Sunday, April 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Dalit woman beaten up over land dispute
Tribune News Service

This is the second case of atrocities against the Dalits to have been reported in SAS Nagar subdivision involving land ownership feud. In June last year, the bodies of two children, Vikram Preet (9) and Rampreet (5), belonging to a Dalit family of Siau village, were found in a village pond after they were reportedly strangulated. The accused belonged to an upper caste family in the village.

SAS Nagar, April 12
A middle-aged Dalit woman was mercilessly beaten up allegedly by seven members of a lambardar’s family over a land ownership feud at Jagatpura village here today.

As the news spread in the village, the Dalit population of the village blocked the SAS Nagar-Jagatpura-Chandigarh road for over two hours in protest.

The police has registered a case against the seven men under Sections 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Section 3/4 of the Atrocities Act.

According to the information provided by the police, Raj Kaur lives with her husband Avtar Singh in the village. Following a feud over the ownership of the village common land, seven members of Gurdev Singh’s, a lambardar of the village, family allegedly beat up the woman. Both were claiming the ownership of the piece of land.

According to eyewitnesses, the woman in battered condition and torn clothes laid on the road in the village for over an hour before the police arrived on the scene and took her to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

According to the SP, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, action would be taken against those found guilty in the case. The seven against whom the case has been registered are: Gurdev Singh, Raghbir Singh, Baljinder Singh, Manjit Singh, Surinder Singh, Baldev Singh and Dalbir Singh.


Teen hacker who is sought after by FBI
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
He is just 17, a student of plus two but has been approached by various American security agencies to decode the Internet messages sent by Osama bin Laden. For he is considered an expert in hacking, who is being consulted by number of companies and government departments to improve security of their networks. He is Ankit Fadia, a student of Delhi, and has established himself as an independent computer security and digital intelligence consultant.

An author of three best-selling books on network security, Ankit, was in the city at Ebony Stores today. In an interview to the Chandigarh Tribune, he said,‘‘ I love hacking different networks. But I always do it after informing the officials concerned. I feel that only a professional hacker can check the hacking of computer networks.’’

“For the past four and half years, I have been working daily for about three hours on computers and has developed a knack to solve various problems,” he added. Asked about his moments of pleasure, he said,‘‘ In November 2001, I was consulted by a classified intelligence agency for breaking an encrypted message sent by one of Osama bin Laden’s men. Since them I have been involved in numerous classified projects pertaining to international security and computer networks.’’

His books include ‘Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking’, ‘Network Security — A Hacking Perspective’ by Macmillan and ‘Tips and Tricks on Linux’ published by Centro Atlantico in Europe. About his future plans he says, ‘‘My aim to set up a computer security consultancy firm in the country after getting a BSc degree in computer engineering from abroad.’’

At present, he is also running a website to give tips and tutorials on hacking. Interestingly, he is often called by defence, police, and software companies to deliver lectures on hacking and computer security systems. He has participated in 52nd international programme on auditing information technology and Hack 2002, Kuala Lumpur, DRDO, Junior Chambers International, apart from addressing the students of BITS, Pilani, Benaras Hindu University and IIT Hyderabad.

About hacking being unethical he says,‘‘ Hacking is not a negative word as perceived by the public. Rather cracking is illegal. What will you do when Pakistan hackers are cracking 50 to 60 Indian websites every month. I just help the genuine companies and government departments in making their computer networks tamper proof.

For his exemplary work, Fadia has been honoured with Silicon India Person of the week, Embassy State award and is mentioned in the Limca Book of Records. Industry leaders like Mr Kiran Karnaik, President, Nasscom, and the President of India, Dr A. P. J.Kalam, has appreciated his work.


Major fire in drug manufacturing unit
5 sustain injuries; goods worth lakhs gutted
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 12
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a major fire that broke out in a drug manufacturing factory in Saidpura village on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road, around 2 km from here, this morning.

Five employees who were caught up in the blaze sustained burn injuries and were taken to hospitals in Chandigarh and Dera Bassi.

Factory workers who sustained burn injuries include Satinder Singh, Rajinder Singh, Bharat Singh, Raj Kumar and Sohan Lal.

A mentally-challenged person, who reportedly had taken shelter from heat adjacent to the rear wall of the factory, also sustained burn injuries after flames engulfed the outer crust of the factory.

The condition of Satinder Singh, who suffered 10 to 12 per cent burn injuries, deteriorated and was sent to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, while others were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire broke out in a reactor in the first production block of Aster Drugs and Pharmaceutical Limited, a drug manufacturing unit, around 7.30 am. Chemicals in a container reportedly caught fire due to overheating.

Workers who heard a blast and noticed fire and smoke emanate from the factory informed the general manager of the factory. Subsequently, fire tenders from fire stations in Dera Bassi, Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar were pressed into service.

Six fire tenders manned by over 50 firemen took over three hours to quell the blaze. Water shortage with the local fire station hindered the extinguishing operation, since the fire tenders had to travel a long distance to refill their tanks.

A victim who sustained burn injuries while on duty revealed that a portion of the container flew as it busted and gas emitting from it caught fire. Within no seconds the entire room was engulfed by flames, leaving no chance for at least 12 workers to escape.

“The fire spread to the adjacent production block and also damaged the machinery and goods on the ground and first floor.

The workers in the block managed to escape after jumping through the windows”, said Mr Rajinder Singh, a victim.

The workers ran helter-skelter after hearing the blast. All windowpanes of the building were shattered, while the furniture and other infrastructure was destroyed.

The unit was manufacturing some specific drugs for another leading pharmaceutical manufacturing industry located in SAS Nagar. Raw chemicals and other material stored in both production blocks were destroyed.

When contacted, Mr D.S. Bhatia, director of the industry, said: “Misfortune has ruined us. Inadequate firefighting equipment and lack of water quota with the Dera Bassi fire station has caused us enormous loss.”

“Had there been sufficient water with the local fire station for refilling the fire tenders, the flames could have been extinguished in time,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered with the Dera Bassi police station.



‘Heritage’ comes to region
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
The first heritage hotel in the region, The Fort at Ramgarh, near here, was inaugurated by the Himachal Governor, Mr Suraj Bhan today.

This fort-turned- retreat was beautifully illuminated, beckoning guests to enjoy the royal hospitality now on offer here. The scent of spring from the blooms near the 37- feet- high main door of this fort, added to the ambience.

The programme began with the scions of the Chandel dynasty honouring the senior citizens of Ramgarh. The Governor, Mr. Suraj Bhan, presented these citizens with a shawl each. This was followed by a cultural bonanza , wherein a martial arts show by a group from Dhanbad and a dance item by a Bangalore based Bharat Natyam troupe enthralled the gathering.

Tiger Lee, the group from Dhanbad in Jharkhand, received wide applause for their daring antics. One of these martial art exponents tore apart a rubber hot water bag by blowing air in this. Another member, Ms. Sunita, had the audience in gasps as she lay on a bed of swords and another member broke a huge stone, lying on her stomach, into pieces with a hammer.

However, the real delight was the beautiful dance performance by the dance group called Natyanjali. The troupe is a mix of visually impaired and normal dancers. The three male dancers — Tarakromdu, Buse Gowda and Satish — are visually impaired and have been trained by Ashok Kumar, the founder of this troupe. They gave a beautiful rendition of a choreography “Dances of India” — along with Bhargavi, Anjana, Sneha , Priya and Surekha.

This heritage hotel promises regal hospitality while offering the most modern amenities. This retreat resonates with a glorious 350-year-old past and promises to take its guests back in time by recreating the ancient ambience, where the true Rajput tradition unfolds at each step.

From residential suites to restaurant and coffee shop (serving vegetarian food and nonalcoholic beverages only as our tradition does not recommend either of these, reasons proprietor Mr A.S. Chandel) , the retreat hopes to rope in the tourists visiting the lower Himachal destinations. A museum of ancient weaponry, photo gallery in the 400-meter-long tunnel within this fort; antique shop, spa with jacuzzi and indoor swimming pool, and a curio shop are the other attractions here.

A corner for kids — with a playhouse and a library — is also being set up. A small tree house has been perched atop an old banyan tree. This tree house has an attached bathroom. A tea/coffee maker and a television set have been provided for. Other than this, 18 luxurious rooms with floral frescos on the ceilings and aulas (traditionally meant keeping earthen lamps for lighting) recreated with POP borders add to the ambience of each of these rooms. The rooms have been categorized into five categories — Historic, Classic, Vintage, Royal and Imperial — in ascending order in terms of space and facilities offered in each room.



‘Big top’ on verge of collapse
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
A fast depleting crowd strength has lent the image of a collapsing fortress to the circus trade which for decades has been drawing heavy crowds mainly children, thrilled by the antics of the animals and the gymnasts. Also missing from the scene are the ‘decorated soldiers of the fortress’, including tigers, lions and bears.

‘Jumbo’ Circus pitching up tents for its long stay in the city is a collection of a band of soldiers committed to holding their battleground despite heavy odds, including the ban on display of “the prized animals” in the arena and lesser crowd value. Tigers, lions and panthers which are a part of the entourage, however, stay in the background hidden from the public eye.

Mr K. Natesan, the manager, says the circus is a “moving village” as artists belong to all parts of the country. This is an unorganised sector and therefore not a major vote bank. This is one of the major reasons for government apathy. The government had imposed a ban on certain animals which had always been the centre of crowd attraction. This took away the beauty of the entire exercise.

In 1992, government banned the public display of certain animals, including tiger, lion, panther, monkey and bear. The ban came into force in 1998. There was also a move to take away the animals from the circus. “We however contested the case saying we owned them under a licence. The case is still pending in the court.”, Mr Natesan said.

A rope artist said the plea of the government as also of animal protection groups was that animals were treated cruelly in the circus. “Does not one hear about the treatment of animals in a number of zoos? Does not one see the pathetic condition of animals carrying load on the roads? Does not one see the slaughter of animals in the open markets? Here we keep the animals like a family and more importantly treat them as artists. So it is unfair on the part of the government to ban the use of animals.”

He said children were trained in Tellicherry in Kannore district of Kerala in gymnastic skills to be part of the circus troupes. Some had spent their entire life with the circus groups. The government while showing pity to animals should also show pity to the humans by providing alternate avenues of employment if the circus had to be closed down. Mr Natesan said he was with the circus for the past 37 years. “Not just me there are hundreds who would like an alternate avenue for earning in case the circus trade has to be stopped”, he added.

A gymnast said television did not harm the circus as much government interference did. Instead of a blanket ban, attempts should have been made to come and verify the ground realities at the circus. “These days the business is facing problems because of the rising maintenance costs. The daily expenditure is about Rs 60,000 which includes Rs 6000 daily for the land rent,” Mr Natesan said.

He said there was also a misnomer that artists in the circus were lowly paid and ill-kept. “It is important to mention that the artists are paid Provident Fund, are insured and also provided the medical facilities in case of an emergency,” he added.


To Vivek religion comes first
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Facades often belie interiors. One can say so at least in the case of the groovy Vivek Oberoi who surfaced in a fresh role this evening. Putting on the hold all invitations loaded with affection and awe, the latest sensation of the film industry, Vivek, first decided to honour his religious obligations than do anything else.

The message of the day, sent out by the ever-charming Vivek, was, “Everything else in the world can wait. God cannot.” As the evening approached, the star of many a spicy film — from ‘Company’ to ‘Saathiya’ — kept expressing his urge to pay obeisance to God. The moment of prayer arrived at about 8.30 pm when he, to the surprise of priests and devotees of Pracheen Hanuman Mandir in Sector 32-A, landed on the temple premises and stood in line to offer prayers.

Interestingly, this was the first outing he had ever since he checked into his heavily-guarded hotel room this afternoon, after a hectic shooting schedule in Mumbai. All day long, Vivek remained confined to his hotel room, only to come out to honour his weekly ritual. He told The Tribune team which saw him perform a prayer schedule at the temple, “I visit a Hanuman temple every Saturday. Not just that, I also visit a gurdwara every Sunday. I follow this routine religiously.

It gives me immense peace and helps me sail through my days in a better and happier way. I may be wherever, but I always honour these two promises which I have made to myself.”

In the temple for about half an hour, Vivek took special interest in the fact that the temple was known for its great history.

On being briefed by the president of the Temple Trust, Vivek was quite surprised that the specially protected idol of Hanuman inside the main complex of the temple had appeared on its own. “My friends in Chandigarh had informed me about this temple. They made all arrangements for me. Tomorrow I will visit a gurdwara.”

Largely silent during his offering which began with prayers to Lord Hanuman, Vivek later said he derived strength from his faith. “I offer oil to the Lord. It is a matter of faith. Faith keeps me going,” he said.

Faced with trouble at the hands of Salman Khan, Vivek probably needs that faith. Especially so, when he has decided to taken on Salman, known all over the place for his rustic ways.

No wonder after a long day of rest at the hotel, where he kept many a fan waiting for autographs, Vivek came out only to visit the temple and then proceed to attend a private party thrown by his friends from Mayo, Ajmer.

In the news for his earlier releases, Vivek is now looking at the future projects, including Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Luck By Chance’, Vinod Chopra’s ‘Yagna’, Sachin Bajaj’s ‘Baraat’ and Sameer Karnik’s film ‘Kyon? Ho Gaya Na’.

With success beckoning him from all over, he is already on every producers’ wishlist.

As of now, he is caught up with his much-publicised friendships with Aishwarya Rai, who is also his leading lady in the latest ad of Coke, the company which has brought Vivek to Chandigarh.


Drunken cop keeps docs on toes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
A high drama was enacted at the General Hospital, Sector 16, when a drunkard cop of the Chandigarh Police kept doctors and staff of the police post on their toes for more than an hour. Satish, posted as driver in the MT section, was rushed to the hospital by a vehicle of the Police Control Room (PCR) when his motor cycle skidded near the gate of the Police Lines, Sector 26. Satish suffered bruises on his face.

However, he refused to take the first aid from the doctor on duty in the minor operation theatre and went out of the hospital abusing his colleagues. According to the information, at around 4 pm, the control room received a message that the constable was lying injured near the Police Lines. A PCR vehicle transported the cop to the hospital.

But the cop kept on abusing everybody and refused to get treatment. He also pushed police officials present there. He insisted on to talk to the Inspector-General of Police and the SSP.

A cop from the Sector 26 police station, who also came to the spot, had to leave the hospital when the drunkard cop refused to talk to him. According to the information, medical examination of the cop could not be done.

An official at the Sector 26 police station said departmental action against the cop would be recommended.


Spare a thought for the aged

FOR once there is good news, indeed, welcome and practical news for defence personnel, at least. There will be no house tax or fire tax levied upon them in the township of Panchkula (Haryana). I wish the Municipal Corporation in Panchkula would consider extending this for senior citizens also. They are in the greatest need for financial and other considerations because of their dependence in various forms — financially, health-wise, age-wise. Defence personnel, at least, have pension to look after them in their old age, but what about old people who do not have any pension? With our government regularly decreasing the rate of interest on all their small saving schemes, including PPF, and simultaneously raising the prices of all commodities, including petrol and petroleum products, what are hapless, pensionless senior citizens supposed to sustain themselves with?

Excepting rhetoric and lip service, little is being done for them. Inspite of frequent utterances and pronouncements of providing them relief in the form of priority in legal cases, the latter are dealt with at a snail’s pace. No priority is actually given and the old people just keep dying:

Steps like those taken by the Panchkula administration for defence personnel should be taken for senior citizens as well. There should be no income tax levied on senior citizens upto a certain respectable annual limit. With old age many problems of ill-health plague the aged. They should be exempted from having to fill income tax returns. All retires, irrespective of whether from government, semi-government, autonomous bodies, or for that matter even from private service, should be entitled to pension. Interest rates on all small savings should be much higher for them. These should be fixed and non-taxable.

Dr Harish Khanna, Panchkula

Landlords at the receiving end

The history of landlord-tenant relations in Chandigarh is replete with sordid and shameful records. The city was built from scratch in which migrants with very little means built properties on loans and generous support from the Chandigarh Administration. These owners of the properties let out the same at very small rents as they were needy to clear loans for livelihood in the impending old age. But the Rent Restriction Act gave a big umbrella to the tenants to treat landlords like beggars. There are instances where tenants did not allow landlords to enter their own property. There were occasions when the owners were thrown out of the premises and even insulted and thrashed.

Only day before yesterday your paper carried an instance of a senior citizen being thrashed by an unruly tenant in which, despite police report, even the honour of the old man was not restored. In another incidence a tenant occupied an additional room by fabrication and forgery of documents. The matter was reported to the police but the police expressed helplessness on the ground that it had received instructions not to intervene in landlord-tenant disputes. The landlord, who is a senior citizen, filed a complaint in the court of law on which no action has been taken for the last over one year.

Your paper has ventilated many such write-ups from suffering landlords grossly cheated. The Chandigarh Administration, generally, and his Excellency, the Governor, specially have done their part wonderfully well as deliverers and emancipators by bringing in the Transfer of Property Act but the courts are lacking in machinery, and unscrupulous professionals are already assuring tenants that they shall drag the litigation for ejectment to 10 years.

Sapandeep Sharma, CHANDIGARH

Tenants in a dilemma

The Preamble and the provisions of the Rent Act have been shaken by a solitary amendment granting exemptions to buildings of Chandigarh in which the rate of rent exceeds Rs 1500 p.m., which has come up after the Home Department notification no 352-LD-73/602 dated 31.1.1973 as modified by the notification no 2294-LD-73/3474, dated 24.9.1974 and notification no 3205-LD-74/3614 dated 24.9.1974. The notifications mentioned above had borne out way back in the year 1974 when it transpired that the buildings in Chandigarh were exempted from Rent Act which came into being after January 31, 1973, for 5 years. Since then many eyes were looking at a sea-change which has been brought by a notification whereby the buildings have been exempted from Rent Act. The notification is now being lebelled as discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable by one section and others claim that the same has been much delayed. It has also been widely published that the notification is valid and the same is not outside and the policy of the statue and is not discriminatory.

It also needs to be looked into from a microscopic view that whether the landlord has been benefited or the tenant has been put to sufferings. The preview and the scope of the amendment as prescribed would defiantly hamper the interest of the tenants who have already been paying hefty rents, and further now the landlord has got a tool to evict them within the scope of the present amendment. The tenants, who are already paying hefty rents, have been put to a disadvantageous position. The element of reason is missing and the scope for the landlords has been widened by the ‘dent’ in the present amendment.

It would also be widely appreciated if the landlord can be put to a restriction that if he has got one building vacated under the plea of exemption of Rent Act (present amendment), than there should be an embargo that the other building cannot be got evicted. The choice of the landlord has been made wider, and the tenants in general have been put into a state of dilemma.

Rajesh Khurana, Chandigarh

Why flout varsity norms?

The Punjabi University authorities seem to have turned this institution into a personal fiefdom with the Vice-Chancellor, Mr SS Boparai, running it in ‘Mahraja style’, where what he feels and say become the law. The latest instance is the case of Saru Rana as reported in The Tribune of April 6, 2003. As per The Tribune report, Saru Rana, a postgraduate student of the Fine Arts Department of the university, failed in last year’s final examination because in theory papers she secured only 20 out of the 80 marks (by outside evaluators), though she got 81 per cent and 83 per cent in the two practical papers in internal marking. Her score in theory paper marked by outside experts did not increase even after re-evaluation. This time the Vice-Chancellor has decided that her last examination’s practical marks would be taken into account and added to her theory papers score so that she would get in appearing afresh in the final examinations. This decision is unprecedented in the history of over 250 universities in India. In no case can any university authority, whether the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor, the Senate, the Syndicate or the Academic Council permit a failed student to have his practical marks in the failed examination added to theory papers’ exam of the next year. The Vice-Chancellor himself has admitted in the news story in The Tribune that “the decision was against university norms”. Then why did the VC flout the university norms? In fact Saru Rana did not rejoin the MA final classes in the Fine Arts Department; that is why she could not have obtained any practical marks in this year’s examination.

What was the “consideration” for which the Vice-Chancellor took his decision? His mere recording on the file that this would not be treated as a precedent in other cases cannot stop other similarly placed students i.e. failed students, to claim that their marks in practical or theory or practical exams, and that they should also be given the right to take the examination without rejoining the class even in those subjects which have practical marks components.

Prof Kuljit Kaur (retd), Panchkula

Making Sukhna immortal

The government is thinking of raising the level of Sukhna lake by two feet. No official explanation is available as to what is the objective behind this extra-ordinary move and what are the chances of its being achieved. Having been designed as an integral part of Chandigarh, the life span of this lake is desired to be equal to that of the city. But after only about 10 years of its construction, it started silting up, resulting in the loss of its water-holding capacity. Some infructuous solutions were tried. Every year before the monsoon, the lake was desilted. The resulting relief, if any, vanished just when the monsoon started and was never available in the winter when it was actually needed.

There was no awareness of the fact that all this was due to a basic defect in the design of the lake. Silted water from a hilly torrent was being allowed to enter it without any treatment, and that, too, in a quantity much greater than its requirement. Surplus water was flowing out but not before dropping its silt there. Raising of the level of the lake may provide relief for a few years till the additional capacity gets silted up, but after that the condition of the lake will be back to square one. Will it be worthwhile to do so?

For making the life span of Sukhna Lake equal to that of Chandigarh, it is necessary to remodel it for receiving only the requisite quantity of water from the hilly torrent after the same has been desilted with the help of a filter-house fitted with self-cleansing vertical filters.

SP Malhotra, Panchkula



Cactus garden to figure in UT guide map
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 12
The National Cactus and Succulent Botanical Garden and Research Centre here would be included in the tourist guide map of Chandigarh and Panchkula.

This was stated by the Chief Secretary, Haryana, Mr A.N. Mathur, while talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the two-day 26th annual show of cactus and succulent plants, organised by the National Cactus and Succulent Society of India (NCSSI ) and the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

The curator and brain behind of this garden, Dr J.S. Sarkaria, while talking to the Chief Secretary, pointed out that this was the largest cactus garden in Asia and housed exotic varieties of cactii and other succulents, brought from Madagascar and South America.

“More than 10,000 plants in the garden have been donated by members of the NCSSI. HUDA allotted the land for the garden and also gives some money for its maintenance. But this is not enough for the proper maintenace of the garden. Presently, there is just one botanist and at least one more is required. Equipment for garden need to be changed. The government should provide more monetary aid to keep this unique garden alive, “ he said.

Mr Mathur assured that trained gardeners would be appointed in August and more glass houses added by HUDA to accommodate more plants here. He also went around the show and appreciated the efforts made by the NCSSI and HUDA for this show, in which more than 900 entries have been received.

Dr Sarkaria also gave away a pedilenthus cactus to Ms Meena Singh , Director of the Delhi chapter of the NCSSI and a howarthia cactus to Mr Ram Gandhi for evolving new breeds of cactus by grafting. 


Sukhna desilting ahead of schedule
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Worried about the Sukhna Lake — pride of the city — the Chandigarh Administration has ordered that all silt extracting machinery available with the Engineering Department and the municipal corporation be pressed into service to start the desilting operations at the lake. This year the order comes about four weeks in advance than what has been the normal practice for the past few years.

The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), the Army and governments of Punjab and Haryana have also been requested to provide mechanical support immediately. The equipment from these sources will take up to a week to arrive. Already five ‘draglines’ which pick up silt are operational at the site. The Chief Engineer, Mr Puranjit Singh, said last year they had removed about 12 lakh cubic feet of silt. This year the target was three times that.

Normally the full force of the machinery is used only in the second week of May when shramdaan — voluntary manual desilting of the Sukhna Lake — starts each year. This year the Administration does not want a repeat of last year when the machinery from various sources could not be pressed into service until May 20 for one reason or the other.

Each year, several earth-moving machines like JCBs, tippers and bulldozers are supplied by Punjab, Haryana, the Army or the BBMB, to lift dry soil from the bed of the Sukhna Lake. Last year, the Army could not send its machines as there were deployed along the Indo-Pakistan border.

This year written requests have already been sent by the Adviser to the UT Administrator, Mr Virendra Singh. The diesel in the machines is filled by the Administration and boarding and lodging of drivers and staff is also taken care of.

A full-fledged debate rages on about the future of the Sukhna Lake and how to save it from siltation which is a natural phenomenon. Since the lake is fed by seasonal rivulets, silt comes in with water.


Call outside agency

City Beautiful's most prominent water feature, Sukhna Lake, is in danger.

Readers of Chandigarh Tribune are invited to send in their views not exceeding 150 words on the subject along with a passport size colour photo for publication in the newspaper to: Save Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29-C, Chandigarh.

The alarming rate of silt formation in the Sukhna Lake, despite the afforestation and existence of check dams in its catchment area, is a matter of concern, which calls for evaluation by some outside agency having adequate experience of rain water management.

The removal of silt from the lake bed, mechanically or manually, or even the redesigning of regulator gates for increasing the reservoir capacity cannot be an ever-lasting solution. The solution lies only in the effective control of silt movement at its place of origin. The silt movement in the Shivalik hilly region is basically due to the flow of rain water at a high speed which brings in the silt.

Thus, it is necessary to control the steep bed slopes of drainage lines through the construction of wired check dams and silt trap structures.

R.N. Sharma, Addl Dir, Agriculture, Soil Conservation, Haryana (retd), Panchkula.


Uplinking facility from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Residents of the region will get a Baisakhi gift tomorrow. Uplinking facility will be available at the local Doordarshan Kendra from tomorrow. This means any programme or event occurring in the city or its surrounding areas can be relayed to Delhi or to any other major Doordarshan Kendra within minutes of its recording.

The facility will also be available to private channels on payment. The fee for this will be levied in foreign exchange for foreign channels while the Indian private channels can pay in rupees. A complete schedule of payment has been worked out and it is based on actual usage of the uplinking facilities, Doordarshan officials said.

The uplinking can also be used by private parties and booking can be made from here or from Delhi, Doordarshan officials said today. Till now the uplinking facility was available only at Jalandhar and whenever a major event occurred, cassettes had to be rushed to Jalandhar or Delhi. This meant the telecast was delayed by a few hours.

The state governments of Punjab and Haryana have been asking for this facility for long. Large parts of the two states have access only to Doordarshan and the opinion of the two governments was not being reflected in time. Besides, Chandigarh has emerged as a major news centre in the past few years and the electronic media was lagging behind in this aspect.

Mrs Sushma Swaraj, during her stint as the Information and Broadcasting Minister, had come here to inaugurate the building of Doordarshan Kendra in Sector 37. She had promised uplinking facilities, then.


Ex-servicemen flay ECHS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The All-India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association, at a meeting of ex-servicemen, widows and disabled soldiers, held today, criticised the recently launched Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) by the Central Government.

The meeting was presided over by Mr Bhim Sen Sehgal, chairman of the association, and attended by a large number of ex-servicemen.

The scheme, which would cater to the medicare of all ex-servicemen who receive pension, was nothing but augmented armed forces clinics in the Army/Navy and Air Force hospitals, members of the association said.

The treatment at these clinics would be based on the erstwhile rank system, at present existing in the military hospitals, and very few personnels from lower rank visit these hospitals as the rank was given preference and lower ranks were neglected, alleged the members.

This scheme is primarily based on contributions from ex-servicemen pensioners on a varying slab system based on the rank and pension structure and the rates are as follows: pension up to Rs 3,000 — contribution Rs 1,800; from Rs 3,001 to 6,000 — Rs 4,800; from Rs 6,001 to Rs 10,000 — Rs 8,400; from Rs 10,001 to Rs 15,000 — Rs 12,000; and from Rs 15,000 and above — Rs 18,000.

As was evident from the contributions, the scheme would be discriminatory and prove beneficial to retired officers and leave other ranks and their families in a lurch, the members claimed.


Foeticide: need to change people’s mindset
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, April 12
There is need to change the mindset of the people and question the structure of the society to combat the problem of female foeticide.

We have been living in a patriarchal society where the male are always valued. The problem of female foeticide has existed over decades and cannot be tackled as the root cause has not been addressed, said Ms B. Bhamathi, former Gender Adviser, UNFPA, New Delhi, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune here today.

Ms Bhamathi was in the town in connection with a two-day workshop on ‘Rethinking on perspectives, approaches and methodologies for ‘combating female foeticide’ organised by the Institute for Development and Communication. She said gender equality had to be brought about to tackle the problem.

She said law alone would not be of much help to combat female foeticide. Law had been enacted by some persons which was to be implemented by another set of persons. It was very important to know what type of mindset these people had. In Bihar, salt is given to a newly born girl child which in most cases results in death of the child. Can salt be banned, she questioned. Technology could not be banned though with the help of it the problem of foeticide could be controlled to some extent.

She alleged that there was a link between doctors and sex-determinators who said that they indulged in female foeticide because women demanded. But, was every demand of women viewed with the same importance, questioned Ms Bhamathi. She said there was a personal motive behind giving importance of this demand of women.

Male preference was meaningless. “We have not chosen our sex and as such we have no right to choose sex for someone else”, said Ms Bhamathi.


At 70 he dreams of building old age home
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The pain of seeing his grandfather leave, after being turned out of his house by his own mother 58 years ago, can still be seen in the eyes of Mr Jagdish Lal Ahuja, as he talks of his dream project of setting up a free old age home for the elderly at a cost of Rs 3 crore in the city.

The man who fled from his home at Peshawar in Pakistan way back in 1956 and started earning his livelihood in the city by selling bananas on roadside, today feeds almost 1,000 persons at the langar he organises every day in front of the PGI emergency for the past two years.

Having seen a lot of ups and downs in his life, it is the motto to serve the poor and destitute that Mr Ahuja, who runs a fruit wholesale business, follows rigorously

Barring the few occasions when he is out of town, come what may he keeps his date with the people who queue up at 4.30 pm at the PGI and personally distributes food to the patients, their attendants and other needy people. “The moment a man becomes old and stops earning, he becomes a burden on his own children, who want to get rid of him. And it is for this lot that I want to set up a home away from home, where they are loved, cared and wanted,” says Mr Ahuja.

People like 55-year-old Sushila from Saharanpur, whose son has been undergoing treatment at the PGI for the past three months, partake of food every day at the langar. “We take the langar food to the serai and have it for dinner, as it is almost impossible for poor people like us to bear the cost of treatment as well as food,” says Ramesh from Hisar, whose wife is undergoing treatment. There are many whose only food throughout the day is the langar food comprising halwa, chappati and vegetable.

“Even though I am 70 years old, I feel young as I keep myself busy and wish to do the same for people of my age, especially those unwanted by their own children,” he says.

The building plan of the old age home has already been submitted to the administration. “It is by selling his property that Mr Ahuja will raise Rs 1.50 crore for the project, while the rest will have to come from government or as an interest- free loan,” said Mr Vinod Kumar, who works for Mr Ahuja. Besides he has also offered to set up a night shelter in the city, with food and lodging at nominal charges.

“It is not a profit-making industrial unit for which I am asking for land from the administration but an old age home. So why these cumbersome official procedures and formalities,” says Mr Ahuja, pained at the delay in grant of land to him. He says the allotment of land should be made as early as possible so that the facility can be provided soon. 


Nagar kirtan marks Baisakhi celebrations
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
Devotees marched through city streets during anagar kirtan, taken out today, by the Central Coordination Committee of all gurdwaras and Sikh institutions to mark Baisakhi celebrations.

‘Ragis’ recited hymns as several bands moved along with the procession, playing religious tunes students also participated in the procession.

Several organisations had decorated the route with colourful flags and buntings. As the traffic came to a standstill for giving way to the procession, the devotees served prasad.

The police had made elaborate arrangements for the procession. No untoward incident was reported. Several cops could be seen directing commuters to take alternate roads.

As the procession passed through different sectors, more and more devotees joined in.

The procession started from Sector 23 gurdwara at about 1 pm and passed through Sectors 22, 21, 20, 19, 27 and 29 before culminating at the Sector 30 gurdwara.



Sankirtan marks Ram Navami celebrations
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
Chants of “Hare Rama Hare Krishna” filled the air as enthusiastic devotees pulled a decked-up chariot during a sankirtan possession in connection with the Ram Navami celebrations by Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math in the city today.

As the procession passed through the streets of the various Sectors under the guidance of Swami Bhakti Ballabh Tirth Goswami Maharaj, more and more devotees joined in, dancing and clapping merrily.

The procession started from Sree Chaitanya Gaudiya Math premises at about 3.30 pm.

According to a press note, mahamantra of Lord Krishna was also chanted.


Newborn tiger cub dead
Our Correspondent

Chhat Bir (Patiala), April 12
The Royal Bengal tiger cub that was born in Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park on April 6 was today found dead in the enclosure for the tiger by the keeper.

While confirming the death of the ‘‘new arrival’’, the Zoo Director, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, said mortality rate often remained high among wild animals. He said the exact cause of the death could not be ascertained, as the post-mortem report did not specify any cause.

He also ruled out the possibility of death of the cub due to inbreeding among tigers.

The death of the cub in less than 48 hours after birth has further put a question mark on the competence of the zoo management in preserving the wildlife here.

Meanwhile, another Royal Bengal tigress delivered a litter of three cubs in the same enclosure. With this the number of the tigers in the zoo has increased to 24.

The Zoo Director, however, confirmed the birth of two cubs. He added that he was told by the zoo employees regarding the birth of two cubs this afternoon.


58 pc polling in Daria Sarpanch byelection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
In the byelections to the post of the Sarpanch of Daria village gram panchayat, 58.15 per cent polling and for the post of a member of zila parishad of the Mauli Jagran and Kishangarh constituency, 14.25 per cent polling was recorded today.

In the seven polling stations, arrangement had been made to prevent any untoward incident. The byelections were peaceful, except for minor incidents of heated exchange of words between rival groups. No violent incident was reported, police sources said. Only 692 votes, out of 4,854 votes in the zila parishad constituency, and 2100 votes, out of 3611 votes for the post of the Sarpanch were reported to have been polled. According to the State Election Commission, counting of votes will be held on April 14 at Carmel Convent School, Sector 9 from 9 am and the results would be declared on the same day.


Parliament on Himalayan culture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The first parliament on Himalayan culture will be organised by the Himalaya Parivaran, an NGO, in New Delhi on April 19 and 20, Mr P.C. Dogra, a former Director-General of Police, Punjab, and member of the reception committee of the parliament, announced here today.

He said that the Vice-President, Mr Bhairon Singh Sekhawat, will inaugurate the parliament in which important issues concerning integrity, culture and body politic of the nation with specific reference to the Himalayas would be deliberated upon by prominent security administrators, specialists in various fields of development, senior political personalities and social workers. They include Mr George Fernandes, Mr Jagmohan, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr K. S. Sudershan, Ms Najma Heptullah, besides several MPs, ministers of several states and ambassadors of some countries.


Scribe bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Daljit Kaur, mother-in-law of Mr K.S. Sandhu of Northern News, died in New Delhi this morning after a brief illness. She was 92. She will be cremated tomorrow in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, a condolence meeting to pay tributes to Vidya Devi Jain, mother of Mr Harish Chander Jain, General Manager, Haryana Roadways, Sonepat, and Mr Mahavir Jain of Arth Prakash, will be held at the Raghu Nath Mandir, Sector 15, Panchkula, tomorrow at 2 p.m.


Banks closed on Monday

Chandigarh, April 12
Banks in the city will be closed on April 14. The State Bank of India announced a closed day along with Punjab National Bank. The banks will be following the notification of the Central Government which had declared a public holiday on April 14 under the NI Act. TNS


8 stolen cars recovered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
With the arrest of a four-member gang of automobile thieves, the operation cell of Chandigarh Police has recovered at least eight stolen cars and a scooter. The vehicles, recovered from a garage on the Ludhiana-Ambala highway, had been stolen from different parts of the city during the past one year.

Two of the thieves — Tejinder Singh alias Tinku, a taxi driver of Sector 27, and Paramjeet alias Sonu, a resident of Sector 19 — used to identify and steal a car, while the other two — Mandeep alias Rinku and Kulwinder, both running a car repair garage near Ludhiana — used to dispose of the stolen cars under fake registration, engine and chassis numbers.

The modus operandi of the automobile thieves was to remove the lock of the petrol tank lid during the night hours and prepare duplicate keys. The same set of keys were used to steal the car. The thieves then used to drive the stolen car to Samrala chowk in Ludhiana and contact “buyers” on their mobile phones. A police official said the stolen cars were sold for between Rs 5,000 and Rs 13,000 — depending upon the condition of the vehicle. The money was withdrawn through ATM cards. Usually the thieves were told on their mobile phones about the requirement of the vehicle by the buyers in Ludhiana.

Acting on the tip-off, the team of the operation cell recovered the stolen vehicles and some engine parts from the car garage of Rinku and Kulwinder.

To ensure detection by the police, the buyers used to procure totally damaged vehicles and remove their engines and chassis numbers. The engine and chassis numbers were then fixed on the stolen vehicles and a new registration number was prepared before the disposal of the vehicles at car bazars in different cities of Punjab. The operation cell tracked down the Ludhiana-based car sellers on the basis of calls made from their mobile phones.



15 gm of smack seized
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The crime branch of the Chandigarh Police today seized 14 gm of smack in two separate cases in the city today. According to the information, Raj Kumar, a resident of Palsora, was caught with eight gm of smack. In the second case, Surinder Kumar alias Shinda , was arrested with six gm of smack.

Gold chain recovered

In the case of arrest of two youths yesterday for being allegedly involved in a case of robbery, the police today recovered a driving licence, a gold chain and a stolen cycle from the suspects, Jitender Kumar alias Mintoo and Guddu Singh of Kumahar colony and Janta colony, respectively.

The modus operandi of the gang was to rob victims at isolated places at knifepoint.

Brought dead

A 18-year-old was declared brought dead at the Sector 16 General Hospital last night. According to the information available, the victim, Bhadhur, was working as a mechanic with a Sector-40 shopkeeper. According to the police, the victim complained of pain in his stomach and was rushed to the hospital.


Mr Jayoti Chawla, a resident of Sector 19 in Panchkula, reported that a digital camera was stolen from Government Senior Secondary School in Sector 8 here. A case has been registered at the Sector 3 police station. In another case, Rahul Arora, a resident of Sector 15, reported that his computer was stolen from his house.

Four youths held

PANCHKULA: Four scooter-borne youths, reportedly belonging to Bataur village, near Barwala, attempted to snatch a cash bag from an employee of a petrol station. They were, however, apprehended by the police and the cash bag containing Rs 900 was recovered.

The incident took place this morning at Bharat Filling Station, Bataur. The four youths came on one scooter and stopped by at the station to get the fuel tank filled. They reportedly got one litre petrol filled in their scooter and took five litres of diesel in a can.

When the employees at the petrol station, Kanwar Pal and Raj Kumar, asked for money, they refused. The employees then tried to rough them up but they snatched the cash bag from Raj Kumar and fled.

The police was called in and the youths were later rounded up from the village. Till the time of filing of this report, the police had not disclosed the names of the accused. A case under various Sections of the IPC has been registered.


Rs 60,000 stolen from scooter's glove box
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Despite Chandigarh Police claiming to have busted a notorious interstate gang, specialising in stealing money from glove boxes of two-wheelers and cars, the members of the gang are still active in the city.

A case of theft of Rs 60,000 from the glove box of a scooter in Mani Majra motor market has been registered at the Mani Majra police station. The case was registered after Mr Mohinder Singh, a resident of Jawarpur village in Dera Bassi, reported that the cash had been stolen from his scooter (PB 11 M 3755) while he had gone to a shop in the market.

However, it could not be confirmed as to when the incident took place. Though inquiries reveal that case had been registered yesterday, sources said the matter had been reported to the police a week ago. But the FIR was registered only yesterday. The gang is a headache for the Uttar Pradesh Police

Talking to the TNS over the telephone, Mr S.P. Sharam, the SHO of the area, said the police had provided the required assistance to a team of Chandigarh Police that had visited the area yesterday. Mr Sharma said the police of Delhi, Maharashtra, Punjab and other states had been coming to the area to look for the members of the gang.

He said gang members, numbering around 350, hailed from Bathu community. They specialised in stealing money from cars and glove boxes of scooters, from train passengers and robbing cash at a gunpoint. He admitted that even the Uttar Pradesh police was finding it difficult to nail the criminals as they committed crimes in other states.

According to Mr Sharma, the members of the gang enjoyed all basic amenities of life. They owned well furnished houses. The women of the community specialised in distilling illicit liquor in their houses.


Subscribers’ threat to BSNL
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
A large number of landline subscribers of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) were shocked today when the company announced to increase the tariff rates by six times for calls from landline to WLL phones and by two times for landline calls to mobile phones. A section of landline subscribers have announced to surrender their connections as a mark of protest.

Sources admitted that according to the new tariff order issued today, calls would become costlier by six times from May 1 due to inclusion of interconnection usage charges (IUC) and reduction in free calls from 75 to 30 per month. Calls from land phones to WILL phones would be costlier by two times with the introduction of 90 second pulse rate against 180 seconds at present.

A consumer forum activist said when the land to mobile call would cost Rs 1.20 per 30 seconds against same charges for three minutes at present, who would prefer to keep that connection. He said other areas where land phone subscribers would be hit were reduction in off-peak STD charges by two hours, reducing the pulse of inter-circle (adjoining state) calls within 50 kms distance from 180 seconds to 90 seconds and introduction of a new charge of Rs 30 per month for detailed call bills.

The cellular operators would be feeling happy that the new BSNL tariff order would bring them revenue to cover up the loss on account of free incoming facility extended in anticipation of IUC charge. An official of the Airtel said with the present charge of Rs 1.20 per 30 seconds, a one-minute call from land to mobile would cost Rs 2.40 making it costlier as compared to mobile to landline calls. The new concessional hours would be from 10 pm to 9 am against 8 pm to 9 am as at present.

BSNL officials admitted that the new tariff rates would adversely hit the business volumes since lakhs of landline customers had already shifted to the cellular network. The increase in tariff would further hit the business. They said the land phone subscribers would also have to pay more for long-distance (over 500 km) STD calls as compared to cell phone users. A call from land-to-land would cost Rs 4.80 per minute at 15 seconds pulse as against the cost of Rs 3.60 per minute at 20 seconds pulse for a call from land to cell phone. Moreover, now onwards customers would get monthly bills like cellular subscribers. 


No panic rush at city ICICI ATMs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Despite widespread panic withdrawals by customers of ICICI Bank, in various towns of Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states, there was no run on the bank in the city. A visit to the ATMs and cash counters of the bank revealed that there was normal rush of customers to deposit and withdraw amounts.

In the Sector 9 main branch of the bank, there were hardly five customers at the ATM to withdraw cash. One of them said, “I cannot believe that the ICICI could be in financial trouble. The financial condition of the bank is much better as compared to number of public sector banks. Further, the deposits are guaranteed by the RBI.”

Referring to the panic withdrawals in other cities, Mr S.N. Patnaik, regional head, retail banking, ICICI Bank, Chandigarh circle, said, “This is perhaps due to some market rumours. Otherwise there is no problem of liquidity. In view of the coming holidays we have already arranged adequate cash at ATMs. Against a normal limit of Rs 10 lakh at each ATMs, we have arranged double the amount.”

He further said, the ATMs would remain functional for 24 hours as usual. Any customer could come anytime to withdraw his cash. The bank was running in profits and had a bright future. He said our financial results, to be announced soon, would made it clear that there was no such problem. Officials of the RBI had already issued statements claiming that there would no trouble in the bank, he added.


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