Saturday, May 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Robbers strike at Asa Ramji ashram
Injure 5, decamp with Rs 1 lakh
Our Correspondent

Seonk (Kharar), May 2
A gang of armed robbers struck at Sant Shri Asa Ramji Ashram, injuring five inmates, two of them seriously, at Seonk village, 5 km from the PGI, in the wee hours today. A sum of Rs 1 lakh was looted from the ashram.

The injured, admitted at the PGI, include 10-year-old Vivek who was staying at the ashram in connection with a course. The other injured are Narayan Kaka (29), Chander Bhan (25), Harinder (25), and Gagan (25). The condition of Narayan and Chander is stated to be serious.

It was a providential escape for the administrator of the ashram, Krishna Bhai, as the police reached on the spot before the robbers could break into the room where he had locked himself and had made frantic telephone calls to the police.

This was the second incident of its type in this part of Kharar subdivision in the past 72 hours. On April 29, armed robbers had attacked a house at Salamatpur village and injured five members of a family. However, they could not take away anything as they faced stiff resistance from the family.

Blood was found splattered at several places on the ashram floor and broken windowpanes, doors, and boxes gave an account of the ruthless attack. The robbers believed to be 12 to 15 in number and armed with swords, batons and iron rods, entered the ashram at around 2.45 am and beat up five persons who were sleeping under a tin shed in the complex. Apparently, the robbers spent more than 20 minutes at the ashram and fled when they sensed that the police was approaching.

After taking control of the five inmates, the robbers reached the office and broke open the door using a stone. They broke open an almirah containing about Rs 96,000 and tried to open iron boxes and cupboards lying in the room. The donation box at the ashram was also ransacked and the cash was taken away.

In the meantime, Krishna Bhai who was sleeping in the office, called up the police. “When I dialled 100, I was connected to the Chandigarh police which gave me a number of the Punjab police control room. Then I called up at the new number and while I was making the call, the robbers were on a looting spree,” he said.

Narayan Kaka, a follower of Bapu Asa Ram and securityman, received injuries on his neck and head. Chander Bhan too received serious injuries on the upper part of his body.

“They woke me up and before I could utter a word, one of them smashed something on my head,” Harinder said, talking to The Tribune at the PGI this morning. The other injured were not in a position to talk. “Some of the robbers seemed to be migrants and some of them were speaking Punjabi,” Krishna Bhai said. The exact amount of damage is yet to be ascertained.

Meanwhile, the police has claimed to have recovered a vehicle used by the robbers near Jhaanpur village. Senior officials of the Ropar police, including the SSP, Mr G.S. Bhullar, and the SP (D), Mr Surjeet Singh Grewal, reached the spot. A case has been registered.



Total coverage of top floors allowed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service


  • Total coverage on upper floors of showrooms
  • Staircase can be from inside
  • All three floors can be used as a single unit
  • More freedom in internal designing
  • Is expected to result in a sharp rise in property prices

Chandigarh, May 2
Making a major change in the use of commercial buildings, the Chandigarh Administration today permitted total coverage of first and second floors of shops, paving the way for commercial use of space on upper floors of shops and as a single unit connected to the ground floor .

The fee to be charged for covering courtyards and open areas on the first and second floors has been fixed at Rs 500 per square foot, sources told The Tribune.

This is the first change in this regard in the past 50 years. A formal notification was expected on Monday. Without this change, the entire concept of amendments to building bylaws was not falling into place, the sources admitted tonight.

The new order will affect all commercial buildings in phase-I sectors of the city — from Sector 7 to Sector 30. It will mean that spaces on the first and second floors of commercial buildings which were earmarked as residential portions by Le Corbusier and his team can be changed and put to commercial use. These shops were designated as shop-cum-flats (SCFs). Also there had been a long-standing demand of shopkeepers to allow total coverage on the first and second floors. At present, the open spaces and courtyards on the upper floors take up more than 50 per cent of the area, resulting in waste of prime space.

Staircases on the ground floors can now be inside the shop while the first and second floors can be used and treated as a single unit. Presently, the stairs are from the rear, making the use of first and second floors impractical.

The Administration has observed that the shops in the older sectors or the phase-I sectors had unimaginative use. The residential portion is on top of the shopping corridors. It is difficult for any family to reside on the upper floors in a busy shopping area. The sources said it had been found that the planning was faulty and provided discomfort to the owners. What has not been allowed is permission to raise the height of the building from the existing 31. 3 inches.

The Tribune had highlighted a few weeks ago how the Administration was cold shouldering the demands for the change. The UT Administrator, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), had sought a report from the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer, Mr M. Ramsekhar. 


Tie-up with Israel to sell advanced light helicopter
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Aiming at the lucrative defence and civil aviation market, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has tied up with the Israel Aviation Ministry for selling its advanced light Helicopter in the international market. The helicopter at present is undergoing user trials by the Army and the Air Force under harsh climatic conditions like those prevailing in Saichen and the desert areas.

The Chairman of the Bangalore-based HAL, Mr N.R. Mohanty, while talking to The Tribune today about this strategic tie-up with Israel said: “There is great demand and scope for our helicopter not only in the domestic market but also in the international market.’’ Mr Mohanty was here to attend the high-level National Executive council meeting of the Aeronautical Society of India.

“The Israelis have very good avionics and they will be using our helicopters for this purpose also,” Mr Mohanty said. The helicopter, he said, had got ‘‘good reports ’’ from its present users.

An important certification from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was awaited before the helicopter was put to use in civil aviation in the domestic market and also the defence market. At present all helicopters in private aviation in the country were imported. DGCA certification was required for mass scale production to commence.

Also, the National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL) was designing the medium range transport aircraft, Saras. This twin-engined 18-seater aircraft was also expected to do well in the domestic market.

Speaking on the light combat aircraft, Mr Mohanty said the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was scheduled to visit Bangalore on Sunday to give the aircraft a formal name. Refusing to divulge what would be the name of the much-awaited LCA, Mr Mohanty said: “We have drawn up a list of possible names and the Prime Minister will pick one name.” The Government of India had placed an order for eight aircraft. The first would be delivered in 2006. This would be for user trails. So far 72 flights had been conducted on the LCA and things were moving very well.

Giving an update on the intermediate jet trainer that was expected to replace the Kiran aircraft, Mr Mohanty said the latest flight was conducted on March 21 and the aircraft was comparable with the best in the world.

The Chairman of HAL during his visit here also met the Director of the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) . It may be mentioned that CSIO is making the head-up display for the LCA.


Thousands turn up for audition
Tribune News Service


Over 200 aspirants were stranded outside the gate which was locked at about 12 noon.

Hundreds were rejected because of being either underage or overage. The forms, much to their surprise, required them to furnish proofs of age.

Apparently, there were more boys than girls today.

Judges looked dissatisfied inside the audition hall. While returning the so-called singers, they, however, cared to shake hands, offering solace.

Chandigarh, May 2
The region surely surprised Channel V with its spirit today. Even before the day had dawned, aspirants started pouring in at the venue of the much-hyped Popstars 2 auditions, that will conclude with the formation of a boys-girls band in India. Quite unexpectedly, over 2,500 (rough estimate) boys and girls from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh turned up for the auditions this morning at Hotel Mountview, which remained packed beyond capacity till the last batch of youngsters was auditioned at about 7 pm.

Out of the many “budding singers” who landed to give luck a chance, only about 1,300 could be accommodated during the day. Another problem area was of judgement, where Mehnaz, Purab and Palash had a tough time searching for musical skills, which were hardly visible. In fact, most youngsters seemed to be total novices when it came to music.

What went on inside the audition hall bore a testimony to this. While the boys struggled to sing the following compulsory songs in rhythm — “Koi kahe kehta rahe”, “Dil kya kare”, “Dekha na hai re”, “Tadap tadap ke is dil ne”; the girls tried hard tuning in on “Piya tu ab to aaja”; “Di hai chhota sa”; “Abke saawan aise barse” and “Aawara bhanvre”...

Most youngsters, it seemed, were around to enjoy the show, which turned sore towards the evening. At about 6.45 pm, about 30 youngsters teamed up outside the gate of Mountview and began shouting slogans against the organisers. They claimed the organisers had refused to accommodate them. Three most vocal ones were Sunny, a Sector 20 resident of Chandigarh, and Sanjeev and Naveen from Ludhiana, who alleged harassment at the hands of security men. They said they had been pushed back when they insisted upon being auditioned.

Another Chandigarh boy, Rajesh, called up The Tribune office at about 7 pm to inform that the organisers directed the aspirants to go back at 5 pm. He said, “The time for auditioning was 9 am to 6 pm. They started at 11.30 am and closed the show at 5 pm.”

Meanwhile, Channel V people maintained that they accommodated everyone they could. They denied harassment of any kind. One of the organisers said: “When thousands turn up, it is humanly not possible to accommodate everyone. We did justice to all those who were in the queue. Also the judges auditioned till about 7 pm.” Heartbreaking could, however, not be avoided because some of the youngsters had to return disappointed.

In fact, the organising hassles were visible all day yesterday when some performances by VIVA girls had to be cancelled. Reports have it that the four girls from the band — Neha, Anushka, Pratichi and Mahua — faced a tough time at an amusement park yesterday when they had to be shielded from the public. They could not perform at Fun City, where they arrived at about 10 pm (much later than the scheduled time of 7 pm).


Mehnaz, Palash, Purab enjoy judging talent
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The day saw the same arrangement at Popstars as the last year, when luminaries like Shubha Mudgal, Sandeep Chowta, Manish Malhotra and Sushma Reddy had assembled in the city to test youngsters for their musical skills. Channel V Popstars put together a promising jury this time round as well, with three talented professionals from the world of music and presentation joining hands to search for the best musical talent in the region.

Sharing the responsibility of ushering in a new musical sound by creating India’s first boy-girl band this year were Mehnaz, Palash Sen and Purab. Chandigarh Tribune team caught up with them just before their long schedule as judges of Popstars 2 began at Hotel Mount View this morning.

Palash Sen, the quintessential singer, still fails to understand why Meghna Gulzar cast him opposite Sushmita Sen in her debut film “Filhaal”. But Palash, the lead singer of the music band Euphoria, feels fortunate that “Filhaal” happened to him. Close on the heels of his performance in Filhaal came four film offers, but Palash turned down all because “the scripts did not sound interesting enough”. He is now waiting for “Filhaal”-like films to come his way and is also contemplating making music for two big Bollywood banners, which he did not disclose. These two films will see Palash writing his own lyrics, making his own music and singing his songs.

Excited about his new role as a judge for Popstars 2, Palash said: “The excitement of meeting new talent is amazing. I will be looking for people who can maintain their pitch and can respect rhythm. The winners have to be musically sound.” Referring to VIVA, Palash gave full credit to Channel V for its ability to pick up non-entities and convert them into celebrities.

For Mehnaz, the lady with a golden voice, judging talent is extremely challenging. “Since hundreds of people will turn up, we have to be extremely surgical. On the first day we will look for the person’s vocal ability, along with some performance skills. Those who are selected will be paired up the next day when they will be given harmonies. The selection then will rest upon vocal throw, range and pitch, clubbed with presentation skills.”

On her part, Mehnaz, who added soul to the music of films like Bombay Boys and Snip, is waiting to go international. Her sound base in music and successful pairing with international music band Air Supply in Bombay Boys will certainly lend her the much-needed edge.

As for Purab, the veejay, who represents his channel on the jury, life is still shaping up, so is career. Apart from Padam Kumar’s “Supari”, in which he plays a conscientious character trapped in circumstances, Purab is looking for better roles, which are not so forthcoming yet. He informed, “Where ever you go, they decline to cast you because you are acting in another film. Perhaps they are guided by commercial principles. The question is if “Supari” bombs at the box office, their prospects may be no better. So I am still waiting for good roles to happen. I also want to work with Prasoon Pandey, who has made the famous advertisements for Ericsson and Fevicol.”

Interestingly, Purab’s life has been full of surprises. He landed up being a veejay where he had wanted to be a pilot. As he says, “I was studying science because I wanted to fly. But because the aviation industry was hit below the belt, I landed up on Channel V. The next road from here goes to Bollywood. Sincerely speaking, I would love to play an action hero.” As face of the channel, Purab said he was looking for charisma. “The winner must have the drive to hold masses,” he said.


Strike hits bank services
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
All branches of nationalised scheduled banks in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar remained closed today. Four major officers’ unions of nationalised banks had given a call for a nationwide strike to protest against the delay in the wage revision package by the Indian Bankers Association (IBA).

About 200 branches of nationalised banks in Chandigarh, Panchkula and SAS Nagar, except the Bank of Baroda, remained closed. Officers of this bank said they were not participating in the strike. Customers had to face inconvenience as most banks were closed. There was an increase in rush at private banks and ATMs.

Bank officers gathered in the Sector 17 bank square around 10 am and held a rally. Addressing the meeting of bank officers, Mr Amar Pal, national president, All-India SBI Officers’ Federation, said due to the callous attitude of the IBA, bank officers had been forced to go on strike.

He said, ‘‘Even after the submission of a charter of demands, no worthwhile negotiations have taken place in six meetings in the absence of a concrete offer on salary revision, which was due with effect from November 1, 2002. Mr Dalbir Singh, chairman, IBA, had assured them that negotiations would be concluded by March 31, 2003.’’

He said, ‘‘We are demanding a 35 per cent hike in wages against an offer of 3.5 per cent, second option for pensions, concessional interest rates on staff loans, compensation for late working hours, revision of halting allowance and appointments on compassionate grounds.’’

He said though wage revision was due for over 15 months, the IBA was making excuse to delay the wage settlement. He said though lower-rank employees were not directly participating in the strike, but banks virtually remained non-functional as branch managers were on strike.

Regretting the inconvenience to the public, Mr Vijay K. Magon, president, SBI Officers Association, Chandigarh circle, claimed that other demands included payment of income tax on perks by banks, 100 per cent adjustment of DA and check on disproportionate punishments in disciplinary cases. He said the government should clear the increase in wages as the banks had registered a substantial hike in net profits this year.

Speakers at the rally claimed that despite assurances by the chairman of the IBA, the managements were not ready to come forward for wage negotiations.

Mr Pal further said officers would participate in the nationwide strike on May 21, a call for which had been given by all Central trade unions against the government’s move of privatisation and attack on trade unions in the name of labour reforms. All nine unions under the banner of the United Forum of Bank Unions, representing more than 10 lakh employees and officers, would join the strike, he said.


Host of farewell parties for Jacob
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), will bid farewell to the city on Thursday. He will be succeeded by Justice O.P. Verma. In the intervening period the city will witness a slew of farewell parties.

The first one was tonight as he was invited by 3-Field Regiment, which was raised by him in 1956. Col G.S. Aul of the regiment came to the Raj Bhavan this morning to invite the General Jacob. On Sunday, the Raj Bhavan officials will bid him farewell. On Monday, the Defence Service Officers Institute and the Army’s Western Command are hosting a joint party.

Officers of the Chandigarh Administration will organise a party on Tuesday and Punjab Chief Minister will host another on Wednesday. The Raj Bhavan has been flooded with requests from various other organisations as well.

Incidentally, the news of General Jacob’s departure came on his birthday, which falls today. People from all walks of life today thronged Punjab Raj Bhavan to greet General Jacob on his birthday and also to thank him for what he has done to change the face of the city during the past three and a half years.

The day started with an early morning visit by the officers of the 3-Field Regiment. Then, students from a night school came with paper flowers made by them to thank a person who showed them a new path in their life. Trainees of the Football Academy informed the Governor that they would miss his weekly visit to the academy.

Raj Bhavan officers also greeted the Governor and shared a cup of tea with him. Later, General Jacob visited the UT Secretariat. His Adviser, the Finance Secretary, the Home Secretary, and other officers wished him a happy birthday. A cake-cutting ceremony was organised also at the Administrator’s office.


Extend Tribune’s interactive session

THE Tribune’s bigwigs have done a yeoman service while listening to the problems of the people in an interactive session held at Kharar. In fact, what politicians and bureaucrats have failed to do, it has been done by The Tribune. Although, already your paper has been in the forefront for its fearless and courageous editorial work along with helpline/complaints in the form of Tribune Lok Adalat, the job now undertaken is really a marvellous one. No doubt it has been stated by a few to be an exercise aimed at increasing the circulation of the paper rather than redressing the problems of the people. Good work always enhances the status of the organisation and admittingly, this exercise will certainly enhance the image of this paper. To make further improvements, would it not be better if this exercise is extended to far-flung areas of Punjab as well as at Chandigarh where this paper has a vast circulation as people are the worst sufferers because of the artificial malady and apathy created by the political and bureaucratic nexus ?

Common masses have little knowledge to approach the right persons at the right place. Nor do they know the various intricacies of the administrative set-ups. As a matter of fact, our entire administrative set-up is based on British legacy which does not give quick relief to the people. There has not been any major and material change in its structure even after a period of more than five decades. Thus it is not a people-oriented administrative system, as the policies and programmes are framed in airconditioned rooms.

Apart from it, corruption in the political and administrative hierarchy is the order of the day. Thus owing to various wrangles, people are deprived of many ‘perks’, be it a civic amenity or official concessions. Apart from it, the official procedure is so cumbersome and lengthy that one has to pass through serious ordeals. To set the things right, positively and constructively and in its right perspective, The Tribune should play a more vital and active role in sorting out the various issues confronted by the people. It would be more appropriate and beneficial for the people whose complaints are lodged with The Tribune if these are scanned at one place. This may be a healthy trend for a reputed and renowned newspaper like The Tribune as the press has been considered as the fourth eye of democracy.

S.K. Khosla, Chandigarh

Power consumers’ plight

People are a harassed lot as electricity bills have not been sent to their residences for the last 4-5 months. Power bills, piled in heaps and kept in a haphazard manner, have to be collected from the Punjab State Electricity Board office in Zirakpur in the subdivision of Dera Bassi.

The same harassment is meted out to the hapless consumers while depositing the amount due to them at the collection centres in the open in the sweltering heat, standing in serpentine queues for many hours. Sometimes office-goers have even to take half-day casual leave for depositing the bills.

Many representations have been given to the concerned SDO and Xen but all our pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Does the Patiala head office of the PSEB require a ‘current’ to awake it from its slumber?

D.V. Joshi, Bartana (Zirakpur)

Make Chandigarh cycle city

This is with reference to a report “Campaign to make UT cycle city launched”, Chandigarh Tribune, April 22. City organisation Yuvsatta, an NGO, the Department of Environment and other bodies have organised a ‘cycle city campaign’ on the occasion of Earth Day. Officers of the UT Administration also participated in the rally.

This city has about six lakh vehicles and pollution is increasing day by day. Moreover, vehicles are also increasing. Cycles are helpful in decreasing noise pollution and maintaining good physical and mental health. Cycling saves money and petrol, which is a national saving.

The UT Administration has constructed cycle tracks in the city but the action has come to a standstill. Even young students are interested to go to schools on cycles but are afraid due to the heavy traffic and speeding vehicles.

In foreign countries cyclists are given precedence but in India heavy vehicles just brush aside cyclists. It is suggested to the UT Administration that the cycle tracks may be completed at the earliest. Last year the Administration had decided to construct lanes measuring up to 13 km. The cycle-manufacturing companies must reduce the prices of cycles so that Chandigarh can be declared a cycle city as in other European countries.

M.L. Garg, Chandigarh

Making cycling a habit

Before the introduction of scooters and mopeds and popularisation of motor cycles and cars in the country, it will not be wrong to say that once India was a cycle country. How soon cycle tracks are completed in the UT depends upon the political will of our leaders.

The first cycle tract in India was constructed somewhere in 1942 along Parliament Street, New Delhi. Later on almost every important road in New Delhi had cycle track on either side. After partition in 1947 and sudden spurt in population in the Capital, misuse of those cycle tracks started. These cycle tracks became parking lots for taxis and motor cycle rickshaws (which have been taken off the roads), roadside fruit and chat-sellers, mechanics, etc. With the growth of vehicular traffic in the Capital, widening of roads became a necessity. Consequently, all cycle tracks and most of the footpaths have disappeared.

Even when the cycle tracks were existing, cyclists, during peak office hours, could be seen cycling on the main roads instead of cycle tracks, because of the existence of several types of hindrances.

Quite often traffic constables could be seen diverting the cyclists on to the cycle track. Occasionally the cyclists were booked for violations like wrong side driving, double and triple riding and driving without lights during night time. It is pertinent to add that in the developed countries helmet is mandatory for cyclists, whereas in India auto two-wheeler riders evade the wearing of helmet to the best of their efforts.

It is yet to be seen that what percentage of auto drivers are likely to switch over to cycling in Chandigarh. However, one thing is certain that even if the present cyclists start using proposed cycle tracks in the city, the number of cycle accidents is expected to reduce considerably.

Harjot Shah Singh, Mohali

Various eyesores must be removed

Although Chandigarh and its satellite towns present a much better overall environment picture, mushrooming of various eyesores continues in many parts of the city complex. Every year there are outbreaks of cholera, jaundice, dengue, typhoid, malaria and other infectious diseases, which are all preventable.

Dumps of rubbish, dirty water collections and all-pervasive nuisance of polythene waste hits the eyes of a citizen out on a walk in the market. The rubbish collection spots are the worst with all types of waste littered over roads, creating insanitary conditions. The sanitary staff instead of improving their efficiency is mostly agitating against privatisation of the service.

In order to improve the sanitary conditions of the city, it is suggested that the officers and supervisory staff carry out regular as well as surprise checks in markets, backyards of eating establishments and slum colonies to ensure education as well as weekly competition between different sectors. The rubbish collection points need improvement so as to prevent animals littering the same. Once a fortnight a part of the sanitary staff can be employed solely for collection of polythene and other paper waste lying scattered over wide areas.

Last but not the least... the municipal councillors must bring sanitation-related issues of their wards to the notice of the authorities and pressurise them to improve the sanitation so as to make this city really beautiful in its environment.

Brig (retd) H.S. Sandhu, Panchkula

Armed forces vs the system

While the need to lay down a suitable and proper precedence and protocol for military officials visa-vis politicians and bureaucrats and implementing it in letter and spirit cannot be over-emphasised, the controversy generated by certain hyper-active enthusiasts in unwarranted. The media, eager to sensationalise such news, may publish it in bold letters but responsible citizens must understand that in our type of democracy the politician wields the supreme authority and bureaucrats as well as military officials draw their authority from the same source. It is the politicians (most of whom are not only perceived by the common man as nincompoops but also dumb-heads) who give the bureaucrats a long rope and the bureaucrats are smart enough to rope in every one, without hanging themselves with that rope.

There is no denying the fact that bureaucrats are responsible for most of the problems of the armed forces, but you can’t blame them alone. It is our system of selecting and using them. Our politicians make these individuals all-powerful the day they pass out. The politician knows it but is helpless because of his own shortcomings in his governance skills.

However, the forces must realise that they are functioning as a part of a rotten system where they can maintain the dignity of their service not by overplaying such issues but by asserting themselves with conviction at the right time. They can continue to have their authority and power symbols like flags, star plates and pilot jeeps etc within their own sub-system but must learn to adjust to the democratic way of life once a fair and reasonable precedence and protocol has been established.

Col (retd) D.S. Cheema, Panchkula

Protect students’ domicile interest

Apropos news item ‘CET locals a harassed lot’, The Tribune, April 18, 2003. I would like to add that whereas all other states in pursuance of the directions of the Supreme Court to make rules keeping in view the aspirations of its inhabitants have incorporated the rule of domicile in order to protect their interests, UT, Chandigarh, has done nothing of this sort. In order to protect the interest of the students’ domicile of Chandigarh, the Chandigarh Administration should also reserve 85 per cent of the medical and engineering seats for them. Furthermore, until the year 2000 the wards of Panjab University employees used to be treated as domiciles of Punjab as the Punjab government funds the university to the extent of 60 per cent. Children of employees working in Chandigarh in corporations boards and other undertakings of the Punjab government were also treated as domiciles of Punjab for the purpose of PMT. The withdrawal of this clause in respect of Panjab University employees only is discriminatory and unreasonable. I emphasise that this clause should be made applicable to them, again.

Rishu, Chandigarh

Mismanagement at GMCH

This is in connection with worldwide outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). I would like to bring to your notice mismanagement and chaos at GMCH-32.

For the past one month, I had been visiting GMCH-32 for some work. But to my utter surprise, before visiting any respective OPD of any department; every patient had to undergo “registration”, according to the token number given at the main counter.

To explain it more, if there is a patient who wants to have his/her check-up at a particular department, one has to wait for around 2 hours to get himself registered at the main counter. And to make matters worse, the patient waits for his turn of “registration” just outside the counters among sizeable number of patients and their attendants.

Suppose by chance if any patient visits GMCH-32 for suspected SARS symptoms or any other communicable disease, he has to register himself at the main counter first. This registration takes around 1½ to 2 hours and after that only he/she can move to the respective department’s OPD. Thereby, simultaneously he can possibly “infect” hundreds of other patients and their attendants. All this can be really avoided or at least prevented if patients are asked to get themselves registered at various counters of the respective department only.

Dr Gopal Ashish Sharma, Chandigarh


Message for youth to beat stress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Reacting to the spate of suicides in the city in the past couple of weeks, members of the local unit of the Nationalist Youth Congress (NYC) gathered at Sector 17 Plaza here today with a message for the youth to come out of stress and realise the value of life.

With black tags tied on their arms, they raised banners with slogans like “life is precious”, “suicide is not a solution to a problem”, “it is a problem in future to the family”, “as life goes on, as things go wrong, don’t worry, just feel strong”, etc.

Principal Gurbachan Singh, president of the local unit, said “We are shocked over the spate of suicides in the peaceful and educated city. We are here to bring awareness among the youth not to surrender themselves to death. We request the local administration to provide the needful help as they have already set-up homes for orphans and old people but not even a single government counselling centre for the youth to come out of stress”.

Mr Satwinder Singh, general secretary of the NYC.

Appealed to the parents to pay attention towards their children, be friendly with them and above all to watch their activities.

Members of the NYC also pledged to “join hands to help the frustrated youth create better future”.


Counselling service to prevent suicides
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
In view of sharp rise in the number of suicide cases in the city, the Servants of People Society has decided to introduce a counselling service for prevention of suicide at Lajpat Rai Bhavan.

Qualified psychologists and social workers will be available for the patients and their family members daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Drug Counselling Centre under the supervision of Ms Suman Gupta.


Another suicide?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The body of a youth, believed in be in his early twenties, was found hanging from a tree near Gill Farm in Kishangarh here this evening. The body of the deceased was found hanging from a tree by a 12-year-old child who was trying to pluck mangoes from the tree.

A police official said no suicide note had been found. Efforts to ascertain the identity of the deceased by the police did not yield any result. Some visiting cards were found in a pocket of the trouser of the deceased. Some persons known to the victim, hailing from Bihar, said he had come to the city for work.


Verification drive on May 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Chandigarh police will hold a servant verification drive in the city on May 4. A police official said police parties would be stationed at 11 points in the city where residents could submit the verification forms.

The verification would be held at pre-designated points from 9.30 am to 4 pm. The residents would have to bring two photographs of their servants.

Central Subdivision: Sector 17 police station — Kiran traffic point, Sector 22; Sector 11 police station — market police booth, Sector 15; Sector 3 police station — police booth near Mountview Hotel, Sector 10.

East Subdivision: Sector 26 police station — police booth near Sports Complex, Sector 7; Mani Majra police station — Near Fauji Dhaba, Manimajra; Industrial Area police station — police booth; Sector 29; Sector 19 police station — Community Centre, Sector 20.

South Subdivision: Sector 31 police station — police booth, Sector 48; Sector 34 police station — police booth, Sector 44; Sector 36 police station — police booth (inner market), Sector 35; Sector 39 police station — near market, Sector 38 (west)


PUDA drive fails, jhuggis resurface
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 2
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority’s (PUDA) anti-encroachment drive to clear the township of slum-dwellers, seems to be a losing battle. Within days of the PUDA authorities having demolished over 200 jhuggis on vacant PUDA land in Sector 57, the jhuggis are back in place.

Broken brick structures have given way to semi-permanent tarpaulin hutments with the broken bricks being used as weights on top of the huts. With the weather changing, most of the residents are sleeping in the open.

While the PUDA authorities are tight-lipped about the encroachments having resurfaced, sources said the jhuggi dwellers had over the years managed to get ration cards and were now part of the vote bank and political pressure could have been one of the causes of PUDA preferring to keep its eyes shut.

However, there are many in PUDA who believe that the recent transfer of the in charge of the anti-encroachment wing could have been the reason for the encroachments coming up again.


Catchment area needs survey

A survey needs to be carried out of the entire catchment area of the Sukhna to save it. The data so collected should be coupled with data collected earlier and this can provide a format for preparing a working plan which can incorporate various suggestions. Voluminous research information exists but it needs to be utilised properly.

Presumptions that nothing has been done so far is not correct. For suggestions to be productive, desired information is required. It would be necessary to determine which measures have so far failed and possible reasons which led to the failure. The survey will help in pinpointing the exact cause and the future needs.

Sat Pal Bansal, Additional Director, Agriculture (retd)



Dust haze hits city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The weather in Chandigarh and surrounding areas, remained dry with dust haze today.

A slight increase of 0.4 °C in the maximum temperature was recorded in the city.

The minimum temperature recorded an increase of 5 °C to 27.8 ° C, as compared to 22.8 °C of the previous night.


Panchkula sees steep rise in crime rate
Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

All for living it up!

Gaurav Bhalla, the 20-year-old mastermind in Sachin Garg kidnapping case, had everything going for him. Though hailing from an upper middle class family he had all luxuries of life, including a mobile phone, a jazzy mobike and branded clothes. This in spite of the fact that he had failed to do well in school and dropped out after Class XII. His family members say they had pumped in money to set up a civil construction business for him. When he lost interest in the business, his father, a Haryana government employee, began setting up a real estate business for him. “But he was looking for quick returns and thus planned the kidnapping for ransom. Now, he should suffer for his misdeeds. We will not bail him out as he has brought bad name to the family,” said his disgruntled father.

Panchkula, May 2
This satellite township to Chandigarh is fast gaining notoriety for various heinous crimes in the region. With murders, kidnapping for ransom, extortion calls, prostitution and drug pedaling by youngsters being the rule rather than exception, the local police is finding it hard to keep the crime graph in check.

Though local police officers contend that current spurt in crime is a common feature at this time of the year, the trend has been alarming since the beginning of the year. Till date, as many as eight cases of homicide (murder) as compared to total seven last year, four cases of kidnapping, including the sensational Sachin Garg kidnapping case for ransom, one case of extortion et al have been reported. This is almost double the crime rate at the same time last year.

What is more shocking is the involvement of youth in various crimes. The involvement of six youths, all between 20 and 24 years of age in the Sachin Garg kidnapping case for a ransom of Rs 1 crore, is a telling example of the youth taking law in their hands for easy money. In another case, a group of seven young friends were arrested by the police for their involvement in several cases of theft of luxury cars and their resale after making fake registration documents.

In at least three cases of murder — of Mrs Suresh Bala by her 17-year-old servant in Sector 15 on April 30, painter Radhe Shyam in Abheypur and taxi driver Deepak Singh — the accused were youths between 20 and 27 years of age. The robbery at a liquor vend in Chandi Mandir by four youths in January this year and involvement of youths in flesh trade rackets and several cases of liquor smuggling are a few examples of their involvement in crime.

Senior police officials say more than the police, it is the family that needs to do rethinking on how to imbibe right values in children. Talking about the rising crime graph, they say they have managed to curb local and special crimes to a large extent. “As many as 215 cases under the Excise Act, including liquor smuggling and consuming of alcohol at public place, have been registered as against a total of 256 in year 2002. Similarly, 18 cases of drug pedaling have been registered till date as compared to a total of 22 last year. This has happened mainly because of successful patrolling by the police,” says the SSP, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma.

However, the police has not yet been able to solve at least two murder cases — one of 65-year-old Mohri in Ramgarh village, whose feet had been severed by her assailants on February 6, and the other of Devinder, a middle aged man who was clubbed to death in Industrial Area on March 1. Besides, there is an endless list of unsolved murder cases over the past two years, including hotelier Pankaj Rana murder case and Ram Pal Sharma murder in Raipur Rani, where the police has failed to make any headway.


Rs 20 lakh more recovered
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 2
The police today recovered Rs 20 lakh more from the accused in the Sachin Garg kidnapping case, even as the police continued to raid several places in Delhi in search of another accused Suresh Nai.

The total ransom money recovered from the accused now stands at Rs 80 lakh.

According to information, the police had traced down Sanjay Nai to Karol Bagh in Delhi through a telephone call made by him at his friend’s place here. However, when a police party reached the PCO from where the call had been made, the accused had escaped.

Meanwhile, the two accused arrested yesterday, Gaurav Bhalla and Munish Bhalla, were today presented before the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate who remanded them in police custody till May 10.



Burglary in Sector 17 shop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Burglars broke into a garments shop in Sector 17 here and decamped with around Rs 2,800 in cash last night. The owner of the shop, Mr Rajinder Pal, told the police that the front door of his shop was found intact. The thieves sneaked into the shop through a ventilation duct. The shopkeeper told the police that burglars had struck at the shop four times in the past.

The police has registered a case.

Burn case

A woman of Hallo Majra village sustained burn injuries when the stove on which she was cooking burst here late this evening. The victim was taken to the Sector 32 GMCH. A police official said the victim, Dulari, in her statement to the area magistrate said she had sustained burn injuries accidentally.

Live cartridges

The Chandigarh police has confirmed that 150 live cartridges of .12 bore gun, which were found yesterday in Bapu Dham, Sector 26, were manufactured in an ordinance factory.

The live cartridges had been found abandoned in two boxes in a garbage dump near a temple. A case under the Arms Act has been registered at the Sector 26 police station. A police official said efforts were being made to track down the source of the cartridges.

Held for bootlegging

A Tayota Qualis with a red light atop was impounded by the police for being used for smuggling of liquor here today. The liquor was being smuggled to Punjab by a son of a liquor contractor of Patiala. A police official said the vehicle with tinted glasses and red light atop was being used to smuggle 67 boxes of different brands of IMFL. The police has registered a case under the Excise Act and Section 420 of the IPC.

According to the information, a Punjab Police constable, Resham Singh, who is deputed as a PSO of the liquor contractor, Balwinder Singh, has also been arrested along with the contractor’s son, Manpreet Singh.

One booked

A resident of Sector 7 in Panchkula has been booked by the Chandigarh Police for cheating Mrs Rajwant Kaur, a resident of Ratta Gudda, Amritsar. The woman in her complaint said the travel agent, Hamesh Sablok, who runs his business from a shop in Sector 17, took Rs 4.50 lakh from her. But neither did he send her abroad nor did he return the money.

Dowry cases

Two separate cases of dowry have been registered by the Chandigarh Police. Rajwinder Kaur, a resident of Phase 1 in Ram Darbar, reported that she was being harassed by her husband Vinod Kumar and her in-laws to bring dowry. The in-laws of the woman live in Hisar.

In another case, Janak Chand, a resident of Kangram, lodged a complaint that Pawan Kumar, Piar Chand, and Champa Devi, all residents of Dhanas, were harassing her daughter to bring dowry. The police has registered a case of dowry.

PO arrested

A proclaimed offender, Idrish, was arrested by ASI Yad Ram, from Sector 7 here today. He was on the run in a case of rioting registered at the Mani Majra police station.

One booked for rape

PANCHKULA: The police has booked a resident of Bhoj Jabyal village, Mahma Dutt, on charges of raping a 17-year-old girl of Bhoj Naggal village, in a jungle around six months ago. The accused had reportedly threatened the victim with dire consequences. The case came to light when the girl got pregnant.

Black marketing

The police has arrested a Sector 4 resident, Dharampal, on charges of selling kerosene oil in black . Over 160 litres of kerosene oil were recovered from him and the police has booked him under the Essential Commodities Act.


Subscribers still face problems
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Failure of the basic and cellular operators in the region to adjust themselves with the new system of inter-connectivity user charges (IUC), even after 40 hours of the beginning of the system, is causing inconvenience to lakhs of subscribers in the region.

Though officials of the basic telephone and cellular companies were not ready to accept the prevailing problem, but a large number of landline, WLL and cellular subscribers complained that they were unable to call at others network. Mr Vijay Goel, a shopkeeper in Sector 17, claimed that he was trying to call from his BSNL landline and cellular phone to his customers in other cities at their Spice and Airtel mobiles since morning, but without any result.

Another customer of the Connect mobile alleged that he was unable to call from his phone to any other network. A senior official of the Connect admitted that due to changeover to the new system of the ICU, the customers might face problem to connect at other networks. He said, “In fact, we are also using BSNL network, which is still making technical changes to adjust with the new system.”

A senior official of the BSNL, however, claimed that there was some problem in the system yesterday, but today, they have adjusted it for the new regime. He said, “Some individual customers may face problem in getting connected to the networks of other cellular operators, but there should not be problem for the BSNL to BSNL network.”

Another official of the BSNL said they had not received any complain today. The Airtel and Spice customers also alleged that they were also facing problems in calling at BSNL and Connect phones. The insiders claimed that since as per the ICU norms, the operators would have pay user charges for using the network of other operator and to terminate the calls at their destination, so they were reluctant to shift the calls to their network.

Further, said an official in the technical department of the BSNL, “To save the inter-connect charges, our competitors would have to upgrade their systems by making heavy investments. Otherwise they would have to offer us a share of their revenue for using the network. So the customers have to face the problems for some days.”

Regarding the service of 95 from Chandigarh to Shimla and Ambala, the BSNL spokesperson said, “The service would continue till further orders. However, the pulse has been reduced to 90 seconds,” he added.


‘Ethos’ to display 40 antique watches
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 2
Ethos — an exclusive outlet of Swiss watches in Sector 8 here has a major treat for the watch lovers in store. It is going to bring 40 antique watches made by Tissot, a leading watch company of Switzerland ever since its inception in 1853.

The week-long exhibition to be organised by Ethos will have another attraction — launching of “T-touch” watch, the millennium watch by the same company.

The exhibition, which opens on May 6, includes a few rare watches like 100-year-old “Navigator”, the synthetic watches which came as a result of the synthetic movement initiated by Tisot in 1871, the Granite watch to the autoquartzs of 1996 and the latest Bell flower T Win.

Giving information about the latest addition, T-touch watch, which is Mr Rakesh Mohunta, Managing Director of Ethos, said T-touch is a watch which can be operated by simply touching it and has an inbuilt barometer, compass, thermometer, altimeter, chronometer and alarm system other than the main time piece. “Priced at Rs 25,700, T-touch is a collector’s item,” he said.

Ethos deals with 16 major Swiss brands, including Tisot.


Reva launched in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Reva, a zero-emission, battery-run car, was formally launched in the city today. The Secretary, Science and Technology-cum-Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr M.P. Singh, flagged off the car. He also drove the car for a short distance. A Reva car has been purchased by the Department of Science and Technology, Chandigarh Administration, for demonstration. A few city residents were offered test rides.

On the occasion, Mr Vivek Atray, Director, Science and Technology, said the car, a hatchback with two doors, is made of ABS polymer.

The ex-showroom price of Reva standard is Rs 2,40,777 and the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources, Union Government, has provided a subsidy of Rs 75,000 on its purchase.


Fastener units face crisis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
As many as 400 small-scale units engaged in the manufacture of industrial fasteners and wires here have been forced to curtail production due to the shortage of steel for the past 15 days.

In a statement here today, Mr Pawan K. Aggarwal, Chairman of the Raw Material Committee, and Mr A.L. Aggarwal, general secretary of the Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, complained that Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) and the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) had been found wanting in ensuring a regular supply of steel raw material here.

They said, “There is resentment among member units of the chamber due to the acute scarcity of raw material which was hitting the capacity utilisation of the units, especially the small-scale industrial sector manufacturing HB wires, bolts and nuts, machine screws and other kinds of industrial fasteners. 

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