Wednesday, October 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


4 kids hurt as school bus runs off road
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Four students of Guru Nanak Public School of Sector 36 received minor injuries early today and were, later, discharged from Government Hospital of Sector 16 after being administered first-aid. All this happened following an accident involving their school bus in Sector 35 here today.

The accident has occurred less than two months after a school van overturned. Then, the Chandigarh Administration had been jolted awake by protesting parents, alleging that schools had not entered into contracts with bus operators, who were flouting directions of the court.

The accident took place at about 11 am when the bus carrying 50-odd students was returning to school, bringing back children from a movie. The bus was being followed by another bus of the same school.

The president of the Bus Contractors Association, Mr Manjit Singh, said the accident had happened as the bus driver had lost control of the vehicle while taking a turn in an attempt to save a scooterist. “It was then that the bus climbed on to a pavement and the children received minor injuries,” he said.

The Principal of the school, Ms Jasminder Kaur, when contacted, said it had been a minor accident and the children were more shocked than injured.

“We have had this bus operator for a long time and there have been no complaints against him. Today, we were on the spot within a few minutes of the accident, though we do not know how it happened. The driver of the bus has been with the contractor since the accident, so, we really can’t say who’s at fault,” she said. 


Buses were in a race’

The school bus had, reportedly, hit a scooter, a bicycle and car while “zigzagging” on the Sector 35 road. Besides the four schoolchildren, Dal Chand, a ‘channa-kulcha’ vendor, was also injured in the incident. The bus driver had, reportedly, run away from there, abandoning the bus and the children.

While Mr Manjit Singh says that the incident occurred because the driver lost control in trying to save a scooterist, sources say that the two schoolbuses were in a race, which caused the accident. “The buses were not in any race and were only keeping a close distance with each other,” said Mr Singh. He said a car had indeed been damaged in the incident, but denied that the bus had hit this car. “When the bus climbed over the pavement, it touched a low-lying branch of a tree. The branch broke off and fell on the car’s bonnet. The ‘kulcha’ vendor was not injured; only his bicycle was damaged. Dal Chand was duly compensated,” he said. Meanwhile, no case has been registered in this regard, as the parties concerned reached a “compromise”. OC


MCM DAV rule the day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Religious notes of shabads and bhajans marked the beginning of the Panjab University Zone-A Youth Festival organised by the Government Home Science College, Sector 10, here today.

Each team, well-rehearsed for the session, was a winner in its own right. Lending serenity to the programme, they sang in praise of the Lord and his creations.

The day belonged to MCM DAV College, Sector 36, which made a clean sweep in singing and creative-writing contests held in the morning session. The college bagged first positions in almost all categories.

In the group-song category, MCM DAV’s “Hamara watan hai hamen jaan se pyara” and GCG-11’s “Laksh na ojhal hone paye, kadam mila ke chal” were well presented.

Revolving around music, singing, and painting, contests for the morning session saw lively performances by participating teams and drew an enthusiastic response from the audience.

The instrumental (classical) contest, divided into two categories of percussion and non-percussion instruments, had hardly any takers. All fine arts competitions, including rangoli, decoration with multi-coloured powder and earthen lamps, were really good. The on-the-spot painting contest saw participation by all six colleges.

By afternoon, during ghazal, geet, folk song and vaar-singing contests, the audience, too, had grown in number and the mood became more festive after every item that was staged.

Meanwhile, ‘Landscape’ had entries from all colleges, while collage-making and rangoli contests had four entries each.

Creative-writing contest, which included poetry-writing, essay and short-writing on “Youth is an energy, if channelised”, “Creativity is bliss” and “Rotten traditions must go” saw the participants exercising their minds to come out with the best.

The session was inaugurated by the Home secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral. Earlier, the Principal of the host college, Ms Usha Dhawal, welcomed the chief guest.

The results: shabad/bhajan: Home Science College (1), MCM DAV (2), GCG-11 (3); vocal (classical): MCM DAV (1), GCG-11 (2), GGS-26 (3); instrument (classical): percussion — MCM DAV (1), GGS-26 (2); non-percussion — MCM DAV (1), GCG-11 (2), DSCW-45 (3); Indian orchestra: MCM DAV (1), GCG-11 (2), GCG-42 and GGS-26 (3); creative-writing contest: Rajeeka Khullar of MCM DAV (1), Sarabdeep Kochhar of MCM DAV (2), Sukhchainjit Kaur of GCG-42 (3).


Daily wager dies after being buried
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
A 17-year-old daily wager migrant labour, Chhote Lal, died after tonnes of soil fell over the 13-feet deep pit in which he was laying sewer pipe line in Sector 52 this morning. He was taken out alive from the pit but he could not survive.

The contractor, Girwar, who had employed Chhote Lal, reportedly fled from the spot. A case under Section 304A of the IPC has been registered against him.

As per information available, at around 11 a.m. this morning Chhote Lal, Vijay Kumar and one other labourer were working in the pit, when the earth on the pits edge, started falling in the pit. Vijay Kumar somehow managed to escape but Chhote Lal was not as lucky.

Commotation prevailed on the spot for sometime. Later a crane and a JCB machine were called in and pressed into action to remove the soil. It was only by 1 p.m. that Chhote Lal was taken out from under the earth with the help of UT Fire Brigade personnel and fellow labourers. It is being said that he was ‘‘breathing’’ after he was taken out. Immediately he was rushed to the PGI but he died on way. He was declared brought dead by the doctors at the PGI.

Chhote Lal was resident of Gopalganj district, Bihar, and had been working as daily wager for the past two years.


Screening plants polluting Ghaggar
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Bir Ghaggar (Panchkula), October 22
A number of screening plants have come up on the banks of the Ghaggar here and the neighbouring village of Burj — thus releasing effluents into the river.

These screening plants have come up on land reportedly belonging to a son of a former member of the Rajya Sabha. The owner of this land had earmarked this for 16 screening plants. Though it was decided to lease this land for screening plants almost three years ago, three of these plants became functional two years ago and another five have come up recently. The machinery for installing two other plants has reportedly been ordered for.

Besides, 25 screening plants are also functional at Burj village. All these plants are located outside the crusher zone and along the embankment of the Ghaggar.

The operational screening plants are allegedly throwing large quantities of muddy water, (after water is used to wash gravel in these plants) into the river. Residents of the village allege that the river water flowing down is clear in the morning but turns muddy by afternoon, after effluents are released from screening plants here and in Burj. Also, effluents released from stone crushers located in the crusher zone, near the river, are polluting the river water.

Gravel from stone crushers as well as the river-bed is brought to the screening plants for washing and is then divided into four categories of jeera, core sand and two sizes of grid. The sand , soil and other unwanted material washed in these plants then flows down in the form of muddy water into the Ghaggar.

Similarly, most of the 60 stone crushers operating in the district are polluting the river. None of these crushers have installed a wind-breaking wall — be it GI sheets or concrete structures — to ensure that dust and other pollutants do not fly off on the main roads, habitat areas or into the river.

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board has reportedly come up with a policy guideline for relocating these plants to stop water pollution in the Ghaggar. Well-placed sources in the board said these screening plants had recently been brought under the Pollution Control Act and already notices had been issued to a majority of the 25 plants at Burj.

“Since the suspended particulate matter from the screening plants is almost minimal, these were not included in the policy framed for the stone crushers. However, we now propose to categorise the plants by creating a zone for these so that these do not cause water pollution,” an official said. The official added that notices had recently been issued to the plants at Burj for polluting river water. 


How life won and drugs lost
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
“After being into drugs for 15 years, I can well understand the pain and the suffering of an addict and the agony of his or her family,” says Vikas. Today, he is not only a transformed person, but also a saviour to many others who are hooked on to dope.

Vikas, who belongs to a good family, was so deep into drugs that even the death of his father, a serious accident, huge loss in business, losing of job and the sufferings of his mother and wife failed to move him. Still trying to pick up the threads of his life, he has not only kicked the habit, but also launched a helpline (0172- 874554) for others who are still into drugs.

“Even the death of so many of my friends who took to drugs when we were still in college in 1987 did not open my eyes. I thought that they had not been able to handle it, whereas, I could. Drugs give one a false ego boost, making an addict feel that he or she is unique,” he says.

Having started with marijuana for the kick of it, within no time, Vikas graduated to brown sugar. “I was always thinking of ways of finding money for drugs, as my everyday requirement was 6 gm of brown sugar that cost over Rs 1,000,” said Vikas. Though he is still trying to settle down in business, he is determined to help misguided youth realise that they are missing out on life by taking to drugs.

“Though we would want to do much more for those into drugs, our resources are too meagre because we are still trying to resettle,” says Anil (name changed), who, too, has quit after being heavily into drugs. In spite of having an engineering degree, he lost out on a number of good jobs due to his weakness for drugs.

Vikas and Anil have joined hands to run the helpline, on which, they get several calls from addicts and members of their families. “Only a person who has been into drugs can understand the problems of addicts. Kicking the habit is difficult without the support of family and friends,” they said.

Though my parents spent a huge amount several times to get me de-addicted, within no time, I would take to drugs again. It pains me that some persons run de-addiction centres like businesses — without the missionary zeal,” says Vikas. A counselling centre in New Delhi had helped him overcome the problem, free of cost.

“Even my marriage and the advent of my son and daughter could not reform me. At one stage, I even considered committing suicide. This is a rebirth for me and I want to do whatever little I can for helping those who are still struggling to give up drugs,” said Vikas, sitting down for meditation with five youths who had come to his centre.


Cong moves court against VHP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The deputy spokesman of the Haryana Congress, Mr Viresh Shandilya, has moved an Ambala court against the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Mr Praveen Togadia, for making objectionable comments against the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Shandilya today filed a criminal complaint under Sections 499 and 500, IPC, before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ambala, Ms Sarita Gupta, through his counsel, Mr J.S. Kohli and Mr Navpreet Singh Kohli.

He alleged that Mr Togadia had called Mrs Gandhi “a bitch of Italy”, which hurt his sentiments as Mrs Gandhi was held in the highest esteem by every worker of the Congress.

Fixing November 29 as the next date of hearing, Ms Gupta sent the case to Mr Jasbir Singh, Judicial Magistrate, First Class, for further hearing.


Sec-22 residents face water shortage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Sector 22 residents today had to face low supply of water with the Municipal Corporation disconnecting tubewell supply for flushing the entire network of lines.

The area councillor, Mr Pardeep Chhabra, said the people on the first and second floor did not get any water supply today and those on the ground floor felt shortage of water. He said he had requisitioned tankers for supplying drinking water to the people.

The Chief Engineer, Mr V.K. Bharadwaj, said the tubewell supply had to be stopped after complaints of muddy water were received in the sector yesterday. He, however, said tests on water samples had established that there was no contamination of water as was reportedly alleged by the people.

The Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, also asked officials to conduct tests on water samples and to restore supply at the earliest.

Mr Bharadwaj said the supply was likely to be restored by tomorrow.


A carnival of golf and festivities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Be it the breathtaking splendour of nature, or the extremely challenging golf tournament which provided ample opportunity for the professionals and amateurs to show case their excellence in the game, ForestHill Golf and Country Club remained the cynosure of all the eyes for the last one week. Coupled with it was the exuberance generated by the lavish food festival and dance carnival that the atmosphere remained electric and will remain memorable for a long time.

It all began with the inauguration of the Forest Hill Golf Open by Punjab's PWD minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, on October 16.

The Round-I of the Golf Open saw a beginning of the fierce competition with luck swinging between the two leaders — Mukesh Kumar and Vijay Kumar. But Vijay Kumar surrendered the lead to Mukesh, who emerged as the ultimate winner and bagged the prize money of Rs 1.62 lakh.

All afternoons of the tournament had the marked multi-dimensionality which provided something for everyone each day. The opening day had the budding golfers showcasing their teeing skills in the putting competition organised for the juniors followed by the music and food carnival in the evening. The non-stop fun wasn’t a misnomer as the atmosphere of fun and frolic soothed the tired muscles of the participants when the Thai food was served as a part of the food carnival, followed by the melodious music by the DJ.

The second day, on the one hand tested the golfing skills of the professionals in the morning whereas the afternoon had the long driving competition organised for the enthusiasts and the evening presented a perfect opportunity to relish the Chinese cuisine along with the foot tapping music. The excitement increased manifold in the picturesque ambience of the club. The next afternoon was reserved for the putting competition for ladies. This evening was special as the continental cuisine combined perfectly with the pipe band comprising hundred performers.

The golf tournament’s last day on October was similar to the inaugural day in terms of enthusiasm and festivity. The challenging golf course at Forest Hill Golf and Country Club ultimately favoured Mukesh Kumar who combined his power of hitting with wisdom in a disciplined and refined way, leaving behind his arch rivals — Amritinder Singh, Ashok Kumar Shameem Khan and Vijay Kumar. This interaction proved to be a very productive session for the learners. And keeping in mind the garamount Punjabi taste for Tandoori, the dinner was made a special treat for food lovers.

The tournament had appropriate conclusion with the Pro-Am on October 20 where the amateurs matched their skills with the professional, keeping alive the spirit of the game. The deserving got the laurels from Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, who was the chief guest for the prize distribution ceremony in the evening. The grand finale also offered a Salsa and Belle dance nite with belle dancers from Russia gyrating to foot-tapping music.


Maintenance booths for whom?

The Chandigarh Administration has established maintenance booths in the city for proper upkeep of government houses. But these booths are not functioning properly. The seepage in the walls, leaking roofs, broken doors and windows, cracks in boundary walls are all because of the use of substandard construction material. This is particularly sad because the authorities introduced maintenance booths with much fanfare.

The officials of the maintenance booths say that the complaints are attended to properly but this is not the case. It is true that the complaints of broken doors, iron jalis are not attended to for years. You may visit once or ten times but there is hardly any difference for the staff in charge of maintenance.

The residents of Sector 19-C have complained to the authorities concerned regarding the leaking roofs umpteen times. The work was given to a contractor who changed some roofs of the houses a few months ago. But amazingly, the roofs are still leaking badly. In fact, the problem has become severe now. The matter was brought to the notice of the maintenance officials, but the work inspector did not pursue the matter for some strange reason. The officers, in turn, do not want to ask the contractor for reasons best known to them. The officials of the department relax in the UT Administration’s bungalow in Sector 19-B for hours, but they do not find time to redress the grievances.

The officials are ever ready to do the work of influencial people, but not of poor mortals. Now the white wash contract has been entrusted to a contractor but all the work is being done on the directions of some officials. The repairs, wood work and iron jallis work are not being done by the staff of Sector 19 maintenance booth. An official dealing with these works has been sitting on his chair for many years but the Administration seems unable to change him despite his poor performance. Obviously, the transfer rule does not apply to him and some other officials.

The heart of the matter is that government officials themselves are not satisfied with the services provided by these maintenance booths. It would be better if these booths are winded up and the government employees are disbursed funds for undertaking repairs according to their types of houses. This arrangement would perhaps work better. It will cost less and corruption can also be eliminated.

Harjinder Singh


Unmitigated suffering

Life in SAS Nagar (Mohali) in general is a continuous unmitigated suffering. The residents have all the disadvantages of a village and a city. In particular, Sector 71 is a living example of bureaucratic callousness and political apathy. The frequent and unannounced power shutdowns specially in the summer months have been a nightmare. In spite of “improved power situation” and the benign offer of the Punjab Government to help Jammu and Kashmir by giving some surplus power, the reality belies all such claims.

Water supply over a couple of years has been adding to the possibility of slow poisoning of the residents. Not just the shortages, it is the quality of water supplied to the residents that is the crux of the problem. This complaint has been brought to the notice of the local officers of Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) time and again by me personally. However, official assurances have not been translated into action so far.

For the last six months, the water supply contains not only a kilogram of sand for every household, but also some dark brown oily matter. This indicates burst filters at the pumping station. I had once again spoken to the local officials, but there has been no improvement. The aqua-guard type of filters are choked, the automatic washing machines are rendered useless. And the storage tanks are full of sand.

The water rates have been almost doubled since August 2001 with retrospective effect. Who will serve notice on the PUDA authorities to stem the rot?

Gurdev S. Grewal

SAS Nagar

Vehicle insurance

New vehicles like scooters and cars cannot come on the roads out of the showrooms without insurance. This is mandatory under the law. The insurance companies have raised the premium amount for all the vehicles by about 60 per cent in July this year. The premium is calculated on the basis of the value of the vehicles. The companies are of the opinion that they are suffering losses and heavy premium payments due to increase in claims. They want to charge the premium amount as in developed countries.

In India, government insurance companies and private companies have joined hands and increased the premium. On the condition of damages, the cases are being forwarded to surveyors to fix the amount of loss. The reports are not factual and there is delay on deciding the cases. On submission of the reports, a minimum amount is considered towards claims, that too, if the officials are convinced about harassment and deficiency in service.

There is no such harassment in developed countries. If an incident comes to light, it automatically becomes the duty of the insurance companies to take up the matter at all levels and provide the insurance claim within days. The Indian insurance companies must settle the cases within a specified timeframe and reduce the increased amount.




Two killed, one hurt in road mishaps
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 22
Following two separate incidents, the SAS Nagar police today registered cases against drivers of vehicles for having caused death due to negligent driving.

In an incident that took place last evening, a six-year-old boy Sandeep, son of a labourer working at a construction site in Sector 68, died on way to the Government Medical College and Hospital Sector 32 after being hit by a Fiat Sienna. According to an FIR lodged by the police, the accident took place on the road from Maouli village to Sohana when the driver of the car was reportedly learning how to drive a car and hit the young boy who came in front of the car. The driver immediately rushed the child  to the GMCH in Chandigarh but was declared brought dead there.

The car, is now in the custody of the SAS Nagar police but according to the police, the identity of the driver is not known. 

In another accident that took place on October 17, the driver of car (CHO3F 1789), reportedly hit Raj Kumar who was rushed to the PGI with serious injuries. Raj Kumar died there today morning. The police has registered a case against the driver.

ZIRAKPUR: Mr Hardeep Singh, a residents of Ibrahampura village, was injured after a Maruti car hit him on the busy Chandigarh-Patiala highway adjacent to the traffic light point, here on Tuesday.

The police said that the car (HP-06-0496) was on its way towards Patiala while it knocked down Mr Singh who was standing in front of a motor repair shop on the Zirakpur-Banur road.

Mr Hardeep Singh, who was seriously injured was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, Chandigarh, where his condition is said to be critical. The car driver sped away from the scene, the police claimed.

A hit-and-run case has been registered by the police in this regard but no arrest has been made so far.


6 hurt as bus, truck collide
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 22
Six persons were seriously injured while others had a narrow escape when a private bus and a truck collided near Santemajra village on the Kharar-Banur Road today.

According to information received from Kharar police the six injured persons, Dalbara Singh and Dara Singh (both of Sekhanmajra village, Mr Shaman Singh (UP), Mr Sanjay Kumar (Rajpura), Mr Amar Singh (Sohana), Sukhwinder Kaur (Rajpura) were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Kharar and they were reported to be out of danger.

The police has registered a case against the driver of the truck number (CH-01Z-4678).


Romi brings exquisite gifts for all
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 22
Right from crystal flowers, huge ‘diyas’ to exotically wrapped gifts — all is set at the exhibition venue of Hotel Kapil to brighten up your divali like never before. And what is more, each product comes with a celebrity tag attached with it, as they have been handpicked and displayed by Romi Kapil Dev herself.

This is for the third consecutive year, Romi has brought the exhibition to town. “This exhibition offers every kind of gift at a reasonable price and we plan to carry it on throughout the festival season,” says Romi who arrived in city a week ahead to plan the entire exhibition.

Romi’s venture into entrepreneurship which started three years ago has now matured into a full-fledged shop in gift items called ‘This N That’ at Greater Kailash, New Delhi. “The whole thing started over a launch date with my cousin who wanted to do something in life,” says Romi. The idea was coined and implemented by Romi, along with Meera Bhatia, and success followed.

More than profit making, it is the happiness attached with this business that makes her go on. “We specialise in gift packaging for weddings and other ceremonial occasions”, she says.

“Now we want to expand our business by opening permanent outlets in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Hyderabad”, says Romi.

How much of her success flows from her surname ‘Kapil Dev’? ‘Initially the name is enough to pull some crowd by arousing curiosity, but the credit of maintaining that initial flow goes to our own effort,” she says. However, her husband has proved to be a solid pillar for her enterprise who not only gives encouragement, but also valuable tips on selection of right material.

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