Friday, March 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Rationals vs radicals on ‘jyotir vigyan’ in PU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The proposal to introduce the ‘jyotir vigyan’ course in Panjab University has encountered stiff opposition. The PU Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak, had said at the commencement of the Senate meeting early this week: “The University Grants Commission had sanctioned a grant for the establishment of the Department of Jyotir Vigyan in the PU.”

Trouble erupted soon after, when Mr Satya Pal Dang said the issue should not been just briefly mentioned in the VC’s statement. He said it should have been on the agenda for meeting. Professor Pathak however said what he had said was only that the course would be introduced only after following the due process as per university rules. This means that the course will first have to be cleared by academic bodies.

While the PU has not introduced the course, it finds a mention in the budget that has already been cleared. In the income list, under the head of revised estimates for the session 2001-2002, the university mentions receipt of a Rs 20 lakh grant for the course. Under the head of estimates for 2002-2003, the budget shows Rs 10,99,502. “How could the university show an amount on the budget for a course that had not even been accepted by the Senate,” a senior fellow of the PU said.

More than 20 fellows of the Senate gave a signed representation to the VC, urging him not to take up the issue in the Senate till the academic bodies cleared the course.

A PU fellow said: “Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, was imposing his medieval will on the university by weight of government moneybag that had no money for pure sciences.”

Prof M.M. Sharma said those opposed to the introduction of ‘Jyotir Vigyan’ did not understand what the subject was about. “People believe that the subject is only futurology, which is unfair, as it is much more than fortunetelling. It is a science.”

Prof Charanjit Chalwa said the course content would make students pessimists by foretelling their future, even if correctly. “Study of science is rapidly vanishing and society will have to pay a heavy price as a result,” he said.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP and a senior PU fellow, said the subject was not about religion alone, but scientific truths of interest to all. “This is a job-oriented vocational course,” he said.

Mr M.G. Gandhi said astrology was his subject and he had received several coveted awards in this field, but the subject was a matter of belief and should be optional. “Introduction of the course is not in the interest of a university,” he said.


Phones lose ring; BSNL network hit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Thousands of persons lost telephone connectivity here today when a major fault in the telecom system paralysed the network of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. Call traffic and mobile telephony were hit in a big way.

The snag that occurred at about 8 pm could not be rectified till about midnight. Thousands of telephone users of southern sectors, SAS Nagar and Kharar could not make or receive telephone calls. On dialling, subscribers could only hear the monotonous voice that said: “This route is busy; please dial after some time.” It was impossible to access an outstation number.

Telecom engineers had been struggling to revive the system till late night and the reason for the failure was still a mystery. Meanwhile, sources said the fault had originated from the optical-fibre cable (OFC) link between the telephone exchanges in Sectors 34 and 17.

It was not clear whether the fault was in the computer software or underground cables.

Telephones of senior officials like the Principal General Manager Telecom, Mr R.C. Vaish, also went dead, so, they could not be contacted for information in this regard.

Sources said all level-6 telephone subscribers could not dial outstation numbers or any number in north Chandigarh and Panchkula.

Even some subscribers in the northern sectors had complaints of connectivity loss when they dialled numbers of southern sectors or SAS Nagar. Due to this fault, calls from landlines to mobile telephones could not be made. Mobile telephone users also said they could not reach landline numbers.

Due to the fault, several STD-PCO operators lost business and subscribers could not reach their acquaintances and relatives. The call traffic was expected to be heavy today in view of Holi that is followed by two days of holiday ahead.

Many persons had to drop their vacation plans and no one could download e-mail messages, since most Internet service providers (ISPs) have dial-up networking.


Passport fee hiked by 300 pc
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Rates to get a new passport made have been enhanced by more than 300 per cent with affect from April 1, according a spokesperson of the Government of India.

The fee for Tatkaal service will remain the same as before. The old fee would apply in case of all applications for passports which have been sent by registered post/speed post/under certificate of posting to the passport offices with the date of handing over to the post office prior to Friday, March 29. The old rates for fresh passports were Rs 300 and Rs 100 for miscellaneous services.

The fee to apply for a passport has been in operation since July, 1993, and the total expenditure incurred by the government on the issue of passports has, since then, gone up considerably. The hike also been carried out to meet the costs of computerisation processes, modernisation of passport offices, construction and renting of new and modern office premises, reimbursing the cost to the state government for accepting and expediting passport application forms at district level and the cost involved in police verification, the spokesperson added.

The revised passport fee schedule for all passport applications presented at the passport offices of district passport application collection centres of speed post would be as follows:

Ordinary passport (fresh or in lieu of an expired passport) of 36 pages Rs 1000 (US $ 40); Jumbo passport (fresh or in lieu of an expired passport) of 60 pages Rs 1500 (US $ 50); India-Bangladesh and India-Sri Lanka passport Rs 500 (US $20); observations/endorsements in the passport, like change in address, emmigration check not required (ECNR) endorsement, name of spouse etc Rs 300 (US $10); miscellaneous service requiring issue of a new passport booklet of 36 pages Rs 500 (US $ 20); miscellaneous service requiring of a new passport booklet of 60 pages Rs 700 (US $ 25).

The ordinary passport booklet containing 36 pages with a maximum validity of 5 years for minor children below the age of 18 years Rs 600 (US $ 25); duplicate passport of 36 pages in lieu of lost, damaged or stolen passport Rs 2500 (US $125); duplicate India-Bangladesh or India-Sri Lanka passport in lieu of lost, damaged or stolen passport Rs 1000 (US $ 30).


4-yr-old crushed under road-roller
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 28
Four-year-old Chottu was crushed to death by a road-roller in Old Panchkula this morning. The police has, however, not registered any case in this regard.

It is learnt that the incident took place on the Chandigarh-Kalka road, where the work on widening of the road is currently under way. Om Wati, the mother of the child, had been employed as a daily-wage labourer by the contractor on the construction site. She had reportedly put the child to sleep under the shade of the wheels of the road-roller that was parked nearby.

Once boulders had been laid on the road, the driver of the road-roller, without realising that the child was sleeping near the vehicle, started the vehicle and the child was crushed to death.

It is learnt that the family of the victim is staying in Gandhi Colony near Bhainsa Tibba village in the Mansa Devi Complex area. The father of the child, Tej Pal, who is also a labourer, is away to his native village in Muradabad district of Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the SHO of the Chandi Mandir police station denied that any such accident had taken place.


17-year-old girl commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
A 17-year-old girl reportedly committed suicide by setting herself on fire at her residence in Khudda Jassu village, near the PGI, here today.

According to the police, the deceased, identified as Reshma Kumari, poured kerosene over herself and then set herself afire. She was alone at home at the time of the incident. Reshma was the daughter of a part-time labourer couple. She was under depression for some time.

No suicide note has been found from the spot. The door of the room had been locked from inside and was broken open by neighbours on hearing her screams.

The police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code.


Talking culture through cinema
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The world of cinema remembers London-based filmmaker Gurinder Chadha for her debut film ‘Bhaji on the Beach’, which was released internationally in 1994. The film sought to offer insight into the cultural notions of Punjabi women settled in Britain. All about a group of some women who go holidaying to a beach, this film looked into the inter-cultural relationships, besides opening up a new notion of nationality.

The film won many international awards, including jury prizes at Locarno and several audience’s favourite film awards. It also received the BAFTA nomination for the Best British Film of 1994. Chadha also won the Evening Standard British Film Award for the best newcomer to British cinema.

Time has come round for this BBC news reporter-turned-filmmaker, who is now in Chandigarh for the promotion of her next film tilted ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. Unlike ‘Bhaji on the Beach’ which catered to the elements of art in cinema, this one will be a purely commercial film, featuring an Indo-British cast. Combining the passion of football with that of an elaborate Indian wedding, Gurinder has kept a Punjabi family at the helm of the film. As she said today, “My idea is to talk about how the Punjabis settled abroad keep up to their cultural commitments. I have cast many Punjabis settled in Britain so as to give it a touch of reality. The film has girls playing football. The film is expected to be released in June, when the world football championship will be held. It would be nice to see girls playing football around that time.” The film reflects its maker’s passion to tell true tales through cinema. “For me films are the best means of expression”, she said.

Starring Parminder Nagra (who plays Jess Bhamra), who makes a debut with ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, the film will also feature Keira Knightley as Jules Paxton, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Joe (football coach) Anupam Kher as Mr Bhamra and Shaheen Khan as Ms Bhamra. The story is about Jess and Jules, who are football freaks. For Jess, who belongs to a Punjabi family, it becomes difficult to stock around her passion. But with help from her coach Joe, she manages to listen to her heart and rise above family pressures. The film reflects a modern version of Punjabi culture, which is far from restrictive and stagnating. The film will be released on June 7.


FPAI resolves to check female foeticide in Panchkula
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 28
With the district having the lowest male-female sex ratio in the state and fast gaining notoriety for female foeticide, the local administration and some non-government organisations have joined hands to nip the evil in the bud.

While the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) has decided to launch an awareness programme here in this regard, the administration proposes to send decoy patients to the numerous ultra-sound clinics in the district in order to check if these were clandestinely carrying on sex determination tests.

It may be noted that Census 2001 had shown that the sex ratio in Haryana had fallen from 872:1000 in the year 1998-99 to 861:1000 in 2001. In Panchkula, the female-male ratio is one of the lowest at 779: 1000.

Sources inform that female foeticide is quite prevalent in the district, inspite of the best efforts of the administration. Though the administration has formed a committee for the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention) Act, 1996, upon the directions of the apex court and also ensured that all ultra-sound clinics get themselves registered with the Chief Medical Officer. It is alleged that sex determination tests are being carried out in these clinics.

Informed sources in the committee for implementation of the PNDT (Regulation and Prevention) Act informed that they had received complaints about some centres informing the clients about the sex of the foetus. “Since nothing is given in writing, it is difficult to nail these centres. Thus, we have proposed to send decoy customers to these centres,” he said.

He adds that since medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) is allowed, the female foetus is then aborted by the couple at any of the primary health centres, government hospital or private nursing home.

Meanwhile, the local chapter of the FPAI, along with the Yamunanagar centre in Haryana and eight centres in five other states, intends to focus this project on creating general awareness among the people against the use of pre-natal diagnostic tests for determining the sex of the foetus, leading to abortion of female foetus. The project will kickstart simultaneously in the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh Jharkhand, Bihar and Haryana during the first week of April.

“The primary objective of this project is to create awareness in the community and to generate a strong public disapproval of female foeticide and mobilise strong social support in favour of girl children,” informed Ms Pushpa Khanna, president of the FPAI, Panchkula.

The fact that the number of females abandoned or surrendered after birth to various social welfare organisations like Bal Niketan are several times over the number of male children. This speaks a lot about the preference for the male child. Dr Madhu Sharma, honorary secretary of Bal Niketan, informed that during the past one year, as many as eight female children were surrendered/ abandoned at Bal Niketan as compared to one male child.


SAS Nagar entry points in ‘bad shape’
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, March 28
Stress must be laid on the beautification of the entry points to the town, which are in bad shape due to the indifferent attitude of the Chandigarh Administration. At these points there is a furniture market, a marble market and slums.

This was stated by Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Kharar, at a function to welcome him at the municipal council office here yesterday. He said he favoured the holding of a high-level meeting, which should be presided over by the Governor and attended by the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, and senior PUDA officials, to discuss this issue.

The Congress legislator said he had already talked to the PUDA Chief Administrator on the issue and hoped the high-level meeting would be fixed in the next 15 to 20 days.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh was accompanied by a former president of the council, Mr Harinder Pal Singh Billa, and others.

He said there was need for a women’s college in the town. He had already sent a note in this regard to the state government.

The MLA said he would not interfere in the working of the civic body. His stress would only be on development and wanted the town to be developed as a model for others.

The garbage dumping problem of the council had been sorted out through his efforts. Sohana village had agreed to give 60 acres for garbage disposal.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the council was facing financial difficulty after the abolition of octroi in the state. Alternative financial resources must be mobilised and people should adopt a more responsible attitude towards the payment of taxes.

He said he would sit in the municipal council office on Wednesdays to redress the grievances of residents.

Mr Kulwant Singh, council president, while welcoming the MLA, said the town had many drawbacks, especially in the spheres of education and sports. Community centres existed only in certain phases. No garbage dumping site had been earmarked in the town. He looked forward to Mr Bir Devinder Singh’s cooperation in sorting out various problems.


Pak on the defensive, says GOC-in-C
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
“By deploying troops along the international border, we have succeeded in getting Pakistan to adopt a defence posture and we have put the Pakistani President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, in a place where he has to abdicate his support to terrorism.

Stating this while addressing mediapersons at Chandimandir on the role and achievements of the Western Command during his tenure, the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lt Gen Surjit Singh, added that should there be a war, the Army would “do the country proud”.

General Surjit Singh, who retires on March 31 after putting in about 41 years of service, said that the Army’s operational preparedness was very well gauged when its troops moved out for the ongoing Operation Parakram. “We went about our tasks and achieved what we were required to do under operational conditions,” he stated. He, however, declined to comment on the duration of the deployment, saying that any decision to pull back would have to be a political one.

The Army Commander said that when he had taken over as the Western Command chief about a-year-and-a-half-ago, he had set three major objectives for himself, which included the responsibility given to the Western Command to ensure the nation’s territorial integrity through operational preparedness.

The other task, he said, was to ensure that troops are taken care of well. He said that the Army had been committed in operational tasks for a long time and measures had been taken across the board to improve welfare measures and to make the life of soldiers in peace stations comfortable.

Efforts are also being made to constantly upgrade military hospitals and CSD canteens, besides establishing institutes for the troops for recreation and social activities, he added.

General Surjit Singh said that the civilian population, specially in the border region, is very important to the Army as public support is a vital factor during operations. He said that formation commanders had been interacting with the local population regularly and the Army is going out of the way during the ongoing operations to lessen the discomfort of people residing in the border areas.

He added that requisite measures are being taken wherever possible to minimise destruction of standing crops. All possible assistance, including medical aid, is being rendered by the Army to the local population.


Getting drenched in Holi spirit
Our Correspondent

Ramgarh, March 28
City residents daubed each other with colours of various hues to celebrate the festival of colours — Holi — at a well organised function at Funcity on the Panchkula-Naraingarh road about 7 km from Panchkula today.

Hundreds of revellers descended at the venue dressed in their traditional best giving no thought to the colours that were being smeared on them while others played safe and opted for hiring costumes which were being offered by the organisers at nominal rates.

Though there was some confusion over the exact date of Holi yet several revellers gathered at the venue from Ambala, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Panchkula, SAS Nagar and other surrounding areas.

Smeared with different colours the revellers started pouring in the venue at around 11 a.m. Before having "dips and dance" in different water pools almost all the visitors threw "gulal" on each other and had fun under the showers that had been set almost everywhere on the sprawling campus.

Children armed with pichkaries joined their friends and had fun and frolic in a small pool that was filled with coloured water. Some of the elderly persons too were seen enjoying the festivities as spectators while youngsters had a gala time and joined rain dance to shake a leg on the tunes of Punjabi folk and pop songs.

Some visitors had an exciting time sliding down the specially-made slopes into water pools.

Top Punjabi singers, including Pammi Bai, Romey Gill and Gursevak Mann and some others kept the visitors entertained.

Play safe Holi’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
“Play safe Holi” was the message on placards in a rally of nearly 100 students and teachers of Moti Ram Arya Senior Secondary School, Sector 27, here today.

An official press release said the rally marched through the streets of the sector. Some other messages included “chemical colours are dangerous” and “chemical colours cause allergic reactions and even blindness”.

The rally was flagged off by Mr S.K.Sharma, president of the Environment Society of India. Back


Jacob, Mayor greet people on Holi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The UT Administrator, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), and the Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, have greeted members of the public on Holi. The General in his message called upon people to maintain the age old traditions of communal amity and brotherhood on the festival of Holi.

Felicitating the people on eve of Holi, he said the festival of colours symbolised, peace, love and mutual brotherhood.

The Mayor in her message, said she hoped that the festival would spread the message of peace as harmony.


Promised land(fill) at Sohana?
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 28
Those who are selecting landfill site for the town seem to have zeroed down on a land in Sohana village. The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority and the district administration have shortlisted two sites and a site in Barialli village has been dropped due to non-feasibility.

The issue was discussed at a recent meeting attended by officials of PUDA, the Pollution Control Board and the district administration. Mr Kulwant Singh, head of the SAS Nagar Municipal Council, said the panchayat of Sohana village had passed a resolution regarding the use of a land there for garbage dumping.

After finalising a plan to acquire about 11 killas of Barialli village, the proposal had to be dropped, as the Sarpanch of the village wanted a high compensation. Officials concerned were to meet again on March 26 to finalise the site, but it did not happen.

Earlier, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the government to identify a landfill site.

The site near Sector 66 is being shifted after protest by those who live nearby. “Till a new site is identified, the garbage will continue to be dumped at the Sector 66 site, under police supervision,” said the head of the SAS Nagar MC.


Association seeks monetary support
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Mr J.N. Kaul, all-India President of SOS Children’s Villages of India, today appealed to the people to extend monetary support for the cause of children in need.

A press note issued by Mr Gurdev Singh, village incharge of the Rajpura SOS Children’s Village, said first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru had invited the founding father of the SOS movement, Dr Hermann Gmeiner, who visited India along with his team, and SOS villages were set up. Now there are 34 SOS children’s villages throughout India.

The villages are taking care of 15,000 children in residential situations and about 20,000 are provided services in schools, vocational training centres, health centres and nursing schools. Mr Kaul said their endeavour was to reach that place where there was a calamity either natural or man-made. 


Phone booking centres to stay open on March 30, 31
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Telephone booking centres in Sector 34, commercial office, Sector 17, Panchkula and SAS Nagar will remain open on March 30 and 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to Mr R.C. Vaish, Principal General Manager Telecom, customers can avail the facility of concessional telephones during these two days as the offer closes on March 31. Limited number of WLL connections (fixed wire terminals) are also available.


5 arrested on charge of bootlegging
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The police has arrested five persons from various parts of the city on the charge of bootlegging and seized 125 pouches of liquor and six bottles of whisky from their possession.

Santro and Piara Singh, both residents of Janta Colony, were arrested from Sector 25 and Dadu Majra respectively, and 30 pouches each were seized from their possession. Siri Ram, a resident of Colony No. 5, was arrested from near the labour chowk and six bottles of whisky were seized from his possession.

Kaptan, a resident of Naya Gaon, was arrested from near Punjab Engineering College with 50 pouches of liquor, while a resident of Palsora, Roshan Lal, was arrested from his residence with 15 pouches of liquor.

Separate cases under the Excise Act have been registered.

Injured in accident

Sector 21 resident Pawanjit Kaur and her daughter Gurbeen Kaur were injured after their scooter was hit by a Maruti car near the Sector 16 cricket stadium.

They were admitted to the PGI. The car driver, however, sped away from the spot. The police has registered a case.

Car stolen

Sector 38 resident Harwinder Marwah has reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-A-3353) has been stolen from his residence. The police has registered a case.

Motor cycles stolen

Mohali resident Baljit Singh Gill has reported that his Bullet motor cycle has been stolen from Sector 46.

In another case, a resident of Sector 38-West, Mr Manish Kumar, has reported that his Bullet motorcycle (PBM-7773) has been stolen from his residence.


Booked for forgery

The Subdivisional Magistrate has filed a complaint against a local resident on charge of applying for the registration of a vehicle by submitting forged documents.

A case has been registered under Sections 420, 511, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC against accused Sarit Kumar.

PO arrested

The local police has arrested Roop Lal, who had been declared a proclaimed offender by a local court 14 years ago. He is an accused in a case of rash and negligent driving.


Resentment over hike in furnace oil prices
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Chamber of Chandigarh Industries has condemned the increase in prices of furnace oil by Indian Oil Corporation and has said the decision is hitting the small scale units badly.

“The industrial units, especially the small scale industry, is already struggling for survival in the existing scenario of recession and WTO regime and the decision to increase the furnace oil prices by IOC has only added to our woes”, said Mr A.L. Aggarwal, general secretary.

He said the prices of furnace oil which were Rs 8,128 for 1,000 litres in December 2001 were increased to Rs 8,518.82 in February this year and now the prices have again been hiked to Rs 9,188.82 per 1,000 litres.

This clearly shows that the price in March was Rs 1,000 more than that in December last . Oil is an essential input for production and due to this erratic price increase the small scale units are being badly hit, said Mr Aggarwal.

The Chamber demanded that the prices should remain steady for at least six months so that the industrial units can find out the cost of the inputs because they obtain orders for a certain period of time which are executed over a period of six months to one year.

The units are unable to absorb the increase in the rates of furnace oil which is happening almost every month, he said. 


New fruity ice-cream range
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
With summer at the threshold, Diner Seventeen, Sector 17, yesterday launched its new range of ice-creams. Promising to cool your palate with exciting fruity flavours, the frozen dessert is sourced from Biscotti.

Since the Biscotti product is meant to cater to the local populace, it is made as a home/cottage product with minimal use of chemicals and preservatives unlike the bulk producers. They must , therefore, be sold and consumed within three days of production.

As you lick the frozen puddings from a crispy or the cup, cone the essence of fruits bought from orchards of Himachal Pradesh and pulped into the concoction engulfs your senses.

The painting of brightly coloured tulips framing the Biscotti counter only serves to enhance the feeling.

Two scoops of the creamy stuff are priced at Rs 20 and Rs 25. The musical names of the ice-cream flavours include yum yum red plum, juicy crush apricot fresh, Adam’s sin wild mint and apple, stingy bee figs and honey, Tropicana delight pineapple bite, top of the notch butterscotch, voila vanilla. 

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