Friday, September 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Sukhna just below danger mark
Rickshaw-pullers make hay while sun hides
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The water level in the Sukhna has reached 1,160.35 feet, .65 feet less than the danger mark, with the city receiving 63.2 mm of rain in continuous showers between last night and today.

The normal life in Chandigarh, Panchkula, SAS Nagar, Patiala, Ambala and Ludhiana was disturbed today due to the incessant rain. The downpour was still on till the filing of this report. Officials at the Sukhna are ready to release lake water, if the water-level crosses the danger mark.

In a flood situation, police will have to be informed first, which in turn would alert authorities at Ropar and downstream. Then, before the release of the water, persons who will come in its range will have to be alerted.

Bapu Dham, Madrasi Colony and Sector 26 will receive the alert first. However, the office of the Deputy Commissioner, till the writing of this report, had not activated the flood-control machinery.

Ambala had received 42 mm of rain till the filing of the report. Chandigarh had received 21.2 mm of rain till 8.30 am. Till 5.30 pm, it had received another 25 mm, with no sign that the rain would stop soon. The temperature in the city has come down to 23°C, according to the Meteorological Department.

The department forecasts cloudy sky with rains in the city. The region is likely to receive medium to heavy rain. Though it has been several hours of continuous rain here now, there is no cause for alarm, according to the police. So far, it has no information on any possible release of water from the Sukhna. The catchment area of the lake has got good showers.

Operators of auto-rickshaws and rickshaws here and around had a field day today. They had doubled their fares to ferry persons stranded in the rain. Shopkeepers, however, had a dull day, with prospective customers remaining indoors.

Low-lying areas of Mani Majra and slum colonies were waterlogged and the rainwater also accumulated at roundabouts in the city, impeding traffic. If coming to office was tough, going out in lunch break and returning home in the evening was even more difficult.

September, a monsoon month going by the data of the past five years, has reinvigorated. With today’s rainfall, the city has nearly received the normal rainfall for the season. The city is unlikely to remain rain-deficient.


Students continue stir in downpour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Rain could not dampen the spirits of the agitating college students who, notwithstanding the inclement weather, boycotted classes, held rallies and blocked roads to press for their demands today.


  • Boycott of classes by first-year students of city colleges
  • Panjab University constitutes 13-member committee
  • Gate rallies in colleges
  • Students block traffic in various sectors
  • Students march through campus towards Sectors 11, 16, 37, 22 and 36
  • Protests to continue tomorrow

Panjab University, on its part, as per its commitment to the students, constituted a 13-member committee to look into the demands of announcement of election date for students’ councils in colleges and the university, revoking Section 144 Cr PC as well as reconsidering holding of September examinations.

The university clarified that the UGC had laid down a minimum attendance requirement of 75 per cent, which was mandatory, as decided by the Supreme Court of India, and could not be withdrawn. The university added that it would look into the “reasonable demands” of the agitating students.

Girl students continued to spearhead the agitation in local colleges. In the Government College for Girls, Sector 11, a large group of first-year students marched through the corridors, raising anti-university slogans and protesting against the holding of September tests. Later, they joined activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) outside the college premises.

Students of city colleges march through Chandigarh on Thursday carrying umbrellas to protest against Panjab University decisions
Students of city colleges march through Chandigarh on Thursday carrying umbrellas to protest against Panjab University decisions. — A Tribune photograph

In SD College, Sector 32, where a “contingent” of students arrived in two hired buses, the Principal, Dr A.C. Vaid, met a delegation of the protesters. He agreed to postpone the September tests till a final decision on the students’ demands was conveyed by the university after a meeting of the PU Syndicate scheduled for September 14. However, the two examinations scheduled for today were held.

In Government College, Sector 11, the examination slated for today was postponed while a few students began indefinite fast at DAV College, Sector 10, to lodge their protest. The ABVP went about the strike in an organised manner, with activists being posted at all colleges to ensure the boycott of classes was complete.

While the ABVP unit of DAV College, Sector 10, led by Vikas Kaushik, was given the charge of DAV College, Sector 10, Government College for Girls, Sector 11, and Government College, Sector 11, secretary of ABVP Saurabh Joshi led the agitation in Government College for Girls, Sector 42, and MCM DAV College. The latter group gathered in Sector 36 and marched to the Government College for Girls, Sector 11, where other students were already waiting.

Together this group marched to Panjab University, took a round of the campus and branched out in two directions. While one group of nearly 300 students proceeded to SD College in hired buses, the remaining students marched to Sector 16, blocked traffic near the cricket stadium for over an hour, marched to the bus stand, went through Sectors 34 and 35 and dispersed in Sector 36.

At roundabouts, the activists, accompanied by students, organised small rallies, apprising students of their demands. They created traffic blockades at small distances while they were marching through the sectors.

The ABVP activists said the agitation would continue tomorrow and students would boycott classes till their demands were met. College representatives would meet members of the Syndicate tomorrow and urge them to give a decision in their favour.

Meanwhile, the 13-member committee constituted by Panjab University to look into the “reasonable demands” of the students comprises the Dean University Instruction as its chairperson and Deputy Registrar (Colleges) as convener. The Registrar, Controller of Examinations, Joint Controller of Examinations, Dean College Development Council, Prof Charanjit Chawla, Mr S.S. Hundal, Principal Tarsem Bahia, Principal Usha Gupta, Principal S.C. Marriya, Dr R.P.S. Josh and Dr Jarnail Singh are its other members.


PU to permit degree, vocational subjects together
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
To give additional academic opportunities, Panjab University will permit students to follow degree and vocational subjects simultaneously. The students can also take diploma, certificate or advanced diploma courses along with a normal graduation degree.

A committee that met under the chairmanship of Prof R.J.Hans-Gill, Dean University Instructions, cleared the issue. Other members included Prof Paramjit Singh, Registrar, Prof Ramesh Kapoor, Dean College Development Council, Dr Sodhi Ram, Controller of Examination, Mr Ashok Raj Bhandari, Prof S.C.Vaidya and Principal Tarsem Bahia.

The matter now features in the forthcoming Syndicate meeting on September 14. The matter was taken up for discussion following a University Grants Commission communication on “ vocalisation of education at the first-degree level and running of parallel utility oriented certificate, diploma and advanced diploma courses from the session 2002-2003 during X Plan period”.

Prof Ramesh Kapoor said that last year as many as 15 colleges were allowed to start vocational courses. Maximum intake allowed was 40 students and there were currently 21 vocational courses being offered by as many as 47 colleges affiliated to the university.

The committee resolved the college permitted by the university to offer vocational courses would be allowed to offer these courses in the evening (after working hours) as well. Students admitted in the evening (after college timing) would have to pay all university dues in addition to Rs 200 as the examination fee.

On completion of the course work, the students would be required to undergo the same university examination as regular students. After completion of the course, candidates would be awarded a certificate after first year, a diploma after second year and an advanced diploma after completion of three years. The course would be operation from the current session onwards, the committee resolved. The eligibility requirements for the certificate, diploma and advanced diploma courses would be the same as for admission to the concerned vocational subject independently.

Rahul Singh, a first year student, said the diplomas would give students a chance to prepare for an employment opportunity while doing the routine graduation. A normal graduate degree was hardly of any significance in today’s market where specialists were sought, he said adding that overall education scenario needed a revamp where education suited to the current employment trends and avenues should be properly gauged.

It was, however, felt the colleges should also attempt to explore possibilities of maintaining relations with industries and other possible outlets where the students with vocational courses also stood a chance of employment. This would enhance the value of courses and also help colleges to re-model their syllabi according to job requirements.


Police remand for Ram Lal, Baldev
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 12
Ram Lal and Baldev, who were arrested by the UT police in connection with the rape case of a Shimla-based girl, were remanded in police custody till September 15 by a local court today. They were produced in the court of the UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Mr K.K Goyal, this afternoon.

The Additional Public Prosecutor (APP), Mr Rajinder Singh, argued that the victim, while recording her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC, had stated that the suspect, Surinder Sharma, had raped her with the help of others. The APP added that the two — Ram Lal and Baldev — had helped Surinder Sharma in the case.

Giving details about the involvement of the two in the case, the Additional Public Prosecutor said the custodial interrogation of the accused was necessary to find out the involvement of other persons and ascertain some facts about the case. He said the three suspect in the case had entered into a conspiracy to implicate other persons in the case. Therefore, their custodial interrogation was necessary to find out the motive of the accused in making an attempt to implicate other persons in the case.

The defence counsel opposed the police remand of the suspect on the ground that they were being falsely implicated in the case. The counsel further added that as the police claimed that the two Ram Lal and Baldev had entered into a conspiracy with Surinder Sharma in committing rape. They could be booked under Sections 389 and 177 of the IPC. The accused were already in the police custody, therefore, they should be sent in judicial custody, he argued.


Policeman’s involvement in rape case?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
With the arrest of Ram Lal, the main “conspirator” in the alleged rape case of a girl from Shimla, startling facts about the role of certain police officials in the entire plot” have come to light. He along with Baldev, was arrested from Sector 47 last night.

Though no official of the investigating team was available for comments, sources said Ram Lal had named an Inspector, who according to him, was in touch with him after the August 14 incident when the girl was dropped near the Sector 33 petrol pump. During his questioning, the suspect corroborated the statement of eyewitness-turned-suspect, Surinder Sharma, who had been arrested earlier.

An official said Ram Lal had admitted that before his arrest he was in constant touch with a police official of the rank of inspector. According to him a Head Constable, posted in the State Transport Department of Chandigarh, was a vital link between him and a bureaucrat of Haryana.

Two Inspectors of the Chandigarh police have already been sent to the Police Lines for their alleged involvement in the case. Though the role of the two officials in the case was yet to be established.

Meanwhile, the investigation of the rape case is still with the Chandigarh police. Sources said the Chandigarh Administration’s writing to the CBI was not enough to transfer the investigation of the case to the Central agency. As per procedure, the Administration would have to write to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that would take up the case with the Director of the CBI. Only after receiving consent of the CBI Director, the case would be transferred to the concerned branch of the Central agency, sources said.


Power tariff up by 17 paise
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Under the new power tariffs approved by the Chandigarh Administration, each consumer in a residential area will pay 17 paise or 8 per cent more than the existing rates. The new rates will be applicable after a formal notification is issued.

The Administration has also created new tariff slabs, as demanded by those who consumed less than 500 units in the bimonthly billing cycle. A proposal to reduce the minimum monthly charges had been rejected, sources said.

The hike may seem steep in some segments, but, overall, it is 17 paise for consumers in residential areas. Those who consume less than 500 units will be hit the most. Earlier, the charges for consuming 100 units and the next 400 units were Rs 2.30 paise per unit. Now, for consuming between 100 and 300 units, a user will pay Rs 2.60 per unit. For consuming between 300 and 500 units, the charge per unit will be Rs 2.80 (an average hike of 40 paise per unit).

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Chandigarh Industries has criticised the increased power tariffs. The Administration was losing a huge revenue due to power theft, the burden of which was, now, being passed on to consumers, it said. The hike, it said, would hit small-scale industry the most.


Soldier gets medals but not disability pension
Monica Sharma

In 1947, he was fighting against the enemy for his country’s honour. Today, 55 years later, Sepoy Rattan Singh is struggling against the government for his rights.

It was in November just after the country had attained freedom. Pakistani troops were just 5 km from Srinagar when first Para Battalion was asked to move in. They reached Srinagar, but within an hour came under heavy attack by the Pakistani army. Steadily fighting the enemy soldiers, they reached Baramula. Later on, they were ordered to proceed towards Naushehra-Jhanger hills, under the occupation of Pakistani troops, by road as parachutes were not available.

The soldiers attacked the enemy posts and managed to capture a chunk of the hill area, but the Pakistani troops, with fresh reinforcement, struck back pushing them to lower positions. Undettered, Rattan Singh, along with three other soldiers, remained posted.

His companions were killed in action, but Rattan Singh managed to engage the enemy by opening fire with his LMG till three bullets, deflected from a tree, pierced through the right side of his body. Profusely bleeding, Rattan Singh tied his turban around his chest and started hurling hand grenades at the enemy. He continued to engage them for over half an hour till pain forced him to roll 200 metres down the hill. From there he was sent to Naushehra hospital for treatment before being finally air lifted to Delhi where the then Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, appreciated his efforts in fighting the soldiers single handedly.

Since then, the wounds have healed but the scars still remain. Not only of the injury, but also of government apathy. Though he was honoured with several medals, including Independence, War, Vishesh Seva and UNEF medals, disability pension was not paid to him. In fact, he was granted service pension of Rs 16 per month from the day he left the service. Finally, Rattan Singh, after seeking advice from Chairman of the Ex-servicemen Welfare Association Bhim Sen Sehgal, moved court.

Taking up his case, Lok Adalat observed that it took Rattan Singh about 35 years to move court but “soldiers who stake their lives for the defence of their country, even in case they neglect their rights because of ignorance or absence of legal advice, should not be denied their dues”.

The then adalat president, Justice D.V. Sehgal, and member S.S. Goindi had observed that “Rattan Singh was undoubtedly in the battle front to defend the integrity of Jammu and Kashmir state which had become a part of the country as a result of the Treaty of Accession” and directed that the sepoy should be asked to appear before a re-survey medical board. In case, his disability was assessed to be more than 20 per cent, he should be allowed disability pension, the Adalat had ruled.

Soon after the settlement, the adalat order was sent to the authorities concerned and a re-survey board was constituted for his examination. However, as per Justice Sehgal, Rattan Singh received another letter asking him to appear before the board once again. Upon reaching Command Hospital at Chandimandir, he was, nevertheless, told that his medical examination had already been conducted, thereby causing “unnecessary harassment to Rattan Singh”.

Concerned over the developments, Justice Sehgal has now sent a notice to the Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and other officers on Rattan Singh’s behalf. He has stated that “the authorities have failed to implement the order of the Lok Adalat till date despite the fact that 11 months have elapsed”.

Asking the authorities to do the needful as soon as possible, Justice Sehgal has added that otherwise Rattan Singh “would be forced to move the court of competent jurisdiction holding the department concerned responsible for costs and consequences of the case”. Well, Rattan Singh is waiting and so are other soldiers who look up to Rattan Singh as a role model.


Auction issue: MCC rejects BJP’s claim
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) has dismissed BJP’s claim of receiving any bid of Rs 1.85 crore for SCO 178-179 in the January 23, 2002 auction, a site which was sold for Rs 1.34 crore on August 28, 2002.

The rejection of receiving any bid comes in contrast with the BJP’s claim of a party putting up a bid of Rs 1.85 crore.

The party had made it an issue of corruption in the MCC during the Congress regime and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter when a delegation of its councillors and the president of its local unit, Mr Yashpal Mahajan, met the Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd).

BJP Councillor Rajesh Gupta had demanded an inquiry into the matter by the Municipal Commissioner on September 6 and NRI Mangat Verma of Phulkari States on September 2, had also claimed that he had made a bid, of Rs 1.85 crore in the January auction, but an officer did not take it.

The MCC today wrote letters to Mr Gupta and Mr Verma saying that no bid had been recorded for the controversial commercial site in the auction-bid sheet and Rs 1.34 crore was the highest bid on August 28.

The letters also sought to get the price claimed by the BJP leaders asking the two whether the party claimed to have made the higher bid in the January 23 auction were still interested. And if yes then at what price.

The letters seem to be laced with political meaning because if the BJP councillor, who had sought an inquiry on the reported bid, failed to bring the party to still take the site for Rs 1.85 crore, the BJP would be considered irresponsible. And if the bidder comes to take the site again the MCC would benefit by Rs 51 lakh.

Mr Gupta was an observer in the January 23 bid and had not brought the matter to the notice of authorities then.

Indicating that the auction was not yet final, the letters mention that these were yet to be confirmed by the Finance and Contract Committee which could still reject the auction.

The MCC is likely bring to facts of auction before the committee which is likely to meet next week.

The BJP also seems to be singing different tunes with its member Gian Chand Gupta going public that the site was fetching Rs 1.57 crore but was rejected and sold for Rs 1.34 crore in the August 28 auction.

Another Councillor, Mr Rajesh Gupta, in his letter, said the site was fetching Rs 1.85 crore in the January 23 auction.

The Administrator had also sought an inquiry into the matter on the complaint of the BJP.

Inquiries from the MCC revealed the site, along with five others, had been transferred by the Administration in 1998 and did not fetch the reserve price in three consecutive auctions.

The matter was then taken before the committee on August 20, which reduced the reserve price by 20 per cent for a large number of sites to have been auctioned after repeated failures.

MCC sources said had there been any bid, a bid sheet for the site would have been prepared.

The decision to authorise the committee to decide the reserve price was taken in the fourth meeting held on March 14, 1997, when Ms Kamla Sharma was the Mayor.


‘Sonia gaining acceptability’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Ms Kunjana Singh, today said it was the growing popularity and acceptability of the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, which had prompted opposition parties to rake up the issue of her foreign origin again.

Talking to mediapersons here today, she said it was strange that leaders who had derived maximum benefits from Rajiv Gandhi were today targeting his widow for their political ends." When the masses in the country have accepted her not just as their “bahu” but also as their leader, opposition parties should not be bothered about her foreign origin,” she remarked.

She said as far as heading the country as Prime Minister was concerned, it would be the internal matter of the Congress. She said the fact that the Congress had captured power in 14 states and was all set to sweep the Assembly elections due next year was proof enough that Mrs Gandhi’s foreign origin was a non-issue among the masses.

“It is for one and all to see that ever since the formation of the NDA government, there had been rampant corruption as one scam after the other had been unearthed,” she stated. Highlighting the good performance of Congress governments in states, she said the AICC chief, took personal interest to ensure that the welfare of the common man was given top priority while chalking out policies and programmes.

Ms Kunjana Singh said the Congress being on a comeback trail would sweep the elections, as had been the case in Punjab. She said that the people of Punjab had voted the corrupt Badal government out of power to give the people respite from the ‘feudalistic’ regime.

She said even in BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, people were waiting for the elections to vote the party out of power. “Even in a state like Himachal Pradesh, where there has hardly been any corruption, this culture has been introduced by the present BJP regime,” she alleged. She added that the world was witness to what happened in Gujarat during the communal riots, with government functionaries remaining mute spectators to the carnage.


HDFC to focus on pension funds
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The HDFC Standard Life Insurance is now focusing on the untapped market of pension funds, comprising about 18 per cent of its total business.

The Chandigarh regional office and its sub-offices in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and other cities have earned a business of over Rs 120 crore sum assured over the past one year, said Mr Pankaj Seith, Head Marketing, HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Limited, here today.

Talking to “Chandigarh Tribune”, he said that HDFC’ s personal pension plan was designed to provide an income for life, after retirement.

The customers were offered an alternative to get a portion of funds in a lump sum on retirement and rest in the form of a monthly pension.

They could also take pension plan from any other company through these funds.

He said, at the age of 30 years, any healthy person could take the retirement plan by paying an annual premium of Rs 4309 for 20 years.

The total sum assured for the policy would be Rs 1 lakh and investors would also get an income tax exemption up to Rs 10,000 under Section 80ccc.

Referring to a national survey, he said, only 10 per cent of the total Indian labour force was covered under pension schemes despite the fact that life span had substantially increased over the years.

Allaying the fears of the investors about the security of investments with a private insurance company, Mr Seith said the HDFC Standard Life Insurance was investing funds as per the IRDA guidelines and had so far invested 25 per cent of funds in government securities, 25 per cent in government approved securities, 15 per cent in infrastructure projects and 25 per cent in approved equities.

Further, the company had to keep 150 per cent assets against total funds, he added.


Rotarians honour Irina, Khushboo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
At a meeting held last night, especially to observe new generation month, the Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik, honoured Ms Irina Brar, a well-known golfer of India, and Ms Khushboo Kochhar, number one Channel V pop star music girl of North India.

The President, Dr G.S. Kochhar, said: “If we can’t build a future for the youth, we can build youth for the future.” He quoted Rtn. Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary International who said “Youth is full of possibilities.” Dr Kochhar talked about MOVER (Moral Values Ethics through Rotary) a programme being introduced this year for the youth. He further said Rotary service started from the birth of a child with polio plus. This was followed by programmes aimed at promoting excellence in literacy, youth exchange, RYLA, vocational guidance, ambassadorial scholarships, interactors and rotaractors.

Rtn Dharinder Tayal, District Chairman, New Generation, while introducing the theme of the evening stressed on the ideal stage of youth in the country where they should live up to their aspirations and achieve their set goals.

Irina Brar was overwhelmed with the reception given to her. She mentioned that most of the club members were like uncles and aunties to her because of the golf fraternity. She fondly recalled her seven-year-old golfing career reaching to be the number one in India for the last three years. This she said was achieved by the support of her mother, Vivek High School, Chandigarh Golf Club and Indian Oil.

Ms Khushboo Kochhar narrated her experiences of Channel V pop star music interview. According to her in Chandigarh alone there were 400 candidates for the interview. Her friends asked her to accompany them for a movie, as there was no chance of being selected. She preferred to wait for the result than to see a movie. She was happy when out of 400 candidates she made it to the final two, who were called to Mumbai. Khushboo was there till the last round and came amongst the top 15 of the country. Unfortunately, she felt home sick and broke down in the final round. She was not given the last test and only 10 candidates were finally selected.

Members were appreciative of the fact that she was the only girl selected not only from Chandigarh but from Northern India.

The President of the Rotaract Club, Ms Reetika Bhalla and her team presented a variety programme. Every one appreciated the song rendered in Punjabi by Rtr Jatinder Brar.


Normal life at nominal cost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Ten-year-old Geeta’s parents could never had imagined that their daughter, who had a severe breathing problem and could take only liquids due to an underdeveloped chin, would be able to lead a normal life, that too without much expenditure.

Thanks to the dental department at the PGI, where the latest facility of bone lengthening, called distraction osteo-genesis, has been made available, Geeta not only looks and feels good, but she has started leading a normal life. The procedure, available at only at a handful of places in India, is used on 10-day old babies in the West.

“This procedure is used for lengthening of bones, but for the past two years it is being put to use for facial bones to rectify problems like cleft lip, arrested jaw growth and other birth defects,” said Dr H.S. Chawla, head of the department. He added that it required a series of operations and teamwork involving an orthodontist, a surgeon and an oral and maxio-facial surgeon to remove such deformities.

Dr Ashok Utreja and Dr Vidya Rattan said Geeta had virtually been surviving on liquids as she could not open her mouth fully and had difficulty in chewing and breathing. “A cut was made in her mandible, where after the distraction device was fixed, led to the growth of a bone, removing the deformity,” explained Dr Rattan.

Geeta’s father, who could never had afforded the procedure, was able to make life normal for his daughter with a meagre amount of Rs 5,000. Dr Utreja said it was important to have normal appearance, especially for girls, but what most people did not realise was that people with such deformities faced a lot of other problems, making them almost handicapped. “There are people who have probably not slept for years, as due to the deformity their tongue falls back whenever they lie down, making life miserable for them,” explained Dr Utreja.

He said in 80 per cent of such cases, the major reason was trauma, while other causes could be cleft lip and other birth defects. Till two years back, this facility was not available in India, and at any private hospital, a person would have to spend close to Rs 1 lakh for the procedure.

The dental department had performed about 12 such procedures during the last one year. “What is important is not just fixing the distraction device and seeing the growth of the bone, but its monitoring till the child is about 18 years of age,” said Dr Rattan. He said that even Geeta, whose problem had been solved, would have to keep visiting doctors for the next few years for monitoring.

The PGI is using the indigenous distraction device, which gives equally good results as the imported one. The growth of the bone with the help of the device is about one mm per day and this is done for about 10 days. The next six weeks is the retention period when the newly created tissue gets calcified.


Zirakpur traffic lights defunct for three months
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, September 12
Traffic cops have taken over instead of traffic lights at the intersection of the busy Chandigarh-Ambala and Panchkula-Patiala highways here following non-payment of electricity charges.

Confusion prevails whether the bills have to be settled by the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat or by the Punjab Public Works Department (PPWD).

Controversy over the ownership of the traffic lights at two T-points of the busy highway and non payment of a electricity bill of Rs 30,193 has forced the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities to disconnect the power connection.

Sources said that the PSEB authorities disconnected the supply on June 29. This had been putting thousands of motorists to great hardship.

The lights had been installed at the intersection of two busy national highways carrying a heavy volume of vehicular traffic (400 four-wheelers per hour besides a large number of two wheelers). As the lights have been defunct for the last over three months, traffic jams are a routine sight on the highway.

Long queues of vehicles can be witnessed during office hours which often delays office-goers, college and school students for hours.

Though the police authorities have deployed traffic police personnel to handle the traffic yet hurried motorists, a majority of them driving their vehicles with red light atop, can often be seen violating traffic rules here making the highway accident prone.

The PWD as well the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat authorities are blaming each other for the non payment of the electricity bills. The PWD authorities said that setting up on the traffic lights was their job while the maintenance had to be taken care by the local civic body.

“After formation of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, to maintain the lights is the responsibility of the civic body. The Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat authorities are not ready to accept it”, claimed Mr Ajit Pal Singh Brar, Executive officer of the building and roads wing of the PWD.

He, however, said that the matter had been taken up with the local PSEB authorities and issue would be solved in two or three days.

Mr Girish Verma, executive officer of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat was not available for comments.


5 traffic light points mooted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Concerned at the increasing vehicular traffic on the roads, the Chandigarh Police has projected a need for traffic lights at five new points in the city. Already there are 28-odd traffic junctions in the city.

The recommendations have already been forwarded to the Chandigarh Administration. Sources in the Police Department said that the points identified were the roundabout of Sectors 34 and 35 near the AIR Building, junction of Sectors 36 and 37 and the intersections of Sectors 21,22,34 and 35.

The traffic police has also sought automatic traffic light in front of both the gates of the PGI, one opening towards the Panjab University and other towards Sector 11.

In the past all points identified by the police have witnessed fatal accidents.

An official of the traffic police said the issue of widening roads in the city and providing slow carriageways along the National Highway, the Vikas Marg, Shanti Marg, Dakshin Marg and remaining section of the Madhya Marg — from Mani Majra to Transport chowk had also been taken up with the Administration.

Meanwhile, the traffic police has also asked the engineering wing to reduce the height of the street light poles as tree foliage prevented lighting on the road below.

Absence of lighting along the slow carriageway, providing timers on traffic lights and reflectors on the road dividers had also been taken up with the Administration.


‘Favoured’ move to Kharar: MLA
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 12
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress MLA from Kharar, has sad that Kharar constituency has become dumping ground of favoured government officials as majority of them have been transferred here from all over Punjab by high-ups in Chandigarh.

They were being protected by persons at the highest level and this was the reason why no action was being taken against them although their performance was not good, he said. He was talking to media persons here yesterday.

He said spouses of majority of government employees working in Kharar constituency were posted as senior officials at Chandigarh and they had got many of them transferred here from all over Punjab.

He said the standard of education in majority of government schools around Kharar and SAS Nagar was poor.

Doctors posted in various dispensaries did not attend duty regularly and government employees often reach late in their offices.

There was an urgent need to review this position otherwise, the situation would down alarming, he said.

He had apprised the Chief Minister about the results of various government schools and he was surprised to know this. He took serious view of these results, he said.

He said if he received and any such specific complaint, he would not spare anyone.


Watershed programme launched
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, September 12
A watershed programme, sponsored under the Integrated Watershed Development Scheme, was launched by the Minister of Urban Development, Punjab at a function held at the Mohali Soil Conservation Complex here yesterday.

The programme would be applicable in Arely Matti Doong of Dhar Block of Gurdaspur district.

Addressing farmers, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri said problems of Kandi area could only be solved through such schemes. He lauded the role of the Soil and Water Conservation Department of the Punjab Government in initiating this programme through beneficiaries themselves.

Mr Ramji Lal, Chief Conservator of Soils, Punjab, while addressing the participants said apart from the present watershed programme, 7,000 hectares would be covered under another such programme, namely watershed programme in the rain-fed area. He said such schemes should get maximum priority as these were implemented through people as per the 73rd amendment of the Constitution.

Mr Kahlon, in charge of the programme, gave details about the activities to be taken up under the programme. Mr V.P. Kirpal, Conservator of Soils, Jalandhar, and Mr S.S. Saini, Conservator of Soils, Mohali, also spoke on the occasion.


Water supply hit in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Evening water supply to Sectors 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and 18 was affected today following leakage in the pipe in Sector 10. The supply is likely to be normalised tomorrow morning with the Public Health Department of the MCC starting work to repair the line. The MCC is likely repair the leak by 3 am, an official spokesman said.


High Commissioner visits club
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Mr Rob Young, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom in India, addressed a meeting of the Rotary Club here today. Mr Young, whose late father was also a Rotarian, appreciated the work by Rotarians.

Earlier, the president of the club, Mr Atma Ram Singh, introduced the High Commissioner to the members. Mr Young said India and Britain shared a lot.


BJP chief to visit city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, its general secretaries, Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Arun Jaitley, and the secretary, Mr Om Prakash Dhankar, will be coming to the city on September 14.


Impersonator held, wife on the run
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, September 12
A youth, Atul Sharma alias S.J. Vardhan claiming to be an agent of the country’s premier intelligence agency, RAW, was arrested by the SAS Nagar police here today for allegedly cheating a local resident of Rs 7 lakh. The police is on the lookout for his wife Afreen Sharma, which according to the sources in the police, is not her real name. She is in fact a journalist working from Chandigarh.

According to the police, Atul Sharma, and his wife Afreen Sharma lived in Phase XI and were regular visitors to a boutique owned and run by a retired bank officer Mr Tej Pratap Virk, a Phase IX resident. During the course of these visits Atul Sharma and his wife promised to help Mr Virk and his family in settling in the USA.

According to the police, he also told Mr Virk that he was working for RAW and would use his connection in the Government of India to get Mr Virk a job and ensure his and his family’s citizenship in USA.

According to the police, Mr Virk claimed that he paid an amount of Rs 7.25 lakh in instalments to Atul Sharma and his wife for starting the process of going abroad. Mr Virk has also produced proof of these installments in the form of statements from the ICICI Bank.

The police has registered a case against Atul Sharma and Afreen Sharma under Sections 406, 420 and 170 of the IPC and arrested Atul Sharma. Afreen Sharma is on the run.

The matter is being looked into by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Daljeet Singh, who will be interrogating Atul Sharma to get more information about his other activities.

Interestingly, Atul Sharma had been arrested last week by the Chandigarh police for trying to cheat the Sector 17 branch of the State Bank of India into providing him with a house loan.

Atul Sharma was granted bail by the Chandigarh District Courts.


Car thief held red-handed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
A 19-year-old youth was today caught red-handed in a dramatic way while stealing a Maruti car from a house in Sector 16 early today morning. The thief, Mannu Mehra, had drove the car for few metres when the owner of the car, Mr R.P. Chawla, chased him and overpowered him.

According to the information available, the car lifter is son of a businessman of Sector 15 and said to be an addict. A police official said he was stealing car to fund his supply of drugs. He was today produced in the local court and remanded to one-day police custody. The owner of the car had installed a device which ensured that the vehicle stopped after few yards of being driven.

In another case, Sohan Lal, a resident of Sector 7, has been arrested for stealing a scooter from in front of an SCF in Sector 34. The burglar was arrested from near the Sector 34 petrol pump and the stolen scooter has been recovered.

Meanwhile, Mohit Srivastva, a resident of Sector 38, in a complaint lodged with the police that his Maruti Car was stolen on the night intervening September 9 and 10.

An electricity meter was stolen from near petrol pump of Sector 19. A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 19 police station.

A black bag containing Rs 50,000 cash was stolen from the parking of the Central Bank of India, Sector 22, here yesterday. In a complaint to the police, he said the bag was lying on his bicycle . A case under Section 379 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 17 police station.


Man assaulted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
A Sector 47 resident was allegedly assaulted with rods and screwdrivers by four persons, led by Bhupinder, alias Bhinda, in the Sector 47 market.

According to information available, Mr Rai had got a Tata Sumo financed through Bhinda. The buyer, as per the agreement, paid monthly instalments regularly.

Meanwhile, the vehicle was stolen and the issue of getting insurance claim cropped up. Later, he was assaulted by Bhinda and his accomplice. Incidentally, Bhinda and one of his accomplice, Balbir, were arrested for allegedly kidnapping two woman of Panchkula in a Tata Sumo about a month ago. The two had claimed to be members of a crime prevention society.

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