Monday, March 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


It was utterly, bitterly disappointing
All pain but no champagne
Saurabh Malik and Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, March 23
Bubbles bursting at the brim of frosty mugs flowing with invigorating golden elixir failed to raise the spirits of so many cricket buffs reposing in front of giant screens and television sets in clubs and bars all over the city as the World Cup slipped out of their dreams for yet another four years.

As three “star” batsmen of the Indian team walked back to the pavilion with their heads hanging, they pushed back the chairs to pray for the rain gods to sympathise with them. And when the downpour started, they heaved a sigh of relief... till the match started again, washing their hopes of a replay the next day.

For them, and others reposing on comfortable sofa sets in their residences, it was a day of bitter disappointment and pain. All these months they had hoped, were rather sure, that the men-in-blue would open a bottle of champagne after giving a taste of dust to the Australians. The way Kapil Dev had done in 1983 after defeating West Indies.

When the World Cup started, they had shifted uneasily in their chairs as the Indians had struggled to beat Holland. The big loss to Australia in the league match made things even more difficult for them.

But then, much to the relief of cricket buffs, Tendulkar and Ganguly batted India out of the woods to win one match after another. The bowlers also contributed. Nehra, Zaheer and Srinath... all hurled the ball with utmost precision to bag wickets and contain runs.

Then came the battle with Pakistan. For the residents, it was more a question of the nation’s prestige, rather than an entry into the Super Six before bringing home the glittering cup. Soon after, the Indian team crushed their “not-so-friendly neighbour”, boisterous din filled the air as the residents left behind the cozy comfort of their residences to burst crackers. The celebrations continued till today’s match.

Just before the grand finale, members of the local cricket teams gathered in temples for offering prayers. Barefooted, they stood before idols with hands folded, making promises. This was not all. Young designers studying in the National Institute of Fashion Designing, clad in the official hue of the Indian team, organised a “gala bash” for wishing best of luck to the team.

As the clocks hanging on the walls announced the time for tackling the opponents, they changed channels with anxious fingers to tune in the match. For once, Saddam Hussein, and the plight of the Iraqi nationals, that had worried them for days together, was pushed into the background.

Things, however, did not go their way. The Kangaroos started with a bang, the run rate hovering around eight in the initial overs. As the bowlers failed to take control of the situation, they cursed Ganguly for electing to field after winning the toss. They stood up to curse every time the batsmen effortlessly hurled the ball up in the air for a six, or slammed the mass of leather hard across the boundary for a four. Adding to their woes were all those extra runs that the bowlers kept on donating, relentlessly.

As soon as Tendulkar lost his wicket, the crackers saved for the final celebrations were tucked away in some remote corner of the cupboards. India had lost the match, that was the hard reality. 



Free-for-all at match screening 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
It was a free-for-all at Law Auditorium of Panjab University when two groups of students exchanged fisticuffs while watching the World Cup final match between India and Australia on a giant screen. The hall was packed at the time of the clash.

After the clash, two of the viewers, Saurav and Gaurav, both students of science stream, were taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16. A police official said the two students suffered minor injuries on their head and other body parts. They were discharged after first aid was administered to them.

According to an eyewitness, around 3.30 pm one of the students objected to the way a student sitting behind him had placed his foot on the backrest of his chair. The objection resulted in heated arguments, following which the two groups exchanging blows.

Chairs were hurdled on students who fled the auditorium, resulting in more injuries. Till the filing of this report, the police was investigating into the matter. Malwinder Singh Kang, president of the Panjab University Campus Students Council, said the matter had been amicably solved.



‘We should have batted first’ 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Saurav Ganguly will rue his luck for the rest of his life. A seaming wicket with ample bounce at Johannesburg today and his fast bowlers Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan allowed the Australians off the hook. As a result, India crashed to a humiliating defeat. The first 15 overs held the key to the match and the Australians just ran away with the initiative as they knocked up 100 runs within the first 13 overs.

Certain questions will haunt Ganguly and countless cricket lovers in the country for years. Was there a need to play Anil Kumble, as the fifth bowling option proved to be a weak link? Did he do the right thing in putting Australia into bat first after winning the toss?

In the last seven World Cups, five times the trophy has been won by teams batting first and only twice — in 1996 and 1999 — have teams batting second won it. Did Zaheer and Srinath react wrongly to pressure of playing a World Cup final? And was his superstition in maintaining a winning combination correct or was there a need to change Mongia and bring in someone else?

Former cricket coach Desh Prem Azad said: “It was a bad day for us. Winning the toss was a God- sent opportunity and Ganguly should have opted to bat first.” The bowlers bowled very badly and they were not even a shadow of their own self, added Azad.

As the Aussies amassed the highest score by a team in a World Cup final, Sukhwinder Bawa, coach of Yuvraj Singh, retorted: “The bowling was not well-directed at all. Zaheer and Srinath gave away 154 runs in the 17 overs the duo bowled. The pitch was assisting fast bowlers and the need was to only put the ball in the right place.’’ It was unbelievable how the pace attack failed today. In the end, the target of 360 runs proved insurmountable.

A former Punjab Ranji Trophy player, Monish Aggarwal, said: “ It was poor captaincy. We should have batted first.” Besides this, it was bad bowling and the only ones who showed some kind of control were Ashish Nehra and Harbhajan Singh, Aggarwal said, adding that the blame rested squarely on the shoulders of the bowlers who got carried away seeing a pitch assisting fast bowlers. Had Sehwag not got out on a no ball in the early part of his innings, the Indian reply would have even more pathetic, Aggarwal said .

The Secretary of the Chandigarh Cricket Association, Mr Surinder Singh Baiji, was too stunned to react at the hammering the Indian bowlers received at the hands of the Aussies. Anything above 300 was not going to be easy to chase for India, he said.


Guards posted at players’ houses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The dashed hopes of Indian cricket fans here tonight prompted the Chandigarh police to post security personnel at the residences of two members of the Indian World Cup squad, Dinesh Mongia and Yuvraj Singh.

Though the houses of the two players had no occupants at present, the police wanted to ensure that the property of the players was not damaged. The mother of Yuvraj has gone to South Africa to see her son perform. Mongia’s parents had recently moved to Delhi. The angry reaction of cricket fans following India’s previous loss to Australia was on the mind of the police, sources said.



Good luck couldn’t bring Cup home
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
A grand bash was organised by students of the National Institute of Fashion Design to wish best of luck to the Indian cricket team for the World Cup final.
At the party a dummy was draped in the Tricolour, innovatively designed by NIFD students. A best-of-luck banner was hoisted for the Indian team. The entire venue was decked up with posters of cricketers, placards with good-luck messages as also with win messages reading ‘‘Bring back the World Cup, Go India go’’ and many others. Decoration included bats, balls, pads, helmets, gloves and stumps. The match was also relayed on two mega screens especially installed for the big day.

NIFD students also dressed in blue to keep up the spirited ambience and also support the Indian team. They further danced to the tune of ‘Humko hai pura yakeen um jaisa koi naheen.’



Get war on Iraq declared illegal: Medha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Lashing out at the USA and its allies for invading Iraq, social activist and national coordinator of the National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), Ms Medha Patkar, has asked the Indian Government to bring “Unite for Peace” resolution in the UNO and get the war on Iraq declared illegal.

Talking to mediapersons here today, she said, “the attack is unprovoked, unjustified and in violation of basic human tenets, international norms and the UN charter. The targeting of Iraqi people, 70 per cent of whom are children and women, constitutes a crime against humanity.”

She said it was India’s responsibility to lead the opposition on the issue through members of the Non-Aligned Movement. “Far from accepting this responsibility, the Indian ruling establishment has not even the bare minimum guts displayed by Russia, Germany and China. The equivocal and timid response of the Indian Government has put every respecting Indian to shame,” she said.

She said the US attack should not be seen merely as a mis-adventure of a bunch of rulers that had gone berserk. This is yet another outcome of the military industrial complex that under-writes the global capitalist establishment today, she said.

Terming this as “economic terrorism”, Ms Patkar said global capitalism was involved in the worldwide extraction of natural resources with the help of the WTO, IMF and World Bank. “Unilateral military adventure is the political face of global capitalism. It is an attempt to create unquestioned global hegemony that would facilitate global plunder of natural resources,” she added.

Earlier, presiding over a seminar on “People’s Movement and the Future of India”, organised by Critique in association with Sampooran Kranti Manch and Servants of the People Society, she said globalisation had ruined agriculture, local industries, avenues of employment and local and national markets. “Therefore, we will have to confront the challenge of the national-multi-national capital and its politics in a coordinated way,” she said.

“We have to develop and strengthen a new people’s politics to safeguard the lives and rights of our people and their resources with sane, equitable and sustainable development, resisting the dangers of global capital and social-political exploitation and fundamentalism. Such coordinated and united national struggle will have to be undertaken to bring forth social, economic, political and cultural change in our values and situations, to make it truly just, equitable and socialistic,” she said.

Many other eminent social activists, including Onkar Chand, Prof Sanjay Mangla Gopal, Mr Dilip Singh, Prof Laltu and Prof Yogendra Yadav, also expressed their views on “People’s Movement and the Future of India”.

Ms Patkar was in the city as part of her nationwide campaign, “Save the Nation — Build the Nation”, that started off from Palachimarha village in Palakad district (Kerala) on January 26. In the last phase of her campaign, she is going to Ayodhya to appeal for communal harmony.

She said the main objective of the campaign was to garner mass support to provide village communities’ right to natural resources — land, forest and water — besides right to life and livelihood of every person, including right to work.

And to develop a new paradigm of development valued by equality, justice and sustainability by means of suitable technology, democratic planning and cooperative enterprises, not reliant on foreign aid.

Further, she intends to carry on the struggle against casteism, communalism and adherence to social equality and secularism.

NAPM is also opposing corrupt political practices, striving for right to information, clean and accountable representatives of people and decentralised democracy.

Meanwhile, the CPM, led by Mr Inderjit Singh Garewal, here today held a demonstration in protest against “an imperialist attack on Iraq by the USA and its allies” and burnt an effigy of US President George W. Bush.

The demonstrators, carrying anti-war posters, banners and placards, marched in procession from Sector 20 C to the Sector 17 Piaza.

This rally was addressed, among others, by Mr Harkanwal Singh, member, state secretariat, Mr Garewal, CITU general secretary Balbir Singh and the convener of the Chandigarh Committee and Joint Platform of Mass Organisations Bhagmal Rana.

Mr Harkanwal Singh said the USA had ignored the world opinion against intervention in Iraq. He said the result of the elimination of President Saddam Hussein would be dangerous. The Communist leader said the USA had waged the war to establish hegemony on the natural resources of a country.



A meeting with Saddam Hussein
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
While the Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein and his country gets clobbered by the US-led forces, there are many in this country who feel sad over the fate which has befallen the Iraqis.

Among them is Dr Gurdeep Kaur, daughter of the late President of India, Giani Zail Singh, who is among a handful of Indians who have been lucky enough to personally meet President Saddam Hussein.The occasion was provided way back in 1989-90 when Giani Zail Singh travelled to Baghdad to confer the “Unity Award for International Understanding” instituted by a non-official body headed by an Indian MP.

“It was in the year 1989-90 when we travelled to Baghdad,” recalls Dr Gurdeep Kaur in an interview with TNS. “The Iran-Iraq war had just concluded but Iraq was yet to attack Kuwait leading to the first Gulf war in 1991. The award ceremony was held in the heavily guarded palace of President Saddam Hussein during which he exchanged pleasantries with Gianiji and other members of the Indian delegation. Gianiji told Saddam Hussein that he was a great man but power should never go to his head. Saddam Hussein laughed and nodded in reply.”

Ironically, the citation read out on the occasion described Saddam Hussein as a “beaconlight for his people. His towering personality instils self confidence and courage among his people. Full of dynamism, Saddam Hussein is looked upon by his countrymen with affection and admiration. His presence ensures them a great future.

“Born at Tikrik on April 28, 1937, Saddam Hussein plunged into liberation struggle at a very early age. In many trying situations he faced, he always came out with flying colours. During his period his revolutionary spirit grew stronger and stronger. It was to play a vital role in building a new, modern Iraq.

“A statesman of high standing, Saddam Hussein sees beyond the boundaries of Iraq. His contribution to the creation of Arab Cooperative Council is one such example. As a visionary, he looks forward to a new world order based on equality, justice and freedom....”

Later, Dr Gurdeep Kaur along with Gianiji visited certain bazaars of Baghdad where he purchased a pair of shoes. Baghdad was a bustling town of several lakh and people seemed to be happy and prosperous. They seemed to hold Saddam Hussein in high esteem. They also visited Balol-Dana, a spot where Guru Nanak Dev had stayed for a while in Baghdad. A plaque had been affixed to a wall recording the event. The Sikhs of Baghdad wanted Gianiji to take up with the Iraqi authorities the issue of constructing a gurdwara at the spot but the Iraqis did not agree because the spot was next to a graveyard where no construction or playing of music is allowed.

Dr Gurdeep Kaur says that “it is really sad to see the Iraqis at the receiving end of such a massive attack. I don’t know who is at fault but the US action is really highhanded. The USA should have waited for a report from the UN inspectors before deciding its next course of action”.



While the whole of the country has been going gaga over the World Cup, there has been utter neglect of the cricket stadium in Sector 16, once an international cricket venue and also home for several Indian players like the great Kapil Dev, Yograj Singh, Chetan Sharma, Ashok Malhotra and also the latest sensation, Yuvraj Singh. The stadium needs immediate attention of the Chandigarh Administ-ration which controls the place.

The mechanised roller required to prepare the pitches is out of order for the past several months. The cash-rich Chandigarh Administration has not bothered to maintain it. Trainees at the centre have to physically push the one-tonne roller to prepare the pitches themselves for practice. No international match has been hosted in the past one decade since the Punjab Cricket Association built its own stadium in nearby SAS Nagar (Mohali).

The pitches at the venue need to be re-laid. This means the pitches have to be dug up and the base prepared afresh for strength. The last time this activity was carried out was more than 15 years ago. By normal standards the pitches should be re-laid within five to seven years. In the past few years several proposals have been lying pending with the Administration regarding operations of club house. Nothing has crystallised. But first the pitch and cricketing facilities need attention, maybe even a surprise visit by the UT Administrator, Lieut- Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd). Sportspersons have been waiting for the revival of major sporting activities at the stadium which has also been a coaching centre in the past four decades.

Road link

Another road link has come up between Panchkula and Chandigarh. At present the main link between the two places is the road leading up to Shimla. It is getting congested with each passing day. The new link will be via Manimajra — an old village in UT.

Actually the road will serve two purposes. It will also lead up to the Information Technology park in Kishangarh located on the North Eastern tip of the Union Territory. Incidentally work on the road was carried out by an Executive Engineer of the Chandigarh Administration, V.K. Chopra, who was murdered a few weeks ago. He did not live to see the opening up of the important link. The link was formally opened by the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), a few days ago. The plaque also had the name of Chopra on it, probably a way of saying goodbye by his colleagues.

Poor tax collection

Officials of the Central Excise and Customs here are feeling helpless these days to collect service tax. While the Finance Ministers have been expanding the net of the service tax every year, say officials, there is no provision of additional infrastructure at the ground level. For instance, the department is supposed to collect 8 per cent service tax from thousands of drycleaners, coaching centres, cable operators, beauty parlours, real estate agents, advertising agencies, architects, event management and health clubs in the region, but there is acute shortage of staff. And there are few persons who would come forward to register themselves voluntarily. Said an official of the department: “What is the purpose of expanding the service tax net, when 90 per cent of eligible assessees are not even registered. Perhaps the government itself is not serious to collect that tax.’’

No enquiry please!

When most of the banks are competing with each other to offer best customer services, some of the banks are finding it difficult even to arrange a competent person for the enquiry counter. The customers in Panjab University have often complained that though there are a large number of accounts at the State Bank of India’s branch in the university as compared to other branches, but the service level is not up to the mark. For instance, said a Professor, at a number of times the enquiry counter is manned by a peon, who would simply ask the customers to approach his seniors instead of guiding them. Though an assistant is posted there yet she is often shifted to other desks, whenever there is a shortage of staff. He asks: “Don’t we deserve better service from the leader of the banking sector?’’

Lease of life

Never mind the criticism that CITCO invited over its newly-built cafeteria just opposite the Government Museum complex in the city, there is something very fresh about the whole concept. It may have been or may not have been so much in violation of the original Le Corbusier plan for the Leisure Valley, but the fact, at the end of the day, remains that it has actually infused life into the otherwise dull and dreary Leisure Valley.

Now that the CITCO kiosk opposite Natural History Museum section has been closed down, the entire crowd concentration is towards the new CITCO cafe that has been done up in an artistic manner. Interestingly, a full-fledged panel right at the entrance of the cafe has been slotted for the purpose of exhibiting the works of Art College students in rotation. The involvement of Prof Brahm Prakash, principal of Art College, in the project, has also been complete. And its result is there for everybody to see. In less than a few days of opening up of the cafe, life is visible all around the Museum and Art College complex in Sector 10.

Dr Balamurali enthrals

Padma Vibhushan Dr M. Balamurali Krishna was the star performer on the inaugural day of the 33rd Bhaskar Rao Sangeet and Nritya Sammelan that commenced in Tagore Theatre on March 20. What endeared the celebrity Carnatic musician to the audience was his instant mass appeal. Despite being a South Indian vocalist, he served the purpose that a worshipper of music should. The most difficult of compositions were rendered in the simplest of styles, making classical music as understandable as any other form of music, easily.

The next best thing about the musician, who has created over 400 compositions, was his humility. He vacated the stage unexpectedly early. That he did because he wanted to make room for the subsequent presentation of South Indian dances by D. Saraswati’s troupe. As he paved way for the dancers, he explained to the gathering: “I am leaving for two reasons. One, there is another presentation right now. Two, I want to come again.” Quite naturally, the hall burst into applause.

Vague acts

The first day of the 33rd Bhaskar Rao Sangeet and Nritya Sammelan went well, expect for some disturbances that always mark such classical programmes. Some young boys in charge of television and video coverage of the event seemed to get fidgety every time the noted musician Dr. M. Balamurali Krishna struck a note. Little aware of what the variation of the raga means and what voice culture is all about, the boys kept giggling almost throughout Dr Murali’s presentation. In fact, at times they seemed to be laughing over the applauding audience, as if failing to understand the reason behind their appreciation of the musician.

It was only after almost an hour that the said group of boys (seated right in front of the media section) relented and allowed the evening to progress in its serene and melodious mould.

Sandalwood saplings

On the eve of World Forest day (March 21), the Environment Society of India (ESI), planted 11 sandalwood saplings at the Nature Park, Sector 26, and at the Nature Discovery, Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), Chandigarh. Some places in these parks provide the young saplings, host plants with moderate climate required for their growth and development. During July-August a sandalwood plantation campaign would be launched in the city.

In 1994, the ESI had planted about 800 sandalwood saplings at the golf grounds, Western Command HQ, Chandimandir under the natural host — the thick kikar plantations. The plantation campaign was inaugurated by the General Officer Commanding in Chief Lt. Gen R.K. Gulati. The Western Command HQ now boast of a majestic sandalwood grove.

— Sentinel



Widened patch of NH 22 develops cracks
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 23
Barely two years after its widening, a strategic patch of National Highway No. 22 passing through Panchkula towards Shimla has developed “mysterious” depressions and cracks.

Officials in the Public Works Department (National Highway) inform that the depressions and cracks have appeared along 815 metres of the highway, between Majri chowk and Old Panchkula chowk.

Interestingly, these depressions have appeared only along the widened patch of the highway, while the original highway is intact. Though the officials deny any discrepancy on part of the road contractor, no reason for this poor condition of the highway has been established.

The highway had been widened from Majri chowk to Old Panchkula chowk in 2000. A median was constructed in the middle of the existing 7-foot-wide road and it was widened by four meters each on either side.

However barely six months after the widening, depressions appeared on the new patch of the highway. Though the side of the highway passing along the Mini Secretariat is in much better condition, travelling on the opposite side of the highway is a nightmare for speeding vehicles.

Officials in the PWD say that the most likely reason for the condition of the highway was that the compaction of the road metalling had been poorly done. “Also, because of heavy traffic flow on the road, the depressions and cracks appeared faster than they should have,” said an official of the PWD.

Latest traffic census on this highway reveals that an estimated 32,356 vehicles (lightweight - 7,452, two-wheelers - 7,999, buses - 1,665, truck/tankers - 3,471, multi-axle vehicles - 1,599 and agriculture vehicles - 1,336) pass through this highway each day.

Another theory is the possible leakage in water/sewerage pipeline passing under the highway. Officials say that the leakage of water could have also affected the compaction of the road metalling, causing the mysterious depressions.

The Public Works Department is planning to float tenders for the repair of the road . “A new layer will be laid on all depressed areas to make the road even at an estimated cost of Rs 2 lakh,” informed a senior official in the PWD. 



When getting FIR registered becomes an ordeal
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Confusion over the jurisdiction of the place where a Panchkula-based trader yesterday lost Rs 1.50 lakh from his car parked in Sector 27 here saw him shuttling between the Sector 19 and Sector 26 police stations for the entire day to get the FIR registered.

The trader, Mr Jagdish K.Garg, had withdrawn Rs 1.70 lakh from Panchkula branch of Bank of Baroda Sector 8. He kept Rs 1.50 lakh in his briefcase along with some documents. On reaching Sector 27 he went to a paint shop. On returning he noticed that the bag containing the cash was missing from his car. The matter was brought to the notice of the police.

The bag was found lying in Sector 20, which was identified by the trader.

While the police officials of the Sector 26 claimed that the incident and the subsequent recovery of the bag from Sector 20 had necessitated that the case would be registered at the Sector 19 police station.

On the other hand officials of the Sector 19 police station directed the trader to go to the Sector 26 police station. A case was registered late in the evening at the Sector 19 police station after the Beopar Mandal and the Traders Association of Sector 7 threatened to approach the higher police officials in this regard.

Mr Satpal Garg, vice-president of the traders’ association, said all facts about the incident were given to an ASI from the Bapu Dham police post at around 12 noon. The traders also met the DSP(East), Mr S.C. Abrol, and the SHO of the Sector 26 police station.

The association lamented that had the police officials had swung in to action immediately the thief could have been arrested. The vice-president of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal has expressed surprise over the manner in which members of the public were treated by the Chandigarh police.

The traders are planning to meet the Inspector-General of Police and the Senior Superintendent of Police tomorrow.



Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev remembered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev was observed in the city with the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front urging the government to make the country self-reliant and protect it from Western influence.

The Nationalist Congress Party demanded to erect a statue of the Shaheed-e-Azam on any of the roundabouts of the city. A party gathering in its office observed two-minutes' silence to pay homage to the martyrs.

The Electricity Colonies Welfare Association with participation from the colony, Sector 28-B, Sector 26, New Power House Industrial Area Phase I and II and Power Colony Sector 52 B, observed the day taking a pledge to register a protest against anti-employee policies of the government.

Renowned Punjab writers sitting on a fast for the use of Punjabi including writer, actor and director Ajmer Singh Aulakh, Charanjeet Singh, Devneet, Kulwant Singh Bhullar and Gurpreet who joined the 10th batch of strikers, paid homage to martyrs.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Surjit Brar said the martyrs had liberated the country from the English rule. Mr Amrik Singh Puni also addressed the gathering.

The Anti-Terrorist Front took out a procession through various sectors of the city. Wearing saffron turbans and carrying national flags, its activists took out a motor-cycle procession through the city. They later assembled at Sector 17 plaza. 



City may miss date with VAT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
City traders can heave a sigh of relief as the much criticised value added tax (VAT) regime, is not likely to be implemented in Chandigarh from the scheduled date of April 1. Traders have been protesting against implementation of VAT saying it would ruin small businessmen.

Sources in the Chandigarh Administration confirmed that the VAT system would not be introduced in the city from the decided date of April 1 due to a technical problem in its very implementation. The problem stemmed from the very formation of Chandigarh. Under the Re-organisation of States Act, 1966, Chandigarh had to follow Punjab in all major Acts and laws. This meant unless Punjab passed its VAT implementation Act, Chandigarh, could not implement the Act on its own. Since Chandigarh did not have legislature of its own, it could only adopt Acts from others states. And the first preference had to be a Punjab Act.

And if the Government of India wanted it could ask Chandigarh to adopt the VAT implementation Act from some other state. Since Chandigarh was directly controlled by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) this would not be problem. But in normal circumstances the MHA had never intervened on such issues in the past and allowed the Punjab pattern to be implemented. So far the Administration had no knowledge of any state having passed a Act on VAT.

In Punjab the Bill was scheduled to be introduced in the Assembly but this needed to be passed followed by an assent from the Governor. Only after this could Chandigarh Administration adopt the Act for city. But for that the deadline of April 1 would be missed .

Now, if the MHA exerted pressure and asked Chandigarh to adopt the Bill as which was scheduled to be passed in the Parliament then this would require the assent from the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Again the deadline of April 1 would definitely pass. 



VAT: CTCC chief flays Admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
The president of Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, Mr B.B. Bahl today, criticised the high-handedness of the UT Administration in announcing the implementation of VAT in Chandigarh.

He condemned the attitude of the administration in ordering such notifications without taking into confidence the local traders, political parties and even the elected representative of the people, local MP Pawan Bansal.

He said, “It appears that the local Administration is acting under the pressure of BJP-led NDA government to ignore the sentiments of the local population”. He said the continued anti-people policies of the Administration, including the notification on Rent Control Act, would force the Congress to take up the issue to ensure that the voice of people was not ignored.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal held a meeting here today under the presidentship of Mr Jagdish Arora to discuss VAT being enforced in Chandigarh from next month.

The traders have urged the UT Administration to stop its enforcement as the Punjab Government has decided to withheld VAT for an indefinite period.



Chemists’ protest against VAT on Mar 25
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 23
Chemists of Punjab would join the all-India bandh and close their shops on March 25 to protest against the proposed rules and regulations of VAT 2003, said Mr Harish Chand Sethi, working president of the Punjab Chemists Association, while talking to mediamen here yesterday.

He said these rules were detrimental to the pharma trade. He said that medicines were an essential commodity and as their prices were controlled by the Drugs Price Control Order so medicines should be incorporated in the schedule of essential commodities with maximum tax of 4 per cent throughout the country and the printed MRP should be inclusive of all taxes.

He demanded that the list of life-saving medicines must be uniform throughout the country and should attract zero per cent VAT.

He said that as per the proposed Bill VAT 2003 the floor rate of tax on medicines would be 12.5 per cent with effect from April 1 which meant medicines would be sold to patients on MRP plus 16.75 per cent local taxes i.e. now the medicines would become costly.



Residents gherao police station
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 23
Tensions prevailed at Naya Gaon police station when around 50 residents of Janta Colony gheraoed the police station here this morning. They were agitated over the registration of a case against five youths of the colony.

However, SHO Amarpreet Singh claimed that the police station was not gheraoed and in fact the two parties who had made complaints against each other were called at the police station to reach a compromise. “The people who had gathered at the police station had nothing to do with the case that was registered on Holi”, he said. As per information available, the police had registered a case against Sunil Kumar, Mukesh Kumar, Mansa Ram, Krishna and Kala under Sections 323, 341, 148 and 149 of the IPC. They had been accused of assaulting Suraj, a resident of the colony. The protesters lead by Mr Maha Singh claimed that Suraj was not assaulted by the youths.



Couple hurt in cylinder blast
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 23
A couple was seriously injured in Kalka today when an LPG cylinder burst in their house. The victims— Surinder Singh and his wife Rajinder Kaur— were taken to the Civil Hospital, Kalka, but were later referred to the PGI, Chandigarh. The gas pipe of the cylinder started leaking when Rajinder Kaur was cooking lunch. Her husband was sitting in a room near the kitchen when the cylinder bursted.

In another case a woman, Reshma, sustained 90 per cent burns when her stove bursted. 



Gang kingpin booked for extortion
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 23
Tightening its noose around a gang operating in Pinjore, the police has now booked the kingpin of the gang, Amarjit Singh Bawa, a Congress leader, on charges of extortion from taxi drivers of Kalka.

According to an FIR registered under Sections 406, 408, 383, 384, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of IPC, Amarjit, who is an office-bearer of the Taxi Union, Kalka, along with other office-bearers — Devinder Kumar Jain, Sanjay Saini, Vivek Bhardwaj, Narendra Kumar and Thakur Das Sharma — have been accused of extorting lakhs of rupees from taxi drivers since 1994.

These office-bearers have been accused of taking at least Rs 10,000 from each taxi driver wanting to join the union.

The police had set up an investigating team from amongst the CIA Staff to nab the gang. This gang is involved in around 60 cases of assault, criminal intimidation and rioting registered in Pinjore, Kalka and in Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh.

This comes a fortnight after the police arrested Ramandeep alias Shammi, a lieutenant of this gang, in a case of criminal intimidation and assault from near the district courts. Ramandeep along with five others — Sukhjinder, Satish, Pradeep alias Deepu, Rajesh and Balram — had threatened a Pinjore businessman, Mr Ramesh Gupta, and assaulted him when he had come to the courts as a petitioner in one of the cases against them. Mr Gupta has now accused this gang of threatening him and sought police protection.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune, said the arrest of Shammi had brought to light their involvement in 61 cases of land grabbing in Pinjore, Kalka and Parwanoo. He said the CIA Staff had now been entrusted with conducting a probe into the cases registered against the gang and a list of cases registered against the gang has already been compiled.

The police will now keep a 24-hour vigil on the main members of this gang and also give a security cover to those who have lodged police complaints against them.

Giving details of this gang, Mr Sharma said the gang had been active in Pinjore and Kalka for the past 25 years, while their clandestine operations in Parwanoo had been reported since 1990 onwards. “The gang used to buy disputed property for a song and use their henchmen to vacate such properties from tenants/occupants. If cases were registered against the gang, they used to approach the courts and get bail. They then used to threaten the complainants and ensure a compromise,” he said.

It is learned that as many as 10 cases have been registered against them in Pinjore (in five they have been acquitted and a compromise worked out in one), 24 cases in Kalka (20 are still sub judice) and 27 cases in Parwanoo. The police says the gang is run by three brothers and their sons and they have a team of around 40 henchmen working under them.



Tractor-trailer runs over, kills boy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
A 15-year-old domestic help, Ramu, who was working at a Sector 16 house in Panchkula, died after being hit by a tractor-trailer at the housing board traffic lights here today. The victim was coming from Mani Majra on his bicycle when the mishap took place.

A police official said the victim had gone there to buy shoes. Ramu was referred to the General Hospital, Sector 16, from the Mani Majra hospital. He was declared brought dead Ramu hailed from Uttar Pradesh. A case has been registered under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC.

Meanwhile, a resident of Sector 44, Usha, was admitted to the PGI after she fell unconscious on being hit by a vehicle in Sector 32 here today. Her condition was stated to be critical.

In another case a scooterist was injured when he was run over by a Maruti van at the traffic lights of Sector 19 and 27. The injured was taken to the PGI.

Cash stolen: Mr Satish Kumar, a resident of Ram Darbar, reported that Rs 91,000 was stolen from his car parked outside the district courts in Sector 17.

In another case Abhishek, a resident of Sector 15, complained that his computer was stolen from his room.

Jewellery snatched: Ms Manu Yadav, a resident of Sector 29, complained to the police that Ajay Kumar, a resident of Phase I, SAS Nagar, who had taken lift in her car near the Government Press traffic lights, had snatched her gold chain and gold ring. A case has been registered at the Sector 17 police station.



ATM inaugurated at Lake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Ms Vibha Agarwal wife of Mr Yogesh Agarwal, Chief General Manager, State Bank of India, inaugurated the 15th ATM of the bank at Sukhna Lake today.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Agarwal said that to facilitate the tourists and residents of the city, all these ATMs would be networked with more than other 750 ATMs of the bank. It would provide ‘‘anywhere banking’’ across the country.

The new ATM at the lake, he said, would fulfil the long-pending demand of the residents and tourists. He said the SBI had plans to add 1,500 ATMs by March 2004 to the existing strength of 1200 ATMs. This would provide biggest single network for ‘‘anytime anywhere’’ banking in the country.

Mr Agarwal said out of 70 ATMs in Chandigarh circle, 35 had been already networked and the remaining would be networked by May 15, 2003. He said that the bank had planned to add 75 ATMs in Chandigarh circle during the next year.

Two networked ATMs would be added by March 31, 2003 in Sector 8 and UT secretariat. He said the bank has already converted all its existing ATM cards to ATM-cum-debit cards. The dual function cards were available to customers without any extra cost, he said.

Mr Agarwal further informed that SBI has decided to adopt single window system (SWS) at all its computerised branches in a phased manner. 



Vinod Mittal CCI chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 23
Mr Vinod Mittal has been unanimously elected as the President of the Chamber of Chandigarh Industries (CCI) for 2003-04. Other office-bearers include Vice- President Pawan Manchanda, General Secretary A.L. Aggarwal, Finance Secretary Sunil Aggarwal and Joint Secretary Sanjeev Singla. 


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