Saturday, January 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn clears rehabilitation scheme
Flats for oustees at subsidised prices in Sector 63
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
Good luck smiled on families of 5,000 villagers who were ousted more than 33 years ago to develop the second phase of the city (Sectors 31 to 47), Industrial Area and to expand airport in the city. These families will now have to pay a negligible cost for owning flats which are to come up under a special rehabilitation scheme for them in Sector 63 (near the PCA stadium in Phase IX, S.A.S. Nagar). The Chandigarh Administration gave its consent for this here this morning.

The UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), today asked his officials to prepare a scheme under which these families will now have to pay just the cost price of the flats and that too in installments. Final modalities like the number of instalments will be worked out later. Sources, involved in the issue said it is definite that these families will not be paying the market price.

The Planning Commission, on a request of the Chandigarh Administration, has already sent a report on how certain guidelines for the usage of funds under the Pradhan Mantri Gramaodaya Yojana have been changed. According to sources the Administration is also keen to adopt the guidelines with a view to help these families and reduce the cost of flats as special gesture.

Under the new guidelines the Planning Commission had told the Administration that it enjoyed total flexibility to decide the allocation of grants under additional central assistance as per their own plan priorities and discretion. The six main parameters still are — primary education, primary health, safe drinking water, rural shelter, rural electrification and nutrition.

Initially, the Administration had said flats for the oustees would come at a price. However, a subsidy component was thought in some manner, as per sources in the Administration. This formula was rejected by the Pind Bachao Committee, a body taking up these villagers’ cause. The argument was that rehabilitation colonies for illegal slums were given almost free of cost. Today the committee led by Mr Angrez Singh Badheri, made a presentation of its demands to the General, who called in his top officials and issued instructions to give concessions to the villagers.

In the past three decades, the Chandigarh Administration has rehabilitated several thousand migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. However, it is for the first time that villagers with a Punjabi background, who had been evicted for the development of city were being rehabilitated under some policy. As of date, no policy exists and this was admitted by the Chandigarh Administration in the Lok Adalat during a hearing last year.

In this case, the matter has been tragic as residents of 11 erstwhile villages — Shahpur ( now Sector 38), Bijwara ( Sector 35), Faidan (Sector 47), Karsan (Ram Darbar), Datarpur (airport), Bair Majra (airport), Madhrian (Sector 34) Jaipura (Industrial Area), Chuharpur, Kanthala, Bhaktapur-Bijwari — were uprooted without being issued even an oustee’s declaration certificate. These villages made way for posh sectors. Several acres of shamlat land were acquired without any compensation, allege villagers.

The biggest blow to the psyche of the villagers was that land acquired by the Chandigarh Administration from these 11 villages was also used to establish rehabilitation colonies for slum-dwellers besides development of sectors.


Mopping up operation by police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
In the wake of the red alert for the Republic Day celebrations in the city, the Chandigarh Police today carried out mopping up operation in suspected hideouts of anti-social elements, slum areas and villages on the outskirts of the city.

Special teams, drawn from different police stations, have been entrusted with the job of verifying the antecedents of the persons staying in different hotels. Owners of the government-run and private hotels in the city have been asked to keep a watch on suspicious persons.

Vigil is being kept on business establishments, hotels and public places around the Parade Ground, venue of the main Republic Day function. It being a Sunday on January 26, most of the business establishments in the city would remain be closed. Otherwise, the shops facing the Parade Ground had to be closed during the Republic Day function.

Sources in the police said policemen in mufti had been deployed at the Inter-state bus terminus and the railway station.

Meanwhile, a full dress rehearsal was held at the Parade Ground by the Chandigarh Police. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Gaurav Yadav, inspected the rehearsal. The Parade Commander would be DSP S.S. Randhawa, followed by Inspector Hari Chand. The contingents would comprise of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Punjab Police, Haryana Police and Chandigarh Police. A contingent of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) would also participate in the parade.


The Panchkula police has made elaborate arrangements for security on Republic Day.Back


Traffic restrictions

Certain restrictions on the movement of vehicular traffic around the Parade Ground and Raj Bhavan have been imposed. The following stretch of roads would remain closed from 7 am till the ending of the Republic Day function. Road stretch on Udhyog Path from the roundabout of Sectors 16,17, 22 and 23 to roundabout near Gurdial Singh pump, Sector 22; On Jan Marg from Sectors 16 and 17 roundabout to roundabout of Sectors 16,17, 22 and 23; from traffic junction, near Lyon’s restaurant, Sector 17 to Parade Ground.

u No parking would be allowed in front of the shops in Sector 22-A from 7 am onwards.

u The VIPs and senior officials with authorised car parking labels would be allowed entry from the roundabout of Sectors 16, 17, 22 and 23 on Udhyog Path. The vehicles can be parked in front of the Sector 22 market.

u The general public can park their vehicles in the parking lot of Sector 22 adjacent to the Blood Disease Hospital, Sector 22, on the rear side of Neelam Cinema, Sector 17, in the parking lot of Football Stadium and in the circus ground, Sector 17.

u All buses coming from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and other places to the Sector 17 bus stand would be diverted from the Bajwara chowk to Piccadily chowk to Aroma light point to the bus stand.

u The road stretch from roundabout of Sectors 5,6,7 and 8 up to T-point near, Golf Club and from T-point near Punjab Raj Bhavan to the residence of Adviser to the UT Administration would remain closed to the general public from 2 pm onwards till the ‘At home’ function at Raj Bhavan gets over.

u The members of Golf Club have been asked to use the road from SGGS College to reach the club.

u The holders of “Pink Parking” labels would be allowed parking near the mini Zoo. The invitees with “green car” parking labels could park their vehicles adjacent to the Adviser’s residence in Sector 7. 



Orders to schools on R-Day functions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The UT Administration has issued orders to all government schools in the city to celebrate Republic Day on January 26 instead of organising functions on some other day.

It has been a practice with schools to organise Republic Day functions a day earlier and observe January 26 as holiday. This is probably for the first time that the UT Administration has issued such directions.

The orders, circulated by the Education Department, makes it mandatory for the principal, staff members, NCC cadets and NSS volunteers to attend the ceremony to unfurl the national flag in their schools on January 26.

Education Department functionaries said last year the Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken serious note of some schools unfurling the national flag to commemorate Independence Day on August 14 rather than August 15. 


23 schools to take part in R-Day parade
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 24
All preparations are in place for the celebrations of the 54th Republic Day to be held in the township at Government Senior Secondary School, Phase 3BI, on Sunday.

More than 900 students from 23 schools in the subdivision will be participating in the cultural programme that will follow the parade. While Sant Isher Singh Public School is alone sending 100 of its students for the function, the host school will have 90 of its students performing on the day.

The police has also made special security arrangements for the day. “We will have our force deployed all over the township and some additional nakas will be put up,” said Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, SP.

The march-past will have a contingent of the Mohali Police, another of Home Guards and the rest of schoolchildren. The Tricolour will be hoisted by the SDM, Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, who will preside over the function.Back



GMCH has scant respect for attendants
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
As if spending night out in the open in the absence of a waiting room for attendants of the patients admitted to Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) Emergency is not enough of a torture, security personnel in the hospital switch on fans to shoo them away.

The well-being and safety of those forced to spend nights in the open, in the absence of any shelter could be causing concern to all but the GMCH authorities who, unmoved by the plight of attendants of patients admitted to the Emergency, do not even allow them to sleep in the open just outside the emergency.

“It is so cold that even the quilts we have brought along get soaked and on top of that the security personnel here are so insensitive and inhuman that they switch on the fans so that we are forced to vacate the open space outside the entrance to the emergency,” remarked an agitated Mr Baldev Singh from Sangrur. His son-in-law was admitted to the emergency on January 11 after having sustained a serious spinal injury. A woman accompanying him said that the security people come and pull their quilts and tell them to go and sleep on the road.

Though the authorities have installed a few chairs and fixed fans in this open space, there is no proper waiting room near the emergency. “ In these harsh winters it is simply impossible to spend the night without mattresses and quilts, which, too, prove to be insufficient,” said Ranjeet from Kharar , whose relative is admitted to the Emergency. He added that since only one person is allowed inside the emergency with the patient, they could not go and sleep elsewhere as they could be required anytime in the night.

The attendants of patients, huddled in quilts outside the entrance to the emergency, rue that rather than providing a waiting room which is a must, the security personnel harass them when they are worried about the health of their family member or relative. They point out that most of hospitals like the PGI, have a special waiting room for the convenience of the attendants. In fact both the PGI as well as the General Hospital, Sector 16, have separate waiting rooms next to the labour rooms in the gynaecology departments. The MS, Dr Raj Bahadur, could not be contacted as he was out of station.

The attendants say that at times some of them try and sneak inside the hospital to spend the night, but most of the times they are pushed out. “Though there is a room where we can go and get our quilts and beddings deposited but the problem is that it is not given to us before 10 p.m. seeing the cold one would freeze to death by then,” said a woman from Una, whose husband has been admitted to the GMCH with a fractured leg. 


Smuggler reveals it all
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 24
Rajinder Singh, key member of a gang involved in smuggling drugs across the India-Pakistan border, arrested by the SAS Nagar police yesterday has revealed vital information about the modus operandi of this gang.

Rajinder Singh has been sent to police custody till tomorrow and based on the information being provided by him, the police is hopeful of achieving some other major success in the coming days. ‘‘An in depth inquiry from him can lead to a major crackdown on this entire gang which involves people like Jagtar Singh, Paramjit Singh Pamma, Major Bhullar whom the police has been on the lookout for a long time,’’ said Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, SP, SAS Nagar, here today. The police will be later handing over Rajinder Singh to the Haryana police. Rajinder Singh was arrested by the SAS Nagar police on January 22 night while he was on his way to meet his newly wedded daughter at her in laws place in Phase II here.

Believed to be having strong links with the gang of smugglers operating in the Ferozepore, Fazilka, Ganganagar belt, Rajinder Singh, according to the police is a proclaimed offender and is on the run from jail where he served a sentence for four years out of the 20 years he had been sentenced to in 1996. Rajinder Singh had been on the run from parole since 2000 but for him attending his daughter’s wedding in Chandigarh was obviously worth the risk. The police also informed that earlier Rajinder Singh had attended his daughter’s wedding and reception held in Panchkula and DSOI, Sector 36, Chandigarh, but he had managed to evade the police during these occasions.

Announcing their catch at a press conference held here yesterday, the SP said Rajinder Singh has been in and out of jail for the past nine years and had been in Hisar jail, where he was serving a term for being in possession of 18 packets of heroin in 1996. He was sentenced to prison for 20 years and was fined Rs 2 lakh. While on parole, Rajinder Singh was caught smuggling drugs.


Central Lalit Kala Akademi poll today
Two from city in fray
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
More than a ritual, elections to the council of the prestigious Central Lalit Kala Akademi is an exercise aimed at promotion of arts. For years, however, the condition of art and artists from the North Zone (comprising Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir) has remained neglected.

Three contestants from the region will fight for a place in the prestigious Central Lalit Kala Akademi General Council. After long, Chandigarh will face a precarious situation because two artists, Prof Jodh Singh and Malkit Singh, are pitted against each other in their own territory, dividing the critical voting strength of the region. Chandigarh has 16 voters.

The contest will be triangular with another contestant from Jammu, Mr Harshwardhan Sharma, set to reap the benefit of vote division in Chandigarh. rarely have artists from Chandigarh fielded two candidates. Last year the whole region had unanimously chosen Mr Shiv Singh as their representative to the Council.

This year, however, hard feelings reign because most artists feel the previous year brought no heartening news for their profession. No national camps were held in Chandigarh, no artist got a break at the national level.

Strangely, only two polling booths have been set up for the entire North. One has been set up at the Director, Public Relation's Office in the UT Secretariat, Sector 9 and another in Jammu. That means all artists from Kashmir will have to travel 300 km down to Jammu to cast their vote.

The break up of the voting strength of northern region is — Chandigarh (16), Haryana (21), Himachal Pradesh (6), Punjab (9), Jammu and Kashmir (19). The number of voters in Chandigarh and Punjab are alarmingly low, the reason being most artists of this region don't get exposure in exhibitions at the national level.

Contesting artist at Prof Jodh Singh is Malkit Singh, another city-based artist, who promises to Lalit Kala Akademi centre in Chandigarh..

Standing against these two is Harshvardhan Sharma from Jammu. 


PUDA to slash interest rates
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 24
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) will be slashing the interest rates being charged from its allottees. This has been recommended by a special committee formed by the authority to consider a change in interest rates after the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) brought down substantially its rates some months back.

The committee, according to sources, has forwarded its recommendations to the minister after whose approval the authority will finalise the decision and implement it. HUDA is now charging at 11 per cent interest per annum on annual installments and 14 per cent per annum on delayed payments. PUDA charges 15 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively.

PUDA is charging interest rates far higher than those by HUDA as a result of which real estate dealers are shifting their interests to areas in Haryana than Punjab. Moreover, banks who offer loans at even lesser interest rates are cashing in on the fact that PUDA is charging interest which is much higher than the rates being offered by even the most expensive banks.

It is felt that PUDA has a tendency to try and make a profit out of the penalty interest rates it charges from defaulters, overcharging the buyers. According to a person who recently bought an SCF from PUDA, it charged him a penalty of Rs 20,000 for a delay in payment of one day!

This fact gains strength from a comparison of various forms of interest being charged by the two authorities. While PUDA charges a rate of 15 per cent per annum on the amount payable to it towards the actual cost of the property in case it is paid through annual instalments, in case of HUDA the same rate of interest is 11 per cent.

Among the various penalty interests, PUDA charges 18 per cent interest per annum on a delay that is less than one year and an interest of a whopping 24 per cent per annum in case the delay is of more than a year. HUDA on the other hand, charges a flat rate of 14 per cent per annum as penalty interest on delayed payments.

Most outrageous is the penalty interest being charged by PUDA on delay in payment of enhanced cost of land. While PUDA itself has to pay an interest at the rate of 15 per cent per annum to a person if it buys land from him for development, PUDA charges 18 per cent interest from the allottees in case they delay their part of the share of the enhanced cost. 


City awaits air link restoration

Chandigarh, January 24
Chandigarh remained cut off by air for the twentyfirst day today with all to and fro flights being cancelled till Sunday, while Ludhiana was the coldest with the low of 2.5°C.

Though people in most part of Haryana, Punjab and lower reaches of Himachal Pradesh enjoyed sunshine for the third consecutive day today, dense fog continued to affect the normal running of trains. The New Delhi-Kalka and New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabadis, Himalayan Queen, Shaan-e-Punjab, Lucknow-Chandigarh Sadbhavna Express and a number of other trains of the Northern Railway reached their destinations 105 minutes to 300 minutes behind schedule.

With Jet Airways having already cancelled its Delhi-Chandigarh-Delhi flights till January 26, Indian Airlines (IA) too followed suit and cancelled its flights till Sunday because of poor landing visibility.

Local IA Station Manager B.P. Nautiyal said the fully-booked weekly Chandigarh-Leh flight was again cancelled yesterday.

Meanwhile, the day temperature in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar today hovered around the normal of 21°C, while the minimum settled at 3.4°C, five degrees below normal.

Ambala in Haryana reported the low of 3.1°C, four degrees below normal while Hisar, after reeling under four to five degrees below normal temperatures, had the minimum rising to 6.6°C, degree above normal today.

Ludhiana reported the low of 2.5°C, three degrees below normal while border district of Amritsar and Patiala both recorded the 3.2°C and 4.6°C respectively.

Srinagar had the minimum again dipping to 3.4°C below the freezing point while Jammu was colder at 3.5°C, six degrees below normal.

People in and around Shimla continued to enjoy warmer weather with the low staying at 3.7°C, two degrees above normal. Bhuntar and Sundernagar reported the lows of 1.0°C and minus 0.9°C respectively.

The Weather Bureau here has ruled out any rain or snow over the next two days but has forecast ground frost at a few places in Punjab and Haryana. UNI


MC may penalise Reliance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Municipal Corporation is considering to slap a penalty on the Reliance industries for allegedly breaking a water supply line on the sectors 29, 30, 31 and 32 roundabout.

Municipal Corporation Chief Engineer V.K. Bharadwaj said a 10-inch Municipal Corporation line was broken last night by digging machines of the Reliance Industries. The digging was being carried out for laying optic fibre lines in the area.

Mr Bharawaj said Reliance and the Municipal Corporation had entered into an agreement stipulating if any corporation line was broken, the company would have to compensate for the same.

He said the corporation would also charge from the company compensation for water wasted because of the fault. The line break caused a virtual traffic jam at the roundabout last evening.

Mr Bharawaj visited the spot to personally supervise the repair exercise. Reliance Industries representative A.K. Gulati, said he was not aware about the matter .


Tourism Day activities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Department of Tourism, Chandigarh Administration, along with CITCO, Food Craft Institute (FCI) and Institute of Hotel Management (IHM) will organise various activities to highlight the importance of tourism and its increasingly recognised human, social, economic and cultural values on the occasion of the National Tourism Foundation Day tomorrow. The day will be celebrated on January 25 annually. A tourism quiz will be conducted for students of private and government schools at Sukhna Lake at 11 a.m.

The Department of Tourism along with students of the IHM and the FCI will welcome the tourists and travellers with flowers on their arrival by Shatabdi Express in the morning at the railway station, according to Mr S.P. Singh, Special Secretary, Tourism-cum-Managing Director, CITCO. Further, free sight-seeing tours on Hop-on-Hop-off double decker will be conducted throughout the day.

A Punjabi pop star musical nite by Kamaljit Neeru and troupe will be organised in association with Plaza Carnival at Piazza, Sector 17, Chandigarh, from 7 p.m. onwards.


President’s Medal for two excise officers
Tribune News Service

Anil Kumar Gupta

Fantry M. Jaswal

Chandigarh, January 24
Two senior officers of the Central Excise Commissionerate, Chandigarh, have been selected for President’s Award on the occasion of Republic Day. Ms Fantry M. Jaswal, Commissioner, a 1976-batch Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, has been selected for her meritorious service and distinguished record. Mr Anil Kumar Gupta, Joint Commissioner, a 1989-batch IRS officer, has been selected for rendering exceptionally meritorious services at the risk of his life.

This honour has come as an icing on the cake in Ms Jaswal’s illustrious career. She has also performed exceptionally well in the Ministry of Labour, Government of India, and during her tenure as Group General Manager in the Container Corporation of India, Ministry of Railways. One of her notable achievements has been the busting of a multi-crore racket of fraudulent claim of export incentives during her tenure as Additional Commissioner of Customs at Indira Gandhi International, Airport, New Delhi.

Mr Gupta, during his tenure in Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, played a prominent role in detection and investigation of cases of highly sensitive nature with sincerity and with remarkable degree of success. One of his notable achievements has been the busting of a racket involved in customs duty evasion of multi-crore wherein an attempt was made to eliminaate him by a gang of smugglers, which left him grievously injured. His wife also sustained bullet injuries during the attack.


Bitta: certain Cong men conspiring to kill me
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
All India Anti-Terrorism Front (AIATF) President Maninderjit Singh Bitta here today suspected “certain Congressmen” of being involved in a conspiracy allegedly to eliminate him in league with terrorists who had recently collected Rs 4 crore for the purpose.

“A day before the bomb blast outside the Indian Youth Congress office in the early nineties, my security was withdrawn on the order of the then Home Minister S.B. Chavan and now Congress spokesman Kapil Sibbal is pleading the case of Devinder Pal Singh,” Mr Bitta said, addressing a press conference.

Mr Bitta said despite his letter to All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi regarding Mr Sibbal’s defence of the blast accused, the lawyer-turned politician had appeared for the case. He said a section of Congressmen had been terming blasts aimed at him as fake in a language that now “terrorist” sympathisers Darshan Singh Ragi, Jaswir Singh Rode and others had been speaking to demand the conversion of the death sentence of Devinder Pal Singh to life imprisonment.

Mr Bitta also claimed that a Punjab police officer was behind the withdrawal of his security ahead of the blast. He said he had documents against politicians and police officials having connections with terrorists, but he did not reveal their names. The AIATF chief demanded a probe into the controversy.

He asserted the Supreme Court judgement in the blast case was a slap on the face of those who had termed it as “engineered.” Mr Bitta added that if he died in a terrorist attack, those who were fighting for the protection of Devinder Pal Singh would be dragged to court.


16 more secys arrested
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The local police once again arrested 16 agitating Panchayat Secretaries here. They were later sent to judicial custody in Burail jail by a local court.

They condemned the police action and announced that they would draw a new strategy to protest against the government in days to come.

The dismissed Panchayat Secretaries demanded that they be reinstated and all arrested be released immediately.

When the members of the association of dismissed panchayat secretaries of Punjab were trying to gather again in front of the office of Director, Panchayats, in Sector 17, the police interrupted them and finally took 16 of them into police custody. Later, they were produced before a local court.Back


Abducted girl rescued
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 24
A 17-year-old girl was allegedly abducted by a taxi driver from Chandigarh on May 10 and kept under confinement for over eight months. The victim, now an adult and seven months pregnant, was rescued by the police from the Mansa Devi Complex.

The girl had reportedly come to Chandigarh in May last year. Upon her arrival in Sector 17, she hired a taxi to reach her relatives house in Sector 12 here. However, the driver, Rajan, reportedly abducted her and kept her confined till two days back. It was only when she contacted her family in Ludhiana that they arrived here and informed the police.

Interestingly, the boy’s family say that the couple had got married on May 22 and also presented a copy of the marriage certificate issued by the Arya Samaj Mandir in Sector 27. They also claim that the girl had given a written statement to the police saying that she had married of her own accord.


Body found
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The body of 55-year-old drug addict of Janta colony near Nayagoan was found near Maloya. According to the information available, the deceased has been identified as Tara.

An injection of heist was found near the body. The victim was identified by his son. A police official said the addict, survived by two daughters and one son, had not returned home for days together. The body has been sent for post mortem to the General Hospital Sector 16.Back


Goods worth 1 lakh stolen
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 24
In a daring daylight burglary, thieves decamped with goods worth about Rs 1 lakh from the residence of Mr Ashutosh Khurana, in Sector 71, yesterday.

According to the information provided by the police that has registered a case under Sections 380 and 454 of the IPC today, Ashutosh Khurana, a manager in a private company in the township, was out of town on duty when burglars struck at his house.

According to the police, the burglars seemed to have remained in the house for hours as the whole house was in a disarray and every almirah and storage space had been ransacked by the burglars. Mr Ashutosh has claimed that apart from Rs 2500 in cash and other household items, gold jewellery worth Rs 70,000 is missing from his house.


Dowry case
The local police has registered a case of dowry and harassment under Sections 406 and 498 of the IPC against Surjit Singh, a resident of Sector 30, on a complaint by his wife, Manpreet Kaur. She has alleged that she was harassed and maltreated by her husband for more dowry. The investigation in this case has been referred to the woman and child support unit of the UT police.


The police has arrested two persons — Ram Krishan and Virendra Singh — migrant labourers employed in Sector 25, on charges of engaging in a verbal duel and hindering the police in performing its duty. Two other accused in the case are, however, still at large. In another case the police has arrested Shyam Sunder and Puran on charges stealing iron plates from Mansa Devi Complex here.

The police has also arrested Ashaf Khan on the charges of speculation and recovered Rs 420 from him.Back


Sony to sell products without any freebies
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
As the Cricket World Cup is round the corner, most of the companies are trying to push sales of their products by offering freebies and lucky coupon schemes along with them, but Sony India Ltd, has decided not to make any such offer. Rather, the company, which is the world leader in various electronic goods, will offer upgraded products at the same price, or the same product at a reduced price to the consumer, says Mr Ashish Sharma, Assistant Sales Manager, Northern Region of the company.

He claims the company’s strategy to ‘offer true value of money to its consumers’ have remained quite successful. The company is mostly dealing with customers from the upper income group bracket of the urban areas, where people ‘pay money for the value of the product and the brand,’ and not for the additional freebies. He says proudly, ‘‘while the sales of other companies in the colour TV segment have grown by 10-15 per cent in the domestic market, the Sony India has registered a growth rate of 20-25 per cent in the CTV sales in different regions across the country.’’

Mr Ashish Sharma admits that the price of Sony products is slightly higher as compared to its competitors, by about 10-15 per cent, but the quality conscious consumer in the urban belt still prefers them due to their faith in its technology, quality of products and the better after sales service. The company has already slashed the prices of Flat CTV 21” from about Rs 20,000 to Rs 17,500. Similarly, the price of DVD hi-fi system, handicam and digital cameras has also been revised downwards.

Mr Sharma (30), who hails from UP, has done B.Sc (Mathematics) from Meerut University. He says, after doing an MBA from the Centre for Management Development (CMD), Modinagar, he worked for about one-and a half years with the Modi group of industries. Later, he joined the Sony India Ltd, in December, 1995, and is now looking after the sales and marketing operations of the company in Chandigarh, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal.

Regarding the impact of the Cricket World Cup on the sale of CTVs, Mr Sharma says, “Cricket is definitely a big event across the Indian-sub-continent. Once the matches start, the whole Indian middle class family could be seen glued to the TV sets. It is like a big festival season for the TV manufacturers. Like in the past, we are also expecting that people would pre-pone their purchasing decision and the company would witness an increase in demand. The company has already registered total sales worth Rs 40 crore in the Chandigarh region this year, against a sale figure of Rs 29 crore in the previous year.’’

Regarding his personal hobbies, he says, “Apart from watching TV and reading magazines, I try to keep myself abreast with the latest happenings in the technology world. Since technology in electronic and other related areas is changing too fast, I firmly believe that only those would be able to keep their edge, who are ahead on the technology and knowledge front.’’

How the North Indian market is different from the other regions, he says, since a large number of people from this region are settled abroad, their interface with the Sony technology in the past has definitely helped the company improve its bottomlines. But at the same time, he says, the small base of urban class affects the sales volumes in comparison to the other metros. Even then the region ranks second among all regions.

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