Saturday, April 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Several CBSE-prescribed textbooks not available
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
As the new academic sessions get underway in city schools, textbooks prescribed by the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) for several subjects are still not available, which is likely to affect teaching work. These books are published and printed by the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT).

CBSE sources say that the publication of the books has been delayed due to changes made in the syllabus of some subjects. While most NCERT books are yet to arrive, books brought out by private publishers are available in plenty.

Though there are no restrictions on private schools prescribing textbooks brought out by private publishers government schools, as a policy matter, restrict themselves to books published by NCERT. This is because NCERT books are relatively inexpensive.

Among NCERT books reported to be unavailable in the city are science and social studies books for Class - X. For class XII, books for all subjects except economics and Hindi are unavailable. For lower classes, books of just one or two subjects have arrived in the market so far.

“The books are in the process of arriving. While some books are available, some are yet to arrive,” said Vikas Manchanda of a Sector 19 bookstore dealing in NCERT books. He added that they expect all books to be available in about 15 days’ time.

Several bookshop owners in Sector 22 also confirmed that a majority of NCERT books are still to arrive and they are getting daily querries in this regard from parents and students.

Another reason cited by some booksellers for non-availability of books at the start of the session is that UT Education Department’s academic schedule is different from several other institutions and organisations. “In Chandigarh, the classes began on April 1, whereas the session of Central Schools or Kendriya Vidalayas starts in May,” a CBSE official commented.

Although the teaching work is being effected in government schools, private schools seem to be unaffected by the situation.

This year the NCERT has combined biology, physics and chemistry into a single science book, where as private publishers continue to come up with separate editions. Also, books by private publishers tend to be expensive. “For example if a set of NCERT books costs about Rs 500, books on the same subjects by private publishes could cost two-three times more,” a Sector 17 bookseller said.


Retrenchment process begins?
Admn seeks option from 6,700 MC employees
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Chandigarh Administration has set in motion what employees of the Municipal Corporation perceive as a process for retrenchment of more than 2,200 of its transferred MC employees.

The Administration has sought options till June 12 from nearly 6,700 transferred employees from the Administration to the Municipal Corporation as to they will like to be absorbed in the corporation or go back to the Chandigarh Administration where they may have to face retrenchment if there posts do not exist.

The demand of option in the language given in the proforma has sent a chill down the spine of the employees, who find the mention of "retrenchment" as an attempt to force the transferred MC employees to remain with the municipal body through a "veiled" warning.

The option proforma for employees in whose case the parent cadre exists says: "I ... working as ... in the ... am willing to become a regular employee of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh."

Another option notes: "I ... working as ... in the ... am not willing to become a regular employee of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh. I understand that if I am found surplus in the Chandigarh Administration based on availability of posts and seniority, then I will be liable to be retrenched."

The proforma for those in whose case the parent cadre does not exist says: "I ... working as ... in the ... am willing to become the regular employee of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, as the cadre on which I am borne in the Chandigarh Administration no longer exists." or,

"I ... working as ... in the ... am not willing to become a regular employee of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, and prepared to be declared surplus and face retrenchment as the cadre which I am borne in the Chandigarh Administration no longer exists.”

In an official communication, the Administration has mentioned that the options have been sought in compliance with the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order which was upheld by the high court. The option has come contrary to the demand of the corporation employees to treat them on “deemed deputation”, for which political parties have been supporting workers’ unions.

The option is likely to hit the work-charged and daily-wage employees numbering around 2,200. Official sources in the corporation say with the large number of engineering and sanitation activities going on contract basis, these employees did not have any work to do. The Engineering Wing, however, does not concede that it has a large number of “surplus” employees.

The sources said after obtaining options, the Administration will prepare a list for absorption on the basis of seniority and those not fitting into it might face retrenchment. After drawing the seniority list, employees found surplus will be given a second option as to whether they would like to go back to the corporation or face retrenchment.

This problem may be faced by those departments whose responsibilities are divided between the Administration and the MC.

Unofficially, the MC has been of the view that its surplus staff should be taken back by the Administration to save it an additional burden of the wage bill.


High velocity winds sweep city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
High velocity winds accompanied by rain in the evening partially affected the life in the city.

Though no reports of any damage were received, yet the wind continuing during the day was strong enough to affect two-wheeler riders. They found it difficult to drive vehicles and complained of going off balance several times.

Officials of the Meteorological Department said the winds and rain in the evening were caused by a westerly disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir and neighbouring areas and part of west Rajasthan and Haryana.

The city and its surrounding areas became a low-pressure zone to attract high velocity winds, they said. The temperature, however, remained at 33.2°C, 1°C above normal.


Another city-Mohali road link ready
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Another road link between the city and its neighbouring township of SAS Nagar is ready for opening. Running south of Sector 48 and 49 the new road will join the road dividing phase X and XI of SAS Nagar. At present the road is being given final touches and is slated to be opened on April 7.

At present the road is closed as re-alignment of some high tension power lines has to be carried out and also of underground pipes carrying various other services. A small roundabout is presently under construction at the crossing of Sector 48 and 49. The intersection will become very busy once it is a thoroughfare for SAS Nagar.

It may be recollected that there had been a huge demand from residents to have more link roads with SAS Nagar. About three years ago, at a high-level meeting of Punjab and UT officials it had been decided to link all the south-bound roads of Chandigarh with SAS Nagar. Though work on the road had started two years ago the delay had been caused as the area is low-lying and required land fill. A bridge was to be constructed. All this also meant some funds were to be given by Punjab.

Now the bridge is ready and the road will have a dual carriageway. This will shorten the distance for commuters headed for SAS Nagar.

An illegal slum colony had also sprung up which was removed and it entailed removing of people from lands which had been acquired for this purpose. Also a structure was claimed by a religious unit. This took up a lot of time to remove and when orders were issued for demolition, it snowballed into a major controversy with the Administration then promising an alternative site.


70 jhuggis razed in Sector 57
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 4
In a major operation by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), an illegal colony in Sector 57 was razed to the ground here today amidst residents throwing stones at a team of the PUDA enforcement wing. A PUDA SDO and a junior engineer suffered minor injuries.

The operation which started early this morning had to be stalled in the afternoon when the residents of the colony turned violent and pelted four members of the team with stones. This was followed by some other residents rushing at the team with lathis. The operation was stopped immediately and police protection called for. Around 20 policemen arrived at the site and the operation was resumed. Over 70 jhuggis were demolished, razing to the ground, the complete colony. More than 350 persons were rendered homeless

Around 146 illegal structures had been built by migrant labourers over the past few years in the area. PUDA had been demolishing these jhuggis in a phased manner over the past one month destroying around 10 structures each day.

Many vacated their jhuggis before these were razed. Women and children were seen sitting on their belongings in the open.

PUDA officials had issued warnings to around 700 residents and many of them according to the officials vacated their jhuggis and shifted on their own. But a majority of residents continued to live in their jhuggis. The operation will continue in another colony in the same sector tomorrow.


Mayor orders inquiry into parking fee issue
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

MC official reacts

The Executive Engineer Mr S.K. Chadha, who has been assigned the task of inspecting the parking lots by the Mayor, when contacted today, specifically raised the matter of Mr B.S. Gill’s complaint. He said, “Your report is wrong. You have used the picture of the board which does not belong to Mr Gill. But you have used the parking slip of his parking lot.” It may again be clarified to the MC official that neither the news report nor the pictures anywhere mention this link. The issue is not Mr Gill; the issue is how the pass parking lot contractors are overcharging people and getting away with it.

Chandigarh, April 4
Acting on the report published in Chandigarh Tribune yesterday, the Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, today sought an inquiry into the matter of overcharging of parking fee by contractors of pass parking lots in Sector 17.

The issue of overcharging by these contractors was highlighted in the news report , “Contractors forging slips to fleece people”, published in Chandigarh Tribune yesterday. Taking cognisance of the sensitive issue, the Mayor has directed the Executive Engineer, (Division I), Mr S.K. Chadha, to prepare a status report of the pass parking lots and the way they are functioning. The report is likely to be submitted by April 9, according to sources in the Municipal Corporation.

The Mayor said some complaints of overcharging had been received earlier. He said site inspections of pass parking lots in question had been ordered and the reports were awaited. “Even if people miss the rate list, the contractors are bound by terms to charge them the permitted rates. If guilty, the contractors will be charged a fine of Rs 1,000 per day. Their parking lots may also be cancelled,” said the mayor,

The Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr Ashok Vasistha, confirmed the overcharging issues as had been considered and a report had been sought on the same. He said the report would be submitted by April 8, and after that the MC would decide what action to take.

Meanwhile, Mr B.S. Gill, a contractor, has reacting to the news report and the photograph published in Chandigarh Tribune yesterday, submitted a complaint to the Additional Commissioner, MC, saying that he was not overcharging. It may be clarified that the photograph of a parking slip, published as inset in Chandigarh Tribune yesterday, clearly mentions Rs 5 as the rate for parking a car at the pass parking lot No 5. The slip belongs to Mr B.S. Gill. Further, whereas the slip mentions location of the parking lot as Gurdev Studios (which is a paid parking lot with Rs 5 as per entry parking fee for cars), it was actually issued to this reporter from the pass parking lot located near the entry point to the General Post Office (where parking rate for a car is Rs 2.50).

Further referring to the published photograph of the parking lot board (in which rates have been wiped off), Mr Gill has requested the MC to inspect the said site, saying the board does not belong to him. To clarify, nowhere does the news report or the caption of the photograph used mentioned that the pass parking lot board from which the rates had been wiped off belonged to Mr Gill. The caption clarifies that the board in question is located opposite Regional Computer Centre, Sector 17 B.

Mr Gill has also complained that the parking slip, (published in Chandigarh Tribune as inset), does not show signature, date or vehicle number. If he paid attention to the published photograph of the slip, he will see that the vehicle number has been clerly mentioned as 160. The only, thing is that it has not been mentioned of the place where it should ideally have been. As for the missing date and signature, it shows how callously the employees at parking lots are functioning.Back


Juvenile boards yet to be set up
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Incredible, but true. Two years have lapsed since the Juvenile Justice (Care and Prevention) Act came into force, but Juvenile Welfare Boards are yet to be constituted in the states of Punjab and Haryana, besides the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

In fact, the authorities are still in the process of setting up the boards. Haryana is “contemplating the setting up of four boards” at Gurgaon, Sonepat, Ambala and Hissar. Punjab wants to constitute just two boards, one at Ludhiana and the other at Faridkot. The Chandigarh Administration plans to have one board.

Authorities insist that the exercise of selecting the representatives for the Sonepat Board has already been completed. Another 15 days, at the most, would be required for constituting the other three boards, if required.

Punjab state, authorities confirm, has received nominations for the appointment of two members. The government is merely waiting for the nomination of judicial officers for heading the boards. The Chandigarh Administration is not far behind. It has also “completed the exercise of selecting two members, other than the judicial member”.

Appearing before Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a related case, counsel for Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh submitted that the requisite notification would be issued within seven days of receiving intimation by the High Court regarding the officers to be nominated as board members.

Taking up the petition filed by a 17-year-old Patiala resident, Mr Justice Dutt granted Joint Registrar S.K. Goel time till April 7 for clarifying the High Court stand “as to which officers it would like to be nominated on the boards being set up under the provisions of the Act so as the constitution of the Juvenile Welfare Boards hanging fire since April 2001— the date on which the Act became operational — could be completed”.

A “juvenile” or a “child”, as defined in the Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, is “a person who has not completed 18 years of age. “Juvenile in conflict with law” is referred to “a juvenile who has allegedly committed an offence” punishable under “any law for the time being in force”.

What is a board

The board is set up for “exercising the powers and discharging the duties conferred or imposed on such boards in relation to the juveniles in conflict with the law under the Act”. According to it, the state government may, by notification in the official gazette, constitute for a district or a group of districts, one or more boards.

It shall consist of a first class Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate, besides two social workers of “whom at least one shall be a woman”. No Magistrate shall be appointed as a member of the board unless he has special knowledge or training in child psychology, besides welfare. No social worker shall be appointed unless he has been actively involved in health, education, or welfare activities, pertaining to children, for at least seven years.


Admn gets tough against vendors
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, April 4
Residents look out. If you are manufacturing or selling food stuff in hotels, dhabas, bakery, or on hand carts, just go and get a licence. Otherwise, you find yourself in trouble soon after the expiry of the deadline set by the Health Department of the Chandigarh Administration.

The authorities have decided to challan defaulters from May 1. According to sources in the department, you will have to get a licence or get the old one renewed by April 31.

Sources confirm that 10 per cent of the original amount will be charged as late fee during the first six months and 20 per cent thereafter.

The process of issuing the licences has started. Rather, the response is “remarkably good”, if you go by the demand for the application forms. In just two days, 300 forms have been picked up by the residents free of cost. Ten forms have been submitted at the Sector-22 office of the Licensing Authority.

Sources confirm that soon after receiving the forms, Health Department officials will go from shop to shop for carrying out physical verification regarding the compliance of the terms and conditions mentioned in the form.

They add that fresh licences will go a long way in checking food adulteration and spread of other diseases in the city as the conditions are quite “stringent”.

In fact, the businessmen in the city are complaining about the conditions. “They are too technical with a lot of emphasis on minor details,” they assert. “Complying with them is not going to be easy”.

As per the conditions, vendors should be immaculately dressed up, besides being “free from any infectious diseases”. Also, the food articles will have to be kept in “glass cases and clean vessels”. This is not all. Every utensil or container, used for manufacturing or storing articles, should not be “imperfectly enamelled”.

Senior Food Inspector M.K. Sharma, said the conditions mentioned in the form were strictly in accordance with the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.

Entrusted with the responsibility of formulating the licence conditions, Mr Sharma adds, “These were included in the form so that manufacturers and sellers know exactly what is required and how to go about the process of fulfilling the necessary formalities”.


Panel to go into recovery from Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Congress-controlled Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation today set up a five-member committee to go into the recovery of more than Rs 24 lakh from former BJP Mayor Gian Chand Gupta to attract an allegation of indulging in an “eyewash” from Congress councillor Chandermukhi Sharma.

The decision to set up the committee was taken by the F&CC at its meeting held here today. The committee will be led by a nominated F&CC member, Brig Sant Singh (retd), and other members will be notified later.

Mr Chandermukhi Sharma who had sent an agenda seven months back for the recovery of the amount on an alleged lapse of keeping the paid parking in abeyance without a decision by the corporation House. The Mayor explained that the committee had to be set up to decide a crucial question whether the then House by approving Mr Gupta’s decision post facto had not violated Section 416 of the Municipal Corporation Act.

This will also decide whether the House authority supersede the Act itself or the Act is supreme.

Mr Sharma said instead of delaying the recovery from Mr Gupta the inquiry should be conducted into why recovery had not been made during the past seven months despite audit objections.

The Congress councillor, who has been kept away from the chairmanship of any of 13 committees during the past two terms said why full details on the matter were not placed before the House despite a promise from the then Mayor to do so.

The setting up of the committee has also attracted criticism from the Sector 17 Traders Association with Mr Subhash Kataria standing by Mr Gupta for taking a decision for the protection of traders. He said paid parking had failed and terms and conditions had been flouted with impunity by contractors.

They said the money collected from customers should be returned to customers and paid parking be withdrawn. The rumblings in the Congress came to fore with Mr Chawla and F&CC member Kamlesh having a tiff at the meeting over an issue.

With the Mayor reportedly showing annoyance over a last minute table agenda of supply of drinking water in Ram Darbar, the constituency of the F&CC, forcing it to withdraw despite others having passed the agenda, Ms Kamlesh hit back when another table agenda for writing a protest letter to the Chandigarh Administration for effecting a cut in the budget.

Ms Kamlesh got it withdrawn saying councillors had a right to know issues before hand before taking a decision, exactly repeating what Mr Chawla had said on the earlier agenda.

The meeting deferred a decision to appoint a private company to prepare a feasibility report for leasing out the unused capacity of the slaughter house. The committee sought further details on the issue. The decision on the auction of the Sector 34 exhibition ground was also deferred saying there was plenty of time to take a decision on the issue.

The development of pocket No: 6 in Manimajra was also deferred asking the officers to advertise the plot size in square feet.

The committee passed the construction of a road between Sector 39 and the Transit Camp. 


Cable operators short-change Central Excise Dept
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 4
Cable subscribers in the township are allegedly being cheated by the “cable syndicate,” which is collecting service tax from them but depositing it for less than one tenth of the total consumers.

Recent disclosures by the Central Excise Department, which put the number of cable connections for which service tax was being deposited by cable operators of Panchkula at 3,000, has stirred up a hornet’s nest. This has also prodded the cable channel companies to reinvestigate the number of cable connections in this satellite township, which has a population of about 2 lakh and over 20,000 households.

The cable operators here, who work as a syndicate in the form of the Panchkula Cable TV Association and the Panchkula Cable Network, had shown a connectivity of a mere 3,000 connections with the Central Excise Department, while the number of connections registered with cable channel companies, Star TV, Zee TV, Sony TV and others, was around 7500, said sources in these companies.

Thus, there was a discrepancy of about 4,000 connections between the connectivity, as disclosed to the department and the cable companies. Senior officials of these cable companies, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune, said their estimates of the number of cable subscribers in the township was over 15,000. This in spite of the fact that the operators had been charging service tax at the rate of five per cent from all subscribers here.

The connectivity charges being paid to the cable companies was also for 7,500 connections as compared to an estimated 15,000 connections in the city. Even as the department said that it would tighten its noose around the cable operators, the cable companies, too, decided to press upon the operators to increase their connectivity .

It is worthwhile to mention here that the cable operators have been increasing the tariff at a regular frequency. In January, the cable tariff was increased from Rs 200 to Rs 250 per month, after the cable operators took the plea that almost all cable companies had increased their subscriptioner connectivity charges.

The operators had then said that while the Sony package had increased its subscription from Rs 40 to Rs 55 per connection, after including HBO channel in its package (the said channel was earlier a part of the Zee package), the Star Sports- ESPN package had increased its subscription per connection from Rs 24 to Rs 32, and the Zee package had increased its subscription from Rs 42 to Rs 50. The Star package had increased its charges by Rs 12. 50 and DD Sports by Rs 4.

It may be noted that the cable tariff here increased from Rs 200 to Rs 225 in June, last year, following a hike in connectivity charges to the operators by the pay channels. The rates had been hiked earlier in January too, from Rs 165 to Rs 200, which had caused a lot of hue and cry in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and the township.


Public toilets: MC move hanging fire
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The proposal for awarding maintenance and operation work of public toilets and mobile toilets to private agencies by the local Municipal Corporation has been hanging fire for the past one year.

The MC invited tenders in this connection last year. Subsequently, the Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC), at its meeting on January 21, this year, approved that the work might be awarded to the highest bidder M/S Sanitation Consultancy Services (New Delhi) for 123 public toilets at Rs 82,950 per month and Dalit Manav Utthan Sansthan (Delhi) at Rs 56,000 per month for 47 mobile toilets.

The agenda was also placed before the General House meeting of the MC on March 31, 2003, seeking approval to award the work to these companies. But the agenda was deferred to the next meeting without any discussion.

Earlier, the sanitation committee discussed the matter at its meeting on April 17, 2002, and May 8, 2002. Then the agenda was placed before the F&CC at its 103rd meeting held on September 16, 2002. Later, in October 11, 2002, the sanitation committee approved the revised terms and conditions for the privatisation of operation and maintenance of public and mobile toilets in detail.

According to the terms and conditions of the contract approved by the F&CC, ‘the company shall be entitled to collect and charge such reasonable sum as may be necessary from the users after obtaining approval of the sanitation committee for meeting the operation, maintenance, repair and establishment cost. The agency will charge Re 1 per head for using the toilet blocks. The monthly pass per family/person may also be issued at the rate of Rs 25 per month. The physically challenged shall be exempted from the payment of these charges. Urinal facilities will be free of charge. And each user will be supplied a teaspoonful of powder/liquid soap without any additional charge by the agency for washing hands’.

On the other hand, the Sweepers Union has been opposing the move ever since the agenda was cleared by the F&CC. They have submitted that this would lead to unemployment for at least 200 families.

Political observers say that the agenda was deferred in the last General House meeting because of the stiff opposition and threat of a strike given by sweepers. The sweepers had warned MC officials that they would proceed on a strike if the decision of the F&CC was not withdrawn by April 15, this year.

The union is also opposing the privatisation of sanitation work, particularly the collection of garbage in the southern sectors and four villages, already approved by the F&CC and deferred to the next meeting at the last General House meeting.

However, in the opinion of the Commissioner of the MC, ‘the demand of the union has no force at all, and therefore, should be ignored’. 


Settle untraced cases early, SHOs told
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Suffering for kith and kin of those who die an unnatural death does not end. Their suffering continues as the police investigations in such untraced cases lingers on for long.

The relevant provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) clearly states that in case of people dying in violent or unnatural death, the final report, irrespective of the status of investigations, has to be filed within stipulated time period.

Taking note of negligence on part of the investigation officers, senior officials of the Chandigarh Police has sought quick disposal of such cases within a period of one month. The Sub-divisional Officers and the Station House Officers have been asked to pay special attention to disposal of final reports — untraced and cancellation cases.

Sources in the police said the field officers had been asked to forward the files of such cases back through proper channel along with monthly diary. The cops had been asked to include details of such cases in the monthly report.

According to information, Section 173 (1) of the CrPC clearly states that investigations would have to be completed without unnecessary delay. Section 170 (1) states that cases are sent to the magistrate for trial if there was sufficient evidence. In case when the police was not able to detect the case after taking all measures, a final report under Section 173 of the CrPC was required to be submitted in the required format.

A mandatory time frame of 60 days to 90 days, depending upon the category of offences, has been fixed for filing of charge sheet. The officials pointed out the charge sheets were delayed in cases where no stipulated time frame had been fixed. The position of cases which remained untraced or had to be cancelled was still worse, said an official.

The investigating officers have been asked to dispose off cases in which the courts send back with queries regarding incomplete investigations or when sufficient effort had not been made by the investigation officer.Back


2 new 66 KV substations to be set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
In a bid to stabilise power supply in the city ahead of the summer season, the administration has embarked on a spree to upgrade. The first in the line of major projects is to have two new 66 KV substation in the city.

These substations are aimed at improving power supply situation and reducing the load on the existing infrastructure. Work on the first such substation located along the road separating Sectors 47 and 48 will begin on April 7. This was cater to southern Sectors like Sectors 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 and 50 besides outlying rural areas.

A sum of about rs 5 crore has been allocated for the project which will be undertaken by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). The need to have has substation arose as several parts of the southern sectors are connected to the Sector 32 substation, and the high-tension wires carrying power go through a circuitous route. In some cases the supply lines extend up to 4 km. Most of these high-tension lines run along the tree cover. In the last summer and monsoons seasons, several breakdowns occurred when branches of threes fell on these high-tension wires due to storms. Once the substation comes up, the distance of lines will be reduced, thus minimising the chance of breakdowns due to storms.

New transformers, new overhead lines and completion of a high-tension power line network linking all power substations, are among the major projects with which the Electricity Department aims at meeting the demand for power during the coming summer.

The work has started on placing three 12.5 MVA transformers in substations at Sector 52, Sector 39 and Sector 12. This is aimed at preventing the supply system from getting overloaded thereby curtailing power failures. Power breakdowns had been a common feature during the last summer. 


Sector 17 hassles... easily avoidable

THERE was a time, not many years ago, when we used to look forward to our visits to the Sector 17 market of Chandigarh, especially during our school and college days. In fact Sector 17 has always been a shopper’s paradise, a comfort and entertainment zone for youngsters, an attractive and interesting place for tourists and also, an area full of commercial establishment and government departments Therefore, no doubt, as compared to other sectors, some extra regulations and guidelines have been introduced of late by the authorities concerned, in order to maintain law and order in the area: Their efforts are appreciable.

However, during the past few months, it has been observed that some of the formalities the poor shoppers have to go through, even before entering some of the garment or jewellery stores in particular, are quite unnecessary and at times, rather irritating or embarrassing... Shoppers, particularly those who are in a hurry, have to think twice before entering such stores because first, they have to answer queries by the guard at the entrance, or they have to get their carrybags examined before going in and after coming out of these stores....

What’s worse, a garment store in Sector 17-C even wants customers to pen down details like “time in, time out, purpose of visit, name, as well as address” on little forms available with a very strict looking guard outside.

No wonder, many of us do not like visiting such stores anymore, and we are quite happy in our small but hospitable market of Sector 7, Panchkula.

Yasmin Dutta, Panchkula

Liquor vends

Since the last couple of years, a practice of allowing those liquor contractors, who are not able to arrange a premises to run the businesses, to erect makeshift khokhas at many places in the city is being adopted by the Administration.

In order to maintain the sanctity of the master plan of Chandigarh, the administration has put up numerous strictures by defining lots of “don’ts” for the citizens of the city under the city bylaws of misuse and other violations. But contravening all such norms, the Chandigarh Administration has empowered itself with extraordinary discretionary powers to go ahead to allow the contractors to raise makeshift temporary liquor vends and ahatas anywhere in the city, flouting even the basic mandatory provisions about the location of these vends such as vicinity to residential locality, school, religious place etc. And to this the Administration has the only plea that when the contractor after securing the contract cannot arrange accommodation, it is left with no alternative but to allow him to raise such structures.

Big signboards attractively displaying various liquor brands by these liquor vends, especially by those located on highways, creating traffic nuisance, that too much against the High Court orders to prohibit any advertisement panels on highways, also not seems to have come into the notice of the Administration. This is all because these are the Administration’s fostered babies.

Needless to say that the practice, besides being in total contravention of the provisions of law, also looks like a jute patch on a silken robe in the facade of the City Beautiful. It is suggested that as the number of vends is fixed, the Administration should identify spots at certain places in the city within the legal framework and may contruct its own sites, especially for liquor vends and ahatas, with approved plans as per architectural control, similar to milk booths, for letting these on rent out on a yearly basis to the person/company getting the contract. With this the Administration, besides earning additional revenue each year, shall also relieve the city from these ugly spots.

R.P. Malhotra, Panchkula

Why no protest against fee hike

On March 31Panjab University Senate decided to raise the fee once again. From the coming session a student has to pay 10 per cent more fee. In Panjab University the fee hike has become a sort of convention, for the fee had already been raised several times in the recent past. But in this present system of education commercialisation, fee hike is not a matter to be get surprised at, but what is surprising, even astonishing, is that neither the student council, nor other student organisations of Panjab University are showing any resentment against such a step of Panjab University. Senate fees has continuously been raised for some years, but what is the agony of the students is that they have not been given any extra facility, and even the already built facilities are decreasing year by year. The benches and fans in classrooms have been serving mankind for generations, A.C. Joshi library is functioning without ACs, especially during peak hours of study.

The situation in hostels is worse. Once there used to be one room for one student and that also low with fee. But today two students are living in the same room. In girls’ hostel a room has to be shared by three girls during the beginning of the session. In the boys’ hostels where once bathrooms were shared by 22 boys, now more than 40 boys are sharing the same. Furthermore, the situation in the mess and canteen is not satisfactory.

We cannot forget the sports fee which is taken from each and every student. As far as the sports fee is concerned, the situation is astonishing. The Department of Sports of Panjab University demands sports fee and hostel fee separately. But only about 20 per cent students take part in sports and the remaining are not offered adequate facilities.

Deepak S. Rawat, Chandigarh

PU clarification

Reference to a news item in Chandigarh Tribune dated 29.3.2003 under the heading ‘‘Respect Syndicate decisions’’. It is clarified that the Syndicate vide para 18 of the minutes of its meeting held on 18.1.2003 approved the common price of Rs 1100 each for the prospectus only of CET and OCET-2003. Subsequently, on the orders of the Vice-Chancellor dated 18.2.2003, information brochure to be submitted by the candidates after the test for the admission in the respective department was clubbed with the prospectus and the price of prospectus-cum-information brochure, after adding of Rs 200 (the price of brochure) to Rs 1,100 (the price of prospectus) was clubbed and fixed at Rs 1,300. This was done to assuage the office work and to help the students in getting both prospectus and information brochure containing admission form in one go. Therefore, price of Rs 1300 as is being charged by the university for the sale of CET 2003 prospectus, including information brochure, is in order and there is no confusion/ambiguity in it. This also substantiates that the Syndicate decision was complied with in letter and spirit without any deviation.

Controller of Examination, PU

(Mis) utilisation of varsity funds

In the name of cost-cutting, PU has banned all its officials, including the teaching faculty, non-teaching staff and even the heads of the departments, to use university letterheads and has, instead, suggested to reuse letters/circulars etc by writing on their reverse side for intra and inter-departmental communications. Only two officials, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof K.N. Pathak and the Registrar, Prof Paramjit Singh, have been exempted. An official notification in this regard has recently been circulated by the university and this step has reportedly been taken as an in-house austerity, in view of the fact that the state government’s funds to the university are being reduced each successive year.

On the other side, the university authorities seem to have total disregard for academic honesty as the cases of extravagantly spending university’s public funds for private purposes are being unearthed day by day. The first corroboration to this fact emanates from a poster on “Blood donation” found pasted on the walls of the PU campus. Despite the fact that the poster has been released by a private union, i.e. PU Non-Teaching Employees Federation, it has been got printed officially at the Panjab University press, as is revealed by a line printed at the bottom of the poster. The incident not only exposes guilt of PU officials involved in such malpractices but also indicates their other similar private/personal works being carried out of university’s financial resources, obviously with the connivance of these officials.

An eminent veteran CPI leader and PU Fellow, Shri Satpal Dang, is recently learnt to have questioned the authority of the PU Vice-Chancellor in a case wherein he has allowed some university officials, including himself, to utilise university funds for personal purposes. According to a prevalent practice going on in this university for the last many years, many university officials, including the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, Controller of Examinations, Finance and Development Officer, Dean, Student Welfare, etc send their New Year wishes at the university expenses. So much so that the greeting cards are purchased, got printed by name in multi-colour and dispatched, incurring expenditure separately out of the university’s funds. This year, this practice, however, appears to have come under scanner as Mr Dang has asked details about the number of greeting cards in each case, cost incurred in respect of their purchase, printing and postal despatch and the names of PU officials who availed of this privilege at the onset of the New Year-2003.

PU’s move to ban letterheads has generated considerable heartburn among senior faculty members who have to frequently write to academicians of other universities and government agencies. They ask as to who will believe their word on a plain paper without the official stamp of PU on their communications.

Jaswant Singh Rana, Chandigarh


Muslims burn Bush effigy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The local Muslim community today burnt an effigy of Mr George W. Bush, President of the USA, and Mr Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK, in protest against an attack on Iraq by allied forces.

This afternoon, hundreds of Muslims gathered in front of the mosque of Sector 20, under the leadership of Maulana Ajmal Khan, Imam of Jama Masjid, and raised slogans against Mr Bush and Mr Blair for their unilateral decision to attack Iraq, without seeking approval from the Security Council of the UNO.

Mr Khalil Ahmed, president of the local Muslim Welfare Society, addressing the gathering expressed concern that the war would also affect the Indian economy. “Most of the Indians would be forced to leave their places of employment in Iraq, Kuwait and other neighbouring countries,” he added.


First phase of Beant memorial to be ready by December
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
After much delay, the Beant Singh memorial project in Sector 42 is on its final run towards completion. The first phase will be complete in the next nine months. A subcommittee of the project held talks with the builder and the architect today and told them that the library, auditorium and the parking areas, which formed the first phase of the project, should be completed within the next nine months.

With flow of funds from Punjab being steady, the project would be completed in time, officials said. The subcommittee would place on record today’s proceeding. The findings would be placed before the executive council of the project, which was scheduled to meet later this month, they said.

Chandigarh and Punjab had joined hands to build a memorial to former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, who was killed on August 31, 1995. Almost at the same time, the regime changed in Punjab and the Akali government, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been slow in releasing funds for the project. The project remained stalled for sometime as the Punjab Government had no money for the project. Last year, when the Congress came back to power, it started giving its share of money for the project.

The issue of having a multi-purpose convention centre within the memorial will also come up for discussion in the meeting of the executive council. The complex will also house a restaurant.

The convention centre will be carved out by redesigning the originally planned huge library. With the advent of the Internet and availability of information online, it was opined that such a huge library was not required and the space could be used for some other purpose.

Apart from this, a nine-acre ground adjoining the project is proposed to be used as an exhibition centre like the Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The project is closely linked with the Beant Singh memorial project. The memorial will lend support to it with its convention centre and eating facilities.


Goods worth lakhs destroyed
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 4
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a fire that broke out in a thread manufacturing factory, located along the Dera Bassi-Barwala road, about 1 km from here, this morning.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out in Ganesh Spinners around 11 am and the smoke being emitted was noticed by factory workers on duty.

Cotton bales, along with raw material and machinery, reportedly caught fire because of a short circuit. Due to heavy winds today, the simmering fire spread to the adjacent godown and destroyed over 100 cotton bales.

Noticing the flames, the factory workers informed the proprietor, Mr Anil Bansal, and subsequently fire engines from Dera Bassi and SAS Nagar was called.

Two fire engines and over 50 firemen swung into action and controlled the flames within an hour. It took four hours to put off the fire completely.

When contacted Mr Bansal said the fire had damaged goods and machinery worth lakhs of rupees. The exact cause of the short circuit could not be ascertained. 


HP Helpline Society
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The following have been elected office-bearers of the Tribune Employees HP Helpline Cooperative Society: president — Mr Parveen Lakhan Pal; senior vice-president — Mr Onkar Singh; vice-presidents — Mr Raj Kumar Maria and Mr Jagdish Thakur; general secretary — Mr S.S. Pathania; secretary — Mr Ram Pal; office secretary — Mr Ashok Dhiman; joint secretaries — Mr Sansar Singh Rana and Mr Yashpal Sharma; organising secretary — Mr Sham Lal; treasurer — Mr Ashok Kapila; propaganda secretary — Mr Rajesh Thakur and auditor — Mr Kanshi Ram.


Residents’ welfare associations hold meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The Chandigarh Housing Board Residents Welfare Associations’ Federation here today raised the issue of poor sanitation, bad condition of roads and lack of a public park in Sector 45.

A meeting of the federation was held at its Sector 48 office under the chairmanship of Prof Nirmal Dutt. Office-bearers of all member associations attended the meeting. Mr Vijay Rana and Mr Jatinder Bhatia, councillors, also attended the meeting.

The federation general secretary, Mr B.S. Chaddha, urged the member associations to jointly fight for solving the problems in the Housing Board areas.

Mr Dutt asked the members to follow a one-point agenda and make people aware about the common problems.Back


Businessman house under surveillance
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 4
The police today started surveillance around the Sector-17 house of a local businessman, whose 18 -year-old son was kidnapped on Wednesday. Though the boy was freed by kidnappers late last night, the family has refused to get an FIR registered in this regard.

The SP Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma, said the family had refused to get an FIR registered, but the police had deployed its security at the house and a caller ID had also been installed. He said the family had also been told to apply for arms licence and asked to get private security.

The DSP Mr Devinder Yadav, had also visited the family in the morning. However, the family requested him that they did not wish to pursue the matter further.

It is learnt that the boy, a student of class XII of a local school, had gone to play cricket with his friends. He was reportedly followed by four unidentified men in a car, who managed to stop his car on the road dividing Sector 17 and Sector 18. Two men reportedly took control of his car at gunpoint. The student was blindfolded and taken away to an undisclosed destination.

His car was found abandoned on the Zirakpur-Rajpura highway and the family was informed of this on Wednesday night. They reportedly got two calls from the miscreants demanding ransom and were even allowed to talk to the victim briefly.

The boy was finally let off by his captors in Sector 20 late last night. He has reportedly told his family that he did not see the face of any of his captors as he was blindfolded and kept locked in a room at an undisclosed place.

The family, too, refused to divulge any details.


2 ex-terrorists booked for murder
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 4
Two former terrorists of Punjab, Waryam Singh and Avtar Singh Taari, have been booked on charges of murder and disposing of the body of their victim with an intention of concealing evidence.

According to the information available, the incident took place near Toda village almost two months ago. The duo, along with another unknown person and victim, Sukhpal, alias Pala, had been passing through this village when the three got into an altercation with the victim.

The police say the victim was shot and after he died, his body was buried in the river-bed of Toda rivulet. The case, however, came to light only today when one of the accused, Waryam Singh, was arrested by the Yamunanagar police in a case of firing indiscriminately in air in the Chachrauli area. It was during his interrogation by the Yamunanagar police that he told about his accomplices and the murder of Sukhpal. A case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC has been registered against the accused.

Police sources say that Waryam Singh and Avtar Singh Taari, both former terrorists (cats), had been arrested and lodged in Patiala Central Jail before being released almost four years ago. They were basically residents of Seoli village in Lalru tehsil of Patiala.

It was in the jail that they came in contact with Sukhpal, who hailed from Mehmoodpur village of Patiala. The three had been friends for long and were involved in several petty crimes in Patiala, Ludhiana and Ropar districts.


14.5 gram of smack seized
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The local police today seized at least 14.5 gram of smack in three different cases in the city. According to the information, Balbir Singh, a resident of Palsora, was arrested with 3.5 gram of smack near the Maloya anaj mandi. 

In another case, Sonu, a resident of Sector 37, was arrested with 5 gram of smack near the intersection between Sectors 37 and 38. Cases under the NDPS Act have been registered at Sector 39 police station.

In another case, Sirjit, alias Giddar, was arrested by the Crime Branch with 6 gram of smack near Balmiki Mandir in Sector 24.Back


Two booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
The local police has registered a case of forgery and distortion of facts against two persons namely G.S. Nagi and T.R. Verma on charges of tampering with the minutes of the board meeting of Directors of Usha Communication.

According to information, both allegedly tampered with the facts. A case under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC has been registered. In another case, Mr Bhagwan Singh, a resident of Amritsar, reported that Harinder Singh, a head constable with the wireless wing of the Punjab Police, allegedly took Rs 1.10 lakh from Mr Harmit Singh and Mr Jaspal Singh to get them recruited in the police. 


North Zone Trade Fair begins
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 4
The weather god played moody today, leaving the organisers of North Zone Trade Fair and Kids Carnival in confusion as whether to go ahead with the host of activities planned for the inaugural day, visitors played it safe by postponing their visit to the venue for a brighter day.

The 10-day fair and carnival which started amid uncertainity and lukewarm response, is bringing together commerce and fun for kids under the same umbrella. Around 250 stalls will showcase consumer items, electronic goods, handloom, handicraft and food products. The major attraction of the fair will be the musical evenings which will provide a platform to all known and unknown local singers and dance troupes to perform in front of a big audience.

Besides the usual rides and swings which is the essence of every carnival, the organisers have arranged for a lot of fun-filled activities and contests for the kids. Around 25 kids took part in the musical chair contest today which was won by Shivadeep Singh, followed by Raveena and Manjot in the second and third positions.

The fair is being organised by Global Exhibitiors in collaboration with Future Plus, an event management company of the region, which will be handling the cultural events in the fair.Back

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