajra Town, Shivalik Enclave, Bapu Dham, Mouli Jagran, Modern Housing Complex, BRD, Ram Darbar, Raipur Kalan, Parts of Sectors 7, 26, 27, Industrial Area, Phase-I.

8.30 to 9 am

Sector 10, 14, 15, 25, 28, 31, Air-force, CSIO, Kishangarh, Bhagwanpura, N&K Khuda Ali Sher, Khuda Lahora, Khuda Jassu, Sarangpur, Dhanas. Part of Sectors 7, 11, 16, 19, 20, 24, 26, 27, 47, Industrial Area.

9 am to 9.30 am

Sector 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 33, 40, 43, 46, 48, 52, 61, Maloya, Kajheri, Kaimbwala, Parts of Sectors 7, 8, 9, 11, 24, 32, 38, 39, 44, 45, 47.

9.30 am to 10 am

Sector 29, 42, Daddu-Majra, Makhan-Majra, Raipur Khurd, Hallomajra, Behlana. Parts of Sectors 19, 20, 22, 27, 30, 32, 37, 38, 39, 41, 44, 45, Burail, Badheri, Batrela, Palsora, Attawa.

10 to 11 am

Sector 17 and 18. Parts of Sectors 8, 9, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23.

11: am to 12 noon

Sector 34, 35, 36. Parts of Sectors 20, 21, 22, 23, 37, 41, 45.



Student killed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
A plus-two student, Supriya, was killed when she was knocked down by an Ambassador car bearing a Punjab registration number near the Sector 40-41 dividing road this morning. The police say the deceased was crossing the road on her way to school when the accident occurred.


Journalist dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Mr Swatantar Sheel, a wellknown Hindi journalist, died at Ferozepore on Sunday following a prolonged illness. He was 52. He is survived by his wife, Mrs Madhu Prashar, Principal, Dev Samaj College for Women, Ferozepore, and two sons.

Mr Sheel began his career as a reporter in Hindustan Samachar news agency in Chandigarh in the 70’s and later remained associated with Panchjanya. He also brought out his own periodical, Divya Shakti at Durg.


Body found on rail track
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The body of an unidentified person was recovered from the rail tracks near the railway overbridge on the Chandigarh - Panchkula highway in the wee hours today. Government Railway Police (GRP) ruled out the possibility of murder or any foul play as no injury marks were found on the body.

According to GRP sources, the deceased was aged about 26 years. Apart from a packet of zarda, no other item was recovered from the person. The body was discovered at about 4 am.

The body was handed over to civil authorities in Kalka, under whose jurisdiction the GRP post at the Chandigarh Railway Station was. The body was reportedly cremated today after a post-mortem examination was conducted.


Parking contractor serves notice on MC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Parking contractor, Rakesh Singla and Jagtar Singh and Company, today threatened to stop payment of instalments to the MC, seeking compensation from it for the unilateral change in the terms and conditions of service.

In a legal notice to the Municipal Corporation, the contractor said that unauthorised parking in certain areas, including green belts, was causing him losses.

The contractor said the conditions of the contract could not be changed without the consent of the other party as per the legal provisions.



Star Television has clarified that the declaration of subscription by cable operators for their package was between 30 and 35 per cent and not 40 per cent. The network has also marked that Rs 50 being charged by the operators from each customer was the establishment cost and not the profit.


Two held for attempted robbery
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
Two persons were caught red-handed while trying to enter a Sector-43 house with the intention of committing robbery last evening. The accused have been identified as Jaswinder Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, both residents of Sector 37. They were handed over to the police. a case has been registered under Sections 392, 332 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint by the occupant of the house, Gurjit Singh.

Liquor seized

Subeg Singh, a resident of Patiala was arrested by the police from Ram Darbar and 120 pouches of Hero whisky were seized from him. A case under the Excise Act has been registered against him.

Purse snatched

Sector 9 resident Sarita Nag has reported that two scooter-borne youths, wearing helmets, snatched her purse containing Rs 850 in cash and some documents near the YMCA, Sector 11, last night. The police has registered a case.

Car stolen

Sector 48 resident Rajiv Rana has reported that his Maruti car (CH-03-C-3123) has been stolen from Sector 22. The police has registered a case.

Rs 60,000 stolen

Sector 46 resident G.R. Kakkar has reported that Rs 60,000 was stolen from his car near the Passport Office, Sector 34. The police has registered a case.

Scooter stolen

Ram Darbar resident Nazran has reported that her Kinetic Honda scooter (CH-03-C-1540) has been stolen from Sector 35. A case has been registered.



Industrial revival must: study
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 7
The situation of the Indian economy at the close of the third quarter of the current fiscal year remained gloomy, increasing the urgency to revive industrial activity in the country — only saving grace being the agricultural sector which registered a robust growth. Observing this, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) in a study, highlighted the performance of the various sectors of the economy.

The study revealed that not only manufacturing, but the services sector — which had been witnessing a high growth rate earlier, evidenced a slowdown with a growth of 4.8 per cent during April-September 2001 compared to 6.14 per cent growth during the corresponding period last year.

Though the growth rate for financial services—real estate, financing, insurance and business services was encouraging, in case of construction, trade, hotels, transport and communication and community social and personal services the scenario was again gloomy.

According to the study, with revenue receipts during this period remaining stagnant, the government was likely to face a shortfall in the coming days. While the net tax revenue dropped by 9 per cent during this period, resource mobilisation from indirect tax especially customs duty, also suffered a setback. Non- tax revenue, however, witnessed a growth of 19.8 per cent over the last year, which was primarily on account of Rs 9,350 crore dividend paid by the Reserve Bank of India and Rs 820 crore paid by the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL).

“The current year (2001-02) was to have initiated the process of cutting back the revenue and fiscal deficit, but it is becoming increasingly evident that in the present milieu, there will again be a slipping in the budgeted fiscal deficit which has been targeted at 4.7 per cent of the GDP”, stated the PHDCCI.

The policy of reducing interest rates and expanding liquidity, instead of making funds available for productive investment has only given easy access to cheap funds to the government and these funds have been utilised largely to finance revenue deficit. “At the same time, decline in the interest rate on deposits showed a delirious impact on household savings which showed a meagre growth of 0.71 per cent compared to 17.73 per cent in the same period last year”, the study revealed.

Within industry, three sub-sectors — manufacturing, mining and electricity registered a fall ingrowth. The growth in the manufacturing sector was 2.3 per cent between April 2001 and November 2001 compared to 6.3 per cent during the same period last year. Among the major segments responsible for steady deterioration in growth in the capital goods industry had been deceleration in the machinery and equipment segment and finished steel. 


GTB-Visa tie-up

GLOBAL Trust Bank has announced the connectivity of its ATM network to the Visa Global ATM network. The Visa cardholders (all categories) across the globe can now transact through the 170 ‘My Time’ ATMs of the GTB spread across 23 cities in the country. TNS

Road show by SBI

The State Bank of India, Phase 1 branch, conducted a road show to popularise its Personal Segment Loan Schemes. This was the second of the series of road shows being organised by the bank. TNS

Furniture Expo-2002

Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company will organise a two-day Furniture Expo-2002, here, beginning tomorrow. The newly-launched products, including computer furniture, executive desks, modular kitchens, movable storage systems and electronic security, introduced by the company will be displayed. TNS

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