Tuesday, December 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Four armed men loot department store
Take away cash, goods worth Rs 1 lakh
Tribune News Service


The modus operandi of the robbers appears to be the same as seen in recent serial burglaries in the southern sectors of Chandigarh. The Punjab police and the UT police are planning a joint operation to catch the offenders. Night operations will be carried out in the areas where robbers and burglars have struck.

SAS Nagar, December 16
Armed robbers struck at a department store here early today and decamped with cash and goods worth Rs 1 lakh. Yesterday, a liquor vend had been looted near Chandi Mandir, within three days of a burglary in the Sector 41 market of Chandigarh.

According to the police, the robbers, four in number, struck at Sital Store in the Phase 3B2 market at about 2 am and left after an-hour-and-a-half. While two of the robbers held the night-watchman of the market at knife point, the others looted the store. The robbers broke seven locks to enter the store.

The looted store is a two-storey self-service department store with two entrances to the ground floor. According to Mr Devinder Singh, manager of the store, four men, armed with knives and iron rods, first, tried to break open the front shutter of the shop. “Since the shutter has central locking, they could not enter from the front, after which, they tried the backdoor. The entrance at the back has two shutters, an iron grill and a wooden door, all with individual locks. Each of these locks was broken with the iron rods,” he said.

The night-watchman has told the police that all robbers were tall and thin, who conversed in Hindi. Each had covered his face with a black cloth. “When the watchman went for a round near the store, two of the robbers caught him and pushed him into a corner, after which, they held him there at knife point,” said Mr Devinder Singh.

According to the police, when the night watchman did not return to the front of the market, an IndusInd Bank guard, on duty a few shops away from the store, sensed that something was wrong and went looking for him. On seeing the robbers, he raised an alarm, which made the neighbours call the police. The robbers had, however, run away by the time the police reached there.

According to the store manager, the robbers decamped with about Rs 25,000 in cash taken from the store’s safe, Spice and Connect pre-paid cards, artificial jewellery, imported chocolates and leather goods etc. “We find it surprising that they even took away things like boot polish, shoelaces, pencil cells, scissors, leather wallets and bags,” said Mr Devinder Singh.



Local firm gets octroi-collection contract
Municipal Council nets Rs 16.59 crore from auction
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 16
Recording a hike of approximately 20 per cent in its annual income, the SAS Nagar Municipal Council here today gave octroi-collection contract to a local firm for a sum of Rs 16.59 crore for the year 2003 thereby Privatising octroi collection in the town from January 1, 2003.

Amandeep and Ved Prakash Private Limited, a local firm, was the highest bidder among seven bidders for the contract. The auction was held at the Deputy Director Local Self Government’s office at Ludhiana today morning.

According to sources, on an average MC collects Rs 15 crore per year as octroi, but today’s bid amount is Rs 2.77 crore more than the council’s total collection of Rs 13.82 crore in the past 12 months. Stating that it would mean a 20 per cent hike in the MC’s annual income, the President of the civic body, Mr Kulwant Singh, said the contract would end on December 31, 2003.

Besides this increase in the annual income of the council, the council also stands to gain about Rs 40 lakh per year as savings towards payment of salaries to employees posted at octroi collection posts.

“A part of the salaries of the 50 odd employees we have for octroi collection will also be paid by the contractor. Our employees will retain their jobs, despite privatisation of octroi collection. Moreover, now we will not need to employ more people to man octroi posts,” said Mr Kulwant Singh.

Today’s auction took place despite opposition from the township’s business community and traders who had even tried to get the auction postponed with the intervention of the local MLA.

The MC used to collect approximately Rs 1.25 crore every month as octroi, but, according to sources, the monthly collection had been falling over the past few years due to shortage of staff for the 12 octroi posts in the township. Misappropriation of collections by the MC employees manning the octroi posts was also on the rise, sources said.



Traders’ bandh: property owners seek protection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Even as the deadline for a bandh by traders to protest against the amendment to the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949, draws close, the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal is gearing up towards making it a success.

On the other hand, the Property Owners Welfare Association (POWA) met the UT Finance Secretary and sought police protection for those shopkeepers who wanted to keep their establishments open.

In a meeting with the Finance Secretary a deputation of POWA was assured that full police protection would be provided to those shopkeepers who wanted to keep their establishments open. The deputation apprised the Finance Secretary about the threatening posture adopted by Chandigarh Beopar Mandal to make the bandh successful.

POWA executive today discussed the reported meeting of the beopar mandal delegation with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani.

There was nothing to rejoice if Mr Advani had told the delegation about this ignorance about the reported communication between the |Union Government and Chandigarh Administration regarding the process of reforms in rent law.

The Home Ministry had nothing to do with rent Act and it was a letter of the Union Urban Development Ministry which led to the rent reform, it added.

Meanwhile, the mandal called an emergency meeting of all presidents and general secretaries of various market unions, including mini booth markets, to discuss the issues to make the bandh successful and peaceful. The ongoing chain fast by the members of the Mandal entered its 21st day. 


MNC offers to manage water supply in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
A French multinational company (MNC), Vivendi Environment, whose subsidiary Vivendi Waters was managing the water supply of London, today offered to manage water supply in the city, which it said was double of the British capital as per the per capita use.

The MNC said London provided 175 litres of water per day per person as compared to 350 litres in Chandigarh, indicating there was a widespread misuse of the water supplied. Representatives of the company expressed surprise that the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh(MCC) was incurring an annual loss of Rs 12 crore on the supply.

The company recently signed a memorandum of understanding(MoU) with the Jamshedpur municipal body for managing water supply for 15 years in the industrial city of Jharkhand.

The MNC has already reached agreements with the Chennai Municipal Corporation, the Bangalore Municipal Corporation and the Jaipur and the Kolkata corporations.

But the company's asked the MCC to increase its water-supply charges saying that the investments taken from the World Bank would require the municipal body to reform and increase the user charge.

The company said with its expertise, it would be able to reduce the misuse of water on the pattern of Delhi where it had succeeded in checking 50 per cent of misuse.

Councillors, however, did not seem convinced, apprehending that the company instead of helping it reduce expenditures to bridge the gap of income and expenditure was asking for increasing the rates.

The councillors specifically asked the company whether it would be able to reduce the expenditure and was asked to prepare a detailed report within 15 days.

Later, the representatives of the MNC went to see the water supply facilities of the MCC.

Certain councillors said the company could be paid for suggesting measures to reduce the deficit on the water supply.

Municipal Commissioner M.P. Singh said the corporation was able to utilise only 5 mgd of 10 mgd water through the present tertiary water treatment plant. The company could help the MCC in attaining the full potential, he said.

The company was represented by Director Vivendi Waters Nevil Mancaster and General Manager Pramod Mitroo and the MCC by Mayor Lalit Joshi, Deputy Mayor Balraj Singh, the Commissioner, Chief Engineer V.K. Bharadwaj, Superintendent Engineer Public Health Swarn Singh, Leader of the Congress in the MCC Subhash Chawla and Water and Sewerage Committee Chairman Kuldeep Singh, among others.

The company gave a presentation before officials, members of the Finance and Contract Committee and Water and Sewerage Committee.

The company, which made preliminary observations, was asked to file a detailed report on how it could help the MCC in ensuring savings.



Westerly disturbances stall chills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Westerly disturbances have stalled the setting of chilly winters in the city for the last couple of days and have strengthened the possibility of fog and misty developments due to high humidity.

The minimum temperature for the last couple of days has been above normal and this is likely to continue for another couple of days.

After that mercury is likely to go down, the Meteorological Department said here today.

Chandigarh witnessed 3°C higher temperature today at 11.2°C, Ambala 2° C at 9.0°C, Patiala 0.9°C at 10.5°C and Ludhiana 0.8°C at 10.9°C.

Except at few places in Himachal, plains are not going to see any thundery developments for the next 48 hours.



Gallantry medals awarded on Vijay Divas
Tribune Reporters

Wife of Naib Subedar M.S. Shekhawat admires the Sena Medal awarded to him, at
Wife of Naib Subedar M.S. Shekhawat admires the Sena Medal awarded to him, at Chandi Mandir on Monday. — Photo Pravesh Chauhan

Chandi Mandir, December 16
Gallantry and distinguished service awards were presented to 40 soldiers at a glittering investiture ceremony at the Western Command headquarters here this morning. Apart from the soldiers their families were also present on the occasion. It was even more memorable for the soldiers to receive the awards on the 31st anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in 1971.

The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lieut-Gen S.S. Mehta, presented a Yudh Seva Medal, 2 bar to Sena Medals, 22 Sena Medals, 1 bar to Vishisht Seva Medal, 13 Vishisht Seva Medals and a Jeevan Raksha Medal. The recipients of the Sena Medal for gallantry included an officer and four others who were honoured posthumously. Their next of kin received the awards.

Earlier, at a solemn function held in the morning at the Western Command war memorial, Veer Smriti, Lieut-Gen Mehta laid a wreath on behalf of the all ranks to pay homage to the martyrs.

Besides the awardees and their families, a large number of serving soldiers, ex-servicemen, civil dignitaries and students from Panchkula and Chandigarh attended the investiture ceremony. The awardees are: Yudh Sena Medal — Lieut-Col Rajpal Punia; Bar to Sena Medal — Brig R.K. Karwal and Capt S.B. Rathore; Sena Medal — Major-Gen A.S. Bhagat, Major Mohan Vizakant, Major N.B. Vishen, Major Balwinder Singh Bajwa, Major Mehtab Singh, Major P.V.S. Sangwan, Capt Sanjay Arya, Lt Dharamveer Singh, Subedar Shyam Singh, Subedar Dalbir Singh, Subedar P.C. Bharadwaj, Naib Subedar M.S. Shekhawat, Hav Sadhu Ram (posthumous) Hav Ravin Rana, Naik Bhagwant Singh (posthumous) Naik Joginder Singh (posthumous), Lance Naik S.S. Singh, Lance Naik Sukhbir Singh, Sepoy Kulwinder Singh, Sepoy Gursewak Singh, Sepoy Manjinder Singh and Sepoy Bhairu Patil.

Bar to Vishisht Seva Medal was awarded to Brig P.S. Rana. Vishisht Seva Medals were awarded to Major-Gen R.S. Batra, Major-Gen R.K. Batra, Major-Gen P.S. Arora, Brig S.K. Bahl, Brig R.P. Tripathi, Col Rajesh Kochhar, Col K.P. Singh, Col Ravinder Ahuja, Col R.R. Singh, Lt-Col R.S. Yadav, Lt-Col Lalit Pande, Lt-Col S.K. Singh and Lt-Col Purnendu. The Jeevan Raksha Medal was awarded to Sepoy Devender Kumar.

AMBALA: Vijay Divas was observed in Ambala Cantonment on Monday morning. A solemn ceremony to remember the supreme sacrifice made by soldiers during the 1971 war was held at Kharga Vijay Smarak. Major-Gen M.P. Singh paid floral tributes to the martyrs. Senior officers, Subedar Major N.S. Ahlawat and ex-servicemen also paid floral tributes.

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Kharga Corps captured important towns of Khulna, Jessore, Jhendia, Magura and Faridpur lying between Ganga and Padma rivers. Later, the corps was shifted to the Western Sector and for sometime, it was stationed at Chandimandir. In January, 1985, it moved to Ambala.



IAF top brass barred from ‘unauthorised’ flying
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Following the incident of an IAF transport aircraft being piloted by an Air Marshal straying into Pakistani airspace earlier this year, which resulted in considerable embarrassment within the force, the Chief of Air Staff has issued directives prohibiting senior officers from taking over the controls of aircraft detailed to ferry them on official duties. Sources said that the orders to this effect have been circulated to Air Force establishments over the past few weeks.

It may be recalled that an AN-32 aircraft had strayed into Pakistani airspace while on a sortie to Kargil in March. Former Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command, Air Marshal Bhatia, a fighter pilot had been at the controls. The aircraft reportedly spent 11 minutes in hostile air space and had been fired upon by Pakistani forces. Sources add that a stinger heat seeking missile had ripped through the exhaust of the port engine, leaving a gaping hole in its wake and triggering off the aircraft’s fire warning systems. It was only after an emergency landing at Leh that the crew realised the damage and its probable cause.

While the aforesaid incident had created headlines, IAF officers say that there has been a tendency among the top brass to brush aside objections and advise from the crew to take over the controls of transport aircraft ferrying them on official assignments. The majority of such officers are from the fighter stream, thereby lacking the necessary skills and techniques of handling transporters.

Another reason being stated is that only pilots “current” on a particular type of aircraft are authorised to fly it. For remaining “current” the gap between two sorties on that type should not be more than 45 days for daytime flying and 60 days for night flying. The gap between sorties for officers at the rank of Air Marshal and Air Vice Marshal is a lot more owing to the nature of their staff duties.

Sources reveal that among those who have commandeered transport aircraft in violation of regulations include a former Air Chief. A few years ago, an AN-32 was requisitioned to fly a “special load from the Air Chief” from Delhi to Srinagar. The “special load” turned out to be the chief himself. Sources add that the chief, a fighter pilot, took over the controls of the aircraft with “a few troops” on board.

The other pilot on the aircraft was a young flight lieutenant with a flying rating of “C-Green” was not qualified to fly the aircraft with a VVIP on board. IAF rules stipulate that only pilots holding master-green rating — three levels higher than the afore mentioned pilot’s qualification, can fly aircraft ferrying VVIPs. “Had something then gone awry, there would have been hell to pay, the chief’s insistence or operational exigencies notwithstanding” an officer commented.



Protest against disinvestment panel report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
To protest against the recommendations of the Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, Punjab, 101 leaders of different corporations and boards sat on a day-long fast here today.

Addressing a meeting of employees at the Bridge Market in Sector 17, Mr Nirmal Singh Ghuman called upon the state government to implement the agreement, signed with the leaders of the Employees Mahasangh on July 26, this year.

He said the all employees union would organise a joint rally here tomorrow to demand the release of 3 per cent DA installment from July 1, 2002 besides implementation of other demands.

Mr Gurdeep Singh, general secretary of the mahasangh, said, ‘‘The government should immediately release 3 per cent DA installment, besides payment of 4 per cent DA installment released with effect from January 2002. As per the recommendations of the Punjab Fourth Pay Commission, the government should implement 52 per cent DA as dearness pay for all benefits and regularisation of daily wages and work charged employees.’’

Mr B.S. Baidwan, general secretary, PFC Employees Union, said that government should withdraw Budget proposals of cut in leave encashment and commutation of pension, freezing of DA and LTC and other allowances. The government should, he said, reject the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission regarding the privatisation of the PRTC, Punjab Roadways and selling of other units through disinvestment and abolition of vacant posts.

The speakers urged the state government to grant promotional scales to all employees after four, nine and 14 years of service, bonus of previous years and increase in fixed medical allowance. They also said that the government should accept the long-pending demands of uniform 15 per cent HRA to all Punjab employees and uniform allowance.

Among others, employees of the PSIEC, PSIDC, PFC, PUNSUP, Spinfed, Tubewell Corporation, Land Mortgage Bank, Punjab Poultry Corporation, Markfed, Cooperative Bank and the PSEB also participated in today’s protest rally.



Admn auctions 64 commercial sites
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Following the recent amendment in the Rent Control Act, the dynamics of commercial property changed forever today as the annual auction by the Chandigarh Administration saw a huge increase in bidding over the last year. The craze to own commercial property in the city has only grown as the Chandigarh Administration netted a sum of Rs 26 crore by auctioning 64 commercial sites, including booths, shop-cum-offices and other specified sites, here today.

This is about Rs 2.60 crore more than the last year when Rs 23.31 crore were collected by auctioning 58 commercial sites. Today’s collection of Rs 26 crore was about 18 per cent over and above the reserve price of these 58 plots that was fixed at Rs 17 crore. The average price, on a par square yard basis, works out to be Rs 56,042. This is Rs 8,262 more than the last year’s average price of Rs 47,780. Land auctioned under various plot sizes from booths to SCOs and godown sites have been taken into account while calculating the average rate, the Assistant Estate Officer (AEO), Mr Ashwini Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the Estate Office wing of the Chandigarh Administration, the auctioning authority, held back 64 sites, it had proposed for auction. About 17 sites were held back due to objections raised by the architecture wing as these violated various planning and zoning controls. The rest were held back due to the paucity of time. The auction was called off around 11.15 p.m.

As this year the auction has been for freehold sites the Estate Office will not earn any lease money which was paid at 2.5 per cent of the auctioned value.

The highest bids were in the category of SCOs. A two-bay SCO in Sector 8 was auctioned for Rs 3.06 crore. Last year a site of similar size had been auctioned for Rs 2.56 crore. The per square yard rate works out to be Rs 91,435 for the SCO. This year a similar site in Sector 34 had been auctioned for Rs 2.60 crore. A single bay showroom in Sector 34 went for Rs 1 crore.

Last year a similar site in Sector 32 had been auctioned for Rs 82 lakh. A sweetmeat seller’s site in Sector 44-C has been auctioned for Rs 68 lakh. Last year a restaurant site in Sector 40 measuring almost the same, was auctiioned at Rs 35 lakh. A 27 square yard booth in Sector 37 was auctioned at Rs 17 lakh last year and this year the highest bid for booth has been in Sector 35.

This was the first ever auction of freehold commercial sites in the city after the Rent Act and after the various relaxations in building bye-laws.



‘Need to amend Food Adulteration Act’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Since the products of the fragrance and flavours industry are used as food-additive items and not as food items, the government should amend the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, to keep these items out of the purview of the Act.

Further, these should be kept out of the proposed amendment to the Act through the Prevention of Food Adulteration (Amendment) Bill, 2002. The government should categorise them as food-processing items so that these could be included in all promotional schemes meant for the food-processing industry.

These views were expressed by speakers at the two-day international seminar on “Fragrances and flavours — a global vision”, which concluded here today. Speaking at the seminar, Mr Vinod Kumar Seth, president of the association, said, “the fragrances and flavours have emerged as a major industry over the past few years.

The government should promote the industry by encouraging farmers to grow the required plants such as menthol and others. The scope of the board on medicinal plants should be enlarged to include aromatic oils.”

Mr Kedar Vaze from SH Kelker Ltd, in his presentation on “Lesser known essential oils of India” said that India was set to emerge as a world leader in the industry since it had all the requisite facilities and ingredients for the development of industry. With the production of over 13,000 metric tonnes of mentha averasis and piperelta oil, it had already emerged as number one in a particular segment.

The soil of Punjab, Haryana, UP, Bihar and Jharkhand was suited for the cultivation of mentha. The industry was now producing various spice oils, lesser known oils such as curcuma aromatica oil, artemissia anna oil and jasmine oils. Due to availability of different types of soils in Indian states, he said, the industry could produce flavours and fragrances for the domestic and international market.

Mr Ajay Taskar, another expert in the industry, in his presentation on “Opportunities in global fragrance and flavour markets for Indian ingredient producers,” claimed that the demand for fragrances and flavours for orange, lemon, clove leaf, rosemary, pine and eucalyptus had picked up in the domestic market as well.

The government can assist the industry by promoting the cultivation of these plants.



Cong disapproves of penalty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The charging of the debris penalty through water bill and approval of the by laws for the ward committees still remain in limbo with Congress councillors expressing their reservations about these in the present shape.

The apprehensions of the practicability of the new provisions were expressed by the councillors in a meeting called here today by Mayor Lalit Joshi.

While principally agreeing to a penalty for those who dump debris in the corporation area, the councillors said there was no foolproof method of ascertaining who had dumped the waste.

They suggested that a different way of collecting the penalty should be devised to penalise those who spread ‘malba’.

The Congress councillors also disapproved of the ward committee bylaws in the present shape with several clauses reportedly going contrary to each other. They said while the by laws said a councillor would be the ex-offcio chairman of the 11-member committee appointed by the Administrator, a provision of election for the chairmanship had also been kept.

The councillors said in certain clauses the chairman had been barred from taking part in the voting in the ward committees.



Encroachments gobble up road
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
A circular road defining the boundary of Burail village and an internal road separating the village and Sector 45 have virtually vanished courtesy rampant encroachment in the area.

Almost half of the road separating Burail village and Sector 45 has been encroached upon by shopkeepers. The road witnesses heavy traffic, including local buses, and has become accident prone as its width has been encroached.

In front of the market of Sector 45-C and D, there is a landfill where garbage from different places is dumped, giving it a uncouth look.

The Y-shaped road towards the two sub-sectors has been witnessing a large number of accidents.

Realignment of the road, curving of a slip road was required to avoid head-on collisions, residents said.

They said Thursdays were dangerous with the Apni Mandi further blocking traffic in the area.

Residents feared a further deterioration of the road as a community centre was coming up in the area. They said as the community centre did not have any parking space, vehicles would be parked on the road.

They suggested that the vacant space encroached upon by shopkeepers between the circular road and the main road between Sector 45 and Burail should be earmarked as parking space to decongest the area.

The residents said the traffic hazard could also be reduced by checking cattle menace in the area.



Voters want better roads, clean water
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 16
Inhabitants of Ward 15 (Industrial Area Phase II, Budhanpur village, the HVPNL Colony and nearby slums) and Ward 16 (Sector 19) expect their representative in the Municipal Council to provide them with better civic amenities. For voters of these wards, the main issues in these elections are proper maintenance of roads and clean drinking water.

These wards will see a three-pronged contest. In the fray are independents and candidates supported by the Indian National Lok Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party. So far, at least seven persons from Ward 16 — Mr Sanjay Kapoor, Ms Sarita Thakur, Mr J.P. Sharma, Mr Ashwani Sharma, Mr Ram Niwas, Ms Gita Ram and Mr Subhash Chand Gupta — are said to be in the fray. The campaigning has begun.

The wards have 5,347 voters (1,744 in Ward 15 and 3,603 in Ward 16). Both are general wards and politicking to field candidates has begun. Most persons who live in these wards say that better streetlighting, sanitation, roads and water supply are the issues for these elections.

Mr Braj Mohan of Ward 15, a voter who lives in Budhanpur village, said the roads in the ward were in bad condition. “Though the roads are recarpeted regularly, these get washed away whenever it rains. This time, too, HUDA had recarpeted the ‘B’ roads in the Industrial Area, but, a week after, it rained continuously for 48 hours and the roads were washed away.”

Mr Ram Saran, a man of Sector 19 (Ward 16), said garbage was hardly ever removed from the bins in the ward and the roads there were in a state of disrepair. “The boundary dispute with Baltana in Punjab should also be solved,” he said.



INLD not to contest MC poll
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 16
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has decided not to contest the ensuing MC elections scheduled for January 19 on party symbol.

A decision to this effect was taken at a party meeting presided over by Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. An election committee meeting of the party, presided over by state unit president, Sher Singh Badshami, however, decided to field party candidates in all civic elections in the state.

It was later announced that the party would field only those candidates who took keen interest in beautification and development of towns and cities and had full faith in the progressive programmes and policies of the government. It may be noted that a six-member committee under the leadership of Mr Kanti Prakash Bhalla has been constituted in Panchkula to select the candidates.

This meeting was attended, among others, by Transport Minister Ashok Arora, Urban Development Minister Subhash Goyal, Haryana Warehousing Corporation Chiarman Niranjan Lal Bansal and MLA Rambir Singh.



Long wait for MC-poll candidates
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 16
The shortage of staff in the Municipal Council office here ruffled many a feather today as candidates for the MC elections had to wait to get no-dues certificates.

It is learnt that there were just three employees to meet the demands of over 100 candidates who had gathered here to get no-dues certificates from the council office in Sector 4. Heated arguments were exchanged between the candidates and MC staff.

It may be noted that it is mandatory for those planning to contest the MC elections to get no-dues certificates for house tax, fire tax and professional tax and attach this with the nomination papers.

With the filing of nominations beginning today, a large number of candidates are now thronging the MC office for no-dues certificates.



3 women file papers on first day
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 16
It was woman power at the fore on day one of filing of nomination papers for the first-ever Municipal Council elections. All three candidates who filed their nominations today were women.

The day began with hectic activity at the Mini Secretariat with a large number of people gathering near the office of the Subdivisional Magistrate, who is also the Returning Officer.

The first to arrive at the office of Mr Inder Singh, Returning Officer, with her supporters was Ms Jagmati Chaudhary, a candidate from Ward No. 13

The second candidate to file her nominations was Ms Ruchi Goyal, a resident of Sector 8. A lawyer by profession, she is contesting elections from Ward No. 5. which is reserved for woman.



Ex-servicemen allege discrimination
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 16
The local Ex-Servicemen's Grievances Cell, in a representation to the Union Health Minister and the Punjab Chief Minister, has alleged that the defence and ex-servicemen reservation quota was being ignored by the various departments of the Central, the state and the UT governments.

Citing examples of advertisements issued by the PGIMER and Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi (retd), general secretary of the cell, said all reserved categories were filled, but ex-servicemen were ignored.

“The Director, PGIMER, Chandigarh, vide advertisement no 2/2002, in The Tribune dated September 12, 2002, offered job vacancies for technicians and assistants. Vacancies were reserved for all categories, including the SC, the BC, the OBC and handicapped persons, but not a single vacancy was kept for defence personnel. Similarly, the Director-Principal of the GMCH, vide advertisement no EA/2 of 2002, published 81 vacancies for medical technicians, assistants and nurses. Out of these, 58 vacancies were reserved for the SC, the BC and the OBC, but not a single vacancy was kept for the ex-servicemen quota.” said the letter.

“Since there is no monitoring agency, the ex-servicemen of the country are facing a strange and precarious situation. They are being exploited by various agencies and contractors, forcing them to accept jobs on any terms and conditions to fulfill their financial compulsions and family obligations,” said Colonel Sohi.



Polyclinic for Mohali veterans

WHILE inaugurating the Defence Veterans Polyclinic (DVP) at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre at SAS Nagar on December 11, the Governor of Punjab, Lt-Gen (retd) JFR Jacob, commended Dr M.L. Kataria (retd) for establishing the first of its kind healthcare unit for ex-servicemen in India.

The DVP with x-ray imaging equipment, a computerised laboratory, a multi-channel ECG service, a well-equipped dental centre and a well-stocked dispensary will provide free medicare to ex-servicemen, their families, including widows and orphans of defence personnel.

When Lt-Gen S. Mehta, GOC-in-C, Western Command, was apprised by Brig Kataria on his proposal to establish a polyclinic, the Army Commander not only gave accommodation for it at the Paraplegic Centre, but also assured him of all help, including supply of medicines from the Command Hospital.

After honouring donors and the doctors working at the DVP at a largely attended function, the Governor sanctioned a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the Polyclinic. The local MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the same.

Bangladesh war

The task allotted to Brig Sant Singh in the 1971 war to capture Mymensingh town in the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was accomplished by him on December 11. Thereafter, he learnt that 95 Infantry Brigade, which was to capture Madhupur, a small town located 46 km south-east of Mymensingh, was held up at Jamalpur.

For early capture of Madhupur, Brig Sant Singh chased the enemy by personally leading the advance through a jungle-infested route and captured Madhupur on the morning of December 12. For this, he was awarded a Bar to the Mahavir Chakra (MVC), which he had won in the 1965 war in J and K.

Brig Sant Singh was then sent by his GOC from a new approach to Dhaka. He advanced quickly and secured the Mirpur bridge before the enemy could destroy it. After his force contacted Dhaka defences at 2.30 a.m. on December 16, the process for surrender was set in motion. Thus, the first to enter Dhaka with his troops was Brig Sant Singh and it was his daring and swift advance to Dhaka that brought the 1971 war to an end at least a day earlier.

For this action, Brig Sant Singh was recommended for a second Bar to the MVC, which he missed because the citation sent by post was delayed. Incidentally, his citation read: “Even this speedy advance and lightning shock action which enabled securing of Mirpur bridge in tact was mainly possible because of Brig Sant Singh’s physical presence, supreme devotion to duty and urge to accomplish the aim.”

Army-media interaction

An Army-media seminar is being held at Amritsar on December 17 and 18 to promote mutual ties and understanding between the two. The subjects to be covered at the two sessions of the seminar are: (a) Army-media roles in generating public awareness for achieving national security objectives; (b) understanding of each others’ interests and compulsions and measures needed to be adopted for a better relationship in the interest of national security.

The seminar being held at Amritsar by the Panther Division on behalf of the Headquarters, Western Command, is yet another step in that direction. No doubt, a better understanding has developed between the Army and the media over the years. But what needs to be remembered is that defence coverage is different from any other coverage because of the security angle involved in some defence issues.

— Pritam Bhullar



Mass leave by Markfed employees today
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
Employees of Markfed will go on mass casual leave tomorrow and participate in a dharna to lodge their protest against the non acceptance of the demands put forward by the Punjab State Cooperative Markfed Employees Union, Mr Harbhajan Dass, president of the union, said in a press release here today.

The indefinite dharna by the union here entered the 15th day today. Addressing a gate meeting of employees, leaders of the Joint Action Committee condemned the alleged anti-employee attitude of the Markfed management. Some of the demands of the union include grant of scale of Rs 2,820 to class IV employees, promotions, repatriation of highly paid deputationists to their parent departments and employment to next of kin of the deceased employees.



Dev Samaj to celebrate founder’s anniversary
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 16
The Dev Samaj Society will celebrate the 152nd birth anniversary of its founder Bhagwan Devatma. The anniversary celebrations will start from December 18 and culminate on December 21 at Dev Samaj Bhawan in Sector 36 here.

The four-day celebrations will include plays based on Bhagwan Devatma’s life, public lectures and his teachings and interpretation of the religion which is known as ‘Dev dharma’. Besides a speech competition and a contest on devotional music, admission of the new members in the samaj and the election to the management committee will also be conducted during the celebrations. A separate religious session for the children below 12 years of age will also be held on December 20.

“The preparations to celebrate our founder’s birth anniversary are going on in full swing. We are expecting over 1000 guests to attend the celebrations here,” said Ms Swadesh Sharma, secretary, Dev Samaj. Besides decorating the venue for the occasion we are also making arrangements for their stay at different Dev Samaj institutions, she added.

There are about 25 Dev Samaj institutions in India and their representatives from Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, Haryana and Punjab are expected to attend the celebrations, sources said.

Bhagwan Devatma was born on December 20 in 1850 in Kanpur to a religious Brahmin family. After completing his education from Thomson Engineering College, Roorkee in Uttar Pradesh he served in respectable government positions. Bhagwan Devatma had always been in the forefront of social reforms. He was one of the founders of Indian Association along with Surinder Nath Banerjee and was instrumental in launching The Tribune.

Bhagwan Devatma was only 32 years of age when he embarked upon the unique voyage of discovery of universal religion which according to its followers is a ‘scientific religion’. He established Dev Samaj in 1889. Bhagwan Devatma during his life-time compiled about 300 books, including four volumes of Dev Shastra and an autobiography “The Evolution of Divine Life in Me”.



Major-Gen Gill nominated to akademi panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The chairman of the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi, Maj Gen Himmat Singh Gill (retd), has been nominated as a member of the newly constituted general council of the National Sahitya Akademi for five years.

Major General Gill is a well-known English novelist, short-story writer, book reviewer, poet, commentator and a columnist.

Besides having contributed to an anthology about the 1947 partition of India, he has authored two novels, ‘‘Ashes and Petals’’ and ‘‘The Commitment.’’

A Senior Cambridge from St. George’s College, Mussoorie, he graduated from Panjab University, Chandigarh.

General Gill, a decorated soldier and a successful diplomat, was recently assigned on a diplomatic mission to the USA, along with a former Foreign Secretary of India, in the wake of the Kargil war, by the Government of India.

A well-read defence analyst, General Gill is writing an eye witness account of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. General Gill is a visiting fellow at Jawahar lal Nehru University, New Delhi, and the Punjabi University, Patiala.



Opening of cold store angers villagers
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 16
Discontent is simmering among the residents of more than a dozen villages over the opening of a cold store which, they fear, may be converted into a slaughter house later. Residents, sarpanches, panches and some local political leaders of Bijanpur, Mukandpur, Kheri Gujjran and Samgoli villages, apart from Dera Bassi residents, have strongly objected to the setting of the store.

The cold store is likely to come up over 29 acres of land in Bijanpur village located on the Dera Bassi-Samgoli road, near here, soon, they revealed. In a representation to the Chief Minister, the residents have sought a clear picture of the project being taken up by Abet Cold Store Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based company. They said the company was already running a similar store in Delhi where animals were being butchered.

The villagers alleged that following the restrictions imposed on slaughtering in Delhi by the Pollution Control Board, the entrepreneur has switched over to Dera Bassi.



Le Corbusier associate dead
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, December 16
Mr Avtar Singh Sachdev, a distinguished civil servant, passed away this morning. He was 73. Born in Faislabad (Pakistan), Mr Sachdev was the eldest of four brothers. He passed BE in 1948 topping, PEC, Roorkee. Thereafter he served the Punjab Public Works Department in various capacities and was the Chief Engineer until his superannuation in 1987.

Mr Sachdev was also an important member of the team that built Chandigarh and was closely associated with Le Corbusier. He is survived by his wife Mrs Harjit Kaur and two sons. His elder son Dr V.S. Sachdev is a doctor and younger son Mr Parneet Sachdev is Additional Commissioner of IT.



Sunil Parti on executive of Asian housing coop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
The governing council of the International Cooperative Housing Foundation for Asia and the Pacific at its meeting held in Kuala Lumpur on December 4 decided to take Mr Sunil Parti of Chandigarh as a member of its governing council.

The Foundation comprises seven countries — India, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines.



S. Padmanabhan
Tribune News Service

Chandimandir, December 16
The outgoing Army Chief, Gen S. Padmanabhan, will be visiting the Western Command headquarters here tomorrow. This is part of his farewell visit to various locations and Command headquarters across the country. The General retires on December 31.



238 pouches of liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Panchakula, December 16
The police seized 238 pouches of liquor in two separate incidents during the past 24 hours.

While Amrik Singh was arrested with 38 pouches of liquor, another accused managed to escape leaving behind 200 pouches of liquor in Chandi Mandir.

The police has booked Tejinder Kumar and Baldev Chand on the charge of withdrawing from an agreement for selling a plot. They have agreed to sell a plot to Gopal Krishan for Rs 77.4 lakh and had accepted Rs 6 lakh as advance payment. A case has been registered under Sections 420, 120-B and 506 of the IPC.

Special drive:
The police has launched a special drive to arrest proclaimed offenders in the district. It is learnt that a special task force of over 20 cops has been constituted for this purpose.

A local court has sentenced Iqbal, a resident of Rajiv Colony here, to five-year imprisonment on charge of killing his wife for dowry. It was alleged that he, along with Govardhan, Roshni and Kamlesh, had poisoned Bindu to death. Other accused have been absolved of all charges.


One held:
A person was caught red-handed while illegally filling LPG from cylinders in Sector 35-C here today. According to information available, Ramesh, who was supplying gas from Happy Gas Agency, was caught with seven gas cylinders.

Thief arrested:
A scooter thief, Satish, was caught red-handed while stealing a scooter from Sector 46 here this evening.



Billa wanted in another murder case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 16
Investigations into the murder case of Shiv Kumar (25) of Hallo Majra have revealed that assailant, Baljeet Singh, alias Billa (28), was involved in not one but two cases of murder.

Billa’s name had found mention in a case of alleged contract killing registered at the Mani Majra Police station last year.

Billa, who had been accused in the murder case of Sarmukh Singh in 1992, was later acquitted by a court. He was then accused in the murder of Ranjit Singh, a resident of Ram Darbar, in 1995. He had been convicted by the lower courts and was given bail by the high court pending his bail application.

A senior police said raids were being conducted at suspected hideouts of Billa. Yesterday, Billa, after killing Shiv Kumar with a chisel, had escaped from the scene.


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