Tuesday, April 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Holidays delay ban on watering of lawns
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Nature has come to the rescue of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, as slight rain showers in the city this evening have provisionally eased the expected water shortage in the wake of the rising level of mercury during the past couple of weeks.

The major decision regarding ban on watering lawns and washing cars in the residential areas was expected to come into force from today.

But, the notification was temporarily put on the hold due to the holidays that have hampered the day-to-day official work in all government and semi-government departments.

A senior official of the Municipal Corporation commented: “Had it not drizzled today, the MC authorities would have been forced to put a little cut in the water supply, following non issuance of notification regarding ban on watering lawns and washing cars in the residential areas”.

When contacted, Mr V.K. Bhardwaj, Chief Engineer of the corporation admitted that the decision to ban watering lawns had been delayed due to the continuous holidays. He said: “It will take at least another one week to complete the official process for the notification regarding the ban on watering lawns and washing cars in the residential areas”.

Another official of the corporation said that it had been decided to check the misuse of water by deploying a special squad of officials at different locations during the morning supply. Although the focus would be on the colonies where the misuse of water is comparatively more but major thrust, this time, would be on to check the watering of lawns and washing cars in the residential areas.

He said the SDO’s of the Public Health Wing of the corporation would be the nodal officers to check misuse of water. “Notices would be issued on being found guilty of misuse of water with fine as per the existing rules. In case, the defaulters are found repeating the same offence, the water supply would be discontinued”, he added.

The Mayor, Mr Subash Chawla, has ensured that the afternoon water supply would not be discontinued even during the season of peak summer. “Pipelines, including that from the main Kajauli water works and in the city, have already been checked to avoid any disruption in water supply due to leakage in the coming couple of months”, he said.

As per records available, the water supply to the city is approximately 60 million gallons per day (MGD).

Out of which 50 MGD is being received from the Bhakra main line and another 10 MGD from 120 deep bore tubewells installed at different locations in the city. According to an estimate, the requirement of water increases to 100 MGD during the peak season that normally starts from the mid of April.


Gutkha makers take admn for a ride
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Chew this. In Chandigarh, many residents, savour pan masalas oblivious of the fact these may contain tobacco as an ingredient. The reason behind their ignorance is not hard to see. Some of the alluring sachets mention everything except the weight, and the ingredients.

Find it hard to digest...? Go to any pan and cigarette vendor offering masalas on soiled sheets spread along the roadside. Have a closer look and you will find the crucial details missing.

If you are wondering why the authorities do not act, ask them. The officials will tell you they are toothless because of the rules, and the lacunae in it. In Chandigarh, provisions do not exist under which the sale of tobacco or pan masala is authorised, or regulated — the authorities recently claimed in an affidavit filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Tobacco and pan masalas, they added, are different from liquor and medicine as their sale is regulated by different government departments. But what about the ingredients? Well, the manufacturers take advantage of the fact that they do not have to give details of the contents if the weight of the sachet is less than 20 gm

To solve the problem, the Health Department has suggested that pan masalas and gutkhas should not be sold in packets weighing less than 20 gm.

“In case this is done, the manufacturers, wholesale dealers, distributors and retailers will not be able to hide the true nature of the contents and will be under obligation to display the name, weight, volume, along with the complete list of ingredients”, Director, Health Services, Dr C.P. Bansal, has asserted in his affidavit.

He has concluded, “In this manner, it will be possible to achieve the objective of not permitting the panmasalas to be adulterated with tobacco and sold to the unsuspecting consumers, including children”.

The affidavit was filed on a writ petition filed against the States of Punjab and Haryana, besides the Union of India and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, by a Ludhiana-based organisation, Guru Gobind Study Circle. The petitioner had also sought directions for the adoption of measures to prevent irreparable damage to the health of the future generation, including students.

Directions for the removal of vends near educational and religious institutions, besides removing billboards advertising the products on buses and walls, were also sought. Seeking directions for maintaining a minimum distance of 2 km between the outlets, counsel for the petitioner had added that the products were freely available in provision stores, even at tea stalls and STD booths.


Raids to check power theft
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 14
A team of police personnel and Electricity Department officials today raided seven industrial units in the Industrial Area and three showrooms located in different parts of the city and sealed four electricity meters suspected to have been tampered with. Raids were still going on till the filing of this report.

The police had information that 18 industrial units and three showrooms were stealing power by installing remote-controlled devices on their electricity meters.

According to sources, meters in 11 suspected industrial units were recently replaced by the Electricity Department. Theft of power by using remote-controlled devices came to light when the Punjab Police registered such a case on March 18. A senior police official told Chandigarh Tribune that the matter of replaced meters would be taken up with the Electricity Department.

On the other hand, sources in the Electricity Department claimed that the meters were replaced during a routine process as the department was replacing old meters with electronic ones. ‘‘During the past one-and-half-month more than 190 meters have been replaced’’, said an official of the department.

During the raids, the team sealed three electricity meters at various industrial units and one at a showroom in Sector 27. The raids were still going on in two showrooms when the reports last came in, said police sources. The raiding team found two of the industrial units locked. The team, however, sealed the rooms where the meters were installed and the meters would be examined once the units opened, sources said. The raids started in the morning and continued till late evening.

The police is on the trail of industrialists, who, in connivance with officials of the Electricity Department, were indulging in power theft by installing remote-controlled devices on the electronic electricity meters.

Today's raids were conducted after interrogation of two persons arrested by the police in connection with theft of power by industrialists, the Crime branch of the police and Electricity Department formed a team for this work. During interrogation of two suspects, Satbir Chand Garg and Jaswant Singh, who were arrested earlier, the police had identified these industrial units and showrooms.

The first stop of the team this morning was M\s Harindra Industries, 220, Phase I and they found the meter 'badly burnt'. The meter has been sealed and would be sent to a laboratory for examination. Mr Kapil Aggarwal of the unit, however, claimed that the meter was damaged in a short circuit on Saturday morning.

An interesting scene was created at one of the suspected industrial units, when the team found a lock on the room in which the meter was installed. The keys were the with the owner who had gone out of station. The powermen were confused as they could not have skipped the unit nor were empowered to break the lock. After much deliberations, it was decided to seal off the room and disconnect the power supply. The meter would be inspected tomorrow after the return of the owner.

Investigations by the police had revealed that a number of industrialists, in connivance with certain official of the Electricity Department, were using remote-controlled devices to manipulate meter reading, said police sources. The device could be installed only after tampering with the meters, they added.

Meanwhile, raids were being conducted to arrest a Delhi-based engineer, Arjan Malhotra, who was manufacturing remote-controlled devices. These devices can be fitted in the electronic meters and operated with a remote control within a radius of 24 feet.


PU signs MoU with IIT, Roorkee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Panjab University here has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IITR), to club efforts and pool in expertise and resources for collaborating in academic work, research and development projects as well as teaching activities.

As per the objectives listed in the MoU, both institutions have agreed upon, for mutual benefit, “to form a nucleus for promoting excellent quality manpower in the fields of engineering, technology, science and allied areas”.

The memorandum was signed by the Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University, Prof K.N. Pathak, and Director, IIT Roorkee, Prof Prem Vrat, here today. The MoU, which comes into effect from the day of approval by both institutions, will be valid for a period of five years.

The basis of the MoU lies in the PU as well as the IITR recognising the importance of research and development in the aforementioned areas and appreciating the need for creating a large reservoir of highly qualified manpower in these areas.

Activities covered under the agreement include exchange of research documents, visits of faculty, staff and students and submission of joint projects seeking external support for collaboration in research and consultancy.

Laboratory, library and computing facilities will be made available to meet each others’ requirement and agreements will also be made from time to time for specific projects and activities.

The terms of the MoU stipulate that there will be no direct financial obligation on either institution unless specifically agreed to.

Copyright regarding publications, patents, royalty, ownership of software, designs and products developed under the scope of the MoU will be decided by the two institutions by mutual consent.


200 Dalits embrace Buddhism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar was observed by the All-India Confederation of the SC, ST Organisations here today by converting around 200 Dalits to Buddhism.

Those who were converted to at Buddhism at the Valmiki Ashram in Sector 24 here by Vinay Kirti, an elderly Buddhist monk from Delhi, included women and children, apart from adult men.

The 200-strong crowd chanted a prayer denouncing Hinduism for social inequality resulting from the caste system. Later, three men, who had embraced Buddhism, tonsured their heads to become “Bhikshus”.

A group of 10 to 12 children — their age ranging from nine years to 20 years — also swore by the New Testament that they would embrace Christianity. While the younger ones of this group had no idea what they were doing, Parvesh Kumar, (20) from Kalka said that he had decided to become a Christian of his own accord. Shruti and Dolly, both students of class XII at JNV School in Kaithal, said that though they did not feel that they were discriminated against in their schools, they felt that they could protect their rights only if they moved away from the Hindu fold.

Addressing the gathering Mr Udit Raj, president of the confederation, condemned the Sangh Parivar as well as the Om Prakash Chautala-led government in Haryana, which, was indulging in repression of Dalits in the state. “At Jhajjar, five Dalits were lynched because they were erroneously suspected to be cow slaughterers. Then at Harsola in Kaithal district, Dalit families were evicted formally from the village. At Meham local hoodlums pulled down a Dalit bridegroom from the horse he was riding and in another case in Meham, a Dalit woman was kidnapped...”, Mr Udit Raj said, adding that these incidents showed the plight of the Dalits in Chautala regime.

Most of those who got converted today were from Haryana and Chandigarh.


Tributes paid to Ambedkar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
A function was organised by the local unit of the Nationalist Congress Party on the 112th birth anniversary of Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar at their party office here on Monday. The president of the unit, Mr Gurbachan Singh, highlighted the role of Dr Ambedkar in framing the constitution of India.

The local unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) donated 21 units of blood on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar here on Monday. VHP activists, including Col Dharam Vir, president, and Mr Diwakar Pathak, cashier, also visited the camp. 


Dance, music add zing to Baisakhi
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 14
The Malwa Women Welfare and Cultural Society, SAS Nagar, and Rising Star Disable Youth Club, Chandigarh, celebrated Baisakhi by organising “Chal Chaliye Baisakhi” today.

A huge rally comprising hundreds of men and women, attired in traditional dresses and depicting the images of rural Punjab, danced to the tune of bhangra beats. The rally ended at Bal Bhavan where a musical evening was organised for the participants.

The function at Bal Bhavan in Sector 23 featured a host of Punjabi singers, including Hardeep, Surjit Khan, Gurkirpal Surapuri, Amarjit, Balbir Sufi, Kulbir Chahal and Usha Kiran, who enthralled the audience with their old and new hit songs. Later children of different age groups presented dance items. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Punjab, was the chief guest.

Meanwhile, as part of its golden jubilee foundation day celebrations, Shishu Niketan Model Senior Secondary School celebrated Baisakhi on the school premises in Sector 22 here on Monday. An interactive session for the old students was also held.

The District Education Officer, Rajesh Chaudhary, Ms S. Khorana, director and founder of the institute, Ms Amita Khorana, Principal, and many other retired teachers and PTA members took part.

The thumping beats of bhangra music filled the air as the dholis went from house to house in the city on the occasion of Baisakhi. A large number of residents came out in the open to dance on the beats of dhol. Langars were also organised at different gurdwaras.

The commemoration started early. Even before dawn, the residents left the comfort of their homes before driving down to gurdwaras. No wonder, roads leading to religious institutes remained jam-packed in the early hours.

The venue of prime celebrations was Nada Sahib Gurdwara, near Panchkula. As many devotees rushed to pay obeisance with their heads covered, the cops faced a tough time ensuring the free flow of traffic.

Associated usually with the harvest of wheat, Baisakhi symbolises prosperity and happiness. For some, the day is also a reminder of the birth of Khalsa Panth in 1699.

The 13 Punjab (Jind), one of the oldest battalions of the Indian Army, celebrated Baisakhi with fervour in their unit, Dharamsthal somewhere in the northern sector today. The function a subtle blend of gaiety and solemnity was presided over by Brig V.K. Sharma, the Brigade Commander, who presented a Rumala at the Gurdwara, a spokesperson said.

The unique feature of the Dharamsthal is that it has both mandir and gurudwara under the same roof in true spirit of the Army. Baisakhi is celebrated to commemorate the birth of the Khalsa Panth and it also marks the onset of the harvesting season.


Sufiana qalaam virtuoso binds audience
Tribune News Service

Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans performs during Baisakhi celebrations at Punjab Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on Monday.
Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans performs during Baisakhi celebrations at Punjab Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, April 14
Celebrated musician Hans Raj Hans today performed at Punjab Raj Bhavan for special Baisakhi celebrations. Picking up one musical strain after another, the well-known Sufiana qalaam exponent once again underlined his worth. Beginning the presentation with a beautiful song set to raag megha, Hans Raj Hans doled out one enthralling piece after another.

The best presentations of the day included Waris Shah's Heer and a parallel rendition of Baba Farid and Kabir's couplet. Packing his presentation with zing, the singer made a presentation of lighter forms of music. He also offered some numbers from his hit albums, apart from often addressing his presentations to dignitaries, especially the Punjab Governor, Lient-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd).

After the show Hans Raj Hans talked about his latest preoccupation. Having tested success in the world of commercial music, Hans expressed his desire to move away from the market, ruled by profit. He told Chandigarh Tribune that he was no longer inspired by the popular music and that was why he was no longer bringing out any new albums.

In fact, Hans is now back with his guru Puran Shahkoti in Jalandhar. Occupied with Sufism, he is currently trying to understand the inspiration behind the life and works of two most famous Sufi writers of our times — Baba Bulle Shah and Waris Shah.

He will proceed to the USA tomorrow. A fellow of San Jose University (near San Francisco) as he is, he delivers annual lectures in music. Laughs the singer when we use the term, “lecture”. “I am not competent enough to lecture people in music. I have learnt something from my guru and I want to pass on what I know." Hans will commence his classes in San Jose University from April 17.


Fervour marks Baisakhi
Tribune Reporters and Agencies

Chandigarh, April 14
Baisakhi, the festival that heralds progress and prosperity, was celebrated in Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh today with great enthusiasm. Though at some places the festival was celebrated yesterday.

Farmers donning their colourful best formally launched harvesting of their rabi crops in the two states.

Since the day also marked founding of the Khalsa by the Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, special congregations were organised in gurdwaras. The devotees had holy dips in the tanks and sarovars attached to the gurdwaras and temples in the region.


HP Governor talks about ‘conspiracies’ against SCs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
The Himachal Pradesh Governor, Dr Suraj Bhan, here today sought to unravel so-called conspiracies against the Scheduled Castes during the Congress regimes since Independence.

Delivering a lecture on the occasion of the 112th birth anniversary of Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, Mr Bhan quoted secret documents, proceedings of the Constituent Assembly and Parliament library records to suggest that Articles 17 of the Constitution (abolition of untouchability), 330, 331 and 332 (reservation in legislatures), 335 (reservation in government jobs) and 370 (special status to Jammu and Kashmir) had involved conspiratorial attitude of the top political leadership then (during Congress regimes).

He said the draft prepared by Dr Ambedkar on Article 17 declaring that there shall be no benefit or loss to anybody on the basis of one’s birth was not even brought before the Constituent Assembly. It was written by somebody else.

Dr Bhan said Dr Ambedkar had refused to include Article 370 in the Constitution on the request of Sheikh Abdullah, saying that the latter was not for serving individuals but the nation. He said despite the opposition of Dr Ambedkar and that of a Muslim member of the Constituent Assembly, a top leader of the Congress then intervened to have Article 370 included in the Constitution. Dr Bhan did not reveal the name of the leader, saying that his constitutional post did not allow him to name the person.

The Himachal Governor said Articles 330, 331 and 332 were removed on the insistence of the top leadership then. When this came to the notice of Dr Ambedkar, he asked Babu Jagjivan Ram to contact Mahatma Gandhi to intervene in this regard to save these constitutional provisions.

He said Gandhi intervened on the request of Dr Ambedkar to save the provisions, but because of this conspiracy, now it had to be extended every 10 years. Dr Bhan said Article 335 was passed because this top leader then was out of Delhi.

The Himachal Governor revealed a report presented before the Governors’ Committee, which estimated that around 20 crore hectares of wasteland could be distributed among four crore poor families of the country to bring about a revolution.

He said this distribution was not easy as states might have a different view, but with the linking of rivers project getting momentum, it would be easier now to prevail upon states to agree to this distribution and lift the economic status of around 20 crore people in one stroke.

The chasm between the IAS-IPS officers and common members of the Scheduled Castes came to the fore, with a speaker, Manjit Singh, demanding reservation on the economic criterion and the exclusion of the creamy layer from the benefit.

Earlier, two groups of the Ambedkar Study Circle held parallel functions, accusing each other of indulging in corruption.


Truckers protest against hike in diesel price
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Hundreds of trucks and tempos in the city and the surrounding towns remained off the road today on a call given by the All-India Motor Transport Congress in protest against the increase of more than 33 per cent in diesel prices over the past one year, prices of chassis and premium charged by the insurance companies.

Most of the trucks in Chandigarh, Kharar, Zirakpur and the neighbouring towns were off the road. Mr Rajiv Sood, general secretary of the Chandigarh Transport Association, claimed that they were forced to resort to an indefinite strike in protest against the indifferent attitude towards the transport sector. A meeting of the truck operators was held in this regard.

The truck operators lamented that the strike would affect the supply of vegetables and fruits to the city and the surrounding towns. Some farmers had already arrived in the market with their tractors-trailers to transport the goods.

He said the truck operators had decided to join hands with the All-India Motor Transport Congress against the indifferent behaviour of the government towards the road transport sector. He said the Centre should fix a minimum tariff per km for the road transport sector like the state transports.

Mr Prithvi Raj Sharma, convener, state-level coordination committee of truck unions, Chandigarh and Punjab, said the government should declare goods’ transport sector as an industry which would enable them to raise easy finance and claim relief in excise and sales tax in the Budget. 


Wait for new news channels to get longer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Even as three new news channels have started their telecast across the country, viewers in Chandigarh will have to wait for a few days as the new system will require some upgrading of equipment at the end of cable operators. Moreover, in some sectors, the operators are unaware about the new channels. Till some streamlining is done, city residents will have to wait to exercise their choice on news and views.

Three news channels have been launched in the country. One is ‘Headlines Today’ offered by the India Today group, which already has its Hindi version ‘Aaj Tak’ on air. ‘Headlines Today’ is in English and is targeted at the upper crust urban viewer. At present this is a free-to-air channel.

New Delhi Television (NDTV), headed by Dr Pranoy Roy, has come out with a Hindi and an English channel. These channels will be available free with the existing package offered to cable operators. At present Sony offers Sony, Set Max, AXN, Discovery and Animal Planet, besides the two new the NDTV-produced news channels. The CNBC channel which was earlier being offered with the Sony package is now being offered with the Zee television package. The cost of the Zee package has been hiked from Rs 50 per connection to Rs 55 per connection, according to sources.

At present the Sony package is charged at Rs 50 per connection from operators and with the NDTV joining them no hike in payment has been announced by the channel. It may be re-collected that NDTV was working in collaboration with Star Television to telecast news. Their contract ended and the NDTV opted to join hands with Sony. Star has come out with its Hindi news version and it is presently being telecast.

Mr Sandeep Bansal, managing director of Siti Cable, one of the main operators in the city having several sub-operators, said telecast of these news channels would start soon. “In Chandigarh, we just cannot block any channel and there is a demand for all channels. Those operators whose systems have not been upgraded will require to invest something in the range of Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh,’ he said.

A local cable operator said he had been flooded with calls from subscribers wanting to watch these channels.

Once these new channels are also on the regular telecast list there will be eight 24-hour news channels to choose from. These are: Aaj Tak, Star Hindi, Zee News, Sahara Samay, Headlines Today, NDTV (English), NDTV (Hindi) and CNBC. These are besides foreign channels like CNN and BBC, which take the tally up to 10.


Bio-force project launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Hallo Majra and Makhan Majra residents will be educated about vermiculture, energy management, alternative energy resources, infomation and communication technology and water harvesting under the Bio-Force Project that was launched in the two villages yesterday.

The project was launched by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Agro-Mass, which has taken upon itself the task of making people aware about these issues in all 22 UT villages.

The organisation offers consultancy and organises workshops and seminars to educate and help people on these issues.

Agro-Mass resource persons Deepak Saini and Mahesh Sood today conducted an appreciation workshop on vermi-compost at government high school of Hallo Majra and Makhan Majra.

People were told that warms could help in decomposing household and farm waste into organic manure, that gave better results than inorganic compost.

Experts said the vegetables grown using vermi-compost fetched four to five time higher price in the market.

The organisation is establishing a resource training centre for vermiculture at Sector 25, near Patiala Ki Rao reserve forest, where people and schoolchildren will be given practical free training about vermiculture.


Rain brings relief to residents
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
A light spell of rain this evening brought a relief to the city residents, who had been witnessing a steep rise in temperature for the past few days.

According to the Meteorological Department, the city received 0.2 mm rain that brought down the temperature, which had reached up to 38.2 oC, four degrees above normal temperature. The minimum temperature in the city remained at 21.8 oC.

Residents enjoyed the first rain of the month and watched it with smile of relief on their faces. Some of the residents, who had already switched on their air-conditioners, had to switch them off with the fall in temperature. Earlier, in the evening, high velocity winds swept the city. Youngsters were seen thronging the lake and parks. In the sector 26 grain market, some of the farmers, who had brought their wheat crop for sale here, had to make efforts to save their crop.

According to officials of the Meteorological Department, the sky will remain cloudy tomorrow and the city may also witness rain and thundery conditions.


Punjabi sabha’s plea to MLA
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 14
The Punjabi Welfare Sabha has demanded that a Punjabi councillor be nominated as president of the local Municipal Council.

The suggestion was made by members of the sabha to a senior INLD leader, Mr Kanti Prakash Bhalla, and the Congress MLA from Kalka, Mr Chander Mohan, during the Baisakhi function held yesterday.

The president of the sabha, Mr S.K. Nayar, said since a majority of the electorate were Punjabis, the president should be nominated from amongst the community. He also demanded that a piece of land be allotted to the sabha for setting up a Punjabi parishad.

Punjabi film artiste Meher Mittal, Mr Bhalla, Maj-Gen Depinder Singh (retd), Mr Chander Mohan and newly-elected Councillors namely Mr V.K Sood, Mr V.K. Kapoor, Mr Tarun Bhandari, Mr R.K. Kakkar, Mr Naresh Rawal, Mr Mohinder Singh and Ms Manvir Gill were honoured by the sabha.

The Director of Satluj Public School, Mr Pritam Singh Serai, was also honoured for his contribution in the field of education. Students of the school also performed a cultural programme. Punjabi singer Pawan Bittu also enthralled the audience.


Rotary team returns from car-crazy Lanka
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Nothing strengthens international relations the way cultural exchange does. No wonder then that Rotary spends a great deal of its energy facilitating exchange of ideas across borders.

Under this year's annual group exchange programme which promotes global peace, Rotary focused on Sri Lanka, the country known as much for its ravaged surroundings as for its rich cultural lineage. Back from Sri Lanka, this year's group exchange members are still overwhelmed with the affection showered upon them by the Sri Lankans, who seem to have perfected the art of hospitality. The visit was scheduled between March 11 and March 31.

Rotarian Dr R.S. Bedi, who led the four-member Indian team in Sri Lanka, is all praise for the land. The first thing that struck him about the country was its level of contentment. "Credit it to their Buddhist lineage or anything else, the Sri Lankans are simple people with simple ways of life. This despite the progress they have made on certain critical fronts, like education where they command a 92 percent rate of literacy and also population control," said Dr Bedi. As a doctor, he was taken in by the way Sri Lanka had overcome polio. "The country became polio-free seven years back, while we are still struggling to reach satisfactory targets in this regard," said Dr Bedi, adding on another aspect of Sri Lanka. "The country has luxury cars of all descriptions. Also in this car-crazy land, you find an Indian presence everywhere," he said.

Talking specifically about the vocational visits organised under the programme to promote exchange of ideas in respective fields, journalist Priyanka Singh from The Tribune, made a mention of one Lake House in Colombo. "It is a media house owned by the government. I was taken aback by the level of media censorship that prevails in Sri Lanka. The freedom of expression is very limited, unlike in India," she said, also mentioning Trincomalee, the war-ravaged district North of Jaffna which the team visited. "The Rotary International has undertaken a housing scheme in this war-struck region. The aim is to rehabilitate the war-ravaged people," she informed.

Dehradun-based Dr Anil Raja Vijan, posted as superintending chemist with the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), was interested in the scientific achievements of Sri Lanka. "Where earlier Sri Lanka had not fully exploited its oil potential, it is now openly inviting companies for the bidding of oil sites. This will boost oil exploration work," he said.

SAS Nagar-based engineer Sukhpreet, also a team member, could not help praising the hospitality of Sri Lankans. He made an interesting reference to the Indians settled in Sri Lanka. "They have contributed significantly to the Sri Lankan economy, thanks to their entrepreneurship," he said.

Also in the team was Monica Goyal, an English lecturer with Shivalik Public School. Crediting the Sri Lankan government which is now planning to introduce English as a parallel medium of instruction along with Sinhalese and Tamil, she said the programme was extremely fruitful. "I specifically remember a particular cultural evening called Siesta, where I presented a Hindi song and danced to Hindi tunes. I was amazed to see the response of Sri Lankans who joined in as if I came from their own culture," she said. That is cultural exchange, truly speaking. 


Phones out of order
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
Telephones connections of BSNL in Sector 46 and the neighbouring sectors remained out of order today. According to some residents, the phone lines developed a snag yesterday late evening but despite repeated complaints, no one came to rectify the fault. According to department officials, they had not received any such complaint and in case, there was any major fault in the underground cable, it would be rectified tomorrow.

Incidentally, Mr R.C. Vaish, Principal GMT, Chandigarh, had recently written a letter to the SSP, Chandigarh Police, that some of the miscreants had stolen underground cable, thus, affecting the telecom services. In case of such a fault, said another official, it would take some time to restore the services.


NCC may have ‘mixed’ battalions
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
In an endeavour to increase the participation of girls in the National Cadet Corps the world's largest youth organisation, the authorities have decided to explore the concept of having "mixed" battalions, where girls would be enrolled in boys' battalions.

Under the scheme, which was discussed at a conference presided over by the Director-General, NCC, in New Delhi a few days ago, vacancies arising in boys' battalions will be filled by enrolling girls.

Confirming this, the Deputy Director-General, NCC, Brig D.S. Dhillon told Chandigarh Tribune that the rationale behind this step was the government's decision to increase the number of girl cadets without effecting any increase in the overall sanctioned strength of the NCC.

NCC officials said a number of vacancies get created in boys' battalions after the enrolment process was complete as cadets did not attend parades or pursue NCC activities as required.

Part of the training that is common for boys as well as girls would be carried out jointly, while specialised training will be conducted separately. "Activities such as drill, firing, map reading can be conducted jointly while specialised activities, including battle drill, signalling, first aid, etc, will be done separately," an NCC Officer said.

Presently, girls account for roughly 15 per cent of the NCC strength. Over the next few years, the endeavour is to increase it to 35 per cent. As far as the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC Directorate is concerned, there are a total of 54 boys’ battalions in this directorate but just four girls battalions. In Chandigarh itself, the strength of boys is 3,060, while that of girls is 990.

The NCC has also revamped the training syllabus for girl cadets and has decided to introduce combat training for them on the pattern being followed for imparting training to boy cadets.

To accommodate additional number of girl cadets, the NCC is also doing away with specialised units such as armoured, artillery, engineers and signals units. These will be converted into infantry battalions. "It is too young an age to impart specialised training," Brigadier Dhillon said. "Besides, the requisite training equipment for such units is either obsolete or not available," he added.


Form catchment area board

Prof I.S. DuaThere is a need to have a Sukhna catchment area board that will cut across geographical boundaries. This requires the participation of both the government and non-government organisations of Chandigarh and neighbouring states.

Fast growing flora should be grown on the embankments of the rainwater flow areas along with the creation of mini dams where a few tributaries converge. The outflows from the dam should have silt excluders. Though Sukhna Lake adorns Chandigarh, it arises from the Shivaliks and the choes traverse the ecologically devastated terrain.

For Sukhna, its existence is based on conserving its water supply and making it free from silt. It is natural for all systems to die but Sukhna is doing it on a much faster rate than the natural rate of extinction. By the year 2050 this will be a barren landscape if steps are not taken.

Prof I.S. Dua,
Department of Botany,
Panjab University,


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.


They learn and earn

THERE has been a notable improvement in the educational standards of JCOs and other ranks in the Army over the years. Not only that even their spouses, barring a few, are well educated these days. With this change, almost all formations and units have adopted new training courses for women in their vocational training centres.

The Gurj Vocational Training Central (GVTC) was established at Pathankot Cantonment in May 1998, to train the wives of JCOs and jawans in various vocations, which could help them generate a second income for their families when required. These courses are run in disciplines such as beautician training, household awareness, secretarial training, computer, hand/machine embroidery and knitting etc.

A sizeable number of women prefer beautician training and household awareness training courses. It is very encouraging to see some of the women, who were trained in the past few years, utilising their skills to generate income for their families. The economic conditions in the country being what they are, the new trend of both husband and wife working is catching up fast even in India.

Trauma centre

An Emergency Accident Trauma Centre was inaugurated at the Base Hospital, Delhi Cantonment, by the Director-General Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS), Lieut-Gen B.N. Shahi, recently. The centre was jointly planned by the DGAFMS and the Managing Director, Army Group Insurance, Lieut-Gen K. Chandrashekharan.

At the centre, all cases of serious accidents, heart attacks or any other medical or surgical emergency are immediately attended to. A team of medical officers and specialists is available at the centre round the clock to attend to serious cases and perform emergency operations where required.

Scholarships for NCC

The Chairman and Managing Director of Sahara India Parivar, Mr Subrato Roy Sahara, has instituted scholarships of Rs 1 crore for National Cadet Corps (NCC) cadets. The scholarships of Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 will be given to 368 cadets each from the Junior and Senior Divisions, respectively. Besides, seven scholarships of Rs 40,000 each will be given to those cadets, who, after having passed plus 2 or equivalent examination, join professional courses conducted by the UGC. The scholarships will be given for a period of three years initially.

Speaking on the occasion in Lucknow, Mr Roy said as a student, he was also an NCC cadet and attributed his success in life to the NCC. He also said the NCC needed to be made compulsory for students to inculcate discipline in them.

Infamous MiGs

“No need to phase out the MiGs. At this rate, none will be left”, read the caption under a cartoon the other day. The routine MiG aircraft accidents have created so much scare in the public mind that as soon as people spot an aircraft in the sky, they get panicky about their safety. One can imagine the psychological effect of the repeated accidents on the minds of the pilots who have to fly them.

Unfortunately, we have had two accidents recently i.e. of MiG-23 on April 4 and of MiG-21 on April 7 at Ludhiana and Ambala, respectively. After every accident, the IAF reels off a number of reasons for the crash which continue to remain almost the same for the past more than 10 years. Yet, no remedy has been found to save precious human lives and costly machines. If the absence of an advanced jet trainer (AJT) is the principal cause of these accidents, the weakness lies more with the IAF top brass than the government because if a commander is not effective he better not be there.

Surprisingly, it was an upgraded MiG-21 that crashed near Ambala on April 7. This raises a pertinent question: How safe would these aircraft be even after upgradation?


Various pathways tell of city’s past
Chitleen K. Sethi

Leafing through history, one wonders if there is something unique about the civilisation of India. For, this is one society where for as long as human memory goes, there has been considerable respect for nature. The respect existed because nature here has been giving and caring. Humans in India have not had to fight with nature either for their bare survival or even for forcing it to yield its bounty to them. Everything was available for the asking. Even 5000 years ago, so tell us the historians of the environment, during the early days of civilisation of the Sarasvati river valley, people in India had evolved a system of worshipping trees. This was done substantially by planting and tending groves of trees. Panchvati, on the banks of the river Godavari at contemporary Nasik (Maharashtra), the place with five kinds of sacred trees, was one such location where it is said that Lord Rama settled down with his wife Sita and brother Laxman. Such sacred groves were unique in their biodiversity.

No hunting was allowed. Animals sheltering here had to be spared, fed and ministered. The wood, boughs and leaves could be harvested only for specific sacred functions and not for mundane activities. Bushes of medicinal and aromatic plants were planted along with the usual panchvati comprising of pipal, banyan, neem, bel and sal. Some combinations of trees were endowed with even greater power such was the case with the ‘triveni’: a combination of the banyan and neem bound together by a strangler fig. People could then wonder how three kinds of trees grew out of the same spot. Religion even enjoined people to seek the benediction of particular deities through means of worshipping specific tree species.

Considering that Chandigarh came to exist in a location at the foothills of the Himalayas and close to the place from where emerged the mythical Sarasvati, one of the largest civilisations spawning rivers on earth, one could have expected that some traces of that long lost past would continue to exist even to this day, albeit transformed somewhat. Sure enough one of the most interesting ways of leafing through the pre-Chandigarh past of this land is to simply walk through the various pathways that criss-cross the city.

Early in the morning the walker would be accosted by a huge clamour of birds. Even leaving aside the bird sanctuary within Sector 21 (which all should visit any way), in other sectors, such as in 11, 12, 19, 23, 24, and 36 there are these small old temples, now run either by a decrepit baba or a well appointed temple management committee, that escaped the eyes of the modernising town-planners of Chandigarh. Along with the temples are clumps of trees. Some of them are quite old; others are of more recent origin.

They all seem to be well-tended and planted. Even a casual observer would notice that the bird population here is far greater than in the surrounding greenery. There are more squirrels too. Once the clamour of temple bells has subsided then, throughout the day, there is a pleasant feeling of calm and quiet, of being one with nature. Do not expect a forest here as in the mountains of the western Ghats. But the trees within the sacred groves inside Chandigarh are old.

The mix of trees here suggests that they had been planted, and did not merely emerge here. The heavy ring of cotton thread around them speaks of the faith that people still have in the boon giving quality of the banyan and the pipal. The bel provides leaves for the daily worship of Shiva and tasty fruits to ward off the summer heat during the hot season. The small clump of banana and guava plants indicates that the minders of the grove have continued the tradition of their ancestors of increasing the bio-diversity in these sacred groves even by bringing in species exotic to the locale.


Amusing ‘dilemma’ of tenants

OF all the letters Chandigarh Tribune has published in recent days on the Rent Act controversy, I was immensely amused, to say the least, while going through Rajesh Khurana’s lengthy piece on April 13. He regrets that “unreasonable” landlords are callously charging “hefty” rents and yet want their tenants to quit taking undue advantage of the latest notification amendment. He calls for an “embargo” on the landlords seeking ejectment of his tenants if the latter have already got a building vacated taking advantage of the amendment.

The contradictions in the letter are too obvious. Why should a landlord ask his tenant to vacate when he is already getting a “hefty” rent? Where is the necessity for an “embargo” either on the landlord who would, on the contrary, beg of his reasonable tenant to stay on indefinitely?

There are innumerable instances where the tenants are paying petty rents, as low as Rs 200 for a one-kanal house. The so-called landords are being brow-beaten into submission and forced to transfer the properties literally for a song. A leading trader in Sector 17 at Chandigarh is paying a princely rent of Rs 500 p.m. for an SCF, while his immediate neighbour is paying as much as Rs 28,000 for the same accommodation. There is also a case where the premises has been sublet at a lakh of rupees per month while the original tenant is paying to the landlord a mere Rs 1,000.

It is only such tenants who are complaining against the “unjust” and “arbitrary” notification and are encouraging unruly elements to create a law and order problem. Let us not forget the fact that the law of demand and supply will apply and the rents, too, would automatically find their natural levels. Already, there are reports of dozens of residential and commercial buildings going vacant month after month as landlords are expecting exorbitant rents.


Create more green belts

This letter is with reference to the news item in Chandigarh Tribune (April 8, 2003) regarding inauguration of a green belt in Sector 49 (Phase III) by the UT Administrator, Lt Gen JFR Jacob (retd), to eradicate the north-south divide. This is a welcome move on the part of the Administration. What about other southern sectors (Phase II) like Sector 45, which had come into existence about 20 years ago? There is no park worth its name, with poor sanitation in and around, and the Municipal Corporation-authorised malba dumping site in the middle of the sector.

PK Sharma

Court and corruption

As per reports, the honorary court at Shimla has tried for re-conciliation between Mr Amarinder Singh, CM, Punjab, and Mr PK Dhumal, ex-CM, Himachal Pradesh.

This is an unfortunate development as two senior leaders have accused each other of serious allegations in big public rallies. One has been charged with corruption and the other with irresponsibility. Both the leaders are persons of stature and are occupying or have occupied high constitutional position.

But the fact cannot be ignored that one of the two leaders was guilty of wrong-doing. It is incumbent that such a high profile case should be taken to the logical conclusion. Anyone found guilty must face the music and should not get away through the backdoor (reconciliation).

The benefit of reconciliation is commonly meant for cases of divorce, family disputes or of insurance sector etc. and not for criminal cases of corruption, heinous crimes like murder, kidnapping, smuggling or terrorism. The gap of 100 days for the next hearing shall not help speedy justice.


Plight of stray animals

Through columns of Chandigarh Tribune I wish to draw the attention of all animal- loving and caring people to the plight of stray animals. Last Sunday, we happened to travel from Patiala to Faridkot via Barnala. During a journey of about three hours, I witnessed three cows and four stray dogs crushed to death (lying in a pool of blood) by some speeding vehicle.

Obviously, these animals not only lost their precious lives but also must have caused damage to the vehicles, plus unnecessary and unavoidable tension and delay to the travellers. Can’t something be done to keep such mute and unclaimed animals away from accident-prone busy roads/highways? Will organisation like the PFA rise to the occasion and involve others to formulate and plan strategies which would serve the purpose?


Readers are invited to send in comments and suggestions regarding news stories and articles appearing in Chandigarh Tribune to the following address: Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29-C, Chandigarh, Fax: 655076 or e-mail at news@tribuneindia.com


‘Thief’ caught red-handed
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 14
A thief was caught red-handed while trying to steal cash and jewellery from a house in Sohana village, near here, today.

According to information, Balwinder Singh, a shopkeeper in Sohana, was in his shop and his family members were off to a nearby village to attend a wedding ceremony when a thief broke into his house. When Balwinder Singh came home, he found the house in a state of disarray. He realised that the thief was still in the house.

He found the thief in the bathroom. In the meanwhile the neighbours gathered and after beating up the thief, they took him to the Sohana police station. During interrogation, he named another person as his accomplice, who was later arrested. The two accused, identified as Gurpreet and Laddi, have been booked under Sections 380 and 457 of the IPC .

11 held for gambling

In a day-long special operation today, the police nabbed 11 persons on the charges of gambling from various parts of the township recovering over Rs 30,000 from them.

According to police sources, simultaneous raids were conducted at various places in the township by specially-constituted police parties.

The Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, said the department had received information that planned gambling was indulged in during Baisakhi. ‘‘To check this menace we formed different teams headed by SHOs which started these raids in the morning. By evening, we registered 11 cases, four in Phase I police station, five in Phase VIII police station and two in police station Naya Gaon.’’

Those arrested have been identified as Milap Chand, Lal Singh, Ram Avadh, Sanjay Gupta, Gurdeep Singh, Vinay Kumar, alias Shanty, Nikunj Kumar, Umesh Kumar, Harpreet Singh, Narinder Pal and Rajinder Singh.

Giving comparative figures, Mr Bhullar said since January 1, more than Rs 80,000 have been recovered from the gamblers and 26 cases registered. “This is double the number of cases registered last year during these months and three times the amount recovered,” he said.

Couple held

The police here arrested a couple from Ropar under Section 109 of the CrPC here today. The couple was caught from a lodge in Phase 3B2 after a police team raided the lodge on the tip-off.

According to the police, the two were presented before the court and have been bailed out. The two, according to sources, claimed to be married and explained that they had come to SAS Nagar for relaxation.


Woman, son hurt

A 30-year-old woman, Kiran, and her eight-year-old son Vishal were injured when their car (CHF 1183) rammed into a road divider between Sectors 19 and 20 in the late hours tonight. The two were rushed to the PGI and their condition was said to be out of danger.

The woman, a resident of Sector 41, reportedly sustained injuries on her legs, while her son escaped with minor injuries.

Man arrested

The Sector 34 police today claimed to have arrested a resident of Amritsar, Ramesh Singh, and recovered a motor cycle that had been stolen from the parking lot of Piccadily cinema yesterday. 


3 hurt in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 14
Three persons, including two students, were injured when a motor cycle, scooter, car and an auto-rickshaw collided near a roundabout on the road dividing Sectors 34 and 35 here in the late hours yesterday.

The three were rushed to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. Sunny (20) student of the local DAV College, riding a motor cycle sustained injuries on his head, arms and legs.

His classmate Ricky Jain (20), who was riding pillion on the motor cycle, and another person, Saru Ram sustained minor injuries in the accident.

According to information, Sunny's motor cycle rammed into a scooter and its two riders fell down. In the meanwhile, a Maruti Esteem car which was just behind the motor cycle hit an auto-rickshaw and later hit Sunny. Condition of Sunny is said to be stable.


Kirloskar denies tax evasion

Apropos the news-item ‘Air-conditioning giant in tax evasion net’ in Chandigarh Tribune on April 12. The accusation against Kirloskar Copeland Ltd (KCL) is totally unacceptable to the company and is rebutted. Since the start of the proceedings by the Sales Tax Department, the company has been extending all sorts of help to unearth the wrong-doings by some unscrupulous persons. It has been cooperating with the department during the assessment proceedings.

The fact is that Mr Harinder Singh, owner/partner of Amritsar Airconditioning and Shiva Airconditioning, was purchasing compressors from the KCL, like any other dealer against submission of ‘C Forms’ to the company. In fact, Mr Harinder Singh also submitted a copy of the partnership deed of Shiva Airconditioning showing him as a partner in the firm along with the supporting documents showing that they had applied for the CST registration certificate from the Sales Tax Department of Amritsar. Further, Mr Harinder Singh also submitted an undertaking to the company, which clearly stated that Shiva Airconditioning is a sister concern of Amritsar Airconditioning and further that Amritsar Airconditioning is responsible for all sales tax and other liabilities of Shiva Air-conditioning to KCL.

During the normal sales tax assessment proceedings, the ETO, Chandigarh, served a notice for sales tax assessment to KCL, Chandigarh. During the course of the assessment, it was informed by the ETO, that Shiva Airconditioning was not a registered firm under the Punjab General Sales Tax and the CST Act and, therefore, the inter-state sales were liable to be rejected. It was also stated by the ETO that the ‘C Forms’ submitted to the company by Shiva Airconditioning were not genuine. On investigation, it was found that the said ‘C Forms’ in question were actually received by a partner/proprietor of Seema Glass House, Amritsar.

The matter as it stands today is that Mr Harinder Singh has defrauded the KCL as well as the Sales Tax Department by submitting forged documents. Even though the assessment order by the ETO has not yet been issued to KCL, which is in the process of filing its reply against the notice sent by the ETO to KCL.

The company will be appropriately filing its appeal and may also go in for a writ petition /stay against the order as and when it is issued by the ETO.

It is also important to note that the company is in possession of all relevant documents submitted by Mr Harinder Singh. KCL is in the process of taking appropriate legal action against Mr Singh for fraud/forgery etc. in which case the company may also make the Sales Tax Department a party to the case. The question to be answered is how a dealer can get hold of forged sales tax forms and defraud companies making genuine sales.

As far as the Sales Tax Department is concerned, the company wants to clarify that no loss has been caused to the revenue of the Union Territory. All sales made by KCL are genuine and with bona fide intentions. KCL is not responsible if an unscrupulous dealer/businessman submits forged documents to KCL. In fact, KCL itself has been defrauded by the dealer in question.

Vinod Duggal,
Company Secretary and
General Manager (Legal),
Kirloskar Copeland Limited

Tribune News Service replies: We stand by our report.

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