Saturday, October 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU poll scene hots up
3 major groups announce presidential nominees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Election fever slowly caught on at the Panjab University campus today, a day after a formal announcement of the elections to the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council on November 1.

The three student groups — the Panjab University Students Union-Haryana Students Association alliance, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Students Organisation of Panjab University — announced their presidential candidates. Malwinder Singh Kang (PUSU), Harveer Singh (SOPU) and Deepak Balyan (ABVP) are the presidential candidates.

PUSU counters saw a heavy rush during the inauguration of its camp office near hostel number I earlier during the day. The ABVP put its tent near hostel II and the SOPU tent, which was near hostel III, was finally inaugurated towards the end of the day by Santokhwinder Singh Nabha, the outgoing president.

The PUSU camp had Manish Anand, a former president of the campus council G. S. Grewal , a former secretary and Rohit Sharma, a former presidential candidate at the inauguration ceremony. The three also addressed the student gathering. Ramesh Pappa. the national secretary of the ABVP, was present at the inauguration of the camp office. Even this office was flooded with old leaders, including Neeraj, Vineet Joshi, Arun Sood and Subash Sharma, among others.

Harveer Singh, SOPU presidential candidate, at a press conference later objected to outside interference in the elections. He said the university needed to take strict action against outsiders on the campus engaged in election campaigning.

Harveer Singh was referring to an incident of stone pelting at its press secretary Mehtab Alam room in hostel number I last night which, he said, was done by outsiders. The police security needed to be tightened by university to maintain a peaceful atmosphere during the campaign.

The SOPU president pointed out that the university should stick to its rule of allowing only the sticker holders inside the campus.

The PUSU gathering witnessed the SOPU deserter Prince Harmanpreet Singh addressing the mediapersons. A former member of the SOPU executive, Prince was also one of the protesters who was on a hunger strike for more than week in front of the Law Department recently. Prince said he was disillusioned with the ‘personalised’ politics of SOPU. So he decided to shift his camp.

Kang said only student interest, keeping in mind the academic standards of the university, was on top of his agenda. Chand Madaan, a former chairman of the HSA, also addressed the gathering.

Meanwhile, none of the student organisations has till date finalised any clear agenda. An office-bearer of SOPU said that during talks with students from different classes during the coming few days, the agenda could be clearly formulated.

Meanwhile, the university announced that election to the Students Central Association of the Department of Evening Studies will also be held simultaneously on November 1.

A new organisation, the Himachal Pradesh Students Union (HPSU), was formed today of which the All Himachal Students Association will remain the parent body, a press release said. The office bearers include : patron- Ganesh Bhardwaj; chairman- Subhash Kumar; vice president- Nidhi Sharma; and general secretary- Sanjeev Ranaut.


BSNL mobile service from Oct 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Cellular services of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) would be launched in Chandigarh on October 30 and in Panchkula and SAS Nagar on October 31.

The postpaid cellular service, CellOne, and prepaid service, Excell, would be available to customers at much cheaper rates than private operators, said Mr S.C. Chaudhary, Chief General Manager, Punjab circle, here today.

Addressing a press conference, he said forms for new connections would be available free of cost at all customer care centres. These would include BSNL offices at Sectors 17, 18, 34 and 37 in Chandigarh, Sector 5 office in Panchkula and Phase 4 office in SAS Nagar. He said after successfully launching its new service at Lucknow and other cities, the BSNL was set to storm the regional market.

He said, under an introductory offer, prepaid SIM cards, valid for 90 days, would be available at Rs 200. These would provide free talk time worth Rs 100. Scratch cards worth Rs 300, Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 would be valid for 30, 30, 60 and 90 days, respectively.

The postpaid scheme would offer free incoming calls from BSNL land line and mobile network under Rs 325 monthly rental scheme, but Rs 1.20 per minute would be charged for receiving calls from other networks. Outgoing calls would be charged at the rate of Rs 2 per minute during peak hours (8 am to 10 pm) and Rs 1.60 per minute during off-peak hours. The BSNL had also introduced 15-seconds pulse to benefit customers, he said.

Under Rs 225 monthly rental scheme, he said, customers would have to pay Rs 2.40 per minute for outgoing calls and Rs 1.20 per minute for incoming calls, besides Rs 200 as activation charges. There would be no roaming and CLI charges. He said BSNL’s initial capacity would be to provide 10,000 connections in Chandigarh and 5,000 connections each in Panchkula and SAS Nagar. The capacity would be enhanced by the end of the year, he added.


Connect aims to provide competitive mobile services
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Connect mobile of the HFCL Infotech Ltd., a leading player in limited mobility service, is determined to get a substantial share in the telecom market of the region by providing value added services to its customers. The company is in the process of providing voice mail and data transfer services along with video conferencing facility, says Mr Ashwani Gupta, Vice-Chairman and MD, HFCL Infotech Ltd.

Despite stiff competition from BSNL and other cellular service providers, the company has followed the path of sustainable growth, and has achieved a subscriber base of over one lakh connections in Chandigarh and Punjab within about two years of its launching. The company’s next target is to achieve one lakh additional subscribers within one year and to provide additional services like voice mail.

Born in Ludhiana, Mr Gupta has done graduation in Electronics & Communications Engineering and MBA from Delhi University. With a working experience of over 18 years with GE Capital, he has been involved with various assignments covering sales, marketing and business development projects in the USA, Middle East, Japan and India. He is working with Connect for the past two years, and has been instrumental in the growth path of the company.

Regarding the impact of price war begin among cellular operators, he says: ‘‘Despite lowest rates offered by BSNL, which might prove to be just an introductory offer, our rates at Rs 1.20 per three minute calls are much cheaper. In fact, the potential of market is unlimited and there is place for every player, provider they are able to offer competitive customer services at reasonable rate.’’

Regarding the potential of the regional market, he says despite increasing operations of the private players, the total potential in the area has not be explored. The total potential of mobile connections in Punjab and Chandigarh is around 16 lakh lines, however, till today Spice and Air Tel have provided mobiles to about 5.5 lakh subscribers. The market for limited mobility connections would continue to grow with the growth in local business and with improvement in its services. The CDMA technology of Connect is capable of providing all services of the cellular service operators in a limited area, at a much lower rate, he adds.

He says after launching services in 18 towns and cities and over 700 VPTs in villages of Punjab, Connect is set to make inroads in the other towns as well. The company has over 200 kms of optic fibre cables spread all over Punjab with host of world class high-end services especially users, delivered through a future-proof network.

Asked about the customers complaints about connectivity, poor voice service and excess billing, he admits that due to usage of both wireline and wireless technology, problem in supply of handsets, the company had initially faced some problems. But now we are concentrating, he claims, to improve customer relation and services by setting up special cells in Ludhiana, Amritsar and other major cities. These centres, manned by senior executives, would try to redress the problems of the customers.

Mr Gupta says proudly that the company would achieve the break-even point by the end of next year and it had already achieved a turnover of over Rs 200 crores. Efforts were also made to set up additional towers in those patches, where the customers were facing the problem of connectivity.


Will Mohali turn into Silicon Valley?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Lack of any big-time IT institutes, scientific temper and absence of risk taking IT giants are some of the reasons that have affected the growth of IT industry in Punjab. The state government’s plan to develop SAS Nagar as another Silicon Valley is difficult to become a reality, but the state is best suited for the implementation of IT applications due to high income growth and awareness among the public.

These views were expressed by the leading IT giants here on Wednesday, who had gathered to participate in the sixth National Conference on e-governance, organised by the state government. While the state CM and his team were trying to impress upon the industry leaders that state would offer them various incentives if they invested in IT park at SAS Nagar, but the leaders were sceptic about the potential of the state as IT industry destination.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Shekhar Dasgupta, managing director, Oracle Private India Ltd., said, ‘‘The state is best suited for the application of end-user technologies than investment in IT units. The Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc) in Bangalore, political will and few risk taking foreign trained entrepreneurs have played a great role in the development of IT industry in South. It is difficult to replicate the same model at other places.’’

Another MD of a local IT unit said the state government had so far failed to deliver the promised incentives and the basic requirement of uninterrupted power supply to the existing units. Appreciating the personal interest taken by Mr N. S. Kalsi, Director-cum-Secretary, Department of IT, Punjab, he lamented that a section of bureaucracy was still unable to appreciate the role of IT industry in the state. Mahindra and Mahindra had already abandoned the project of development of IT park SAS Nagar.

However, Mr R. Chandrashekhar, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of Communication and Information Technology was of the view that the state should concentrate on the implementation of e-governance projects which would result in creation of thousands of jobs and easy availability of information to the citizens at an affordable price.

Asked about the ministry’s plans to set up any big institute of IT here, he said, ‘‘There is no justification in investing when the NIC and other institutes are already working in this area. The department is developing Smart Institute of e-governance at Hyderabad to bring out new applications. Other states could benefit by replicating the citizen centric models, developed at the institute.’’

Mr Dasgupta assured that the Oracle was ready to provide assistance to the state government and private companies to implement e-governance projects, that would improve efficiency and productivity of the state economy.



2 cr more for Beant memorial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The Punjab Government today agreed to give Rs 2 crore more for the completion of the library-cum-conventional centre building of Beant Singh Memorial in Sector 42 here. This is in addition to Rs 2 crore released last week. The Administration will be asked to get the first phase of the project completed within 10 months.

These decisions were taken at a meeting of the governing body of Beant Singh Memorial and the Centre for Performing Arts and Visual Arts presided over by the Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Lt-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), in which the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, the Adviser to the Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, the Home Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, and the Finance Secretary, Mr Karan A. Singh also participated.

General Jacob said the project was a joint venture of the Punjab Government and the UT Administration in memory of Beant Singh. As an additional sum of Rs 6.5 crore was required to complete the existing building, the Punjab Government was requested to release more funds to complete the first phase of the project.

Mr Lal Singh informed the Governor that the Punjab Government had released Rs 2 crore last week. He said the government wanted the project to be completed at the earliest. He said despite financial constraints, the government would release Rs 2 crore more totalling its contribution to Rs 6 crore. He said the UT Administration should beautify the samadhi.


10 per cent free seats for PU-affiliated colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Panjab University will give 10 per cent free seats to meritorious students in affiliated colleges from economically weaker sections of society from the forthcoming academic session. Importantly, these seats will be over and above the sanctioned intake in each course.

The proposal is interesting in the context that the university in first step has already introduced free seats in the newly opened University Institute of Engineering and Technology from the current session onwards. However, in this case the process saw a very delayed clearance from the university senate and the real beneficiaries are not known.

The university earlier this year decided that “ 10 per cent of the general free seats for each course will be treated as supernumerary seats and earmarked for providing free education to students who have passed their qualifying examination for admission to these courses in first class (60 per cent).”

These students should belong to economically weaker sections of society and are unable to pursue to education but for this concession. The criteria for determination of eligibility of the candidate under this category will be a total family income up to Rs 1 lakh annually. People holding yellow cards or yellow ration cards will be given preference. The Deputy Commissioner or competent authority of Punjab government in case of colleges situated in the state and UT administration in case of colleges located in the city should issue a certificate to this effect.

Another meeting was held later where the members deliberated upon the issues involved in the matter keeping in mind the latest rulings given by the Supreme Court regarding the ‘creamy layer’ of the society. Members were unanimous in recommending 10 per cent free seats.

It was decided that family income will not refer to the income of the father alone. Here the family income will mean income of the father, mother and also the candidate, in case applicable, from all sources.

Students under this category will not be required to pay the usual fees and funds. However, such candidates will be required to pay fees and funds as are being paid by the schedule castes and tribes students.

The university clearly states that the eligibility for qualifying for such ‘freeship’ will be determined every year independently of the results of the previous year.

The matter comes before the forthcoming syndicate for a formal clearance. It is, however, felt that besides concession in fees, the university should also deliberate on sizeable concessions in hostels( accommodation and mess facilities) and in libraries to attract the ‘really deserving meritorious students from the economically weaker sections’.


International congress on child psychiatry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
With 80 per cent of the world’s children residing in Asia and Africa, the International Congress on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions, being held at Delhi, will not just have renowned psychiatrists from 55 countries focus on core issues pertaining to their development but schoolchildren too will be active participants.

“It is after holding interactive sessions in schools that we have chosen the themes to be taken up at the conference, as Indian child psychiatry is based on studies conducted in the USA which may not necessarily apply to our country,” remarked Dr Savita Malhotra, head of the Psychiatry Department, PGI. The congress is being organised from October 29 to November 2.

She said children from 50 schools in Delhi would introduce every theme before the sessions by presenting a cultural item. “Interesting topics raised and perceived by children, like relationship with parents and peers, sexuality, intimacy, school syllabus, free mixing and late-night parties would be discussed at the conference,” said Dr Malhotra.

Dr Anil Malhotra, Additional Professor, Psychiatry, PGI, said the focus would be to involve children rather than adolescents, assessing the needs of the younger generation on their own.” I strongly feel that the government must actively participate and gain from such international events, rather than sending a person abroad for training,” he opined.

Advocating the school mental health programme, the doctors said it was important to reach out to community through schools and sensitise teachers. They added that the teachers could be trained to identify psychological problems by equipping them with self-help skills.

Prevalence of mental illness is as high as 15 to 18 per cent amongst adults and 10 to 12 per cent in children. Amongst various childhood psychiatric disorders, mental retardation, learning disabilities and emotional disorders form a major part.

Over 500 delegates, from the specialities of psychiatry, paediatrics and psychology, besides social workers, counsellors, vocational guidance instructors and play therapists would attend the congress.

The inaugural plenary lecture on ‘Humanism and the Child : Indian Experience’ would be delivered by the Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi.

Though delegates from 55 countries have already confirmed their attendance at the conference, but the Indo-Pak tension is likely to cast its shadow on the event, as delegates from across the border will not be there. “Though we held extensive discussions with Pakistani delegates at Stockholm but with the mounting tension between the two neighbours, I do not think either of us will travel to each other’s country,” remarked a doctor from the PGI. He added that the invitation extended to their Pakistani counterparts had not been delivered to them simply because it comes from India.


LPG distributors defer strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The LPG Distributors Federation, Northwestern Region, today deferred the indefinite strike from October 28.

The strike was deferred following an assurance from Deputy Commissioner M. Ramsekhar that no existing godowns would be demolished, said a press note of the federation.

The assurance was given at a meeting between representatives of the federation and Mr Ramsekhar.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of oil companies.


Wives fast while husbands feast
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, October 25
It was husbands’ day, indeed. As the devoted wives all over the city, clad in their festive best, stayed away from water and food throughout the day on Karva Chauth, husbands followed their daily routine of eating, drinking and being merry.

Concerned, yet indifferent, about the welfare of their fasting wives, they could be seen sitting in fast food joints spread through the length and breadth of the city eating delicious chicken onion cheese pizza and savouring real thick shakes.

“Sacrifice” on the part of their bitter, oops! better, halves, was the last thing on their minds as so many of them sat around the tables in bars and pubs “having a nice time”.

“Yes, we are aware of the fact that our wives are abstaining from food and water, and are praying for our long life,” said businessman Ramesh Kathuria. “But does that mean that we should also sit at home and watch movie, instead of doing our daily chores”.

Agreeing with him, another businessman added, “We do appreciate their efforts and their gestures. This is not all. We do whatever we can for supporting them. The only thing is that we are not fasting”.

Manu Sharma, a business executive working with a multinational, has another justification, “I wanted to support my wife by fasting along with her, but then I had this important meeting with a client in the afternoon. He wanted to discuss the transaction over lunch and as such I was forced to eat. Next year, I will be more cautious. It’s a promise. I have already decided to apply for a causal leave next year”.

Manu seems to be devoted, however, his friend, Raman Kumar Narang, also a manager with a pharmaceutical organisation, does not appear to be so dedicated. “Okay, I am eating food and drinking water. I do not see why anyone should object to it. Another thing, I have asked my wife not to stay hungry because of me. Why should she. These are all old beliefs,” he asserted. “Till date, I have not seen any husband suffering even from illness because his wife had a glass of water to drink”.

But what about the wives? How are they reacting to their husbands’ attitude? “Let them do whatever they want to,” said Nidhi of Sector 23. “We are performing our duties. Another thing, we do not wish that our husbands should suffer because of us. That is the way the Indian women are”.


Mann lives up to his image
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 25
The road show started yesterday to honour subscribers of The Tribune continued with the same vigour and zeal as Harbhajan Mann, the most popular pop singer-turned-actor flanked by a team of the prestigious daily went door-to-door at various sectors in the city today.

“The tremendous response from the people reaffirmed the fact that The Tribune is not just a newspaper but a valued member of their families ,” said Mr. Harbhajan Mann, maintaining that he felt proud to be associated with the paper. “It is amazing how people have been faithfully keeping up with the growth of the oldest newspaper in this region, and older generation shares the same nostalgia as they did 50 years back,” he added.

The Tribune team visited Sectors 15, 37, 40, 34,32, 21, 18 and 19 today and distributed gift hampers from Live-in Jeans, an audio cassette of Harbhajan’s latest Punjabi film “Jee Aayan Nu” and other prizes like caps, pens, T- shirts and Coke to housewives, making their Karva Chauth a memorable occasion.

Though the actor got mobbed by his fans in almost all the sectors he visited, he was the epitome of patience while entertaining them. He even spent about an hour to listen to a group of children in Sector 32, singing the latest hit songs from his several albums.

Continuing his good deeds till the end of the day, Harbhajan later visited Ebony, a departmental store in Sector 9, and handed over the prize to the winner of the ‘Ebony Mega Sail’ promotion. The prize which was handed over to Mrs Surjit Harsh, a relative of the winner, Mr J.S. Chopra, in his absence consists of cruise passes for a couple in the coast of Kerala and free stay for three nights and four days.

The contest that started in October 13 requires customers to purchase goods of worth Rs. 1500 to be a part of the contest. The store offers daily cruises for a couple and free air tickets to places like Singapore, Malaysia and many more destinations and is going on all the seven Ebony stores in New Delhi, Noida, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Chenni and Amritsar. The promotion is on till December 9.


Expose Cong, says BJYM chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national President, Mr G. Krishna Reddy, on Wednesday gave a call to workers of the organisation to expose the Congress for relying on the “leadership of a person of foreign origin.”

Mr Reddy, who was addressing workers at the local office of the BJP, said: “BJYM workers should go to each village and mohalla to tell people that the Congress was being led by a person of foreign origin, ignoring those of the country which hurts the self-respect of Indians.”

He praised the NDA government at the Centre for preparing the draft of a national youth policy, which, he said, had not been done in the past 55 years.

He said the policy, which would determine the role of the youth in the country, would deal with issues of unemployment, terrorism and their empowerment. Mr Reddy said the policy would be placed before Parliament in the next session.

Mr Reddy said the NDA government had also set up a national youth commission to assess the policy structure and development of the nation from the perspective of the youth.

He said the report of the commission, first in independent India, would be ready next year.

Mr Reddy said the Congress had ignored rural areas and infrastructure during 45 years of its rule.

He said the Vajpayee government had sought to correct it by spending Rs 74,000 crore on national highways and allocated 60 per cent of the Budget to rural areas as against 40 per cent allotted by the Congress.

Welcoming Mr Reddy, the BJP national executive committee member and former local MP, Mr Satyapal Jain, praised Mr Vajyapee for conducting nuclear tests.

He said Mr Vajpayee had fulfilled a long cherished dream of the youth regarding India going nuclear. He said Mr Vajpayee and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had also created a youth leadership in the BJP.

The newly nominated BJYM local unit president, Mr Davesh Moudgil, assured the national president that the organisation would follow all directions of the leadership and would approach each villager or person in the city to highlight the achievements of the NDA government.

Ms Urmil, national executive member of the BJYM, said the adage that “there is a woman behind every man” would be altered, with women taking a lead.

The local BJP president, Mr Yashpal Mahajan, welcomed Mr Reddy and a siropa was presented to him.

Mr Reddy was brought in an open jeep from the railway station along with a caravan which passed through various sectors.


Investors blame PUDA, IAF
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, October 25
Hundreds of residents have blamed the Punjab Government for not creating awareness among the public for buying land and flats in the vicinity of defence installations near here. They have also flayed the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) for granting licences, without going into details and ground realities, to colonisers who, they say, have made a killing by misleading them.

Protesting strongly against notices issued by the Department of Local Government, Punjab, to prohibit any type of construction and banning approval of building plans within a 900-m radius from the Air Force Station, investors have held both the Indian Air Force (IAF) authorities as well as successive state governments responsible for remaining mute spectators while the construction was going on right under their noses.

Moreover, the previous government had constituted a Nagar Panchayat by merging seven villages here. Even then, the IAF authorities hardly objected over the formation of the civic body, knowing fully well that it was a precursor to massive construction, they alleged.

Former sarpanches of the villages, which have been merged to form the Nagar Panchayat, alleged that the IAF authorities had grabbed their land for the construction of the Air Force Station here over 40 years ago. The Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation had not granted any compensation to villagers whose land was acquired, they complained.

“Technically, the land, over which the defence installations have come up, belongs to the villagers and by claiming ownership to the land they are harassing the innocent public”, said a sarpanch on the condition of anonymity.

The investors, who have purchased land in this area but have not constructed houses, and owners of houses under construction are in a quandary. They are now a fix regarding whom to approach on this issue.

In some cases, the investors have constructed houses after getting building plans approved from the civic body authorities. Their neighbours, who were yet to construct houses there, have been stopped from proceeding ahead following the notice of the Local Government Department.

Now the uppermost question on peoples’ mind is whether their houses were on regularised land and if so, would these be demolished? Moreover, a number of the investors have collected stock of construction material which would either rot or be stolen by the time the issue was resolved.

Meanwhile, the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat authorities have asked the revenue authorities to demarcate the area for exact distance of 900-m from the Air Force Station so that building plans covered under the prescribed prohibited limits could be identified.

Though Mr D.P. Reddy, Chief Administrator of PUDA, was not available for comments, officials in the department claimed that they had only granted licences to those colonisers who were to set up colonies beyond the 900-m limit.

The IAF authorities have time and again said that there were underground radars. “The Town Planing Department and PUDA were unaware of it prior to issuing licences to the colonisers,” a PUDA official admitted.

When contacted, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister of Punjab and local MLA, said he had already sent a representation to the Ministry of Defence asking them not to stop construction activities in the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat area. In a reply to the letter, he said that Mr George Fernandes had assured that the matter would be looked into, in a positive way.

He, however, made it clear that just because the land was in the possession of the IAF, the development of the area could not be put on a hold. The defence authorities should either reduce the limit to 200-m or shift the installations to some other areas like as Ramgarh or Bhanu, near Panchkula.

Reacting over the decision of the Local Government Punjab, Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said the department should not take the step in haste. She demanded proper notification over the issue from the IAF authorities. The issues should be resolved after seeking objections from the public, she added.


Banning construction in Zirakpur ‘biased step’
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, October 25
Taking a serious view of the notification prohibiting construction within a radius of 900 metres from the outer fencing of the Air Force installations, issued by the Local Government Department of Punjab, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA, Ropar, and Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister of Punjab, held a meeting with the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat officials and local residents here today.

Reacting to a news item published in Chandigarh Tribune on Thursday, they said that this decision would affect hundreds of middle class families who invested their hard-earned money in the construction of their houses here.

They also demanded relaxation in the limits prescribed by the IAF authorities at par with the UT administration. The MLAs also pointed out that the IAF authorities had prohibited the construction work around the UT Air Force Station, and prohibiting the activities in Zirakpur and nearby areas was totally biased.

The MLA also said that he would take up the issue with the Secretary, Local Government of Punjab. He asked: ‘‘What prompted the authorities to conduct vigilance raids and prohibit the approval of the building maps here?’’.

In the meeting it was decided that the issue would be taken up with the Minister of Local Government in a day or two and subsequently with the Ministry of Defence.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashok Kumar Sikka, Administrator of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, clarified that the government had issued notices to prohibit approval of building plans and not to carry any demolition within 900 metres area from the outer fencing of the Air Force Station.

He said that the civic body authorities were in touch with the Air Force authorities and the demarcation of the area that has come within a radius of 900 metres from the defence installations would be identified soon.

Besides the MLAs and the civic body authorities, Mr Amarjit Singh Dhindsa, SDM, Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, Executive Officer, and Mr Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, were also present in the meeting. 


Illegal mining continues unabated
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 25
In spite of various measures taken by the authorities, illegal mining of sand and gravel continues in the Ghaggar at various places in the district.

Though the Mines and Geology Department had earlier held an auction of 44 sand and gravel quarries falling in Panchkula district to make it economically viable for the state government and check illegal mining, residents of various villages along the river embankments are indulging in this practice to make a quick buck.

A visit along the river by a Chandigarh Tribune team revealed several violations with regard to mining from the river-bed, especially in the forest area of Bir Ghaggar, near the North Park resort and near Rampur Jangi in Pinjore block. Incidents of mining between the old and new Ghaggar bridges in Panchkula have also been reported. In several instances, mining by villagers was on even at places where the river had a high gradient and also where the river was narrow, thus endangering the environment.

A number of residents of various villages — Shiamtu, Rattewali, Naggar, Mauli and Bir Ghaggar — are allegedly indulging in illegal mining. Though digging mostly takes place by night, in the absence of a vigil by the authorities, these people have been unscrupulously mining gravel (to be sold to stone crushers for building material) from the river-bed even during daytime.

At a number of places in Pinjore block, mining is taking place almost at the base of small bridges/culverts, thus endangering the structures. The departmnent has specified that mining in rivers can take place at an upstream distance of 250 metres and a downstream distance of 125 metres from a small bridge. In case of high-level bridges, mining is allowed at a 1 km upstream distance and half -a-kilometre downstream distance.

It is alleged that with the government having clubbed all quarries as a single unit, it has “ created a cartel” with the monopoly of a single contractor. This, instead of controlling illegal mining, has fuelled it, with a number of villagers being more than willing to supply gravel at competitive prices with those of the contractor. Official sources say this new formula of clubbing all quarries has earlier been successfully tested in Karnal, Yamunanagar, Sonepat and Panipat.

Even in quarries auctioned by the state government in May this year, a number of violations are taking place. At a number of places, (both in case of auctioned quarries and illegal mining by villagers) mining in the river-bed is on right at the embankment. The government rules, however, specify that mining can be done midstream. “In case the river is 400 metres wide, mining is allowed in the area within 100 metres from each side of the embankment and if the river is less than 400 metres, mining can be done only midstream,” informed an official of the department.

Officials, however, express helplessness in checking the mining by villagers. “ We cannot maintain a round- the- clock vigil at all places. Whenever such instances come to our notice, we react immediately by getting police cases registered against defaulters,” said a senior department official. 


They made it to Everest base camp
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 25
If you think that all you need to make an adventure possible is a brave heart, a free spirit and a tough challenge, you are wrong. Add to the list two tiny words — big money and you might get the picture. It costs a whopping $ 50,000 to climb the Mount Everest. The amount does not include either your safety or the success of your trip. But yes, if you can pay more, your safety is assured (well almost) and so is the success. Sherpas virtually lift you to the peak, let you have the glory (and the photos!!) and then bring a rather jittery — you back to where you began — the Everest base camp.

However, our story ends at the Everest base camp rather than starting from it. A story of determination of four friends whose love for trekking made them reach Kala Pathar — the Mount Everest base camp — from Chandigarh in 12 days of pure adventure.

Saurabh Singh, an MTech from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Atul Jain, MTech from IIT, Delhi, Vikas Chopra, a Delhi University product and P. Kasturi Rangan have a common passion — mountaineering. While Saurabh and Atul work in Punjab Tractors Ltd here as engineers in the R&D wing, Vikas works with the TTTI, Sector 26, and Kasturi in New Delhi.

Otherwise also great friends, “it was love for trekking and adventure that bound us together. Each year we would be out trekking for days, reaching places we have always wanted to see and then starting back. It meant using all our annual savings and holidays, but every penny spent was worth it,” says Saurabh.

And how did the idea of going to the Everest base camp occur? “We had been thinking about it for quite some time and since last year when we successfully trekked to Moon Lake in Lahaul and Spiti, we thought we should try something tougher. Months of planning went into this trip. Other than the holidays and the money, physical fitness mattered the most. At those heights breathing becomes pretty difficult and one has to be in a perfect state of health to even think of trying such treks.’’

The real adventure started on day two (October 1) with an early morning sweeping scenic flight to Lukla at 2804 metres in Nepal from where it was on foot till Kala Pathar. After an overnight stay at their next stop Phakding, they trekked to Namche Bazaar at 3440 metres which is the common meeting point of all trekkers going further. “Here one really does nothing but shop around for the stuff you to need en route Kala Pathar. Also beyond this point things start becoming very expensive. It was a shock to realise in the coming days that a single chapatti will cost Rs 80 and a plate of dal Rs 200.”

A day was also spent resting at Namche to acclimatise after which the trek to Tengboche at 3250 metres started.

The sixth day-trek took them to Pheriche at 4250 metres and the next day the four trekked to Lobuche at 4930 metres. “En route we visited stone memorials to those who died while climbing the Mount Everest. It was quite an experience noticing that hundreds of people had dreamt of being ‘on the top of the world’ but never made it. But then there were more people who died in accidents that took place on way down. It is far more dangerous to climb down that to climb up,” says Atul.

The next day took them to their destination, the base camp Kala Pathar. “Kala Pathar is a strategically located peak from where one can have a very good view of the Maunt Everest and the entire Everest region. We planned to climb the Island peak at 6200 metres but due to a heavy snowfall and bad weather we gave up the idea after two days of stay at the base camp,” said Vikas. They then started the five-day journey back.


Handbook on amended bylaws released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Very soon city residents will be able to construct houses as per their choice with minimal of architectural control. A single window service system will be introduced for submission building plans, disclosed the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), here today while releasing a handbook “Suvidha”, which lists all recently changed bylaws in a simple format.

The handbook should also be translated into Hindi as well as Punjabi for the convenience of the general public, opined the General.

The book includes amendments to the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Building Rules, 1952, Chandigarh Lease Hold of Sites and Building Rules, 1973, Chandigarh (Sale of Sites and Building) Rules, 1960 and Chandigarh Apartment Rules, 2001.

Speaking on the occasion, General Jacob said with the economic revival of the city it had become necessary to un-fetter the city from archaic building bylaws, which were restricting the growth of the city and putting the public to great inconvenience. He said he wanted to give freedom to the public to design houses according to their own choice within the minimum architectural requirements of the Chandigarh Administration.

He said various wings of the Estate Office and Architect Branch have worked hard to revise the building bylaws to make them people friendly. He said since so many changes had been made to building bylaws and general public had little knowledge about the changes, it was thought to compile the changes in a book for the convenience of the public.

Speaking about the problems being faced by public in getting the building plans sanctioned, the Administrator said his efforts were on to reduce all 38 levels to a single window and administration was working on a proposal in which building plans would be submitted to a window and expert sitting on the window would examine the file and point out all the objections in the file in one go. Efforts would be made to involve private architects also. He said he was concerned about the delay in building plans under the existing procedure as too many branches were involved in sanctioning building plans.

Prominent among those who participated in the function included the Home Secretary, Mr R.S. Gujral, Finance Secretary, Mr Karan A. Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, and Chief Architect, Ms Renu Sehgal.


Tackling canine acne

ANIMALS with this syndrome have bumps, scabs and blackheads on their lips, chin and muzzle. It is seen almost exclusively in large short-coated breeds of dogs such as Mastiffs, Dobermans, Great Danes, Boxers, Rottweillers and German Short haired Pointers. This condition occurs during adolescence and lasts for the time till the sexual maturity is attained. This time period ranges from three to 12 months. Initially it appears as small hairless plaques seen on the lips and chin, which progress, to a suppurative infection of the hair follicles. These can ulcerate and may discharge a purulent exudate leaving an oozing inflamed skin.

It is presumed that as this condition occurs mostly in stages of sexual maturity of the dog that this may be liked to hormonal disturbances. This leads to excess production of sebum from sebaceous glands. This when acted upon by bacteria lead to production of fatty acids. Altered keratinization leads to black head formation.

Another theory is that the short coat affords little protection of the muzzle and chin from friction. The resulting pain and itching causes your dog to paw at his face or rub it along the carpet. As a result, excessive rubbing or trauma from hard rough surfaces damages the underlying skin and hair follicles allowing secondary infection. This itself irritates the skin stimulating more damage from rubbing and starting a vicious cycle.

Normally acne resolves with age. Acne does not affect dog’s general health. An owner may not even notice this condition and it may pass off without complications. If you come across this condition in your pet, it is wise to keep full prophylaxis so that secondary infections do not set in. Once the problem is complicated by secondary bacterial infection then intervention from the vet is desired. The differential diagnosis in this case includes parasitic & fungal causes and juvenile cellulitis.

A vet may prescribe a lotion or depending on condition, may give oral medication for even up to three-four weeks. There are still other cases that don’t respond to treatment and the problem continues for life.


Fast food joint opened at Shanti Kunj
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Morning and evening walkers of Shanti Kunj can now enjoy eating in the sprawling Municipal Corporation park in Sector 16.

Mayor Lalit Joshi on Wednesday dedicated an eating joint to the people by formally inaugurating the 844-sq feet fast food centre having Indian, Chinese, South Indian and continental cuisines.

This is probably the first venture in the city of developing an eating joint in a park to attract visitors and promoting tourism. Presiding over the function, the area councillor and road committee chairman Pardeep Chhabra asked the Municipal Corporation to arrange lighting in the park so that it could emerge as a tourist destination.

The Acting Commissioner, Mr G.K. Marwah, on the spot approved the demand and said there should be an allocation of Rs 6 lakh for the lighting of the most beautifully landscaped gardens of the city.

The cafetaria building, incurring an expenditure of Rs 7 lakh, got a boost with the corporation allowing it space for seating 50 people. The eating joint has been leased out to a private party for a period of three-years at a monthly rent of Rs 21,800.

Chief Engineer V.K. Bharadwaj, Superintendent Engineers I.S. Sokhy and Swaran Singh, Leader of the Congress Subhash Chawla, Senior Deputy Mayor Surinder Singh, former Mayor Harjinder Kaur and number of councillors and officials, amount others, attended the function.


Protest by telecom engineers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The relay fast by telecom engineers, who are demanding revision in pay scales , entered third day today. Demonstrations were held outside the office of Chief General Manager Telecom, Punjab Circle, Chandigarh, and GM offices in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Ferozepore, Sangrur, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Patiala, Ropar, Amritsar, Bhatinda and other stations.

The rally held here was addressed by Mr Yash Bir Walia, Mr Amarjeet Singh, Mr R.C. Khurana, Mr Vivek Ahuja, Mr H.S. Dhillon and Mr R.P. Gupta among others.

The speakers warned the authorities of intensifying the agitation if their demands were not met.


Woman held for killing 6-year-old
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, October 25
Ms Shashi Kumar, a resident of Phase X, here was arrested yesterday on charges of causing death due to negligent driving. She was, however, later released on bail.

According to information, Ms Shashi Kumar is the wife of a doctor Surinder Kumar, and was driving the vehicle which killed a six-year-old boy on October 21. The couple was together when the accident took place on the Manauli-Sohana road in Sector 68. The child, Sandeep, son of a labourer working on a construction site, was taken to the GMCH-32 but was declared brought dead there. The police registered a case and the woman was arrested today.


Lawyer assaulted, two held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 25
A city-based lawyer, Mr Sharad Yadav, and his four friends were allegedly beaten up by parking lot attendants in Sector 17 here yesterday. All the five reportedly received minor injuries. Two parking lot attendants have been arrested in this regard.

As per police sources, Mr Yadav and his friends, who were in a Maruti car, reached the parking lot near Neelam Cinema in Sector 17. While they were entering the lot, one of the attendants reportedly pushed a barricade in front of the car. On objecting to the move, heated arguments were exchanged between the two parties, which later ended in a brawl. Ravinder and Amar, parking attendants, have been arrested and a case under Sections 323 and 506 of the IPC has been registered.

In another case, Mr Devi Sharan Singh and his brother Sabhajit Singh were allegedly beaten up by three persons—Kaka, Shinde and Bhole of Raipur Khurd village. The two received injuries in the incident. A case of rioting and criminal intimidation has been registered.

Rs 50,000 snatched

A Sector 27 resident, Mr T.R Saini, was robbed of Rs 50,000 by two youths wearing turbans near the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 43, here yesterday afternoon. 



Man cheated of Rs 50,000
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 25
An assistant manager of the Punjab State Leather Corporation has been cheated of over Rs 50, 000 by a conman.

Assistant manager Manjit Singh Chaman, was approached by a man named Amritpal Singh. The visitor identified himself as an agent of American Express credit card division, Delhi and proposed to upgrade credit card of Mr Chaman. The conman reportedly satisfied Mr Chaman of his credentials.

Mr Chaman gave his American Express credit card and also his another credit card that of the HSBC to the conman for upgradation. Later Mr Chaman came to know that purchasing worth Rs 28,381 and Rs 22,464 have been made using his American Express and HSBC cards, respectively. The police has been informed and the Economic Offenses Wing of the local police is carrying out the investigations.



CWC Chairman offers help to Sector 17 traders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) Chairman, Mr K.C. Tyagi, has offered the help of the corporation to Sector 17 traders in promoting their business.

Talking to traders at the UT Guest House here yesterday, Mr Tyagi, also the general secretary of the Janata Dal (United), said: “I will be very happy to help traders of Sector 17 if anything for their business growth can be done by the corporation.”

Fondly remembering the city, he said this year was the silver jubilee of his first visit to the city.

Mr Tyagi, once an important second-rung leader of the Janata Dal in late eighties, along with Mr Sharad Yadav, Mr Nitish Kumar, Mr Laloo Yadav and Mr Mohan Prakash, said he had bitter and sweet experiences of the city.

He said he had spent a month in the Burail Jail in 1982 when he, along with other political prisoners, could not sleep for three nights for the fear of snake bite.

The corporation Chairman lamented that he had to cut short his visit to the city to represent the party in a three-year completion meeting of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) tomorrow.

Mr Tyagi was felicitated by the Sector 17 Traders Association president, Mr Subhash Kataria, the Beopar Mandal chairman, Mr Jagdish Arora and the general secretary of the association, Mr Jagdish Kalra.

Mr Jitender Bhatia and Mr Chander Mukhi Sharma, councillors, and the Janata Dal (United) local unit president, Mr Surinder Bharadwaj, were among those present on the occasion.


New shirt collections launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Peter England, a leading readymade apparel brand, has pioneered the shift of fashion trends from metro India to mini-metros ever since its inception.

In tune with the ongoing festive season, Peter England has launched two new shirt collections “Everfresh” and “Dazzlers”, along with a new range of trousers called “Satin”. The trousers follow the same credo as the shift with great quality and “honest to goodness” prices, according to Mr Ashish Dikshit, general manager, marketing, Madura Garments.

He told mediapersons here yesterday that Peter England, launched in India in 1997, was the first international brand to be introduced in the mid-price segment in India.

The ‘Everfresh’ collection, dubbed as the “world’s fresher shirts,” is manufactured using a new and innovative technology “Purista” that provides comfort to the wearer in spite of the excessive levels of humidiity experienced in many cities across India.

Everfresh is treated with a special chemical which by way of its anti-microbial properties controls the growth of microbes, especially odour causing bacteria, thus preventing unpleasant odours from developing in clothes.

Attractive consumer schemes

Daawat, the premium Basmati rice brand in the country, has announced attractive promotions for its consumers in Punjab. With the purchase of every 5-kg Daawat pack, the consumer will get a vegetable knife worth Rs 55, free.

Over 2000 outlets in Punjab will run this scheme during the festival season. According to Ms Manju Jha, AGM, Marketing, Daawat, “We have a strong and loyal consumer-base in Punjab and we wanted to give them special offers for the festive season. Therefore we planned this scheme.”


Entrepreneurs showcase talent
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 25
“Inder Dhanush” — a three-day exhibition organised by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development for Women, Canara Bank, Sector 34, at Lajpat Rai Bhavan, gave a platform to budding entrepreneurs of the region to showcase their talent and marketing abilities.

About 50 stalls put up for this purpose offer a wide variety of items right from readymade suits, dress materials, phulkari items decorative items, artificial jewellery and pickles and jams to complete one’s shopping list.

Keeping in sync with the Divali mood, quite a few entrepreneurs come up with traditional ‘diyas’, decorative candles and thematic glass paintings and murals which are being offered at a reasonable price.

The exhibition is an annual event organised by the bank. The exhibition was inaugurated by the General Manager of Canara Bank Mr K. Rangaraya, by lighting the traditional lamp.

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