Monday, July 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU ‘ignores’ reservation policy
Tribune News Service


* Prof N.S. Mann, Chairman of the Physical Education Department, said the complaining students did not appear for the Physical Efficiency Test therefore they do not qualify for the admission. The date for the test was notified much in advance and there was no procedural error.

* Professor Mann said the department had admitted the mistake it had made with regard to admission of a girl student in the SC category where a student with the same background was being denied admission. Correction has been made.

* Dr Mahendra Kumar, chairman of the department of Indian Theatre, said the student had not cleared the aptitude test which was mandatory for joining the department. The student was unable to make it to the merit despite the allowed concessions.

* Dr Urmi Kessar, Department of Fine Arts, said the candidate in question did not qualify the aptitude test which was a pre-requisite for admission. 

Chandigarh, July 21
Panjab University has overlooked the reservation policy for admission of students belonging to reserved categories.

This was alleged in a press conference held by the Dr Ambedkar Students’ Association here today. Citing examples, Mr Chand Singh Madaan, Chairman of the association, said in Physical Education Department the university had already signed the final list of selections. The list of Scheduled Caste candidates was shown as unfilled in the first list.

Mr Madaan said the university could not declare the seats vacant because the calendar clearly provides that the university cannot convert the SC seats into general category seats before August 16.

The university denied permission to one student from Delhi University to appear in the Physical Efficiency Test because he had not submitted the marks list. Another student from the same place with a similar problem was, however, allowed to appear and was even being admitted before intervention by the students, Mr Madaan said.

It was also pointed out that the university had special concessions to lower the merit to suit admissions of the SC candidates. Each department is required to paste the list of complete and incomplete forms which was not done in this case. Students are also supposed to avail the facility of second and third counselling which was not done in this case, it was pointed out.

It was also pointed out that Rule 6.1(b)4 provides that “objections made against the incomplete forms will be checked at the time of interview or counselling”. But here the department did not entertain incomplete forms at all and asked the candidates to submit their forms before counselling.

It was pointed out that in similar cases where reservation policy was flouted referred to departments of Fine Arts and Indian Theatre. Jadunandan Behera, a postgraduate of Department of Indian Theatre, was denied admission in the Department of Fine Arts and his brother could not make it in the theatre department.

PU calendar Volume I was quoted which said: “Members of the SC, ST and BC will be allowed a concession of 5 per cent for admission to a course in which a certain percentage of minimum marks is obtained. In case the seats earmarked for the SC and ST remain unfilled, a further relaxation in marks may be given, in order of merit inter-se among the candidates, so that all seats were filled by candidates belonging to these categories.

Mr Madaan said as a related aspect, the university did not have a single professor from the SC or ST category.



Govt delays art council reconstitution
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
With each passing day, the issue of reconstitution of the Punjab Arts Council is becoming more and more significant, especially in view of the extra-cautious approach the Punjab government has adopted in appointments this time. Ever since the body of the council was dissolved on March 22 this year, there have been meagre signs of its reconstitution. No wonder speculation is reigning high in the artistic circles over who the three chosen nominees of the government will be.

The government, on its part, seems determined to plug all loopholes in the scheme of appointment to the Punjab Arts Council. Talking to The Chandigarh Tribune about the reasons behind the delay in the reconstitution of the council, Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Director, Cultural Affairs, Punjab, said, “The government’s past experience with the council has not been good. We feel that vested interests have marred the spirit of the council’s constitution. The sailing has not been very smooth on account of internal bickering. This time the government is looking for people of immense artistic reputation who can see the council through odd times.” Sources inform that the file is pending with the Punjab Chief Minister for decision.

Finance also seems to be a major issue of concern for the government, which has recently hiked rentals of Punjab Kala Bhavan art gallery in Sector 16. The idea is to help the council generate resources because the government cannot go on funding the Council, faced as it is with financial crunch. Interestingly, about two days back actress Preeti Sapru held a meeting with the Minister for Culture, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, and offered that she could convince Mr Yash Chopra or Mr Sunil Dutt to take over as chairman of the council.

While deliberations upon the issue go on, former chairman of the Punjab Arts Council, Dr Harcharan Singh, maintains that the government should not have dissolved the council. As per the constitution, the body should not be dissolved unless a fresh body is formed. Although this time the gap is of four months, last time a fresh council was appointed after about one-and-a-half year of the dissolution of the council. However, on the last occasion Dr Deepak Manmohan Singh was allowed to function as general secretary of the council till the new team was appointed. This time, however, no charges have been left with the council.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune today , Dr Harcharan Singh said, “We were expecting extension in the term. During our tenure we achieved many important tasks. We revived the Randhawa portrait gallery and re-mounted 65 portraits that were earlier languishing. We have installed a new music gallery. The construction of Randhawa auditorium has also been initiated.”



Police seeks papers from Bar Council
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, July 21
In order to determine the number of persons involved in the law degree scandal, the Chandigarh police has asked the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana to provide the documents submitted by fake law graduates to the Bar Council to obtain council licence. Meanwhile, the Bar Council of India (BCI), New Delhi, has also sent a letter to the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana providing it full co-operation regarding framing of the rules against fake law graduate.

Sources inform that the UT Superintendent of Police(SP) has written a letter in this regard to the Bar Council following which a case of cheating and forgery was registered against 28 fake law graduates. The FIR was registered on the complaint moved by the Secretary of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr C.M Munjal. Sources inform that in an official communication with the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, the UT police has sought all documents — fake degrees, attendance cards and other related documents— submitted by fake law students for obtaining the council license.

The Secretary of the Bar Council, Mr C.M Munjal, confirmed that the Chandigarh police has demanded the records in the fake degree scandal. He said the counicl was collecting the data lying with the enrolment committee. He added that the bar council would submit the record to the police department within 3-4 days.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the BCI, Mr S. Radhakrishnan, has written to the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana that they could frame an appropriate rule in order to nail those involved in the fake law degree scandal. He also said the fees for verification of authenticity of the degree could also be ascertained.

The racket came to light when the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana had marked an inquiry in the case after getting feedback from the members of the council, that some of the degrees submitted by the students to get council's licence seemed to have been procured through illegal means by them. The investigation carried out by the members of the council revealed that a number of students, who had applied for licence had procured fake law degrees from Bundelkhand Jhansi University, Mahatma Gandhi Kanshi University and Magadh University, Bihar through unfair means.



Brown sugar worth 1 cr seized
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
In a major breakthrough, the Panchkula police last night arrested five Nigerians and seized one kg of brown sugar from their possession. The drug is valued at about Rs 1 crore in the international market.

The accused have been identified as Oobinwuijc Daniel, Anthony, Francis and Fread. The fifth accused, who jumped from the first floor of a house in Sector 9, Panchkula, has been admitted to the PGI.

The SP, Ms Charu Bali, said acting on a tip-off, a team was formed under the leadership of the ASP, Ms Bharti Arora. The team conducted the raid on the house and arrested the accused. Brown sugar was packed in packets, weighing 250 grams each.

Police officials say they have launched a campaign against drug-pedlars in the township. A number of small drug-pedlars have been arrested, but this has been the biggest haul during this year.

In May, 2001, the police had seized three kg of smack, worth Rs 3 crore in the international market, from Tazudin Adesola. The accused, who was on way to Panchkula from New Delhi by a bus, was arrested at a naka on the Zirakpur-Panchkula highway.

Police sources say all narcotics in the region are brought to the town from Himachal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The poppy husk and opium find their way to the town as well as for the consumption in the inner rural areas of Haryana and Punjab.

Meanwhile, a case under the NDPS Act has been registered against the accused at the Sector 5 police station.




Residents of the southern sectors in Chandigarh often complain that they are given stepmotherly treatment by officials in the Chandigarh Administration. In the past one week even the Gods have been unkind to these people. It rained twice in Chandigarh but it was restricted only to the northern sectors. And with no rain in the southern parts of Chandigarh, a senior official told a scribe in jest that we are criticised for ignoring the southern sectors but how can the Gods also be on one side.

Jokes apart, city residents who after a spell of rain often rue slow-moving traffic and clogged roads, have been virtually praying for rain. The local met office said this year has been as dry as the drought year of 1987. In Chandigarh rain is the hottest topic of discussion in clubs , homes and offices. People have been nostalgic remembering about rains in the previous year. The good news is that the massive Bhakra, a virtual lifeline of the region, is filling up at a very fast rate as snow melt has been tremendous in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.

Summer sales

It is already the season for the big summer sales for men’s clothing. Local newspapers are flush with advertisements offering up to 50 per cent off. It is usually in the middle of August that all big traders in the city selling some of the best known brands in men’s apparel start offering discounts. Actually people in the city and its neighbouring townships of Mohali and Panchkula a wait these sales to shop for the next summer’s clothing.

Old time buyers say the slackness in the market may mean even more discounts this year. Shopkeepers say the buyers are yet to bite the bait but things will pick up, as during these sales the rates of summer wear are attractive. Never in the past have companies offered “buy one get one shirt free” during summer months. And the city even had a “buy two shirts and get a bag free” offer going during summers.

From PM with love

The poet in the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, showed up when he sent a signed letter to a visually handicapped girl, Rubina , praising her book “Jyoti”. The book had been sent to the PM by the Punjab Governor, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd) after its release.

The letter written by the PM in Hindi says: “you write very well and in a balanced manner. One day you will become a famous poetess. My best wishes are with you”.

The letter which was sent to Punjab Raj Bhavan has been handed over to the proud family of the girl.

Change of guard

This week it was time for a change of guard at the local air base. Air Commodore Arun Gopi Nath took over as Station Commander when he joined as Air Officer Commanding 12 Wing. He replaced Air Commodore V.S. Govindarajan, who has been transferred out to the Eastern Air Command headquarters at Shillong.

On day one the new boss was welcomed with an impressive parade. (see photo on top of page) Commissioned in 1973, the Commodore’s last assignment was leading the 43rd squadron. He went about meeting officers and men before settling down.

Macho spirit

The macho spirit of Punjab and Haryana rubs off onto everything happening in the city. The latest is the paid parking system. It should have meant more order and discipline. No doubt things have improved however, little irritants remain and these are connected to the macho spirit than anything else. Attendants at the parking lots say men argue with them if given directions about vacant spaces in the parking area.

The really argumentative ones ( read that as the macho youth) even park behind other people’s cars and walk off. In several cases the person whose car is blocked has his own argument with the attendant, and rightly so.

Lost: a road

A road which was not physically present for 42 years was recently discovered by the area Councillors, Mr Subhash Chawla, on papers.

He said the plan showed a 16-ft wide road but it was not found physically on the site from House Number 2448 to 2459 in Sector 24.

The Councillor is now trying to find out whether records are showing any recarpeting of the road. The road seemed to have been not built for 42 years despite having been approved.

Slum trouble

Kalagram along the Chandigarh-Shimla highway has become a favourite haunt of many a colony dweller inhabiting the surrounding areas. A visit to the cultural complex in the evening reveals that many slum dwellers seek an easy entry into Kalagram at night and spend a good time there, little caring about the spirit of the place, meant for promotion of the arts.

On one occasion, a group of colony residents was seen littering the place and messing up with the beautiful sculptures which adorn the campus of Kalagram. However, they escaped before any securitymen could take notice. Where entry to the complex is free to all and should be like that too, it is important to secure the dignity of the cultural complex, which has been designed to attract tourists who travel between Shimla and Chandigarh. If that is what the tourists are treated to, the complex may run into rough weather. Tightening the security on the entire campus might serve.

Malaria menace

The UT Administration seems positively working towards checking the spread of malaria.

For the first time in several years teams of the Administration visited homes of people to advice and check their desert coolers which are not used in this humid season.

However, water is still lying in the tanks. These are possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The teams also educated city residents about where else can mosquitoes breed in the vicinity and what needs to be done to check the growth.

Burning midnight cables

Some labourers assigned the job of laying down underground cables along the stretch that connects Chandimandir and Pinjore devised a very novel way to work through the night. They had probably been asked by the contractor to lay the cables overnight so that he could save some time and of course the cost of labour.

However, once the contractor left the site the night, the labourers, who were earlier working under street lights, starting setting the cables on fire. They burnt portions of cables at about 10 to 15 places all along the fore-mentioned stretch in order to generate enough light. Thus, an exercise meant to reduce the cost resulted in double loss for the contractor, who is perhaps till date ignorant of where some of his cables went.

Management style

These days management of the PRTC is bending over backward to convince the disinvestment commission not to privatise the corporation as it’s making efforts to bring it on track. However, in practice it fails to learn any lesson. One of its buses ( PB-11-N 9526) coming from Jammu to Patiala is lying in police custody at Sambha since July 15. It had skidded near Sambha on that day. Some passengers who got minor injuries were discharged after first aid. Though the bus could have been easily released the very next day from the court, the management has failed to take pains. It is resulting in a loss of about Rs 2,000 daily to the corporation, simply because the MD is on some official tour till Monday and there is no other official to sign the authority letter to release the bus!

Seminar for whom?

The National Institute of Agricultural Marketing, Jaipur, a premier research institute under the Union Ministry of Agriculture, had recently planned to organise a training workshop to promote export of perishable agricultural commodities from Punjab. It contacted MARKFED and Punjab Agro to jointly organise the programme, but the offer was turned down by both. Later, it contacted the Punjab Mandi Board to organise the programme. However, the officials were surprised when instead of exporters or even farmers, they found that district officials of the Punjab Mandi Board had reached to attend the programme. Since these officials had nothing to do with exports, most of them were found sleeping during the day-long technical sessions.

Priceless time

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers, was recently in the city to inaugurate a small unit of IT solutions. The guests and press persons at the inauguration ceremony were surprised how Mr Dhindsa could found time to visit a small unit, being started by five semi-skilled young persons. However, later it came to known that one of the uncles of a partner, who was also a “Dhindsa”, had arranged the visit.

One of the retired persons, sitting near dais, was heard saying: “I wonder whether Mr Dhindsa’s time is really priceless. Rather I feel that these ministers may not have anything to offer, but they have abundant time to waste on such small functions.”

An Assembly?

The city whose fate still hangs in balance — whether to become capital of Punjab or Haryana — seems to be nursing the ambition of an independent Union Territory with a legislative assembly.

The feeling last week got an echo in the Lok Sabha when the local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, cited court judgements on the reorganisation of states demanding parity with Punjab and Haryana.

The demand may lay the foundation for a Legislative Assembly in the Union Territory to truly represent the democratic aspirations of the city administered by the Chandigarh Administration and the Union Home Ministry.

The feeling of an Assembly and people’s urge not to merge with Punjab or Haryana has been strengthened after the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh came into existence in 1996.

The dismal financial condition and lack of teeth with the corporation created by Parliament under the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, extended to Chandigarh in 1994, leaves the city with no local input in the functioning and a complete bureaucratic control.

Politicians here are not confident of providing leadership to a movement for the creation of an assembly.

The demand, however, started being raised by a not-so-strong Nationalist Congress Party in its press releases.

City being the largest populated Union Territory without an Assembly cries for an Assembly.

Accident prone

The famous persons of the city seemed to be becoming prone to accidents and fractures.

Leading the pack of these people with fractured limbs is the Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Bansal. He has broken his leg.

The Haryana Governor, Babu Parmanand, has now broken his wrist.

The hardest hit in the category are reporters from the language Press. Two leading lights of Hindi journalism in the city met with accidents and broke their limbs.


Written outside a small hotel complex near Parwanoo : “No bars. This place is available for eternity.” 




Jain in charge of Uttaranchal unit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The newly appointed BJP national executive member, Mr Satyapal Jain, was today made in charge of the Uttaranchal unit, only a day after his traditional Congress rival, Mr Pawan Bansal, was appointed an observer for Gujarat.

Mr Jain’s name was announced in New Delhi by the BJP President, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu.

His elevation, rare for a national executive member as the position is generally given to general secretaries and secretaries, is indicative of his rising stock in the new young dispensation at the national level.

However, sceptics in the party view his elevation as an attempt to withdraw him from the local politics, where the party had been hit by groupism and losses in the Municipal Corporation elections.

Mr Jain said despite his elevation, he would be working as an ad hoc committee member of the local unit. He said his immediate priority would be to organise the Uttaranchal unit to prevent the Congress Chief Minister, Mr N. D. Tiwari, to enter the Vidhan Sabha through byelection, the date of which is yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, his appointment was welcomed today by his local supporters. Mr Jain was believed to be a serious contender for a post of office-bearer in the new national dispensation on the bidding of the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj.



Short spell of heavy rain in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Parts of the city and surrounding areas were today morning lashed by heavy rain and strong winds for about 15-20 minutes. The showers brought down the temperature by 3.5 °C but the day still remained 2 °C hotter than normal.

The city received 6.4 mm rainfall till 8.30 with only 0.4 mm of rain, recorded during the rest of the day.

Despite almost three weeks of wait, people did not get the monsoon with the vigour they were craving, as today’s rain did not even cross the mark of 10.4 mm rainfall received on the onset of monsoon on July 6. Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department here has termed the monsoon as “weak’’ and has forecast partly cloudy sky with rain and thunder showers in the city in the next 24 hours. The weather is likely to remain the same with no “large change’’ over the next three to four days.

Rain again remained localised as nearby cities of Ambala and Patiala remained parched with only light showers reported in Ambala.

Patiala recorded 34.3 °C temperature while Ambala touched 34.8 °C.

Winds seemed to have taken their toll on a house in Sector 40 in Chandigarh where two wires hangings got entwined, resulting in fire. A fire tender went to douse the small fire. Panchkula also received some rain but SAS Nagar had to contend with water-bearing clouds hanging over it and a pleasant breeze. The sun came out with a vengeance later in the day.



Post-mortem report rules out foul play
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
The post-mortem report of Pradeep Kumar, who was found dead in Sector 49 on July 18, has revealed that the death had occurred because of multiple injuries. As per police sources, the report revealed that there were fractures in his both feet and left leg, besides an injury on his chest.

The blood which was found along the body was believed to have oozed out after the body hit a stone on the ground. The viscera report is still awaited from Patiala, where it was sent for examination.

The police has interrogated several persons in this connection. Inquest proceedings under Section 174 of Cr.PC were initiated in the case.

The police claims that Pradeep had died after he accidentally fell from the third floor of a house in Labour Bureau Colony in Sector 49. He was said to be under the influence of liquor at the time of his death.

A senior police official said they had investigated the case from several angles and investigations so far had ruled out any foul play in the death.



Rotarians urged to help people
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
The Joint Commissioner of Delhi Police, Dr Kiran Bedi, has exhorted the Rotarians to look for a more meaningful role in governance-related issues.

She was speaking at the installation ceremony of Dr Balram K. Gupta as president of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh Midtown here today. She was the chief guest on the occasion and said that it was her pleasure to install Dr Gupta as president as she had been his student.

The supercop said that the Rotary International was a non-political and neutral forum. The Rotarians have social, monetary and mind power to go beyond its cause of helping the less fortunate ones and broaden the concept of social service. “The Rotarians should find other issues affecting the lives of people directly or indirectly and take upon themselves the responsibility of helping them improve their lives,” she said.

Dr Gupta said the Rotarians were social engineers and society and its people their main concern. He said they planned to set up an activity centre to provide vocational training to unemployed youth. After training, the youth would be provided loans for earning a livelihood.

The club also proposed to carry out certain activities at the Burail jail like blood donation camps and lectures on human values. The other office-bearers for this year are Mr R.K. Goel, secretary; Mr P.K. Verma, vice-president; Col V.K. Kapoor joint secretary and Mr R.T.P.S. Tulsi, treasurer.

The outgoing president, Mr Inderjit Sengupta, highlighted the achievements during his tenure. A number of legal luminaries — Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta, Justice N.K. Sud and Justice Vinay Mittal — were present on the occasion.

A joint installation ceremony of the Rotary Club and the Inner Wheel Club of Panchkula was also organised last night. Mr Hemant Arora, governor, Rotary District, 3080, was the chief guest, while Ms Anita Saluja, chairman, Inner Wheel Club, was the guest of honour. Mr Mohinder Nandwani was installed as president by the outgoing president, Mr Mahesh Chandgothia and Ms Asha Vinayak installed Ms Damayanti Aggarwal as president of the Inner Wheel Club.



Residents’ panel resolves to pay less to cablemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The 13 Type Government Houses Welfare Committee, Sector 27 C, here has passed a resolution to give only Rs 100 per connection to cable operators who had arbitrarily increased the subscription charge to Rs 200.

The committee in its meeting yesterday said other cable operators were giving the connection for Rs 50 to Rs 70 and the cable operator in the sector did not allow residents to take connections from other operators.

The committee demanded from the Administration to intervene in the matter.



Mohali house burgled
Tribune Reporters

SAS Nagar, July 21
Ms Dalip Kaur, a resident of Phase V here, has complained to the police that a burglary took place in her house on Saturday night while she was out of the town. It is reported that at the time of the crime her tenant was also not at home and he came to know of it when he returned in the morning. The burglars are stated to have decamped with Rs 20,000 in cash and 60 gm of gold.

Case registered: The police has registered a case against Rajbir Singh, the shopkeeper of Phase VII, who, according to some other shopkeepers, owed them money amounting to Rs 6 lakh. The case has been registered under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC.

Purse snatched: Two turbaned youths snatched the purse from a woman in Sector 35. In her complaint, Mrs Arwinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 44, told the police that the youths were riding a scooter and the incident took place at around 8.50 pm. The purse contained Rs 2,500, keys and some documents. The police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 356 of the IPC.

Wallet stolen: Meanwhile, Mr Raj Gilijinder Singh Sidhu, a resident of Sector 15, reported with the police that his wallet containing Rs 12,000 had been stolen from his residence on Saturday. A case under Section 380 of the IPC has been registered.

Tipper hits car: Maruti Zen car being driven by Ms Anita Chaudhary, a resident of Mani Majra, was damaged after it was hit by a tipper near the Housing Board traffic lights here on Saturday. The driver of the tipper, Harchand, was arrested under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC.

Motorcycle lifted: Bullet motorcycle (CH 03 1812) belonging to Gagandeep Singh, a resident of Sector 10, was reportedly stolen from the market of the sector, here on Saturday. A case has been registered.

Held for gambling: The police arrested Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Dadu Majra Colony, allegedly for satta gambling at a public place on Saturday. The police also arrested Nirmal, Varinder Kumar and Shatrughan Singh from different parts of the city under various Sections of the Excise Act and recovered 106 pouches of liquor from their possession.



Man crushed to death by bus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
A resident of Sector 41, Mangat Ram, died after being crushed under a Himachal Roadways bus at Badheri village here last this evening.

The victim was alighting from the bus when the bus suddenly started. He was declared brought dead at the PGI. The bus has been impounded.



Man found dead
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
Prem Chand (34) allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at his house in Burail, here today. He was working at a shop dealing in building materials. What prompted him to take the extreme step could not be known .



BSNL targets 1 million WiLL phones by December
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Telephone subscribers in Chandigarh will soon have the option of having the BSNL’s wireless in local loop (WiLL) connection i.e. local mobile phone by the end of December, as the Nigam has decided to provide more than 1 million WiLL connections by the end of the year in the country.

Speaking to Chandigarh Tribune from Delhi, Mr Pritpal Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, BSNL, said the Nigam was in the process of installing the requisite equipment. Work in Chandigarh, Punjab and adjoining states was moving at a fast pace and was expected to be completed in the next three-four months.

The recent decision of the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to slash the monthly rentals on (WiLL) mobile phones to a mandatory Rs 200 from Rs 450 per month has forced operators to increase their number of subscribers to remain in business. The BSNL has also decided to increase the capacity of the Mohali exchange. A new building is being set up at Sector 70 in Mohali at a cost of about Rs 1crore.

The official said the upgraded exchange would become operational by July 2003 and would provide improved services to Mohali and adjoining areas. Regarding the adoption of releasing single handset for WiLL and mobile service, which are available in many developed countries, Mr Pritpal Singh said,‘‘Though technology is available abroad, we do not have such plans at present since the WiLL phones are connected with the local exchange and the mobile services are based on GSM technology and use sim cards.’’

Mr Singh said the major focus of the BSNL at present is to tap the increasing market for mobiles as well as to start WiLL services at the earliest. Due to the availability of good handsets, they are planning to launch the service in rural areas in a big way, since the Connect Services, the sole operator in Punjab and Chandigarh in WiLL market, is concentrating in urban areas, with about 90,000 connections.

The department is also in the process of installing more than 200 roof-top towers in Punjab.


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