Monday, March 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Areas near slum colonies to be developed
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
The Haryana Urban Development Authority and the State Town and Country Planning Department are all set to develop areas in Sector 17, adjacent to the biggest slum colonies here by carving out residential plots.

It has been decided to develop this land as a residential and commercial area by extending the road dividing Sector 16 and 17 here so as to separate Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony from Sector 17. The road will also provide an alternative linkage to Chandigarh by connecting at Madhya Marg at the railway light point via Hallo Majra village. An estimated amount of Rs 80.30 lakh has been approved for the road.

Well-placed sources informed TNS that the road had earlier been approved by the state government and the Chandigarh Administration. The road dividing Sector 16 and 17 will be extended and run along the seasonal rivulet passing behind Sectors 17 and 18 here. A culvert will be constructed over this rivulet and connected to Hallo Majra village at a cost of Rs 30 lakh .

The proposal to develop this eight acres of land in Sector 17 (which till now has been lying as wasteland ) as residential and commercial plots has been approved by the Commissioner, Town and Country Planning. Blueprints for developing 208 residential plots ( from 14 marlas to six marlas) and commercial sites , including three nursing-home sites, five clinic sites, one site for a school , police post and dispensary each, have been prepared. The proposal has now been sent to the state government for price fixation.

It may be noted that HUDA had plans of setting up a medical complex here, but for the proximity of this site to Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony, the project had failed to take off. It was proposed to develop at least 20 clinics and 21 nursing home sites on this piece of land . The complex here was proposed to be developed on the pattern of Medicity in Gurgaon. A sum of Rs 89 lakh had been sanctioned for carrying on development works. However, with the master plan of these eight acres having been changed, fresh estimates for carrying on development work like making roads, pavements and parking complex etc. will soon be prepared by HUDA. Sources say that these sites, after being given a final approval by the state government, will be floated in the coming month.

Officials maintain that development on several acres of prime land has been put on hold due to these jhuggi dwellers. Not only is HUDA losing revenue to be earned through auction of encroached land under jhuggis, but also the areas surrounding these colonies fail to attract those investing in property here. A perfect example in this regard is the fall in prices of commercial and residential property in Sector 17 and in Industrial Area Phase I, because of its proximity to Rajiv Colony.



VAT to hit consumers hard
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
By deciding to put off for the time being the implementation of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) regime with effect from April 1, the Government of Punjab and the UT Administration may have temporarily avoided facing a potentially explosive issue which touches the common man, but the trading community is under no illusion that given the new economic scenario in the country, it will have to learn to live with VAT sooner than later.

There is no denying the fact that under the existing sales-tax regime, there has been a widespread evasion of tax both by traders as well as consumers. VAT is supposedly designed to check that. But traders and sales tax lawyers assert that VAT will not be able to fulfil the government’s objective of higher tax collections, plugging of loopholes and minimising harassment to the traders and the consumers. On the contrary, it will lead to an all-round rise in the prices of most commodities, strengthen the inspector raj and give a boost to corruption and tax evasion.

Chemists and druggists have been the most vociferous in their opposition to the VAT regime and have also observed a day’s protest strike. They feel that the VAT regime was particularly difficult for them to implement because they had hundreds, if not thousands, of drugs for sale and it was impossible to keep track of them. Many a time, generic drugs were sold under different brand names and each company puts its own price tag on them. There are drugs which have a printed maximum retail price (MRP) of Rs 60 but can be had in the market for just Rs 10. VAT will make it difficult for a chemist to charge less than the printed MRP to the detriment of the consumer.

According to Mr Hitesh Kumar Puri, vice-president of the Chandigarh Sales Tax Bar Association, and Mr Ashok Bansal, general secretary of the Hotel Association of Chandigarh, VAT, as its name signifies, is a multiple-taxation system charged on every added value to a commodity. It is comparable to the practice of charging a compound rate of interest instead of a simple rate of interest on a borrowing.

As per the proposal, they say, the tax on a large number of items will go up and in a majority of consumable items, it shall increase from 2 per cent to 4 per cent, from 8.8 per cent to 12.5 per cent on others and from 12 per cent to 20 per cent, approximately, on a few more. So, there will be an abrupt increase of 45 per cent to 100 per cent tax and clubbed with the value-added-compounding-system, the total tax increase may be dramatic.

The proposed increase on items of mass consumption like kerosene, cooking gas, medicines and drugs, construction and building material like cement, iron, timber, electrical items etc to diesel and agricultural implements and so many others will hit every consumer in every sector. The increase in the prices of basic items like diesel, mechanical agricultural implements, building material, food items etc will have a cascading effect on the industrial and agricultural sector, which may lead to high inflation.

They point out that past experience has shown that “lower the tax rate, higher the collection” as it is more consumer friendly and administrable. In successful economies with an efficient tax collection system like Singapore and the USA, there is uniform taxation system of 3 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, resulting in an almost foolproof and transparent tax collection system.

They feel that a single digit uniform taxation system on the goods at the time of consumption by the consumer and a reasonable turnover tax of not more than 1 per cent on every value-added rotation can overcome the complexities and stop tax evasion.



Auto-rickshaw owners resent Admn move
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The seriousness of the Chandigarh Administration in banning highly-polluting vehicles can be gauged from the fact that from now such diesel-run models of auto-rickshaws will be allowed to run on the roads, which are not permitted in cities like Delhi. These are known to cause high levels of air and noise pollution. Though manufacturers are trying to get clearance from the government but the critics point out that no one can even think of running these models in European or developed countries.

The auto-rickshaw owners have alleged that the administration has given sanction to models like Vikram and Nandi, which are diesel-run auto-rickshaws and are highly polluting. These vehicles have been banned in other cities. Referring to the recent controversy of the contamination of bottled water, they said, “If these models can get clearance, the need of the hour is to raise the standards, especially in cities like Chandigarh. The administration and NGOs need to come forward to check the entry of polluting auto-rickshaws in the city.”

Mr H.S. Sawhney, president of the local Auto-rickshaw Owners Association, alleged that on the one hand, the State Transport Authority was banning 15-year-old autos in the city, but on the other hand, the administration was allowing such diesel-run models, which were not allowed in Delhi or other cities. Mr S.P. Arora, Secretary, STA, said, “We have nothing to do with the sanction of these models that has been granted by another autonomous body, ARI under the Central Government. However, we have given sanction to all eligible applicants to run new autos after April 1.”

According to Mr Sawhney, 486 owners have applied for permits for new auto-rickshaws, but more than 300 applicants have not been given sanction though the deadline of March 31 is tomorrow after which 15-year-old auto-rickshaws will not be allowed to run in the city. The auto-rickshaw owners have decided to hold protest dharna from April 1.

He said there were about 900 auto-rickshaws in the city which were 15-year-old. The owners were demanding exemption in sales tax and subsidy in interest on loans for the purchase of new vehicles. A delegation of the union had reportedly met the Adviser to the UT Administration, in this regard.



PU student commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A 21-year-old student of the Punjabi Department, Panjab University, died after he fell off the balcony of a room at the second floor of Boys Hostel No. 5 in the university complex here this evening. The victim, a student of MA-II (Punjabi), had reportedly consumed some poisonous substance before he fell off the balcony.

A chair on which the victim fell has been taken into its possession by the police. A bottle of some poisonous substance and a suicide note written by the victim was found lying in the room. The deceased, Manjot of Sector 40, had left in the morning saying that he was going to his friends place to study. The room No. 49, where the suicide note written by the victim was found, was in possession of Sita Ram, who was not in the room at the time of the incident. The door of the room was found bolted from inside, said a police official. Sources in the police said in the suicide note the victim had mentioned that he was not happy with his life. He is survived by his wife and a younger brother.

According to the information, the students of the hostel informed the hostel warden, Charanjit. Manjot, who was rushed to the PGI, died within half-an-hour. A student, living at the ground floor of the hostel, Chauhan, said when he went in his room leaving behind his chair, the victim fell on it.

No external injury has been found on the victim’s body. A case has been registered under Section 174 of the CrPC. The autopsy would be done tomorrow.



PU budget passed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The annual budget of Panjab University with hardly any significant changes. This year as expected more than 80 per cent of the total budget expenditure is on the salary alone. The “budget of constraints” has very little resources earmarked for any development activity which was voiced by a number of the Senate members at a meeting held here today.

The university passed the revised budget deficit of Rs 5742.33 lakh for 2002-2003. The deficit budget estimate for 2003-2004 is Rs 5754.08 lakh. Prof K.N.Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, said the university had managed handsome resources from other agencies including the University Grants Commission and others for construction and other development activity.

Professor Pathak said: “The university has been able to earn more than Rs 20 lakh as interest by managing the grants”. In view of the financial constraints coupled with the decision taken by the Consultative Committee, only 8 per cent increase in the budget estimate for the forthcoming financial year has been made.The increase is too minimal to meet the expenditure on account of annual increments to be paid to the employees, additional dearness allowance, escalation in rates of water, electricity and other prices.

Income generating departments like the University Institute of Engineering and Technology, B Ed and Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication are expected to contribute to the university finances.

In the discussion, Prof P.P. Arya said the budget was largely one with “constraints”. The Punjab Government and UT Administrative needed to be more careful in the disbursal of grants because shrinking grants were not a good signal for education.

Prof Charanjit Chawla said the Punjab Government was not taking the responsibility of the Muktsar Centre as promised earlier. He said the non-aided colleges of the university were not getting the due attention of the government as was reflected from the uneven distribution of grants between government and private colleges.

Prof Satya Pal Gautam said the present budget was like an extension of last year’s budget. With the coming into effect of the WTO regulations shortly, the university was faced with the need to do serious rethinking about the budget preparation in future. Dr Keshav Malhora said the budget reflected a typical ‘mindset’.

Prof R.D. Anand said the university should ask the Punjab Government to stop the financing and instead ask only the centre to take the responsibility. This would clear several financial problems, he said.

A majority of the Senate members in a signed statement condemned the US attack on Iraq. A condemnation note was signed by 52 of the 70-odd members who attended the meeting .

The matter took a serious turn in the very first minute of the Senate meeting today when Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal stood up to condemn the attack. Professor Pathak said this was not the right forum. The battle of words soon extended into the “political” lines and seemed like a BJP-versus-the-rest war on the floor.

Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath, Professor Chawla, Mr Satish Kumar Sharma, Dr Anmol Rattan Sidhu, Prof Rabindra Nath Shama and Mr Satya Pal Dang, among several others spoke in favour of a resolution to condemn the attack on the floor. Mr Satya Pal Jain spoke against any proposal being moved in this direction, saying that this was not the right forum. He was supported by Mr Rajinder Bhandari and Mr Ashok Sachdev , besides others.

Several academic issues featured on the floor in a small way. Dr Mukesh Bhardwaj pointed out the delay in receipt of degrees by colleges. “I had to wait for three days and carry the degrees just one day before the convocation”, he said. The university decided that a maximum time of three months would be fixed from the date of declaration of results for the delivery of degrees and marks sheets.

Mr Jarnail Singh pointed out certain faults in the marks lists. Mr Ashok Goyal said the university had not properly deliberated the issue of raising the fee for normal students. A normal student will now pay Rs 52,000 annually against the present fee of Rs 17,000.Back



Inquiry report accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Panjab University Senate has accepted the eight-member inquiry commission’s report against the Finance and Development Officer, Mr M.G. Sharma.

The report holds him guilty of questionable financial lapses on three counts — his provident fund deposits, his property and withdrawal of certain funds. The committee was headed by Mr Swaraj Kaushal, a Fellow.

The Vice-Chancellor has been given the power by the Senate to frame the charges and go ahead with further action on the issue.

The university had earlier set up a fact-finding commission under Mr R.S. Verma and certain irregularities were pointed out. This was followed by an inquiry by Justice D.V. Sehgal and Mrs P. Mukherjee. The last report on the issue was submitted by Mr P.H. Vaishnav.



Khushboo, Swati, Shiv top Middle exam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The results of the Middle Standard Examination, conducted by the UT Education Department in February, 2003, have been declared. The detailed results will be available tomorrow.

According to the Deputy DEO, Mr Chanchal Singh, a total of 12,590 students from government and some private schools as well as private candidates had appeared in the examination, out of which 9,272 students were declared successful. The pass percentage for model schools was 87 per cent, while it was 64.22 per cent for non-model schools. The overall pass percentage for the 2002-03 academic session was 72.79 per cent as compared to 70.38 per cent for the previous session.

Khushboo Batra of Manav Mangal High School, Sector 21, and Swati Dhaiya of Shishu Niketan, Sector 22, got the top position, securing 666 marks out of 700. Harshit Aggarwal of Shishu Niketan secured the second position, obtaining 653 marks. Khushwinder Kaur and Krati Singhal, both of Manav Mangal High School, bagged the third and fourth positions, respectively, securing 652 and 650 marks.

In the non-model school category, Shiv Kumar Goel, a private candidate, secured the top position by obtaining 619 marks. Shushma Chauhan from Middle School, Mani Majra, and Anil, a private candidate, secured the second and third positions, respectively, getting 608 and 605 marks.



USA has underestimated Iraq’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The ongoing Iraq war may seem distant to an average Indian, but there are many who are following it with great interest and concern. Nowhere is it as great as it is in the armed forces and the vast community of ex-servicemen.

While the armed forces are keeping a quiet watch on the proceedings, ex-servicemen are quite vocal in their views on how the war is being conducted. During an interaction with TNS, they did not mince words on how they see the unfolding events. The former soldiers interviewed were Gen V.P. Malik, former Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen Vijay Oberoi, former Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, Lt-Gen J.L.Malhotra, former Chief of Staff, Northern Command, and Air Marshal P.S.Brar., former Vice-Chief of the Air Staff. They were of the view that the final outcome of the war is not in doubt. The USA will lose its superpower status if it does not win the war and capture or kill Saddam Hussein.

Still, there are important points to be taken notice of. Contrary to the initially assessment of the coalition forces of a quick war, it seems that it will now be a long-drawn affair. The general view is that at present, the Iraq war seems to be proceeding rather badly for the coalition forces and generally well for Iraq.

Saddam Hussein has played his cards well. US President George Bush gambled on a short war. He started on the premise that Saddam will be quickly neutralised and removed from the scene either through an aerial attack or assassination by his fellow Iraqis in a popular uprising. The second assumption was that the high degree of reliance on high-tech weapons will ensure a quick end to the war. Both suppositions have failed. Saddam remains in the saddle in Baghdad despite high-tech weaponry and sophisticated intelligence network at the disposal of the coalition forces, which has failed to locate Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein knows that he cannot stay in office for long. It is certain that in the end he will lose the war. But his best bet is to turn the world opinion against the coalition forces. It is not a militarily winnable war for him. So he wants to concentrate on winning the political war which could have a bearing on the outcome of the military war.

A cardinal rule in the army is: “Never underestimate your enemy”. The Americans seem to have underestimated their enemy. They were not ready for the tactics of the Iraqi army of fighting back with guerrilla tactics. The Iraqis deliberately left their borders open and that was why initially the movement of the coalition forces was very fast. Once their lines of communications were stretched, the Iraqis moved in inflicting casualties on the coalition forces.

Implications of a long war are not good for India. It is dependent on Iraq for oil and if the war prolongs, there can be crippling shortages in the country. There is a large Indian population working in the Gulf countries who could be forced to leave if the war prolongs. This means a disruption in the flow of their earnings to India. India is also the second largest Muslim country in the world and if the war drags on, there can be unrest among the Muslim population with all attendant problems.

Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi: Saddam is fighting an asymmetric war. He has used his forces very well. He has proved that it is not just the modern equipment and high-tech weaponry that wins the war. It is the correct use of even limited and poorly equipped forces you have. One reason of overconfidence on the part of the coalition forces was the quick victory they had achieved in the Gulf War I of 1991. “I am not supporting him or his policies, but I must say that he is a good General”.

Gen V.P. Malik: Things are definitely not as the Americans perceived. Their assessment of the situation inside Iraq has gone wrong. Their assessment of the geopolitical situation also seems to be way off the mark: look at the trouble they have had in persuading the European Union to support them. Turkey is still not cooperating. They depended on a rebellion by the Shia population in Iraq which has not come about. The role of the Kurds, too, is not very clear. The coalition forces definitely went wrong in their assessment of the Iraqi forces’ ability to fight. It will be very dangerous for them to get involved in built-up areas fighting without ensuring logistics backup. The war is going to take a long time.

Air Marshal P.S. Brar: Initially, the Iraq war was planned by the coalition forces as a “psychological operation in which TV and radio broadcasts, coupled with airdropping of leaflets, would bring about a quick collapse of the opposition. But this did not happen. There are a few surprises in the way of the coalition forces. Another point to be noted is the use of sophisticated technology by the air force. It is amasing that after so many days of intense bombing, only about 300 Iraqis have reportedly been killed.

The low casualty rate is due to high-precision munitions. It also shows that while air campaign can be carried out effectively, the problem lies on the ground, which has be occupied physically by the troops.

Media management by Iraq is excellent. On the other hand, the concept of embedded journalists with various US and British units is proving to be counterproductive because they end up showing videos of coalition casualties inflicted by the Iraqis.

Lt-Gen J.L.Malhotra: The war is not going as per schedule. This happens in every war. In 1991, the war was over quickly. This time, Saddam was ready for it. It is clear that there have been several gaps in the intelligence inputs provided to the coalition forces. They did not expect to fight the Iraqis in the built-up areas where the defendant has a distinct advantage. The coalition forces want to avoid casualties. Although they have announced a few suffered by them, but the actual figure could well be much higher. It is unheard of that after preparing for it for months, as many as 130,000 troops have to be airlifted after the war has broken out.



Liquor vends may move to SCOs
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
City residents can heave a sigh of relief. The Chandigarh Administration is finally working to remove the ugly looking liquor vends and ahatas functioning from tin sheds in various places across the city.

The administration plans to earmark a few shop- cum- offices (SCOs) specifically as liquor vends. Wine traders and their customers will, thus, be assured of a fixed place. The administration is working out the modalities as the showrooms belong to private parties and taking them on rent, so far, has been the prerogative of wine traders.

Well-placed sources said the role of the administration would be to invite bids from property owners in consultation with the wine traders. Once property owners apply and the location of their showroom is accepted, it will be notified as a liquor vend by the Excise Department. Paying the rent will be the job of the wine traders. An in-built mechanism to control the rent will have to be weaved into the scheme, otherwise the property owner can harass the wine traders.

To have a level playing field for both parties, the showrooms will be notified for a specified period, say for five years. In the past, property owners have shied away from giving out their property to wine traders. The fear is that as the wine contractors shift their trade from a previous location to a fresh one, they tend to look for newer locations within their specified area.

Once a vend is earmarked, a wine trader, who will bid for a liquor licence of that particular area, will have to open his shop in the earmarked vend only. Tin sheds will not be allowed once the administration finalises its scheme. The earmarked showrooms will be spread across the city, especially in the southern sectors.

The rules permit for earmarking of vends, said an official.

Opening of liquor vends and ahatas in tin sheds has been a ticklish issue. The Chandigarh Administration was told by traders that property owners did not rent out their places. In the past, there had been protests from shopkeepers in some markets.

These tin sheds were allowed to function as liquor vends keeping an eye on revenue from the sale of wine. The sheds created a nuisance. Walking on the roads became tough, especially for women.

The Chandigarh Administration has come under criticism from residents. People living in the southern parts of the city have been protesting time and again against makeshift liquor vends but without any result.




WORK in government offices in Chandigarh — as also Punjab, Haryana and Himachal will come to a standstill for almost 10 days from April 11 to 20 on account of various festivals and other gazetted holidays.

The holidays are April 11 (Ram Navami), 12 and 13 (Saturday and Sunday), 14 (Dr Ambedkar’s birthday). 15 (Mahavir Jayanti), 18 (Good Friday), 19 and 20 (Saturday and Sunday).

If employees take two days’ leave on April 16 and 17 there will be a complete bandh in the government departments for 10 days.

No government has taken any step to normalise the work and to save the general public from harassment and hardship. From banking side customers have not to face any hardship since banks are open on all days except for one day.

There will be only one bank holiday on account of Ramnavami on April 11 in Punjab and one holiday in Chandigarh for April 15 on account of Mahavir Jayanti in Haryana also there will be one holiday in banks on account of Mahavir Jayanti. But banks in Himachal Pradesh will be closed for April 11, 15 and 18, according to Mr S.C. Dhall, a banker in Chandigarh.

There are several instances when many holidays had thrown business out of gear. In post offices, there are special instructions for making special arrangements whenever there are three holidays in a row.

The examinations of all the colleges are to start from April 3 and Panjab University officials are also likely to make special arrangements for conducting the ongoing examinations smoothly and students having any problems can approach the examination branch to get the needful done.

However, sanitation work is likely to be affected as the garbage will not be removed daily and there will be few officials to attend to complaints of electricity and water, as the Municipal Corporation and government departments cannot force employees to work on holidays.

But certainly there is a provision for the employees to work on the days of the holidays and get compensatory holiday later.

There are also no instructions for collecting electricity and water bills.

The 10-day-long vacation on account of festivals will turn out to be a boon for the tourism industry. People have started booking guest houses and hotels, particularly in Shimla, Kasauli, Kulu and Manali. Some are planning to go to Vaishnodevi Temple. Hotels are also coming out with discounts to lure the customers.

Apart from hoteliers, taxi operators and others connected with tourist trade will also do a brisk business.

Poll buzz

Sports circles in Chandigarh were abuzz with activity. Elections to the Chandigarh Olympic Association were one big affair. It was virtually a fight between the who’s who of Chandigarh.

Leading industrialists, senior bureaucrats, former sportspersons and, of course, politicians now form the body. Rana Gurmit Sodhi, Political Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, was elected president unanimously.

His team has the legendary flying Sikh, Milkha Singh, as its Adviser. Col A.S. Judge, a veteran of many sport bodies is the life President. Senior Punjab cadre bureaucrat Rajan Kashyap, the outgoing President of COA, is the new Patron.

At least on this body there is no fight between soft drinks giants Coke and Pepsi. Jaspal Singh Khandari and Kewal Dhillon, bottlers for Coke and Pepsi, respectively, are on the body in various capacities. The bureaucracy is not lagging behind. Vice Presidents of the COA include former Punjab bureaucrat and member of the Punjab Public Service Commission T.C. Gupta, and another Punjab IAS officer Satish Chandra. Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh and Haryana cadre IAS officer M. Ramsekhar is the Chairman of the Finance Committee. Inspector-General of Police Chandersekhar is also on the body. Former volleyball player and now DSP in Chandigarh Police, the soft spoken Vijay Pal Singh, is its Treasurer.

Not to miss politicians, former BJP MP from Chandigarh Satya Pal Jain and Haryana Congressman J.S. ( Babbu) Cheema are also there Principal Ravinder Talwar of DAV School, Sector 8, is the General Secretary. The Principal is an avid sport lover.


The audience at Kalagram was in for a major surprise on the evening of March 29, when a rock band landed on the stage of the complex to present some legendary rock numbers. Given the nature of the crowd that frequents Kalagram, it was a challenge for the rock band to get going.

For about an hour the vocalists and percussion artistes kept playing with the music and sound arrangements, waiting for the crowd to thicken and also for the crowd to get better. But their prayers were not to be answered. In vain they sang to the crowd that looked towards them in utter amazement as they doled out classic Deep Purple, Eric Clapton and Santana numbers.

The only enthusiastic response came when the band started singing some Bryan Adams songs. A lone youngster shouted from the crowd: “I have heard this one!”

What art?

Art, they say, can never be classified as good or bad. With due regard to the saying, one has to make the observation that it is about time this classification began. Unlike in the past when creators of art were sensitive to the requirements of art and were over-cautious before they lauded their creations as work of art, nowadays art display comes easy and cheap.

Anyone and everyone is exhibiting creations in the name of art. Where on the one hand it is important to provide space for talent, on the other it is equally important to safeguard the sacred realm of art. Many experts in the field feel that it would serve well if the art galleries in the city could hold some kind of preview of the exhibitions they lend their space to. In the recent times, juvenile works have found way into prestigious galleries like the Government Museum art gallery in Sector 10. Commercial galleries are also adding to the mediocrity of art.

May be the art galleries could give a thought to the issue.

Charge sheet

Five officials of the fire wing of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation facing action on charges of theft and disposal of goods unlawfully from the fire wing of the MC have been supplied all the documents this week relevant to their charge sheet enabling them to file a reply.

Sushil Gosain and Madan Lal Sharma, station fire officers, Gurdev Singh, storekeeper of central store and Jagdeep Singh and Rakesh Chauhan, both firemen, are at present under suspension.

Interestingly, a fireman, Gurdev Singh, facing alleged charges of theft was promoted as leading fireman despite the fact that a chargesheet was already served on him. The issue is coming up before the general house meeting of the MC on Monday (today).

— Sentinel



Local ragi gets prestigious award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Local ragi Dr Jagir Singh has become the first ragi from the city to be honoured with the coveted Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award, initiated in the category of Gurbani Kirtan. Interestingly, it is the first time that the Akademi has presented an award in the category of Gurbani Kirtan. Meanwhile, Sharayu Kelkar, also from city, has been selected for the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in the category of Hindustani classical music.

Dr Jagir Singh is currently serving as Deputy Director in the Punjab State Education Board. Talking to Chandigarh Tribune about his association with this rare stream of music, which is on the decline in the place of its origin, Dr Singh said that his initiation into the field came easy because of his father’s religious and musical leanings. The affair started way back in 1968 when Dr Jagir Singh started accompanying his father to significant classical Gurbani Kirtan recitals at prestigious gurdwaras in Punjab.

Years later, he honed his talent under the tutelage of many established ragis of the region like Prof Yash Pal Sharma, former Head, Music Department, Panjab University. Having acquired perfection in controlling the soft medium of Gurbani Kirtan, Dr Jagir Singh went on to compose various musical scores, apart from releasing over 20 music albums of Gurbani Kirtan.

According to G.S. Chani, who attended the meeting of the governing council held in Delhi on March 25 regarding the announcement of the award, Dr Jagir Singh has been awarded for his immense contribution in the field of Gurbani Kirtan. He is not only a doctorate in Gurbani Kirtan, but is also very creative and imaginative when it comes to creation of music. Besides, he is also a well-read scholar. He has been awarded for having uplifted the status of Gurbani Kirtan to that of an art form.”

Dr Jagir Singh has already been involved with the formulation of music at the school level (between classes VI and XII). For some years now, he has been publishing a monthly magazine Amrit Kirtan. The literary work has even been influential in getting Gurbani Kirtan accepted as a diploma stream in Punjabi University, Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Dr Jagir Singh has recited Gurbani Kirtan at Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib and Dukhniwaran Sahib gurdwaras. He has also been reciting classical Gurbani Kirtan at light and sound programme initiated in Anandpur Sahib gurdwara in 1999. Famous telefilms Hola Mohalla and Nehang Sahibji have music composed by Dr Jagir Singh, who has also sung in the films.

The latest in the line is the publication of his first-ever thesis titled, “The relation of Guru poetry with music.”



Fresh snow, rain revive cold wave
Our Correspondent

Shimla, March 30
The intense cold wave sweeping mid and higher hills of Himachal Pradesh continued unabated today as the higher reaches of tribal areas and high mountain passes experienced another spell of heavy snowfall while the mid and lower hills were lashed by widespread rains.

The tribal valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Pangi had intermittent heavy snowfall during the past 24 hours aggravating the avalanche threat, weather office said. The mighty Rohtang Pass at a height of 13,050 ft, which was opened for pedestrians a few days ago was again closed and people were advised against venturing to cross the pass till the weather cleared.

The twin tribal valleys of Lahaul and Spiti reeled under piercing cold wave conditions with temperature staying between -10 and 20°C while the Dhauladhar Ranges, overlooking the Kangra valley and Churddhar Ranges in Sirmaur district had fresh snowfall creating biting cold wave conditions in Kangra, Kullu and Chamba Valleys.

State capital Shimla and its adjoining resorts of Wildflower Hall, Fagu and Kufri were lashed by intermittent heavy rains and the sky remained heavily overcast. Thick fog engulfed the region causing obstruction to traffic.

Solan, Nahan, Mandi, Kullu, Kangra and Bilaspur also experienced intermittent rains reviving the cold wave conditions.

CHANDIGARH: Other places in the state to receive rains since yesterday, included Bhuntar (24.9 mm), Sundernagar (4.5 mm), Manali (35 mm), Dharamsala (1.0 mm) Kalpa (4.4 mm) and Rampur (1.4 mm), the sources said.

Srinagar, the summer capital of J&K was lashed by 13.3 mm of rain until this morning, they said.

Chandigarh had an overcast sky today and the city received light rains this afternoon. Neighbouring towns of Panchkula and Mohali also had light rain.

In Haryana, Hisar (0.4 mm), Narnaul (1.4 mm) and Rohtak (2.4 mm) received rain while Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala in Punjab had some showers.

The Met Department has forecast moderate rain or snow at many places in Himachal while light to moderate rain is likely at a few places in Punjab and Haryana over the next two days. Hailstorm and thunder squalls with wind speed exceeding 45 kmp have also been forecast in the region.

DHARAMSALA: The entire Kangra district was lashed by strong winds accompanied by rain which forced people to take out their woollen garments once again. Dhauladhar ranges received heavy snowfall continuously for the second day today.

DHARAMPUR: Torrential rain lashed the town this afternoon. The inflow of weekend tourists to this hill town housing some of the well known roadside dhabhas was affected badly as before the dhabhas wore a deserted look after the rain as the tourists preferred to make hasty retreat to their homes back in plains. Soon after the rain a fog engulfed the town forcing the locals to take out their woollens.



Slight drizzle in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Overcast conditions and a slight drizzle in the city and its surrounding areas resulted in pleasant weather conditions throughout the day.

The city recorded a day time maximum temperature of 29.6° Celsius, one degree below the normal average for this time of the year. The minimum temperature was recorded at 18.8° Celsius, three degrees above the normal average for this time of the year. The local Met office has predicted a partially cloudy sky and possibility of thunderstorms for tomorrow also.

Several youths could be seen enjoying the rain driving around on two-wheelers. The younger ones headed for the nearby hills on motor cycles and four-wheelers.



Commuter’s death: mystery deepens
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The body of a 37-year-old typist of Ropar, Budh Ram, was found near Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Sector 25 here yesterday under mysterious circumstances. It is learnt that Budh Ram died in an accident while commuting in a CTU bus plying on the Chandigarh-Kharar route.

Though no police official of the Chandigarh Police confirmed the information, sources said the victim was going to some village near Kharar when he suffered injuries after he fell from the bus. The sources said the victim was avowedly being taken to the PGI in the same bus after other passengers alighted from the bus. It is not yet knownhow he was dumped at the spot where his body was found. Injury marks were evident on the left side of the victim’s body.

The victim who worked as a typist in the Ropar District Courts, was identified this evening after investigating into a tag found on his shirt. The autopsy was done today at the Sector-16 Hospital. A case under Sections 201 and 304A of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 11 Police Station.



Gurbachan Singh is NCP chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Chandigarh unit of the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) here today: president — Mr Gurbachan Singh; vice-presidents — Mr Raminder Pal Singh, Mr M.R.Premi, Ms Darshan Kaur; general secretaries — Mr Sham Lal Kanoujia, Mr G.C.Dhadwal, and Mr Jaspal Singh; secretaries — Mr Ramesh Chand, Ms Asha Gupta, Ms Sarla Gupta; treasurer — Mr V.K.Gupta; and executive members — Mr Ashok Bector, Ms Surjit Kaur, Mr Vishwa Bandhu Sharma and Mr Shakil Ahmed.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Sham Lal Kanoujia, Mr G.C. Dhadwal, Ms Darshan Kaur and Mr Raminder Pal Singh were also elected unopposed to the National Council.

According to a press note issued by Ms Daljit Kaur, State Returning Officer of the NCP, Chandigarh, the newly-elected president of the NCP has been authorised to reconstitute the youth wing, mahila wing, students' wing, traders union wing and all other units of frontal organisations, with the approval of the party high command.



Pandher panel sweeps Press Club poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A nine-member panel, led by Mr Sarabjit Pandher, swept the annual poll of the Chandigarh Press Club today by winning all seats to the governing council. Mr Pandher was re-elected as President by polling 203 votes. He defeated his rival Mr Naresh Kaushal who polled 157 votes.

Mr Ramesh Chaudhary, who got 193 votes, was re-elected Secretary-General of the club, defeating Mr Sanjiv Shukla who polled 169 votes. Besides Mr Pandher and Mr Chaudhary, the new governing council comprises: Senior Vice-President — Mr Swatantra Saksena (217 votes). He defeated Mr Balbir Singh (145 votes). Vice Presidents — Mr G.C. Bhardawaj (218 votes) and Mr Surinder Singh (174 votes). They defeated Mr Anil Puri (127 votes) and G.C. Lakhotra (168 votes).

For the post of Secretary, Mr Balwant Takshak (211 votes) defeated Ms Rajesh Sharma Jaiswal (152 votes). For the two posts of Joint Secretaries, Mr Akash Ghai and Mr R.P. Sharma won by polling 210 votes each. They defeated Mr Anil Tewari (147 votes) and Mr Ram Singh Thind (128 votes). The new Treasurer of the Press Club will be Ms Chitleen Kaur Sethi (195 votes) who defeated Mr Satish Bhardwaj (164 votes).

Later, talking to TNS, Mr Pandher said the winning team would work for the betterment of the club, particularly to further improve the financial position of the club.

While congratulating the elected team, Mr Naresh Kaushal, leader of the opposition panel, said they would provide support to the new governing council in running the affairs of the club.



Environment awareness programme

Chandigarh, March 30
The Society for Social Health organised an environment awareness programme in Colony No 4, in collaboration with Environment Society of India, here today.

The theme of the programme was ‘save water safe water’. More than 100 school children and women from the colony attended the programme. A rally was also conducted to spread the message about save water and pollution-free environment with banners and placards.

Presiding over the programme, S.K. Sharma, president of the Environment Society, said safe water was the basic need of life. He urged the participants to make efforts to save water as the water level was going down everyday. TNS



Kajheri residents protest land acquisition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
About 1500 residents of Kajheri village gathered here this evening to launch their protest against land acquisition in the village. The residents were mostly from the 450 families whose houses are affected by the move.

The residents demanded that they be treated on a par with people of Kishangarh, Daddu Majra and Darshani Bagh, Mani Majra where built-up houses had been exempted from acquisition. They demanded to be treated on a par with other places which have been exempted.

Among these 450 families are about 40 families of Kashmiri Pandits who have settled here after migration from Jammu and Kashmir. Leaders of the BJP addressed the residents and assured them of their support. 



Narrow escape for bus passengers
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 30
Passengers travelling in a Punjab Roadways bus from Kharar to SAS Nagar escaped with minor injuries when the bus skidded and fell into a ditch close to the Balongi bridge on the Chandigarh-Kharar road last night.

Few passengers were in the bus when the accident took place and the passengers got away with minor injuries. According to the driver, he lost control of the bus just after he had reached the bridge and the bus fell into the khud.



Memorandum submitted

Chandigarh, March 30
The Mani Majra Cattle Welfare Society submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister of Health, Family Welfare and Parliamentary Affairs Ms Sushma Swaraj, to formulate a scheme for setting up a milk colony and allot plots as alternate sites for shifting the milk dairies from within the limits of Chandigarh here. The society alleged that the UT Administration had acquired most of their land holdings and demanded the withdrawal of notices issued to around 300 dairy owners asking then to shift their cattle. TNS



DD city to have 1-hr transmission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Doordarshan Kendra, Chandigarh, is going to enhance its transmission from April 1. The transmission will be between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. from Monday to Friday.@@The transmission will include news-based programmes, special audience programmes for youth, women, children and sports lovers. There will also be music, documentaries and other programmes.



ASI beaten up by mistake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Sukhwinder Singh (17) who was arrested yesterday near Shastri Market, in Sector 22, for snatching a mobile of a Sector-15 woman, Ms Pooja Mittal was today sent to juvenile home by the juvenile court.

The snatcher was caught by the public and some policemen, who were in civil dress. When an ASI of the crime branch, who had put up a naka near the market, tried to take the snatcher to the crime branch, another policeman, constable, Ashwani, took the ASI to be an accomplice of the snatcher and raised an alarm. The public also beat up the ASI who received two stitches on his head.

Raids were being conducted to arrest the accomplice of Sukhwinder. Inquiries reveal that cops posted at the Sector 22 had also objected to the snatcher being whisked away by the crime branch official.

A police beat box is located near the spot where the snatching took place, but the beat staff was not present at that time.

It needs to be probed where the cops of the Sector 22 police post were when the incident took place. The snatching took place near the shop of Mr Dharam Pal.

A senior official said it was a coincidence that constable Ashwani, posted with a judicial officer had come to the market for some domestic work and the crime branch cops were fanned out in the area to act on a tip-off. After the incident, Pooja Mittal left for her home.

Meanwhile, the crime branch has arrested Abhishek of Sector 22, for his involvment in the theft of a scooter.

The scooter was stolen on March 17 from outside the Fragrance Garden, Sector 36.



Gram Shri attracting huge crowds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Gram Shri exhibition of rural handicrafts and technologies organised at Circus Ground here is attracting huge crowds. The exhibition is being organised by Jindal Trust, Nabha, and sponsored by the Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Rural Development. The exhibition will continue till April 6.

According to Mr Vijay Kumar, member convener, CAPART committee, Chandigarh, it is the second exhibition organised in the city to promote rural artisans and handicrafts by offering them direct marketing to sell their products in the richest market. More than 100 artisans from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Assam, Mizoram, HP, Punjab and Haryana are participating in the exhibition. The participants have been provided sheds, accommodation and to and fro expenses by the organisers, he said.

The stalls of handicrafts, especially pottery, readymade garments, wood work and bamboo work have been attracting good crowds. Mr Navneet Virk, executive secretary, Manthan, had put up stall of organic farming. He disclosed that their organisation was engaged in promoting organic farming and training to farmers. It was working, he said, in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in coordination with state governments. The product range included turmeric, seeds, wheat and various spices.

Referring to the potential of organic farming, he said, “The indiscriminate use of fertilisers and pesticides in Punjab and the neighbouring states has resulted in the deterioration of quality of food and posed danger to the environment. A number of farmers have come forward to grow organic crops. The society offers up to 25 per cent grant for the initial loss of crop yield to the farmers.’’ The products have become very popular in the elite sections of the urban society, he claimed.

Dr Anil Sharma, project evaluator, project evaluator-cum-facilitator, CAPART, claimed that the exhibition was the best platform to offer a direct link between consumers and producers. It is offering the best price to the artisans and right value to the customers. He said more than 900 NGOs were registered with the CAPART in the region and more than 100 were participating in the exhibition. The organisers were expecting at least the sale of Rs 10 lakh in the next few days.

Customers expressed satisfaction that some of the rarest products were displayed here. Mr Rajiv Kausal, a bank employee who had come with his family, said, “We have purchased readymade garments prepared by the artisans of Andhra Pradesh, besides some decorative work from Rajasthan and Gujarat.”

Interestingly, the customers after visiting the exhibition were also seen thronging nearby exhibition at the Parade Ground. The 10-day exhibition of various consumer products and handicrafts concluded today. Mr Rohit Garg, an organiser, claimed that the exhibition had been very successful. 


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