Monday, May 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


One-day strike by Admn, MC staff on May 7
Tribune News Service

Employees’ demands

  • They should be governed by Central Government Service Rules (as per notification of November 1, 1996).
  • Withdraw ‘notice’ seeking options of their service
  • Grant bonus to UT employees for the past four years.
  • Restore technical scales to the non-ITI employees.
  • Provide travelling allowance and uniform allowance to class-IV employees.
  • Stop contract system.
  • Fill vacant posts.

Chandigarh, May 4
In protest against the initiation of retrenchment of around 6,700 employees of the Chandigarh Administration currently on deputation with the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and other demands, at least 15,000 employees of the local administration and the MC have jointly decided to go on a one-day strike on May 7.

It may be mentioned that the circulation of a proforma by the administration seeking an undertaking by employees that if they were found surplus in the administration based on the availability of post and seniority, they would be liable to be retrenched, has caused deep anxiety and concern amongst the employees.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, convener, and Mr Rakesh Kumar, co-convener of the Coordination Committee of Government and MC Employees and Workers, UT Chandigarh, today said senior authorities of the local administration had “betrayed and cheated the employees” by backing out from the promises that they had made on March 25 assuring employees that they would be considered on deputation with the MC.

“Senior authorities of the administration had assured that all their genuine demands would be accepted but nothing has been done in this regard so far. Instead, the Home Department had issued a notice on April 30 that the proposed strike of employees was illegal”, said Mr Rajesh Kumar.

According to the letter issued by the Joint Secretary, Department of Home: “The employees are hereby, appealed not to indulge in such an activity, which shall not only disturb the functioning of the administration but also cause undue hardship to citizens of Chandigarh. Such an unwarranted action of strike would also attract the principle of ‘no work no pay’.”

Recalling the persistent demand of employees that they should be given the status of “deemed deputation”, the Government of India vide letter No. U-13025/9/97 CHD, dated December 7, 1998 had conveyed its decision to the Adviser, UT Administrator, to “allow these transferred employees to be on deemed deputation for such time as may be necessary till they are permanently absorbed in the corporation”.

In the letter it was also stated that the grant of “deemed deputation” status would imply retention of their lien with Chandigarh Administration without deputation allowance.

However, the coordination committee of the employees have ruled out their merger in the MC, since their benefits such as pension, etc. would be affected if they were absorbed in the MC.

The other main demands of the employees are that they should be governed by the Central Government Service Rules under the Government of India notification, dated November 1, 1996, release of ADA installment from January 1, 2003 on the Central Government pattern, grant of bonus to UT employees for the past four years, restoration of technical scales to the non-ITI employees, provision of travelling allowance and uniform allowance to class-III employees, implementation of orders of Supreme Court for cash payment on account of working on Saturday and implementation of assured career progression scheme for work charge employees.

Besides, the employees have demanded payment of pending overtime work to CTU employees, filling of vacant posts, implementation of technical pay scales in true spirit, grant of arrears of HRA/DA/CCA to daily wagers, regularisation of daily wagers, approval of service rules of engineering departments, release of arrears of special pay to sewer men, immediate appointments on compassionate grounds, pay scales on a par with CTU drivers for drivers of UT Administration, stoppage of contract system and release of patient care allowance to general hospital employees.



HUDA left high and dry
Health, Education Depts reluctant to take over buildings
Ruchika M. Khanna

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 4
The downsizing drive of the state government has had an unsavoury fallout. Both state Health Department and the state Education Department have failed to provide proper staff in government dispensaries and schools, much to the chagrin of residents of this township. This, even as the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has decided to construct these dispensaries and government schools only on request of the two departments.

Sites for government dispensaries and schools — nursery, primary and high school — have been earmarked in almost all sectors in the township. HUDA authorities were supposed to construct the buildings and hand them over to the two departments. In the past couple of years, HUDA has incurred huge expenditure by constructing these buildings. But both the above mentioned departments have shown reluctance in taking over these buildings because of the shortage of staff and other infrastructure.

The recently inaugurated Government Model School in Sector 12-A, under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, has also not been taken over from HUDA by the Education Department. The school building was inaugurated by the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, and is the first government English medium school in the district. Though admissions have been completed and the school opened for students on May 1, the Education Department has failed to provide the requisite staff.

It is learnt that as many as 51 nursery school sites, 50 primary school sites and 18 high school sites have been earmarked in Panchkula, Panchkula Extension and in Mansa Devi Complex. While 50 per cent of these sites are supposed to be developed by HUDA and handed over to the state Education Department, while the remaining are supposed to be auctioned. However, following the Education Department’s inability to take over schools developed by HUDA, various sites reserved for government schools are now lying vacant.

The Health Department, too, has reportedly failed to provide adequate staff — doctors as well as paramedic staff — in at least four government dispensaries. These dispensaries — in Sectors 20, 10 and 25 and in Mansa Devi Complex — are functioning with skeletal staff, mainly from dispensaries in other parts of the state working here on deputation. District health authorities say that doctors and paramedics, who are posted at other places, have volunteered to work here, though they are drawing their salaries from their original place of posting.

It may be noted that other than the three above mentioned dispensaries, these are also located in Sectors 4, 8, 11 and 12- A.

Most of these dispensaries have only one sanctioned post of a medical officer and vacancies of paramedic staff are also there, though government guidelines say that each dispensary should have two Medical Officers, one male and one female, a pharmacist, lab technician, sweeper, a Class IV employee, two Multi Purpose workers — one male and one female.

In spite of the fact that district authorities have sent numerous representations to the state Health Department for sanctioning new posts for these dispensaries, nothing has been done so far. “In fact,” informs a senior officer in HUDA, “Health Department had been forced to take over three dispensaries two years ago, only when the district administration, under pressure from residents, had fixed a date for inauguration.”



PU research scholars’ work goes down the drain
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Research scholars of Panjab University, who submitted their synopsis several months earlier, have once again been summoned to appear before the university Research Development Committee (RDC). The research work of months following a clearance from the department to continue their work has gone down the drain as the process will commence once again from the scratch.

In routine, the scholars get five years to complete from the date of enrollment their Ph.D. Students work on their synopsis usually for over a year before getting formal clearance from the university for beginning their research. A majority of them had already made a presentation before the faculty and students and got a nod to continue their work before this university order asking them to present themselves once again before the RDC.

The reason for this order being a decision learnt to have been taken by the Syndicate some time in 2002. This was, however, not immediately conveyed to the students or the boards. As a result the old process of submitting the synopsis to the department alone continued till the new circular was received.

A number of research scholars can be seen doing the rounds of the department these days once again for presentation before the RDC. A research scholar said he had worked on his research project to a considerable length but now certain points had been highlighted which meant that he would have to start all over once again.

The research scholar said the decision should not be implemented from the date of the syndicate decision but from the date of its release to the offices concerned. The RDC asked a student to change the topic of her research after more than a year.

A senior teacher, while justifying the decision, said the university had resorted to the changed criterion because now every student’s research project would be taken up by the experts to make the exercise more meaningful by inputs from related departments. “They can question the candidate about her/his area of research and make necessary recommendations to upgrade their work, in terms of quality”.

A research scholar of sociology said he had prepared the synopsis earlier and had duly submitted it in front of the department in the presence of the Chairman, faculty members and the guide. He said changes, if any, should have been suggested at that step.

However, when a circular of presentation was circulated to different departments in the areas concerned, very few teachers actually turned up for the presentation. If the university had introduced a change in the presentation process to bring more seriousness to the issue, then efforts should also be made to bring in maximum teachers. As people from different areas in the faculty concerned would sit for the presentation, the quality of research would definitely be improved.



Poor educational facilities in Kharar
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Kharar, May 4
Students studying in schools located in the township have done well in the middle standard examination conducted by the Punjab School Education Board, but the state of educational facilities available in Kharar leave a lot to be desired.

While a number of private schools have mushroomed in the area, there is not a single government middle or high school here. Four primary schools, which are being run in dilapidated buildings, are all that the government has to offer.

Residents have been clamouring for establishing a government model senior secondary school for quite some time. Presently, there is only one school in the township that runs classes up to plus-two level.

According to members of Kharar’s teaching fraternity, over 60 private schools are running in the township, which has a total population of around 50,000. “Three or four new schools come up every year, but these close down soon as sustenance is difficult here,” a teacher commented.

Local teachers say a majority of such schools are running from residential premises and are not providing quality education. “When students from such schools come to us for admission in higher classes, they are unable to pass admission tests,” remarked Mr Naresh Donald, Principal of Henderson Jubilee School, one of the oldest and largest schools here. “There must be some pre-requisites for opening schools,” he added.

Teachers also allege that there is a nexus between local schools and certain private schools in Chandigarh, where they grant admission to students from Kharar regardless of their academic performance.

Residents also complain that teachers employed by some private schools do not measure up to the requisite standards, having themselves fared poorly in their academic career. “You can imagine the implications of unqualified persons teaching students at a crucial juncture,” Mr Jasvir Singh, a resident said.

Since about 60 per cent of students in Kharar schools are from rural areas, vital issues pertaining to the schools’ functioning are not raised or examined due to the parents’ ignorance, residents say.

Given the state of affairs, parents, prefer to send their wards to Chandigarh for education. “It is a status symbol here to send children to Chandigarh,” Ms Satwinder Sandhu, an English teacher in a private school commented. “Private schools continue to flourish due to financial problems of people who are unable to give proper education to their children and prefer to send them to schools where the fees and related expenditure is relatively low,” she added.



Bhatti on small screen again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
After spilling his charm on the big screen, comedian Jaspal Bhatti is now all set to add zing to a new character, but this time on the small screen. Come tomorrow and the actor will be seen on SAB Television, playing the main lead in the channel’s prime-time serial, quite curiously titled “Dhaba Junction”.

Structured hilariously, the serial is set in the backdrop of two dhabas, located adjacent to each other on the national highway. Borrowed from Punjab, the concept has been especially chosen for its wide appeal. Dhabas, as such, are considered focal points of a range of activities, that include everything from comical sequences to serious business.

The current serial, beginning from tomorrow, however, draws more from the funny episodes that go on between two rival dhaba owners — Lahori (played by Jaspal Bhatti) of “Lahori Ram’s dhaba” on the one hand and Kartar Singh (played by Sushil Prashar) of “Banto da dhaba” on the other hand. Slotted at a prime hour (9 pm on every Monday and Tuesday), the serial is one of the prominent features that will make the channel all the more viewer friendly in the coming days.

As Bhatti himself said, “The slogan of SAB Television is ‘All smiles, no tears’. Following in this line, all programmes on the channel have been restructured to fit into the fresh mould. The idea behind “Dhaba Junction” is very fresh. I will get to play my own comedian self and it will be a refreshing change from the hectic schedule of films. Although the style is not satirical at all, the character is strong. Also for the first time, my real-life wife will not play my reel-life wife in this serial. She is there in the serial, but she has been paired opposite someone else for a change.”

About nine episodes of “Dhaba Junction” have been shot at a special set created in the Film City. It is being directed by Dharm Verma and has just one more artiste from Chandigarh, Kuldeep Sharma, who plays the role of Lahori Ram’s help.

When asked why he did not venture into his own production, Bhatti said he wanted some time off for himself. “I am working on an idea for a film, but it will take some time before that matures. Until then I thought it was proper to act in a serial rather than invest time in creating your own.”

The serial is being produced by Scripts ‘n’ Edits and by Gayatri Telefilms. 



Mystery over boy’s disappearance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Mystery shrouds the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy, Anurag, of Sector 38, Chandigarh, who has been missing since last week. While police officials feigned ignorance about his whereabouts, sources suspected that he was kidnapped for ransom.

The kidnaper(s) is reported to have demanded a ransom of Rs 5 lakh from the victim’s father, who is a junk dealer. A few days ago the police had lodged a DDR at the Sector 39 police station regarding his disappearance. His family reported that he had been missing since Tuesday.

Sources in the Punjab Police confirmed that acting on a tip-off, a team of the Chandigarh Police had visited various places in Ropar district, including Kurali, looking for the kidnapper(s). Till late this evening the police was questioning some suspects. However, no official of the Chandigarh Police was available for comments.




Lieut-Gen Jack Frederick Ralph Jacob (retd), Governor of Punjab and Administrator of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, lays down office later this week at the end of an eventful stint. He was appointed Governor of Goa on April 18, 1998, and remained there till November 26, 1999. He assumed the office of Governor of Punjab on November 27, 1999.

During his stay in Chandigarh, General Jacob was on the move right from the word go, visiting government offices, listening to the people’s grievances, carrying out surprise checks of hospitals, government printing press, public facilities, students hostels, messes, public parks etc to name only a few, invariably in a blaze of publicity in local newspapers and TV channels.

He was also responsive to the people’s needs and primarily responsible for a number of people-friendly changes he made in the UT’s archaic building byelaws.

General Jacob rightly regards amendments to the Rent Control Act and changes in the building byelaws as his major achievements. Projection and development of Chandigarh as a preferred IT destination is another important milestone.

Moody weather

Chandigarh weather is back to what it is known for: being as uncertain as the mood of the young women who throng the university and the other girls colleges in the city. High temperatures immediately followed by high velocity winds followed by the very welcome rain. And one feels lucky to be in Chandigarh and not some other city of Punjab where the scorching sun shines down relentlessly.

“ Call me back”

The new tariff plan announced by the BSNL, with effect from May 1, has created piquant situations in homes where people are keeping both landline and mobile phones.

Though the common customers may be finding it difficult to understand the tariff plans, yet some of the employees of telecom companies have “wisely” told their relatives and near and dear ones not to use landline phones for making calls to other networks. The day after tariff revision, when the wife of a marketing executive of a cellular company tried to contact her husband on his mobile, he shot back: “No, no, keep the phone down. I am calling back. Otherwise it would cost us a packet.”

Hardly workers

About 2.25 lakh bank officers went on one-day nationwide strike demanding 35 per cent hike in their wages besides other things. No doubt, they may find wage hike as justified in view of the increase in bank profits after five years, but people were unable to understand how could they justify their demands in the name of “working and labour class’’.

In Sector 17 bank square, when the union leaders were asking officers to raise slogans, “Inquilab Zindabad, Workers of the World be United,” a rickshaw puller said: “How could they call themselves workers, when they are already getting Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 per month.”

ICON Trophy

Gaurav Sharma of the Centre for Environment, Panjab University, has won the ICON Trophy for his paper presented at the 26th Annual Conference on Electron Microscopy and Allied Fields, organised jointly at Shimla by the Electron Microscope Society of India and Central Potato Research Institute of India.

His paper dealt with inventing a new, high quality, cost-effective, eco-friendly technique of studying external morphology of any living or non-living surfaces.

Silent voices

This is democratic country and every citizen has a right to raise his voice. Exercising this right, a group of unemployed deaf and dumb persons staged a two-day protest dharna at the Matka Chowk. Though no government official came to listen to their grievances, the protesters through gestures communicated their demands, better than those who are gifted with power to speak and hear.

Dr Vasudeva

Dr S.K. Vasudeva, a city scientist now settled in Delhi, has been chosen for the Scientist of the Year Award. He will be handed over the award by the Prime Minister on the occasion of Technology Day falling on May 11.

Currently working as the Director of Defence Research and Development Organisation at Delhi, Dr Vasudeva would be honoured for his contribution in the field of Armament Technology.

Dr Vasudeva, after completing his Ph.D in Organic Chemistry from Punjabi University at Patiala, did his post-doctoral research from Technical University at Warsaw in Poland.

He joined the TBRL at Chandigarh in 1971 as Armament Scientist and served in various capacities before shifting to Delhi. He is also the recipient of DRDO’s “Path-breaking Research Award” for his contribution in Operation “Shakti-98”.

No traffic sense

“Hamne kitabein parh parh Ke Kya Khoya Kya Paya, Ye Samajh Me Abhi Tak Nahi Aya, Lok Kayi Chaand Per Ja Chuke Hain Hamko Sarak Per Chalna Na Aya”.

The stanza, scribbled by a Head Constable, Des Raj, explains the irony leading to accidents on the city roads. Surveys carried out by the traffic police and Non-government Organisation (NGOs) have pointed out that 80 per cent of the motorists holding a valid driving licence do not have the basic knowledge about traffic rules. This is leading to fatal accidents in the city.

Mishap prone

Tractor driven trollies are turning out to be a major traffic hazard in the city. Not adhering to the norms laid down under the relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the trollies have been involved in fatal road accidents. Analysis of accident spots reveal that mishaps involving the tractor trollies take place due to lack of awareness on part of drivers of the tractor trollies. (see photo).

Bhai Mani Singh

Bhai Mani Singh gave away his life for protecting the principles of Sikhism. He was implicated in a false case and later condemned to be cut to pieces, limb by limb. If wish to know more about him, just go through a book written by London-based Punjabi, Jeewan Parkash Singh Deepak Mahrok. He has done research on Bhai Mani Singh — a scholar well versed in Sikh scriptures and Sikh philosophy.

Mr Mahrok in his book has claimed that the Kamboj community should feel honoured that a person of Bhai Mani Singh’s calibre belonged to them. Giving details, he has asserted that Bhai Mani Singh Kamboj was born on February 6, 1672, at Hansomajra village in Karnal district. He was not married and died at Lahore at the age of 66.

Lottery addiction

The one thing every Indian loves to do is try their luck in lotteries. Tens of people from all over the city, even from the high income strata can be seen standing in queues at the “Khelo India Khelo” number game stalls.

The gamble is to have the lucky number in your ticket and you get thousands of rupees. The game has at least brought together the great Indian middle class and the not so great Indian high class along with the teeming poverty-ridden millions.

— Sentinel



Admn generates more revenue than last year’s
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
After having collected Rs 730 crore in revenue — Rs 14 crore more than the target fixed by the Union Finance Ministry — the Chandigarh Administration plans to cash in on the ‘‘good work’’ by projecting itself as one of the top revenue generators in the country on the per capita basis and use this as a lever to seek more funds for the development of the city.

The figures of revenue collection for the financial year ending March 31 have been finalised. For the fourth consecutive financial year, Chandigarh has generated more revenue than the target set by the Government of India. For the last financial year (2002-2003), the target for revenue collection for the UT Administration was Rs 716 .65 crore and it collected Rs 730 .64 crore.

The UT Finance Secretary, Mr Karan Avtar Singh, when contacted, said the Administration would indeed seek more funds for development works on the basis of its good performance either in the revised estimates that are submitted during the financial year, or in the Budget estimates for the next year. ‘‘Such good collections indicate that we are doing a good job and the Finance Ministry is convinced with our capabilities,’’ the Finance Secretary said.

Chandigarh’s expenditure is met directly from the Consolidated Fund of India and all its income goes directly to this fund, therefore, all budget proposals of the administration are presented in Parliament as part of the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The achievement this year is mainly due to the significant increases in revenue form stamp duty and the sale of power. The reduction in stamp duty from 12 per cent to 6 per cent has had a positive effect. The stamp duty was reduced in August last year.

In the power sector, last year’s curbing of theft by slum dwellers has helped the revenue jump ahead of the target. The target set was Rs 225 crore, while the collection made was Rs 228 crore. Interestingly, the sale of power had netted Rs 209 crore during the year ending March 31, 2002.

Sales tax has fallen behind the target of Rs 280 crore. The collection has been behind by Rs 3 crore and stands at Rs 277 crore. Still this is more than the last year’s collection of Rs 254 crore.

One major collection this year has been by the Estate office through sale of property. 



Sanitation panel may have 3 Cong councillors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The Congress is considering to include party councillors Lalit Joshi, Balraj Singh, Pardeep Chhabra and Anu Chathrath as party members in the 10-member panel which will go into the issue of streamlining the privatisation of sanitation.

The names have emerged after parleys between Mayor Subhash Chawla, MP Pawan Bansal and Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee President B.B. Bahl.

The formal announcement had been withheld as an official meeting in this regard scheduled today could not take place.

Representatives of all other parties in the corporation had been decided during the corporation House meeting held on April 29.

The sources said as soon as the committee was formally formed, it would send the list of members of the committee to all parties, including the agitating Sweepers’ Union, to represent their case on the issue.

The committee has an onerous task of taking a decision at a time when the city is witnessing heaps of garbage gathered in those areas where the private parties under the old arrangement had withdrawn after their period of contract lapsed.

The situation has been further aggravated with the recruitment of 300 sweepers being stalled temporarily as members of the Sweepers’ Union having allegedly torn the list of daily wagers to be employed as a stop gap arrangements.



Mosquito menace in city
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 4
Even though the rainy season is far away, mosquito larvae are breeding in stagnant waters accumulated at several places, not just in colonies, but also in posh localities.
Even though Sectors 3, 4, 5, 10, 16, 36, 41, 42 and 50 have been declared “mosquito-sensitive” by the Malaria Wing, effective steps have not been taken by the authorities. Perhaps, they are waiting for June to launch “anti-mosquito” campaign.

“Look closely and you will see hundreds of mosquitoes hovering over the stagnant water,” says Mr Rajinder Gupta, a businessman putting up in Sector 23. “The larvae breed silently, while the authorities sleep over the matter, or carry out disease prevention programmes, only on papers”, he said.

“Bad,” is how the residents are describing the situation. To confirm their claims, a team of Chandigarh Tribune carried out a detailed survey of the city. The result: Positive. The residents were not exaggerating, the situation in the city was actually “unhealthy”.

Even though a drizzle was witnessed in the city over two days back, accumulated water could be seen at many spots in Sectors 47, 48, 49, 29, 30 and 20. Along the roadsides, particularly on unmetaled roads, the depressions were filled up with filthy water.

In some of the “VIP sectors”, the situation was almost similar. Even in Sectors 11 and 10 accumulated water was not a rare sight. As expected, the situation was “alarming” in the colonies.

According to sources in the Health Wing, preventive steps were taken from time to time. “Every now and then, our staff members walk down the streets covering the stagnant water with oil,” an officer claimed. “Oil being lighter than water forms a layer on the surface preventing the larvae from breeding”, he explained.

The failure on the part of the authorities to take effective steps can, according to the doctors, lead to the spread of malaria. “The malady can be identified if the patient suffers from high fever and shivers,” a doctor at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research said. “In such a situation, the patient should be immediately taken to a doctor instead of indulging in self medication”.



Alarm bells yet to ring for Dera Bassi fire dept
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, May 4
Being an industrial centre and its status of an emerging urban township notwithstanding, fire-fighting facilities are virtually non-existent at Dera Bassi. The entire subdivision, which has a population of about 4 lakh and more than 350 industrial units, has only one fire engine to meet any exigency.

Over 400 fire incidents were reported in this subdivision during the past five years, but the authorities had done little to upgrade the ill-equipped fire station here. Repeated pleas by industrialists and residents have fallen on deaf ears.

“Despite the presence of huge stocks of highly inflammable chemicals and gases at most industrial units, the authorities have not bothered to strengthen facilities at the lone fire station here,” rued Mr Kewal Garg, president of the Dera Bassi Industries Association.

“We are living in a perpetual fear as fire can play havoc at anytime and claim lives of workers, who, in violation of the rules, are residing on the premises of various industrial units here,” said some labourers employed here.

Though majority of the industrial units have not fulfilled the provision of installing their own fire-fighting equipment on the unit premises, the residents say the government cannot shirk from its responsibility, especially when this can put many lives in danger.

Most industrial units located in Zirakpur, Mubarikpur, Dera Bassi, Handesra, Lalru and Banur use inflammable liquids and gases in manufacturing their products and a little spark is enough to reduce these sprawling units to ashes.

In case of any emergency, fire engines have to be called from Chandigarh, SAS Nagar, Ambala, Panchkula and Rajpura as the lone fire engine available with the local fire station is generally not enough to bring the fire under control.

“There have been several instances when fire destroyed many industrial units and houses here since fire engines called from nearby areas took 30 to 40 minutes to reach here,” said Mr Bhupinder Singh Saini, a local resident.

Currently the Dera Bassi fire station is functioning with a skeletal staff of 22 members which is almost half of the sanctioned posts. The station is having a fire engine and a Jeep besides a foam compounder (AFFF), a fire-fighting kit, a BA set (fire-fighting mask).

As per the Dera Bassi fire station records, 36 fire incidents were reported in 1998-99 that caused a loss of Rs 7 lakh, while 95 fire incidents in 1999-2000 caused a loss of Rs 1.37 crore. In 2002-2001, 90 fire incidents were reported in the subdivision that caused a loss of Rs 13 crore, while 77 fire incidents in 2001-2002 caused a loss of Rs 1.11 lakh.

Ninety-four fire incidents were reported in this subdivision from April 1, 2002, to December 31 that caused a loss of Rs 74.80 lakh. The records show that one person lost his life and eleven other sustained injuries in various fire incidents during this period.



Community centres at fire risk 
PUDA officials unconcerned
Kulwinder Sangha

SAS Nagar, May 4
Residents, you’d better take steps to protect your lives in case of fire because the PUDA authorities are bothered neither about the safety of their staff nor that of users of community centres here. The cavalier attitude of top officials to this vital aspect indicates that they are perhaps waiting for an Uphaar-like tragedy before they sit up and take action.

The effective life of fire extinguishers in the main PUDA building in Phase I expired long ago. Various community centres, which are used by residents for social and other functions, have no provision for tackling fires. A world of caution in this regard by the fire brigade has also fallen on deaf ears.

A visit to the PUDA building on Friday revealed that on most of the fire extinguishers installed on the premises the year of manufacture mentioned was 2000. However, the date of expiry was not indicated on them. Surprisingly, some of the extinguishers did not even have the year of manufacture on them.

On making inquiries it was learnt that none of the fire extinguishers, which had been installed in January-February, 2001, had been refilled. Fire extinguishers must be refilled after one year from the date of manufacture.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Station Fire Officer, said it was mandatory to mention the dates relating to manufacture, expiry and refill on all fire extinguishers.

The Fire Station Officer of the local Fire Brigade, in a letter dated January 28, 2002, to the Divisional Engineer (C-I), PUDA, had drawn attention to the fact that the effective life of the fire extinguishers in the PUDA office building had expired. In case of fire emergency, the letter said, this equipment would merely serve as a “Showpiece” and advised the officials concerned to get these refilled.

The letter of caution sent more than a year ago failed to have any impact on the PUDA authorities, exposing all offices in the building, including that of the SDM and the Tehsildar, to danger. Such negligence on the part of the PUDA authorities has exposed to a fire threat not only the lives of the staff and visitors to the building, but also records relating to valuable property and other matters.

The work of providing and fixing the fire extinguishers in the PUDA building had been allotted to a Chandigarh-based firm on January 23, 2001, at a cost of more than Rs 2.80 lakh. The work was to be completed within 15 days. Fortyfive fire extinguishers (carbon dioxide type) of 4.5-kg capacity each, another 34 of 9-litre capacity each, 16 extinguishers of the dry chemical powder type and one of the foam type were to be installed on the premises, apart from making provision for buckets for sand and water.

Shockingly, the PUDA authorities have not even taken the trouble to adequately equip community centres in the town to deal with fires. In fact, the community centres in Phases II, V and XI lack fire-fighting arrangements altogether.

Ms Manmohan Kaur and Mr Amrik Singh, municipal councillors, said community centres were used by all sections and PUDA had through its indifferent attitude exposed life and property to a fire hazard. They demanded the immediate installation of fire-fighting equipment in all community centres.

The Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr Yashvir Mahajan, said today that the reported shortcoming in the PUDA building had not come to his notice. He said the office would soon be shifting to the new PUDA building where adequate fire-fighting arrangements had been made. He also gave an assurance that proper equipment to deal fire emergencies would be installed in the community centres.



Illegal travel agents continue to fleece people
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Government apathy in checking unscrupulous travel agents has come to light once again with the yesterday’s arrest of unscrupulous travel agents by the crime branch of the Chandigarh Police. Harjeet Singh, the conman behind the illegal business being run under the name of Continental Services, had earlier been arrested twice by the police.

Even the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a recent ruling, had taken a serious view of the menace created by unscrupulous travel agents and immigration consultants engaged in extracting money from unemployed youths on the pretext of sending them abroad.

In the yesterday’s case, around 20 persons had come for interview after reading an advertisement of employment opportunity in Dubai. An offer of employment as driver, mason and other trades had been made in the advertisement, said a police official. A sum of Rs 60,000 had been demanded from the prospective clients by the company.

The modus operandi of the agents was to call clients for interview, conduct their medical examination and charge Rs 2,500 as processing fee. After some time, the client would be asked to pay the amount of Rs 60,000 for being sent to Dubai or other Gulf countries.

A senior police official said according to the police, the conman did not have any permission to run the consultancy service. As per the law, a permission from the Protector of Immigration and the Labour Ministry was required to send people abroad for employment.

It may be pertinent to mention that the Punjab and Haryana High Court, while dismissing a bunch of 25 petitions filed by travel agents in Punjab on April 28, had asked the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and Haryana, besides Chandigarh Administration, to look after the interest of poor prospective non-resident Indians rather than confining their concern to those well-settled migrants who have already made a fortune abroad, so as to avoid the repetition of Malta boat tragedy.

Issuing the directions after dismissing the petitions, Mr Justice Dutt ruled that the authorities could explore the feasibility of using the print, audio or electronic media for educating masses about the pitfalls.

The authorities should also consider the advisability of taking steps for educating the masses after consulting the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Labour. Possibility should also be explored to prevent middlemen from making unwarranted profit by regulating the recruitment and letting everyone know about the demands sent by different countries for skilled and unskilled labour, the judge asserted.



21 pc households in city without latrines
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The City Beautiful, having the highest per capita income, highest per capita income tax collection and having topped the human development index list, has 21.1 per cent of households without latrines, 9.9 per cent without drainage and 1.2 per cent without kitchens.

This has been revealed in the household data census 2001 released recently.

As many as 42,692 out of a total of 2.01 lakh households in the city do not have latrines and 20,037 units do not have drainage facility. While the percentage of houses without any latrine is at 31.5 per cent in rural areas, 19.9 per cent urban households also do not have this facility.

People living in such houses defecate in the open which leads to spread of various diseases. Last year, more than 1,200 people had to take medicine for cholera.

About 18.4 per cent households in the city are covered by open drainages. The figure also exposes skewed development in this regard in rural and urban areas. While 66.8 per cent of households in rural areas depend on open drainages, only 12.1 per cent do so in urban areas.

Around 35.1 per cent households do not have access to banking facility, the data reveals. As many as 6.6 per cent households do not have things like radio, transistor, television, telephone, bicycle, scooter, moped, motor cycle, car jeep and van.

Television has emerged the most popular asset in the city with 73.9 per cent households having a television. It is followed by bicycles which are possessed by 68.3 per cent households. But in rural areas bicycles at 77.9 per cent have overtaken television, which is owned by only 58.7 per cent households.

Wrong planning priorities have also been exposed. Most of the city roads do not have separate cycle tracks, although 68.3 per cent households have bicycles, while only 15.4 per cent have four-wheelers and 43.2 per cent have two-wheelers.



Cops asked to step up vigil
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 4
Local police officers have been asked to keep a special check on bad elements, improve general policing, launch servant-and-tenant verification drive and ensure that traffic rules and regulations are followed.

These directions were given to the DSPs, SHOs and in charge of various police posts during the monthly crime meeting of the district held here this morning .

The meeting was presided over by the Superintendent of Police, Mr Ranbir Singh Sharma.

The SP asked the officers to keep a special check on bad elements and those with criminal record. Directions were also given to improve policing, especially in afternoons when people preferred to stay indoors, and reaction time in case of an eventuality.

The recent cases, including the Sector 15 murder of Suresh Bala Bishnoi, Sachin Garg kidnapping case and arrest of notorious purse snatcher Sandeep Singh, were also discussed.

The officers were asked to ensure that police barricades were maintained and traffic rules and regulations were followed. The progress of Operation Overspeed, launched by the police to generate traffic awareness, was also examined.



Restoring people’s faith in natural therapies
Arvind Katyal

Tanya JudgeChandigarh, May 4
In today’s tension-ridden world, every person is afflicted with one worry or the other. Reiki and yoga have come a big way in relieving the tension of daily life. These views were echoed by Tanya Judge, a city resident who has taken the lead in restoring the confidence of people to these natural therapies. Tanya, who lives in the United Kingdom, is in the city these days.

She advocates effective application of reiki and yoga by taking one and half hour class daily at Ram Sita temple in Sector 19-C from 4.30 am to 6 am. She says though the classes, which are free of charge, began on April 1 and were to continue up to April 30, on the persistent demand of residents, these have been extended up to May 30.

Tanya took to reiki and yoga in 1991, but says it took her a lot of hard work and determination to find out the exact application of these natural therapies.

On the kind of methods used for correcting people’s health, Tanya says every technique, whether of yoga or reiki, calls for utmost perfection. The problem of each individual is different, she adds.

Tanya says the four Vedas have got everything to teach a person and besides doing these natural asanas, one must study the scriptures to become mentally strong. She says the time of practising the asanas is very important. She wants people to learn and practise yogic techniques in harmony with nature.

Tanya is of the view that people, be it India or the UK, are down with the same kind of problems, as it is the mind that needs stability. She says in yoga, “Jal Niti” and “Sutra Niti” have been accepted worldwide since they cure a number of diseases.



Relieving stress through laughter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
was a day dedicated to laughter. As members of the Laughter Club assembled in Fragrance Garden, Sector 36, this evening to celebrate the International Laughter Day in style, passersby watched in sheer stupor, occasionally trying out the interesting techniques to do away with stressful elements.

In charge of affairs at the garden was Dr Madan Kataria, a product of Medical College, Amritsar, who initiated a large number of people into the world of laughter by giving shape to the concept in this region. Irrespective of age, people gathered at the garden to laugh through the stressful moments of life.

The first of its kind, this club was established in Andheri, Mumbai, in the 1995. The chain already comprises around 4000 clubs in India now. The idea of Dr Kataria is to give new body, a new soul to the concept of de-stressing oneself by giving to laughter. Dr Kataria visited the city in January, 2003 and introduced the idea of the Laughter Club here. Backed by Janak and Meenu Nanda, Mr Shashi Kapoor, Mr Rabinder Singh and Mr R.P. Passi, Dr Kataria was able to create a laughter club for the city.

And to the surprise of many, the club proved its strength this evening, with the members spreading happiness all around by not only laughing themselves but also trying to initiate the onlookers into the concept. As the initiated ones took the lead this evening, the members joined in, breathing peacefully and shedding the tension.

Some members highlighted the significance of the Laughter Club, the event was judged by Mr A.K. Goyal and Mrs Jain. The best laughing man prize went to Mr Vinod Sharma, the best laughing lady prize went to Ms Sodhi and the best laughing child prize went to Kanika Chadha.

Mr Vilas Malhotra anchored the session by enthralling the audience with his inspiring couplets.



Two-wheeler patient!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
It might seem bizarre but yes an ambulance can also be used for ferrying a scooter instead of rushing patients to hospitals.
Transmedia Times, a cyber network for NGOs today released pictures of an ambulance donated by NRI Sabha Punjab to Red Cross, Moga, being used to ferry a scooter. “This newly donated ambulance without a number plate, was seen ferrying a scooter near the Regional Computer Centre in the city,” alleged Mr Jagdish Singh Ranawat, of the Transmedia Times.

He alleged that the ambulance was being “misused” to carry the scooter of the son of a Red Cross official, who was studying in the city. He added that the telephone number of Red Cross, Moga, was clearly visible on the ambulance.



Talk on suicidal tendencies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Reacting to the spate of suicides in the city, Theatre Age today organised a talk on the reasons behind suicidal tendencies. The talk was attended by Dr Inderjit Walia , Principal, Nursing College, Sector 12, PGI, Dr Shakuntala Lawasa, child specialist, Dr Lally from Sector 26 and Dr Avnish Jolly from Sector 20.

The session was attended by as many as 200 residents of the Labour Colony, Sector 30. The attending experts concluded the talk by saying that increase in suicides can be attributed to the increasing communication gap between parents and children; lack of proper value system and dearth of strength and among children.

The Founder Director of Theatre Age, Mr Zulfiqar Khan, requested the children to learn to handle their fears and feel free to open their hearts out in case of depression.



Major fire in Industrial Area
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 4
A major fire broke out near the Chandigarh sewerage treatment plant in the Industrial Area, Phase IX, here today.
According to the information given by the Fire Department, the cause of the fire could not be ascertained but the fire was spread across over 10 acres of vacant land next to the plant. It took over two hours for a single fire tender to bring the fire under control.

No crop or property was damaged in the fire. Sources said a large amount of junk and scrap was lying in the vicinity of the plant and that could have been the starting point of the fire as most of the junk was reduced to ashes.



611 servants registered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
In a one-day servant verification drive held in the city on Friday, at least 611 servants were registered.
A police official said police parties were stationed at 11 different points in the city where the residents submitted their verification forms.

The verification was held at the pre-designated points from 9.30 am to 4 pm.

Central Subdivision

Police Station, Sector 17 50

Police Station, Sector 11 30

Police Station, Sector 3 51

East Subdivision

Police Station, Sector 26 104

Police Station, Mani Majra 85

Police Station, Ind Area 64

Police Station, Sector 19 26

South Subdivision

Police Station, Sector 31 60

Police Station, Sector 34 41

Police Station, Sector 36 40

Police Station, Sector 39 60



Answer is mechanical dredging

Continuous machine desilting operations are the only way to save our beautiful Sukhna Lake from the universal problem of silting. This process is being followed worldwide to save rivers, lakes, ports and ponds.

Highly specialised machines are available in the market, like factory built on pontoons with different kinds of heads for mounting and operations. The backhow bucket mount, for example, will cut into the silt and simultaneously suck it on the machine. The suction head will suck any loose material aboard the machine. The cutter-suction head will both cut into materials like silt, sand, mud and sludge etc and suck the cut material aboard simultaneously. The sucked material can be safely pumped ashore to a distance of 2 km or more through a dredge-hose. The floating conveyor-system may also be employed, if need be.

I am confident that no other means will fulfil Sukhna Lake’s need than mechanical continuous dredging by a specially designed machine for the purpose of dredging or desilting.

Ravinder Kumar Sharma, CHANDIGARH





Man caught stealing phone cables
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
A person of Burail village has been caught by officials of the BSNL while stealing 800 pairs of telephone cables from near house no 1508, Sector 38 here . The police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC on a complaint lodged by Mr Rameshwar Saini, SDE, BSNL.

In another case, Jawahar Lal, a resident of Sector 32, reported that burglars took away a colour TV and video games from his shop in Hallomajra village last night. A case under Sections 380 and 457 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 31 police station.

Vehicle theft: Three vehicles were stolen in three separate incidents in the city on Sunday. Kush Pal, a resident of Sector 44, reported that his green-coloured Maruti car was stolen from outside his residence. In another case, Karandeep Singh, a resident of Sector 40, reported that his motor cycle was stolen from the Panjab University campus.

A Hero Honda motor cycle was stolen from outside a house in Sector 15. The police has registered a case on a complaint lodged by Animash Shukhla.

Liquor seized: The Mani Majra police has seized 260 quarters of a country- made liquor from a rehri near Mauli Jagroan. The occupants of the rehri fled away from the spot. In another case, 425 pouches of liquor were seized from three persons in Sector 31 and Sector 39. 



Businessman robbed of cash, gold
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 4
Two miscreants snatched a scooter and ran away with some cash and gold ornaments from a businessman near Chapparchirri village on the Kharar-Banur road last evening.

According to information received from the police today, Mr Vijay Kumar, who belongs to Ambala, has lodged a complaint with the police that he was returning to Ambala after getting gold from jewellers of Kharar and he was asked to stop by these two persons. When he did not stop he was pushed down by them as the speed of the scooter was very slow because of the bad condition of the road. They snatched away the scooter along with Rs 1000 and gold worth about Rs 22,000. The police has registered an FIR.



Sachin kidnapping case: 1 more held
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 4
The police arrested Sanjay Nain, one of the co-accused in Rs 1-crore Sachin Garg kidnapping incident, here today.
He was arrested from Baltana.

He was one of the accused in the kidnapping incident along with Gaurav Bhalla, Munish Bhalla and Gaurav Mani.

Sachin was kidnapped on April 2 and was released a day after on the payment of a ransom of Rs 1 crore. The money was allegedly equally distributed among the accused.

Other accused had already been arrested.

The police has so far recovered Rs 80 lakh from the accused.



Body found

Panchkula, May 4
The decomposed body of a stillborn baby girl was found near Rajiv Colony this evening. The body was first spotted by a colony resident, Vijay Kumar, who informed the Sector 16 police. The police took away the body to the Sector 6 General Hospital. TNS



HCCI: defer VAT implementation 
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 4
The Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) has demanded the deferment of value added tax in the state. If this was not deferred, it would result in the complete ruin of trade and industry in the state.

This was stated by the President of the HCCI, Mr C.B. Goel , while addressing mediapersons after chairing a meeting of the chamber this morning. He said though VAT had been deferred by the Union Government , Haryana being the only state to implement VAT from April 1, had so far given no indication of its deferment.

The members of the HCCI lamented that VAT had not been implemented in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Delhi. They said this had defeated the very purpose of VAT which sought to provide a uniform sale tax all over the country.

Mr Goel said the high powered committee of the State Finance Ministers , who met on April 23 in Delhi, had decided to fix the threshold limit for traders under VAT at Rs 40 lakh, though the state government had put this at Rs 25 lakh. They demanded that the limit should be raised to Rs 1 crore.

The chamber also demanded that the concessions given to certain industries under the Sales Tax deferment exemption schemes should not be withdrawn after the implementation of VAT. They also demanded that medicines and other pharmaceutical equipment should be exempted from VAT.

The chamber also lamented the hike in house tax, implementation of professional tax on trade and industry and the near failure of single window system for industry. They demanded that stamp duty in the state should be brought on par (from 15.5 per cent to 6 per cent) with Chandigarh and the neighbouring states of Punjab and Delhi.



Customers unhappy with BSNL services
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) may be celebrating its growth in the area of mobile phones, but customers allege it has not improved its customer-care service. Despite being a large organisation, it has ‘virtually’ no system to redress their grievances, especially on weekends and other holidays, they allege.

Mr Fazlu Khan, who has taken a BSNL mobile connection in Panchkula (phone No. 94170-04112) about four months ago, said his phone connection was disconnected twice, despite the fact that he had paid the bills in time.

In a written complaint, he said, “Outgoing calls from my cellular phone were blocked yesterday. When I contacted the BSNL office, I was told that outgoing calls have been blocked for I had not paid the bill, though I had paid the bill for March on April 23 through HDFC Bank. The bill for April is still to be issued by the corporation,” he added.

He said on March 3 also his connection was made ‘one way’ by cutting outgoing call facility in the name of non-payment of bills. It was only after much harassment, he said, that his connection was restored.

He said BSNL officials had not made an entry of Rs 827 in the register for the amount that he had payed on February 28. When he showed the receipt of the paid bill, he was told that nothing could be done that day and the next day because of weekly holidays.

When contacted, no BSNL official was ready to comment on the complaint officially. However, an official said, “Customers often face such problems due to negligence of the lower rank employees. Due to pressure of trade unions, we are unable to take any action against them.” He admitted that on Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays, no one was ready to redress the grievances of the subscribers.




UB Group: The UB Group Spirits Division, comprising of flagship company, McDowell and Co and Herbertsons Ltd, has attained an annual sale of over Rs 30 million cases during the year ended on March 31, 2003.Mr Lalit Sareen, branch manager of the company, in a press note issued here claimed that to offer further value for money, the company floated a scheme ‘‘Jeeto Bagpiper khazana’’ in northern states last year .TNS

2 restaurants open: Chandigarh and Panchkula on Sunday saw the launch of a restaurant each.While Gopal Sweets of Patiala opened their first outlet in City Beautiful, Sagar Ratna expanded their base to Panchkula's Sector 9.Gopal Sweets in Sector 8-C was inaugurated by Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh. It has on offer an assortment of Punjabi and Bengali sweetmeats, confectionery and bakery items, besides snacks and vegetarian North Indian meals.For Sagar Ratna, it is the 22nd outlet. TNS

Lucky draw scheme: Crimica Agro Foods on Sunday organised the prize distribution function of the lucky draw scheme at a dealers’ meeting.Mr Charan Singh, General Manager ( Marketing) of the company declared a lucky draw of Bajaj Chetak scooter and other 2001 prizes and announced schemes for dealers. He later launched a new range of brands for the city market. These include new range of cookies, cream biscuits, coconut biscuits. TNS


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