Tuesday, April 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Surplus faculties’ fate hangs in balance
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
With self-financing professional courses in a number of colleges, affiliated to Panjab University, closing down or being on the verge of closure, a question mark has arisen over the fate of the faculty employed to conduct these courses. Given the implications of the situation, the services of a number of qualified lecturers could be terminated or, if retained in service, there could be little for them to do.

While the managements of some of the colleges concerned have maintained that they would adjust the teachers rendered surplus elsewhere, a few have reportedly taken the line that they would not be able to ensure a secure future of the surplus faculty in their institutes.

University sources told TNS that at least two colleges in Punjab had already written to the PU authorities that they could not bear the financial burden of teachers rendered surplus as these posts fell in the “unaided” category. Salaries for these teachers were being paid out of the fees paid by the students.

Professional courses being run by colleges include Masters of Science in Information Technology (IT), Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

Already, some of these courses have been terminated in 17 colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh. The cases of another five colleges are scheduled to come up for consideration by the university Syndicate later this week. Informed sources told TNS that given the feedback on the running of these courses, the number of colleges seeking disaffiliation could touch 15 by the start of the next academic session in July.

The university authorities had directed colleges seeking disaffiliation of the aforementioned courses to give an undertaking that the services of regular teaching staff would not be affected in case of withdrawal of affiliation.

While a few colleges reportedly expressed their inability to give such an undertaking, the university has already received such an undertaking from some of the colleges concerned.

Added to this, teachers said, was the fact that the managements of some colleges had questioned the decision of the Principals to introduce such courses, the infrastructure for which required considerable financial resources.


With gifts and love from Germany
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
“It is so depressing and painful to see small children dying for lack of treatment due to poverty in India,” feel Erika and Karl Heinz Pruemm. The German couple, who have been donating money for the treatment of cancer patients at the PGI, arrived here with gifts and loads of love from German children for the little ones here battling against cancer.

The couple, teaching in a school at Gerolstein in Germany, have for the past two years been raising money from friends, colleagues and schoolchildren for the treatment of cancer patients at the PGI. “Back home in Germany all that the children know about India is that it is a very poor country, where small kids instead of going to school have to work,” says Erika.

Though the couple has been sending clothes, blankets, toys and other gifts for these children, it is for the first time that she met these children at the PGI. She donated a cheque of Rs 2.25 lakh for these children today. She has also been helping the Red Cross Society, SOS and Mother Teresa homes fro the past few years.

“It was after seeing the plight of poor children in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta that I decided to do my bit, even if was a very small effort,” said Erika. She sponsored the education of two small girls for a few years in Jakarta, but with half of the money sent being used by the NGO for other purposes, she decided against it.

Erika, whose sister is married to an Indian, got in touch with her relatives in Chandigarh, who told her about an NGO Sahayta.” After talking to the president of the NGO, Ms Neelu Tuli, I was convinced to help the cancer patients, especially from poor families,” said Erika. Apart from providing the much-needed emotional support, Sahayta also sponsors the treatment of poor cancer patients.

Erika, along with her husband Karl, visited the PGI and interacted with doctors at the Radiotherapy department. She later visited the cancer patients ward at the Advanced Paediatric Centre and the play room, to spend some time playing with the children.

Erika, who visits India every alternate year, feels that Indian children are a deprived lot as in Germany it is the state which pays for the entire treatment. “Seeing a poor child carrying luggage at the Delhi railway station, I wanted to give him some money but the boy refused, saying he was not a beggar,” said Erika, relating an incident.

Another issue, which is very close to Erika’s heart, is ethical treatment of animals. Seeing thousands of stray dogs all over the streets in India, she feels a massive sterilisation campaign must be launched as even animals can feel the pain and suffering.

“So moved was she seeing a small pup, whose mother had died outside my home in Delhi, that she has decide to take it back home to Germany,” disclosed her sister. All related documents and vaccination of the pup have already been done so that she can fly back with us says Erika, showing the documents of the pup.

“Helping these children is just the beginning, as I know there is no dearth of people wanting to help the needy,” says Erika, assuring more help. 


Strike leaves two crore people ‘workless’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Rapid increase in the prices of commodities ferried by road transport notwithstanding, the impact of the ongoing indefinite strike by truckers on the economy of the region in general and the employment sector in particular has started becoming visible.

Incidentally, both Punjab and Haryana have a substantial number of trucks. So much so that every 10th truck in the country belongs either to Punjab or to Haryana . Needless to say that in the private sector, goods transport is one of the biggest employers in northern states.

It is not only the marginal increase in the prices of essential and perishable commodities that is hitting the average household budget, but the industrial and transport labour has started facing the pinch . While "off days" are being forced upon the industrial labourers because of a break in the supply line, transport labour has been rendered workless because trucks have been stationary for the past eight days.

Even the sale of diesel has been declining.

The massive socio-economic impact of the strike has failed to enthuse any political party, including the ruling Congress and the main opposition party (Shiromani Akali Dal) in Punjab and the Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana to put pressure on the Central Government for earl y resolution of the dispute. Interestingly, several political leaders, including ministers, MPs and legislators of the region are transporters by avocation.

According to the official statistics validated up to March 31, 2000, Haryana had a little more than one lakh trucks registered in the state while Punjab had 82,500. Gujarat topped the list with more than three lakh trucks. Compared to Haryana and Punjab, Delhi also boasts of a fleet of 1.20 lakh trucks.

On an average, each truck generates employment between a minimum of two persons, including the driver, and a maximum of 10 persons. The national average, however, works out to be five. Then there are nearly the same number of people who are given indirect employment by the goods transport sector.

These include loaders and unloaders, godown or warehouse clerks, guards, booking clerks and other staff members of goods transport companies and then those who carry goods to and fro from booking offices to their actual destinations.

Accordingly, the ongoing strike has rendered nearly two crore people "workless" for the past eight days. Of this Punjab and Haryana, being smaller states, have been facing the maximum impact with nearly 30 lakh families being affected directly by the strike.

Mr R.S. Bajwa, who is the permanent invitee to the All-India Motor Transport Union — the all-India body that represents truckers — that the strike has shaken the economy in northern states badly as road transport is the only means of taking both essential and other items not only to remote areas in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh but also in Punjab and Haryana. "The rail network is neither adequate nor that widespread to take the load," he adds.

A survey by The Tribune reveals that while intra-state movement of trucks has remained unaffected by the strike, the inter-state movement of goods has been badly hit.

"No trucker is taking any chance of defying the strike call," admits a trucker holding that traffic within a state or any territory "has been moving smoothly. Go to any grain market or any town in Punjab or Haryana, you will find the movement of trucks to be normal. The goods transport companies have been hit."

The State Transport Commissioner, Mr Kulbir Singh, says since most of the demands of the truckers fall in the purview of the Union Government, the states have little or nothing to do with this strike. "Our reports to the central control room in Delhi say that the strike in Punjab is partial. The intra-state movement has been unaffected. We are in the middle of wheat procurement and nowhere lifting of stocks from the grain markets has been affected," he adds.

Punjab has three permanent members in the governing body of the All-India Motor Congress. They are Mr Bikram Singh Kochhar (Jaito), Mr Ajaypal Singh (Bathinda) and Mr S.P. Mehta (Amritsar).

Except for three major towns of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana, there are 'truck' unions in all other towns and cities of the state.

The saving grace for Punjab or Haryana has been that a large number of private carriers are available in these states. For example, in Punjab nearly 5 per cent of the total trucks are owned by industrial houses, civil contractors, petroleum dealers and others who have been successful in maintaining the supply line.


Truckers’ strike enters 8th day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The nationwide truckers' strike, which entered the eighth day today, has begun burdening consumers and truck operators as well. The most vulnerable section, which has been hit hard by the strike, is perhaps truck drivers, cleaners and labour force engaged in the transport sector. Some of the truck owners have asked them to go on leave without wages to cut down the losses. The Chandigarh Transporters Association, claimed that about three lakh trucks were off the roads for the past over one week. The stir was causing about Rs 500 crore losses daily to the truckers and about Rs 20,000 crore losses to the industry and traders in the country.

One of the truckers said, “We are losing at least Rs 1,000 per day due to the government's adamant attitude in the form of interest on loans, wages of truck drivers, cleaners, permanent labour force and fixed permit fee. Now we are forced to ask the labour to go leave as we are unable to suffer losses.”

Mr Raminder Pal, a truck driver, here lamented that the persistent stir was affecting them severely. He said, “We are daily waiting for the end of the strike, but without any result. We are sitting idle and have no work to do. It seems that no one is bothered about the families of those who are dependent on this sector.”

Another driver, Sham Bihari, who hails from Bihar, lamented that they had wasted so many days sitting here without any work. He said, “Alas! If we knew that the strike would continue for such a long period, we would have visited our homes.”

Mr Jagdish Chander, state coordinator, Punjab and Chandigarh Transporters Associations, said there were over 75,000 trucks in Punjab, about 50,000 in Haryana and about 10,000 in Chandigarh. The operators were losing crores of rupees every day, but the government had failed to resolve the crisis. He lamented that though they were paying substantial amount as road tax and permit fee, yet they were asked to pay toll tax and entry fee for using the roads.

The truck operators urged the Centre and state government to make efforts to reduce fuel price, insurance premium, abolition of entry and toll tax, and to revise the loading limits of the trucks. Otherwise lakhs of persons employed in this sector would be bereft of their jobs. 


New code on thickness, size of poly bags
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Showing concern on pollution caused due to polythene bags, the Chandigarh Administration has decided to enforce a stricter code for manufacture and use of polythene bags in the city.

Sources say initially the thickness of poly bags will be doubled to 40 microns. At present the thickness of the poly bags manufactured in the city is 20 microns. Also, no one in the city will be allowed to manufacture bags smaller than 12x8 inches in size, according to the administration’s decision, the sources said.

The Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee will conduct checks on the manufacturing units based here. To check shopkeepers from using bags with less than the permissible thickness or of smaller size, special powers will be given to teams formed under the Deputy Commissioner and the Municipal Corporation. These teams will have the powers to impose fines and challans on erring shopkeepers.

A formal notification on the new regulation and additional powers is expected to be issued within the next few days.

Sources explained that the need to regulate the size of the poly bag was an important issue. Smaller bags with lesser thickness are generally thrown away in the garbage, as these are of no use. These bags are chewed by stray cattle and end up in the sewerage system, choking the system and damaging the environment in rivulets downstream. Bigger bag having good thickness is not thrown away by the user as it has better reuse value.

The idea is to inculcate the practice of using paper bags and also encourage people to use jute or cloth bags. Often poly bags of smaller size and lesser thickness are used by shopkeepers to pack small items like bread, eggs, butter, chocolates, etc. Once the bigger poly bag is introduced, shopkeepers will not be able to afford using these on small items. A poly bag with a minimum size of 8x12 inches will cost more, thus the shopkeeper will not use it to pack a 100 gm packet of butter, said an official while explaining the need for change.

Chandigarh will be first city to enforce poly bags with 40 micron thickness.


Hope for thallasaemics
‘Green blood’ therapy works wonders
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
If the preliminary results are any indication,” green blood” may prove to be a panacea for all thallasaemic patients, whose only life support system today remains regular blood transfusions.

The amazingly encouraging results of wheat grass juice therapy on 44 patients at PGI’s Paediatrics Department have come as a ray of hope for people suffering from this genetic disorder. Eagerly awaiting a breakthrough by medical research in finding a permanent cure for thallasaemics, the green juice from wheat grass has helped maintain the required haemoglobin levels in the blood of such patients.

“After initial reluctance, I put my son on wheat grass juice therapy almost 3 years back and now he requires a blood transfusion after 55 days instead of the normal 20-day interval,” disclosed Mr S.P. Ajmani, President of the Thalassaemic Children Welfare Association.

It was another Ludhiana member of the Association, who after reading about literature published in the USA on thalassaemia, started this therapy on his son.

“After learning about the positive results of wheat grass juice therapy used by some patients, we at the PGI started a study in which 66 children were put on this treatment,” disclosed Dr R.K.Marwah. Out of this 22 children dropped out because of poor compliance but in the remaining thallasaemics not only did their haemoglobin level improve but the interval for transfusion increased from the normal three weeks to much longer.

It is in the case of a patient from Ludhiana, where the results have been most encouraging.” In this case the interval of blood transfusion has gone up from 20 days to an amazing 85 days, as the Hb level hovers around 11,” said Dr Marwah, terming it as a miracle.

It was the Nanda family from Ludhiana, who after reading about the healing powers of the wheat grass juice, written by Dr Wigmore of the USA, started using it for their son. Parents of all these thalassaemic children are now growing the wheat grass in pots at home as 400 ml of the juice has to be given four times a day, disclosed Mr Ajmani.

Dr Marwah, explained that chlorophyll also acted as a potent germicide and destroyed many germs, which could lead to a number of diseases and infections , injurious to the human body. “Presence of vitamin E and A in wheat grass juice also helps the patients in a number of ways.”

Dr Marwah, said: “Though the results of this therapy are very encouraging but it is a very slow and gradual process before it starts giving positive results after prolonged use. “We are still trying to evaluate it scientifically and if possible have standardisation so that capsules can be produced as it is not possible for all to grow wheat grass and take out its juice daily .”

“All that I can say is that one needs to have immense patience and faith in the Almighty as I know from my personal experience that wheat grass juice works wonders with thalassaemics,” says Mr Ajmani. He said this therapy would be discussed at length at a national seminar in Delhi in May.


Campaign to make UT cycle city launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
A campaign aimed at making the Union Territory the first cycle city in the country was launched here today on the eve of Earth Day.

Flagging off a rally of around 200 cyclists to promote the concept, Adviser to the Administrator Virendra Singh promised to re-start the stalled work of cycle tracks within a month. The announcement is considered as the first step towards promoting cycling in the city.

The rallyists, including Chairman, Housing Board, G.K. Marwaha, Director, Environment, Ishwar Singh, former Mayor Harjinder Kaur, Yuvsatta Coordinator Pramod Sharma, representatives of various sector welfare associations, students and teachers from Government High School, Sector 44, and Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 35, went to Gandhi Smarak Bhavan, Sector 16, from Dev Samaj College, Sector 36-B.

A former Mayor, Ms Harjinder Kaur, took a vow to avoid using a vehicle where it was not necessary and use a cycle instead.

Among others who lent their support to the campaign were the Principal Dev Samaj College of Education, Ms Satinder Dhillon, the Dean, Foreign Students, Panjab University, Dr R.C. Sobti, the Deputy Director, Adult Education, PU, Dr C.L. Narang, lecturers K.P.S. Shante and Ranjan Verma and the general secretary, Defence Sectors Welfare Association, Major D.S. Sandhu (retd). SP Traffic, Amitabh Dhillon, however, said road engineering would have to take care of problems on intersections.

The campaign which will continue till January next year was jointly launched by the Department of Environment, Chandigarh Administration, Dev Samaj College of Education and an NGO, Yuvsatta.

Mr Marwaha said people should have no hesitation in choosing the cycle as a mode of commuting considering it does not cause air or noise pollution, helps maintain good physical and mental health, fits everybody's budget and promotes social cohesion.

Mr Virendra Singh said he would ensure that the project for the creation of cycle tracks was completed in time.

The Adviser to the Administrator stressed that the city was ideal for the status of a cycle city as the total area to be covered by a person did not exceed 10 to 12 km.

In an apparent reference to a show-off culture, Mr Virendra Singh said students should adopt a truthful and simple lifestyle to achieve higher goals in life.

Ms Harjinder Kaur said it was a humble beginning today but next year it would become a big movement to make Chandigarh the first city in Asia to adopt cycling as a mode of transport.

Mr Sharma said cycle had acquired a symbolic importance as the spinning wheel had under the guidance of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Mr Sharma expressed the confidence that cycle had the potential to bring about an environmental, social, economic, political and cultural transformation.


Autopsy on Swiss national performed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
As the body of 43-year-old Edwin Bosshard was finally wrapped up following an autopsy at the Sector 16 General Hospital today, tears rolled down the faces of members of Helluyou.ws, a Kulu-based software solutions provider organisation.

For them, Bosshard was their friend and guide. Relatives of Bosshard in Zurich are expected to arrive in the city tomorrow. Mr Ravi Parkash, project manager of the software service provider portal, led by his colleagues ran here and there to complete the formalities of the autopsy. They prevailed upon the police authorities to arrange the services of a forensic expert from the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital and an expert from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) apart from doctors of the Sector 16 General Hospital for the post-mortem.

Meanwhile, a panel of three doctors and a forensic expert conducted the autopsy on the body at the Sector 16 General Hospital. Though the autopsy report was awaited, sources in the hospital said the deceased had died of suffocation and there were no injury marks on the body. The viscera has been sent for chemical examination to Patiala.


Protesting farmers begin fast unto death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Seven leaders of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) began a fast unto death at Matka Chowk here today “in protest against the Punjab Government's dilly-dallying attitude towards their demands”, an agreement about which was signed between the Minister of Finance, Mr Lal Singh, and the representatives of six farmer unions last month.

These unions include the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), the Kirti Kisan Union, the Democratic Farmers Sabha, the All-Hind Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Agricultural and Farmers Development Front and the Punjab Kisan Sabha.

Mr Pishora Singh, state president of the union, claimed that the Punjab Finance Minister had agreed to waive off electricity bills of those farmers who had not deposited their bills by April 30, 2003, besides reducing the security fee of Rs 5,200 per hp, charged by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for enhancing electricity load for tubewell connections.

He said the Finance Minister had also agreed to issue a white paper on the amount collected by the PSEB from the farmers. According to him, this included Rs 25,000 as application fee to get new electricity connections for tubewells.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur claimed that the union leaders had no option except to sit on the fast as the government had failed to fulfill its promises. He said that as per the agreement, the government had agreed to abolish sales tax on fertilisers, pesticides and diesel in the Budget, but had only exempted fertilisers from sales tax.

Earlier, about 200 farmers marched from the Parade ground to Matka Chowk. The leaders sitting on the fast include Mr Pishora Singh, Mr Surjit Phul, senior vice-president, Mr Hardev Singh Sakrodi, secretary, Mr Pritam Singh, vice-president, Mr Mani Singh Chak Khurad, Mr Bogh Singh, finance secretary and Mr Ruldu Singh, general secretary of the union.

They lamented that the state government had failed to meet any of their major demands, including the installation of government tubewells in the Kandi area, payment of Rs 30 per quintal as bonus in three installments on procured paddy by the state procurement agencies, abolition of cess on diesel, payment of bonus on wheat and compensation to farmers in the border area belt. The government had also agreed to clear the pending payments of sugar cane producers, they said.


Couple-bashing: inquiry report indicts SI
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
A preliminary inquiry into a case involving the alleged bashing of a couple by a Sub-Inspector of police at Tawa Chowk on April 17 has reportedly indicted Sub-Inspector Tarun Kumar for going too far in reacting to a “provocation” by the couple.

Sources say the initial inquiry report by the DSP (City), Mr Devindra Yadav, was submitted to the Superintendent of Police on April 19. The inquiry report has reportedly indicted SI Tarun Kumar for coming on too forcibly on Mahavir, after the latter had “misbehaved” with him.

A number of independent witnesses were reportedly examined by the DSP, who, it is learnt, have said that the SI had approached Mahavir and his wife, Monica, only after he had received a complaint from a person that the woman was being harassed by a man. When the SI approached the couple, Mahavir asked him not to interfere and also pushed him away after threatening him. It was then that the SI called in PCR vehicles and beat up Mahavir and his brother , Sudhir Sharma. Mahavir’s wife, Monica, was also hurt in trying to save her husband. The two brothers were then taken to the Sector 5 police station and were later released on the intervention of the public.

Meanwhile, the family members of Mahavir and Sudhir today met the Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma, and lodged a formal complaint against SI Tarun Kumar.

The SP said a number of other witnesses had to be examined and the final inquiry into the incident would take another couple of days.


Burning of leaves leads to another fire incident
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
A day after three major fires occurred in the township, human error led to yet another fire in a Sector 6 house this afternoon.

The burning of dried leaves by sweepers of the Municipal Council outside the house led to the sparks falling inside the garden of the house, on to the thatched hut.

The thatched roof of the hut, made for the beautification of the garden and used as a den, caught fire. The fire was immediately noticed by the servant, Dalib, who asked the sweepers to put off the fire outside as it had caused a fire inside the house. The sweepers, however, reportedly ran away.

Dalib then informed the owners of the house, who in turn called the local fire service. A fire tender was immediately rushed to the spot and the fire was extinguished within a few minutes. The owner of the house, Ms Minu Singh, informed TNS, that the fire could be controlled in time and no furniture inside the hut was damaged.

It may be noted that the Supreme Court has banned the burning of dried fallen leaves, as it causes environmental pollution. However, the Municipal Council, it seems, is unaware of the environmental hazards of this and has been using this as a convenient way of disposing off leaves.

In fact, the practice of burning of leaves is quite common in the township. Each morning heaps of dried leaves are being burnt by the sweepers, who have been kept on a contractual basis by the council, in various sectors. When contacted, the Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Mr O.P. Sihag, said he had directed the sanitary contractor to ensure that leaves were not being burnt. “I will personally look into the matter and challan the contractor, if dried leaves were found being burnt,” he added. 


Footpath workers hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Hundreds of footpath workers of Chandigarh, under the banner of the Footpath Worker’s Rozgar Bachao Samiti (FWRBS), held a ‘halla march’ to the Punjab Raj Bhavan here today. But they were forcibly stopped from proceeding towards Raj Bhavan beyond the Sector-8 roundabout. However, there were no reports of any clash between the police and footpath workers.

With the intervention of the local civil authorities, a delegation of the footpath workers called on Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, under the leadership of their president, Mr Devi Dayal Sharma, and submitted a memorandum to him in support of their demands.

According to Mr Arjun Dass, general secretary of the FWRBS, their demands include issuance of identity cards, allotment of ‘pucca’ booths and checking harassment of footpath workers at the hands of officials of the enforcement wing of the MC, the MOH and the police beat staff.

The footpath workers raised slogans against the Administration while passing through various sectors. They also blocked traffic at different places in Sectors 7,8,18 and 19. They also blocked traffic on the road leading to the Raj Bhavan, near the Sector-8 roundabout, and sat in dharna for more than two hours.

Earlier, Mr Sharma, addressed the workers at Labour Chowk this morning. He claimed that the demands of footpath workers had already been accepted by the Administrator’s Advisory Council in its meetings held in the years 1999 and 2000.

He expressed resentment over the Administration’s alleged callous attitude towards the footpath workers. He said, “The administration had already provided booths to motor mechanics and persons belonging to influential sections of society in various sectors. But the demands of footpath workers are being ignored despite their continuous struggle”.

Others who addressed the footpath workers included Mr Ram Pal Sharma, Mr Ramesh Kumar Chandoliya, Mr Arjun Dass, Mr Lila Ram, Mr Ayub Khan and Dr R.S. Sandhu (trade unionist).


Maratha (LI) forges bond with INS Mumbai

This screen takes one back to World War I
This screen takes one back to World War I

AT an impressive ceremony held onboard INS Mumbai at Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, the other day, the Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) Regiment was affiliated with this warship. The bond of friendship was created by signing the charter and by the exchange of mementos between Leiut-Gen J.J.Singh, GOC-in-C, Army Training Command, Shimla, and Colonel of the MLI Regiment, and Rear Admiral Vijay Shankar, Western Fleet Commander.

“This affiliation”, General J.J. Singh said, “will strengthen the bonds between the two services and will also provide an opportunity to understand operational and traditional ethos of each other better”. Speaking on this occasion, Capt Y.S. Kalaskar, Commanding Officer of INS Mumbai, said: “This affiliation will provide greater synergy between all ranks of INS Mumbai and the Maratha Light Infantry.

Incidentally, INS Mumbai is the 10th warship christened Mumbai. The first ship called “Bombay” was commissioned in 1739 by the then Governor of Bombay. The subsequent “Bombays: were in service for over three centuries as sloops, frigates and mine sweepers. The present INS Mumbai was built by Mazagaon Docks Ltd. It is a guided missile destroyer and was commissioned into service on January 22, 2001.

A historic screen

Made from enemy shells, collected from three fronts i.e. of France, Flanders and Mesopotamia during the World War I, this screen was presented to King George V in 1933, by the Corps of Sikh Light Infantry Pioneers on its disbandment.

The presentation was made by Leiut-Gen R.A. Savory, KCIE, CB, MC, the first Colonel of the Sikh Light Infantry, and Brigadier FRI, Goadby, OBE, DJ, of the 32 Sikh Pioneers. Queen Elizabeth II presented this screen back to the Regiment in London on October 4, 1975. The screen was received by Mr Natwar Singh, the then High Commissioner of India in UK, on behalf of the Sikh Regiment.

Ill-conceived health scheme

Despite official briefings highlighting the benefits of Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), it has failed to find favour with the ex-servicemen.

Almost all ex-servicemen are against going to the empanelled hospitals for the treatment which is available at the military hospitals. Why not augment the military hospitals, rather than establishing augmented armed forces clinics at military stations? This is the question that most of them ask.

Why has the contribution fee for becoming a member been increased to Rs 18,000 for those drawing monthly basic pension of Rs 7501 and above in the application form when the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, letter of December 30, 2002, addressed to the three Service Chiefs says that for basic monthly pension between Rs 6001-10,000, the contribution fee will be Rs 8400? While working out contributions, both pension and age should have been taken into consideration. Most of the pensioners are in a higher age group. They neither have any dependent children nor parents. In several cases, it is only one member i.e. either the pensioner or his widow who has to avail of the facilities of this scheme.

What was the hurry in issuing this scheme? But once it was issued, it should have been complete in all respects. Many of its details are still to be worked out. According to the earlier thinking, only 60 per cent of the amount spent for specialised treatment at the empanelled hospitals was to be reimbursed. Would the reimbursement to so meagre?

Veterans prefer military hospitals

Most of the ex-servicemen, who are above 75 years of age, are not keen to become members of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS). “It is too late in life to join a new health scheme by paying Rs 18,000”, they ruefully comment. Almost all of them are already members of the Medical Benefit Scheme (MBS) for life. They say that the MBS should not be terminated on March 31, 2005 and those ex-servicemen who want to continue as its members should be allowed to do so.

“We know”, they say, “the MBS does not cover all the diseases but we are happy with it because we would not like to lose the services of military hospitals by becoming members of ECHS”.


2 community centres for Mohali
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, April 21
The town is set to get two new community centres in Sectors 70 and 71 here. A library and three new tubewells have also been planned for the benefit of residents.

Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Punjab, will be inaugurating the two community centres on April 24. The same day, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Government, Punjab, will be laying the foundation stones of a library building and three tubewells to be got sunk by the Municipal Council.

The two community centres have been constructed by PUDA whose designs had been prepared by the Senior Architect of PUDA. Spacious multipurpose halls have been provided on the ground floors along with kitchen, reception, pantry, rooms for a caretaker and toilets in both community centres. There are provisions for halls on the second floor along with corridors and dressing rooms. Toilets have again been provided on the second floor. The work at both centres was carried out as per PWD specifications.

The Municipal Council has planned to construct a small library on a vacant piece of land in Silvi Park in Phase X where a tubewell had been sunk earlier. The library is being built at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. A reading hall will be provided at the ground floor while a sitting room for senior citizens has been planned on the second floor. The facility of a ramp will also be provided.

Mr Kulwant Singh, president of the council, said the three new tubewells were being sunk in Phases IX, XI and Industrial Area, Phase IX. He said these areas were facing water shortage and the new tubewells, which would become operational in about a month’s time, would help in facing the crisis. 


Jacob presents books to slum kids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
For 80 children of Government High School of Sarangpur village, who are a part of the night school, today evening brought a special ray of hope when they were handed over notebooks by the UT Administrator, Lieut-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd.).

There was hope and optimism in the eyes of the students as they accepted the gift, for with the gift they got, the feeling of being important. General Jacob said the night school project, initiated three years ago, was showing positive results and 21 government schools were running such projects for children of the slums areas. He appealed to various voluntary agencies to help make the campaign a success.

General Jacob appreciated the children, who, despite working throughout the day as shoeshine boys and rag pickers, studied in night schools and had cleared Class III and V examinations through their efforts. He encouraged the children to set a goal and realise their vision of becoming economically independent.

He lauded the efforts made by Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar for contributing money for buying books for the night schools. He said NGOs should make total literacy their primary focus.

It may be added that volunteers in the past have offered to hold art workshops and training sessions and also distributed food, clothes, toys, books and other educational aids.

“I wish more people would come forward and involve themselves in something that is truly humanistic.” General Jacob commented.


Paid parking lots fetch MC 1.5 crore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh today completed the auction process of paid parking lots in Sectors 17, 8 and 9, netting around Rs 1.5 crore as against around Rs one crore last year.

With the successful auction of these lots at prices higher than last year despite the reserve prices being reduced by 10 per cent, the corporation seemed confident that the years’ long resistance towards it had died down.

The Sector-8 paid parking lot was auctioned for Rs 7.75 against a reserve price of Rs 4.91 lakh and that of Sector 9 drew the highest bid of Rs 14.01 lakh against the reserve price of Rs 9.5 lakh. The CMC parking lot was auctioned for Rs 16.1 lakh as against the reserve price of Rs 10.66 lakh.

The Jagat Cinema parking lot was auctioned for Rs 7.91 lakh as against the reserve price of Rs 5.71 lakh.

The corporation had already auctioned other parking lots last week amidst an encouraging response from bidders.

The paid parking system has been attracting criticism and facing hiccups ever since its introduction.


Jain talks to Advani on Municipal Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Former MP Satya Pal Jain and member of the National Executive of the BJP met Deputy Prime Minister and Union Minister of Home Affairs L.K. Advani at his residence in New Delhi, last evening, and urged him to expedite the process of amendment of Punjab Municipal Act - 1976, as applicable to UT Chandigarh. He also submitted a memorandum signed by various leaders of the coordination committee of UT and MC employees unions to Mr. Advani in support of the demand for amendment in the Act.

Mr Jain claimed that amendment in the Act would help at least 5,000 employees, who were transferred from the UT Administration to the MC, treated on deputation.

He reminded Mr Advani of his written assurance given on the floor of the House in the Lok Sabha in December, 1998, that "those employees of the Chandigarh Administration who had been transferred to MC shall be deemed to be on 'deemed deputation' with the MC".

Later, it became apparent that the implementation of this assurance need amendment in the Punjab Municipal Act that is applicable to Chandigarh. Subsequently, a draft proposal of the amendment forwarded to the Union Government by the local administration.

However, the proposal of amendment is still pending before the Parliament. Mr Jain informed Mr Advani that because of the delay in the amendment of the Act, many complications have started coming in, which are causing lot of problems to the thousands of employees who are working with the MC.

He urged Mr Advani to personally intervene in the matter so that this proposal should be brought before the floor of the House for suitable amendment to save the future of thousands of employees. Mr Jain claimed that the Deputy PM had assured him of justice to the employees. 


PM’s rally leaves Kashmiri Pandits cold
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s much-hyped public rally in Srinagar, touted as a potential harbinger of peace in the troubled Valley, has despaired the displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the city, Panchkula and SAS Nagar.

“We have been ignored and sidelined. We feel anguished and alarmed that there was no mention of Kashmiri Pandits in the address of Mr Vajpayee,” the Kashmiri Pandit Sahayak Samaj president, Mr B.L. Sadhu said here today reacting to the Prime Minister’s speech delivered in Srinagar on Friday.

Claiming that the Prime Minister only made a “passing reference” to the plight of Kashmiri Pandits, Mr Sadhu said, “It is not a question of periodical massacres of members of the community forming the agenda of his Kashmir policy, but rehabilitation of the displaced community should have found a mention in the speech.”

Mr Sadhu virtually accused the Prime Minister of sidestepping the issue of rehabilitation and the plight of Kashmiri Pandits saying when a specific question was asked in this regard, Mr Vajpayee only said, “We have to make a new beginning.”

The president of the North India Panun Kashmir Movement, Mr Vinod Kaul, said the Prime Minister seemed to have made the plight of Kashmiri Pandits a “non-issue.”

He said the community expected a clear-cut policy of rehabilitation for Kashmiri Pandits giving them the status of “displaced” persons.


Tackle suspended silt on priority

Sukhna can be saved by adopting three measures. One is by reducing the inflow of silt into it and the second by desilting the already deposited silt. The third is by not allowing the suspended silt particles to settle down in the lake.

The work done on the first two measures is satisfactory so far and needs reinforcement and close monitoring. However, the third measure is of vital importance as the suspended silt load is generally to the tune of 60 to 70 per cent during the monsoon. This can be flushed downstream into rivulets through controlled flushing operations during the monsoon. But it has to be ensured that the operation is carried out when there is minimum flow downstream of the regulator.

This measure, if implemented simultaneously with the other measures already in vogue, can really save the Sukhna from the danger of extinction. This practice is being followed the world over.

S.K. Duggal, Ex-Member (Irrigation), BBMB


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.


Abandoned woman returns home
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 21
Within 24 hours of the police here having found a semi-conscious woman from Madanpura village, the 47-year-old woman identified as Kanta Devi is back home safe and sound. A resident of Zirakpur, the woman is married and lives with her husband’s joint family there and is said to be mentally disturbed for the past 20 years.

According to the police, the woman was taken away by one of her family members today after local newspapers reported her being found by the police at Sohana. The Superintendent of Police, SAS Nagar, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, stated that the woman’s brother-in-law came to pick her up from the Sohana police station and after showing proof of her being from his family, the police let the woman go with them.

The woman’s relatives did not want her medical check-up to be done and ruled out any foul play in her disappearance.


Grant for renovation of cremation ground
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The renovation of the Sector-25 cremation ground got a boost today with MP Pawan Bansal deciding to grant half of the project cost from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund.

Mr Bansal has written a letter to the Deputy Commissioner, M. Ramsekhar, extending a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the project.

The MC has chalked out a Rs 6-lakh project to renovate the cremation ground after Mayor Subhash Chawla visited the ground, along with officials led by Chief Engineer V. K. Bharadwaj. Whitewash of the cremation ground has already started and renovation of the platforms was underway.


Poems that capture spirit of Chandigarh
Chitleen K Sethi

For the later-day historian writing the story of urbanisation in the country, Chandigarh city might not be as unique a city as it was envisaged to be. But one thing that remains uncontendly unique to the city is the fact that every resident of the city has an opinion about it. Good or bad, we all have something to say about the city we live in.

More than one person involved in the making of the city has written about the city in the form of poetry. Aditya Prakash and K.L. Vermani, both well-known for their achievements in their individual professions, chose to let the ink of their pens flow in directions other than building designs and checking answersheets.

While Aditya Prakash’s composition on the city is available easily, Vermani’s compositions — three poems on the city are now a part of V.P.Mehta and S.K. Sharma’s book on Chandigarh.

A well-known poet of Indo-English poetry who retired as the head of the English Department, DAVCollege, in the city has penned three poems on Chandigarh that "not only delight the mind but also convey the feel of the places on which he dwells." He imbibes the essence and the flavour of both the English and Sanskrit nature poetic traditions where places become persons. As Andrew Marvel says:

The gods who mortal beauty chase,

Still in a tree did end their race.

Similarly, when a visitor to chandigarh has seen enough of modern buildings, he eventually wants natural haunts to relax and to enjoy natural surroundings of Chandigarh. "No piece of prose, howsoever well written about natural beauty of a place, can give the type of pleasure which poetry can bestow,"notes the book.

Vermani’s first poem is on the spring in Chandigarh. Taking a cue from Coleridge’s lines —

Deep heart felt inward joy that closely clings

And traces in leaves and flowers that round me lie

Vermani writes —

The air is redolent with perfume

Of dainty roses and phlox in full bloom;

Life takes life from the glowing earth

Of joy and liveliness there is no dearth.

On downy green grass the glistening dew

issues the sparkle of several hues;

An equally descriptive poem is composed in the Rose Garden. An excerpt from the poem —

Smiling roses in their bloom

Drive my sorrow, dispel my gloom

Cheer the heart, uplift the mind

With aroma peculiar to their kind

But for the diehard Chandigarh fan, the poem ‘An evening at Sukhna’ will be liked the best.

The sun slowing dipping in the west

Spreads gold on the sheets of water

Of the Sukhna Lake nestling in the foothills

Enlivening the environs to their very best

Feet lowered in water from steps stony

Gleefully sing dance with glowing ripples

Rise and fall in rhythm and harmony

while mind floats and face looks bonny

All round lyrical and sublime splendor

readily enthralls a nature votary

On the walk path or on a parapet

and delights him with superior wonder

Enchanting Shivalik ranges in the silhouette

light boats sailing on its soft bosom

with bustling youth in glowing outfits

richly adds to the sight making it elite

An evening hour at this lake tract

Is a bounteous reward for everyone

working in the office, shop or field

he has with harmony a close contact

The spectacle so wrapped in glory

gentle waves breaking against the bank

touching my heart with music to the core

haunts the mind and lingers in memory

Chandigarh too did its bit for this great nature poet. MrVermani earned a medal and commendation certificate from the Chandigarh Administration for excellence in English poetry. His anthology of poems ‘Spring time raptures’ was released by the Haryana Governor.


Cooking contest held
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 21
The aroma of sandwiches and salads filled the air as Chandigarh Club members participated in the Cremica cooking contest today.

Ms Talwar won the first prize for Russian salad. The second prize was bagged by Ms Sonica for shahi salad. A total of seven entries in the salad category were received. In the sandwich category, “Train of relief”, prepared by Ms Ravneet, was adjudged the best out of five entries.

The stuff was prepared by the participants at their homes. The competition was not just limited to the preparation of the items. Questions were also asked before the results were declared. The items were judged by Ms Swati, who conducts cooking classes.

Another competition for members of the Rotary Club was held in the evening at the Chandigarh Club. The winners were given gift hampers by Cremica.



Rape case: accused goes underground
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The head of an Ambala-based religious organisation, recently booked by the Haryana police in a rape and criminal intimidation case, is reportedly absconding. The victim has, meanwhile, been provided with police protection.

As per a reply submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Ambala's Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Gupta, efforts were being made to locate the accused "who had gone underground". The DSP added that an application filed by the swami for the grant of anticipatory bail in the case was still pending before the court of Additional Sessions Judge and was expected to come up for hearing on April 25.

He added that a first information report was registered in the matter by the police under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code and the police was looking into the case.

Giving details of the police protection, the DSP revealed that a Head Constable, along with two constables, had been provided on permanent basis "till required by the victim".

The victim had earlier addressed an application to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court praying "she be saved from the clutches of the swami". She had alleged that the accused was blackmailing her, besides raping her. Treating her application as writ petition, the High Court had directed the state of Haryana to file a counter affidavit.


Youth held for impersonation
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
A 22-year-old youth, Om Prakash, was arrested for appearing in BA I (History) examination in place of one Prabhjot at Government College here today.

The youth was caught by the Superintendent of Examination, Mr P.C. Rattan, during a random checking of examinees during the annual examination being conducted by Kurukshetra University. The college Principal was informed who called the police.


Slum-dweller commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
A young slum-dweller committed suicide by reportedly consuming a poisonous substance here tonight.

Twentyeight-year-old Raj Bahadur, a resident of Colony No. 4 who worked as a painter in Industrial Area, Phase I, was rushed to Government Medical College, Sector 32, where he died. The police is investigating the matter.

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