Friday, April 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU to set up space research centre
Project report forwarded to ISRO
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
In response to Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) approaching Panjab University (PU) here to set up a Space Sciences Centre on the university campus, a detailed project report, outlining the overall scientific objectives, thrust areas, budgetary estimates, time schedules as well as equipment and manpower requirements, has been compiled to be forwarded to ISRO, it is learnt. This will be North India's first space research centre.

Astrophysics, planetary and atmospheric sciences have been defined as the thrust areas of the Space Sciences Centre (SSC). Besides undertaking research in the field of space sciences, including data interpretation and analysis of raw information supplied by ISRO or gathered by its own means, the main scientific objective listed for the SSC is imparting education at the master’s level.

The two-year M.Sc course in space sciences will include astrophysics, planetary and atmospheric sciences along with basic subjects in physics that are essential for space science, including elements of nuclear and particle physics, mechanics, cosmology, electronics and electrodynamics.

The SSC is also expected to conceptualise and introduce an elementary course in space sciences, to be introduced at the bachelor's level.

PU's Department of Physics, which is dealing with the project, has also laid out a requirement for five faculty members specialising in space sciences for the SSC. While one lecturer in astrophysics and planetary sciences is already available with the department, a cosmologist at the level of a professor, an atmospheric scientist at the level of a reader, and an atmospheric scientist and an astronomer at the level of a lecturer are being sought.

Besides the Department of Physics, the SSC is also expected to maintain a close liaison with the Departments of Chemistry, Geology, Environmental Studies and the University Institute of Engineering and Technology as a number of activities of these departments have applications in space sciences.

The idea for a tie-up on research in astrophysics and to set up a space research centre here was mooted by Dr K Kasturirangan, Chairman of the Space Commission and Secretary, Department of Space, during discussions with the Vice-Chancellor of PU, Prof K.N. Pathak, when the former was on a visit to Chandigarh about five months ago.



PU entrance forms highly priced
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Entrance examination forms seem to have become a big money-gathering game for Panjab University. Close on heels of Rs 1,300 charged for the examination covered by the Common Entrance Test, the university has released another form which is called OCET (Other than CET).

The cost benefit can be gauged from the fact that the OCET form for the general category costs Rs 1,100. The same costs Rs 550 for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories. The form, if demanded through registered post, will cost Rs 1175.

The amount of money involved in the exercise can be gauged from the number of classes covered under the examination. These include Bachelor and Masters in Law (LLB and LL.M), Master of Computer Application (MCA), Mass Communication, Bachelor and Masters in physical education, M Sc (honours) (bio chemistry, botany, chemistry, microbiology and zoology), M Sc (two-year course) in physics, biotechnology, human genomic and environment science.

The form also pertains to classes of M.Tech (Microelectronics and Instrumentation), MBA (executive), M.Com (e-commerce) and MA (English).

There is heavy student resentment over the price of these forms. “Imagine, for non-professional courses like English, a student was being asked to pay Rs 1100, which showed that the university was only interested in the money. There was also no justification for higher charges for forms for the M.Sc classes which were not professional at the level of the engineering or medical courses”, Malwinder Singh Kang, president of the Panjab University Campus Council, said.

A research scholar said a single form cost Rs 1100. So if a student was applying for more than one department going by the level of competition around, he would be shelling out the same price for each different form.

A university official said the university was forced to raise the price of forms because of various costs involved in the conduct of examination.

Sunny, an engineering aspirant, said there was every reason for the university to charge for the entrance examination, however, there needed to be some justification behind the prices. This was relevant in the context that the forms for professional courses at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) premier engineering institute of the country cost Rs 600 only and the AIEEE test for admission in engineering, pharmacy and architecture courses conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Examination cost only Rs 300.

The last date of submission of forms at PU is May 7. The examination for subjects in the OCET category will be conducted between June 3 and 7.



Protocol spoils ceremony
Inauguration of community centres
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 24
The reported failure of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to follow an inauguration ceremony protocol, led the authorities to postpone at the last minute the inauguration of one of the two new community centres scheduled here for today.

While the official reason given by PUDA officials was that the Minister for Urban Development and Housing, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, one of the three chief guests for the function, had to leave from the venue immediately after the inauguration of the first centre, as his mother had fallen ill, sources on the other hand claimed that the inauguration was postponed as the Deputy Speaker of the, Vidhan Sabha and Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, refused to participate in the inauguration ceremony on realizing that his name had not been engraved in the inauguration plaques.

PUDA had scheduled the inauguration of two new community centres in Sectors 70 and 71 here today for which the two Ministers for Urban Development, Mr Puri and Mr M.S. Birmi, and the Deputy Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha had been invited.

While the ceremony for the Sector 71 Community Centre was postponed indefinitely, the ceremony for the Community Centre in Sector 70 was held after much discussion and deliberation between the three guests with the Chief Administrator, PUDA, reportedly playing the buffer.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who arrived almost 40 minutes late with the two ministers waiting patiently at the venue, immediately started having a discussion with them in a corner. After almost 10 minutes of discussions, the ceremony was conducted following which the two ministers and the MLA left in a hurry and never reached the next venue in sector 71 where elaborate arrangements awaited the guests.

An event which could otherwise have been just another inauguration, became the cause of major embarrassment to the PUDA authorities. Sources close to the MLA stated that the MLA was also very upset with the fact that no Congressmen were invited to the function specially when two senior politicians of the party were to arrive there.

Sources added that the matter of the inauguration ceremony protocol having not been followed by PUDA officials had been taken seriously by the PUDA minister who by the evening had issued orders to the various zonal heads that the name of the local MLA should be engraved in the inauguration plaques of all the new structures that come up.

While sources close to the MLA justified his action, sources in PUDA were of the opinion that the matter was too petty to have taken such a serious note of. ‘‘The inauguration should not have been postponed. The mistake could have been rectified later. The MLA’s name could have been added later.” said a PUDA employee.



Encroachments removed from hotel back lane
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The Municipal Corporation here today removed around 100 truckloads of debris of the cleared up road berms of the back lane of hotels in Sector 35 during a three-day operation launched after Mayor had come under attack for buckling under the pressure from powerful business and political lobbies.

The Chandigarh Electricity Department during the drive stumbled upon suspected cases of power theft when the Municipal Corporation removed encroachments on the entire road berm between hotels Metro 35 and South End. A couple of unauthorised electricity lines were found dug in beneath the road berm.

Around a hundred truckloads of debris of the encroached road berm was removed in a joint operation of road wing of the Public Health Department, the Medical Officer, Health, the Horticulture Department and electricity wing of the Municipal Corporation and the Electricity Department of Chandigarh.

As many as 400 labourers, 17 SDOs, and Executive Engineers of the road wing, the Public Health Department and the Electricity Department were supervising the operation.

The task of the removal of the encroachments from the road berm turned out to be tougher than the Municipal Corporation had expected. The MC has pressed into service another earth removing machine to carry out the task which will stretch for three days.

The drive has followed allegations from residents, the BJP and a section of the Congress that Mayor Subhash Chawla who had ordered removal of the encroachments after several visits in the lane had buckled under pressure “from lobbies within the Congress and business community” to ignore years-old demand of residents. The Chandigarh Tribune brought out the allegations of alleged “pressure” on the Mayor.

The Municipal Corporation last night drew a white line beyond which the concretised and unusually raised road berm and encroachments on it were to be removed.

The corporation, however, spared encroachments made by residents on the road berm on the other side of the road.

The operation had to be suspended when MC officials got suspicious that the hotel South End part of the road berm might have water supply and sewerage line. A team of senior officials will tomorrow visit the site to examine wether the berm has any line dug beneath it.

During the entire operation, main electricity line was switched off to avoid any danger to the workers.

Chandigarh Hotel Association vice-president Ashok Bansal has hailed the drive.



SARS suspects left in the lurch at PGI
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, April 24
Her sight left the doctors breathless. As if they, instead of her, were suffering from some disease with symptoms similar to that of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The doctors at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) directed her, and her cousins, to get out of the emergency and to grab the masks before they declared them to be “fit and fine”, without even checking them up. It was diagnosed to be common cold later on. Well, that’s another story.

The confusion stemmed from the fact that the patients, who chose to pay a visit to the PGI with “SARS-like symptoms”, included a non-resident Indian from Singapore.

The NRI had been thoroughly checked up by the doctors abroad before being declared “fit to travel”. No, she was not suffering from the symptoms at the time of her departure. But when she arrived here on Tuesday night, the six-month-old bride found herself talking to the relatives here in a hoarse voice.

She discovered that her three cousins were also suffering from the same symptoms. “It was then that we decided to visit the PGI and get a routine check-up done,” she said.

The happenings that took place soon after they reached the PGI were something they will never forget. The interns came out to examine them, but after listening to their story, directed them to get out of the emergency and wear masks.

Without even conducting the tests, they said the symptoms were not that of SARS. “You are perfectly fine,” they announced.

Undeterred, the NRI insisted on getting her tonsils checked. The doctors asked the “patient” to open her mouth wide, but maintained a safe distance. After spending a few seconds, they vaguely said, “We do not suspect anything right now”.

Their reply left her shocked. “I guess they were not even aware of the symptoms and nothing was done to confirm, or rule out, the possibility of the deadly disease,” she claimed. “Instead, they managed to scare us. A doctor said patients suspected to be suffering from SARS had to be kept in isolation, A team of World Health Organisation doctors would have to be called in and the blood samples would have to be sent to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi”.

She added, ‘’After delivering the sermon, they asked us to leave. Though we are sure it is nothing but common cold, the authorities should have been careful. They should have at least conducted the tests.”

A senior PGI official, denied the allegations of laxity on their part. “The doctors have been thoroughly briefed about the symptoms,” he insisted. “We are geared up to face any kind of eventuality”.

The Chandigarh Administration has already received an official communication from the Union Ministry of Health asking the authorities to beef up the monitoring service for diagnosing patients suffering from the killer pneumonia.



PNB cashier hiding in Delhi?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
A head cashier of the Sector 22 branch of Punjab National Bank, Raj Pal Singh, who is on the run after “robbing” his own bank of Rs 20 lakh is reportedly hiding in Delhi. Investigations by the police have revealed that the theory of the head cashier being kidnapped was concocted and unrealistic.

A police team was already in Delhi to hunt for the head cashier who had been calling at his Phase 7 residence from his mobile. Sources in the police said efforts were being made to track down the location from where Raj Pal Singh had been calling up. Persons close to the family of the head cashier said he was telling his wife that he had been kidnapped.

Investigations by the police reveal that the suspect had invested over Rs 8 lakh in finance companies and shares. But he had suffered losses and was in debt of over Rs 3 lakh. The police has sought details from the companies in which the suspect had invested his money. A police official said it appeared that the amount of Rs 20 lakh had not been withdrawn in one day. The cashier went into hiding when he feared that he would be exposed of illegally drawing money from the bank.

The suspect had invested around Rs 5.15 lakh in a Sector 17-based finance company in the name of his wife and Rs 2.20 lakh in another SAS Nagar-based firm. He also owed Rs 1 lakh to a former Manager of the PNB. It may be pertinent to mention that the loss of Rs 20 lakh had came to light only when the employee, Raj Pal Singh Chandoke, did not report at an office of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), to collect the cash.

The police was also questioning the wife of the head cashier, Mrs Tarvinder Kaur. Enquires reveal that the 40 year-old head cashier, has been with the bank for the last 19 years. The police has registered a case under Sections 409 and 420 of the IPC on a complaint by Senior Manager of the bank, Mr Ashok Kumar Kakkar.



BJP throws weight behind dairy owners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The BJP here today joined the eviction-threatened dairy owners in Buraila Butrela, Manimajra and Palsora to demand the withdrawal of notices to ban illegal dairying as the Municipal Corporation tomorrow launches a campaign to rid the city of cattle.

BJP National Executive Committee member Satyapal Jain, party President Yashpal Mahajan, General Secretary Purushottam Mahajan and Leader of the Opposition in the corporation Kamla Sharma attended a rally to protest the eviction move.

Addressing a rally in front of the corporation office, Mr Jain said the MC should provide land to the people who would be uprooted by the action of the municipal body to ensure a sustained supply of milk to the city.

He said, earlier, whenever such activities were banned, an alternative site for the uprooted people had to be given and MC should do the same.

Mr Jain also assured the protesters that he would accompany a delegation of the dairy owners to the Governor to force corporation provide them land before the removal of cattle.

Market Committee Directors Ramvir Bhatti, Gurdeep Singh and a leader of the dairy owners from Manimajra Bahadur Singh led the protesters who staged the dharna.

Mr Jain and the BJP leaders accompanied the protesters to Municipal Commissioner M. P. Singh to press for the acceptance of their charter of demands.

However, the BJP’s decision to side with the dairy owners provoked the councillor from Burail and Sector 45 Vijay Rana into saying that the BJP was trying to encash a few votes for the deaths of a number of people on roads due to the cattle menace.

He said the problem had been persisting for years, but when a drive to remove the cattle was to be launched from Burail, the party was trying to take advantage of the plight of the people.

He said the land allotment was only within the rights of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani or the Chandigarh Administration which is directly under the Home Minister. 



Want to have liquor in open?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Thanks to the policy of the Chandigarh Administration allowing liquor vends in tin sheds, liquor in the city is now being sold like vegetables with full display on the road side. The display gives the impression of a bar located in the open.

The entire fault actually lies at the doorstep of the Chandigarh Administration. In November last year, the Administration first promised that liquor vends in tin sheds would not be allowed and then backed off. In the liquor policy announced in March this year, the Administration despite criticism from all quarters allowed the vends to run from tin sheds. Ignoring the nuisance they create.

The Chandigarh Administration has an eye on the revenue. Its Excise Inspectors, who should have checked such malpractices, have turned a blind eye to a vend displaying liquor on a table outside its premises in the Chandigarh-Mohali road which leads to the cricket stadium in Phase IX.

Residents are up in arms about the impact such a thing can have on young minds. Besides, the displaying of liquor outside the vends is not permissible under the law. Even in Chandigarh such a display is not permitted, but is carrying on.

Things are so bad that in the evening the vends on the road dividing Sector 49 and 50 and also on the road dividing Sector 49 and 46 serve liquor to their customers in the open. Tables, chairs pedestal fans and all paraphernalia is arranged in the open by owners. Now these vends are located just a few feet away from the road.

In the evening, no woman can pass through these roads. It gets tough to even go for a walk, says a resident of Sector 46. 



Making most of human resource, the BBMB way
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Not wanting to let go off its vital human resource, retired engineers who are highly trained in the management of dams and irrigation canals, the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has started utilising their service by inviting them to share their experiences with its serving engineers.

Also, a few of them will be a part of operation and maintenance teams, which the BBMB is forming for its other projects. The teams will be led by a serving engineer.

This creates a virtual readymade data bank and updates the knowledge of the existing staff on managing water and power in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

Vital information is being shared as these men, who have virtually seen the BBMB grow, are being invited for visits to the BBMB headquarters, here, and at Nangal.

On April 18, when the foundation stone of the new block of the BBMB was being laid, the BBMB Chairman, Mr Rakesh Nath, made a special mention of his former colleagues saying that they had shared vital information which helped the BBMB grow.

The project to invite these former engineers, and also top management consultants, started about six months ago. Sources said the former engineers took pride in sharing their knowledge as their association with the BBMB was an emotional one.

The BBMB has done a lot of work in renovating, upgrading and modernising its power houses to produce more power from the existing power plants along the Beas and the Satluj. This had helped in adding 318 MW of power to the generating capacity of BBMB projects. A part of the work force, which pioneered this scheme, has retired.

Similarly, the BBMB has been providing consultancy to various hydro- power projects across the country, besides sharing its knowledge with other states. Again, a few of the top men, who had pioneered the consultancy business, have retired and are busy elsewhere. But now they have been invited to take out time and talk about their experiences.

A few months ago, a retired engineer narrated to an audience of experts where to find the right type of clay if an emergency arises in the Pandoh reservoir on the Beas.

It may be mentioned that the BBMB is responsible for water supply for irrigation and drinking purposes and manages the Bhakra dam, the Pong dam, the Pandoh reservoir, the Beas-Satluj link and hydel projects at Ganguwal Kotla.

Some of the retired engineers have seen the worst floods, supervised construction of various tunnel links and set up projects. They also have managed drought and studied glacial melts to access the inflow of water.



Sweepers’ recruitment being ‘stalled’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The All-India Valmiki Yuvak Sangh, Chandigarh, here today accused the protesting Sweepers’ Union of playing into the hands of the BJP to stall the recruitment of 700 sweepers under a privatisation programme and ensure sanitation in the city.

In a statement issued here today, the Sangh sought to project that the entire community was not behind the striking sweepers opposed to privatisation. It said a group of sweepers supported by the BJP was opposing the move.

The Sangh, which has the backing of the Congress, praised the Mayor saying he had assured jobs for 700 youth of the community on minimum wages in a situation when recruitment had been banned by the Central Government and the Chandigarh Administration.

The Sangh leaders Dharamveer, Santresh Rahi, Shanti Dass and Jagan Ram said a sweeper under the privatisation programme would get Rs 2,520 instead of Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200 under the old policy.



Yoga guru to visit city today
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 24
Founder of Hamsa Yog Sangh International Yogiraj Sat Gurunath will visit the city for four days from tomorrow. During his first visit to Chandigarh, he will interact with his disciples, besides delivering lectures.

The primary aim of the foundation is to spread the message of peace through self peace. It conducts specialised classes and workshops for people of all ages, including children above seven. Yoga techniques are taught to the members by authorised instructors.

The practice helps participants in getting away from anxiety, illness, depression and lethargy. Among children, it helps to increase concentration, power of retention and stamina.

Jyoti Subranmanian, who has been associated with Sat Gurunath for the past six years, teaches yogic techniques. Giving details, she says: “The core group is practice oriented. About 150 members are enrolled with the group in the city. Asans help in keeping physical health fit. Pranayam for the mental as well as spiritual wellbeing meditation for the emotional stability’’.

She adds: “Regular practice of 21 days makes a difference. During the practice, asans and meditation are taught. To follow the yogic techniques, one needs a certain level of dedication and practice.”

A camp will be conducted from April 25 to 28 at Panchvati, near Zirakpur, at 6 pm. It will be open only for the members. The camp will be open for the general public on April 27 and 28 from 7 pm onwards. A satsang will organised at CII hall on April 26 at 6 pm.



Allow free inflow of water

The only solution for checking silting at the Sukhna Lake is to allow only a free inflow of water into the lake which can be done by installing suitable filtering devices at strategic entry points of water. Raising the level of the retaining wall will multiply the magnitude of the problem.

The lithology and steep slopes of the Shivalik hills are characteristics which cannot be ignored while redesigning or remodelling the Sukhna Lake. The Shivalik hill which forms the catchment area of the Sukhna lake comprises unconsolidated formations of sedimentary rocks which are prone to quick erosion resulting in heavy siltation. These aspects, which should have been kept in view while designing the lake, have been ignored.

A solution cannot be found if these factors are not taken into account. Another important aspect of the solution is public participation not in de-silting the bed of the lake but its catchment area.

Dr N.K. Rana, Ex-Jt Director, Command Area Development Agency, Panchkula



Jaspal Bhatti’s Friday humour
God! Give papa enough money to 
buy question papers

A large number of workers were running out of a factory. It seemed as if they were in a great hurry. I worriedly asked one of them: “Bhai sahib, is there a fire inside?” He shouted: “Leak ho gaya ... Leak ho gaya!” I caught hold of another worker and asked: “What has leaked? Some poisonous gas?” He uttered while running: “The tenth standard board examination papers. I am also giving to get one for my son.”

I had shown this skit several years ago on television. At that time it seemed a little exaggerated, but the way the PMT (pre-medical test) question paper scandal has surfaced recently, I think, I had probably understated the situation.

Those candidates who have bought the entrance test papers for Rs 11 lakh are proved their competence. They are the future doctors who  make their crores from the medical profession. Those who opted for this noble profession only for serving humanity are just wasting their time.

A couple of moths back, the kidney scandal was unearthed in Amritsar. Senior doctors made a lot of money in the sale-purchase of human parts. Medical students are greatly inspired by such scandals because they feel that they will be able to recover their money they have invested in becoming doctors.

I am sometimes amused at the ludicrousness of our education system and entrance examination for professional courses. But at the same time I really pity those students who toil day and night but fail to get admission just because their parents do not have sufficient money to purchase leaked question papers. Every student should pray to God: “Give my papa enough money to buy leaked question papers!”



Car snatched from woman
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 24
A youth in Sector 8 here today snatched the keys of a Maruti Esteem car from its owner, Ms Indu Malik, and drove off with the car.
The incident took place at around 2.30 pm near the electricity complaint office when Ms Malik, a resident of Sector 11, had come to pick up her six-year-old daughter, who is dropped by her school bus at the place.

Ms Malik told Chandigarh Tribune that when she parked the car, she saw a bearded youth standing nearby. "When, I went to pick up my daughter, this man rushed towards me, snatched the car keys from me and drove away the car.”

She ran after the speeding car, and was offered help by a motorcyclist, who followed the car. He, however, lost trail after some distance. He then informed the Police Control Room vehicle near the Sector 8 booth market, but the car could not be traced.

The police has registered a case under Section 379 of IPC. Police officials said that they would also investigate if the car had been snatched or had been picked up at the behest of the financier on defaulted installments.

The car had been reportedly financed by a private bank and is still under hire purchase agreement between the bank and the car owner.



Burglars take away 19 cellphones 
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, April 24
Burglars broke into a booth in Sector 22 and took away 19 expensive cellphones, Rs 5,000, and some computer software. The theft was noticed when, Mr Ajay Singla, came to open his shop this morning. The glass sheet in the front door of the shop was found broken. The shop owner has put the total loss at around Rs 2 lakh.

Mr Singla said there were two entries to the booth located in the basement of SCF( 1086-87). The burglars sneaked into the basement through the front stairs. A police official said after the burglars failed to break the front door of the booth, a piece of pane in the front door was broken to gain entry. The locks of the table in which the cash and cellphones, had been kept were found broken.

Investigations by the police revealed that the theft was the handiwork of someone who knew about the booths quite well. The police was questioning the suspects. Shopkeepers in the market said there were two watchman in the market.

This was not the first incident of theft in the market. A case of theft has been registered.

Files missing: As many as 173 files of the Haryana Technical Education Department has gone missing from its records in Sector 17 here. Though the sensitivity of the files which have been reported missing could not be ascertained, sources in the police said a case of theft had been registered. A statement of the Deputy Director, Technical Education, Haryana, Mr Swaranjit Singh.

Cheating: Mr Bharat Bhushan of Sector 35 complained that his employee, Surjan Singh, had forged official papers to draw Rs 41,000. A case of cheating has been registered.

Dowry cases: Ms Rafiken of Burail complaint to the police that her husband, Sabir, and father-in-law, Faij Mohammed, were harassing here on the pretext of dowry. In another case, Navneet Kaur of Sector 35 complained to the police that her husband harassed her seeking more dowry.

Four arrested: The Sector 31 police arrested four persons and seized 808 pouches of liquor from their possession yesterday. As per the information, Subhash Kumar, Paramjit Singh and Sham Lal, all residents of Panipat, were arrested from near the Tribune chowk with 384, 192 and 192 pouches of liquor, respectively. A resident of Hallomajra, Rajinder Gupta, was also arrested from Ram Darbar with 40 pouches of liquor. All four have been booked under various Sections of the Excise Act.

4 held: The Ambala police has arrested four persons for operating 'satta'. According to the police, Sunil Kumar, Raju and Om Prakash were arrested by the Ambala Cantonment police and Rs 640 seized from their possession. The satta operator, Seeta Ram, was also arrested at the Dosarka chowk near Mulana, the police added.

Liquor seized: The police has seized 120 pouches of country-made liquor from a woman of Ambala City. Deepa has been arrested and a case registered against her under the Excise Act. Earlier too, the police had seized a number of liquor pouches from this colony.

Bag stolen: A wholesale grain dealer lost a bag containing Rs. 25,000, in Sector 16 on Thursday. He had kept the bag on the car roof in order to assist a labourer unload sacks of rice from the car. The dealer, Mr Sanjay Arora, had come to deliver sacks of rice at Top Departmental Store in Sector 16. He has lodged a complaint with the police.

Raided: The police raided the house of a Food Corporation of India Inspector and found 59 bags of wheat stored at his house in Phase 3B2 here today. The FCI Inspector, Mr H.S. Gill, was not home when the raid was conducted.

The SP, SAS Nagar, Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, stated that a case under Sections 406 and 411 of the IPC had been registered against Mr Gill. 



Labourer killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 24
A 40-year-old migrant labourer, Saira Bano, was killed after she fell from the Dhillon cinema complex in Mani Majra here this evening.

The police believes it to be a case of accident. She was rushed to the PGI, where she was declared brought dead.



Enhanced service tax needs House nod
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has shown its keenness to implement the proposals of the Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, to charge enhanced service tax from 5 per cent to 8 per cent with effect from March 1, 2003, though Parliament has yet to clear the Finance Bill, 2003. Tax experts claim that it is only after getting clearance from Parliament, that the enhanced tax can be charged from customers with effect from April 1, 2003.

According to Ms Namita Sekhon, General Manager (Finance), BSNL, Chandigarh, ‘‘We have received a letter from the BSNL headquarters to implement the enhanced service tax from 5 per cent to 8 per cent with effect from March 1, 2003. That is why is we have decided to charge this amount from our subscribers. As far the 12.5 per cent sales tax imposed by some states on telecom monthly rentals is concerned, the BSNL has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against double taxation.’’

Interestingly, the enhanced service tax has been added to the bills of selected subscribers only. Some of the STD/PCO owners, who had received telephone bills with enhanced service tax, were shocked. They said, they would have to suffer losses worth thousands of rupees, as they had not adjusted their billing machines accordingly. In that case, they added, they would have to pay the enhanced service tax out of their pockets.

Mr Pritpal Singh, CMD, BSNL, when contacted over phone in New Delhi, expressed his ignorance about the letter. When asked how could only some of the subscribers be charged enhanced service tax, he said, ‘‘There might be a mistake on our part.’’

Mr Parmod Kumar, a resident of house No. 1720, Sector 43-B, who is running an STD booth, said, ‘‘I have received a bill from the BSNL, in which it has been clearly mentioned that enhanced service tax from 5 per cent to 8 per cent would have to be paid with effect from March 1, 2003. Consequently, I would have to pay Rs 164 extra out of my pocket.’’ He said as per the fortnightly bill sent to him, he had to pay Rs 5,502 for metered calls and Rs 440.16 as service tax. And after deducting his commission of Rs 1992, he had to pay Rs 3,950 (against telephone No. 645005).

A number of STD booth owners and other subscribers claimed that they had received bills with the enhanced rate of service tax, but others claimed that only 5 per cent service tax had been added to the telephone bills sent for the February 1 to March 31, 2003, period. Mr Anil Gupta, Additional Commissioner, Central Excise, Chandigarh Commissionaire , wondered, ‘‘How can enhanced service tax be charged from consumers when the Ministry of Finance has not issued a notification.’’



CITCO registers 86 pc increase in profit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
Defying worldwide recession in the hotel industry, a public sector undertaking of the Chandigarh Administration, the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), running four star, three star and other hotels in City Beautiful, today showed a cash profit of Rs 9.50 crore in the year 2002-2003, an increase by 86 per cent over the past year.

It may be added that three years ago, the three-star hotel of CITCO, Hotel Shivalikview, was on the chopping block of disinvestment, when the Punjab Governor, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), took over as Administrator of the city on November 27, 1999. The hotels of CITCO were plagued by inefficiency, over staffing, leakage in revenue and other problems leading to the virtual closure of these hotels. A study by a consultant engaged for the purpose of disinvestment had indicated these problems and suggested immediate disinvestment of one of the hotels, i.e. Hotel Shivalikview. General Jacob, instead of accepting the suggestions of the consultant, planned a massive exercise to improve the working of the existing hotels and opening of small restaurants in the city to fruitfully employ the surplus staff.

Within three years, the hotels of CITCO have showed a tremendous increase in profit and efficiency. The Chairman and Managing Director of CITCO gave a presentation to the Administrator on its financial results. As per the financial results during the year 2002-2003, CITCO registered a total sale of Rs 227.38 crore indicating an increase of 54 per cent as compared to last year. Hotel Mountview, a four-star hotel of CITCO has earned a record profit of Rs 6.40 crore, indicating an increase of 47 per cent over the past year. Hotel Shivalikview, a three-star hotel that was earlier being considered for disinvestment, earned a profit of Rs 1.69 crore showing an increase of 96 per cent over last year. Hotel Parkview, which was earlier known as Chandigarh Yatri Niwas, earned a profit of Rs 70 lakh showing a record increase of 119 per cent over the past year. The Lake Cafetaria and newly opened Mermaid Restaurant have shown 32 per cent increase in their profit.

CITCO has retained its number one position in the country by selling 95,077 metric tonnes of steel this year and netting a profit increase by 16 per cent over the past year. A petrol pump being run by CITCO in Chandigarh has also shown an increase of 90 per cent in profit compared to the previous year.

General Jacob has appreciated the efforts of the management and the staff of CITCO.



Rice millers not to keep used gunny bags
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 24
The executive body of the Punjab Rice Millers Association has decided that rice millers will not retain used gunny bags of kharif 2002-03, left after the delivery of custom-milled rice. At a meeting held here yesterday, the association claimed that it was a losing proposition for the millers, besides it was not obligatory for them to keep surplus bags for the next season.

Mr Tarsem Saini, president of the association, in a press note, urged the state government to decide the issue within a month otherwise they would launch protests for the settlement of the issue. He claimed that the Punjab Chief Minister, at a meeting with representatives of the association on November 6, 2002, had agreed that the recovery of leftover bags for the crop year 2001-02 would be made at a rate of 60 per cent of the cost of levy rice bags, however, the decision had not been implemented so far.

He lamented that the Union Government had unilaterally reduced the milling rate of par-boiled rice from Rs 23.86 per quintal to Rs 13.20 per quintal.

This was a severe blow to the industry, mostly located in the border areas of the state. The state government should take up the issue with the Centre, he said.

The association also urged the state government to finalise its next custom policy in consultation with the association by August 2003 so that subsequent confusion and problems could be avoided.

Mr Saini said the government should also make the system of allotment of rice more transparent, keeping in view of the milling capacity of mills.


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