Monday, April 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC loses lakhs on dry-leaf disposal
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) has lost at least Rs 6 lakh by failing to use leafy waste, illegal burning of which is causing problems to environment, straining its staff and blocking storm water drains apart from becoming a challenge for city’s sanitation services in the season.

The realisation of the waste being wealth came recently when a private party offered a rupee a kilogram to the dry leaf at its site at Zirakpur for converting it to manure, sources told the Chandigarh Tribune here today.

Before this, another company Nishant Technologies private Limited had offered a solution for the problem of disposal of leaves but had asked the corporation to give it a tractor-trailer and one acre plot on a 30-year lease, but the proposal was turned down by the corporation as it realised that if waste could be turned into wealth then there could be better options also.

Nishant Technologies, which had technology of converting dry-leaves into fuel bricks, later scaled down its demand and only sought the one acre plot.

The other company having link with a Congress councillor did not even demand the land and instead offered one rupee a kg for the biggest sanitation problem of the city.

In the dilly-dallying in taking a decision during the autumn period when a large number of tree leaves pose the greatest challenge of collection and disposal, a private company has itself started lifting the leaves in northern sectors.

The question that arises here is whether the waste is a public property on which the Corporation had the legitimate right? But by delaying the action the corporation seems to have lost the right on the property which the people would anyway want to get rid of.

As a result of this situation, the Corporation had to take action against four of its employees and two residents for burning leaves which could cause a major environmental hazard and was banned by the Supreme Court.

Corporation could have formed at least byelaws for the use of the dry tree leaves till it was not able to decide on the kind of a arrangement it would like to have.

The problem of dry leaves is not a minor one as at least 700 loads of corporation vehicles of leaves have been dumped at the Dadu Majra dumping site where burning of these has caused smoke hazard for the residents of the area.

The Corporation has also created two pits near Sukhna Lake to turn the waste into manure but its capacity is limited to only four to five loads of vehicles in a season.

The Corporation has now woken up and sought suggestions from the public for managing the leaf waste but the season has almost ended now.

But if this experiment of inviting the profiles of those who can manage tree leaves brought some attractive solution the problem is likely to be sorted out next year, sources said.

The ‘green’ northern sectors are the worst-affected by the leaf menace and the Corporation had lifted 150 vehicle loads of it from the road dividing sectors 8 and 9 alone.

With the Corporation failing to lift the leaves in time, the residents and sweepers are believed to be burning these fearing that it would immediately spread in the area again and cause damage to the environment.

Residents of northern sectors, however, tell a different story that the problem of management of leaves had aggravated during the past eight years when the practice of door-to-door collection of garbage was stopped by the Chandigarh Administration and later Municipal Corporation.

Le Corbusier had thought of garbage disposal solution in the shape of a concrete “haudi” behind each house in the first phase of Chandigarh but now with the changing lifestyle and cost of collection from “haudi”, garbage bins were being preferred, sources said.

Initially collection from the “haudi” was daily then it became weekly but now it is uncertain and the residents were forced to go to the stinking garbage bin, residents said. 


Experts’ exodus blocks PGI’s cardiac artery
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
With just three consultants remaining at the Department of Cardiology, PGI, after the recent exodus of faculty members from the institute, questions are being raised as to how this premier medical organisation of the region is going to run its upcoming and much-awaited Advanced Cardiac Centre on such skeletal staff?

With two of the consultants of the department having left in the last two months, and one out of the country for a long time, there are just two senior doctors in the department — Prof Anil Grover and Prof H.K. Bali, along with another not-so-senior faculty member running the whole show with the help of senior and junior residents. Though no one has complained so far everyone is wondering how they are managing the department with its load of patients.

Meanwhile the PGI’s Advanced Cardiac Centre is coming up at a fast pace and should be functional by the next year as planned. The centre which is being projected as one of the most well-equipped centres for treatment and research in heart-related diseases. Considering that there is tremendous competition from private cardiac centres coming up in the region to attract the more well-heeled patients, the PGI is certainly going to need much more competent staff to cater to the patients it is expecting to attract.

PGI authorities state that very soon interviews will be held to select more doctors for the department and by the time the cardiac centre is in place, the requisite staff will be enough in strength. However, according to sources, all these selections made will be of the level of lecturers and till the PGI’s Governing Body takes a decision to this effect straight selections to the posts of Assistant and Associate Professor cannot be made to the department in the wake of so many vacancies available.

The brain drain from the department has been a rather regular feature from the day Prof Jagmohan Verma, former Head of the Department, left to join a private cardiac centre in the region. After which the department saw two more sudden resignations, of Dr Puneet Verma and Dr A. Banerjee within days of each other. Though none of these were available to comment on the various reasons for having left one of the top research institutes in the country and settling for private practice, sources state that in fields like cardiology, gynaecology, orthopaedics etc monetary priorities have a major role to play making well-trained and skillful doctors leave government organisations. “The young ones leave as they want to rise in life fast”, says a former PGI consultant, who did not want to be named.

Incidentally, Dr Puneet Verma, who has now joined a private cardiac centre in the city was warmly welcomed through newspaper advertisements by the organisation.


PUDA fails to remove encroachments
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 28
Even as the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is reviewing the existing policy of allotment of land to religious institutions, land worth crores of rupees which is in illegal possession of various religious institutions in the township has failed to catch the attention of the government.

Already the third round of the drive to remove encroachment outside residential and commercial premises is about to begin. At least 58 acres of prime property reportedly under the control of at least 31 religious bodies in different sectors of the town has been left untouched so far.

On several occasions in the past, PUDA officials have said that encroachments of “any nature” on public land would not be tolerated. The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ragunath Sahai Puri, told TNS that he had sought report about all types of encroachments. He said he was in favour of removing the encroachments but added that he would study the report before saying anything.

An official of PUDA said it was a sensitive politico—religious issue. Touching religious institutions would open another front. A number of such encroachments have come up along the border with Chandigarh — apparently taking advantage of the overlapping of the inter-state border at certain points.

Mr N.S. Minhas of the Anti-encroachment Committee, which was pursuing the case of encroachment on public place, said the encroachment on religious places should also be removed. In Sector 55, pockets of land had been encroached by four different religious organisations. Around 3 acres of land in Sector 60 had been occupied by four different religious bodies. Another 2 acres of prime land had been used to raise a gurdwara and a mandir in Sector 63.

In a number of cases it had been seen that religious bodies had extended their premises illegally. Religious leaders say that the land in illegal possession of the religious bodies should be regularised and certain fee in the form of the acquisition cost of the land and the external development charges could be charged. Mr Hardeep Singh, a member of the SGPC, said since performing religious activity at the religious places was a basic need of society, the land under the occupation of religious bodies should be treated as unacquired. He charged PUDA for formulating a proper policy for allotment of land to religious institutions. He agreed that in some cases, some individuals were holding land in the name of religion 


* At least 58 acres of prime land under illegal possession of religious institutions.

* In some cases individuals were holding land in the name of religion and it is alleged to be their family business.

* The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Ragunath Sahai Puri, says he has sought report on encroachments of different nature from the Chief Administrator of PUDA.


Shop Act violation under admn nose?
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 28
Commercial establishments employing persons continue to conduct business on Sundays — a violation of the relaxations allowed by the Punjab Labour Department under the Shop and Commercial Establishment Act.

Labour unions in the town allege that shopkeepers and traders take refuge from a government notification which only allows the commercial establishments having employees on its rolls to remain open on Sundays.

A number of shops offering auto repair, car accessories, garments, grocery and other services open on the weekend, pointed out Mr Ram Ji Dass, general secretary, All-India Trade Union Congress.

Sources in the Labour Department said the last year notification under the relevant sections of the Shops and Commercial Establishment Act — which offered relaxation on the opening and closing days and hours — had again been notified after the earlier notification expired in February, 2002. The labour union had been pressing upon the government not to allow the shops having employees to open on the weekend.

Leaders of the union said during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government, the labour inspectors and shop inspectors were asked not to harass the businessmen. A notification was issued to offer the relaxation to the owners of the commercial establishments. But the right of the employees to have a one-day holiday in a week was not being properly implemented, said the general secretary.

While officials of the Labour Department said it was a sensitive issue, the labour unions demanded that the employees should be given leave on a rotation basis.


Food woes at Kala Gram
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, April 28
The tussle between the CITCO and the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) over three foodstalls has caused a lot of inconvenience to visitors and the artistes staying at Kala Gram, the cultural centre of this region. Baithak, the CITCO- owned restaurant, which is the sole caterer of food in Kala Gram, has proved to be expensive for the residing folk artistes, forcing them to walk miles to search for food that they can afford.

The NZCC had opened up three foodstalls - for snacks and beverages last year but had to close them down only after a month as CITCO, which has control over catering services in Kala Gram, had objected to it. This has resulted in sending the poorly-paid artistes to walk out of the Kala Gram campus in search of affordable 'dhabas' most of which are about a couple of miles away.

The isolated location of Kala Gram is adding to the woes of the artistes and artisans residing here.

‘‘The foodstalls that offered affordable eatables not only helped the artistes, who come from far off places to perform here, but also attracted a large number of people’’, said a source from NZCC. ‘‘We used to have an average of 11,000 visitors per day’’, he added.

‘‘The artistes who come here to perform are paid only Rs 125 per day and with that kind of a budget we can not afford to eat at an expensive restaurant like Baithak and the nearby eating joints being a couple of miles away it was really hard to walk that distance with so many young girls in tow’’, said an artiste from Gujarat, who had come with her troupe to perform at Kala Gram sometimes ago.

‘‘Learning from our previous experience, this time we brought the necessary utensils to cook our own food, but as there was no arrangement of cooking gas so we had to face a lot of inconvenience, said an artiste from Rajasthan. ‘‘All the artistes who are here on temporary basis would benefit if provided with food at affordable prices," he added.

Following the National Cultural Exchange Programme guidelines the NZCC has been paying Rs 125 per day to the artists who come to perform at Kala Gram besides giving them the travel allowances (TA) and some amount as dearness allowance (DA), said the source from NZCC. Since most of the invited performers belong to the young generation of folk artistes who still have not established professionally, it is very hard for them to spend more than Rs 10 per meal during their stay here, he added’’.

Moreover, it is not only the artistes who have been affected by the lack of proper eating arrangement, but the visitors are also suffering because of it. ‘‘One has to travel so far to reach this place and it is disheartening not to be able to get even a packet of chips or a cold drink without entering the Baithak restaurant," said Mr Prakash Mehra, a visitor at Kala Gram.

The visitors to the place mainly belong to the middle class to the upper middle class people who are not willing to shell out some hefty amount for a single meal, said the source. Keeping this point in mind CITCO had opened up one or two snack stalls sometime back but the life span of those stalls was rather short, he added.

Baithak too has been running into losses over the years. According to sources the maintenance charges of Rs 5 per head levied after 4pm was to blame for the losses. But a source from NZCC refutes that as the restaurant is not doing better business even during the lunch time when no maintenance charge has to be paid. 


Major haul of liquor
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
Excise and Taxation staff today seized a major haul of liquor being taken in a car, reportedly bearing a Government of India plate.

Senior officials in the Excise and Taxation department said the car (HR-49-PA-0102) was stopped by staff near the Basola barrier on the Pinjore-Nalagarh road. However, the car did not stop and sped away.

Officials after a chase managed to stop the car. Upon searching the car, the staff found 19 boxes each containing 50 pouches of Hero whisky. 


Review of bylaws sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Samadhaan, a pressure group for social justice, has urged the Chandigarh Administration to undertake a comprehensive review of the existing bylaws governing the sale and purchase of real estate in the UT.

In a communication addressed to the Administration, Mr R.P. Malhotra, Mr R.K. Bhasin, Mr R.K.Gupta and Mr L.C. Arora, office-bearers of Samadhaan, complained that “commercialisation in the name of relaxing the bylaws, rather than facilitating the procedure, has corrupted the official work channels”. They pointed out that they had discussed various procedural hassles prevalent in the matters concerning real estate at different levels in the administration but nothing concrete had emerged so far.

Some of the points listed by them are as follows:

Stamp duty: With the rates of real estate skyrocketing, rationalisation of the rate of stamp duty to the bare minimum level (up to 3%) is the need of the hour in order to check the evasion and to facilitate affordability to the low-budget buyer. Moderate taxation makes the evasion less attractive hence better compliance. Even the current budget has a proposal to set up an urban reform incentive fund (URIF) with an initial allocation of Rs 500 crore to incentives the states to seek reforms in various areas, including rationalising the high rates of stamp duty.

The abolition of Form 37(I) of the income tax will certainly fetch good results in checking the generation of black money and revenue loss due to underhand sales.

Transfer of property in the names of blood relation: Inclusion of the names of blood relations in the title of the lease-hold properties having been allowed by the Administration vide its notification January 9, 2002, the facility should be extended to freehold properties as well.

The step shall help to check the family disputes among the legal heirs after the death of the owner of the property.

Status of NOC: Though as per the provisions of the Capital of Punjab (D&R) Act 1952 and judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High court, no objection certificate (NOC) from the Estate Officer, Chandigarh, for the sale of freehold and fully paid-up properties is not required, to avoid fraudulent transaction and to safeguard the interest of the seller/purchaser it has been felt necessary to obtain clearance certificate from the Estate Office Chandigarh. But for the last few years the procedure/documentation has been made so cumbersome that obtaining of such permission has become just like winning a battle and time consuming.

De-linkage of NOC with building bylaws: The issuance of NOC is being held up for various reasons, including the building bylaws violations.

The matter was discussed in the above-said meeting and it was proposed that the clearance certificate for the sale of freehold properties be issued within 30 days of applying and should not be withheld even if the property is in the process of resumption but has not been resumed, thus de-linking the issuance of clearance certificate with the violations of building bylaws, misuse, occupation certificate not obtained and any other reasons. In case such certificate is not issued within the stipulated time of 30 days, it should be presumed as having been issued and the sub-registrar register the documents. An undertaking from the intending purchaser about the awareness of the going-on proceedings may be obtained.

Simplification of documentation: As per guidelines issued by the administration, the intending purchaser is required to furnish a liability affidavit/indemnity bond indemnifying the Estate Office by declaring that the property he is going to buy is free from all sorts of encumbrances, litigation etc. The procedure is required to be simplified by asking for bare minimum relevantly valid documents.

Time schedule: Shortest possible time schedule should be fixed for the issuance and clearance of various documents viz., NOC, execution of conveyance deed, transfer of property on the basis of sale deed, Will etc., permission to mortgage by avoiding piecemeal objections, all objections whatsoever should be raised in the first instance well before the expiry of the stipulated period ensuring to issue the clearance as per fixed time schedule. Documents, if processed earlier, should not be withheld till the last date of the fixed time schedule.

Building bylaws violations: Needs can never be defined. Need-based changes within the building should be allowed. In fact categorisation of violations as detailed below was suggested i.e., (a) regularising of need-based changes such as shifting of joinery and other internal changes, effected after the sanctioning of plans, as per one’s requirement unless these obstruct the prescribed quantum of natural light and ventilation to any unit, (b) compounding the violations of minor changes to the elevation/plan within permissible limits after paying a prescribed amount of fine and (c) non-compoundable offences should be dealt with as per provisions of the Act — may be demolition of the unauthorised structure wherever required. But the notification containing the amendments notified after the meeting has a little relief for the residents.

Matter of internal partitioning of commercial premises: With the implementation of the Apartment Act, internal partitions conforming to the provisions of the said Act should be regularised by asking the owners/occupiers to deposit the fee prescribed in the Act. Moreover, the allottees of the commercial premises prior to 22-01-93 are not liable to pay the partition fee as their allotment letters very clearly permit them to sublet whole or part of the showroom to any tenant, thus indirectly allowing partition free of any charge.

Conversion of leasehold to freehold system: With media reports for abolishing the unearned profit for the sale of leasehold properties in Chandigarh, the decision is still hanging fire for want of a reasonable conversion/transfer formula. Ten times of the annual ground rent of the property minus the stamp duty credit (12.5% (-) 3%) due to freehold conversion, was the reasonable amount suggested by the Samadhaan to cover the revenue loss of the state exchequer. It is further emphasised to de-link the conversion policy with the occupation certificate as this is the main reason for the failure of the residential conversion policy.

Apartment Act: The act though formally notified needs clear-cut guidelines to be issued to the dealing staff for want of which the process is in a suspended animation.

Matter of additional floor in Sector 17: Majority of the SCOs owners in Sector 17 have utilised the height of the SCOs by having an additional floor i.e., four floors above the ground floor instead of three, without disturbing the elevation/zoning of the building and maintaining the prescribed height- plans were duly approved by the Town Planning Department UT, Chandigarh. The Administration’s decision of charging composition fee for the additional floor was subsequently waived for those owners who have constructed their buildings before 1991 after getting the plans duly approved. But a considerable number of cases of proceedings against such owners are still pending with the Administration, resulting in harassment to the public and sheer wastage of time and money being spent on the staff.

Additional coverage area on the second floors of Marla houses: The Administration in its notification of December, 2000, has allowed the owners of the Marla houses for full coverage of second floors. But the urban development board has not yet come up with a working drawing for the habitable height of the floor. And in the absence of working plan, the benefits of the amendment fail to reach the public.

Cantilevers in Marla houses: Vide notification on 12-12-2001, the Chandigarh Administration has amended the bylaws to allow the residential houses governed by zoning plans to have projections/cantilevers of 6’ width. The same may be extended to Marla houses governed by frame-control elevation all over the city as well as residents of these houses need a balcony for availing fresh air and sunlight while sitting in the open. Plans for all the newly coming up flats built by housing board as well as group-housing societies are being designed with such facility.

Annual subscription of the gazette notifications: The administration has increased the annual subscription for the gazette notifications from Rs 50/- to Rs 800/-, which is highly unjustified. The public at large shall be deprived of the vital information about the acts and notifications of laws and bylaws framed and amended from time to time. As these notifications of newly framed laws are of vital importance, the public has every right to know this information at a nominal cost. Samadhaan urged the administration to either make arrangements to have these gazette notifications published in the local print media in its original text as and when released or to roll back the hike to a reasonable percentage so as to keep the public aware about such information.

Advisory panel: An advisory panel, co-opting public men expert on the real estate matters, may be constituted. It should be made mandatory to have the advice of this panel while formulating policies on real estate.

Only the opinion of the members from the public familiar with the practical difficulties of the public shall help in formulating public friendly flawless policies.

Follow-up action: There are instances where a few public-friendly policies are gathering dust for want of proper notification and even proper implementation after being duly notified. A section to keep the follow up for the proper implementation of the policies contemplated at the Administrator level may be constituted, so the benefit of these policies may reach the deserving people.



Residents of Chandigarh and its surrounding area got a respite from the oppressive heat on Thursday. It not only rained, it poured. Wind speeds touched 86 km per hour forcing the Met department to classify it as a squall. The rain threw normal life out of gear while forcing residents to switch off fans during the day.

At night when the storm had subsided the fans were on slow speed and coolers were off. Airconditioners were a strict no. The temperature dropped to 31° Celsius . It had touched the 41-degree mark at the start of the week. When dark clouds preceded the storm it was nearly pitch dark with motorists switching on headlights.

After the rain was over city residents thronged the Rose Garden, Sukhna Lake, Sector 17 and other places enjoying the cool breeze while going for long walks. The lazy ones preferred drives in cars.

The storm also uprooted several trees. Branches fell on high tension power lines causing a breakdown of more than six hours in almost the entire city.

Slum removal

Large portions of the biggest slum in Chandigarh, colony number V, were demolished amidst violent protests from illegal squatters.

The enforcement team of the Chandigarh Administration led by young IAS officer Gyanesh Bharti, SDM South, demolished about 2000 jhuggis in an operation which was praised by city residents. The slum was slowly expanding and had reached the edge of the highway. With little children and cattle running onto the road it had become dangerous to drive.

On day one of the demolition, jhuggi dwellers , who have long enjoyed the patronage of local politicians, hurled stones, burned a motorcycle and created pandemonium. And all this despite the fact they were illegal squatters.

The enforcement staff did not relent with strong police force to back them, the SDM marshalled his men and called in the DSPs. Small teams of policemen barged into the dingy by-lanes of the slums to nab the trouble makers. On day two the operation went on smoothly. The jhuggi dwellers were in illegal occupation of the land for years and it was required for the widening of the highway and also for allotment to cooperative housing societies.

Actually a controversial policy of the Chandigarh Administration to provide free houses to slum dwellers has started attracting people from UP and Bihar who live in slums waiting for free houses. For long the police has highlighted that these slums could become the breeding and hiding grounds for criminals.

Babus before professors

Babus in Panjab University seem to be more important than professors, readers and lecturers. This is clearly demonstrated by the newly released telephone directory of PU. Before putting in the names of teachers the babus have their names.

Not only this the names of teachers are after the names of Junior Engineers and architects employed by PU. Even the name of the head cook of the faculty guest house has got a better position than the teachers! The electricity wing which carries out maintenance and repairs also gets more prominence than the teachers.

The PU faculty known for its vocal attitude may not take this lying down. But it shows the attitude of the people who compiled the directory. Probably it is the teaching staff which runs the university and not the babus. But putting the names of the administrative staff ahead of the teaching faculty is an old practice in PU’s internal telephone directories.

Theft-checking spree

The UT power department is on a theft-checking spree. About 600 illegal connections (kundis) were removed from various places in the past one week. The main targets were villages of Hallo Majra and Behlana besides Sectors 48 and 49.

Due to this major drive the department is now facing another headache: where to store the wires, poles and other material seized during the drive. The storehouses are overflowing. The scrap cannot be auctioned; it has to be burnt. With the summer season engineers are busy managing the power system and have no time for such acts of getting the scrap burnt.

But the department did a good job in taking off these kundis as the illegal connections used to lead to a drop in voltage for regular users who pay for power.

Polite cops

The tainted image of the Punjab Police is undergoing a sea change, at least in SAS Nagar. In the past few days cops can be seen talking politely with the people and do what they are supposed to do. All has changed with the posting of a new Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mr H.S. Bhullar, a ward of the Director General of Police, Punjab.

Every cop attending the telephone calls in the police stations address the caller with Shriman Ji, a visible change in the attitude of the cops towards the public.

Impressive ladies

The Adviser to the UT Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, as well as the Mayor of Chandigarh, Ms Lalit Joshi, were present on the inauguration of the organic food counter at Kalagram. After watching both sit together and communicate often during the four and a half hour long programme, it became clear that they shared a good rapport. The observation was further confirmed after hearing the talk delivered by them.

Highly appreciative of each other’s efforts in doing their best for the city, the two highlighted good work being done in the respective departments. While Ms Joshi minced no words in saying that many of the projects being conceived by the Adviser will go a long way in strengthening city beautiful, Ms Nanda, in turn, informed that the Mayor, after taking charge of office, held her first ever meeting not with officials, but with sweepers of Chandigarh. In the end Ms Nanda remarked rather humbly: “You must be thinking that she scratches my back and I scratch her’s. But it is not like that. She is really deserving.”

Waiting for Sonali

Some people had wrong information about the arrival time of Sonali Bendre, who was a special guest on the occasion of the inauguration of a jewellery store in Sector 17. The most expected time was 11 am — the time of the inauguration of the store. While those inside the store knew that Sonali would not arrive so soon, others outside thought the actress would cut the ribbon. So they waited religiously until president of the local Congress unit, Mr B.B. Behl, arrived and did the honours.

The onlookers were rather surprised over this reversal of trends. Normally it is the film star who inaugurates and a politician who is a guest of honour. Anyway, even after the inaugural ceremony was over people kept maintaining a beeline outside the store, which witnessed heavy security deployment. It was only around 1 pm that the Sonali fans realised she would turn up later. So they dispersed to return at 1.40 pm. The actress had not yet arrived. Utilising time, some young Sonali fans rushed to stationery shops and bought special autograph books.

Finally when the actress arrived, she was flooded with autograph requests. The Marathi girl, however, was courteous enough to oblige as many people as she could. Later when she lighted the lamp inside the store, someone from among the gathering outside said: “She travelled all the way from Mumbai to light this lamp. She has a lot of spare time!”

The question of space

The farmers who slogged it out to produce organic foods, now being marketed at Kalagram’s counter, appeared apprehensive about sales. Although CITCO has come to their aid by offering them a counter at Kalagram, there still are doubts whether the same would further sales or not. Meanwhile, some 30 farmers present on the inauguration of the counter wore an anxious look throughout the programme. This, because they have borne great risk by going in for organic food plantation. Towards the end of the programme, the representative of farmers, Mr Gurnam Singh, even told Ms Neeru Nanda that there is greater need for marketing of vegetables than of non-perishable items, because vegetables contain the highest amount of toxics.

When the vital question of space for sale of organic vegetables was raised, Ms Nanda remarked: “We can offer a terrace in Kalagram.”It is, however, in the fitness of things to realise that Kalagram, which was meant to be developed as a tourist destination, has not been able to attract many people for its cultural value. Given this, marketing of organic foods from Kalagram may not reap much benefit for the farmers who are already registering losses due to decreased production. The real solution, as also voiced by all farmers, is to allocate selling space at the Sector 26 grain market.

Young Geographer award

Mr Satyender Singh Yadav, a lecturer in geography at Government College, Bawal (Haryana), was presented the Young Geographer of the Year 2000 award at the annual general body meeting of the Association of Population Geographers of India at its meeting in department of geography at Panjab University.

He won the award for his paper on “Disability and handicap among elderly Singaporeans”. Prof G.S. Gosal, a geographer of international fame, presented the award. He was given a prize of Rs 5000.

The award money has been enhanced to Rs 10,000 with effect from 2002 to attract more young talent.

Compost gift

In an effort to strengthen the activities of school eco-clubs under the National Green Corps (NGC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP) Asia Centre, has gifted packets of 15 kg of red earthworms and 10 bags of vermicompost to the Chandigarh Administration. These packets were handed over to Mr Ishwar Singh, Director Environment cum Deputy Conservator Forests, Chandigarh by Dr Bhagwan Prakash, Senior Programme Officer, CYP. Last year, the CYP started some environment projects, including vermicompost biotechnology scheme in collaboration with the Environment Society of India (ESI) which demonstrated outstanding results. Mrs Raka Rashid, Regional Director, CYP, in a letter to Ms Neeru Nanda, Advisor to Administrator, Chandigarh Administration, offered to gift the packets. Prompt came the reply. Ms Nanda said that she was thrilled to know that the CYP was successful in this venture and that the CYP was generous enough to offer the earthworms and compost as a gesture of goodwill. The earthworms will be used in setting up vermicompost units in the local schools.


Written on the back of a truck plying along the Chandigarh-Shimla road: “Marching towards a batter to marrow.”



MC drive to clean service lanes
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh has launched a drive to clean up service lanes at the back of houses in the northern sectors with the cooperation of city residents.

In Sector 21 alone, 15 out of 32 lanes have already been spruced up. Not only has the garbage been removed and congress grass uprooted from the service lanes, a thick layer of cement has also been laid. Besides this, iron gates on either side of the lanes have been installed for the purpose of safety.

Confirming the information, the Municipal Councillor-cum-president of the Sector 21 Citizen Association, Mr P.C. Sangi, said the association was determined to complete the cleaning up of at least seven more lanes by the end of June. The work of cleaning four lanes would be completed by the end of the next month, the councillor claimed.

Mr Sanghi said the association had received Rs 7 lakh from the MP development fund, the project was being undertaken primarily with the help of people. He said Rs 1,000 were being charged from the residents of 10 marla houses while Rs 200 extra were being charged from those putting up in one kanal houses.

“The residents are so fed up of dirty service lanes that they are willingly paying money to get these cleaned,” he said. “They have even promised to ensure proper maintenance of the lanes”, he said.

The decision to clean up the service lanes, according to the municipal councillor, is significant as heaps of garbage in the lanes with the congress grass caused insanitary conditions. The lanes also provided easy access to thieves by making it easy for them to scale the back walls.

According to sources in the police department, thieves also use service lanes to escape taking advantage of the darkness due to lack of lighting system.

The administration was, at one stage, planning to put an end to the system of service lanes by dividing the area equally between residents having houses on either sides. The lanes were provided in the northern sectors to enable the garbage vans and trucks to collect rubbish disposed of by the residents.

Mr Sanghi said the practice of cleaning up the service lanes, and installation of gates was being encouraged by the Chandigarh police also as a part of their neighbourhood watch scheme.


UAE keen on boosting tourism in India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
The UAE government is looking forward to tie-ups in India for the promotion of tourism.

“We have already signed an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh Government, as part of which we have conducted roadshows to promote Dubai tourism here and Andhra Pradesh tourism in Dubai”, said Mr Carl Vaz, Country Manager, Dubai Representative Office in India, Department of Tourism, Dubai. He was talking to newspersons at the three-day international exhibition on travel and tourism — India Travel Mart — here today.

He said Dubai had a tourist inflow of 3.6 million which it aims to increase to 15 million by 2010. Special emphasis is being laid on India, which is the third largest country providing tourist inflow to Dubai.

Tourism is the second largest industry after manufacturing and is contributing almost 14 per cent to our GDP, said Mr Vaz. He said to promote the tourism industry further, the Dubai Government is projecting the city (which is the second largest of the seven emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates) not only as a shopping destination, but also promoting sports and recreation and projecting it as a crime-free destination where social balance is maintained.

Mr Vaz said that despite global tourism having received a setback, a 15 per cent growth during September-October 2001 was registered in the occupancy rate of four-star hotels in Dubai. During the past five years, an average growth of 18 per cent in case of tourists from India and 8 per cent average growth in overall tourists was recorded.

Ms Nita Kumar Iyer, Sales Manager, Domestic Leisure (northern region), Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces talked about the initiatives taken by the Taj Group of Hotels to promote tourism. She said it was lack of focus on the marketing front that domestic tourism had not really flourished. “But with increase in awareness , the number of domestic tourists is increasing and every year we are witnessing a substantial increase in the occupancy rate of our hotels”, she said, adding, that it is not money or will to travel that was lacking, it is only the awareness.

She said Taj is offering packages to suit the Indian travellers needs who travel with the family. “We have the best of Rajasthan, the best of Maharashtra, the best of Kerela packages and also pilgrimage packages and romantic packages for couples”. To cater to all segments of tourists, the packages are provided at economical rates and there are also tie-ups with airlines like Jet Airways, Indian Airlines and Air Sahara where discounts are also offered on air travel, said Ms Iyer. The leisure hotels of Taj have special centres to take care of children.

Coordinated by the Institute of Tourism and Future Management Trends (ITFT), the exhibition had about 50 participants from Malaysia, Dubai and states like Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and others and hotels, including the Taj Group and various tour operators.

Mr Ajay Gupta, Director ITM said that the exhibition had received a good response and had not only provided relevant information relating to tourism destination and packages but had also acted as a platform that helped in forming business tie-ups.

Various awards that were given to the participants were: Partner Country Award to Dubai, Partner State Award to Uttar Pradesh Tourism, Best Information Award to the Taj Group of Hotels, Best Holiday Comfort hotel to Renaissance Goa Resort, Best State Tourism Award to Pondicherry Tourism, Best Display Award to Tourism Malaysia, best tour packages award to SOTC and Best Display Resort to Star Resorts, Fagu Top.


Panthik Matte’ released
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
A book “Panthik Matte” based on resolutions passed by separate outfits on Sikh religion from time to time was released during a function organised at Guru Teg Bahadur, Gurdwara, Sector 34, here yesterday. The book which was edited by former Professor and Head of Punjab Historical Studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, Dr Kirpal Singh, was released by Dr Kharak Singh, former Economic Adviser to Food and Agriculture Organisation, UNO, and a renowned scholar in Sikh history.

Dr Kirpal Singh who has been working on this subject for a long time now, said he had always wanted to document the resolutions made by the Shiromoni Akali Dal and the Shiromoni Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) but could not do it earlier as nobody not even the members of SGPC, had any record of those resolutions.

“Had it not been for Mr. Mansingh Nirankari who not only helped me with the recorded documents but also bore the cost of the publication, my dream to write this book would have remained unfulfilled,” he said.

Divided into three parts, the book has included resolutions passed by SGPC from the period 1921 to 1925, the Dharmak Shalahkar Committee from 1934 to 1952 and the Shiromoni Akali Dal from 1929 to 1947. Dr Gurbaksh Singh, a scholar in Sikh history who attended the function said the book would help in bringing unity among the Sikhs by eliminating doubts which had created a rift among the followers of the Sikh religion. 


Khalsa panchayats adopt constitution
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 28
All 27 Khalsa Panchayats formed till date discussed and adopted the constitution of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat at a meeting held at Gurdwara Sahib, Sector 34, here today.

The constitution will be applicable to all existing Khalsa Panchayats and to those to be formed in the future. Mr Rajinder Singh, convener of the panchayats, said in a release that there was a provision for selection on the basis of merit rather than elections. Another prominent feature was governance by the five-member panchayat right from the village level to the international level.

The following have been selected out of the members of panchayats: Mr Charanjit Singh (Ludhiana), Mr Jarnail Singh (Nawanshahr), Mr Rajinder Singh (convener), Mr Inderjit Singh (Jalandhar) and Mr Harbhajan Singh (Patiala). An ad hoc committee has been formed to look after the affairs of the panchayat. Members of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat would be selected, the release said. 


Senior citizens demand low-step buses
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
The Retired Persons Welfare Association, Panchkula, celebrated its foundation day at Chaman Lal DAV School here today. Mr H.L. Vij, chairman, Modern Automobile Group of Companies, was the chief guest.

Mr Sehgal, president of the association, appealed to authorities concerned to give due care and respect to retired persons, who were disciplined public servants . Difficulties faced by retired persons in the township were also highlighted. Senior citizens said the non-availability of short-distance postal service in Panchkula was posing a problem for them. They demanded that a post office be opened in each sector. They also demanded that low-step buses be introduced on the local bus routes and to Mansa Devi and at ISBTs in Sector 17 and 43, Chandigarh and that the local bus routes from Panchkula to Chandigarh cover the two ISBTs .

Students of Chaman Lal DAV School enthralled the audience with beautiful rendition of popular ghazals, film songs and Punjabi folk songs.


Collecting rare coins his forte
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 28
This is yet another story of an unsung hero, who has been relentlessly collecting bits and pieces of Indian history, right after the Mahabharata, through the ancient coins of the era. He claims that his collection can help rewrite certain aspects of ancient Indian history and help historians understand several undiscovered historical facts.

Mr Lal Chand Gupta, a former employee of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Panjab University, has been a collector of rare coins for the past 30 years. According to his own estimates, his priceless collection is valued at over Rs 50 lakhs. At the last leg of his life, he is now looking up to connoisseurs to bail him out of his financial woes .

“All my life, I have been passionately collecting ancient coins. I have had to travel extensively and use my minimal resources in buying these coins. Though I had never thought of parting with this treasure, but it is of little interest to my family. This hobby of mine has now become my biggest asset in old age. This is my ‘jama punji’, which will see me through my end days,” he says.

His collection include a rare silver coin issued by Alexander the Great and other Indo-Greek coins, which alone is valued at over Rs 6 lakh; lead coins of Marathis; more than 200 silver and copper punch marked coins from the time of the great battle of the Mahabharata; copper coins of Ujjaini; Indo-Sassanian silver coins; and around 1,200 coins of the Gonda dynasty.

He is also in possession of rare coins from tribal dynasties of Jodhe, Panchala and Kaushalas. Coins issued during the Gupta dynasty also form a part of his collection. Another unique feature of his collection are Malwa coins. In fact, four of these coins together weigh about one gram.

Mr Gupta claims that though a majority of his collection has been bought during conferences of the Neumatic Society of India, he has also travelled extensively. 


Arjuna Award winner visits centre
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, April 28
Arjuna Award winner Mr Joginder Singh Bedi, a close associate of Dr V.J.S. Vohra, chairman and managing director of Nevedac Prosthetic Centre, visited the centre premises and appreciated the services being provided to handicapped persons by the institute.

Born at Banga in Jalandhar district in 1946, Mr Bedi got the prestigious “Arjuna Award” for his lifetime achievement for the year 2000 from the President of India at a function in September, 2001.

Mr Bedi is the only Indian to get three medals — two silver and one bronze — in Para-Olympics held in New York in 1984.


Healthy baby competition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
Tiny tots of the Evergreen Academy counselling centre held a healthy baby competition at Topiary Park in Sector 35 here , emphasising on the importance of child care, eating habits and vaccination. While doctors carried out an all-round check-up of the tiny tots, the other kids enjoyed a puppet show in the company of their parents.

The Principal, Mrs Kuljit Suri, and her staff sat together and shared the snacks inculcating friendship and love. The theme of the project was sharing and personality development.


Held for snatching chain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 28
A resident of Sangrur, Rahul Sharma, was nabbed by a resident of Sector 23, Hira Lal, after the accused snatched a gold chain worn by the complainant’s wife in Sector 22. The accused snatched the chain near the liquor shop in the sector and the complainant gave chase, nabbing the accused near a dhaba. The accused was handed over to the police. A case against him has been registered.

One injured: Naresh Kumar of Shimla was injured after he fell down from a Punjab Roadways bus near Sector 29. According to the police, the rear tyre of the bus crushed his leg. He has been admitted to the Sector 32 Government Hospital. A case has been registered under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC.

Case registered: Sector 23 resident Sunil Sharma has reported that he was allegedly assaulted by a woman, in Sector 23. The police has registered a case.

Theft case: Sector 20 resident Anil Verma has reported that his Maruti car (CH-01-Q-3042) was stolen from his residence. A case has been registered.

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