Sunday, August 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


School-going children face ‘danger’
Rickety buses, rash drivers, callous Admn
Ajay Banerjee and Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service


  • Union Ministry of Surface Transport imposed an annual fee for permits to streamline bus operations in schools last August.
  • Other than the permits there is virtually no check on anything.
  • Legally speaking, the children are virtually on their own between home and school.
  • When the Chandigarh Administration recognises a school, it imposes no clause for transportation.
  • Is it time to add fresh clauses and to be strict with bus operators and involve schools also ?
  • Under the circumstances, parents have no option but to meekly accept the bad quality of buses and services of the operators.

Chandigarh, August 24
Rickety, overloaded and over-aged buses with no safety controls in place. Maverick drivers and kids handled by insensitive conductors. Speeding autorickshaws packed with children and their schoolbags. Sending children to school is getting risky. No one seems to be incharge. Schools pass on the buck around to the transporters. So between home and school the child is virtually on his/her own.

The Chandigarh Administration, other than the usual challaning drive after each accident, is not bothered. The administrators feel safe as their children have the option to use the government vehicles allocated to their mom or dad. For all other city residents, the transporter is more like a bully. The parent has little choice. The rule book of the Chandigarh Administration is silent on transportation of children to school. The registration of schools carried out by the Chandigarh Administration does not have a clause related to transportation.

Thousands of city residents, who have to send their children on school buses, are a worried lot after the recent accident in which eight little girls were injured. All this has raised several questions in the minds of parents and the residents.

Are the transporters blackmailing parents knowing there is little option but to make do with whatever is provided? Are the schools, which can virtually dictate terms to transporters, being soft on the bus owners’ lobby? Why does the Administration not frame a clear policy on who is responsible for this mess ? The rule book is silent. Well, why can’t it be amended ? Is it not time for a change as lives of several thousand children are on line each morning and afternoon ?

With both parents working and Chandigarh having a predominately nuclear family concept, the children have to be on buses to go to school. This is one point which has given a monopoly for the operators. The State Transport Authority (STA) has 280 buses registered with it whereas a total of 360 school buses ply in the city. Most have untrained drivers and little by way of a concept of safety. The speed governors which prevent speeding are missing or have been simply disconnected.

A parent, while narrating the sorry state of affairs, said: ‘‘My kid goes to school in a matador which has wooden benches instead of seats as more benches can be fixed. Thus more children can sit. One can imagine the kind of safety this will provide.’’

Another parent, Mr Rohan Talwar, said the Administration is to blame. It should change the laws and the rules. Just by saying that the matter is between parents and transporters is not enough. There has to be a concrete reaction. The Administration can revoke the recognition of a school which does not take responsibility of transporting children.

The schools and the transporters should be involved in the process of change. The challaning and checking of buses plying in violation of the stipulations should be a daily affair to instil a sense of fear in the minds of bus operators and not a knee-jerk reaction like it has happened this time, Mr Talwar added.

An aged morning walker, Mr B.S. Shandil, whom The Tribune caught up with, says each morning these drivers are in a hurry. They take turns like car rally drivers with the bus and the children swinging wildly. Please save the children from agony and be strict on the issue, he pleaded.

The parents cannot protest as they are trapped. The Administration should crack the whip as it has done in the past two days.

It’s a callous education system which has evolved in the city over the years. Here, safety of the “clients” does not count since schools are not into the “business” of transportation but that of imparting knowledge. It may seem to be a good argument for some but who allows all this to go on? What are the schools doing to ensure the safety of children and assuage the apprehensions of parents ?

Though principals of most city schools admit the school authorities can’t completely wash they hands off their responsibility, they stop just short of admitting how far they are willing to go. Most claim that their role is limited to keeping a check on buses to the extent that they are not violating the court directions. Beyond this, they have no jurisdiction and no say.

Also, critical of being targeted for their indifference, they are quick to point out that none of the government schools provide buses to their children and it goes almost un-noticed. Why, then, are private schools being “taken to task” for no fault of theirs, they ask.

Claims Principal D.S. Bedi of Shivalik Public School,’ “Transportation is not a part of the education package. They only provide education and do not own buses since it involves a lot of overhead expenditure. Also, schools cannot be held responsible since all such dealings are between the schools and parents.”

The Principal of Guru Nanak Public School, Ms Jaswinder Kaur, adds,” We regularly check school buses to ensure they are not violating any directions of the court or the Administration and abiding by rules and regulations. However, their behaviour on road cannot, in any way, be attributed to us.”

“We are ready to provide transport but the parents are discouraging. They want their child to be picked up from in front of the house and be dropped. The school cannot cater to individual preferences and parents resort to settling their own terms and conditions with mini buses and vans. In such a situation, school authorities are helpless despite wanting to ensure the safety of the child,” explains Sister Rose of St Anne’s Convent School.



Drive against erring school buses continues
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
The drive against erring school buses continued for the second day here today, with the Traffic Police challaning 20 more buses, out of which one was impounded. The police and the State Transport Authority had yesterday challaned 130 buses and had impounded 30 of these. Special teams of the Traffic Police were deployed in various parts of the city, which checked buses in the morning.



Was Ravi Kant Sharma at Chandigarh Club last night?
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
There was a commotion at Chandigarh Club last night when Ms Madhu Sharma, wife of Haryana’s suspended Inspector-General of Police Ravi Kant Sharma and a suspect in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case, turned up there for a brief meeting with two “unknown” persons.

The meeting, according to security guards of the club, was brief and matured only after Ms Sharma and her brother, Mr Rahul Bedi, had anxiously waited for their “guests” for almost half-an-hour. Throughout this period, the brother-sister pair strolled up and down near the fountain, close to the main entrance of the club.

After meeting the “unknown guests”, Ms Sharma and her brother joined two other family friends in the bar of the club.

Was one of the two “unknown guests” Mr Ravi Kant Sharma, asked several members of the club. They were surprised to see Ms Madhu Sharma in the club bar after her long wait outside the main entrance.

Ms Sharma, who was accompanied by her brother, Mr Rahul Bedi, an NRI, appeared in the Club at 8.25 pm and kept strolling in the courtyard of the club building for about half-an-hour before two persons made an appearance. Sporting moustaches , one of them was tall and fair-complexioned .

According to a security guard, two occupants of a car, one of them with a sound health and about 5 feet 9 inches tall, reached outside the club premises and met a lady who was clad in a green sleeveless shirt and churidar yellowish salwar. After a short conversation, both the men drove away, and the lady along with a clean-shaven man went inside, he added.

They were later joined by their two other family friends. Ms Sharma was accompanied by a city-based prominent doctor and one of his friends besides her brother, Mr Rahul Bedi, an American national. According to knowledge able sources Mr Ravi Kant Sharma is very much in Haryana. It may be recalled that the bail application of the accused has been dismissed by the Delhi High Court and various searching parties constituted by the Delhi Police to nab him from his suspected hideouts in the country have drawn a blank.

When contacted the doctor accompanying Ms Sharma and her brother, claimed that he and his friend met Madhu and her brother in the courtyard of the club. “Being a family doctor, I had not met Rahul for the last couple of years and preferred to join them for some time”, the doctor said. He, however, expressed his ignorance if Ms Madhu Sharma had met her husband here.



Lion undergoes CT scan; report normal
Bipin Bhardwaj

Chandigarh, August 24
A city laboratory resounded with screams but not of pain as one would have expected at a laboratory, but of excitement. The reason being, for the first time perhaps, a lion was brought to Mercury Imaging Centre in Sector 8 to check out the possibility of a tumor, clotting or growth in its brain.

As authorities from Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park at Chhat Bir brought the royal patient, to the laboratory, doctors and others present there rushed to have a look.

Aged about two years, a male lion that had been suffering from some nerve related disease for the past eight months, was scanned for growth in his brain by a team of doctors headed by Dr Rakesh Verma at his clinic.

After fixing morning time for CT scanning with Dr Verma, the zoo authorities brought the animal to the centre from the Chhat Bir zoo and gave tranquilisers before dressing it in green.

The lion remained on the table for over 15 minutes during the process. Five zoo officials then took the lion on a stretcher to a mini-truck waiting outside.

While talking to the Tribune, Dr Vinod Sharma, Chief Warden (Zoos), Punjab, said the lion was ailing for the past over seven months and its health deteriorated two months ago.

Despite various tests conducted by senior veterinary doctors on the lion in Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, nothing concrete could be detected, said Dr Sharma.

The zoo authorities finally decided to conduct CT scan test to rule out any possibility of tumor or other intracranial haemorrhage in the brain of the animal. Viral or inbreeding could be the cause of sickness, said Dr Sharma.

He said symptoms of the disease were found in all six cubs of the same litter after one-and-a-half years of their birth.

‘‘The disease has already claimed lives of two cubs of the same litter earlier and the remaining four, too, are suffering,’’ he said.

The zoo authorities have kept the affected cubs in a separate house. The authorities, had taken initiative to provide the best medical facilities such as CT scan to zoo animals, claimed Dr Sharma.

Dr Verma, confirmed that the report of the CT scan was normal. The report also mentions — no SOL, no midline shift and no intracranial haemorrhage were seen. He said the experience was exciting . He also recorded video film of the episode



New-look museum has no space for martyrs’ portraits
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, August 24
The recent move of the Government Museum in Sector 10, to add fresh sections, has provoked resentment among those who have been relentlessly trying to get the museum authority to allocate a suitable corner but have been denied the same. About 1,000 martyrs of Indian freedom movement are dying all over again at the National Gallery of Portraits for want of proper care.

The portraits of freedom fighters are gathering dust at the gallery at its present location in the basement of the Central State Library in Sector 17, as not too many people are willing to enter the dingy hall which lacks the proper ambience. Though a proposal to shift the contents of the gallery to the main museum in Sector 10 was mooted under the tenure of Ms Madhavi Kataria, the then DPI (Colleges) and in charge of the gallery but the Museum Authority refused to go along with the proposal.

“It is amazing that the Museum Authority has no qualms when it comes to add fresh sections on Dinosaurs, evolution of man and such but refuses to listen to the appeal when asked to give a corner to the freedom fighters and the nation builders,” said Prof M.S. Waraich, an eminent historian and former professor at Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana, who now practices law in the High Court.

Prof Waraich has made an appeal to UT Administrator, Lieut Gen. J.F.R. Jacob (retd), to shift at least the martyr section of the gallery to the main museum where the portraits can be displayed in a better way for the benefits of the students and visitors. “Besides the fact that by giving the portraits a dignified place, we would be paying proper homage to the nation builders but also it would prove to be gift for our younger generation,” he argued.

Though the museum authority had earlier refused to acknowledge the shifting proposal on the ground that the gallery did not come under the Museum Authority, Mr Waraich alleged this ground for denial to be a flimsy one as “even the dictionary meaning of a museum incorporates historical, scientific and artifacts,” and on that basis itself they can display at least some of the portraits of the martyrs, he quipped. “Not only has the Museum Authority shown gross neglect to the valuable historical document by refusing to give a place for the contents, but has totally ignored the historical aspect also by not incorporating a single historian in their advisory committee,” he alleged.

Dr Prem Singh, a former editor of a leading newspaper who recently paid a visit to the Portrait Gallery says because of its location the gallery record shows no more than five to six visitors visiting it every day in the recent time. “The depressing set up of the gallery coupled with no literature on the contents to guide them were enough not to discourage visitors to visit the place again,” he said.

Echoing the same sentiment, Dr Kuldeep Puri from Correspondence Studies, Panjab University, said the gallery totally fails to reflect the true spirit for which it was originally established. “We owe a lot more to our pioneers than moving them to a shabby hall where nobody is even willing to visit,” he said. And the task falls upon the administration to see to that, he added.

The National Gallery of Portraits houses portraits of over 1,000 of the freedom fighters. The gallery was inaugurated in 1977 by the then Union Minister Jagjivan Ram at its present location in the basement of the Central State Library building. The gallery that started with only about 125 portraits now has a collection of 1000 portraits of freedom fighters, besides a number of ceramic murals.



Cholera cases count goes up to 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
With five new cases of cholera being admitted to various hospitals in the city today, the tally has now gone up to 10, as the disease seems to be spreading its tentacles beyond the confines of Palsora, where it resurfaced last week, giving the authorities anxious moments.

Apart from the 10 confirmed cases of cholera who have reported at the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and General Hospital so far, there have been two fresh cases of suspected cholera, today. While the two suspected cases are that of Rajinder (1) from Sector 49 and Pinky (4) from Sector 45, two-year-old Meenakshi from Sector 32, was admitted after suffering from gastroenteritis.

Doctors at the GMCH today confirmed that apart from Jyoti and Renu, both from Sector 49, who were suspected to be having cholera, three other gastro patients, had tested positive for cholera. These include Shahin (2) from Sector 66 of Mohali, Santosh (27) and Ranjit Singh (32), both from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Colony , Sector 49.

Though there has been only one case of cholera at the General Hospital so far, three children of a Bihari couple, who were on their way to Chandigarh, were today hospitalised after they complained of symptoms of gastroenteritis. The Director, Health Services, Dr Rameshwar Chander, while blaming the slum dwellers for the unhygienic living conditions, in these areas said effort will have to be made by the residents to keep their houses and environment clean, apart from proper sanitation facilities.

He added that the teams of the health department were visiting all those areas from where there had been complaints of cholera or gastroenteritis, asking the people to take boiled water. He said that they had launched education and awareness drive in the vulnerable areas, where there was fear of outbreak of disease.

Meanwhile, out of the four children from Palsora, who had been admitted to PGI, with cholera, three have been discharged. Only three-year-old Sukh Ram, has been kept at the emergency of the Advanced Paediatric Centre, PGI.

The fact that one case of gastro from Mohali has tested positive for cholera, has set the alarm bells ringing for the authorities. The focus has once again shifted towards the unhygienic conditions prevailing in these areas. While the residents accuse the authorities of denying them the basic civic amenities, the official comment remains that they are all migrants, who had raised their hutments on encroached land.

The officials point out that in case steps are not taken to check the mushrooming of illegal colonies of migrants, the situation was bound to go from bad to worse.” The least they can do is to keep their surroundings clean and have proper sanitation, instead of defecating in the open, which only spells doom, as has been the case in Sector 52 and Palsora. With new cases of cholera being reported from different parts of the city practically everyday, it seems that the claims of the authorities that it was well under control have been proved wrong.



IGNOU centre opened in Burail jail
Kiran Deep

  • Deputy Commissioner-cum-IG (Prison), Mr M. Ramsekhar, today inaugurated the IGNOU centre in Model Burail jail. Mr Ramsekhar said the education would help the inmates to become better citizens and guided inmates to join the various courses. He added that the jail will soon started a computer course.

  • The Superintendent of the jail, Mr D.S Rana, said the centre had been established in the jail with the effort of the UT Administration and IGNOU. He added that the persons who were lodged in the jail can now also get chance to get higher education.

Chandigarh, August 24
The inmates of Model Jail, Burail, will finally have access to academic information, thanks to IGNOU, which today set up its centre on the jail premises. The first of its kind in any jail across North India, the centre aims to fulfill the vision of spreading education among all segments of the society, including undertrials and convicts. Already a great hit, the centre has received 40 application forms from inmates, who are seeking admission in various courses. IGNOU will provide them with books and study material free of cost.

In an exclusive interview with Chandigarh Tribune in the jail, Regional Director of the North Region for IGNOU, Mr U.C. Pandey, today said the idea behind the centre was to make the prisoners self-reliant and inspire them to be good citizens so that they can contribute to the social well being once they are out of jail. He informed that the centre which had been inaugurated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M.Ramsekhar, had been established to impart educational facilities and knowledge through flexible means to the various inmates of the jail.

He added that the centre would provide the unique facility of teleconferencing whereby inmates can interact with teachers sitting at the IGNOU centre in New Delhi through television sets placed in the Jail. He informed that IGNOU will also provide to the inmates access to “Gyan Darshan”, a 24-hour educational television channel which is now fully functional. The channel telecasts programme of IGNOU, UGC-CEC, and NCERT. “Gyan Vani”, a radio cooperative under which the first station became operational in November, 2001, will also soon be expanded to 40 stations all over the country.

Mr Pandey said the centre had been set up with the cooperation of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M Ramshekar and the Superintendent of the Jail, Mr D.S Rana. He added that the jail authorities had provided IGNOU with infrastructure including room, library and furniture to run the centre. He said IGNOU would use multiple-channel learning system to impart education to the inmates through — television, teleconferencing interactive radio counselling, Internet-based learning and face-to-face counselling.

He further added that the university has a state-of-the-art electronic media production centre(EMPC) with facilities for regular two-way audio and one-way video teleconferencing in which there are about 250 interactive nodes spread all over the country to offer interactive tele-counselling. Another feature is that 184 radio stations across the country broadcast interactive phone-in counselling every Sunday for instant response to student queries.



A ray of hope for slum children
Get cookery lessons from CITCO chef
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
For slum kids of Janata Colony in Sector 25, this day came with the promise of hope. As CITCO set up a special canteen for them on the premises of Government Model School, Sector 24, the kids had a field day, taking cookery lessons from one of the famous chefs of Shivalik View, Mr Manoj Aswal.

Taken up as an effective measure to financially rehabilitate slum children, the project of setting up this canteen aims at opening up job opportunities for the kids in the future. The idea is to train them in preparing various cuisines in demand in the market so that tomorrow as they grow up they can work as cooks in households, canteens, messes, or even open up their own outlets and earn money.

Inaugurated this afternoon by the MD, CITCO, Mr S.P. Singh, the man behind the show, the canteen will gradually be equipped with utensils and other paraphernalia needed for training kids. All training sessions will be conducted by Mr Aswal, who today taught the kids how to prepare samosas and halwa. Absolutely involved with the new venture which promises financial independence to them, the slum children tried to be at their level best. Not a bit conscious of the presence of Mr S.P. Singh, the kids today cooked delicious snacks and later served them to the guests present on the occasion of inauguration.

Talking about the development, the MD said: “The effort is directed towards financial stability of these kids, who are very hard working but lack avenues due to financial constraints. CITCO has simply stepped in as a facilitator. We will train them in cooking cuisines which market demands the most. To begin with, there will be three training classes in a week. After that it is for the kids to rise and make something out of their lives. We are only showing them the door and hoping that they walk through it.”

The entire cost of ingredients required for cooking will be borne by CITCO, which will further step in as and when any further help in the matter is needed. In the meantime the kids will keep pursuing their current vocation (most of them are shoeshine boys) and also studies at Asha School in Sector 24. The school is being managed by Aulfiqay Khan, who had been following up the matter of setting up a canteen for kids.



Residents protest PUDA decision on green belt area
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, August 24
Residents of EWS houses in Phase VII here staged a protest against the Punjab Government and the PUDA authorities here today.

The agitated residents blocked traffic by squatting on the road leading from the YPS chowk towards the Madanpur chowk for about two hours and raised slogans. Traffic was diverted through the residential area.

Residents were protesting against the PUDA step of allotting a green belt area for houses thus depriving the complex of any open space.

Mr Phul Raj Singh, a municipal councillor, said PUDA was trying to make life miserable for the residents of the area. The only green belt available had been sold off by carving 10 plots of 10 marlas each in that belt. People had been started the construction activity.

He said when the houses in the complex were built years ago, there was a plan to construct 406 houses in the area and provide a green belt in between the complex. He alleged that the space meant for the green belt was ultimately used to construct more houses. Instead of 406 houses, the number rose to 431.

People were then allowed to use the green belt which fell on one side of the complex. A metal railing was put up on one side of the green belt and the Municipal Council had also provided “jhullas” for children in the area. But some time ago the land of this green belt was sold off and people have started with the construction activity.

The affected residents had approached the Punjab Human Rights Commission in this regard which had directed PUDA to give a decision in three months. The MC alleged that without listening to the affected residents, PUDA gave its one-sided decision in favour of the other party. Now PUDA officials were helping the buyers to carry out the construction activity, he further alleged.



BJP to protest against water tariff hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 24
The local unit of the BJP today said it would resort to a major agitation next week to protest against the Congress for having passed the water tariff hike and having scrapped the housing project for MC employees besides affecting an increase in charges for use of community centres.

The president of the BJP and former local MP, Mr Satya Pal Jain, while addressing mediapersons said the expulsion of two former BJP Mayors, Mr Gyan Chand Gupta and Ms Kamla Sharma, from the house was part of a pre-planned move which gave the Congress a free run in approving ‘‘ anti-people ’’ moves. Mr Pawan Bansal, the local MP, who was present in the House should be ready for a debate on how his party had imposed fresh taxes and increased existing expenses. The decisions were un-democratic, Mr Jain added.

We are against the water tariff hike, the party said. The Congress has gone back on its poll promises that no new taxes will be levied. The Congress councillors should resign and seek a fresh mandate from people, Mr Jain said. “It is sad that the Congress has taken a decision to cancel the allotment of six acre land meant for MC employees housing scheme”, he said.

In case the expenses are rising, the idea should be to cut down on expenditure on facilities give to officers like multiple cars, unwanted peons and staff. When asked what the BJP would have done in case of cholera outbreak would have occurred in their tenure, Mr Jain said, we would have taken action against the officials. The date and time of the agitation will be decided by the BJP’s ad hoc committee in a meeting on Sunday.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Surinder Singh said, the proposed agitation by BJP activists in his ward is just false propaganda to misguide the public and derive political mileage. He gave out a list of 17 works he had got sanctioned or implemented in the past seven months.



No women’s forum in Chandigarh
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Glaring facts

  • There is no women commission in Chandigarh despite recommendations by the National Women Commission and demand from women activists.
  • City has child policy but no women policy.
  • Women cell with police fails to take up women issues properly.
  • Increased number of single working women face inadequate accommodation.
  • Inadequate information on women issues, problems and concerns.
  • Cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace on rise.

Chandigarh, August 24
One can imagine the plight of a young girl, staying alone in city, allegedly been raped by her employer. She fails to find a single person for help in the city. The police will wait till the accused “surrender” and media will debate whether she has actually been raped or has been involved in some conspiracy to implicate the employer.

What should a girl student do if her belongings are thrown in the open by the landlord, who fails to get response from her towards his overtones. He would simply tell his neighbours that she used to come late at night and call her boyfriends at home. Everything is cool and no one complains.

Despite highest per capita annual income of over Rs 46,000 and highest percentage of two-wheeler women riders among total female population, the city is witnessing a sharp increase in incidents of women crime and sexual harassment at workplace over the past few years. Independent studies conducted by research bodies reveal that there has been a spurt in prostitution, especially in the slum colonies and some hotels, besides increase in cases of domestic violence, dowry harassment cases and female foeticide.

However, there is no forum to study, discuss or work on these issues. There is no women commission in the city despite the recommendations made by the National Women Commission and Supreme Court in this regard years ago. The administration has failed to set up a women commission despite a strong demand from the NGOs working with women, political parties and social organisations.

Says Prof Pam Rajput, Director, Centre for Women and Development, at Panjab University: “We have repeatedly asked the administration to set up a women commission in the union territory, but without any result. Punjab, Haryana and even Delhi have their own independent women commissions, though not working according to expectations, but the bureaucracy here has failed to set up a commission so far.”

Is there any need to set up the women commission? Prof Rajput says: “On the surface, everything may seem smooth and nice for women but the fact is that like any other part of the country, crimes against women, including dowry deaths, female foeticide, rape, prostitution and other crimes, have increased here as well. The National Commission for Women cannot be expected to take up isolated cases of domestic violence against women and sexual harassment at workplace.”

The experts say that since most of the working women are doing jobs in private sector, they are unable to raise their voice against their colleagues or management in case of any sexual harassment or discrimination. Even in the public sector, the women voice is not properly heard , as the employees’ union are dominated by men, always inadequately sensitive to their issues.

Countering the arguments of anti-women commission lobby, Dr Rainuka Dagar, Senior Research Fellow, working on gender issues at the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), says: “If the conditions of women is so good as presented by them, there should be a women commission to present Chandigarh as a role model at the national and international level. In fact, like any other state, the administration, media and other bodies need to be sensitised on gender issues. The women commission can prepare a policy to redress specific issues concerning women.”

What could be the role of women commission? Prof Rajput says: “I admit that most of the women commissions in states are inactive due to appointment of political persons to the commission. The city can take a lead by setting up a commission and by appointing competent persons as its chairperson.”

Ms Kamla Sharma, former Mayor and former chairperson, Chandigarh Welfare Advisory Board, claims that she has raised the issue number of times with the Adviser to Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, and other officials. She said, “About six months ago, we had recommended to the Central government to set up a women commission, but nothing has happened so far.”



DDR lodged against tour & travel co
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
A city resident has complained to the police that his scooter’s key and Rs 700 were snatched by employees of a Sector 22-based tour and travel company, when he had gone to the latter’s office to ask for the refund of a bus ticket today. On the other hand, the company’s owner denied the allegations and alleged that the man had impersonated as senior police official on the telephone and issued threats.

Mr Sandeep Kumar, an employee in a private company, had purchased a ticket for Rs 250 from the tour and travel company for Jammu on August 2 but he was forced to travel in a roadways bus as the company’s bus was detained by the SAS Nagar police for not carrying necessary documents. According to Mr Kumar, after returning to the city, he approached the company’s office in Sector 22 for a refund but he was told to come later. ‘‘Today when I reached the Sector 22 office, they misbehaved with me and snatched the key and Rs 700 from me’’, alleged Mr Kumar.

The owner of the company, when contacted, claimed that Mr Kumar was lying and none of his employees had misbehaved with him. He alleged: ‘‘In the morning, Mr Sandeep, posing as a senior police official, had telephoned my office and issued threats. However, one of my employees got suspicious and we called up the police official that Mr Kumar was posing as on the telephone and we came to know the truth.”

Meanwhile, a DDR has been lodged at the Sector 22 police post.



Town to face erratic power supply
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, August 24
The town will face irregular power supply for two days starting from 7 a.m. tomorrow. One-hour unscheduled rotational cuts are likely to be imposed on some sectors and there will be no supply in certain sectors for three hours tomorrow. However, the supply is expected to become normal after 6 pm on Monday.

According to a press note issued by the UHBVN, Panchkula, today, due to augmentation of the 66 kv sub-station in Industrial Area, Phase II here, the supply will remain erratic as the load will be transferred to alternate sources and to maintain the load within the capacity, unscheduled power cuts are likely to be imposed on various sectors of the town.

Meanwhile, power supply to Sectors 16, 17, 19, 11, 12, parts of Sector 4, 10, 15, 12A, 14, 20, 21, Industrial Area Phase I and II, BEL and PPM factory, Rajiv Colony and Budanpur, Abheypur and Fatehpur Kundi villages will remain suspended for three hours from 7 a.m. tomorrow.



PTL employee dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, August 24
A PTL employee was killed in an accident here today.

It is reported that the deceased, Mr Chander Singh, was coming back from the factory in a bus. When he got off the bus in Phase XI this afternoon he was hit by a truck. He was taken to the PGI in Chandigarh where he succumbed to his injuries.

The driver of the truck fled the scene of crime.



Improvement Trust demanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 24
A large number of colonies are mushrooming around this town without any basic amenities.

This was stated by local residents, including Mr K.K. Sharma, Mr Daljit Singh Saini, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal,and Dr Bhupinder Singh Abhepuria of the Anti-Corruption Committee in a press note today. It said the colonies lacked proper arrangement of water, sewerage, streetlights and other basic necessities of life. The only answer to this unplanned growth is to set up an Improvement Trust for this town.



Rectify the anomaly in road tax

I would like to thank The Tribune for highlighting the “Anomaly in road tax fixation” (August 4). The case has been hanging fire since March 1998 when I brought out the anomaly in my letter to the editor in The Tribune (March 26, 1998). The story is interesting and throws some light on the working of our bureaucracy.

During 1993, the Punjab Government fixed one-time road tax for private cars and two-wheelers of various kinds. For 1-3 year-old 4, 5 and 6 seaters, it was correctly fixed at Rs 1800, Rs 2100 and 2400, respectively. The anomaly crept in when a lower rate (Rs 750) was fixed for 9-year-old 5/6 seaters and a higher rate (Rs 900) for 4 seaters of the same age. The Chandigarh Administration blindly adopted the Punjab rates through a notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, in 1994.

When no action was taken on my letter, I made a written representation to the then Deputy Secretary (Home) on April 28, 1998. The officer agreed with me and said it was perhaps a typographical error and that the rate for a 4-seater should be Rs 600 (one-third of 1800). The matter was referred to the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Punjab Government on June 8, 1998. I also wrote a DO letter to the then Punjab Governor-cum- Administrator, Chandigarh requesting him to issue directions to the Punjab Government and Chandigarh Administration to jointly consider the issue and to rectify the anomaly expeditiously. I also explained the whole case in detail to the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs.

During June, 1999, the Punjab Government informed the Chandigarh Administration that the Punjab Motor Vehicles Taxation Act was being amended to rectify the anomaly. But during October, 1999, it informed the Chandigarh Administration that the matter was still under consideration and that the amendment was likely to take some more time. Probably the proposed amendment was referred to the Legal Remembrancer who is believed to have advised against the amendment after such a long time, saying “Sab ghapla ho jaega” or words to that effect. Thus the proposed amendment got dropped and the anomaly continues in Punjab and Chandigarh.

However, the Punjab Government issued a fresh notification to levy lumpsum tax on four-wheeled personalised motor vehicles at the rate of 2 per cent of the price and intimated the same to the Chandigarh Administration on February 7, 2000. Ironically, a copy of the letter was endorsed to me also as if the issue raised by me had been finally resolved. I promptly informed all concerned that the issue of anomaly pointed out by me had not been touched at all as the fresh notification did not apply to old vehicles.

On November 28, 2000, I wrote to the Governor Punjab-cum- Administrator Chandigarh, seeking his intervention. I also requested for a personal interview. The ADC agreed but after about a week informed that “the Governor had no time to spare for such minor old cases”. Since no action was taken on my representation, I wrote a DO letter to the Governor on March 25, 2001, about the fate of my representation. I submitted that “though the case is minor, the principle involved in major”.

On July 26, 2001, the Registering and Licensing Authority, UT, Chandigarh, forwarded a copy of the statement of the Road Tax charged for 4,5 and 6 seater cars and scooters to the Home Secretary, Chandigarh Administration, and endorsed a copy to me “for information and necessary action”. This gave me some hope that the case was still alive although I could not fathom what “necessary action” was expected of me. The information which was passed on to the Home Secretary was already there in the file on the basis of which the case was taken up with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Punjab Government. Perhaps the case being old was buried deep after the staff had changed a number of times during the pendency of the case.

About a month ago, I met the Joint Secretary (Home) to enquire about the present position of the case. He told me that they were unable to do anything unless the Punjab Government Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Act which was extended to Chandigarh was amended and promised to take up the matter again through a DO letter.

Strangely, the anomaly continues even in case of renewal of registration certificate after 15 years when the owner of a 4-seater car is charged more (Rs 1082) than the owners of 5/6 seaters who have to pay only Rs 932. I had also brought this to the notice of authorities initially through a letter to editor on Nov 16, 2001 and again by a letter to the Home Secretary, Chandigarh Administration on February 25, 2002. Kudos to our bureaucracy!

MAJ DALIP SINGH GHUMAN (retd), Chandigarh

Postal services

This has reference to the report that postal services in Amloh and Mandi Gobindgarh areas are in bad shape (July 18). Every effort is being made by the staff to deliver the registered letters on the very day of receipt and the registered letters are returned to the post office only if the addressees are not available. Likewise, the money orders are also paid on the same day.

The building occupied by a time-scale sub-post office on an area of 450 sq. ft. is adequate. Drinking water and toilet facilities are available inside the building. Due sanctioned staff as per the norms has been provided to the post office.

As regards the telephone bills, very less number of subscribers paid the bills after the due date. The telephone bills are delivered in time.

Mandi Gobindgarh town has three post offices, namely, Mandi Gobindgarh with a strength of one sub-post master, 11 postal assistants and seven postmen, Mandi Gobindgarh Railway Road and Industrial Town with a strength of one sub-post master and one postal assistant each.

The area of the building of Mandi Gobindgarh main post office is 1121 sq. ft which almost meets the needs of the post office. However, we are looking into the possibility of shifting the post office to a better building at the earliest.

B.D. GARG, Senior Supdt., Post Offices, Patiala Division, Patiala

Incorrect report

Apropos of your report (Chandigarh Tribune, August 2), Ms Mamta Sharma along with other candidates was selected as Telephone Operator to operate PBX/PABX Board with a capacity of 20x200 lines on contract basis on December 9, 1999. She was directed to report for duty to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, from December 16, 1999 for operation of the exchange. Therefore, the experience certificates given to her and our other employees who applied for this post were correct and in order.

It is the prerogative of the hospital management to deploy operators further for duties as per their immediate requirements. The report wrongly attributes the official of Sanchi Security Co Pvt Ltd having said that “we issue certificates to our employees very liberally.” This is incorrect and far from truth.

Lt Col A.S. MALHI (retd), Director Sanchi Security Co Pvt Ltd, Chandigarh



Man booked for beating wife
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 24
Ms Carallel Thakur, a resident of Sector 49, has reported to the police that she was beaten up by her husband Ravi Thakur on the night of August 22. According to information, Ms Thakur developed a fracture in her nose. A case has been registered under Section 325 of the IPC after medical examination of the victim.

Chain snatched
An incident of snatching was reported during the past 24 hours here. According to police sources, a man believed to be a migrant labourer snatched gold chain from Ms Asha Dutta in Sector 36 in the early hours on Friday. Ms Dutta, in her complaint, said the incident had occurred near her residence. A case has been registered under Sections 379 and 356 of the IPC. On Wednesday, scooter-borne youths had snatched a purse from Ms Nidhi Taneja near Sectors 22 and 23 traffic lights.

Vehicle thefts
Three cases of vehicle theft have been reported from different parts of the city. Mr Manoj Kumar, a resident of Panchkula, has reported with the police that his Maruti Zen car (HR 03D 2320) was stolen last night from Sector 8. Mr Kulmeet Singh, a resident of Sector 40, has complained that his car (CH 01X 0259) was stolen from his residence on Friday. Hero Honda motorcycle (PB 39A 9927) of Mr Gaurav Banphal, a resident of Himalaya Hostel, PGI, was also allegedly stolen from the hostel’s parking lot on the night of August 22.

Held for gambling
Daleep Singh of Darwa village was arrested by the police allegedly for satta gambling on Friday. The police also arrested Ramesh Kumar and Gajinder Singh, both residents of Sector 25, allegedly for carrying liquor pouches and seized 56 pouches from their possession here on Friday.


Vehicle hits girl
Jayoti Sharma, a student of Government College Panchkula, was knocked down by a Tata Safari while she was crossing the road in front of the main gate of the college this morning.

In a complaint, Mr Ajit Singh, a resident of Chandi Mandir, alleged that the vehicle coming from Chandigarh hit and injured his sister whom he had dropped at the college. The driver of the vehicle sped away after the incident.

A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered against the driven of the vehicle.

One killed
A Himachal Pradesh resident, Om Prakash, died when a truck overturned and fell on him while he was standing along the Panchkula-Naraingarh highway, near here, on Friday.

Mr Hukam Singh in a complaint alleged that Pawan Kumar of Billa village was driving the vehicle negligently which led to the death Om Prakash of Nagrota in Kangra district.

A case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered against Pawan Kumar.

Six booked
The police has booked six persons — Shambhoo, Ashok, Sushil, Anil, Anil and Rajpal — of Raipur Rani village for beating up Mr Arjun Singh and his wife of the same locality on Wednesday. Old rivalry is said to be the cause of the attack.

The six have been booked under Sections 184, 149, 323, 325 and 452 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Krishan Pal, son of the victims. In a complaint, he alleged that the accused attacked his parents with sticks and sharp-edged weapons and injured them seriously.

SAS Nagar

4 rounded up
Four youths of Sohana and Matour villages, near here, were rounded up by the Malerkotla police. Deputy Singh, alias DC (22), and Mohinder Singh, alias Laloo (25), of Matour village were rounded up on Friday after the local police had been informed about it. Mohinder Singh works as a mason while Deputy Singh works as a labourer. On Thursday, the Malerkotla police had rounded up Jasvir Singh and Ifran of Sohana village. It is alleged that the four were wanted in connection with some crime. 


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