Thursday, January 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT to sell surplus power
Move to generate Rs 12 crore every year
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Coming out with a unique scheme to save on its power bill, the Chandigarh Administration has decided to sell power to needy states during off peak hours, that is between 11 pm and 6 am. The selling starts tonight and is expected to net Rs 12 crore for the Administration each year.

About 30 mega watt of power will be returned to the Northern Power Grid through the Power Trading Corporation of India. The PTC, a company which trades in power, will be paying about Rs 1.80 per unit. The power will be used by states which have night-intensive industry and also furnaces. Since the power will be available on the grid, the PTC will be able to ‘‘wheel it’’ to any state which desires to use the power. Also the Railways will benefit from this. According to sources, there is demand for power in neighbouring states as certain industries run round-the-clock and power is also required during harvesting and sowing seasons.

It is during 11 pm and 6 am when about 40 mega watt of power is surplus with the Union Territory. In the summer the peak hours will change and accordingly the Administration will also change its selling schedule. During peak hours in summer power is surplus between 1 am and 5 am when there is no early morning load.

After factoring in various load demands over the years the Administration has decided to sell power as it is required by industry-intensive states and also in several other areas. All these years the UT Administration has been paying for power without even consuming it.

During winter the demand tapers off, well placed sources say. By 11 pm blowers, heaters and lights are usually switched off and the load does occur again till people switch on geysers and lights. That is by 6 a.m. Since Chandigarh has almost no industry which runs round-the- clock, power becomes surplus. Just for keeping this unutilised power crores are spend each year.

Unlike the state electricity boards, the Electricity Department here is a profit-making body and the move will further jack up revenue and help in purchase of modern equipment.



Wishing Happy New Year with flowers
Tribune News Service

Happy New Year — the message was flashed on the mobile sets just as the hands of the clocks kissed each other, heralding the advent of the Year. “For a change the mobile sets beeped, not to announce the arrival of jokes, but greetings,” said Ms Rohit Sharma a financier, “Believe it or not, but I received as many as 20 messages on my mobile after 12 o’clock”. The telephone lines, too, remained clogged till about 1 am. 

Chandigarh, January 1
Flower business blossomed in the city today. As the lethargic morning sun’s not-so-energetic rays struggled to penetrate through the thick blanket of fog on the first day of 2003, pretty damsels zoomed down to the arcades in their jaunty jalopies for presenting bouquets of love and affection to their knights in shining leather jackets.

As they stood at the florist’s, their anxious eyes searched for chuckling roses, cheery carnations, even chirpy chrysanthemums, wrapped in shimmering cellophane papers.

They had to pull out a lot of dough from their tight pockets for bouquets. Still they walked out with blooming faces. After all it was the beginning of a New Year.

“I had been saving pocket money since Divali for buying a nice bouquet for my guy,” Zoya Bakhtiyar a student, asserted. “Actually, he loves gladioli. I have picked up a nice bouquet. Had to pay Rs 350 for it, besides another 100 bucks for a box of chocolates, but it’s okay. The occasion comes after a long gap — 365 days to be more precise”, she said.

She was not alone. Her best chum Zubina Sandhu was also there, ordering flowers for her “tall, dark and handsome friend” working with a multinational organisation at Ludhiana. “Had to spend Rs 250 extra as courier charges, but then I wanted to make him feel special”, she said.

Explaining the trend, florist Sanjay Sharma asserted: “Lovers look for opportunities to exhibit their love. Gifts are exchanged and bouquets presented on Divali, New Year and even on Valentine’s Day. Otherwise also, affection has to be earned through gifts nowadays, the expensive, the better”.

Damsels, however, were not the only ones clutching flowers tightly in their ivory-fair hands. Subordinates could also be seen carrying bouquets for their bosses. The reason behind the ‘new phenomenon’ was not very hard to see.

“In today’s world of materialism where efforts are not enough, employees look for opportunities to please their bosses,” another florist Raman Kapoor asserted. “That is the reason why they knock at the doors of their superiors with flowers in their sweaty hands”, he said.

He added: “A few years ago, a subordinate would have simply posted a nice, attractive card to his boss on New Year. But now cards are a thing of past. Flowers are in. That is for sure”.

Little wonder, the florists had made special arrangements for the occasion. Extra flowers had been ordered specially for January 1. “Since midnight, our boys had been working to prepare bouquets,” Kapoor claimed. “The effort was worth it. The stock was all sold out by the end of the day”, he added.



Subhash Chawla is Chandigarh Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Congress candidate Subhash Chawla today defeated BJP candidate Rajesh Gupta in the Mayoral elections by a margin of 14 votes in the 30-member Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh.

Mr Chawla got 21 votes and Mr Gupta 7, one less each than the last year. Two nominated members, Mr C. K. Sawhney and Ms Amar Kulwant, were not present at the meeting.

The victory of Mr Chawla was announced by the presiding officer, Maj-Gen A. S. Kahlon (retd).

As soon as Mr Chawla assumed the charge of the Mayor, he announced Mr Kuldeep Singh as the Senior Deputy Mayor and Ms Geeta Rani as the Deputy Mayor as there were no nominations against them. Both are from the Congress.

The Chandigarh Vikas Manch, led by a former Union Minister, Mr Harmohan Dhawan, again got a setback with its expelled general secretary Devinder Singh Babla's wife Harpreet Kaur, who is still technically with CVM, announcing that she did not vote for the BJP-CVM-Akali Dal alliance.

Mr Chawla termed his victory as expected , but Mr Rajesh Gupta said the party, despite the numbers being loaded against it, had been able to expose chinks in the Congress which reportedly had to devise ways to ensure that no cross-voting took place. He said the party had been able to create disbelief amongst different factions of the Congress.

Mr Chawla's rival for the candidature of the Mayor, Mr Chandermukhi Sharma, conveyed his support in the elections by showing his vote to Mr Chawla. Mr Sharma said he wanted to convey that rivalry for the candidature should not be construed as a fight in the party.

Mr Sharma's delayed entrance in the House, by around 15 minutes, was believed to be due to a frantic activity in the party. The Congress councillor was contacted several times on his mobile. Sources said Mr Sharma had reportedly been contacted by All- India Congress general secretary Mohsina Kidwai to keep the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections in mind.

The 40-minute election process started with the outgoing Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, being called by General Kahlon to cast her vote first. At the start of the meeting, the Congress candidate appeared a little nervous as many of the party councillors had got late in reaching the House meeting. Mr Sharma had to cast his vote in the end as he did not reach when his name was called on the ninth position. Mr Sharma said his car had got stuck.

The BJP candidate's agent, Ms Kamla Sharma, objected to two votes. Both votes were of Mr Chawla. The Congress candidate's observer, Ms Kamlesh, informed Mr Pawan Bansal about the position of two votes. Mr Bansal told the presiding officer that votes were perfect, which was conceded.

Outgoing Senior Deputy Mayor Surinder Singh and Deputy Mayor Balraj Singh were given the honour of being second and third to cast their votes.

As soon as Mr Chawla was announced victorious, slogans in favour of Ms Sonia Gandhi, the new Mayor, Mr Bansal and Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president B. B. Bahl rented the air.

A large crowd had gathered before the committee room and the visitor's gallery was packed.

The number game

Subash Chawla

Rajesh Gupta

Congress 13


MP 1


Nominated 5

Akali Dal 1

Rebel CVM 2

Nominated 2

Total votes polled 28 out of 30.



Mayor promises ‘open’ budget, people’s partnership
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Mayor Subhash Chawla today announced to make efforts towards making budget exercise “open” with the demands of work being sought from councillors in advance and introducing “people's partnership” in development works and decision making.

“I would even like to ask ward committees to send recommendations of development works as well as suggest resource position, ” Mr Chawla told the customary post-election press conference, here today.

Mr Chawla said till now the budget was being drafted in consultation with the Chandigarh Administration before being tabled in the House. He, however, clarified that this year it would not be possible to seek the advice of the ward committees as they had not been formed yet.

He, however, indicated that the ward committees would be made a major forum for discussions on developmental aspirations and resource mobilisation. The open budget making exercise seems aimed at making the people realise about the actual position of resources and their developmental aspirations.

Mr Chawla said he would also try to reduce non-plan expenditure. The ball had already been set rolling in the Finance and Contract Committee, he said

The new Mayor said there would be no change in the priorities set by the former Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, who, he said, had pushed development agenda on the top.

Mr Chawla said his focus would be to speed up the process of taking up developmental works and reduce people's visits. He said the new committees would be made soon in consultation with the party.

The Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president, Mr B. B. Bahl, told Chandigarh Tribune that a meeting would be called soon to fill vacancies in the Finance and Contract Committee and the new committees. Mr Bahl indicated Mr Chawla would not be replaced as the Leader of the Congress in the MCC after becoming the Mayor. Mr Pardeep Chhabra is being touted as a front-runner for becoming a member of the Finance and Contract Committee.

Mr Chawla said he expected the recommendations of the Second Delhi Finance Commission would be implemented immediately after the Union Budget. The commission had recommended 17 per cent share of the Administration's resources to be given to the MCC from January 2001.

He said the delay was probably due to a big amount accruing as the implementation of this recommendation was with effect from back date. Mr Chawla estimated around Rs 10 to 12 crore arrears was due each year from the Administration. Mr Chawla said he would request the Chandigarh MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, to get the funds released speedily for pushing forth the development works in the city.

Mr Chawla said he would call a meeting of party councillors before formally holding a meeting of officials. The councillors' meeting is likely to be held tomorrow.

The Mayor urged the BJP to join in developmental efforts instead of creating a hue and cry over political issues. He specially mentioned nominated councillors for carrying out commendable work during 2002.

The Mayor said he would not tinker with the property tax already passed by the House.



Factor that adds to patients’ woes
Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
“With my daughter being Rh negative and the availability of this blood being difficult, we ensure that at least two donors of her blood group are known to us personally to meet any crisis,” says Mr Raj Kumar, while explaining what difficulties the family of a patient with Rh negative blood group undergoes in case of an emergency.

“With even less than five per cent of the population having Rh negative factor, people in need of these blood groups have to face difficulties in cases of emergency. There is a constant shortfall of Rh negative blood groups even at major blood banks. With very few people having Rh negative blood groups, we, too, are faced with a constant shortage of these groups as our stocks keep getting depleted with a number of such patients coming to the PGI emergency,” says Dr Neelam Marwah, Head of the Department of Transfusion Medicine, PGI.

Out of a total of 3,000 voluntary donors on the panel of the PGI, only 200 have Rh negative blood group. “The situation is worst in case of patients with AB negative blood group, as this is the rarest of all blood groups and we have to press the panic button every now and then,” admits Dr Marwah. Though every blood donor is precious to us, but in case of Rh negative donors, our request is that they should immediately inform us in case of any change in their address and telephone numbers, she says.

Dependence on voluntary sources increases the responsibility of ensuring safe blood donation in view of the threat of transmissible infections. Though as per the National Blood Policy, every drop of blood must be screened for HIV, hepatitis B and C, VDRL and malaria, but with trading and commercialisation of blood at some places, the threat is high.

Dr Marwah says the screening of blood in the PGI had shown that out of every 100 donors, one was suffering from AIDS, four from hepatitis-B and .2 per cent from hepatitis-C. In some parts of the country, the percentage of such infected donors is as high as 15. The PGI, apart from the Sanjay Gandhi PGI, Lucknow, was the only institute in the country offering MD in transfusion medicine.

Even though non-availability of adequate quantity of blood is a recurring problem, but Chandigarh, along with Mumbai and Kolkata, are the top three cities in the country where the position, as far as voluntary donations is concerned, is very encouraging. “In case we have to be anywhere close to cent per cent voluntary donations, as is the case in the USA, the UK, France and Japan, blood donation movement needs further impetus,” stresses Dr Marwah.

Out of a total requirement of about 40,000 units of blood per year in the PGI, almost half is met through voluntary donations. Left with no other choice to meet the remaining demand, ‘replacement donation’ is sought from the family and relatives of the patients in need of blood.

Doctors point out that due to misconceptions about blood donation, more than often even family members and relatives are reluctant to donate blood. They point out that people feel that donating blood will lead to weakness, but it is not so as out of a total of four to five litres of blood in an adult human body, only 350 ml is taken. “I hope in the New Year more people will come forward to donate blood,” says Dr Marwah.



Evening OPDs resume on Jan 7 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Even as the PGI prepares to resume the evening OPDs from January 7, reluctant faculty members and resident doctors have begun the spadework to ensure that they are not forced to be part of the facility, started in a haste to fulfill the wishes of the Union Health Minister, Mr Shatrughan Sinha.

Launched on December 2, the PGI managed to run the evening OPDs for a mere four days, stating that the facility would be resumed after the winter break. “It is not our headache whether the authorities have been able to appoint doctors exclusively for the evening OPDs or not, but we are firm in our resolve of not joining the facility,” remarked members of the Association of Resident Doctors.

“The evening OPDs will be resumed from January 7 on the same pattern as earlier,” said the PGI authorities in response to queries if a separate cadre of doctors had been engaged for the task. They did not elaborate whether 104 resident doctors, who had been selected a week back, would take on the responsibility of running the evening OPDs. Majority of those selected joined the duty today.

“The resident doctors have succeeded in keeping away from the evening OPD duty and the faculty will once again be entrusted with the responsibility of running the show, as the Union Health Ministry has so far not given approval to the request of the PGI for engaging doctors, specifically for the task,” remarked a senior functionary.

With the PGI stating that the evenings OPD would be run on the earlier pattern, the faculty members are a worried lot. “A reluctant faculty, though strictly opposed to taking on the extra burden of the evening OPDs, gave in to the request of the PGI Director, Prof S.K. Sharma, as he had assured that it was a stop-gap arrangement till a separate cadre of doctors was recruited,” remarked a senior doctor.



Four held for murdering Kumbhra boy
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 1
The Chandigarh Police today claimed to have arrested four city youths who had allegedly stabbed to death a resident of Ropar district in Sector 40-C in the late hours yesterday. The deceased, Sandeep, was declared brought dead by the doctors at the General Hospital, Sector 16.

Sandeep was taken to the hospital in a PCR vehicle. It is learnt that Sandeep had made a futile attempt to escape from the assailants. Naveen, a friend of Sandeep also sustained injuries in the clash. According to sources, Sandeep and one of the accused had an altercation at an earlier occasion also.

Those who have been arrested are, Anil, a resident of Sector 24, Sunil Kumar, Pankaj and Ravinder Kumar, all residents of Sector 40-C. The police has claimed that the accused have confessed the crime.

Sandeep (21) was a BSc I (para medical) student at SAS Nagar based Baba Institute. He was a resident of Kumbhra village, Ropar. His father, Mr Bal Krishan, had retired from the service of the Haryana Civil Secretariat.

Sandeep and the accused were known to each other as they used to frequent a pool club, at Guy For You, in Sector 41, which is owned by Sunil’s brother. The police established the identity of the accused after it traced down three other youths who were accompanying Sandeep at the time of the incident. The youths, friends of Sandeep, narrated the entire episode to the police and also gave information about the accused.

As per Mr K.I.P. Singh, SHO of the Sector 39 police station, the police established identity of the deceased from the phone numbers found in his pocket dairy. A special team was constituted and raids were conducted at various places. All four accused were arrested by this afternoon from different parts of the city.

Sandeep alias Deepa along with his three friends, Dalbir Singh, Naveen and Satinder Singh, had gone to an SAS Nagar-based restaurant New York Dine to celebrate new year. At around 10 pm, they left for Sector 17 in a Gypsy (DL-9C-4758). On their way to Sector 17, Sandeep asked his friends to pick another friend of theirs from Sector 40-C, the police said.

In Sector 40-C, a car being driven by Sunil reportedly came in way of the Gypsy and Sandeep objected to it. An altercation took place between Sandeep and Sunil and the latter called his friends who were present in a nearby car.

Sandeep was then allegedly attacked by Anil, Sunil, Pankaj and Ravinder by swords and rods. In the meantime, fearing assault, all three friends of Sandeep ran away from the spot.

The accused will be produced in a local court tomorrow. The SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, has announced a reward for all members of the special team for solving the murder case in matter of hours.

Sunil and Anil are marketing executives of a cellular service provider company, while Ravinder is a washerman. Pankaj, is unemployed.



Shortage of Judges to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
The shortage of Judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court is likely to continue as five Judges are scheduled to retire in the coming months upon attaining the age of superannuation. The number of High Court Judges had recently decreased to 30, against the sanctioned strength of 40, with the elevation of Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court.

According to highly placed sources in the High Court, the problem of pendency would have been largely solved with the appointment of five members of the Bar as Judges, but till date nothing has been confirmed. Sources add that their names had been recommended for appointment, but the matter was likely to take some time.

Sources confirm that the decreasing number of Judges has led to an increase in the pendency of cases, besides forcing the over-burdened Judges to work till late in the afternoon. Sources further claim that civil cases dating back to the late 80s are pending in the High Court, while criminal appeals against acquittals are pending since the late 90’s.

This is not all. As per a report released by the Press Information Bureau last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had the second highest number of dowry death cases in the country. As many as 842 such cases were awaiting disposal when the report was released in June 2001. The Rajasthan High Court, with 926 cases, had topped the list.

In an attempt to solve the problem of increasing vacancies of High Court Judges, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Company Affairs had reportedly written a letter to the states of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh to initiate the process of appointing Judges at least six months before the retirement of the sitting ones.

The High Court had also recommended the constitution of a special cell for chalking out a programme to list old cases on a priority basis. A committee of three Judges had also suggested that “two officers of Punjab and Haryana Superior Judicial Service may be appointed for the purpose”.

The committee had further suggested that the cases pending before the subordinate courts, in which the High Court had issued stay orders, “may be listed for hearing on a priority basis before all Benches on Fridays”. Two Benches could be left out of the process for deciding urgent bail matters after hearing the arguments, the committee had further suggested.

It had also requested the Judges “not to give fresh dates for Fridays so that the old cases could be taken up for hearing”. The authorities had also been directed to prepare “a consolidated list of cases in which proceedings had been stayed by the High Court, but cases were still pending before the subordinate courts.”



Combat training for NCC girl cadets
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Revamping the training syllabus for girl cadets, the Directorate-General, National Cadet Corps (NCC), has decided to introduce combat training for girls. Besides, a decision has also been taken to increase the strength of girls cadets by about 35 per cent over the next few years.

Talking to TNS, Deputy Director-General, NCC, Brig D.S. Dhillon, said that the decision to impart combat training to girls emanated during the annual NCC conference held in New Delhi a few weeks ago.

The decision to introduce combat training followed a proposal to allow direct entry into the Army for girls holding NCC ‘C’ Certificate. Boys holding ‘C’ Certificates, on the other hand, need to apply through the UPSC and are called directly for interview by the Services Selection Board. The proposal is under consideration with the Ministry of Defence.

Currently, NCC training for girls in the Army wing is primarily focussed on signalling and first-aid. The new syllabus would include battle drill, obstacle courses, field craft, weapon training and point-to-point marches. “A lot of girls are now opting for a career in the Army. Such training would make their stint with the NCC more meaningful and rewarding,” Brigadier Dhillon remarked.

On the increase in the strength of girl cadets, he said that at present girls accounted for about 15 per cent of the enrolled strength. Over the next three years, the strength of girls would be brought up to 30 per cent, though the final endeavour was that girls should form about 50 per cent of the enrolled strength. It was often felt that the strength of girls in the NCC is very low. In Punjab, for example, the ratio of girls to boys in 2001 was 14:86, which dropped to 13:87 in 2002.

For this, the number of girls’ units would be increased by either raising new units or converting some technical NCC units like armoured, artillery and engineer units to girls’ units. “It was felt that technical units serve no specific purpose and cadets should be oriented towards basic infantry training,” Brigadier Dhillon said.

The increase in strength would be effected from the next academic session. This “may” result in either a reduction in the number of boy cadets or an increase in the overall strength of the NCC.



Panchkula wears khadi as MC poll nears
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 1
Despite the chilly and bleak winter, cool summer shades rule the fashion scenario in this satellite township, as it gets ready to elect its first ever municipal council.
The winter, this year, is not so bright, at least for the 200 odd citizens, their families and the group of supporters, busy campaigning and seeking votes. The Gandhian fashion(pastel shades of Khadi) is in, both for male and female candidates.

Bright reds, maroons, golden yellows, deep blues are out and greens and whites, creams, browns and other pastel shades are in.

Also in vogue are lustrous silk kurta pyjamas, custom- made winter suits in tweeds and other premium fabrics and branded sweaters, as are silk and crepe dresses for women.

While most male candidates are sporting starched kurta-pyjamas, primarily white, their female counterparts are mostly seen in plain salwar- kameez with pullovers and shawls in browns and lighter shades.

For others, not willing to let go of their Hinglish upbringing, warm Jodhpuris and band galas with trousers give them that ‘perfect’ look.

The Nehru jacket(the one with a collar) and the Advani jacket(without collar and a neckline deeper than the kurta) are a must, the former with Congressmen fighting as Independents and the latter with BJP candidates. The saffron and green-striped mufflers are also the most important accessory for BJP candidates.

A visit to any of the 31 wards finds the candidates with folded hands, a perfect smile in place and khadi dresses, reminiscent of the Gandhian era. “We are asking for votes and have to meet the electorate from different kinds of economic backgrounds. One looks out of place, non-serious and a novice in politics if seen in ostentatious clothes or jewellery,” remarked a male candidate from Ward 7, when asked on the sudden changes in the wardrobes of most contestants.

Vermillion tilaks on the foreheads of candidates, talismans on arms and around necks also make a fashion statement during the elections. But talk to any of the candidates and pat comes the reply, “But our astrologer asked us to visit the temple everyday in the morning and perform certain rites for a sure win. The tilak is the blessings of the deity to ward off any competition.”



Campaigning intensifies
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 1
As the date of election to the local Municipal Council is drawing nearer, the candidates of various political parties and Independents have intensified their campaign with door-to-door contacts. Mr Chander Bhan Goel, BJP candidate from Ward 3, started his campaign in the New Year by visiting Mata Mansa Devi temple. Later his supporters gathered at the election office and then went door to door wishing the residents a happy and prosperous New Year.

The president of the Residents Welfare Association, Sector 12, Lieut-Col Surjit Singh (retd), candidate from Ward 27, visited Sector 2 and Kharak Mangoli village in his door-to-door campaign extending New Year wishes to the residents.

Meanwhile, the president of the Market Welfare Association, Mr B.B. Kochar, candidate from Ward 3, went out to the public promising maintenance of roads, cleanliness of streets, drinking water supply, maintenance of parks and proper use of the community centre.



Shortage of stamp papers in city
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, January 1
Thousands of visitors and advocates in the District Courts, the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the UT Estate Office here are facing an acute shortage of stamp papers for the past over five months. Despite repeated reminders, the UT Administration has failed to solve the problem though it is losing revenue worth lakhs of rupee as well.

Advocates and litigants are consequently forced to waste time and money to visit Ambala, Kharar, Rajpura and Panchkula courts to buy stamp papers of the value of Re 1, Rs 2 or Rs 5 only. Otherwise, they have to pay exorbitant prices to the vendors.

A number of advocates complain that for the past several months, they have been complaining against non-availability of the stamp papers, but no one has taken serious note of it. The advocates said that “they have to use stamps of Rs 10 or Rs 20 in place of stamps of 50 paise and Re 1.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Dinesh Madra, advocate, said that for the past four months, he had been facing the problem of shortage of stamp papers.

Giving details about the problem, the President of the District Bar Association, Mr N.K. Nanda, said that the lawyers had been facing the problem for five months. Mr Nanda said that he had met the Deputy Commissioner in this regard, but nothing had been done so far to solve the problem. He added that the advocates had been suffering harassment as they could get stamps of nominal prices only from Ambala, Rajpura, Kharar and Panchkula.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. Ramsekhar, when contacted, said the Punjab Government had been asked to supply stamp papers to the UT Administration and a team would be sent to Nasik to purchase the stamp papers.

Another advocate, Mr Ravindra Pandit, said that if the Punjab and Haryana Governments could arrange stamp papers for their advocates, then why the UT Administration showing unwillingness to solve the problem.

When the vendors were asked about the shortage, they said, “They have not got the stamp papers for two months and there would be shortage of stamps for the next two months also.”



Auto-mechanics still operate in Sec 21
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
A few auto mechanics are still engaged in repair work behind the SCFs and bay shops Nos 1 to 6 in Sector 21-C, violating not only the orders of Punjab and Haryana High Court and building bye-laws of the Chandigarh Administration but also causing inconvenience to the local residents.

In a complaint written to Mr M. Ramsekhar, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer, Mr P.C. Sanghi, Councillor and president, Citizens Association, Sector 21-C, has demanded to remove these encroachments permanently to provide relief to the suffering residents.

It is worth mentioning that the residents of houses (2001 to 2024) had earlier filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1996 alleging these auto mechanics create pollution and unbearable noise causing health hazards. After four years of court proceedings, a Division Bench had directed the Chandigarh administration in its judgment on December 5, 2000, to remove the encroachments within two months so that the residents were not put to undue hardship and inconvenience.

Following orders of the apex court, Mr Ashwani Kumar, Assistant Estate Officer, initiated proceedings against six bay shop owners as well as a few tenants by imposing a monthly penalty of Rs 12,500. Mr Sanghi has also alleged that the AEO later withdrew the penalty without valid reasons.



Adulterated spices being sold in Apni Mandis
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

What the rules say...

According to the Rule 49 Clause 24 of the PFA 1954, no person can sell powdered spices in loose form. Rule 32 of same Act says the package should have a label declaring the name of the commodity, the complete address of the manufacturer and the packer, the batch number, the date of manufacture and the best before date. The net weight and the rate of the product should also to be printed on the packet.

SAS Nagar, January 1
Residents of this township, beware. What is being sold as powdered spices in open gunny bags in the Apni Mandis here might be brightly coloured toxic powders or adulterated spices instead. In complete violation of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, loose spices and condiments are being sold openly in stalls in these highly popular weekly vegetable markets.

A situation that may lead to a serious health hazard for the residents, however, has not affected the Market Committee, Kharar, the regulatory authority of these mandis. The whole exercise is in fact being carried out right under the nose of market committee members who are present at these vegetable markets to collect their fee but turn a blind eye to this gross violation.

The spice sellers sell everything in open uncovered bags. Other than powdered turmeric, chillies, coriander asafoetida etc, these stalls also sell loose tea leaves and food colours. No one knows about the contents of the stuff being sold even as the law clearly says that spices cannot be sold without proper packaging.

While the SDM Kharar, Mr S.S. Gill, who is also the Chairman of the Market Committee, states that spices, packed or otherwise are not supposed to be sold at these mandis at all, but he also shifts the blame on the local Municipal Council. ‘‘These are illegal stalls as we in the committee do not take any charges from them for being there. Hence it is the responsibility of the local Municipal Council to remove these,’’ he says.

The Municipal Council here on the other hand, is blissfully ignorant of the fact that loose spices are being sold openly in these vegetable markets. When contacted, however, the MC President, Mr Kulwant Singh, said, ‘‘The markets are under the complete authority of the committee in Kharar and we have no role to play at all. In case they are unable to control those using these markets to sell their stuff other than the farmers then they should write to us and we will take care of them. For us it is just a matter of little effort and these stalls can be lifted.’’

The Market Committee, Kharar, organises five Apni Mandis in the township on various week days in different sectors of the township. According to the secretary of the market committee, Mr Jagjit Singh, these mandis are ideally for the farmers who come from nearby villages and sell their produce directly to the consumer. ‘‘These people, who are not farmers, should not be allowed to sit here at all. But we cannot move them out as SAS Nagar is within the limits of a different Municipal Council, ’’he says.



Mixed response to autorickshaw owners’ strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
A large number of autorickshaws remained off the road today on a strike call given by the Chandigarh Scooter Rickshaws Union to protest against the State Transport Authority’s (STA) decision to impound the autorickshaws, which have completed 15 years on road. They are asking for additional time till March to buy new vehicles and exemption from sales tax to buy new vehicles.

Meanwhile, according to information available, the STA and the Police impounded 30 autorickshaws in different parts of the city today. The Administration has already announced that it would not challan the drivers, plying old vehicles. Rather their vehicles would be impounded. A number of commuters were caught surprised at the railway station when the autorickshaws owners were denied to provide service.

The autorickshaws owners held a meeting near the bus stand. They decided to continue the strike tomorrow from 11 am to 4 pm. Mr Harcharan Singh Sawhney, president, Chandigarh Scooter Rickshaws Union, said, “We are not against the Administration’s decision to ban the over aged vehicles, but we just want that the decision should be postponed till March-end to provide us time to arrange for new vehicles. Like the Delhi Government, the Administration should also provide subsidy on the loans and exemption from ST to purchase new vehicles.”

At present, there are around 2,200 autorickshaws in the city. Out of them around 17,00 have completed more than 15 years on the road. The STA is targeting these autos as per the Supreme Court instructions.



Contingency plan for city religious places
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
In wake of the terrorist attacks on Akshardham Temple in Gujarat’s western capital city of Gandhinagar and at Raghunath temple in Jammu, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Chandigarh Police to prepare a contingency plan for religious places in the city.

The contingency plan would enable the elite National Security Guards (NSG) to storm a religious place and evacuate pilgrims after a terrorist attack, said sources in the Chandigarh Administration. The chief of the NSG has asked the Chandigarh Police to provide a blueprint of the contingency plan. The plan will enable the NSG to plan their strike in case of any contingency.

As per the prevailing practice, a contingency plan is upgraded every year as new religious places are coming up in the city. According to sources, the city had 90 temples, 63 gurdwaras, 24 mosques and 19 churches. The maximum concentration of the religious places is said to be the southern sectors and slum areas dotting the city.

Religious places, VIP areas and public places like markets are being kept on special watch, with security men on the alert for any contingencies. Elite National Security Guards (NSG) from New Delhi are soon expected to bolster the security operations amid reports that the militants are attacking the desperate people fleeing from the temple at random.

Citing the case of fidayeen attack on the temple in Gujarat, hundreds of devotees were praying when a militants in a white Indian-made Ambassador hurdled grenades and fired indiscriminately at helpless people. The seven-hour siege of the temple had resulted in death of 29 of the estimated 600 worshippers another 70 injured. Elite guards of the NSG had to be flown to silence the fidayeen.

After the attack a red alert had been sounded in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and New Delhi. A strict vigil has been ordered at all places of worship and key installations in these states, said sources in the intelligence. An official said the size of the premises of religious places in the city was much less as compared to the Akshardham temple (Gujarat). Though the city does not have any history of communal violence, the contingency plan was in place , said an official.



New experience in new-look joint
Harvinder Khetal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Among the plethora of new and new-look eating joints mushrooming in the city and its satellite towns, Piccadily’s Blue-Ice in Sector 17 holds the promise of being a hip 'n' happening place. Yes, it’s the same Piccad’s near Meena Bazar, that has been redone to be eye-catching enough for Chandigarhians, both young and old, who seem to never tire of trying new experiences.

In fact, as we enter the new year, with nearly everyone mad out vying for a seat in a restaurant or a club as a way of ushering in 2003, one realises the mad scramble. Looking at the number of tables occupied in most of the restaurants on most of the days, one can say with confidence that it is no more a dead city or as Khushwant Singh described not many years ago as a city of “Chittiyan darhiyan aur hariya jharhian”.

Yes, women (gracing kitty ......... days parties) outsmarting one another in the latest trends in fashion, kids who know their minds as far as deciding on the menu is concerned and families ending an outing with a special meal anywhere, except home, are becoming a common occurrence, much to the delight of restaurateurs.

And a positive outcome of so much churning and chopping (both in and outside the kitchens) is the victory of the fittest.... err, I mean quality of food services and ambience. Also the gourmet fare dished out by the eateries in cuisines from the world over has tingled the taste buds of city folks, leaving them asking for more and open to trying out. Whether it be prawns cooked in French sauce or simple coffee beans cavorting with chocolate or vanilla in that cuppa. The range is vast. No more are they satisfied with just a plate of chana bhaturas or pani puris only. Experimentation is the order of the day.

Perhaps it is this realisation that made the Sharma family (owners of the Piccadilly group of hotels) cook up Blue-Ice with a recipe to suit the discerning foodie’s palate. The ingredients seem interesting enough: Blue-Ice offers a heady mix of, wines, vodka, champagne, beer cocktails, mocktails.



Dense fog engulfs city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Foggy New Year’s day — that is what the residents woke up to see today. Cold wave continued to prevail today in the city and nearby areas of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Dense fog was witnessed since last evening till late afternoon.

There were not much variations in the minimum temperatures of Chandigarh, Patiala and Ambala. The minimum temperatures recorded at Chandigarh, Patiala and Ambala were 7°C, 5.5°C and 7°C, respectively.

The maximum temperature in Chandigarh slightly increased as the day progressed and was recorded 12.6°C as compared to 11.4°C of the previous day. Maximum temperatures in Patiala, and Ambala were recorded 11.4°C, and 14.4°C, respectively.

According to the weather forecast, cold wave will continue to prevail in this region. However, the weather will remain dry. Kalka-Amritsar-Delhi Shatabadi arrived 15 minutes late than its schedule time of 6.42 am due to fog. There was no affect on public transport system in Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.



ITBP jawans hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Lalru, January 1
Three jawans of the ITBP sustained injuries when the truck (HR-01GA-0299) in which they were travelling fell into the Jharmal rivulet after breaking the railing of the bridge on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway here late last night.

Hearing the cries of the jawans, Mr Baldev Singh, Mr Jasmer Singh and Mr Suresh Kumar, three employees of Bharat Petroleum Limited, who were on their way back to home, swung into rescue operation. They brought out the jawans after breaking open the doors of the vehicles.

Seriously injured Hari Chand, a resident of Panipat, was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, in Chandigarh, where his condition is said to be stable.



Lucky draw winner
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, January 1
Ms Premvati, a resident of Batour village, near Barwala, lodged here claim with Ms Satwanti Ahlawat, Deputy Commissioner, for winning a prize of Rs 5 lakh in the lucky draw of the Haryana Small Savings Scheme at a function here today.

Under the time deposit scheme, the winner had deposited Rs 6,000 in the post office.

Ms Premvati belongs to a middle-class family. She claimed that the prize money would be deposited under the same scheme.



Theft in Sector 22 shop
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 1
Burglars broke into a Sector 22 shop last night. A Sector 33-C resident, Mr Prem Kumar, told the police that locks of his shop in Sector 22 (SCO 816) were found broken and the burglars had taken away Rs 1,500. The police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.

Dead: Sector 40 resident Krishan Kumar, who had retired as Superintendent of Police from Intelligence Bureau, died of a heart attack in a park in Sector 40 here today. As per police sources, Kumar had gone for a walk when he had a cardiac arrest. The family members of the deceased had reportedly requested the police to hand over the body without a post mortem.

Birju Bhagat (60) died after he accidently fell from the roof of his house in Badheri village here last night. The police has ruled out any foul play in the incident.

One arrested:
A resident of Darua village in Chandigarh, Jakir Muhammad, was arrested for possessing 140 gm of ganja last night.

According to the police, the accused had been selling the narcotics in Rajiv Colony, Sector 16, for the past couple of months.

On a tip-off, the police party raided his house, arrested Jakir Muhammad and seized the drug from his possession.

Three arrested: In separate incidents three persons were arrested by the Panchkula police from different places for passing obscene remarks.

According to police Harish Sethi, a resident of Sector 15, was arrested while he was abusing at the Sector 15-16 dividing road. A case has been registered against him at Sector 19 police station.

In a similar incident, two residents of Swastik Vihar — K.S. Gill and Sanjiv Sharan — were booked for creating nuisance and abusing a woman near the Group Housing Society. They were booked on the complaint of a security guard of the society.

Injured: One person was injured in two different road accidents in the town during the past 24 hours in Panchkula.

Balkar Singh, a resident of Barwala, complained that a driver of Haryana Roadways rammed his bus (HR-01PA-1070) into his car (HR-03C-3705) near Barwala on Tuesday.

SAS Nagar
Two persons, a father and son, were hurt in an accident here last night. The complainant, Mr Gulshan Arora, a resident of Sector 36, Chandigarh, alleged that his car was hit near the Phase VIII Industrial Area by another car last night.

The driver of the car, Gurjit Singh, has not been found by the police who has registered a case of negligent driving against him. 



Cellular operators may slash tariff today
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Overwhelming response to the WLL-mobile service launched by Reliance Infocomm Ltd (RIL) on December 28, 2002, has forced the mobile operators in the country to revise their tariff plans. According to industry sources, a ‘major initiative’ in this regard will be announced tomorrow, that is likely to include substantial cut in STD call rates and even free incoming call under certain packages.

Informed sources in the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) disclosed that all the major cellular operators in the country have decided to offer competitive rates. They said, “Since under the TRAI guidelines we cannot offer free incoming calls, so we have decided to announce major cut in national long distance calling (NLD) rates and a cut in the incoming call rates to beat the new competitors.” Airtel and BSNL had already announced that would offer competitive rates to their existing and new subscribers.

The sources disclosed that the BSNL’s decision to offer free incoming calls under its Rs 325 monthly rental package had badly affected the growth of their business. A section of cellular subscribers, affiliated with Airtel and Spice in the region, had already switched over to the BSNL. They said, “The COAI was likely to announce the rate of outgoing calls to the maximum of Rs 2 per minute and even free incoming calls under certain schemes.”

One of the senior official of the leading cellular company in the region said though the operators were suffering huge losses due to higher licencing fee charged by the government, “We were even ready to offer free incoming calls like WLL players provided the government offered a level playing field to everyone”. With the entry of Reliance in the sector, he said the operators were further expecting losses as in their business.


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