Wednesday, February 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU to show answersheets to candidates
UGC wants transparency in exam system
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
In a laudable move, Panjab University has decided to show the answersheets to candidates wishing to see their copies of the final examination to be satisfied with the marking in case of any doubt.

Initially, the scheme is envisaged to be launched for the B.Sc (honours) classes only. Certain science departments at the postgraduate level are already extending the facility of access to copies of answersheets to students. The decision has been approved by the university syndicate.

The move follows a communication of the University Grants Commission some time back where transparency in the evaluation system had been highlighted for the academic interests. Certain universities have already extended the facility.

The new move had earlier come up for a detailed discussion at the Board of Studies of the Science faculty. It was resolved that " the candidates be given, on payment, a photocopy of the marked answersheet, so that they could judge before applying for re-evaluation, whether less marks had been awarded to them in the original marking.

Earlier the university had constituted a subcommittee to ‘consider the suggestion of the UGC that the examination system should be made user-friendly and transparent for the teaching departments of the university running the honours school courses’.

It was pointed out that some of the departments were already following the open evaluation system. The idea of open evaluation for B.Sc students was possible now. However, big problems lay with allowing the system in the faculty of arts and commerce.

It was pointed out that in Guru Nanak Dev University students already had the facility of having their answersheets checked before applying for re-evaluation. The issue was also discussed at length at the principals’ conference and a report was submitted to the university.

Another interesting suggestion said that in case the marks of a student were affected after re-evaluation, the original copy should be shown to the first examiner to make the evaluators more accountable.

Accessibility of answersheets to students would definitely reduce the number of applicants for the re-evaluation, it was felt.



PU meetings postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The meeting of the Board of Finance, Panjab University, scheduled for today was postponed, sources said.

The meeting will now be held on March 9. Sources said that the Syndicate meeting, scheduled for March 9, had also been postponed. It now meets on March 13.

The change in the political set-up in Punjab is ascribed as the major reason for the postponement of the meetings.



Incentives to staff on plague duty
PGI Director for creating special fund
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Appreciating the yeoman role the PGI staff is playing in taking care of the six patients suffering from plague at the hospital, the PGI Director, has stated that he was seriously considering giving special incentives to those staff members who were risking their lives working day and night for these patients.

Talking to The Tribune, the Director also stated that the modalities of creating a special fund for the purpose needed to be worked out. He was not sure whether public involvement in the cause should be sought but it was certainly an option in case there was enough public empathy to the conditions in which the PGI staff was working.

It has been exactly a fortnight since the first set of patients arrived from Himachal and the medical and paramedical staff who has been taking care of them is clearly under a lot of stress. The signs of weariness have begun to show but they brush away casually any mention of being tired of the situation.

“This is testing the best in all of us. And we are all standing by each other, doing our job howsoever demanding it may become.” Says a doctor who has been involved in treating these patients from day one.

Refusing to be named, a nurse says: “We all are showing a brave face to the public but then we are humans like any of the others and have similar fears. Its just that we are in charge of the situation and so one keeps a straight face and does one’s duty silently. Our seniors’ show of professionalism gives us strength and they too are doing a great job.”

Some of these doctors and nurses have been on antibiotics now for 13 days and it has its own side-effects. There are nurses who have been in contact with these patients for more than a week but continue to do their work uncomplainingly. “We have been for eight hours a day each day with them and we too get scared at the first sign of any symptom in us. I got my X-ray done a few days back just to confirm that the cough I have is not plague-like.” says a nurse working in the isolation ward at the PGI.

Things have been worse since the last few days specially after the arrival of a nurse from a private hospital where the last person to have died of plague was being taken care of. “The morale in the isolation ward is really low specially when the nurses see another person of their fraternity who was doing her duty is now under treatment.” says a doctor incharge of the patients.

The nurses have been working in shifts and those who get posted out of the isolation ward do feel that its a respite. But for the doctors who have been in charge for these patients since February 12, there has been no respite. Sleepless nights, panic calls and the extremely uncertain condition of the eight patients, along with the routine teaching and OPD work is what the condition of these doctors has been for the last 15 days. “All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and wish that the disease has been contained and there will be no more cases.” says Dr S Varma, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine, PGI.

Meanwhile the condition of all the six patients showed signs of improvement today. Naveen and Rakesh have mild respiratory distress though they are clinically stable.

Purshotam is likely to be discharged tomorrow while Karamjit and her daughter Jasbir and Reena Philips too are better today.

The PGI nurse who was kept under observation yesterday for any onset of plague-like symptoms too was discharged today. Two cases of people complaining of sputum in their blood were tested for any plague-like symptoms but were cleared and not admitted.



Untouchables’ overnight, with filth as companion
Kansal’s woes pile up
Nishikant Dwivedi

Kansal, February 26
“Clean up our village and stop treating us like untouchables,” say all villagers of Kansal, who have been living under the shadow of “plague” for the past five days. Garbage and stench continue to be their constant companions.

Even as life in the village is returning to normal, villagers are taking all precautions that doctors have told them to take. A large number of them move in the village with their faces covered and most of them are taking antibiotics as well.

However, no one is able to do anything to get the filth removed. They had been hoping that the plague scare would make the authorities get the village cleaned up, but this did not happen.

Today, this reporter saw how the villagers had to cross a choked nullah of dirty and foul-smelling water everyday. Used liquor pouches and the other waste material were lying all around and in the nullah. There was a lot of garbage inside the village where a lot of drains are choked. “Villagers are draining water out of their lavatories and into these drains, causing a health hazard,” said Dr Varinder Verma, who has a practice in the village.

Mr Gurmeet Singh, a senior man of the village, says: “The village is so near to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the UT Secretariat, but is still one of the filthiest villages of the UT.”

Villager say that, overnight, they have become “untouchables”. A government employee who lives in the village said, “We understand that plague is a dangerous thing and precaution is must, but sending all government employees who live in Kansal on leave has created more panic among people than plague itself.” Some of the villagers said everyone from outside was trying to avoid them since a villager died of plague.

Children of the village who attend schools in Chandigarh have been asked by school authorities to stay home, which has irked all villagers. Mr Sadhu Singh of Kansal said, “I understand the fears of school authorities, but if kids don’t attend school now when the annual examinations are approaching, they will suffer heavily.”

Meanwhile, about a dozen families that are living in the village as tenants, have left for their native places after their employers have sent them on leave. Ms Palo, one such tenant, said everyone in the village was scared of a plague outbreak. She also said, “Some of my neighbours have gone home, not because of plague, but because they obtained due leaves of absence from their offices.”



Panic buying of antibiotics
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, February 26
Even as health authorities of Chandigarh and its neighbouring states are taking joint measures to combat plague, the sale of antibiotics at some medical stores here has increased in the past few days.

However, no such thing has been reported from places near SAS Nagar and Panchkula. Reportedly, this panic buying of antibiotics like doxycycline and tetracycline is more where persons with symptoms of plague were found.

Some students of Panjab University were also taking the antibiotics without having ever come in contact with a suspected plague patient.

Mr Harish Sethi, who owns a drug store in Phase II of SAS Nagar, says: “The situation cannot be compared with the Surat outbreak of 1994 that saw huge crowds at medical shops to purchase the antibiotics. When the scare died out, a number of persons returned to drug stores to return the medicines.”

The health authorities are trying hard to tell everyone not to stock the medicines unnecessarily. Dr Harinder Rana, Civil Surgeon of Ropar, said there was no need to buy the antibiotics unless anyone had come in contact with a suspected plague patient. He said the Health Department was trying to educate people about preventive methods.

He said all medical officials had been asked to monitor all those who came to them with fever and cough. Dr Satpal Singla, Chief Medical Officer of the Phase VI Civil Hospital, said a person could not catch the infection from air. Only contact with a plague patient could lead to the spread. He said an isolation ward had been created in the hospital and officials were in contact with authorities of Silver Oaks Hospital. Krishan Singh of Kansal was in this hospital before he was taken to the PGI, where he had died of suspected plague. A nurse of the hospital, Rina Phillips, had been attending on Krishan and she was, later, moved to the PGI.



Kharar hospital gears up to tackle plague
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 26
The Civil Hospital, Kharar, has also been gripped under the plague scare as the doctors have started wearing masks and taking other precautionary measures today. Hospital authorities came into action following receiving a list of five persons who were admitted in the PGI during the period when plague cases was detected there.

According to the information from the Civil Hospital, after receiving the list a team of health workers led by Dr Shalinder visited the house of Mr Nirmal Singh in ward No. 12 here and gave him, his wife and another person the required doze of doxycycline. However, Dr Shalinder said no symptom of plague was found in them. The health staff also visited Sacrulapur village where one person had died earlier reportedly because of high fever. The relatives were given necessary medicines.

However, the doctors on duty claimed that till now no suspected or confirmed case of plague has been reported to the hospital. However, an isolated ward has been set up in the hospital as a precautionary measure.


PGI holds lecture on plague
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
As part of efforts of the PGI to disseminate correct and relevant information about plague and its control, a special lecture was organised for the PGI faculty and students here today.

Delivered by Dr Sanjay Jain of the Department of Internal Medicine, the lecture was followed by a question-answer session, in which a large number of queries were dealt with by Dr Jain and Dr S Varma, Head of the Department of Internal Medicine, PGI.

He clarified that only those persons who had come in direct contact with a person who was either suffering from plague or was suspected or presumed to be suffering from plague should take prophylactic medication. These people are the contact of the patient only if they have come within 2m of the patient or presumed patient. Then he said that a person who came in contact with the contact did not need any prophylactic medication.

He also informed that the bacteria that causes the disease dies within an hour without a host and is also easily killed with antibiotics. Regarding masks, he stated that only those people who were coming in contact with the patient or their contact on a daily basis need to wear masks or maybe even those who are likely to come in contact with a patient or his or her contact. Others need not wear masks at all.



MCC employs 50 daily-wagers for sanitation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) has employed 50 daily wagers to add to over 1600 sanitary staff amidst plague scare even as the waste disposal solution remains elusive despite all claims of cleanliness.

''Though there is no direct link between plague and sanitation yet the Corporation has employed 50 more daily wagers,'' sources told Chandigarh Tribune here today.

The Medical Officer Health (MOH) staff has been asked to attend complaints more promptly.

Lime with Maletheion is being sprinkled under each of the garbage bin. The fortnightly frequency of pest-sprinkling has been changed to weekly at the Dadu Majra dumping ground and daily stock of pest is being provided at the site.

The frequency of garbage-lifting from bins has also been increased, with that from the meat market being twice a day.

The supervisory staff has been asked to increase its monitoring visits. The department has also urged the PGI to ensure that masks put on to prevent communication of plague should be disposed of at a safe place.

The department urged that mask-wearers should be asked to hand over these to medical staff for proper disposal. The staff, however, expressed concern that all efforts for cleanliness of the city were of no use till disposal of municipal waste was found.

The site at Dadu Majra is now causing problems to villagers and the people in Sector 38 .

The Municipal Corporation had awarded a contract to a private firm SPG Bio-Agro Limited more than three years ago but it had not been able to set up its plant to turn waste into manure.

The company could not raise funds as the Municipal Corporation was not allowing mortgaging land for the purpose. The term of the project will end in June this year, which means the project is as good as dead.

Considering the financial implications, the Municipal Corporation or the Chandigarh Administration would have to immediately provide for funds considering the December 2003 deadline set by a special act for waste management enacted by the Government of India, they said.



3.5 cr unearthed from Customs officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
In the biggest-ever recovery by the CBI’s Chandigarh Branch, sleuths today claimed to have unearthed illegal assets and cash totalling Rs 3.5 crore from two officials of the Customs and Central Excise Department who had been arrested by the bureau last week.

Assets disproportionate to known sources of income valued at about Rs 2 crore have been recovered from Amresh Jain, Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Ludhiana, while assets valued at about Rs 1.45 crore have been recovered from Arun Singal, Customs Inspector posted at Chandigarh.

Stating this here today, CBI DIG, Chandigarh, Dr R.K. Garg, said that these recoveries had been made on the basis of documents found during searches conducted at their residences in Ludhiana and Chandigarh, respectively. The accused were yet to volunteer any information about the wealth amassed by them and further investigations in this regard were in progress.

Dr Garg added that this recovery was also the largest so far in the ongoing special drive by the CBI to unearth black money, which began last week.

Giving details, Dr Garg said that cash totalling Rs 53 lakh was seized today afternoon from Jain’s bank locker in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh. In addition, searches of bank lockers revealed Rs 30 lakh in cash and about 1kg of gold. Verification of bank accounts revealed a balance of Rs 12.43 lakh in the account of his 3-year old daughter, Rs 1.63 lakh in a public provident fund account in the name of Jain and his wife Sushma and Rs 1.84 lakh in another account.

Investigations by the CBI also revealed that he had invested about Rs 50 lakh in immovable assets in Chandigarh, Ghaziabad and Noida, while another Rs 50 lakh had been invested in various shares, business, LIC polices and bonds, public provident fund account and savings accounts. A search of his house had revealed Rs 1.25 lakh in cash, jewellery worth about Rs 3 lakh and various articles valued at about Rs 8 lakh, besides 15 bottles of imported premium Scotch.

The Superintendent of Police, CBI, Mr P.S. Sandhu added that Jain, a mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi with about seven years effective service in the Indian Revenue Service, had earlier held several sensitive appointments, including that of Deputy Commissioner, Anti-Smuggling at Amritsar from 1999-2000.

Investigations had also revealed that Arun Kumar Singal was possessing immovable property in Chandigarh valued at about Rs 1.4 crore. This included a built up industrial shed in Industrial Area jointly owned by him and Jain. In addition, cash, jewellery and other items valued at about Rs 4.65 lakh had been recovered from his house in Sector 27.

CBI officials added that the amount deposited in the name of Singal and his wife in different banks was still to be collected. Arun Singal had joined the Customs and Central Excise in 1993 through the sports quota and was a Ranji Trophy player.



Encourage R&D, private sector in healthcare
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Encouragement to private participation and rationalisation of duty structure is what the government needs to do in the Union Budget 2002, to help improve the healthcare sector, especially pharmaceutical industry, which has the potential to expand worldwide, opine experts.

V.K. Mehta
V.K. Mehta

P.S. Chhatwal
P.S. Chhatwal

According to the Confederation of Indian industries (CII), the healthcare sector should be extended infrastructure status, so as to increase the flow of investments to this sector. Private sector participants need to be provided necessary tax breaks so that they can improve their cash flows and stay invested in the projects with a long term plan, the spokesperson for the CII stated.

In its pre-budget memorandum for the year 2002-03, CII has pointed out that the main hindrance to the proper development of healthcare services is inadequate return of investments.

Regarding the Rs 2,500 crore pharmaceutical industry, which ranks fourth in the world in terms of volumes, R&D capabilities need to be strengthened with additional investments in research, say industrialists.

"In the post-WTO era, the industry needs to strengthen it's intrinsic R&D capabilities while government needs to encourage investments by providing benefits like waiving off of customs duty on import of R&D equipment", said Mr V.K. Mehta, Managing Director Ind-Swift Laboratories. He suggested that setting up of a threshold limit for R&D expenditure, which might be a specific percentage of the company's turnover, above which financial assistance be provided.

"Tax exemptions or rebates for companies involved in research and development of new products would go a long way in improvement of the sector", he said.

Industrialists emphasised on rationalisation of duty structure so as to promote indigenous production in the pharmaceutical industry. "As some life-saving drugs are now manufactured in the country itself, such imported drugs should be removed from the list of nil custom duty", stated CII.

As the government is not in a position to inject large sums to the system to improve facilities, a greater private sector participation is essential, they said.

According to industrialists, the current duty structure is inconsistent with the aim of promoting indigenous production. "Taxes should not be charged for life-saving drugs that are indigenously manufactured", said Mr P.S. Chhatwal, managing director, Torque Pharmaceuticals. Such drugs like Atacuronium Besylate, Desmopressin, Iohexol, Prazocin, Sodium Hyaluronidate, Somatostatin, Vecuronium Bromide, Octeotride, Lamivudine, Amifostine, Didium Pamidronate, should be deleted from the exempted list of nil custom duty as these are now produced in India, said the CII.

While vaccines that are not being manufactured in India, like those for chickenpox should be included in the exempted list of nil custom duty, bulk drugs and their formulations such as Lamivudine, Stavidine, Nevirapine, Didanosine, Indinavir, Atacuronium Besylate, Prazocin, Sodium Hyaluronidate, Somatostatin, Vecuronium Bromide, Octeotride, Amifostine, Diodium Pamidronate, Leuprolide, Cisplatin, which are used in the treatment of life-threatening diseases such as HIV, AIDS and cancer, need to be added to the excise duty exemption list, say industrialists.

They said that immunisation vaccines like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and polio should be fully exempted from customs duty as they are life-threatening diseases and it is essential to develop an immune system against these diseases across the country.



City gets Jana Shatabdi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
‘Jana Shatabdi’ a new train for the budget travellers on the Chandigarh-Delhi route and the extension of the Lucknow-Saharanpur Express up to Chandigarh were important developments for the city residents in Railway Budget-2002 announced by the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, today.

The “Jana Shatabdi” announced in the Railway Budget will run between Chandigarh and Delhi at the same speed as the Shatabdi, but minus the frills and luxuries. The fares and timings are yet to be announced. Another offering for city residents is the extension of Lucknow-Saharanpur Express up to city. It will take about 2 hours for travelling between Chandigarh and Saharanpur.

But despite repeated demands, the government did not agree to extend a southbound train to Chandigarh. All trains heading towards south originate and terminate at Delhi and there is a long pending demand to extend one or two such trains to the city.

Mr Pawan Bansal, MP, speaking over telephone from Delhi said, “I welcome the new Jana Shatabdi for budget travellers and the extension of the Lucknow-Saharanpur Express. Our demand for a southbound train will be intensified.”

The Jana Shatabdi would be as fast as the Shatabdi, but without the facilities of in-train catering, newspaper availablity and on board phones, the Ambala Railway Division Manager, Dr Deepak Krishan said. It would have AC chair car and normal seating facilities.

Mr Joginder Singh Bhogal, former member of the Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee (ZRUCC), said the Jana Shatabdi should depart from here in the morning and should be back by 11 pm on the same day. This would help traders and businessmen. He also welcomed the move to extended the Lucknow-Saharanpur Express to Chandigarh.

Mr Rajeev Gupta, general secretary of the Federation of Small Scale Industries, has welcomed the move to reduce freight on cement, steel and petroleum products. “This will give a boost to infrastructure development of the country as a reduction of prices in these three products was long overdue,” he said.


Miracle drugs’ from hell
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 26
Simran (not her real name), 22, had always been troubled by excessive flab on her body. To lose weight, she tried every trick in the book — from long walks to aerobics. Still unable to attain that perfect-10 figure, she was disappointed and, then, she saw an advertisement for a body oil that “absorbed the fat cells in the body within 40 minutes of application and showed rapid weight loss”.

She bought the oil, even though it was expensive. Little did she know what was in store for her. The oil, on its first application, did wonders for Simran, but when she applied it over and over again for the desired results, she slipped into unconsciousness. Her parents rushed her to a doctor, who told them that she was severely dehydrated.

This is just one of the many incidents narrated by local doctors, who are receiving an increasing number of persons with after-effects of using “miracle drugs”. Regardless of the ill-effects of these drugs that are sold in the name of ayurvedic and herbal preparations, virtually everyone is trying out these.

Exploiting the desires for fair complexion, bulging biceps, cures for baldness, good height, vitality and weight loss, manufacturers are flooding local drug stores with a plethora of these miracle drugs. With the State Drug Controller having a little say in the sale or purchase of these drugs and the Ayurvedic Council “choosing to keep its eyes shut”, seekers of body beautiful are being duped.

The Assistant State Drug Controller, Mr R.M. Sharma, says: “Such drugs are covered under Drugs and Magic Remedies Act that prohibits the advertisement of 32 promises like fairness, gain in height etc. Whenever we get a complaint in this regard, an immediate action is taken.”

Perhaps this is what explains the inscription on some capsules that ensure weight loss: “Use your own imagination and be sensible. Now you can start shedding those extra kilos.” Take the inscription on the packing of some pills for tallness: “...Due to different internal infrastructure of human bodies, results may vary from person to person.”

A visit to various drug stores here and in Pinjore showed that the sale of these “miracle drugs” had increased rapidly over the past few years. Retailers say that, though this popularity has more to do with aggressive advertisement campaigns, the new-age body consciousness in both sexes has also encourages the sale of these substances.

Mr B.B. Singhal, head of the District Chemists Association, said: “The sale of these drugs is directly proportional to the volume of advertisement. In the case of a Ludhiana-based pharmaceutical company that claimed to have manufactured the ayurvedic equivalent of American Viagra, as soon as the company stopped advertising, the sales that had, earlier, crossed 1 million mark, dropped steadily.”

Sources say that a number of unscrupulous companies enter a new product in the market only to make a quick buck and close shop. “Most of these products are in the market only for a year or so. Since the profit margins in retail price are upto 700 per cent, after huge profits, manufacturing of these drugs is stopped and a new product is introduced,” says a Pinjore chemist.



Chaos at Punjab Congress Bhavan
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Unprecedented scenes of chaos were witnessed at the Punjab Congress Bhavan in Sector 15 this morning when Capt Amarinder Singh was declared leader of Punjab Congress Legislature Party at a meeting of the newly elected party MLAs.

Thousands of enthusiastic party workers from all over the state and vied with one another to congratulate Capt Amarinder Singh for leading the party to victory after five years of political wilderness. Slogan-shouting Congressmen seemed to be everywhere: in the compound, in the doorways, in the balconies, in the lawns, in the driveway, and on the roads leading to the building. In the melee, certain windowpanes of the building were smashed. Security arrangements, if any, collapsed.

The meeting was due to begin at 11.30 a.m. but the Congress workers began converging on the venue of the meeting at around nine in the morning. As the time for meeting approached, the crowds seemed to thicken even more. A long stretch of Madhya Marg in front of Congress Bhavan was jampacked with vehicles and people.

The Congress observers, including Mr Ahmed Patel, Mrs Ambika Soni and Mr Hari Parshad accompanied by Mr Motilal Vora, AICC in charge of the Punjab affairs, and Mr R.L.Bhatia, MP, arrived at the venue around 12.30 p.m. They also had difficulty making their way through the crowd to enter the bhawan. The hour-long meeting was attended by all the newly elected MLA's and the sitting Congress MPs.

Similar chaotic scenes were witnessed during the lunch that followed with gatecrashers outnumbering the invitees. As a result, food ran short.



Crusading against female foeticide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
A panel discussion and a play on “female foeticide’’ was organised by the Youth and Police Club, Mohali, in collaboration with Rotary Club, SAS Nagar, at Shivalik Public School, Sector 41, here today as part of a month-long crusade against foeticide.

The ASP Mohali, Kalpana Nayak, said that the project of forming youth clubs was undertaken in collaboration with the British Council, the Punjab police and the South Yorkshire Police. The project aims to promote ‘partnership policing’ through such clubs by mobilising youth power and involving them in community services, she added.

A lecturer at Government College, Sector 11, Ms Sharda Kaushik, coordinating the various agencies in the city to organise a series of events on female foeticide, said that after widow abandonment, sati, bride-burning and infanticide, certain sections of our society had come down to attacking the very seed of human civilisation. She added that the issue called for immediate initiative on the part of the public. The panellists on the discussion included professionals from the city who highlighted the role of law, society, media, medical science and educationists on the burning issue.

The ADG of the Punjab Human Rights Commission, Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, who presided over the function, said that under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, people involved in aborting the female foetus were liable to be jailed for three years and fined up to Rs 10,000. Also, the licence of the doctor responsible for such an act could be suspended.

The Assistant Editor, The Tribune, Mr Ashwini Bhatnagar, said that though people argued that newspapers made too much noise about such issues, it was essential to make an impact on society. He said that the media worked for spreading social messages and would do so in case of female foeticide as well, which he termed as a ‘spiritual crime’.

A social scientist from the Institute for Development Communication, Ms Rainuka Dagar, said that the question before society was not of fighting female foeticide, but preventing it. She said it was essential to find out why life-enhancing machines were being misused as life-depriving machines.

Prof Rajiv Lochan from Panjab University said that the answer to the problem lay in changing the way people think, while Dr G.K. Bedi, a gynaecologist, said that to get to the heart of the issue, people in slums of the city needed to be educated.

Later, a play “Mere Pankh” was staged by students of S.D. College, Sector 32, which captured the plight of a woman caught in the snare of family pressure for undergoing a series of sex determination tests and medical termination of pregnancies. Written and directed by Sabib Singh, it proved to be an enlightening experience.

Tech fest in GC-11

The students of the Department of Professional Studies of Government College, Sector 11, organised a one-day tech fest at the college premises, here today.

The contest which saw participation from a number of students from local colleges began with a technical presentation. This was followed by a predefined software development contest, on-the-spot website development, and technical quiz of three rounds.

The programme concluded with a prize distribution function on the college premises and free gifts of Rs 1,000 each were given to all participants.



Bridge repair work hits business
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, February 26
Filling stations and dhabas along the busy Chandigarh-Ambala national highway, between Zirakpur and Bhankharpur, doing a roaring business till last week, did not get any customers, thanks to repair on the Ghaggar bridge.

A filling station selling 5000 to 6000 litres of fuel per day, had to content with only sale of 200-odd litres daily while dhabas and other business establishments were virtually without customers as the route for the traffic had been diverted.

An excise and sales tax barrier, that used to register over 700 vehicles a day, registered only 10 to 15 local vehicles per day. Moreover, the department had to put another barrier at Mubarikpur.

Piles of kinnoos disappeared from Singhpura village where vendors used to attract and provide juice to travellers on the highway.

A survey of the areas revealed that a majority of dhabas were closed by the owners since the road was closed on Thursday night and the workers were given “leave”.

Staff of the filling stations were seen waiting for customers.

Mr Ashok Kumar, a worker at a filling station, said that earlier over 800 to 1000 vehicles used to get fuel from their station daily but after the closure of the road, the number reduced to 50 to 70 per day.

The Zirakpur-Dera Bassi stretch of the busy Chandigarh-Ambala highway was closed by the building and roads wing of the Punjab Public Works Department from Thursday night till Tuesday night.

Vehicles headed towards Ambala from Chandigarh were diverted from the Zirakpur traffic light points to take the Zirakpur-Banur-Tapla road to rejoin the highway near Ambala.

Similarly, traffic towards Chandigarh from Ambala and Delhi side has been diverted from the Mubarikpur chowk to take the Mubarikpur-Ramgarh-Panchkula-Chandigarh road.

Meanwhile, the Zirakpur-Dera Bassi stretch of the Chandigarh-Ambala highway that was closed on account of repair of Ghaggar opened for vehicular traffic this evening.


HUDA identifies garbage dump area
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 26
The Haryana Urban Development Authority has identified 12 acres of land near Ramgarh for converting this into a garbage dump in order to do away with the problem of garbage disposal. A solid waste management treatment plant will also be set up here.

It is learnt that negotiations for acquiring this land from the Forest Department are presently underway. HUDA will have to allocate some land elsewhere in lieu of this land being taken for converting into a garbage dump.

Sources inform that this land has been identified keeping in view its distance from the township. This land also has a depression of 20 to 30 feet , which will be useful as a dump for many years to come, informed a senior official.

It may be noted that till date there is no systematic disposal or treatment of solid waste in the township. This is simply dumped in vacant plots on the periphery or reportedly in the Singh Nullah, passing through various sectors in the township.

According to a survey conducted by the Municipal Council recently, 400 grams of solid waste is generated by a single person in a day. With a population of around 2.5 lakh, as much as 100 tonnes of solid waste is generated in the township per day.

Most of the Residents Welfare Associations in the township complain that the sanitation system here is anything but good. In almost all the sectors, Residents Welfare Associations have given private contract for collecting garbage from each household, at rates varying from Rs 10 to Rs. 20 per household. Garbage collected from a particular area is then disposed off in the garbage bins put up by HUDA.

It is learnt that more than 150 garbage bins have been put up by the authorities at various places here. The garbage, after being collected from these bins, is finally disposed off on the outskirts, especially near partially developed sectors 20, 23 and 25. However, residents of these areas have given numerous representations to the authorities against dumping of garbage here. With a number of people now residing here, the foul smell emanating from these “unauthorised garbage dumps” has become a major problem for them.

However, residents allege that these dustbins are placed in an unplanned manner and are scarce. However, the authorities say that now that they have bought 100 new garbage bins with lids, the problem will be solved.



He sells solution “saamagri”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
A shop that sells “upaayas” (solutions) to every problem appears to be a tale straight out of a story book. A place where those afflicted with problems would love to travel long distances. The first destination of such people of course are the astrologers, palmists, pandits et al. They study their kundlis or birth charts and suggest ways and methods to appease the angry planet gods.

Holding their “lifelines” in a tight grasp these “patients” then move heaven and earth to carry out the “upaayas” . They hop from shop to shop, or trudge long distances in search of the “saamagri”. And many still remain disappointed.

Not so any more. Almost everything required for the “upaayas” is now available under one roof — a corner shop in the heart of the busy Sector 23 market. No doubt a shop selling ornaments, but it caters to every need of this category of clients who are eager to put the suggested solutions into practice. And the man bringing the “upaayas” under one roof is Mr Sunil Bhardwaj, the owner of the shop.

Having started business about six years ago, Sunil says he owes it to Pandit Sundarlal Dangwar, a priest long associated with the Sector 16 temple. It was he who associated him into this line of business. Sunil goes down memory lane — how after college hours he used to sit at the Panditji’s feet and learn about the precious stones and the effect these have in changing people’s destiny, obviously for the better. He did this for 12 years. Along side he began to assist his father at their shop in Burail. And it was a sensible move as most of the people he had met at the temple turned to him for the “upaaya” items.

Gradually the business of “Lal Kitab” picked up and Sunil shifted to his present location in Sector 23. Having leanings towards the spiritual, he started collecting the “saamagri” required to perform the “upaayas”. These included marble replicas of cows, snakes and monkeys; silver powder, bricks, cubes, balls, coins, fish, horse, jointless bangles, lead elephants, surma, special threads and the like. He claims he can manage to provide as rare a thing as mare’s milk !

His clients are happy. They make a beeline for his shop even from Delhi, Sri Ganganagar and some towns of Punjab. One of the clients is so satisfied that he performs his “upaayas” for almost 29 days out of 30.

For Sunil it is a double blessing. The customers who come to pick up the “upaaya” material do not take long to buy his jewellery which is his main business anyway.



Living life — the Vedanta way
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Vedanta is a system of thought which makes human uplift its basis and while doing so strikes a balance between what the soul searches for and what the senses desire.

Baring the crux of this ancient philosophy to the city will be a senior disciple of Swami Parthasarthy of the Vedanta Academy, Gautam Jain. Gautam completed his studies in America, where he graduated with a range of honours, including the International Hackman scholarship, the prestigious Charles Dana Foundation award for his contribution to college life and the Albert Bell prize for academic excellence. Gautam however, declined lucrative offers from MNCs to return to the Vedanta Academy.

The driving force was his urge to trace the roots of peace, the Vedanta way. As he told The Tribune in an exclusive interview today, “I realised that there is more to life than just working for oneself. So I joined the Academy and dedicated myself to full-time research in Vedanta, which has logical and scientific basis.”

The conversation revolved around two elements that govern life, the urge to succeed and the need to be at peace with oneself. Said Gautamji who has been a propagator of the system for nine years now, “The West is bursting with productivity, action and dynamism, but lacks peace. The East is trapped by inertia, but knows a little about the elements required to be peaceful. The Vedanta works to combine the elements of productivity and prosperity with peace and happiness.”

He talked of the two most prevalent maladies of the world ( as per a WHO report) which are heart disease and depression, both spurred by stress. He said, “Vedanta imparts the technique of living which promotes progressive action with inner peace. The philosophy tells you of how to lace your life with action and still remain free from stress. The third chapter of Bhagwad Gita is all about time management.”

Interestingly, Gautam’s discourse, which begins tomorrow at GCG, Sector 11 deals with the yoga of action. The Vedantan will span a huge canvas of thoughts, telling people how important it is to learn the technique of action and apply it to all walks of life. Gautam said today, “I have been applying the principles to my life and have experienced success. At the Academy, we learn about wide streams of thought — right from the Upanishads to Western authors and poets. Finally, one realises that all great thinkers have said the same thing in a different manner. And Vedanta combines the best philosophies of the world into a single powerful treatise.”

In addition to discourses, he conducts in-house lectures and seminars in corporations, organisations and educational institutions. He has made presentations to the Indian Merchants Chamber, The Indian Armed Forces, The Symbiosis Business School and Rotary International District conferences. He also addressed the Chandigarh Management Association at the University Business School at PU today.

As a Vedantan, Gautam’s life is all about research into and propagation and practical application of vedantic philosophy to life. As he said today, “After answering the issues vital to day-to-day existence, Vedanta touches finally upon Nirvana. It is a scientific system, which aims at the holistic development of one who pursues it. We have close to 75 students at the academy, about 20 per cent of them being foreigners. The number of youths taking recourse to this science is increasing, simply because it unravels the mysteries of life and bridges the gulf between the known and the unknown.”



Opposition demands withdrawal of parking fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today demanded withdrawal of parking fee and the property tax proposal and accused the Congress of forming house committees without consulting the Leader of the Opposition, Ms Kamla Sharma.

Kamla Sharma, Gian Chand Gupta and Rajesh Gupta of the BJP and Harjinder Kaur of the SAD, in a joint statement, said Congress had promised during the elections that “it would manage the corporation without levying any taxes”.

Congress leader in the House Subhash Chawla said the party manifesto promised that the corporation would be run with “a minimum burden on the people.”

The Congress is holding a meeting tomorrow probably to chalk out a strategy to counter BJP’s criticism of the party for allowing 2 per cent property tax on commercial property against an earlier decision by the House of 10 per cent of the annual rent.

The statement asked the Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, to recast the committees after consultations with the Leader of the Opposition.

The BJP-SAD councillors reminded the Congress of its promise of managing the corporation with higher grants.



Cops get lead in kidnapping case
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 26
The local police is learnt to have got a lead in the case of kidnapping of Arsh Deep, a three-year-old girl, from her grandmother’s house here yesterday.

The police said it suspected a man called Lalit, a close relative of the child’s maternal uncle, to be behind the kidnapping.

Police parties have been sent to Malerkotla, Sangrur and Dhuri to catch the accused and recover the child.

Arsh was kidnapped yesterday from a Sector 12-A house here by four persons, including a woman. The child always used to be with her maternal grandmother in daytime as her parents, Mr Surjit Singh and Ms Sarabjit Kaur, were away for work. Yesterday, a young couple, reportedly, entered the first-floor house of the grandmother, Ms Mohinder Kaur, on the pretext of inviting them for a wedding.

As Ms Mohinder Kaur was ushering them in, two more youths came there and the couple said they were with them. The four persons gagged her and tied her up before taking away the child in a Tata Sumo.



Defaulters face action
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 26
Taking serious note of the defacement of public property in Panchkula, the local Municipal Council has threatened to get all defaulters booked under the West Bengal Defacement of Properties Act, 1974.

The Executive Officer of the MC, Mr O.P. Sihag, said that they had issued notices to all defaulters and asked them to remove these defacements by February 28. He said that they were planning to film all places where the public property had been defaced and then put this as evidence before the police.

He also informed that keeping up with their drive to ban polythene, they had purchased a micrometer in order to measure the width of polythene. He said that they would be conducting surprise checks at different markets to see if the ban was being followed.

Mr Sihag said that the authorities would impose a fine on those using recycled polythene and also seal their shops.



Antecedents of watchmen to be verified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The local police has decided to launch a drive to ensure that antecedents of night watchmen employed by various residents’ welfare associations are verified and their particulars are forwarded to the police station concerned.

According to the Station House Officer of a police station, orders have been received from Police Headquarters to ensure that the antecedents of persons employed as night watchmen in various sectors are verified.

The drive is being conducted in the backdrop of orders being issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code by the Deputy Commissioner from time to time as well as the possibility of unscrupulous elements being employed as watchmen.

While verification of night watchmen in several sectors has been done from time to time, police officials state that the verification drive in areas left out is now being undertaken. Police officers have been directed to take up the issue with residents’ associations in various sectors.

The police officials say that there are about 500 night watchmen in the city employed by residents’ associations and residential societies. Most of them hail from other states. The verification drive will assure that no unscrupulous elements or those with criminal background are employed as watchmen.



Funnel funds to the poor’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Despite there being a number of development programmes for the economically and socially-weaker sections of society, negligible benefits reach them.

This was pointed out by Prof H.K. Puri, Guru Nanak Dev University, in his keynote address at the seminar on “Dr Ambedkar: freedom from socio-cultural and economic injustice” being organised by the Department of Political Science, Panjab University, here today.

Professor Puri, quoting a remark of a former Prime Minister, said less than 15 per cent of grants meant for the poorer sections actually reached them.

He said in political jargon, social equality existed but in socio-economic fields there was inequality only. Untouchability was prohibited in 1947, but a variant of the practice still existed.

Professor Puri reflected on the problem in view of the ongoing process of globalisation where the poor had not been aptly addressed.

Lt-Gen J.F.R.Jacob, the Governor of Punjab, in his inaugural remarks said India was a diverse country and shades of the problem exist. Under all circumstances there was need to educate people about their rights and duties apart from asking the executing agencies to be more strict in conducting their affairs.

Prof P.S.Verma introduced the subject where Prof Raj Hans Gill, the DUI, was also present.



Save us from plague

THE unauthorised Jhote Kut Colony settlement in Mohali is full of filth, garbage, cattle waste and rats. This is a potential invitation to plague and other dangerous diseases. The residents of Sector 71 are worst affected. Col U S Brar, a retired senior doctor, who resides next to this colony and filth, has expressed serious concern over the condition of this settlement and sought remedial measures to prevent plague in the area.

We also appeal to the government to remove this illegal settlement which has come up with the help of politicians and some PUDA officials.

Lt-Col S S SOHI (retd), Mohali

Deplorable move

The decision of the Chandigarh Administration to allot the land on the park in Sector 47-D to a private school is deplorable. This part of the sector is already thickly populated and overcrowded. It has many types of houses constructed by the Chandigarh Housing Board — LIG, MIG and EWS. It already has four schools — primary school, high school, higher secondary school and Government Model Senior Secondary School. One public school building has come up recently. The sector’s welfare association and elected councillors have been trying to develop this park. The plan to convert this precious lung-space in the sector into a school complex has come as a rude shock to the people.

The welfare association appeals to the authorities concerned not to go ahead with its plan. If the school comes up, it will add to congestion and traffic jams will be the order of the day. The peace-loving people of Sector 47-D will be forced to launch an agitation if the Administration does not review its decision.


Great relief

During my morning walk in Sector 7 recently, I had to use the public toilet. Contrary to my expectations, it was well maintained and clean. Credit, really, goes to UT Administrator and Punjab Governor Lt-Gen JFR Jacob, whose surprise checks had made this possible. It is a great relief to the general public.

PAWAN K. GOEL, Chandigarh

An eye-opener

It was heartening to see Fauji Beat (‘Faultiness in pension fixation’, Chandigarh Tribune, October 10, 2001). It is an eye-opener to many similar defence pensioners who are being denied of their legitimate entitlements. If one is ignorant of government orders, the gain he gets does not commensurate with the benefit annssounced through government orders. While these orders are clear, the sanctioning authorities (CDA, Pension, Allahabad), while implementing them, have deprived and denied certain entitlements.

If someone knows the regulation concerning pension and fights for his entitlements, the CDA authorities do not pay heed knowing that the pensioner, after mental and physical harassment, will get exhausted and surrender. There seems to be a sickening methodology behind the intensely tragic episode.

I am also a victim of unfortunate circumstances. The Government of India has issued clear instructions for revision of my pension, but the CDA is holding its implementation on some grounds. When I protested, they instead of increasing my pension have reduced it. For the last two years, I have been writing them letters, sending faxes and e-mailing them but in vain.

I am encouraged to read the article since my case also relates to rank weightage. I feel that I should also knock the doors of the High Court. It is a hard decision due to financial constraints, but some people are encouraging me after reading the report published in your esteemed newspaper.

Capt HARWANT SINGH (retd), On e-mail



Journalist dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Senior Journalist and former Assistant Editor, Dainik Tribune, Mr Hari Om Pande, died today at Lucknow. he was 67 and had not been feeling well for some time. He leaves behind his wife, who is a medical officer at Government Hospital, Almora, and two daughters. Mr Pande had been an active journalist for almost four decades.

he served as editor of ‘Him Kesri, Shimla, Dainik Pradeep, Patna and uttar Ujala, Haldwani. he had a brief stint as a reporter of National herald at Shimla. The journalists fraternity has deeply condoled Mr pande’s demise.



Punjabi Tribune  scribe dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Jalandhar-based Staff Correspondent of Punjabi Tribune Amarjit Singh Sidhu died tonight at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, after protracted illness. He was 45. He leaves behind his wife and three daughters. His cremation will take place at his village, Sidhwan Dona, tomorrow.



Pavement size reduced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The 26-inch wide pavement in the Sector 37-C market in the city will be reduced to 8 inch to create parking space. This was informed here today during the visit of the area councillor, Ms Kamla Sharma, and the Chief Engineer, Mr V.K. Bharadwaj.

Mr Bharadwaj also announced fixing of 200 tiles in the market.



Special drive on seat belts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The Chandigarh Traffic Police has launched a special drive to ensure that the recent Supreme Court directive making wearing of seat belts by car drivers and the front seat passengers in light vehicles mandatory is obeyed.

The drive will continue for a week. A number of nakas have been set up at various strategic places and violators are being challaned.



Two killed in road mishaps
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
A pedestrian, Hira Lal, a resident of Sector 27, was killed after he was knocked down by an Ambassador car on the Sectors 28-30 dividing road. He was rushed to the Sector 32 government hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. The police has arrested the car driver, Kulwinder Singh, a resident of Sector 41, and booked him for rash and negligent driving and causing death.

An unidentified person, who was knocked down by a vehicle on February 24, succumbed to his injuries at the PGI. According to the police, the deceased had been left outside the Sector 32 government hospital in an unconscious state from where he had been referred to the PGI. The police has registered a case.

The police has arrested a resident of Colony No 5, Ram Rattan, for allegedly abducting a minor girl from the same colony. Chander Bhan Yadav had reported that his daughter was abducted by the accused from near the Sector 28 Government High School. The police has recovered the girl and registered a case.

Theft cases
Sector 45 resident A.P. Sharma has reported that his Hero Honda motor cycle has been stolen from his residence. A case has been registered.

Sector 15 resident Disha Sood has reported that the battery of her Kinetic Honda scooter, parked at her residence, has been stolen. A case has been registered.


Jewellery stolen
Gold jewellery and Rs 5,000 have been stolen from the residence of Ms Gurmeet Kaur, a resident of Police Colony, while she was out of station. A case under Sections 457 and 380, IPC, have been registered.

Mr Ram Pratap has accused Shyam Sunder of having abducted his minor daughter. A case under Sections 363 and 366, IPC, has been registered.



Robbers injure jeweller, son
Our Correspondent

Mani Majra, February 26
Masked robbers, armed with iron rods and hammers, injured a jeweller and his son here this evening while they were returning home after closing their shop.

According to sources, the robbers injured 18-year-old Neeraj and his father, Mr N.R. Chauhan, who is running a jewellery shop in an NAC showroom, near the Dhillon theatre. Mr Chauhan said that the robbers hit Neeraj on his head with a hammer and tried to snatch a money bag from him.

‘‘They also hit me on my arms and hands to snatch a briefcase from me but I raised alarm and they disappeared in dark’’, he added.

On the complaint of the victim, the police is investigating the matter but no arrest has been made so far.


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |