Tuesday, January 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Zirakpur panchayat violates ban on constructions
Bipin Bhardwaj

Zirakpur, January 13
While thousands of residents of Bhabhat, Zirakpur, Lohgarh and surrounding villages are having sleepless nights after being served notices prohibiting construction activities within a radius of 900 metre from the defence installations here, the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat itself is indulging in construction activities within the prohibited limits.

The civic body authorities have started construction activities right adjacent to its office which is hardly 350 metre away from the fencing of the Chandigarh Air Force Station.

Moreover, a massive construction is being carried out within the prohibited limits allegedly in connivance with the authorities of the civic body.

Though the authorities have banned all construction activities in the area and have even issued notices to some residents to pull down their structures, it itself have committed gross violation of the notice issued by the Secretary of the Department of Local Government, Punjab, on October 22 last year.

Taking a serious view of a complaint by the Indian Air Force authorities, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary to the Local Government, Punjab, through the Vigilance Wing of the department had issued a notice prohibiting any type of construction within the radius of 900 metre from the defence installations.

The notice states that the safety of the defence installations can not be compromised by allowing construction activities within the 900-metre radius from its fencing. The notice warns that no building plan (for the structures to be constructed within the prohibited area) be passed and those passed earlier should be frozen with immediate effect.

A team of the Vigilance Wing after conducting a surprise visit to the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat office issued the notice to Mr Jagjit Singh Sahi, Executive Officer (EO) of the civic body.

A visit by The Tribune team to the area revealed that massive construction work is in progress in the area where the construction has been banned. Right under the nose of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat authorities not only residential houses but also commercial complexes, including shops, restaurants, marriage palaces, are coming up.

Residents of the area complained that while the government had been harassing them for the past over three months after imposing ban on construction, the civic body, on the other hand, had done gross violation by constructing a building. “But the question is would the building be demolished and action taken against the defaulter officers or not? Mr Varinder Singh, a resident of Lohgarh village, asked.

Sources in the civic body revealed that over two dozens of structures were identified that had been constructed within the prohibited area.

When contacted, Mr Ashok Kumar Sikka, Administrator of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat, said the building was already constructed. He claimed that interior decoration work was going on in the building.

While asked about the status of other structures, Mr Sikka said the buildings coming up in the area would be demolished. He added that the government had provided the panchayat sufficient police force to conduct a demolition drive.


Sun brings out Lohri spirit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
As warm sunshine broke through the fog, thumping beats of rhythmic music reverberated against the grey concrete walls and red sandstone slabs of Panjab University’s Student Centre as hundreds of excited students twirled around a blazing bonfire to celebrate Lohri.

The excitement had started to build up early. At around 12.30 pm, boys and girls, clad in their festive best abandoned the cozy comfort of their classrooms and walked across to the centre. Others, not so keen on academic pursuits, had zipped down directly to the venue in cars with stereos blaring latest Punjabi numbers.

While the songs and dances started as soon as a crowd had built up, the bonfire was lit after Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University arrived a little after 2 pm to join in the celebrations.

The Punjab University Campus Students’ Council had arranged for a music system along with impressive speakers. Boys and girls alike danced merrily.

The celebrations were not confined to the Students’ Centre alone. Across the campus, the beats of the ‘dholki’ and lyrics of Lohri songs could be heard as students of several departments organised their own separate celebrations in open spaces adjoining their departments.

At the Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 36, former Adviser to the UT Administration, Ms Neeru Nanda, along with the local MP, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, joined the staff and students for the Lohri celebrations. After honouring Ms Nanda, who has been transferred to Delhi, at a farewell function organised in the college, a traditional bonfire was lit. She also danced along with the students and gave away ‘Lohri’ to students singing ‘Sunder Munderye..’

A colourful cultural programme was organised by students of the Government College, Sector 11. Lighting of the bonfire by the college Principal, Mr Balvinder Singh, was followed by the traditional Lohri songs. Dance items, skits and bhangra also formed a part of the celebrations. Remarking that Lohri was a festival of communal harmony and gaiety, the principal said that that students should take a keen interest in cultural heritage of the country.

Dance, fun and frolic followed the morning assembly at the Government College of Education, Sector 20, as students, faculty and office staff got together to celebrate Lohri. The bonfire was lit by the college Principal, Ms Surinder Kaur Tangri, which was followed by a brief cultural programme. Earlier, during the assembly, the history of the festival was traced and its rationale in modern context was highlighted.

At Goswami Ganesh Dutta Sanatan Dharma College, Sector 32, the festival was celebrated with traditional fervour. The celebrations started with the Principal, Dr A.C. Vaid lighting the bonfire. Students and staff participated in the celebrations with gutso and amidst music and merriment, sweets, groundnuts and gachak were distributed.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the NSS unit of MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36, celebrated Lohri with children of Prayaas, a rehabilitation centre for children in Sector 38. They also had a special interactive session with the inmates, which was a great learning experience for them about the sensitive care being provided by Prayaas for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Lohri was celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm by the staff and beneficiaries of the Jan Shikshan Sansthan, Chandigarh. Besides the traditional bonfire, a cultural programme was also presented on the occasion. On the occasion, the director, Mr Arjun Kamboj, announced the start of a month-long course on screen printing.


Students of Gian Jyoti Public School, Phase II, celebrated Lohri here today. The Principal, Mrs Ranjeet Bedi, and Mr J.S. Bedi, secretary of the school, lighted the bonfire. Teachers narrated the story behind the lighting of the fire and the importance of the festival to the students.


Bonfires mark Lohri celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Bonfires dotted the city’s landscape, with residents braving the evening chill to celebrate Lohri — which marks the beginning of the change of season towards warmer days. The old and the young, rich and the poor piled up firewood and got out their stock of groundnuts, rewri and gachak to observe a festival which cuts across cultural barriers.

While some preferred the occasion to be a family affair, others took it as an opportunity to host a social get-together. At many places, people from the neighbourhood got together and pooled in to light a joint bonfire on the streets.

For vendors of Lohri goodies like groundnuts, rewri, gachak and popcorn, it was brisk business. Rehri wallahs and roadside vendors in Sectors 15, 19, 20, 22 and 26, it was brisk business even at the last minute. Many such vendors had switched over from their regular selling items to sell these items. Dealers in firewood, of course, were the happiest. Hotels and catering establishments, too, reported a good business as some residents went in for big celebrations to mark the first Lohri of newborns or newly weds, not to mention the liquor trade.

While people by and large preferred to sit around a bonfire at home or with their near and dear ones, those away from home on duty were not to be outdone. They, too, improvised a bonfire using cardboard, plywood and other inflammable material as best as they could. At many places, rickshaw pullers or street dwellers could be seen huddled together around a fire in parking lots or verandahs of market places.

Lohri also brought in some unwanted guests. Children, security guards and even sweepers, coming in groups for collecting money and sweets for Lohri, kept the residents answering the doorbell through the day. Then there was the regular thumping beat of the dholki and dhols by those seeking Lohri donations. Even at night while people were sitting around the bonfire, dholki-wallahs and street urchins kept hounding them for money or sweets.


Mayor attends Lohri functions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Mayor Subhash Chawla has been collecting a list of grievances of the people, while he attended a number of Lohri functions during the last three days.

Mr Chawla was an invitee to the Lohri functions of the Press Club of Chandigarh, the Sector 21 Citizens Welfare Association, the Sector 27 Residents’ Welfare Association, the Tribune Colony in Sector 29, the Residents of Sector 45-C of Road wing workers in Sector 40 and the Congress party.

The Mayor listened to the problems of the associations and promised them help from the corporation.

He also managed a political masterstroke, getting rebel Chandigarh Vikas Manch councillors Harpreet Kaur Babla and her husband Devinder Singh Babla and Vijay Singh Rana to openly support him and his (Chawla’s) mentor Pawan Bansal. The two CVM councillors had supported Mr Chawla in the Mayoral election on January 1.

Ms Babla also showed her intent to join the Congress saying Mr Bansal had been very generous in distribution of funds for the development of the wards and assured Mr Chawla she would always be with the Mayor for the development of the city. She also thanked the president of the Residents Welfare Association, Mr Mohinder Singh and Mr C. M. Sethi for organising such a function after 21 years. The association said it would celebrate all festivals in the future.

In most of the functions, the Mayor was accompanied by Mr Pardeep Chhabra, Mr Babla and Mr Rana.

Members of the Sector 22-C Market Association asked Mr Chawla to arrange for recarpeting of roads, provide drinking water and more street lighting. He assured them of starting these works. Mr Chawla granted Rs 2 lakh to the Sector 27 Community Centre. Mr Rana also raised the issues of roads, parks and cleanliness in the area. Mr Chawla had no option but to give an assurance despite coffers of the corporation being empty.

There was a colourful cultural programme in Sector 21 function but the Mayor could not have avoided listening to the grievances of the residents.

The Mayor told the Sector 29 residents that the recarpeting of the road would start as soon as the intense cold conditions receded.

Former Mayor Kamala Sharma also attended a function organised by the Sector 38 Residents Welfare Association where Ms Sharma said she had allotted sufficient funds for the electrification of the green belt and carpeting of road leading to Sector 25.

The Welfare Association, 11 Type Govt Houses, Sector 19 C, Chandigarh also celebrated the festival.


City recommended for best practices award
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Chandigarh has been recommended for the City with Best Practices Award, for initiating a waste management programme. Stating this while speaking to TNS here today, former Advisor to the UT Administrator, Ms Neeru Nanda, said the award would be given by the Union Government on Republic Day to 10 best practices adopted in the country.

Though the Administration was yet to receive a response from the Central Government, she added she would continue to pursue the matter with the authorities concerned after taking over her new assignment in New Delhi shortly. She said the award had been recommended for the waste management practice adopted in Chandigarh under the Project Sahyog.

Ms Nanda, who demitted the office of the Advisor last week after a three-year stint in the city, said there could be no progress unless the environment was clean and there was an eco-friendly way of converting waste into “wealth”.

Terming her stay in Chandigarh as “very interesting”, she said her first major task, after assuming the charge as the advisor, was to control a sewerage problem troubling a local college. That was the time, she added, when the Governor was very keen to improve the building by-laws in the city.

On her day-to-day tasks, she said one could put in hard work and talk things out with everyone concerned. This, she said, was how motor mechanics in the city were moved to a different location. “One day they were there and the next day they were somewhere else,” she remarked.

When asked if, in hindsight, there was something she might have done differently, she said, “Administratively, Chandigarh is a quiet city. I wish, though, that the waste management project had evolved earlier because then we could have incorporated some innovative techniques used in Lucknow.”

On her toughest moments here, she was of the view that in administration, everything can either be easy or difficult. “Problems should be taken head-on and suitable solutions devised. One should take one step forward, but along with everyone,” she commented.

Asked about her impression of the city, Ms Nanda said contrary to general perception, Chandigarh does have a soul and a character of its own. “Chandigarh is full of life. Residents of the city are committed to their cause and show a sense of belongingness, which is not found in places like Delhi,” she said.


Betterment of force new SSP’s top priority
Tribune News Service

Virender SinghChandigarh, January 13
Mr Virender Singh, joined as Senior Superintendent of Police, Headquarters and Intelligence here, today.

The post had been lying vacant since December 31, last year after the transfer of Mr Ajay Kashyap to New Delhi.

Mr Virender Singh joined Indian Police Service on September 16, 1991. An officer of the AGMU (UT) cadre he served for more than three years as an SP in Mizoram. Later, he was transferred to the Delhi Police. Here, he served for more than five years at various positions. Presently, he has come from Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi as DCP (Airport).

Hailing from Kaithal in Haryana, he graduated in BA (honours) from Kurukshetra University and MA (political science) from Delhi University. Further, he did his M.Phil in political science from Kurukshetra University.

Talking to the mediapersons soon after joining as SSP in the city police, he said that his top priority would be to streamline the welfare schemes for the cops and press for approval of pending proposals lying before the local Administration and the Union Government. “Betterment of force”, would be on top agenda, he said.

When brought to his notice that the intelligence wing of the local police was not up to the mark, he said that he would soon assess the situation and definitely look forward to improve its functioning. 


Police swoops down on panchayat secretaries,
29 arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
A day after the arrest 23 agitating members of the Association of Dismissed Panchayat Secretaries of Punjab, the police, along with jawans of the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), once again swooped on the dismissed panchayat secretaries and arrested at least 29 of them in Sector-17. The secretaries are protesting against the Punjab Government’s decision to remove them from service.

With this, the total number of arrests during the past couple of days has gone up to 52. An FIR under Sections 107 and 151 of the CrPC has been registered against them.

According to the information available, the 29 dismissed panchayat secretaries were produced before the local magistrate, who send them to the judicial custody till January 24. They were later shifted to the Burail jail.

It may be mentioned that the condition of six members of the association, who were sitting on a fast earlier, had deteriorated and were till undergoing treatment in the General Hospital, Sector 16.

Yesterday, two members of the association were prevented from committing suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of the hospital.

Sources said the police arrested 29 panchayat secretaries when they were trying to pitch tents to sit in protest against the state government. The tents were uprooted by the police. “The SDM had refused to extend the permission to pitch their tents in Sector 17”, said an official of the Administration.

Meanwhile, few police personnel have been permanently deployed, till further orders, on the site as a preventive measure to prevent the agitating secretaries from again gathering.


IRB deployed for hospitalised secys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Punjab Police tonight virtually laid siege to the Sector 16 General Hospital to ward off any threat of violence due to the presence of agitating and sacked Panchayat Secretaries in the hospital.

A large contingent of the IRB was seen at the hospital. The force has been deployed in the wake of the deteriorating condition of a few hospitalised Panchayat Secretaries on an indefinite fast.


Dog drags infant’s body
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 13
In a harrowing incident, a one-day-old girl child’s body was dragged by a dog with the head of the child in its mouth across a road of the township in a half-eaten state today. The child had most probably been abandoned at birth. When a passerby stopped her vehicle and shooed the dog away, the child was found to be lifeless and badly bitten all over the body, with parts of her face missing. A crowd gathered and the police was called.

The incident happened near NIPER in Phase XI where on a footpath nearby, a plastic bag and cotton were found by the police later. ‘‘The child was most probably already dead when she was left in the plastic bag. There is very little possibility of the child having been killed by the dog,’’ said a police official investigating the matter. The police is also not ruling out the possibility of the fact that the dog or a group of dogs could have actually dragged the plastic bag from some other place nearby and torn it open here and taken out the child. A case was registered and the child declared dead. The body has been sent for post-mortem.


Mercury dips in Punjab, Haryana
Ludhiana coldest at 1.9

Chandigarh, January 13
The prevalent cold conditions in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh further aggravated today with minimum temperatures dropping between 2°C and 4°C below normal in most parts of the North-West region even as a thick blanket of fog enveloping the region disrupted rail, air and road traffic, throwing life out of gear.

Ludhiana reeled under a temperature of 1.9°C, four degrees below normal, in the plains of Punjab and Haryana, a MET office spokesman said here.

While most parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh remained engulfed with thick fog in the morning, the MET office warned of dense ground frost at a few places in the twin states during the next two nights.

The MET office predicted fog and low clouds in the two states during the next 48 hours.

Mercury touched a low of 2°C, two degrees below normal, in Amritsar, followed by 2.5°C in Hisar and 3.1°C, four degrees below normal, in Ambala.

Several Amritsar, Jammu and Kalka-bound trains, including the Shatabdi Express, the Hatia-Pathankot Express, Howrah-Kalka Mail, the Punjab Mail and the Barouni Express, were running between 40 minutes to 11 hours behind schedule due to foggy conditions, railway sources said.

The Mumbai-New Delhi-Chandigarh flights of Indian Airlines and Jet Air failed to reach here due to thick fog resulting in cancellation of outgoing flights to Mumbai and Goa, airport sources said.

Inter-state buses coming from various states, including Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, were also delayed. The traffic on the national highway moved at a snail’s pace due to poor visibility following dense fog.

Power supply was disrupted frequently at various places, including Chandigarh, due to increased demand following chilly conditions. The demand for power had shot up by about 15 per cent due to inclement weather, Electricity Department sources said.

Due to inclement weather, office attendance also fell drastically and even some engagements were cancelled.

Residents of Chandigarh enjoyed a brief spell of sunshine in the afternoon. However, chilly winds swept across the city during the entire day. PTI

AMBALA (OC): The dense fog and cold wave have badly affected the rail traffic in the region. Most of the important trains, including the Shatabdi Express, were running late. Some of the trains coming from distant places reached 10 to 15 hours late. Hundreds of passengers were stranded at Ambala Cantonment railway station. Some of the passengers preferred to reach their destinations by road instead of rail.

According to railway officials, the 8101 Hatia-Pathankot Express was running late by around 11 hours. Similarly, the 2403 Pooja Express was delayed by eight hours, the 3307 Ganga-Satluj Express by 10 hours, the 2311 Howrah-Kalka Mail by nine hours, the 3005 Punjab Mail by over four hours and the 5707 Barouni Express by five hours.

Moreover the Shatabdi Express trains running on various routes were also running late. According to officials, the 2034 Inter-City Express running between Bathinda and New Delhi was running late by 90 minutes, the 2014 Shatabdi Express running between Amritsar and Delhi was late by half an hour and the 2029 Shatabdi Express running between New Delhi and Amritsar was running late by one and a half hours. A railways spokesman said more than three dozen trains were also running behind schedule by one to two hours. He said after the end of the foggy conditions, it would take at least two days to normalise the rail traffic.


Cold claims 3 more lives in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Bodies of three persons, believed to have died due to cold, were found by the police tonight from various parts of the city.

The body of Balwinder Singh, a 32-year-old resident of Chotta village in Nurpur Bedi, was found in Sector 47. According to the police, he was working as a driver with a taxi operator working in the same sector. The police also informed that Balwinder had drunk heavily last night and was found dead in the morning. His body has been handed over to his relatives. The police believes that Balwinder was in no state to reach a place where he could keep himself warm, and as a result died in the cold outside.

The body of Moti Lal, a 43-year-old rehriwalla, was recovered by the police in Sector 37. Moti Lal was a resident of Shahpur village, district Pratapgarh in UP, and was working in the city for a living. He was helping some one tow some material in his rehri from Ram Darbar when he started vomiting blood and died after a while.

In the third case, Shiv Ram, a 55-year-old washerman died due to cold while he was returning home. A resident of Mahmoodpur village, district Gonda, Shiv Ram’s body was found by the police near Hallomajra.


UT Police to serve tea to freezing cops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
For at least 500 cops of the PCR and patrolling staff on night duty, senior officials of the Chandigarh Police have spared a thought to provide tea during duty hours to keep them warm and alert in freezing weather conditions.

Earlier, it was brought to the notice of Mr Rajesh Kumar IG, Chandigarh Police that the PCR and patrolling staff on night duty left their duty points during duty hours on the pretext of taking tea.

“When the entire region is under a severe cold wave, with the city registering the lowest ever temperature during the last two decades, it was necessary to provide at least tea officially, to expect us to brave the cold,” remarked a policeman on the PCR duty.

According to police sources, there are a total of 25 PCR vans and 40 police bikes that do the rounds of the city in three shifts, eight hours each, round the clock. As many as 194 police personnel from PCR staff and 296 from police station staff are on night duty daily, as per the official records.

Police sources also disclosed that few jawans of the Home Guard attached with the PCR staff on night duty had complained to the senior officials that they had not been provided with warm clothing to protect themselves from adverse weather conditions.

In fact the repeated requests of the PCR staff to the Inspector General of Police from the past few years for providing them better facilities and extra winter allowance had fallen on deaf ears as no such provision had been accepted. However, an alternate provision of providing tea officially to the cops on night duty at fixed points has been made mandatory from tonight.

The PCR staff was of the view that when normal life had been thrown out of gear due to extreme cold, forcing the authorities to even close down the schools for a few days, it was nothing wrong on their part to make this request of serving tea? “This was a very genuine demand as even the armed forces, who served in even harsher and more difficult conditions are provided warm clothing, footwear and proper diet in accordance with the climactic conditions ,” they pointed.

As per the orders issued by the IG, for each police station, one point had been fixed where the PCR and patrolling staff on night duty would report at the given time and after taking tea, they would immediately report back at their respective points of duty. Fifteen minutes of time has been fixed for reporting back at the duty point after taking tea.

A special vehicle from police lines had been arranged to serve the tea to the cops on night duty at 14 fixed points. The tea would be served from 11 pm to 3.30 am at these 14 points at different times in disposable glasses. It had also been strictly ordered that no police personnel would throw away these glasses in open. The glasses have to be properly thrown in the dust bins. 


Watch that pakora, it may be Shiva’s prasad
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 13
During festivals the rule of the thumb is to have fun unlimited. Openly selling ‘fun and merriment’ in the form of bhang tikkis and pakoras were rehriwallahas at the Lohri mela organised at Daon village here. The mela that began at the village today, is a two-day annual feature, and was already attracting people from nearby villages and the township.

According to some young persons, who were at the village to participate in the Lohri festivities, the almost unending supply of bhang was the main feature of this mela and all the selling and buying of this item was happening right under the nose of the police.

None of the officials from the Administration seemed to be even aware of the fact that bhang was being sold in the form of pakoras and tikkis. When contacted the SDM, SAS Nagar, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, stated that their office had not been informed by the police about the mela or any arrangements that were required to ensure that such instances did not happen. ‘‘If we are informed that these things are happening, we will take adequate steps to curtail it,’’he said.

The festival mood was contagious at the mela. ‘‘Just wait and watch what happens tomorrow. By the evening, there will be people lying on the roadsides and some will be laughing away endlessly.’’said a stall owner.

Sources also said that as the mela progressed, the sale of bhang was more open. By the end of the two days bhang was being sold not just as part of the eatables but available raw. Glasses of bhang were also being sold.

According to health officials, other than the fact that bhang, which was banned, was being sold openly, it was worse it was being sold in the form of eatables. ‘‘Those who are already having some sort of addiction or at least know that there is a drug being sold in the form of eatables, will know what to expect and be prepared accordingly. But getting to eat food that is drugged can be very bad experience healthwise and should be avoided as far as possible,’’said a doctor working in the Civil Hospital here. 


Admn stops pushing; people welcome cycle tracks
Parbina Rashid

Chandigarh, January 13
The latest attempt by city planners to solve the evergrowing traffic problem comes in the form of a separate track for slow moving vehicles starting from opposite Kisan Bhavan and till the Cricket Stadium has evoked mixed response from people here.

While many praised the Town Planning Department for its ‘new-found’ wisdom for separating the rickshaws, cycles and rehris from the main track, a few others also raised their eyebrows about the efficiency of such a system that separated the two categories only to join them back at the junctions and roundabouts which might lead to more confusion to the existing system.

“Separating the slow-moving vehicles from the mainstream traffic is a good development which is likely to bring relief to both the category of vehicles,” said Prof D.K. Ghuman, Chairperson of Geography Department, Panjab University. “Many European countries have such separate tracks for cyclists and we wonder what took the Administration so long to implement it here,” she added.

“The idea of separating the slow-moving vehicle tracks is good but is not being properly carried out,” said Dr S.S. Bhatti, former Principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture. “Instead of letting them mingle at T-junctions and roundabouts the track should be continued through some subways or path underneath to avoid such confusion,” he added.

According to many scholars in the city, the idea of a separate cycle track dated back to the original Le Corbusier plan when the master planner wanted to add the track for recreational purpose. “The objective of the project has changed now, shifting from recreational purpose to functional one and keeping that in mind the Administration has to extend the track all around the city, especially around the Central Business District (CBD)”, said Prof K.D. Sharma.

The project had brought the cheers for the traffic police department too. “From Kisan Bhavan to Cricket stadium, this is the busiest patch of road in terms of traffic but after the slow carriage way has come into existence the vehicle are running much more smoothly and even the accident rate has gone down tremendously,” said a source from the Traffic Department.

“The separate track for cycles and rickshaws has helped us the most,” said Ranjit , a cyclist. “I hope the authority extends it all around the city,” he added.

While majority of city residents were waiting for extension of this slow carriage way in other areas too, the difference of opinion among the higher officials had led the project to come to a standstill, said an official from Chandigarh Town Planning Department. “In the next phase the conversion of the existing six-feet tract from the Cricket Stadium to Punjab Civil Secretariat into the slow carriage track will take place which will be functional for both cyclists and rickshaw pullers but due to some differences in the higher echelon we have stopped working on it,” the source said, adding that the department was waiting for people’s feed back to decide about the future of the project.


Municipal council election scene hots up
Tribune News Service

Ms Amarjit Kaur, a contestant from Ward No. 18, on Monday withdrew her name from the elections in favour of Mrs Anjala Kataria. Later, Ms Amarjit Kaur went along with her supporters to Kundi village for canvassing in favour of Ms Kataria.

Panchkula, January 13
The election fever today surpassed the Lohri celebrations in the township. With just six days to go for the elections to the first Municipal Council here, candidates and their supporters were more engrossed in seeking votes than indulging in any celebrations.

Mr Chander Bhan Goel, president of the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the BJP candidate from Ward No. 3, today addressed five election meetings. His supporters from the Mahilla wing of the BJP canvassed for him by going from one house to another, while the Yuva members of the BJP organised a scooter rally in his favour. He has promised mechanisation of collection and disposal of solid waste, traffic lights at critical entry points, provision of pucca booths for rehri market allottees etc.

Mr Sanjeev Kumar Shally, an independent candidate from Ward No. 10, said he had visited over 100 houses in Sector 9 for door-to-door campaigning. He is promising to ensure that the district centre is made in Sector 16 market — a proposal lying shelved with HUDA for the past many years; finding solution for stray cattle menace, better roads, sanitation and street lighting.

Ms Kamal Kansal, a candidate from Ward No. 5, said she had completed her door-to-door campaigning and was getting a good response from people. She has been promising beautification of parks , better roads, sanitation, doing away with congress grass and removal of encroachments.

Mr V.K. Kapoor, an independent candidate from Ward No. 6, said he had completed his door-to-door campaigning and was getting a good response from people. A retired Haryana government employee and a social worker, he has also been associated with the Residents Welfare Association. He has promised better roads, sanitation, covering the nullah passing through the ward and maintenance of parks.

Mrs Kuljeet Waraich, a candidate from Ward No. 1, today released her election manifesto. She said, if elected, she would work to enhance the lal dora of Bhainsa Tibba village to include the houses and Housing Societies ; create green belts in the area, while ensuring better sanitation and street-lighting in the area.

Mr Amar Singh, an independent candidate from Ward No. 31, today released his election manifesto in Madanpur village. He said he would work for getting development works done in the Panchkula extension at par with the rest of the township. He said he would ensure better public transport, street-lighting, sewerage system and drainage, besides ensuring that the Telecom department release telephone connections in Sector 26.

Mr Davinder Dhawan, a BJP candidate from Ward No. 21, today conducted six nukkad meetings. He said he was getting good response from people and said he would work for the abolition of fire tax, rationalisation of other taxes imposed by the Municipal Council and better sanitation, roads and parks.

In Ward No. 14, Mr Surinder Chaudhary, an independent candidate, went from door-to-door seeking votes, along with supporters from other professions. He has promised better roads, electricity, water supply, rationalisation of house tax and professional tax and maintenance of parks.

Meanwhile, canvassing by Ms Urmil Dheer from Ward No. 4, Lt-Col. Surjeet Singh from Ward No. 27, and Mr Suresh Pauil in Ward No. 19 was intensified. 


BSNL phone lines damaged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Hundreds of phones in Industrial Area-Phase II were affected today, as the underground cable passing through the road near Tribune Chowk was damaged by a construction company, widening the road.

Mr J.P. Singh, DGM, South, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), said, ‘‘The cable has been badly damaged and the staff is repairing the cables on a priority basis. About 200 phone connections have already been restored, and the remaining phones would become functional by tomorrow.’’

The industrialists alleged that the underground cable had been frequently damaged in this area. However, neither the BSNL nor the UT Administration had bothered to pay any attention to the problem. One of the industrialists, said, ‘‘The BSNL is just interested in claiming payments for the damage to its underground cables. However, who would compensate for the loss of our business, incurred due to disruption in communication,’’ he asked.


Tales that are ‘well’ said
Chitleen K. Sethi

As the urban development authorities fill up the last of the household wells, a chapter in history comes to an end. Soil being spread over history, rather its remnants, these wells tell tales which have helped historians recreate history of generations of families.

The earliest instance of a household or private well in India have been found from sites of Indus Valley Civilisation. ‘‘At Mohenjodaro and various Harappan sites, buildings have yielded evidence of individual wells serving residential units. In fact, an archaeological survey suggests that every third house had a well. Besides private wells, there were public wells,’’writes Dr Rima Hooja in her project report on ‘‘Channeling nature: hydraulics, traditional knowledge systems, And water resource management in India.’’

The land on which Chandigarh has been built was never rich, at least this is what is believed by people from other parts of Punjab who were initially forced to come and settle down in Chandigarh. With the exception of two big villages along the old Ropar-Kalka highway, other villages on which the township of Chandigarh and its satellites have been constructed were small, usually consisting of two or three big farming families and the remaining of those who provided service to the farmers.

These families dominated the village and their powerful position was demonstrated in a variety of ways. One of the most visible signs of prosperity and power was the pucca house in which the family dwelt. Among households even richer, their women had local mashaq bearers bringing water from the village well for the family needs. Among the even more prosperous, the well was located within the precincts of the house. These families could have a private ‘mandir’ within their compound. Usually, this shrine was that of Lord Shiva, indicating the influence of Shaivism in the region.

The Household temple with its private well at Village Kumbra, in SAS Nagar.
The Household temple with its private well at Village Kumbra, in SAS Nagar.
— Tribune Photo Pankaj Sharma

Once urbanisation began, these lands were acquired and all habitation removed. Modernity slowly replaced signs of the older habitation, but some signs have managed to survive. Traditional wells lying unused for centuries have been found in villages in and outside Chandigarh.

In Kumbra village in SAS Nagar subdivision there exists a household well and a temple believed to be more than 600 years old. Another such well in Mataor tells a similar tale.

The well was in one corner of the courtyard next to the ‘mandir’. Water from ages has been considered to having purifying qualities and its presence in the household in large or collected quantities believed to keep evil spirits at bay.

The well is hand-dug, about three metres wide. Three metres traditionally has been the breadth of a hand-dug well for local use since this is the size in which two men can comfortably work. Interestingly, as far as digging goes, two men can dig more in one day than one man in two days. The well is about 10 feet deep with about three feet of water.

Brick from the 600-year-old well.
Brick from the 600-year-old well.

This is a brick-lined well, but interestingly it does not have any guard wall or pulley arrangement to draw the water. Since the water-level is close to the surface, a bucket of water can easily be pulled out without the help of a pulley.

The brick is handmade of the kind that has been used in this area. It measures 5½ x 3½ x 1, made of locally available clay using a crude wooden frame and local workforce.

The size is not always uniform. Such a brick has been in use in this area at least for 600 years and an improved version of the same is known as Nanakshahi brick.


Label battle deprives soldiers of liquor

The sale of liquor in the CSD canteen at Una in Himachal Pradesh (HP) has been banned since November 15, 2002, because of a tussle between the Excise and Taxation Departments of HP and Punjab. The liquor canteen is supplied by the Canteen Stores Department Depot, Jalandhar, and the label on the liquor bottles is marked as “For sale in Punjab only ”.

Since HP does not have a CSD depot, the liquor to Army canteens in the state has always been supplied by the Ambala CSD Depot with liquor bottles labeled as “For sale in Haryana only”. Excise Department of HP never objected to this till now.

In 1966, the Una CSD canteen along with three more canteens in HP were attached to the Jalandhar depot. There has never been any objection by the HP Excise Department to the Punjab label earlier. It is only now that this objection has been raised and the condition stipulated is that the label should be changed to read as “For sale in Himachal only”. To this, the Punjab Excise is not willing.

While the “Label battle” between the Excise Departments of HP and Punjab is on, its victims are 10,500 defence personnel, both serving and retired, who have to go without their liquor quota.

To avoid any unnecessary complication, the liquor for supply to CSD canteens should be labeled as “For Defence personnel only”, as was the practice until a few decades ago.

Antique guns

The Golden Arrow Division, which was raised in 1914, has an enviable war record. The division took part in both the World Wars with distinction. In World War II, it won four Victoria Crosses (VCs). In the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak Wars, the division captured Barki and Sehjra, respectively. Besides many gallantry awards, the division was also awarded Theatre Honour Punjab, 1965, and Battle Honour Barki, 1965. In the 1971 war, it was again awarded Theatre Honour Punjab, 1971, and Battle Honour Sehjra, 1971.

To place all achievements of the Golden Arrow Division under one roof, a hall called “Barki-Sehjra Hall” was built at Ferozepore a few years ago. Its exhibits give an insight into the history of the division. In the gun section there are 31 artillery guns, some of which date as far back as the 18th century.

NBC warfare seminar

A two-day seminar on “Medical response to nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) warfare” was held at the Army Medical Corps (AMC) Centre and School in Lucknow. The aim of the seminar was to create awareness about the NBC warfare and evolve measures to combat its effects. The seminar was attended by more than 200 eminent medical personalities and scientists from all over the country.

In his inaugural address, Lieut-Gen S.P. Kalra, Commandant, AMC Centre and School, said since the weapons of mass destruction posed a potential threat to mankind, medical scientists should be equipped to deal with NBC warfare.

Lieut-Gen A.K. Lahiri, Director-General of Medical Services (DGMS) Army, in his keynote address, said in view of the NBC warfare having become a reality during a future war, the AMC should be prepared to face the challenge. The success of medical response to the NBC warfare, General Lahiri said, would depend on the management of casualties. Emphasising the importance of training in this field, the DGMS said that personal protection kits, which could be used during such emergencies, needed to be developed by scientists.

Defence studies

The Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Panjab University is facing a shortage of staff because most of the persons coming forward to teach do not have the requisite qualification and experience.

Incidentally, a few years ago it was decided to close this department because of lack of qualified staff and infrastructure. But then in early 1999 it was decided to continue it by recruiting proper staff. Defence studies have not picked up in India for two reasons: there is lack of awareness about defence even among the educated and there is no defence university in India, unlike in most of the other countries.

— Pritam Bhullar


BJYM signature campaign from tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) will start collecting signatures in the city on January 15 to present these to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan to draw his attention to global and cross-border terrorism and ISI activities in the country.

The campaign will continue till January 26.

This was informed here today by BJYM President Davesh Moudgil and General Secretary Navin Kochar. Among the first signatories would be BJP National Executive member Satyapal Jain and BJP President Yashpal Mahajan. The campaign would focus on educational institutions. 


Extension area residents pin hopes on own representatives
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 13
Having given up on the Haryana Urban Development Authority for treating them as poor country cousins, the hope for hundreds of residents of Panchkula Extension lies in electing their own representatives to the Municipal Council.

With elections to the first ever Municipal Council round the corner, residents of Sectors 25, 26, 27 and 28 and the villages of Madanpur, Bana Madanpur, Nadda Sahib, Jaisinghpura and Kishangarh hope for better civic amenities - water and power supply, sewerage , roads to be laid , especially along the outer circle of villages (phirni).

The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) had created the much publicised Panchkula Extension — Sectors 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 — here across the Ghaggar in 1992. With HUDA being able to find few takers for extending its “prized town” across Ghaggar, development in these villages, falling within the township , has been almost minimal. Till date, sewerage has not been laid here and water supply by HUDA not been started, say villagers.

Says Mr. Gurpal Singh of Madanpur village: “For over 10 years that the area across the Ghaggar was acquired by HUDA, there has been little development here. The sewerage system has not been laid, roads not been constructed , water supply by HUDA not been started — atleast in the five villages . We pay taxes just as the residents of the rest of the town, then why should no funds be allocated for development here?”

Residents of these villages say that the authorities have also never thought of erecting more bus stops for residents and creation of a cremation ground. “Earlier, funds for development of the above mentioned villages were allotted by Block Development office. But after the creation of the Municipal Council, when these villages were included in the MC limits last year, no funds for development were allocated by either MC or BDO. As a result, no development work has been carried out for the past two years,” says Mr. Amar Singh, sarpanch of Madanpur village.

He says that the last grant given by the BDO was utilised for recarpeting of internal roads in villages. The phirni and lal dora of the villages could, however, not be carpeted and made pucca. Once the MC is constituted, we can hope for some development of these villages, says Mr Amar Chand of Kishangarh village.

Even in terms of policing, deployment of force, patrol vehicles and traffic management — this area is not treated at par with thertest of township. The figures collected by TNS show that the entire area in Panchkula Extension has two police posts with a staff of 19 cops — which is a meagre five percent of the total force deployed in the township. As a result, poor law and order situation here has also added to the woes of residents.


Fog prevents Jatia’s visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Fog prevented Union Social Empowerment Minister Satyanarayan Jatia from coming to the city even as day-long sunshine brought the activity in the city back after days of overcast.

The flight of Mr Jatia was cancelled due to foggy conditions in Delhi.

The night temperature in the city sharply dropped to 2°C from yesterday’s 5.4°C. The day temperature, however, increased to 13.2°C.

The city was amongst the coldest in the planes in the night only next to Ludhiana which witnessed the lowest temperature at 1.9°C.

Patiala recorded 3.8°C and Ambala 3.1°C and Amritsar 2°C.

The city had a night even colder than Hisar which witnessed 2.5°C minimum temperature. Even night in Shimla was hotter than the city at 4°C.

The Meteorological Department has forecast that cold wave conditions are likely to continue with mist or fog in the morning.

Minimum temperature on Wednesday is likely to remain at 4°C.


PFA holds dharna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 13
The local chapter of People For Animals today staged a dharna in protest against the dilapidated condition of the cattle pound in Old Panchkula today.

A team of PFA led by its district president, Mr. K.P. Singh, today visited the pound. They found that the number of cattleheads housed there exceeded the capacity of the pound. Mr K.P. Singh said that there were over 100 cattle in the shed meant for housing only 20 .

He said the floor was covered with excreta and had not been cleaned for days. He said that though he had urged the district administration and the Municipal Council to allocate land for the cattle pound near Nadda, his requests had fallen on deaf years.

As news of the dharna by the PFA spread, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh too, joined in the dharna. It was only later that the Executive Officer of MC, Mr O.P. Sihag, was called in and he assured to get a veterinary doctor check the cattleheads housed there and also get the pound cleaned. Hay was also spread on the floor of the pound to provide some relief.


MC scheme to collect garbage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh here today announced its new garbage collection scheme, designating certain places for bringing garbage, to Sector 27 and 28 from January 20.

The scheme has been successfully functioning in Sectors 15 and 8.

Sehaj Safai Kendras of Sector 27 near Community Centre and House Number 3065 have been notified for the sector. For Sector 28 residents, the garbage bins placed near the Himachal Bhavan and those near Gujjar Bhavan have been notified. The MC will withdraw its people from the collection of garbage from other points.

The corporation has asked the residents to make their own arrangement of carrying the garbage to these points, failing which they would be fined.


Youth Cong men warn PUDA officials
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 13
Members of the district Youth Congress, (DYC) Ropar, in a statement issued here today warned officials of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to take strict action against those responsible for allegedly causing unnecessary delays in the long pending works of the public at the Estate Office in the township.

The statement issued by Mr Harpreet Singh Bunty, president DYC, Ropar, further alleged that PUDA employees were operating through certain property dealers who took money from the public to get their work done at PUDA.

Mr Bunty also said that if the PUDA officials did not mend their ways, the Congress workers here would gherao the PUDA office and “set its officers right which will not be in good taste.”


Thieves decamp with jewellery worth Rs 40,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
Thieves broke the cemented roof of a jewellery shop in Sector 41 last night, looting gold and silver ornaments worth at least Rs 40,000.

Falling in the limits of Buterla village, Kumar Jewellery Shop is located in a densely populated area. On both sides and the front there are residential houses. From where the roof was found broken, there is an entrance door of a house, belonging to Ms Pratima.

Surprisingly, she did not notice any sound when the cemented ceiling was being broken by the thieves.

She was the first to notice the theft. When she found empty boxes of jewellery lying on the roof, she rushed to the owner of the shop, living just 50m away, and informed him about the theft.

The owner of the shop, Mr Bachu Ram, said the had gone bock home about 10 p.m., last night, after locking the shop. In the morning when he came to the shop, he found gold and silver jewellery worth Rs 40,000 missing.

This includes 30 gm gold jewellery and 3 kg silver jewellery. A few artificial ornaments were also found missing.

Interestingly only a 1.5-foot-wide part of the roof was broken paving the way for a thin person to enter the shop. It appears that the person who entered the shop handed over the jewellery to his associates along with the boxes.

Later, the boxes were thrown on the roof of the shop.

An FIR under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC has been registered in the Sector 39 police station. No one has been arrested in this regard. 


Man held ‘stealing’ LPG
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 13
A Municipal Councillor here today caught a gas agency-vendor red-handed while the latter was “stealing” LPG from cylinders.

According to sources, councillor S.S. Barnala caught the driver of the Phase X-based Virdi LPG Agency while he was hiding in a corner of one of the inter-sectoral roads near the LIG houses in Phase XI and transferring gas from one cylinder to another using a tube which he had hidden under a towel.

The councillor was informed by a resident, who had watched the whole exercise from his window. The councillor rushed to the spot and found that the driver was in fact stealing gas from full cylinders and filling empty ones. Many residents reached the spot with the councillor, who then got all cylinders in the cylinder-carrier weighed.

It was found that only two cylinders showed correct weight, while others weighed 2 to 4 kgs less than the actual weight. The police was informed and a person from the Virdi Gas Agency also reached the spot.


One killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 13
One person was killed and another injured in an accident late last night. According to the police, two occupants of a scooter (PB-10-AF-9356) were hit by an unknown vehicle on the road in between Togan Naka and Dadu Majra. They were seriously injured. One of them died on the way to hospital while another was admitted to the PGI. He is said to be in a critical condition. A case under Sections 279, 337 and 304 of the IPC has been registered. So far, no arrests have been made in this regard.

Liquor seized

The local police has seized 258 bottles of Indian-made-foreign-liquor and arrested four persons in this regard. Four separate cases under Sections 61,1,14 of the Excise Act have been filed against Manjit Kumar of Sector-29B here, Ranbir Singh of Ram Darbar, Vinod Kumar of Palsora Colony and Mohinder Pal of Daddu Majra Colony.


4 held

The police has arrested four persons — Baljit Singh, Suresh Kumar, Roshan Lal and Surinder Singh — on charges of selling diesel in black. The police had launched a special operation to arrest the accused under the leadership of the DSP Kalka, Mr Rattan Singh, along with officers of Food and Civil Supply Department and seized 900 litres of diesel from them.

In another drive against those selling kerosene in black market, the police has arrested Mohit and Hardayal from Gari Kotahan village on charges of selling kerosene in black. In Ramgarh, the police has arrested Shashi Pal and Mamchand on charges of selling kerosene in black.

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